Disclaimer: I own neither "Highlander: The Series" nor "Firefly." Davis-Panzer Productions and Joss Whedon are being selfish and are still refusing to give me any ownership.
AN: This story is set long after "Highlander: The Series" ended. Long after. This story takes place not long after "Firefly" ended but there is no "Serenity" (the movie, not the pilot episode).
No Time to Lose One's Head
If there was one thing Methos hated, it was flying. He had been leery of airplanes since their invention and he was even more leery of spaceships. Especially junky looking fireflies like he was riding in now.
He could not wait to touch down on land again. Shore leave has always been his favorite part of traveling, even back when shore leave literally meant leaving a boat to spend time on the shore.
Seriously, if someone had asked him 500 years earlier where he would be today, he would not have imagined this in a million years. When the Earth got used up, he had been sure that it was the end of the world. Sure, space travel existed and the government that would one day become the Alliance had terraformed planets, but he had still been convinced that life off of Earth would not be sustainable.
Yet here he was, not only still alive, but on board what had to be the junkiest ship still flying. Of course, Kaylee would kill him if she ever heard him say that.
Methos had just drifted off to sleep when the proximity alarms began to blare. Stumbling out of his bunk, he staggered onto the bridge.
"What the bloody hell is going on?" asked Methos testily, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes.
"Don't bother my pilot," interjected Mal, cutting off Wash's answer. Turning to Wash, he asked, "Wash, what the hell is going on?"
"Well," answered Wash in an exaggerated manner, "the proximity alarms go off when we are in proximity to something."
"Wash," said Mal warningly.
"It's another ship."
Well, why are we so close to them?"
"I didn't see them till a second ago," said Wash defensively. "They were hiding behind that big rock up ahead; it blocked out sensors."
"Fantastic," muttered Methos, earning a glare from Mal. Even though most of the crew had warmed up to Methos pretty quickly, Mal hadn't. Mal knew that Methos was hiding something and he didn't like being in the dark. He probably thought Methos was on the run from something; after all, Simon and River were on the run and most people would not choose to travel on his boat unless they needed to. Mal's distrust amused Methos immensely. If only Mal really knew what Methos was hiding from him.
"We got a problem, Sir?" asked Zoe, coming into the bridge.
"Not as of yet," replied Mal. Turning back to Wash, he ordered, "Give them a wave. Let's see if they're friendly-like."
"Are they ever?" asked Methos sarcastically.
"Know what, Adam?" asked Mal. "If you don't got nothing constructive to add, you can just go on back to your bunk."
"Sir, yes Sir," answered Methos with a mock salute.
Methos went back to his bunk knowing full well that even if there were trouble, there was nothing he could, or more aptly would, do about it. He had never been a fighter—that was why he had survived so long. He would just need to climb back into his bunk and wait it out.
He settled onto his bed and allowed himself to gently doze, despite the blaring alarms. After the Blitz, he could sleep through anything.
bolted upright. Looking at the clock, he could see that he had been asleep for a half hour. What had woken him up? He struggled to remember, thanking the silence of the ship for allowing him to hear his own thoughts. What could it be? That was is—silence. The alarms had stopped. And not only that, the ship was idling. Usually you could feel the vibrations from the engine wherever you were on Serenity, but Methos felt nothing. They were just sitting there for some reason. Methos climbed back out of his bunk to find out who had been on the other ship.
"It hurts," said River from the shadows. Damn, Methos still jumped every time she did that. Nobody could disappear and reappear like her—even Methos, and he had more than 5,000 years practice.
"What hurts? Did you injure yourself? Do you need me to get your brother?" he queried, concerned for the poor girl. Well, well, perhaps he was going soft in his old age.
"My head. It feels bbzzz, bbzzz. Don't you feel the bbzzz, bbzzz?"
"No, dear, I don't. Perhaps we should go get your bro—" Methos did feel the "bbzzz, bbzzz." It was faint, but it was definitely there. Another immortal was nearby, probably on that other ship. It worried him. There weren't many immortals left due to the Game. Also, it was unusual to run into immortals because there were fewer immortals and they were more spread out now.
Methos turned his attention back to River, who was slowly twirling, holding her head, and still "bbzzz"ing softly.
"I need to go," muttered Methos.
As he passed her, she stopped twirling and looked at him. Sometimes when she looked at him, Methos got the feeling that she was looking into his soul. It unnerved him more than he would like to admit but he had the feeling that she already knew. She seemed to know a lot of things. Still staring at him, River said in a matter-of-fact tone, "Don't worry. He's not nearly as old as you are, Grandfather."
