Rating: No warnings, I don't think the word "Damn" even comes up. Wait, it just did.
Disclaimer: The characters and their past aren't mine, just my story. Not for profit. I have a job for that.
After a couple of late nights, here's my thoughts on some of the ROG's motivations, how he's survived, etc. The only action is some thoughtful walking and beer drinking. A lot of jaw work though.
My second story, please email feedbacks. Flames will be used to keep me warm. (It gets cold in Colorado in the winter!)
Just a Guy
by Katie Grogan
Joe Dawson looked up from the beer tap that was always broken. "Adam, how's your day going?" he asked as he pulled out a beer.
"Not bad, but then it's just gotten started." He took a long pull from the bottle. "Do you know when Mac's plane is due back? He didn't tell me the flight number."
"What, couldn't you hack into the airline's passenger lists?" He chuckled. "Couldn't be too much of a challenge for you."
"Nah, it's easier to ask you. Besides, the computer doesn't give me beer." To demonstrate this Methos finished the bottle.
"I guess not." Joe looked at the young yet impossibly old man in front of him and grew serious. "What's it like?"
"Oh, about sixty-five, light breeze, a few clouds but nothing big. Pretty mild I guess, might want a jacket."
Joe shook his head. "Not the weather. What's it like to have to constantly relearn how to do everything? To keep up with the fashions and all."
"Joe, no one can keep up with fashion. Not today. As for the rest, I basically stick with what I'm comfortable with and doesn't stick out. I watch people, study their motivations and suit my actions to them. I do what I need to blend in. As for the technology, very little of it has come suddenly. It starts out being sold only for corporate use, or perhaps it's hailed as the newest thing but few can afford it. Like the flat TV. To a lot of people it's something that's new and interesting, but not something practical. It's actually been used in a lot of business settings for a long time. In a few years, the technology will be refined and you'll see it in every household."
"So how much time do you spend reading technical journals to keep up with it all? You always seem to be on the cutting edge."
"A few hours a week. I like knowing the how and why of things, and keeping up with science as it's developed or discovered means I don't have to go back and spend time catching up."
"Yeah, and catching up for you can mean fifty years worth of studying." Methos looked up toward the door and a familiar expression crossed his face. Immortal. "Maybe it's Mac," Joe suggested. Methos shrugged. Sure enough, Duncan MacLeod walked through the door a moment later.
"Hi Joe, Methos," he greeted them.
"It's Adam, MacLeod. When we're alone, it's okay, but not in public." MacLeod glanced towards the only other people in the bar, a couple who seemed to be too involved in each other to notice a nuclear attack. "I don't care. Someone could easily walk in, or Joe might have some watcher friend in back." Methos turned a considering gaze towards his friend. "Why is it so hard for you anyway?"
MacLeod frowned at him. "It seems wrong. You're Methos, a five thousand year old warrior, not Adam Pierson, mild manner researcher. You're my friend, not him."
Methos' gaze turned icy, and Joe winced. Mac definitely knew how to put his foot in his mouth. "So it's me and him? I'm this but not that? How would you know, MacLeod?"
"I've seen the real you. I remember your face as you told me about the horsemen, when you took Kristin's head. That wasn't Adam Pierson."
"Really. That's interesting, because if that were the real me I wouldn't be sitting here with you and you wouldn't know my name. So I guess I better go before this dangerous relationship gets me killed. See you around Joe."
Mac stared at Methos' back as he walked out of the bar. Then he looked at Joe with a bewildered expression on his face. "What did I do?"
"You just accused him of being a heartless SOB who would do nothing that risks his head."
"I know he isn't. He complains enough that I'm dangerous to be around yet he stays anyway. But he's not the shy researcher he pretended to be in the Watchers, either. Why can't he show us the real him? Why does he hide behind masks?"
"I don't know. What, you think he comes in, drinks some beer while telling stories of his past as a different person than you see now? Ask him."
"But what about his Chronicle? Surely you've read it?"
"First of all, his chronicle would take a lifetime to read, and most of it is supposition. Second, when we did have someone Watching they recorded the bare facts. Last, I think he's written most of his chronicle. I'll tell you this, though. While I never really hung out with him before I knew he was Methos, I met him several times with Don or Ian, and heard quite a bit about him. Don was proud of his brilliant protege. He didn't attend social events, didn't try to make friends, just acquaintances, and while he dated both Watchers and others, he never seemed to be looking for a long-term relationship. Obviously, his age was a lie, but I don't think it was all an act. Remember Alexa? He was so scared she might reject him."
