By Leoni Venter
Disclaimer and notes at the end.
Rated PG for mild violence
(1998 - Seacouver, USA)
Methos sighed, tilted the bottle to his mouth and swallowed another mouthful of beer. The beer wasn't at its best anymore, having gone slightly flat and more than slightly warm since his last attention to it. It was almost bad enough to discourage him from finishing the bottle. Almost. He needed the alcohol.
The stack of papers that he was grading did not seem to have shrunk significantly since he'd last checked. Hours of careful squinting to make out his students' handwriting had left him with sore eyes, a malady he did not think was possible given his Immortal physiology.
He was experiencing other symptoms. His hand was cramping from clutching that wretched red pen, his back and neck muscles seemed frozen into the hunched position needed to fit his desk and he was paler than usual, due to the lack of sunlight from working indoors for days.
In short, he was thoroughly sick of grading papers. And this wasn't a condition the world's oldest Immortal enjoyed, so he laid down the pen with a decisive thump, pushed back his chair and staggered upright with little of his customary grace.
Outside. He needed to get out and do something fun. Hell, even a Challenge would be better than the torture of grading another paper. At least then he'd get some exercise.
Donning his coat and sword, Methos left his apartment and stalked into the streets of Seacouver in search of adventure or at least a decent conversation. He knew he'd eventually end up at Joe's but before that he wanted to see if there was anything else of interest that he might have missed after last year's finals.
In a side street he came across a small art gallery holding an exhibit of antiques and other oddments. Methos slipped inside to see if any of his long-lost belongings might have made their way there. To his disappointment it was just a bunch of other people's old stuff.
As he rounded a corner he heard running footsteps. Nimble reflexes enabled him to leap out of the way as a young woman carrying a rusty sword barrelled past him. Following her closely were two Neanderthal throwbacks who could only be described as brutes or possibly, thugs.
Methos, not widely known as a selfless hero and rescuer of damsels in distress, nonetheless stepped in their way.
"Good day, gentlemen," he greeted politely.
Brute number 1 reached out to push the unexpected interruption out of the way; an action that certainly would have flattened Methos against the wall had it succeeded.
Instead, the slender Immortal lightly stepped out of reach. As Brute #1 lost his balance as he overreached himself, Methos happily kicked his legs from under him and whacked him on the back of his head with the flat of his Ivanhoe, which had appeared from nowhere in the last second or so. Brute #1 went down with a grunt and stayed down.
Brute #2 turned back to help his friend and found himself facing a gleaming sword with a sardonically grinning madman behind it. Brute #2 was not endowed with amazing powers of observation or reasoning but even he could tell that he was going to regret it if he stayed there much longer.
He hesitated, looking at his fallen friend, but the sword showed signs of moving towards him. Suddenly deciding that discretion was the better part of valour, he turned and ran. Methos laughed, stowing his sword before looking to see where the woman had gone.
She stood a few paces away, watching him warily. Methos could see that she was uncertain of his intentions. Slipping further into his harmless grad student persona, he smiled disarmingly.
"Are you all right?" he asked.
She started, like a trapped animal, and then she shook her head slightly as if to clear it, and relaxed.
"Yes, I am," she said, her voice low and controlled with no hint of hysteria. "Thank you for helping me."
Methos smiled. "Can't have brutes like these chasing young ladies in this day and age." He considered Brute #1, still out on the floor. "Do you want to call the police?"
"I think I'd better," she replied. "They tried to rob me."
"Is this your place?" he asked, a bit surprised.
"Yes, I'm Mary van Steen", she introduced herself, gesturing towards the entrance where the name "Van Steen's Art" could be seen.
"Adam Pierson," he said in turn, noticing again the sword she held in her hand. "What's with the sword?"
She glanced at it, then at him. "I thought I'd be asking you that," she said evasively. "This sword is part of my exhibit, they tried to take it." She pointed at Brute #1, who was showing signs of life. "What do we do with him?"
"Got any rope?" Methos grinned.
* * *
Some hours later, Brute #1 safely in the care of the Seacouver PD, he helped her lock up the gallery. She'd given a statement to the police, never mentioning any swords, not hers and not his. Methos kept quiet and when asked, merely said he'd felled the man with a karate move. Brute #1 never had a chance to see his sword, anyway.
Her silence on the subject intrigued him, as did the fact that the Brutes tried to steal that old rusty sword. Figuring that it would be better to be direct, he wasted no time once she'd stowed the keys in her bag.
"So, Mary. Are you going to tell me about the sword? Say, over a drink?" He watched as she tried to think up an excuse but failed.
"I guess I owe you an explanation," she sighed. "But you're going to explain some things to me, too."
"I'll try," he agreed, hoping he could think up a convincing story. "Shall we go? I know a great place..."
"Oh, which place?"
"It's called Joe's."
* * *
Joe's Bar in Seacouver had a good reputation for being a nice place. All sorts of people found friends, light, laughter and music there. Those who came just for the alcohol didn't stay as long and seldom became regulars. The atmosphere of the place just encouraged friendly conversation.
"Come and meet a friend of mine, first," Methos told Mary when they'd entered and were looking for an open table. He led the way to the bar, where Joe had his hands full even with the help of his assistant, Mike.
They patiently waited and after a while the bartender finally noticed them.
Methos grinned. "Mary, I'd like you to meet a very dear friend of mine. Joe, this is Mary van Steen. She owns an art gallery a few blocks from here."
Joe, whose eyebrows had risen at the "very dear friend" bit, extended a hand. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Mary."
She smiled. "Nice to meet you too, Joe. You've got a really great place here." She turned to look around the room, while Joe dropped the hand he'd been holding out, somewhat nonplussed.
