|Kindred Spirits: Nine
by Lillian Wolfe
Duncan MacLeod unconsciously rotated the cup of coffee in his hands. He'd turned it more than he'd drunk any of it and that fact had not escaped the notice of Joe Dawson. Mac had arrived at Le Blues Club around eleven, but whatever it was he had to say was waiting for Amanda to join them. Joe knew it had to do with Methos, however, Mac refused to say more than that. He'd accepted the coffee, then drifted off into his own thoughts. //Those are heavy thoughts, indeed,// Joe decided, if the expression on the Highlander's face was any indication.
So the Watcher was relieved when Amanda breezed into the bar like a burst of fresh air on a sultry day. She, too, had probably been wakened earlier this morning than she would have liked, but unlike Joe, she looked fresh as a daisy and smiled brightly at the two men as she greeted them. She crossed to plant a good morning kiss on MacLeod's mouth, then said bluntly, "You look like a worried man, Duncan. What's up? What's so important?"
Mac looked up at her, the pain and fears of the last few hours reflecting in his eyes, then he glanced across at Joe, the gaze inviting him to join them. "It's Methos... or more precisely, not Methos. It seems we should have gone with our instincts on this."
"What are you talkin' about?" Joe said, forehead wrinkling in consternation as he moved stiffly from the bar, where he had been industriously wiping drink glasses, to the table.
"For the past week, we didn't have Methos. We had someone else." Mac's voice was slow and deliberate.
"Shit! I knew it!" Joe muttered. "I knew that he wasn't reacting normally."
Amanda's expression had gone completely neutral and her face seemed a shade paler as she asked. "Who was it, Duncan?"
"What?!" Joe's voice carried his disbelief. "That can't be, Mac."
"It was. Think about it. He was the one person Methos knew who could convince us he was Methos. The one person who knew enough about the old man to mimic his personality. All we had to do was allow for a few little gaps in his memory."
"How?" Joe demanded.
Mac slouched down a little, a slightly guilty look on his face. "Joe, back when I had the show down with Kronos, there was something I didn't tell you. I killed Kronos at the same time that Methos killed Silas. There was a double Quickening."
"You told me that," Joe countered.
"What I didn't tell you is that during the Quickening, some of the energy seemed to flow from me to Methos. I just thought it was a backwash of some sort and because we were both experiencing the power, it only appeared to flow to Methos. Neither of us ever dreamed Kronos could actually transfer with it."
"You gotta be kidding!" Joe blurted out. He'd never heard of such a thing and this piece of news was a surprise. He'd called off Cassandra's Watcher at Mac's request, trusting that the Highlander would fill him in on all the details. Silas, Caspian and Kronos didn't have Watchers on them and he had thought it was just as well under the circumstances. Deep down, he'd still wanted to protect Adam.
"I wish I was. Kronos told me himself -- through Methos. He tried to kill me..."
Amanda's head snapped up, shock on her face. "Oh, God..." she breathed.
"He came too close," Mac added, then he proceeded to fill them in on the rest of the details about how the world's oldest Immortal had ended up with the personality of the world's worst megalomaniac and how Methos had managed to stop Kronos.
"And the worst of it is that Methos really believes he can't defeat Kronos and as long as he thinks that, he's right. He can't," Mac concluded, his expression as gloomy as his voice.
"Jesus! This is a mess!" Joe growled, sitting down heavily next to the Scot. As always, the Watcher was looking for a way to salvage the situation, to correct the problem. "So what are our options, Mac?"
MacLeod's face showed a tiny smile as he noted the buy-in from Joe. Amanda, on the other hand, looked ill. She'd said very little and was staring darkly at the table, any thoughts she had well-hidden in her stiff expression.
"I dunno, Joe. I spent most of last night thinking about it and I don't have a plan. Methos wants me to take his head--"
"You can't!" Amanda protested instantly before he could go any further. "There has to be another way!"
"I didn't say I agreed with him," Mac retorted. "Besides I don't want his Quickening. I had enough trouble with Coltec's. The idea of having all four of the Horsemen in me is repulsive. Truthfully, I'm not sure that any of us is strong enough to hold that combined Quickening."
"So, what are you thinking, Mac?" Joe hoped the Highlander had something in mind. "We can't risk Kronos being on the loose again. Will Methos be able to control this?"
Mac looked even more depressed. "I honestly don't know, Joe. I know so little about his relationship with Kronos, but there's more than one element at work here. He's afraid of Kronos, but it's not the fear alone that's stopping him. He has it in his mind that he's no more worthy to live than Kronos and if he kills Kronos, he should die."
"That's crazy! Kronos is already dead! And he made sure you did it."
"Exactly. He made sure I did it so he wouldn't have to face the guilt. Now he finds out the essence of Kronos is alive and within him. A man he didn't feel he could judge has made an unheard of leap into his own soul with the ability to overpower him and he doesn't believe he has a chance."
"For cryin' out loud!" Joe muttered irritably. "If he was still the murdering bastard he once was, I'd agree with him, but Methos has changed totally. That's why Kronos deserved to die and Methos doesn't."
"Yeah," Mac agreed. "Now all we have to do is convince a stubborn five-thousand-year-old man that he deserves to live. I hope Montgomery is a miracle worker."
Methos paced the perimeter of Rory's office, noting the details of the craftsmanship in the carved wood as well as the obvious items such as framed degrees and paintings on the wall. He hadn't been in this room before although it had a familiar feel to it. Rory sat on the small couch and observed him, not saying anything, letting him set the tone for their session. Methos paused at the glass windows and gazed out at the garden. He could feel Kronos at the back of his mind, could almost hear the whispered voice as he tried to take control again. He shivered, folded his arms and rubbed unconsciously at his shoulder. The absolute last thing he wanted to do was talk about his brother. It was bad enough to feel him there, but there was an underlying, and acknowledged, fear that in giving voice to the past, it might be enough to open the door to the present.
"We don't have to do this right now," Rory said softly.
Rotating toward the psychiatrist, Methos shook his head. "It won't be any better later. Now is as good a time as any. Where do you want me? On the couch?" This last was said with a slight smile, almost as a joke. It was a way to ease the tension a little.
Rory returned the expression. "Wherever you're comfortable. You want a drink?"
"No," the taller man answered with a mild shake of his head, then quickly amended. "Wait - yes. Do you have any beer?"
"In the 'fridge."
Methos grabbed a bottle, then crossed to sit opposite Rory and hunched forward a little as he twisted off the cap and took a shallow swallow. "Now what?"
"That's up to you. Do you want to start at the beginning? Tell me how you met Kronos."
Rory's voice was soft, casual. A simple question as easily asked as a neutral query about the weather. Would the answer were as uncomplicated, Methos thought, as he studied the bottle in his hands as if it might provide the response.
It was another life, really. One of the various lives he'd lived over the millennia. When he looked back on it, there was the perception that it had happened to someone else... that another Immortal had been that Methos. He hadn't really lied to Mac when he'd said, "It wasn't me." He was centuries distant from that person. Yet it was him. And Rory was asking him to talk about that time... that incredibly exhilarating, frightening and barbaric time. //Tell me how you met Kronos.//
"I was living in a small village at the edge of the Great Desert - that would be roughly the equivalent of Syria now. I hadn't been there long. Up until about a season earlier I had been a slave to a trader in a village not far from the one I'd relocated to after my service was complete. It was the price of being on the losing side in a battle. I'd set myself up as a tailor - it was the only thing the village lacked and it gave me enough work to make a decent living and set aside a few items to barter for a new sword..." His voice faded as the memories became clearer. He could almost smell the animal dung that lingered near the mud-dabbed huts and mingled with the spice smell that covered and preserved the meat. How common and secure that odor was in that time. Now just the thought of it almost turned his stomach.
