"And who might you be?" Methos asks the not-quite-mortal rummaging through his cabinets.
The man, who looks quite beat all to hell and worn down to nothing, long dark hair hanging dank past his shoulders, clothes fit only for burning, whirls to face him, throwing a knife as he spins. Methos, who saw the beginning of the motion as the man started to move, catches the blade and raises an eyebrow.
“That was rude,” he informs the man, who is staring at him in wonder.
“I…” the man says. There is a whirring sound; Methos pinpoints it to the man’s left arm.
Ah. That’s why he looks so familiar. Methos has seen his face on the news for the past five weeks.
“I have some gumbo in the fridge,” Methos says. “I assume you’re hungry?”
The man’s eyes are lovely and wide and he looks exceptionally young beneath the filth. He is not human; the buzz is faint, but there. This boy was meant to be an immortal and something happened, which is… odd.
Methos hasn’t had a cause since his brothers died. And world class assassins do not break into civilian homes looking for scraps.
“You need help, child,” Methos says, letting the full weight of his age fill his bearing, his tone. “I am qualified to give it.”
“I…” the boy says again. “They called me asset. He called me Bucky.” He sounds lost. Very broken.
Once, Methos would have delighted in breaking him all the way down and building him back up into the sharpest weapon. Going from the footage, someone has already done that. Somehow, he has slipped their leash and gone on the run. Surely, someone is looking for him.
Methos gives the boy his gentlest smile. It has terrified kings but seems to provide the boy some measure of comfort; the tension in his body lessens. “Would you like me to name you?” he asks.
The boy nods. Methos has seen slaves, in ages long past, who knew nothing but the will of their master. They floundered without it. This boy needs direction. How lucky he is to have broken into Methos’ house.
“How about Benjamin?” Methos offers, slowly stepping forward. The boy tenses again, lowering his gaze. “I am Matthew.” His current identity is a researcher into neurology, Dr. Matthew Carmichael, the lowest man on the ladder at a research institute. His life has been quiet since he left the Highlander. Peaceful. Boring.
World crises happen when Methos gets bored. This boy is perfect as a distraction.
“Benjamin?” the boy echoes softly. Gods, he is truly shattered, isn’t he? How perfectly wonderful.
“Allow me to heat up some dinner for you, Benjamin,” Methos suggests oh so gently. “And then, a bath, I think. After that, we can decide what to do.”
The boy’s buzz is muted, yet valiantly fighting. Every government in the world is seeking him; that Hydra-beast is definitely searching for their lost assassin, as well.
This is truly a lucky meeting. Benjamin has found himself perhaps the greatest guardian in the world, for Methos protects what is his viciously. And this boy is his.
He heats up a bowl of gumbo and pours the boy a glass of water. The boy stands in the middle of the kitchen until told to sit at the table and does not eat until Methos says he can. He drains the glass; Methos refills it three times until the boy’s thirst is quenched. Benjamin stands passively in the shower nook, eyes on the ground at Methos’ feet. Methos sighs, strips his own clothes, and steps into the stall, where he proceeds to bathe the boy as thoroughly and clinically as possible.
The metal arm is beautiful. The scars, too, in their own way. They are scars he should not have. “You are quite the mystery, aren’t you?” Methos asks rhetorically.
Benjamin’s eyes are such a beautiful blue. He is not a blank slate, not entirely. Methos has broken enough people to know when something remains. “You’re going to be extraordinary,” Methos tells him. “Now, come. You need to rest. We’ll plan tomorrow.”
He dries the boy and puts him to bed. Benjamin has no idea what to do with the pillow or the blanket. He watches Methos with a wary gaze. His owners were not kind, clearly. There is strength in his body, his reflexes. He is very dangerous.
“Be here in the morning,” he orders, putting every millennium he has lived into the words. “We have much to discuss and plan.”
“Yes, sir,” Benjamin murmurs.