"Thanks," he said. "What can I get you folks?"
She turned to Methos. "Would you think it strange if I wanted a beer?"
Methos stared at her, entranced. "Dear lady, beer is man's greatest invention. You are most welcome to have some. In fact, I think I'll join you. Joe, a beer for the lady and a crate of my usual for me..."
"I should have known," Joe muttered, but he smiled as he poured the beer for Mary. "There you go."
"Thanks Joe," Mary said, lifting the glass and taking a sip. "Ahhh."
"I think I'm in love," Methos told Joe as the Watcher gave him a bottle. "See you later."
They found a table in a corner and settled down with their yeasty comfort.
"Can I have my story now?" Methos asked. "Why did they want that old sword?"
Mary stared at him for a moment. "I don't know why they wanted it. They just burst in there and told me to keep quiet, then walked to the display case and broke the glass. When they took it out I just got angry, grabbed it from the one you caught, and ran out. You know the rest of the story."
Methos looked at her incredulously. "You grabbed it and ran. They could have killed you for that rusty old sword. Why risk your life for it?"
"It belonged to my great grandfather," she said. "I didn't want to lose it."
"Tell me about it," Methos prompted, curious.
"Well, my great grandfather, James Shelton, went to South Africa to find his fortune when he was 18. That was in 1898." She sipped her beer. "Of course, he'd not been there long before the war broke out. He joined the army and was stationed in the Eastern Cape."
Methos smiled. "A patriot."
"Not really. He was wounded in an ambush and ended up on a rebel farmstead where he then proceeded to fall in love with the daughter of the house." She laughed. "He spent the rest of the war helping the rebels and eventually married her."
"And the sword's been an heirloom ever since?" Methos wondered.
"That's the interesting part of the story," she said. "When he was recuperating on the farm he gave his sword to an English doctor who was aiding the rebels. Apparently the doctor was killed not long after and the sword was lost in the veldt."
"How did you get it back?"
"A farmer's children found it years later, and he stuck it into a beam of his barn to keep them from hurting themselves. It stayed there for about eighty years before someone I know bought and sent it over."
"That's really amazing," Methos marvelled. "But what I still don't get is why those goons wanted it."
She looked troubled. "I'm not sure I know. There are some things I need to look into first... you said you'd tell me why you carry a sword." She looked at him expectantly.
Methos laughed. "Oh, I belong to one of those historical re-enactment societies. We had a meeting this morning so I still had the sword with me..." He knew it wasn't really a good explanation but it usually almost worked.
"Really?" She looked sceptical.
"Yeah! Joe's in it too!" Methos hedged, as he noticed the Watcher coming over. "Joe! Tell Mary a bit about our re-enactment group while I go see a man about a horse," Methos made his escape as the confused bartender found himself on the spot.
* * *
When Joe closed the bar they said goodnight and Methos walked her home. They stood on the sidewalk on front of her apartment building as she said formally: "Thank you Adam Pierson, for helping me today and for this evening. I had a lovely time."
"It was my pleasure," he assured her. "You'll come say 'hello' now and then at Joe's?"
"I guarantee it," she smiled. "Goodnight, Adam." She turned and skipped away, vanishing into the building.
"Goodnight Mary," he whispered as he turned to go. She reminded him very much of her great grandfather.
Methos went home well pleased with how the day had turned out. A brave lady, a quick but satisfying violent encounter and a fascinating story he felt he knew very well indeed, topped off with beer at Joe's.
The stack of papers towering reproachfully on his desk did little to lessen his good mood as he went to sleep.
* * *
(1898 - Graaff Reinet, South Africa)
Doctor Martin Brent drew his horse cart to a stop outside the small building in Graaff Reinet that served as his house and office. His practice wasn't large but covered an extensive area of surrounding farmsteads, and he often had to drive out to some remote farmhouse to treat someone too ill to travel to town.
He'd been in Southern Africa little more than a year, leaving behind upper class parties and Byron's strange company for a return to a simpler life. That, and to get a respite from the annoyingly high concentration of Immortals that one found in England.
Here in Southern Africa he'd not come across a single Immortal yet, not even a pre-Immortal. It did wonders for his nerves, and the country was wide and free and much less restricting than Holy Ground. And that meant a lot to Methos.
As he unhitched the horse, he reflected on the differences between the townspeople and the farmers. Although small and rough compared to Cape Town - itself but a backwater town compared to cities in Europe - Graaff Reinet was still a tiny hamlet of civilization in very wild country. The townspeople were for the most part British settlers and people who'd moved there for various reasons, like himself. They regarded the farmers of Dutch extraction as barely civilized.
He had to admit, the farmers, or "Boere", were chiselling out their livelihood from rough country. Living conditions were hard, but among these people he'd found a steady courage that he could not help but admire. And from what he'd heard, the farmers across the great river in the two republics had it even worse. Rather than live under the British flag, those people had chosen to travel north into unexplored regions to retain their independence.
Of course, in the Transvaal the lure of gold had very quickly turned a worthless farming state into a thriving mining economy. Not worthless anymore, it was fast becoming something that Great Britain would have to own.
From what he'd seen of the farmers here, Methos didn't think their cousins in the Transvaal would allow that without a fight. He only hoped not to get caught in the crossfire when the inevitable war broke out.
Along with every one else in the Cape Colony he kept an uneasy ear to the rumour mill. It was said that Cecil John Rhodes had plans for Transvaal. Methos wondered what would change in the Cape should those plans be put in motion.
In 1899 war did break out, and the people in the Cape learned the consequences. It was declared that anyone caught aiding the enemy would be tried for treason against the Crown. The Dutch farmers were viewed with suspicion by the townspeople, as "the enemy" very often turned out to be family of people still living in the Cape.
