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Disclaimer: Highlander don't belong to me, it belongs to Panzer/Davis




~~~~ON APPIAN WAY~~~~


The mobile phone cheeped in his pocket as he reached his apartment door, and Methos knew it was trouble from the moment he glanced at the ID. Mac was out of town, and Joe was supposed to be on stage right now, not on the phone. He'd only been back in Paris for little more than an hour. It didn't bode well for the future.

He answered it anyway, he must be getting soft.

"Methos, what took you so long? I've been trying to contact you for hours!"

Methos winced as he pulled his ear away from the receiver. "Deep breaths, Joe. I hear it helps."

"Yeah, well, she won't be breathing at all if you don't get your ass into gear!"

"You do realise you're not talking to MacLeod, don't you?" Methos asked rhetorically, as he reached into his pocket for his door keys.

"As if I need reminding," Joe snorted down the phone.

"Well, lets just pretend I need reminding about we're talking about here," Methos drawled.

"Amanda, of course, what other woman would I call you about?"

"You mean, other than your daughter?"

"Hah, blood hah. Don't be such a wise ass. You need to get her out of it."

"Out of what, Joe?"

"Out of what? The challenge of course. Or are you telling me you know nothing about it? That'd be a first; I thought you had your nose in the database every second day. Every Watcher in Paris is talking about it, old man. Marcius has challenged Amanda."

Methos froze. "Marcius Quintis?" he asked.

"Who else, Genghis Khan?"

"Fair approximation there of," Methos muttered. "How the hell did she manage that? No, don't tell me....is it big and sparkly, and come in the sort of carats that don't make your hair curl?"

"What else?" Joe sighed down the phone line. "He's meeting her at an old abandoned warehouse in less than hour."

Methos growled. "Is she crazy?" he asked. "Why hasn't she run?"

"I was hoping you could tell me."

He stood at the threshold of his apartment, his bag swung over his shoulder. He hadn't unpacked yet, it would be an easy matter to get on a plane again... "Give me the address," he said.

"You won't need it," he said. "I'm pulling up in front of your place right now. Hurry up, I'm giving you a lift."

Methos strolled to the corridor window, which overlooked the street. Sure enough, he recognised Joe's SUV as he turned onto the street. "Afraid I would say no, Joe?" he asked.

"Just not taking any chances," he said.

Methos snapped the phone closed and watched Joe get out, leaning on his cane as waited for Methos to make an appearance. He wondered if Joe knew about the history between him and Marcius. It was well documented, which is why Methos didn't erase it during his time with the Watchers. The tale was too well known, a gruesome bedtime story for Watcher tots.

Which meant yes, Joe knew.

Marcius Quintis, it had been nearly two millennia since they'd last met; and it had been the last time Methos had openly used his true name. He doubted Marcius had mellowed since.


~~~~*~~~*~~*~~*~~~*~~~~

ROME 128 AD


It started innocuously enough, a quiver of a presence at the corners of his consciousness. This was Rome, the center of western civilisation. It would be strange not to feel the presence of another Immortal on occasion.

So when Methos went to visit his good friend, Lucius Turbo, he hadn't realised all wasn't as it should be, until it was too late.

Lucius was a little unsteady on his feet when he greeted him in the reception hall. "Methos!" he said. "How inopportune, you've just missed him!"

Methos laughed, puzzled. "Missed who?"

"Why your old friend, Marcius Quintus, of course," he said, clapping Methos on the shoulder,. "Well, well, never mind, come in, come in, we shall share some of the ale he brought us from the North!"

Methos racked his brain as he tried to put a face to the name, but he was coming up empty. Lucius, however, was already busy bustling him into the courtyard. "I've already broken the seal on the firrrst jar," he said, slurring his words. "And it's a flavoursome brew. Just the way you like it, full of grit!"

Methos grinned, despite himself. "That must have been a good tasting you've had," he teased.

"Just the one, just the one!" He staggered, the smile slipping just a little. "Though it has a quite a kic--"

He slid to the ground, and Methos was just quick enough to break his fall. He felt for a pulse, it was faltering. Methos reached for Lucius's tankard and sniffed at it suspiciously. There was the faintest of aromas. One of crushed apple pips. Cyanide.

A sweat was already beginning to break on Lucius's forehead, and Methos watched, helpless. There was no cure, and it was too late for him to heave up the contents of his stomach. He was mortal and dying.

"Damn it, Lucius," he said. "Who did this to you?"

As if in answer, Methos felt the faintest of presences flitting along the borders of his mind. He jumped to his feet and ran to the front door, pulling it open. He searched the street, looking for his target, and found it.

The Immortal nodded at him from the far corner of square; dark hair, dark eyes, young olive skin. Methos watched as he turned and disappeared down a side lane. He ran after him, but he had already lost the trail when he reached the mouth of the lane. "Damn the Gods," he muttered, under his breath.

