Many thanks, as always, are due to my beta readers, Tarsh and Genevieve. Their careful reading, close examination of characterization and plot, and general enthusiasm for this work are gifts beyond compare.
Please note this story contains male/male sex and adult themes. If you are a minor or are offended by this material, please leave now.
Voyagers 6: Clouds & Eclipses
by Laura Mason
No more be griev'd at that which
thou hast done:
Roses have thorns, and silver fountains mud;
Clouds and eclipses stain both moon and sun,
And loathsome canker lives in sweetest bud.
Shakespeare (Sonnet 35)
Duncan MacLeod tossed the postcard from Gina de Valicourt toward the counter. Did all his friends have no scruples about meddling? Gina's message was short and to the point. Written on the back of a photo of the colorful Russian Orthodox cemetery in Anchorage, Alaska were the words: "Forgive him and us. Life is short. Love always, Gina."
Yes, her love was obvious. She loved her husband, MacLeod, and 'Adam Pierson,' whom she'd met only eight weeks ago. The man MacLeod had tossed out of his life last week, leaving him with a drawer full of clothing that wasn't his own, an unclaimed computer he'd hastily thrown in its bag, and a very empty bed.
It had started so joyously.
Life with Methos on the barge wasn't perfect, but the month they'd been living together was one of the best times MacLeod could remember in the years since Tessa's death. There were no headhunters for once. MacLeod enjoyed peaceful days, often with Joe and Maurice as he helped them renovate the property they'd bought for a night club. Adam Pierson went off to classes or his Watcher duties every day and returned at night carrying food, beer, and other surprises intended to keep them on the barge and in bed with each other all night long.
While Methos liked to sleep late, he wasn't the total slob MacLeod had feared he'd be. His duffel of clothes was put away neatly into MacLeod's dresser and a few stray books were lying around the room, but most of Methos' belongings were packed and sent to storage without any inconvenience to MacLeod. In fact, Methos hadn't even tried to get him to help pack the apartment he'd vacated. If it weren't for the computer equipment now atop MacLeod's desk, Methos' tenancy would have been completely invisible. Sometimes the thought of how quickly Methos could be packed and gone bothered MacLeod, who was used to Amanda as a live-in lover. Her many trunks always seemed to proclaim her settled in for the season -- though when he thought about it, Amanda usually managed to move on rather quickly.
This morning MacLeod was on his way to visit Robert and Gina, who'd just sent out invitations for their 300th wedding anniversary and renewal of vows. He was relieved Methos had classes and wasn't coming along, though he did plan to introduce his lover to his friends. Eventually. Right now his relationship with Methos felt so new, so... fragile. Despite the wonderful sex and easy comradeship of their time together, every so often Methos would comment on something in a way that brightly illustrated the gap between them. A gap consisting of thousands of years of experiences MacLeod couldn't -- didn't -- understand.
Sometimes it was a simple thing. Methos had made a comment only yesterday that indicated the older immortal thought he'd be kicked off the barge whenever Amanda returned to Paris. MacLeod had been stunned. Didn't Methos know how important he was to MacLeod? He'd told Methos that he loved him; what did Methos understand by that? And what did Methos' declarations of love mean if he thought he'd be tossed aside whenever it was convenient? MacLeod had already delayed his return to the States to stay in Paris with Methos, yet Methos seemed to think their relationship was just a casual tryst.
But even worse was the gap in attitudes and convictions, a moral laxness that truly bothered the Highlander. He wanted to be able to admire everything about Methos; he always felt that way with those he loved. But Methos was a pragmatist, and not everything he'd done to survive was admirable. When Methos had admitted that he was ashamed of his own past, during their time in Brittany, MacLeod had found it easy to forgive him. Mostly because his own behavior during the Dark Quickening had been in the forefront of his mind, but also because it was so obvious that Methos had changed. Or so MacLeod had thought.
When they'd first met, MacLeod had been dismayed to find that the man he'd begun to love was a weapons manufacturing magnate. This led to a quarrel, and the persona of Michael Delon subsequently vanished. MacLeod believed it was because he'd convinced Methos that such pursuits were immoral. Only recently had MacLeod learned that Methos had dropped his Delon identity simply to vanish quickly, not out of any conviction that it was wrong to create and sell weapons. Methos had even joked about it, saying that Delon wasn't an identity he'd ever used for more than a few weeks at a time because such a wealthy man was too high profile. To make it even worse, MacLeod learned Adam Pierson was going to inherit stock in the Delon industries when it became time to leave the Watchers.
Other conflicts arose early in their sharing of the barge living quarters. MacLeod told Methos the story of Danny Cimoli, and Methos insisted that doing nothing would have been the best choice, but failing that, the Highlander or Amanda should have taken the punk's head once he'd refused to stop flaunting his immortality. MacLeod had not been shy about his annoyance. Still, a later discussion of Warren Cochrane's amnesia led Methos to comment that MacLeod could have lured his friend into an alley and taken Warren's head, "problem solved." That was when MacLeod decided sharing stories wasn't such a good idea.
So topics discussed with Methos began to center around safe, unimportant things. Skimming current events, but avoiding the in-depth discussions that would bring out their differences. They discussed of the progress on Joe and Maurice's club, tentatively christened "En Famille" but which Methos insisted should be called "Moe's" in honor of its two owners. They watched movies and read books, but MacLeod avoided anything that might bring unpleasant differences out where he would be forced to view them. He didn't ask for stories of Methos' past, and Methos didn't offer any. MacLeod told himself this careful avoidance wasn't any different than not discussing jewelry stores with Amanda. But it hurt.
The only time they really seemed to communicate was with their bodies, not their words.
His afternoon with Robert de Valicourt turned out very differently than MacLeod had expected. Instead of finding the anniversary couple happily planning their renewal of vows, he'd stumbled into an argument that culminated in Gina's demand for a divorce. Robert had been devastated and MacLeod had stayed with him all afternoon, anxiously trying to think of a way to convince Gina to give the marriage another chance.
Thus it was that MacLeod returned to the barge determined to persuade Methos to pose as a threatening mystery challenger for Robert, hoping that the thought of Robert in danger would send Gina back into his arms. MacLeod was forced to pull out the big guns -- pouting lips and puppy eyes. Which led to MacLeod spending the evening tied to the bed naked, with cookies and cold tea being eaten off his body by an incredibly sensual demon who seemed determined to keep him at the point of orgasm until he went mad. If having mind-blowing sex with a dominant, aggressive Methos wasn't enough of a victory all by itself, MacLeod knew he'd won the next morning when Methos asked where they'd be staging the fight for Gina's benefit.
