The University of Seacouver was not the most prestigious of schools. But in the past few years, it had developed a decent reputation as good— but inexpensive— public university.
Methos could have falsified a resume that could have gotten him into Cambridge or Harvard, but there was a certain appeal in working at a school with less prestige. For one, it kept less attention on him. That was always at the forefront of his mind. For centuries he’d kept his head down and that had kept it firmly on his shoulders. He didn’t see much reason in changing that.
There was another reason Methos liked the University of Seacouver. He didn’t really want to admit it. It was so very unlike him to give voice to such thoughts. But he did enjoy the company he’d found in the city. It had been over twenty years since he’d first met MacLeod, but he couldn’t seem to resist the draw of the Highland Boy Scout. It wasn’t just Mac. Amanda, Richie and Joe tended to stay in MacLeod’s sphere. So when Methos had decided to set up a permanent new identity ten years previous, he’d done so in the rainy little city.
Somewhere along the line, the man who had hidden for millennia had found a new family. He had not only not been looking for it, he’d actively avoided it. But still... It had happened.
That was how he found himself as Doctor Adam Bennett. It wasn’t a bad identity to have. It fit a bit easier than Adam Pierson had. There was something frustrating about the eternal graduate student. He was a little too low profile, too unassuming. At least as Adam Bennett his students took him seriously. Even if he did downplay his own wisdom, he had some kernels that were rarely appreciated amongst his nearest and dearest. His students, however, hung on his every word.
He was equally appreciated amongst his peers. He’d gained quite a reputation as an erudite, young professor. It was that reputation the Dean hoped to exploit.
“She’s young, fresh...” Dean Peterson explained. “But her papers are brilliant. She’d be a real boon to the school.”
“It’s not even my department!” Methos exclaimed, laughing slightly. “Why would I be the best person to show this woman around?”
Peterson’s brow furrowed deeply. “Have you not looked at yourself in the mirror lately?”
Methos leaned back in his chair, sprawling. “Are you suggesting I seduce her to get her to work for us?”
“It’s almost a done deal.” Peterson leaned in. “Just show her around. Maybe take her for a drink. Nothing has to happen. Just show her what Seacouver has to offer her.”
Methos rolled his eyes. “And when am I supposed to do this? I do have papers I need to mark...”
“You have a very capable TA,” Peterson pointed out. “And she’ll be here...”
Methos felt the tingling in his spine. He sat up straighter, his eyes glancing towards his trenchcoat and the blade hidden inside of it. “I’m guessing right about now.”
The door to Methos’ office opened and a slight brunette walked in. She had one hand tucked inside of her long coat, looking wary. She relaxed, dropping her hand at the sight of Methos and letting out a long sigh.
Methos smiled broadly. “Look what the cat dragged in.”
Peterson looked between the two. “You two know each other?”
1175, Hampshire, England
Methos kicked his horse, encouraging it to ride harder down the road towards Winchester Castle. He had already ridden for three days. The young squire with him looking around the road nervously. “I pray we reach the castle before nightfall, Doctor. The Queen is in need of your care and there are bandits close by.”
Methos glanced to the brush, seeing it move in a way incongruous to the wind. “Alas gentle fellow, they are closer than you may think.”
A half dozen men emerged from the woods, blocking the path towards the castle. Swords and bows were trained on them.
Methos raised his hands to show he was unarmed. His reflexes were fast. He could retrieve his sword in the blink of an eye. But one of those arrows could be faster. A petty inconvenience to him in the short term, but reviving in front of so many people would be... Troublesome. “We have no treasures for you to plunder. I am but a simple healer, dispatched to treat the Queen Consort.”
Another figure emerged from the woods. The buzz of another immortal made him drop his hand to his side. He still did not pull his blade. It had been years since he’d been in a fight. He wanted to avoid it if at all possible.
The figure was small, face shadowed in a hood. “And what ails the Queen Consort?”
Methos shook his head. “That I will not know until I examine her. I implore you, grant us safe passage. There is nothing you desire here.”
Slender hands pulled back the hood, revealing a comely young woman with dark hair and green eyes. Her dirt stained face could not hide the obvious breeding in her. This was no lowly bandit. “I desire the place at your side. No one will miss your escort, nor notice a replacement.”
Methos laughed, looking to the squire. The boy looked rattled by his inclusion in the discussion. Methos remained unfazed. “And why would you desire such a trifle?”
The lady produced an elegant sword from inside her roughly hewn cloak. It was too beautiful a weapon to belong to anyone but a noble. She held it threateningly towards him. “Or else I shall desire something much more grave. No one has to die here today, good sir. I only ask for entrance to the castle. My men will keep the squire until I have accomplished my task.”
Methos looked to the nervous young man at his side. He nodded his head and the boy yelled as the bandits pulled him from his horse. His outer clothing was torn from him. The lady removed her cloak and donned the squire’s clothing. She tossed him her cloak before mounting the horse. She nodded to her men. “Return to camp. I shall return by the morrow. If I do not, kill the squire. Come along, good doctor. You have an ailing Queen to administer to.”
Methos set his horse to a trot alongside his new companion-captor. “If we are to ride together, your name would be much appreciated.”
“Marion,” she replied.
Methos narrowed his gaze. “False. Do not deceive a deceiver, milady.”
The woman regarded Methos for a long time. “Matilda de Gascony.”
Methos smiled, nodding. “Ah. Sounds much more natural. You have done a poor job of disguising the Poitevin in your voice. You do not wish to enter the castle in search of riches, do you, milady?”
The lady gripped her horse’s reins tighter. “I never implied that to be the case.”
“How well do you know the Queen?”
“As well as anyone living.” Matilda’s face was set with determination. “The King has been keeping her one step ahead of me. I have not been able to free her from her imprisonment for two years. Your head is quite safe so long as you allow me to free her from her captivity.”
“Such loyalty is a rarity amongst our kind, good lady,” Methos replied, unable to hide the amusement in his voice. “Have you been in service to her your entire existence?”
Her expression turned to one of irritation. “I do not appreciate your queries, Good Doctor.”
“Then you give me my answer. I know not who taught you what we are and how we comport ourselves, but blind loyalty to a crown will take that pretty head from your body soon.”
“My loyalty is not blind,” Matilda spat. “I know very well where they lay. Aliénor is not my queen, she is my friend. I travelled with her from Vézelay to Antioch. Not even death could keep me from her right hand. It was only when the court became suspicious of my age that I was forced to leave her side. Then she was imprisoned by that cad, Henry.”
Methos chuckled. “Oh, the folly of youth!”
Matilda’s featured twisted in irritation as she glowered at Methos. “I am hardly a child. I am fifty-three years old!”
“Apologies. I should have seen the wisdom in your eyes.” Methos continued to laugh, shaking his head. She was but an infant compared to him!
Matilda’s mouth was set in a pout. “You insult me, but you have not deemed to tell me your own name, Good Doctor.”
“They call me Adam.”
Matilda smirked at him. “False.”
Methos shrugged. “No, others do indeed call me Adam. It is just not the first thing I have ever been called.”
“Well, Adam...” Matilda raised her chin up. “If one should concern themselves only with their own well-being, why do you ride to the castle to cure my Queen of her maladies?”
Methos shrugged. “We need to do something to pass the time, do we not?”
They were quiet for the rest of the ride to the castle. As they approached the gates, Matilda pulled her hood back up. Guards blocked the path to the gates. “Who approaches?”
“I am a doctor,” Methos replied. “The Queen is ill. I was sent for.”
“The Queen has recovered,” one of the guards replied. “She has been moved. Your services are no longer required.” He tossed a bag of coin to Methos. “For your troubles.”
Methos had barely caught the bag when Matilda had turned her horse and began to gallop away. Methos took off quickly after her.
He rode hard, urging his horse onward. He managed to get ahead of her, blocking her path. “What are you doing, milady?”
“It has taken me months to trace my Queen to this castle. I haven’t a moment to lose. I must free her.”
Methos got off of her horse. He grabbed Matilda by the waist. She let out a shriek, hitting at him. He ignored her and pulled her off of her horse. “Milady, these are the issues of mortals. The King will have you killed if you do not cease in your pursuit. You are too comely to face an executioner.”
Matilda smacked Methos’ hands away from her. “I should allow my queen to rot away in prison?”
“She is kept in castles. Most in this world are not so well imprisoned as she. May I ask who exactly taught you of what you are?”
“He was a knight on the Crusade. I had drowned, but somehow recovered. He taught me of our kind and how to survive. I abandoned him when...” She looked down, shame in her features. “When he demanded things one does not demand of a lady.”
Methos nodded. “He taught you what we are and how we live. Yet I believe he neglect to teach you how to truly survive.” He held out a hand to her. “Perhaps I can be of some assistance.”
Matilda looked at his hand warily. “Why would you do such a thing?”
Methos smiled. “We need something to pass the time, do we not?”
Methos rose from his desk and crossed the office quickly. He pulled the woman into a light embrace. “What is it now?” He whispered in her ear.
“Matilda Guyenne,” she replied.
He smiled. “Back to the old classics.”
She patted him on the back. “You’re one to talk... Adam.”
Methos pulled back and looked Matilda over. Her makeup and hair were clearly calculated to make her appear older than her eternal twenty-five. He’d taken similar steps to disguise his own lack of aging.
“Well!” Peterson clapped his hands. “This works out well, you two being old friends. Adam, please show Doctor Guyenne around the campus. I’m sure you can answer any questions she has. You kids have fun.”
The door shut behind him. Matilda watched the door shut before turning back to Methos. “You do realize by admitting we know each other, you’ve probably put the idea in his head that you and I have had a torrid affair.”
Methos frowned, furrowing his brow. “And that would be inaccurate how?”
She broke out into a large grin. “Oh, Old Man... It’s been an age!”
Methos wrapped his arms around her waist and spun her around, hugging her tightly. He pulled back, looking down at her. “How long has it been?” He narrowed his gaze. “1925... November... Paris?”
Matilda crinkled her nose. “1969... August... Upstate New York.”
“Ah. I still don’t remember.” A devilish grin crossed Methos' face. “We must have had a fantastic time. So Doctor Guyenne, Professor of English Literature. I’m shocked. I thought you’d be in that art gallery of yours until someone took your head.”
She shrugged. “You need a change every once and a while or you’ll go insane. Besides, it’s harder to hide yourself if you stay in the same place. I still own the gallery. I need somewhere to keep all my stuff. Friend runs it for me. Seemed like this might be a nice thing to try for a while. All this time and I’ve never gotten to impart wisdom en masse.”
Methos fell onto his sofa, relaxing into a casual sprawl. “So you’ve decided to impart about the romantic poets.”
Matilda nudged his feet to get him to move. When he wouldn’t, she rolled her eyes and lifted his feet. She settled them in her lap while she sat down. “Well, we need to do something to pass the time, do we not? And I do have a very personal interest in the subject.”
Methos grew pensive. He took a deep breath, studying Matilda’s delicate features. “Speaking of your personal interest...” He trailed off, not really knowing how to break the truth to her.
Matilda turned to face him. She was stone-faced, just a hint of sadness in her green eyes. “I know about Byron already. I have for years.”
Methos swallowed hard. “You do?”
Matilda laughed softly, bitterly. “An international rock star was beheaded. That tends to make the news. Of course I know about it.”
Methos remained solemn. He reached out, taking her hand. “That... Wasn’t actually what I was going to tell you. Of course you knew. But...Matty, I was there. When it happened. I didn’t do it... But...”
This made Matilda take in a sharp breath. But she soon nodded, pulling her hand away. “Oh. Okay. So... It was MacLeod, was it?”
Methos blinked. “You know about MacLeod?”
“Everyone knows about MacLeod.” Matilda sighed, shaking her head. “I mean, I only know him from reputation. Never met him myself. Someone—” She leaned over and poked Methos in the chest. “—Taught me to stay away from troublemakers like that.”
Methos nodded. “I know, I know... He is just a bit hard to stay away from. He's got a magnetic personality.”
Matilda leaned back. “You know, Byron and I actually weren’t even talking when it happened. Hadn’t in about twenty years. I made the mistake of telling him I slept with Keats.”
Methos couldn’t help but smile sadly. “That would do it. Still, I’m surprised. You and Byron staying away from each other for twenty years? Thought you two had an annual lost weekend.”
Matilda grimaced. She glanced away, a faint blush appearing in her cheeks. “Well... I actually saw him about three months before he died. There just wasn’t a lot of talking involved.”
This caused both of them to laugh uproariously again. Methos shook his head. “You are twisted.”
Matilda poked him in the chest once again. “You are the one who introduced us. And I believe you also had him first. You also probably have him after me if you saw him right before he died. If I’m twisted, it takes one to know one.” She grew somber. “I’m not surprised really. The last time I saw him... It wasn’t pretty. Frankly, I’m surprised he lasted as long as he did, the way he lived. Mad, bad and dangerous to know. But it’s also dangerous to be.” She sighed deeply. “But you know... Occupational hazard for me. I tend to hang around troubled souls that aren’t around too long. Byron got more than most.”
They were both quiet for a long time after that. Matilda looked over Methos. “Of course, some troubled souls I’ve known have been around a very, very long time.” She shoved Methos’ feet off of her and stood up. She then held out a hand. “Come on.”
“Come on where?” Methos asked.
Matilda stretched out her hand further. “I don’t want to talk about depressing things anymore and you were supposed to call me in 1970, but you never did... So we’re going to go out and you’re going to buy me a drink. You can tell me all about your new boyfriend. Besides, you’re supposed to woo me into working at this place.”
Methos took her hand. “MacLeod is not my boyfriend.” He hauled himself up.
