"Come to Seacouver, Amanda. The winters here are so much milder than Paris, Amanda."
"In my defense," Duncan protested, "it hasn't snowed like this in probably a decade."
Amanda waved a hand, furiously wordless, at the street along which they were slogging; it was little more than four slushy ruts between heaps of snow. And more snow continued to fall, sifting down from low gray skies. Their five-minute trip to the store to pick up a few essentials had turned into an hour-long slog when it turned out to be impossible to drive anywhere in the T-bird without getting stuck. Just to add insult to misery, a handful of 4x4 trucks and SUVs were out and about, drenching them with frozen slush every time one passed.
"We are spending next winter in Nice, MacLeod. Or perhaps Palermo -- I've always liked Sicily. Or Tahiti. I've never been to Tahiti --" Amanda broke off as her ankle twisted under her in the slush, and she skidded into Duncan, who arrested her slide with his elbow -- and nearly went down in the snow with her, since his shoes were no more suited to the weather than hers.
As they both stabilized again, Duncan glanced up -- at least the dojo building was right ahead of them, and they hadn't been splashed by intrepid SUV drivers in ... minutes, anyway. "Want to place bets on how long it'll take Methos to think of something we didn't buy and demand we go out and get it?"
"Oh, speak of the devil," Amanda muttered.
The door to the dojo's downstairs foyer stood open, with Methos leaning against it, still obnoxiously warm and dry. "I hope you remembered the beer," he said as soon as they were near enough to hear him.
"Oh, we got your damn beer, and I hope you get alcohol poisoning from it," Amanda said between her teeth. Her feet skidded on the slippery, buried walk, nearly sending her facefirst into a berm. "My shoes are full of snow. My pants are full of snow. I haven't been this wet and cold since -- actually, I'm not sure if I've ever been this wet and cold."
Methos, from his position of snow-free comfort, looked amused. "How can someone who's lived for a thousand years, most of it in northern Europe, complain this much about the cold?"
"Says the guy who's inside," Duncan pointed out, trying to extricate himself from a particularly slushy section of the walkway without falling into a snowbank.
"For your information," Amanda snapped, "living for nearly a thousand years without central heating is exactly why I don't like the cold. Where were you during the Little Ice Age? Probably basking on a Mediterranean beach, that's where."
"Still sounds like whining to me."
Amanda dropped the grocery sack to free her hands. Methos had already turned back into the building as she straightened up with a double handful of wet, sticky snow. The snowball smacked the world's oldest Immortal in the back of the skull.
Methos spun around and glared suspiciously between the two of them. "Who threw that?"
Duncan freed two fingers from his grocery bags and pointed to Amanda.
"Rat," she hissed, and then, smiling wickedly, knelt and packed a second snowball.
"Don't make me lock you two out," Methos said, moving to close the door, but not fast enough -- this one got him in the neck.
Duncan could see two possible directions in which this might go -- one of which was going to involve breaking into his own home; the other would entail getting very wet, very fast. He backed up against the side of the building.
Methos eyed Amanda, and then slithered outside and closed the door behind him. "Very well," he said, dusting his palms together and then reaching for the nearest snowbank. "I've done this once or twice."
Duncan quietly set down the grocery bags and, very quietly, began packing snowballs. The best defense, after all, was a good offense.
Half an hour later, three Immortals who, between them, possessed 6500 years of accumulated knowledge and wisdom staggered out of Duncan's elevator, soaking wet, shedding snow everywhere, and laughing almost too hard to stand up. Methos was still trying to stuff a handful of snow down Amanda's collar.
"Stop -- stop -- MacLeod, make him stop -- eeek!" Too breathless to speak, she grabbed hold of Methos and toppled him to the floor with her, where they both sprawled, taking up a large section of floor. Duncan stepped over them and deposited the lopsided, dripping shopping bags on the countertop. He hoped nothing in there would be spoiled by getting wet and half-frozen. Then he headed for the bathroom to pick up some towels, shedding a trail of sodden clothing along the way.
It was hard to believe that two weeks ago he'd been in the loft by himself, and more or less okay with spending the whole winter that way. The dojo had been closed for some time now; it simply wasn't worth trying to keep the place running, as little as he'd been around lately. But then Methos dropped in for no apparent reason, as he was wont to do, and a week later Amanda had called from Paris out of the blue, and somehow he'd managed to talk her into flying halfway around the world -- it hadn't taken a whole lot of convincing, actually ...
And now the two of them were in a wet tangle on his floor. Returning from the bathroom in a robe and armed with towels, Duncan discovered that they seemed to have mutually lost the will to strip out of their wet clothing or, in fact, do much of anything except lie there limply and stare at the ceiling.