Methos shoved her aside and descended into his bunk once more. He had seen a lot of things in his many years but River knew things that she shouldn't know and it frightened him. "Grandfather." She always called him that. The others just chalked it up to her being moon-brained and didn't give it much thought. They didn't give much thought to a lot of things that River said but Methos did. Everything she said was always true.
into his bunk, Methos grabbed his sword. He kept it concealed in a cane, causing Wash to call him "Grandfather" sometimes too. If this immortal turned out to be unfriendly, Methos wanted to be ready.
Ascending back up the ladder, Methos nearly collided with River. The girl was standing at the top entirely still, like a statue.
"River …" started Methos exasperatedly, entirely unsure how to end his sentence.
Instead of responding, River just began to sway and hum to herself.
"River …" prompted Methos again.
"So fast," she whispered. "Vroom. Like the Ferrari." Looking at Methos, she continued, "The Ferrari, that's an animal that you know. So fast. So old."
"What happened quickly, River?" asked Methos, usually able to get more out of River's rambling than the others because he listened to them more. He knew that just because someone was insane, it didn't mean you shouldn't listen to them.
"Joseph wanted all the stars to bow to him, but now they're all gone. My stars are gone. Taken by Long John Silver." River began to hum again.
After thinking long and hard, Methos asked, "River, are you saying that Mal and the others have been taken prisoner by space pirates?"
"That's what I just said," said River, in her very good impersonation of a sane person that she did sometimes. Damn it, he had only been asleep for a half hour.
Methos quickly took control of the situation, dragging River along behind him. Just because he didn't like to fight didn't mean he wouldn't. "River, was everyone taken?"
"When the Hindenburg crashed there were no survivors."
"I'll take that as a 'yes,'" responded Methos, still pulling River along. "River, I need you to show me where Jayne keeps his guns."
Without a word, River climbed down into Jayne's bunk with the litheness of a ballerina and began handing up guns, knives, and weapons that even Methos couldn't name. Satisfied that they had all the weapons they would need, Methos began walking away when River popped a panel out of the wall near Mal's bunk and began pulling out even more weapons.
"Really, River, we're good," said Methos, halting River and strapping a couple of guns to himself, leaving River to get a few for herself as well. "Let's go."
Methos and River snuck down to the cargo bay. Had any of the other crew members been there, they would have been impressed with the silence with which Methos and River tread. Methos had had far too many years to perfect walking in his heavy boots, but he was constantly amazed at how quietly River could walk in her clunky combat boots.
Gazing down into the cargo bay, Methos saw the entire crew—minus Jayne, Book, and Inara, who were all down on the planet—kneeling with their hands behind their backs and very large guns pointed at their heads.
Methos could immediately tell who the immortal was. Their leader held himself a bit differently than the henchmen, better stature, belying a nobler upbringing. He also had a somewhat old-fashioned taste in clothing, wearing a jacket style that Methos had not seen anyone wear in 200 years. Methos did not recognize him, but in this brave new world that did not mean anything.
"How old is he, River?" asked Methos in a whisper.
River just shrugged, not taking her eyes off of the captain. Methos knew why she was staring at Mal, and he didn't have to be psychic to know it. They both knew that, if left unchecked, Mal would probably do something very noble and very stupid very soon to get his ship back.
"We need a distraction," he said, more to himself than to River. Unfortunately, he forgot that River would not take it that way.
Crawling away from him with incredible speed, River crossed to the other side of the ship before popping up and proclaiming loudly, "I spy with my little eye people who don't belong here." Of the 10 henchman, four of them leveled their guns at River. Methos had to applaud the girl, she didn't flinch. She only had eyes for their leader—the immortal.
"Well, hello little girl," said the leader. Methos had been right; he was upper class. His accent, intonation, and cadence all gave him away. "And where were you hiding?"
"With the Word."
"The Word?" sneered the immortal. "And what is that?"
River just clucked disapprovingly at him.
"You won't answer?"
"This isn't your ship. You need to leave," she commanded.
"Or maybe I'll just shoot you," he countered. "Or take you aboard my ship. You are pretty."
"River, get out of here!" shouted Simon, earning him a blow to the head. Methos admired the young doctor for his devotion to River but could not believe how dumb the man could be. Why had he not yet realized that River did not need that type of protection? She was not a glass doll in his menagerie.
