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Secrets and Lies

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"Well...thanks for letting me know, MacLeod. Goodbye." Joe Dawson set the telephone receiver back in its cradle and stared at it. At least it was over. He could stop worrying, for a while. Kalas was in jail, and it seemed likely he would stay there for a long time. The same newspapers that had reported the brutal murder of an elderly bookshop proprietor would be able to add the footnote that the criminal was paying for the crime. Everyone is happy.

Except those who knew the truth.

Except MacLeod, his desire for just revenge thwarted by French justice.

Except Joe Dawson, reeling from the news his immortal friend had so casually delivered.

Adam Pierson is Methos.

MacLeod couldn't have known what that news would mean to Joe. An immortal masquerading among the Watchers. God...if anyone knew... Joe shook his head slowly and reached for his cane.

Adam Pierson is Methos. When had he last seen Pierson? Two...no, more like three years ago. Joe sent MacLeod to Pierson himself, knowing that if the Methos chronicle was the reason Don Saltzer was dead, Pierson would be next on Kalas' list. Believing only an immortal could protect a Watcher from another immortal.

Adam Pierson is Methos. Not only an immortal, but an immortal millennia old. Joe knew he should report this. He stared at the telephone again, watching it not ring, wishing that it would. Any distraction. Duty demanded he call the Watchers and tell them.

Methos. Imagine an immortal so old that he doesn't remember the time of his birth. Adam Pierson. MacLeod had said he was gone. The apartment was stripped, all the chronicles vanished. If that were true, the Watchers had to know who had them. If it were true.

An important decision made, Joe picked up the phone and began to dial.

***

Methos knew how to vanish. His apartment in Paris had been home for ten years, but it was time to go. A pity: he had become comfortable there. Adam Pierson was still affiliated to the university: he found temporary accommodation through the usual student channels. The new place was a tiny, basement apartment, but it would be home for only a short while.

Even one of his kind knowing his real name and where he lived was one too many. This time there were two: one of them Kalas, who would want his head even more badly now. Ironically, it was because of Kalas Methos had relocated only a few miles away, instead of a continent. Methos had called the police, made a report. He was expected to testify. He could not leave town until Kalas was tried and convicted, or it was all for nothing. So he told himself there was no reason to ditch his entire life...only his address.

He had just managed to settle in to his temporary home, when the real consequences of his 'adventure' with Duncan MacLeod became clear.

The library of the Watchers was any historian's image of Paradise. So much more than mere books: some of the scrolls held there were as old as writing itself. The high-ceilinged room was always cold, even at the height of summer and few people chose to work there for that reason. It was more common for a Watcher with business in the library to sign out the chronicles he wanted and work somewhere with heating. Methos preferred the library, and for the past ten years had become a common sight in that room: a lone researcher pouring over books so long unread they were dusty.

Adam Pierson was working in the library as usual when he received a very curt order to report to de Guise: the head of Research for the Watchers in Europe. His immediate boss. Researchers, once assigned to a project, were generally left alone, so he had no idea what this might be about. A little wary, he had obeyed the order.

In de Guise's office, he had learned that no one was exactly happy with his part in Kalas' arrest. He had interfered in a battle between two Immortals. Methos didn't bother to tell them he knew that. He'd broken all the rules with what he'd done, not just one. But if he had the thing to do over, he would do nothing different. The stakes had been too high to let the Game play out the usual way.

In his defence, Methos told them, he hadn't "interfered". It was purely by coincidence that the police had found Kalas when he was fighting MacLeod. He had been afraid for his life, Methos pointed out. Kalas killed Don looking for "Methos" - what was Adam supposed to do? Sacrifice himself to the cause as well? Just wait for an Immortal psychotic on a killing spree to show up on his doorstep? No, thank you. He reminded them that Kalas had murdered at least two Watchers...would they really have wanted to stand by and do nothing, if Kalas had taken MacLeod's head?

His defence appeared to be accepted. De Guise told him to leave - and be careful what he said in court. Methos resisted the impulse to respond with sarcasm. Yeah, of course he would stand up in court and tell them he was part of a secret society that keeps an eye on immortals cutting each others' heads off. He was sure a jury would buy that. It was with some relief Methos turned to leave.

As he left the room, he saw someone waiting for him. Joe Dawson. He smiled a greeting: seeing Joe was always an unexpected pleasure. "Joe. How are you?" Methos asked casually.