"It was early in the morning - the sun was barely above the horizon, when I heard the first shouts from the village watch. Raiders were not uncommon. Many bands roved the deserts, waiting for the opportunity to prey on an unsuspecting or weakened village. For that matter, villages raided other villages. The fear of retaliation was about the only thing that kept it in check. So the village was not unprepared for an attack. But most raiders didn't have Immortals amongst them. This group did. There were maybe twenty raiders, but only three were on horseback and I knew instantly that at least one of them was Immortal. It quickly became evident that all three of them were. I had no sword and I remember thinking that I wouldn't have a chance against them with a knife, but I was going to try. I was captured by Caspian and dragged before Kronos and in that moment, I knew I had an opportunity."
"An opportunity?" Rory repeated. "To escape?"
Methos shook his head. "To survive. The possibility that I could turn this to something I could manipulate."
"How did you figure that?"
"When Kronos looked at me, I could almost see his thoughts parading across his face. I was tougher then, Rory. My body was stronger, heavier from the constant workout of fighting. And I had an assurance in my bearing that made men cautious... made them value me." Methos' eyes had grown distant as if he was seeing his Bronze Age self.
"You still do," Rory murmured softly.
"Not like then. There was bravado and arrogance in abundance. After two thousand years, I was proportionately cocky. I think that's what Kronos saw and what he wanted to control, what he wanted to shape to his own needs. So my head was spared, although not my life. I was easier to transport dead."
There was a shaky intake of breath as Rory listened to the matter-of-fact narration. His slightly uneven voice betrayed his nerves. "Describe... Kronos. What was he like? What did he look like?"
Methos closed his eyes, letting the memories wash over him like a stream over pebbles in a river, polishing the little nuggets of the past as it went...
The iron grip of the heavier man held his arms behind him, strong fingers locked like a vise on his wrists as he shoved Methos in front of him. Methos resisted enough to make it convincing, to give him a chance to get to his knife when the time was right. As they came to the center of the village, the sadistic man whipped his right wrist with a sharp jerk. He bit down a cry of pain as the bone snapped, then a hard kick caught the back of his knees and he collapsed to the ground, kneeling before the raider who was obviously the leader of this band of heathens. Swaying slightly off balance, his left hand moved carefully to withdraw his knife from the pouch in his pants and slip it within his palm, pointing up the sleeve of his tunic in readiness. Stubbornly, he brought his face up to gaze at this plunderer who was going to try to take his head. His breath caught in his throat.
The man who met his stare wasn't large of stature, about average for a human but small for an Immortal, yet he looked terribly dangerous. A wicked scar marred the somewhat pleasant face giving it a more evil look than it would otherwise have. Maybe it was a trick of the morning light, but the blue-gray eyes sparkled as he peered down at Methos and his lips spread into a wide, closed-mouth grin. In that moment, Methos knew this man wasn't going to destroy him. This man wanted something from him.
The leader nodded, his dirty mop of dark hair bobbing along like a separate entity, then he spoke quietly, but forcefully. "I am Kronos. You live as long as it pleases me. What is your name... slave?" The pause was just long enough to impress on the captive what his status with this band of heathens would be.
Methos adopted a neutral expression, looked directly into the gray eyes and said nothing.
Abruptly Kronos laughed, a somewhat merry sound coming out, as if he was amused by the resistance. "I like a little spirit in a slave. Gives me a goal. Bring him, Caspian." Kronos spun away and mounted his horse. As Kronos rode away, the heathen who'd held him plunged a jagged knife into his heart...
"Kronos was compelling," Methos said finally. "He wasn't a big man, but he was strong and there was a sharp mind behind the eyes. I could see that the moment I met him. He was charismatic and forceful. He made me feel that he could conquer the world and sometimes I believed he thought he could. Mostly, he just knew that anything he wanted, he could have."
Pausing, Methos finished the beer and studied Rory's face for a few moments. He seemed to be handling this okay, Methos decided. There was more curiosity and wonder in the eyes than horror or disgust and that was promising. Of course, the reality of it might not be making an impact at the moment.
"So he chose to take you as a slave," Rory commented, waiting for Methos to continue. "Isn't that a little odd? An Immortal taking another one into his band as a slave... it would seem risky."
"Maybe a calculated risk," the older man answered agreeably. "But you didn't often run into Immortals then, Rory. When Kronos found one, he'd rather train him as an ally than take his head. From his standpoint, an Immortal raider was the ideal and Kronos was always practical. He didn't discard what he could use. Immortality set us apart... we were invincible. And maybe he saw what I could bring to the band. I was the last Immortal he added."
Rory leaned forward a bit, hunching in toward Methos, giving the impression of confidentiality, then he asked, "How did you feel about Kronos?"
"Then? I guess a bit amused by his arrogance and bravado. But then he would say the same about me. I wasn't really afraid of him, not then." His voice dropped to almost a whisper at the end.
"But you are now?"
Methos closed his eyes and rubbed his fingers against them. He felt weary. "It's not a simple answer. There are so many emotions tied up with Kronos. Fear, love, hate, passion... betrayal." Methos got to his feet and paced the length of the room, trying to order his thoughts into something coherent. He stopped walking and leaned against Rory's desk.
"What I had with Kronos, Silas and Caspian was like family. The only family I really ever had. We called each other brother and we meant it. We lived together, fought together and stood as a unit against the world. It gave me something I'd never had in two thousand years... a feeling of belonging."
"What about when you were growing up? Didn't you have a family then?"
There was an almost too quick shake of the head, as Methos replied, "No. There was nothing. I don't recall a lot of that life but I know there was never any affection or security. There was only survival. I learned how to do that very young."
"So Kronos was most likely a father figure as well as a brother," the psychiatrist observed.
Eyes narrowing slightly, Methos shot back, "Don't try that, Rory. He was not a replacement for the father I never had. It was more like a teen-aged gang, like any of the gangs you find now where those who are alike seek each other out and become blood brothers. They rebel against society, becoming hoodlums. We just did it on a grand scale. Humans aren't the only ones who need that kind of camaraderie you know. We're constantly searching for that companionship. Even Immortals raised in a strong family are seeking ways to recreate the family. Isn't that crazy? Half of us are trying to kill each other, the very object of the game dictates that we will kill each other, yet we're not immune from needing companionship with our own kind."
"You're saying you were an out-of-control, undisciplined, pack of juveniles?" Rory stated clinically.
"Basically, yeah. That describes it. Young turks on the desert, making our mark."
"How did you feel about Kronos?"
Methos shot a glance at Rory, at the repeated question.
"Don't think about it," the blonde said quickly. "Just answer."
Swallowing an unexpected lump, he said in a whisper. "I loved him."
"And you're responsible for his death?"
Methos glared at Rory, angry at where this session had lead them. Angry because he knew what Rory was doing and he was right. He lowered his eyes. "Yes."
"Do you regret it?"
"No." There was no hesitation in the answer, only pain.
"You'd do it again?" Rory pursued.
Methos took a deep breath and looked away. "I don't want to talk about this any more, Rory. I'm tired."
The smaller man nodded his head slowly, stretching his arms out, then he stood and crossed the room to where Methos still leaned against the desk. "Methos, you can't run away from it. You need..."
"I said I don't want to do this anymore!" the old Immortal snapped as he stepped away from the blonde man. "Not now!"
"Fine! Why don't you get some rest then?" Rory replied a little too sharply. "I'll have Lyle escort you back to your room."
"My cell..." Methos muttered, flatly.
"Yes. Nothing personal, but at the moment, I don't trust you." Rory's eyes were cold steel, a guard against any emotions that might give Methos an edge.
