This snippet is post-NTB, and Endgame is not part of this universe.

By Candlelight
by Laura Mason


**Watcher Chronicle, auth Bram, Second qtr. 2613**

Hastings engaged in ritual combat tonight and lost Q to unidentified, unwatched immortal. Followed UI rather than reporting for reassignment.

UI lives a half days at Pacif seaside, close to former U.S. border. Cannot stay to watch, since unlike subject I cannot eat seafood but can be killed by earthquake. Residence seems to be established, long-term dwelling. Perhaps after identification of UI a periodic watcher can be assigned from nearby settlement. If there is a nearby settlement; never found one.

Spent the evening outside of dwelling, which appears to be made of mud bricks. Still believe we should ask immortals for assistance as we try to rebuild society at large, though I know the organization does not agree. But watching them makes me believe they could be useful to us, instead of simply being interesting creatures occasionally engaged in deadly battles.

This UI, for example, lives in more comfort than most people, and seems to have skills that would be useful for other settlers. Of course they are a violent race, but UI does not seem to be a fighter. He tried to leave when Hastings approached, and argued that they didn't need to fight. UI has a garden, and also seems to have artificial lighting. UI placed this lighting in his window. Appears to be animal fat? somehow set aflame.

Daylight has come; must move on to clear out Hastings' house and be reassigned. They say that the Watchers used to have pictures of the immortals, and chronicles that could be duplicated and sent to members. I wonder how long ago that was, if true.


**Excerpt from Private Chronicle, dated April 2021 -- recovered 2378 and digitalized**

I'd swear M was put up to it by MacLeod, but they both deny it. I can't understand why M would decide to stay here all these years, putting himself at risk. Just for friendship? Doesn't seem like a good survival strategy. But I am happy he's around. It's not the same as having Mac in my life -- ok, it's a whole lot quieter than having Mac in my life. I can't believe it's been five years since Mac's last letter. I hope he's doing all right. Surely if he'd lost a challenge, the Watchers would know. And I'd hear.

M's been a good friend to me. I'm trying to be one to him. I told him everything will be sealed, with a ten-year waiting period before the Watchers get their hands on it. My executor has the older chronicles already, safely locked up. And tonight, this will be my last entry. The envelope is ready, waiting for me to finish my last official entry.

I'm retired, and M has a right to live unchronicled for a while. Then, once I'm dead, ten years ought to be enough of a head start for him to find a new identity. Because of course the Watchers will figure out who he is once they read my journals. He knows, and doesn't object. MacLeod always resented the organization, but M doesn't. Well, M wasn't introduced to us through the death of a beloved friend. Horton's murder of Darius was unforgivable. I don't blame Mac. He just doesn't have a historian's attitude. M does, even when it comes to his own life.

We had dinner last night at his apartment. M called it a late-twentieth century TV dinner. M had old television shows playing on his computer screen, with trays set up for us to eat as we watched. There was a candle in the open window, and no artificial atmosphere dialed up. I teased him about the candle, telling him he was mixing up his centuries there. But he just smiled and said he likes candlelight. As if I didn't know that. He bought the whole supply when my bar closed -- and it was a large supply, left over from when the clean air laws changed and made it illegal to use them.

M made some complicated dish I've never had before, and served it with tofu cheeseburgers. Said he was sure I missed those. I said I miss real burgers, not vegetable patties. Well, I can't deny it's the best I've had since they stopped producing beef. But if we're talking about things I miss, not being able to play the guitar is worse. Damn arthritis. Thank heavens for voice-activated software for the computer.

I suppose I could be imagining it, but M does seem different. Sadder. Maybe that's just my own pessimism about the future. After all, he's been leading a great life as Steve Huntington. He's got plenty of money, and certainly he's more outgoing than Adam Pierson ever was. But there's something missing, I think. Maybe it's that there's no one special in his life. I remember he said a girl like Alexa only came along once a century... No, he's probably used to being alone.

Nothing I can do for him, anyway. Except be a friend, and not ask too many questions.


**November 7, 1998**

"I don't know who or what you are, Methos."

He still heard the words. He'd put Joe in a cab, then settled in to wait. He was watching as Amanda left, still giddy from the narrow escape -- and MacLeod's declaration. Methos smiled at himself and settled in, pushing his hands further into his pockets, rather wishing he'd kept the heavier coat he'd borrowed from O'Rourke's goon.

Half an hour later the lights on the barge were extinguished. A few minutes later he saw the dark figure emerge, knapsack in hand. He came down the gangplank without a glance behind, and started down the quay at a steady, unhurried pace. Then MacLeod froze as he felt the presence, already reaching for his sword. But he relaxed and dropped his hand when Methos spoke.

"Nice night for it."

"I thought so." MacLeod continued walking, and Methos followed him. Nothing new about that.

"So where are you headed?" He tried to sound casual. MacLeod's grin showed he'd failed.

"I have no plans. It's time for Duncan MacLeod to become a wanderer, I think. Fewer challenges. Less danger to those around me."

"Joe will miss you." That much was easy to admit.

"Yes, I know he will. At least he will be alive to miss me."

"O'Rourke is dead," he insisted, trying to see if there was the usual supply of dog shit on the paving stones as he followed MacLeod.

"He wasn't the last immortal after my head, and you know there will be others willing to use my friends against me."

"So you'll have no friends now?" MacLeod stopped so abruptly that Methos almost ran into him.

MacLeod sighed as he took a step back. "I'm doing the best I can, Methos. Trying to be less of a target. I am carrying my sword, if that concerns you. I intend to stay alive."

"Good idea."

"Yes, you can say 'I told you so.'"

"Evidently you were listening that one time I tried to impart my wisdom."

"One time?" MacLeod snorted. "Either that or this last Quickening has addled my brain, old man."

"Hmm." Methos followed him under another bridge, then up and down the steps beyond it, past the sleeping homeless against the wall. He truly had only himself to blame. There was nothing to do -- he couldn't ask to tag along. And he'd sworn never to get involved with another immortal.

The lights of the Pont Neuf were ahead, and MacLeod turned to start up the stairs to Boulevard St. Michel. He really was leaving, and Methos' heart spoke before his brain could stop it. "Stay in touch, Mac. Joe's not the only one who'll miss you."

"Yeah?" MacLeod looked down at him for a moment, and Methos was glad for the deep shadows along the river. His face felt far too open. Then Mac turned away with a grimace. "I wasn't planning to send postcards."

"It's e-mail now, MacLeod. Get with the times." Methos hoped he sounded normal. He remembered all the times he'd done this to people. He'd even left MacLeod, though it had never lasted. He wished he could believe Mac wouldn't be able to stay away, either.

MacLeod was halfway up the stairs now, his pace quickening as he got further away. "You keep a candle in the window for me," drifted down. And then he was gone, his powerful stride taking him into the darkness above.

The end

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