Inevitably, groups of "Rebel Dutch" formed commandos and harassed British troops in the Cape, or crossed the border to fight in Natal or the Free State. Methos, in his capacity of doctor, occasionally had to treat wounded British soldiers. Although Graaff Reinet was far to the south of the border there was still a lot of military activity going on in the area.
Late one night he woke to footsteps outside his window. A man was sneaking around his house to the back door. Methos grinned humourlessly as he took his wicked hunting knife and awaited the man at the door.
To his surprise the man knocked quietly, so he must not have been planning a burglary after all. Methos opened the door, laughing softly as the man jumped back.
"I imagine if you knock on my door you'd expect to find me," Methos told him. "Can I help you?"
"Can you come, Doctor? My mother is ill." The young man spoke in hushed but urgent tones. "She came down with a fever this morning and we can't break it."
"I'll be right back," Methos promised as he left to dress. While lacing up his boots, he called through the open door. "I know you, don't I?"
"Yes, Doctor. You treated my little brother for a broken arm last year," the man said. "I'm Jan Steyn."
Methos remembered the incident. The boy had been thrown from a horse and had broken his arm badly. Methos had set the bone and checked up on him a few times.
"Let's go," he said as he took his bag. "I'll just saddle my horse."
When they got to the stable a shadowy form appeared, nearly giving Methos a heart attack.
"DON'T do that again," he said when he could speak again.
"Jammer oom," the youth leading his saddled horse said. (Sorry sir.)
Methos knew enough Dutch to have easily picked up Afrikaans when he moved here. Although he didn't speak it, he understood it well enough.
Then they were on the horses and rushing through the night.
Two hours of hard riding later they brought the horses to a lathered stop. Methos slid off, gave the reigns to the youth and followed Jan into the house.
The moment he stepped inside he knew something was wrong but by then the door had been shut behind him and armed men blocked all the exits.
"What's this?" he asked, although it was becoming clear as he took in the scene before him. Unconscious on a bed lay a wounded man, blood-soaked bandages everywhere.
A man wearing bandoleers and hat stepped up to him. "We need your help, Doctor." He pointed to the man on the bed. "I don't think he'll last much longer."
With an inward sigh Methos started rolling up his sleeves. "Get me some hot water."
He knew that in helping them at all, he'd be seen as a traitor to the Crown. But then Methos wasn't British, even if Martin Brent was. And the wounded man didn't have the time it would take to find a Boer doctor.
The water arrived and Methos set to work to stop the bleeding.
By morning Methos began to feel hopeful that his patient would survive. The man had been bleeding from several gunshot wounds and suffered from exposure and exhaustion. Methos had gotten the bleeding stopped and had dressed the wounds.
As dawn broke he found the man who'd greeted him sitting on the "stoep", watching the sunrise. Methos sat down tiredly on a step and considered the man.
Of average build, he nevertheless had an indefinable edge to him that marked him as a seasoned warrior. Penetrating blue eyes deeply set in the tanned face missed little, even as he relaxed, puffing on his pipe. Across his knee his felt hat lay, it's brim bent upwards on one side, the trademark of the Boer scouts.
Methos felt it was high time he officially met the man. "Good morning," he said. "I'm Martin Brent."
"I know," the man smiled. "Danie Kemper." He tilted his head towards the inside of the house. "Will he live?"
Methos shrugged slightly. "It's really too soon to tell. If he makes it through today, ask me again."
Kemper nodded in acceptance. "So, Doctor Brent. What will you do now?" He asked the question quietly and straightforward, acknowledging the many choices Methos now could make.
Methos answered him honestly. "You brought me here under false pretences. And you're rebels, so by rights I should go back to town and report you." He saw Kemper stiffen at this. "But," he continued. "I am a doctor, and I do understand you had no choice but to get me." He smiled. "Also, for the next few days at least, I will have to keep an eye on my patient there, so I won't be going back to town soon."
Kemper frowned. "You're not going to report us?"
"Why not? You're an Englishman."
"You may not believe this, but I hold no particular loyalty towards the British crown," Methos told him. "I studied in England, it's true, but I'm not from there originally. I travelled a lot."
Methos knew that Kemper and his men would probably not trust him any time soon, but they did need him, which made for a possible alliance. He watched as Kemper thought it through and saw him come to the same conclusion.
Kemper nodded. "My thanks then, Doctor. I appreciate your help." He stood up and stretched. "Another day begins. Join me for coffee?"
Methos accepted gratefully.
(1998 - Seacouver, USA)
Nine o'clock on a Saturday, the crowd in Joe's bar was jolly. A surprisingly good band was just finishing up their first set and the mellow blues had many a body swaying to the rhythm.
Joe, at the bar, kept his hands busy serving drinks and mopping the counter, while he listened to the music. A part of him was aware that the Immortal draped over a stool on the other side of the bar was telling a long and complicated tale, but Joe had long since tuned out.
The band finished the last song to prolonged applause, and a flurry of orders kept Joe busy for a few minutes. Finally, as the Immortal drew his tale to a close, Joe tuned back in.
"... And if I hadn't thrown the key into the lava, Microsoft would not now be the power that it is. So I figure Bill Gates owes me his fortune and can spare me some of it, which I can then use to pay my bar tab! How's that?"
"Huh?" Joe asked, confused.
"Oh never mind," Methos snapped. "Nobody ever listens to me."
"You've one fan at least," Joe remarked as he noticed a familiar face making her way to the bar.
"Just one?" Methos whined, turning around to greet his fan club. He brightened considerably. "Mary! How nice to see you!"
"Evening Joe, hi Adam," she greeted with a smile. "Joe, that was a great band. Do they play here often?"
