What's To Come
Slumping into the chair behind the desk in his office, Joe stared sightlessly at the phone receiver he had just hung up. The sightless stare lasted all of maybe thirty seconds before he leaned forward, elbows resting on the desk, and buried his face in his hands.
"God damn fucking assholes," he murmured brokenly. "Damn them to hell."
What Has Passed
Geiger gaped at Stern as he handed over the sword. "You're not really gonna do this?"
"If you haven't the stomach for it, get out." Stern's demeanor was cold and matter-of-fact. Legs spread apart, he positioned himself before the kneeling immortal. "I take no pleasure in this," he told the kneeling man.
"Cut clean," the immortal said, no inflection in his voice.
Stern hefted the sword over his head and, without hesitation, swung. The immortal ducked and rolled, but not before the sword deeply cut into his shoulder. Wounded, the man grunted but kept moving. He kicked out with his legs, successfully tumbling Stern to the ground. Hands still tied behind his back, he scrambled to his feet and ran for the door.
A gunshot rang out.
Not sparing a glance for Geiger, who had shot the fleeing immortal, Stern jumped to his feet. As the impact of the bullet spun Pierson around, Stern raised the sword and swung. For one brief moment, Pierson's stunned gaze met his and then his head tumbled from his shoulders.
The sudden silence in the room was heavy with defilement. The weight of it threatened to reach out and strike them down. Unmoving, Stern and Geiger stared transfixed at the decapitated body as a white mist rose from Pierson's body. It hung over the body for an interminable moment before slowly fading to nothingness.
Satisfied that was the extent of any potential immortal quickening, Stern handed the bloodied sword to Geiger. "Dispose of the body," he callously instructed. As he stepped toward his desk, a breeze blew through the room, scattering the papers from his desk. Stern turned back toward Geiger and the body just as the room began shaking, as if in the throes of an earthquake. A white flash of fire shot from Pierson's body and whipped about the room, striking and shattering objects at random. Geiger ended up tossed to the floor while Stern was flung over his desk to slam up against a wall.
Then, with a deafening boom, the unleashed quickening shot upward, disappearing through the ceiling. Outside, unwitnessed, the tempestuous quickening slammed into the ground and exploded in a blinding flash of white-hot light. Afterwards, all that remained was a blackened circle of ground that for years to come would refuse to grow, no matter what was planted there.
White-faced, Duncan clicked off his cell phone and turned to face Amanda.
"What?" she asked fearfully, recognizing that look on Duncan's face. Her friend was caught in between a wrenching grief and a terrible anger. She was afraid to say more, not wanting to tip the scales in either direction.
"Methos is dead." Duncan's voice was tight with suppressed grief. His eyes darkened with barely leashed anger.
"Who--" Amanda's breath caught in her throat, leaving her unable to finish the question.
Amanda staggered as if struck. She had left Methos there -- with the Watchers. But he had told her to leave, she told herself. He had seemed so confident he could wiggle out of the situation. What had gone wrong?
She fingered the crystal that hung around her neck. Methos had been after the remains of the Methuselah Stone that the Watchers possessed. Unfortunately, she had not managed to escape with it. Her last sight of it had been in Stern's hands. Was that why Methos had stayed? To get the Methuselah Stone away from Stern and to Alexa--
Oh god. Alexa. Dying in a hospital in Switzerland, waiting for her Adam to return.
Amanda's eyes tracked Duncan's. He had opened a large chest that she knew contained an assortment of weapons. His movements were economical and precise in a way that spoke volumes to Amanda. Someone would pay for this. And it would be a painful penalty. She watched as Duncan retrieved a dagger and a handgun. Armed with both, he pulled on a black overcoat, unintentionally complimenting the darkness of his attire and the mood that now pervaded the barge. Sword hidden in the coat, he exited the barge without a glance in Amanda's direction.
It took Amanda a shocked moment to follow. She ran out the door. "Duncan! Wait!"
He was already across the ramp and on land, but he stopped and, after a momentary hesitation, turned to stare up at Amanda, who still stood aboard the barge.
Their gazes remained locked on each other for a long moment before Amanda softly asked, "Do you need help?"
Duncan smiled grimly. "No, not this time, Amanda."
Her silence acknowledged his need to do this himself. "I'll be here when you get back."
He turned and strode away. Amanda watched until he was out of sight, then her gaze moved upward and outward, toward the heavens. She still couldn't comprehend it. Methos. Dead.