A small hand tugged at the folds of his Toga and Methos frowned down at a small, grubby street urchin. "I've nothing for you," he said.

"So you don't want to hear what he had to say, then?" the urchin said cockily.

Methos sighed. "Spill it, boy," he muttered.

"He said to meet him down by the Appian Way at noon tomorrow," the boy said. "And that you better turn up, or Lucius wouldn't be the only one dead."

"Of course," Methos said, grimly. "How else would this be done."


~~~~*~~~*~~*~~*~~~*~~~~



The scream of steel could already be heard as Joe turned off the car engine, and Methos cursed. "The challenge has already started."

"Well, then I shall have to leave what comes next up to your conscience, shan't I" Joe said, a shade too primly.

Methos gave him a dirty look. "You wouldn't have tried this kind of stunt on MacLeod," he pointed out. "You'd know better than to ask him to break the rules."

"Well, as you said earlier, you're not MacLeod."

Methos sighed and pulled a face, "That I'm not," he agreed eventually, as he popped open the door. "Wait here."

"As if--"

"Joe, I'm being serious," Methos interrupted flatly. "Wait here. I don't want Marcius to see your face."

Joe looked at him, comprehension showing on his face. "So it's true," he said.

"Isn't it always?" Methos slammed closed the door of the SUV and crossed the narrow street. All the streetlights had been smashed out, but he could still hear the sounds of life around him. Squatters, people with no place to go, all hiding because they knew something was wrong. Something that they didn't want to see or witness.

"If only I were so bright," Methos muttered, as he crept around the corner of the warehouse. His eyes took in the familiar scorch marks of a quickening along the brickwork. Amanda wasn't been the first Immortal Marcius had dragged down here. He spotted a peeled back sheet of corrugated iron, and went to investigate. He found a way in.

He crept inside, stepping over the rusted edges of the iron, and saw them almost immediately, fighting in the glow of a bonfire. No electric lighting, inside or out. Another sign of multiple quickenings. He pulled out his Glock as he kept the wall against his back, his eyes searching the shadows before he studied the fight in earnest.

Amanda was putting up a strong defence - but that is what it was, a defence. Marcius had seventy pounds and a thousand years of heavy combat experience on her, it was a tough combo to beat. "Come on, Amanda," he muttered under his breath. "Stop pussy footing around. You're faster, use it to your advantage before he wears you down and--"

It has then he noticed the limp, and he cursed under his breath as he realised she was hurt. There wasn't a lot of blood, which meant it wasn't a blade cut....a gunshot, perhaps? Marcius wasn't above pulling a stunt like that.

Methos tore his eyes away from Amanda and looked at Marcius for the first time since he'd entered. He was no longer clean shaven, but sported a well groomed beard. His dark hair was expertly cut, as was his suit. The Roman had done well for himself.

Methos watched Marcius's teeth fix into a grimace, as he slammed into Amanda's defences, again and again, wearing her down with brute force and pain. He gave out a short bark of triumph as his blade cut along Amanda's side. Methos felt his chest lurch as Amanda fell to the ground, his hand tightening on the Glock's trigger.

He stood above her, sword pulled back over his head and, for a moment, Methos was back in Rome, watching Lucius die. He pulled the trigger before he really thought about it, and Marcius's eyes widened as his mouth formed a single word. "Who?"

He slumped to the ground, and Methos ran forward, not wanting to waste a second.

"M-Adam," Amanda said, her face a picture of shock as he ran out of the shadows. "What are you doing here! What were you thinking? You have to leave right now!"

"Not without you, I'm not, " he said firmly, as he grabbed her by the arm and pulled her to her feet. He ignored her cry of pain. They didn't have time for this, the records said Marcius was quick to revive.

"Adam, you crazy fool." Her voice grew softer. "This was a big mistake--" Marcius moaned, and Amanda said something colourful in French under her voice.

"Amanda, time to leave--"

"Methos. I see you, Methos."

Methos looked down at Marcius's sneering face. "Say goodnight," he said, as he pumped another bullet straight into his heart.

A scratching foot sounded out in the darkness, and Methos felt the creeping presence of another Immortal. Younger, less powerful, but still there. "Damn it, Amanda?"

"I feel it," she said grimly. "Let's go."

They scrambled towards the entrance and Methos winced as a bullet ricocheted by his feet. The sound of gunfire echoed around the warehouse. The idiot wasn't using a silencer; there'd be a squadron of Gendarmes here within minutes. Another gunshot and Methos felt something sting his arm. They jumped through the gap in the corrugated iron and made their way onto the street. Joe's engine was already purring, his passenger doors thrown open.

"You brought a getaway driver, how charming," Amanda said as she got in beside Joe.

"More like the other way around, actually," Methos said, as he hopped into the SUV's back seat. "Step on it, would you, Jeeves?"

"Comments like that can get an Immortal shoved into a freezer for a few days," Joe grumbled, as he pulled out.

Methos slumped, wincing as he felt the bullet wound in his leg heal over. Amanda turned in his seat, and glared at him. "Methos, you shouldn't have done that" she said. "You don't have all the facts!"

"You mean the fact that he's holding the lives of your mortal friends hostage against you?" Methos drawled, as he caught Joe's eyes in the mirror. The old Watcher looked away, but Methos already had the answer he needed.

"How did you know that—" Amanda's eyes narrowed. "He tried the same gambit on you," she said.

He nodded grimly. "You can't trust him to keep his word, Amanda," he said. "Believe me, I know."