"I try to get them here at least once a month," Joe replied. "But as they're getting more popular, it's getting harder to book them."
"That's a pity," she said. "I was seriously considering becoming their groupie."
Methos glowered at Joe. "I thought you said she was my fan!"
"Sorry buddy," Joe grinned remorselessly. "I'm a bartender, not a psychic."
"So true," Mary laughed. "Joe, you'd better let me and Adam have a beer before Adam brings the mood down in the place."
"So much wisdom for one so young," Methos confided to Joe as the bartender served the drinks.
Mary merely smiled and sipped her beer. Then she turned a bright smile on Methos. "Adam, I did actually want to talk to you too... if you could organise a more quiet spot..."
Methos gave Joe an inquiring glance.
"Sure, use my office," Joe agreed.
"Thanks," Methos said, leading the way.
"What's up?" Methos asked when they were in Joe's tiny office.
"I've been asking around a bit," Mary started. "And apparently there's a huge black market demand for antique swords in any condition. The guy I talked to said that there are gangs of petty thieves making the rounds. We must have caught one of those."
"Any idea who's behind it all?" Methos wondered.
"There is always a demand for collectables," she explained. "I could probably come up with a few names of people who exclusively collect swords..." she trailed off.
"What?" Methos asked.
"There's one guy I know about... he's reputed to have the largest collection of swords, of the widest variety. And I've heard that he's not above violent means to get what he wants. It's rumored that he's important in the Chinese Triad houses." She frowned. "I'm trying to remember his name... Xiao Li ..."
"Wang," Methos finished for her. "I've heard of him," he explained as she stared at him in astonishment.
"What do you do, exactly?" she wanted to know.
He laughed. "I teach linguistics at U of Seacouver, but," he continued. "I have a friend who used to be an antiques dealer."
"Who?" she asked. "Maybe I know him."
"Duncan MacLeod," Methos answered. "If you hang around here at Joe's you're bound to meet him sooner or later. He's running a martial arts dojo nowadays."
Mary shook her head. "Don't know him yet. So, do you think Wang may be the one?"
"I wouldn't think so," Methos pondered. "He's pretty well known. Would he welcome the scrutiny that a series of thefts will generate? I'd rather think it's someone in the shadows, that no-one would suspect."
"Mm, you have a point there," she conceded. "Anyway, I'm hoping to have seen the last of this little crime drama. I've removed all the swords from my gallery so there's nothing they'd want."
"Let's hope they don't come after you personally to find out where you've stored the swords," Methos cautioned. "I wouldn't mind rescuing you again but just suppose I'm not around?"
"Then you'd better stick around," she smiled. "For example, right now you can protect me as I walk to my car."
"You're leaving? Now?" he asked, pretending to be hurt.
She sighed regretfully. "I'm afraid so. I promised my dad I'd visit him tonight before I went home."
"Very well, my lady," Methos formally extended a hand to help her rise. "Let me escort you to your chariot."
She ignored his hand and stood up, took a step and tripped over the edge of the rug on the floor. Methos grabbed her arm to steady her and was completely unprepared for her reaction. She staggered under his touch, and gasped one word: "You!" before she crumpled to the floor, unconscious.
Methos experienced a sinking feeling. "Oops," he muttered. He really should have known, but he could think on this later. He carefully picked Mary up and deposited her back on the couch. Then he went to fetch Joe.
Methos and Joe sat waiting in Joe's office, watching Mary slowly regain consciousness.
"What's the matter with her?" Joe asked, concerned.
"I think that when I touched her she sensed what I am," Methos said. "Some sort of psychic ability. Have you noticed how she avoided shaking hands?"
"Yeah, I did," Joe nodded. "But how do you know what she sensed?"
"Because," Methos said slowly. "Her great grandfather could do the very same thing."
(A rebel farmstead, Eastern Cape, 1899)
After three days Methos informed Field Cornet Kemper that he could move his patient if necessary.
Kemper was dubious. "Wouldn't it be better to keep him quiet?"
"Oh, certainly," Methos agreed. "But he should survive if you needed to leave here in a hurry."
"We'll wait a few days longer," Kemper decided.
Between Methos and Kemper had developed a reserved but definite friendship. They understood each other. Both men responded well to honesty, and by not beating about the bush, they knew where they stood. Methos was still the English doctor, Kemper the Boer scout, but at least until circumstances proved them wrong, each was willing to trust the other.
A shout drew their attention, and they both went outside as a single rider galloped up to the house and dismounted hastily. Kemper went to him and shortly after gave a number of orders to his men, who started saddling their horses.
Kemper came back to Methos. "There's a patrol headed this way."
Methos nodded. "I'll go get my patient."
"No," Kemper stopped him. "We will try to lead them off. Stay here with him. If we succeed we'll be back later, but if we're not back by sunset, you must move and hide him." He spoke urgently. "Doctor, they must not capture him. He was born in the Cape, they will execute him."
"What about you?" Methos asked.
"I'm from the Free State," Kemper replied. "Wish us luck."
"Good luck," Methos said. "I'd rather not flee across country by myself."
Kemper nodded and turned away abruptly, leaving Methos alone with his patient, a young man named Johan. Of the farmer's wife and younger children he'd seen nothing and he assumed that they'd gone to stay on another farm to keep out of harm's way.
Later that afternoon he heard the sound of gunfire from far away and wondered which way the battle was going. He'd rather not have them fight at all but found his sympathy still lay with his Boer friends. He hoped they were all right.
Close to sunset Methos worriedly peered through the window at the sound of approaching riders. With relief he recognized Kemper and his men. They were leading several riderless horses, one of which had a body slung sideways over the saddle. Methos couldn't make out who the injured or dead man was, but it looked to him as if all Kemper's men were present, so the other horses must have belonged to the British patrol.
