Summary: Methos is unsatisfied with his life as Death and wants to leave. I'm operating on the idea that the horsemen weren't really evil. Callous, uncaring, full of anger and hate yes, but not minion of Satan evil.
Rated gen. No violence, sex, etc. No warnings.
Fanfic challenge made on the Methos Scrolls Mailing List based on a song of the same title.
The Great Escape
by Katie Grogan
The dancing slave moved around from horseman to horseman. She was brand new but very good, keeping them all enthralled in her movements. Even Caspian simply watched without thoughts of what he could do to her later that night, and Kronos never thought of what she would be capable of in bed.
Methos watched, fascinated with the way she reacted to the music the other slaves made. It was familiar, perhaps something from home. When she moved to him he got up and joined her, and soon both were lost in the simple reality of the music and each other. It couldn't last, though, and the music ended, ending their dance. The other three horsemen hooted in appreciation of their brother's action.
Later, as Methos prepared to sleep, he remembered the way it felt to move with the music and leave behind all his planning, to simply revel in the moment. His eyes moved to the scrolls in the corner of the tent and thought of their contents. Then he looked at the sword in the opposite corner and remembered his actions. The dissatisfaction with his life had been growing, and the time to leave had come. Tomorrow, he would speak with Kronos.
As Methos was making his decision, Kronos was watching his tent. He'd sensed there was something going on in Methos' mind for a while, as if he was bored. He remembered running into the ancient in a tavern, bored and uncaring. He had a reputation as a fierce fighter and better general, winning against insurmountable odds. It had taken a lot of beer and persuasion, but eventually Methos joined Kronos and the small band he'd already put together. The young immortal was thrilled, knowing that Methos' mind would be the difference between a group of small time thugs and great marauders.
Now Methos was bored again. Somehow, Kronos wasn't surprised. They had been together for nearly a millennia, and unlike the others, Methos had been driven to the killing. He would be asking to leave, and soon. The only question was whether or not Kronos was prepared to let him go.
The next day was spent traveling, like the days before. They set up a minimal camp that would be easy to take down in the morning. Kronos finished supervising the slaves putting up his tent and went to find his brother. He found him on top of a hill, lying on the ground a gazing at the stars.
"Can you read our future in them, brother?" Kronos asked.
A wry smile twisted Methos' lips. "If they did, they would say the same thing they've been saying for the past three thousand years. Somehow I hope the future isn't that monotonous."
'Ah, and that's where you differ from the rest of us.' "Then what is the fascination they hold for you, if they have no purpose?"
"I'm not sure," Methos murmured. They stayed like that for a moment, Methos watching the sky and Kronos watching his brother. Kronos broke the silence.
"Are you all right? You haven't seemed like yourself lately." He spoke as if concerned for his brother's well being.
"I've only been thinking. That is what I do."
"Yes, you've been thinking of leaving."
Methos looked at him, startled. He had only started thinking of leaving for one day, how could Kronos have known? He didn't miss the menace in his voice. "Of course not, why would I want to leave?" he said smoothly as if surprised, trying to placate his brother.
"Because you're bored. Don't lie to me, I know you better than you do." He pulled out his sword and placed it at Methos' throat. "Now, the truth."
"Yes, I'm bored," Methos sputtered as his mind reeled and tried to figure out how to get out of this with his head intact. "Look around, Kronos. Have you ever wondered what else there is? I've heard of great libraries, where knowledge of every sort is stored. I've heard of people who are looking at life in so many different ways I've never heard of, offering radical new ideas. I've looked at what I do, and I can't help but wonder what else I could be doing. I danced with that slave last night, and I felt a moment of peace I haven't known before."
"Aw, is the killing getting to you? Have you grown soft, brother? Or is it that we're not good enough for you." The blade pushed harder on the weak neck.
"It's not the killing, it's the fact that killing is all I've been doing." Kronos appeared accept this defense and removed the sword. Methos continued. "I met you when I was tired, lonely, and had not a care about the world besides the continuation my life. You were bright, energetic. You had a purpose, and I was happy to find my own purpose in that. You had friends, and I knew that if we stayed together you would all become my friends who wouldn't die and wouldn't try for my head. It was enough then. We were all that mattered, all that was important. I needed that sense of belonging and direction. But I'm not happy. I enjoyed killing because it was us against them. We were gods, and I reveled in the power, in the knowledge that just the sight of us could reduce the fiercest warrior to a cowardly fool."
