“How about something instrumental?” Methos suggested as the Journey album wound to its end. The morning sun dazzled through the winter chill against the left side of the VW minibus. The rays brightly lit, but barely warmed, his hands on the wheel, speeding down US 15. In the passenger seat, Alexa sat half in shadow.
The Grand Canyon — and Niagara Falls, Egypt, Greece, India, everywhere — was up ahead, if he could just get her there in time.
“Bach?” Alexa pulled her hands from the pockets of her denim jacket. She bent over to root through the box of tapes beneath her feet; the bus hadn’t been designed for adults as petite as she was. “Or — oh, more Yo-yo Ma!” A few days ago, she’d quietly stopped separating her cassettes from his. He’d had to settle for buying steak for her at a diner near that night’s campground, in lieu of conquering armies, climbing mountains or composing masterpieces for her... or slaying the damned dragon of her cancer. She swapped the tapes and adjusted her seatbelt latch so that she could sit cross-legged, tucking her long skirt around her. “Can I drive?”
“What, now?” The freeway belonged to them and a few long-haul truckers. Methos pretended to reach for the gear shift.
“No! Adam!” Alexa laughed; he grinned. “At the next rest stop, or after lunch. Tomorrow, even. We’ve talked about a lot of important things—”
Methos looked up from the road to catch the curve of her lips and the warmth on her cheeks. “Insurance, allergies...”
“Yeah, that’s exactly what I meant,” Alexa rolled her eyes. She stretched her arm out to him across the space between seats and held his hand, stroking her thumb across his fingers. “But we still haven’t talked about whether you’re the kind of man who lets other people drive his car.”
“Excellent question!” Methos squeezed her hand, so small in his. “What kind of man am I?”
With Alexa, he didn’t feel like only Adam Pierson. All the men he had ever been had something to say about her. That risky, seductive wholeness had flagged this attraction as one that could grow into the best kind of love or the worst sort of heartbreak. He knew better than to squander that, he’d told himself.
Yet, until MacLeod had brightened the world by lopping off the bastard’s head a year or so back, an immortal named Axel had notoriously preyed on young women not unlike Alexa. Axel had seen life anew through their eyes right up to the point when, bored, he murdered them. While Methos, Death himself, had long since learned to cope with memories of incomparable atrocities, a nightmare casting him as Axel had nevertheless woken him in a cold sweat. That Alexa had no immortal quickening to steal brought scant comfort.
Was he using her? Getting high on her enthusiasm and freshness? He didn’t recall these worries from any previous time that he’d fallen in love, but it had been a hard century. Several philosophies characterized love as entirely selfish. Looking down at the sleeping Alexa after his nightmare, Methos had found those philosophies even more obnoxious than usual. They might be right about him. They weren’t about her.
Settling back against the pillows, Methos had watched Alexa by the light of the streetlamp outside, shining around the motel curtain. He had stroked her long, soft, brown hair gently away from her face and neck, inhaling the intoxicating scent of her that seemed to rewire the back of his brain before moving on to other parts of him. It could be pheromones, he supposed, with genetic compatibility and timing triggering hormones. Or perhaps Alexa resembled the Neolithic people among whom he’d first learned to live and love, for all that he couldn’t consciously remember them. It didn’t matter. He’d left mere attraction far behind the moment that he’d needed her happiness more than his own.
Love rarely made sense. He knew it when he felt it. Alexa laughed at his jokes, froze out his cynicism and captured all his attention. She woke up his heart. Six months, twenty years, countless centuries: it was worth the inevitable end.
“I think that I’m the kind of man,” Methos kissed Alexa’s hand, released it and returned his to the steering wheel, “who doesn’t mind being chauffeured. Have you ever driven a genuine—” he pulled out a German accent “—Volkswagon Type 2 Transporter Kleinbus?”
“I can drive a stick.”
“The lady hedges! How about a minivan? Truck? Tractor? Tank?”
She snorted. “I may need some lessons.”
“Too bad we don’t have anyone around here who knows how to teach.”
“Yeah, a real tragedy.” She laughed at him again. Alexa knew that Adam Pierson was a graduate student with instructional responsibilities; she herself had been just two credits shy of a teaching credential when her diagnosis had exploded her life plans. “Drive a lot of tanks on your Atarii 2600, did you?”
“'Invisible Tank Pong' rules.” Methos felt his smile stretch ear to ear. The Battle of the Somme could have used a joystick or two. “Have I told you yet this morning that I love you?”
“Twice. Do I need to remind you that you hardly know me?”
“I’m working on that.”
“Good.” Alexa took a deep breath. “Because I think I love you, too.”
Countless centuries, twenty years, six months. Resuscitating his heart now, only to watch it die again then. But if she could bear it... so could he.