The weary men dismounted and carried the injured man inside. A young soldier, Methos noted as he started to bind the wounds. The man was unconscious, probably from shock, since his wounds weren't severe, and in due course he stirred and moaned. Methos had some morphine but hoped to save it if possible.
So he smoothed the hair from the young man's face. "Shh, you're all right," he told him.
The young man's eyes flew open and regarded him with complete astonishment for a long moment before he passed out again. Since sleep was the best cure Methos left him to it.
He turned around to find Kemper silently watching him. The scout was grimy with dust off the trail and had a nasty scratch across his left cheek where a branch or something must have caught him.
"Let me look at that," Methos instructed and Kemper meekly sat down for him to reach easily. "So what happened?" Methos asked as he cleaned the scratch.
Kemper sighed. "Their commanding officer was an idiot. I wanted to lead them away from here and then disappear, but he had them dig in and hold position the moment they spotted us. So we had to go back and pick them off one by one. The boy was the only survivor."
Methos shook his head at the folly of it all. "I don't think I'll ever understand war."
"Me too, doctor," Kemper said softly. "Me too."
Methos woke in the night to find the soldier watching him. He stood up stiffly from the chair where he'd dozed and went over.
"How are you feeling?" he asked quietly.
"I've felt better," the man said with a rueful smile. "Who are you?"
"I'm Martin Brent," Methos introduced himself.
"Jimmy Shelton," the young man said. "Excuse me if I don't shake hands, but you're a little overwhelming."
"What are you talking about?" Methos asked, confused.
"You've so much history," Jimmy said. "How did you ever survive for so long?"
Methos shook his head. This was surreal, there was no way the man could possibly mean what he thought he did.
"Wait a minute," he stalled. "What do you mean?"
Jimmy sighed. "I have a ... talent, I suppose," he explained. "Ever since I can remember I could tell what's happened to something when I touched it." He looked meaningfully at Methos. "And you're by far the oldest thing I've touched, not counting rocks."
"Nonsense," Methos scoffed, unconvincingly. "You must have hurt your head..."
"So, do I call you Methos, or will Doctor Brent do?" Jimmy asked with a sly smile.
"Oh, this is strange," Methos muttered, wondering if he weren't perhaps sleeping and dreaming the whole thing. Best just to go with the flow and see what happened.
"I'd prefer Dr. Brent," he acknowledged. "Look, it's late, you're injured, and I'm tired. Why don't we talk in the morning when I'm more awake?"
"Sure, doc," Jimmy agreed cheerfully.
Methos sat awake for a while, pondering this development. He'd come across mortals with psychic abilities before, but never one that could do what this young man did.
* * *
(1998 - Seacouver, USA)
Joe listened to the tale with amazement. He shook his head slowly when Methos finished. "I'll be..."
"Mm," Methos agreed. He checked on Mary who seemed to be just sleeping by now.
"So, how did the 'talent' work?" Joe wondered.
"Well, Jimmy told me later that when he touched someone or something he experienced a series of sped-up scenes comprising the history of the person or object. Sort of a time-lapse of events and impressions," Methos explained. "I quizzed him on my life and although he couldn't get the small details correct he knew all the highlights." He looked down. "And the low points too, of course."
"I bet that was overwhelming," Joe said.
"I'd say so," Methos nodded. "Jimmy was a great guy, though. He said he could see that I've changed and wouldn't hold my past against me. He also remarked that I seemed a lot nicer than the other Immortal he'd met."
"Another Immortal?" Joe exploded. "Who was it?"
"His commanding officer, a Captain Sutherland," Methos replied. "I don't know how old he was and I've never come across him again, but then I try to keep a low profile, as you know."
"You fought him?"
"I didn't have much choice," Methos said, shrugging.
"Tell boy, tell," Joe grinned.
* * *
(Rebel Farm, Eastern Cape 1899)
"We're leaving this afternoon," Kemper told Methos one morning. "Johan is ready to ride?"
"I'm sure he is," Methos affirmed. "What are your plans?"
"Now doctor, unless you were coming with us, I could hardly tell you that," Kemper said, eyeing him cunningly.
Methos smiled. "I did play around with the notion, you know. If I stay, young Jimmy will report my treasonable actions and life could become complicated. And I'm sure you could use a doctor, couldn't you?"
"We could," Kemper agreed. "But what do I do with Jimmy? I can't leave him here; the farmer would be in danger. And if we take him along, we'll still be stuck with him."
Methos grinned. "You should have shot him."
"I'm joking," he smiled. "Why don't you take him from here and leave him somewhere where he'd be looked after, with people who wouldn't be suspect."
Kemper nodded slowly. "I think I know someone who'd do that. Thanks doctor."
"I'll go ready my two patients then," Methos said. "We'll talk about your plans after we delivered Jimmy."
"We'll do that," Kemper agreed.
Five days later, after carefully avoiding towns and British patrols, Kemper's commando dropped Jimmy Shelton off at the house of one Jacobus du Toit, a respected farmer who'd always been a loyal British subject, at least on the surface.
As arranged by Kemper's messenger, who'd gone ahead to brief him, Du Toit acted as if he didn't know them, and said that although he would rather have nothing to do with them, of course it was his duty to take care of the wounded British soldier.
Methos saw Jimmy installed in a nice room where two smiling girls started fussing over him immediately. Shooing them out as his doctors' prerogative, Methos had a last word with the young man.
"Don't tell anyone my secret, will you?"
Jimmy smiled. "I won't." He pointed to his pack lying in a corner. "Doc, take my sword with you. I'm not going to use it here but you might need it if you come across Sutherland."