"Let's take a walk. Adam." Joe's voice was like steel, and Methos realised his problems were only just beginning. MacLeod, you bastard. Of all the people to tell!

***

Ten Years Earlier

Question: who watches the Watchers? Answer: one ancient immortal.

Changing identities was easy. Creating a persona convincing enough to allow him to join the Watchers was a lot of work. Three hundred years earlier all he would have needed was a forged letter of introduction and some fast talk. In the twentieth century, the Watchers were more careful. More...paranoid. Methos needed a complete background that would stand up to modern scrutiny, and he needed genuine academic qualifications. It had taken years to create Adam Pierson. Then came more research: Adam needed to coincidentally "meet" someone who could get him inside. He chose Don Saltzer because of the bookstore: it was an obvious place for a graduate student to hang around. Discovering Don's assignment was Methos had been an unexpected bonus.

That was the stroke of luck that had gained him access to the Watchers. Now, bearing a new tattoo on his wrist, he could relax a little. Start to live life...a little.

Occasionally, discussing work with Don did feel like a mockery. Don was so enthusiastic about each new discovery, while Methos just saw what was missing. There were so many gaps in the Chronicles: things that were worth preserving. Methos walked a very fine line in those days, using his own knowledge to advance theirs, slowly building their chronicle into an accurate, if highly expurgated, picture. Don's passion for the truth was infectious.

It was in those early months, when Adam Pierson was a brilliant researcher newly recruited by the Watchers, that he first met Joe Dawson. Dawson was a field agent, not a researcher, who had followed his assignment to Paris as an opportunity to take an extended holiday. Dawson and Saltzer were long-time colleagues, and apparently good friends, and Methos found himself welcomed into their plans as the new kid on the block. Nothing could keep Don away from his beloved books for long, however, and all too often Methos found himself alone with Dawson. He didn't mind: as it turned out they had some interests in common.

Methos knew Paris very well. But Adam Pierson was new to the city, and had seen very little of it. He had accepted Dawson's offer to show him around, fully expecting to be bored to tears. But Dawson's concept of Paris didn't include the Louvre or the Eiffel Tower. It was bookstores and out of the way markets and Blues clubs...one or two things that were genuinely new to Methos.

Methos saw a loneliness in his new friend that resonated with his own. Dawson never spoke of it, but the truth shone from his eyes. The more time they spent together, the more Methos found himself wanting to do something about it, for both of them. Mere physical attraction he would have ignored as not worth the risk, but this was about more than that. Loneliness...longing.

In an earlier century he wouldn't have hesitated to make his feelings known. In the 1980s, however, homosexuality simply wasn't acceptable to the average man. Neither was it a subject for casual conversation. Methos had to settle for the gentlest of hints, letting Joe know he was interested, and hoping it wouldn't be taken badly. It wasn't taken at all. Joe seemed oblivious to subtlety and Methos was unwilling be more direct.

One night the bar they had planned to attend was unexpectedly closed: something about a health inspection. It left them at a loose end, and Methos seized the opportunity to invite Joe back to his apartment. It was the first time Joe had seen where he lived; Methos told him to look around while he retrieved a couple of beers from the kitchen. The suggestion had a hint of cynicism: the apartment wasn't big enough to merit a tour.

"It's nice," Joe told him. "A bit Spartan, maybe."

Methos opened one of the bottles he carried and handed it to his friend. "Minimalist. I thought a Renoir would look great over the bed, but not on my income. Beer?"

"Thanks." Joe accepted the bottle. "Adam, I didn't mean to..."

"I'm not offended. It is Spartan." Unless you've seen Sparta, that is. Methos opened his own beer. "How's the assignment? Still in town?" He was leaning against the heater on the wall; Joe stood beside him.

"Uh...yeah. MacLeod is an antique dealer: he's here to buy. I don't think he'll be in town much longer."

"Then you'll be going home."

"That's the way it works."

MacLeod. Methos hadn't heard of him. Probably some youngster. He drank some more beer, making a mental note to find out...later. It wouldn't be hard to bring the subject up in conversation.

"Adam," Joe said, his voice suddenly serious.

Methos looked up, a little concerned. "Something wrong?" Was the assignment bothering Joe? These kids were too often all sword and no sense. Watching them could be dangerous work.

"Just a question for you," Joe said, and Methos relaxed. "A couple of times, just lately...I got the impression you were...um..." Joe's obvious discomfort completed the sentence.

