Tant que je vive 3

“Who is it?” Kallista asked, her curiosity getting the better of her.

“I told you, there’s no one.” Methos spoke more sharply than he had intended.

Kallista stared at him for a long moment, grey eyes probing him, assessing him. Finally she shrugged. “If you say so.”

It was obvious that she didn’t believe him but, for which he gave thanks to all the gods he’d ever known, had decided not to press the issue. He could of course have simply walked away but was reluctant to do so. She still meant too much to him for him to do that and he hadn’t seen her for too long a time.

“You didn’t tell me what you’re doing in London,” she said, adroitly changing the subject.

“No, I didn’t,” he agreed.


“What?” He was the picture of injured innocence.

She paused for a moment then shook her head ruefully. “I was going to say that I’m in no mood for your usual guessing games. But actually, I think I’ve missed them.” A reluctant smile hovered at the corners of her mouth.

“So you *did* miss me.”

“I suppose I must’ve done.”

He smiled at her, reached out for her hand and kissed it, a courtly old-fashioned gesture, but one that he felt like making. For her, it was fitting. “I’m, um, a trader,” he said quietly.

She cocked her head to one side quizzically. “In what?”




“But what are you doing here then? At this time? When New York hasn’t been open for long?”

“I’ve taken the day off, had some matters to attend to. Not that it’s any of your business.”

She merely smiled at him and unabashed, asked, “So...are you any good at it?”

“I’ll have you know that you’re looking at Saloman’s biggest forex earner--this quarter anyway.”

She laughed in delight. “Let me get this right. You, Mr Cautious, are making a living doing what is, in effect, gambling.”

He grinned at her. “Well, I do a fair amount of hedging,” he admitted.

“I’ll bet. So, d’you have any tips for me? Is this a good time to buy Euros?”

He shook his head. “Not unless you want to buy long. And even then, you won’t get much of a margin.”

“Scratch that idea then. It’s short-term liquidity I’m interested in at the moment. I need capital to expand and I’d rather that there aren’t questions as to where I’ve suddenly got all this money from, so my savings are out.”

“I know what you mean,” he agreed. “I wanted a more up-market lifestyle than I’ve enjoyed of late and this is an easy way to make money without raising suspicions.”

“Provided you’ve got the knack of knowing when to buy and when to sell. And I thought you City types work rather hard for your money.”

He shrugged. “Depends on what you mean by hard work. Personally, I’ve always thought that moving various currencies around at the push of a button isn’t that difficult.”

“But the hours are long.”

“I don’t mind that.”

“Hmm,” she mused, speaking aloud. “The City lifestyle, long hours, which means no time to brood, but no real responsibilities--after all it’s only money. No employees depending personally on you, so no real worries and there’s all that drinking...”

He glared at her. “If you’re going to be nasty about it--“

“No,” she interjected hastily. “That’s not what I meant. Sometimes it’s good to escape from responsibility, particularly if you’ve had a difficult time recently.”

There it was again, another attempt to rummage around in his psyche. He groaned. “Kallista--“

“I know. I’m sorry.” She smiled at him contritely, with just a smidgen of little-girl-lost.

He shook his head. “And they call me manipulative.”

She laughed. “Only when I’m prying. And if you weren’t so damned secretive, I wouldn’t have to resort to these type of tactics. You know, I don’t have to use them with anyone else,” she said with more than a hint of exasperation.

He held up a pacifying hand. “Truce?” he offered.

“Truce,” she affirmed. “So, is there anything you *want* to tell me? Like how you’ve been?”

“I’m fine. I’ve just been...living, you know.”

She nodded. “Oh, I must tell you, I ran into Demetrius Costas the other day.”

He seized on the change of subject in the spirit in which it was offered. “How is the old buzzard?”

“Who’re you calling old?” she said smartly. Then she laughed. “He’s fine, except that somehow he’d managed to get himself married to a positive shrew of a woman. You know the type, all sweetness and light on the surface but when she's got you in her claws, bam! You’re history. She’s been bossing him around, running him ragged.”

“So why doesn’t he just leave?”

“She’s incredibly wealthy--or rather her mother is. He’s hanging on until she dies, I think.”

“What, and then he’ll kill his wife as well?”

“Demetrius!? I doubt it. Too soft by half that man.”

Methos remembered him well. At first sight it was a miracle that he had survived almost two thousand years, so ineffectual did he appear to be. And in his case ineffectual was not, unfortunately, a misnomer. He really had only one talent, that of survival. He had enough sense to know when to run away. Plus he had a certain bumbling charm, which made one reluctant to simply kill him. But he was hopeless with money, hence no doubt why he had married a rich woman.

Methos felt his mouth twist in reluctant sympathy. He had, once or twice, in his younger years, married a woman who had turned out to be much like the picture he had of Costas’ wife. Of course once he had found out the truth he had simply disappeared. However, he had been a slave often enough and owned by that type of woman often enough, to feel a pang of commiseration for the hapless Demetrius.

“Poor guy.”

“Yes. He was almost desperate to see some old friends, I think.”

“But it’ll all be worth it when he gets his hands on the money.”

“If he lasts that long,” she said cynically. “So, how about you, run into any old friends recently?”

He stiffened slightly, then urged himself to relax, avoiding thinking with the ease of long practice about Joe Dawson’s last visit a couple of days ago and what he’d said. That particular wound was a little too raw for comfort. He told himself sternly not to overreact, particularly as he did not think Kallista had meant to be provocative. She was simply trying to catch up, as old friends do. He shook his head. “No one you know.”

“Oh? So you do have friends then?” Her expression was solemn.

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Last time we met, you seemed very...detached. Tired. As if you were withdrawing from everything.” He opened his mouth to speak, but she continued, “I know, I know. That was two hundred years ago. And a lot can happen in two hundred years. But now, you’re more like you were when I first met you. You’re more alive, but...”

He remained silent as her voice trailed off.

“Oh forget it. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said anything. I’m glad, though, that you seem to have decided not to...to, I don’t know, that you haven’t given up I suppose. It just wouldn’t be the same without you being around annoying everyone.”

“Thank you,” he said sardonically.

“You know what I mean.”

“I know what you mean,” he agreed.

Kallista smiled at him. “So, how long are you planning on living here?” she asked, tactfully changing the subject. “Isn’t London a bit too fashionable for you at the moment?”

“Are you implying that I’m not hip, cool and trendy?” he asked, a smile hovering around the corners of his mouth.

“Absolutely not!” She grinned at him. “You were always so concerned with keeping up with modern trends, that I remember. But you weren’t so concerned about being where the, um, action was at, either.”

He shrugged. “Maybe I’ve changed. It’s been a while since I lived in London, but it suits me.”

“For now.”

He inclined his head silently.

Kallista opened her mouth to say something more, but stopped, as a warm, welcoming look spread across her face. Methos turned his head to see a man standing by their table. Kallista rose to her feet, crying, “Querido,” as she did so. This must be her husband then.

Methos examined him with interest. He saw a middle-aged man, of no very great height, slender, with silver flecked dark hair. He was completely ordinary, Methos thought, the type of man who would never stand out from the crowd, although he did have a pair of fine eyes, large and liquid, of a beautiful sherry colour.

Methos too rose to his feet, as Kallista spoke. “Ignacio, I’d like you to meet an old friend of mine. This is...” She hesitated, glancing at Methos, obviously not sure by what name he wanted to introduced by.

“Methos,” he said, giving her that gift, figuring that the risk was minimal. He glanced over at her, to see her smiling at him, warmly.

“I am pleased to meet you,” Ignacio said, speaking in English with a strong Andalusian accent, offering his hand as he did so. The other man’s hand was cool in Methos’, the handshake surprisingly firm. Ignacio was evidently stronger than he looked.

For a moment Methos was tempted to reply in his own fluent Castillian Spanish, but decided that that would be unduly petty. “And I you,” he said in his turn.

“I presume you and Kallista are old friends, yes. *Very* old friends.”

“Yes, we are.”

“It is interesting,” the other man said thoughtfully. “I have not met so many of Kallista’s old friends, but am always glad to do so. You people are always of interest to me.” He smiled at Methos with genuine friendliness as he spoke.

For a moment Methos felt like snarling back at him. Did he know that Methos and his wife had been more than mere friends, had been lovers for longer than he would live? Then the impulse died as he thought how absurd he was being. Old habits, a sense of possession in respect of one’s lover for example, were slow to subside. And his were oldest of all. But how ridiculous, to become jealous over a woman who had long ago ceased to be anything other than a very good friend. Although maybe that was the problem. He had known how much he had once meant to her. In spite of all his good intentions, it hurt, to know that he had been so completely supplanted.

He looked carefully at the mortal man standing in front of him. It was particularly wounding to know that his supplantor was so very average, that there was nothing out of the ordinary about him. Perhaps for Kallista that was part of the attraction.

With an inward exhortation to himself to get over it, he asked the other man if he wanted a drink.

“Thank you, yes. However, please none of the English beer.” Ignacio grimaced as he spoke.


“That would be most pleasant, thank you.”

Methos turned to Kallista, who pre-empted him, saying, “Actually, it’s my round, I think.”

“Ah, yes. So it is. I must be slipping.”

“Yes, you must be,” she agreed sweetly. “Time was when you would never even have *thought* about buying two drinks in a row.”

He treated this foul and contumelious lie with the disdain it deserved--by ignoring it.

“Another pint?” Kallista asked.

He nodded, at which she went to the bar. Methos glared at her departing back. She had always been better at dishing out the insults than taking them. It was one of her more irritating characteristics.

Ignacio sat down beside him. He was making a valiant attempt to suppress his grin but without much success. “I think you are both very old friends, si. Only good friends insult one another like that.”

Methos’ sense of humour got the better of him and he returned the other man’s grin. “Your wife was doing all the insulting around here.”

“That is true. She is very good at that, no.”

As Methos caught Ignacio’s rueful expression, reluctantly he began to laugh. “She is indeed.”

“I hope you do not mind, but where did you meet Kallista?” Ignacio’s voice was hesitant; he was obviously curious but concerned not to give offence.

Methos glanced at Kallista, who was waiting to be served at the bar, waving a ten pounds note in the air in an attempt to be noticed by the bar staff. “We met in a village that doesn’t exist any more, near Avignon,” he said, deciding that he might as well tell the man the truth, because Kallista would undoubtedly tell Ignacio what he wanted to know in any event.

“And when was this?”

“Er, thirteen forty eight.”

“I was right then. You are old friends.” Ignacio hesitated. “You were perhaps, I think, more than friends once.”

Methos gave the man marks for perception. “We were,” he confirmed.

“Ah.” There was a brief silence while Ignacio digested that. “Was it for long?”

“I think you’d better ask Kallista for the details.”

“Yes, of course. I am sorry if I have offended you.”

“You haven’t,” Methos said firmly, meaning what he said. “But I make it a rule never to come between a married couple.”

“A most wise rule, I think. So, if I am not asking too much, do you live here, in London?”

Methos gave the man another mark for tact and courtesy, by choosing a safely innocuous topic of conversation. “I do,” he confirmed, as Kallista came back to their table, three drinks in her hands. She was grumbling about the lack of bar staff as she sat down.

“So, “ she said, picking up on their conversation without missing a beat. “Whereabouts are you living here?”

“I’ve got a flat in Covent Garden.”

“Nice. Although isn’t it a bit noisy?”

He shrugged. “I’ve got used to it.” In actuality, he liked the noise, the bustle. Silent sterility, affording him too much time to think, was not what he wanted just now.

“So, have you been here for long?” Kallista persisted.

“Not long.”