Three days later Gina discovered their ruse and she turned the tables on the men, giving MacLeod a really horrible moment when he believed she'd permanently killed Methos. Gina laughed at him, pouted about the deception, then spent the rest of the evening charming and virtually adopting 'cher Adam.' Women did seem to find Methos charming, and MacLeod was proud of it. Really proud, he decided as he moved closer to Methos, blocking Gina's access to his lover.
Gina was so enthralled with Adam that she not only invited him to the wedding, she enlisted his assistance in the arrangements. He spent time with her every day for the weeks before the wedding, skipping classes to help audition bands, choose flowers and linens, and even suggest 300-year-old recipes to be adapted for the reception. MacLeod and Robert sat back and watched the two of them tease and nag each other playfully while accomplishing incredible feats of wedding legerdemain.
Robert's only comment on the situation was quietly addressed to MacLeod as they sat at the chateau, sipping brandy and watching an anxious florist presenting arrangements for Gina and Adam's approval.
"Non, non, satin ribbons will never do!" Gina tossed the spool toward an assistant who scrambled to prevent it unraveling any further. "Adam, I know you see what I mean."
"Really. For these prices, I'd expect watered silk. Hand wired. And in some color that isn't a cliche, please."
"That's it, exactly. Tres bien. Monsieur, you must see what we wish to do."
"But I assure you, madame, that these are the finest..."
MacLeod stood to refill his drink, then carried the decanter to Robert, who was gesturing for more as well. The overwhelming scents of the flowers and the endless chatter were actually giving him a headache.
"How does Pierson manage it? Is he honestly interested in this tripe?" Robert murmured as MacLeod refilled his glass.
"It's beyond me, Robert." They saluted each other with their replenished glasses and then MacLeod settled back into the chair across from Robert to wait, feeling useless and left out.
MacLeod was well into a brood when he heard Robert mutter, "It's a very good thing Gina didn't meet him before our first wedding." MacLeod silently nodded his agreement.
Methos and Gina left the bakery after some last-minute cake decoration instructions and walked towards her car.
"I can't believe there are only four days until the ceremony." Gina was chatting a mile a minute, her accent thickening the faster she spoke. "I don't know how I would manage all this without you, dearest Adam. You have been a godsend. I shall thank Duncan again."
Methos smiled and listened to her with divided attention. Something about the street seemed wrong, different -- it was a quiet neighborhood, but there was tension in the air. He could see Gina's car, and as they approached her driver stepped out to open the rear door. The driver's head was down, but it was the same man who'd driven them there -- Methos always paid attention to faces. Still, he was behaving strangely...
"Gina, love, one moment." Methos stopped in his tracks, holding Gina's arm. She looked at him, the driver looked up at them both, and four men emerged from the doorway of the nearest building. The driver slammed the car door and ran.
"Shit!" Methos and Gina automatically moved back to back as three of the men approached them, armed with lengths of pipe and knives. The fourth went after the driver, who apparently had been part of the scheme until the moment he ran.
"Listen, lady, come with us and no one gets hurt. We'll let your friend run along home." The man slapped the pipe in his palm as he spoke.
"What do you want?" Gina asked, drawing her sword. Methos kept his hand on his own, but didn't want to draw unless absolutely necessary.
"Just shut up and put down your sword." The man didn't seem surprised to see the blade.
"Never!" Gina snarled as she swung at him.
"Your chauffeur..." Methos hissed at her as he blocked a blow from one of the men.
"I saw. Finding good help is so difficult, mon petit." Gina dodged out of the way of another blow, then pushed back into position behind Methos. He still hadn't drawn his blade, but he knew this had to end, right now, before the other man returned and the odds got worse. Methos swore and yanked out his gun.
"Back off, right now." Thankfully, none of the goons pulled a gun of their own. Probably the guy chasing Gina's driver was in charge of this gang. "Gina, to the car." She quickly moved with him, carefully covering each other's backs until Methos slid behind the wheel. The keys were still in the ignition, thank God, so he wasn't trying to hot-wire it while Gina fought off the goons. When the engine roared to life, Gina jumped in the back seat and Methos pulled away just as the fourth man returned and opened fired after them.
"Zut!" Gina scrambled over and into the front seat, next to Methos. "Whatever was that? Since when are people mugged in broad daylight?"
"That was no mugging. Let's get you home quick."
"Do you think Robert is in danger?" Gina looked more concerned at that thought than she had while facing down three men.
"They didn't seem surprised by the sword, that's all. Usually if you pull a sword on a mugger, it gets a reaction." Methos pondered. "And your driver was in on it, too. They must know who you are, where you live."
"Mon dieu." Gina was white-faced as she quickly dialed her mobile phone. "Robert? Oh, Duncan, is Robert there? ... No, don't let him leave, stop him! It is a trap, I'm sure." She spoke to 'Adam' for a moment. "Robert was challenged by a caller only ten minutes ago. He was leaving to meet him behind the chateau, in our woods." Then she turned back to the phone. "Oh, Robert, thank God Duncan stopped you. Four men just tried to abduct me. Your challenge must be a trap, they expected us to have swords. ... Yes, my love, we'll be there in five minutes. I love you." She hung up, looking grim.
"Don't worry," Methos soothed her. "We won't let whoever this is have any unfair advantage on Robert. He's working with mortals, and they can't sense us. You must know your own grounds better than they could." Gina's evil smile at her friend 'Adam' confirmed just how alike they truly were.
MacLeod and Robert were easily convinced that prudence meant that all four of them should go to meet this challenger. As they walked, Robert tried to think who it could be.
"The voice was not familiar to me. Honestly, I can't think of anyone with a grudge. Particularly immortal -- I'm not in the habit of leaving enemies alive to come after my wife at their convenience." Methos snorted to himself at that, wishing MacLeod would adopt such a practical attitude. Then Robert signaled for them to stop, and after a loving kiss for Gina, he continued on alone. The other three split up to approach the clearing from different directions, on the alert for any mortals who might have been brought along to sway the fight.
MacLeod was using all the tracking skills he'd learned from the Lakota so long ago, looking for footprints, listening for movement, creeping along quite silently himself. He saw nothing, and when he finally heard voices, it was Robert and another -- someone who did sound familiar to him, though it took him a moment to place the voice. As he did, he heard the clash of their blades as they engaged. Forgetting everything Connor had taught him about no interference, MacLeod ran forward calling to them.
"Robert! David! Please, stop." He reached the clearing where the two men stood, just in time to see Keogh jump and turn as Gina ran out of the woods opposite MacLeod.
"Duncan?" She called, then moved to Robert's side. "What's... " She turned and saw his challenger, and her face paled noticeably until she looked like she might faint. "David?"
"Really, MacLeod." Robert hadn't heard Gina, and was angry at having the fight interrupted. "I was fine, thank you for your confidence."
