Actions

Work Header

Postscript

Work Text:

POSTSCRIPT

 

"You're telling me Adam Pierson is Methos?"
Coming so soon after the reassuring news that Kalas had been dealt with,
at least for the moment, and wouldn't continue his killing spree among
the Watchers, MacLeod's next revelation was less of a shock than it
might have been otherwise. Still, it made Joe's head spin.

"I think it was his little joke on you. Adam, the first man."
Little joke indeed. "What better way to steer clear of other immortals?
He's been there all along." Holding onto the phone with one hand, Joe
tried to get at his desk drawer with the other. "I can't believe I
missed it. Hang tight, I'll catch the next plane to Paris."

"Don't bother," MacLeod replied with something between resignation and a
touch of disappointment in his voice. "He's gone, and all your
chronicles went with him. He's going to be hard to find."
They exchanged a few more words regarding Kalas before Mac hung up.
Well, Kalas being Kalas, he would undoubtedly return to plague MacLeod
and the world another day, but for now, they could all breathe a little
easier. And try to live with the things Kalas had done.
Joe had hardly known Roger, but Don Salzer had been a good friend for
decades. He remembered playing poker with Don during his visits to
Paris, remembered the wonderful meals at Don's and Christine's, the
shared laughter and the discussions about any number of historical
subjects. Don had never wanted a field assignment, had been content with
following the Immortals through his meticulous research, but he had
always urged Joe to talk about his subjects, particularly MacLeod. Once,
after Don had listened with all the enthusiasm of an eager child to a
description of the whole Grayson affair, Joe had teased him about
finally coming out of research and into the field, to which Don had
replied: "Oh no, certainly not. I'd be scared to death if one of them
actually talked to me."

Of course, Don had been working side by side with an Immortal all along,
for ten years. Joe still didn't know whether to be shocked, frustrated
or simply annoyed. So Adam Pierson was Methos, eldest and most elusive
of all the Immortals, and none of them had ever suspected. He hadn't
known Adam as well as Don, but still, they had been friendly
acquaintances. A bookish, unassuming young man with a sometimes twisted
sense of humour, and something of a linguistic genius, able to translate
even the most obscure texts: that was the mental image Joe had formed of
Don's fellow researcher in the Methos chronicles.

The Methos chronicles... Vemus would be furious as soon as he found out
all that research was gone, even more furious when informed of the
reason. Hell, everyone would be furious. Set up by a mild-mannered grad
student. It was not a report Joe was looking forward to writing.

Strangely enough, he didn't feel really angry himself. Perhaps that
particular emotion was yet to come, but right now, he thought what a
pity it was that he hadn't had the chance to talk to Adam himself. To
Methos. He still couldn't reconcile the two in his head. Joe wondered
whether MacLeod had used the chance for an in-depth conversation with
5000 years of walking history. Probably not, not with Kalas breathing
down their necks. Yet, he might have, and since this was probably the
last anyone would hear from Methos for a long time, it should be
included in the report to Paris. Yes, better to postpone the inevitable
till he could get some more details out of Mac. Joe jotted down some
notes on what he had learned from MacLeod so far and returned to the
bar.

The bar was quiet on that day, which suited Joe just fine. With all the
people, mortal and immortal, whom Kalas had killed still on his mind, he
wasn't in the best mood for conversation. Playing the Blues helped a
bit, but when his lawyer showed up to talk about the drugs Kalas had
planted at his bar, he was reminded once more of the fact that Kalas, in
prison or not, would undoubtedly one day continue his crusade to destroy
everything and everyone Mac cared about. He really wished Mac had killed
the bastard, but he was also aware of the danger such thoughts
contained.

To decide which immortal deserved to live and who didn't... this must
have been how James started his way from Watcher to Hunter.

Thinking of his late brother-in-law always hurt, just as it had done
when he had first discovered what James had become, so Joe was grateful
to be interrupted by the ring of the fax machine. He went into his
office and saw at once it was a hand-written note. The letters looked
vaguely familiar, but before he could place the memory, he had taken in
the content of the note, short and to the point. "Arriving at Seacouver
with the 9:30 plane - would be grateful for a lift - even more for some
conversation on research problems - Adam."

Of all the nerve. The fax had been sent from the Charles de Gaulle
airport post office, so he definitely was on his way. Well, Dawson, you
wanted to talk to him, Joe thought, and remembered too late the Greek
saying: Be careful what you wish for; the Gods may grant it.

