"Memory's Awakening"

by Trudy A. Goold

Highlander is copyright © Rysher Entertainment. No infringement of that copyright is intended by this story.

"Memory's Awakening" is copyright © 1997, Trudy A. Goold.

This story may be distributed electronically, as long as this copyright notice remains intact.


Chapter 1

[Joe's; Seacouver]

Duncan wandered into Joe's, and stopped short in surprise at the scene that greeted him.

Joe was on the phone, a furious expression on his face, and his tone of voice said that it was everything he could do to keep from shouting.

"I don't care what favours you have to call in!" the Watcher snapped. "I want answers, and I want them now!"

Duncan approached the bar cautiously, nervous that he might be interrupting something highly important.

"Yes, that's what I said... No, I've already checked there!... There too... I don't know! Maybe I thought that since we're so good at tracking Immortals, we'd have no trouble keeping track of one of our own... Well, make sure you do!"

With that, Joe slammed the phone down on the hook. "Bloody idiots couldn't find even a Chronicle if it was pointed out to them!" he snarled.

"Umm... Joe? Is something wrong?" Duncan asked hesitantly. It appeared to be Watcher business, but maybe he could help...

His Watcher looked up at him, and a flicker of hope shone in his expression. "Have you heard from Adam?"

At the question, Duncan stiffened slightly.

He and Methos had essentially worked out a truce between them, which meant basically that they'd exchange comments about things if they both happened to be at Joe's, but the easiness of their earlier friendship most definitely wasn't there. And besides, Methos had disappeared again three weeks ago.

"No," the Highlander declared curtly.

Joe scowled and slammed his fist against the bar. "Damn it!"

Duncan frowned. "What's going on?"

Joe took a deep breath, obviously trying to calm himself down. "Adam's disappeared," he said.

Duncan snorted. "That's nothing new," he returned. "He left three weeks ago."

Joe shook his head. "You don't understand, MacLeod," he said, leaning against the bar. "Adam went back to Paris; he had some things he had to clear up there--"

"What things?" Duncan demanded.

"Watcher business," Joe returned. "What he was doing isn't the concern. What's wrong is that he was supposed to be calling me every two to three days to keep me updated."

"So?"

The Watcher's mouth tightened. "So he hasn't called in over ten days. He's not at the bookstore, his apartment, or your barge, and he hasn't been seen at Headquarters for the last two weeks - he was supposed to be there every day. Something's wrong... very wrong.

"I've had almost every Watcher in Paris out looking for him, but so far, we haven't had any luck."

Duncan waved his hand carelessly, ignoring the flickers of worry he was beginning to feel. "Methos is a survivor, Dawson. He's probably just holed up somewhere to try to make a point or something."

"I don't think so, MacLeod," Joe said, pushing away from the bar and grabbing the phone again. "You're the one who's been refusing to talk to him except when you're both here, not me. He wouldn't be trying to hide from me... there's no point. Something is wrong."

With that, he picked up the handset again to make another call, his dismissal of Duncan obvious.

The Highlander wandered over to a table to wait for opening time, shaking his head at the thought that Methos was in trouble. The ancient Immortal was just too bloody sneaky to have anything happen to him. It was just Joe's imagination.

*

[Jason Kallikos' house; Paris, France]

Adam* shivered in the cold, determined not to let Jason Kallikos know just how miserable he was. The room he was in was small, and he was starting to feel the walls close in as his claustrophobia took hold.

"Enjoying your accomodations?" a sardonic voice said from the direction of the door, and Adam glanced up to see Jason standing in the doorway, watching him. He didn't respond, unwilling to open his mouth for fear of what might come out.

"You know," Jason continued, "you made a very serious mistake, Adam. You should have left when you became Immortal."

<Bit hard to do that when I didn't join until after I became Immortal,> Adam thought to himself, but he still didn't say anything aloud.

The other Watcher had made it obvious in the time since he'd captured Adam that he believed that Adam had just recently become Immortal; probably sometime during the period since he began associating with MacLeod. He'd never believe the truth, Adam knew; and besides, the oldest living Immortal didn't exactly want the Watchers to find out that he not only knew about them, but had infiltrated them a number of times over the centuries.

"Of course," Jason continued, quite happy to carry on a monologue if Adam refused to respond, "I can understand that you probably felt safer hiding out as a researcher. But we can't let Immortals be..."

Adam tuned out the other Watcher's speech; he'd heard the gist of it every time Jason came down here.

<Think of something else,> the Immortal told himself firmly. He needed something - anything - to distract him from the size of the room.

Unfortunately, considering his situation, the first thought that came to mind was how stupid he'd been to let Jason figure out what he was.

><

[Watcher HQ; Paris - 2 weeks earlier]

Adam frowned thoughtfully as he picked up the Chronicle he'd been going through and went to put it back on the shelf. He wasn't having any luck with his search.

<Big surprise,> he told himself, with a silent snort. <As if a Watcher would have been caught dead out there...>

"Adam!"

The Watcher looked up to see Jason Kallikos, the field agent assigned to Claude Duchêne, heading through the corridor formed by the bookshelves toward him.

"Jason," Adam said, nodding in acknowledgement. "What's up? I thought Duchêne was in Lyons."

Jason shrugged and leaned against the shelf next to him. "He got killed in front of his partner, so he came back here," the other Watcher replied. "What about you? Last I heard, you were in Seacouver with Joe Dawson."

"I've just got a few things I've got to take care of here," Adam replied, firmly pushing the thought of MacLeod out of his mind. "I think I may have a lead on Methos, but I need to confirm a few things in some of the older Chronicles to be sure."

"Really?" Jason asked, a touch of excitement entering his expression. "If you do find him, who do you think will be assigned as his Watcher?"

Adam shrugged. "I was thinking that I could probably swing it," he returned. "After all, I'm the expert on him."

"But you're a researcher," Jason pointed out, following Adam as he went to put the Chronicle he was holding back on the shelf. "You don't know anything about being out in the field."

