AUTHOR'S NOTE: This takes place immediately following Revelation 6:8.
Duncan MacLeod parked his car and walked in through the lobby of the Hotel de Seze,
stopping in the bar long enough to buy himself a bottle of scotch, then going straight up
to his room. He was sure what he'd find when he got there, and he had been right.
Cassandra was gone. She had packed her things, left the key on the table and disappeared
without leaving a note or saying goodbye. He wasn't sure why he should have expected her
to say anything, but it seemed so much more final this way.
He poured himself a generous glass of the scotch, wanting to numb his mind to the jumble
of thoughts that wouldn't leave him alone. He downed the drink quickly and poured another,
then sat on the couch and put the glass on the table in front of him. He leaned his elbows
on his knees, dropped his head into his hands, and took a deep breath that he let out very
slowly. Why? Why was he the one left with all the decisions? He knew the answer to that,
but didn't want to.
He thought back to his instinctive command to Cassandra not to kill Methos as he sobbed on
his knees before her. The words had come to him unbidden, and even as he had said them to
her, he knew that, while she had the right to kill the ancient immortal, he couldn't allow
it to happen. He had seen the hatred in her eyes as she turned and walked away, and
wondered how much of it was directed at himself. She had been ill-used by the Horsemen, of
that he had no doubt, and her thirst for revenge could be understood. He wondered if, at
the last, she had come to realize that vengeance would not change what had happened to her
and her people. He doubted it as soon as he thought it.
He could still hear Methos' huge, wrenching sobs as he knelt by Silas' body. He had gone
to him and stayed near him until the weeping had stopped, understanding that the pain
Methos was feeling was as much for the reopening of part of his past that he had thought
over as it was for the anguish of killing a friend. MacLeod knew both of those pains too
well, but did not know how to help him except to be nearby. When his crying ceased, and
his body stopped trembling, Methos had sat back on his heels and rubbed his eyes, looked
at MacLeod, nodded once, then stood and walked slowly away without speaking. It had been
as if he had been closing a chapter in their lives. Except that he hadn't wanted to let
Methos do that. He'd followed him out of the submarine base and finally caught up with him
when he stopped on Holy Ground. Were they that far gone that it was only safe to meet
there? He knew he wasn't going to kill Methos. What he didn't know was if they could ever
be friends again, and if it would be his own fault if they could not.
Restlessly, he stood up, picked up the glass and drained it, poured himself more, then
went to stand at the window, looking out over the dark city, watching the people going
about their day to day business as if they hadn't a care in the world. They had no idea
how close they had come to total annihilation. Death at the hands of the Four Horsemen.
Death planned by a man he thought he knew. He rubbed a hand across his face and again
drained his glass. He picked up the bottle and looked at it, wondering idly if there was
something wrong with the liquor. It wasn't doing what he'd hoped. He barely felt its
effects, and he'd wanted to get drunk enough not to remember, at least for tonight. He
poured more into his glass, and went back to the window. Could he have been so wrong about
Methos? Had there been some long term plan that started with the Old Man insinuating
himself into MacLeod's life? He realized he was starting to get a little maudlin, and
decided the liquor was working after all.
