Kindred Spirits: Seven
by Lillian Wolfe


continued from part six...

Humming an old southern spiritual to himself, Joe Dawson took advantage of the quiet afternoon in the club to slip back to his office and catch up on some Watcher business. He'd let some of it slide while he was trying to track down identities for Montgomery. He kept waiting for Methos to unleash some horrible nightmare of a personality that would somehow wreak havoc at the clinic. He really hoped that nothing about the Four Horsemen would need to come out. Montgomery had handled the five-thousand-year-old man thing okay, but he wasn't sure how the kid would react to Death. Kid? Damn! He needed to stop thinking that way. All these years with Immortals and he could still slip like that.

Beyond that, he was worried about Methos. His friend -- God, would he ever really be that again? -- didn't seem to be making any progress. He would gladly break every covenant of his Watcher's oath if there was anything in the files that could help Methos now, but he sure as hell hoped nobody found out just how much of his time spent on the database recently had nothing to do with legitimate Watcher business.

The silver-haired man settled at his computer, grateful to be off his feet for a while, and connected to the Watcher network. At least a dozen messages were waiting for him and he scanned through them quickly, marking only two for immediate attention. Nothing too critical, he decided and keyed in a password to the main database. While his mind was on Miles Montgomery, he typed in the name and waited a few moments for the search to complete. The photo was a good one, a close-up captured off a video, and showed the handsome blonde man grinning as he apparently talked to someone cut out of the image. There was very little information on him. Prior to Joe discovering Miles when he'd walked into Methos' room at the Rennes hospital, no one had known the doctor was an Immortal. Methos had told him he was a youngster, relatively speaking, but had refused to talk to him any more than that about his friend.

Out of habit, Joe rubbed at the whiskers on his chin as he thought, recalling that Montgomery had spoken about meeting MacLeod at the cemetery. Not exactly a usual spot for a chance meeting, which meant that the doctor had gone there to find MacLeod or to visit a grave. Possibly the same grave Mac was lingering over? Following the hunch, he keyed in Sean Burns, then scanned through the most recent information.

There was only a brief paragraph and Joe almost missed it. Montgomery's name wasn't even recorded, just the notation that Burns had expanded his practice to include a clinic south of Paris that he shared with his recently added partner. The Watcher who made the notation wasn't Burns' regular man, but one of the new rookies who was filling in during a holiday. The substitute added that the new doctor "looked like he was barely out of medical school." //Damn! What 's the Watcher Academy turning out these days?// Joe groused to himself. //Not even remotely suspicious of a young doctor coming into the practice of an Immortal? My professors taught me better than that!//

//But this is an interesting wrinkle,// Joe thought, and one he should have picked up on sooner. Sean Burns had been Montgomery's partner, so he probably accidentally met MacLeod at the cemetery. The real question now was if he should tell Mac.

Abruptly, his barman, Henri, stuck his head through the curtains, interrupting his debate. "Pardon, m'sieur, but there is a young lady who insists on seeing you." Joe frowned, his thoughts going immediately to Amy, then he closed the computer cover and shuffled out.

The young lady wasn't Amy, but an even more petite girl... Josette. She looked at him with wide eyes as soon as he came into the main part of the club. "Monsieur Dawson? I am sorry to bother you, but I am very worried. Adam told me I could trust you-- that you knew about him. Is he all right?"

Joe motioned for her to follow him to a table away from the bar where they could talk privately. He studied her as she sat down, noting the nervousness in the young woman. Her face showed little signs of the bruising that had been there nearly a week earlier. He phrased his words carefully. "Adam is okay. He's been ill and he's getting treatment."

"Ill? No, no, that's not possible. He can't get ill. I need to see him." Her voice sounded urgent and she spoke quickly.

"Josette, he can't see you right now. His illness is mental, not physical. It has to do with what happened to you the other day."

"Madame turned him in?" she asked softly, shocked at the idea. She rubbed anxiously at her hands as if she was washing them. "It was not his fault! Please, monsieur. I led him on!"

Joe caught one of the agitated hands. "No, it was not your fault. It's not his fault either. Madame Maude was upset with him, with what happened, but she didn't turn him in. Something happened to make his condition worse and we had to get help."

"Mon Dieu! I didn't believe that could happen to someone his kind. He's going to be all right, yes?"

His kind? Methos had said she knew he was Immortal, but he neglected to mention that she seemed to know about Immortals in general. But he was beginning to see why Methos thought she might be a good Watcher... so long as she wasn't watching the old man. She wasn't intimidated by the concept and she already knew about them, which meant the safest place for her was in the Watchers. And he had told her that Joe knew what he was? Christ! Did he tell her about the Watchers as well?

Shoving those worries aside, he replied, "Yeah, his doctor thinks so. It just may take some time. You-- uh -- you go on back to work and when he's better, we'll come see you, okay?"

"Please, Monsieur Dawson, I really want to see him. I feel connected with him. Can you tell me where he is so I can visit him? Please?" Her eyes pleaded with him making it hard for him to resist.

"It's not possible for you to see him at the moment, Josette. And I don't think Adam would want you to see him like this. I'll let you know how he's doing and you can see him when he's ready."

"You promise? Will you tell him I wish to see him? That I will say prayers for him? Monsieur, Adam was kinder to me than anyone I had ever met before."

Joe nodded, hoping he'd be able to keep that promise. He rose to his feet as she reluctantly left, casting one last hopeful glance at him. He smiled in a fatherly way as his eyes followed her out the door, then he returned to his office.

He barely sat down before his cellular phone rang. Annoyed, he pulled it out and growled into it, "Yeah?"

"Dawson, it's Montgomery," the tired voice on the other end responded. "Do you know anything on a Godfreid Athelstane, circa 1066? I think he was with Harold Hadrada. He's babbling about battles and winning honor and spoils. At least, we think that's what he's saying. MacLeod says he's speaking Saxon. Neither of us really understand him."

Joe had the name keyed into his computer before Montgomery finished talking. "Hold on. I'm checking it now." Overall, the database was fairly quick, but it seemed to be crawling now. "Are you making any progress with him?"

"It's hard to tell if it's good or bad. But we still haven't gotten Methos or any of his other personalities, as near as we can tell. This is the fourth one --"

"Got it!" Joe interrupted, then perked up as he saw something he hadn't seen on most of the other entries... the name of the victor in the battle. Since this had started, most of the names he'd been looking up had been killed by unknown Immortals. A couple had been attributed incorrectly to other Immortals who Joe knew were not Methos. "Here's a name to try... "

"...Owen of Pyndreath," Montgomery repeated as he scribbled the name down. "You think that was his name?" He turned and handed the paper to MacLeod, who had been following the conversation.

As the psychiatrist thanked Joe, Mac picked up the microphone and spoke the name on the paper with almost the same tone a magician might speak the magic words and hoped for the same results. At first there was no reaction, then Methos' eyes narrowed and he shouted something unintelligible. Mac repeated the name, pausing then saying it one more time.

Abruptly, like a rubber band suddenly snapping, Methos went berserk. He screamed, threw his body against the wall, bouncing back and repeating the action, then butting it with his head. Jumbled words poured out of his mouth and he continued to beat the wall, totally uncontrolled. Mac darted a glance at Montgomery, looking for him to do something.

Miles shook his head as the raging continued, then reached for the tranquilizer gun. "No help for it. I'm going to sedate him.." He was out the door before he finished talking... and Mac was right behind him. They sprinted across the reception area, down the central hall and off to the right wing. As they neared the room, Miles shouted to Leroy, the orderly to open the door.

"Shall I come in with you?" Leroy asked, keying in the code to the room.

"No. Get a jacket ready though. No, he's okay. Let him pass." The last said as Leroy started to block MacLeod.

As soon as the door was open, a loud scream assaulted them, then Montgomery plunged in, tranq gun held ready to use as soon as he had his target. The Scot stayed right with him, moving in as the door snapped shut behind them.

Seeing the uncontrolled behavior on a monitor and standing in the room with it were two different things. Methos was leaning against the wall, hands clasped tightly to his ears, swinging his head back and forth in fierce contact with the padded surface as if he was trying to knock his brains out. He howled again as his eyes grew big as saucers with the physical presence of what he'd already felt. Abruptly, Methos sprang toward MacLeod, literally bouncing off the bed and leaping into the air toward the Highlander. Montgomery had fired the dart as soon as Methos had hit the bed and it zipped past him, plunging into the wall. Trained reflexes took MacLeod out of the way of the attack and Methos hit the floor.

As the old Immortal started to roll to his feet, he glimpsed Montgomery taking aim again and screamed, "No! Don't!"

But the dart was already on its way and found a target in Methos' left thigh. His strong, slim fingers reached down to latch onto it, yanked it out and tossed it to the floor. Angry, he made a staggering lunge for Miles who easily put some distance between them as he readied the gun for another shot. Methos stumbled against the wall, breathing hard and looking a bit dazed as the drug kicked in. His eyes focused on MacLeod. "Mac..." His voice sounded strangled as he slid down the wall and settled with a thud on the floor.

"Methos?" MacLeod asked urgently, hope reflecting in the dark eyes. He bounded across the room, anxious to pursue the possibility.

"MacLeod! Wait!" Miles called. He was moving more cautiously, not as eager to get close to the man who had been a raging lunatic only a few moments before.

"He called my name," Mac protested, but he did stop short of Methos by a couple of feet. "Methos, talk to me. You recognize me, don't you?"

Bleary eyes tried to focus on MacLeod as the tranquilizer did its job. Methos licked at his lower lip and mumbled, "Mac? Mac, please. I don't... don't know..." The eyes closed and his head fell sideways against his shoulder.

Kneeling, Mac gently slapped at his face and spoke firmly to him. "Come on, Methos. Hang in there. Talk to me. Methos?"

His eyes barely opened, thin slits that only a glint of hazel showed through, and he tried to speak. "So tired... bad Quickening, huh? 'Night..." His head dropped, then he slumped into Mac's arms, head pressed against the broad chest.

Automatically, Mac closed his arms protectively around the slim shoulders and whispered, "It's all right, Methos. I'm here."

"Let's get him into bed," Montgomery said practically. He was only a foot or two behind MacLeod, but he felt like he was in an isolated room. Methos hadn't seen him there, hadn't even looked his way. He'd called for Mac. Hell, he knew there was this blockade called Duncan MacLeod in the relationship between them, but he'd never felt it as keenly as at that moment.

"I wish you hadn't shot him when you did," MacLeod said over a cup of coffee a short time later. He and Montgomery were back in the psychiatrist's office. The doctor had played the tape back and they'd both watched the events in silence, a silence that had continued a few minutes after the tape had stopped until Mac had made the remark.

Montgomery gazed at the live feed on the monitor where Methos was now sleeping peacefully. "I don't know that you would have made it through to him if I hadn't, MacLeod. There was no indication prior to the dart hitting him that it was Methos. I'm not even sure if it really was."

"It was. He called me Mac and he was there. When I looked in his eyes, he was there. He recognized me." He stood up and went to gaze out the window toward the fresh green countryside. A few clouds floated across the sky and their shadows broke up the pattern of green giving the maze and the vineyard beyond a classic French countryside look. A beautiful day to be anywhere except inside a clinic. "Would you consider that a breakthrough, doctor?"

"It's hard to say. If he really recognized you, then it may be. The real test will be if he still remembers you when he wakes up."

"Then I'll wait," Mac informed him.

"It could be seven or eight hours. The dose was pretty strong and I don't know how fast his body will neutralize it."

"I'll wait!" Mac repeated forcefully, his jaw setting into a stubborn line as he turned to face Montgomery..

"I didn't say you couldn't."

A sharp nod. "Good." He paused, then asked, "Why did you use the tranq gun?"

"What do you mean? You saw how violent he was getting."

"No, I mean, why did you do it? Why not have one of the nurses give him a shot?"

"Oh, I could have sent a pair of orderlies in to strong arm him down and do that. But you know as well as I do how dangerous one of us is when he's trapped - and how strong. He's tough enough to subdue when he's upset, but violent? No, he could kill someone. I couldn't let anyone else handle it and the gun is the quickest, easiest way to get a tranquilizer into someone who's out of control. It certainly beats stabbing him."

Mac winced at that. He didn't need to be reminded of his own method of sedation. "Good point."

"Better than yours," Miles replied, pushing the issue a bit just to get the reaction. "Besides, he's my friend. There are some things I have to do." With that he stretched and ambled for the door. "And speaking of doing, there are a few patients I have to see. Make yourself at home."

Mind made up, Dr. Bernice Anjouli marched confidently toward the nurse's station. Although not even thirty yet, she was already gaining notice in the field of psychiatry. She'd witnessed the strange spectacle of Dr. Montgomery and the tall, broad-shouldered man dashing through the building and was more than a little curious about the patient in The Cell. Gossip had spread as soon as he had been admitted, which required that a patient be moved to a less safe room. There were whispers that the man was a close friend of the blonde doctor, but the intriguing rumor had to do with the indication of severe mental illness, schizophrenia, in fact, and that was what she wanted to know more about.

Casually, Dr. Anjouli walked up to the nurse's station on the restricted wing and inquired, "Claudine, who is the new patient? Rumor is he might be an interesting case."

Claudine shrugged. "Who can say? Dr. Montgomery allows only limited staff to work this one. No one except the doctor monitors him. In fact, he does not even use the observation room."

"Really? May I see his file then?"