“Probably not from lack of trying on your part.” Matilda tugged at his hand. “Now come on. You’ve been a busy boy and I want to hear all about it from you yourself.”
“How do you know what I’ve been up to?” Methos asked, letting her pull him along.
“How are you supposed to avoid trouble if you don’t know who is causing trouble?” Matilda tsked. “You have clearly forgotten everything you ever taught me. You are slipping in your old age. But I would like to hear it directly from the source. Come on, Old Man... What caused you to finally get off your ass and get back into the Game?"
"This is going to take a while." Methos slung an arm over her shoulders. "I've got just the place to take you."
"Joe, you should really learn how to do this yourself." Richie Ryan grimaced as he fiddled with the wires connected to the modem.
Joe huffed and pointed his cane at the bar. "It's a blues club! Why does someone have to be able to check their Twitter?"
"Everywhere offers free Wifi these days." Richie finally got the final wire in place. "If you don't have it, people are going to go elsewhere."
Duncan shook his head before picking up his drink. "The things people worry about these days."
He paused for a moment as he felt the sensation of another immortal presence. He lifted his head, looking around. Richie rose up from behind the bar.
"Evening," Methos said, sauntering into the club. He had his arm around a pretty brunette. He noticed the cables on top of the bar. "Joe, did you make the internet angry again?"
Duncan stood up, his eyes narrowed warily. "Who's your friend?"
"This is Matilda Guyenne. We go way back."
Richie eyed her with a slight frown. "Just how far back?"
Methos smiled tightly. "Circa the Third Crusade. Matty, this is Duncan MacLeod, Richie Ryan and Joe Dawson. You can speak freely in front of Joe."
Matilda shook Joe's hand. She turned their joined hands up and moved up his cuff, exposing the faded blue tattoo identifying him as a Watcher. "Are you so sure about that?"
Joe pulled his hand away. "I'm retired. But how do you know..." He glared at Methos.
Matilda smiled at Methos. "Even if he hadn't told me, you guys are one of the worst kept secrets in the immortal world. I'm just surprised. Usually if we're getting up to tricks, the Old Man has me ditch my Watcher." She tutted softly at Methos. "You have changed."
Methos sighed. "Not by choice. I was discovered. It's a real pain in the ass. I'm sure my field Watcher has already contacted my researchers, cross-referencing your chronicles for every appearance of a dashingly handsome, dark haired immortal man."
Matilda shook hands with Richie and then turned to face Duncan. Duncan held out his hand. "Any friend of Methos..."
"...Is quickly beheaded?" Matilda finished. Methos and Joe both cringed, while Duncan quickly withdrew his hand. Matilda bit her lip. "Sorry. I've got a bit of a morbid sense of humour and the Old Man and I were catching up on old friends. It's nice to meet you, Duncan. Your legend looms large." She smiled. "Now if you boys will excuse me... I'm just going to freshen up..."
She walked back towards the ladies room, the men watching her as she went. Duncan sat down heavily in his seat.
"What was that about?" Duncan asked.
"Byron," Joe replied, looking to Methos for confirmation.
Methos nodded. "They were close."
“Just how close?” Duncan asked warily.
Methos shook his head. “We all have our companions. When I was making trouble with Byron and the Shelleys, I had to introduce them to Matty. She’s always had a way with creative souls. Only natural she should bond with an immortal poet. But it’s really nothing to worry about. She knew what he was. And she’s not the revenge sort. I taught her better than that."
Richie slid into the seat next to Duncan. "She's your student?"
"Close enough to one." Methos sprawled in the chair across from Duncan. "She's moving to town. Going to be teaching at the University. We just came across each other, thought we should catch up. And she does have a point..."
"What's that?" Duncan asked.
Methos sighed heavily. "My friends do seem to meet quick ends when I come across them again. I really need to do a better job of holding onto the ones I still have."
Matilda exited the bathroom, smiling broadly. "Okay. I hope I gave you boys enough time to talk about me behind my back. And Old Man, you still owe me the story of what you've been up to since we last saw each other."
"Right." Methos nodded. "The last time we saw each other. When you ditched me to go to a club with Scott and Zelda."
Matilda shook her head. "Noooo... I already told you. That's not the last time we saw each other. You just don't remember . You— with an abundance of substance taken— had made an ass out of yourself because you felt ignored in favour of Jimi."
Methos rolled his eyes. "Oh, I did always take a backseat whenever you had a project."
Matilda smirked at him. "Well, maybe if you wrote something other than your boring history books, you'd hold my attention better."
Methos leaned in close. “I believe I’ve held your attention quite well, Lady de Gascony.”
“Oh my God.” Richie shook his head. “You’re flirting. Flirting is really strange on you, Old Timer.”
Matilda smiled slyly. “I don’t know... I think he’s always been pretty good at it.”
“All right... So after ‘69....” Methos sighed. “Well, I spent the better part of the seventies in quite the haze. But by the mid-eighties, I cleaned up my act and became Adam Pierson, a mild-mannered graduate student... And a Watcher.”
Matilda laughed. “You were a Watcher again?”
“Again?” Duncan, Richie and Joe asked in unison.
Matilda squeezed Methos’ shoulder. “I’ve never gotten the full story out of the Old Man, but I’m pretty sure he helped form that group of voyeurs. Every century or so he likes to pop back in.”
“What can I say?” Methos smirked. “I just love history.”
“You just love messing with them.” Matilda poked him. “So Adam Pierson, innocent graduate student and Watcher...” She turned her attention to Duncan. “And then I’m going to guess you happened.”
Methos nodded. “And that, milady, is the longest story I’ve got. Joe, you better get us some drinks.”
Historical Notes: Aliénor d'Aquitaine (Eleanor of Aquitaine) was one of the most powerful women in the middle ages. She was first married to King Louis VI of France. She came with him on the unsuccessful second Crusade. She took with her many Ladies in Waiting. The trip was treacherous and many died. After her annulment from Louis, she married Henry II and because the Queen Consort of England. She was imprisoned by Henry from 1173 to 1189, for supporting their son in a revolt.
John Keats was a one of the romantic poets, a contemporary of Lord Byron's. He wrote such poems as Ode on a Grecian Urn, Ode to a Nightingale, and Endymion. He and Lord Byron had a pretty intense dislike for each other.
And Jimi Hendrix did indeed play a show in upstate New York in 1969...
Methos held Matilda’s hand as he walked her towards the door of her apartment. She smiled at him. “I like Joe. For a Watcher, he seems pretty cool.”
Methos pulled her close. “You? Like a musician? I never would have guessed. What about Duncan and Richie?”
“Richie...” Matilda took a moment, thinking. “He’s sweet, He’s young. It’s hard to think we were ever that young.” She crinkled her nose. “But I guess you never were.”
“I may have been... Who knows...” Methos sighed. He stopped in front of her door, turning to her. “And Duncan?”
“Not what I pictured,” Matilda admitted. She fished her keys out of her pocket. “All of the rumours that are out there about him, I thought he would be scarier. I think I made him nervous. So how in love with him are you?”
Methos placed his hand against the door, leaning in close to Matilda. “It’s not like that between us. MacLeod doesn’t swing that way.”
“I notice you pointedly avoiding my question.” Matilda opened the door, gesturing for Methos to come in. “Sorry about the mess. I’m still unpacking.”
Methos released Matilda’s hand and sauntered to the painting hanging on the wall behind the couch. It was of a dark-haired woman, reclining nude on a divan. Methos shook his head. “Renoir? You tart.”
“I never slept with him!” Matilda called out as she walked towards the kitchen. She went to the cupboard, taking out two wine glasses. She filled them before returning to Methos in the living room, offering him one. “His model didn’t show up. Besides, when you die for the first time bare-breasted in Amazonian garb, you have a tendency to find modesty overrated.”
Methos smiled cheekily, raising his glass. “But the troops were dazzled.”
“Hepburn was the only one with the grace to play my Queen,” Matilda sighed, clinking glasses with Methos. “You can tell the Dean you did a very good job of showing me what Seacouver has to offer.”
Methos took a step closer to her. “I think there are a few more perks I can show you.” He glanced around. “Even if it is pointless, since you’ve already decided to take the job. You’ve already moved.”
“Sue me for trying to get a better starting salary out of him,” Matilda snarked.
“We spent so long talking about my idiotic heroic streak, you haven’t told me what you’ve been up to.” Methos threw himself down onto the couch. “I mean, you’ve changed too. I didn’t even know you knew how to do an American accent. Last time I saw you, you were British...”
“You do remember the sixties!” Matilda gave him a playful shove. “I was at the gallery a long time. I needed a change. You know I don’t like to spend long on one artform. It’s been about a century since I did anything with writing... It seemed like the thing to do. So 'Mallory' got pregnant and decided to move abroad for a fresh start.”
“Pregnant?” Methos chuckled. “You got pregnant?”
“Yeah.” Matilda grinned widely. “It was actually pretty fun. All of my friends swore they felt the baby kick. It’s always easier to set up the ‘I’m my own granddaughter’ far in advance. Fifty years from now, I might want to head back. I like to be prepared.”
“I’ve said it before, you are twisted.” Methos quickly finished his glass, setting it down on the coffee table. “So... Seacouver. Why come here?”
A hint of pink tongue slipped out, wetting Matilda’s lips. “It seemed like a nice place to stay for a while.”
Methos cocked his head. “A nice place... Even though you’ve heard rumours about Duncan MacLeod and how much of a troublemaker he is. And you stay away from troublemakers.”
Matilda bit her lip. “Even troublemakers have certain... Benefits...”
Methos turned to face Matilda, leaning in close. “So, Doctor Guyenne... Is there a Mister Guyenne?”
Matilda shook her head. “You know that’s not my style.”
“Ah.” Methos inched closed. “A Missus Guyenne.”
“There’s a cat. He’s hiding somewhere in here. His name is Marlowe.”
Methos arched a brow. “Cat Marlowe?”
Matilda wrinkled her nose. “I inspire clever people. I never said I was one.”
“Well, I—“ Methos cut himself off as Matilda grabbed him by the front of the shirt and pulled him off the couch.
She walked backwards towards the bedroom, pulling him along. “The time for witty repartee is over. It’s now time we stop pretending that we’re not going to end up in there .”
Methos brought his hands up to cup her face. He leaned in, pressing his lips to hers. “I did tell Peterson I wouldn’t seduce you so you would take the job...”
“Oh, you have it the wrong way round, Old Man...”
Duncan leaned against his folded hands, his brow furrowed deeply as he contemplated the evening. Richie and Joe were back to squabbling about the state of the internet.
“Come on, Mac, tell him I’m right!” Richie insisted. He tossed a cable aside.
“Huh?” Duncan looked up, blinking. “You’re right?”
“What’s bugging you?” Joe asked.
Duncan scratched his forehead, shaking his head. “Sorry. I was just thinking. What do you know about Matilda?”
Joe walked over to Duncan, leaning heavily against his cane. He sat down across from the brooding immortal. “You do know that I retired ten years ago, right? And even when I was active, I didn’t have an encyclopedic knowledge of every immortal.”
Joe threw his hands up in the air in a shrug. “Died during the Second Crusade. Took her first teacher’s head. Doesn’t have many confirmed kills. Mostly hangs out with creative types... Writers, artists, musicians. That’s about all I know. She’s not really a priority case.”
Duncan continued to frown, leaning back in his chair. “And what’s her connection with Methos?”
Joe shook his head, chuckling softly. “I don’t need the Chronicles to tell me that...”
“Why does it bother you?” Richie asked. “So the Old Timer has a girlfriend. What’s the problem with that? He hasn’t been with anyone in years... Decades ... Doesn’t he deserve to have a bit of fun?”
“In my experience, Methos has some pretty bad taste in immortal company. Whenever he has a bit of fun, there ends up being bodies.” Duncan let out a low growl. “And let’s face it, whenever a new immortal comes to town— friend or enemy— it ends up with someone losing their head. I’ve gotten a bit wary.”
Richie sighed. “Well, you do have a point there.”
“Joe,” Duncan looked at the former Watcher. “Do me a favour? Use whatever resources you have left to get me some more information on her? I just want to know what she’s got going on.”
Joe got up, grumbling. “You were idealistic for four hundred years. Why did you decide to get cynical now?”
“When our cynical ancient one decided to get so trusting.”
Richie clapped Duncan on the shoulder. “Come on, I’m sure he’s not getting up to any trouble.”
Methos kissed Matilda hotly before rolling over onto his back, groaning deeply. “Please tell the Dean I went the extra mile.”
Matilda draped herself over Methos’ bare chest. She smirked up at him. “The extra mile? Is that what they’re calling it now? I haven’t exactly dated in a while.”
Methos ran his fingers through her hair, leaning back against the pillows. “I never would have guessed. You haven’t lost a step. How long has it been?”
Matilda glanced up at him. “Honestly? Byron...” She put a finger to his lips when he opened his mouth to speak. She shook her head. “Don’t read anything into that. I just had other priorities. I got a doctorate!” She sighed. “Actually, I got two of them. Took me some time to figure out what I wanted to do, but I hate to leave things unfinished.”
"Two doctorates?" Methos hummed, curling a lock of hair around his finger. "Look at you. What were they?"
"Musical Arts and English Literature."
Methos nodded. "And, of course, you already had the ones in Art History and Classical Studies."
Matilda's lip pouted in confusion as she peered up again. "How did you know about that? I got those in the seventies."
He shrugged. "I was a Watcher. I kept an eye on certain immortals. Being a professor is going to be a real switch for you. You just adore being a student."