~~~~*~~~*~~*~~*~~~*~~~~


ROME 128 AD


The sun beat down, harsh and hot, as Methos gained the road that led from Rome. He was on horseback, as he wasn't sure how long it would take him to reach Marcius's rendezvous point.

He needn't have worried, it didn't take long. The familiar buzz of another Immortal's presence impinged on his senses

"I asked around about you, you know," Marcius said, as he stepped out from the brush "But I didn't find out a lot, just your name. Methos, just Methos, no title or father's name; where do hail form? Who are you really?"

"Does it matter?" Methos asked, as he dismounted.

Marcius shrugged and smiled. "I just like to know a little something about the people I kill," he said.

Methos smiled back humourlessly. "Ah, the folly of youth."

"I'm still here, aren't I?" he drawled.

"It may have escaped your notice, boy, but so am I - and I've been here for quite a bit longer than you have."

"You seem very certain of that."

"And you're not?" Methos asked, his voice betraying an amusement he didn't feel. "Can't tell the difference yet?"

It worked; Marcius's eyes narrowed, showing anger, and angry people made mistakes.

Methos struck, a sharp swipe at Marcius side with his shortsword. The younger Immortal moved hastily to block it and quickly recovered. He struck back. The next few minutes were filled with low grunts and wordless curses as they fought to get around each other's defences. Marcius had more weight behind his attack, but Methos was faster on his feet and had the advantage of knowing more than one sword technique.

At last, Marcius made a mistake, and came in too close for the attack. Methos rolled and was inside his reach, stabbing him through the chest. Marcius staggered back, bringing up his sword just in time to stop Methos's killing blow. The ground rumbled, and Methos pulled back, frowning as he saw the dust cloud on the horizon.

"Soldiers," he muttered, turning to look at Marcius, but he was already running towards Methos's horse. "Hey, where do you think you're going, boy!" he demanded.

"Another time, Methos," he said, as he leaped onto his horse, clutching at his chest. He kicked at the horse's flanks, and headed west, away from Rome.

Methos cursed after him. "What, you're a horse thief too?" The soldiers were now nearly upon him, and Methos pulled away from the roadside, wiping his blade on the grass. It would take him nearly an hour to get back to Rome on foot, but at least he was rid of the boy...


~~~~*~~~*~~*~~*~~~~*~~~~



"What I hadn't known at the time, of course, was that Marcius had already visited all the houses of those who knew me the night before, with more of his little gifts," Methos said, as they pulled up in front of his apartment block. "Most of them were dead by the next night."

"The count in the records said twenty three," Joe confirmed.

"And you think that he'd find a way of killing my friends, no matter what I did," Amanda said quietly.

"It wasn't a fair fight, Amanda; you had lost even before you'd begun."

She frowned. "Most of my friends are Immortals, Methos" she admitted. "I have an old friend living in Canada, but she's known the score for years. I have her safely hidden away in a home of mine in the Kaman Islands. I have another mortal friend who is situated here in Paris, but he used to be black ops, so he's cautious by nature; Marcius wouldn't get within a mile of him."

"Lucy and Bert" Joe said.

Amanda nodded ruefully. "I see my Watcher has been earning his pay," she said. "Nick is an Immortal now, of course, so he's off the list; which only leaves..."

"Me," Joe said, with a small smile. "Usually I'd be flattered."

Amanda leaned across the seat to give him a brief hug. "Don't worry, darling, I'll take care of this."

Methos grunted noncommittally. "He recognised me," he said. "Which means I'll probably be getting a little message soon, too."

"Do you have any close mortal friends nearby, other than Joe," Amanda asked, as she looked at him over the back of the seat.

"Well, I suppose there is Amy." he said reluctantly.

"Amy?" Amanda asked, curious.

"My Watcher," he grunted.

"Your watcher?" Amanda echoed, before breaking into a laugh. "Oh my, you dirty man, are you sleeping with the enemy?"

"He'd better not be!" Joe growled.

Amanda's eyebrows lifted. "Have I missed something?"

"Amy is Joe's daughter," Methos supplied dryly.

"What?" Amanda whirled in her seat. "Joe, you never said you had kids."

"It didn't come up," he grunted.

"Amy is Joe's secret love child," Methos drawled, unable to resist.

"Really?" Amanda squeaked, her eyes lighting up with delight. "I leave town for a couple of years and all sorts of interesting developments happen - spill, Joe!"

Joe’s eyes narrowed as he glared back at Methos. “Pain and suffering, old man, pain and suffering.”

“Oh, you wound me,” Methos said, with a smirk, as he pushed open the back door and jumped out. “Have fun.”