"File?" Claudine laughed. "There is no file. No record of treatment. Nothing. It is very irregular. Perhaps he is some powerful government official or a rock star? You know, a big secret that he's here."

"Perhaps," Bernice Anjouli agreed, gazing down the hall to see Leroy outside the door. She had met the man a couple of times, little more than to say hello, but perhaps she should get more acquainted with him. She was very intrigued with this case.

Nearly three hours later, Rory returned to the security wing and motioned to Leroy to open the door. The doctor glanced at his watch, noting the time. "Isn't Louis supposed to be on now?"

"Yes, but he was delayed. He will be here in a few minutes."

"Good," Rory acknowledged, then stepped into the room.

Methos was still sleeping solidly. Rory sat on the edge of the bed and caught his wrist, automatically counting the beats. As he expected, his patient was fine physically. Methos shifted slightly, most likely reacting to his presence in the room, Rory guessed. Even sedated, he would be aware of another Immortal.

Acknowledging that MacLeod might very well be watching at the moment, Rory threw discretion to the wind. He gently pressed the back of his fingers against Methos' temple and stoked them down the side of his face to his jaw, a loving caress that he repeated a couple of times before he shifted the stroke to smooth back the dark brown hair. The head turned toward him, nuzzling against his hand.

"Adam... Methos..." Rory's voice was barely above a whisper. "You have to fight through this. There's not much I can do to help you."

From Montgomery's office, MacLeod watched the scene on the monitor and swallowed down a lump of indescribable emotion in his throat. He'd been concerned when Montgomery had first gone into the room, but that had quickly vanished as he'd watched the intimate moments that followed. What he felt now wasn't exactly jealousy, but he couldn't find a word for what it was. Seeing the loving caress and Methos responding to the touch made him uncomfortable, yet he continued to watch.

Mac sat back, seeing a clearer picture now of Montgomery's relationship with Methos. It explained a lot about the psychiatrist's involvement and in some ways, it was a relief. At the same time, it surprised him. He had been Methos' closest friend for the past few years. Ever since he'd met the oldest Immortal, that friendship had been growing. Mac had been pleased when Methos chose to spend time with him in Paris, then had made the trip to Seacouver and had basically inserted himself into Mac's life. He'd gotten used to having him there, which was why it had been so difficult since he'd returned to Paris from Malaysia. Methos wasn't around and hadn't been in touch. Then when the old Immortal did come back, he'd been closer to Joe, spending more time with the Watcher than before although nothing had seemed to change in his friendship with MacLeod. Even Amanda had a different relationship with Methos, a much closer one than he had expected to see.

Now there was this friendship - whatever the parameters of it were -- with Montgomery. Seeing the doctor touch him now only reinforced the feeling of estrangement with his best friend. He'd never been able to get past that invisible barrier that kept Methos separate, making it difficult for him to display his affection for the old man. Somehow he never thought that Methos would want it or tolerate it.

On the monitor, Montgomery had caught Methos' hand again and was gently rubbing it, speaking very softly to him so that MacLeod couldn't make out the words. But there was no mistaking the genuine concern and affection in the man. A deep, unexpected ache touched the Highlander's heart.

By late afternoon, Mac had dozed off in the chair, his feet propped on the coffee table. A soft mumbling through the speakers woke him and he sat up, instantly alert. Methos was up, moving around the room, and muttering under his breath. Picking up the microphone, Mac took a deep breath and hoped. "Methos? It's Mac."

Methos froze in place, turned slowly, eyes alert as he focused in the direction of the voice. "Who?"

"This is MacLeod. Duncan MacLeod. We're friends," Mac answered. He wasn't quite ready to give up hope yet. Knowing the psychiatrist was near, he glanced around the room, looking for Montgomery, then spotted the blonde man on the patio. He had his back to the building as he sat in a patio chair gazing out over the maze.

"Never heard of you," Methos sneered. "Why don't you come meet me face to face?"

The voice sounded vaguely American, the tone rough and disdainful. Mac sighed. It wasn't Methos. "Will you tell me your name?"

The man erupted in laughter. "This is a fine kettle of fish. You don't even know who I am and you're holding me prisoner!? This isn't the first cell I've been in, you know. 'Course it's a little different from most jails." He turned around, then sat on the bed, crossing his long legs. "I'm Jack Monroe, but most folks just call me Black Jack."

"Black Jack? Sounds portentous. Do you know why you're here?"

"I reckon I do. The question is, do you? You don't sound like the typical lawman."

"He's slipped to someone else again," Montgomery commented and Mac turned. He hadn't heard the doctor come back in the room.

"Jack Monroe," MacLeod supplied. "I'd say early American west."

"About 1898," Miles answered. "Black Jack Monroe. He was a gambler and thief. Had a bad reputation in the west. Rumor was he was killed by a man named Lyle - Big Larry Lyle, if I remember right."

"So, Methos was Larry Lyle?" Mac asked in disbelief. When he'd first me Methos, he'd told him he hadn't taken a head in two hundred years.

"No. I've seen Lyle. He was about a hundred pounds heavier than Methos and ugly as sin."

"Then how did Methos get this personality?"

Montgomery shrugged. "I don't know. Killed Lyle? Or else Lyle didn't take Monroe's head."

Man frowned. "If you're saying he has this personality from killing Lyle, then you're saying he can pull out the personality of anyone that his kills have killed. Is that right?"

"That's not what I'm saying, MacLeod. I don't know. I don't know how he got Monroe's personality. I'm just guessing. I would say he had to have killed him."

"Look, whoever you folks are," the voice from the cell drawled, "would you quit arguing and let me out of here or at least bring me some grub?"

Annoyed, Mac shut off the microphone. This situation was getting worse. "I'll call Dawson this time." He picked up the remote phone and went out on the terrace. This was a conversation he didn't want Montgomery to hear. The psychiatrist nodded his agreement, then made his own call to the orderlies to order a tray of food for the patient. "Be careful..." Mac heard him say as he slid the door shut behind him.

Reaching Joe on his cellular phone, Mac filled the Watcher in on the details quickly. "Joe, he killed Monroe or he killed Lyle. There's no other option. Either way, he lied to me," Mac stated firmly. Methos was already guilty in his mind. He was beginning to question everything Methos had told him, wondering how much, if any, of it was true. He'd been lying to him since the beginning.

"Mac, there may be an explanation," Joe objected. "It's gonna take me a bit to get to the records. I'll call you back."

His next call was to Amanda. Apart from Cassandra, who would just as soon kill Methos, she was the only Immortal he knew who might have known the old man for a long time. He wasn't sure when they met or how much help she could be, but he hoped it was enough that she might be able to get through to him. He ended up leaving a voice message, his third one in the past four days. "Amanda, call my cell phone. It's urgent. It has to do with Adam... he needs your help."

Turning back to the doctor's office, Mac noted Montgomery had settled in a chair facing the monitors. He was hunched forward, hands folded on his knees and gazing intently at the screen. He looked as depressed as Mac felt. With a sudden change of mind, MacLeod turned away and took the steps down to the maze.

Within a few minutes, he found the heart of the hedge and settled down on the bench in the serene garden. Why had Methos lied to him right from the beginning? What was to be gained in telling him he hadn't taken a head in two hundred years when he'd taken one a hundred years ago? Mac didn't understand and he needed to have a reason. As soon as he'd met Methos, he'd trusted him, welcoming him into his life and he almost had come to terms with the Horsemen, but flat out lying to him for no reason? That hurt more than he wanted to admit. MacLeod needed to know that Methos was at least partially what he had believed he was.

When he'd first found out about Methos' past, he had resolved to be done with him, but he'd relented. Methos was a part of his life, someone he valued in spite of that dark past, because he believed he had changed. But he didn't think he could continue if Methos couldn't level with him on even a simple statement.

Mac was so deep in these thoughts that when the phone rang, it startled him.

"Okay, this a strange one," Joe said immediately, "According to his Watcher, Monroe was killed by a big bruiser Immortal named Lyle, but there's no real detail to the fight. So I looked up Lyle. He was listed as killed by Monroe."

"What? One of them has to be wrong," Mac objected.

"No, this is the strange part. The report from Lyle's watcher was that the two men fought and killed each other. A double kill - very rare when dealing with Immortals. Usually they both aren't in a position to take each other's heads. Now Lyle was about as rotten as they come so I think there was something suspicious about the whole thing. But the Quickenings were both released and according to Lyle's Watcher, directed toward a third man who wasn't involved in the fight at all."


"Could be. The Watcher didn't have his name, only said he was one of Butch Cassidy's boys. So if he got the personality, it was indirect. He didn't kill either of them, Mac."

//He didn't kill either of them...// The words were like a fresh spring shower, washing the fears and suspicions away in a minute. Methos hadn't lied... "Thank God," he breathed. Then his voice sharpened, "He was with Butch Cassidy? Butch and Sundance? Bank robbers?"

There was a sharp breath at the other end. "Dammit, MacLeod! You need to quit judging him. You don't even give him a chance. You didn't before and you're not doing it now."

A moment later, there was a click and MacLeod knew Joe had hung up on him. He turned the phone off and leaned forward on the bench, thinking. Joe was right. He was being judgmental, reacting automatically where Methos was concerned. But he wasn't sure why. Perhaps he was just torn with wanting Methos to be the man he originally thought he was and the knowledge that he had something that bordered on pure evil within him. Perhaps he was responding to his own fears that Methos would revert to that dark past.

Methos was huddled tightly against the corner of the wall as if it would provide safety against whatever tormented him. His arms were wrapped protectively around his shoulders, while his eyes darted wildly around the stark room, looking for whatever monster might next assault him.

"How... how long has he been like this?" The words caught in her throat as Amanda spoke. She hadn't quite believed it when she had returned Duncan's call the night before. She'd had three calls from him and two from Joe Dawson on her machine when she'd returned from New York yesterday, all of them sounding urgent, but she hadn't been prepared for this.

"A little over a week," Miles replied, tiredness showing in his voice. "Some days it's better; other days it's worse. It depends on who he is."

"Who he is?"

"He's been switching personalities regularly." Miles leaned back against his desk, hesitated. "I -- we -- have a theory that he's running through fragments of the Immortals he's killed. It's like he's having to conquer each one again without the benefit of a Quickening."

"It must feel like hell," she muttered. Just the idea of going through even a few of the personalities she harbored was enough to give her chills.

"I think it's worse," MacLeod finally spoke up. "I don't know if this is the result of his proximity to holy ground or just an overload or a psychological reaction to his fear -- our fear -- of fighting on holy ground. But it's very real. A few years ago, Methos took me to a holy well, a healing place in Brittany. I think--"

"No!" Both Amanda and Joe spoke simultaneously as soon as they realized what Mac was suggesting.

"It's not a good idea, Mac," Joe stated flatly.

"Why not? It has unusual powers. I've felt them," Mac argued earnestly. "I think it's worth trying."

Joe looked to Amanda for support. She nodded her understanding. "Absolutely not. Joe's right about this, Duncan. It's not an acceptable plan. It won't work for this kind of situation. Besides, I don't think we could get him to go."

Mac looked puzzled at the sharp protest. "We could sedate him and just take him there."

"No. It's not an option," Amanda said firmly, still trying to dodge the bullet. "Tell him, Joe."

"Me? You were the one who went with him!"

Mac looked even more perplexed. "Went with him? To the well? What happened?"

Amanda looked away, gazing again at the video monitor at the cowering man in the stark room. Like slides flashing through her mind, different images overlaid the reality. She saw Methos, covered in his own blood, crumpled by the steaming waters of what was supposed to be a healing well. She saw him pale and unresponsive and her lip trembled.

"Amanda?! Tell me!" Mac's voice demanded.

"While you were gone that year or so -- actually, it started just about the time you left -- Methos was going through a bad period. Nightmares all the time. He wasn't sleeping, couldn't sleep. I... I convinced him to try the well. To tell you the truth, I don't know what it did to him, but he was a mess. I needed help getting him out... He was unconscious. He ended up in a hospital in Rennes for over a week." //And here he is again,// she thought dismally. //Different place, different situation. But in a place he shouldn't be. No, he isn't going back to that well. It would kill him this time.//

"We never actually figured out what was wrong," Miles added softly. "Although I hadn't heard the bit about the well. He came to on his own, but if that well was what put him into that coma, then I have to agree with Amanda and Dawson."

Mac looked stunned. He dropped into the nearest chair. "I didn't know... He never said."

"There's a lot he doesn't say." Amanda turned to Miles. "Is there a way to talk to him? To Methos?"

With a nod, Miles handed her a microphone. "There's a pickup on the camera so we can get sound back. Don't expect too much. He may not respond to you."

"Methos? Can you hear me? It's Amanda." She waited a moment, watched him shift slightly as if he was listening. "Methos? If you hear me, look up. Just lift your head up, okay?"

Suddenly, Methos jerked his head sharply in reaction, then slammed his hand into the wall, repeating it again violently, over and over.

Amanda glanced at Miles, "What's he doing?"

Miles shook his head, watching in consternation as Methos kept pounding the wall as hard as he could against the padding. "I don't know." His hand was on his radio in readiness.

Just as abruptly as he had started, Methos stopped. He rested his hand in his lap, cradling it with his other hand. His shoulders rose and fell in rhythm as he took deep breaths.

"I think he's hurt his hand," Mac commented.

"Methos? Do you hear me?" Amanda tried again. "Look up at me, please."