"But Dawson does," Adam pointed out. "And, assuming that I do manage to find him," he continued - <Which I won't...> - "he'll help me out at first."

Jason nodded in understanding, but continued following Adam until they got back to the table he'd been working at.

"It's almost one," the other Watcher said then, glancing ostentatiously at his watch. "Have you had lunch yet?"

"No," Adam mumbled, opening another Chronicle to the page he'd marked with a bookmark, and frowning over the Ancient Greek writing. <I don't know that this one has what I want either...>

"Well then, why don't I take you out to lunch, and I can start giving you a few pointers on fieldwork?"

<He's not going to leave me alone,> Adam realized in exasperation. "All right," he replied, closing the Chronicle and standing up, smiling. "I must admit, I am rather hungry."

"Good," Jason returned, leading the way out of the library. "I discovered this lovely little restaurant near the Seine that I think you'll like; it's called 'Chez Maurice'."

Adam nodded, following him.


Twenty minutes later, they entered the restaurant; and Adam fought back a groan of dismay as he saw the man bustling up to meet them.

"Ah, Adam!" Maurice exclaimed, sounding delighted. "It is so good to see you again! Come, I shall give you the best table."

"Thank you, Maurice," Adam replied, hoping that the man wouldn't say anything about MacLeod. Not only did he not want to think about the Highlander right now, but Jason was here with him. And while Jason wasn't nearly as much of a fanatic as the Watchers who'd been a part of Joe's kangaroo trial, the other Watcher disapproved of Immortals knowing about their organization.

Unfortunately, his hopes were not to be realized.

"You know each other?" Jason inquired.

"Adam is a good friend of my neighbour," Maurice declared warmly. "Have you seen MacLeod recently, Adam?"

"No," Adam replied curtly, muttering a curse under his breath as Jason's eyes narrowed.

"Ah, well; now, come and sit down. What would you like to eat?"

Both men gave their orders, and as Maurice bustled off to fill them, Jason turned to Adam.

"A good friend of MacLeod's?" he demanded. "What the hell does that mean, Adam?"

"MacLeod saved me from Kalas," Adam replied. <And nearly got you killed by either Cassandra or Kronos, take your pick,> came the reminder.

"Oh," Jason said, nodding in comprehension. "But you really shouldn't continue being friends with him, Adam. It can be dangerous, for you and for us."

<You're telling me,> Adam thought sardonically, but didn't say it out loud. Instead, he replied, "As you pointed out, I'm a researcher, not a field agent. If I do find Methos, and get to become his Watcher, then it would be a different matter."

Jason nodded again, and then smiled as Maurice came up with their food. "Here you go," the Parisien said. "And," he added, placing a bottle of wine on the table between them, "here is an extra little something, for a friend."

"Merci, Maurice," Adam replied, and started eating. He was hungry; it had been a while since he'd had a meal as excellently prepared as Maurice's was. The man was an excellent chef.

"So, you wanted to give me some pointers," he started then, hoping to get Jason's mind off his connection to MacLeod.

"Yes," Jason began. "First of all, it's very important to remain as inconspicuous as possible. The more you stand out from the crowd, the more chance you have of being noticed."

<As if I didn't know this already,> Adam thought sourly. He wasn't particularly in the mood to listen to Jason talk any more, not after Maurice's reminders about MacLeod, but he didn't want to be rude.

Abruptly, Adam felt a tingling sensation in the back of his mind. <Oh, dammit!> he thought, trying desperately not to show his concern. If the other Immortal were to come in...

Even as he thought that, the door to the restaurant opened, and Jason's assignment entered, looking around warily. It was too late for Adam to do anything but regret that he'd left the library as Duchêne saw him and came toward him.

"Claude Duchêne," the Immortal said, introducing himself, as he arrived at their table.

Adam could see a puzzled expression cross Jason's face, and just hoped that he could keep it that way.

"Excuse me?" he said, as innocently as he could.

Duchêne blinked. "I am Claude Duchêne," he repeated. And then, obviously coming to the conclusion that Adam didn't know what was going on, he added, "I need to talk to you."

As Jason's eyes went between the two of them, Adam could see comprehension beginning to cross the Watcher's face. <Oh, hell...>

"I don't think so, M. Duchêne," Adam replied curtly, standing up. "If you'll excuse me, Jason," he continued, "I've got to get back to work." He flung a bill and his napkin on the table, and then hurried out of there as quickly as he could.

However, it wasn't fast enough. He heard footsteps behind him, and turned to see Jason running after him.

"Wait up, Pierson!" Jason called, and Adam winced imperceptibly. 'Pierson', not 'Adam'; Jason had obviously figured it out.

The Watcher confirmed it as soon as he came within normal speaking range. "You're one of them, aren't you."

"Look, Jason, I can explain..." Adam began; but Jason obviously wasn't interested in explanations, and Adam watched in horror as the Watcher drew a gun. "Jason, don't--" he started to say, but then stopped as he felt a bullet go through his heart.

><

[Jason's house; Paris - present]

Curled up in the bed that was the only furniture in the small room, Adam tossed and turned, mumbling something in a language the world had long since forgotten.


Chapter 2

[The dojo; Seacouver]

Duncan scowled as he hung up the phone. Joe's worry last night had infected him, and he'd spent the last two hours trying to get a hold of Methos. Like Joe, he'd called the barge and Methos' apartment, and had gotten the answering machine at both.

His frown deepened, and he picked up the phone again. He'd call the barge's answering machine; at least he'd know then whether or not Methos was actually using the barge.

He dialled the number rapidly, and then when the machine answered, punched in the code to hear the messages.

"7 messages," the machine declared. "First message; date: March 30th, 1997."

Then a voice with a strong French accent came on. "Adam, it's Marcel Bruneau, returning your call. I got that information you wanted on Evan Casparri. Real nutcase. Anyway, give me a call."

Duncan frowned again. Evan Casparri - that was the name Caspian had been going by. What sort of information did Methos want about him? And why?