Methos accepted that quietly. The kid was good...
As the Range Rover sped down the highway toward Draux, Amanda gazed vacantly out the window. The first shock of MacLeod's words had settled now, but she was still tangling with her emotions. She'd never had the displeasure of meeting Kronos in the flesh, but the idea that she'd had sex with him was repulsive. Worse was that she had enjoyed it so thoroughly, even though it was in the belief that she was with Methos. Gods, she couldn't believe it! Did Methos know? Was he aware enough that he knew that she was thoroughly taken in by that other personality? She didn't relish facing him now, would just as soon pack up and run away, only she couldn't. Not if she ever wanted to face Methos again.
"You're being very quiet," Mac observed, sparing a glance her direction.
"I've just been thinking back over the past few days, about how completely Kronos fooled us. I mean, there were a few things that didn't sit right, but he was so overwhelmingly the man I knew that I never dreamed it could be another personality." She shook her head slowly, still wanting to deny it. "I should have known..."
"You're not alone there," Joe interjected, annoyance clearly reflected in his voice. "I knew something was wrong, but I couldn't say it wasn't Methos. Damn, that bastard was so like him that I accepted the memory gaps explanation against my gut feelings."
"We all felt that way," Mac added. "Like I said, the one person who knew Methos well enough to get away with this was Kronos. None of us expected it. We were more than willing to accept Montgomery's explanations."
"Oh, yeah, he convinced us all right. Damn!" Amanda had replayed that conversation with Miles several times in the past hour. She'd known there was a problem, but she'd let the bloody psychiatrist persuade her. A woman knows when the man she's with is not the same, when his touch on her body is different. She'd known- she just wanted to believe otherwise.
"I tried to tell him," Joe muttered.
Surprisingly, MacLeod defended the doctor. "We can't blame Montgomery. He had less of a base than we did to make a judgement and I think he applied reason to the situation. We let ourselves be convinced."
"Yeah... twenty-twenty hindsight." Joe's voice was rough.
Amanda glanced back at him. "It's not your fault either, Joe. It's happened and we need to focus on what to do now. If we're upset, I can only imagine how Methos feels about it. Do you know if he knows what Kronos was doing, Mac?" She asked the last tentatively, not really anxious for the answer.
"Pretty much. He's aware of Kronos or I'd be dead."
Amanda shivered slightly at his words. What was she going to say to Methos? It still seemed unreal to her - the threat to MacLeod, the possibility that Methos couldn't fight this. Maybe the Holy well wasn't such a bad plan... She went back to brooding out the window as Mac approached the turn to the clinic.
It didn't take long for Montgomery to bring MacLeod, Dawson and Amanda up to date. There wasn't that much to tell, by all accounts, Amanda concluded as the slim blonde finished up the details of his first session with Methos. She wasn't surprised the old Immortal hadn't told him much.
And now that the three of them were there, they were unsure what to do. This wasn't the same situation as the past three weeks and Methos didn't need prompting to remember details of his life. This was, in fact, as MacLeod pointed out while they talked, a dangerous situation.
"With Kronos lingering just at the edge of his mind, Methos could become him in a second. I don't think any of us can risk being alone with him." The Highlander's glance moved to each one of them in turn.
"In a sense, I agree," Miles replied. "But I don't think Kronos can move in on a conscious Methos that easily. Especially now that Methos is aware of him and he's taking his own measures to keep control. However, he has to sleep some time and that's when he probably can't maintain control. "
"I hope you're right about that," Mac replied, doubt clearly evident in his voice.
//Of course, he was the one who'd had a sword almost to his throat from someone he thought was Methos,// Amanda thought. It was clear that Duncan didn't intend to be alone with him until he was sure of it. And he wouldn't allow her or Joe to be in that position either, if he knew about it. But she needed to talk to Methos alone. She'd have to talk to Miles in private about it.
As it turned out, her opportunity came sooner than expected. Joe needed a few things he forgot to bring with him, most notably a prescription for some medication, and he asked Mac to drive him into the town of Draux to pick the items up.
She found Miles involved in a session with a patient who had driven down from Paris and waited patiently for him to finish up. When he was done, he signaled for her to join him as he started back to his office. "Honestly, if this kind of thing keeps happening, I'm going to lose my whole Paris practice. I had to cancel most of my appointments."
"I understand," Amanda said as she fell in beside him. "But he needs you now."
He glanced at her, instantly regretting the way that had sounded. "Don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining about forfeiting them for Methos. It's just that I have a responsibility to them too."
"Poor Miles," she laughed, not unkindly. "Still trying to juggle the world of mortals. You'll learn one of these days."
"I just don't see things the way you do, Amanda. Neither did Sean and I want to continue doing his work. People need me."
She nodded and fell in beside him, catching his arm in hers. "By the way, Miles, there's something I've been meaning to ask you," Amanda said casually. "That night that Methos seemed to be okay - that you'd thought he had recovered -"
"Yeah," Rory responded cautiously. He was uncertain where this was going, mentally preparing his defense, as he gave her a noncommittal look.
"I found a room that had some odd-looking equipment in it. It was sort of like an arcade game set up, like the ones that make you feel you're in it. You know what I'm talking about?"
"Virtual reality games," he answered with a touch of relief. "I know what you're referring to and you're not far off the mark. The equipment you're talking about is very similar. A friend of mine has been trying to improve on that technology with a set-up that can help patients confront their demons, so to speak. He's added a neural interface that can help focus the images and turn them into a life-like scenario for the patient to interact with. In this way, a patient can make his alien landscapes real and confront them."
Amanda's eyes went wide. "That's impressive. Does it work?"
Rory laughed. "I don't know. I haven't tried it. Sascha is a genius, but not totally practical. I haven't felt inclined to try it on any of my patients. I don't think I trust it that far and I can't see using any patients as guinea pigs."
"So you haven't tried it at all? Do you even know if it works?"
"No. That is, I know that Sascha tested it out and he says it works, but I haven't seen it in action. I frankly don't know what effect it might have on a patient. Physically, I don't think it could hurt anyone, but the mental repercussions could be severe."
"You're probably right. If I had a phobia about snakes, I would probably not get better from having to face a pit of them, even if it's only mentally." She paused, a thoughtful expression on her face. "But can you imagine how great it would be if you were just using it to create positive images? It would be as good as a holiday then, a step toward that VR reality people are imagining."
"True. So long as it can be controlled," he agreed. "Without controls, people can venture into some pretty dangerous mental territory."
"Maybe you should work with your friend on it," Amanda said, turning to him. "Think what it could do."
"I am. That's why I'm not using it. Enough said, Amanda." He opened the door to his office and ushered her in. "Let's talk about Methos."
She smiled, a look that reminded him of a satisfied cat. "Okay, let's talk about him. Only this time listen to me when I tell you something."
He sighed, all the guilt he'd been feeling settling back on him. "You're right. I should have paid more attention to all of you. The thing is I was sure I was talking to Methos after the incident that night. In fact, I know it. Then this Kronos personality took over as Methos and I had no idea. No one else had done that. All the other personalities were themselves."
Amanda sat, crossed her legs at the ankles and tapped her fingers on the arm of the chair, the only indication of her nervousness. "MacLeod thinks that Methos knows what Kronos was doing, that he was there with him. Do you think so?"
Nodding, Rory perched on the edge of his desk facing her. "Yes, I do. In talking with him, Methos seems to have full knowledge of everything that went on from the time he regained control and Kronos took over."
"Damn!" she swore softly. "Then he's aware of what happened in the park. What about Kronos? Does he have access to all of Methos' memories?"
