"This was a horrible idea," Methos said when they arrived in the portrait gallery.
Duncan said nothing. Methos had said the same thing four times already: Once when Duncan had pointed out that the museum had acquired several new portraits recovered from the estate of Kristin Gilles, once when they'd parked the car, once when they'd paid their admission, and once on their way to the east wing of the museum.
"There are plenty of museums full of my belongings but you don't see me going to visit them," Methos muttered. "Except that one place in Philadelphia, but that's only because no one knows the tools were mine. It's not like there's a photo of Doctor Adams next to them. This? This is ridiculous."
"It's not ridiculous," Duncan said as he started through the gallery. It was a huge room, well lit and full of people looking at the newest acquisitions. "I just want to know if the one Louise did of me survived."
"Kristin probably burned it when you left," Methos muttered. "Besides, even if it did survive, how can you possibly think it's a good idea to come see it in public?"
Duncan had paused to inspect one of the portraits. Methos leaned in to read the plaque underneath, then straightened again to look around. The gallery was crowded, for a weekday morning. It looked like there was some sort of school group on a tour and teenagers were milling around, clearly not as into portraits as their teachers might have hoped.
"No one's going to notice," Duncan assured Methos. "If it's even here, it's hundreds of years old and I'm standing right here today. I can always just say it must be an ancestor or something."
"Sure. That'll fly," Methos said.
They split around a panel in the middle of the room, Duncan going around to the right, Methos to the left. Methos watched Duncan's feet, visible below the panel. When Duncan's feet paused, Methos paused too. When he started to move, Methos followed.
"It's here," Methos heard Duncan say from the other side of the panel. He made his way around to join Duncan where he stood in front of a very recognizable portrait. Methos read the plaque to the side while Duncan stared at the physical proof that he'd been both alive hundreds of years ago, and also a fool hundreds of years ago. Or, well, not so much a fool as naive.
"Looks like it was damaged," Methos told him. The plaque detailed the work done to restore the painting. It had been recovered along with several others when Kristin's estate had been sold off following a lengthy legal battle after her death. "It says here that it was stabbed with 'an unknown blade' right through the middle. Pretty impressive that they were able to fix it once the canvas had curled in."
"What do you think?" Duncan asked, turning to mimic the pose. "Good likeness?"
Methos bit back a smartass reply just as two teenage girls turned to look.
"Oh my GOD!" one of them said to the other. "Holy crap, that's amazing!" And before Duncan could move, she'd pulled out her phone and snapped a picture of Duncan in front of the painting of, well, Duncan. "I'm totally posting this," she said to her friend. "Dude, you look just like that guy!"
Duncan stared at the girls for a moment, speechless. He seemed to have finally regained the power of speech just in time for the students to be called over by their teacher to head back to their bus.
"No one's going to notice!" Methos said to him as the room emptied. "It's not a bad idea at all! MacLeod, have you ever wanted to be internet famous?"
"She won't post that," Duncan said when they got back to the house. "She didn't even ask!"
"It's already up," Methos said, holding out his own phone to show Duncan.
Time Traveler or Immortal or Both? read the title of the article. Underneath was a series of photos featuring a person either in a museum near a painting they resembled, or a photo side by side with an image of a piece of art. Next to each was a simple radio button poll asking readers to pick between "time traveler" or "immortal" or "both!" When Duncan handed Methos' phone back to him, Methos picked "time traveler" for Duncan's picture, then picked random answers for the rest and hit the button to submit his choices.
"Well, the poll is currently heavily in favor of you traveling through time," Methos said. "But it's not a landslide and it did only just go up ten minutes ago."
"How did she get that whole thing done so fast?" Duncan muttered, going over to his computer and sitting down to pull up the site.
"Kids today," Methos said, scrolling through another post on the same page. It was amazing the way they just cascaded into each other. If you weren't careful you'd end up just sitting there, like the Lotus Eaters. He quickly closed that tab and went to join Duncan, who had done the unthinkable: He had opened up the comments on the post.
"Well what the hell do I do now?" he asked Methos, who shrugged.
"Beats me. Like I said, this is why I don't visit my old things."