Even as Duncan was contemplating that, the machine continued.

"Second message; date: March 30, 1997."

Then Joe's voice came on. "Adam, it's Joe. Where are you? It's been three days; what's going on? Call me."

"Third message; date: March 31, 1997."

"Adam, it's Marcel again. Did you get my message yesterday? Give me a call, please."

"Fourth message; date: April 5, 1997."

"Adam, it's Dawson. You were supposed to call me six days ago, and I was just informed that you haven't been to HQ in over a week. What the hell are you up to? Call me."

"Fifth message; date: April 5, 1997."

"Adam, it is Maurice here."

Duncan blinked in surprise. Why was Maurice calling Adam?

"I was wondering if you are all right. I hope you are feeling better; your friend said you had the flu, which is why you hurried out of here so fast. I hope to see you here again soon."

"Sixth message; date: April 9, 1997."

"Dammit, Adam," came Joe's voice, "where the hell are you? You haven't been answering my messages, and I've got half the Watchers in Paris out looking for you! Call me now, no matter what you're doing!"

"Seventh message; date: April 10, 1997."

This was the message he'd left an hour ago, and Duncan listened to his own voice say, "Adam, it's me. Joe's gotten worried; call him, will you?" with a strong sense of concern. Judging from the messages, Methos hadn't been at the barge since March 30th, at the latest.

Then, as he hung up the phone, he remembered Maurice's puzzling message, and rapidly dialled the mortal's number.

"'Chez Maurice'; c'est Maurice soi-meme," came his friend's voice. "Comment est-ce que je peux vous aidez?"

"Maurice, it's Duncan," the Immortal said.

"Ah, MacLeod! So good to hear from you! Are you in Paris?"

"No, no, I'm not," Duncan replied. "Listen, Maurice, I just called the barge's answering machine, and heard your message to Adam. When did you see him?"

Duncan could hear the confusion in the Frenchman's voice as he answered. "March 28th, my friend. Why, is something wrong?"

Duncan worried at his lower lip. "Adam seems to be missing," he said reluctantly. "Another friend has been trying to get in touch with him since the thirtieth, but hasn't been having any luck. I was wondering if you could tell me what happened when you saw him."

"Hmmm..." Maurice said thoughtfully. "He and his friend came in for a late lunch; I spoke to Adam as I took them to their table, and he seemed well enough. They ordered, and when I brought them their food, Adam started eating as though he was quite hungry.

"About ten minutes later, another man came in, and went over to their table. He introduced himself, and then Adam stood up and hurried out. His friend told me that Adam was feeling unwell, and went after him."

Duncan frowned. It sounded as though the stranger might have been another Immortal; but what had happened?

"Thank you, Maurice," the Highlander said slowly. "And... could you see about getting my barge ready? I think I'll be coming back fairly soon..."

"Of course, mon ami!" Maurice exclaimed. "I will see you soon, then."

"See you soon," Duncan replied, and hung up the phone slowly.

It looked as though Joe had been right and he had been wrong; Methos was in trouble. The only questions were, what sort of trouble was it, and how could they get him out of it?

For the seventh time in the last hour, Duncan picked up the phone; but this time, it was a local number he dialled.

*

[Jason's house; Paris]

Adam woke up abruptly, his throat sore from screaming in his sleep, and his wrists aching with the newly recalled sensation of tight ropes encircling them.

"Nightmares, Adam?" came a smooth voice from the ceiling, and the Immortal glared up at the speaker and camera there.

"What would you care?" he snapped, feeling himself start to tremble.

He knew that Jason would think his shivering a sign of being cold, or maybe, if he had figured out about Adam's claustrophobia, of fear. But it was neither.

Methos had forgotten centuries ago how strong his anger could be, and how much it could control him. Kronos' reappearance had reminded him, a bit - it was his rage that had driven him to seek the other Immortal out originally - but even Kronos' manipulations and threats hadn't brought it to the point it was at now.

He had to get out of here. Not only because he had to keep Jason from telling the other Watchers that Adam Pierson was an Immortal; not only because if he stayed much longer the walls would drive him mad; but because if he didn't, he didn't want to think about what he might do.

"Now, now, Adam... I'm Watching you," Jason said, his tone scolding.

Adam laughed harshly, trying to get both his fear and his anger under enough control to think of a plan. "It seems to me that the Oath forbids interference - and this is most definitely interference," he commented.

"You're the one who broke his Oath, Pierson, not me," Jason countered.

But for the first time in two weeks, Adam was starting to think clearly. Or, at least, clearly enough to plan something - his rage had always been good for that. And he had to plan; for every day that passed, Jason and the situation the young Watcher had put him in were posing more and more of a danger.

"Nothing to say to that, huh?" Jason added, his tone taunting.

Adam glanced quickly around the room, hoping that Jason didn't notice.

"I have never broken my oath to the Watchers," he claimed, trying to keep Jason distracted while he worked out his plan of escape. <I need to know if Jason's told anyone about me,> the ancient Immortal thought grimly. If the mortal had, the consequences - to him and to the Watchers - would be... deadly. <There was a reason I was known as Death...>

"Then why didn't you leave when you became Immortal, huh?" Jason demanded. There was a pause, and then Adam heard footsteps outside his door.

The door opened and Jason came in, holding a gun loosely in one hand.

<Idiot,> Methos thought contemptuously. The Watcher had just given him the opportunity he'd been looking for. <He should know better than to enter here with a weapon...> "I'm not a fool, Jason. I don't know enough about swordplay, and what Immortal would believe that I'm new, considering everything that I know about them?" <Come on, Jason, keep talking - keep distracting yourself...> He slowly slid down to the floor, knowing that Jason, foolishly, would never believe that he could be a threat down there.

"What about MacLeod?" Jason pointed out, coming farther into the room.

<That's it... nice little Watcher...> "What about him?"

"I can't believe MacLeod hasn't been training you," Jason declared.