In the morning, Dr. Carmichael tenders his resignation and puts his parents’ house (which he had inherited when they both perished in a boating accident) on the market. He then disappears.
Matthew Ash and his younger brother Benjamin are born at 6:53 am on a Tuesday. Benjamin is a soldier ill-served by his country and Matthew a baby terrorist because of it.
There is an island owned by an old friend of Matthew’s and it is there they go.
In his long life, Methos has learned that a little bit of kindness can do what years of cruelty cannot. He slowly draws out the man who was. There is much Benjamin remembers, but none of it is in order and all of it lacks context. Methos helps him make sense of it, aided by judicious use of the files Black Widow so kindly leaked. There is little of Hydra’s asset in it – at least, little stated plainly. Methos can track Hydra’s use of their asset, though, and he calmly shows it all to Benjamin, who remembers enough of the man he was to be horrified.
He was a good man, that is obvious. Methos comforts him and Benjamin sleeps curled in Methos’ embrace. They are brothers, after all.
“He… he said I was James Buchanan Barnes,” Benjamin tells him. “Bucky. And the museum said so, too.”
Methos researches James Barnes for Benjamin. He was a good man. And Benjamin reads it all but none of it seems real. None of it, in fact, matters.
“Would you like to go to this Captain America?” Methos asks, keeping his utter disdain for superheroes out of the words because this is Benjamin’s decision.
Benjamin shakes his head. “I’m yours now,” he says.
Five months of kindness after seventy years of cruelty… Methos gives Benjamin his brightest smile.
What Kronos could have done with this boy would’ve made Hydra shudder in horror.
Methos designs obstacle courses to see what Hydra’s greatest weapon can do. Benjamin is truly a force of nature, nigh unstoppable. Methos shows him new tricks and picks up a few of his own. Benjamin is already fluent in the eight most widespread languages; Methos teaches him a dozen more and he picks them up miraculously quickly. The longer he is in Methos’ care, the louder his buzz gets.
He was meant to be immortal but Hydra fucked that up. Methos is quite interested to see what the result will be.
Methos knows the time has come when Benjamin asks, “What are we doing?”
They have been on the island for two years and three months. Benjamin Ash is quiet and solemn. He has a quick wit but lacks the forwardness to make jokes in public. He loves to read science fiction and ancient history texts, writes poetry that would’ve made Byron weep in envy and pain, and can shoot a man a mile away or tear through an entire unit of soldiers with his bare hands.
“I do not want to rule the world,” Methos tells him, sitting back in the chair. “But I do want to continue living in it, and I am tired of people fucking everything up.”
“Am I your weapon?” Benjamin asks, peering at Methos from beneath his dark bangs. He still looks exceptionally young, but he’s no longer starving and filthy. In fact, he’s in better shape than he ever was in Hydra’s care.
“No,” Methos says. “You are my partner.” He smiles the smile that once caused Caspian to shy away and is pleased when Benjamin does not. “I am not a good man, brother. But you are.”
Benjamin’s arm whirs. He bites his lip. He says, “Yes, Matthew.”
They start small. Methos told the truth when he said he did not want to rule the world; he never has. Kronos had, but Kronos would have burnt it all down in a rage. Silas wanted peace and quiet to raise his animals, and Caspian a bloodbath that would have swallowed the earth in a sea of red.
Methos has always been content to arrange things to his liking and allow someone else to take the fall. That is not, however, the role he has assigned Benjamin. He has yet to find the ideal figurehead, but Captain America is looking quite… perfect.
They begin the purge with what remains of Hydra and SHIELD. How else to catch Captain America’s attention?
“Bucky Barnes loved him,” Benjamin confesses as they watch the coverage on the news.
Methos leans over to kiss Benjamin’s forehead. “I know that, brother. Don’t worry.”
“I’m yours now,” Benjamin says, those lovely eyes of his so wide, so blue.
Oh so gently, Methos says, “I know, brother,” and leans back in to give Benjamin’s lips the softest kiss.