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Flawed Techniques and other Conceits

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The thing about Immortality is how it's all about second chances. Hell, second, third, fourth, and fifth, as many chances as you want, just as long as you keep your head on your shoulders. The kicker is, of course, the last part. You need to keep your head on your shoulders.

Richie never ever thought he'd be the guy to win the whole thing. Not with guys like Mac, Connor, and Methos out there, but he thought he'd at least crack a hundred.

Then Mac damn near took his head off. Again.

At least, this time, it was an accident and not some kind of Dark Quickening. That wasn't something Richie was eager to relive.

Not that it mattered. He'd damn near gotten his head chopped off just walking around a corner. He hadn't even put his sword up. Hadn't thought he'd need to and, looking back, Richie felt like a first class idiot. Disappearing after that seemed like the best of all possible solutions. Get out of town before Mac came back from wherever it was he'd gone and avoid the awkward 'gee, sorry I almost chopped your head off, Richie, but I wasn't really myself' speech.

He stopped by Joe's before he left, bike idling outside, and gave him an awkward hug. "Just--I dunno, tell Mac I'm okay? Later? I need to go for a while."

Joe frowned, gripping his cane. Looking at him, Richie could see the difference, the age, and made himself promise to track Joe down before--yeah, before too much time passed. "He doesn't know you're still alive, Rich. Maybe you should go see him yourself. He's better than he was. After the whole Ahriman thing he just needs some time away to get his head on straight. When he comes back--"

"He won't believe I'm me," Richie said and turned away. "Maybe in a decade or two and I'll give it a shot." He grinned, but it felt pretty damn empty. "Assuming we live that long."

Okay, so when he walked away he wasn't exactly in the best of moods, but he thought he could be forgiven. Wasn't every day that a guy came face to face with just how fucked he really was.

Mac had taught him a lot and, mostly, Richie did okay, but he was starting to realize a few things. Namely, he needed to learn a hell of a lot more if he was going to make it to thirty five, forget three hundred and five, and he wasn't going to learn it hanging around Duncan MacLeod. What Mac had taught him was the basics, he'd grounded him, but now Richie needed to build on them or the next time Mac (or one of his other friends) went off their rocker, Richie probably wasn't going to luck into a last second escape.

He headed back to the States first, wanting familiar territory to work from, and that was where he fell in with Matthew McCormick. He remembered Mac mentioning the guy a few times and McCormick remembered Mac mentioning Richie and that got him in the door.

He spent a couple years living with McCormick and his wife Abby. It was good. Abby found him a job in a local bike shop so he spent his days there, building up a clientele and making a pretty good go of it, and his nights getting his ass kicked around the basement dojo Matthew had built for himself.

It was a pretty good life and that was probably why he should've seen trouble coming. Nothing ever worked that well without something blowing it up.

Coming home to an Immortal in the house when he knew Matthew and Abby were out of the country visiting one of his old students? Not good. Matthew didn't go after heads the way Mac did, but, yeah, he definitely had his enemies and pretty much all of them were meaner than Richie was ready to take on yet.

With sword in hand, Richie let himself into the house and blinked in shock at the familiar face in the kitchen.

Methos swung around, beer in hand, and waved the bottle with distaste. "You know, kid, your taste in beer is pathetic."

"That's Matthew's."

"Ah, that would explain it," Methos muttered. "McCormick never did understand beer."

"How do you not understand beer?" Richie's eyebrows rose and he lowered the sword. Just lowered. He wasn't in any hurry to drop the thing. Methos or no Methos. "It's beer."

Methos sniffed, sitting down at the kitchen table. "Just answered your own question."

"I have no idea how, but okay," Richie grabbed a bottle of his own and leaned against the kitchen counter. This time he did put the sword down, but kept it in easy reach. Methos wouldn't get halfway across the room before he had it up in hand again if he needed to.

"Relax, kid," Methos drawled, "I'm not after your head."

Richie snorted. "Heard that before."

Methos, at least, winced a little. "Okay, I'll grant you that one." He leaned forward, putting the barely touched beer on the table beside him. "Been a while since you came by the old homestead. Ma and Pa are starting to worry some."