"Well, he hasn't," Adam returned, tensing his leg muscles as he got ready to move. <Knocking the rust off, yes... but hardly training...>

"For some reason, I don't belie--" Jason began, and then Adam surged up off the floor, grabbing the Watcher's gun hand and twisting him around.

"Not smart, coming in here like that," Adam hissed in Jason's ear, grabbing the gun from him. His other arm was tightly around the Watcher's neck, ensuring that Jason couldn't break free. "You should have made sure I was tied up before entering with a weapon.

"Now, you and I are just going to walk out of here, slowly..."

*

[MacLeod's barge; Paris]

Adam was trembling furiously by the time he reached the barge. There hadn't been anyone else in the house, and judging from the notes he'd found, Jason hadn't yet told anyone else about him; probably trying to save up the information to make an important trade. He'd burnt the notes, scattering the ashes, and taken Jason out with him.

With a sigh, he heaved Jason's unconscious form onto the deck of the barge, and then staggered up the plank himself. He would have preferred - both with that pragmatic, cynical part of him, and with the burning heat of his rage - to have just shot Jason with his own gun and left him in the house, but it wouldn't have been a good idea. The events of the past four years had left the Watchers more paranoid than ever about Immortals, and Adam didn't want to take the chance of adding to it.

The Immortal carried Jason in, dumping him on the couch, and strode over to the closet, taking out the duffle bag he'd left here back before the whole mess with Shapiro had taken place. Jason would be unconscious for a while, and Adam definitely needed a shower.

And even if the Watcher did wake up... well, Adam had learned a long time ago how to tie proper knots. He wouldn't be getting free of his bonds anytime soon.


Twenty minutes later, the Immortal stepped out of the barge's bathroom, feeling a great deal more relaxed. It was sometimes amazing how easily hot water and being clean could change his outlook; and at the moment, it was a gift best not questioned.

He was just pulling on his sweater - despite the heat of the shower, he still felt as though he were in that cold room - when the answering machine started.

Adam eyed it warily, waiting as the carefully neutral message played through, wondering who it was. Then, as soon as it beeped, a familiar voice said, "Adam, it's Marcel--"

Hurrying forward, Adam snatched up the phone. "Marcel, it's me," he said.

"Adam!" came the other Watcher's heavily accented voice. "Where have you been?"

"I had a bit of trouble, but it's dealt with now," Adam replied, turning to look at where Jason was lying on the couch. It wasn't quite the truth, but he didn't want to get Marcel involved. "So, did you find those files on Casparri for me?"

"Mais oui, of course I did, Adam!" the Frenchman replied, sounding insulted. "I have all the files you asked for, and a few more besides."

"A few more?" Adam exclaimed, surprised. He'd thought that he'd seen all the files the Watchers had on Caspian's alias.

"Yes," the other researcher replied. "There were some Chronicles hidden in the back of the library's storeroom; I found them when I was searching for the 1846 Chronicle. They all concerned Casparri."

"Great!" Adam declared, his voice sounding cheerier than he felt. Other Chronicles on Caspian... what did they contain? "So, when can I meet with you to go over them?"

"How about tomorrow afternoon, around 2, at the Cafe du Monde?" Marcel suggested.

Adam smiled. "Agreed," he replied, and then hung up the phone before the other researcher could tell him about the search.

The Immortal then looked at Jason, who was just beginning to regain consciousness.


Jason opened his eyes, and felt his heart freeze in his chest. His hands and feets were bound together - he could feel the ropes - and Adam Pierson was standing a few feet away, watching him impassively.

"I'm not sure," Pierson declared, "whether you're one of the smartest or one of the stupidest Watchers I've ever met."

Jason stared at him, confused. "Whaddya mean?" he mumbled, blinking at the other man. Pierson wasn't making any sense.

"You figured out what I was quickly enough," Pierson replied. "That was smart. Then you killed me, kidnapped me, kept me locked up, and came in carrying a gun and not paying attention to what was going on. That was stupid."

"You broke your oath!" Jason exclaimed, wiggling as he tried to get his hands free. He was beginning to realize just how much trouble he'd gotten himself into.

"Don't bother trying to escape - I know how to tie ropes," Pierson said, waving his hand in a dismissive gesture. "And as for breaking my oath... how? I don't interfere - I don't participate in the Game right now. You, on the other hand..." He shook his head. "No, I think I'd have to say you're one of the stupidest. And believe me, I've met a number of stupid Watchers."

Jason wiggled some more. "Let me go!"

Pierson's eyes narrowed, and he moved a bit closer. Jason, looking at the Immortal, suddenly felt frightened.

He'd always considered Adam Pierson to be almost a non-entity; a shy, unassuming young man who preferred the library to the excitement of the field. But the man who was facing him now was anything but shy and unassuming. In fact, Adam looked almost menacing. "W-what are you going to do?" he asked nervously, stammering.

Pierson's mouth tightened, but, to Jason's relief, he took a step or two back. "At the moment, I'm not sure," he said calmly. "I'd much prefer not to kill you; there've been too many deaths already among both Immortals and Watchers. For now, I'll just keep you here; I'm not letting you out of my sight until I've made a decision. Just be glad that I don't lock you up in a small room."

Pierson glanced around the barge for a moment, and then turned back to Jason. There was a small, hard smile on his face. "There's another thing for you to be glad of," the Immortal added. "You ought to feel grateful for the stupidity that led you to not tell anyone that I'm an Immortal; both for your sake, and that of your friends."

With that, Pierson turned away and headed behind the couch Jason was lying on; from the sounds he heard, the Immortal was lying down in the bed.

"Go to sleep, Kallikos," he heard Pierson say firmly. "You're not going to escape from there, so you might as well get what rest you can."


Chapter 3

[MacLeod's barge; Paris]

It was twelve noon when Joe and Duncan arrived at the barge. The flight to Paris had been spent in silence, both men too worried about Methos - though Duncan wasn't about to admit it - to talk very much. The drive from the airport to the barge had been equally silent.