It took a few long moments, but brought his head up, looking toward the sound. "Amanda? Where are you?"

She felt a surge of hope. "I'm near. Shall I come there?"

"Is Rebecca with you?" he asked slowly, a frown on his face. "What is this place?"

A question in her eyes, she turned to Miles.

"At least you've got Methos. That's better than any of us have done."

"I'm going in there," she said suddenly. She set the instrument down and turned toward the door.

"Amanda, it could be dangerous!" Mac objected, getting to his feet.

"Dangerous? He's unarmed in a padded room. Even if he goes berserk I can count on you getting there fairly quickly and Miles can probably knock him out from a distance, if necessary. You wanted someone who has a history with him? Well, you've got it. Unless you know someone who's known him longer than twelve hundred years, I'm your best bet," she insisted forcefully in a voice that allowed no dispute. She waited a moment for a response, then nodded her head once and opened the door.

Grabbing the tranquilizer gun, Miles followed her out, had to run to get ahead of her long-legged, determined stride, then led her down the security hall. He turned at the last moment, blocking the door to the cell with his body, then gazed at her with a concerned look. "Amanda, he's ... well, he's just not stable. Be careful."

Her eyebrow arched slightly and the brown eyes grew larger. "He's worth the risk, Miles. Or none of us would be here, would we?"

"I know." He opened the door and stepped inside with her, staying back near the door as she moved into the small room.

Amanda glanced back, hesitating now that she was actually here. Methos was a tight bundle against the wall, appearing smaller and more fragile than she could ever remember him looking, as if he was trying to make himself a tiny target. His head turned slowly and his eyes focused on her. But he seemed to look through her, seeing her, but not as she was now. Moving carefully, she crossed the room. "Hello, Methos."

His eyes focused on her and his lips curved into a wolfish smile. "Good day, lady. Is the fair Rebecca about? I sent word--"

In an instant, Amanda's memory transported her to an earlier moment...

859 - Rebecca's Keep

Amanda peered over the battlement wall at the mounted rider below. The self-satisfying smirk on his lips annoyed her. His dark hair was worn longer than most of the warriors, almost to his shoulders, but, she admitted, it was clean and neat compared to the others. She knew him, not well, but enough to know that he was a friend of Rebecca's and had visited a couple of times during her stay with her teacher.

He dismounted and stared up at her, eyebrows raised in question. "Well? Is she here? Amanda, isn't it? Speak, girl. Or has the cat got your tongue?" The hint of amusement in his voice drifted up to mock her.

"Rebecca's away. She should return soon. Come back later."

He tilted his head, watching her, and seeming to note her uneasiness around another Immortal. "Can I not wait inside? Perhaps I could teach you something while we wait."

"Like what?" Amanda didn't trust him, even if he was Rebecca's friend.

"Chess.... Or maybe some other game."

Her forehead wrinkled with the frown. "I think not. You come back tonight. I'm certain Rebecca will be back by then."

The grin widened and he offered an acquiescent nod of his head, then remounted the chestnut horse. "Until later, then, Amanda. Please tell her I called and I'll return."

Amanda blinked the memory away and approached him slowly. "Methos, Rebecca's not coming. She-- she can't make it."

"Why not?"

"She's gone. Do you want to talk? We can talk." She was right in front of him and she knelt to get to his level. His gaze locked on her, his eyes meeting hers with a long-remembered intensity. That gaze had made the young Amanda nervous, but she knew Methos now and had grown used to that look.

"All right. We'll talk. How are your lessons coming, mam'selle? Are you improving with the sword?" His body relaxed, legs stretching out in front of him.

She noted his left hand was bruised, the blackish-purple just fading from the edge where it had spread from his wrist up to his little finger. He might have broken it but it would be completely healed in another ten or fifteen minutes. She put on a cocky smile. "Oh, yes, my lord. I am becoming quite the expert."

He laughed. "Ah, the enthusiasm of youth. In so short a time, you are nowhere near expert, Amanda. Right now, it is enough that you can defend yourself. True expertise comes with years of study. But if you are adequate now, can use the weapons well enough to kill your enemy, then you will have time to truly become expert."

Amanda chuckled with him. It was almost exactly what he had said to her way back then. But at that point, saucy young woman that she was, she'd been annoyed with him, answering sharply that she had a teacher and she didn't need his advice. With no warning, his sword had moved out of its scabbard and tickled under her chin in so swift a movement, she didn't have time to think. This time, she answered, "Your are right, my lord. Of course, I am far from being expert."

She continued talking, trying to lead the conversation forward in time, to bring him to the present. He changed times reluctantly to a point a few years from their first meeting, but he seemed confused. His forehead wrinkled as Amanda tried to guide him. She caught his nervous glance toward Miles, a reflection of the uncertainty of the presence of another Immortal where he had seemed okay with it earlier.

"You remember, Methos? We went to Belgium, Rebecca and I. You met us there. I was so angry..."

"And you've brought this - this foppish boy here in retaliation?" he remarked in annoyance, waving toward Miles.

"Yes, yes, I have," she responded, taking advantage of the situation to put him at ease with Miles in the room. "He's harmless, my lord."

"So you believe. I need to find Rebecca..." He pushed away from the wall, starting to get to his feet.

"Methos, she's not here. You can't find her."

He hesitated. "Why not? Has something happened?"

He was on his knees, ready to push up and he'd tensed. His eyes were full of the question, the need to have an answer. Maybe the shock would bring him back... Amanda swallowed her own emotions at the thought and said softly, "Because she's dead, Methos. Luther took her head."

Methos looked stunned. "No... No! Not Rebecca!" He fell back against the wall as she nodded her head to indicate it was true.

Amanda didn't know what to expect, but the pained look on his face reminded her of her own hurt at Rebecca's death. She hadn't thought then of Methos, hadn't thought that he might want to know. She didn't even know if he was still alive or not. She hadn't seen him in at least two hundred years and he and Rebecca hadn't been together for a little over three centuries. He would have been in the Watchers when he found out, would have probably read it in a report or heard it from an indifferent Watcher.

A painful-sounding sob broke from him, followed by another choked one as he fought to not let it out. In this state, Rebecca's death was news to him and the raw pain was coming through. Amanda crawled next to Methos, wrapped her arms protectively around him and pulled him to her. "I'm sorry, sweetie. We've lost her. I know it hurts." As his head fell against her, she rocked him gently and kissed his forehead affectionately.

Methos didn't cry, but he shook with pain as he moaned softly and mumbled something in a language that she didn't understand. As she listened to the rhythm and pattern of the words, she realized she'd heard it before... from Rebecca. She'd chanted it once over an old enemy she'd beheaded. Listening to it now, she realized it was a death chant, an ancient ritual for the deceased. Responding, she held him a little closer and rubbed at his neck and shoulders.

After a few minutes, he lifted his head, anger and pain still glowing in the green-gold eyes. "It's fine, Amanda. I'm all right now. I promise I'll take care of her killer. But I'm tired now. So tired..." He closed his eyes and leaned back against the wall.

Quietly, Amanda encouraged Methos to his feet and guided him to the narrow bed. He went willingly, sprawling on it like a man who was totally drained of energy. As he was about to drop off completely, she leaned forward and kissed his mouth, then whispered. "Methos, sweetie, I'll talk to you later, okay?"

With effort, he opened a weary eye and focused on her concerned face. "Don't call me sweetie."

Elated with the reaction-- it was very much from this century and this decade -- Amanda smiled broadly, tucked her legs up on the edge of the bed and wrapped her arms around him, resting her head against the back of his shoulder.

"Sweetie?" MacLeod echoed, the distaste of the word in his tone.

He and Joe had witnessed the entire scene on the monitor in Montgomery's office. Both of them were relieved that Methos hadn't transformed into someone else with Amanda with him. Mac had swallowed with difficulty as Amanda kissed Methos. The affection between the two was obvious; the fact that they'd had a close relationship equally apparent in the comfort level. But the endearment Amanda used had startled him. Sweetie? Methos?

"They're friends, Mac," Joe said quietly, shrugging his shoulders. "Right now, we can be glad he responds to Amanda."

Mac nodded. As difficult as it was to watch Amanda with Methos, he was grateful to see anything that resembled a breakthrough. So why wasn't he happier about this small success?

The four of them agreed to take turns watching the monitor, waiting for Methos to wake. One of the problems with a windowless room was that day and night had no real significance. Miles was determined to let Methos wake and sleep on his own, not force it, so he'd dimmed the lights after Methos feel asleep. Amanda let Mac take the first shift and took the time to explore the grounds surrounding the clinic. Miles escorted her through the maze and she was enchanted with it, recalling many a fond memory in garden mazes in her lifetime.

"This is so beautiful, Miles. I can see why you fell in love with it," Amanda praised as he led her into the heart of the garden. "I'd like to know more about an Immortal who decides to spend his time practicing medicine, dealing with bizarre mental problems, and loves old things."

Miles only smiled, then jumped to the part he was willing to talk about. "I've always been fascinated by mazes and labyrinths. You don't see them as often these days, but it seems like there's a certain magic in them."

"Well, there has been for me," she laughed. "I've met more than one beau in the concealing greenery of a maze. They were a favorite retreat for lovers, you know."

She sat on the bench, patted the seat next to her to invite him to sit. He did, but not too close. Miles seemed oddly shy, keeping his distance. "So, you and Methos are pretty close, aren't you?"

"We're friends," he said noncommittally. "Good friends."

"Come on. I was in your house with the two of you and I know you shared the bedroom. It's not a big deal, really."

Miles folded his arms, one hand unconsciously rubbing at his upper arm nervously. "Yes, we've shared a bed, but that's it, Amanda. I'm engaged -- a beautiful girl and I love her very much."

"But?" Amanda prompted, seeing the qualifier in the man's eyes even if he didn't want to say it.

He half-laughed at her persistence. "But I'm really attracted to Ad -- Methos. It's hard to get used to that..."

"He never told you, did he?" Amanda said sympathetically, knowing his identity must have been a surprise.

He shook his head. "No. It's not that important, really. Just takes a little getting used to."

//Not that important?// Amanda thought in surprise. //Does he have any idea who Methos is? My lord, I've known him for centuries and his antiquity still shocks me on occasion.//

Abruptly, Miles shoved to his feet, smiled at her. "I've got some things to do. Feel free to explore the grounds. I'll arrange for some sandwiches on the terrace around noon, so I'll see you then."

As Amanda watched him leave, she smirked a bit. She'd hit a bit too close for comfort with those remarks and she wondered at just how deep Miles' feelings for the old Immortal ran. She suspected it was more than Miles was willing to admit, even to himself.

Then there was Methos, who had actually moved into this relationship, knowing what he was doing. She had no doubt about that at all. Methos didn't establish ties unless he wanted them. In all the years she'd known him, she'd seldom seen him get really close to people, let alone Immortals. She'd come into his circle through Rebecca and their friendship had formed gradually and uneasily. He'd probably waited for the right moment to make contact with Duncan, and she didn't doubt for a moment that Methos had wanted to make that connection. Just as she didn't doubt that Methos loved the Highlander even if the Scot didn't see it.

The big question mark in her mind was why Methos was making these links, why now? In many ways, he was a loner and had grown more so over the years. Her eyes misted a bit as she thought about the old man. Truth was, she was more than passing fond of the man herself, her own love for Methos having grown slowly over the years. She'd been surprised the first time he'd put his life on the line for her and she was still a bit overwhelmed when his protection included her, as it had less than a dozen days ago.

After a late lunch, while Joe took monitor duty, Mac and Amanda had a chance to talk. She could see the questions burning in his eyes, but she just wasn't willing to share this part of her life with him. What she had with Methos was none of his business. Still he tried.

"Amanda, I know you've known Methos a long time. I just hadn't realized it went back so far. That was back to when you were living with Rebecca, wasn't it? "

"Yes. Look, I have a long history and he's part of it. But you don't need the details, Duncan. Just let it go, all right?"

He nodded, an unhappy look on his face. Her eyes softened and she ran her hand against his cheek. "What we have is very special, Duncan. You've been just about the most wonderful thing in my life, but I had eight hundred years of living before I met you. That doesn't change how I feel about you, okay? All you need to know is that I love you."

He pulled her into his arms, cupped her face in his hands and kissed her. Amanda wrapped her arms tightly across his back and squeezed, relieved that he was okay with it, that he wasn't going to get into an argument with her over it.

Her eyes drifted back to the maze and she thought that maybe she could recapture some of those fond memories she'd talked about earlier any minute now. The vision of Mac lying beneath her on the deep green grass in the privacy of the hedges was enticing and she was about to suggest it when Joe yelled out the door to them.

"He's awake! You better get back in here."

The tone of his voice didn't sound promising.

Methos was another personality once again and worse yet, he was so far in the past that none of them had a clue what he was speaking or who he was. The language sounded as ancient as MacLeod suspected it might be. He strained over the words, tried to write a few down phonetically, then turned to Joe.

"I haven't got a clue, Joe. It doesn't sound like anything I've ever heard. Amanda?"

The lovely brunette shook her head. "No. Me neither. Are you sure that trying to guide Methos will help him, Miles?"

Miles rubbed at the back of his neck. "I think so...eventually. 'Immortals are much more complex. Upon our page so much more is written,'" he unconsciously quoted Sean Burns and failed to notice the sharp glance MacLeod shot his way. "But right now, I feel like we've slipped back to square one. I think we should all try to get some rest and tackle this again tomorrow."

