“I could sure use a miracle around here.” Joe was feeling his age and didn’t like it.
Joe Dawson and Pierce Adams had just finished watching The Miracle on 34th Street. He was getting old, and had finally resigned from the Watchers at the same time that MacLeod had changed identities and moved to Australia.
Methos, on the other hand, had changed identities in the most blatant manner possible, saying that as a young immortal he couldn’t be too subtle, and stuck around. It mostly had the result of getting Dawson harassed to still send in regular reports by the very colleagues who had refused to talk to him before when he had been being paid to write those reports.
“Every miracle is a betrayal revealed.”
“Well, that’s a bit cynical even for you.”
“Come on, miracles are just random good things that happen. How is that a betrayal?” Dawson found himself arguing for the side of optimism and felt a great deal happier than he’d been just a minute ago. He wondered if that had been Methos’ purpose.
“It’s a random good thing, yes, but it always begs the questions: why didn’t it happen sooner? More often? Better? If it could happen once, what about all those times when it didn’t happen?”
“So the world isn’t fair or nice.” Joe shrugged. “We already knew that. A miracle just shows that sometimes there’s an exception.”
“Ah but random happenstance might be good, but it hardly qualifies as a miracle. Doesn’t a miracle imply some intent on the part of the actor. Someone or something causes the miracle to happen.”
“Look, I’ve cursed God as much as anyone and more than many, but if he’s actually out there, then I can hope that maybe he’ll do something nice for me for a change.”
“And not curse him more for demonstrating that he could have helped more before and didn’t?”
“I already do that.” There was a certain amount of humor in that response.
Methos groaned. “You know, Joe, you’re not making this easy for me.”
“What? You were expecting a miracle? When do I ever make anything easy for you?” Joe teased but then paused. He wasn’t drunk, just loosened up a bit and willing to relax into it. But it sounded like he couldn’t relax after all, he took a moment to get his thoughts in order. “What are you trying to do?”
Methos remained sprawled back on the sofa with his head tipped back and his eyes closed.
“Miracles and betrayals. Let me take a wild stab in the dark. You did something. It was a good thing but now you’re not sure how to admit to it.”
Methos groaned again.
“Was that a groan of agreement or a groan of denial?”
“Okay. So, what was it?”
“What was what?”
“What was it that you did?”
Methos remained silent for a long moment. Joe was wondering if he should prompt him again, but that might just instigate some more banter rather than a confession.
Finally Methos muttered something.
“What was that?”
“I saved Richie.”
At first the words didn’t actually make sense. They didn’t speak about Richie. He had been part of their lives for years, he had trusted Mac and Mac had killed him, and no one spoke about Richie. His chronicle was a single journal and more than half of it was blank. Joe was glad he was sitting down. “You did what?”
He was a bit ashamed that his voice waivered.
Methos just looked at him.
There was hope and denial in that one word and he couldn’t think of the last time he had even said Richie’s name aloud. He couldn’t remember if he had even said it at the funeral he’d been the only attendant at, because both Mac and Methos had been gone.
“But I buried a body.” He didn’t actually doubt Methos. Methos was many things, including cruel, but he wasn’t cruel in this way. He wouldn’t have said this unless he had done it, he wouldn’t have said this if there wasn’t a reason to tell him. A reason like… like maybe there was a chance that Joe could see Richie again. “Where is he?”
“He’s sleeping off jet lag in the guest bed.” Methos’ voice was as neutral as possible.
“My god. My god. Can I…” Joe struggled a bit in standing up, and used his cane more heavily than usual but he managed to get to the guest room door. It was a mental struggle rather than a physical one that made the door difficult to open. But when he did… when he did, Richie woke up like any experienced immortal did when someone intruded on their sleep.
Joe just stood there and stared as Richie woke, watching that first paranoid glance around and weapons check. He looked older than he had been, which was impossible, and yet, he was heavily tanned, his hair sun-bleached, his face and body conditioned by harsher conditions than modern city life.
Then, “Joe! God, I thought I’d never see you again!” And he was being hugged and it was the same jubilant kid as he had been. His eyes may have been sharper but they were just as bright.
“Richie.” Joe wasn’t sure he could say anything more than just “Richie.” He held the kid in his arms and he wasn’t sure he’d ever be able to let go.
“Joe.” Richie grinned back. “Joe.”
“Hey, no making fun of the poor Watcher. I only just learned you were alive five minutes ago.”
“Oh yeah, the old man has some explaining to do.” They still had their arms around each other, but Richie turned enough to stare pointedly at Methos. “And don’t think that this reunion is going to allow you to avoid that. Joe will back me up, right?”
“Right.” Joe was dealing with a shock but he hadn’t survived his life by being slow on the uptake.
Methos rolled his eyes and sighed dramatically. “Mac was dealing with a few issues, including being in a championship fight and having a few too many innocent bystanders around. So I got Richie out of the way and stayed back myself and hoped for the best.”
“But how did you get Richie out of the way? I saw his body, I buried his body. Alone.” That was still a bitter point for him, and he wasn’t sure if that would change now that he knew it hadn’t been real. “It wasn’t Richie’s body? Or did you manage to bring him back?”
“Nope, that was the demon. I’d removed Richie earlier that day.”
“And how, exactly did you ‘remove’ Richie?”
“I stuck a dagger in his heart and left his body in my apartment until I had time to drop him off somewhere safer.”
“Somewhere safer, he says. Desert nomads, no money, no ID, and no shared language, I say.” Richie spoke quietly, but it seemed mostly intended to distract Joe than to accuse Methos.
“Eh, it was a good learning experience for you,” Methos replied off hand, but still kept his eyes on Joe.
Joe kept his arms around Richie – because Richie was alive! Here! – but couldn’t let Methos off the hook just yet. “Just like that?”
“Well, Ahriman animated another Richie once I had taken this one out of circulation. So I told demon-Richie that there was no demon and that I had no intent to interfere.”
Richie listened quietly, and Joe was once again reminded of the way older immortals listened and waiting. But he still sounded young and excited when he asked, “There was a demon-me?”
“Not cool.” Joe hugged Richie again. Alive! Richie was alive! “Why didn’t you tell me?” Joe was angry, but it was mostly a distant sort of anger, second to the tactical analysis. Why hadn’t Methos told him?
“I could hardly get involved in the fight between champions. That’s kind of the point of having champions.”
“So you lied to me.”
“So I got the bystanders – innocent or not – out of the way.”
Joe could understand that, but damn, he hated being relegated to being a bystander. “So what now?”
“What now? Now we all live.”