"No, it's not that, he's a friend... David? Why did you challenge Robert?" MacLeod approached his old friend, a man who'd lost his lover last year when she learned of his immortality. David had refused to accept the loss, and his reaction to the rejection had led to the mortal woman's death. They had fought over the blame, and MacLeod hadn't seen Keogh since. He felt conflicted -- protective of both men, but particularly of the wounded young man he hadn't seen since that horrible day. Who, he sternly reminded himself, had evidently planned to kidnap Gina.
"MacLeod. These are your friends?" Keogh looked surprised to see him.
"Yes. Gina is a very dear old friend. And I've known Robert since before their marriage."
"Good. Then tell your friend Robert to grant his wife the divorce she requested so that she may marry me."
There was a stunned silence for a moment, as they processed what Keogh had said. Then Gina spoke, her voice weak. "Can we go back to the house to discuss this?" Robert agreed, quickly moving her away from the man he'd been fighting and then keeping her arm in his as they walked to the chateau. MacLeod followed with Keogh, looking around and wondering why Methos had vanished into the woods.
Two hours later there was still no sign or sense of Methos as the other four immortals sat, very tense yet so civilized, in the de Valicourt drawing room. Keogh's assertions were unbelievable to MacLeod and Robert, but Gina didn't deny them. Her face was suddenly older as she confirmed she'd met Keogh two months before, and that their subsequent affair had been the reason she'd requested a divorce from Robert.
MacLeod found his brain drifting off in search of Methos, even though Keogh claimed to have come alone for an honorable challenge. It was easier to worry where Methos had wandered off to than to think about the situation before him.
Not Gina. She wouldn't break her vows with Robert, after all these years. And poor David, involved with a woman who didn't love him as much as he cared for her. Again. MacLeod knew he should be the reasonable, calm one in this situation. But he felt everyone's pain as if it were his own.
"But why did you send four mortals to terrorize Gina? If you love her as you claim?" Robert was in full 'snotty aristocrat' mode.
"To bring her to a safe house while I dispatched you." Keogh said calmly, as if it were the most reasonable thing in the universe. "I know she loves me, she was just staying with you to protect me. I thought it would be better for her to be away while we fought. I never intended to distress you, darling."
The intimate tone of that last sentence had Robert on his feet but MacLeod rose, giving him a stern look and motioning him back to his seat.
"Whatever you think, Keogh, my wife loves me and only me," Robert stated as he re-seated himself. He turned toward her as he continued, " She doesn't want a divorce, do you Angelina?"
"No, of course not." Gina began to sob. "Oh, David, this is all my fault. Robert, I'm so sorry."
Keogh moved to comfort her just as her husband did. The two men glared at each other, then both moved away as MacLeod, who'd reached her first, patted Gina's shoulder. "Duncan, I never intended this..."
"Of course you didn't, Gina. Listen, you and Robert stay here. I'll walk David back to his car and I'll call you tomorrow." MacLeod bundled Keogh out the door, hoping to give the de Valicourts some privacy to discuss their situation. Keogh didn't go quietly, though, keeping up a steady litany of praise as they re-traced the path through the woods to where he'd left his car.
"Isn't she astonishing? Beautiful, inside and out. And immortal, like us. A man can truly contemplate forever with her, spending the rest of our lives in bliss. It's like a dream come true. I love her so much... "
"It's been a while since I saw you, David." Vivid memories of their fight and the hate in Keogh's eyes swam in his mind. "Have you forgiven me?"
"Mac! Of course. When Jill died, I was so distraught, I didn't know what I was saying. I know it wasn't your fault, you were trying to help Jill. The girl was suicidal, I don't know what either of us could have done to save her."
"When we fought..."
"Mac, I know you weren't jealous, that you really want me to be happy. You didn't intend for Jill to die, I know that. I'm sorry I fought with you that day. But you've always been so forgiving and generous with me -- that's why I know you'll help me with Gina."
"David, if Gina's decided to stay with Robert, you have to let her go back to him."
"You don't understand. She loves me. I'll never be alone again, never be left behind... It's perfect. And she doesn't want to go back to him, I'm sure of it. She told me she was sick of it, that the last hundred years with him were pure misery." Keogh looked so young as he spoke, and so very deluded. MacLeod wished yet again that Sean Burns was still alive -- Keogh needed a counselor, someone who could reach him.
"David. Gina has to make this decision herself. If she chooses you, I'll be very happy for you, you know that. But if she chooses Robert, you must respect her decision."
But as Keogh drove off, MacLeod doubted he'd really listen to Gina. Or anyone else. Keogh had a blind spot when he was in love. Then MacLeod felt the elusive presence he'd been seeking for hours, and he felt himself relax at last as Methos approached him.
"Methos. Were you out here all afternoon?"
"MacLeod. Friend of yours?" He gestured after the departing car, then crossed his arms over his chest, looking cold.
"It's a long story."
"Fortunately, I have all night."
"First, tell me where you've been."
"I've been watching your back. Someone has to. Is Gina alright?"
"That's an even longer story, I think. Let's give her and Robert some privacy." He led his lover back toward the house, where his own car was parked.
Later that night, back at the barge, MacLeod and Methos lay entwined on the bed, still discussing the situation. Earlier MacLeod had poured out his guilt and concern over his actions over a year ago, when he'd allowed Keogh to walk away even though he'd caused the death of a mortal woman. MacLeod even confessed his own empathy with the situation of loving someone more than it was returned, of wanting to force a return of feeling and an acceptance of immortality. When he finished talking, Methos had stripped him, pushed him down on their bed, and they'd made love for hours. Methos insisted that sexual exhaustion was the only cure for Scottish guilt.
Now, relaxed and spent, they continued the discussion.
"So you consider yourself one of Keogh's teachers, more or less."
"Yes. I wasn't the first immortal he ran into, but I was older and I tried to guide him. To teach him that we can be friends, and that the Game isn't the only reason to live. He'd had such a horrible mortal existence, compared to me. His first death was from a beating by his master. Can you imagine how horrible his early life must have been?"
Methos opened his mouth, then thought better of it. MacLeod didn't want to hear the horrors of his past. So instead, he changed the subject, trying to sound teasing as he spoke. "Knowing your track record, I guess we can't blame you for the fact that he seems to fall in love with women who don't return the feeling."
"He has had incredibly bad luck in love. And now, this is the worst. It seems like Gina was bored and she used him... I still can't believe she'd do that to Robert or to David. That's not the woman Fitz and I loved!"
Methos giggled, shocking MacLeod into silence. His words made it even worse. "300 years and no messing around? Have you ever been monogamous that long, Mac?"
"Robert and Gina are special. I thought you'd seen it, too." *Don't vows mean anything to you?* "They're perfect together."
"But not perfect human beings, Mac." Methos stroked his cheek gently. "They make mistakes, too."
"I know. Poor David."