They had climbed out of the car and were about to walk up to the barge when Duncan abruptly held up one hand, pulling his katana out of its coat-sheath with the other. There was another Immortal on the barge, and - all things considered - it was better to be safe than sorry.

MacLeod held a finger up to his mouth, and then motioned for Joe to follow behind him as he slowly opened the door. He stepped into the barge, and then stopped, staring at the scene in front of him in shock.

Lying on the sofa was a young man with curly black hair; he was bound hand and foot with ropes, and gagged. On the bed at the far end of the barge, Methos was lying asleep, fully dressed, with one hand near the hilt of his sword.

Then Joe stepped forward, his mouth open with shock as he stared at the young man. "Jason?" he exclaimed, in disbelief.

The sound of Joe's voice must have woken Methos up, because the ancient Immortal abruptly jerked awake, sitting up in bed and pointing his sword toward the two of them, staring in surprise.

For a moment all four men stared at each other, and then Joe took another step forward. "What the hell is going on, Adam? And where have you been? And why is Jason tied up on the couch?"

"Ask him," Methos snapped, standing up, not letting go of his sword.

Duncan moved forward and swiftly untied the young man's gag, noting as he did so that whoever had tied him up - presumably Methos - had made certain that the mortal couldn't escape from his bonds.

Dawson leaned down as soon as the gag was off. "Are you all right, Jason?" he asked anxiously.

"Joe... Adam... he's an Immortal!" the young man gasped out.

Joe didn't say anything, instead helping the young man sit up. Duncan looked uneasily between them and Methos, feeling uncomfortably in the way. He guessed that this 'Jason' was a Watcher, but why Methos had tied him up...

"What the hell did you think you were doing, Adam?" Joe demanded furiously.

Duncan saw Methos' mouth tighten, and only then noticed how pale the other Immortal was, and the dark hollows under his eyes... what was going on? What had happened?

"Trying to deal with a little problem," the Immortal snapped back, coming to stand at the far end of the couch. He appeared to have forgotten that he was still holding his sword loosely in one hand.

The young mortal was looking between the three of them in obvious confusion, and then Duncan saw a sudden horrified comprehension dawn on his face. "You knew, Joe?" he demanded.

"Knew what?" Joe asked.

Methos laughed harshly. "That I'm an Immortal, Joe," he declared. "Your protégé here was horrified to discover that. I think you've horrified him even more."

Looking at the expressions on the other three, Duncan decided that it might be a wise idea to do something to break the tension.

"You two obviously haven't eaten yet today, and the food on the plane was miserable," he declared. "I'm going to check and see if there's anything in the fridge."

He hurried into the kitchen area, and as he grabbed milk and eggs to scramble, he kept a surreptitious eye on the main area of the barge.

Joe was sitting down on the couch trying to undo the knots in the ropes tying his friend, while Methos - <Think of him as Adam while this Watcher's here,> Duncan corrected himself - moved to a porthole and stood looking out at the Seine.

"So," Joe said, his voice tight with anger as he finally freed his friend's wrists, "why don't the two of you tell me what happened?"

"Yes, Jason," Adam said, his voice more than slightly poisonous, "why don't you tell Joe what's been going on? I'm sure he'll be interested."

Duncan looked at the other Immortal in surprise. He hadn't heard that tone in Methos' voice even when they had been dealing with the Horsemen. There was a hint of anger there - an anger that all Duncan's instincts screamed was dangerous. For all of them.

The Watcher tied up on his couch didn't seem to be able to reply. He just kept switching his gaze between the other three, looking more and more scared as he did so.

"Why don't you start, Adam?" Joe demanded.

"Sorry, I can't," came the cold reply. "I have an appointment at two, and I don't intend to be late for it. Kallikos can tell you everything you need to know."

As Joe and Duncan both stared at him in surprise, the ancient Immortal grabbed his coat, hiding his sword in it, and started toward the door.

"Adam!" Duncan exclaimed in shock.

The other Immortal ignored him completely, and without saying anything more, left the barge.

Joe's mouth tightened as he turned to the younger Watcher. "Well, Jason?" he asked, his voice as kind as he could make it.

*

[On the Seine; Paris]

Adam was perfectly aware that he hadn't had to leave the barge just yet, but he didn't think he could have tolerated it a minute longer. Both Joe and MacLeod had been shocked at his treatment of Jason.

<No real surprise, is it, old man?> Adam demanded of himself, leaning against a rail and staring out over the Seine. <MacLeod doesn't trust me any more, not since Cassandra told him what I was, and I confirmed it. And Joe... well, I don't know about him. He's been more willing to accept me than MacLeod, but he just found one of his favourite protégés tied up by yours truly...>

He sighed, and acknowledged that he might have made a mistake by re-joining the Watchers. Never mind that his reasons and concerns were important, and had to be dealt with; but Kronos' reappearance had shaken his world up - nearly destroyed it - and he still hadn't recovered from that. It might have been better to wait until he'd dealt with the aftermath of the events in Bordeaux...

His shoulders slumped. No, some of the things he had to do couldn't have waited. Casparri's Chronicles, for example. He couldn't ask Joe to deal with them - what he was checking for in those Chronicles were things he didn't want anyone else seeing. This was something he had to do himself.

Adam sighed again. It would have made no difference if he'd known what Jason would discover; there were too many things he had to do.

<Well, now I've got to deal with the consequences of that choice,> the ancient Immortal reflected. <And those consequences haven't even begun to happen...>

He firmly pushed the thought away. He didn't want to think about how close he'd come to losing his temper in the barge, in front of Joe and MacLeod; didn't want to even acknowledge it. It was too real, too dangerous... and was yet another thing to deal with.

But not now. Looking at his watch, Adam discovered that he had just enough time for a leisurely walk to the Cafe du Monde, and feeling that a walk was just what he needed, he started off.