Rolling his eyes, Richie took a long pull off the beer in his hand. Tasted fine to him, but Methos grimaced as he watched him swallow. Five thousand years and the guy was just plain weird. It was still disappointing as hell. The world's oldest man and all the guy did was turn up without warning to raid your fridge and criticize your beer.

Okay, criticize your host's beer, but same difference.

"Been a little busy," Richie said, picking at the label on the bottle. "Needed to brush up on a few things."

"Like keeping your sword up when Immortals are on the hunt?" Methos smirked. It was an improvement. Methos smirking was absolutely less freaky than Methos watching you with a funny look in his eye. "At least tell me you've got that part covered."

"So Matthew tells me." Richie said. "He thinks I might even be ready for a real sword next and I might even get to poke a dummy with it." He gave Methos an echo of his own smirk. "Any volunteers?"

"Ha ha, real funny kid," Methos said, grabbing up his beer again. "And here I was trying to be nice."

"Ah, so that's what that was," Richie said. He decided to move a little closer, taking seat at the table too. "I wasn't sure."

"Why am I here again?"

"You know, I have no idea," Richie leaned forward. "I was going to ask you the same thing. What are you doing here?"

"Joe was worried," Methos said, looking at his own beer. He frowned at it, poked at the label, then sighed and brought the bottle to his lips. He drank then glanced at Richie. "You should probably put him on the Christmas card list. Pretty sure he's harassed your Watcher to hell and back."

"Tell him I'm fine," Richie said. He didn't ask about Mac. If something had happened, Matthew would know about it already. Although, it would explain the weirdness with Methos.

"Tell him yourself," Methos grumbled."I'm too damn old to be someone's messenger boy."

Swallowing another mouthful of beer, Richie slumped in his chair and tipped his head back against the wall. "Could've fooled me."


"You came all the way here to check on me?" Richie shook his head. "You could have called. Emailed. You didn't need to come here."

Methos shrugged. "Joe--"

"Is on vacation in New Orleans," Richie said. "Mac's treat. Told me he was going when I called him. Last week. Probably should have checked with him before you made up that story. Just because I didn't call you didn't mean I didn't call."

Methos muttered something under his breath. Richie didn't really need a translation. He just grinned. It was kind of nice having the upper hand just this once. Worth whatever else Methos had in mind.

"Okay, so maybe I wanted to see for myself," Methos said, after a moment. His voice was low, thick with something Richie hadn't ever heard from hm, and enough of a shock to stop him cold.

He sat there, staring at the kitchen ceiling, completely unsure of what to do next. Methos solved that one for him.

Richie heard the legs of his chair scrape the floor as Methos stood. He didn't know what he was expecting, but he definitely wasn't expecting Methos' hand to curl around the back of his neck and pull his head forward anymore than he was expecting Methos to lean down and kiss him.

It wasn't a spectacular first kiss, but they never were. Richie was too caught off guard, too stunned, to really do anything about it and then Methos was pulling away to stare down at him. He licked his lips, something Methos watched with intense scrutiny, and then tried to figure out what he was supposed to say next.

Nothing made sense so, instead, he just grinned a little. "You flew thousands of miles to do that?"

"Hardly," Methos smirked and Richie shivered, "But I thought that would be a good place to start."

Richie swallowed hard. "You realize I am completely confused by all this, right? Because you never--"

"Five thousand years, kid," Methos said, still smirking. "Somewhere in there I might have found time to master a good poker face."

"I think I might be impressed. Maybe a little annoyed. Why wait this long? Why now?" Richie got up, looking at the sword on the counter and then at Methos. "I swear, Methos, if this is some kind of game."

Methos snorted. "Richie, if I kill you, I have half a dozen Immortals looking for my head. How does that work in my favor?"

"I don't know," Richie said, grinning, "but that doesn't mean you aren't working an angle."

"I am," Methos said, sighing. "It's called 'trying to get laid'."

"Ah, well, it needs some work," Richie said. "Less sarcasm, more nudity, and don't insult the man's beer."

"Advice for the ages, kid," Methos said. "Advice for the ages."