He couldn't have been so totally wrong in his judgement of the other man. Could he? Joe
had been wrong about him. Joe had said that Methos couldn't have killed women and children
for pleasure. They both knew now that he had. At the same time, though, Joe had said that
sometimes you had to listen to your gut. That sometimes that was all you had. His thoughts
shifted to the Watcher. Always there. Always willing to accept people as he saw them. He
was beginning to understand how special a friend he had in Joe Dawson. All the times he
had pushed the man away, he had waited and been there, unwilling to give up on the
friendship. Not many people would do that. Not many people had. What was it about the man
that made him push him back? Maybe it was the Watcher part. He knew he liked Joe, he was
comfortable with Joe Dawson the man, but ... but what? Was it that he still felt a little
like a bug on a slide? That his life was under a microscope? That was partly it. What
else? Was it that he sometimes resented that Joe had a way of making him question his
decisions and beliefs? He smiled. That was it. Joe and Methos had the same annoying habit
of cutting through his firm resolve and making him doubt himself. He took a drink from his
glass. Almost empty again. He filled it again, and went back to sit on the couch. He
definitely was starting to feel the alcohol. Good. Now all he had to do was drink enough
But he hadn't forgotten, not yet. It had hurt to think about Methos and Joe and the way
things had been. All he really knew about Methos was from the times they had spent
together in the last couple of years. Until about a week ago, if somebody had asked him to
describe the Old Man, he would have talked about a gentle man with a cynical attitude that
would go out of his way to avoid a fight. He'd always sensed that there was a steel core
that was kept carefully hidden, but never that the man was vicious or cruel or a
cold-hearted killer. Random moments from their past times came to him. Alexa Bond. Methos
had been so nervous that the woman wouldn't like him, like a schoolboy. He had risked his
life to try to save hers, and had wept unashamed after her death. The silly plan he'd
talked him into to save Gina and Robert's marriage. That had come way too close to costing
Methos' head at Gina's hand. He still had to smile at how he'd had to wheedle to get him
to help at all. He took another swallow of the scotch. Not good enough yet. He was still
maudlin. He wanted oblivion. He poured more into the glass.
Methos knew him too well. He was right when he said that what he had done, MacLeod
couldn't forgive. But he hadn't asked for forgiveness. All he'd asked for was acceptance.
Joe had said the same thing. He had wanted to understand what Methos had done, not judge
him. Had Methos been fooling them all along? Was he still Death on a horse? Or had he been
trapped in the situation and done what he had to do to survive? It was too complicated.
The man he thought he knew wouldn't have done those things, at least not today. But it
hadn't happened today. It had happened thousands of years ago. It could have happened
again, but the Horsemen had been stopped. With Methos' help. That was what he'd done,
wasn't it? Meant to help stop them? Hadn't that been his plan all along? Get the four of
them back together and find a way to help MacLeod stop them? He truly wanted to believe
that. He had to believe that if there was ever to be any chance of rekindling their
friendship. He'd asked Methos if that was what he'd done, and in his typical way, the Old
Man had refused a direct answer.
He wondered about the fear that must have followed Methos, knowing that Kronos and the
others were still alive and might find him some day. No wonder he'd always kept a low
profile. How many other ghosts from his past were still haunting him? The anguish he'd
heard in the voice when he'd asked him about Cassandra. "One of a thousand
regrets." He realized that could be literally true. The impact of what a life that
long meant was beginning to hit him. There must be centuries of pain and suffering, both
inflicted and received, that never left him. And what had it taken for Methos to change?
Had he changed? He was sure something had. He'd said he was different then. Then. In the
past. Maybe the man he knew today was real. He took another drink. This wasn't enough. He
could still think, he could still feel.
He put the glass on the table again and rubbed his eyes with the heels of his hands. They
were stinging from, what? Fatigue? That must be it. He was tired. And right now, very
alone. There was no one who could help him. Or was there? Tomorrow he'd call Joe. Ask him
to let him know how Methos was doing. He had a feeling that the Old Man would keep in
touch with the Watcher. If it was true that time could heal all wounds, he'd wait. He'd
find a way to rebuild their friendship. He'd find a way to accept all of what made Methos
the man he was now. He was more and more sure that time had changed the man. He couldn't
have been that wrong about him. He wouldn't accept that he was that mistaken in his
judgement. Judgement. It was what he was always so good at. Judging people against his own
code. Did he have the right to judge or should he learn what a mere mortal had already
learned. That sometimes all you have to go with is your gut. His gut told him not to throw
away a friend. There would be a way to fix things. There had to be.
He picked up the glass and finished what was in it, then put it down again. He leaned back
against the cushions and closed his eyes. He felt one tear as it trailed down his cheek.
Fatigue and scotch could do that to a guy. As he drifted into an uneasy sleep, he had one
last vision of a figure knocking on his door, chilled beer in hand, cynical smile on the
lips and in the hazel eyes, asking nothing except to be his friend.
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