Methos leaned back and watched him jump up to pace, not at all surprised by the ever-changing sympathies MacLeod was cycling through. Mac was going to have heartache from this situation, no matter what happened. He felt too much for all three of his friends. *Isn't that the special thing about Duncan MacLeod, that he actually has immortal friends and loves them, cares for them?* Methos never trusted other immortals like MacLeod did, and certainly didn't count many as friends. MacLeod was amazing, one of a kind. And brooding again. Time to rejoin the conversation.
"You're sure Gina will stay with Robert?"
"Of course. It was a fling, a mistake -- not a lifelong commitment. Robert will understand that, and forgive her." MacLeod poured juice for himself and brought Methos a beer. "But David has never been a good judge of romantic situations. He falls so hard for women, he doesn't see them as they truly are."
Methos merely smiled at that, remembering some of their own misunderstandings and miscommunication. *Does anyone in love see clearly?* But MacLeod answered his unspoken thought.
"I know all lovers are like that, at least initially. But David is close to being unbalanced by his need for strong love and affection. Maybe because he was born alone in a difficult time, then practically enslaved by the first immortal who found him." MacLeod ran a hand through his hair, sighing. "I'm not a psychiatrist, I don't know the reason why, but I know David needs a lot of love and attention. That whole situation with Jill dying seems to have made him determined to find an immortal love. He's obsessive about Gina."
"Then we'd better stick close to Gina and Robert."
MacLeod spun and looked at his lover. "We? Aren't you the man who vanished into the woods today?"
"I saw no strategic advantage to meeting Keogh today, and lots of advantage to him not knowing I'm around. I'll be your ace in the hole. None of the goons who attacked us today can identify me as an immortal, so he won't be prepared for another of us."
"So you believe there will be more trouble?"
"You believe it, Mac. And I believe you." Methos looked so sweet and sincere saying that, MacLeod couldn't help reaching out to him. Only to have the sweet face dissolve into a wicked leer as his hand was grabbed and he was pulled back onto the bed.
Despite their fears, the days passed without incident. Robert and Gina spent hours discussing her affair and their marriage, and while Robert was very hurt by it, he still loved her and couldn't imagine his life without her. Gina felt the same. Their actual renewal of vows took place during these very private conversations, long before the formal ceremony.
MacLeod and Methos had moved in at the chateau, just in case of any trouble. Gina had a very attractive two-man bodyguard as she finished her fittings and arrangements, and Robert handled their honeymoon travel plans by computer and phone from his office.
David Keogh called Gina the day before the wedding, and listened calmly when she told him their affair had been a mistake and apologized for hurting him. Keogh wished her happiness when the call ended and seemed very rational. MacLeod arranged to meet Keogh for a drink early that evening, and listened to the younger man pour out his heart about his love for Gina.
"I'll always want the best for her, Duncan. Whatever she wants, she should have. She's a beautiful woman."
"Aye, she is that. Did I tell you Fitzcairn and I were madly in love with her before she met Robert?" And Duncan launched into stories that had Keogh laughing even though he was mourning his lost love. MacLeod felt better about Keogh's ability to handle this latest rejection when they finally parted for the night.
The day of the wedding dawned bright and beautiful. The chateau was lovely, the flowers and decorations exquisite. Gina was just as lovely a bride as she'd been three times before, albeit much more comfortable without a corset and heavy petticoats. Robert was glowingly happy. And the room was filled with their dearest friends, everyone making small talk and enjoying the day.
Duncan was walking Gina down the aisle when Methos felt a new presence. He glanced around, hoping it was a late arrival -- there were several immortals invited who hadn't given a positive response but might drop in to surprise the couple. But the presence faded without anyone entering. Methos was moving to the door as two masked men entered, carrying semi-automatic weapons.
"Get down!" Methos' shout was lost in a spray of gunfire -- fortunately aimed at the ceiling of the room, not at the people who were throwing themselves to the ground. Two more men entered at the French doors to the terrace.
"Everyone stay down and no one will get hurt. Jewelry and wallets in front of you, on the floor." The terrified guests began to follow directions as one of the men moved to the front of the room, where Gina and Robert lay side by side in their finery, both looking more angry than frightened.
"You. Stand up." The man indicated Gina with the gun he was carrying.
"No." Robert protested as the man yanked on Gina's arm. "Just take our money, whatever you want, and leave her alone."
At that moment, Methos again felt presence approach the room.
"Robert," he tried to warn, as Gina was pulled to her feet, and Robert rose to follow her. The robber shoved Robert back with his free arm, then opened fire on him. The bullets struck Robert's chest as Gina cried out, lunging for him. The room erupted into shrieking, fleeing people. Several of the robbers panicked and opened fire. Shooting into the crowd now, not at the ceiling.
"Enough!" David Keogh stood at the door with a gun in his hands, masked but recognizable to the immortals in the room. He signaled to his men, who scooped up the rest of their spoils as the first man dragged Gina to Keogh, sobbing in anger and covered in her husband's blood.
MacLeod started to rise, growling "David, you can't..."
"Shut up and get down, or we'll start shooting again, MacLeod. You owe me; you killed Jill. I don't know why you couldn't let us be happy. But you won't stop Gina and me now. I'll take your head if you try."
"You're insane!" Gina sobbed, trying to hit him or kick him. Keogh motioned one of his men forward to help subdue her, pointing his weapon at the people in the room as he did.
"Stop this nonsense or more of them will die. I'm sorry your friends were injured, my love, but I need you too much to wait. It's time to leave all this behind. You're mine, and our new life begins today." Keogh withdrew, pulling Gina along, his men still covering him. Then they were gone and the room was silent except for the terrified sobs and moans of the injured guests and servants.
MacLeod's first move was to call the paramedics and police as Methos dragged Robert to the hallway to revive. Robert wouldn't need to stay dead; everything had happened so quickly that witnesses would be unsure of what they'd seen. He knew MacLeod would go to Robert and help him get ready for the police, so Methos went into doctor mode, examining the injured. Two were dead, killed instantly, and only one other person had critical injuries. He worked quickly to assist the woman, who was already being helped by another man who'd been a field medic in the army. Then police and ambulances arrived, and all the wounded were quickly treated on the scene or transported to the hospital.
An hour later, Robert was still answering police questions about his wife's kidnaping. Because fifty people had witnessed Gina's abduction, it was the only course of action to follow. Still, MacLeod was restless and Methos was watching him closely. They didn't really want police involvement; this was a private matter. Their descriptions were vague, and no one mentioned Keogh's name or the earlier incidents.
MacLeod was sick with grief and guilt, blaming himself for the incident, for the deaths of innocent mortals. He should have known Keogh was mentally ill. He'd allowed Keogh to live, let him walk away despite his responsibility in Jill's death. If he'd only acted then, Gina would never have met him, never have had that affair. Two people would still be alive now.
