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Romance In The 21st Century.

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Adam really, really likes technology. Joe partially understands this: of course Methos wouldn't have survived this long if he couldn't adapt, couldn't fit in, couldn't act the age he looked.

Every six months, Joe gets a new cell phone in the mail with Adam's new number programmed in. Every six months, Joe stares at the phone, wondering how anyone as paranoid as Methos could ever embrace this level of technological advancement. Tiny cameras can record video and send it halfway around the world in under a minute. And Methos is embracing this like it's humanity's greatest invention. Joe is pretty sure that it's not.

Adam owns an information security consulting business now, which contracts out to a bunch of different large companies, which means Adam spends a great deal of time trying to break into large companies's computers. Adam finds this amusing; the Watchers keep debating if they should be trying to hire him. No matter the details, Joe is pretty sure he has paranoid-government-level encryption on his phone. Mostly he uses it to look at video clips that Amy sends of her cat doing tricks.

Joe thinks it's her cat. It may be the neighbor's.

Today, it's a new phone in the mail, and as soon as Joe finishes setting it all up and getting all the settings in order, he gets a text message.

It's from Adam. Of course it's from Adam. There are junior researchers who moonlight at his bar who don't text as much as Adam does.

Will be in Seacouver in 5 hours. Pick me up.

Oh, the things he does for this man.

Picking him up, in Adamspeak, does not mean going to the airport or train station or bus terminal to pick him up after he arrives. It didn't even mean that before the Gathering started and it doesn't mean anything close to that now. Adam means he's about to take a Quickening, possibly publicly, and wants a sympathetic Watcher to make it look good in his Chronicle. Or, at the very least, to help him flee the crime scene and buy him dinner afterwards while they wait for his hands to stop vibrating from the lightening.

Since this started, Joe's taken to keeping a spare change of clothes or three for Adam under the backseat of his car just in case it's needed. And, for the record, he really hates the Gathering.

The Quickening this time is huge; Joe sees it from a mile away and taps his fingers impatiently against the door of the cleanup van as it speeds towards it. He knows it isn't Adam's; if Adam were killed, Seacouver would probably fall into the Pacific Ocean and, who knows, the Quickening fallout might finally trigger California's inevitable island-ification.

Joe wouldn't put it past Adam to take the San Andreas Fault with him. The bastard's already smug enough.

Five hours later, Joe comes into his dining room to find Adam sitting cross-legged on the floor, huddled in one of the robes that Joe leaves around for him. It's winter and Adam walking around like he doesn't notice the climate is scandalous, decadent, and impractical, considering how much cooking Adam does when he's around. It might not bother Adam too much, but it offends Joe's delicate sensibilities if Adam gets hit with incidental boiling oil in his kitchen.

Adam's clothes from today are piled next to him. He has a small tin to his left and he's holding scissors in his right hand. Joe watches as Adam snips all the buttons off his shirt and puts them into the tin, then carefully cuts around all the blood stains. Dirty but blood-free fabric goes to the rags pile, blood-stained fabric goes to the destroy pile.

Joe has no idea how many times he's watched Adam do this. He supposes he could look it up; on his desktop, he has a shortcut to the mastercopy of Methos's century-to-date kill list on the secured server. Usually, he avoids looking at it.

"Could you hand me the sewing kit?" Adam asks, and Joe hands it down to him from the table. Adam runs the threaded needle through the buttons, holding them together as a set, and then closes the tin.

Adam keeps them color-coded. Joe wonders if Adam's ever done anything with them. In all the time he's known him, he can't think of Adam ever actually sewing a replacement button or even opening one of these tins after he's filled it.

But it's probably the spirit of the thing, not the actual action. Every time Adam picks up and moves out, one of his Watchers is dispatched to the old address and goes through it with meticulous care, picking up all the coins that Adam's tossed to the ground as he's crossed the threshold. Joe's seen the annotated lists and photographs. The Watchers keep them all and not all of the coins are recent. Adam's tossed ancient coins to the floor and left them there. They were in his pockets when he entered, they were in with spare change, and that means something to Adam. It means something to Adam to have enough money to throw coins to the ground and leave them there and walk over them every day. It means something to Adam to treat money like it's nothing and ignore it.

Joe's catalogued Adam's little ticks and peculiarities by now. They're married. It's expected. Doesn't mean anything more that. He doesn't touch the Methos Chronicle even with gloves on, no matter what they might joke. Joe consults; he does not contribute and he certainly does not edit.

At least he's got Adam to wear the goddamn ring when they're together. Joe doesn't care about this at all. Wouldn't care about this at all, rather, if it weren't that Adam decided to try to make an effort. So whenever Adam climbs into the cleanup van, covered in his blood and also someone else's, his sword clutched tightly in his fist, his free hand lifts the necklace cord from off his neck. He rests the cord against the wrist holding desperately onto the sword like it's his only lifeline left, pulls the cord down to the ring's level, and then slips the ring through the loop and lets it drop.

The ring and the cord get covered in blood, every time, but they clean well, and Joe spends the entire ride listening to the sound of a wedding ring dink against Adam's sword.

And then when they finally arrive and Adam lets Joe pry the sword from his fingers, Adam drops his ring finger down and flips his knuckle and he's wearing the ring, for now, for whatever brief moment they have together.

Sometimes he lets it drop when he's walking around Joe's house, wrapped up in one of Joe's bathrobes, and Joe watches as it dangles down from Adam's wrist, secure. Adam doesn't play with it, doesn't interact with it. It's there. It exists. It doesn't need anything more.

Joe has no idea what Adam does with it when Adam's somewhere else.

He has photographic proof that Adam wears it around his neck during challenges outside of Seacouver and Joe doesn't know if it annoys him or amuses him to be cast in the role of the woman who gives her knight a pretty little trinket as a token and hopes he'll come home to her when his war is finished.

Even though that's essentially what he's done.

Adam's halfway around the world when he sends Joe a text and Joe reads it by the light of his alarm clock hitting midnight.

Sleep well. I'll be home for dinner.

And he is.