"Yeah," Joe agreed. "I gotta open the club tonight, so I better get back to Paris."

"I'll drive you," Mac volunteered without enthusiasm. "Coming Amanda?"

Knowing Mac as she did, she figured he was restless and frustrated with his inability to accomplish anything here. "I think I'll stay a little longer, if it's all right. Maybe I can get through to him when he wears down again."

"Okay," Mac agreed, "but you be careful around him. He may not be so agreeable next time." He leaned forward to kiss her goodbye. Even though Amanda returned the kiss, her thoughts were already moving on. Mac noticed, and reached to pull her to him in a tight embrace, demanding her attention. "Did you hear me, Amanda?"

She returned the hug, "Yes. I'll be careful." She kissed him more attentively, and smiled fondly as she watched him leave. She recognized the territorial move even if MacLeod didn't acknowledge it.

After Mac and Joe had left, she turned to the doctor. "What do you think is happening, Miles? Can you give him anything to help him?"

Miles sat on the edge of his desk, crossed his arms and thought a few moments before answering. "I don't know what would help him, Amanda. I could try hypnosis... if I can get him into an agreeable persona. The problem is, you can't hypnotize anyone who is unwilling. Trying to use psychotherapeutic drugs on him could have unexpected consequences. His problem is not schizophrenia and treatment for it wouldn't be effective."

She paced in front of him, wanting a cigarette for the first time in several years... or at least a cigar. "So why is this happening? Why is he becoming all these different people? How can we stop it?"

Miles half-smiled at her. "I appreciate the we in that. I feel like MacLeod expects me to come up with the solution, like I should have all the answers here. All I can tell you right now is what I believe is happening. I think he's processing these personalities again and locking them away. If the Quickenings opened the doors, then it seems to be the only way he can handle them. It's possible he's been just briefly in control between personalities as he locks one away but I don't have any real proof of that. He made a remark earlier to MacLeod that seemed to indicate it was really Methos. But, that little session earlier was the first time Methos has actually been talking to us."

"But why such an early memory? Why not something more recent or even one with more emotion in it?" She could think of several encounters that were more intense.

"Maybe it was the first memory of you that came to him," Miles suggested. "Or maybe you made a bigger impression on him when you first met than you thought."

She laughed at that. "I couldn't stand him when I first met him -- arrogant bastard. He always had that self-assured smug attitude that you just wanted to slap off his face. I barely tolerated his presence and that was because he was Rebecca's close friend."

"Rebecca was your teacher?"

"Yes. My savior really. I had no idea what I was or what had happened to me after I first revived from death. She took me in, taught me, fed me and gave me the first sense of belonging I'd ever had. No matter how much I disliked Methos, he was always good to Rebecca. Sometimes I'd see them together and I was jealous..." Amanda's voice drifted off with the recollection.

"Jealous?" Miles prompted.

"Yeah, jealous. At first I convinced myself I just didn't like Methos because he would probably hurt Rebecca. I'd never known a man I could trust then and he certainly didn't seem likely to be any different. But then I realized that I didn't like him taking Rebecca's time away from me. She'd become the most stable thing in my life and he became a threat. But there were some times, when I'd see them together, that I was jealous of Rebecca for having this kind of friendship with a man. And... I thought he was kind of cute." She flashed a sheepish grin, then her face went sober as she gazed at the monitor.

Methos sat on the floor in the center of the room, staring distrustfully at the furniture, the walls and even the shower and toilet stall that provided the facilities for the cell. His fingers caught the edge of his shirt, rubbing against it and he studied it intently, then he examined the button near the bottom. He played with it, twisting it and tugging at it until he worked out it would slip through the opening. In a matter of minutes, he'd unbuttoned them all and wiggled out of the pajama top, then he pulled it into his lap and examined it thoroughly.

"He is going to get better, isn't he?" she asked with deep concern. "We will get our Methos back, won't we?"

His face reflecting the uncertainty he felt, Miles answered carefully, "I believe we will. I believe he's strong enough to handle this. What I don't know is how long it will take him. If he has to go through every person he's killed, I suspect we could be here a while."

Amanda's eyes widened as she realized the implications of that statement. "That could take years!"


He was chilled, wanted to build a fire for warmth, but there was no wood. //Fire? Fireplace?// He became aware that he was naked, his bare bum touching a cold surface. //Not dirt, not grass.// He gazed around him. //What is this place? Where am I? Is this death?//

Then his eyes rested on the piled up garments on the floor. He picked the top item up -- trousers, sort of. This was a finer garment than he had seen before, tightly woven with smooth, even dyes. Who had done this? No matter -- it was warmth. He stood and pulled them on, tugging a few times at the elastic waistband in curiosity, then pulled the shirt on and fumbled with the buttons until he got half of them done.

He tentatively approached the bed, touched it. Then he walked slowly to the wall and ran his hands along the padding, uncertain about what it was and why it was on the walls. He tried the door, pushing and tugging to no avail. Locked.

He tried to think what this could possibly be. Had he seen anything like it before? His head ached and he was tired, like he'd been in a long struggle. He sat on the bed, finding it comfortable and welcoming. Closing his eyes, he reached for his name... He mumbled as he thought. "What is it? Me--? Meth--?? Methan?! No! Mee-thos...Methos? Okay, Methos! I am Methos and I am...locked in... where? What is this place?" He frowned as the thoughts formed and his confusion grew.

Taking several deep breaths to calm the sense of rising panic, he closed his eyes and concentrated on his last solid memory. It wasn't easy. His thoughts were so jumbled, seeing fragments that had no cohesion or anchor in time. Vaguely, he recalled a dark haired woman, very pretty, and he knew that he liked her, that she was a friend. Put a name to her, he instructed himself. Amanda... the name almost floated into his mind. //Amanda... the keep. Rebecca's keep. But Rebecca wasn't there. Amanda said she was gone...//

He shivered, still feeling cold. He touched the blanket on the bed, stood, yanked it off and wrapped it around him, then curled up on top of the sheet. Warmth made him drowsy. Maybe he'd think better after a little sleep...

//That's right, sleep. You think much better with a clear mind.// The mind voice was not his own, but it was familiar. He closed his eyes.

The drive back to Paris had been relatively quiet, MacLeod and Dawson each absorbed in his own thoughts. It had been a long day and it offered hope that they would see their friend back to normal again.

Beyond that, Duncan struggled with thoughts of a different kind. "Upon our page so much more is written." Why those particular words? He'd heard them once before, phrased exactly like that, on the day he took Sean Burns' head. Was it coincidence that Montgomery had used the same phrase? For that matter, was it coincidence that Montgomery had met him at the cemetery that day?

At the time, he had so many other worries on his mind that the blonde's sudden interest in him didn't give him cause for thought. But now, with that particular echo coming out of the psychiatrist's mouth, he saw a much different picture. Montgomery had known Sean, had been at the cemetery to visit Sean's grave. The only question now was did he know how Sean had died? Did he know that he, Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod, had taken the head of a good friend? If so, it explained a lot, not that it eased the distrust and resentment Mac felt toward the man.

At almost the same time Mac reached this conclusion, Joe spoke up. "Mac, I found out something I think I should tell you. It's about Montgomery. Sean Burns took him on as a partner -- or a protegee-- a few years ago."

Mac glanced over at him. "I see. You just found that out."

Joe nodded. "Yeah. The Watcher didn't connect the dots and I didn't see it."

"Neither did I until this evening."

"How did you know?" Joe demanded, not seeing what might have tipped MacLeod to it.

"He said something that made the connection. And I suspect he probably knew Sean longer than a few years. If Sean went in on this clinic with Montgomery, then he must have thought highly of him as a doctor and a friend. He never said anything to me about it or his partner and he still kept the place at Limay."

"Do you think Montgomery knows?" Joe didn't have to add any more details.

"I don't know. If he does, then he has cause to dislike me."

"Shit!" Joe muttered. It said everything that needed to be said.

MacLeod nodded his agreement, but he knew this was a ghost he would have to deal with again. Sean's death was going to haunt him every time he met someone who had been a friend. He resolved then that he would not let Montgomery force him into a fight, especially when he knew the blonde didn't have a chance against him. He just hoped he'd be able to explain what had happened and that Montgomery might understand.

Later, after he'd dropped Joe off and had taken care of some business, MacLeod returned to his barge to catch up on his mail and read for a while before he retired to his bed. He determinedly refused to let his mind wander where it would.

But, lying in his bed, Duncan MacLeod shifted restlessly, finally settling back with his head resting against his arms as he gazed indifferently at the ceiling. He couldn't get the image of Amanda holding Methos on that narrow bed out of his mind. If he didn't consciously think of something, it was there... Amanda touching the old man so gently, so lovingly -- not just the touch of friendship but the embrace of a lover. It was a painful confirmation of what he already knew, what Amanda wouldn't tell him.

It also clarified that the beautiful thief had, indeed, known the old man a very long time. Even though she had told him as much, seeing those events, jumbled as they were, and hearing the cadence and phrasing of the words, brought it home very clearly. Twelve hundred years...

There were times Duncan felt positively ancient, like the weight of the world had rested on his shoulders far too long, then something like this happened to acutely illustrate just how young he was when compared to Amanda and Methos. And Cassandra, he added while he was coming to terms with the ancient people in his life. She was like Methos, the thought of her three thousand years not really having an impact on him. Three thousand, five thousand, one thousand... they were just words until something happened to bring those distant years into focus and he realized just how many sunrises they had seen.

Like it or not, he had never really attributed twelve hundred years to Amanda. His history with her began less than four hundred years ago and she had never seemed mature to him. She was always a frivolous, delightful young woman and if she'd gained any wisdom, it was because of him. He was the reason why she hadn't become the Amanda of his alternate world vision.

And Methos -- he'd met Methos as a shy researcher, a young-looking man who seemed so innocent and naïve in spite of Mac knowing he was the world's oldest Immortal. Even his words about Caesar and Rome hadn't really brought home that he was ancient. His disguise had been so good that it had fooled Mac in an unexpected way. He just didn't credit Methos with his past. When Kronos had come knocking, he'd been shaken but ultimately saw himself as the reason Methos finally gained the strength to stand up to Kronos. That nasty business in the Bronze Age had not made him realize that Methos was a walking history book with successes and failures, not a victim of a monster. Not until now. Now, when he was bouncing all over the timeline and speaking languages Mac had never heard before. Like all Immortals, he was the sum of his parts, the product of his experience.

He'd been the naïve one, thinking he was the smart one, the strong leader who had the answers, when these two had survived far longer than he had by more than just their skills with a sword. Amanda wasn't a great fighter, but she was athletic and quick. She knew how to use her talents and when to retreat. Methos was a good fighter, probably better than Mac had allowed, and he was skilled at avoiding battles. There was a time when Mac might have thought his reluctance to fight stemmed from his slim build not being as powerful as his opponent's, but now he was more inclined to attribute it to the old guy's street smarts and his desire to avoid unneeded Quickenings.

In the past few days, his perceptions were changing. //Ha! Joe thought he had trouble sometimes in realizing that Immortals were older than they looked. Apparently, I have the same problem.// Then following in the wake of honesty, he admitted, //No, I just have blinders on. It's how I've coped with it.// No matter how he viewed it, he had greatly underrated and simplified both Amanda and Methos.

He closed his eyes, feeling a bit more at peace with it now. So Amanda and Methos had a history. It wasn't an issue, really. It was in the past. Hell, he probably wasn't even around. And that easily, Duncan MacLeod pacified his conflicting emotions on a conscious level.

Down at the root of his mind, more troubled the Highlander and manifested itself in odd dreams that kept him rolling, tossing and mumbling in his sleep. Most were tiny bits of outlandish images... Amanda leering at him from the shelter of Methos' arms... Methos clad in early Norman garb like Blackadder, a ridiculous hat perched on his head and his hair cut into the bowl shape that was popular at the time, holding out his hand to dance with a mini-skirted Amanda. Bizarrely, Methos standing in the desert of Nevada, naked, save for a black cowboy hat, a western leather vest, boots and a pair of six-shooters slung low across his hips. He spoke, that smooth baritone drawled out "Sundance" in a strongly erotic way and Mac groaned in his sleep.

Suddenly he was in his barge and Amanda was lying in his bed, her shapely nude body inviting him to touch her, to claim her. Just as he started for her, Methos inserted himself between them, draping his pale, smooth body against hers, his mouth meeting hers in a kiss that should have been MacLeod's even as the lovers' evenly matched bodies pulsed with the pounding of his heart.

MacLeod clutched the spare pillow in his arms, buried his face against its softness as he flung his body over the copulating couple in his dreams. His arms wrapped around Methos, reaching beneath him to embrace Amanda, to merge with them. He felt Methos shift to give him room, raising his body slightly and spreading his legs to allow Mac to sprawl between them. He stretched over them like a cloak, his mouth biting hungrily at Methos' shoulder. A deep low moan from the old Immortal excited him as hand hands found the smooth mounds of Amanda's breasts and massaged them.