Methos absently answered the few questions directed to him and watched MacLeod brood. He resolved to stick close to MacLeod for the next few days, until they located Keogh and Gina. A guilty, brooding Highlander facing a friend who'd become a danger to them all - it was a recipe for disaster. Further disaster, Methos corrected himself.
Robert stood in his foyer and sighed as the butler closed the front door. He could still hear the last of the police cars outside pulling away from his home. Though the staff had already cleaned up the broken glass, his drawing room was taped off with "crime scene" seals at the doors. A part of Robert's mind refused to accept anything that had happened today. He was angry, exhausted, and worried about Gina.
A voice from his study interrupted his thoughts. "Robert, I've poured you a brandy. Come and rest for a few minutes."
"Duncan, I'm so glad you and Pierson are here." Robert moved into the room and accepted the glass, smiling faintly at his friends, who'd made themselves at home in the small room. A fire was blazing, and Pierson was sitting close to it. MacLeod was standing near the side table, mixing another drink.
"Try to relax, Robert. You must be exhausted. We'll figure out what to do. I promise I will do whatever it takes to find her."
Robert moved to his favorite chair and settled in it with a groan. He paused to take a sip of his drink, then remarked, "There's an agency I've used in the past, very discreet. I'll ring them first thing in the morning and see if they can track this madman."
"Actually, if you have a computer here I might be able to find some leads." Pierson looked sincere. "It can't hurt to have a few of us looking for Keogh and his gang."
"Thank you. In my library, third door on the right as you head toward the back of the house." Robert smiled at Pierson's face, which lit up at the word "library." Evidently Pierson had never lived in such a grand home. Well, he was young, he'd accumulate wealth the longer he lived, just as they had.
Once Pierson was gone, MacLeod was very quiet. He seemed to be thinking, but unwilling to share those thoughts. Robert was relieved to have some peace and quiet, and a comfortable chair, after all those hours of interrogation. He was concerned about Gina, though he knew better than most people how competent a fighter she was. At least Keogh didn't want her head. She'd be fine until they could track her down.
"Robert, I need to make a phone call, in private. I think I can get information on Keogh. I know someone with good police connections." MacLeod had decided he couldn't tell Robert about the Watchers. It would bring up too many questions about Adam's tattoo and true identity. "I'll let you know what I've found in the morning, at breakfast. Then we can decide what to do next."
"Alright, Mac. Goodnight."
MacLeod left the room to place his call and Robert shut the lamp and sat back, sipping his brandy in the semi-darkness and staring into the fire. The strong emotions had left him drained, and now that no one was watching he allowed the exhaustion to show in his body and on his face. He didn't feel the slow tears on his face. *Angelina...*
"Methos, I've talked to Joe. He'll get us information on Keogh." MacLeod burst into the library, very pleased with himself. When Methos raised his head from the computer screen, anger in his eyes, MacLeod felt his smile fade.
"Damn it, MacLeod. Could you NOT involve Dawson just this once? I can't believe how you treat him. I thought he was your friend, but you're constantly putting him in danger..."
"What are you talking about? I just asked him if the Watchers have someone on David..."
"Presuming that the Watchers will never notice Joe Dawson is accessing reports on David Keogh, or maybe e-mailing his Watcher for information?" Methos stood and MacLeod backed away from him. "Nor will they put it together when Duncan MacLeod suddenly shows up to challenge Keogh and take his worthless head."
"I'm not after David's head!" MacLeod moved suddenly, pushing past Methos, feeling cornered. "I'd never involve Joe if I was headhunting. David is my friend."
"A friend who just kidnaped another of your friends and killed two mortals in the process."
"He didn't kill them..."
"He's responsible, MacLeod. You know it, I know it."
"Since when are you so bloodthirsty you'd encourage me to go after someone's head? David is my friend. He wasn't always like this, he just -- he needs too much. He should have help, someone like Sean." MacLeod almost choked as the words came out of his mouth, memories of cold-bloodedly killing his friend still vivid. He turned and took a deep breath before continuing. "I'm still angry about what he did. But he didn't order his men to shoot. They panicked and people got hurt." MacLeod had his guilty face in full operational mode. "I'm responsible, really. If I'd made him get help last year none of this would have happened."
"Okay, enough. Now you're ready to blame yourself for the all the ills of the world, past and present. Probably future, too." Methos hit a key and brought the computer screen back up. "Keogh is still in France."
MacLeod looked over his shoulder at the record on the screen. "*You* accessed the Watcher records? Weren't you just yelling at me for involving Joe?"
"I do know my way around a computer, MacLeod. As you might have remembered before you ran off to call Joe." Methos settled back into the desk chair and motioned MacLeod to look over his shoulder. "And unlike your Watcher, I'm not using an official password that they assigned me. I've worked out some back doors; nothing will be traced back to me or to Joe."
"So researchers don't have access to these files."
"But you have access." It came out sounding more accusatory than MacLeod intended, but he was tired and feeling defensive, so he cooly met Methos' eyes when he turned.
"Do you think I'm headhunting, MacLeod?" Methos' face was impassive but his voice was icy.
"I don't believe you just worked this out tonight for Gina's benefit."
"Just what the hell are you saying?" Methos slumped back in his chair, eyes tracking MacLeod's movements around the room. MacLeod was correct; Methos' database access had been in place for a long time, and was mostly used for tracking Duncan MacLeod to make sure he didn't face any old enemies unprepared. That was why Methos had been in Seacouver when Kristin found Richie.
"I'm saying.. Look, this is my problem. I don't want you involved in it. I'll find David, I'll help Robert find Gina."
"What? Why don't you want my help?" When MacLeod didn't answer, he continued, "You might find this hard to believe, Mac, but Gina and Robert are my friends too."
MacLeod laughed. "You hardly know them. They don't know you. Hell, I don't know you." Methos flinched at that comment, and though MacLeod looked guilty he continued speaking. "You told me you've been out of the Game for years, living like a mortal. I'd have expected you to *want* to go back to Paris and avoid this whole situation."
"I told you, someone has to watch your back. Though I'm beginning to rethink that..."
"Good. It shouldn't bother you to keep out of this situation. Unless you're lying to me and you're determined to kill David. I won't let you do that."
"Fuck you." Methos didn't know if he was more upset over MacLeod's lack of trust or his typical protector response, this attempt to push Methos away so he could solve the world's problems alone. As for trust... oh, hell, anything MacLeod was thinking wasn't far from wrong. Methos would do anything to survive, he admitted that to himself. And now he'd do anything to keep MacLeod alive, as well.
"There's an answer. At least then I won't be asking any questions, right?" As soon as the words were out of his mouth, MacLeod regretted them.
