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Never Ever

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“Never have I ever...been a god.”

It was Amy Thomas who said it, and Methos was so far in his cups that he thought he had heard her wrong. When he got the words processed, he had another long moment of pause while he tried to work out if she had chosen the statement because of him, or because she'd simply lost the ability to think of appropriate nevers. It couldn't have applied to anyone else at the table, unless Joe Dawson was sitting on more secrets, because Duncan MacLeod wouldn't dare let himself be elevated to such a position.

So that's what she thought she wanted to know, was it? An evening of perfectly benign statements and then she had to go throw that one out there. Well, he wasn't without fault; he'd agreed to play this stupid game. He'd had a good reason for it, too. Maybe. Couldn't remember what it was. At his age, there wasn't much he hadn't done, so a game challenging people to admit to their indiscretions was only going to end with him admitting to everything his friends could think of, and apparently they were able to think of this.

With shaky hands, Methos filled his glass and threw back the shot. Most of the liquid made it in his mouth. Some dribbled down his chin and onto his sweater. He was going to be in pain in the morning, if he couldn't convince someone to kill him before then.

“OK, Old Man,” Joe said. “This one you have to explain.” He was drunk too, his eyes glazed, but his speech was still clear.

Amy was staring at him in wide-eyed wonder. Duncan was just staring at the ceiling. Methos could hear him trying to roll his eyes, though it was possible MacLeod was so drunk that he'd just temporarily misplaced them and was trying to figure out where to look.

“Explain what?” Methos hedged. Had he already taken his shot? He couldn't remember that either. He decided to err on the side of alcohol and pour himself another. It wasn't like it mattered at this point.

“Your attempts at godhood,” Joe stated.

“Who said I was a god?” Methos asked.

Amy pointed at the empty shot glass in his hand. “You did. Or are you just drinking at every statement, regardless of whether it's true?”

It was an out he could have taken, though he sensed that would make his friends upset enough that he wouldn't dare ask them to kill him as hangover aversion therapy. “So I did,” he agreed. He set the glass back down and filled it again because an empty glass was an unwelcoming glass. “Have I drunk already?”

“Well, you're certainly drunk already,” Joe pointed out.

Methos nodded happily. “Which time do you want?”

Duncan found his eyes and dropped them to bore into Methos. “You've been a god more than once? Why would you do such a thing? That's blasphemy!”

“Oh, relax, MacLeod,” Methos said. “It was long before Christianity came along and ate everyone else's gods. Becoming a god was easy enough. The hard part was hanging on to it long enough to enjoy some benefits.”

“Pick one,” Amy said. “Just one. You can save the other stories for another time.” She leaned forward, eager to hear this latest insight into his history. It would have cute if she weren't still so attached to her vow to observe and record.

Joe would have known better--about that, anyway. It gave Methos way too much room to tailor the story so that it was true, without being truth. If his brain had been working well enough that he could parse multiple stories and figure out how to weave them together, he'd have done it on reflex. It wasn't, so he decided to go with something closer to the truth.

“Strictly speaking, no one worships death,” he began.

“Uh uh. No way,” Duncan interrupted. “Ye've already told this one.”

“Amy said I could pick any one I wanted." Methos glanced at Amy for confirmation that she had in fact said that. Too eagerly, she nodded. "This is the one I wanted.”

Duncan waved a hand in the air and nearly tipped himself over. “Ye cannae be a god if no one's worshipping you. Ye cannae be a god.”

Setting his cup down, Methos drew a breath and let his Quickening deal with some of the alcohol in his body. As riled as Duncan was getting, one of them needed to be able to think rationally. When he could reliably string complete sentences together, he said, “What makes you think that I was going to talk about being Death on a Horse instead of some other time that I was the god of death? Every culture has one, you know? It's not like death is a new or rare idea. Get one kind mastered and it's easy enough to move a few hundred miles away and start over. Pull out some of the old tricks, try a few new ones, pick a name the locals can pronounce. It doesn't take much.”

The argument was lost on MacLeod who could only sputter in indignation.

“You tricking people into worshipping you, I buy," Joe stated, either drunkenly oblivious to the exchange or wisely choosing to ignore it. "But I refuse to believe that you were always a god of death. Now, god of drunkenness and debauchery I could see.” He narrowed his eyes. “You weren't Pan, were you?”

Methos shook his head. “Someone beat me to that. I'm still kicking myself over not thinking of that.” He paused, debating whether to say the next part, then decided that there was a good chance that none of his companions would remember any of this in the morning. If they did, he could always deny it. “I did take his head, though.”

Joe's mouth dropped open. “You killed Pan?”

Methos grinned. “Ratty little bastard. He was the Ancient Greek version of Kenny.”

“A kid who never grew up,” Joe muttered. “That wasn't the Pan I was thinking of.”

“He was also a drunk and a horn dog. I can vouch that he only had one penis, though.”

Amy blushed.

“And he definitely lacked cloven hooves. Just normal feet….” Methos' eyes crinkled in amusement as details from a long abandoned memory once again made themselves known. "...that he was not averse to using to his sexual ad--"

Amy aggressively cleared her throat; her blush had spread down her neck, setting her whole face off against the pale beige blouse she wore. That was why he'd agreed to play this game, Methos suddenly recalled. She'd been so proud of herself for figuring out who Methos was that Methos had felt she needed to be reminded of the dangers of prying into his past, such as by learning information she wasn't prepared to understand.

Meanwhile, Joe merely sat back in his chair, glass in hand. His eyes were beginning to droop, though he appeared otherwise unaffected by the conversation. Idly, he scratched his forehead. “You're really full of it, you know? I guess it would've been easier to just hand you the bottle while we made up our own tall tales about you."

"It's all true, Joe. I swear!"

Joe's chin wobbled in the nod of someone who wasn't interested in arguing. "Fine, so just out of curiosity: is there anything you haven't done?"

Methos went around the table refilling everyone's glasses while he tried to think of something that would qualify. It was a lot tougher than one might imagine, especially if one got into questions about whether any particular thing technically qualified or not. At last he came up with an honest never. “Never have I ever...jumped into a live volcano.” He crossed his arms and sat back smugly.

“How'd ye miss that one?” Duncan demanded, his tone dripping with sarcasm.

“Because I heard the screaming when I threw other people in and decided that some kinds of pain aren't worth experiencing,” Methos answered blandly. Amy visibly recoiled and braced herself for whatever he said next. Good; she could learn. “Besides--" Once again he smiled and swallowed back his drink, not caring what MacLeod was going to say; a little deconstruction of his expectations was always amusing--"I've always believed that any worthwhile god should not be the one getting sacrificed."