"Look who's talking." Matilda crawled up and kissed Methos. "So... What about you?"
Methos cupped her face and kissed with great enthusiasm. The hand that had been playing with her hair smoothed down her back to come to rest on her posterior. "Just the one doctorate."
Matilda straddled his waist, splaying her hands over Methos' chest. "That's not what I meant, Old Man. How long has it been?"
Methos sighed, looking up at the woman on top of him. "Ironically enough, Byron..." He rolled them over so he loomed over Matilda. "Don't read too much into that."
Matilda pressed warm kisses to his jawline. "Oh, I know you're a busy man. Trying to keep MacLeod alive and all. Taken up a lot of time in the last twenty-five years."
Methos grew pensive. He moved away from Matilda, sitting up. "Byron was an aberration, honestly. I don't want to say a mistake..."
"I wouldn't be hurt if you did," Matilda sat up and put her chin on his shoulder, squeezing his arm. "The last time I was with him, he died of a heroin overdose in the middle of it. Not a pleasant experience. And he never saw either of us as more than casual diversion." She laced her fingers with Methos. "Who was the one before that? The one that mattered?"
Methos glanced back at Matilda, his eyes widening slightly in surprise. She fixed him with a look. "Come on, Old Man... I know you better than that. There was somebody. Somebody that mattered a lot."
"Her name was Alexa." Methos squeezed Matilda's hand. "She was my wife."
Matilda nodded solemnly. She pressed a kiss to Methos' shoulder. "How long were you with her?"
"Six months," Methos replied. "She was sick. The entire time I was with her... I knew I would lose her. It doesn't make it easier." He leaned back into Matilda's embrace. "It was such a short time and it's been almost twenty years..."
"You don't have to excuse away your pain," Matilda murmured. She kissed his temple. "You loved her. It doesn't matter if it was six months or six centuries. You're allowed to grieve." She pressed against him. "But you're also allowed to do this..." She gestured between the two of them. "If that's why you're bringing Alexa up now, instead of when you were giving me your big life update. Because you're feeling guilty..."
Methos shook his head, sneering. "I haven't felt guilt in a millennia."
"You are full of shit." Matilda squeezed his hand once again. "You pull the snarky ancient one act with everyone else, but don't do it with me. Not here. Being with me isn't a betrayal of her."
"That's not..." Methos sighed. "That's not the betrayal. Hell, I slept with Byron a year after Alexa died. It's... Alexa never knew what I was. I didn't want to tell her. It seemed unfair. She was dying and I would live forever. She loved Adam Pierson, not Methos. Now Adam Pierson is gone... I'm someone else..."
"I've known you eight and a half centuries under what must be a hundred names. You're always you," Matilda assured him. "She loved you. More importantly, you loved her. You didn't toss that away just because you changed your name."
Methos raised their joined hands, giving Matilda a kiss on the knuckles. "We've gone too long without seeing each other, milady. I'm glad you're here."
Matilda smiled. "I'm glad I'm here too. I've missed you, Old Man."
Methos grabbed Matilda by the hips and laid back, pulling her astride him. "So no great loves for you in the last forty years?"
She scrunched up her face and shook her head. "The occasional affaire de cœur, but you know I tend to attract people who are much more interested in their art... And I tend to be more interested in their art too. Not really good for the long term."
Methos ran his hands up her thighs. "How you put up with me for eight centuries I'll never know... I don't have an artistic bone in my body."
Matilda grinned, leaning down to take his mouth. "Aw... I liked The Vampyre. You did invent an entire genre... Even if it has descended into sparkly teenagers. And you're also the greatest bullshit artist I've ever met."
Methos growled softly. "Perhaps I'll tell you a bedtime story then..."
"It's just amazing!" Methos raved, holding out his phone towards Duncan. "I don't have to talk to any surly teenagers. I can just press a few buttons on my phone and when I show up, the coffee is just waiting there for me."
Duncan continued to scowl as he walked across the campus alongside his friend. "I suppose if you remember the invention of the wheel it is pretty extraordinary."
Methos huffed and shoved his phone back into his coat. "Did you show up here just to brood at me? What's your problem?"
"Nothing's my problem." Duncan replied. "You're just overly chipper today, everyone else is going to look somber in comparison."
Methos shrugged his shoulders. "What? I had a good night with an old friend. Of course that's going to put me in a good mood."
"An old friend..." Duncan nodded and stopped walking. "And just what kind of 'old friend' is she?"
Methos frowned, his good mood quickly evaporating. "Did you come all of the way to have coffee with me at work to grill me about Matt? She's a friend. One I've known for a very long time. A close friend."
Duncan sighed. "Okay. A very close, old friend. So she's like... Your Amanda."
Methos considered for a moment. "Well. Considering I'm the morally dubious older one... You could say she's my Duncan."
Duncan wasn't amused by the remark, especially when Methos patted him on the shoulder. "What I mean is you two are..."
"Lovers?" Methos supplied. He nodded. "Yeah."
MacLeod's brow furrowed deeper. "But she was also Byron's lover."
Methos nodded again. "Concurrently and consecutively."
Duncan cringed. "I didn't need to know that!"
"What?" Methos was getting more irritated by the moment. "You asked. Or does it offend your delicate sensibilities that I don't shirk from a ménage à trois?"
Duncan frowned. "So you and Byron..."
Methos nodded silently.
Duncan frowned deeper. "You never said anything about it."
"I would've thought it obvious seeing us together." Methos shrugged. "It's not my job to lead you by the hand just because you were intentionally obtuse."
Duncan sighed. "I didn't think you liked men. I mean, you were with Alexa..."
"And I was with Byron. It's the twenty first century. Is the idea of bisexuality really so difficult for you to grasp?"
"Matilda cares about Byron more than she's told you," Duncan said firmly. "Why else would she have brought him up right away when she met me?"
"Because I brought Byron up," Methos pointed out. "Before anything happened with Matt, I wanted her to know from me what happened. It was fresh in her mind. But Mac... It's been twenty years since you took Byron's head. If she cared, she would've tracked you down long before now."
"Why is she here then, Methos?" Duncan demanded. "She just happens to take a job teaching in Seacouver? At the same university you teach at? You don't think she has a reason for it."
"No, I do think she has one..." Methos shrugged and smirked at Duncan.
Duncan sighed. "You really think she's moved all the way here just for that ? You really think you're that good?"
Methos began to walk again. "Five thousand years of experience... I'm very inventive."
Duncan trailed after Methos. "I really don't need those mental images."
"Tell you what..." Methos nodded. "I'll bring her over to your place tonight. I'll make dinner. We'll have some fun. You can get to know her."
Duncan hummed softly, considering it. Finally, he acquiesced, nodding his head. "But we're not having the kind of fun you, her and Byron did."
Methos chuckled. "Oh Mac... I don't even know where to get laudanum anymore."
Matilda looked around MacLeod's apartment. She nodded her head. "This is a very nice place you have here, Duncan. You've really lived here for almost thirty years? That's impressive."
Methos stirred a pot on the stove, peering over his shoulder. "MacLeod has always been really bad at secret keeping. Most of the mortals he knows long ago figured out why he doesn't age. Besides, you've owned the same estate for eight hundred years, milady."
"Closer to nine hundred if you include when my father owned it," Matilda pointed out. "And I haven't lived there the entire time. I don't even think I could live there anymore. It's been a gallery for... Well, I can't even remember when I converted it."
Duncan handed Matilda a glass of wine. "You own an art gallery?"
She accepted it with a gracious smile. "In Bordeaux. If I didn't, they'd have to feature me on Hoarders . My talent has always been being able to spot talent. I would have just given my friends money outright, but the fragile artistic ego always survived better if I was buying work from them."
"It helps that you're in half of them," Methos teased.
Matilda poked him in the side. "Most of the work in the gallery doesn't have me in it. You just like to focus on the paintings where I'm naked."
Methos held a spoon out to her. He smirked at her. "Ah, but you hide most of the ones with you in it so people don't get suspicious, milady."
Matilda leaned in, tasting it. "Well, my best teacher did instil in me a sense of paranoia." She licked her lips. "It needs oregano."
"But he wasn't your first teacher," Duncan blurted out. "You beheaded your first teacher."
Both Methos and Matilda turned to Duncan, wide-eyed in shock. "MacLeod..." Methos hissed warningly.
"It's fine, Old Man," Matilda replied, holding up a hand. "So Joe has been telling stories about me? Yeah, I beheaded my first teacher. Not all of us were so lucky to have someone as noble as Connor MacLeod teach us the Game. It was either behead my teacher... Or allow him to rape me as payment for his lessons. I'd make the same choice again if I had to, except now I'd probably emasculate him first."
Methos abandoned the stove, stalking over to Duncan. "Why are you having Joe get information on Matilda?" He hissed low.
"Because it's an immortal I don't know who has appeared out of nowhere," Duncan replied. "One that you're so easily letting your guard down in front of."
"I've known her longer than you've been alive, Mac!" Methos protested. "You know I'm not exactly the trusting type. She's my friend."
Duncan scowled. "I've met your friends before."
Methos closed his eyes, looking away.
"Methos." Both men turned to look at Matilda, surprised by her use of Methos' real name. She placed her hands on her hips. "Did you two just forget I was here? And that I didn't know what you were muttering about? Methos, Duncan is protective of his people and wary of those who aren't. You're one of his people and I'm not. I'm not offended he's looked into me. But Duncan... If I wanted to harm Methos, I could have done it a very long time ago. Honestly, I'm just here because I got a job offer. I'm really not looking for any trouble..."
The three immortals went quiet as the presence of another immortal resonated through them. The elevator opened and Amanda strode in, carrying bags.
"I know I've been away for a while, MacLeod... But I thought I'd..." Amanda looked up just in time to see Matilda dive for her coat, drawing out her elegant arming sword.
Amanda dropped her bags, pulling her sword from her own coat. The two women glared at each other venomously and at the same time hissed. "You."
HISTORICAL NOTES: Methos quotes from The Lion in Winter. In that, Eleanor says about the Crusade. "I even made poor Louis take me on Crusade. How's that for blasphemy? I dressed my maids as Amazons and rode bare-breasted halfway to Damascus. Louis had a seizure and I damn near died of windburn... but the troops were dazzled."
In The Modern Prometheus, Methos was a stand-in for John William Polidori, who was a friend/physician to Lord Byron, was indeed in love with Mary Shelley and wrote The Vampyre (during the same trip where Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein) which is credited as the source of modern vampire fiction.
OTHER NOTES: I am familiar with Postcards from Alexa and know that Alexa discovers about Methos' immortality in that. I've chosen to ignore that for my own purposes. I'm playing fast and loose with canon as it is, so **shrug**
There is a brief appearance from an original immortal that is original with no explanation (unlike Matilda who very much receives an explanation). He won't play a major role in the story and thus doesn't receive a lot of backstory. He's just sort of there... Which granted... Highlander has done before.
Just to explain: My mother was a big fan of Highlander. It was a fandom we bonded over. Emrys was my mother's original character in a fanfic she never finished or released. She loved writing that story. My mum passed away two years ago and I thought it would be a nice tribute to her to let her immortal character live on. She would have loved that I was writing this and I actually get a little teary when I think that I can't share this with her.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
"What are you doing ?" Methos demanded, eyes growing wide as he watched the two women circle each other, blades drawn.
Duncan looked just as worried as Methos, looking between the two. "So you two have met?"
Matilda smiled tightly. "You can't own an art gallery for centuries without meeting the Amazing Amanda."
Amanda narrowed her gaze. "Oh, you know well we go back further than that, Lady de Gascony..."
1197, Château Gaillard, Les Andelys, France
Matilda laughed softly as the handsome young man escorted her down the corridor. One arm was occupied holding her by the waist. The other held his rebec. Matilda let out a laugh. "His Majesty was in good spirit's tonight. I feared your fingers would bleed from the number of times he commanded you perform."
"Such would be a pity," Emrys sighed. "I am quite fond of my position with Richard and would be loathed to part."
Matilda pulled away from Emrys, facing him. "The King's discovery of your immortality would not mean your expulsion. The Queen Mother has known of my own since before her imprisonment."
Emrys shook his head. "I'm afraid, dear Matilda.... I have long outgrown the impetuous folly of youth. You could have very easily ended up under the headman's axe, as opposed to her Majesty's right hand."
Matilda pursed her lips. "You do not know my Lady as I do. She would never put me to death."
Emrys let out a small laugh. "You are fortunate the Queen Mother recognizes the value of servants of our kind. Had I known you when you revealed your secret, I would have advised against it."
"And I would not have listened," Matilda replied, smiling broadly. "I am devoted to my Queen. I have been by her side now sixty years. There I shall remain until she takes last breath."
"Such loyalty is another attribute I have long since mislaid." He grasped Matilda's chin between thumb and forefinger. "You should not risk your head for another. I thought our mutual friend had taught you that." He released her and took a step back. "And now I bid you good-night, milady... And leave you with your childlike idealism."
"Yours is too young a face for such cynicism," Matilda sighed. "Before you depart, Emrys... I sensed another of our kind this eve."
Emrys nodded slowly. "Yes. I am aware of whom you speak. You need not be wary. She but wished to meet with the King. I saw she was presented. I do not believe she desired a challenge." Emrys took Matilda's hand and lifted it to his mouth, pressing a kiss to her knuckles. "Now rest, 'Lady Marion'. Do not trouble yourself. The Queen will wish you alert in the morrow."
Emrys released Matilda's hand and turned, striding in the opposite direction. She continued onwards. As she turned the corner, she felt the prickling in her spine alerting her to the presence of an immortal. "Blondel?" She called out, looking behind her.