"And how has that changed?"
"What was once a pleasure, the outlet I needed for my frustration, anger, fear, all of that, became simple a necessity. I did it because you needed me and I needed you. Now it's a habit. I kill, I plan your raids, because it's what I do." His voice grew softer. "Is that all I am, all I could do? I have so many unanswered questions, about myself and the world. Right now my life's a puzzle. Call me a fool, it makes no difference. Let me go and search inside myself."
Kronos shook his head in disgust as his brother stared thoughtfully at the horizon. What happened to the strong man whose wrath frightened even Caspian? The man had grown soft, lost in purpose. He was useless like this. It would be better if he had grown rebellious, then it would be a matter of breaking him to his yoke. He snorted. No, this shell would be worthless. The only thing would be to take his head. He would miss him, but it was the only thing to do.
But there was the catch. Methos had always been his favorite of his brothers. The man always knew what he needed, and his dry, sharp wit, could always be counted to entertain. At times there would be a town that seemed too large and well protected to take, but Methos always found a way. He would miss him.
Then he considered Methos' words and his reasoning. It sounded like his brother wanted to join the mortals and their studies. Why? Couldn't he remember the pain mortals inevitably caused? Perhaps that was the problem, he really didn't remember. Kronos had already determined that he really didn't want to kill his brother, and for some reason he was feeling indulgent. So he made his decision.
"Then go." He laughed at Methos' suspicious look. "You aren't going to do me much good like this, questioning everything. So go, find your answers."
Methos was still suspicious. "Why are you doing this? The Horsemen are your life, you wouldn't simply break them up because Silas thought he might be better off with his animals?"
"Because Silas will never make that choice, neither would Caspian choose to go off on his own. Besides, I know what lessons you will learn. You will remember how hard it is to live among mortals, how you must hide yourself at every moment. You will remember how you can never be one of them. Either you will watch, but never get close, or you will make friends, perhaps love, only to lose them."
Methos was still skeptical. It was too easy. "Somehow I don't think that argument would make much difference to Silas or Caspian."
"Yes, but I know you, remember. Silas is happy as long as he has animals to play with and care for, and Caspian is with us only because we help him do what he likes to do. But you, and myself as well, we appreciate people and their benefits. You can't help but seek out others, you said yourself that's one reason you joined me. So you will go and find your scholars, make friends, and then they will die, or they'll discover your secret and shun you. Either way, you will come back. If you feel you must learn this lesson the hard way, so be it. When you come back, you will be stronger with us for it. I only ask that you think about it first."
Methos nodded. "We'll be crossing a trade route in a few days. I'll tell you then."
"Are you certain you must do this?" Kronos asked as Methos ordered slaves to prepare his horse.
"My minds made up, I'm leaving today. In a week I can be in Athens."
"Well then, go. I'll keep in touch, let you know how to find us again when you're ready to return." 'And when you do, brother, you'll know why my way truly is best.' Methos only nodded and mounted his horse. "Good luck, brother."
"And you, Kronos." Then he was gone.
Methos lived among the mortals for years. At first, he only listened to the knowledge they had, but as Kronos predicted he started growing attached. It was easier than he'd expected to hide his immortality in the large cities. Also as Kronos said would happen, his friends died and Methos was hurt at their passing. But it was different than it had been before. He wasn't filled with the rage at his helplessness to prevent it as had happened so many times before.
So when Kronos came looking for him fifty years later, Methos was happily enmeshed in the scholarly society, fully accepted as one of them. The thought of returning to the bleak life of the horsemen was an unpleasant prospect. Even the promise of power held no meaning, because he had never done anything with his power. Instead of being reminded of the problems with mortals, his world had grown much larger than that of his brothers'. He left town whenever he heard of a scar faced man nearby. His brother had been satisfied to let him go temporarily, but he would kill him if he suspected Methos wouldn't return.
Eventually, Kronos was thrown off the trail, and Methos could stop running. He married several times, he loved and lost, then mourned and moved on. He was still capable of killing, but he no longer did it for no reason. He started looking on his time as Death with trepidation, fearing he might return to those ways. He started learning who he was, but it was a never-ending quest. He never regretted his decision to leave the horsemen and that life behind.
The Great Escape