Beneath his groin, he felt the firm muscles of Methos' posterior cheeks wriggle with invitation and he caught his breath in anticipation of what was offered. Slipping a hand away from Amanda, he reached down, his finger sliding down the spine, slipping between the larger mounds of Methos' buttocks and exploring the offered orifice with eagerness. As he felt the tight entry give way to his insistent touch, his body tingled with unbridled desire. Between his legs, his erection grew as his blood raced through his body. Desire... need... want... he was driven, a slave to his body's needs. Methos groaned as Mac shoved a second digit in him, spreading the opening wide in preparation. He felt the slim body shudder and in turn, heard a sultry, feminine moan as Amanda reacted to the grinding motion of Methos' hips. He withdrew his fingers, smiling in pleasure at the whimper of distress from the smaller man as they retreated, then Mac rose up on his arms, positioning himself and guiding his now over-sized erection to the prepared channel. A creamy liquid, like milk, seeped from the top and he rolled it across the pale buttocks. The penis rested just at the entrance, a rigid pole ready for insertion. He leaned forward, applying just the slightest pressure, not penetrating yet, and nipped at the back of Methos' neck. "D'ye want it?" he heard his voice say in a thick Scottish accent.

"Oh, God, yes!" Amanda cried in a choked voice. "Do it now, Duncan!"

He did. He lifted his hips and thrust down into the tight aperture of Methos' ass, an unmercifully quick, deep penetration as if he was punishing him for doing Amanda. A howl of pain or pleasure, it was hard to determine, punctuated the act and the body below him rose, thrusting his hips back against him, forcing him even deeper, then withdrawing partially as Methos pumped into Amanda. MacLeod's ears roared with the pressure of his own blood and he heard Amanda's sharp gasps and pleas of "Yes, oh yes. Don't stop. Yes... now, now!" as her unfocused eyes gazed up toward him. Between them were the pants and moans of Methos as his lower back and buttocks lifted Mac with each pounding thrust into Amanda. In turn, Mac's own rhythm set a counterpoint, shoving deep within Methos as he twisted his hips upward, then withdrawing on the downward stroke until Mac could control it no longer and pumped his hips, shortening the withdrawal and shoving as deep as he could.

He came, spouting his semen deep into the strong body beneath him, feeling the buttocks tighten against his penis as if they were trying to force every drop out, and a prolonged groan issued from Methos just before his own body exploded and Amanda squealed simultaneously.

Mac's eyes flew open, his breathing hard and his heart still pounding from the effort. His cum covered his stomach, tangible evidence of the vividness of the dream. "Oh, God!" he groaned as he realized how erotic and desirable it had been. Where had that come from; what perverted hole in his psyche? Denial still in his mind, Mac staggered toward the shower to wash off the residue.

As Rory finished up with a patient's session the next morning and watched her leave his office, he gave some thought to his practice in Paris. It wasn't suffering from his absence yet -- he'd planned to be gone for several weeks and had a colleague covering most of his clients. He'd contacted a select few, like Miriam Douglas, the patient who had just left, and they had been making the trip to the clinic to see him. But he couldn't ignore the practice much longer. He would need to contact Evangeline to schedule some appointments, but he might be able to limit it to two days a week in Paris... if he spent a few extra hours there each day.

He hated to leave Methos for even that much time. But if MacLeod or Amanda were here, at the clinic, it would be easier. Unless, of course, Methos got really violent. Even though he trusted his staff, he didn't trust them to handle an out-of-control Immortal.

Decision more or less made, Rory went out to search for Amanda to see how she reacted to it. He'd barely gone ten feet when Dr. Anjouli called to him. He turned, smiling at the plain-looking woman who was one of the prize catches for the clinic. She was considered brilliant in certain academic and medical circles. He'd been very pleased when she'd chosen to practice out of the clinic. "Yes, doctor? Is there something you needed?"

"No. Well, not exactly," she replied, returning the smile. "I just wanted to ask you about the patient in the cell. I have heard he's a very interesting case. Schizophrenia, isn't it?"

The smile disappeared from his face. "That patient is private. No information is available."

"Yes, I see. But all our patients are private, Dr. Montgomery. I just thought that since we are colleagues and that type of illness is not frequently handled here, that I might observe and learn."

"No, I'm sorry. It's not possible. The situation is quite unique."

"Might I at least see the file on him? I am very eager to learn about --"

Rory started shaking his head before she finished the request. "I have to say no. I must ask you to stay completely away from that wing and not involve yourself."

She looked disappointed, her eyes dropping down as she nodded. "I understand. I thought maybe if I knew more about it, I might be able to help." She didn't look at him again as she turned and walked swiftly away.

"Not with this," Rory mumbled under his breath. "This is way out of your realm, Doctor." Nonetheless, he felt bad about having to reject her request. Under any other circumstances, he would have welcomed the opportunity to work with her, but not when an Immortal was involved and definitely not when it was a man who had shared his bed. If that somehow slipped out, he definitely didn't need it circulating around the clinic. Hell, he'd probably have his hands full just dealing with the holier-than-thou MacLeod.

Shaking that thought off, he resumed his quest for Amanda. If he could get her on his side, he might be able to get MacLeod to agree to spend a whole day a week here while he handled business. //For how many weeks?// the part of his mind that refused to let him find easy solutions asked.

Dr. Anjouli saw him turn toward the gardens and knew he would continue on outside. She was disappointed, but it hadn't been at all unexpected. While she'd hoped that Dr. Montgomery would welcome her interest and offer of assistance, she was prepared to maneuver around him. Leroy had told her enough to peak her interest and to make her wonder why the usually competent blonde doctor was apparently not doing anything to help this patient. The orderly had told her that no medication had been ordered, other than an occasional sedative when the patient was very violent, and no kind of treatment had been tried.

Certain that Montgomery would not be going toward the wing, Bernice pulled out the key to the observation room for the padded cell and quietly let herself in. Without Montgomery's knowledge, she'd had her own copy made long ago in case she couldn't get a key when she needed it. Now was one of those moments.

Not for the first time, she sat down to study the tall, slender man in the pale blue room. Adam Pierson... She'd gotten that much and more from Leroy. She'd been here twice already and, just the night before, had seen him sitting naked on the floor like a small boy, fidgeting with his pajamas. The poor man was seriously ill and, in just the short time she had observed him, she suspected a severe multiple personality disorder.

He was clad now in the pajama bottoms, but not the shirt. His bare chest and hair were moist indicating he had most likely showered. The surprisingly broad chest was nearly hairless and beautifully muscled. With those striking dark looks, he could have been a movie star or an ancient god.

She pulled out her pocket-sized personal recorder and began speaking into it, recording the specific details of date and time, then getting to the meat of the report. "...the patient is clearly agitated. He has only been awake a short time this morning and is exhibiting anger at being locked in the room. I can't understand the language, but I believe he is speaking Greek."

She involuntarily cringed as the man turned the bed upside down and attempted to use it as a battering ram. He was strong, much stronger than she imagined he would be. Perhaps it was the adrenaline, but she felt that the slim, wiry body harbored a lot more strength than the average man. When she'd seen him naked, she'd noted the long, lean muscles on his body and appreciated the fact that there was no fat on him. He was, in fact, firm, fit and beautiful.

Dry-mouthed, she caught her breath and realized her heart had quickened as she thought about him. She had to do something for him. She could no longer just sit and watch him suffer like this. Tonight, she decided. Tonight, when everyone else was sleeping, she would begin.

Then she heard a woman's voice through the speaker in the cell. It was sultry and melodic, speaking in the same language as the man in the cell. At the sound, he ceased shoving the bed against the door and listened to the voice, then responded in a still-angry, but more reasonable tone.

//Talk,// Bernice Anjouli thought. //It's all they do. As if mere words could heal what troubles his mind.// Her eyes softened as she gazed on him and she whispered. "You need treatment, Adam Pierson. And I will see that you get it."

Amanda relaxed a little as Methos seemed to calm down while she spoke to him. The Greek language didn't slip as easily off her tongue as it once had and, to make matters worse, he was using an older dialect. Still, they were understanding each other and that was all that mattered.

She leaned back and glanced at Miles. "He says his name is Dimetri Stratopoulous and the year is 1708. He's killed twenty Immortals so far and he's bragging about how great he is. He's a real jerk...although an angry one at the moment. Definitely a player... ready to take on anyone, anytime. I'm glad Methos whacked him."

"Not much to recommend him, huh?" Miles alternated his gaze between Amanda and "Dimetri". "I wonder what the real Greek looked like?"

"Well, if it's any indication, he thought he was a real ladies' man -- God's gift and all that. So far he's made at least three very indecent proposals. You'd better call Joe or you'll miss him. MacLeod should be getting to the club about now."

Nodding, Miles picked up the phone and hit the speed dial. The greeting was brief as Joe answered, then he relayed the information and acknowledged as Joe said he might have something by the time he and MacLeod got to the clinic. "Great. Thanks, Joe. See you in an hour or so."

Miles dropped into his chair and leaned forward, his chin cradled in the propped up hand as his elbow rested on the desk. He looked tired. Dark circles under his eyes made the deep blue seem even bigger and darker. He was putting in a lot of hours in this room, just staring at the monitor. As his gaze shifted toward Amanda, he asked, "How does Joe track all these names down so quickly? Hell, he finds names that no one should be able to find. Is he law enforcement or what?"

Amanda smiled a little at that, amused. "No, he's not law enforcement. He has some very good resources."

"Good resources? That's an understatement. There have only been a few names he couldn't tell me anything about. Even with information being readily available to those who know how to find it, someone has to have gathered it at some point. I give him a name from the twelfth century or the eighth century and he can tell me about that person. How? It's like he's got a directory of Immortals." He paused, thinking about what he'd just said and stared intently at her. "Does he? There isn't one, is there?"

Amanda looked away, disconcerted for the moment. Hell, he was too smart and he was figuring this out. What was she going to tell him without letting him in on the secret of Watchers? "An Immortal directory? No, I don't think so."

The psychiatrist's eyes narrowed. "Amanda, how is it that Joe Dawson knows about Immortals? I mean, really knows about Immortals? Is it a private study of his or are there more like him?"

She fidgeted a little, picking up a dinosaur egg from his desk and playing with it. "He's been a friend of MacLeod's for a long time. And of Methos, as well. You know, he's been around us for quite a few years..."

"Is he in a club? Is there an organization of people who know about us? That's it, isn't it? A few people found out about Immortals and they probably started a chat group or something on the Internet! Is that what do they do? Exchange information on the Internet?" His voice went up just a little and he stared at her accusingly, eyes demanding an answer.

"All right! Miles, what I am going to tell you, you cannot -- absolutely cannot-- tell anyone else. Not MacLeod, not even Methos and you sure can't say anything to Joe. Is that clear?" She looked emphatically at him, her eyes willing him to understand that she was breaching a secret here.

He nodded.

"Okay, Joe is a Watcher. He is part of--"

"He's a what?!" Miles interrupted, his voice shooting up a level. "A Watcher? Someone who watches? Us?" He looked shocked. "You mean there are people who watch us? Watch what we do?"

"I'm trying to tell you," Amanda said irritably. "If you'll listen a moment. Yes, there are people who watch us. They have been doing it for millennia. It's a huge organization. They watch and record what we do, who we fight, who wins, what we've done throughout our lives."

Miles' mouth was hanging open, disbelief clearly written on his face. "A Watcher? Is that supposed to be a respectable word for peeping Tom? God, I don't believe this! Do they watch everything?"

"Well, no. I mean, they're not in your bedroom or your house, even. But they keep an eye on us. They know where we go and who we see and..."

"And they know who comes to your house and stays the night! They know things people shouldn't know about another person!" Miles was on his feet and pacing. The extent of his agitation was evident. "Oh, God! They could wreck my life! They could ruin my reputation and my relationships."

Amanda intercepted a turn, put both hands on his shoulders and stopped him. "No, that won't happen. They're a secret organization and they take an oath to keep who we are and what we do a secret from anyone not in the Watchers. I know it sounds scary, but it's not so bad. Most of the time, you don't know they're there. I mean, you haven't noticed your Watcher, have you?"

He stared straight in her eyes as the words sunk in. "My Watcher? I have my own Watcher?"

Nonchalantly, she nodded. "Yeah. I imagine you do. I have one, MacLeod has one and Methos has one. In fact, Joe is Mac's Watcher. Usually, you don't get to know your--"

"Methos has a Watcher? Is he safe? I mean, Joe said his identity was a secret-- that it would be dangerous for people to find out." His indignation had turned to worry.

"Yes, he has a Watcher, but I think the guy believes he's watching Adam Pierson, recent Immortal. Not a five-thousand-year-old man. Joe's gone to a lot of work to protect him."

"Thank God for that," he murmured, gazing at Methos, who was now doing push-ups on the floor. He still hadn't put his pajama tops back on and his shoulder muscles tensed enticingly as his arms shoved him up and down. Miles wet his lip, then turned back to Amanda. "I don't see how you and MacLeod can be so calm about this."

Amanda gave him a patronizing look, "Because, baby, it doesn't matter that much in the grand scheme of our lives. You're still trying to lead your life on mortal terms, worrying about mortal details. Ruining your reputation in the medical field would be the least of your worries if your Immortality became known. If certain people-- Immortals -- found out you were sleeping with him--" she jerked her head toward the screen so there was no mistaking who she was talking about, "...then both of your lives would be in danger." In satisfaction, she noted that Miles paled a little as he realized what she was really saying, realized that the old Immortal's Quickening was a prize in itself and anyone associated with him could be used against him. But his next words surprised her.

"I'm not a baby, Amanda. I've been around a while." His voice was softly petulant.