Marcel Bruneau was sitting comfortably at an outdoor table when he noticed Adam approaching. The other Watcher was dressed in a snug trenchcoat, and was wearing a sweater underneath... unusual attire, considering the sudden warm spell that had overtaken Paris. But then, Adam seemed to always wear sweaters, even on the hottest summer days. It was one of the younger researcher's peculiar quirks.

"Adam," he said warmly, standing up as the young man came over to his table. "It's good to see you're all right; Joe Dawson has had everyone searching for you for the past two weeks."

"Well, he found me," Adam replied, a touch curtly. Marcel looked at him with a slight frown, and realized that he'd been mistaken; there was something wrong. But it was obviously something that Adam wasn't interested in discussing, so he resolved not to mention it.

"Anyway, do sit down. Have you had lunch yet?" Marcel inquired, gesturing at the chair opposite his.

"No, not just yet," the other researcher replied, his tone becoming rueful.

"Well, we'll just have to remedy that, won't we," Marcel declared, and gestured for a waiter to come over.

After the waiter took their order, the two Watchers chatted for a few minutes about inconsequential things, and which of their 'old friends' were in Paris at present, and so on; the normal type of conversation that no one would think unusual. As soon as their food was delivered and the waiter had moved away, however, Marcel opened the bag resting at his feet and took out three old, leather-bound books, along with a file folder stuffed with papers.

"Here you go, Adam. Sorry it's not very much, but Casparri is one of those mystery ones, the ones we don't know much about."

"I know," Adam replied, taking the books and the folder. He looked at the books curiously. "These were the other Chronicles you found?"

"This one," Marcel replied, indicating the oldest of the three books, with a scarlet coloured binding that was cracking, "and some of the papers at the end of the file."

Adam nodded, grabbing a bite of his croissant as he opened the scarlet Chronicle and studied the front page carefully.

Marcel studied him for a moment, and then spoke. "Why are you so interested in this Casparri, Adam?"

The younger Watcher looked up, his hazel eyes wide with an expression that Marcel couldn't read, and that vanished almost as soon as it had appeared.

"I think," he said, putting the croissant down and tapping the binding of the scarlet Chronicle gently for emphasis, "that Casparri was one of Methos' students. And I'm not sure whether you know or not, but Duncan MacLeod took Casparri's head a couple of months ago, in Bordeaux."

"No, I didn't know that," Marcel said, regarding Adam thoughtfully.

He didn't really know Adam Pierson all that well; they were acquaintances, nothing more. Adam had few friends. In fact, Marcel knew of only two friends that the researcher had in the Watcher ranks, and Don Salzer had been killed three years ago, by Kalas, looking for Methos. Who had then been stopped by Duncan MacLeod before he got to Adam.

"Anyway," the young researcher continued, "I'm hoping to find some form of proof of my theory in these Chronicles. The new ones you found for me might just be the ones I've been looking for."

"So you think that Casparri's recent death might give you the lead you need to find Methos?" Marcel inquired.

"I can always hope," Adam replied, shrugging slightly. "Certainly there might be some clues in here," he added, tapping the Chronicle again.

"Well, I definitely wish you luck, my friend. Now, what has been happening over the last few weeks?"

"Nothing much... I got sidetracked and ended up going down to Marseilles for a few days." The young Watcher shuddered. "I hate large bodies of water..."

*

[MacLeod's barge; Paris]

Duncan busied himself in the kitchen, cleaning up, it being the only way he could think of to keep from attacking Jason Kallikos. When the young Watcher had admitted to kidnapping and holding 'Adam Pierson', only Joe's presence had kept the Immortal from exploding.

Despite the fact that he was still upset with Methos about the Horsemen, the thought of him being locked up in a cell for a few weeks was profoundly upsetting; partially because of the expression he'd seen on the older Immortal's face before he'd left. Something had happened during his imprisonment - something that Duncan wasn't sure was good.

Dawson, meanwhile, was interrogating Kallikos about what he'd done. Duncan could tell that Joe was as upset with the young Watcher as he was; although Joe was controlling it better.

"So, what do you intend to do now?" Joe demanded. Duncan turned to look at the two Watchers at that; he wanted to know what Kallikos intended as well.

"I don't--" Kallikos began, but Duncan's attention was pulled away as he sensed another Immortal; and the peculiar... resonance... with his own Quickening told him that it was Methos returning.

And indeed, a moment later, the door of the barge opened, and the slender Immortal entered, carrying a bag of books. He glanced around, and gave a short nod as he saw Kallikos' expression, before walking over to the couch.

"Adam, I'm sorry," Joe began.

"Don't worry about it, Joe," Methos replied. He sat down, and put his feet up on the table, ignoring Duncan's glare. "Anyway, I've got some things to do, so..." he trailed off, pulling a scarlet-coloured book out of the bag and opening it.

"That's a Chronicle!" Kallikos exclaimed abruptly, and Methos looked up, his eyes narrowing.

"Very good, Kallikos," he returned sardonically. "Your grasp of the obvious is absolutely stunning. Yes, it is a Chronicle."

"But..."

"And I am the Methos Researcher," the Immortal continued, "and I am trying to get some research done. Why don't you return to your conversation with Joe, and let me work?" With that, he returned his attention to the book.

"But..."

"That's enough, Jason," Dawson said firmly. "You and I were in the process of discussing something, as Adam pointed out, and I want an answer." He gripped Kallikos' arm, and pulled him toward the other end of the barge.

Duncan relaxed slightly as the two mortals went out of hearing range. They could trust Joe to handle Mr. Kallikos. His problem right now was Methos.

"What is that?" he inquired, leaning over the back of the couch to peer at the book over Methos' shoulder.

Methos pulled the book away from MacLeod's line of sight. "As Kallikos observed, MacLeod, it's a Chronicle," he returned curtly.

"But whose?" Duncan persisted. "Is it one of Caspian's?"