“Which is...?”

He looked at her in exasperation. “A few months, okay. What is this? Twenty questions?”

“Sorry,” she said, without the slightest hint of contrition. “But you’ve told me next to nothing about what you’ve been doing since we last met.”

“And it never occurred to you that that’s because I don’t want you to know?”

“Oh, yes. But you can’t blame me for asking.”

He sighed inwardly. It had been too much to hope that she would have given up her prying completely. Although he knew that should he ask Kallista would tell him all about her recent doings, with no hesitation. He couldn’t really blame her if she tried to obtain the same from him, even knowing as she must do that it was a doomed attempt.

“No,” he said wryly. “I can’t.” He hesitated, then decided to throw her a bone. “Actually, I’ve been spending some time in France recently, particularly in Paris.”

“Ah, Paris,” she said dreamily. “I love that city. You know, Ignacio--“

“No!” her husband said firmly. “We agreed to live in Seville.”

“I was just going to suggest a holiday there,” she said, looking hurt.

“Oh. In that case, I agree.”

“So why did you leave Paris, Methos?” Kallista asked, turning back to him immediately. “I assume it wasn’t Immortal trouble. It’s not like you moved far away after all.”

He raised an eyebrow at her. “That’s none of your business.”

She raised an eyebrow back at him. “Sorry if I hit a nerve.”

“You know, I’d forgotten what a pain in the arse you can be,” he said rudely.

“What, for asking a few questions? You are touchy.”

He scowled at her, aware that she had a point. But he really didn’t want to think just now about why he had left Paris, or about the fact that even when he had he had moved only so far as the next major city. Paris was only one hour’s flight away, or about three hours by train. He could slip down to Waterloo at any time, board Le Shuttle and be at the barge in less than four hours.

Oh yes, he had made the break all right. Really done a good job of disappearing. It had taken Joe all of a few weeks to find him. Sterling effort, Methos.

Kallista took his hand, pulling it away from where he had raised it to run it impatiently through his hair, longer now that it had been for a few years. He had grown it deliberately, as part of his new persona, knowing that longer hair made him look younger. “I’m sorry,” she said quietly. “I had no right to pry like that.”

He wondered what his expression had shown, judging from the worried look on her face. “It’s okay. I’d’ve been surprised if you hadn’t.”

She smiled at him ruefully. “Ouch.”

Opposite him, Ignacio watched them both, a peculiar expression on his face. Methos wondered what he saw when he looked at the two of them. They had, he realised, been acting rather like a pair of squabbling siblings--or an old married couple.

The Spaniard took a swift breath and then began to speak; “Today I went to see the Sainsbury wing of the National Gallery. The Turners were well displayed. I think that the British perhaps have more talent at art than I had thought.”

Methos found that he liked Ignacio after all. He had evidenced several good qualities since their brief acquaintance had commenced. Not least that, despite some rather bad behaviour on the part of himself and Kallista, Ignacio had not become upset, or demanding. Instead he had changed the subject, made an attempt to smooth matters over. Perhaps he could see something after all of what had attracted Kallista to her husband.

“I don’t know,” Methos said, picking up the conversational ball. “I think there’s something to the theory that the one thing the British are really good at is literature.”

“But what about music?” Kallista commented.

“Possibly this century,” Methos said thoughtfully.

They passed a pleasant hour discussing music and art and literature. Ignacio proved to have a more than workmanlike knowledge of these topics, at least so far as the West was concerned, although he could not rival Methos or Kallista’s erudition.

But after Ignacio had finished making a point, about the Romans’ invention of the satirical format to which both Immortals conceded him the victory, in spite of Kallista gamely arguing that the Greeks had been the true innovators, he seized Kallista’s hand and kissed the palm fleetingly. She smiled at him lovingly, folding her hand around the kiss. A small interaction but it clearly demonstrated the depth of their intimacy. As Methos watched he thought that they had already betrayed that in half a dozen ways; in the frequent glances they gave to one another, the way in which gradually, they leaned closer and closer together, until their shoulders touched, how they mirrored the other’s gestures, finished each other’s sentences.

That they loved was evident. But also it was apparent that each was known to the other, faults as well as virtues and was still loved none the less. It hurt him to see so clearly demonstrated that depth of intimacy, the level of understanding between them notwithstanding the gulf between them, in age and upbringing and experience. Somehow they had transcended that, moved beyond it. It was something he had never dared to even attempt. He had told himself that he did not wish it. But this was not true. He had wondered deep within what it would be like; to give of himself completely to another with nothing held back. Most of all he had wondered how it would be with Duncan. But he lacked the courage to try.

What would Duncan see, if he came to know him, *really* know him? If he saw past the mystique of the ‘world’s oldest man’? Nothing pretty, or noble or virtuous. A man, perhaps a clever man, but nothing special. Just a man who had lived for a long, long time.

The words Kallista had quoted rose in his memory, mocking him. ‘Tant que je vive, mon cueur ne changera.’

Not for him the love that never died. Everything ended. Everything. Except himself.

In an instant, all his pleasure in the company of Kallista and Ignacio died. Now he found being with them to be intolerable, their obvious love for each other reminding him of what he had lost, or rather of what he lacked the courage to grasp. The promise of love fulfilled.

He rose abruptly to his feet as they looked at him in surprise.

“I’m sorry, I’d almost forgotten, but I’m meeting someone in the West End, in...” He made a show of looking at his watch, “about fifteen minutes.”

“I am sorry you have to leave so soon,” Ignacio said politely, but Kallista watched Methos with a considering expression.

“Why don’t you ask your friend to join us?” she asked.

Methos shook his head, shrugging into his suit jacket as he did so. “It’s not a friend, more a business acquaintance.”

“Really. I thought you forex types conducted all your business over the phone.”

He glared at her. “We do. But I still have personal investments to sort out.”

“And you’re meeting a business acquaintance at this time of day in the West End.”

“Uh huh, he was seeing a client there, and as I live nearby, I agreed to meet him.” He reached for his coat and inserted an arm neatly into a sleeve, pulling it on around his suit jacket.

“Of course,” Kallista said, her tone of voice clearly indicating that she didn’t believe a word of it.

“It was nice to meet you.” Methos turned to Ignacio, pleased that he was able to say that with all sincerity.

The other man stood up. “And you.” He shook Methos’ proffered hand firmly.

Methos turned to Kallista but even as he did so she was already reaching for him. They embraced tightly but as he made to let her go she whispered fiercely in his ear. “I don’t know what it is, what we did, but if you think I believe for one moment that pathetic excuse you made--“

“It’s not that,” he protested, rather more loudly than he’d intended, judging from the number of heads that turned to look at them.

Kallista released him slightly but kept a grip on both his arms. “Then what?”

He shook his head, words failing him as she looked at him searchingly. Gradually her stern expression softened, and then she drew him back into her embrace once more. "Oh my dear,” was all she said. She let go of him, kissing him lightly on the lips as she did so and pressed a card into his hand. “If you need me, for anything, here’s our number.”

He nodded. “Yeah. Thanks.”

He smiled at them both, then turned and made for the door. Once outside he stood for a moment, blinking in the bright sunshine, dazzling in his eyes after the dark interior of the pub. He was breathing a little faster than he would have wished and took a moment to compose himself before setting off up Fleet Street, his pace rather brisker than his usual saunter.

Running through his head, haunting him, were the words from that damned poem that Kallista had quoted to him.

‘Tant que je vive, mon cueur ne changera.’

The street broadened as it segued into The Strand. On his right was the white-granite mock-Gothic monstrosity that was the Royal Courts of Justice, its design a monument to the Victorian taste for excess.

‘Pour nulle vivante, tant soit elle bonne ou saige.’

A flock of be-wigged and be-robed barristers, black gowns flapping behind them, emerged from the imposing doorway to the Court, dashing across the zebra crossing into their chambers in the Temple. The foremost barrister, a QC pompous with self-importance, almost collided with Methos but he did not stop, although he did throw back a “I’m terribly sorry,” over his shoulder as he disappeared into the Temple precincts. Methos glanced at his watch. It was four forty-two p.m. Most Courts would have just risen for the evening as he knew from his time as a barrister, back in the late nineteenth century.

‘Forte et puissante, riche de hault lignaige’

He spared a glance over his shoulder, as he turned up into the Aldwych, leaving the Court behind him. He crossed over the road at the traffic lights and turned up Drury Lane, zigzagging through the tightly packed streets near Covent Garden Piazza on the way back to his flat.

‘Mon chois est fait, aultre ne se fera.’

It was nothing but cheap sentimentality, he thought scornfully. The type of thing that he loathed. The idea behind the poem was absurd, even for mortals with their brief existence. It was even more so for Immortals. The ideal of everlasting love, that no matter how long one lived there was someone whom one loved above all others. Kallista was wrong. She had to be. All things must pass, including love, no matter how passionate or how deep. Duncan MacLeod was no different in that from any of the others. He wasn’t. There was no one, nor had there ever been, who he cared for like that. *No one*.

He reached the turning into Floral Street and hesitated. He stood there for a moment, irresolute, then turned up into Long Acre and walked to Leicester Square. By the time he reached it the Square was already packed, with the usual mixture of tourists, touts, pickpockets and Londoners, out to meet friends for the evening. There was the perpetual crowd of people standing under the Hippodrome, glancing through the throng for friends whom they had arranged to meet there.

For an instant he was touched with an aching pang of loneliness. Not for him was the knowledge that he would be meeting friends later tonight, or any night. He had acquaintances, several of them, here in London but no real friends, no one who had the slightest inkling of what he really was. He had existed for so long without the need, the longing to be really known and had been content. Or so he had thought. Then he had been pulled into the tumultuous life of Duncan MacLeod and his peaceful existence had changed, for better or worse. He wasn’t sure. But one of the things that he had come to treasure was the friendship of people who not only knew he was Immortal but also knew he was Methos. He had basked in that, as a plant will thrive in the sunlight, relaxing somewhat the ever-present pretence. He had not realised until he had let it go how much it strained at him, weighed him down.

One of those he friendships he most cherished, perhaps precisely because it was, inevitably, fleeting and the more precious for all that was whatever it was he had with Joe Dawson. Acceptance certainly, amusement perhaps, together with a rare type of wisdom, astonishing in one so young. Or at least, he had once had all of that. Now, he was not so sure. He grimaced as the overwhelming tides of memory swamped him, smothering him with regret.


Joe had arrived unannounced just a couple of evenings ago at Methos’ flat located in Floral Street, above the Covent Garden branch of Books Etc and just off Covent Garden Piazza. Methos had raised a resigned eyebrow at the realisation that the person standing at the entrance to the red-bricked nineteenth century house within which was his flat was Dawson and pressed the buzzer to let him in. By the time Joe finally made it up the stairs, the lift--in spite of what Methos regarded as extortionate service charges payable to the management company--being out of order, he was standing at the entrance to the flat, a speciously welcoming smile plastered across his face.

“Joe,” Methos said breezily, as Dawson attempted to regain his breath. “This is a pleasant surprise. Come on in.”

The other man merely grunted in response, delighting Methos, who figured his tactic--to put Joe off guard--seemed to be working. He fussed around, playing the good host, solicitously settling Joe into a comfortable chair beside the blue and white tiled Victorian fireplace, fetching him a beer and slumping opposite him onto the capacious sofa, fixing a pleasantly enquiring expression on his face.

After taking a long drink from his glass eventually Joe spoke. “Well at least you didn’t disappear completely without trace this time.”

Methos let no hint of a reaction escape to this reference to his one-year disappearance after Mac had killed Richie.