Duncan reached very quietly for a certain drawer in the end table behind the couch, used his fingers to ease it open, and slid the camera out without making a sound.
Both of them flinched and glared up at him. Duncan tossed a towel onto each of them, and tucked the camera safely in a pocket of the robe. "Can't wait to show this to Joe. I'm sure the Watchers need new pictures of both of you to update their files."
"We could throw him out the window," Amanda said to Methos, idly scritching her fingers through Methos's damp hair.
"Too much work."
Duncan snorted, hopelessly amused and hopelessly fond of them both, despite his chattering teeth. He cranked up the heat -- the loft was always drafty in winter, no matter what -- and went to see how many of their hard-won groceries had survived being innocent bystanders to an epic snowball fight.
Amanda joined him after a minute or two, wearing nothing but the towel. "Do that later," she said, walking her cold fingers up the nape of his neck. "Bed now."
Duncan, with the skill and speed of long practice, caught her other hand right before it plunged into the pocket where the camera was hidden. Amanda pouted.
"How can you possibly have energy for sex after slogging across half the city in two feet of snow?"
"No, no -- well, yes, but we're all about to drop dead of hypothermia and we need your body heat --" She gave up on trying to retrieve the camera, and tugged on his earlobe instead. "-- before you keel over too."
Duncan glanced over at the bed, where nothing was visible of Methos but a Methos-shaped lump under the covers. "If you're coming this way, bring beer," the lump announced loudly.
"Freeloader." Duncan succumbed to Amanda's gentle tugging, hooked three bottles with his fingers and brought them over.
Amanda grabbed a package of cookies that she'd thrown into their cart at the last minute and scampered after, beating him to the bed and jumping into the middle of it. Duncan laughed, dropped the beers and chased her under the covers. This produced a satisfying squeal from Amanda, and an equally satisfying yell from Methos as he nearly went off the side of the bed trying to get away. "Hey! Cold feet! Cold hands! Cold everything! Go away!"
After a certain amount of thrashing around, and over Methos's protests, they ended up with Methos in the middle, since both Duncan and Amanda agreed that he, not having walked three miles in the snow, was the warmest thing in the bed.
"I really hate both of you right now."
"We know," Duncan said cheerfully, kissing the top of his head and then planting a beer on his chest. "But we brought alcohol."
Methos squinted up at him. A reluctant smile tugged his lips. "Well. Guess you can stay, then."
"Gee, thanks, how generous of you, considering that it's my bed."
Amanda curled around Methos like a little comma, nested her head in the crook of his shoulder, and fell asleep with a half-eaten cookie in her hand.
"Everyone's naked and no sex," Methos lamented, toying with a wisp of her hair.
"Everyone's too tired and cold for sex," Duncan told him, and wormed down until most of him was buried in blankets. "Everyone's going back to sleep. Wake me when it's spring."
"So I'll just stand guard then, shall I?"
"Mmph," Duncan said into the pillow.
A moment later, he caught the distinct feeling of a long arm snaking across his hip in the direction of the robe that was now crumpled beside the bed -- and the camera in the pocket. Duncan slapped a hand down, trapping the arm in mid-grope. "No you don't." He retrieved the camera and tucked it under his pillow. "I want that picture."
"Bastard," Methos said without malice. "I guess good blackmail material is hard to come by."
Too sleepy and relaxed for anything other than the truth, Duncan said into his pillow, "It's not blackmail that I want it for."
"We know, MacLeod," Amanda said sleepily from the other side of Methos. Someone's hand -- he wasn't entirely sure which one of them it was -- brushed across his forehead and carded through his hair. "Go to sleep."
He must have done so, because he woke sometime later. Outside the windows of the loft, the snow still fell in a flat gray light that gave no clues as to time of day; he could have slept for an hour or twelve. Something was a little different from normal, though, and it took him a moment to figure it out -- the absence of traffic noise. This was a busy part of town; he could always hear traffic and voices from the loft, even at night. The snow, falling soft and implacable on the city, had temporarily brought it to a standstill.
Even when he was a child in Glenfinnan, there had always been something timeless about snowy days -- as if the entire world held its breath, hushed and still, trapped in a moment that could go on forever. He'd had no concept of time then, of course. He'd yet to learn how time could rush onward like a river, carrying him away from everything he loved and leaving only memories: still frames from an endless, unspooling roll of film.
Duncan rolled over and put an arm over the two people next to him in the bed -- elbow hooked over Methos's sharp, bony shoulder; fingers spread across Amanda's softly curving back. They both stirred in their sleep and settled closer together, closer to him. And he slept again, under the falling snow.