Her mouth pressed together in a smug smile. "Miles, I have no idea when you became Immortal, but I know you're not much more than a hundred years old and that makes you pretty young as Immortals go. But worse, you're still trying to relate your life to mortal terms. What do you want? The career, the car, the house, the wife and three kids? The lover on the side?"

Her heart ached just a little as his face reflected the pain and unhappiness her words had caused. She'd really hit the mark-- he did want a normal life. "Didn't your teacher ever talk to you about any of this?"

He shook his head. "I didn't exactly have a teacher. At least, not until 1938."

"Who taught you how to use a sword? Surely, you didn't get by without one until then unless you really are a baby."

"I learned from my father and honed my skills in the Confederate Army. Not that we did much fighting with swords during the war." Miles chewed at his lip, his eyes going back to Methos. "Am I putting him in danger by... being with him?"

"In a sense, maybe --" She paused as she saw him swallow hard at the idea, "...but you're in an elite club... Methos' friends... Mac, Joe, me and you." She leaned over and laid her hand over the back of his. "You wouldn't be part of it if he didn't want you there. Just be aware it's a dangerous place. That it's just as important to your life to keep his secret. When you're not with the three of us, he's still got to be Adam."

He nodded, started to say something, then frowned and leaned forward. Methos was pounding the metal bed frame like he was trying to break it. A rough edge had torn his hand and he was bleeding. "What the hell--?"

"What's he doing, Miles? Why is he doing that?" Amanda cried out in alarm.

"Sometimes disturbed patients try to hurt themselves. They use the pain to focus or to vent frustration. I think maybe Methos is trying to communicate. When you talked to him before, he'd broken his hand. Now he's cut it open. Try to talk to him!"

Nodding, she grabbed the microphone. "Methos, it's Amanda. I'm back. Do you remember?"

His head was pounding and his hand hurt. Dimly he saw blood dripping down it, then the wound began to heal over. //Hit it again,// some recessed part of his mind instructed. //Do it! Don't wait. Do it now!//

Acting on the urgency, he pounded the edge of his hand against the metal bed frame, gasped in pain as it tore the flesh open again. He shook his head, biting at his lip, feeling his teeth breaking the sensitive skin inside his mouth and he forced his jaw down. Uncontrolled, a yelp escaped and he spit blood.

"Methos, do you hear me? Answer me, please."

A woman's voice... anxious and concerned. He knew that voice. Where was she? "Wait... just wait..." he managed to say thickly, then the headache began to ease and he could think more clearly. "Amanda?"

"Yes, Methos. Talk to me."

He made the connection and answered her in Italian. "Ciao, Amanda, what is this place? Are you near?"

"Ciao, Methos. In English, please, old friend. We're alone."

He laughed. "Alone? I can't even see you. There are no windows and that door looks adequately sturdy. So what have you done, my dear girl?"

"Hey, don't blame me. This isn't my doing. I want to help you out, but you're going to have to do some work."

"Work? Do I have to chisel my way out? The walls look pretty solid." He gazed around the room skeptically. //What kind of game has she gotten me into this time? Never seen a room quite like this. If it's a dungeon, it's pretty unique... And what the hell is that covering on the wall?//

"No, not that type of work. This is mental and you really need to concentrate. What year is it now?"

He frowned. //Good question. But I'm not exactly sure. I'm in Italy, but what is the date? This is absurd. I should know the year. I have to know the year.// Tentatively, he answered, "Ten-ninety-five?"

There was silence. Had she gone? Did he answer wrong? Why was he so uncertain of the date? Uneasily, he approached the door and tried the handle again. He leaned into the door and called out, "Amanda? Are you still there? I can't sense you through the door?" Unconsciously, he'd increased the volume of his voice.

"Yes, I'm here. You don't need to shout. I can hear you easily."

"I don't understand. Where are you?"

"It's hard to explain, Methos. Listen, I want you to concentrate on the year eleven-forty-five. Will you do that?"

"What?" //What the hell is she talking about? I'm supposed to think in the future? Is this a joke?//

"I know it sounds odd, but try."

"Christ, Amanda, are you starting to believe those Merlin legends? I told you I was not Merlin and he didn't live backwards in time. He was gifted. He could see the future and interpret symbolic events."

She chuckled, a charming laugh that seemed to fill the room and he smiled that he'd amused her. He wished she were talking to him face-to-face. He couldn't figure out where she was.

"I think you would have been cute masquerading as a crusty old wizard."

"He wasn't old either-- only thirty-eight when Arthur was crowned. He just seemed old." He sighed. Of all the idiot things she'd asked him to do, this was right up there. "So, tell me, Amanda, how do I see the future?"

"Let me help you. Listen closely, it's a dreary day in Nantes. It's been raining for hours. Rebecca sent me with a message for you. You're staying at an inn in the center of town, Le Circle de--"

"Le Circle de Trois," he interrupted, his mind making an impossible connection. "I was supposed to meet Rebecca there but she sent you to tell me that she was detained. You looked like a drowned cat when you stepped through the door. "...have you eaten, Amanda? The food is passable here, and it's hot..."

Then he looked around. This wasn't the inn. Nothing had changed except he recalled a different year. His first impression had been the wrong year. //Damn! I should know the year!// He sagged against the door, felt the wall yield some to his body.

"Very good," Amanda's voice called. "See, you can move into the future. Let's try the game again, shall we? This time, it's a marketplace in Segovia. I'm there with Umberto de la Hoya. Do you recall him? About fifty, balding and six inches shorter than me?"

"And a very wealthy man, as I recall. I believe you were going to relieve him of his purse and maybe that cloak pin. Except you hadn't expected me to show up."

"I didn't know he'd hired you to protect his things..." There was sharp protest in her voice.

He could see her clearly, her tall, slender body draped in a voluminous houppeland dress, belted just below her breasts and the long, open brocade sleeves draping almost to the ground. She wore a ridiculous horned headdress that made her look even taller. Gods, women's fashions were not improving with the ages. Just give him a pretty girl in a simple shift. Still, she was a beautiful woman... although slightly misguided at the moment.

"I would think again about what you're contemplating, my lady. It might not be good for your health."

In his mind, he heard the Spaniard ask Amanda, "What does he mean?"

"We're old friends, Umberto," Amanda replied sweetly. "and my friend is being amusing. He thinks he knows my mind, but I assure you I am quite enchanted with you." She shot a fiery glance at him.

"Do you remember the year?" Amanda's present voice asked.

//The year? What--?// His head ached. "Twelve-sixty... I don't recall... twelve-sixty-something... I'm tired."

A sharp pain shot through his head and he winced, then walloped his head back against the door. //No! Not again! Fight it! God! My head's exploding!//

Methos slammed both hands against his head, shoved back against the padding on the door as he gasped in pain. Abruptly, his knees buckled and he dropped to the floor. "...can't fight," he murmured.

Amanda cast a worried glance at Miles. She'd wanted to go down to the room ever since she'd started talking to Methos, but Miles had wanted to try to move him to a later memory.

"We may have just lost him," Miles said as he studied the kneeling figure. "Try to talk to him again."

"Methos? Are you still with me?"

"Methos? Who seeks Methos?" a rough, deep voice replied. "I have dibs on him. I'll have his cowardly, lying head before the day is done."

"I think not," Amanda couldn't resist saying before she turned the microphone off. She sighed and turned to the blonde man. "He's gone. Do you think we made progress, Miles?"

He sat back, thought a few more moments before he answered her. "Yes, I think we did. But I need to think about this some more. Keep an eye on him."

She nodded, her eyes following him out the door, then she turned her attention back to the screen. At least Methos was in there, no matter who he was presently wearing.

MacLeod silently watched the replay of the video from the morning. Amanda was getting through to Methos, even if he was a different version. Both he and Joe had cringed a bit as they'd watched him hurt himself although they knew he would heal quickly. The point was that it hurt, nonetheless, and the old man was doing it deliberately. Was it helping him focus, as Montgomery had suggested?

As the doctor turned the video off and switched the camera back to the live picture, there was a tension in the room that hadn't been there before. MacLeod could sense it. Part of it could have been his own recently discovered knowledge of Montgomery's association with Sean Burns. But the man also seemed less at ease, as if there was something eating at him.

Then there was a definite uneasiness with Amanda stemming from that outlandish dream he'd had. Even though the Amanda in his dream wasn't the reality he knew -- Amanda had never squealed during sex -- he unexpectedly kept seeing her in a different light.

"So, I do feel he's making progress. There are some very positive signs in his behavior right now. For one thing, he is responding to Amanda, he knows who he is and he's not delusional at all. Even when he's possessed by another personality, he still knows he's locked in a room. not in any of the places where that personality might have existed. He's not seeing the past, so it's not their memories specifically he's getting, it's the essence of the person." Miles paused, looked at each of them to make sure they were following what he was saying. "These are all very positive signs and I think they support my theory."

"Which is?" Joe asked.

"That he's processing the Quickenings again and locking them away. It's not a Quickening like when we take a head, but still going through the process of settling the personality within you. I think it's difficult for him because there are so many all at once. What happened must have been like a dam breaking and this total flow of other personalities was suddenly flooding his consciousness." The blonde seemed to struggle with the explanation, wanting to make it as clear as possible, but not being able to express it in terms that he felt Joe would understand. "Is this making any sense to you?"

Joe scratched at his beard, nodding his head. "Yeah. I don't pretend to understand how this Immortality thing works, but I know what you're trying to say. He's one very badly screwed up Immortal."

MacLeod snorted, an appreciative smile touching his face for a few moments. "That's getting to the point, Joe. So, what's the answer, Doctor? What it's going to take to cure him? Another Quickening?"

Miles raised an eyebrow. "Maybe... but it's not exactly something you can arrange. I like him a lot, but I'm not willing to give him my head." His laugh was a little nervous. "Besides, I don't know if that would help or hurt him at this point."

"So we do nothing?" Joe asked, glancing at the monitor screen. Methos -- or whoever he was right now -- was quiet at the moment, resting.

"Well, we continue to do what we've been doing. I think talking to him is vital. I don't believe he would have responded this soon if Amanda hadn't gotten through to him. But he still has a long way to go."

"How well do you think this is working?" Mac interrupted. "This could go on forever, just recycling the personalities through. He's probably killed at least a thousand or more Immortals. He could be doing this for years! And you only think he's processing them. What if he's not?"

Miles gazed down at the floor for a few seconds, tension tightening his jaw as he took his time framing his reply, then he looked at MacLeod. "It's difficult enough analyzing the human brain. An Immortal one is all alien territory. The notes are very few and far between and I'm giving you my best guess at this point. But based on that, I believe he is locking these personalities back down. So far, none of them have repeated. I'm saying that he is gaining control, however briefly between identities, before another takes over. The frequency has increased, which to my...semi-educated mind means that he is handling them faster or they are not as difficult as the first ones were.

"Now, if he has to process a thousand or two thousand, then that's what he'll do. If I can find a way to speed it up, I will. Otherwise, I'll wait. In the meantime, I have a life and I have patients that I need to get back to. So if you want to be helpful, you can spend a day a week here while I take care of my business or I can treat him the same way I treat my other patients and include him on periodic visits in my schedule."

That hit Mac the wrong way and he flared up immediately. "So you're just going to write him off? Is that it?"

"No, that's not it! " Miles snapped back. "I'm worried about him, yes, but there's nothing I can do except what I'm doing. I can't spend every moment of my day here!"

"We know that," Joe said calmly before Mac got another word in. He laid a hand on the Scot's arm, warning him in his own way. "We appreciate that you've been carrying the bulk of this, Miles. Believe me, we want to help. If I can come up and do anything, I will. But you're right. You have other people to think about. "

"I'm already staying here," Amanda added. "As long as I can get through to Methos, I'll keep trying. I think I've got the drill now and it's okay if I handle it on my own when Miles isn't here. In fact, you don't have to come up, Duncan. I can do it."

As quickly as the anger had come, it was gone and MacLeod felt sheepish. "No, I want to do this. That's why I've been coming up regularly. It's just that I don't seem to be accomplishing much. I guess I over-reacted a bit there. You take care of your practice, Doctor."

That settled, they got into the routine of the day. Montgomery left them to take care of some business, but he was right -- they did know what to do.

Over the next several hours, Amanda managed to get through to Methos a couple of more times, but she could never coax him any closer to the present than the eighteenth century. And both times she got through to him, he was using pain to focus, to hang on to his identity for a few precious minutes.

Mac fidgeted during these sessions, wanting to be able to talk to Methos himself, but not seeing a way he could when Amanda couldn't get him to the twentieth century. He frowned after Methos slipped into another personality after the second round and asked, "Amanda, have you seen him since the eighteenth century until these past few years?"

She thought about it a minute or two, then answered. "No, I don't recall running into him. The world got so much more crowded, the horizons expanded with easy travel and chance meetings just don't seem to be as common an occurrence as they were back then."

"Then maybe he won't react until he's ready to come back to the present."

"We'll just have to keep trying," she said simply. " If that's the case, you have as good a chance as getting through as I do."

Mac arched an eyebrow and looked hopeful. Maybe he would. But not today, he added as he noted the time, realizing he and Joe had to get back to Paris.

Rory rubbed the back of his neck, needing no particular talent to detect the knotted muscles. It had been an exhausting day, the latest in a series of exhausting days. He was alone in his office, Dawson and MacLeod back in Paris and Amanda retired in one of the spare rooms he kept for visiting relatives of the patients.

He glanced at the monitor, checking one last time to insure Methos was soundly asleep. The room's lighting was dim, barely more than the average night light would yield, but enough to ease the total darkness of the windowless room.

