Five minutes into their first conversation, Joe is convinced of Adam Pierson's brilliance. That somehow the British branch, long known for its penchant of turning beer into Methos conspiracy theories, managed to produced so fine a researcher, will have him scratching his head for weeks. For now, he is simply singing up hosannas that Pierson didn't run screaming after the first week.
The man is a living concordance. After ten minutes, Joe has to rub his eyes, wondering if he's simply hallucinating. If the overgrown dust has finally gotten to him. If he is not, in fact, still lying on the bed in the military hospital, dreaming of his legs.
Joe blinks, then focuses on the man standing before him. Boy, really. Pierson couldn't be older than twenty-five, and the puppy-dog look on him made Joe guess lower. Twenty-one. Tops. We're recruiting children these days. "Yeah?"
"I have to run now. I'll get it to you as soon as possible." Pierson hesitates, then offers Joe his hand. Joe shakes, and his heart melts at Pierson's tentative smile. He mentally revises his estimate. Nineteen. The glasses make him look older and the haircut adds ten years, not to mention the baggy sweater. Someone needs to teach this kid to dress. Hell, someone needs to get him out of the library and into a club, a bar, get him away from the Watchers. Let him have some fun in life.
Joe catches himself wondering how Pierson would look in leather pants, and shakes his head, chuckling at himself. He's never going to learn.
And he'll be damned if he can remember what Pierson promised to give him.
The next morning, he finds Pierson's message on his desk, written in gentle calligraphy on a folded white card. Someone knows how to impress.
P.H. Chronicle, II v. 3 ii 9: ''And the Scot came to visit and with him his kinsman, the younger by some years. And the visit lasted many days, until the quarrel. The kinsman was not seen for some time and we feared he was lost. But he emerged the victor and the Scot departed soon after."
Joe traces the letters of Adam's name, then calls himself a fool and pulls out his own stationary and writes a requisition for the library for the full Hiram chronicle so the researchers can do a full cross-reference. There is a list of heads that MacLeod was rumored to have taken in that fifty year period, and even one name crossed off the list would be a victory for the ages.
You come into my life and do in an afternoon what I couldn't do in three years. Let me buy you a drink.
The mailboy drops Joe's card in with the usual requisition and complaint forms. Methos has risked too much to gamble his head on an affair that will never go anywhere. But he likes Joe, finds his enthusiasm for his work endearing, and a nice change of pace from the bored cynicism of his bosses. Could a drink hurt?
A thousand years of caution say yes. Methos curses his own better instincts.
As the Book of Ages tells us, drinking often leads to losing heads, in more ways than one. Surely men in our line of work know better.
The D. MacLeod III v. 10 ii 2 is overdue. Please return it to my desk at your next convenience.
A researcher playing reference librarian? Just how stupid does Adam think he is?
Joe folds his response into a bad paper airplane and leaves it on Adam's desk two hours after everyone else has left for the night.
You can have the MacLeod chronicle when you can answer me this: Rolling Stones or Beatles?
Methos unfolds the airplane slowly, remembering when folding paper was a mating dance. He responds in kind, each fold in his phoenix crisp and perfect and practiced.
Now that's cheating and you know it. Cough it up. Or are you a coward?
No, simply a fan of quality music.
Radio Gaga or Bohemian Rhapsody?
The mailboy is giving Methos looks of increasing awe as the notes from Joe Dawson, a senior field agent!, pile up. Methos give him the same look he once gave wild horses, and the mailboy nearly loses his shoes as he flees.
Sometimes I forget how young you are. Come over for a drink tonight and we can debate music until your tongue falls out.
That's probably not the only thing Dawson would like him to do with his tongue, and Methos considers cutting this off now. And wonders how bad it would be to take it to the inevitable conclusion.
That night in the shower, he scrutinizes his body, wondering if it would give him away. The scars are easily explained. Too jagged for modern surgery scars, he still has practiced explanations of childhood accidents, and as for the muscles so obviously from sword training to anyone who knows what to look for, well, he's a mild-mannered research mouse. Everyone needs a hobby.
The paranoia about anyone touching his neck, well, that can be avoided.
But protective coloration can only take him so far.
"I haven't survived this long giving into my libido," Methos informs his reflection, and then spends four hours bent over his legal pad, writing out pros and cons, trying to convince himself to give in, let himself be stupid for once.
He does not succeed.
I'm sorry to cancel at last minute. Don has found a lost Methos chronicle in Beijing. I need to catch a flight.
I won't be back in Paris until the spring at least.