“In fact,” the other man continued, “you weren’t that hard to find, it only took us a few months, so I guess that this means you wanted to be found. Right?”

Methos shrugged. “Not necessarily. It could be merely that I didn’t want to hide.”

“Uh huh.” Joe made no attempt to hide his scepticism.

“That maybe I was happy for a friend to know where I was.”

“Friends? Is that what we are?”

Methos stared at him. “You tell me.”

Joe sighed. “Christ! You can be an exasperating son of a bitch. Yes! So far as I’m concerned we’re friends, although I’m not so sure about you.”

“I count you as a friend, yes.” It was true.

Joe didn’t hesitate, but moved in for the kill. “And Mac?”

But Methos was unfazed. “That’s really none of your business.”

However the other man was equal to the challenge. “Maybe not, but...you’re both my friends, damn it! And I don’t like to see you both so miserable.”

Methos laughed, spreading his arms wide to indicate the pristine and tasteful luxury of his surroundings. “Do I look miserable?”

“No. But you don’t look happy either.”

Methos sighed. “Now you’re projecting. I’m perfectly...content.”

“If you say so.”

There was silence, then Joe leaned forward. “Look,” he said earnestly. “You may be happy, yada, yada, yada, but, if you care about Mac at all, please, get in touch with him, huh. He’s pretty miserable. In fact he worries me, he doesn’t seem to *care*, y’know, about anything much, including whether he lives or dies.”

Deep within Methos an anvil clanged, smiting him deeply, a blow so fierce that the anguish of it had not yet reached him. He allowed no hint of it to reach his face. Instead, he laughed. “Oh come on Joe! You’re not expecting me to believe that. Just because I left. Even after Richie died, he got over it, after a while anyway. And what about Tessa? He managed to carry on after her death. Mac’s an Immortal, Joe. He’s used to people leaving. Sorry, buddy, but you’ve over done it this time.”

Joe had the grace to look slightly sheepish. “Yeah well, maybe I exaggerated a little. But I still think he’s lost his edge. And he’s sure as hell miserable. I don’t know what you said to him, but--“

“Hang on a minute,” Methos said, outraged. “Why do you assume that it’s something I said.”

“Because you can be vicious when you want to be,” the other man said bluntly.

Methos said nothing in response, tacitly acknowledging the truth of Joe’s words.

Dawson sighed and ran an impatient hand through his hair, leaving it standing on end, akin to a hedgehog’s spikes. “Please,” he said, quietly. “Won’t you at least talk to him?”

But Methos was shaking his head in negation. “It wouldn’t do any good, Joe.”

“Why not? He’s been looking for you, you know.”

“Probably just wants his cream sweater back,” Methos muttered. The look of complete and utter disgust that Joe gave him made even the old Immortal flinch. But he took a deep breath and continued, “What happened between us...my leaving like that, he’s not going to forgive me.”

“You’re wrong,” the other man said bluntly. “If he can get over you being one of the Four Horsemen, he--“

“But that’s just my point! He never really came to terms with it, with what I am,” Methos snapped. He grimaced and then continued, “Look, you were right, I did say some vicious things. But in any event he’s better off without me.”

But Joe shook his head. “Oh, no. Don’t try and pull that crap with me.”

“I don’t know what you mean.” The tone of honest bewilderment was a work of art.

“That ‘I’m doing it all for his own good crap’!” Joe snarled.

Methos’ lips tightened in annoyance. “It happens to be the truth,” he said stiffly.

Joe snorted. “You wouldn’t know the truth if it came up and bit you on the ass.”

There was silence. Eventually Methos broke it. “Another beer?”

“No, thanks. Are you going to talk to him?”

“No. Believe me, Joe, it’s better this way.”

“For you, maybe. And the poor guy doesn’t even know what he did wrong.”

Now, Methos was surprised. “He’s talked to you? About us.”

Joe regarded him scornfully. “Hardly! You know how closed mouthed he can be. No. But after you left he had this kind of bewildered look about him. And when I asked him why you’d gone, he just said that he didn’t know.”

Inwardly, Methos squirmed. He got to his feet, uneasy at the steady glare of Joe opposite. In order to cover his discomfiture, he spoke sharply. “Did it never occur to you that he doesn’t tell you everything, that he might have wanted a little bit of privacy from being watched all the time. That maybe he does know why I left but didn’t want to tell you, so that it wouldn’t end up in his Chronicle. That what happened between us is something that he wants to leave as precisely that--between us, rather than as a matter which every jumped-up Johnny-come-lately Watcher can access at the push of a button in order to satisfy their prurient curiosity. Oooh look, see what MacLeod is up to now, what’s happening with his latest relationship, gawp at the pictures, maybe they’ll get lucky and someone will shoot a video--“

“Shut up! Shut the fuck up!” Joe yelled.

Silence fell, charged with tension. Both men were breathing hard. Methos found that he was vaguely appalled at the venomous sound of his voice. He had meant merely to divert Joe from his train of thought by uttering a few well-chosen words, not commence a diatribe.

Finally, Joe spoke, in a tightly controlled tone. “Mac and I are friends. He knows--as do you--that anything he tells me of that nature doesn’t go into his Chronicle.” He glared at Methos, who turned his head slightly away.

“Yeah okay.” Methos’ voice was tinged with the merest hint of an apology. He hesitated, then said, ”Look, tell MacLeod that I just...I needed to get away. That’s all.”

But Joe was shaking his head. “He’ll never know that I was here. I don’t want him to know where you are, not unless you’re going to at least talk to the man.”

“No. I’m not.”

Joe got heavily to his feet. “Well, that’s that.” He picked up his cane and made for the door.

“You don’t want to stay, go out for dinner maybe?” Methos asked, hoping his offer would be refused and angry that his former pleasure in Joe’s company should be so tarnished.

The reply was curt. “No, thanks.” At the door, Joe turned and regarded him disdainfully. “I guess I’m not surprised. You always were a selfish bastard.” With that parting shot, he slammed the door behind him and was gone.

Methos stood where he was for a long time, staring at the closed door. What Joe said couldn’t be true. Could it? Joe himself had admitted that he was exaggerating and there’d been no hint that Methos meant that much to MacLeod. As for what he’d said, before he left...Duncan knew that he said all sorts of things he didn’t mean. So he was hardly likely to take to heart anything said in the heat of the moment. And he hadn’t believed Methos anyway.

But what if what Joe said turned out to be right? What if Duncan got himself killed because of him?

He went over to the telephone and dialled a number. After a couple of rings it was answered. “MacLeod.”

Methos stood, staring stupidly at the receiver. Now when he needed it most, all his usual eloquence had deserted him. He did not know what to say.

“Qui c’est?” was the impatient voice at the other end of the line. Then, again, “Qui est lá?”

He slammed the phone down, heart racing as if he had just fought a battle. He felt sick.

In spite of all his experience he had never been particularly good at what were, in modern parlance, relationships. Even though he’d had so many that he couldn’t possibly, even with his Immortal memory, remember all of his lovers’ names. Either he didn’t care for the other person enough and ended up hurting them because of it, or he cared too much and ended up hurting himself. The exceptions were few enough that each of those he remembered perfectly, a handful of names. Alexa was one. Most were mortals and each of these relationships had ended with the other’s death. He had only dared to love another Immortal once or twice. There were others, such as Amanda, or Rebecca before her death for who he would--if pressed--admit to a certain fondness. Then there was Kronos--in a class all of his own.

But he could not remember feeling for any of the others what he felt for Duncan MacLeod.

He closed his eyes wearily. He was being absurd. He was still in the first stages of infatuation; that was why he was reacting in this melodramatic fashion.

He turned away and went into his bedroom, preparing himself methodically for bed. However although he was fatigued he was unable to sleep. The man who professed that he had felt no guilt for centuries lay awake as his conscience plagued him, all night.


Methos came back to himself with a start as he was jostled by a couple of giggling girls, teetering on their platform shoes, legs coltish with youth. An instant later and he had slipped through the huddle and was in the centre of Leicester Square. He stared at the various cinemas scattered around the heart of London’s film district. He wasn’t sure what kind of movie he was in the mood for, just that it should be suitably mindless. Some action thriller from Hollywood should do it.

In the end, he decided upon Face Off, which was playing at the Empire. Good, now to lose himself in make believe.

Unfortunately, it didn’t work. His attention wandered dreadfully during the film although he stuck it out until the end. Afterwards he crossed the Square and walked into the Leicester Square branch of All Bar One, but soon fled the raucous, heaving scene inside. Instead he took a seat at one of the tables outside at Oscar’s bar, on the south side of the Square, making certain that he chose a table near the brazier glowing around one of the awning poles. The day’s heat had long since faded, there was now a distinct chill in the air.

He sat there for a while, nursing a beer and observing the people walking nearby, their social interaction unchanged from that he had known thousands of years ago. Some things never really altered. That thought should have comforted him, but it didn’t. He felt on edge, overly sensitised to the atmosphere around him, skin raw to the elements. Eventually the coming of a faux Mexican gypsy band, geared towards the tourist trade, drove him hastily away.

His steps back to his flat were slow and he walked with his face bowed towards the ground. But his head snapped up when upon turning into Floral Street he felt the unmistakable feel of the presence of an Immortal thrumming through him. He stiffened, eyes darting frantically, hand going to the hilt of his broadsword, as he tried to identify the unknown presence.

He slumped as he recognised who it was, cursing to himself in a curious mixture of Sumerian and antique French.


That was all he needed.

She was standing just inside the side entrance to Books Etc, above which was his flat. She stepped out onto the street and smiled at him brightly as he approached her, ignoring his scowl, kissing his cheek lightly with her usual insouciance as he brushed past her into the entrance of the building. She followed him silently up the stairs to his flat, without waiting for an invitation.

He fumbled for his keys at the top of the stairs then opened the door, expecting that Amanda would enter the flat behind him. She did not disappoint him.

Once inside he turned and examined her, a determinedly neutral expression on his face. The blonde hair suited her, he thought. The memory of the first time he’d seen that particular hairstyle, when he had been attempting to locate the Methuselah stone to cure Alexa, elicited a brief tremor of pain.

Amanda stared at him as he shut the flat door. “Well,” she demanded.

“Well what?”

“Aren’t you going to offer me a drink. Really Methos, a girl could get the impression that you’re not pleased to see her.”

She ignored his muttered, “I’m not,” blithely, stripping off her coat and placing it on the coat rack near the flat entrance.

“What do you want, Amanda?” he asked wearily.

“I’ve already told you--a drink.”

He sighed. There was no point in getting angry with her, he knew from past experience that it had little effect. He also took off his coat, hanging it beside Amanda’s. “What would you like?”

“Have you got any wine?” she asked hopefully.

“Of course. Red or white, French, Italian, Spanish, German, Australian, Chilean--“

“Red, please,” Amanda interrupted the recital. “Nothing too heavy.”

Methos silently went to the small room in which he stored his wine and beer collection, returning with two glasses of Pinot Noir. Amanda smiled at him as she took it.

“Nice suit,” she said appreciatively, gaze travelling slowly up and down his body. “Saville Row if I’m not mistaken. You’ve gone up in the world, haven’t you?”

He shrugged. “I couldn’t be a student forever.” As he spoke he took off his suit jacket, throwing it across the back of a nearby chair careless of the fine tailoring.

Amanda tsk-tsked and picked up the jacket, hanging it on the coat rack near the door. She met Methos’ annoyed glare with a nonchalant expression. “Sorry, she said, not bothering to conceal that she wasn’t. “But you just don’t treat a bespoke tailored Saville Row suit like that.”

Methos rolled his eyes. “Whatever.”

