Another spin of Amand-r's Lyric Wheel, this one intended to answer some Origins questions for the Highlander series.

A Crooked Line
by Laura Mason

Ryan pulled up on his motorcycle as they were cleaning up for the afternoon. Methos was still scrubbing at the paint on his face.

"Richie." There was relief in Mac's voice; his prodigal son had returned. "Want some dinner? We're getting takeout." This was, of course, the first Methos had heard of it.

"Chinese? Sounds great." Mac smiled and went in the house, his arms loaded with the painting supplies and equipment. He'd be cleaning rollers for the next half-hour.

"Hey, Adam. He's got you helping now?"

"Obviously. "No 'date' with Kristen tonight?" Methos asked, and if looks could kill Ryan's glare would have done serious damage.

"She's a busy woman. I'm meeting her later."

Sex makes the world go 'round. Methos found it reassuring that mankind wasn't evolving too quickly. He pulled off the sweatshirt he'd borrowed from Mac...

"Hey, cool amulet. Where'd ya get it?"

He managed not to close his hand over the stone now hanging out of his collar. "Well, that's quite a tale, Ryan."

"Great, I'll have this last beer while you tell me."

Methos tugged his own shirt back into place, keeping his hands busy so he wouldn't smack the child across the back of his head. "I was following the Dead back in '81..."

"The Grateful Dead? I never figured you -- well, any of Mac's friends -- as rock-n-roll types."

"I was dating a Deadhead, Ryan. Jenny was beautiful and obsessed, and I had nothing better to do than enjoy the ride. We were headed to Salt Lake City when her car broke down."

"This is all about the necklace?"

"Yes, Ryan. Have you changed your mind? Sadly, I can't play a 30-second music video version of the story for you."

"But that would be cool, wouldn't it?" Ryan sat forward, the now-empty beer dangling in his hand. "Rock music and a hot babe in a convertible, speeding..."

"Jenny didn't wear leather bustiers or drive a convertible. She did, however, manage to flag down a convertible. Big old Cadillac, with a nice guy driving who offered to take us to a pay phone. Name of John Burrows."

"Should that mean something to me?"

"Hardly likely when there was no divine intervention over the house painting."

Ryan snorted in response, and Methos continued. "That day, Burrows seemed like a miracle. We were miles from any town. He was a big guy, dark hair and sunglasses. Had an annoying habit of singing along with the radio loudly, but we felt damn lucky anyone had found us. He'd come from the south, originally, but said he loved the desert."

"And the stupid necklace, which I'm now sorry I asked about?"

"Burrows dropped us at a gas station near Devils Slide. As Jenny and I were climbing out, he pointed out some reddish stones on the shoulder. Called them good-luck charms. Jenny picked up two, saying we needed some good luck. She gave me this one."

"You're still wearing it. Jenny must have been pretty special."

"She was, but I'm still wearing it because the owner of the gas station was driving to Salt Lake that night to attend the concert. He took us with him, and had Jenny's car towed and repaired while we were gone. Then he drove us back to pick it up."

"That's a really boring story, Adam," said in a tone that implied, 'keep your day job.' Ryan stood and stretched, young and fearless. "Seems kind of silly for an immortal to be superstitious. The Game's about skill, not luck." The kid walked away as Methos smiled and tucked in the stone.

***

"Adam. Nice to see you again."

"Joe. Can a guy get good beer here in the New World?"

"Only when he knows the bartender."

Methos was glad Joe didn't treat him any differently on his home turf than he had in Paris. Mac had thrown him out so he could again talk to Ryan about Kristen. He thought MacLeod would wind up here once the kid left for another night of hot monkey sex. Methos smiled, wondering if Mac had even heard about the "date" yet.

"That's an evil smile, my friend," Joe said, placing a new draft on the bar for him. "Hey, what are you wearing? Is that the same thong you had on in Paris?"

This time he did touch the stone briefly, but he managed to let go and smile. "That's a tale, Joe, and thirsty work to tell."

"Tell. I'll keep the beer coming. Tuesdays are always quiet."

"Back in the 20's I visited Egypt. I had a friend, Bert Callender, who put me up at his house. Great guy; he could drink anyone under the table and he always told the filthiest jokes. He never married and his house was a sty until he got a local girl to live with him. She'd be his common law wife nowadays, I suppose, though Bert just called her his housekeeper. She was a lousy cook, but she was sweet and never complained, no matter how long he spent at the bars. His favorite joint was the filthiest pit you can imagine..."

"And your amulet? Was it a gift from him?"

"Oh, no. Met a friend of Bert's, a fellow named Carter. Bert worked with him on some digs."

"Digs? Archeological digs?"

"Yes. Very big at the time, you know. Lots of Europeans messing around in the desert. Never thought to look closer to home, most of them."

"And you met someone named Carter... Howard Carter?"

"That's the one. Bert had helped him with several digs and he introduced us at dinner one night. I gave Carter some advice, and later he sent me this stone. Said it was from the tomb he found."

Joe's face was the most peculiar mixture of disbelief, awe, and suspicion. "You're telling me that stone is from King Tut's tomb?"

Methos merely took another sip of beer. Joe looked fit to be tied.

"You helped Carter find the tomb?" Methos nodded his head in time to the music, and Joe's face reddened as he tried to figure out if it was an answer or not. "C'mon, Adam, is that true?"