~~~~*~~~*~~*~~*~~~~*~~~~


The phone woke him the next morning, and he fumbled for it. “This had better be good,” he growled into the receiver.

“Methos,” Joe said, as he answered it. “We’ve got trouble.

Methos groaned as he rolled onto his back. “We? What’s this we business?”

Amanda had a little visitor waiting for her last night - got to her before she crossed the threshold.”

Methos said up in the bed, instantly awake. “Marcius?”

No, that was the weird thing. It was this new guy called Winters. He went down easily enough, but all the same...”

Methos rubbed at his eyes as he tried to place the name. “Never heard of him,” he admitted.

Not surprising; as I said, new guy. He had his first death back in the early nineties.”

“A coincidence, then,” Methos said, as he fell back onto the bed.

Yeah, that’s what I thought, until the other guy appeared this morning.

“Another young one?” Methos asked.

Good guess; a guy called Harry Graham.”

“Have you a record of Marcius’s recent protégés?” Methos asked, as he dropped his feet onto the floor.

I’m already ahead of ya,” Joe said. “I’ve got no names, but there are a few physical descriptions that could fit the bill.”

Methos held the phone between his ear and shoulder as he pulled on his jeans. “I’m guessing that Winters and Graham don’t have their own Watchers,” he said.

Too young and too inexperienced, and our numbers are stretched too thin as it is,” Joe said.

“Fun and games,” Methos muttered. “I’m getting too old for this… and tell Amanda to expect me at her place sometime this afternoon.” He snapped the phone closed as he looked around for his runners. He needed to break into the Watcher database again, and do a little of his own research.


~~~~*~~~*~~*~~*~~~~*~~~~



Amanda was sitting at one of the tables in her club, sipping coffee, when he arrived. Her dark hair was pulled back into a neat ponytail and she was wearing flats, a sure sign she was expecting trouble.

“They’re just going to keep on coming, aren’t they,” she asked, before he even sat down.

“He’s trying to wear you down,” Methos admitted.

She nodded grimly. “I sent the last one back to him,” she said. “Gave him a time and a place for tomorrow."

Methos looked at her and took a long, indrawn breath. “Don’t be stupid, Amanda.”

“Stupid is waiting around, letting him wear me down with another one of his little pets,” Amanda said, as she took another sip of her coffee. “At least this way, I have a modicum of control”

“And it’s all about control, isn’t it?” Methos said softly.

Amanda shrugged, and gave him a small smile. “I’m going to throw a party here tonight, you’re welcome to come; it’s holy ground.”

Methos smirked. “Sanctuary for all, eh?”

"For a little while, anyway," she murmured, her eyes wandering to the doorway. "And I think we may have a situation." Methos turned in his seat to see a slender man, with dark hair, make his way to their table. In his hands he held a cardboard box.

"Guess what came in my mail this morning, Amanda," he said, as she slammed the box on the table. "Care to explain?"

"And a good morning to you too, Bert," Amanda chirped. "Adam, this is Bert; Bert, Adam."

"Charmed, I’m sure," Methos said, as he opened the top flap of the box with a spoon and leaned in to look. "Ah, I think someone has been watching too many reruns of the Godfather." It was a pig's head, and three words were scrawled in red on the inside of the box. His head first. Methos doubted Marcius was talking about Bert.

He caught Amanda's eyes, and they stared at each other over the table, knowing what the other was thinking.

"Much as I hate to interrupt this intriguing little moment, I'm still waiting for an answer," Bert drawled.

"An old beau, making a lot of noise" Methos murmured quietly.

Bert raised a disbelieving eyebrow. "Yeah, right, and that makes total sense," he said.

"Jealous lovers rarely make sense," Amanda said. "Didn't you know that? Don't worry, darling, I'll take care of it."

Bert snorted. "Right, fine, be like that," he said. "Just don't come crying to me when it all goes south!"

"Would I ever do that to you, Bert?" Amanda purred, amused.

"You don't really want me to answer that, do you, Amanda?" he said. "I'll leave the box with you, as a momento."

He stalked off, and Amanda called after him. "You're still coming tonight, aren't you?"

Bert smirked over his shoulder. "I never turn down free booze, Amanda, you should know that by now," he said, before he disappeared through the door.

"I think I like him," Methos said, as the door closed.

"He has his moments," Amanda said, with a small smile. "So what are you going to do?"

"Me? I'm going to do absolutely nothing," Methos drawled.

"Always a good plan," Amanda agreed. "But I don't believe you for a moment. What have you found out?"

"Found out?" Methos echoed innocently.

"When you broke in to the Watcher database this afternoon - again," Amanda prompted.

Methos pulled a face. "I'm becoming predictable in my old age," he complained.

Amanda snorted. "I wish," she said. "Spill."

"I don't have any major revelations, I'm afraid," Methos said. "I think Marcius knows about the Watchers, though. The Immortals he hangs out with are, without exception, young and without Watchers of their own, and Marcius's own Watcher seems suspiciously vague with his updates. I think he's been gotten to."

"Have you told Joe what you suspect?" Amanda asked quietly.

"I think he's way too involved as it is, don't you?" Methos countered.

Amanda raised an eyebrow, but didn't answer. "What about your Watcher," she asked eventually.

“Amy?” Methos shrugged. “What about her?”

“Where is she now? Outside?”

Methos smirked at the curiosity in her voice. “You want to get a look at her,” he said.

“Oh, come on,” she said, exasperated. “Joe has a daughter and I‘m the only one who hasn’t met her – it’s not fair!”

“You’re pouting, Amanda.”

“Damn right I am,” she muttered, before her face brightened. “I know, I’ll throw a dinner party next week. I’ll invite Bert and you’ll invite Amy—"

Methos burst out laughing. “They’ll think they’ve been set up on a blind date!”

Amanda wiggled her eyebrows. “Ah, but a blind date with whom?” she asked. “How pretty is Amy, exactly? With Joe’s genes I’ll bet she’s adorable.”

“You’re incorrigible, Amanda,” Methos said, as he stood.

“Turn up tonight and you’ll find out exactly how incorrigible I am,” she said. “You should see the dress I’ve picked out. Black silk, little straps, I look divine in it.”

Methos pushed his hands into his pockets. “Amanda, darling, you never look less than divine.”

“That’s why I like you, my dear; you know how to say all the right things.