Amanda grinned at him and dragged him down to sit beside her on the couch. He took a sip of his wine, deciding not to wait to let it breathe, conscious that the smell of the wine was mingled with her light fragrance. Amanda had always been impossible to ignore.

“Well, come on then. You may as well get it over with.”

“Get what over with?”

Her innocent expression was, he thought, almost as good as his best attempt.

“Joe sent you, yes?”

She shook her head. “You should know better,” she said reproachfully. “No one sends me anywhere.”

He saluted her with his wineglass. “True. Okay, try, Joe suggested you come and talk to me, instead.”

“Actually, it was my idea. Although he did ring me.”

“I knew it. Why don’t the pair of you try minding your own business, for once.”

“Come on Methos, be fair. He’s worried about Mac. You as well.”

Methos raised an eyebrow as he asked, “And you?”

She heaved a sigh, which made her breasts move to pleasant effect. As no doubt she was well aware. “Well...” she hedged.

He smiled at her sardonically. “You’re worried about MacLeod of course.”

“And you.”

“Uh huh.” His tone was sceptical.

“Why is it so difficult to believe that I’m worried about you? What, are you bothered that if I care about you, you’ll have to care back.” She laughed. “Don’t worry, it’s not obligatory, you know.”

“That’s not--“

“What? Fair? Or true?”


She looked at him, exasperation glinting in her eyes. “God, Methos. However did you get to be so old and still be so hopeless about people?”

He had the distinct--and unpleasant--feeling that he was losing this round. “I don’t know what you mean,” he said stiffly.

“Yes, you do. Oh, you’re really good at manipulating people into doing what you want. I ought to know--it takes one to know one. But you can’t seem to recognise caring, or affection, or love when you’re offered it. Or is it that you don’t want to?” she asked shrewdly.

He bit his lip. It would not do to underestimate Amanda. She had, after all, been trained by Rebecca. “If you’re talking about Mac and me...Come on Amanda, you know what it’s like. You feel the need to move on, so you go.”

“Maybe,” she acknowledged quietly. “But if that’s all it is you try to part as friends, at least.”

He closed his eyes briefly, acknowledging the blow. “So, did you ever tell MacLeod about us?” He attacked in his turn, utilising the maxim that the best form of defence was an offence.

But Amanda met the thrust as the experienced campaigner that she was. “There isn’t any us.”

“No. Not now. But there was,” he reminded her, knowing that she had not forgotten their previous affair.

She shrugged, attempting nonchalance, but to Methos’ discerning eye she looked somewhat uncomfortable. “The subject never came up. And I’ll bet you never told him about your former lovers, either.”

“Not most of them, no,” he agreed pleasantly. “But then, it would have taken too long. There are probably rather more of my ex-lovers than yours. And so far as I’m aware, besides you, none of them also happen to be one of his current lovers.”

Amanda grimaced. “You know what he’s like,” she muttered. “It would have preyed on his mind, he’d have started wondering about what other things there are in my past that I never got around to telling him. And it wouldn’t have mattered that there’s all sorts of things he never told me.” She paused for a moment, her eyes piercing his. “And what did you mean? You didn’t tell him about most of them.”

He maintained a bland expression, allowing no hint of his inward annoyance to show. He was slipping badly to have given away even so much as this oblique reference to his having used Kronos to hurt MacLeod. “Merely that one or two may have come up in the course of conversation.”

He was rewarded for his control by the uncertainty in Amanda’s lovely eyes. “But not me?”


“Why not?” she demanded, a hint of indignation in her voice.

He was amused at her audacity, only Amanda would be insulted because Methos hadn’t betrayed her confidence. “Well, the subject never came up.”

She met his eyes and the atmosphere eased a fraction, as neither was unable to wholly subdue a smile.

“I guess I deserved that one.”

“I guess you did,” he agreed.

She frowned at him reprovingly, but the corners of her mouth twitched upwards. “Now, as I was saying, before you tried to distract me...”

He attempted to look hurt, but Amanda was too wily to fall for that one.

“...why did you leave, Methos? Like that, trying to sneak off without saying goodbye.”

Abruptly he was genuinely angry. What right had she, had anyone, to involve themselves in his affairs? “As I said earlier, it’s none of your business.” His voice was still pleasant but he made no attempt to disguise the underlying anger. In times past the strong had trembled and the weak had wept at hearing that tone in his voice.

But not Amanda.

“If it was just that you felt the need to move on, you would have said goodbye, at least,” she mused, ignoring his earlier words. “At least you would with a relationship as serious as the one you have with Mac.”

“What would you know about it?”

She glared at him. “Oh come on, Methos. Mac loves you, you know that.”

“That’s not--He never said that.”

She looked up at him derisively. “Well of course he didn’t. It can be hard, with another Immortal, as you know. It took Mac and me over three hundred years to admit that we love one another. And I bet that my relationship with him is a hell of a lot easier than yours is.” She snorted in disgust. “Men! You can be such idiots.”

He remained silent. What was there to say?

“So,” she continued, “it’s not that you were bored or anything like that. No, what you were doing was running away. Running away because...you were scared! You killed Isat to protect Mac and nearly died. So, you got scared.” She turned to him in triumph. “I’m right aren’t I?”

He smiled at her nastily. “Right! Amanda, relationship counsellor. That’s a new one for you isn’t it? Well, no doubt you’re the right person for the job. All those deep and meaningful loves that you’ve had. But of course, *you’ve* never left a lover. No, commitment is your middle name. Ever dependable, that’s you.” He used his voice to flay her alive; it was something he’d always been good at and had perfected over the centuries.

She blanched white, all the blood draining away to leave her face the colour of bleached bone, but beneath his fascinated eyes a second later she rallied visibly, bright spots of colour came flooding back, high on her elegant cheekbones. “You’re right,” she said quietly. “I was never that. But not any more Methos. Not any more!” she finished fiercely.

He looked at her sceptically. “If you say so.”

“I do.”

He shrugged. “Whatever.”

“No, I mean it.” She spoke emphatically. “I’ve changed. I have.”

He smiled at her sardonically. “Now, why am I reminded of: ‘Methinks she doth protest too much’.”

She glared at him with dislike. “You can be such a bastard.”

“Old news,” he sneered, pleased at his success in distracting her.

But even as he was congratulating himself on his stratagem, Amanda was clearly recovering her equilibrium as she laughed lightly. “Nice try Methos, but it won’t work. Why did you leave Duncan?”

“I’ve already told you, it’s none of your business. I suggest you leave.”

She folded her arms defiantly. “No.”

He narrowed his eyes at her menacingly. “I could make you.”

“You probably could. But I’d make a hell of a lot of noise on the way out. And this is England, so we wouldn’t want to disturb the neighbours would we?” she finished with saccharine sweetness.

He glared at her, knowing that she was right; he was unwilling to cause a disturbance. “I’m surprised that you’re so bothered. About Mac and me, I mean. I thought you’d be comforting MacLeod in his hour of need, ministering to his every whim, cooking up little delicacies. Well perhaps not that, I’ve eaten your cooking.” He smiled at her sweetly, as she scowled at him. “No?”

Amanda glanced down at the floor for a moment. “Well...actually, I’m engaged elsewhere at the moment.”

“Ah ha,” Methos said triumphantly. “So that’s it. I wondered why you were so unconcerned that MacLeod and I were together.”

She shook her head. “Mac and I have never had that type of relationship and you know it. We love each other yes, but we’d end up killing each other if we were together for any length of time. Whereas you and Duncan...” She looked at him speculatively. “That, I can see.”

He looked at her in disgust. “Oh, please. I really didn’t expect this type of romantic drivel from you.”

Her mouth twitched in amusement. “Love is not romantic drivel.”

“So that’s it. You’ve fallen in love.” He interjected just the right amount of mockery into his voice.

“Maybe,” she returned lightly.

“So, it’s true love is it. A country cottage and roses round the door. How sweet!”

“I never said that,” she returned unfazed. “Love...I hope so. Whatever happens, I look forward to finding out.”

He glared at her, would nothing shake her annoying self-possession? “Whatever happens, they always die,” he said brutally, hoping to wound.

Her expression tightened, but he caught the fear shadowing her eyes. “I don’t care.” She stared at him defiantly.

He swallowed heavily. He had said something very like that, more than once, but considering how long he’d lived not that often. Not often at all. He could not bring himself to hurt her again; time would do that all too soon. And whatever else happened, she would have the memories. As did he, but memories were cold comfort in the middle of the night when the longing was almost overwhelming. He said nothing more but his expression must have given him away, for as she met his eyes her expression softened.

“Oh, Methos.”

He could not bear her sympathy. “Stop it,” he snarled, jumping to his feet.

“Look, I know it’s hard, really I do, but--“

“What the fuck would you know about it?” he burst out. “You’re only one fifth of my age. I’ve lived my whole fucking *life* coping with whatever life throws at me, experienced things, *been* things that would make you ill to even *think* about. But I survived. No matter who I lost, I always survived. That’s what I am, the ultimate survivor. How do you think I feel, when I meet an *infant* like Duncan MacLeod. Someone who lives by this absurd code, that’ll get him killed, or me, trying to look after him. And I know, I know, that it doesn’t matter, because I can’t live without him, that I can’t survive without him. But one day, I’ll have to try. And I can’t bear it!”

Aghast, he stared at her. He had not meant to reveal so much. To himself, let alone to her.

Amanda’s brown eyes were huge in her pale face

He moistened his lips nervously. “I--“ he began, then stopped short as his voice cracked alarmingly. He turned away, not wanting her to see his face.

Amanda rose to her feet and put her arms around him, hugging him tightly. For a moment he was still in her embrace then his arms went around her, holding onto her desperately. This was the second time that he had cried on her shoulder but this time the tears came even harder than over Alexa, as deep sobs shook his body. Amanda cradled him, murmuring soothing inanities.

Eventually after what felt to him like a long time, he raised his head, temples throbbing. Amanda pulled him down on to the couch to sit beside her once more.

“I’m so sorry, Methos. I didn’t know, you see, how much you love him.”

He tried to smile at her, but suspected that it was a dismal failure. “Neither did I.” He took a deep breath. “But I’ll get over it.”

She looked at him steadily. “Will you?”

“Of course. Nothing lasts forever, you know that.”

“Maybe,” she said sadly.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean--“

“I know you didn’t.” She hesitated. “So what happens now?”

“Nothing,” he said dully.


“*No* Amanda. I won’t talk to Mac. I can’t, don’t you see that!”

She looked at him unhappily. “What about Duncan?”

“He’ll get over it,” he said steadily.

“You’re sure about that?”

He turned away, fiddling with the clock on the mantelpiece. “Of course. Look, it’s getting late.”

To his hidden relief she did not press him further. “You’re right. I suppose you want me to go?”

“You can stay the night if you want,” he offered. He meant what he said. More than that, he realised that he didn’t want to be alone. Not tonight.

“I thought you’d never ask,” she returned smartly, then looked at him suspiciously. “Just so long as you don’t expect me to sleep on the couch.”

He leered at her, not one of his better efforts perhaps and probably spoiled a little by his no doubt scarlet eyes and swollen nose, but not bad considering the circumstances. “Is that a proposition?”

“In your dreams,” she returned smartly. “Although I was actually hoping for your bed. I’m not really fussed whether you’re in it or not, though.”


“Beauty is cruelty. You must have heard that.”

“Modest, too.”


Amanda kept up a stream of inconsequential chatter as they sorted themselves out for bed. Methos led her to his small spare bedroom, making some comment about him being too tall for the couch. He left her to her ablutions, retreating to his bedroom, curiously soothed by the sounds of her preparations, the running of the bathroom taps, of her brushing her teeth. The everyday noises helped to steady him after the strain of the past hour.