Rory's face settled into a slight frown as he seemed to be thinking. "You know, in retrospect, I realize that he avoided talking about or doing anything that might indicate that he didn't know who I was or what our relationship was. In talking to MacLeod, I discovered he'd done the same thing. He avoided us. Both you and Joe noticed differences, but accepted that he just had a memory loss. In short, he was bluffing his way completely. No, I don't think he was able to access any memories from Methos."
"Well, thank goodness for that," she mumbled, relaxing a little more. "What exactly happened that night, Miles? You said there was an accident, that something had happened to Methos but he recalled who he was. How did that come about? Is it something that could help us now?"
Rory chewed at his lower lip. Lord knows, he'd had plenty of time to think of a way to gloss over the details of the night, but he didn't know what to say now. "In a way, it has helped now, Amanda. It had to do with a bit of shock therapy and I've been using an electrical current to keep Methos and Kronos separated. I don't understand exactly why it works the way it does, but Methos responds to the current, using it to focus while other personalities retreat from it."
"Is it painful?" Amanda's voice reflected the surprise and her fear for Methos.
"Yes. Not terribly so, but it hurts. He accepts it and seems to handle it okay."
Amanda's mouth felt dry as she absorbed that. "I think that he was conditioned to it ... to pain, at some point. He's learned how to use it. So why were you so upset that night if it was just shock therapy? You said "accident." What happened?"
Taking a deep breath, Rory got to his feet and went around the desk, putting it between him and Amanda, then leaning forward against it. "I didn't order shock therapy, Amanda. You know that. I was as surprised by the events that night as you were. I have a doctor on my staff who is quite brilliant and she thought she could help him - that the therapy would be beneficial. But she disobeyed my direct orders to stay away from him and began treating him. The erratic behavior we witnessed was caused by her treatment. Since he didn't respond the way a schizophrenic patient should respond, she kept trying different options." He stopped, met her wide astonished eyes. Rory felt his stomach lurch as the look turned to fury. She looked like she would like to skin him alive.
"So she hooked him up to an electrical generator?" Amanda's voice was cold.
"Yes. It's a standard treatment for severe schizophrenia and she was following procedures. The intent is not to hurt the patient, but to use mild electrical charges to disorient the brain. It's really far more sophisticated now than it used to be when it could cause severe damage." He looked away from Amanda, letting his gaze travel to the garden.
"Then why were you so angry?" Amanda pursued. "Because you promised to keep Methos safe and you didn't?"
Rory swallowed, still not wanting to look at her. There was a tingle, a moment of warning that slipped into his mind amidst the turmoil. Still, the next question surprised him.
"Yes, why were you angry?" MacLeod's voice repeated.
As Rory whipped his head around, he saw the Highlander standing in the door, a thundercloud hovering above his concerned face. //How long had the man been there? How much had he heard?// The doctor swallowed down his sudden fear. "Yes, because I didn't keep him safe. Because one of my trusted staff disobeyed my direct orders. Because it got out of control."
MacLeod was all the way into the room now and he looked more dangerous than Rory ever recalled seeing him before. It was a calm danger, not a fury like he wanted to attack in retribution, but a calculated anger. "How did it get out of control? What happened?"
Somehow Rory managed to school his voice to sound steady as he replied. "Methos broke free of the restraints and increased the charge to very unsafe levels. He was injured but it allowed him to gain control. I was furious about the situation, even though he gave me the key to helping him. I would never have done it myself... I couldn't."
MacLeod was nearly eye to eye with Rory now and the bigger man leaned on his desk as Rory took a step backwards. "What happened to the doctor?"
"Suspended. I'll probably relent. She's normally an extraordinary physician... She was only trying to help..."
"Dammit, Miles! You could have created a whole different set of problems! What if someone finds out he's Immortal?" Amanda was on her feet, pacing.
"Keeping Methos safe meant keeping it secret," MacLeod added in a voice lowered with anger. He looked ready to come across the desk to get to Rory.
"Do you think I don't know that?" Rory replied sharply. "I wasn't expecting what happened. But it was a breakthrough and Methos himself was the catalyst. He was the one who forced the voltage to an unsafe level."
MacLeod's eyes narrowed as he processed that. "All right, so it resulted in a positive thing. It doesn't excuse you. You still let it happen."
"Yes, you're right. I did. He was my responsibility..." Rory's voice tapered off as he accepted MacLeod's anger. If the man wanted to wring his neck, he had it coming.
MacLeod blinked, then straightened and spoke calmly, "So why should we trust you now? How do I know something else isn't going to happen?"
Amanda halted her pacing and gazed wide-eyed at Rory, as if to emphasize the question.
The blonde man took a careful step around the desk. "I don't have an answer, MacLeod. I can only do the best I can here. But I am still your best option for getting Methos through this and I think we have a chance. There's no other psychiatrist who knows about Immortals that you could risk him with." Rory let out his breath slowly, meeting MacLeod's eyes with only sincerity. "It's me or ... we can lock him away forever, put him in an asylum or kill him. Do you want to ask Methos what he wants?"
The Scot shook his head. "I know what he wants."
"Are you sure? " There was a pause as Rory stepped back a pace and sat at his desk. It was a conscious signal the confrontation was over. "He wants to live, MacLeod. No matter what he says, he wants to live. And I can help him. I know it."
Mac straightened, retreated a few steps as he thought. He glanced across at Amanda, who encouraged him with a nod. "All right. You have another chance. I don't want to have to kill another friend." He spun on his heel, leaving with no further words.
Amanda started to follow, then glanced back, "Whatever help you need, Miles, just ask. But I need to see Methos ... alone. Can you arrange that?"
He nodded. "I'll call you."
Her eyes offered her thanks, then she left. Rory let out his breath slowly, grateful that lingering piece of business was settled. Now all he had to do was deliver on his promises.
Methos stretched out on the narrow bed and closed his eyes, contemplating his current situation. When the hell had he so completely lost control of his life? For centuries, he'd taken care of himself, relied on no one, maneuvered every situation to his advantage, concerned himself with survival more than the affairs of mortals or Immortals and generally kept a low profile. No doubt about it - he'd slipped up with Kronos. He'd gotten complacent, expecting that his old friend was either still out of circulation or dead. He'd cursed his own stupidity more than once since that day Kronos had shown up outside his place in Seacouver.
But the damage was done now, and in ways he could never have imagined. The very thought that he was now relying on a relatively young Immortal to get him through this was frightening. Even more terrifying was the prospect if Rory failed. He admitted he might have felt better about it if Rory had the determination of Duncan MacLeod or if Mac had the experience and training that the psychiatrist had. He'd had felt more confident yet if the help had been coming from Sean Burns. But Rory and Mac were his reality and if he was to survive this time, he would have to trust them.
Worse, Rory had given him hope again after he'd abandoned it with MacLeod. When you feel total despair and all you can see is disaster, it's easier to ask someone to help you to end it. But throw in a little spark of hope and the old fire returns - the overwhelming desire to survive. And now that he knew for certain what Kronos planned for his afterlife, the need to conquer was even more intense.
His eyes popped open as he realized how close he was to slipping off to sleep. He'd expected to hear Kronos' voice and had been surprised when it hadn't materialized. He sat up rubbing at his eyes as he felt the weariness of the past thirty-three hours settling on him.
Getting to his feet, he crossed to the washbasin and splashed his face with the coldest water he could get out of the tap. He leaned back, thinking. //I was Death once...cold-hearted unfeeling Death. I could kill anyone but Kronos... never Kronos. And now I don't know how to do it.//
He sighed. It was going to be a long night.
"Are you still angry, Methos?" MacLeod asked as he and Joe walked along a path next to the vineyard. He'd been shocked to see the exhaustion in the oldest Immortal's face when Methos had joined them for breakfast. He'd turned his look to Montgromery, mouth open to chastise him but a sharp glance and a slightly raised hand from Methos had stopped his next words. A second look at Miles told the rest of the story- that he and Methos had most probably already had a conversation about the wisdom of simply avoiding sleep to control Kronos.