"Joe, if it weren't from a pharaoh's tomb, why would I still be wearing it all these years later?"

Joe wiped down the bar's surface, his face still twisted in thought. When he looked up at Methos, a dozen questions in his eyes, Methos laughed aloud. Joe's face immediately changed to a look of 'aha!', but then Methos turned away, reaching for his coat.

An Immortal was approaching and Joe was obviously familiar with the look. Methos felt oddly comforted as the mortal stood beside him, watching, until MacLeod walked in the door and they both relaxed.

***

Methos lounged on the very comfortable sofa in Mac's loft, pleasantly tired. Ryan was off, no doubt boffing his brains out with Kristen. Joe was closing up for the night by now. Mac was moving around by the sleeping area, probably getting him sheets and blankets. But he was too comfortable to move just yet.

"So, Richie tells me your necklace has a story," Mac said from across the room. His hand crept up, but he forced it back down, breathing and trying to relax.

"Yeah. It's a love story, Mac, very tragic. A sweet young thing who left me for a more conventional life, just as his family expected him to do."

"Him?" Mac didn't sound shocked, just mildly interested. Hmm.

"Charlie. He was just twenty-two, about to start a life of scientific discovery. I thought we were lovers, but I was just an experimental tumble to him. He gave me his first fossil to remember him by before he sailed on the Beagle."

"Charlie... Charles Darwin?"

"He was a geologist at the time, you know."

"Methos." Mac was standing over him, quite a lovely sight, hands on his hips but his eyes dancing in the dim light. "Aren't you confusing that rock with the one from Tut's tomb?"

"Joe told you," he sighed, not really disappointed, and his eyes closed just like that. He wanted them open, wanted to see Mac's affectionate smile, but they were so heavy...

"Don't blame Joe, Richie told me first. Who knew Elvis' good luck charm was so plain?" Warm hands on his arms pulled him up off the sofa. "You're exhausted. Come to bed."

"Jet lag," he mumbled. "Can't keep stories straight..." He let the Scot lead him up the steps, stood wobbling while Mac unbuttoned his jeans, then sat obediently while his boots were yanked off.

Mac was pulling off his shirt and pushing him down on the bed. "Sleep. We'll talk tomorrow."

***

He woke several times while it was still dark, and there was a warm body next to him each time. Mac was still in the bed with him when he woke again and the sun was pouring in the windows across the room. Methos stretched, then relaxed with a pleased sigh.

"Good morning," Mac said. "Got your evasions for the day in line now?"

"There's more than one answer to these questions, you know. They wanted a story; you wanted a story. I do good stories."

"Can you tell the truth?" It might have sounded harsh without the smile, or if the man asking had been wearing any clothes.

"I'm trying to tell you something about my life, Mac. Truth is complicated." Mac raised an eyebrow, skepticism in his face. "Sometimes it's inexplicable."

Mac's warm hand landed on his chest, and one digit reached to touch the warm stone resting at the base of his throat. "Inexplicable? Or complicated?"

He carefully moved the hand away as he replied "Both." Then he looked at Duncan, letting his desire show openly for the first time. "Me here in bed with you -- casual or complicated?"

Mac didn't answer, merely leaned over to kiss him. They spent several minutes blissfully occupied in learning each other's taste and style.

"Wonderful. Inevitable." Mac sounded breathless, but he looked much calmer than Methos felt.

As they reached for each other again, passions rising, the voice inside Methos insisted: "Complicated." He ignored it.

 

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Thanks to dswdiane for the lyric; you got your D/M story out of them. :)

Closer I am to Fine
Indigo Girls/Emily Saliers

i'm trying to tell you something about my life
maybe give me insight between black and white
and the best thing you've ever done for me
is to help me take my life less seriously
it's only life after all
yeah
 well darkness has a hunger that's insatiable
and lightness has a call that's hard to hear
i wrap my fear around me like a blanket
i sailed my ship of safety till I sank it
i'm crawling on your shores
 i went to the doctor, i went to the mountains
i looked to the children, i drank from the fountains
there's more than one answer to these questions
pointing me in a crooked line
and the less i seek my source for some definitive
(the less I seek my source)
the closer i am to fine
the closer i am to fine
 and i went to see the doctor of philosophy
with a poster of rasputin and a beard down to his knee
he never did marry or see a b-grade movie
he graded my performance,
he said he could see through me
i spent four years prostrate to the higher mind
got my paper and i was free
 i went to the doctor, i went to the mountains
i looked to the children, i drank from the fountains
there's more than one answer to these questions
pointing me in a crooked line
the less i seek my source for some definitive
(the less I seek my source)
the closer i am to fine
the closer i am to fine
 i stopped by the bar at 3 a.m.
to seek solace in a bottle or possibly a friend
and i woke up with a headache
like my head against a board
twice as cloudy as i'd been the night before
and i went in seeking clarity.
 i went to the doctor, i went to the mountains
i looked to the children,
i drank from the fountains
yeah we go to the doctor,
we go to the mountains
we look to the children,
we drink from the fountains
yeah we go to the bible,
we go through the workout
we read up on revival
and we stand up for the lookout
there's more than one answer to these questions
pointing me in a crooked line
the less i seek my source for some definitive
(the less i seek my source)
the closer i am to fine
the closer i am to fine
the closer i am to fine