He knew it was his duty to notify Paris at once. Or at least to make
sure there was someone besides him waiting for Pierson when he arrived,
someone whose job it would be to make sure Methos never gave them the
slip again. But... such an action would undoubtedly destroy any chance
of establishing something like a friendly relationship, let alone a
trustful one. And the chance to talk to this man, now that Joe knew who
he was, to question him about everything he had lived through, was
simply too good to pass up. The historian in Joe was hooked, and he
wondered whether Adam had known he would be. It seemed that harmless,
gentle Adam Pierson was quite the manipulator. Something to keep in mind
when they met.

So Joe stood among the waiting crowd at Seacouver Airport, still arguing
with himself about the wisdom of getting involved with yet another
immortal, let alone this one, whom he knew nearly nothing about, when he
caught sight of the object of his ponderings.

Give credit where due, Joe thought. The grad student persona is perfect.
Whereas Mac or Amanda always looked as if they had stepped out of a
fashion magazine and turned heads wherever they went, this figure in
worn-out jeans and oversized sweaters who sauntered to meet him with a
slight smile and a duffel bag hung over his back could be overlooked
easily. Of course, now he had to wonder whether there was a sword in the
bag, but otherwise...

Then, Adam came closer, and for the first time, Joe noticed, really
noticed how at odds the eyes were with the rest of his face. It wasn't
just the colour, changing from hazel to gold-green and back according to
the light, it was the expression, ageless, untouchable, and, at the
moment, coolly amused. The reality of it hit Joe at the same time he
started to feel annoyed again. This really was the world's oldest man.

"Well, Joe," Adam said, and Joe wondered whether the British accent was
part of the cover or something which came naturally. Don had never been
able to tell him where Methos was supposed to come from, or where he had
lived for the first centuries of his life.

"Well, Adam," he replied evenly. "MacLeod thought you were gone for
good. Disappearing from the face of the earth, as it were." He couldn't
resist adding: "And leaving our research department in despair, not to
mention in debts."

"Now that would have been ungracious, wouldn't it? After ten years of
regular salary?" Adam returned, still smiling, only now it reached his
eyes and made him look even younger. "Besides, I'm quite fond of the
job. Not to mention of being Adam Pierson. But before continuing with
both, I thought I might ask for your opinion. So... can I stay at your
place, or do I have to bother the YMCA?"

Joe shook his head. "You really are something."

"Meaning yes or no?"

"Meaning you can stay, but... continuing? You can't seriously think of
remaining in the Watchers *now*."

"That depends on you, Joe," Adam answered, measuring his steps to Joe's
without conscious effort, which was a rare thing, while they went
looking for a taxi.

It was something Joe pondered on all the way into the city. Of course,
he had known that the object of Adam's impromptu visit to Seacouver was
to ensure Joe's silence, but he had simply assumed that the man intended
to do the honourable thing, to quit after being found out. Certainly not
that he wanted to make him into a fellow conspirator with a continuing
infiltration of the Watchers.

Friendship with MacLeod was one thing. It went against the rules,
certainly, but he knew more about Mac than he knew about himself, he
trusted Mac, and he was sure Mac would never use him to harm the
organization. Whereas everything he knew about Adam Pierson had just
been exposed as a set-up. For the hundredth time, Joe thought he should
have written his report as soon as he got the news from Mac and washed
his hands of the whole affair.

Just when he had made up his mind for an ultimatum - he would only keep
quiet about Pierson's identity if the man resigned from the Watchers -
the Immortal produced something out of his bag.

"Here," Adam said. "Don had mentioned he still owed you this from your
last poker night, so..."

It was a seventeenth-century first edition of Tallemant's -Histoires-,
something Don had promised to get for Joe on his last visit to Paris.
Joe touched the old red leather. He wanted to thank Adam, but he found
it hard to suppress the tears that suddenly welled up as the reality of
Don's death crushed him once again.

"It's alright," Adam said, watching him. "He was my friend, too."

When writing his Chronicles, Joe often wondered how the Immortals did it
- endure death after death after death of friends and lovers, for
centuries. It wasn't astonishing that many snapped and lost their
sanity, or simply became detached or callous. Those who still managed to
care for each individual death, like Mac, were rare. He didn't know
whether Methos belonged in this category; it was difficult to read him.
But Don *had* been his friend, they had worked together for ten years,
and right now Joe dispensed with caution and distrust for a moment and
permitted himself a glance of shared loss.

"Did Don," he began, when he trusted his voice again, "did he know?"

"No. I didn't want to force him to make a choice. You are the first
mortal who knows since... well, about 200 years."