"I wanted to help." Methos continued in a totally emotionless voice. "I'm not anxious to take anyone's head and I don't make daily visits to the Watchers' information, whatever you think." *At least, not since I've had you in sight.*
Both men were silent for a few moments, red-faced and angry. All those weeks of carefully avoiding arguments had caught up with them. MacLeod moved to the window and Methos stared at the computer screen, which had again flicked over to the screen saver.
Finally, Methos forced himself to speak calmly. "The Watchers are neither stupid nor unconscious, MacLeod. Unless Joe is being a lot more careful than I think he is, you could be placing him in a great deal of trouble."
"I told you, I'm not hunting Keogh. I'd never put Joe in the position of interfering with the Game."
"He's not supposed to be talking to you at all, Duncan, let alone be your friend." The tension in the room had ebbed away, without either man apologizing.
"But he is my friend. He'd be offering to help me, even if I hadn't asked, just as soon as he heard what happened today."
"And what am I, MacLeod?" Methos was bone weary, but MacLeod didn't look much better. "Sorry, forget that. It's been a long day, it's too late to get into this. I'll see you in the morning." He tapped the keyboard and started shutting down the computer, wishing he could as easily shut down his heart. He was so engrossed in his thoughts that he jumped when MacLeod touched his shoulder.
"Methos, you're my friend, too. I'm sorry." They stayed in that position for a moment, frozen, just barely touching.
Then Methos rubbed his face against MacLeod's hand and sighed. "Do you want me to stay here tonight?" he whispered.
"Of course." MacLeod choked out.
"Then I'll stay. Do you want to be alone?"
"Then come along." The older immortal stood, his hand over MacLeod's where it still rested on his shoulder. He led MacLeod to the bedroom they'd shared all week, undressed him and then himself, and joined him under the covers. As he pulled MacLeod's body against his own, wrapping his arms around him and enjoying the warmth and comfort, Methos thought of Robert. He'd be alone in his room, wondering where Gina was and if she were safe. How awful would it be to sleep alone after 300 years?
MacLeod snuggled closer, burying his head on Methos' neck, and murmured "Poor Robert." Methos nodded.
Robert de Valicourt sat in the passenger seat of Pierson's Volvo as they drove toward Tours. He'd been so relieved that Gina was still in France that he never questioned where MacLeod's information came from. Of course, he knew Keogh didn't have Gina's passport, so leaving would have been awkward. But most immortals had multiple sources for phony paperwork, it had been entirely possible they'd already left the country.
He again blessed the day MacLeod had brought Pierson into their circle. First the man had helped save his marriage, and now his presence was such a comfort. Pierson drove competently, calmly -- no chitchat, and no unease in the silence. They were in the lead vehicle, and Pierson kept the pace steady. Fast enough, but not too fast. Nothing that would get them stopped while carrying swords. MacLeod occasionally got too close behind them, but Pierson kept him in check, too.
The plan they'd discussed with MacLeod was for Robert and Adam to find Gina while MacLeod spoke to his friend. His insane friend. But once they were alone, Adam had confided that he intended to watch MacLeod, that he didn't trust Keogh. Robert agreed, it was better that way. He didn't think the day would -- or could -- end peacefully. He was ready to challenge Keogh if he had to. Of course, knowing Angelina, he'd have to wait his turn.
Poor Gina would be furious over the disruption of their wedding, and frantic about their friends. She couldn't know how many had been killed, or who. Robert's greatest fear for her was that she'd let her anger and frustration push Keogh into harming her. He hoped she was playing along with the madman for now, waiting for her rescuers.
Robert's foot pushed harder against the floor of the car and Adam's mouth twitched as he contained a smile. He kept calmly driving them at the same steady pace.
They found Keogh's safehouse -- an abandoned farmhouse far from prying eyes. Robert and Methos hid their car near the highway, conferring with MacLeod about timing before they walked off to circle the property and quietly approach the house from the rear. Half an hour later, MacLeod drove straight to the front door to confront Keogh, who appeared in the doorway at the noise of the car's approach. Two mortals stood with him, their guns aimed at MacLeod.
"MacLeod. What do you want?"
"David. You don't need these men. I'm your friend." Keogh only laughed, and his men stayed in place. "Is Gina safe?"
"Of course. I'll always protect her. I won't let you or anyone else harm her."
"David, please. I've cared about Gina's happiness for centuries, I'd never hurt her. Or you. Please, can we talk?" Keogh nodded and gestured toward the fields behind the house. MacLeod moved and Keogh followed after him. Keogh's two men followed them both.
The farmhouse had a sprinkling of windows across the rear, but no one appeared to be guarding them. MacLeod's frontal approach distraction seemed to be working. Using a shed and other outbuildings for sporadic cover, Methos and Robert reached the back wall and carefully let themselves into a window that opened onto the pantry. Hands on their sword hilts, they carefully left the kitchen, reaching with their senses to feel if Keogh was still there and where Gina was being held.
The sound of the front door slamming and voices fading into the distance told them that MacLeod was leading Keogh away, and they quickly began to search the remainder of the first floor. She wasn't there, so they moved to the stairs leading to the second level. Silently creeping up, they felt the Presence at last and Robert smiled grimly. He was ready for a fight, at last.
They found two mortals guarding Gina's room and Robert quickly dispatched one while Pierson took out the other. Permanently. Neither man shared MacLeod's reverence for mortal lives when said mortals were cold-blooded killers. Then Pierson silently took leave, moving around to the front of the house to follow MacLeod and assure his safety.
Robert quickly searched the bodies, coming up with keys. He opened the door to the room, speaking softly. "Gina?" Then he felt his legs swept out from under him, and found himself flat on his back with a knee pressing on his throat.
"Robert? Mon dieu, Robert, cher, je suis idiot!" Gina quickly moved off him and pulled him up and into a fervent hug. "Etes vous endommage?" Robert smiled and closed his eyes, home at last, as Gina poured affectionate kisses over his face.
MacLeod followed Keogh to an empty field well away from the house, still with his mortal bodyguard escort. MacLeod's hands itched; he wanted these men to suffer for those they'd carelessly killed. Or at least to go to jail for the rest of their lives. But when he looked at David, he knew he couldn't blame him for all the grief he'd caused. David was sick and he needed help.
"David, if you'll just let Gina go, we can get away from here. I'll find someone who can help you." In spite of MacLeod's pleading, Keogh's face remained cold and hard.
"MacLeod, you've stood between me and happiness for the last time." Keogh drew his sword and MacLeod reluctantly put his hand on his own. Keogh motioned to his men and they fell back, but not far enough for MacLeod to relax.
"I don't want to fight you. That's not why I came here." He still didn't draw, hoping there was some way to reach his friend. "You know I only want the best for you, David. Better than hiding here with a gang of thieves. You deserve a real life. You shouldn't waste your days pining after a woman who doesn't love you."