When she saw no trace of Emrys, she turned back warily. She drew her sword as she set eyes on Amanda. She had just pulled herself away from the window. "You are not the immortal I expected to see," Amanda said, drawing her own sword. "He was a more pleasant countenance by far."
"I am Matilda de Gascony," Matilda said fiercely. She took a step closer, eyeing the sack Amanda carried. "And you should have been escorted from the castle hours ago."
"I was but disoriented by the winding corridors," Amanda replied, keeping alert. "I shall be departing now."
With a flick of her sword, Matilda sliced open the sack Amanda carried. Jewellery spilled from the hole. Matilda's eyes burned with fury. "You shall not be disappearing with my lady's treasures!"
Amanda dropped the emptied satchel, meeting Matilda's blade with her own. "I did not wish for a battle this night, Lady de Gascony."
"Then you should not have plundered from the Jewel of Aquitaine!" Matilda shouted fiercely, attacking Amanda with harsh strokes of her sword.
The pair were evenly matched, of similar build and skill. Neither was able to gain dominance over the other. The sound of steel on steel echoed through the corridors.
The sound of footsteps and the sense of the buzz alerted them to the arrival of Emrys. "What in the name of all that is holy are you doing?" He demanded, looking over the pair. "You cannot be serious!"
"She was stealing my Lady's jewels," Matilda spat angrily as she pushed away Amanda's sword with her own. "She is nothing but a lowly bandit."
"Lowly?" Amanda repeated, incredulous. Her strikes became more brutal "Rather a bandit that a pampered! Painted! Peacock!"
"This is insanity!" Emrys cried. "You would risk your heads for a handful of gems?"
"No one steals from my Queen while I breathe," Matilda hissed.
"I will be sure you rectify that," Amanda spat back.
"And if you do," Emrys' voice was forceful as he drew his magnificent sword. "I will take your head whilst you convalesce from the Quickening."
Matilda smirked at Amanda and let out a satisfied laugh.
"I make the same promise to you, Matilda." Emrys snapped at her. " You should know better!" He glared at the pair. "The victor of this petty quarrel shall experience my wrath."
So shocked by this pronouncement, both women impaled the other, blades going straight through their chests. They gasped and collapsed onto the ground.
Emrys looked down at the bodies. He shook his head and grabbed Amanda's prone form. He let out an undignified grunt as he began to drag her. "Fools."
"You killed each other?" Duncan scrubbed his face with his hand. "Over some jewellery?"
The concern on Methos' face had disappeared. He bowed his head as his shoulders shook with uncontrollable mirth. "Oh... You two really need to put down your swords. This is ridiculous! Poor Emrys having to deal with the pair of you..."
"Who's Emrys?" Duncan asked.
"Old friend," the other three responded simultaneously. The two women then glowered at each other anew.
"You've met him too," Methos added. "He changes his name a lot."
"He dragged me away and I wasn't able to get into the castle until after she--" Amanda jabbed her sword towards Matilda. "--Went packing fifteen years later. Never got to see Richard again."
Duncan cocked his head. "So why did Richie tell me you'd slept with him?"
This caused Methos to laugh even more uproariously.
"Oh? She lied?" Matilda rolled her eyes and clutched her chest dramatically, still holding her sword aloft. "I may just die of shock."
Methos shook his head, looking to Duncan. "Amanda was... Not really Richard's type."
"So I exaggerated to impress Richie," Amanda said dismissively. "The important thing is she hasn't forgiven me since!"
"Maybe because every time I see you, you try to steal something from me!" Matilda snapped.
"Oh, Darling... It's all in fun," Amanda said coquettishly. "Are you saying you aren't having fun when I drop by?"
"Jade tried to have some fun with me too," Matilda snarled. "Suffice to say, I'm the one who had fun in the end."
Amanda squared off her fighting stance. "I'm not Jade. What are you even doing here? You're hardly MacLeod's type."
"He's not mine either," Matilda raised her sword higher.
"Both of you just put down your swords," Methos yelled, holding up his hands, his brief mirth giving away to concern again. "You're not going to fight in Mac's loft. Can we all just be civil to each other?"
"She drew a sword on me!" Amanda snapped.
Methos turned his attention to Matilda. "She's my friend. Please. Do it for me."
Matilda scowled. She then huffed out a breath. "Fine." She lowered her sword. "But you're not allowed to use that again for like... Fifty years."
Methos smiled and strode to her, cupping her face and kissing her lightly on the lips. "Thank you."
"Oh Methos..." Amanda's lip curled in disgust. "You can't be that bored."
Methos turned to Amanda. "Amanda."
Amanda rolled her eyes and put her sword away. She threw her empty hands up in the air. "We're all happy and alive. Is that better? Now will someone tell me what is going on? I've only been away two months!"
Methos sighed. "Matilda just moved to town. I was making dinner for her and Mac." He gestured to Amanda to sit down. "I guess this is a double date now. We're having spinach fettuccine with a side of interpersonal tension."
He went back to the stove, which was beginning to smoke. "Dammit..." He turned down the heat and began to fan away the smoke with his hand.
"Let me give you a hand." Matilda went to join him in the kitchen.
Duncan pour a fourth glass of wine, holding it out to Amanda. She looked warily into the kitchen. "I always thought she was a little priss... Didn't think Methos would go for that."
Duncan thought back on his conversation with Methos about the relationship he had with Matilda and Byron. "Prissy... You might have misread that."
"You don't like her," Amanda questioned.
Duncan sipped his wine. "I don't know her. But Methos likes her."
Amanda just looked at Duncan, elegant brow arched.
"Okay, I have serious questions about the sort of people he does like. But she doesn't seem too bad. Joe's looking into her. But you know her..." Duncan leaned in. "What do you think?"
Amanda took a drink. "We've crossed swords, but never seriously enough to have a real challenge. Didn't realize she knew Methos... Then, I didn't know he knew anybody. He's not one for oversharing."
Duncan nodded. "Let's just get through tonight."
"All right!" Methos carried plates over to the table. "Dinner's served!"
The four immortal sat down at the table. The three younger ones all looked at each other warily, quietly eating their food. The tension in the air was thick.
Methos smiled wryly. "This is going to be fun!"
"Ugh." Matilda pulled Methos by the hand out of MacLeod's building. "I'm sorry about that, Old Man. That evening was a disaster. I really wanted to make a better impression on Duncan. I just didn't expect Amanda to show up."
"It's all right," Methos assured her. He pulled her to him. He leaned down to kiss her. "If you are staying in town, I'm sure you'll have many more chances to impress him. If it makes you feel any better, I don't think he really started to like me until last month."
"False." She walked down the street with Methos. "Despite your best efforts, you're family to them. And here I come out of nowhere and you like me so very, very much... It's a bit out of character for you. I'm sure they find it jarring."
Methos nodded. "Yeah, well... MacLeod doesn't have a good track record with my friends. They tend to end up dead by the end of it. Their fault." He released Matilda's hand and huddled into his coat. "Not just Byron. It's a long story. I don't know if I should get into it..."
Matilda stopped walking. She looked down. "I know about the Horsemen already, Methos."
Methos' eyes widened. "What? But... I've never..."
Matilda sighed deeply, keeping her eyes downcast. "A battle of ancient immortals ending in a Double Quickening happening in my backyard? Of course that's going to get back to me. Took me a while to put it together, but..." She shrugged. "I might not know all of the details, but I know enough."
Methos cleared his throat. "And you don't mind it?"
"I'm not thrilled about it," Matilda replied. She took Methos' hands once again, squeezing them tightly. "But I've known you eight and a half centuries. What you did was millennia before I was even born. I know you're not that man anymore. Civilizations have risen and fallen in less time. It doesn't change who you are to me."
"I should've known you would find out." Methos put an arm around her shoulders and began to walk down the street again. "We were very close to your estate. Sometimes I wonder if maybe that's why Kronos chose to make his base in Bordeaux. A subtle taunt that he knew who my friends were... What insurance he could use..."
Matilda's eyes grew sad. "I'm glad he didn't have to use that insurance. I don't think that would've turned out too well for me."
Methos frowned deeply as the somber cloud surrounded Matilda. She was right, of course... If it had come down to Kronos killing her or him, Methos would have let Kronos kill her. He didn't like that idea. In fact, it made him feel sick inside. That didn't make it any less true.
He decided to push those thoughts-- and that sick feeling-- aside. He kissed Matilda once again. "So... Do you want to come to my place? You haven't gotten to see it yet. I've got a very nice ceiling you can look at."
Matilda shook her head. "I've got an early meeting with the Dean and I should go feed my cat before he claws my first editions in protest."
Methos nodded. "All right. I'll call you."
Matilda hailed a cab. She then grabbed Methos by the lapel and kissed his nose. "I had a nice night. Well... Okay, the night was horrible and awkward... But you are an excellent cook. Next time, I'll try not to draw my sword."
Methos smiled. "I'll hold you to that."
Duncan was sound asleep, Amanda nestled in close to his body. He was roused from his sleep by the sensation of another immortal. Amanda was already waking, raising her head. She looked up at him, already alert. "Maybe it's Methos or Richie."
Duncan grabbed the hilt of his katana, lifting it up. "Maybe."
Amanda nodded, taking up her own sword. She nodded, shooing Duncan away. "You go ahead. I'll stay here... Get your back."
Duncan crept slowly across the floor, keeping his sword raised up. He saw the figure standing in the front door.
It was dark, he could barely see their silhouette. But as he got closer, he could see they were in a hood.
"I am Duncan MacLeod, of the Clan MacLeod."
The figure did not respond, just drew out the arming sword. It clashed against the katana. They were sloppy. Duncan would win the fight handily.
The other immortal grabbed something from Duncan's desk, throwing it at him, causing him to lose his focus. He tried to get it back, but his opponent's blade nicked his arm. Duncan groaned and tried to shake off the pain.
"MacLeod!" Amanda cried. She jumped out of bed, bringing her sword up.
The hooded immortal pointed their sword at Amanda. They then turned back to Duncan, seemingly unsure where to direct their attention. They turned and ran towards the door.
Duncan took off in hot pursuit. The immortal was fast, racing towards the street. Duncan tried to keep up. As he was coming to an alley, he heard the sound of metal. He brought up his katana and met the immortal's blade once again.
"If we're going to do this, let's just do this. No more running around." Duncan still couldn't get a good look at the immortal from under their hood. But he knew who it was. He had no doubt in his mind.
With one hand still keeping Duncan's sword away from theirs, the immortal reached into their cloak and took something out. It happened too quickly for Duncan to react to it. The gunshot rang through the air. Duncan was hit in the stomach. He lurched backwards, grabbing the wound.
The immortal fired several bullets in rapid succession, hitting Duncan in the chest. He coughed, one of the bullets puncturing his lung.
He looked up at the immortal, seeing the blade above his head.
The immortal turned at the sound of Amanda running towards them. His vision was getting fuzzy, but he saw something fluttering out from beneath their cloak and land on his bloodstained chest.
Amanda was torn, wanting to run after the challenging immortal or come to Duncan's aid. She decided to kneel down by him, lifting his head. "Duncan, are you all right?" She grimaced. "No, of course you're not. You're going to die. But look on the bright side... At least you're not a foot shorter."
Duncan struggled against his death. He grabbed the paper that had fallen from the immortal's cloak. He weakly lifted it up, looking at it. He was barely able to make anything out before he succumbed to his death.
HISTORICAL NOTES: Richard the Lionheart did indeed have court outside of England (He only spent about six months in England during his entire reign), with his favourite castle at the end of his life being Château Gaillard. He supposedly did have a trouvère named Blondel de Nesle.
Methos leaned his elbows against his desk, rubbing his temples. "What you two are saying makes absolutely no sense."
Amanda paced back and forth in front of Methos' desk. "What's so hard to understand? Your girlfriend broke into Duncan's loft and tried to kill us.” She threw her hands out. “End of story.”
“There’s no way!” Methos protested. “You’re telling me we had a very awkward dinner party, Matilda got in a cab to go home, fed her cat, then came back to attack you two while you slept? Do you have any idea how insane that sounds?”
Duncan slammed his hands down on Methos’ desk, leaning over. “Amanda and I were attacked last night. I was shot five times in the chest. She would’ve taken my head if Amanda hadn’t scared her off! Is it just a coincidence there is a new immortal in town who happens to have a dislike of both of us? Who else could it be?”
Methos rose from his chair. “Well! Since you ask... When I was still with the Watchers, I made a very impressive list of immortals you’ve crossed over the years. I wanted to keep an eye out for any red flags. Matilda’s nowhere on that list.”
“She is now,” Duncan pointed out. “I killed Byron. And as you saw yesterday, she’s got no love for Amanda.” He pointed a finger to Amanda. “Why is this so hard for you to believe?”
“Because you don’t know Matt like I do!” Methos snapped back. “How many times have you listened to me when I tried to tell you one of your old friends was trouble?”
“And how many times were you right?” Duncan challenged. “Methos, you haven’t seen her in a long time. Who knows how she’s changed?”
“I would know,” Methos insisted. “You know I wouldn’t stake my life on a lot... But I will on this... Matilda didn’t attack you.”
"But you weren't with her last night," Amanda pointed out. "You said you didn't spend the night with her."
Methos opened his mouth to speak, but quickly closed it again. Matilda had been quick to come up with excuses to not stay with him.
Amanda pulled a paper from her coat. “And how do you explain this?”
Methos sighed, rolling his eyes. “What is that?”
“It was on Duncan’s dead body.” Amanda held it out to Methos. “Explain this to us.”