Exhaling a shaky breath, she went back inside. Even though it was Joe who had called Duncan with the news, she would call the Watcher herself. She needed to hear the words from Joe -- to hear the finality in his voice.
What Is Due
Stern stared at the object on his desk. When complete, it was rumored to be the mythical Methuselah Stone -- granting immortality to the one in its possession. Stern snorted. He believed in that as much as he believed that the immortal Methos actually existed. Both were fabrications of overactive imaginations, he was certain.
Sensing a presence, he looked up and felt the blood flow out of his face. Duncan MacLeod. How had he gained entrance? The man had been a menace ever since he had discovered the existence of the Watchers. Standing, Stern kept the desk between himself and the immortal -- avenging immortal by the looks of him. Surreptitiously, Stern pulled a drawer open and reached for the gun it contained, only to find the tip of a sword pressing against his Adam's apple.
"I wouldn't if I were you," MacLeod said softly.
His tone glacial, MacLeod stated, "You killed a man in cold blood yesterday."
Stern made no attempt to confirm or deny, until the swordpoint drew blood. "Yes," he replied shortly, hands gripping his desk.
"A Watcher, sworn to watch immortals and not interfere, decided to play judge and jury and murdered an immortal."
The sword pushed again.
"Yes," gasped Stern, starting to sweat.
"That man was my friend."
MacLeod's sword suddenly shifted and before Stern could comprehend what was about to happen, the sword sliced downward and he was short one hand. Howling, he gripped the stump of his right arm in his left hand. He stumbled back, fear blossoming and overwhelming any common sense. Something hissed past his ear and he suddenly found himself pinned to the wall by a dagger through his shoulder. He raised terror-filled eyes toward the approaching immortal.
MacLeod stopped mere inches from him. He leaned in and Stern could feel his breath upon his face.
"Do you know who you killed?" MacLeod asked, his voice frightening in its deceptive softness.
Knowing he had nothing left to lose, a false bravado filled Stern and he spat out, "An immortal who had infiltrated the Watchers! That's who. An abomination. You're all abominations. You--" Stern cut himself off, too late to curtail the damage. If he had thought MacLeod's eyes were cold before they were absolutely arctic now.
"Who's the real abomination here, Stern? A man, who by accident of birth, finds himself immortal, or a man, who by choice, takes that immortal's life for no reason other than that he is immortal."
MacLeod stepped back, and in that moment Stern knew what was coming. An eye for an eye. He was a dead man.
"You killed my friend," MacLeod repeated. "You killed a man who had made a lot of mistakes in five thousand years but had also done tremendous good. You had no right."
While Stern was still trying to wrap his mind around the 'five thousand years', MacLeod's sword swung and Stern's head was separated from his body.
Not sparing a glance for the head, MacLeod retrieved his dagger. On his way out, he tossed a lit match on Stern's desk. The desk was quickly engulfed in flames, including a strange looking crystal structure sitting unseen atop it.
Outside, Duncan paused beside a blackened circle. Could it be? He crouched down, fingers lightly touching the scorched grass. A jolt of energy slammed though him. He jerked back in shock.
Tentatively, he reached out again. This time it felt more like a gentle caress sliding up his arm rather than a shocking, invasive attack.
Following instinct, he stood and stepped into the blackened circle. Nothing happened and Duncan had nearly decided his grief-stricken mind had imagined it when a white mist rose around his feet. It gathered strength and advanced upward to swirl around his body, tendrils reaching out to caress and embrace. Ever so gently, the mist melted into Duncan's body, filling him with light. With passion. With grief. With strength. And lastly, with wonder and love.
Duncan stood rooted in place, tears streaming down his face. It was Methos. His quickening. Given to him ever so gently. But much too quietly. Duncan softly murmured, "Do not go gentle into that good night. Old age should burn and rave at close of day. Rage, rage, against the dying light." Grief washed anew over him.
Duncan resolutely stepped from the circle of burnt grass. There was one more person out there deserving of retribution. Once Geiger was handled, he would move onto the final destination -- the last gift he could give his friend.
Geiger never knew what hit him. A bullet pierced his abdomen and a dagger was left in his heart as a calling card.
It was not enough.
It would never be enough.
But it would have to do. MacLeod now had other more pressing obligations to handle for Methos.