"Liar!" Keogh lunged at him and MacLeod tried one last time as he dodged the blow.
"David, our fights aren't for witnesses!" Keogh didn't pause, so MacLeod drew his sword at last. The two henchmen were simply watching, not making any threatening movements, allowing MacLeod to give his full attention to Keogh. Their fight continued for a few minutes, David striking out and MacLeod defending himself without trying to hurt his friend. David's skills hadn't changed much since they'd fought last year, but MacLeod knew he couldn't avoid cutting him eventually. He really didn't want these mortals watching this. Nor did he trust them.
Then both combatants felt another presence, and they backed away from their fight to see who it was. Methos was at the perimeter, calmly disarming one of the mortal men. The other was already crumpled at his feet.
"Who the hell are you?" Keogh growled, nervously looking between MacLeod and the unknown man.
"Sorry to interfere, but it's not exactly a fair fight when there are guns pointed at one of the contestants." The man he'd disarmed had his hands up. Methos put an arm around the mortal's neck, then smashed the butt of the gun into his face. He then released the man and let him drop to the ground. Methos dropped the gun as well and stood over the two downed bodies, crossing his arms casually. "Please, continue. I'm fascinated."
Keogh again engaged MacLeod, but the fight was now over. Keogh seemed demoralized by having his manpower advantage gone. When MacLeod disarmed him a minute later, his blade flying away from him, Keogh sank down and began to cry.
"Just kill me. My life is meaningless. Everyone I've loved has left me, abandoned me. Poor sweet Jill, she couldn't love someone like me." Keogh sobbed and fell onto all fours. "I want to die, MacLeod. Go ahead."
Methos was not really surprised when MacLeod set his own sword aside and moved to comfort Keogh instead.
"David, we'll get you help. Anything you need." MacLeod put his arms around the other man, then his body stiffened and jerked at the same moment Methos heard the shot. MacLeod fell and Keogh dropped the gun he'd just fired to move for the katana. But Methos was there, his own sword out and at Keogh's neck by the time he'd crossed the ground between them.
"Pierson!" Robert's shout was welcome backup. The de Valicourts came crashing across the clearing as Methos forced Keogh to his knees.
"What has he done?" Gina ran to MacLeod and cried "Oh, thank God!" when she saw that his neck was still intact. Robert had followed her and they saw the gunshot wound.
"MacLeod will be fine, but his 'friend' didn't appreciate his kindly heart."
"You shot Mac?" Robert sounded outraged as he addressed Keogh. "He was your only friend here."
"Nothing to worry about now." Methos knew his voice and eyes were giving him away. Keogh looked scared enough to take his own head, and Methos feared both Gina and Robert would both realize that 'Adam Pierson' wasn't what he seemed. But he couldn't stop it; watching his lover threatened had brought Death out to play. "Robert, check those carcasses. One's dead, I knifed him. I'm not sure about the other; I tried to break his neck..."
"They're both dead," Robert confirmed. He moved back to Pierson's side carefully. "Unless you're planning to challenge him, I'd like the honor."
"No!" Gina moved toward them. "He abducted me, I have the right."
Methos laughed cooly. "You should have let MacLeod take your worthless head, Keogh. He wouldn't have made you suffer like the rest of us will." Keogh was shaking now, the sword at his neck breaking the skin and rivulets of blood moving slowly down his body.
"Please! I know..."
"Shut up! Robert, fetch his sword if you don't mind. We'll do this fairly, though I could just end all our misery right now." He forced Keogh flat on his belly, the edge of the sword digging in behind his ear. "Gina, love, I agree that you can have first crack at this coward. But if MacLeod revives, this will get messy. Can you retrieve my dagger?"
Gina nodded grimly and went to the mortal Methos had killed earlier. She pulled the elegant knife from the dead mortal's back. She handed it to Methos, who with a kick to Keogh's side handed off his sword to Gina, then moved swiftly to MacLeod's still-dead body. He plunged the knife between Mac's ribs swiftly and expertly, then looked up to see Robert and Gina calmly watching and waiting. He was relieved that neither one wanted to argue with him. They weren't quite as hidebound as he'd feared they might be. Then he thought of Amanda and smiled. Well, maybe none of Mac's friends were quite as honorable as the Scot himself.
"Keogh, we're going to give you more of a chance than you deserve. At least you'll have the honor of dying on your feet, fighting for your life." Robert handed the prone man his sword as he spoke, then passed his own blade to his wife. Gina smiled at her husband, handed Methos' broadsword back to him, and then approached Keogh.
"Now, you murdering coward, fight me."
It was over in a few minutes, and Robert didn't even feel any anxiety as he watched his wife's battle. She was very, very good. And Keogh was a mess. The previous fight with MacLeod had exhausted him, Pierson had terrorized him, and he didn't really seem that good in the first place.
With a quick flick of her wrist, Gina disarmed the man, then moved inside for a deadly stab. "I would make you suffer if I thought it could bring my friends back. But even your miserable death cannot do that." With a graceful and powerful swing, she cleanly beheaded her ex-lover and stood through his quickening without crying out.
When Robert moved to her after it was finished, Gina collapsed into his arms, sobbing.
Methos moved quickly to MacLeod's side and pulled out the weapon keeping him dead. As Gina was recovering and Robert was re-sheathing his blade, they heard MacLeod's first gasp for air. He sat up, dazed, but quickly pulled away from Methos' support when he realized what had happened. He stared at Keogh's dead body for a moment, then looked at the three people silently surrounding him with hurt, angry eyes.
"I thought you'd changed, but I see that you'd rather kill someone than try to help them. 'Problem solved,' Adam?"
Without another word MacLeod turned and left, and a few minutes later they heard his car start up and pull away. When the noise had faded, Methos handed a ring of keys to Robert.
"Can you go bring my car closer? Gina can rest here and I'll take care of the body."
Joe Dawson smiled as Methos entered the café and approached his table. "Adam. Nice to see you." He'd been surprised by the immortal's phone call, but was happy to meet him for lunch.
"Hi, Joe." Adam sat with him but remained unusually quiet. The waitress took his order for coffee, but her very flirtatious smile was not returned.
"Adam?" Not eating again. "You okay?"
"Joe, can I stay with you for a few days?"
"But aren't you staying at the barge with..." Joe stopped as he realized what was wrong. "I'm sorry, I didn't think. Mac told me about Keogh's death. Sure, you're welcome to stay with me."
"Thanks, Joe." Methos smiled at the Watcher. "He can't forgive me. I don't blame him. I'm responsible for his friend's death, a man I knew he wanted to spare. It's my fault he wasn't there to step in and save Keogh. Again."
"You were protecting him and his friends. Mac must understand that."
"Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod doesn't want my protection, Joe." Methos sipped from his mug. "Gina thanked me. In fact, she offered their house to me once MacLeod stormed off. They've left on their honeymoon. But how could I explain that? Being with MacLeod was dangerous enough. Now suddenly I'm living at the Chateau de Valicourt? We all know Adam Pierson can't afford to rent that place."
"Maybe the Watchers would believe you're a kept man?" Joe smirked at him, and Adam responded with a snort.
"Yeah, Adam Pierson leaves the Watchers to pursue a career as a pricey whore. Sorry, Joe, not in this century. No one would believe it."
"But in other centuries?" Joe couldn't resist.
"Snicker all you like, Joseph, but in some cultures I was considered the ideal of manly beauty." Methos' eyes became far away and he looked almost lost. "Not really a good thing."
"So, why were you staying with Mac if you knew it was dangerous to your cover?" Joe thought a change in subject was in order, before he learned something about Methos' past that he didn't want to know.
"Because it was wonderful, Joe. Stupid, but wonderful." Methos now looked dreamy in a completely different way, but Joe felt equally uncomfortable. "I knew it wouldn't last once Amanda came back to Paris, but still..."
"Adam, Mac cares for you."
"It's fine, Joe. Amanda is... Amanda. We all love her." His small grin was a shadow of the beautiful thief's sunny smile, but Joe was reminded of her nonetheless.
"Yeah. She's something." Joe sipped his coffee, thinking about all the depths to Amanda's character that had been revealed over the last year. "Tell me how you two first met."
Methos smiled at Joe. "Making me pay in advance for the bed?" He launched into a story that didn't conclude until they'd eaten dinner, listened to jazz at a club, and made their way home.
"So once Kafir was on his way with the paste copy of the jewel, happy as only a truly stupid immortal can be, I moved in with them again. I stayed for years, until Rebecca met her next husband. Then it was time to take off and let true love run its course."
"So you think mortal loves take precedence over immortal ones? Always?"
"Time is on our side, Joe. There's no time for jealousy when mortal lives are so short."
"But even immortals die."
"Yes." And Methos looked bleak again. "Trying to save their mortal lovers... Poor Rebecca. When I read that report... If MacLeod hadn't already killed Luther, I would have left the Watchers then, to hunt him."
"I'm exhausted." Dawson threw himself into a chair. "Is any of this in our chronicles?"
"Rebecca's chronicle mentions an immortal named Matthew of Anjou. And her time teaching Amanda is certainly recorded. Even Kafir's execution for stealing the imperial sapphire is in our records. But for the juicy bits..."
"Of course." Joe snickered, then became serious. He usually didn't use Methos' real name, but they were alone in his room. "Methos. Thanks for the story."
"One a night, Joe. I'll sing for my supper." Methos quipped, then paused as he saw Joe's face. He began to fold together blankets for his makeshift bed. "No, that's not true. Thank you, Joe Dawson. It's good to tell these stories, to remember the truth of my life. And it's very nice to just be myself with a friend." He met Dawson's startled eyes at last, then smiled and turned away, leaving the Watcher speechless.
In the week since Methos had moved in with Joe, they had developed a routine. Dawson made coffee in his tiny kitchenette each morning and tried to get Methos to eat something. Methos drank almost the entire pot of coffee by himself and only picked at his food.
This morning Joe plied him with slightly-stale croissants as he nagged him. "You've got to see MacLeod sometime, Adam, and it might as well be today. You need to get your things off the barge, at the least. I'm sick of that sweater."
"MacLeod didn't precisely tell me never to darken the door of the barge again, but I don't feel up to a challenge if I'm wrong." Methos shredded a croissant as he sat there, but he didn't really eat anything. For the last week he'd subsisted on coffee and beer, as far as Dawson could tell. "Gina told me that when Robert tried to talk to him, Mac practically bit his head off. If such an old friend gets that sort of treatment, what am I in for?"
"You're not a coward. Don't pretend with me."
"Well, you're right, I do have to go to the barge. I can't afford to replace everything I own again."
"Running to avoid other immortals does have a price sometimes. Hey, Joe, can you arrange to meet Mac for lunch so I'd have a chance to clear out?"
"Sure, I can do that." Dawson moved to his phone and dialed the barge number, oddly pleased when MacLeod sounded just as bad as Methos. He set up the meeting, then hung up the phone and drilled Methos with a look. "You owe me."
"Add it to my tab, Joe."
Dawson left at the same time Methos took off toward the barge, but he wasn't planning on eating lunch with MacLeod. He didn't see any reason why he should let these two continue such a stupid misunderstanding. Okay, he'd never been thrilled about their sexual relationship. It made him a little uncomfortable. But he'd seen the look in Methos' eyes, seen how happy he was with MacLeod. And frankly, during those weeks they'd been together Mac had looked happier than Dawson could remember since Tessa's death.
It was terrible that Keogh had to die, but MacLeod had judged other immortals worthy to die for similar crimes. He even seemed to have forgiven Robert and Gina their part in it. At least, when he'd told Dawson the story he hadn't said that he never wanted to see them again. Why was he being so stubborn about Methos? If he loved the older immortal, shouldn't it be easier to forgive him?
When MacLeod walked into the restaurant, he found Dawson sitting by the doors, not waiting at a table as he'd expected.
"Joe, is something wrong?"
"Yes. Methos is at your barge right now, getting his things. If you don't go there and talk to him, you might never see him again."
"So?" MacLeod tried to look unconcerned, but he couldn't meet Dawson's eyes.
"So I think you're going to regret it. C'mon, Mac, talk to him. Forgive him. He was only..."
"He knew better, Joe. He knew I wanted to help David, not to kill him. He didn't care. If he's so indifferent about killing, I don't see how we can be together. Even as friends."
"He watched Keogh shoot you and try to take your head! Would you have forgiven Keogh if he'd done that to Adam?" MacLeod didn't answer, but his face was thoughtful. "Oh, hell. I'm going home. If you have a brain in that hard head, you'll go talk to him." Dawson moved out the door, and MacLeod followed a few seconds later.
Dawson was stopped by the curb, talking to another man. MacLeod noticed the stranger had a Watcher tattoo when he shook hands with Dawson, so he paused, unwilling to approach anyone who might recognize him. It just seemed like a friendly meeting; Joe was smiling. But then the stranger pulled a gun on Dawson.
As MacLeod started moving toward them, a car pulled up next to them and the unknown man pushed Dawson inside. The stranger turned and looked straight at MacLeod, then climbed in the car as well. They took off and were gone even as MacLeod chased after them on foot. His car wasn't here; it was still parked at the barge. Damn.
The barge. Methos was there, and Methos was in the Watchers. MacLeod took off running for the quai.
Continued in Part 7
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