Methos paled as he accepted the paper, recognizing it instantly once it was in his hands. He sank down into his chair, placing the paper on the desk and staring at it.
1819, Ravenna, Italy
Methos reclined casually in the canopy bed, stripped down to his undergarments. His dark hair fell over his forehead as he smiled tiredly at the nude man sauntering to the window. “Not even going to cover yourself first?”
“What have I to hide?” Byron declared, throwing open the curtains to stand in the open window. “I enjoy being watched.”
Methos got up. He walked to Byron, leaning in close, before pulling the curtains back shut. “It depends on who is doing the watching.”
Byron snaked a hand behind Methos’ neck. “Getting shy on me, are you, Doc?” He closed the gap between them, taking Methos’ mouth in an arduous kiss. He nipped and sucked at Methos’ mouth, his hands roaming over the other immortal’s chest.
Methos pulled back, breathless. He licked his swollen lips, smiling. “I thought you might be displeased to see me. I didn’t know how you would react to the story.”
Byron waved his hand. “Oh, that vampire trifle? My own fragment will be published in my next book at the end of the year. I thought you would be the one who was angry, with it being attributed to me.”
“Such is the way of things.” Methos smiled softly. “When I am with you, I am like a star in the halo of the moon, invisible.”
Byron plunged his hand into Methos’ underclothes, groping. Methos hissed, throwing his head back. His Adam’s Apple bobbed. Byron growled low in his throat. “Sounds horrible.”
“Only if you dislike being invisible,” Methos groaned.
“Still... You were quite angry the last time we saw each other.” Byron kept his hungry eyes trained on Methos’ every reaction as he stripped him of the last of his clothing and let his hands keep wandering. “I thought you might just take my head.”
Methos let his eyes slide shut. “And rob the world of your...” He gasped in a breath. “Talents?”
Byron ran his tongue over Methos’ throat. “Now where is your travel companion? Not that I do not find you endlessly entertaining, but I had such fancies come to my mind when you both arrived at my door.”
Methos pushed Byron away gently. “She felt unclean from the journey.”
“She’ll hardly be cleaner once she joins us,” Byron crowed. “Madeleine! Your host demands your presence!”
Methos strolled to the decanter, pouring three glasses. “And what would the Countess Guiccioli say to you entertaining Madeleine and myself?”
Byron accepted the glass from Methos. “Perhaps she could ask her husband! Our business has no bearing on my other affairs.” He jumped up onto the bed. “Oh what fools these mortals be!”
Both men felt the presence of another of their kind as the door opened. Matilda entered, clutching her dressing gown shut. “One of your peacocks was pulling at the hem of my robe.”
Byron leapt off the bed and grabbed Matilda by the waist. “Because even a bird can recognize what treasure lay beneath, dear lady.” He buried his face in her neck. “This is the real reason you abandoned me, is it not, Doc? So you could feast on this luscious, fruitful vine without my hindrance?”
Methos pulled Matilda’s robe from her, leaving her as naked as her companions. He dropped to his knees and began to kiss up Matilda’s thigh. “When have I ever feasted without your utmost encouragement?”
“You two started without me,” Matilda pouted.
“You took too long, Lady Madeleine,” Byron groused. He sank down, draping himself over Methos. “Perhaps we should run away together and leave the lady with my peacocks.” He nipped at Methos’ earlobe.
“Byron...” Matilda warned.
Byron grinned. “Perhaps all it shall take to grow your ardour is some words of encouragement. Some tokens of you favour...”
Matilda smiled. “I’m always willing to take favours.”
Byron jumped up. He took hold of Matilda’s hands. “She walks in beauty, like the night... Of cloudless climes and starry skies... And all that's best of dark and bright.... Meet in her aspect and her eyes... Thus mellow'd to that tender light... Which heaven to gaudy day denies.”
Matilda frowned. “Ah, you wrote that years before you met me. I believe it was for your cousin?”
Byron pulled her back towards the bed, tipping her over onto her back. “Ah, but beauty such as yours defies time. So extraordinary you are that you found my quill before I set my eyes on you.” He kissed her hands. “It is your poem. An endless night for an endless beauty... In fact...”
Byron rose and went to his desk. He pulled a paper from the drawer and held it out the Matilda. “For you. The only woman worthy of holding it for eternity.”
Methos made a small noise of annoyance. Byron turned to him. “Oh, so jealous, Doctor. Because of her or me?” He cupped Methos’ face. “I’ve entertained our lady. Now it’s your turn.”
Methos crawled between Matilda’s legs. “And you?”
Byron sank down into a chair, leaning back. “I’m always the center of attention. Sometimes I like to enjoy a good performance...”
“So explain to us, Methos: Why would a random immortal leave a copy of a Byron poem on Duncan’s corpse?” Amanda demanded, tapping her fingers against the paper.
Methos ran a hand through his hair and sighed. He didn't look up, just shaking his head. “It’s not a copy.”
“Of course it is,” Duncan replied. He pointed at the paper and began to pace again. “We all know the poem. That’s it.”
"I mean--" Methos raised his head, finally looking to Amanda and Duncan. He felt the words stick in his throat, not wanting to voice them aloud. “I mean it isn’t a copy. This is the original manuscript. I recognize the handwriting. Byron wrote this."
Duncan stopped pacing and sat down in the chair across from Methos. "You do more than recognize the handwriting. You recognize the manuscript. You know where it's been."
Methos nodded. "Byron gave it to Matty a hundred years ago. He declared it her poem. But he did that... He once decided I was his Maid of Athens... And the subject of When the Music's Over."
"This isn't a joke, Methos!" Duncan slammed his hand down hand on top of the poem. "We were nearly killed last night and we found this! How can you be so blind? Your friend came to town to kill me."
Methos sneered, shaking his head. "Serial killers. That's who leave calling cards like this. Why would Matilda be carrying this with her if she was trying to kill you? What good would it do?"
"I'd know who did it," Duncan replied.
"You'd be dead, MacLeod," Methos snarled. He rose from his seat once again. "Not much point in gloating, is there? It would do nothing but make me angry to know what she did to you."
"Maybe she thinks you wouldn't care." Amanda offered. She leaned in towards Methos. "It has been a while since you've seen her and you've changed a bit. I'm guessing you were far more callow when you knew her."
Methos didn't speak. He just stared down at the manuscript. He picked it up and strode towards the door, grabbing his coat while he went.
"Where are you going?" Duncan demanded.
"Away," Methos replied. "You two know where the door is."
Methos raised his glass, draining the alcohol quickly. He winced as it burned down his throat. Joe frowned, but picked up the bottle again, refilling Methos' glass. "You know, I don't know if I should keep serving you."
"And still you're going to." Methos raised his glass to Joe before tipping it back once again. "I promise to not die of alcohol poisoning."
Joe sat down heavily. Methos glanced over him and sighed deeply. Joe had once been so vital. He was sitting a lot more than he used to. The strain of carrying his body was becoming too much for him. It would only be a matter of time before he would be permanently using a wheelchair.
Such was mortal life.
"What did you find out?" Methos asked, setting his glass down again. When Joe moved to grab the bottle, Methos covered the top of his glass, indicating silently he should stop being served.
Joe put the bottle back down. He shrugged. "Like I told MacLeod, I'm retired. No one's going to be giving me information."
"Oh come off it, Joe," Methos sneered. He crossed his arms over his chest. "You can find out whatever you want. No one has contacts like you in the Watchers... And you would've done it, for MacLeod."
Joe rubbed his wrinkled forehead. He then grabbed a tablet, holding it out to Methos. "I contacted Matilda's Watcher. Find out why she was in Seacouver. He sent me the last couple of years of her files."
Methos scanned over the long list of names. He shook his head. "I don't understand. Most of this is just names. What are they?"
"The immortals she's killed," Joe replied. "Considering the eight hundred years before this, it's quite the uptick."
Methos gulped, looking over the names. "When did she start doing this?"
Joe took the tablet back. "1997. Around the time the news about Byron came out."
Methos' heart thudded in his chest. "Have you told MacLeod about this yet?"
"I sent him an email on that thing." Joe gestured to the tablet.
Methos sighed. "Thank goodness for small favours. That means you forgot to attach the file. You can't tell him about this yet, Joe. Not until I find out what's going on."
Joe furrowed his brow. "And why should I do that?"
"Because she's my friend, Joe!" Methos shouted. "And I'm not going to let two of my friends fight to the death until I find out what's going on."
Joe's cellphone rang. He answered it. "Yeah?" He was quiet, listening to the caller. He closed his eyes and sighed deeply. "Thanks for the update. I appreciate it."
He hung up. Methos frowned at the pensive look on Joe's face. "What's going on now?"
"That was Matilda's Watcher. He thought I might want an update, since I asked for all of that." He gestured to the tablet. "He lost track of her last night, but she left her apartment at about one-thirty in the morning. He didn't catch up with her again until five. He thought she might've gone to your place..."
Methos ran a hand through his hair. "I have to go." He paused for a moment, then grabbed the tablet from Joe's bartop, ignoring the man's protests.
"So what are you going to do? Find out what's going on or get the hell away from all of this?" Joe called after the retreating immortal.
Methos smiled wryly. "I'll tell you when I decide which."
Matilda smiled broadly at Methos as she opened her door, her sword held loosely at her side. "I thought that was you." She got up on tip-toes to kiss him. "So I've got some very good news. My meeting with the Dean went great. Hemming and hawing worked really well for me. My starting salary is fantastic. I will be officially teaching at the University of Seacouver starting in September. I'd love to talk to you about my syllabus. I was actually thinking of putting The Vampyre on it..."
Methos sighed, entering her apartment. He tried to remain stoic as she brightly told him her good news. "Good... That's good..."
Matilda frowned, following Methos closely. "Why doesn't it feel like you think it's good? What's going on?"
Methos braced himself, taking a hold of Matilda's hands. "We need to talk, Matilda."
Matilda looked down at their joined hands. The excitement that had filled her at the greeting at the door had completely evaporated. "All right. This must be serious. I don't think you've called me Matilda since the thirteenth century."
Methos nodded. "Yeah, it's serious. MacLeod and Amanda were attacked last night."
Matilda blinked. "Are they okay?"
Methos nodded again. "Yeah, they're okay. MacLeod was shot, but they didn't get his head."
"That's good." Matilda smiled. "But why would you..." She pulled her hands away from Methos, taking a step back. "Oh no." She pointed a finger at him, taking another step back. "You are not telling me this for that reason."
"Matty..." Methos took a step towards her.
Matilda shook her head savagely. "No. Right now you get to stick with Matilda. Methos, you did not just come into my apartment and accuse me of trying to behead your friends."
"MacLeod was sure it was you," Methos replied. "It looked like your sword. He didn't see your face. The attacker was wearing a hood... But you were quite well known for wearing a hood back in the day."
Matilda scowled, throwing up her hands. "Oh, you shack up with an outlaw for a couple of years in the twelfth century and you're branded for life!"
Methos rolled his eyes. "Well, you did tell every troubadour in Europe the stories."
"You've never gotten over Robert, have you?" Matilda shook her head. "You know, jealousy is a bad colour on you."
"Oh, like I've ever cared when you decided to run off with some mortal!" Methos shoved his hands into the pockets of his coat. "Matilda, this is serious."
Matilda began to stalk the living room like an angry lioness. "Oh, I'm taking this with as much seriousness as is needed. And that is I don't know whether to be more insulted you think I would attack your friends... Or that I would be stupid enough to take on two immortals at the same time!"
"I've been defending you to MacLeod and Amanda," Methos pointed out. "But what are they supposed to believe? You just came to town... You were snarking at MacLeod about Byron and you drew sword on Amanda. And then they're attacked out of nowhere. It's a small step to that conclusion." He drew the manuscript from his coat. "And there's this." He held it out the Matilda.
She accepted the paper, eyes widening when she realized what it was. "Where did you get this?" Her voice was low and weak.
"MacLeod's attacker dropped it when they ran away." Methos stepped towards Matilda, placing a hand on her shoulder. "I'd recognize it anywhere. And I know you had it."
Matilda smoothed it out and placed it on her bookshelf. "And you think I just carry it around with me when I foolishly go to ambush two immortals in the middle of the night? You're just... Panicking."
"I don't panic!" Methos protested. "But I am concerned. MacLeod thinks you tried to kill him, Matilda. And he will win. He's better than you."
Matilda shrugged. "Explain to him it wasn't me. You're his friend. He'll listen to you."
Methos shook his head solemnly. "No, he won't. Not on this." Methos gripped her shoulders. "Matilda, this has to stop."
Matilda pushed Methos' hands away from her. "He won't listen to you... Because you think it was me."
Methos sighed. "Matilda, I know what Byron meant to you."
"You fucked him as many times as I ever did," Matilda snapped harshly. "I don't see you demanding a pound of flesh. Why would I put my head on the line for something as idiotic as vengeance?"
Methos pulled out Joe's tablet. "I don't know. Why would your put your head on the line for all of these immortals?"
He held out the tablet to her. Matilda scanned through the list. She frowned deeply, shaking her head. "I don't understand. What is this?"
"Your Chronicle since 1997." Methos sighed. "Those are the names of all of the immortals you've killed. You've been busy."
"Oh, this is bullshit!" Matilda threw the tablet onto her couch. "You really think I would turn into some sort of headhunter? Because I'm... What? Broken hearted over some junkie I used to bang every couple of years?"
Methos nodded. "All right. Then how many heads have you taken in the last twenty years?"
"What?" Matilda threw her hands up in a shrug. "I... I don't know. Some? We always come across someone looking for a challenge. But it sure as hell wasn't that many. This is all crap!"