"Oh," said the immortal, laughing. "Is she your girlfriend?"
"She's my sister," answered Simon, for a reason that Methos could not fathom. "And if you touch her or hurt her in any way, I'll kill you."
The immortal got right into Simon's face and said, calmly and with careful annunciation, "How?"
Simon just glared back.
"What's your name?" asked River, drawing the attention back to herself and away from the others. Good girl, thought Methos.
Still laughing, as if he found this entire thing incredibly amusing, he answered, "Pierre."
Pierre. A French name. Perhaps he was older than Methos had first surmised. People had stopped giving their children French names centuries ago; everything was English and Chinese these days.
As Pierre stepped closer to River, Methos began to look for an opening. Several of Pierre's men stepped closer as well; they clearly weren't too trained. River took a step back, drawing Pierre and his men farther away from the crew.
Methos saw his opening and took it. Rushing soundlessly to the one guard who had stayed, he quickly broke the man's neck. The man never even had a chance to make a sound. Methos could feel Mal's questioning eyes on him but ignored his captain. Grabbing Kaylee, he pulled her to her feet and motioned for her to follow him as he carried the dead man's body away. He hoped Pierre wouldn't notice that one of his men was missing. He also hoped he wouldn't notice that Kaylee was missing.
Methos pulled a knife from his boot and cut Kaylee's ties. "Go to the engine room, lock the door, and start up those engines again," he ordered her. He had personally installed a lock on the engine room door after the incident with Jubal Early.
Kaylee looked at him with gratitude in her eyes and then fled to the engine room, her refuge.
He had a soft spot for Kaylee, though he would never admit it out loud. She reminded him of a girl he had known back on Earth in the 14th century CE. Katharine. Katharine had also been smart, outgoing, and an all-around pleasure to be with. They both had the same smile. Methos knew that he was going soft in his old age, but if that was what going soft meant, he didn't really mind. Until he had met Kaylee, he had hated the word "shiny." Every time he heard someone say it, he had been beyond bothered. All it took though was for her to say it once and he began to like it. He still got irritated when other people used it sometimes, but Kaylee was just too cute.
He could remember the first time he met her. He had been walking around, looking at the ships, never intending to get on one of them, when she had beckoned him over to Serenity.
"If you're lookin' for a ship, you won't find none better than Serenity," she had promised. "She might not look like a helluva lot, but she'll get you where you wanna go, no problem."
"I'm not really interested in going anywhere," Methos had said, attempting to let the girl down gently.
"Maybe not," she had answered, "but you don't wanna stay here neither. I can tell."
Methos had to admit the girl was right. He hated this planet but stayed because he knew every other planet was like it—not Earth.
"I'm Kaylee," she had said confidently. "Go get your stuff and I'll see you onboard. We leave in a half hour."
He had meant to say "no thank you" but instead said, "I'm Adam. I'll be back in 15 minutes."
"Shiny," she had responded.
The rest was history. He had been flying with them ever since. Book may call himself a shepherd, but Methos knew the truth. Kaylee was the shepherd, collecting those who were lost like baubles. She had collected him first, then Book, then Simon and River.
Heading back to the cargo bay, Methos was relieved to see that Pierre had indeed not noticed the missing people. He was still talking to River, who had gone into complete nonsensical ramblings since he had left.
Tuning her out, Methos slipped over to Zoe did the same with her that he had done with Kaylee. He knew the others would think he was just being sexist, protecting the women-folk from the big, bad men. They didn't know that he had been born before the time of chivalry. He needed Kaylee to restart the engines and, honestly, he thought Zoe was a better fighter than Mal. How Mal ever got a higher rank in the military than Zoe was beyond him. Probably sexism.
Handing Zoe his guns, Methos told her, "You take out the others with River and I'll take care of Pierre."
"You don't give orders on this boat," she responded.
"It wasn't an order, it was a request. Trust me."
"I do," she said, and he could tell she meant it. It was not easy to gain Zoe's trust and he was glad that she considered him worthy. "But, we are going to have a long talk later about where you learned to snap a man's neck in half."
"Deal," he responded.
Sneaking to the other side of the ship, Zoe came up behind River and just began shooting. Good G-d, Methos admired her. Ignoring the guns at her sides, River began fighting mano a mano with one of the men.
A second later he could feel the engines starting again. Never had he been so overjoyed to feel Serenity shaking and jolting.