At that, Methos froze for a moment, and then twisted around to look at MacLeod. His hazel eyes were ice cold, and Duncan took an involuntary step backward at the expression in them. Then his expression shuttered, and his eyes went neutral. His tone when he spoke, however, could have frozen the Seine. "How did you know about that?"

Duncan gestured, feeling nervous all of a sudden. This wasn't the Methos he knew. "When we were trying to find you, I called the answering machine here. There were two messages from someone named Marcel Bruneau, and in one of them, he said that he'd found the Chronicles on Evan Casparri you were looking for."

Whatever he'd said, it must have been the right thing, because Methos relaxed abruptly. "I see... it's one of Casparri's Chronicles, yes," he replied finally.

"Why are you--" Duncan began.

Methos slammed the Chronicle shut. "As I told Kallikos," he snarled, "I'm trying to get some work done. Will you just leave me alone?!"

Duncan stared at him, startled and shocked by the intensity of the ancient Immortal's reaction, and out of the corner of his eye, he saw Joe staring as well. This was not like Methos.

But rather than push things, Duncan decided that the best thing to do right at the moment would be to back off. He pushed himself away from the couch, and then looked at the other Immortal, who had gone back to reading the Chronicle. "If you want anything to drink, or for dinner, just let me know," he said quietly, and then headed back to the kitchen.


Methos sensed Duncan move away, and tried to still his trembling. It had obviously been a mistake to come back here; but he couldn't leave now. Not until he knew what Joe intended to do with Jason Kallikos.

Pushing that thought forcefully to the back of his mind, he returned his attention to the Chronicle in front of him.


Chapter 4

[MacLeod's barge; Paris]

Methos skimmed rapidly through the first several pages of the scarlet-bound Chronicle. It had been written by a priest named Brother Gregorius; a Benedictine scribe and record-keeper to the Dominicans.

Methos gave a soundless, bitter laugh at that; it didn't surprise him in the least that Caspian, who had believed in no man's gods, had joined the Dominican Order of the Catholic Church. The fear and terror that the Inquisitors created and fed on would have appealed to the other Immortal.

However, about halfway through the Chronicle, the subject matter changed abruptly...


'Watcher Chronicles

'Subject: Father Casparri

'Watcher: Brother Gregorius

    'I have only recently returned to my monk's cell in the Vatican palace, after having made an important discovery in the library: a scroll, hidden in a stack near the back, bearing the symbol of the Watchers. I opened it, in order to examine the contents. The title was written in the Latin of the Roman Empire, with a note that it had been translated from the original: Quattuor Equites.

    'I was chilled by those two simple words: Four Horsemen. Did this record refer to the Horsemen of the Apocalypse?

    'If they were - or are - indeed Immortals, then their stories must not be lost. The scroll is old and beginning to crumble; therefore I have brought it back to my cell to record its contents in this Chronicle.'


Methos' mouth tightened. This was what he had been looking for - or part of it, at least. It depended on how long a period the scroll had covered, and how much of it Gregorius had been able to record.

The Immortal was only vaguely aware of Dawson and Jason Kallikos leaving the barge - Dawson could be trusted to handle the younger Watcher, now that he knew what had happened - as he studied the Chronicle in his lap. He wasn't entirely sure he wanted to know what it said - but he had to. There was no choice.


'Watcher Chronicles: Historical Record

'Subject: Quattuor Equites (The Four Horsemen)

'Watcher: Anjun (trans. by Gaius Marcellus, 786 AUC; transcribed by Brother Gregorius)

    'The Horsemen have just returned from yet another raid.

    'Tensions in the camp are running high - tempers are flaring - and not even the constant raids that Methos organizes can quell them completely. Over the past five days, Silas and Caspian have tried to Challenge each other at least ten times; Kronos has been too busy indulging his temper among the mortal slaves to intervene; and Methos... much unlike his wont, Methos does nothing.

    'That, I believe, is what puzzles me the most. Silas and Caspian tend to bicker constantly at the best of times, no matter the mood in the camp, and I have never yet seen these arguments (or fights) fail to irritate Methos. The records I have from my predecessors support my own observations: Methos tends either to interfere himself, or to goad Kronos into dealing with it. Now, he does nothing except let them rage.

    'I have spent almost my entire life as a slave Watching my masters, the Four Horsemen. I was but a young man when they raided my village; now I am getting old and grey, and they will kill me soon, as they do any of us who outlives his or her usefulness. I can only hope that I will have the opportunity to find a successor before that occurs.'


    'It is night now; the moon rides high in the sky, and cold breezes sweep the camp. I have just now come away from the fires to record the extraordinary occurrences of this day in the Chronicle.

    'It has been ten days since my last entry, at which time I mentioned the tension within the camp, and the unusual behaviour of Methos, the Horseman known as Death. I now know what lay behind that.

    'I should, however, start at the beginning.

    'There was another raid today - there have been raids every two days or so over the last several seasons - and new slaves were taken, and given over to our care to begin their training. One of them, a young man by the name of Oris, has the potential to become my successor as Watcher to the Four Horsemen - or to what remains of them.

    'Once again, however, I get ahead of myself...

    'The Horsemen arrived back when the sun was four handspans above the horizon, and about to begin sinking rapidly. Or, at least, three of them did. When they rode into the camp, Methos was not with them, and Kronos was in a vile temper.

    'From what I was able to put together from the bits of conversation I overheard as I did my duties, Methos vanished sometime during the raid. Silas believed that he had run into trouble, and wanted to ride to rescue him; Caspian (who has never cared for Methos) was of the opinion that they should let him suffer for a while first; and Kronos was stalking around the camp like the dark god he claimed to be, striking out at anything or anyone who made the mistake of catching his attention.

    'By the time nightfall arrived, Methos still had not returned, and Kronos' temper was becoming more and more dangerous. It was to avoid being noticed that I took myself and Oris, whom I had claimed for training, around to the back of the cooking area. I had no wish to call the furious Immortal's attention to either of us. And it was because of that decision that I am able to relate the following.