Methos nodded. The sudden change of subject felt awkward, but he seized the opportunity for some honesty. "I was," he said.

"Oh."

'Oh'? That's it? Methos set his beer aside. "Look, Joe, I'm not going to throw myself at you. If you're not interested, you're not. I hope it won't affect our friendship."

Joe didn't answer. He turned away, nursing his beer.

"Joe...?"

"I thought you'd deny it."

Methos couldn't meet his eyes. "I suppose honesty is a failing of mine," he lied.

"Are you really...?" Joe began, and again didn't finish.

"What do you want to hear me say?" Am I what? Queer? Making a pass at you? Making an idiot of myself? All of the above? He was afraid of what he would see if he looked at Joe. The silence seemed to answer him. Though he did have one final card to play. Methos sighed, defeated. "Who am I kidding? What would a man like you see in me?" 

"A man like me," Joe repeated. 

Something in his voice made Methos look up, meeting his eyes at last. Joe's expression was one of confusion: none of the things Methos had been afraid of seeing. "Joe, do you own a mirror? Don't you know how attractive you are?" 

Joe took a mouthful of beer then set the bottle aside. "You're serious."

"I don't joke about this." Methos, just beginning to understand Joe's hesitation, felt rooted to the ground. He had made his play: it was up to Joe now. He could handle the rejection, if...

Joe took a step toward Methos, bringing him close enough to touch. One of his hands still gripped his walking cane. He brought the other to rest on Methos' shoulder. "You know I'll be leaving when MacLeod leaves. Soon."

Methos swallowed. "I know. I didn't ask you for a wedding ring, Joe."

Joe leaned forward, his hand still on Methos' shoulder, and very gently pressed his lips to the immortal's. It was a tentative gesture, their mouths barely touching. Methos caught his breath, entranced by the normally confident man's uncertainty. He opened his mouth beneath Joe's, daring to probe just a little with his tongue. He heard - and felt - a groan from Joe as he finally relaxed, accepting the kiss he had initiated. Joe tasted of beer and sunlight.

The walking cane fell to the ground with a clatter as Joe lifted his hands to cup Methos' face. The kiss they shared deepened, Methos drawing Joe's tongue into his own mouth, giving the other man control. Joe's fingers slid into the open neck of Methos' sweater. The light touch aroused Methos strongly and he broke away from the kiss to catch his breath.

"Joe," he breathed, "I want..."

A callused finger pressed his lips, silencing him. Joe's colour was high as his eyes met Methos'. "I want you too, Adam. But..."

"No. No buts." Methos closed the small distance that still separated their bodies, letting Joe feel his hard arousal. "Stop thinking," he whispered, close to Joe's mouth.

"I have," Joe whispered back. His hands slid down Methos' back, then beneath his sweater at the waist. Methos raised his arms, allowing Joe to remove it. This was the signal he'd been waiting for...Joe's need.

He led Joe toward his bed, allowing himself to be undressed as they moved. He kissed Joe again as they reached the bed, locking their mouths together as he began, slowly, to unfasten Joe's clothing. Undressing Joe took a long time. For every part of him uncovered, there were kisses exchanged, Methos pausing to caress, and taste. His fingers teased already-sensitised flesh and he thrilled to the convulsive grip of Joe's fingers in his hair. There was an awkward moment, when Joe's prosthetic legs were revealed, but Methos was prepared for that: he helped Joe without comment and the moment passed, quickly forgotten.

They lay down naked together. Methos never stopped kissing him, whatever flesh was nearest, neck and shoulder, chest and inner arm. Between kisses he asked, "What do you like?" His overwhelming desire was to give this man pleasure, any way he could.

"I...I don't..." Joe mumbled. His mouth, too was occupied, his face buried in Methos' hair.

Methos mouth closed over one of Joe's nipples, drawing the sensitive nub between his teeth, sucking the flesh into a hard, almost painful peak. Abandoning that sweet torture briefly he asked, "Penetration?" and felt his answer in Joe's sudden tension beneath his hands. Of course, Joe would worry about disease: neither of them truly knew the other yet. "No?" he said quickly, not wanting to spoil the mood. "Then, oral?"

"Adam..." It was a groan of assent.

Methos smiled up at his lover. "Yes?" he teased.

"Yes!" His hands exerted a subtle pressure, guiding Methos down his body. Joe probably wasn't aware he was doing it.