Duncan chuckled. "Yeah, he was as giddy as a schoolboy. All right, I'll go talk to him. If he'll talk to me."
"Mac, you two have had worse fights before, and he's always been the first to cool off. I'll bet that the next time you see him, he tells you to forget about it and buys you a beer. Or gets you to buy him one."
He was thoughtful. "But I don't want to forget it," he whispered. He tossed a few bills on the bar and left. Joe shook his head. Almost ten times his age, yet MacLeod still thought more with his heart than his head. It was admirable in some cases, but it blinded him to the obvious more often than not, especially when it came to the old man.
Mac went back to Joe's that evening, wanting to see Joe play but also hoping Methos might show up. He was starting to think he wasn't when the warning of an approaching immortal ran through the air.
"Hey Mac," he said as he signaled the waitress for his usual beer and sprawled out on the chair. It seemed Joe was right, that Methos was going to pretend that he hadn't stormed out of the bar earlier. He sat and sipped his beer, listening to Joe on the stage. Just like usual.
"Me, uh, Adam, we need to talk."
"No, we don't. What we need to do is sit, enjoy the music and the company, and have a pleasant evening."
"That's it then? You don't even want to explain it to me?"
Methos looked over at MacLeod. 'Yes, I want to spend the next five hours trying to explain to you what I've been trying to show you for five years.' Instead he said, "Mac, it would do nothing. And no offense, but I like Joe's voice better than yours." He said the last with a bit of a smirk so there wouldn't be any offense. "Just let it be. Forget it happened." He waved his hand as if wiping away the past.
'How often have you wished you could do just that, Methos? Wave your hand and poof, it never happened. Why have you gotten so good at forgetting? How much pain has been given to you, you move on without a thought? I'm sorry, but I can't do that, not yet.'
They sat in silence until Joe's band finished. By the time the band tore down, the bar was almost empty. The three friends moved to a corner where they would have privacy.
"So, how was your trip?" Methos asked Duncan. "Find that sword you were looking for?"
"Yes. Now, about this afternoon..."
"Forget it, Mac, I already have."
"I don't want to, not this time."
Methos shrugged. "Fine, just let me move my car. I wasn't planning on sticking around long and I don't want it towed. This will take a minute." He left.
"Mac, if I suggested you hack into someplace, say the airline's passenger list to find out if a friend was on a flight, or the Watcher's database, what would you say? "
He was startled by the question, but saw only curiosity on Joe's face. "Well, it would have to be an emergency, and even then it could take too long to be worth it. As for the database, I wouldn't have a chance. I guess I would ask Adam too if I had to."
Joe nodded as if that was what he expected. "And why is that? Your ages shouldn't have anything to do with this."
"No, but he's the one who takes serious interest in all of that sort of thing."
Methos came back, wondering what to say. He knew what the Highlander would ask him, but had no idea how to explain himself. He hoped something would come to him, and let MacLeod start.
MacLeod was also uncertain. He didn't think it was right to just ask 'Who are you really', not if he wanted a straight answer. "Why did you get mad when I said that you weren't Adam Pierson."
"Because I am."
"But I've seen you..."
"MacLeod, I do not go to the grocery store acting like the clerk is my enemy. I do not go into fights with enemies acting like they're a friendly face. When someone bumps into me on the street, I generally brush it off and say it's okay. You can be assured, however, that I will grant no quarter in a challenge."
"I've seen you change roles. When you came to the jail as my lawyer. When you were with Kronos. You didn't just change the way you treated people, *you* changed. Almost every single thing you do is tailored around Adam Pierson, and I almost believe that he really is you, except that he couldn't have lived for five thousand years. He definitely wouldn't have survived Kronos."
Joe was almost, but not quite, scared. MacLeod's eyes were burning with full passion. He was pulling all the stops out, even bringing up Kronos. Fortunately, Methos was far more controlled. In fact, he was almost amused.
"Highlander, I have seen you as a playful child. You remember, painting the house? I've also seen you as a cold warrior doing what he must to save those he loves. Why? There is a core of yourself, your goals and your motivations. When you can be, you're an easygoing guy. You like to be gentle or friendly or loving. Sometimes, you can't do that. You have to be harder, whether it's to save a life or enforce an important lesson. You become who you need to be. I do the same."