"I'm not planning on fighting anyone," Methos averred.
"What if you don't have a choice?" Jimmy asked. "I'll feel a lot better knowing you're armed."
"Oh, very well," Methos gave in. "Thanks."
He found the cavalry sword, and turned to leave. "I'll see you around, kid."
"Be careful," he heard Jimmy's voice as he walked down the hall.
Methos rejoined Kemper and his men outside to embark on a new life of high adventure as a member of the highly mobile Boer scouts.
* * *
A month of high adventure made him wonder how he'd survived so far. Long marches, cold nights and little comfort brought back vivid memories of earlier ages, although he used to live in more comfort during his Horseman days.
One sunny day they rode unsuspecting into a British ambush. One moment Methos was almost dozing to the clip-clop of hooves, the next he and everyone else were rolling in the dust looking for cover as bullets flew amongst them.
He'd just found shelter of some sort behind a large anthill and was risking a look around when the Presence of another Immortal struck him.
Methos swore softly. Here would be the nasty Sutherland, then. The man who'd had his whole patrol killed by Kemper's men. Methos began to actively worry about his Boer friends because he didn't think Sutherland planned to take prisoners.
He heard cries of pain as bullets connected to flesh. He hated being so helpless so he groped for the sword and went looking for Sutherland. If he could take out the Immortal, perhaps there was a chance for the scouts.
Leopard crawling through sand and rocks seasoned with a liberal sprinkling of thorns, only a split-second premonition saved him when the Immortal jumped down onto him from a rock. Methos rolled and came to his feet with his sword held ready and had his first look at his adversary.
Sutherland was tall, slender, very blonde and utterly ruthless. The look on his face as he accosted Methos was savage anticipation.
"I am Max Sutherland," he declared. "I never thought to find myself a Quickening here!"
"You haven't," Methos responded dryly. "Too many witnesses, you know."
"I don't care!" Sutherland snarled. "Fight! There can be only one!"
"Blah blah blah," Methos drawled as he parried Sutherland's first savage blow. Then he tuned out everything but this battle as he found himself being attacked mercilessly. He was slowly gaining an advantage as Sutherland tired and was beginning to think he'd win when a bullet from nowhere hit his leg and shattered his thigh.
Methos dropped like a bag of rocks and was just about to moan in pain when Sutherland's sword pierced his lung.
Things couldn't get much worse, he thought vaguely as Sutherland raised his sword to deliver that final blow. He watched with detached interest as the sword came down in slow motion and then Sutherland developed a bullet hole in his forehead. The sword clattered down and Sutherland followed a moment later.
Then someone was hauling him by an arm into shelter behind a rock ridge, and he blinked sweat and dust from his eyes to recognize Kemper.
"Fall back! Fall back!" Kemper shouted above the din of shots, and those of his men that could, jumped their horses and set off in all-out flight. Kemper turned back to see what he could do for the doctor.
Methos was already healing. His fractured thighbone had reset itself and the wound was closing. So was the puncture in his lung through which his breath had been rattling but a moment ago. He watched ruefully as Kemper stared at him in astonishment.
"We'd better get out of here," Methos struggled to his feet and grabbed the transfixed Kemper by an arm. "Come on! I don't want to be around when he wakes up!"
Kemper resisted. "I shot him!"
"He's like me! Come on!" Methos whistled for his horse and to his astonishment the beast actually came. He managed to catch a bridle and was mounting when Kemper finally seemed to get over his shock. He scrambled on behind Methos and, riding double, they were off.
Later, they were picking their way carefully up a rocky incline to a vantage point Kemper said he could use to find his men.
Methos broke a long silence. "What are you thinking?"
"I'm thinking I'm not sure I want to know what happened," Kemper said. "But I'll always wonder, won't I?"
"I could explain," Methos suggested.
Kemper shook his head. "No, I am sure I don't want to know." He frowned. "What will you do now? Half my men saw you get skewered by that blade."
"I died in that ambush," Methos told him gently. "I think I'll go to America next."
Kemper nodded slowly. "I understand."
On top of the ridge, Kemper quickly pinpointed his men. "They're over there."
"You'll be able to reach them?"
"I'll signal them," Kemper flashed a little mirror, then looked down. "You'd better go."
Methos felt a pang of regret for this friend he'd lost already. Kemper was a simple man in difficult times and Methos couldn't blame him for his awkwardness.
"Thank you for saving my life," he said, waiting until Kemper met his gaze before extending his hand.
Kemper grasped it. "Go safe, Doctor."
"You too, my friend," Methos replied. "I'm sorry I can't stay to help you." He turned abruptly and descended the ridge to where they'd left the horse.
Over the next week or so he made his way back to the coast, talked his way onto a ship and went back to England.
Not long after that he set sail to America, where a new life of high adventure awaited him.
* * *
(1998 - Seacouver, USA)
As Methos drew his tale to a close, Mary stirred and opened her eyes. Methos was at her side in an instant, only to stop in his tracks as she drew back in fear.
"Don't touch me!"
He stepped back immediately. "I won't, I promise."
She drew her knees up to her chin and sat rocking back and forth on the couch, looking so vulnerable that Methos inwardly cursed this imposed distance.
He looked imploringly at Joe. "Can't you do something?"
Joe grimaced. "It would be just as bad for her to touch me." He motioned towards his legs.
Methos had to concede the point. For Mary to experience Joe's agony of losing his legs would be terrible. He'd never in his life felt quite so helpless.
"I'll get her some coffee," Methos decided, but Joe intercepted him.
"I will. You stay here." The bartender left, leaving Methos once again with no clear idea as how to proceed.
He sat down on the floor next to the couch. "Mary, is there anything I can do for you?"