Methos picked up the tablet. "So there's just some giant conspiracy to make you look guilty. How does that make any sense, Matilda?"
"How does any of this make sense, Methos?" Matilda demanded. She shook her head savagely. "But what does it matter? You've already made up your mind. You think I did this."
"MacLeod thinks you did this." Methos placed a hand on her shoulder. "He's not going to let this go. If he thinks you tried to kill him and Amanda, he'll come after you. In a fair fight, you can't beat him."
Matilda looked up at Methos, cocking her head. Her green eyes glitter malevolently. "Old Man, you never taught me to fight fair."
HISTORICAL NOTES: John Polidori did indeed have a very tumultuous friendship with Lord Byron, due to Byron's verbal abuses and Polidori's jealousy over Byron's celebrity. The quote from Methos “like a star in the halo of the moon, invisible.” is something Polidori said about his friend.
"The Vampyre" was published in April 1819 and was originally billed as "A Tale by Lord Byron". The Vampyre was actually based on an unfinished story Byron had abandoned, which was published as "The Burial: A Fragment" in June of the same year.
Byron lived in Ravenna from 1819 until 1821, while he became the lover of Teresa Guiccioli. Percy Shelley wrote about the menagerie of animals Byron kept within his home, including five peacocks.
"She Walks in Beauty" was written in 1813 and said to be about Byron's cousin's wife, Anne Beatrix Wilmot. "Maid of Athens" was written in 1810, for Teresa Makri, a young girl he fell in love with. "When the Music's Over" was written by Jim Morrison in 1967 (In the Highlander universe, Jim Morrison was an alias of Byron).
According to some Robin Hood myths, a noble named Matilda married Robert Hood and changed her name to Marian when she went to live with him as an outlaw.
Methos scrubbed his face with his hands while he listened to the sound of Skype trying to connect. The bottle of Scotch by his keyboard was half empty, but his glass was full.
After a torturous moment, a face appeared on the screen. It was momentarily pixelated, before settling in to the image of a beautiful young man. His dark hair was swept back neatly. He had a smattering of stubble across his chin. That was a new addition to his look. It gave him the appearance of a freshman college student trying to look older than he was. He had been killed at too perfect a moment. Boyhood was over, but manhood had not yet begun to take hold. That had been the goal of Emrys’ Master. The closest thing he had to a first teacher, the nameless maniac Emrys refused to speak of. Methos only knew what had happened, because he recognized the conditioning Emrys had gone through as something he'd seen-- done-- himself when he was a Horseman. Emrys had been murdered at the perfect moment to satiate the lusts of a madman. An eternal beauty, locked in time.
Emrys eyed the glass next to Methos. “Starting without me, Old Man?”
Methos glowered, lifting his glass. “I have a problem, Little Man.”
Ermys smiled tightly. He opened his own bottle of alcohol, pouring a glass. “It better be about another one of your co-eds having a crush on you, else I will be very cross.”
“Matty is in town.” Methos took a swig of his drink. It burned down his throat.
“Oh!” Emrys nodded. “That must be nice for you. I’ve never known you to go more than five years without engaging in... Whatever activities you two get up to. But the last century you two have been spotty. I was worried for a minute you were breaking up.”
Methos rolled his eyes. “We’re not together and no you weren’t.”
“You are right.” Emrys waved his hand dismissively. “Still. This is obviously causing you distress. Why is our little Rabbit visiting making you... Like this? And why would you ever choose to come to me with this?”
Methos laid out the entire story. From MacLeod beheading Byon, to Matilda’s arrival in town... Right up to Matilda’s declaration she would kill MacLeod if he came after her.
Emrys yawned loudly.
“Am I boring you?” Methos demanded.
Emrys blinked. “Well... Yes. You know, you’ve been around MacLeod too long if you’re letting this become an issue. A hundred years ago, you would have just packed up and left town. You know the answer to your dilemma is to kill them all and let God sort them out. Or even better, let them kill each other and let it sort itself out. Rend your garments over whichever one falls and then have a drink with the victor.”
“They’re my friends,” Methos replied. “They’re both your friends too.”
“I haven’t seen MacLeod since Waterloo,” Emrys pointed out. “I do make it a point to stay away from him, seeing what ruin he’s brought to you. As for the Rabbit... Yes, she is a sweet kid. Yes, it would be sad if she wasn’t around, but I’d get over it. At one point, you would’ve too. You would’ve gotten over either of them.”
Methos frowned deeply, swirling his drink around and watching it for a long moment. “When was the last time you spoke to her?”
“Ummm....” Ermys leaned back in his chair, folding his hands. “Two thousand ten? She was just finishing up her music doctorate. I was, of course, very interested in helping her out on that. Shame she never did anything with it. Then... It’s probably for the best. Musicians have never been a tremendously great influence on her. Tend to lead her down the primrose path more than painters or writers. She has struggled with her vices. But Byron being beheaded did help sort that one out a bit.”
“Don’t make jokes!” Methos snapped. “This is serious!”
Emrys shook his head. “I never understood what the pair of you saw in that melodramatic addict.”
Methos furrowed his brow. “You don’t know what anyone sees in anyone.”
“That is true,” Emrys admitted. “But you said it yourself: Matilda knew what Byron was. I may have always thought he was a waste, but even you two couldn’t deny what he’d become by the end. MacLeod did everyone a favour and you both know it. And you also know the Rabbit wouldn’t be so stupid as to try to kill out of revenge. You’re the one who taught her that. Whoever tried to kill MacLeod, it wasn’t her.”
Methos sighed. “So you don’t think I have anything to worry about?”
Emrys shook his head. “Oh no. You have a lot to worry about. MacLeod doesn’t know the Rabbit like we do. He’s approaching things from his own perspective. If someone killed one of his lovers, he would look for retribution. So he thinks Matilda would do the same. So he’ll defend himself. And Matilda will defend herself. From the sounds of it, you’ve pissed her off but good. And she does have a temper when provoked.” Emrys took a long drink and looked to Methos. “You’re going to have to convince MacLeod to stop this nonsense. Otherwise, you’re going to lose one of your friends. Which one...” Emrys shrugged. “Six to one, half a dozen on the other. MacLeod is the better fighter, but the Rabbit fights dirtier than your entire relationship with Byron.”
Methos leaned back in his chair, looking up at the ceiling. “You know, Little Man... You don’t really make me feel much better.”
“If you were looking for comfort, you really came to the wrong place,” Emrys retorted. “But you were just looking for someone to vent to. An ethereal presence far away, that has the occasional sarcastic retort. I’m the closest you have to being able to talk to yourself and you do love to hear yourself talk.”
Methos let his head loll back down. “I can’t let either of them die.”
“Old Man, you know as well as I do if you stick your neck out, you risk it getting chopped.” Emrys leaned in. “But since you’re not going to do that... Find out who really went after MacLeod. That’s the only thing you can do. I wouldn’t even do that much, but you’re not going to be able to reason with them. No one’s going to be having tea so they can talk out their differences.”
Methos nodded. “Thanks, Em.”
Emrys’ expression darkened. “Next time you come to me with something like this, I won’t answer your call.”
“Fair enough,” Methos replied. “I owe you one.”
“I stay out of the Game,” Emrys replied.
Methos sighed wearily. “Yeah...I thought that too.”
“Old Man... Get this locked down. There’s too many of you in town. You’re going to have more trouble if you don’t take care of it soon.”
Joe sighed, his expression grave as he watched Duncan pace. "I'm sorry, Mac... Methos told me not to tell you, but I had to."
"Part of me was hoping I was wrong," Duncan replied, running a hand through his hair. "She's killed that many people?"
Amanda hugged Duncan's shoulders. "You know this isn't about you, right? She's lost her mind."
Richie frowned, sinking further down into his seat. "But she seemed really nice. Okay, it was a little weird at first... But..."
"You know how it happens." Joe shrugged. "An immortal gets killed... Other immortals who are close to them sort of lose it. We've all seen it before."
"And Methos knows about this?" Duncan sighed.
Joe nodded. "Yeah. He came here before you did. I don't know what he was going to do with the information. He seemed pretty disturbed by it."
"He's known her nearly nine hundred years," Amanda pointed out. "And having known her almost as long, this is really different for her. Of course it's going to be a blow."
Duncan grabbed his coat and got up.
"Where are you going?" Joe asked.
"To find Methos. I'm going to kill his friend." Duncan sighed. "I want to know where he falls in all of this."
Amanda got up. "I'll go with you."
Richie shook his head, still reeling from the news. "It's been so long since an immortal has come after Mac like this."
Joe shrugged. "It couldn't stay quiet forever."
Richie got up. "I'll walk out with you guys. I've got to get back to the garage."
Duncan clapped Richie on the shoulder. "Methos is going to understand. She's a killer. We can't allow that to go around unchecked."
Richie wiped the sweat from his brow as he looked up from the motorcycle he was working on. Maybe it was his 'advancing years', but these days, he preferred repairing bikes to riding them. Oh, he doubted he would ever lose his lust for a good race, but he'd gotten really good at repairs. It had the benefit of being a much more stable, safe career for him. He didn't want to have a repeat of what happened in Paris twenty years ago. He was still wary about going into the city. He was much less likely to suffer a fatality if he repaired motorcycles.
Ryan's Repairs had been open for five years. Mac had been good to him and given him the money to open it. In that time, he'd almost paid back the loan. He was garnering quite the reputation for the attention to detail and reverence he treated each motorcycle with.
Throwing himself into his work gave him time to think about things. Maybe it was a bit cliche, but there was something zen about the art of motorcycle maintenance. While he focused his energy on putting small parts and wires into place, he found some sort of clarity in his thoughts.
He was bothered that Mac and Amanda had been attacked. Things had been quiet for a long time. Of course, there was always a stray immortal here or there looking to cause trouble. But it had been years since there had been a true threat. What was happening now seemed to be a real threat.
It wasn't that Matilda seemed tougher than any of Mac's previous opponents. It was her relationship with Methos. Richie had seen the pair of them together her first night in Seacouver. They had known each other for a long time, obviously cared about each other a great deal. Methos never seemed to care about anyone like that, outside of their tight-knit circle of friends.
If Mac killed Matilda, what would that do to his friendship with Methos? Would it be broken? Yeah, they'd managed to get past the other troubles they'd had (although admittedly, Richie didn't understand completely what 'The Horsemen Thing' was, only that it had happened). But this was a friend, a lover. That was never an easy thing to get over.
But at the same token, Richie was angry with Matilda. They'd tried to accept her into their group. And she'd attacked Mac and Amanda. It was a betrayal. One Richie wouldn't stand for. Maybe she'd pulled the wool over Methos' eyes, but everyone else could see what she was doing.
His thoughts were disrupted by the feel of a nearby immortal. He looked around, seeing the dark-haired woman emerge from the apartment across the street.
Matilda. She was there. She must’ve lived in that building. He didn’t know she’s lived so close, but then Seacouver wasn’t really that big. She’d also just moved there.
Richie’s anger rose. There she was. The woman who tried to murder Duncan and Amanda. Richie stood up, grabbing hold of the hilt of his sword inside of his jacket.
Matilda was looking around, trying to find the source of the immortal presence.
“Hey! Matilda!” Richie shouted. “I know what you did!”’
“Kid,” Matilda sighed. “Not right now. This really isn’t a good time.” She shook her head and began to walk down the street.
"When is a good time?" Richie demanded, trailing after her. "When you come after Mac and Amanda again?"
"You have no idea what you're talking about!" Matilda shot back over her shoulder.
"Don't just walk away from me!" Richie shouted. He drew his broadsword from his jacket.
Matilda quickly whirled around, her own sword clashing against his. "You have got to be kidding me. Are we really going to do this, Kid?"
"You tried to hurt my friends!" Richie spat.
"Oh fine!" Matilda sighed resignedly. "Can we at least do this somewhere a little more private?" She backed up into an alley, keeping her blade up against Richie's. She rolled her eyes. "Well, I'll give you this... You're a noble little shit. But can you answer me one question? Why is you attacking me because you think I attacked Duncan and Amanda any better than me supposedly attacking Duncan because I know he killed Byron?"
Richie went to speak, but realized he couldn't come up with an adequate answer. Instead, he slashed his sword at Matilda. She jumped out of the way, bringing her sword back up again. Her lip curled in a cruel smile. "You can't come up with an answer. You know I'm right. There's no difference. Revenge is revenge."
Richie shook his head fiercely. He wasn't going to let some revenge-mad immortal confuse him. He gripped his sword tighter. "What you did... Attacking them while they slept... That's not honourable."
"You're right. It's not." Matilda slashed Richie across the arm, causing him to cry out. She was handy with a sword. It was like she had handled the sword in her hand since she'd first become immortal. Considering the arms of the House of Poitiers on the hilt, that was most likely true . "But here you are, little boy... Full of honour and challenging me face to face in the light of day! Duncan will be so proud of you! You might even save his friendship with Methos, taking me out so that Methos won't become upset..." She laughed bitterly. "It's cute. That you think he cares."
The hurt in Matilda's face was obvious, but Richie wasn't going to let that dissuade him. She was a liar. She had lied to them the whole night at Joe's. She was trained by Methos, an admitted liar.
Matilda may have been good, but Richie was no slouch either. Mac had been training him for nearly three decades. He had taken immortals out centuries older than he was. He wasn't going to fall to this woman.
Matilda eyes the bleeding wound on Richie's arm. It hadn't quite healed yet and it was stinging him. She backed up, keeping her sword trained on him. "You know you can still back out of this, Kid. I'll let you go. You just need to walk away."
Richie shook his head. "No way." He brought his sword down, the sound of metal clanging against metal ringing in his ears.