~~~~*~~~*~~*~~*~~~~*~~~~



Methos hesitated as he got out of the elevator on his floor. The Immortal’s presence rung strongly, which meant he, or she, was nearby. He glanced around, then pulled his sword from his coat. It seemed that Marcius had found him.

He approached the door slowly, it was already ajar. He moved to one side, and pushed it open with a blade, nothing happened. Puzzled, he took a glance at the mirror that was on the wall across from the doorway. Its placement there was not a coincidence. A reflection had saved his life on a number of occasions, and younger immortals rarely recognised it for what it was; they hadn’t got that paranoid yet.

The reflection showed an empty room.

Cautiously, Methos entered, and closed the door behind him with a foot. There was no need to give his curious neighbours a better view.

His eyes searched out all the possible ambush points, and found nothing…which only left the bathroom or the bedroom. He ruled out the bathroom, it was too small to afford the other Immortal room to maneouver. That left the bedroom.

Great, just great, he hoped that this immortal wasn’t the type to trawl through his underwear drawer. Those ones always gave him the creeps. He crossed the room, sword ready, waiting, waiting….

CRASH!

The Immortal slammed through the bedroom door, taking half of it with him, as he swung a double axe at Methos’s head. Methos swayed back, letting the blade skim the air in front of his nose.

“Die, motherfucker!” the Immortal roared, the veins in his neck standing out as charged him.

Methos leapt sideways, over the back of the couch and onto the coffee table. “Well, at least you've gotten straight to the point,” he said lightly, as the Immortal changed course and charged him again. The axe flew, its reach giving the challenger an edge that Methos definitely didn’t like. It could have been worse, he supposed, it could have been Silas wielding it. He parried the axe blade, and turned it aside before jumping out of his path again.

“Coward!” the Immortal spat.

“And your point is?” Methos asked, as the axe blade came flying at him again, Methos slipped sideways, wincing as the blade sliced through a Louis Quinze armchair. It was irreplaceable. “Don’t you have a message to impart?” he asked, “A few words of wisdom from your leash holder?”

The Immortal snarled. “Marcius thinks I’m stupid, that I didn’t recognise your name at the warehouse – but I did. Your head is mine, Methos, Marcius can sing for it!”

“Ah, the mysterious Immortal in the shadows,” Methos said. “You were his back up plan just in case Amanda had the temerity to win.”

“Marcius always has a plan,” the Immortal said.

“Then tell me this, kid, if he always has a plan, why didn’t he foresee this?” And Methos rolled, coming up behind him, his blade already swinging. The head fell, the body collapsing onto the coffee table, which in turn collapsed under the weight. Methos closed his eyes, as he said goodbye to the décor.