Methos pushed the sleeve up on his shirt as they walked and shook his head slightly. "Not angry," he said sadly. "Just unsettled, Mac. It was easier to ask you to take my head from the bottom of the well than from the bucket."
Mac glanced at Joe, reading the deep concern in the Watcher's face. He shoved his hands in his pockets and frowned thoughtfully. "I can't even pretend to know what you are experiencing. None of us can. But I have to believe, and you have to believe, that there is a way out."
Methos laughed, a rough sound that lacked amusement. "Always the optimist, Mac."
"Dammit, Methos," Joe spoke up. "It's not like you to just give up. You've always been a stubborn SOB."
Suddenly serious, Methos stopped and turned to his friends. "I haven't given up. I just haven't figured out what to do."
Mac glimpsed the fire in the hazel eyes and knew that Methos meant it.
"You have to banish him, just like you did all the other personalities," Joe stated with straight-forward logic. His voice carried that basic "just do it" tone that the Watcher sometimes had.
Methos cocked his head as he faced Joe. "Sounds simple enough. Got any ideas how to do it?"
"Whaddya mean? You put the others back where they belong. Do the same thing with Kronos." Joe leaned forward on his cane as he used his other hand to emphasize the point with a sweep of his hand.
A smile almost touched the tired, lean face of the old Immortal. "One little problem. I had killed all those people. All I had to do was relive their deaths. I didn't kill Kronos. I don't know that I can."
Mac compressed his lips as he exchanged a glance with Joe. Back to that blockade again. "Methos, I know how you felt about Kronos, but you are nothing like him. You changed, he didn't. You--"
"No, you didn't hear what I said, Mac," Methos interrupted. "I said, 'I didn't kill him.' Even with Miles' help, I don't know exactly how I would go about closeting his Quickening."
The expression on Mac's face told Methos that had sunk in.
"You see the problem, don't you?"
The Scot nodded, a look of uncertainty on his face. Methos could relate. He'd felt that way a lot lately.
Joe rubbed thoughtfully at his chin, his eyes growing almost misty with distant thoughts. "Methos, what do you remember about your experience in the Holy well? Do you recall what happened?"
Shifting his weight uncomfortably, Methos frowned. "Not a lot, really. It's fuzzy. I remember fighting myself. I recall a Quickening, the well exploding around me. I was in pain..." His voice grew a bit distant.
Mac gave him a sharp look. His experience had been similar, but not violent. It had been more of a gentle Quickening as the waters purged the darkness from his spirit. But he remembered every detail of what had happened. "Is it possible something happened that you don't want to recall?"
Methos shrugged. "I suppose. I don't know."
"Could you go back?"
The slender man paled at the suggestion, but even before he could answer, Joe intervened. "It's out of the question, Mac. You didn't see him afterwards. I really believe it could kill him."
"Or allow Kronos permanent control," Methos added softly.
"Maybe there's more in your memories. If we could pull those memories out, there might be a clue."
"And how would you propose to do that?" There was a touch of sarcasm in the oldest Immortal's voice.
"Hypnosis?" Mac suggested.
"Oh, no," Methos countered immediately. "I don't think that's a good idea."
"Maybe we can talk it over with Montgomery," Mac proposed. "He might have some suggestions and I gather he's already familiar with the results of that particular incident."
There was a hint of accusation or hurt in Mac's tone that wasn't wasted on Methos. His face got that defensively neutral look that Mac had become familiar with over the past few years-- the one that wouldn't reveal anything of what the old man was feeling.
"I think," Methos said slowly, choosing his words carefully, "that pursuing anything about that incident would be a waste of time for all of us. It has no bearing on this problem." He stopped walking, a surprised expression on his face. The winery was only a few yards away. He pivoted, gazing back toward the old mansion that was the clinic.
"Maybe. Maybe not." Catching Methos' elbow gently, Mac made the swing toward the door of the winery. A sandwich and a glass of wine wouldn't be unwelcome at this point.
Methos hesitated, then pulled back from Mac's light grip. "I hadn't realized we'd come so far. I think I should go back." Without waiting for an answer, he turned and set a brisk pace back down the path.
Joe arched an eyebrow and wearily turned. "He's probably right, Mac. But I was looking forward to a glass of wine and a rest."
"Go on in. I'll go back with him, then bring the car up for you." At Joe's affirmative nod, Mac started after Methos, sprinting to catch up with him.
Amanda faced Methos, nervously ran her tongue over her lips, and waited for Miles to leave them alone. True to his word, the psychologist had arranged a private meeting with Methos in his office. Miles had assured her this was truly Methos and he was in full control. As she watched, Miles said a few quiet words to Methos, clapped a hand on his shoulder, then left them alone.
She forced a quick, uncertain smile. "So, here we are - alone at last."
He nodded, shifted tensely to a position behind the desk and leaned against the window. "Miles said you wanted to talk to me."
"Yes. Ummm, I don't know how much you recall of what happened while you were staying with me. That is, Kronos was staying with me..." She paused, not sure how to phrase this now that she had the opportunity.
Methos looked just as uneasy, but he cut into the pause. "Let me help you out here. I recall everything, Amanda. Every detail. Kronos may have been in control, but I knew what was happening."
"Oh," she said stupidly, as her knees began to waver unsteadily. //Every detail.// She lowered herself slowly to the nearest chair. "I'm sorry, Methos. I thought it was you."
His lips pressed together in a thin line. "Gods, Amanda, couldn't you tell?!" He face clearly expressed his hurt.
"No, I couldn't. Not at first. It was your body," she shot back defensively.
"It wasn't me! Do you think I would treat you like that? That I would abuse you like that?" His voice rose, catching on the words.
"What are you talking about? It wasn't abuse. You- he-- was very affectionate, passionate. It wasn't that different, Methos." Amanda stopped as the expression on his face shifted to disbelief. Caught by the rawness of his expression, she looked away.
"Was it my touch? Did it feel the same?" His voice was surprisingly calm, not angry, just a trace sad.
She brought her eyes up to meet his, her heart aching at the dolor in them. "Not exactly, but it wasn't alarmingly different. There was a sense that it wasn't right, but we were all making allowances for what you'd been through, Methos. Later, when I thought about it, I realized it felt like something was wrong. I even talked to Miles about it."
He looked annoyed. "Oh, great. Did you tell Mac also?"
"No, of course not," she snapped back. "I only told Miles because I thought it was important. He convinced me it was nothing to worry about."
Methos rubbed nervously at his arm, thinking about it. "I'm not angry, Amanda. It's just a little painful. I'm glad he didn't hurt you. I thought he had..."
She shook her head in denial. "No. He must have treated me the way he knew you would treat me, would touch me. Remember, he was being you."
"I thought it would be different. That you could tell the difference." Methos spoke hesitantly, searching for the right words.
"The problem was that I was thinking it was you," she replied reasonably. "And it felt like you, but there were little differences. Things I could see after the fact that I ignored at the time." She crossed the room to him, raised a hand to gently touch his arm.
He brushed her off, backing slightly away. "Please, Amanda. I need to think about this."
Her hand dropped to her side and she swallowed down her disappointment. She understood how he felt- how she would react if the situation were reversed. She felt bad enough as it was. With a brief nod of acknowledgement, she turned to leave the room. At the door, she paused to glance back. He'd turned to gaze out the window, broad shoulders hunched slightly forward, and was locked in his own thoughts.
She slipped quietly out of the room.