Some understanding had entered his eyes, but Duncan was still uncertain. "I think I see what you're saying, but there's a big difference between us still. You've already pointed out who I am, an 'easygoing guy' who still does what he must to protect himself and others. But who are you?"
"It's not that simple. Yes, you and I are not the same. If you want a simple definition, I'm a scholar who will do what he must to survive."
"But you're so much more than just that."
"Precisely. I am what I need to be. Survival is the most important, after that comes blending in. Yes, I take on a multitude of personalities, but they're all me, at least where it's important. To me, it doesn't matter whether I dress in a suit or as a starving student. I'm fine doing innocuous or in charge. Whether or not I make friends generally depends on my state of mind at the time and the people around me. Same goes for which type of life I'll lead."
"What do you mean, your state of mind?"
"Mac, for you it is natural to seek out people. You need them like you need air. Yet still you've gone through periods of isolation, usually after a time of loss. I do the same thing. I grow tired of hiding in a library where I'm never heard, or I grow weary of the weight of responsibility. I decide that the pain of the loss isn't worth the love, but then somebody eventually makes me care again. So I've lived all sorts of lives as all sorts of people, I'm always me. I change, yes, everyone does. It's a fact of life. If I didn't, I would go mad."
"Silas, Caspian, and Kronos, they didn't change, yet you did."
Methos was uncomfortable, yet he stayed. "That's not quite the change I was referring to, I meant something far less drastic. But, yes, can you say that they led happy lives? Silas and Caspian wanted to ride horses, for heaven's sake. And while Kronos may have been more comfortable with modern society, he didn't really change either. I am who I am. If I hadn't changed, I would treat women like possessions, attack my neighbor for his food, and kill the stranger on the street for his clothes. I would be suspicious, perform useless rituals to ward off evil. I would trust no one."
"Like you do now?" Joe mumbled to himself, but Methos heard him anyway.
"I trust you. I trust MacLeod. Back then, during my first memories, no one was trusted who wasn't a part of your tribe. Obviously, my tribe would be dead or spread out, so I would have no one to trust. I would assume my way was right, and be reluctant to accept change. In all essence of the word, I would be a barbarian. I would also be absolutely miserable, because living in modern society would be impossible to bear, and it really isn't easy living all alone in the wilderness, especially for several millennia. So tell me, do you think it's bad thing that I'm totally inflexible?"
The other two men were somewhat stunned as they tried to cope with five thousand years of existence, and what it really meant. "Mac, you're still young. Some of your behavior may seem archaic, but people either don't notice or they think it's romantic. Even so, you have changed. You follow many of today's standards such as bathing regularly. You still have much to work on, though. Soon, perhaps in less than a century, women will be considered completely equal to men and your chauvinistic tendencies will not be appreciated. The definition of honor is changing, as well. Most people now days would think nothing of saying that they'll meet a challenger then run the other way. Immortals tend to follow the unspoken rule either because they are also from the time of honor or because their teachers have taught them they must meet the challenge." Methos stood and pulled on his coat. "Think on what I've said. The ability to adapt has played a large part in my survival, and it will in yours. Cons
ider this when thinking about certain moral issues- much of what you take for granted, such as human rights, is brand new to me, and I'm still not sure if it's true progression or a fad like chivalry. I have hopes, but I haven't seen enough to know which it is." With that, he left the bar.
"Well, I don't think I've had a talking down like that since my old man caught me smoking behind the garage," Joe chuckled. "So, do you think he's still hiding himself?"
"I don't know." Duncan mused over the conversation, or rather lecture. "He said that he does change personalities, but only still as he is. He says he is who he needs to be for survival, then blends in. After that, he's who he wants to be. That I understand. But who is he underneath? What is in his core that provides the motivation for his actions?"
"I think he said it. He's a scholar who will do what he must to survive."
"That's too easy, Joe."
"Is it? You said earlier that Methos is caught up with modern science better than you are. He told me earlier today that he spends time reading magazines to stay that way. He has led a lot of different lives, and he had to learn each of those professions. So yeah, I'd say he's a scholar. We both know he's a survivor."
"What about friends, lovers? Surely they take a place in his life."
"Don't you qualify as a friend? What part do you think you play in his scholarly pursuits or his survival." Silence. "Mac, I don't think you're going to understand the old man in one night."
"But Joe, I've known him for five years."
