The bar had not yet opened for the night and Duncan was enjoying a quiet, private conversation with Joe. It was a near weekly thing now, giving him just enough details to keep the Watcher’s journals full, but giving both Duncan some privacy and Joe a break from having to follow him around all the time. Duncan was sipping a smooth Glenfiddich when the door opened with a little more force than seemed strictly necessary; two huddled figures hurrying inside and slamming the door closed again behind them.
“Mind if we use your office?” Methos asked, not bother to wait for an answer as he hustled his companion inside.
Duncan blinked at the intrusion, and the fact said companion appeared to be smouldering, and not in a good-looking type of way, before turning to Joe and motioning towards the office door with a tilt of his head.
“Oh yeah, definitely want to see this,” Joe agreed. He grabbed his canes and led the way. When he opened the door, Methos looked neither surprised nor annoyed to see him.
The companion, a lanky fellow with a mop of dark hair and skin that looked like it had not seen the light of day for far too long was complaining, “I told you I was fine!”
“You were on fire!” Methos countered.
“Only a little,” his apparent friend insisted. He crossed his arms in front of him only to look down at his blackened sleeve and pat the last of it out.
Duncan took note of the reddened blisters on his fingers that faded away before his very eyes and guessed, “Old friend?”
Methos shrugged. “Older newer friend, of a sort.”
Duncan waited a moment but, when nothing else seemed to be forthcoming, sighed, “Do we get introductions, or do we get to guess?”
Methos quirked an eyebrow at his friend, who nodded in return which, instead of actually made him start the introductions, made him ask, “Just what name are you going by this time anyway?”
“Real one,” came the sheepish reply.
“And you are surprised that you were attacked?” Methos demanded with more than a hint of exasperation. He raised his fingers to his brow and massaged his forehead as if trying to fend off an impending headache. Duncan was quite used to this gesture.
“You have people naming their children after cars and cities, how was I supposed to know my given name was still verboten?” the pale man exclaimed. His hands flew in all directions with his emotions and Duncan was now able to note that, atop being shy in the melatonin department, the man was extremely thin to the point of downright bony. He also had a set of ears that likely promoted childhood insults, regardless of when that childhood was, but Duncan was wise enough to keep quiet about that.
Instead, it was Joe who prompted, “And just what might that name be?”
The man paused in his flailing and turned to him, a surprised expression on his face as if he only just realised they had not gotten around to the actual naming portion of the introductions. He held out his hand and said, “Merlin Emrys, at your service.”
Joe blinked. Duncan blinked. Joe hobbled over to the desk and sat down on the edge. Duncan blinked again. Merlin looked concerned, but Methos looked amused.
Ducan found his voice first to ask, “Merlin, as in the Merlin? As in the mystical and magical man of legends, is an Immortal?”
The man in question shook his head and then said, “Well, kind of.”
Methos gave in to the emotion he had been holding back and chuckled. “Kind of?” he clarified. “Just what would you call yourself then? You’ve lived far more than a single lifetime and have healing properties that rival my own. Do you prefer to be called ‘lucky’ instead?”
Merlin, as Duncan had no other name for him, huffed. “Well, obviously I’m immortal. I’ve done the suffer for centuries thing and all that. I’m just not Immortal like you. I’m bollocks with swords and the last head I took didn’t exactly release that Quickening of yours. I live, I bleed, I get better.”
Duncan was impressed with how matter of fact he sounded about the whole thing, even if it made no sense to him. He had seen enough in his days to know there was more than one type of magic, and had to assume it was simply another type that kept this man going. He could, however, not resist saying, “But I thought you were all old and grey with a beard and all that.”
Merlin whipped around at that, blue eyes wide and incredulous as he asked, “What are you, a Disney fan?”
Methos bit his lip, no doubt finding humour at MacLeod’s indignation, and offered, “No, he’s a Boy Scout, but it’s close enough.”
Joe finally found words again to ask, “Can I ask just what you are doing here? Of all the times and places, why here and why now?”
Merlin turned to Methos, not Joe as he replied, “He’s coming back.” The enthusiasm and want and sheer emotion to his voice was enough to make Duncan feel for the man.
Methos, of course, simply asked, “What, now?”
Merlin nodded, his mop of hair seeming to move separate from the rest of him for a moment. His grin though was wide enough and bright enough to light up the small room they had gathered in. “All the signs are there. The stars, the seasons, the Earth itself is coming alive again, all for him.”
Methos looked like he wanted to believe him, but winced and pointed out, “You thought this before.”
Merlin smiled wryly and seemingly amiably, not insulted in the least. “And I was wrong. But this feeling... It’s so strong. The magic, it was dulled and dying and now it’s alive and thrumming again, I can feel it in my blood. Plus, you have to admit the world has gone to utter shite and the blasted legends said he wouldn’t come back for any less than that.”
Methos tilted his head to the side as if musing on that bit of evidence and agreed, “Very true.”