Rory tapped his fingers lightly on the arm of the chair as he gazed at Methos. His friend had been leaning against the edge of the door, gazing vacantly out the glass for the past five minutes. His arm was bent against the doorjamb as his hand braced his head. He looked tired, beaten.
"Methos? Do you want to do this now?" he asked quietly. "Maybe you should get some sleep. We can talk later."
As if coming out of a dream, Methos turned his head toward him. His eyes were wide and looked very dark as the grayish, puffy skin beneath them added to the impression. He took a breath, paused, then said carefully, "Rory, do you ever have gaps in your memory?"
The blonde frowned, scratching at his eyebrow a moment. "There are some from childhood, just like everyone else. Times you're too young to really remember, a few shadowed memories. But since I was about ten, no. At least, not that I'm aware of."
"Immortals don't forget," the tall man said matter-of-factly. "Our minds don't deteriorate like mortals'. We should be able to recall everything,"
"That's my understanding," Rory agreed. "Or at least from the time we become Immortal."
"I have several gaps... experiences I know must have happened, but I just don't recall. I don't remember very much prior to taking my first head and what I do recall is fragments. Hell, I don't even remember how I died the first time. You'd think I'd have that permanently embedded in my mind."
Rory nodded, "Unless it was so traumatic that you blocked it. That's not uncommon and being Immortal doesn't mean we don't suffer that kind of trauma. It seems what you do remember from the distant past is bad enough. You weren't treated well, it was a rough life and I wouldn't be surprised at all if you blocked out parts that were too unpleasant to face on a constant basis. My God, what you've lived through is totally alien to anyone alive now."
Methos rubbed at his eyes wearily. "It's not just the ancient stuff. I can't recall some things within the last few years. I didn't even think about it until MacLeod asked me a question, then I realized I couldn't supply most of the details. And worse, I didn't want to remember."
"What exactly are you referring to?"
"The Holy well... I don't have full recollection of what happened when I went there. It was before I ended up in the hospital in Rennes." His nose wrinkled up as his forehead furrowed in thought. "I know it was bad, but I can't tell you everything about it...just bits and pieces."
Unconsciously, Rory rolled his eyes. This one was understandable. "Given the state you were in after that particular incident, it's not surprising you've blocked the memory. I didn't know what put you there, but I saw the aftermath, Methos. And it was like nothing I've ever seen before..."
"Except I feel like I knew what happened. In fact, I'm sure I recalled the details after I came to, but they're gone now." His voice reflected his frustration, the pitch growing more intense as he spoke.
"We could try hypnosis," Rory offered, wanting to give Methos an option.
A half-smile briefly crossed the older man's face. "MacLeod suggested the same thing, but I don't think it would work."
"Then there's no point in trying. Hypnosis won't work if you're not willing."
"I know." He shifted his body, walking slowly toward the couch across from Rory.
The psychiatrist popped his tongue against his teeth in a chiding sound, like a mother hen. "You know, there's no worse patient than a doctor. You do have a medical degree or two, don't you?"
"A few," Methos agreed.
"And no doubt one of them is psychiatry."
The old man sat easily, his body automatically slipping into a slight sprawl. "I never really practiced it. I just wanted to know as much about it as I could. Besides I knew both Freud and Jung. Occasionally Sean and I would argue for hours about their viewpoints."
Rory felt an unexpected catch in his throat. "Will you tell me about that sometime, Methos? I would really like to see Sean through your eyes." //Like to know what your friendship with him was,// he added silently.
"You won't find much difference than in your own insights. Sean was pretty consistent, but someday we'll talk. So, do you have any other suggestions regarding memory blips?"
Shrugging his shoulders, the blonde suggested, "We could try talking about what you do remember, see if it triggers any other memories. Maybe you lost them in Mongolia."
"Maybe," Methos said slowly. "But I've tried going through the memories at the well. I recall going into it and how it felt, what it smelled like, then it just seems to jump to this jumbled, pitched battle with myself... that is, the person I was in the Bronze Age. I can feel every cut, every muscle aching and this pseudo-Quickening that left me totally drained. There was pain and I vaguely see Amanda talking to me. After that, nothing."
"You could be trying too hard. If you've repressed the memories, then trying to force your mind to pull them out won't work. But there is another possibility..." He paused, his eyes going distant as he considered the option.
Methos raised a curious eyebrow, waiting for Rory to elucidate and finally had to prompt, "Which is?"
"You're not alone in your mind. Maybe Kronos doesn't want you to remember. Maybe something happened in that well that he doesn't want you to know."
A distraught look caught on Methos' unguarded face, an expression that reflected the distress the man felt. He turned pleading eyes on Rory and spoke quietly, but firmly. "I want my mind and my body back..."
Nodding slowly, Rory's tone matched his. "We're working on it. Let's forget about the well for now and talk about the Horsemen." He waited for Methos' affirmative nod, then continued. "Okay, you were captured and brought back to their camp. Why did you actually join them? How?"
"Kronos could be very persuasive," Methos replied evasively. "It took a few months for him to bring me around to his point of view, but eventually I accepted it. I broke..." He looked away, refusing to meet Rory's eyes. "Let's get past this."
"I can't help you if you don't trust me," Rory said evenly, trying to keep a neutral tone. He needed to know what had happened, what Methos didn't want to talk about.
"It's not that. I do trust you. It's just something I can't talk about. Besides, it really doesn't have that much bearing on my relationship with Kronos."
Unbidden, an eyebrow crept up into a question mark at that and Rory asked, "It took months of persuasion and you don't think it had any bearing on how you regarded the man?!"
Methos shook his head. "Not that much. Once I had accepted his leadership and become one of the band, the real development in our brotherhood occurred. I began to see myself differently, realized I had more potential than I had ever dreamed possible. Realized I could have anything I wanted. And I had the one thing I hadn't had... a family, someone to provide the emotional support. Kronos, Silas and Caspian were my brothers. We were equals in so many ways. But we had our own family hierarchy. Kronos was the leader, then me. Caspian and Silas were equal below us."
"Methos... don't you think you had a warped perception? If you were persuaded to join, then you were probably a victim of --"
"The Helsinki Syndrome. Of course, I was. But knowing that doesn't change how I felt then or now. And it wasn't the first time I was in that position, but it was the first time I was able to rise to an equal. That I wasn't just somebody's captive or somebody's slave. That I could become a god." His voice had grown in volume as he talked as if the power of his words could paint a vivid picture of his emotions.
"A god--?" Rory felt a moment of uncertainty as his mind explored the possibility that this was what Methos still wanted.
"I was Death," Methos stated flatly. "I was a god to those poor people of that time. The worst god - the one who stole your life and left nothing. Not even a decent passage to the otherworld. And I reveled in it! It made me feel like a powerful being, a superior being and that's what Kronos taught me." There was a growing passion in his voice as he spoke, an intensity that screamed at the forbidden pleasure of those days. "That kind of dominance and energy is like an aphrodisiac, Rory. You want more of it, you need more of it. Violence was a way of life and I learned how to make it work for me... How to take the pain away from me."
His voice dropped to almost a whisper. "How to ...take the terrible pain away. Make it... go...away." His eyes misted over with the remembered emotions, the vivid scars that would never leave.
"He tortured you," Rory said with tight control. "And you loved him in spite of it?"
Methos brought pain-filled eyes to meet Rory's and swallowed down the bile in his throat. "Yes."
"Does MacLeod know about any of this?" The question was out of curiosity, not that it mattered to the situation. Rory just wanted to know if the Highlander had known this and not mentioned it.
"No. Not any detail anyway. He knows that Kronos had a strong hold and he suspects the torture part. But he wouldn't exactly understand the whole relationship." Methos dropped his gaze to his lap as if he was afraid he would find accusation in the doctor's eyes.