She drew a shuddering breath. "I'll be okay. Just give me some time... Adam."
So Methos quietly sat on the floor as Joe brought her coffee, and waited patiently until she finally started to relax and even uncurled herself off the couch to go to the bathroom.
When she got back she looked much better. Well enough, in fact, that Methos had the impression he'd be explaining a lot of things in detail before the night was over.
She sat down. "So, Adam. How does this Immortality of yours work?"
* * *
"What I don't understand," Methos said two days later at the art gallery. "Is how you can work with antiques without trouble." He cast his glance over exhibits of Stone Age implements, suits of armor and assorted medieval weaponry. "Surely a weapon's history would be one bloodbath after the other?"
Mary smiled at him from behind her desk. "Looking to ease your conscience?"
"Well, no..." Methos stuttered.
"Sorry," she grinned, then sobered. "It's never been as bad with objects. I experience flashes of what happened to things like watching a movie without sound. It doesn't touch me." She frowned. "But with people I feel everything they went through. I live their lives in a few split seconds, and some people's had horrible lives." She gave him a meaningful look.
"You're an empath, too!" Methos said, appalled for her sake.
"Maybe I'm Betazoid," she smiled to relieve the tension.
"You've never watched Star Trek?" she said incredulously.
"I did. Captain Kirk was cool," Methos said defensively. "I did not watch those new-fangled spin-offs."
"The things you're missing," she sighed.
"I'll survive without them," he grumbled, and smiled admiringly. "You've changed the subject!"
"I was hoping you wouldn't notice." She leaned forward. "Adam... Methos, you said you remembered about 5000 years of your life..."
"Give or take a few centuries," he agreed warily. "Why?"
"It seemed to be a lot longer than that to me."
"You were happy, even content, for a very long time," she started, waving away his snort of amused protest. "Listen. Then something awful happened to where you were living. Earthquakes and floods, lots of fear and desperation as everyone you cared about were wiped from the face of the earth."
She had his attention now. "The upheavals continued for a long time too. You moved away but everywhere there was destruction. Every time you settled somewhere, some new catastrophe occurred until you gave up feeling altogether and just survived."
He noted with surprise that her eyes were full of tears. "Mary..."
"I'm okay," she said. "After a very long time the Earth settled down again and so did you. You were happy there until something terrible happened to your people; this time it was other men who brought down terror and blood. Once again you survived and wandered, and it was during that time that you fought and defeated the Immortal you remember as your first."
He sat there shaking his head in confused denial. "I don't remember any of this."
"You lived it," she shrugged. "I'm not making this up."
"I know you're not," he assured her. "So how old does this make me?"
"Well, it seems as if you experienced the end of the last Ice Age... Noah's flood and all that. So, much, much older than 5000 years..."
"Weird," he sighed. "It's no wonder I don't remember all that, it sounds terrible. I'm so sorry you had to go through that. I thought just the 5000 I knew about was bad enough."
"They were bad, Methos. You were very angry for a long time."
"Now you watch the world go by with a sense of amusement, but also with regret. You keep apart not to get hurt, who could blame you? But you feel regret for not fitting in."
"I'll never need therapy after this," Methos quipped, although he agreed with most of what she said.
"You won't need any," she smiled. "You seem to be living in peace now."
"Yeah, peace," Methos ground out as the Presence of an Immortal washed over him. "Peace with a few interruptions."
"You'd better..." Methos started, and stopped as the Immortal strolled in. "Run!"
"This is a pleasant bonus," Max Sutherland smirked as he pulled the pin from a canister he held.
Gas filled the room and Methos only had a chance to see Sutherland put on a gas mask before everything went black.
(1998 - Somewhere, night)
Waking up in dark, unfamiliar places after being overcome by gas was never one of Methos' favorite pastimes. He carefully opened his eyes as wide as they'd go to make use of whatever light there was and could just make out vague shapes of crates stacked along the walls.
A storeroom, of course.
Having identified his location, he turned his attention back to himself. He was stripped of his coat and sword, but his dagger, strapped to his ankle, was still in residence. Smiling grimly, he turned to look for Mary.
Stumbling around in the dark revealed no trace of her, and he managed to trip over some pipes and things, creating a most awful noise. Seconds later he heard footsteps and a door opened in the far wall, throwing bright light into the room and blinding Methos effectively for a few seconds.
"Well, come on," a gruff voice said, and Methos blinked into the light to see the burly silhouette. When he stepped up to the door he recognized Brute #2, who'd ran from him the day he'd met Mary.
"Hi there," Methos greeted him. "How's your friend?"
"Shut up," Brute #2 instructed and propelled him down a corridor and through a doorway.
"Wow," Methos breathed. The room was filled with display cases containing swords. At a quick glance there were more than two hundred swords, all resting on black silk, some of them with little brass plates labeling the cases.
He would have looked longer but Brute #2's grip on his arm tightened and he allowed himself to be pulled along through the display room and into a richly decorated office.
Methos noted two things immediately: Mary was sitting on a chair in front of the desk, looking pale but composed, and Max Sutherland was seated behind the desk. On the desk lay two swords: Methos' Ivanhoe and Mary's rusty sword.
Brute #2 deposited Methos on the chair next to Mary's and left.
"Doctor Brent," Sutherland said with an insincere smile. "How nice to see you. I never thought I'd find you when I found your old sword."
"What are you talking about?" Methos asked, looking to see if Mary was all right. She met his eyes and gave him a small smile, and he turned back to Sutherland, much relieved.
Sutherland placed his elbows on the desktop and carefully made a pyramid with his fingers under his chin. "I have a... hobby, I think is appropriate. Yes, a hobby. I collect the swords of my adversaries." He smiled. "I have quite an extensive collection, as you saw."
