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an ancient, absent god

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Methos wandered in to Joe’s bar when Joe was on stage, messing around with his guitar rather than playing a straight set, but there weren’t very many other patrons in the place. Normally Methos would have gone to the bar to collect a beer and tell the barkeep to put it on his tab.

He did actually have a tab, and it was occasionally even paid off, although never with funds that Methos himself earned. Only with money that was given or coerced or stolen. It was a thing of his, he didn’t like paying for his own beer.

This time, though, Joe made a gesture to the barkeep and she was already coming around with the bar with a set of three beer bottles, apparently set aside for him.

That was interesting. They were good beers too, local microbrews that he’d been intending to try out.

Methos settled into a comfortable table in an out-of-the-way corner to give Joe some privacy when he came by to explain why the bribe. Bribes generally weren’t necessary for him to help Joe out, but Methos appreciated the gesture. It must be something particularly interesting. However Joe continued to play on stage, starting a real music set, and made no move to join him. Curiouser and curiouser.

It gave him a chance to enjoy the music as well as the beer. Methos had his age-old plan of what to do in these cases: do nothing and see what happens.

He settled in and relaxed.

He really relaxed.

He didn’t fall asleep, per se, but he was warm and comfortable and entertained and he lost track of time. Then it was closing time and he found his eyes were still lazily tracking Joe to make sure everything was all right and it was.

All was right in Methos’ world right down to a warmth that he hadn’t felt in centuries. It was the warmth of worshippers at his temple.

And didn’t that thought wake him right up.

What in the world…?

A human who believed in him had given him drinks and music…

There was no one left at the bar now, just him and Joe.

“You’re not religious, Joe.”

And Joe finally met his eyes. “So I was right! You can feel it?”

“Oh yes.” Methos didn’t bother trying to hide the appreciation. “But how are you doing this? You’re not religious. And how did you even know to try?”

“How I knew to try, well, ‘knew’ might be pushing it. How I guessed enough to think it worth a try… I was looking up older immortals. Pretty much everyone over 500 years old is considered old, and older than that they get slippery. And most of them lie about their age anyway. But I found something interesting.”

“Mm-hmm?”

“I found that the next oldest immortal confirmed to still be alive is less than half your age. Less than half and already absolutely crazy. Most of the older immortals are crazy. The faster technology changes the crazier they go. Unlike you, who seem to thrive in modern society.”

“And you thought, oh, he must be a god?”

Joe snorted. “And I thought, what if he’s not an Immortal after all?”

“Occam’s Razor says it’s still more likely that I’m just an unusually old Immortal.”

“I think you just proved my point. What kind of old Immortal refers to Occam’s Razor?”

It was Methos’ turn to snort. True enough. Older immortals tended to be old-fashioned and stodgy. “So you guessed that I was a god rather than an Immortal and you decided, what, that these old gods seemed like such nice guys and you wanted to worship one? And at the risk of repeating myself: you’re not religious!”

“The old gods mostly seem like assholes, actually.”

Methos laughed. That was so very, very true.

“But you seem like a pretty decent guy.”

That was less true. “Uh-huh. Now be honest.”

“Okay, maybe you’re not a generally nice guy, but you’ve been decent to me.”

Methos supposed he had to accept that. Also he was feeling magnanimous with the warmth of worship still keeping happy.

“And like you say, I’m not religious, but old gods aren’t like our modern God, are they? There’s no blind faith in the old worship, just gifts and demands and hope.”

“And belief.”

“And belief. But Methos, how many times have you saved me? In one way or another? Whether or not I deserved it? I definitely believe in you.”