Head bowed, Methos held the beeswax candle between his palms. As always, he had no facile words, no prayer or invocation. As always, he let his mind wander, allowing the images, the memories of everyone he had loved and lost over the centuries, and all those he had beheaded and absorbed, to pass through his mind. When his mind was quiet again, he raised his head, placed the pillar candle on the window sill, and reached for the matches.
He watched the light spill out into yet another street in yet another city. A chorus of male voices, chanting, rose behind him. Fourth century, Ambrosian, he was fairly sure, although the accents of twenty-first century singers gave odd intonations to the familiar Latin words and, occasionally, emphasised the wrong syllable.
As he listened, the sound expanded beyond the limitations of present-day technology. All of those men, the true unwashed masses, standing for hours on end as their voices filled the echoing stone vault of the cathedral. The words pressed against the inside of Methos' closed mouth, in the same way that he and Darius had once pushed their shoulders together, hiding their entwined hands beneath the long sleeves of their habits, supporting each other through the long night. He sang until the disc ended and peace once again descended on the room.
Bare feet almost silent against the wooden floor, Duncan came up behind Methos and handed him a cut-crystal tumbler of whisky. Duncan raised his glass in the direction of the candle. "Slàinte."
"Slàinte," Methos responded and quaffed the contents of his glass. He could sip the second, but for this one, he needed to feel the burn going down his throat and into his stomach. Because this was the year that Duncan was finally going to ask.
"It's not Protestant," Duncan said, his expansive gesture taking in the candle and everything that went along with it, "nor is it Catholic or Jewish, although their followers all light candles for the dead."
"No, it's not." Methos walked away, back to the table, where he refilled his glass.
"Older then? Something lost to the mists?" Duncan contemplated the light and the window for a moment, before coming over.
"I won't... I can't discuss theology with someone who wasn't there, living through it," Methos finally replied. "Too much has changed over the millennia, and some truths really shouldn't be exposed."
"Don't want to show your age?" Duncan held out his glass for a refill.
As if Methos gave a damn about that. An idea strayed through his mind, and he grabbed onto it. He smiled — the one that narrowed his eyes and made Duncan suck in a harsh, rasping breath. Only one thing for it, really.
Pausing only long enough to place both of their glasses on the table, Methos pounced.