Methos took this opportunity to step from the shadows and yell, "Hey Pierre, parlez vous français?"
"Oui, ma langue maternelle," answered Pierre, knowing at that moment that this man was the immortal he had felt. He had not heard his native language spoken by another in hundreds of years.
"Just checking," said Methos with a smirk. He knew he needed to draw Pierre away from the others and, deciding to follow River's precedent of tactlessness, he merely yelled, "Come get me!" and ran to the other man's ship.
Once aboard the other man's ship, he kept running until he came to a wide open area. Pierre would have the advantage, knowing the outlay of his own ship, but Methos knew that he had the advantage age-wise. Just from Pierre's short French phrase, Methos knew that Pierre was from the 15th century. His accent had just screamed 15th-century aristocracy.
"Well," continued Pierre, catching up to Methos and drawing his sword. "Laissez-moi se présenter—"
"I'm sorry," Methos interrupted. "I don't actually speak French. Just that one question." Methos almost giggled out loud at how irritated Pierre looked. He probably spoke better French than that pirate anyway.
Biting back his frustration, Pierre soldiered on, "Allow me to introduce myself; my name is Duc Pierre de Champlain de Allier dans Auvergne."
"Adam Richards, nice to meet you," shot back Methos almost jovially and completely without formality.
"Well Monsieur Richards, I feel I should warn you that I am 1,000 years old. You cannot win."
"We'll see," said Methos, attacking with zest. As he had pointed out to countless others over the millennia, just because he didn't like to fight, did not mean he couldn't. Pierre was good—very good—but Methos was better.
Every time Pierre lunged, Methos parried the blow. Methos was dueling with the rapier method of fighting, knowing that Richards would be well-versed in it. Slowly weaving his web of deceit around Pierre, Methos lulled him into a false sense of security, even allowing Pierre to nick his arm once. It was imperative for Pierre to think that he was doing well.
Pierre was getting cocky. He kept trying to engage Methos in banter, but Methos would not respond, pretending to be too consumed by his desperate struggle to remain alive.
Then Methos saw what he had been waiting for; Pierre's left side was wide open. Methos quickly changed his fighting style, switching to tactics that were popular long before Pierre was even born. Combining gladiatorial combat with Pankration, Methos jabbed his sword deep into Pierre's side, removing it again quickly.
Pierre fell to his knees in shock, allowing Methos to stick his sword through the immortal's chest as well. Kicking his opponent's sword away, Methos said, almost casually, "By the way, the name's Methos."
Pierre's eyes widened with recognition and fear. "Please," he began to gibber. "Please. Mercy."
"Non pitié," said Methos before slicing off his foe's head.
It felt as if a wind were ripping through the dead man's ship but Methos knew that was impossible. There is no wind in space. The electrical storm picked up, warping the metal of the ship. The first bolt hit Methos as the lights all exploded. The other immortal's quickening pulsed through him, making his body twitch and jerk. The pain was unbelievable but Methos knew that the payoff, a high that would last for days, was well worth it.
When the Quickening finished, Methos collapsed to the ground, but did not remain there long. He could hear a slight hissing noise that he knew to be the ship's air being jettisoned into space. He didn't have long. Putting his sword back into his cane, he ran, tripping a few times as the ship shook, its hull coming apart in the vacuum of space.
Running back onto Serenity, he quickly disconnected the ships, allowing Pierre's destroyed ship to float out into the vastness, just a cold hunk of useless metal.
Returning to the cargo bay, Methos was relieved to see the crew of Serenity untied and holding the six surviving pirates at gunpoint.
"Where's their leader?" demanded Mal.
"I disconnected our ships," answered Methos without really answering the question. "What are you going to do with them?"
"Leave them on the planet, I guess," answered Mal, before he had even realized that Methos was playing captain again. "Hey! Where's the guy with the funny name?"
Before Methos could even answer though, River answered for him, "He's gone. All lightning and thunder. It was a show, like the sky on a stormy night in the plains of Scotland. The Word saved us all."
Everyone just stared at River like she had gone completely nuts, more so than before. Simon wanted to know how River knew what a storm looked like on Earth 500 years ago. Mal wanted to know where in the gorram 'verse Scotland was. And Methos wanted to know how River knew his real name.
AN: I do not know French and have never been to France. I used an online translator and apologize for any mistakes. Pierre is entirely fictitious and is not meant to resemble anyone dead or alive.
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