The first jolt hit him, warped up his spine, and Methos cried out as he spread his arms, hoping to dissipate the energy as another fork of fire and light hit; he was on his knees, his mind flooding and threatening to go under, as the memories of the other Immortal crashed through him; young and angry, an easy mark for Marcius.

At last, the quickening eased, and he became dimly aware of a phone ringing. It came from the dead Immortal’s coat. Wearily, Methos answered it. “Time and place,” he said flatly.

What, no chitchat?

“Put up or shut up, Marcius.”

Marcius chuckled. “Seven o’clock tomorrow morning, at the warehouse.

Methos hung up, and looked at the remains of his living room. He'd take care of the worst of it after the fight. For now, getting rid of the body would do.


~~~~*~~~*~~*~~*~~~~*~~~~



The sharp presence of another Immortal impinged on his mind, and Methos rolled to his feet before he’d even fully awoken and snatched up his sword. He looked around desperately for a place to lie in wait. The bedroom door was a pile of shards on the floor. He eyed his wardrobe, and darted to its far side. It would have to do.

"Methos?" Amanda's voice wafted through the gaping hole that used to be his bedroom door. “Are you in there? Oh, darling, your Louis Quinze armchair…” She had obviously lock-picked the front door.

Methos felt the coil inside him release in relief. "In here," he called out, as he paced back to the bed and flopped onto it. He slid his sword under it, the pommel still within easy reach.

She appeared at the doorway, a wry look on her face. "You too, huh?" she asked.

Methos's took in her torn stockings and messed up hair. "So much for your party," he drawled.

“The dress still looks wonderful, though, don’t you think?” She strolled across the ruined carpet, tugging off her heels as she went. "They tried to snatch Bert on my doorstep. I took care of it pretty quickly, but I sort of lost my partying mood. Marcius does seem to have a disturbingly endless supply of young immortals ready to throw their lives at me, doesn’t he?"

"I'm sure they don't see it that way," he snorted. "They probably think they're going to win."

She gave him an incredulous look, and then dropped her heels beside the bed. “You don’t mind the company, do you?”

Methos looked up at her. “You’re right, the dress is lovely,” he said.

She smiled, and the mattress sank a little as she lay down beside him, her fingers not quite touching his. "You're going to fight him, aren't you?" she asked.

"I don't see as if I have any choice," he murmured, as he stared at the ceiling. "I can't keep fending off newbies every night. One of them might actually get lucky, which would be a waste of a good quickening." The joke fell flat, and the silence dragged for a moment.

“Methos, you’re going to win, right?” Amanda asked eventually. "You can take him."

Methos didn’t know how to answer that. “I don’t know,” he admitted. "He's old, not as old as I am, but he's been practising."

“You mean he's been taking heads," Amanda said, propping her head up with her elbow as she looked down on him. “Then don’t face him, he's not worth it. You should run. I’ll go with you. Barbados is supposed to be lovely this time of year. Sun, sand, beautiful people…think of all the trouble we could get into.”

Methos snorted a laugh. “He’s not the type you can safely run from, Amanda. He'd just come after me when I least expected it. This way, at least I'm forewarned. A modicum of control, remember?” He turned to face her. There were smudges of worry beneath her eyes, and her dark hair had gotten loose from its chignon. It had grown over the last few years, and had become long and wavy.

“I’m sorry, Methos,” she said. "This is my fault. I got curious and I couldn't help myself. I shouldn’t have gone after the diamond; I knew it belonged to an Immortal." Her hand came to rest on his chest, her fingers rubbing the weave of his jumper. There was a beat, and then two, and Methos watched her eyes drop to his lips. He felt the first stirrings of desire. It should have been the last thing he was thinking about, and yet...

"Nothing to be sorry about, " he said, as he touched her, a lingering line along the flat of her stomach, through the thin silk of her dress, and Amanda reached up and kissed him, her lips warm and demanding as they parted. His hand curved around her hip, pulling her closer as the kiss deepened, her tongue bumping against his teeth as he rolled them both, until she straddled him.

"Barbados, Bora Bora, Burma..." Amanda murmured, as she tugged at his lower lip. Her hair becoming a curtain around them, blocking out the quickening blackened doorway.

"Burma?" he echoed, as he felt her fingers pull at the hem of his sweater and burrow beneath. "Do I look as if I have a death wish?"

"You tell me." she said, as she tugged at his fly. He reciprocated, pulling up the hem of her dress, his hands encountering the ladders in her torn stockings before they felt the warm, soft flesh of her thighs. She muttered against her mouth, pulling at his waistband, and he grinned as he raised his hips and let her pull his jeans and underpants down. "You haven't answered me," she said, as she wrapped her fingers around him.

"I don't have... a death wish... Amanda," he told her hoarsely.

"Prove it." She shifted on top of him, and Methos felt her thumb run over the head of his cock, dragging the skin, and sending sharp ribbons of excitement through him. He cupped her bottom, clothed in silk and lace, and pulled her down on top of him.

"What kind of proof were looking for?" he asked softly.

"Well, this will do for a start," Amanda said, as she moved against him.

He groaned. "Amanda," he said, stilling her. "I have to do this."

She didn't answer him, but looked at his face as he dipped between her legs and tugged aside the fabric of her panties. Her eyes fluttered closed as he slid a finger along her sex. "Don't stop..." she said.

He obliged, pushing a finger inside her, then two. Her face flushed, a thin glow of arousal breaking over her skin as she moved against his hand. He felt her arousal pool against his palm, her nails pressing, ever so slightly, into his shaft. Pleasure and pain shot through his groin.

"Amanda."

She captured his lips as she raised herself above him, letting his fingers slip out before she guided the head of his cock inside her and sank down.

He looked up at her, her hair a tangled mess around her face, and the dress crumpled up around her waist. He wanted to see more, see the flush creep from her face and along her skin. He reached up, and pulled at the straps of her dress and then her bra. Her breasts spilled free, her aureoles dark and aroused, and he cupped one, feeling its weight in his palm before he leaned up and took it in his mouth. He rolled the hardened nub between teeth and tongue, tasted the salt on her flesh.

"Methos, I..." She tossed her head back, her mouth a soft moue, as she began to ride him in earnest. He reached down between them and found her clit, watching her back arch as he flicked and rubbed.

And then all sense of rhythm was forgotten as the pleasure became electric, and he came inside her as she shuddered and swayed, her hands clutching at his shoulders, digging in.

She collapsed on top of him, in a sheen of sweat and sex. “Just don’t get yourself killed,” she panted. "I want you back here for round two."

He grinned slyly as he tried to catch his breath. "That's what I like about you, Amanda," he said. "You always the most interesting ways of making others see your point."

Amanda smiled against his chest. “A marvellous way of putting it,” she murmured.