Oh yes, Joe, I can make you feel so good. Methos went down on Joe willingly, loving the clean, salty taste of him, the heat of the thick cock sliding past his lips. Centuries of practice had taught him to prolong the pleasure for both of them, sucking him deeply until he felt the inevitable climax approaching, then slowing down. A touch here, a squeeze there could delay climax almost indefinitely. He could feel the tension rising in Joe and knew he was holding back, or trying to. For a moment he lifted his head, bringing a moan of loss from his lover. "Joe, let it come. I can take whatever you need."

With a cry of Adam's name, Joe stopped resisting, his hands tightening their grip on Methos' hair, thrusting strongly into Methos' mouth. Methos relaxed his throat, allowing Joe to use him. The hot gush of Joe's semen was the final gift, and as promised Methos took it all, savouring the unique flavour.

As Joe's body relaxed Methos finally lifted his head, meeting his lover's eyes - and the emotion he saw blazing there was overwhelming. Irresistibly drawn to that look he rose up to take Joe's mouth with his own. And as he felt Joe's hands begin to caress him, it was Methos' turn to surrender to pleasure...

***

They walked in silence through the Watchers' HQ building. Methos thought it seemed safer to let Joe begin the conversation. All the power here was Dawson's: if he chose to tell the Watchers what he knew about "Adam Pierson", Methos could be in far more danger now than when he faced Kalas. At least then he'd had a sword. Yet it was obvious Joe had said nothing to anyone as yet. That was encouraging.

Joe led them away from the chateau, across the grass. He still said nothing. Over a small stone bridge and under the cover of the trees, he finally turned to Methos. The look on his face shattered Methos' hope that Joe would keep his secret.

"I should tell them and help them take your head. They will, you know." Joe's eyes were hard as diamonds. Methos had seen eyes like that before - usually above the barrel of a gun.

"If you were going to tell them, you'd have done it already," Methos said, no longer confident that was true. What had Joe been through since they last met to change him so much?

"Maybe you're right. Or maybe I'm just giving you a chance to run. You know - for old times' sake."

Joe's coldness hurt. "I can't go anywhere until I've testified at Kalas' trial," Methos pointed out. "So do what you have to, Joe. Watch me die and watch the man who murdered Don walk free." He started to walk back the way they had come. Dry and brittle leaves crackled beneath his shoes.

Joe called after him. "At least tell me why!"

Methos turned. He looked at Joe Dawson. Saw a man past his youth, leaning more heavily than ever on a cane, betrayed by a man he had loved...once. He swallowed, feeling guilty suddenly. He walked back to Joe's side. Why? could mean so many things.

"I needed a place to hide. I don't imagine you'll believe me, now, but I really do believe in what the Watchers..."

"That's not what I meant," Joe said.

Of course it wasn't. It would be all the other whys. Why had Methos not trusted him with the truth? Why had he broken all the rules and called the police instead of letting MacLeod fight Kalas? Why had he lied to his friend, and lover? "I'm sorry, Joe," he said, meaning it.

"Ten years ago..." Joe began. "I suppose that was all a big joke to you."

"No!" The denial was out of his mouth before Methos had fully processed the accusation. "Joe, we were friends! What have I ever done that would make you believe that?"

"You lied. For ten years."

Methos couldn't really deny it. "I lied to the Watchers. I lied to Don. But you...I tried to tell you, once. You weren't listening."

***

Ten Years Earlier

The Seine ran slowly beneath the bridge. Methos glanced down at the water, then turned back to Joe. A week had passed too quickly...not enough time. There was never, he reflected, enough time. Joe would be leaving Paris in a few hours, to follow his assignment once more.

"What would Don make of all this?" Joe asked.

Methos smiled sadly. "Don's a good man. And a good friend. He's a bit...straight, though. I don't know how he'll feel about us."

"Are you going to tell him?"

Secrets on top of lies. A great foundation for a friendship. Methos shook his head. "Not yet. If he needs to know, I will." He looked across the river. "I don't want to lose his friendship, Joe. Don's given me so much...working with the Watchers is an amazing opportunity."

"It must be frustrating to have to keep secret what you learn."

"I'm just fascinated by the learning. I know a lot of history. But the chance to study someone who lived through it...it makes it real. Personal. In universities they look at history as trends, and wars and economies. It's really about people. Just people trying to live their lives." It was the same speech he had given to Don, and to the other Watchers. Repetition didn't make it a lie. There was a lot of truth there. Methos walked more slowly as they reached the far side of the bridge. "People like us. I'm going to miss you."