"And how much of that time was spent getting past your own preconceptions about who Methos should be? Take it easy on him. I bet his favorite weapon is knowledge, and he's reluctant to share any that might reach an enemy. Not that I think he expects you to become an enemy, but still."
MacLeod was quiet as he took his leave. There were still a few things that didn't quite sit right with him. For example, if survival came first, why was he still around? Why did he take on Kristin, or Keane? He walked around, no particular destination in mind, not quite ready to go home. He stiffened at the buzz of an immortal, only to relax when he saw Methos sitting on a bench.
"Hey," Methos said as he scooted over to make room.
"I guess I should apologize." Methos only looked at him, his face expressionless. "It's just that, every once in a while, I see this amazing power in you. Your intelligence, your experience, you say you're just a guy, but you're not. I get frustrated when you hide behind the young Watcher bit, like you can't trust me with the you that's survived so long."
"Mac, it's not that I don't trust you, it's just that I don't want to be that person. Maybe you're right, maybe I'm not just a guy, but where it really counts that's all I am." He stared of into the distance. "You all call me the master manipulator, but the truth is, I don't control every situation. I couldn't if I wanted to, and I find that life is very dull when you know everything. It's also very tiring, and you find that you spend all your time planning. Adam Pierson might not have survived five thousand years, but without that part of me I wouldn't have. It's the ability to be a normal guy that keeps me sane, helps me see that there is value in staying alive. Why survive if you're not living?
"True, I sometimes get too wrapped up in a persona and start focusing on that life, that part of me at the time than the whole of my experience and myself. I was quite serious when I offered you my head. About fifty years ago, I decided that love wasn't worth the loss. I hadn't found reason to change my mind until I met you. Four hundred, young compared to me but still old, and you weren't jaded. You had lost the woman you spent over a decade with and you were still full of caring. You still emerged yourself into the world and took responsibility for what happened to people. While I buried myself in books, you stopped killers of both the mortal and immortal kind. Where I ran from a potential challenge, you looked to see if it was foe, and if not, then a friend.
"I offered you one of the most powerful quickenings on the planet, and you wanted to protect me instead."
Both were quiet after this confession. Methos stared at his lap as if worn out while MacLeod looked everywhere except at his companion. "I'm sorry Methos. I'm not sure why I'm being so hard on you about this. I think I'm scared of the future. I see you changing faces in an instant, and I worry if I'll become the same way. Will I lose my sense of self, forget who I am? One day, I'll have to change my name, but I don't want to change me. You said earlier that I'll have to in order to live. I don't know if it's worth it."
"Yes, you will, but it's not waking up one day and deciding that you were wrong and changing your behavior. Or rather it can be, but usually it's a gradual growth. You are not perfect, I am not perfect. I still have a great deal to learn, and so do you. I'm extremely grateful for mortals, you know that? It's not just because making friends with an immortal generally isn't safe, but because without them, little would change. It isn't just about science, it's also social science, philosophy, you name it. You say you're worried about change, but what about growth? That's what it really is. I'm still growing up, believe it or not."
That earned a slight chuckle as MacLeod considered a five thousand-year-old man needing a babysitter. The image faded as he remembered his thoughts from after he left Joe's.
"Do you trust me, Methos?"
"Sure, Mac. Why?"
"There's still one more thing I've been wondering about. You say that you're first priority is survival, but you risked your head when you fought Kristin, Keane, even with Kronos, you didn't really have to fight Silas. So why?"
"I'd been keeping an eye on Kronos for a while. Partly to avoid him, but I also wanted to make sure he didn't go back to the old ways. Sure, he wreaked havoc back as Koren, but at nowhere near the magnitude he did as a Horseman. But when he started making plans for Armageddon, I knew was time he was stopped. If you failed, then I didn't want Silas to be in the way. With him gone, Kronos and I would both have to wait to recover but it would be one on one. As for Kristin? I think I was caught up in your anger, and my own anger at your failure to do what was needed. Besides, she had seen me and I didn't want to meet her again with her anger. And Keane, well, I don't suppose you'll accept temporary insanity? I just told you what you mean to me, and I strongly believe you're one of the best hopes the game has. Beyond that, I truly care about what happens to you. I was upset, frustrated, and since I couldn't easily beat up on you he seemed like a good target."
"So you do care." MacLeod's voice made it clear that he hadn't been sure.
"Yes, Duncan. I'm not perfect and I do have feelings, I'm just very good at hiding them. Like I said, I'm just I guy."