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Between Sea and Shore

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The screaming horns of the enemy fighter planes as the descended to pick them off on the beach were a special kind of terror but, in the end, it was the waiting that dragged at your guts, Duncan though. Five days on this beach, and he was still alive, and even for an immortal that was a kind of miracle.

May the 1st dawned clear on Dunkirk beach, and Duncan knew that this was the day they were going to descend into hell. No cover, no way out, they were sitting ducks in the water, soaking to their waist and strung out in the water like daisy chains. For a brief, fleeting moment, Duncan thought of swimming for it.

“We’re going to die here, ain’t we?” Private Rider said from behind him, his sharp cockney accent wavering. Duncan glanced back him, the boy had definitely lied about his age to enlist, a lot of the lads had.

---

He hadn’t volunteered, he hadn’t been so foolish as to do that, but he was a doctor in a coastal town near Dover and the fisherman had come to him on the third night, caps in hand.

“We need you out there, Doctor Addams,” Fletcher said. “There are men dying in our boats that don’t need to be, but we don’t have the knowledge to help them and the army hospital has no more nurses to spare. Would ye come with us?”

And so here he was, on the English channel, most probably on his way to a watery grave. Methos sighed - oh, how he hated the water.

___

...Private Rider was dead. PIcked off by machine gunfire. Duncan took his dogtags and papers, as well as a letter in his inside pocket. The address on the outside was spoiled by the sea water, but perhaps the letter inside could be salvaged and sent along. His body floated away on the tide and Duncan’s mind dredged up an old prayer he hadn’t heard in nearly a century.

“We therefore commit his body to the deep, to be turned into corruption, looking for the resurrection of the body, when the sea shall give up her dead, and the life of the world to come…”

Duncan sighed, there was nothing else he could do for the lad. This wasn’t a civilised place.

“They’re coming back around!”.

A cold shiver of dread ran through the lines as they instinctively crouched down into the water, not that it would save them from the machine and shellfire. There was no shelter form death at Dunkirk.

___

Methos knew what was going to greet them on that beach, he had seen war in all its guises, but he still not prepared to see the water boiling with panicking soldiers as the Luftwaffe rained death down upon them.

“Where the hell are the RAF?” he muttered.

“Further back, keeping the rest of the Luftwaffe away” one of the fishermen called out. “Me brother is with them.”

The rest of the Luftwaffe? Suddenly, Methos knew exactly what the Reich wanted this battle to be, the kind of battle a soldier doesn’t come back from.

___

Blood tainted the saltwater and Duncan couldn’t move his legs. Pain seared his back, making it difficult to think, and all he could do was float, sea water filling his nose and mouth and making his stomach turn. He was going to lose consciousness soon, probably going to die. Not permanently, of course, but long enough to be left behind. He tried to make that thought galvanise him, but he couldn’t open his eyes or move his hands.

He smelt the oil before the insistent thrum of an engine caught his attention, and it was another moment before he realised that it wasn’t only the steady vibration of the engine in the water he was sensing, it was another immortal.

Against all hope, against all reason, really, because he knew the ancient Immortal hadn’t made it out of Paris, only one name came to mind. Darius.

A stick prodded his shoulder. “He’s dead, leave him.”

“But he said sumthin’ - there he is, or sumthin’ like that”

“Well, those were his last words, then.”

A third voice chimed in, resigned and wary. “Get him in the boat. He’s not gone yet.”

They lifted him from the water and the pain was too much, he lost consciousness.

___

Darius - of all the names to utter, why his?

Methos’s fingers curled on the bow, willing himself to ignore what his conscience said he should do. “Leave him there,” he muttered to himself. “He’s not your problem.”

“He’s dead, leave him, “ one of Fletcher's men said, unknowingly echoing him, and Methos cursed under his breath and reached over and grabbed Fletcher's wrist, turning it over so they could both see the Watcher’s sigil.

“Get him in the boat. He’s not done yet.” he said aloud, and Fletcher's eyes widened with fear before flattening with resignation. He nodded to his men before turning back to him, wary.

“How long have you know? What gave me away?” he whispered.

Methos took pity on him. “I’ve always known, Fletcher. All the old ones do.” He laid a hand on his shoulder. “Not to worry, Ian, my boy. I didn’t give your father or your grandfather away, I’m not going to do it to you either.”

“Who is he?” Fletchard, as they pulled the still body onto the deck.

“Let’s find out, shall we,” Methos said, as he turned the body over. “Well, I’ll be blowed, it’s that damned Highlander!”

___

He was in a cot in a cottage on the outskirts of Dover when he awoke. He smelt of smoke and salt and blood, but he was alive. A weathered face looked up from his paper, from his perch by the fire. “Ah good, you’re awake,” he said, his face studiously blank. “The name is Fletcher. The good Doctor said you’d be good as new faster than most. He was right, he seems. He left you this.” He handed him an envelope and stood, hesitating as the door. “I think ye should be gone before I’m back,” he said stiffly and left.

A gold coin fell out of the envelope and Duncan knew it was old even before he looked at the roman Caesar etched into it. He pulled out a single sheet of paper, folded once, and the note was barely a line long.

“Tell Darius he owes me a beer, stay alive Highlander - M”

“M’” he muttered to himself. “Who the hell signs a letter with just an Initial!”