As he met Joe's eyes he sensed a withdrawal, again. That was the third time. Joe was putting barriers between them, and it wasn't helping. Their relationship hadn't had time to develop into...whatever it could have become. Perhaps they still had an opportunity. Joe Dawson was a good man.

Methos touched Joe's arm, briefly. "I'll be able to get some leave in a few months. I could visit you," he offered.

Joe sighed heavily. It wasn't the enthusiastic response Methos had hoped for.

"Joe, what's wrong?"

There was a bench on the side of the river ahead of them. Joe walked there silently and sat down, inviting Methos to join him. "Adam, I just don't see it working out. You and me." Methos was still trying to think of a response when Joe added, "You knew I was leaving...but this is my fault. I shouldn't have let it happen."

"Let it? You wanted this, Joe, just as I did. And do. I know it won't be easy, but nothing worth doing ever is."

"No, Adam. Look, I've thought about this. The immortal I watch - he spends a lot of time in Paris. I could come here regularly. But that's not fair to you - a stolen week or so every year. You're young. You deserve a real relationship, with someone closer to your age."

My age? Methos wanted to shout with frustration. Of all the cock-eyed reasons to break up with me... "You spend your life watching men and women who live for centuries. They have relationships with non-immortals. Do any of them care about an age gap?"

"We're not immortal, Adam," Joe said quietly.

"What's the difference in our ages? Fifteen years, fifty, five thousand - I don't care!"

"I do. I won't steal your chance for happiness, Adam. Maybe when you're older you'll understand."

Methos wanted to argue further. It wouldn't do any good, though: Joe was resolved. And arguing wouldn't be "in character" for Adam Pierson. The only way to convince Joe would be to tell him the truth. That, Methos couldn't do.

He bowed his head, then looked up, meeting Joe's eyes. "If you're certain this is what you want...but I will miss you, Joe. Please change your mind."

"I'm sorry."

So am I, Joe. So am I.

***

It was true, Joe realised. Adam had tried to tell him. He had known it, somewhere below the conscious level. Right in front of us all the time, he had told MacLeod. I can't believe I didn't see it. Adam had done everything but spell it out.

"What was I supposed to do, Joe?" Adam demanded. "Tell you I'm immortal? You would have gone straight to the Watchers - don't tell me you wouldn't." He sounded frustrated.

The high tide of anger and hurt that had sustained him this far drained away as he met Adam's eyes. Joe sighed heavily. He was tired...so tired. Secrets on top of lies; Adam wasn't the only one who had lied to the Watchers.

"Why are you really angry, Joe?" Adam asked gently. "Is it the lie? Or..." his voice dropped to a whisper, as if he was afraid Joe would hear his words, "...is it because you finally believe I told you the truth that day?"

"Adam, couldn't you have opened up to me a little?"

"I did! I kept one thing from you, Joe. One thing!"

Joe turned away. Slowly, he began to walk. It was too much, he couldn't cope with this. He needed a strong drink...and a guitar. He flew to Paris to confront Pierson with...with what? The truth? All he knew for sure was that he felt betrayed. And stupid.

Joe had almost reached the footbridge when Adam caught up with him. He overtook Joe's limping progress easily, and stood in his path. "Don't go. I've lost one friend recently. I don't want to lose another."

"Friend?" Joe repeated. Then, with sudden, unexpected venom, "You're thousands of years old. What did you care about one man?"

Adam staggered backward. Literally, as if Joe's words had been a physical blow. "That's unfair. I'm immortal, not inhuman." Adam's eyes met Joe's, begging him to understand, to believe him. "Don was my closest friend for a decade and he died because of me! How do you think I feel?"

Guilty enough to offer MacLeod his head, Joe realised, the last of his anger vanishing as suddenly as it had come. "I don't know why I said that. I know. I'm sorry."

"You know?"

"I know you and Don were close." Joe hesitated, wanting to say more. Then he shook his head. "Maybe we should drop the subject for now. This is a lot to take in. I'm not thinking straight."

"If that's what you want," Adam agreed hesitantly. Oh, that hesitation! If Adam was playing a part, he was playing it well. Joe remembered the gesture so well - one of the things he had loved about this young man...yeah, right. A young man thousands of years old.