They didn't have a lot of room to fight. They were in a narrow alleyway, only a few feet away from the street. They needed to be careful. Someone could see them if they were too loud.
Keeping Richie's sword held back with one hand, Matilda grabbed a garbage can lid with the other. She swung it, smacking him across the face.
Richie staggered backwards, feeling the pain radiate through his cheek. Hot blood dripped down from his nose. He blindly swung at Matilda, which she blocked with the metal lid. Richie howled as she stabbed him in the foot.
"Come on, Kid..." Matilda warned. "Walk away from this. That's the only way you're going to get out of here."
Richie's vision was hazy from the hit to his face. He swung wildly. His sword connected with something and he heard Matilda yelp. Something white-- Richie realized it was her blouse as his vision began to return-- was turning red. He'd sliced her across her bosom.
"That was a brand new shirt, you jackass," Matilda growled.
Richie took a step back. While he had been floundering, he felt his confidence coming back. He could take Matilda. He wasn't going to let himself be taken down by some pathetic woman who attacked people in their sleep. He was Richie Ryan.
Matilda rolled her eyes, tossing away the garbage can lid. "You know, I entertained this, but now I'm getting bored..." She reached into her jacket and pulled out a gun.
Richie flew back as the bullets struck him in the chest. He laid on the ground, blood seeping from the wounds in his chest. Matilda walked to stand over him, shaking her head. She tucked the gun back into her jacket. "I'm really sorry about this, Kid."
As this is the first Highlander fic I've posted up on Ao3, I'll mention if you'd like to find me on Tumblr, you can do so at strawberrypatty.
Richie revived with a sharp intake of breath. His eyes snapped open and he found himself looking at a painting of a nude woman reclining on a divan. Something was rubbing against his ankle. He looked down and saw a small orange cat looking up at him.
He was alive. He had been certain as he lay bleeding on the ground that Matilda was going to take his head. But he was alive. He was in one piece.
He was... Handcuffed? He tried to move his hands out from behind the chair he was in, but found they were shackled in place.
"Why'd you have to make things difficult, Richie?" Matilda was sitting on her couch. Richie turned his attention to her. She was shaking her head, watching him. "I really didn't want trouble. But you had to come looking for a fight."
"If you didn't want trouble, you shouldn't have attacked Mac and Amanda." Richie spat back. "Why am I handcuffed?"
"Because you were attacking me," Matilda snapped. "I had to incapacitate you somehow or else one of us was going to be forced to take the other's head. I really didn't want to do that. So I shot you... And you've obviously figured out where I lived, so I wasn't going to take the chance you would come after me. And frankly... I've got no allies in town and I need to unload all of my problems onto. So I kidnapped you so I could bitch at you. It's a really sad state of affairs when you have to abduct someone to be able to vent."
Richie grimaced, fighting with his handcuffs. "Still doesn't explain why you have handcuffs at the ready."
Matilda smirked. "Five thousand years... He gets inventive."
"Oh..." Richie cringed. "I really didn't need to know that. You had me on the ground. You could've killed me. So why didn't you?"
Matilda huffed out an annoyed breath and rolled her eyes. "It seems killing Duncan MacLeod's student would be a really good way to confirm to him that I'm as bad as he thinks I am. Which, by the way, I'm not. Everyone in town might think that I'm some headhunter, but I have never, ever-- in nearly nine hundred years -- spoiled for a fight with another immortal. I've only ever taken heads when I had to. I'm not about to change that now. It's kept me alive this long."
She rose from her seat and began to pace. "It's just so... Irritating. Do I miss Byron? Of course I do. I knew him for a long time. He was utterly brilliant. Okay, he was an asshole of the highest degree, but he made up for it in some very creative ways. But the man I knew was long gone. What MacLeod did was a mercy killing. Besides, even in his prime, I wouldn't go revenge kill for him. There's only one immortal in the entire world I would ever, ever consider doing such a thing for... And he thinks that I'm capable of doing that for Byron, of all people. How can he be so stupid? He's a student of human nature, but he ignores what's right in front of him..."
"Does he know?" Richie interrupted her.
Matilda blinked at Richie, as if surprised to see he was there. She hadn't been ranting at him so much as just rambling into the air. She bit her lower lip. "Does who know what?"
Richie sighed. "Come on. I know I'm young, but it's kind of obvious."
Matilda sighed, shaking her head. "I believe the term is 'intentionally ignorant'." She smiled ruefully. "If Methos was to acknowledge how I felt, he would have to let me down gently. That would just be awkward for both of us."
Richie nodded. "But you do."
Matilda shrugged. "How could I not? I was a kid when I met him... Barely fifty years old. All full of self-righteousness and anger. I didn't know anything about the world. Not really. I thought I did. But I'd been trapped in castles built on courtly love. He changed everything for me. I got to see the world for what it really was. I got to experience things I never had before. He saw something in me and helped me find my way. This beautiful, dark-haired scholar who just happened upon a lost noblewoman... I've been in love with him for eight and a half centuries. There's no one else like him in the entire world."
Richie looked down. "You really didn't try to hurt Mac or Amanda, did you?"
Matilda shook her head. "No, I didn't."
Richie looked up at her. "But it's not because you're not the revenge type... Not really. I mean, maybe that's a part of it, but..."
Matilda smiled sadly again. "They're his friends. I would never do anything to hurt him."
She walked behind Richie and he heard a click and the pressure on his wrists let up. "Just promise you won't try to kill me again. Just walk out of here."
Richie rubbed his wrists and turned to Matilda. "Is it okay if I take option three?"
Matilda furrowed her brow in confusion. "And what's option three?"
"Where I help you," Richie replied. "Maybe you need someone who is willing to do that. Then you won't have to handcuff them to a chair." He held out a hand to her.
Matilda looked at his hand for a long moment, she then reached out and took it, shaking his hand. She smiled. "You're a good kid, Richie. Sorry I beat you in our fight."
Richie shook his head. "You didn't beat me."
Matilda frowned deeply, cocking her head. She pulled her hand away from him. "Didn't I though? The only reason you're still alive is because I decided to spare you."
"You shot me," Richie pointed out. "That's not fair!"
With a shrug of her shoulders, Matilda pulled back. "No fighting on Holy Ground and no interference from other immortals... Those are the only rules. There is nothing against shooting someone. I think it was entirely fair."
Richie sighed deeply, shaking his head. "You really are Methos' student."
"I really am," Matilda replied. She looked at Richie expectantly. "So what are we going to do, Richie? You said you're going to help me... I'm really struggling to think of how you could possibly help me."
Richie walked towards the door, opening it. He gestured for Matilda to follow him out. "Don't worry. I have a plan. You just have to trust me."
Matilda grabbed her coat. "As a rule, I don't trust anyone."
"Definitely Methos' student."
Methos walked into Joe's, frowning as he saw Duncan and Amanda waiting there. He furrowed his brow deeply, shoving his hands into his coat. "Alright... So you two got a call as well, did you? What is Richie up to?"
Duncan shrugged his shoulder. He brought his glass up to take a drink. "No idea. He just told us to meet him here. Something to do with the attack. He thinks he knows something about it."
Amanda looked over Methos. "We were looking for you this afternoon. Wanted to talk to you."
Methos slid into the seat across from Duncan and Amanda. He sighed deeply, sprawling. "I didn't want to be found, so I wasn't. I know what you wanted to tell me. Mac has decided to kill Matty. I wasn't ready to hear that and I knew you wouldn't do it until you told me."
Duncan's eyes were dark. "Are you ready to hear it now?"
Methos shook his head. "No I'm not."
They sensed another immortal and the door opened, Richie entering. He held up his hands in a calming gesture. "Good. You're all here. Now... Don't freak out. Let's pretend Joe's is Holy Ground for like ten minutes."
"What are you talking about?" Amanda looked at Richie askance.
They felt the buzz of another immortal and the door opened again. Matilda entered, her back straight and her hand inside of her coat. With her free hand, she waved. "Hello. I think this is a really bad idea, but the kid seemed convinced you might be willing to talk."
"What is this?" Duncan demanded. He looked at Richie with fury. "Why are you with her?"
"I kidnapped him." Matilda sauntered into the bar. She gestured to Richie. "He is my kidnapee."
"What?" Duncan looked from Matilda to Richie, his features contorting in confusion.
Richie groaned. "Maybe you don't want to help me with your snark, Matilda. I mean, she is right. She did kidnap me. But she let me go. And it was either that, or she take my head. I challenged her."
Methos scowled. "You tried to kill my friend?"
"I thought she tried to kill my friends." Richie pulled out a chair and gestured for Matilda to sit down. "But I don't think that anymore. I think the five of us should sit down and hash this out. Joe, don't you think we should work this out?"
Joe paused in wiping down the bar. He waved Richie off, shaking his head. "No, no interference."
"But you're retired," Amanda pointed out.
Joe continued to shake his head. "Still. I don't think I want to have any of this."
"Fine then." Richie jerked his head so Matilda would sit. "Come on. You kidnapped me so you could complain to me. Tell them."
Matilda looked at the chair Richie had offered. She pulled it back a few more feet, giving her some more distance from Duncan and Amanda. She then sat down, crossing her arms over her chest. "I don't know why you think I tried to kill you, but it was one hundred percent not me. And this is a stupid idea, because you have no reason to believe I wouldn't lie to you. But I assure you... I don't make it a habit of visiting my oldest friend in the world and killing his new friends. It's pretty impolite."
Duncan folded his hands, leaning his forehead against them. "What about Byron?"
"What about him?" Matilda shrugged her shoulders. "He was a good lay, but not worth taking someone's head over. So you killed one of my friends... You also didn't kill several of my friends." She gestured to Methos. "You've kept this guy alive for the last twenty something years and I'm really glad about that. I also heard you didn't kill Walter Graham and I think that's cool. Because he's a pompous ass, but he's my friend."
Amanda crinkled her nose. "You and Walter Graham?"
Matilda rolled her eyes. "I don't sleep with every single one of my friends, you know. We're strictly platonic. You can't inspire artists for eight hundred years without running into Walter. But the point is... So you killed one of my friends. That's not going to send me on a roaring rampage of revenge."
"How do you explain the poem then?" Duncan asked. "An original manuscript that you owned was left when I was attacked."
Matilda rolled her eyes. "And if I'd tried to kill you... One, you'd be dead... And two, I'd never be so sloppy to leave evidence like that. A calling card? Amateur hour."
"How'd someone get it then?" Amanda challenged.
"I don't know. I just moved. And I had people moving all of my stuff. Maybe someone's just a better thief than you are. Hired a mortal to grab it from me to frame me."
"Why'd you leave your apartment then?" Methos kept his eyes downcast.
Methos fiddled with a coaster. "The night MacLeod and Amanda were attacked. Your Watcher said he lost track of you. You left your apartment and he couldn't find you. You know how to lose your Watcher."
"That's bullshit." Matilda shook her head. "I don't have an alibi, but why are you believing a random Watcher over me? Did it ever occur to you he's just insanely bad at his job?"
"Maybe he was lying."
Everyone turned to face Richie in surprise. He blinked. "What? Did you guys forget I'm here? I mean, he's a Watcher. They make up reports all the time."
All eyes turned to Joe. He sighed. "He's got a point. But why would he lie about it?"
Matilda rose and walked to the bar. "I don't know. Why would he lie about all of the immortals I've killed?" She pointed to Joe. "Methos showed me the list of immortals I've supposedly beheaded. Some of them, yeah... Of course I've taken out a few. But not that many. Someone is trying to inflate my numbers for some reason."
Methos' expression was one of deep concentration. He nodded his head and then stood up. "Who else would be able to get into Matty's stuff while she was moving without being noticed? I didn't think it was you until Joe told me about the Watcher's Report. And really, Joe... How hard did you have to work to get the information on Matty?"
Joe shook his head. "Son of a bitch..."
"You think the immortal that attacked me is working with Matilda's watcher to frame her?" Duncan shook his head. "That doesn't make any sense."
Joe walked around the bar. "You might be wrong there, Mac. I didn't even think about where the information was coming from."
Matilda glowered. "Just who is my Watcher, Joe?"
"Germaine Scott," Joe replied. "He's been assigned to you since 1997. After his last assignment was beheaded."
Amanda looked around. "Why would Byron's old Watcher want to avenge him?"
1975, London, England
Matilda leaned in to the line of fine, white powder. She brought the straw to her nose and snorted up the drugs. She sniffed and let her head fall back. "Are you going to quit that already?"
Byron pressed his hands up against the window, looking out onto the city. "Have a problem with it, my dear? I've never known you to be bashful."
Matilda rose from the bed, covered in only Byron's shirt. "Maybe I just don't want to display myself to the entire world, especially since I didn't shake my Watcher before we met up. This isn't something I really want to go in my Chronicles."
Byron grabbed her by the hips, swinging her around. He then pressed her up against the window, kissing her fiercely. "You've got too much of Doc in you."
"Not lately," she replied sassily. "I haven't seen him in a few years."
Byron trapped her wrists between his hands and the glass. "I meant your intense need for privacy. What's the fun in that? We have a captive audience to the adventure of our lives." He nipped at Matilda's neck. "We owe it to them to give them a good story. I always like to give my Watcher a good show."
He flipped Matilda around, parting her shirt. He positioned himself behind her. "Don't deprive the poor lady."
"Lady?" Matilda glanced over her shoulder. "You know a lot about your Watcher?"
"Lovely girl!" Byron responded. "Not as lovely as you, but then... Who is? But I've had quite a bit of fun with her."
"I think that's against the rules." Matilda gasped loudly.