He ached with the pain of what Methos was going through and felt somewhat helpless with the minimal amount he could actually do to help him. When you got down to it, the medical knowledge he possessed had nothing to do with an Immortal. Reading Sean's notes hadn't helped. He'd treated some genuinely disturbed Immortals, but like Rory's own cases, the condition had existed before the first death. Other cases had been simple adjustments, helping an Immoral come to terms with what he had become. Not everyone welcomed immortality and some simply cracked up with the knowledge of the violence and uncertainty. Hell, he'd been at a point himself when he'd nearly gone stark raving mad.

Basically, all he was accomplishing here was providing a safe harbor where Methos couldn't get hurt or hurt anyone else. Beyond that, everything else rested with the old Immortal. Any recovery at all would come from him. Later, when his mind finally gained control, Rory's skill might be needed, but he doubted that. Methos had a lot of strength.

As much as he disliked the idea of leaving Methos in MacLeod's and Amanda's care, the reality was that it wouldn't make a difference. Right now, Amanda was the only one he was responding to and thankfully, she'd made herself completely available. He tried to console himself with the excuse that he was at least providing support for Methos' friends, but he wasn't so sure about that either.

With a depressed sigh, the psychiatrist turned off the lights in his office and locked the door as he left. This sense of helplessness was possibly the only thing he really had in common with Duncan MacLeod. That and his honest affection and concern for Methos. In fact, it was that concern that was making him seriously consider ending his friendship with the old Immortal. He understood all too well what Amanda had told him. He could be used against Methos, could endanger the ancient man, and vice versa. It wasn't a comfortable thought and Rory was not a particularly brave man.

Dr. Anjouli watched as Montgomery climbed slowly up the staircase to his flat on the second floor. He looked very weary, she thought, and considered it a good sign. With Leroy's help, she'd done some preliminary tests on Pierson, including blood analysis to check for physical factors that might be causing his illness and she'd established that the young man was completely healthy. She was now ready to try phase two.

She slipped down the hall unnoticed. At this hour, the nursing stations were almost unmanned. Leroy spotted her approaching and responded with an okay sign. Bernice nodded, quickly unlocked the observation room and entered. Controls for the lights and camera were in the room and she easily switched the camera off, then brought up the lights a level so she could see. She doubted anyone was watching the other monitor, but if someone were, she'd take the chance of a blackout for a few minutes not causing any alarm.

Pierson stirred a bit, an unconscious reaction to the change in the environment, but he didn't wake. That was good, she thought. It would make this much easier. Within two minutes, she'd joined Leroy at the cell door and the orderly opened it. Cautiously, Dr. Anjouli eased inside, her fingers running smoothly over the hypodermic in her smock. It was a strong dosage, double the normal amount, but Leroy had told her Montgomery used triple the dosage on sedatives, that Pierson was apparently highly resistant to drugs.

She motioned to Leroy who crossed quickly to the bed, ready to subdue Pierson with his body weight if necessary. Deftly, she pushed up the pajama sleeve, located a cooperative vein and slid the needle home. Pierson frowned and mumbled something unintelligible but he didn't wake. With a quick nod, Leroy headed back out the door with the doctor right behind him.

As he locked the door, Leroy muttered, "I hope you know what you are doing, Bernice. I could lose my job by allowing you access."

"You said yourself that Dr. Montgomery was doing nothing," she replied calmly. "Treatment is indicated and I'm taking the prescribed steps. The medication will certainly not hurt him." She smiled sweetly at him, using the same skills she'd used to talk him into this in the first place. "I'm very grateful for your help, Leroy."

Eyes softening, he nodded. "Better hurry."

Mission accomplished, she retreated to the observation room and locked herself in, switched the light back down and the camera on. In the monitor view, Pierson still slept, but he shifted restlessly. Good, she noted, interpreting the movement to mean the drug was working. With luck, his hallucinations were receding and he was reacting to the real fears he was masking with these false personalities and archaic languages. Bernice Anjouli made herself comfortable, ready to spend the night.

The insistent ring of the phone finally penetrated through the deep sleep that had engulfed Rory. Blearily, he reached for the instrument, duty winning out over raw desire to hurl the noisy intruder out the window and mumbled into it. "What is it?"

"It's Amanda," the crisp voice replied. "You'd better get down here now."

Rory was instantly alert. "What's happened? Are you in my office?" He focused in on the clock... six-forty-five. He'd hoped to sleep until at least eight. What was Amanda doing up at this hour?

"Yes, your office. I can't describe it, Miles. You need to see him. Hurry." The urgency in her voice was emphasized by the sudden click of the phone set in its cradle.

Miles was alert immediately, then set a new personal best in getting dressed and rushed downstairs. He made it to his office in less than five minutes.

Amanda stared intently at the monitor screen, then glanced at him and motioned him over. Rory felt decidedly uneasy as he complied.

Methos was huddled in the corner, his eyes darting around the room in fear as if they followed some invisible monster. His hands were extended in front of him, mimicking holding a sword. Abruptly he yelled and attacked, his arms swinging the non-existent weapon as if he were truly battling someone or something. He leaped onto the bed, ducking and plunging with the sword, then bouncing off onto the floor and desperately searching the wall for an exit, a way out from whatever was threatening him. He whirled, brought his air sword back up and defended...thrust, parry, sidestep, parry, thrust... in a chaotic dance that held both Amanda and Rory mesmerized. A wrong step, he gasped sharply, hands dropping the invisible weapon and clutching at his side as he dropped to his knees. His head dropped, then swung sharply up as if it had been pulled up and terror transformed his face into a nightmarish mask. A shriek of fear that curdled the blood filled the room and was cut short as he tumbled forward into a limp heap.

"Shit!" Rory felt a weakness in his own knees and grabbed for a chair. He had no doubt he'd just witnessed a death, a beheading. This was not good. "Is this the first time?"

Amanda shook her head. "This is the third one I've seen. All different, but he dies each time. I'm not sure if he isn't really dying, Miles. He won't move at all for a few minutes, then it starts over again. A challenge, a fight and the death."

"Can you talk to him?"

"I tried. It only seems to make him worse, as if he thinks I'm in the room. He doesn't answer, doesn't acknowledge his name. I think he's fighting himself."

Numbly, Miles stared at the still inert body, then took a deep breath. "I badly need a cup of coffee."

Amanda nodded. "I made a pot. You stay here, I'll get you one."

Rory ran his hand through his hair and tried to think about this logically. This shouldn't be happening. Methos had been processing the personalities fine. They'd come, they'd been real, reacting to the environment without illusions, but this was totally different. "When did it start? Do you know?"

Amanda handed him a cup, then settled down again with one of her own. "I'm not sure. I came in about six, couldn't sleep. He was in the middle of one of these... memories then. What's happening, Miles?"

"I'm not positive, Amanda. This is totally unexpected. I need to see more before I can really offer an opinion." He sipped his coffee and waited.

Five minutes later, the body on the floor jerked sharply followed by a gasp and Methos sat up, looking uncertainly around him. Then his face cleared and he looked perfectly at ease. He pushed to his feet, then reached out as if he was touching something.

"Amanda, talk to him. Don't call him by name... just speak to him as if you are just passing by."

"Hello. How are you?" she said, imagining herself passing by a stranger.

"Ah, buenos tardes, senorita. Esta bien."

Spanish this time, Rory realized, his mind translating reasonably well. He encouraged Amanda to continue as he watched Methos' actions when he spoke with her. He appeared to be in a garden and he plucked a rose and offered it to her, telling her his name was Alejandro Montoya de la Cruz. This was his estate near Grenada, he informed Amanda, gesturing with his arms to include what must be a large area that he believed he was seeing. The conversation continued for a bit, then he frowned and Amanda was forgotten.

Suddenly Methos was shouting to someone named Don Miguel, telling him to go away, that he had no business there. The conversation was one-sided, making very little sense to the observers, but it came to blows, swords drawn and another fight ensuing. Within five minutes, Alejandro was dead, lying in an awkward heap over the bed, the implied beheading obvious.

"Was he ever Don Miguel?" Rory asked as he pieced together this nightmare. That looked like Don Miguel had issued the challenge. It wasn't a defensive battle... he'd been the aggressor.

"Yes. He's hallucinating, isn't he?"

"Well, he seems to be seeing the memories, not the room."

"The memories belong to his opponents," Amanda stated bluntly. "He's reliving the final moments from those people."

Rory looked away. "Yeah, that's what it looks like. I don't understand what started this."

From the monitor, he heard a gasp and a howl of anguish. The person who abused that slim body now was totally out of control. He was bouncing off the walls, stumbling around the room and shrieking obscenities in three different languages.

Rory got to his feet, reaching for the tranq gun. Before he made it to the door, Amanda cried, "Wait!"

Rory hesitated, backtracked and stared at the monitor. Methos had suddenly stopped, dropped on the bed and had crashed out like he'd just come down from a high.

Setting the gun down, Rory reached for the controls and rewound the tape. He stopped it and started it playing, caught Methos in the middle of another fight, noted the time, and continued rewinding. About three-fifteen, he was back to where Methos was asleep. He was restless, muttering, but otherwise sleeping okay. By three-twenty-three, he was wide awake and shouting in Farsi -- Amanda informed him -- then going through the same routine, acting out an encounter with someone -- they could only assume it was himself -- and dying.

As to what had set it off, Rory didn't have a clue. But he did know it wasn't a good thing.

Methos was completely exhausted, his body and mind incapable of anything for the rest of the day. He slept, woke a couple of times, but just rolled over and fell back to sleep immediately.

Over the next two days, Methos' behavior was just as erratic. He wasn't seeing the room he was in, only other places and situations. On the second day, not every remembered event ended in his death, but they were disjointed and difficult to follow as he switched from one memory to another in a matter of moments and none of them were his own memories. Curiously, the episodes only lasted for about six to eight hours before Methos was exhausted and generally collapsed to sleep most of the rest of the day away.

To add to the problem, today Methos had been depressed and unresponsive. He'd sat on the bed, with legs folded under him, part of the day, then huddled in the corner, picking at the padding for another few hours. Talking to him had been like addressing a wooden doll -- no acknowledgement whatsoever.

Rory was stumped and very worried. It was almost as if Methos was on drugs of some sort. He replayed the tapes, studying his behavior and backtracking to the time they started. He even went back to an hour before and everything seemed fine. He did find an odd black spot on the tape, lasting about five minutes, as if the camera had gone dead. Maybe a circuit breaker tripped. He'd have to ask whoever was on duty.

While MacLeod hadn't said anything specific, Rory was certain he was blaming him for this change. The not-so-understanding look he'd given him earlier in the day made it clear he expected him to do something about it. //Shit! The only reason MacLeod hasn't moved Methos somewhere else is there isn't another doctor who knows anything about Immortals. MacLeod himself has seen to that,// Rory thought bitterly, surprising himself with the intensity of the emotion that accompanied the thought. Adam had told him that MacLeod had accidentally killed Sean, that the two of them were good friends. How the hell do you accidentally behead someone?

The clinic was very quiet at three a.m. when Dr. Anjouli and two of her assistants, who shoved a gurney along, made their way down the hall to meet Leroy. To reduce the possibility of being caught, she'd tried three different drugs, administered in a late night treat Leroy delivered, on Adam Pierson over the past three nights and all of them had yielded atypical results. In fact, the delusions had grown more severe from the first two and the third one had left the patient depressed and unresponsive. They had worn off before mid-morning in all cases.

What she planned to try next was more radical, a still-questionable course of treatment, but one that she felt this case warranted. Pierson was a severely disturbed man and what she'd witnessed was beyond anything she'd encountered before. In fact, she had never read any cases that even remotely resembled this one. Not only did he appear to have numerous personalities, but he was delusional and, at times, violent. The first reactions had frightened her a bit because they seemed so savage and bizarre. Even if she was not totally successful in treating Pierson, the whole case would make a remarkable paper. If she was, she would become the most renowned psychiatrist since Freud.

She realized that interfering with Montgomery's patient was unethical and risky, but she felt justified in taking action. She'd already determined that she would confront the head of the clinic the next day and insist that he allow her to continue the treatment she was starting. She had enough evidence accumulated to take the case to court if necessary.

Making the quick stop to disable the cameras in the cell, she and her team proceeded to the room and followed Leroy inside. The tall figure stood in the shadows, every line of his body indicating a defensive position. She hadn't expected to find him awake.

"Monsieur Pierson, please relax. We are not here to hurt you. I am Dr. Anjouli and I have been helping you for the past few days."

"Helping me? I don't recall needing any help," he responded. The voice carried a distinct Irish lilt. "And my name is not Pierson."

"Very well. Why don't you tell me what your name is? Please sit back down. I need to give you some medication."

He half-laughed. "Medication? I don't think so. You don't know what I am, woman. I was trained in the healing arts before your ancestors were born. If you want to be helpful, you'll let me leave this place."

Pierson circled warily away from her and the three men with her. At a nod from Dr. Anjouli, Leroy and the others made their move. It wasn't easy to take the deranged man down. He fought like a wild animal, kicking at them and even throwing one or two of them off him, but the three medics were trained to handle violent patients. They wrestled him to the floor, holding his wiry body securely, so the woman doctor could get the injection into his tense arm.

He winced, gritting his teeth and cursed her, then cursed them all. "May the devil himself come and take your miserable souls away to writhe in eternal damnation. You're all demons!"