Joe nodded curtly and began, once again, to walk away.

"Joe!"

Joe turned.

"Meet me for a beer later? There's a bar 'round the corner from Shakespeare and Company that you'll enjoy." Joe knew an olive branch when he heard one: the reminder of the evenings they had spent together ten years earlier was deliberate.

I must be crazy... Joe smiled, accepting the offer. "Eight o'clock?"

***

The bar was almost empty: it wouldn't start to fill up until around ten. During the day, it was more coffee-house than bar, piped Jazz acting as background music for the conversations of students and the occasional English-speaking tourist. They served food until nine, and Methos had often eaten here while working late with Don. In the evenings the Jazz was frequently live, and the food was surprisingly good for the price.

Methos was there first. He selected a corner booth where their conversation would remain private and ordered a couple of beers. His own was almost gone by the fifth time he looked at his watch. Joe was late. Perhaps he wasn't going to show at all. Methos had often wondered how his friend...his former lover...would react to discovering the truth about him, but he had never anticipated hurt. I suppose that was all a big joke to you. Methos looked down at the tattoo on the inside of his wrist; he might have had his own reasons for joining the Watchers but he had taken their oaths in all sincerity. He believed in the work they were doing.

"Easy to remove?"

Methos looked up at Joe's voice, relief washing over him. "Only from the flesh." He gestured to the seat opposite him and Joe sat down. "Have a beer."

Joe picked up the bottle, but didn't drink. "Are you really Methos?"

As tempting as the lie might be... "I am," he said, just a little amused that Joe still hadn't been certain. "If you brought a notebook, I'm leaving." Methos smiled, making the statement a joke.

"I should have guessed. You haven't aged at all in ten years." Joe's fingers played restlessly with his beer bottle. "I never had a clue."

"Why would you? Adam Pierson isn't Clark Kent. He's who I am. I'm no Superman."

"Really?" Joe's chuckle was playful.

Methos caught the innuendo and relaxed. It was going to be okay. "Do I have to apologise again?" he asked.

Joe quit torturing the beer bottle and lifted it to his lips. "No. And before you ask, I'm not going to tell anyone. But I would like to know why."

"Which why are we talking about?"

"The masquerade. An Immortal among the Watchers."

Methos finished his own beer. "It's a way to stay out of the Game. And an opportunity to keep track of the others." Three others in particular, but that part of Methos' past was going to stay buried. In the past. He signalled one of the waitresses for another beer.

"What about the Methos Chronicle?"

The question had been inevitable. "I do honest work, Joe. Alright, I admit there are things in my past I don't want recorded, but those are all things the Watchers don't know, or haven't connected with me. The work I've done on the Chronicle is real. And, be honest here: who better to help fill in the blanks than me?"

"That's what worries me."

"If I lied, the work would be useless. Joe, one day, probably not too far in the future, there will be only one Immortal left. When that day comes, the Watchers' legacy could be the only memory left of the part we played in history. I wouldn't falsify that."

The conversation stopped as the waitress brought Methos his drink. Joe leaned back into the padded leather of the bench. "And what's your part in history?" he asked, his eyes bright, eager.

Methos smiled to see that look. "Good guy, bad guy. Life, love and death. Not always in that order. The usual."

"You're not going to tell me."

"Not tonight, Joe. Someday I'll let you read my diary." It came out sounding more like a promise than Methos had intended.

Joe was avoiding his eyes, suddenly. "Adam...Methos...what are you thinking is going to happen here?"

His meaning was obvious, but that had been the last thing on Methos' mind. Five hours earlier, Joe had been angry enough to threaten his life! Now he was asking... Methos was confused. He had believed he knew Joe Dawson. He didn't know him. He had judged too quickly based on a holiday romance.

"Adam is fine. And...nothing. Nothing like that. Ten years ago was ten years ago. I'm not chasing memory lane." Methos shook his head regretfully. He had to admit it would have been...nice. "Friendship comes first with me," he added firmly.

"Sounds good." Joe relaxed, but Methos thought Joe sounded a little disappointed. He wasn't sure. It was probably only wishful thinking?

He nodded to himself slightly, acknowledging the possibility, at least. This was as good a time as any to start over...

He sipped his beer and got ready for a long evening - of talk. "So..." he began, leaning back against the polished wood panels that lined the wall, "tell me about this Duncan MacLeod."

~ The End ~