After assuring the staff at the Swiss hospital that he had the proper paperwork -- thank you, Amanda! -- and accepting their condolences over the demise of Monsieur Pierson, Duncan was granted access to Alexa. Joe had wanted to come but they had agreed that he was in the best position to shake up the Watchers and get back what was theirs. So Duncan had come alone.
He paused outside the entrance to her room. He had talked to her doctors. She didn't have long. They feared the death of her husband -- Husband?! None of them had known the two had married -- would further shorten her time. Although Duncan didn't know Alexa well, he knew her well enough to recognize she valued honesty. He would break the news of Adam's death as gently as possible and stay with her for as long as she needed him.
Taking a deep breath, Duncan pushed the door open and entered. He had thought himself prepared. He was not. The fragile figure in the bed, hooked up to numerous medical monitors and IVs was not the quiet, but vibrant, woman he remembered. Death could be cruel to mortals. Duncan knew this but it never seemed to make it easier to accept. Renewed empathy for Methos and his desire to halt the slow death claiming Alexa flowed through him.
Duncan grinned sadly at the remembrance of an adolescent-acting Methos all-aquiver over Alexa. That love for Alexa had allowed Duncan to see another side of Methos -- to see a man who, despite his five thousand years of seeing humanity all too frequently at its worst, still fell in love all too easily. For that alone, Duncan was grateful to Alexa.
Quietly, he approached the bed. He bent over and tenderly kissed Alexa's forehead before sitting in the chair beside the bed. He couldn't help wondering how many hours Methos had spent in this same chair.
He reached for her hand, holding it gently. Her pulse fluttered under his thumb. He held onto her. He would keep holding on for as long as it took.
When she didn't awaken immediately, Duncan settled in for a long wait, his thoughts going to Methos, remembering Amanda's quiet but steady support and Joe's ravaged face. Then his gaze turned outward again and he found himself studying Alexa. Her skin was nearly translucent from the sickness, yet there was a certain ethereal beauty about her. Caring and tenderness for this woman flooded him and Duncan knew that much of that wash of emotion was Methos rising within him. Duncan suspected that Methos' quickening wouldn't settle completely until Alexa had breathed her last breath.
Some hours later, Duncan was roused from his internal contemplation of life, immortality and the fragile existence of the mortals in their lives when Alexa's eyelids flickered and she slowly drifted awake.
He leaned forward, gently squeezing the hand he had never released. Her eyes, dimmed by the mortal battle she waged, finally found his and took a long moment to focus. Confusion set in before it was washed away by fear.
She knew, Duncan realized. Somehow she knew. Her hand gripped his. "Adam?" she whispered hoarsely.
"I'm sorry, Alexa," he replied compassionately. "There was an accident. He was on his way back to you."
Her eyes closed. A shudder racked her body. Their hands remained clasped in an embrace of grief as twin tears slid from beneath her eyelids.
"He didn't suffer?" she finally asked.
"No, Alexa. He didn't suffer." Her grief tore at Duncan but he withstood its storm and remained an unflagging bulwark of support.
Eventually, her gaze found his once more. Her eyes, still awash in tears, were grief-stricken but the strength there astonished Duncan. She suddenly reminded him much too vividly of Tessa.
"I'm here," Duncan told her, his 'for as long as you need me' unspoken but understood.
What Has Passed
Duncan escorted Alexa's body back to Paris. She would be buried with Methos. Joe had apparently put the fear of God into the Watchers until they came up with the location of Adam Pierson's disposed-of body. He and Amanda had held a quiet service and reburied Methos properly in Paris. Now, Duncan was bringing Alexa home to Paris and to Methos.
He smiled regretfully to himself. The last three weeks had been filled with many unguarded highs and lows. In the end, there had remained little emotional distance between himself and Alexa. Both had opened themselves to the other and shared the pieces of Adam they carried with them. He told her of outrageous things Adam had done. She told him of Adam's ability to make her laugh. He told her of a friend who welcomed him into his life while attempting to maintain a cynical air about it all. She told him of the man who loved her.
In the end, they both rediscovered Adam; they laughed together over memories of him and cried together over his loss. And Duncan never left her side for more than a few minutes at a time, doing what he could to ease the pain of not only losing Adam but of her last days as death drew ever closer.
He would miss her.
A stirring within let him know that Methos had not quite settled yet. Soon, Methos, he silently promised. Soon you can rest, my friend.
He gazed out the airplane window and couldn't help wondering what if -- how his life might have turned out differently in the future if Methos were still around.
Adam and Alexa