“Then, of course, there is the point that Nimueh just tried to nuke me along the Seine, which I take as both a sign time is near and that she still has an unhealthy obsession with water,” Merlin continued.
Methos made a face at that. “I thought Nimueh was dead.”
Merlin simply rolled his eyes, looking far more like a college student and far less like a mythical wizard. “Please, do you know how many times I’ve tried? That woman is near impossible to kill and even worse to get to stay dead,” he sighed. After a beat, he added, “I know you and her had a thing at one time and all that, but really, I’d suggest you put that behind you less she get ideas of using you against him and, really, there is no way that will end well for anyone.”
Joe cleared his throat and asked, “Nimueh? As in the woman who was rumoured to both be your wife and be the one to lock you away in a tree?”
Merlin’s sigh became one of exasperation at that. “She was never my wife and it was a cave not a tree and I will never forgive you for that little addition to the texts, Methos.” He wagged a finger at the offending man in accusation and then shook himself as if to erase the memory from his mind. He then whirled on Joe and said, “Oh, and to answer your earlier question, I am here because Methos here happened along Nim and I’s little confrontation and got me out of there while she was distracted by being almost dead again. It was also thankfully before the sirens and police got close enough to figure out what we were doing.”
Now it was Joe’s turn to sigh. “Watcher clean up?” he guessed, giving Methos a look to let him know he would owe him one for this.
“Entirely not necessary,” Methos insisted. He waved a lazy hand in Merlin’s direction and suggested, “Do your thing; it might also help them believe you are who you say you are.”
Merlin narrowed his eyes at him. “If you wanted me to clean it up my way, why did you drag me out of there in the first place?” he huffed.
“Because you owe me a drink and an update on the latest round of reincarnations,” Methos said as if it were obvious. “I’d hate to accidentally try my hand at Guinevere again just because I didn’t know who she was.”
“Fine, fine, fair enough,” Merlin agreed while Duncan tried to take in the implications of Methos’ last comment. He was distracted, however, with the man before him reached out a pale hand and muttered something in a language that was both familiar and not, his blue eyes glowing a luminescent gold and a burst of light literally forming in the palm of his hand to shoot outward to the word at large. A blink and the man was back to what Duncan presumed was his usual self again, dusting off his hands with a, “There, that should do it. If not, we’ll know soon enough.”
It proved to be evidence enough for Joe who closed his open mouth, swallowed heavily and said, “So, this man you think it coming back...?”
“That would be Arthur, yes,” Merlin finished for him.
“As in Arthur Pendragon, the once and future king?” Duncan clarified. He knew his tone was disbelieving but, really, so was this entire situation at this point.
Merlin nodded. “The one and only.”
“And what are your plans for this fabled, world-changing event?” Joe asked, the inner researcher clearly at the forefront now.
“I plan to snog him senseless, lock ourselves in a fancy hotel somewhere for a few days, and then try to figure out what horrific event awaits us while we’re good and sated,” Merlin replied blithely.
Duncan blinked, again, and saw the action repeated by his Watcher. “Okay, so that part somehow missed the myths.”
“The myths were all about him and Gwen, a dear sweet friend of ours who made a beautiful queen. They were, unfortunately, written by hetero-normative mono-amorous men with no sense of adventure,” Merlin lamented. “They wrote me as his advisor and Morgana of all people as his enemy just because they could not keep a couple of names straight. Tragedy, really. I suppose we’ll be making it up to her for a while, not that that’s a bad thing.” He waggled his eyebrows in a way that could not be interpreted as anything other than suggestive.
Duncan had no idea if he was serious or not. His expression implied at least the first part was true, but the last... He looked to Methos who, of course, looked as enigmatic as ever and refused to give anything away. He promised himself to come up with dire consequences for the man should he refuse to at least tell him how he came to meet the supposed wizard, and that those consequences would be far worse should that answer involve the words, “What, two mythical beings? We were destined to cross paths eventually.”
Instead, for now, Duncan looked across to Joe, who met his gaze with a shake of his head. The bartender struggled to his feet and offered, “Should I just start lining them up now?”
Duncan thought longingly of the glass still sitting on the bar and how, perhaps, this conversation could have made more sense had he brought it in with him, and nodded.
“Don’t worry,” Methos told them as he clapped his friend on the back and moved as if to follow Joe to the bar. “Merlin here still has absolutely no tolerance, even after all these years. We should be able to get more than one interesting story about his time in Camelot before the night is over.”
“Doesn’t take much,” Merlin agreed with a smile that Duncan could only call mischievous. “Might even get a few tales about this old chap’s time there as well.”
Duncan did not even wait for Joe’s request before he walked over to the main entrance, locked the door, and hung the sign that indicated a private party was making use of the bar that night. He only lamented that the Glenfiddich had been in Joe’s hand when Merlin had made his comment. Maybe he could use that magic of his to get them a new bottle?