But despite his exhaustion when he tried to settle down, echoing the night following Joe’s visit, he was unable to sleep. Memories of the way Duncan had looked when he had seen him last played through his head with pitiless clarity.

He had told himself he was leaving Duncan because he was afraid that by staying with him, he would get himself killed.

He had lied.

He had told himself that leaving Duncan was the only sensible thing to do, that he was merely being prudent.

And had lied.

He had told himself that Duncan didn’t feel that strongly about him. That MacLeod would get over him pretty quickly, particularly if he pissed him off enough by leaving without telling him.

Another lie.

He had known that he meant more to Duncan than that.

His subconscious had deliberately engineered their parting. He had known that MacLeod would speak to Joe over lunch and that Joe would tell him that Isat was the real name of the Immortal Methos had killed the night before. He had figured that Duncan would come storming back and find Methos in the middle of preparing to leave him. At that point he had calculated that there would be a scene and had been hoping that this would push the other man to end it, to say something unforgivable, so that he could stalk off. Instead, Duncan had been concerned about him, worried for him. And he had been the one to say the unforgivable.

What he had not known, had hidden even from himself, was that his real reason for leaving was because he could not face the thought of living without Duncan. So with twisted logic he had run away, rather than stay and enjoy whatever time they had together.

But now having made the break he was too much of a coward to go back.

He had never felt like this for anyone in all his long life. He could tell himself that most of the tie with Duncan was because of the shared quickening, ignoring that he’d been willing to risk his life for the amazing, compelling presence that was Duncan MacLeod before that.

But so long as he was being honest, that was another lie.

The truth was, he had fallen for MacLeod practically from the first time he’d seen him, already knowing something about the man from his Chronicle. He had been prepared to be disappointed with the reality behind the legend, knowing that legends rarely, if ever, lived up to their promise. What he hadn't expected was that the Highlander would be so much *more* than he’d anticipated. Impossible Highland child, yes, stubborn and occasionally overbearing but with a generosity of spirit that he’d rarely encountered. A hero. He’d had to go and fall in love with a bloody hero.

He shook his head. Over five thousand years old and he was still capable of behaving like a complete idiot. For an instant he felt an impulse to drink himself into oblivion but squashed the urge firmly. Getting lost in an alcoholic stupor would avail nothing, he knew that from bitter experience. Time, however, would work its usual magic.

He would get over this. It might take a while, centuries even. But, inevitably the day would come when he ceased to yearn for the light and warmth and love that was Duncan MacLeod.

One day.

The next morning Amanda left early. There was a hint of anxiety in her beautiful eyes as she kissed him goodbye, whispering, as she had once before, “Courage,” in his ear as she did so. As she released him she said, “You will call me if you need me, won’t you.”

“Of course.”

“I mean it Methos. Like it or not, I’m your friend.”

“I--Thanks, I’ll remember that.”

She looked at him sternly. “See that you do.”

With that she disappeared down the stairs. He could see her get into a black cab below, on her way to Heathrow Airport. He turned and went into the kitchen of his flat where he methodically put away the breakfast detritus. He wasn’t sure what to do next. Today was Saturday and he had tentatively planned to get out of town, join some work colleagues in the tamed beauty of the Cotswolds. But he found that he was in no mood to tolerate the company of children. Their empty chatter would only irritate him that he knew, rather than amuse him.

He was too unsettled by Amanda’s visit, even more than that of Joe, following as it did upon his meeting with Kallista and Ignacio to be fit company for anyone.

He realised with an inward grimace that he did not want to lose the friendship of either Amanda or Joe, that he had grown to depend on it, rather too much. Another result of his interaction with Duncan MacLeod. The man had succeeded in blunting the fine edge of his detachment too well. Yes, there were rewards, he had felt more alive when with Duncan that he had for centuries but there were drawbacks too. Not least was that he felt more now, both the good and the bad.

Would he have fallen in love with Alexa if not for MacLeod?

He thought that he would have done so but acknowledged reluctantly that it would not perhaps have been as deeply. His suffering would have been less at her death but so would his joy in her presence. It was a double-edged sword.

He had once told Duncan that he no longer had the fire. Amongst all the lies he had told MacLeod at the time of the Kalas affair, that had been the truth. Or so he had thought. But Duncan had succeeded in rekindling the fire, made him even more determined to survive as life regained its savour. And also, with an irony that did not escape him, MacLeod had sown the seeds of why Methos had had to leave him. Because he knew that he could not bear the thought of Duncan’s death, would not be able to live with it. It would hurt too much. It would cause him such agony that he could not bear it. He simply did not have the strength. He had loved so many and lost so many and always endured. Always.

But he would not be able to endure that of Duncan MacLeod.

He had made the decision to leave Duncan when he had killed Isat, using the risk he had put himself under as a convenient excuse. But in reality it was because he had felt her desolation at the death of her beloved student. He had told himself that no one’s death would ever affect him like that.

A lie, of course. Because he had known that Duncan’s would. He had thought him dead once, killed by Silas and Caspian. Then he had been numb, disbelieving, no matter what he had said to Cassandra--rightly so, because Duncan had survived. But feeling what Isat had experienced at the death of her beloved Fabian, that had shaken him, completely. Deep within himself he had shuddered to think of living without him, of being like Isat, all her fire extinguished by the depth of her grief, until all that was left were the embers of vengeance. And a longing for death.

If that happened to him, how long would it be before he would fall to some Immortal’s sword?

And what would the effect of that be?

He sometimes thought that he had too much power. Having all the knowledge and power of the oldest Immortal--assuming it didn’t drive the recipient to madness--could make that Immortal one of the best prospects to win the Game. Although he was not sure even after more than five thousand years if there really was a prize, he was reluctant to risk the fate of humanity none the less. The type of Immortal who he would have wanted to receive his quickening was precisely the type who was least likely to take it.

No, he could not--would not--take the risk.

He must regain some detachment, some sense of distance from Duncan. This was made even more difficult by the shared thread that resonated between them, created at the time of the shared quickening. But he would do what he must to dilute that thread, to fine it down until it barely existed. He might not be able to snap it but if he could reduce it, when Duncan died, as inevitably he would, all Methos would feel would be the merest sensation.

That was the cusp of it, of course. His feelings. He could pretty it up, tell himself grandly that he was doing it for the good of humanity. He had always been good at lying, even--particularly--to himself. That he cared, however reluctantly, about the fate of humanity was true enough but his concern for humanity had been lacking all those times when he had wilfully risked himself for the survival of one Duncan MacLeod. What it came down to was, as he had blurted out to Amanda the night before, that he could not bear the thought of Duncan’s death. And so had determined to spare himself the pain.

It was just as well that he had no illusions about his own cowardice.

With that thought resonating through his head, he made a swift phone call to Julia who had invited him to her country cottage near Oxford, informing her that he was sick and wouldn’t be able to make it for the weekend. He then decided to go for his daily run. Maybe activity would succeed in extinguishing all the soul searching.

He pounded along, blood thrumming crisply through his veins, lungs tasting the carbon monoxide saturated air, a smell he knew that he would always and forever associate with the latter part of this particular century. The pavement was hard under his feet, the even surface smooth but unforgiving as his long legs ate up the miles.

Initially, he had intended to run along one of his usual routes, approximately seven and a half miles down to Embankment, over Waterloo Bridge, along the Thames as far as Battersea. Then back over Battersea Bridge Road, through Chelsea, up to Knightsbridge, round Hyde Park, to Green Park, past Buckingham Palace into St James’ Park, then up to Piccadilly Circus, across to Leicester Square and back to Covent Garden.

But when he got to Battersea he kept going through the suburban streets of Wandsworth, along the middle class enclave that was Putney, Richmond and Barnes, its pubs and shops wonderfully old fashioned, to Chiswick then as far as Kew Gardens. There he fumbled, panting, for his entrance card then realised that, of course, dressed as he was in running gear he did not have it on him and paid cash with an ill grace.

Inside he wandered about, mingling with a sprinkling of tourists. As it was still early in the year the Gardens were not as glorious as they would be in late spring, but even now as a result of the temperate climate the soft grass shone verdant in the rare early spring sunshine. He sat down outside the Palm House, by the demi-sphere of the Rose Garden, looking out over the rose bushes; old varieties of the genus Rosa, pink Damasks, deeply dusky Gallicas and Albas, the latter easily distinguished by their palely white top leaves, that bloomed deepest green underneath. The Alba rose flowers too, when in season, were white, palest alabaster, marble and ivory.

He had a sudden flash of memory, of the white roses that had similarly bloomed here in this small island in wild profusion two thousand years ago, when Britain had been known to some as Albion because of the lavish roses. The Alba roses were not those, being too young, but they were very like none the less, descended from their abundant ancestors.

No roses as yet clung to the bushes, it being too early in the year for the flowers to blossom and as a result their thorns could too easily be seen. Roses were the most treacherous of flowers, perfect in all their transient beauty, but their thorns could cut deep. They cut most deep the unwary.

He shivered and pushed himself to his feet, entering into the welcome warmth of the curvilinear structure of the Palm House, its stark iron skeleton made lovely by the complex interweaving of glass panels and patterned embellished iron fretwork. He climbed up the white painted iron spiral staircase to look down at the giant ferns--antique Sabal mauritiiformis and Phoenix amongst them--rock pools and tropical plants, including rubber trees, breadfruit and rare cycads, that were scattered around in pleasing harmony. He saluted the aged Encephalartos altensteinii, feeling a certain sense of kinship with the oldest potted plant in the world.

He stood there for a long time inhaling the atmosphere, redolent of the heavy scent of the tropics, aromatic with a potpourri of waxy, placid flowers. It was sufficiently quiet that he could hear the low buzz of the myriad insects that were busy pollinating the plants, mixed in with the chirp of birds--parrots, macaws and songbirds warbling with coloratura bravado.

It was a totally artificial environment, which had been created by the Victorians at the height of the British Empire. Beautiful yes, but not real. He remembered the authentically stifling humidity of the jungle; each breath as it was dragged heavily into the lungs a congesting weight. Here the humidity was almost pleasant, kept only as high as necessary for the plants’ survival. In the jungle it was necessary to continually fight against the lassitude induced by the narcotic atmosphere, never knowing when one might be assailed by some of the profusion of dangerous reptiles, animals or plants that thrived there in such plenty. Here there was no danger; everything was strictly controlled, tamed.

Beauty without cruelty, he thought, remembering Amanda’s words of the night before.

To experience reality one had to accept the good, together with the bad. Or one could do one’s best to deny that reality existed. It wasn’t that hard; he had done it before. One could be content, find a measure of happiness that way.

Couldn’t one?

He walked around the viewing platform that edged the inside of the Palm House, climbed down another spiral staircase and exited back into the sharper, colder air outside. It was nowhere near as warm as the day before even though the sun was shining bright, high in the sky, as there was a haze of approaching cloud, presaging rain. He shuddered at the drop in temperature, goose pimples springing out on his skin, raising each fine hair and started to run--hard and fast. When he finally arrived back at his flat he collapsed onto the couch, limbs trembling with exhaustion, his bodily fatigue having, for once, overturned the insistent questioning of his mind. As had been his intention.

On Monday he would go back to work.

But when Monday came he found that he was worse than useless at work, concentration shot to pieces, the numbers on his computer screen blurring before his eyes, every shout and laugh of his colleagues jarring in his ears. He cursed himself and Amanda, Kallista, Ignacio, the whole world, but to no avail. Knowing that in this state he could make a mistake that would cost the company millions of pounds, he made an early exit from the dealing room floor using the excuse that he was still not well from his illness over the weekend.