~~~~*~~~*~~*~~*~~~~*~~~~


She was pretending to be asleep when he awoke. He understood her reasons. If he lost, then last night was their goodbye, a memory to be smiled at and cherished; and if he won, well, then she could greet him afterwards, all smiles and champagne when he got back.

It was a tactic he himself had employed on occasion.

He let himself out of the building, and pulled up the collar of his overcoat against the damp chill of the pre-dawn weather. A movement caught the corner of his eye and Methos straightened, the slightest impression of a smile on his lips as he noticed Joe leaning against his car.

“Joe Dawson, have you come to record the moment?” he asked dryly.

“Yeah, that too,” Joe drawled. “But, for now, I’m going to be your driver.”

“You know, last time I looked, the Watcher Council had rules against this sort of thing.”

“You know, I’ve heard that too,” Joe said, amused. “I wondered who started that rumour.”

“Probably their firing squad," Methos said, before adding. “You shouldn’t be here, Joe.”

"Yeah, well, there seems to be a lot of that going around lately," he said. "Must be catching."

Methos watched Joe clamber into to the driver’s east before he got in on the passenger side. They drove in silence for a while, and then Joe spoke.

“I figured it out eventually, about Marcius’s Watcher,” he said. “Marcius was a little too quick tracking down your home address.”

Methos nodded. “Hardly your fault, Joe,” he said.

“I’m not so sure about that,” Joe muttered. “Sometimes I wonder if I’ve set a dangerous precedent, that others are following my lead.”

“Marcius isn’t MacLeod, Joe.”

“Neither are you, old man.”

Methos sighed. “It’s easier when you see the world in black and white, Joe, but it’s rarely honest. There is no true right or wrong answer; no rule or law is ever going draw a line through life; living is too messy for that.”

Joe threw him a sideways glance. “Okay, you know it’s scary when you do that, right?” he asked.

“Do what?”

“Act your age.”

Methos laughed. “I’ll try not to do it again.”

The sun was coming over the horizon as they reached the Warehouse, and Methos turned to look at his friend. “You’re armed?” he asked.

Joe nodded. “I came prepared,” he drawled. “Did you?”

“Always, Joe, always,” he said, as he popped open the door.

Joe dropped a restraining hand on his arm. “Be careful, old man,” he said quietly.

Methos smiled in answer and Joe released him. He got out of the car, and crossed the street, feeling Marius’s presence as he approached the side lane. He wasn’t sure, but he though he sensed another Immortal hovering at the edges of his range. Marcius’s back up plan, no doubt.

He pulled out his sword, already on guard as he stepped inside the warehouse. A bonfire was glowing warmly, it’s light adding to the dawn light pouring through the gaps in the roof. “I’m here," Marcius,” he said aloud.

“So you are.” Marcius stepped out into the light.