"You might be surprised," Rory said gently. He eased out of the chair and dropped a hand on Methos' shoulder. The dark head slowly came up so their eyes met and Rory knelt down to come eye level with him. "Methos, this is painful for you, I know. Consider this, your friends know you've changed. We know you're not the same person. And you believe it as well. But I think that deep down there's a fear - and possibly a foundation for it - that you could still be that person."
The hazel eyes blinked as Methos drew an unsteady breath. "No. It's a certainty, the sure knowledge that under the right circumstances, I could... and I would do it again. I don't have the strength for the alternative."
"You'd better find it or Kronos has already won." Rory watched the fear dart through his friend's eyes as he resisted the urge to embrace him. Methos needed for him to be solid right now and that kind of comfort wouldn't help him. He needed to find his own power. Rory squeezed his shoulder as he straightened. "Get some rest. We'll continue this later."
Methos gave a slight nod of his head, a slim acknowledgement as Rory stepped back. "For what it's worth, I believe you have more stamina than you admit." With that, he turned and left Methos alone.
Outside the room, Rory closed the door and leaned back against it. He felt like he was walking on eggs. One wrong step and he'd crush them all. Taking a deep breath, he signaled for Kyle to keep an eye on his patient then retreated to his upstairs rooms.
Later that afternoon, Duncan MacLeod met Montgomery, Dawson and Amanda at his office. The blonde man led them to a room they'd not been in before. It was luxurious and filled with comfortable leather chairs and antique mahogany end tables, reminding them of an old-fashioned drawing room.
"This brings back memories," Mac commented as he looked around. "Fitz had a drawing room in his home almost exactly like this. Now all we need is brandy and cigars."
"I can accommodate the brandy," Miles offered and started for the sidebar. As he quickly poured the glasses, he continued, "I actually asked you here to talk about the Holy well thing. I don't exactly understand what it is or what happened. MacLeod even mentioned it to me at lunch, said that Methos didn't seem to recall much about it. I gather that's unusual. I know Methos doesn't want to talk about it, but I thought there might be something helpful in what you know."
Mac dropped into one of the leather-covered chairs and crossed one leg over his knee. "Methos took me there when I had a problem. From what he's said, I gather my experience with the well was not the same as his."
"Can you tell me about it?"
MacLeod looked pensive as he considered the request. He could cover the short version or the longer version that could explain more about the circumstances of his visit to the well. While that might not be of any use to Methos, it might help Montgomery understand what had happened between him and Sean Burns. The Highlander hadn't spoken much about the circumstances that had lead to Sean's death at his hands, not even to Joe, who mostly had the story from Methos. He hadn't even gone into detail with Stephen Keane, a man who had as much right to the story as Montgomery did.
"I had taken a Quickening that was filled with evil. The source had been a friend, a shaman who had been absorbing all the evil he could find, but it overwhelmed him. I had to kill him to stop him. It's called it a dark Quickening and you almost lose your soul in it." Mac paused with the terrible remembrance of those days, of what he did. "I had gone to Sean Burns seeking help. I ... I couldn't control it, Montgomery. One moment, I would be fine and the next, all the evil that could lurk in the deepest reaches of my being would be directing my movements. Sean saw what was happening and trusted the man he knew to hold on. I failed him."
Mac paused, took a deep breath to steady his shaky voice and ventured a look at Miles. The psychiatrist was still, gaze locked on the big man. There was no emotion evident on his face, but he seemed a little paler. Across the room, Amanda gazed at him, offering support and understanding with her eyes, seeming to share the pain of this terrible memory.
"I couldn't stop what happened, couldn't control it in any way. Methos was there when it happened and, in some ways, it's surprising both of us survived the aftermath. He thought he would have to kill me and the evil I was thought I would have to kill him. But neither of us could do it. Methos knew of the Holy well, knew what it could do and convinced me to go there. I don't think he would have succeeded if Sean wasn't within me then. I still feel him sometimes, you know. I know he's with me."
Miles swallowed hard, not trusting himself to say anything and looked away from MacLeod.
Feeling the moisture touch his eyes, Mac blinked. It was difficult to talk. "Sean was my friend. Do you think it hasn't been something that has weighed heavily on my heart? But I know he forgave me, that he understood that I couldn't control the evil within. He helped me to survive. When I was in the well, Sean was there, still pulling me through."
Montgomery brought his gaze back to Mac and spoke roughly, "I can't say I totally understand, MacLeod. But I believe you. Sean would take that kind of risk for a friend. About the well, itself, though - what happened when you went into it?"
He had to give the man credit, Mac admitted. Montgomery was handling it, was trying to stay open-minded. "There was a fight between good and evil. I had to face the darkness in me, to defeat the wickedness that had overcome me. It seemed real at the time, solid... and I fought for my life against myself."
"Did you feel the pain of the fight? Was there a Quickening?" Montgomery prompted.
"Yes, at the time, I felt pain. I could feel the cuts, the exhaustion and it was as real as if it were really happening. But there was no real damage. And the Quickening was gentle, healing. It wasn't the powerful force it usually is when we take a head. It almost felt like a merging of spirits, like being put back together."
Miles frowned and he noticed Amanda, too, looked worried. A glance at Dawson revealed that the Watcher was shaking his head as if to say it wasn't that way. Mac straightened up, cleared his throat to get attention and said straight out, "Look. It seems you three know more about this than I do. Methos never talked to me about how the well worked or told me that he had used it himself. That's how it was for me."
"It's not that, Mac," Joe said quickly. "It's that Methos had a totally different experience with it, one that didn't seem so benign. It's a kind of magic that defies any logic, but it seems to have extraordinary properties. From what he told Amanda, I think Methos knew it would vary with the person who used it."
"I'm sure he did," Amanda added. "He told me that if he seemed like anyone other than himself when he came out that I should take his head. You don't know how close I came..."
"Sounds like a mantra with him," Mac mumbled. "Take my head...take my head. It's his solution to everything he can't seem to fight."
"But he did fight," Joe commented. "Methos knew going in that there's a possibility he wouldn't win and he accepted that. He knew that the holy well would be a risk. Amanda was the back up plan."
"He risked my life," Mac protested. "He didn't tell me anything about the well's properties."
"It's a holy place, Mac," Joe said, the tone clearly implying that MacLeod should have understood this already. "A place of miracles for good people. For those who have earned God's favor. Do you think Methos believes, even now, that he's in that category? Does he even believe in God?"
"Or what kind of God?" Amanda added with unexpected perception. "If the god he believes in allowed what happened to him at the well, then he has cause to fear him."
Montgomery raised a hand. "I think we're getting away from the point here. The real issue is what actually happened to him at the well. He doesn't remember, which means it was either too traumatic to recall or something else is blocking the memory. Can you recall anything, Amanda?"
For a few moments Amanda was quiet, pulling those memories back into life. She felt again the biting chill of the coastal spring forest, could almost smell the new grass below her feet as she paced back and forth near the entrance to the well. Birds warbled happily in the freshness of the forest, their song filled with promise and an odd counterpoint to the dread that filled her heart. Waiting was the worst part. Waiting and not knowing what was happening.
Muffled-sounding, Methos' voice could barely be heard, let alone understanding of what he was saying. He seemed to be speaking to someone. //Who? A god he was asking for forgiveness? What was this place anyway? Methos said a name...was it Kronos? It sounded like it.//
Amanda blinked. "I think he might have been talking to Kronos. That is, an illusion of Kronos. I thought I heard him say the name, but most of it was distant. I don't know what was said. Nothing was really too clear until I heard him wail and then the sobbing."