He decided to go home, perhaps have a few beers, watch TV, wasn’t there a new episode of the X Files due on tonight not to mention a repeat of a Dr Who episode that he was rather fond of? Methos concentrated firmly on the trivial as he rode the tube home, sweating in the humidity of the carriage. It had rained all day Sunday but with typical unpredictability Monday had dawned fine and clear, the sky limpid blue. It was another glorious, warm spring day and Methos was looking forward to changing out of his business attire into something more cool and casual.

His thoughts were firmly concentrated on the minutiae of his life as he exited Covent Garden tube station, shoving the book he was reading into his coat pocket. He turned into Floral Street and stopped short, standing frozen, pinned into place, in the middle of the pavement.

Oh *fuck*!


Duncan was standing just outside Methos’ flat building, propped up against the wall, arms folded. His gaze was level upon Methos, expression neutral.

Methos hesitated for a long moment, breath caught in his lungs, then with a sudden explosive gasp as he reached for air, he turned on his heels and started to walk swiftly away. But Duncan’s voice stopped him. “Methos.”

Methos whirled around. The older Immortal glared at the younger, with adamantine gaze. In an instant he was by the Highlander’s side, gripping his arm, hard. “Oh very discreet,” he hissed. “Why don’t you yell a bit louder, make certain they heard you in Timbuc-bloody-tu!”

“Sorry,” MacLeod said, sounding anything but. “But evidently I needed to get your attention. Besides, I don’t know what your current alias is.”

“What are you doing here?”

“I would have thought that was obvious,” MacLeod said steadily. His eyes were unwavering upon Methos.

Methos’ eyes narrowed as he glared at MacLeod. “Amanda’s got a big mouth.”

“She’s a good friend,” MacLeod said quietly. “I think we need to talk.”

Methos lowered his eyes and drew a deep breath. “I’m busy.”

“Doing what?”


“Yes, I saw the change of attire. Very nice.” As he spoke, MacLeod’s slow gaze raked Methos from head to foot, from expensive, glossy haircut to polished leather shoes. He was open in his appreciation of Methos’ appearance. To his horror Methos felt himself flush. “But you don’t seem to be working right now. Otherwise you wouldn’t be coming home at...” MacLeod looked at his watch, “two-thirty seven in the afternoon.”

“I might be working from home.”

“Dressed like that? I don’t think so.” The younger man’s voice was all calm reason. Methos was lying and MacLeod knew it.

Methos growled inwardly. How pathetic could he be? He knew that if one was unable to come up with a good excuse, the best recourse was to say nothing. Instead, he’d opened his mouth and let inanities spill out. “All right,” he said abruptly. “But not here.” He was determined not to let MacLeod into his flat, he wanted to leave that clear to run back to if necessary. Before he moved on again to somewhere MacLeod couldn’t find him.

“Where then?”

“Follow me.” With that Methos turned and strode down the road. MacLeod had no choice but to follow.

He soon caught up with the older Immortal and both men walked side by side as they had so many times before. But this time Methos was conscious of the seemingly unbridgeable gap behind them. Once they had walked close together in unity, footsteps in synchronous harmony, somehow Methos’ languid stroll blending perfectly with MacLeod’s determined tread. But now there was a subtle dissonance between them, an awkwardness that had never been there before and the silence was strained. Yet for all that, Methos was wholly unable to prevent the glad leap of his heart at the mere presence of MacLeod beside him. He could hear his heartbeat thundering in his ears, feel the blood racing through his veins. Duncan was here.

They threaded through the tourists thronging Covent Garden Piazza, down the steps in the centre of the Piazza and past the string quartet, playing some crowd pleasing Mozart. Methos led MacLeod into the Crusting Pipe, a dark, meandering wine bar in the basement of the Piazza. The bar was a place full of snug nooks and crannies, with tables tucked away in unexpected places. Methos stopped at the bar and purchased a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon, not asking MacLeod what he wanted but assuming the other man had no problems with his choice when he raised no objections. The older Immortal found a table isolated in its own alcove and sat down, careless of the way his coat brushed against the sawdust-covered floor.

MacLeod sat opposite him silently, poured them both a glass of wine and pushed one towards Methos, taking a sip from his own glass as he did so.

For a moment there was silence. Methos was determined not to speak first but became increasingly uneasy at MacLeod’s steady perusal of him. He had to forcibly prevent himself from fidgeting under that unrelenting stare. By contrast MacLeod looked relaxed, even casual. Of course, Methos thought, not without resentment, MacLeod had had time to get used to the idea of seeing him, hadn’t had his ex-lover appear out of the blue, unexpected and unwanted. Well, perhaps not wholly unwanted.

In the end Methos broke first.

“So, Mac,” he said, attempting to sound deliberately indifferent, but unable to subdue the slightest hint of a tremor in his voice. “How’ve you been?”

MacLeod’s calm expression twisted slightly. “How do you think?”

Methos blinked. “I’ve no idea.”

“Yes, you have. I’ve been miserable, that’s how I’ve been.” He laughed slightly; there was a distinct razor’s edge in the sound. “Did you really expect anything else.”

Methos lowered his eyes and stared at the table. “I didn’t mean to hurt you.”

“Didn’t you?”

At that Methos’ head snapped up. “Of course not.”

MacLeod shook his head. “You’re lying again, Methos,” he said steadily. “You meant to provoke me and you know it. Didn’t you?”

Methos shrugged. “Whatever you say.”

MacLeod stared at him for a moment. Methos for once found it difficult to read his expression. “Why did you leave?”

“I--“ He stopped and shook his head.

“I think I know,” MacLeod was saying. “Amanda told me.”

Methos’ gaze snapped to his. He swallowed, a nervous movement that he was unable to subdue. “I should’ve known she’d come running to you.” His voice was light, apparently unconcerned.

MacLeod’s eyes narrowed as he examined Methos intently. “Yes, you should have,” he agreed. “In fact I thought you might have left London by now, just in case I turned up.”

“Don’t flatter yourself MacLeod.”

The other man shook his head slightly. “Is that what I’m doing? I don’t think so. You left Paris to get away from me once, remember.”

Silence fell.

MacLeod raised an eyebrow. “No reply Methos?”

“How about if you get to the point,” Methos snapped.

“All right.” MacLeod took a large swallow of his wine then inhaled deeply. “I want you to come back.”

Methos stared at him, forcing an expression of barbed amusement on his face. “That’s so typical of you MacLeod. You want me to come back, so naturally, all you have to do is ask. We just take up where we left off do we? I come back to Paris and move into the barge, give up everything I’ve got here. Well, it’s not that simple. I’ve got a new life here and--“

“That’s not what I meant.” MacLeod interrupted him in mid-tirade. “I put it badly. What I mean is that I’d like us to be together--where doesn’t matter. If you want to stay in London, I’ll move to London.”

Methos blinked with astonishment. MacLeod, who he had thought of as someone with more settled habits that practically anyone else he knew, had just offered to change his way of life, like that, so casually. “Oh,” he muttered weakly.

MacLeod glared at him, face weighted with exasperation. “Come on, Methos. You mean more to me than any particular lifestyle, you must know that. What does it matter where we live? What’s important is that we’re together.”

Methos sighed. “I might have known that you’d reduce everything to its most basic level, regardless of all the nuances. As I was saying, it’s not that simple.”

“Well, perhaps you’d like to explain to a simple idiot like me why not.”

Methos raised an eyebrow at him. “Sarcasm, MacLeod? It doesn’t really suit you.”

“No? Pity, seeing as how I’ve been working on it. I thought taking a leaf out of your book might help.”

“Better,” Methos said judiciously. “But it could stand a little work.”

“And you’re avoiding the question.”

“What question?”

“You know damn well,” MacLeod snapped. Then he paused and snorted slightly. “Okay. I promised myself I wouldn’t do this, allow you to get me so angry that I’d forget what I came here to say.” He smiled, face lit with rueful amusement. “D’you know, I think I’d actually begun to forget just how annoying you can be when you want to be. Incredible isn’t it?”

Methos fixed the younger man with his best expression of tolerance-tinged-with-a-hint-of-impatience. “Thanks for the character reference.”

“Answer the question, Methos.”

“Since when have I had to answer to you?”

“Oh, I’d forgotten I was talking to the only guilt free man in the world. Stupid of me, to hope that you could be bothered to explain why you won’t even consider being with me, when you know, and I know how you feel about me!” MacLeod’s voice was raised to a near shout. Then he stopped and bit his lip. “Shit.” He looked down at the table for a long moment, then raised his head and looked at Methos who sat staring at him, unmoving in his seat. “So much for good intentions. I’d planned this whole conversation you know, what I’d say, how I’d react to anything you could possibly come up with in reply. And it’s not as if you’re even using new tactics on me--you’ve always done avoidance very well. So, let me try what I do well. Honesty.”

Methos’ eyes widened slightly in alarm. Duncan when sincere was a force to be reckoned with, no matter how much Methos had mocked him for it in the past. His integrity was unflinching, having an unstoppable dynamic all of its own. Methos schooled his face into an impassive expression, knowing that this was when he looked at his most inscrutable, when he was most likely to inspire MacLeod to awe.

Unfortunately, it didn’t work. MacLeod spoke calmly, apparently dispassionate, but the rigidity of his posture betrayed his underlying tension. “We never really talked did we?” he said. “About us, I mean. Obviously we should have done. Maybe then this wouldn’t have happened. So, I’ll say it now.” MacLeod’s eyes were very deep and dark, soft, yet Methos felt pinned under his gaze, like a butterfly to a plate. “I love you, Methos.”

Methos blinked. His face remained impassive, but his hand clenched fiercely, uncontrollably, around the stem of his wineglass. Inside him something tore, bleeding sluggishly. “So what? Love conquers all. Is that it, MacLeod?” His voice was tinged with disdain.

But Duncan’s gaze remained steady on his. “Basically, yes.”

Methos laughed scornfully. “How trite.”

“It’s not going to work you know,” MacLeod remarked in an evenly conversational tone of voice. “You’re not going to be able to piss me off, no matter how hard you try, by pulling the whole cynicism personified, ‘I don’t care about anyone other than myself’ routine.”

Methos stared at him, uncertain of what to say, how best to react to get this conversation over and done with as fast as possible. MacLeod was not acting as he would have expected him to. Of course, Methos thought waspishly, MacLeod had had time to prepare himself, he’d even admitted as such.

MacLeod’s mouth twitched. “Looks like I reduced you to silence. Must remember that one for future reference.” He inhaled deeply. “Maybe I do reduce things to the simplest possible denominator and maybe I still see too much in black and white but Methos, we love one another, you know we do. So please explain to me why we can’t be together.”

Methos stared at his hand; bloodless fingers clasped tightly around the wineglass and finally spoke in a low voice. “Because it’s too risky.”

“For whom? You?”

Methos nodded silently.

“Because you’re afraid that you’ll be killed, by someone who comes hunting me?”


“That’s not what you told Amanda.”

Methos made a valiant effort to rally to his own defence. “And of course, I always tell the truth.”

MacLeod shook his head. His expression was acerbic, yet underneath there was a hint of tenderness. “Seldom. But she thinks you were telling the truth then--and so do I. Methos, I know you’re scared. But you must believe me, I’m not planning on dying.”