A few minutes later, he was strapped to a gurney and responding to the strong tranquilizer the doctor had given him. A flood of Gaelic curses flowed until the medicine fully cut in, then receded to incoherent mumbling as they wheeled the gurney out into the hallway.

Bernice Anjouli tried to maintain an air of calm. That had been frightening and she hoped future sessions would go smoother. Perhaps pre-drugging him so that he wouldn't be so violent. She led the gurney down the hall and to the treatment wing, directing the medics to the one marked ECT.

Rory rolled restlessly on his bed, shifting from sleep to awake in a moment. Something had disturbed him, but he wasn't sure what exactly. He sat up, eyes tracking around the room for the source of his uneasiness. Nothing. He noted the digital readout on the clock -- three-twenty-eight-- and groaned. He was so tired. This schedule was wearing him down and it didn't look like it would get any better. He was very worried about the abrupt changes in Methos' behavior.

Punching his pillow, he dropped back onto it when he sensed an Immortal. It was a faint detection, indicating the other one wasn't close, but within the area. Amanda? He was alert now as he pulled on his clothes and reached for his sword. Feeling uneasy, Rory went out and down the stairs. He didn't see Amanda as he headed for his office, but the sense of presence didn't get any stronger. He slipped into his office and switched on the monitor. The screen remained blank. At first, he thought it was broken or unplugged, but it checked out. The camera wasn't on.

Suddenly, his skin crawled with the sense of another Immortal again. He turned to face the door, sword raised. Damn! Not counting the two go-arounds he'd had with Methos, he hadn't had to fight anyone in several decades now. He tensed nervously as a raised sword appeared in the doorway, then Amanda pounced in, crouching low.

"Amanda! What are you trying to do? Give me a heart attack!"

"You'd survive," she answered calmly as she straightened. "I didn't know you were down here. There's another Immortal on the grounds."

"I'm worried about Methos," Rory said as he pointed to the dark monitor, then he called the orderly's phone just outside the door and waited as it rang and rang with no answer. He slammed the phone down. "No answer! I don't like this." With Amanda keeping pace with him, they ran out the door and across the clinic.

As they turned the corner and started toward the cell, the Immortal's signature seemed stronger, closer. This was too far away for Methos if he was still in the cell. Rory pivoted slowly, trying to determine the direction of its origin. Amanda looked alarmed as well. "Check out the cell," he told her. "I'm going to go this way."

As she nodded and ran down the hall, he shifted to go down the corridor to the north wing, still sensing the presence as he went. //Damn! What's going on?// he wondered.

Then he saw the lights on in one of the treatment rooms... the electroshock therapy room. Rory increased his pace. He was nearly to the door when a blood-curdling scream assaulted him.

"Turn it off! Turn it off!" a woman's voice cried in panic.

Rory shoved the door open and froze in place at the nightmarish scene that greeted him. Pandemonium reigned in the therapy room as Dr. Anjouli grabbed at a technician at the ECT device. Leroy stood back in a corner, arms raised protectively over his face. Another medic stared worriedly at the readings he was getting on an EEG monitor and kept muttering, "Do something! For God's sake!"

In the center of this was Methos. He was strapped to the gurney, electrodes attached to his temples. He'd broken the strap across his chest and arms, then had reached across to grab the machine's controls with one hand while the other had locked onto a metal cart on the other side. Jolts of electricity were causing him to arch against the straps as the current traveled through his body. He cried out with the pain, his body convulsing. Frantically, the technician made quick, darting moves to pry the patient's locked fingers off the controls, but appeared afraid to touch him as blue-white arcs of electricity traveled from metal to metal through the human conductor. Methos went rigid with the surge of power.

Without hesitating, Rory crossed the room in a dead run, dropping to unplug the machine from the wall. As the current stopped, Methos' body dropped against the gurney, still writhing from the abuse as a pained groan indicated it still hurt. Bruises across his chest and ribs indicated damage from the convulsions.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?" Rory shouted as he got to his feet and crossed next to Methos to look at the EEG readouts. "You have no right to do this! You may have done severe injury!"

"I gave him a tranquilizer and muscle relaxants," the doctor whimpered defensively. "He shouldn't have been able to do this. He-- he grabbed the control and turned the voltage up! We couldn't stop him. Dr. Montgomery, I was only trying a standard form of treatment."

From the look of Methos, the treatment may have almost reached the coma stage. His eyes were closed, but his body still convulsed with the residual reaction. Under normal treatment for schizophrenia, the patient would convulse and slip to unconsciousness with only a mild current passed briefly through the electrodes. Methos had effectively electrocuted himself by grabbing the controls.

His jaw trembling in anger, Rory whirled to face the orderly who was inching toward the door. "Leroy, you've disobeyed my instructions and abused my trust in you. You've allowed this woman to access my patient when I gave strict orders no one was to go in except me. I have no place here for you. Get out! And you, Dr. Anjouli-" he turned to face the defiant woman.

"I was doing what you did not. You were doing nothing for this patient!" Her voice was sharp and angry, yet confident with her righteous indignation. "I have enough evidence of his severe disorder to justify in any court that I take-"

"You know nothing about it!" Rory shouted. "This is not your patient. He's mine. And I will decide how his condition is treated. You're suspended pending a review of your actions. Now, all of you, get the hell out of here!"

"Dr. Montgomery, your behavior is very unprofessional-- " she started to object.

"Unprofessional? What do you call what you've done? You nearly killed a patient here. I said get out!" There was a fury in Rory's face that she had never seen before that stopped her from saying anything else.

Angrily, she turned to leave, the last of them as the technician and her assistants had already gone out the door right behind Leroy. As she started to pass him, Rory snatched the clipboard and attached file folder from her hand.

"I'll take that"

She shot a defiant glance at him. "You have no right--"

"I have every right. You have placed this clinic and yourself in a position to be sued for malpractice, Doctor. Don't push it."

He glared at her as she went through the door, then began taking several deep breaths to calm himself.

"Rory?" The voice from behind him was strained sounding. But he had called his name -- his real name. He rotated to look at Methos, seeing eyes that were alert even though he looked pained as he pushed up on an elbow.

"How are you feeling?"

"Like I've gone through three continuous Quickenings. Aggh!" A sharp cry as he twitched involuntarily.

Rory turned off the ever-present camera, then perched on the edge of the gurney and pressed a soothing hand against Methos' head with a gentleness born of their close friendship. It hurt to watch his friend still jerking with the muscle tremors caused by the electrical shock. "Lay back down for a few minutes. You've done some damage here." Carefully, he removed the electrodes and noted the angry-looking red-brown skin beneath them, a telltale sign of the strength of the current used. He fought to stay calm, to not let his anger touch Methos.

"Damn... damn... dammit!" Methos groaned through the obvious pain. "What the hell's happening to me?"

"Right now? Your body is still dealing with way too much electricity sent through it. Normally, we don't use quite that much power to treat a patient. Shock therapy is designed to treat depression and severe mental illness by balancing the-" He stopped as he realized Methos was staring at him as if he was demented. "In your case, those charming personalities that have been dominating you for the past two weeks chose to let you be the one to suffer through it."

"Cowards," Methos mumbled, wincing as residual pain caused him to spasm.

Knowing what some of the effects of this kind of treatment could be, Rory pulled out a stethoscope and pressed the disc against Methos' chest, listening intently for an irregular heartbeat or anything else that might indicate extensive damage. An arrhythmic beat told him how bad it was and, Immortal or no, his patient needed rest. He gently touched the ribs, detecting at least one that felt uneven, indicating a break.

"I'm all right, Rory," Methos complained as he watched the intent look on the young face. "Even if I die, I'll be okay. You don't need to worry."

Rory sat back and reached for a bottle of clear dark pink liquid. "I know, but I would prefer you didn't die. It makes things awkward... especially if someone else is around when you do it." He poured about four ounces of the liquid into a plastic cup and held it to Methos' lips. "Drink this. It will ease the pain."

Methos eyed it, reluctance reflected in the too expressive hazel eyes. "I don't know if I want to..."

"Come on. It's not going to knock you out."

"It's not that," he said as he carefully pushed the cup away. "But I'm in control for the moment. No one's pulling at me, trying to overlay who I am. The pain's doing that. Maybe shock's not too far off the mark. Pain keeps them away."

"Are you suggesting that I continue this madness? Fight this by hurting you?" Rory stared in disbelief. "I won't do it! It's simply out of the question. How long do you think you could stand it?"

"I'm familiar with pain."

"Methos, you can't do this. It's not going to make those monsters go away." He stopped as he saw the look of surprise on the lean, haggard face. He realized what had put it there as quickly as Methos connected the how.

"Mac told you?"

Rory nodded. "He thought it would help if I knew. I would rather have heard it from you, but he was right. I needed to have your name."

Methos blinked at that, swallowed with difficulty. "How much did he tell you?"

"Your name and that you'd had some bad times in your past. That there were a lot of ghosts." Rory paused as he noticed the older man grit his teeth and jerk involuntarily. Determined, he put a hand behind Methos' head and returned the cup to his mouth. "Now be a good boy and drink this."

Methos' mouth curved into an amused smile. "That takes balls, trying to order a five-thousand-year-old man to take his medicine as if he were a five-year-old kid."

"I don't see much difference. Drink it," Rory repeated firmly and Methos gave in. He took the cup from Rory's hand, but the doctor made sure he swallowed every drop.

"You really that old?" he asked as the older man handed the cup back. His voice carried a touch of awe tinged with disbelief.

"At least. Sometimes it's hard to tell, but based on what I remember clearly, that's when I took my first head. Before that, my memories are blurry - could be ten years, could be a thousand... could be something someone told me."

Methos pushed back up on his elbows and Rory helped him sit up. "You ready to go back to your room?"

"How 'bout out of here?" Methos countered.

"Fine. You stay with us for a couple of days and I'll consider it." Rory offered him a shoulder to lean on. "Can you walk or should I get a wheelchair?"

Methos rested an arm against the doctor. "I'll walk. So, it's been two weeks? I've lost track of time."

"You could say that." Wrapping an arm around his waist, Rory began guiding his patient back to the cell. As much as he hated to do it, he couldn't be sure that Methos would be able to hold on once the pain eased and he needed to get him back to a secure location.

As they walked, Methos gained his strength back and had ceased leaning on Rory before they reached the hallway. He hadn't said much, but his sharp eyes were taking in all the details as they went.

"It's my clinic in the country, near Draux," Rory volunteered. "It was a safe place to bring you." He opened the door and ushered the tall man in.

As the door shut behind them, Methos stopped and gazed around the room. "A padded cell? Was I that violent?"

"Yeah. A few times. How much do you remember of the past couple of weeks?"

"Bits and pieces. Was Amanda here? I recall talking to her."

Rory nodded. "Yeah, she's here. MacLeod and Dawson have been here also... almost every day. You've got some good friends." Speaking of Amanda, he thought, where the heck was she?

Methos' forehead wrinkled as he tried to remember. "I can't-- Everything is so jumbled. It seems like I was fighting with dozens of people."

Rory urged him to sit down, guiding him to the narrow bed. "C'mon. Don't push it right now. What you need to do now is concentrate on who you are. Don't let go, all right?"

As Methos sat, he groaned a bit, twisting his neck. Rory settled next to him and began kneading the muscles in his neck and shoulder. Methos sighed, leaned forward a little.

"I don't know if I can hold on," he said softly. "It was so hard to gain control. Pain helped me. I remember using pain..."

"Uh-huh, a few of the times you did. It seemed like Amanda could talk to you between personalities. Were you aware of them?

"Sort of... like I was seeing them from a distance, but I had to struggle to get to them. It's really hard to explain. Rory, I want you to use pain if I can't maintain. Whatever you have to do."

Rory took a deep breath, "Only if there's no other way. I don't want to hurt you."

Methos turned to meet his eyes, "I know." He leaned forward and pressed his lips gently against the blonde's. Automatically, Rory pressed a hand to Methos' cheek, sliding it back into the soft hair. //Five thousand years old,// he thought, //and his skin and hair still felt like a young man's, would always feel this way. How incredible Immortality really was.// Then he bit gently at Methos' lip before he backed off slightly. Now was not the time or the place.

Taking the cue, Methos broke the kiss and pulled back. Rory noted how tired he looked, how much of a strain this whole ordeal was for him. "Lie down and get some sleep," he ordered firmly.

"I don't want to let go," his patient objected, but yielded to his instructions to lie down.

Rory adjusted the covers over him, then sat on the bed. "If you don't rest, you won't be able to fight it."

"And if I do, they have a chance to get in... I need to be in control, Rory."

"You can. Your subconscious can do it. Just keep telling yourself that you're the boss." Rory smiled a bit. "You're gonna be okay, really. We're not gonna let you get lost. I promise."

"Pretty brave of you, considering you haven't a clue to what's happening," Methos answered with acute perception.

"I'm learning fast. Now get some sleep." He ran his hand through the dark hair, then slid his fingers back to Methos' temple and gently rubbed in a circular motion.

Methos sighed, closing his eyes and leaned his head against the hand. Rory stayed until he was sure Methos was asleep. He lovingly stroked the face, glad for the calmness in it. He was hopeful. Maybe Dr. Anjouli's treatment was the answer after all. As radical as it had seemed, it may have done the trick. He should be grateful to her for doing what he didn't have the guts to do.

continued in part eight...