"It's not enough to take their Quickenings?"
"A Quickening is such an intangible thing, my dear doctor," Sutherland said. "And I can't really keep their heads as memento's... people just don't appreciate severed heads in bottles. But swords... now swords are noble, and quite the collector's item, I'm sure you'd agree."
"Naturally," Methos agreed.
"So the other day," Sutherland continued. "I was doing an audit of my collection and I realized that I'd never got your sword... something that had to be remedied as soon as possible."
"Why?" Methos asked. "You haven't defeated me, I'm still alive."
"Oh, but I did beat you. You and I both know that it's only luck that you're sitting here today." He ran a finger along the old blade. "So, with a little research I traced it to Ms. Van Steen, and would have had it but for your interference. Of course, now I have you too. It's worked out rather well, I think."
"All right," Methos said. "You've got it, and you've got me. Why is Mary here?"
"To ensure your presence, doctor," Sutherland smiled. "You have a habit of leaving early. Once we have fought and concluded this Challenge, she will be free to go."
"Why do I find this hard to believe?"
"Doctor, I am certainly not a murderer. Ms. Van Steen is quite safe from the Game, and therefore in no danger from me."
Methos let it go. He didn't trust Sutherland for all that it sounded like a straightforward Challenge.
"I suppose you have somewhere more appropriate to fight?"
"Certainly," Sutherland laughed. "But choose your weapon... Will it be the exquisite Ivanhoe or the much-abused cavalry sword?"
"I'll use the sharpest one, thank you," Methos said as he picked up the Ivanhoe. "Let's get this over with."
"Adam!" Mary gasped, seeming to only now realize what they were talking about.
"Don't worry," Methos said softly. "I'll be back in a little while."
"I wouldn't be so sure," Sutherland smirked as he led the way outside.
* * *
"Another night, another fight," Methos muttered as he surveyed the terrain. On the bank of a small creek, the ground was flat, the soil was soft and springy, and trees were sparse. The nearly full moon gave an eerie illumination to the scene. Suddenly spotlights from the house bathed everything in bright yellow light.
Methos cursed softly. Now he'd have to keep his back to the light to avoid being blinded. At least Sutherland would have the same problem.
He swung the Ivanhoe and was startled when he almost lost his grip on it. For the first time he noticed how greasy the hilt was.
"Bastard!" he snarled at the fiercely grinning Sutherland.
"Fight!" Sutherland cried, attacking at the same instant.
The next few minutes were filled with the clang of steel on steel and the heavy breathing of the two Immortals engaged in the age-old dance of death.
Methos found he could keep his grip on the Ivanhoe by bracing his fingers against the guard, but after a few hard parries he felt bones break in his hand. Still he fought on. He was not going to lose his head to this arrogant, cheating piece of...
Sutherland gave a cry of triumph as he knocked the Ivanhoe from Methos' hand. It flew out of reach and Sutherland rushed closer to incapacitate him.
Methos saw him coming in slow motion, brightly lit by the spotlights that now shone into Sutherland's eyes.
So Methos bent down and into Sutherland's rush, throwing the Immortal over his shoulder to the ground, and in the process extracting his dagger from its sheath. Sutherland rolled back to his feet and straight into the well-honed blade.
For a moment he stood frozen in shock, a look of surprise in his eyes. Then the fatal stab wound caught up with him and he sank to the ground.
Methos wearily walked to the Ivanhoe and picked it up. Coming back to Sutherland's lifeless body he experienced a moment of hesitation that he savagely suppressed. He lifted his blade and chopped.
After the excruciating light show that had blown all the spotlights and broken most of the windows, he painfully made his way into the house to find Mary.
He found her standing over the unconscious form of Brute #2, her great grandfather's sword in her hand. Brute #2's gun lay inches from his outstretched hand.
"Are you all right?" they asked almost simultaneously, then laughed a little wildly from relief.
"Let's get out of here," Methos said, holding out his hand.
This time she took it, and they left to find some transport home.
* * *
Mary stepped into Joe's at around 3pm, looking for Methos. She'd been to his office, she'd been to his apartment; she really should have known to look here first.
The very old guy sat in a corner booth, one leg curled under him as he bent over a piece of paper on the table. Also on the table were a number of empty beer bottles and one half-full one. Next to the table on the floor stood a box filled with more papers.
Mary stepped closer. "Hello Adam."
He glanced up at her, a distant look in his eyes. "Oh, hi Mary. Come to sympathize?"
"With you? Why, what are you doing?" she asked.
"Grading midterms," he moaned melodramatically, grabbing the bottle and taking a swallow. "Drat! Warm again," he muttered. "Joe! Beer! Urgent!"
Mary couldn't help laughing as she went to the bar on this mission of mercy. Some things will never change.
(c) Leoni Venter June 2002
This story is not in any way historically accurate. The people mentioned are figments of my (or Rysher: Panzer/Davis) imagination. In fact, the only real thing in here is Mary's sword. It's in my room and this is the story I made up for it.:-)
The history of the Anglo-Boer War (1899 - 1903) is very interesting but far too complex for me to write about. Anyone who's interested can look at a very informative website here: .
I am also no expert on psychic abilities. I made this one up for Mary's family.
My speculation on Methos's age is to blame on Graham Hancock's excellent book, "Fingerprints of the gods". I recommend it to anyone interested in prehistory (and what happened to Atlantis, anyway? :-) )
The characters of Methos, Joe Dawson, MacLeod and Immortal lore belong to Rysher: Panzer/Davis. I profit nothing from this except a lot of writing practice and enjoyment. No copyright infringement is intended. The story and situations and other characters are copyrighted Leoni Venter 2002.