"Blue bells, cockle shells, evy ivy over..."
The lilting chant cut through Duncan's gloomy thoughts and let in all the chatter and hubbub of the Sunday-crowded park. He stopped on the path and listened, but the song disappeared on the wind. He absently kicked at a mound of leaves that drifted over the path, feeling as aimless as the leaves that scattered at his feet. Wanting--
"Left!" Duncan stepped aside to let a pair of skaters buzz past him. He watched them enviously as they zipped along the path, flying apart and meeting up again.
It's no use wanting someone-- something you can't have. Duncan walked on, shoulders hunched against the sunshine, and only caught himself drifting into a wishful daydream of a smooth muscled back and sheets kicked to the floor when it was cut through by the jarring presence of another immortal. His hand went to the hilt of his sword and he spun on one heel, warily.
"Just me, Duncan!" Amanda stepped from behind a low shed, smiling. She was wearing a sleeveless yellow sundress over a t-shirt, and high-topped sneakers. This odd ensemble was set off by-- of all things-- a parasol.
He raised an eyebrow. "Dressed to kill?"
"Of course." Amanda stood on tiptoe in her ridiculous shoes to give him a quick kiss. "But not you, darling. As a matter of fact, I have a charge to put some," she tapped him on the nose, "life into you."
"Oh, really." Duncan felt a pang that he hid in a smile. "Who from?"
But Amanda just tut-tutted at him. "Come along. The sun is shining and Aunt Amanda is here to-- divert you."
"Aunt Amanda?" Duncan's eyebrows rose. "And what would 'Aunt Amanda' have in mind to-- divert me?" He echoed her tone.
"Just a walk in the park." Amanda twirled the parasol on her shoulder and batted her eyelashes. Her upturned face, full of mischief and promise, made him laugh.
"A walk in the park. Sounds innocent enough. Too innocent to be true."
"Oh pish-posh. Can't I do something just for the fun of it, without an ulterior motive?"
"Let me think." Duncan tugged at his chin and pursed his lips thoughtfully. "No."
Amanda made a face and took his arm. They walked along the path in companionable silence, and Duncan felt the pain that had coiled up in him for days begin to unwind. Amanda, for all the disorder she sometimes brought into his life, did have some amazing restorative powers-- and some amazing techniques, too. He looked down at her fondly, feeling it was somehow wrong that a woman who had survived centuries through cunning and luck and sheer stubborn will should walk beside him with a parasol and high-topped shoes.
His reverie was interrupted by the jarring presence of another immortal, and he froze, his eyes darting to likely places of ambush. "Amanda, if you've--"
But if it was a trap, it was a friendly one.
"Methos." Duncan relaxed, trying-- and from the glint in the other man's eyes, failing-- to hide a sudden rush of joy. "I thought you were in Timbuktu. Or Tierra del Fuego."
"Just got back in town." Methos stood with his hands in his pockets. I've been away too long, his eyes seemed to say, and Duncan found himself nodding in answer to the unspoken words.
"And thought you'd take a walk in the park," he said dryly. Amanda ducked behind her parasol.
Methos smiled. "I was invited."
"Were you now."
"Something about an 'intervention'."
Duncan tipped the parasol away from Amanda's face. "Intervention? Didn't we learn anything from the last one?"
"Joe thinks you're spending too much time brooding," Amanda drawled out the last word.
"Right. Blame it on Joe."
"Why not?" Methos said. "He's not here."
But you are. Duncan wondered if the light in Methos's eyes was a reflection of his own. "Oh, really?" He said aloud. "He's not waiting around the next corner?"
Amanda swatted him lightly with the parasol. "Stop grousing, Duncan-- and don't scowl or your face will freeze like that."
Duncan rolled his eyes, then bared all his teeth in an exaggerated grin. It earned him a poke in the ribs.
"God help us if his face froze like that," Methos murmured. "It'd be pretty ghastly to wake up to."
"What?" Duncan's heart was suddenly pounding.
"I've woken up to worse, actually," Amanda said.
"So have I." Methos leaned over to pluck a late-blooming flower growing along the path. Duncan watched, surprised by envy, as Methos bowed slightly and offered it to Amanda. "Though, true, it was from the vantage point of the couch and not from the same pillow."
"A pity." Amanda flashed Duncan a brilliant smile, and tucked the flower in his breast pocket.
Duncan felt his cheeks flame, struck by a vision of Methos in his bed, with his head on Duncan's pillow. "What?"
"Do I hear an echo?" Methos cocked his head to one side.
Amanda snuggled against Duncan and grinned impishly. Caught in the crossfire of their good humor, Duncan smiled.
"O-U-T I go and WHO comes IN!"
"Oh look! Here, hold this" Duncan blinked as Amanda shoved her parasol into his hands and trotted towards a pair of girls spinning a jump-rope to a sing-song rhyme. They broke into laughter as Amanda ducked in under the rope. Their chanting stepped up and the rope spun faster as a line of girls stepped in and out. A simple game, Duncan thought. But you had to step fast, and sure. "Hit me on the head with a rolling pin!" Duncan exchanged a look with Methos, who shrugged.
Amanda danced back into the spinning rope. Methos stood so close that his sleeve brushed the top of Duncan's hand, and after a moment, Duncan leaned towards him. Methos tilted his head back, an ironic smile on his lips and one word in his eyes.
Amanda waved to him, laughing.
"Go on, Duncan," she called out. "Jump!"