“That doesn’t matter,” Methos said dully. “Someday, you’ll--“

“Or you will,” MacLeod interrupted. Methos stared at him, speechless. “Oh, I know, you’re not like me, don’t take risks, avoid challenges. But, not even you can avoid everything. Morgan Walker, for example. So you see, I know how you feel. Every time I think about you dying I--“ He stopped abruptly and shook his head. “It’s not the same as loving a mortal, because much though you hate it, you *know* that one day, they’ll leave you. And although I’ve loved other Immortals, Amanda, Fitz, or Richie, in a different way, I always knew that we wouldn’t be together all the time. But with you, I had hoped...We’re so good together, Methos, we really fit, you know.” He stopped again and looked intently at Methos. “So, what do you say? About us?”

“I...Mac, I’m sorry. I can’t.” Methos’ voice was level, even conversational, but he had started to shake, a fine tremor that ran unceasingly throughout his body.

“Yes, you can. What’s the alternative? Live the rest of our lives in misery apart? And don’t tell me that you’re happy, because I don’t believe you. Not after what you told Amanda.”

Methos closed his eyes briefly, then forced himself to meet Duncan’s intent scrutiny. “What’s happiness anyway? In all my life I can almost count on the fingers of one hand the times when I’ve been really, truly happy.”

“Maybe. But are you going to tell me that one of them wasn’t when we were together? And mean it?”

Methos swallowed hard. He opened his mouth to deny what Duncan had said, but found that his usual facile ability had deserted him. Finally he started to speak but cut himself off again almost immediately. “I--”

“What?” the other man prompted gently.

“You know what. You’ll die.”

“Maybe. But, as I said, I’m not planning on it. Please, Methos won’t you take a chance on me, on us.”

Methos made an inarticulate sound of pain, deep in the back of his throat. “Will you stop it.”

“Stop what?” MacLeod’s gaze was resolutely steady on his. “Don’t tell you that I love you, that I’m miserable without you? That without you, I’m lost and alone.”

Methos shuddered. “Trying to make me feel guilty, MacLeod?” To his utter dismay his voice was uneven as he spoke.

“Is it working?” By contrast MacLeod’s voice was all calm curiosity, he could have been asking for the time of day. However Methos noticed that his hands were clenched together into an interwoven knot, knuckles white with strain. Yet that realisation, instead of steadying Methos, conversely heightened his discomfiture.

He drew a shaky breath. “Look, MacLeod, it is the height of stupidity to think that love is the be all and end all of existence. It’s a...a temporary novelty, a pretty conceit, something that helps to while away the centuries, but that’s all. Don’t try and make it more than it is.” In spite of his words, Methos was shaking noticeably now. He clasped his hands together to still their tremor but MacLeod noticed and laid his own over the top, holding on tightly. At the familiar touch Methos made to pull back but MacLeod would not let him go.

“You’re wrong,” MacLeod said bluntly. “It’s more than that. I know that compared to you I’m a mere child.” Duncan smiled at Methos, ruefully. “You’ve told me that often enough. But I’m old enough to know that sometimes feelings last.”

Methos looked at him, striving to arrange his expression into one of familiar cynicism. “You’ve fallen for it, haven’t you? The whole concept, hook, line and sinker. Amour. Such a lovely notion. So sweet, it’s enough to make you gag. It’s not real, you know. It was invented by those same medieval songwriters who came up with the idea of chivalry. It makes for a nice song, but no more than that. Do you have any idea of how ridiculous you’re being?”

“And you’re protesting too much. What you’re talking about is romance, not love. I do know the difference, just as I know that you’re capable of love, so don’t try and tell me that you’re not. You loved Alexa.”

Methos flinched.

“Didn’t you?” MacLeod’s voice was uncompromising. “Or are you going to tell me that you put your life on the line for her only because you felt sorry for her?”

Methos spoke in a rusty, disused voice, jagged as a saw. “That was different.”

“Why? Because she was mortal? Are you seriously going to tell me that you felt any the less for her because of that?”

He paused and looked at Methos expectantly, but the older man was struck dumb, for once incapable of answering. To lie to Duncan now, about that, was beyond even him. He had loved Alexa. Still did. But, the gods help him, he loved Duncan MacLeod even more.

After a while, when it became apparent that Methos was not going to answer, MacLeod sighed and continued, “I’ve never felt like this for anyone before, not even Tessa. I always knew she’d leave me, you see. Whereas you... I hoped you’d stay, went and looked for you after you left.” He stopped and laughed a little, but there was a palpable acidity to the sound. “Not that I knew what I’d do if I found you. I was pretty angry with you. Part of me wanted to thump you into next year. Then Amanda told me that she’d seen you. And what you’d said.” He paused, a warrior marshalling his forces. Then he struck. “So tell me, Methos, why is it that you were willing to die for Alexa but you’re not willing to try and live with me?”

Methos recoiled, stabbed through the heart, wounded and bleeding. He blinked and blinked again as he fought for composure. “I can’t.” He spoke in a thready whisper, not trusting his voice not to shake, defences finally breached, citadel laid low. “Duncan, please don’t ask that of me. You don’t know what it’s like, to live like I’ve done for as long as I have and then to find yourself so...so...I’m sorry.”

“You’re right, I don’t know what it’s like, of course I don’t. I can’t. I haven’t loved so many and lost so many as you. But it’s happened to me too, you know.” He stopped, then smiled at Methos sardonically but his eyes were liquid with tenderness. “You’re the last person on Earth I wanted to fall in love with. Absolutely the most irritating person I’ve ever met, a total pain in the ass. But I don’t want to be without you. These past few months...I never want to experience that again. But maybe one day I’ll have to. And that scares the hell out of me.

“But, Methos, whether or not we’re miserable together, we’re even more miserable apart. Isn’t it better to at least try for happiness together, even if only for a while?”

MacLeod’s whole demeanour radiated his sincerity. He had bared his soul and Methos knew how difficult it was for MacLeod to do so. He had always had difficulty in talking about his feelings yet, somehow, he had found the courage--a courage that Methos lacked.

He drew a deep breath, tasting bitter anguish as he did so. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I can’t do this. I’m not brave enough. I’m so sorry.” His voice shook as he spoke.

Duncan bent his head. “Please,” he said, very low.

“I can’t.” Methos’ face was wet.

MacLeod inhaled shakily. “That’s it then,” he said and stood up. “I was going to say that if you change your mind, you know where to find me. But I don’t think that I can. It’s too hard, losing you like this. I don’t think that I can stand it, living like this, never knowing if you’ll come back or not.” With that, he turned and walked slowly away, head bowed towards the ground.

Methos watched him go, twisting on a jagged knife-edge of agony. Everything he wanted, everything he most loved, was walking away from him. Duncan had meant what he said, that he knew. If he let him go now, that was it. Finished. In a moment he would be lost to Methos’ sight.

In that instant he knew that he could not bear it. Walking away from Duncan once had cost him all that he had and at that point he had not known just how greatly, how terrifyingly deeply, he loved the other man. Now he knew. If he let him go he might survive, but he would cease to live. All he would do was exist. A couple of days ago in his isolation from Duncan he had decided that was enough, but it wasn’t. Not nearly enough.

With a sudden, clumsy movement he stumbled to his feet, sending his chair flying in his haste. “Duncan!”

MacLeod turned round, eyes lambent with sudden hope.

“Don’t go.”

With that, Methos walked slowly, unsteadily towards MacLeod, who moved to meet him.

With an incoherent sound, uncaring of who might be watching, Duncan pushed Methos against the uneven whitewashed wall and, cradling his face in strong hands, bent his mouth to that of the man whom he loved. Methos tasted the salt of tears and MacLeod. He was shaking, with fear, arousal and joy.

“Damn you, you contrary old bastard,” MacLeod muttered against his mouth.

“I love you too,” Methos murmured. He felt the leap of MacLeod’s heart at his words and the dizzying intensity of his kisses, incredibly, increased.

They clung together for long moment, lost in each other, until the loud clearing of a throat behind them penetrated their passion drugged haze.

The two men stared at the barmaid, who was staring at them with barely concealed amusement. “Sorry guys,” she said with a Sydneysider accent, “but I’m going to have to ask you to take it outside. It’s a bit, er, early, y’know.”

“Sorry,” MacLeod muttered and seizing Methos by the hand, made for the door. Methos went with him willingly, he was laughing as they spilled out of the bar into the bright light of day, unable to hold in the bright flame of happiness.

“It’s not funny,” MacLeod hissed, a tinge of red decorating his high cheekbones.

“Yes, it is. We were caught necking like a couple of teenagers. I think that’s pretty funny, even if you don’t.”

MacLeod glanced at Methos ruefully. A reluctant smile graced his face. “Yeah, okay. But if we’re not to be arrested for public indecency, you’d better suggest somewhere else, quickly.” His hungry gaze raked Methos as he spoke, sending a frisson of heat down the older man’s spine.

“My place.”


With that, the two men turned to walk up the steps leading to the upper concourse of the Piazza. MacLeod’s hand felt warm in Methos’, their fingers were laced together.

Yet as they walked, Methos found that unwanted memories of his conversation with Kallista rose unstoppably within him, tarnishing the brilliant moment of pure joy. A steady thrum of anticipation coursed through him, knowing the love, the passion, that would be his when they reached his flat. Still, the poem Kallista had quoted to him a few days previously ran through his head, the one he had so derided, all the time while knowing deep within the truth of it.

‘Tant que je vive...’

‘Long as I live...’

Or as long as MacLeod lived.

Because when he died, so would Methos. His body might survive but he doubted that his soul, the innermost spirit that had always striven so hard for survival, would.

He remembered that he had denied to Kallista that there was anyone he felt for as she did for her husband. The final lie. Duncan MacLeod was it for him. After five thousand years of life and love, he had finally met the one whom he could never let go.

Notwithstanding their reconciliation, really nothing had changed. That he was committed to Duncan MacLeod he now knew, beyond doubt. In spite of all his resolve to leave Duncan, MacLeod only had to show up and a few moments later Methos’ determination had crumbled into dust. All his disciplined tenacity that had enabled him to survive for centuries by grimly hanging on to sanity no matter what ordeals he had faced, that would have driven most into utter madness, had blown away as ashes in the wind. He had helplessly surrendered to the irresistible longing he felt for Duncan MacLeod, no matter how much his intellect screamed at him to remain steadfast in his purpose. And so, they were reconciled.

Methos could not resist Duncan, had never been able to resist him. It was that simple.

He loved him. Like he had loved no other, a love more profound, more passionate than he had ever believed he was capable of.

But one day, sooner or later, he would lose Duncan. And what would he do then?

He had made his decision and would not renege on it, that he knew. He would not--could not--run from Duncan again, no matter what the cost. But some day he would pay the ultimate price.

Not for him would there ever be a single moment of happiness untouched by shadow. Everything he did, every moment to come would be haunted by the foreknowledge of impending, inevitable anguish. He would not know when it would come. Just that it would happen one day.

At that thought Methos shivered and, one handed, gathered his coat around him tightly, hugging his arm to his body to warm himself. Even with the unseasonably warm afternoon sunshine bathing him, gentle rays sparking shadows on the ground, MacLeod’s hand warm in his and dressed as he was in warm winter clothing, Methos was cold.




Tant que je vive, mon cueur ne changera

Pour nulle vivante, tant soit elle bonne ou saige

Forte et puissante, riche de hault lignaige

Mon chois est fait, aultre ne se fera.


Long as I live, my heart will never vary

For no one else, however fair or good

Brave, resolute or rich, of gentle blood

My choice is made, and I will have no other.

Some explanatory notes and translations may be in order for anyone who’s got this far.