The idea of an ultimatum was postponed once again. Joe would have felt
callous if he had brought it up then. Still, a part of him wondered
whether he was being manipulated again. A shared loss, a sense of
camaraderie, and of course, the flattering hint of being a possible
confidant. Dawson, Joe told himself, you've read too much Machiavelli.

When they arrived at his home, he decided to try a little subtle
manipulation himself. Adam must be tired after the transatlantic flight,
not to mention the drama in Paris. Surely, after a beer or two and some
friendly conversation, he would be relaxed and loose enough for some
investigation into his motives.

They swapped stories about colleagues in the Paris Headquarter,
commiserated over bureaucrats in the administration, and Joe had to
admonish himself not to enjoy the company too much, which was difficult.
Adam had a quick, dry wit, not to mention that he was the first Watcher
Joe could talk to without censoring himself about his interactions with
Immortals.

"So," he finally said, deciding they had beat around the bush long
enough, "why did you let MacLeod find you?"

He had called Adam Pierson himself after telling Mac the guy was their
top Methos scholar, to warn him about Kalas and to promise MacLeod would
protect him. Now he understood why Adam had not been exactly grateful
when hearing the latter. He must have known his cover would be blown as
soon as another immortal came within sensing range. Thinking about it
now, Joe really was curious why Adam had not simply vanished right then.

"Curiosity," Adam replied. "Among other things. I wanted to meet
MacLeod. You see, I knew Darius, I read some of your chronicles, and I
have to admit, all those tales were intriguing. Besides," his voice
switched from casual to serious, "if I had vanished, Kalas would have
simply gone on killing his way through the Watchers to find Methos. I
didn't want that, anymore than you, Joe."

Put like that, it made Joe feel guilty about his suspicions. Adam had
risked his life to save others in the organization. So the Watchers
weren't just a cover for him, he cared about them. And as far as anyone
knew, he hadn't used his position to hunt down other Immortals; on the
contrary, he hid from them. Letting him continue as Adam Pierson,
Watcher, could still be construed as interference in the Game, in as
much as it gave him the advantage of a hideout, but it would not
threaten lives. Was the ultimatum really necessary?

If only I could be sure, Joe thought. To all appearances, Adam was one
of the good guys, not a killer, simply a careful man who wished to live.
But then again... he wasn't Adam. He was Methos, and somehow Joe didn't
see how one could survive for 5000 years just by being careful. Speaking
of which...

"Mac said you offered him your head so he could defeat Kalas. Don't get
me wrong, I've read about Immortals who do something like that when life
simply is too much for them, but you don't seem to be weary or suicidal
enough. On the contrary, you obviously enjoy being alive. So why..."

The expression of the young man with the ancient eyes changed yet again.
Now, though his eyes didn't leave Joe's face, he looked suddenly
distant, far away and introspective at the same time.

"It seemed like the thing to do at the time," he answered dryly. "I
wanted to make sure my quickening didn't go to Kalas, and MacLeod, well,
he was the only available candidate. Besides, you and I both know he
could be the one, right? Wouldn't it be a shame if the Prize went to
someone else just because I haven't kept up my fighting skills."

This was artful evasion, likely as it sounded, and Joe knew he hadn't
heard the real reason. Somehow, he suspected that Adam didn't know
himself, and this made him feel an odd spark of affection for the enigma
sitting in front of him.

"Aren't you interested in being the one who gets the Prize?" Joe asked
as he filled Adam's empty glass.

Adam shrugged. "Not in the way you mean it. I'm interested in staying
alive, and I'm very good at it. But I couldn't care less about being the
last one." A mischievous sparkle returned to his eyes. "Frankly, the
world is more interesting with impossible people like MacLeod in it.
Really, Joe, didn't anyone tell the man chivalry is dead? He shouldn't
go on adopting immortals he's only just met, it could end deadly for
him. How did this boy scout survive for so long?"

"Passable sword skills," Joe dead-panned, and they shared a grin, having
both seen MacLeod in action. Then, Adam leaned forward.

"So much for MacLeod," he said. "Now, how about Adam Pierson? Does he
stay, or does he go?"

Now that the moment of decision had arrived, Joe felt as mixed up as
ever. But he discovered that he already had made up his mind, perhaps
when Adam had talked about Don, perhaps during the conversation about
MacLeod. What the hell, Joe thought, sometimes you just have to trust
your gut.

"The research department would miss him," he replied. "As you said, it
would be a pity to let all that work go."

He raised his glass.

"Here's to his continued existence!"

They drank, and Joe took a deep breath.

"Now that's settled," he said, "I have some more questions. Where
exactly in Alexandria was Cleopatra's tomb, why hasn't anybody found it
yet, and who really killed the princes in the Tower?"