“You seemed surprised,” Methos drawled. “Ironic, really, considering that it was you who ran last time we fought.”

“Ah yes, the folly of youth, to borrow your phrase,” Marcius said. “But I am no longer young.”

“But you're still full of folly, I suspect,” Methos said dryly.

“Still have the sharp tongue, I see,” he said. “How about your blade?”

Methos shrugged, and then raised his sword. “It does the job.”

They closed in on each other, circling warily, and Methos’s eyes took in the details. The way he moved, the way he held his sword. He’d had some training in the east since they'd last fought, but he still used a straight sword. Many of the old ones did.

Methos thrust, Marcius parried, they circled again and Methos felt the presence of the other Immortal grow closer. “Who’s you friend, Marcius,” he asked. ,

Marcius smiled mirthlessly. “His name is of little use to you,” he said. “It’s not as if he'll be needed.”

He struck and Methos turned away the blow, a flurry of strikes followed, and Methos parried automatically. He remembered his own advice to Amanda, he had to use his speed. He ducked under Marcius’s blade and caught the weave of his coat, tearing through it. Not first blood but it made Marcius pull back.

Methos pushed his advantage, striking at his legs, and then at his shoulders, the Roman parried the strikes, but just barely. Methos darted to the side, forcing Marcius to spin to follow him, and he slashed at his side. Blood came away on his blade.

Marcius gritted his teeth and barked out, “Now!”

The bullet went through Methos’s thigh and he staggered. He tried to beat back the pain as Marcius rushed him. He brought his blade up, and sparks flew down its edge as Marcius’s swords slammed into his. Another blow, and Methos was in his knees.

Marcius bared his teeth at him as he raised his sword over his head. “Time to say Goodbye, Methos,” he said.

“Goodbye, Marcius” Methos said flatly. He pulled his dagger from its sheath at the small of his back, and plunged up and into Marcius’s chest. He watched his eyes widen in disbelief, before the light went out and he slumped to the ground. Methos hauled himself to his feet, using the length of his sword for leverage, before he raised it for the blow. He knew there was another Immortal out there, watching him, but he didn’t have time to second guess.

He swung and took Marcius’s head.

The quickening slammed through him and, this time, when he fell to his knees, he didn’t resist. The crowd of images and memories clashed with the pain of Marcius’s life force, and he was barely conscious when the last dregs sparked through them. A shuffle of feet, and Methos found himself looking up into a strange Immortal’s eyes.

“It isn’t personal,” he said, as he raised his blade. “Just a promise.”

“Yes, there’s a lot of that going around.” Amanda’s voice rung clear, and Methos watched as a blade appeared in the strange Immortal's chest. He fell to his knees, and Amanda smiled ruefully at Methos, over his head, before she raised her sword.

The second quickening collapsed the ceiling, but Methos had already passed out by then.


~~~~*~~~*~~*~~*~~~~*~~~~


He woke up in Amanda’s bed. Not that he’d ever seen it before, but it was still Amanda’s; some things you just knew. He also knew it meant he was on holy ground. The knowledge was gloriously welcome.

He felt the quiver of a presence, and then heard the sharp click of heeled shoes. The door swung open and Amanda entered, a silver tray balanced on her palm. Methos smirked as he spotted the champagne bottle and glass flutes.

“A liquid breakfast?” he asked, sitting up on his elbows.

Amanda smiled widely. “Hello, sleepy head, you actually were out for quite a while,” she said. “There may have even been the faintest traces of worry in my voice for a brief moment. It was all very moving.”

“Gods forbid,” Methos said, as he fell back onto the bed.

She placed the tray on the bedstead and grinned down at him. “Joe was worried sick about you…bad quickening?”

“Bad day, full stop,” Methos muttered, before smirking. “Have you come to kiss it better?”

She slapped his arm. “Maybe later,” she allowed. “But for now you need to get up.”

“But what about the champagne?” Methos protested, as she dragged back the bedcovers.

“That’s for later.”

“Tease.”

“Hurry, it’s nearly lunch and I told Bert to get here for one. Joe said Amy was willing to be introduced, so it should be fun.”

Amanda.”

“Chop, chop!” she said, as she threw him a robe. “I’ll run the shower for you.”

Bemused, Methos watched Amanda disappear into the bathroom, and then heard the hiss of hot water. Slowly, he got out of bed. Was this what it was like for MacLeod? The poor bastard never stood a chance.

Amanda’s head peeked out, and Methos caught a glimpse of a bare shoulder. “Well, are you just going to stand there or are you going to join me?” she asked.

Ah, so that was why MacLeod put up with it. “Amanda,” he called out.

Her head appeared again “Yes?”

“Thank you.”

She smiled cheekily. "Care to come here and give me a demonstration of your gratefulness?" she asked

~~~FINIS~~~



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