The chant that Methos hears when his mind is spiralling through the series of great places of worship is part of the adhán for Fajr Saláh, or call to morning prayer in the Islamic faith. This particular call takes place at dawn and consists of the same words as are chanted at the other four calls to prayer during the day, with the exception of the addition of the last line, which is repeated twice and is added only in the call made at dawn. I have not attempted to reproduce the whole chant, as it is quite long and much of it is repeated several times, but the part of it I used translates as follows:

Hayya ‘alas Saláh, Hayya ‘alas Saláh – Come to Prayer, Come to Prayer

Hayya ‘alal Faláh, Hayya ‘alal Faláh – Come to your Good, Come to your Good

Alláhu akbar, Alláhu akbar – Allah is the greatest, Allah is the greatest

La iláha Illalláh – There is no deity but Allah

Assalátu khayrum minan naum – Prayer (Saláh) is better than sleep

Assalátu khayrum minan naum – Prayer (Saláh) is better than sleep

It was the latter part of the chant the veracity of which Methos doubted. I suspect that even though he must have got up at dawn for by far the largest portion of his life, being disturbed by a call to prayer for a faith which is unlikely to be his is not on his list of favourite occupations. He probably learned to sleep through it (with practice it is possible) in those periods of his life in which he was in a Muslim country, but not pretending to be a Muslim. In my view inevitably there must have been times when he practised the Muslim faith even if he did not really believe in it, as he must have done with the Christian faith and very probably others as well. Incidentally, my apologies if I have capitalised words which should not have been, or vice versa.

Mu’adhdhin – the caller of the adhán. Made by an imam, one who is learned in the Qu’ran.

Hapuseneb was the Chief Priest of Amen in Egypt during the time of Hatshepsut (see below). He was, as I had Methos remembering, the supervisor for much of the building of the Karnak temples that was undertaken at Thebes (Luxor) during Hatshepsut’s reign.

I wrote that no admission was--yet--charged for entrance into St Paul’s cathedral but that a charge was made for entrance into the viewing gallery. Unfortunately, although that was the case for many years, it isn’t any longer. Now there is an admission fee just for walking into the cathedral, although for anyone who wants to pray there is a chapel available free of charge. However that is small consolation for those of us who frequently used to nip in on impulse when passing by in order to admire the architecture.

Hausfraulich - housewifely

The interaction Methos has with the Japanese tourists and what is said by both of them may need some explanation. Unlike in the West, where it is customary to say “Excuse me” and then when a person moves aside to thank them, which may possibly be followed up by a “You’re welcome”, Japanese custom is rather different. If an upper class Japanese man wanted to pass by a lower class group of people, the lower class people would move out of his way without being asked. They might say something like, “Thank you very much,” to which the upper class man would respond by saying “Excuse me,” or “Sorry.” Here, because Methos is a gaijin (the literal translation is, I believe, ‘not Japanese’, but the expression is *very* impolite), the Japanese father was being sarcastic when he was thanking Methos, particularly by choosing to use the most formal language. Methos, recognising this, responded in his best aristocratic Japanese accent. Hence what was said is:

“Domo arigato goziemas” - thank you

“Gomen nasai” – excuse me.


The Great Fire of London took place in 1666 and destroyed much of the city, including some famous landmarks. However it turned out to be something of a blessing in disguise because many of the rat and flea infested buildings that had harboured bubonic plague, of which there had been a bad outbreak in 1665, were destroyed thus preventing a re-occurrence of the plague the following year. In addition, if the old St Paul’s cathedral had not been burnt down in the fire Sir Christopher Wren would not have designed the new St Paul’s, which is so much an integral part of the skyline of present-day London and one of the greatest British architectural treasures.

Old Peculiar is a real beer, of the British variety known as ‘bitter’, or ale. Old Peculiar is *very* potent, even as bitters go. British bitter, or ale, is very different from the type of beer commonly drunk in America, Australia, or most of Europe (Germany is an exception). These types of beers are more commonly known as lager in Britain. Bitter is, as its name suggests, stronger, darker and more alcoholic. A devotee of beer, such as Methos, would almost certainly drink bitter when he can get it as it (although a stout drinker might argue that). I understand (not having an overwhelming interest in the subject myself), that bitter ale is an older form of beer than the more modern lager. Presumably it is more like the type of beer that Methos would have drunk in earlier years, although the very oldest beers were without hops at all and therefore more sour than bitter. Thanks to John for that information. Bitter is drunk particularly in Britain, Ireland and Germany. Incidentally, I have no idea whether Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese serves Old Peculiar, as I can’t stand the stuff.

I wrote that there was no outbreak of the Bubonic Plague in Europe between 542 and 1348 AD. This is accurate, so far as is known to history. Therefore, the plague that was raging when Amanda first ‘died’ in 850 AD cannot have been the Black Death. Another type of plague is, of course, a possibility, although the way it was shown makes it appear to have been very similar to Bubonic Plague. Methinks that TPTB should have checked up on that one. There were sporadic outbreaks of the disease in Europe in the next few centuries following the outbreak of the fourteenth century, but none of the rest were as bad. The last serious outbreak was in the sixteen hundreds. After that, although there were other incidents, none were particularly grave, possibly because by this time a certain genetic immunity had been passed down to the descendants of those who survived each outbreak. It certainly was not due to a general increase in hygiene, and thus a decrease in the number of black rats and, by extension, the fleas who lived on the rats and carried the disease, as significant improvements in hygiene did not occur until much later.

Simone Buonacorsi was a real person and was a notary in Pistoia at the time of the plague in 1348.

“Hasta luego, mi amor” – See you later, my love

Hatshepsut was the greatest of the female Pharaohs and is a fascinating individual. She was the sole ruler of Egypt from around 1503 to 1483 BC (before that she ruled with her half brother Thutmose II, who died in 1504 BC). Senenmut is the best known official of her reign and was, as is written in the story, the Chief Treasurer of Amen and later tutor to Hatshepsut’s only child, her daughter Neferure. There are rumours that he and Hatshepsut were lovers, but this is highly unlikely. For one thing he was much older than her and the only evidence as to such a relationship is what is, in effect, a piece of graffiti found in a cave at Deir el Bahri--but there is no proof that the two people involved are even Hatshepsut and Senemut. Nehesi was also a real person. He was also one of Hatshepsut’s officials and did indeed lead an expedition to Punt (present day Somaliland), that is commemorated by paintings on Hatshepsut’s mortuary temple at Deir el Bahri. However there is absolutely no suggestion at all that she ever had an affair with Nehesi. That is purely my invention.

“bikam da?” – How much? Modern Arabic.

For the Highlander completist, I am aware that Marcus Constantine was killed in one of the novels, Zealot, before the time period in which this story is set. However, I don’t consider the novels to be canon. Too many of them have disappointed me for me to *want* to consider them to be canon and as whether they are or aren’t is a matter of opinion, in this case (because I like Marcus Constantine, damn it!) I’ve disregarded the novel.

He Xian-gu was one of the Ba Xian, who were the “eight immortals” from Taoist mythology. They are among the best known Chinese deities. They represent eight different conditions of life: youth, old age, poverty, wealth, the populace, nobility, the masculine, and the feminine. The earliest descriptions date from the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD), but their present grouping was not established until the Ming Dynasty (founded in 1368 AD). He Xian-gu was the only female Ba Xian and spent her life as a hermit in the mountains. A spirit appeared to her in a dream when she was fourteen. He told her to grind a stone known as the "mother of clouds" into powder and eat that powder. She would then become as light as a feather and attain immortality. She followed these instructions and also vowed never to marry. Soon after she was able to fly from one mountain peak to the next, gathering fruit and berries for her mother. She herself had no longer any need of nourishment. One day the emperor summoned her to his court but she disappeared along the way and became an immortal. According to another myth she had lost her way in the mountains while gathering tea. There she met a scholar (rumoured to have been Lu-Dong Bin, another of the Ba Xian) who gave her a peach to eat. After that she never felt hungry again. As He Xian-gu was not, unlike some of the Ba Xian, a historical figure, I took the liberty of borrowing her name as an Immortal in the Highlander universe.

“Kurnos” – bastard. Ancient Greek

“Póg mo thón, báltái” - Kiss my arse, cunt. These are all Irish Gaelic words. The Scots Gaelic, at least for ‘kiss my arse’, is very similar, although I’m not certain about the last ‘lovely’ word. However, I was working on the theory that Mac would get the general idea--and that Methos probably knows more Irish Gaelic than Scots Gaelic (as we know he spent time with the Irish, albeit in the seventh century...).

Isat, who is also known to history variously as Gudit, Gwedit, Yodit and Judith is a legendary Ethiopian figure. There is little authentic information known about her, but all agree that she was a fearsome warrior who led her troops to victory over the Christian Aksumites in the tenth century AD. However, it is not known whether she was real or mythical.

Amharic is the primary language spoken in Ethiopia.

“Indemin allesh” – how are you.

“Indeehu indeehu, Dhena” – so so.


Shona is the primary written language of Zimbabwe. It has many spoken variants.

Mosi-Oa-Tunya ("the Smoke that Thunders") is more commonly known as Victoria Falls. Mosi-Oa-Tunya is what the Falls is called by the locals. Its native name is apposite--the sound the water makes as it roars over the edge and crashes to the ground is like thunder and the spray thrown up is so vast that it does look like smoke. Mosi-Oa-Tunya would, I believe, be how Methos thinks of it, as although David Livingstone is meant to be the first white man to see the Falls, I don’t believe it for one minute (nice statue of Livingstone at the Falls notwithstanding). There almost certainly have been other white men who saw the Falls earlier and would, no doubt, have been introduced to that particularly awesome sight by its native name. The Falls is situated in Zimbabwe. It is four hundred feet tall and nearly a mile wide--twice the size of Niagara Falls--and is the greatest waterfall in the world.

“Qui c’est?” – Who is this?

“Qui est lá?” – Who is it?


Barristers comprise one branch of the legal profession as it is practised in England and Wales. Scotland has its own separate legal jurisdiction, albeit very similar to that of the rest of Britain and has the same division of the legal profession. Barristers, who are also known as ‘Counsel’, appear in Court wearing black gowns and horsehair wigs. QCs (Queens Counsel, as they are known at present--when the reigning monarch is a King they are obviously known as King’s Counsel) are the most senior barristers. They ‘lead’ a case in court, assisted by a barrister who is not a QC, known as his junior. The reference to ‘taking silk’ is to the fact that a QC wears a gown made out of silk, whereas a junior barrister’s gown is made of plain black cloth. Solicitors, who are the other branch of the legal profession in Britain (including Scotland), appear in Court wearing black gowns but are spared the wig. The reference to the pompous QC is nowadays thankfully usually a thing of the past. Silks often used to be dreadfully pompous and self important, but modern QCs are much less so.

I haven’t been able to trace the provenance of the poem, ‘Tant que je vive’, despite having set a librarian friend of mine on the trail. I read the poem in a novel by Dorothy Dunnett, in the final volume of the Lymond Chronicles, entitled ‘Checkmate’. I’m not certain whether the poem was composed by Ms Dunnett, or whether it really is an old French poem. The language appears to be fairly modern French, which suggests the former, but I have no idea as to how the French language has changed and evolved over the past few centuries and thus could be completely wrong about this. In any event, as the Lymond Chronicles is set in the mid-sixteenth century, I felt that attributing the poem to the fifteenth century was not beyond the bounds of possibility. Any information as to the poem is very welcome, not least because if I have pinched the poem from Ms Dunnett, I would like to be able to give due credit. Incidentally, I am not certain as to the correct spelling of some of the French words in the poem as it is inconsistently spelt in the novel, where it appears twice in its entirety.