Duncan was apparently actually reading the comments on the post. Not just glancing at them, really reading them.
"This one here says I don't look much like the portrait," he said, pointing to one of the comments.
"And I'm sure everyone will listen to that one guy," Methos assured him.
It was well into the next morning when Joe called. Methos had been expecting it, but he hadn't been certain how long it would take. That was entirely dependant on who in the Watchers knew Duncan MacLeod's face on sight and how much time, if any, those Watchers wasted online.
"It's what?" Duncan asked as Methos finished his coffee. "What do you mean 'viral'?"
"He means it's contagious," Methos muttered. "And it's spread. Like the Plague. Except that was bacterial, but still."
"I know what it means," Duncan shot back. "Why would that, of all things, go viral?"
He had addressed that question more to Joe than to Methos, so Methos didn't deign to answer it. Instead, he finished off his coffee, then pulled up the post on his phone again. The comments weren't worth looking at, but he did take a closer look at some of the other photos.
"You know," he said, as Duncan hung up the phone, "some of these are pretty convincing."
Duncan was getting more coffee. In fact, he was changing out his regular mug for a much bigger one and filling it.
"Are you saying there are other Immortals in there? Recognize anyone?" Duncan asked. He was eyeing the cream, but apparently decided he needed his coffee undiluted and came to the counter with it.
"No," Methos said. "I'm just saying, yours is no more or less convincing than any of the rest of them. It's just a laugh, Mac."
Duncan drank his coffee without responding, but for the rest of the day, whether they were out or in, Methos kept catching him checking his phone.
By Methos' count, Duncan had checked his phone at least fifteen times before they got lunch. Methos himself had given up on the idea of keeping track of the damn thing. It could be on Facebook by now for all he knew, or cared. Really, it wouldn't have mattered to him at all, except that while they were waiting for their sandwiches Methos heard someone behind them talking, then turned to see two teens pointing towards Duncan.
"That's the guy!" one said to the other. "The immortal dude from the painting!"
Duncan was clearly doing his best to ignore them and Methos did the same. Once they'd left the deli - a little more quickly than they'd originally planned - Duncan handed the bag with the sandwiches to Methos and took out his phone.
"That's it. I'm going to get it taken down," he said. "It's an invasion of privacy. There has to be some way to do it."
Methos didn't bother to try and argue. Duncan would learn soon enough.
Twenty-four hours later, Duncan had tried emailing, he'd tried calling, he'd tried emailing some more. He'd even posted a comment, asking if anyone knew how to remove a post from the original site. Methos had looked at that one and a couple of the responses and quickly backed right out of there. No help would come from that direction.
"There's no way to do it," Duncan concluded after spending an hour getting bounced from person to person and back again. "They said they can't take it down and even if they could since it's been reposted in so many places, it wouldn't help."
"Might as well learn to live with your newfound fame," Methos advised. "Lean into it, Mac. Tell anyone who asks that you're secretly a vampire and that portrait was from your early mortal years before you were bitten and you were trying to revisit your lost youth."
Duncan was glaring at him. Methos could feel it on the back of his neck.
"Or don't. It's going to be fine," Methos continued. "The worst you'll get is your next challenger teasing you about it."
The glare persisted and Methos continued to pretend he had no idea it was happening. He picked up his phone, pulled up an entirely different time-waster of a site, and started to scroll through the newest posts. There were a lot of really foolish people on the internet, that was for sure, but they were foolish in entertaining ways. That had to count for something.
The following morning Methos woke up assuming that he would find Duncan already awake and trawling the internet for more instances of the photo, but no. Duncan was calmly making French toast and sipping from a glass of orange juice as if he didn't have a care in the world.
"Did it magically disappear?" he asked as he took a seat at the counter and pulled over the orange juice and a glass.
"Better," Duncan said. "Seems something else has usurped its spot as the top post."
Methos went to find his phone and pull up the site. There, right at the top, was a new headline: "You won't believe these sculpture doubles!" The first pair of photos were of a sculpture from a traveling exhibit on Ancient Greece, and of Methos himself - clearly taken while he'd been looking at Duncan posing.
"Oh," he said. "Well. At least the nose is broken on that one. It barely looks like me at all now."