Bryon groaned. "When have I cared about rules? I'm glad you didn't chase away your Watcher. I love it when they watch, but you know..."
Matilda scrubbed her face with her hands. "....I love it even more when they join in."
"You're telling us that Byron slept with his Watchers?" Duncan cried incredulously. He then shook his head, sighing. "You know, I'm trying to be outraged about it, but I can barely be surprised.
Matilda shrugged. "He was the ultimate exhibitionist. It turned him on to have people watching him all the time. Of course he would extend that to seducing them. Then, Byron seduced just about everyone who was around him for more than five minutes."
Joe was shaking his head, looking down. "I can't believe so many Watchers would break their oath like that."
"Bit hypocritical, don't you think, Joe?" Amanda teased.
"I never slept with MacLeod," Joe shot back.
Methos was staying quiet, leaning against his hands. His hazel eyes were burning with intensity.
"Everything makes sense if it was my Watcher. He would've known where I lived. He could've stolen the manuscript. He would've known about my relationship with Byron. He would've known everything about me... Been able to copy my sword... Leave just enough evidence to convince you it was me."
"Except Amanda and I sensed another immortal." Duncan's brow furrowed deeply. "Just how was he able to do that?"
Matilda frowned, shoulders slumping. "I don't know. Maybe he hired an immortal to attack you?"
"And there's the question of why." Richie shook his head. "I mean, he slept with the guy over twenty years ago and he's coming for revenge now? And who is he coming for revenge against? MacLeod? You? And if it's revenge against you... Why? You didn't have anything to do with Byron dying?"
Methos abruptly stood up, pulling his coat on. "I say we ask him."
Without another word, Methos strode out of the bar. The others looked at each other in in puzzled surprise. Duncan and Matilda then nodded to each other and followed after him.
Anger was building inside of Methos. He couldn't explain it to the others. The moment Joe had said who was watching Matilda, everything seemed to fall into place.
He didn't need to know how he did it... He'd figured out why . That was what was important. There was no doubt in his mind that Scott was the one who had tried to kill Mac and Amanda.
There was a churning in his stomach. Methos claimed he hadn't felt guilt in a millennia, but that was far from the truth. He was just good at masking it. Now, he felt guilt about mistrusting Matilda. She never, ever would have gone after his friends. He was not a man who trusted easily. But he'd trusted her. He had allowed Scott to make him doubt that.
He heard the footsteps behind him. Mac and Matilda caught up to him. "What are you doing?" Mac demanded.
"Be casual," Methos hissed softly. "Matty, did you shake Scott before you came to Joe's?"
Matilda shook her head. "I had other things on my mind."
"Good." Methos scanned the area. While he was always in research when he was a Watcher, he knew how to spot them easily. He'd never met Scott himself, but he'd be able to tell who he was. He knew MacLeod, Amanda and Richie's Watchers by sight already.
He was in an alley. He looked to be in his late forties. Oh, so Byron must have been his first assignment. That made sense. Easier to seduce someone from the oath they'd taken. Besides, Byron always like the shamefully-- sometimes illegally -- young.
Considering Watchers were supposed to blend, he'd done a poor job of it. Leather trousers, a poet shirt. If Byron had been mortal, this would have been how he'd looked well past his prime.
Before Scott could hide, Methos had swept in and grabbed him by his ruffled collar. "Hello there, Scott."
"Let me go!" Scott demanded. He was wide-eyed, looking at Mac and Matilda.
Methos shook his head. "I don't think so. We're going to have a little talk."
"Methos!" Mac said firmly. "What the hell are you doing?"
"We're getting to the bottom of this," Methos' reply was casual. He held tightly to Scott as he dragged him out of the alley and down the street. "Where should we take him?"
"We don't kidnap people!" Mac pointed out.
"Oh come on, MacLeod." Matilda shook her head. "This piece of garbage would've beheaded you given the chance."
"He had the chance." Methos' grip on Scott tightened. "But that wasn't his goal. Ah! Here we go!"
There was an abandoned store at the corner. Methos shoved Scott towards Matilda. "Hold onto him for a moment, will you?"
Matilda held tight to Scott so he wouldn't run away. Methos looked around furtively, checking to see if anyone was watching him. He then went to work picking the lock. He wished for a moment that Amanda had come along with Mac and Matilda. But he could do it in a pinch.
Once the door was open, Methos took hold of Scott again and shoved him inside. He smiled as the man fell to the dusty ground. "Well... You've been a busy boy, haven't you, Scott?"
"The Watchers are going to have your head!" Scott snarled.
Methos exhaled loudly and shook his head. "You know... I really doubt it. They're really not fond of Watchers who sleep with their assignments... Or try to manipulate fights. I suggest you start talking. Why did you attack MacLeod and Amanda?"
Methos knew the answer. He just wanted to hear it from Scott himself.
"I don't know what you're talking about!" Scott insisted. "It was Matilda! I lost her the night MacLeod was attacked!"
"So how do you know she did it?" Methos demanded. "Come on, Scott... You know who I am. You know I can tell when someone is lying... And I know why you did this. I just want you to tell MacLeod and Matty your twisted logic."
"I don't need to know," MacLeod replied. "I know. He wanted to behead me because of what I did to Byron."
Methos shook his head. "No... He wanted you to think Matilda was after you. You know, that's the one thing I haven't figured out. How did you fake an immortal presence?"
Scott kept his mouth shut, raising his head in defiance. Methos leaned in close to him. "You know..." His voice was a low, threatening whisper. "The longer you talk, the longer you live."
Scott shivered and pulled away from Methos. His expression was conflicted. Finally, he sighed. "There's a Watcher... In research. He's been fascinated by the physical differences between immortals and mortals. He was hypothesizing that 'the buzz' was feedback from taking Quickenings. That's why it's stronger in older immortals. He created a modified EMP pulse that could mimic it."
Matilda rolled her eyes. "That sounds like... Pointless research."
"Says the woman with three doctorates," Scott grumbled.
"Came in handy for you." Methos circled Scott. "So you used the pulse to convince MacLeod and Amanda they were being attacked by an immortal. And you wore a hood... Not just because Matilda wore one when she was Lady Marion, but because it hid your masculine form..." He paused and shrugged. "Semi-masculine form. Byron always did like androgynous boys. He'd be disappointed in how you'd gone to seed."
"It explains why he wasn't a very good fighter." MacLeod looked over at Matilda. "I should've known someone who lived nine hundred years wasn't so bad at it."
"I think there was a compliment in there." Matilda gave MacLeod a small smile. She then turned her attention to Scott. "But why did you do it? If you wanted MacLeod dead, why drag me into it?"
"Because he wanted you dead too," Methos answered. He stood up straight. "He was jealous because Byron was in love with you."
Matilda chuckled. "He was not."
"He asked you to run away with him!" Scott snapped. "The last time you were with him! He said he'd leave the tour and you two could just go off together! But you wouldn't go... And so he continued his tour. To Paris."
Methos frowned. "I thought you and Byron didn't talk the last time you saw him."
"Well, I learned to lie from the best," she murmured. "He was high off his tits. He didn't know what he was saying. Did you miss the part where he overdosed while he was on top of me?"
"No, I didn't," Scott replied. "I also didn't miss the part where you turned him down... And Byron knew it was because he wasn't him ." He glared at Methos. "Neither of you had any idea how Byron felt about you-- both of you! You both cut him out and he fell apart! MacLeod may have swung the sword, but you're the ones who killed his soul."
Scott pointed a finger at Methos. "So when this whore turned him away, he came to you... And you didn't help him. You didn't protect him. You let him get killed."
" Byron was responsible for Byron," Methos snapped. "I told him to leave. He wouldn't. He killed a kid just so he could get a thrill. I'm not going to feel sorry for not keeping him alive. So you framed Matilda for attacking MacLeod... You were hoping they'd get into a fight."
Scott laughed. "It would've worked perfectly. One of them would've killed the other... And then you would've had to kill the victor. You wouldn't let one of your friends take the other's head."
"Wouldn't I?" Methos cocked his head. "Clearly you don't know me as well as you think."
Scott looked to MacLeod and Matilda. Methos kept the impassive look on his face. "Oh, my friends aren't shocked at all. They know I'm a pragmatist. If they got into it... I would mourn whoever lost. But revenge has a way of backfiring, as you're now finding out. So no, my friends aren't going to fight each other to the death. No, I'm not going to fight the winner. And no... You're not going to take my head while I'm recovering from the Quickening. As plans go..." Methos shrugged. "It really needs some work."
"So what are you going to do?" Scott demanded. "I'm not an immortal, you can't take my head."
"Oh, I don't know..." Matilda took her sword from her coat. She held it to Scott's throat. "I think you've been playing immortal. You should be treated like one."
Methos held a hand out to stay Matilda sword. "He's right. He's not an immortal. We can't do that to him." He looked from Matilda, to MacLeod. "You two go back to Joe's. I still have some contacts with the Watchers. I can turn him in."
Matilda put her sword away. MacLeod looked like he was about to say something, but Matilda took hold of his arm. "Come on, MacLeod. We got what we needed."
The other immortals left, leaving Methos standing before Scott. He sighed.
"You can't turn me into the Watchers!" Scott begged. "You know what they'll do to me!"
"I do..." Methos pulled down the sleeve of his coat, exposing the faded tattoo on his wrist. In another year or two, it would be fully healed. "I was one of you, remember? I know exactly what the Watchers will do to you."
He reached into his coat. "We can't take your head. You're not immortal. You're a Watcher.... And you should be treated like a Watcher."
Scott's eyes grew wide as what Methos pulled out wasn't a phone, but a gun. He pointed it at Scott and fired.
Matilda handed Duncan a drink. "So... No hard feelings then?"
Duncan accepted the drink, raising it up in a toast to her. "No hard feelings."
"What about us, Lady de Gascony?" Amanda asked, arching a brow.
With a small hum, Matilda regarded Amanda. She then smiled at Amanda. "Just don't try to steal my stuff this time and I can let bygones be bygones."
Methos draped an arm over Matilda's shoulders. "I hope this hasn't scared you away from Seacouver. This isn't the usual. It's been quiet for a long time."
Matilda seemed to consider it. She brought her own glass to her lips, taking a sip. "Well.... I did already accept the position at the university." She smiled. "And there are other fringe benefits."
Methos smiled back at her.
"So what's going to happen to Scott?" Richie asked.
Methos shook his head. "Nothing you have to worry about, Kid. I already took care of it. The Watchers have collected him."
Joe and Methos shared a look. Joe cocked his head in question and Methos nodded. Joe sighed and looked down.
"I don't like the sound of this EMP Pulse," Amanda commented. "Mortals being able to pretend they're immortal? That could cause problems..."
"More likely to cause problems for them than us," MacLeod replied. "But we'll keep an eye out for it. If the Watchers know what's good for them, they won't do anything more with it."
The immortals all shared uncomfortable looks. There were other things that could be done with such a thing. If the Watchers were learning about immortal physiology, how long would it be before they could harness a Quickening or something else horrific?
Methos nodded. "Right." He stood up. "On that note, I think it's time I head out. I'll see you guys later."
After taking a single step, he grabbed hold of Matilda's hand. He gave it a gentle tug. She looked up at him questioningly. He jerked his head towards the door.
"Night guys." Matilda got up and followed along with Methos.
They walked silently for a long time. Methos still clung to Matilda's hand. They were three blocks away from Joe's when they both looked at each other.
"About what Scott said...."
"Listen I'm sorry..."
They trailed off, laughing at speaking over each other. Matilda gestured for Methos to speak. He took a deep breath. "I'm sorry I didn't believe you. I was..." He paused, uncertain of the words he wanted to use. He closed his eyes. "I was scared. I don't have a good track record with my friends and MacLeod. I haven't seen you in a long time. You were right. I did panic."
Matilda squeezed his hand. "I wasn't able to give you a very compelling reason to believe me. And I know you're the most paranoid son of a bitch in the world. It's what has kept you alive for five thousand years. So we're cool."
Methos smiled. "So what were you going to say?"
Matilda's cheeks turned red. "Oh... Well... It's just... Scott said... About my feelings for Byron... And you..."
Methos looked down. "Matty, I know."
Matilda's eyes widened.
Methos turned to face her, cupping her face. "You know, you've been teasing me about MacLeod... But I haven't explained to you what he means to me. I'd given up. I was ready to let Kalas take my head. I was tired. But MacLeod... He brought me back. He gave me a purpose. Reminded me of goodness and taught me to live again. And when someone brings me back like that, I stick with them. They work their way into my cold heart and I can't get them out."
He ran a thumb over her cheek. "That's not the first time it's happened. About eight hundred and fifty years ago I was feeling like that. And I found this beautiful noblewoman who was pretending to be a bandit to save her Queen. She taught me to live again too. She showed me adventure and an appreciation of the world around us... She's not someone I want to let go of either. But I slipped with her. I let her leave for a while and gave into the monotony of my existence." Methos smiled. "But you're here now. And I remember. I shouldn't have left it so long between visits. My life is more fun with you in it."
Methos pulled her in for a kiss. After a moment, he pulled back. "So putting The Vampyre on your syllabus. I think you and I are going to have some long conversations about this. You need to understand where I was truly coming from when I was writing it."
Matilda smiled slyly. "And here I thought you were coming from being high on laudanum and really ticked off at Byron."
"Oh, you could not be more wrong. I will have to give you a private lecture on my creative process..." He led her along.
Matilda laughed. "If I can get you in a blouse and breeches again, you have a deal."
She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellow'd to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o'er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.
And on that cheek, and o'er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!
--She Walks in Beauty, Lord Byron