"That might help, Amanda," Miles said with a touch of enthusiasm. "If he was talking to Kronos, then it might mean they have confronted each other before. Just maybe Kronos doesn't want him to remember." A smile playing on his face, Montgomery started for the door. "Stay as long as you like. I have some studying to do."
Then he was gone, leaving the three friends to discuss the possibility among themselves. Mac turned to Amanda and Joe. "Would one of you please fill me in on what happened with Methos at the well?"
"It's a long story, Mac," Joe started, motioning with his brandy glass for a refill. "Better get comfortable."
"N'pas ici," the man's voice said, not sounding at all like he was even remotely interested in her, Josette thought. It was the fourth time in half as many days that she had tried to call for Joe Dawson. And the fourth time she'd been told essentially the same thing. Dawson wasn't there and no one could tell her when he would return.
She rubbed at the gown on her shoulder and tried to shake the uneasy feeling that had been bothering her the past few days. Tonight, she had been unable to sleep, her thoughts turning instead to Adam Pierson. That, too, had troubled her for the past few days. She'd spoken with Dawson not more than a week ago and he'd said Adam was better and that he would be able to see her soon. And now, nothing but this unease.
Crawling back into her bed, she tucked her knees up under the covers and leaned against them. When she was a little girl, she used to have feelings and even dreams, sometimes, that would come true. Mostly, they were little things... Uncle Bertran coming for a visit or knowing how many kittens the cat would have before she gave birth. But once, she had seen the location of a missing villager in her dream and that was where they had found him. It was a gift, her mother had told her. God had blessed her with the sight.
But she didn't like it. As a child she'd feared the other visions she sometimes had, the dark ones, so bizarre and unearthly, that never actually came pass but seemed to portend something dreadful. So she'd learned to block them out, to not recall them if they came in dreams. Still, now and again, something would come through, whether as a vision, or as now, as a feeling that nagged at her.
Then there was Adam, himself. He was one of the unique ones of myth. She was attracted to him, yes, but there was more. She sensed he was far more than he seemed and he was important, as if the fate of the world might be focused in him. How absurd, she chided, that she could think that one Immortal could be that significant.
Still, tomorrow-- tomorrow, she would track Joseph Dawson down and find Adam.
Early the next morning, accompanied by a pair of robust orderlies, Miles approached the door to Methos' room and readied his tranquilizer gun. Before Methos he'd only used the tool, as he regarded it, a couple of times on extremely violent patients. He hesitated, then nodded to Lyle to open the door. It was unnerving not knowing who he would find on the other side. If Methos had slept, then there was a good possibility he would encounter Kronos. The other orderly, a man called Gaston, parked the mobile EEG unit and moved to back him up. Thankfully neither man was too inquisitive about this patient. They understood that Monsieur Pierson had severe mental problems and that was all they needed to know, but he could guess they were curious.
Lyle unlocked the door and stepped in ahead of Montgomery, immediately slipping to one side to allow the psychiatrist a shot if necessary. The smaller man advanced quickly, ready for action.
Inside, the man sat quietly on the bed, a book opened on his lap and he raised his head curiously as the men burst into the room. It was almost laughable, but the man only smiled slightly. "Am I that dangerous?"
Montgomery straightened but didn't relax. "Could be. Depends on who you are."
The smile grew, then became a laugh. "I think you know who I am."
Miles nodded, his face reflecting his caution. "Then you can either be cooperative or not."
The tall, slender man unfolded his legs and stood by the bed, holding his arms out from his side. "What are you so afraid of, Montgomery? I'm unarmed."
"I'm not afraid of you. Just cautious."
Arms dropping to his side, he moved back a few steps and stretched, then he grinned at Miles. "The truth is you're anxious to talk to me. You want to know about me. So why don't you? Why go through him?"
Hesitating, Miles considered his words. "All right, but I want you restrained."
A sharp laugh. "No, that's not acceptable. You have a weapon. I have nothing."
Miles shrugged. "Then we'll do it my way. Lyle, give him an injection. We'll need to get the electrical unit hooked up..."
"No!" The smug smile was gone. "I want to talk to you. What kind of restraint?"
"Tied to a chair," he countered.
"Jacket's more comfortable," Miles replied. "At least you can move around."
Kronos considered it a moment. "Agreed."
Montgomery issued a quick instruction to Gaston, then turned back to face the man who borrowed Methos' body. "It will be a few minutes. I didn't come prepared."
"Oh, I doubt that you are. In fact, I think you may be shocked at what I can tell you but I believe you want to hear it. You want to know about me... and you want to know about him. Don't you?" His voice was confident, assured, as clear a reflection of Kronos as anything could be. Nothing about it resembled Methos... not even the pitch.
He nodded his head slowly. Miles felt decidedly uncomfortable in this situation, but the man was right. He did want to talk to Kronos. There were things he might tell him about his "brother" that Methos would never say, but he might also lie and Miles was aware of that possibility. Mostly, he needed to know the parameters of this relationship the two Horsemen had experienced.
Methos' mouth stretched into an unfamiliar grin, as he sat on the bed again, poured a glass of water and took several sips. Then he stared patiently at the psychiatrist, neither man speaking until Gaston returned with the restraint.
Responding to Gaston's arrival, Miles nodded toward the bed, his instruction clear. Then he brought the tranq gun up in readiness, just in case his patient was uncooperative or tried to overpower the two orderlies. But Kronos was docile, sliding his arms into the jacket and letting Gaston secure the locks.
Once the task was accomplished, Miles dismissed both men and settled into the wooden chair a few feet from the bed. He turned it so he could straddle it, arms resting on the back and the tranq gun held loosely in his hand.
"My, you really don't trust me, do you? What do you think I could do, Montgomery?" Kronos asked as he leaned back on the bed, crossing his legs in front of him.
"I don't know. But I know enough to be cautious. Neither MacLeod nor Methos would underestimate you and I don't intend to do it. You'd kill me if you had the chance."
"Granted. You're dangerous in a different way from MacLeod. You give him hope. It's useless, you know. But it does prolong the process of Methos giving up." There was incredible confidence in Kronos' tone, an indication of the certainty of the truth in his words.
At least the truth as the leader of the Horsemen saw it, Miles amended. But it was enough to send little chill bumps up his arms. God, what if he couldn't break Methos free of Kronos' influence? A carefully nurtured mask of neutrality slipped onto Miles' face as he realized he couldn't allow himself to react to anything Kronos might say. He couldn't give the man any kind of an edge and he sure as hell couldn't allow him to get an indication that he might be eroding his confidence. "Methos won't give in. He's much stronger than you think."
Kronos laughed again, clearly amused by this. "Do you think you know him better than I do? He'll break. And I have time on my side. Alive or dead, he belongs to me."
Still keeping a calm, unconcerned voice, Miles replied. "I think you may be surprised, Kronos. But you wanted to talk. Tell me about yourself. Are you as old as he is?"
Kronos cocked his head, eyes growing thoughtful. "No, not quite. I met my first death about 4500 years ago, give or take. We didn't exactly have an accurate calendar then, but I clearly remember events that experts say took place around that time..." His voice trailed off as he seemed to drift away on the thought.
"How?" Miles prompted.
"How what?" The Horseman's voice sounded puzzled.
"How did you die?"
He shrugged. "Killed in a raid. It was inevitable. I had actually lived much longer than most of my companions and it was how I had expected to die. Imagine my surprise to find I was Immortal and I could continue without fear of dying. But what you really want to know about is Methos, isn't it? About how I made him my brother?"
Miles nodded. "If you want to talk about it. I am curious."
"Don't kid yourself thinking he was an innocent before I met him. He wasn't. But he was tough... a survivor. I could see that in him the first time I set eyes on him." The expression on Kronos' face shifted to one resembling affection ... or approval.