    'The women, who were preparing dinner for our masters, were trying their best to make the meal appetizing enough to distract the Horsemen from their angry moods, in the hope that they would still be alive in the morning. As I watched them, pointing each of them out to Oris, I saw Laya come out of the storage tent carrying a small bag in one hand.

    'Laya was the woman who replaced the Immortal Cassandra as Methos' woman when Cassandra fled the camp. I had the impression that Methos tended to confide more in his slaves than his brothers did, and wondered if perhaps she knew where Methos had gone. Not that I would ask, even were I sure that she did; that would be interference, and the one who trained me was most emphatic about the requirement not to interfere with one's Immortals, no matter what.

    'Laya brought the bag over to the women cooking the dinner, and told them that contained a special spice from her homeland, that could calm angry hearts. Understandably, the women were pleased by this, and made sure to heavily season the Horsemen's dinner with the spice.

    'I was then called back to the main area of the camp; Caspian required my assistance in arranging tonight's entertainment for his brothers. I could tell that he was trying to turn their thoughts away from Methos, for a time, at least, but said not a word on the matter. Much better that none of them know how observant I have become.

    'However, the after-dinner entertainment was cancelled, as the final act of the drama I was watching played out.

    'As I had been ordered to wait on Caspian, I was there to see as first Caspian, then Kronos, and finally Silas collapsed where they were sitting. The whole thing took no more than a moment, and I was frozen in place for a moment, confused, as I slowly realized that Laya had drugged them.

    'My realization of what had happened occurred not a moment too soon, as I then caught sight of a figure ghosting silently over the dune beyond the fire. I quickly hid by one of the tents, not wanting to be observed, and then watched in surprise as Methos came up to the fire.

    'He was still dressed as Death, in the white robe and face-paint, and I was suddenly terrified as a memory of my youth rose up and smote me: playing in my village with some childhood friends, and the sight of the four Immortals coming over the dunes as the sun rose...

    'Then I received what must have been the shock of my life: I watched Methos plunge a dagger into Kronos' heart.

    'I could do nothing but stare in open-mouthed astonishment as Methos repeated his actions with both Caspian and Silas, and then moved toward his own tent.

    'That was when I finally managed to break the spell and move, and I hurried back to the slave tent in order to record this. I must find some way to hide this record; if Methos is, as I suspect, leaving the Horsemen, then none of us will survive the unleashing of Kronos' temper--'


    'The record ends at that point, having only a notation from Watcher Gaius Marcellus that there was a stain reminiscent of dried blood on the original record. I can only assume that one of the Immortals of the Horsemen found Anjun, and punished him.

        '-- Watcher Brother Gregorius'


Methos leaned back against the couch, his eyes unfocused. He'd been afraid that the fragment recorded in here would be more; but at the same time, what was here was bad enough. He absently rubbed his face with his hands, wondering what to do now.

<Of course,> he added to himself, <I still have to go over those loose sheets Marcel included... and check to make sure that the other Chronicles don't contain anything like this...>

The ancient Immortal glanced back down at the page, and had to grin ruefully at Brother Gregorius' last comment. In fact, the blood staining the original record had been his; Laya had lunged at him with a knife when she had found out that he intended to leave her there, and the wound hadn't fully healed when he'd found Anjun scribbling on the piece of parchment.

His grin changed to a wistful smile as he recalled Anjun. The Watcher had been so terrified at first, afraid that Methos would kill him for spying; and yet he had ended his days as one of Methos' firmest friends, having been the overseer for the Immortal's land in Egypt.

Then he skimmed back over the transcription, and grimaced. It wasn't word-perfect; Gaius Marcellus had obviously attempted to make it read more like an official report than the diary it had been, and it showed. But Methos wasn't concerned about that for the moment; his worries just now were centered on Anjun's comment about the records he had been given by his predecessors.

That implied that there had definitely been more Watcher records about the Horsemen floating around somewhere at about that time.

"Methos?"

Methos' head jerked up and he stared at MacLeod in confusion for a moment, before remembering where he was.

"What is it?" he demanded.

MacLeod sighed. "It's ten o'clock, and I, for one, am famished. Are you going to be eating here?"

Methos studied the other Immortal for a moment or two before answering. MacLeod, he knew, was still upset with him about the Horsemen; his mild behaviour over the last several hours probably had more to do with what Jason had done than the thought of finally forgiving Methos for his part in what the Horsemen had done.

Despite the fact that he'd been using the barge's answering machine to get his messages (he hadn't yet returned the key MacLeod had given him), he hadn't been staying there; he'd been staying at his apartment. And MacLeod wasn't likely to remain off his high horse for much longer.

"No, I'd better get back to my place," Methos replied finally, bending down to pick up the bag containing the other Chronicles. "I haven't been there in over two weeks; I should get over there before my landlord decides that my lease has expired." He stood up, grabbed his coat, and before MacLeod could say anything, had disappeared out the door.


Duncan stared after Methos in disbelief. He'd expected that the ancient Immortal would be staying here; after all, the Watchers knew where 'Adam Pierson's' apartment was, and if Kallikos had told anyone else that 'Adam' was an Immortal, they would probably have the place staked out by now. So why would Methos go back there?

Suddenly, the memory of Joe's words three days ago came back to him: "You're the one who's been refusing to talk to him..."

He slumped down on the couch. As much as he hated to admit it, Joe was right. He had been essentially ignoring Methos ever since Bordeaux.

Obviously, he was going to have to change that; let Methos know that he had forgiven him.

Decision made, Duncan felt curiously light-hearted, as though a great weight had just been taken off his shoulders.

Satisfied, he stood up and began making dinner.


Jason Kallikos stepped back into the shadow of the bridge as he spotted movement on the barge. Watching carefully, he saw a form start down the ramp. Leaning forward, still trying to stay out of sight, he recognized Pierson.

The Immortal reached the bottow of the ramp and looked around, and Jason ducked back under the bridge. He had snuck out of the hotel room Dawson had gotten him, ignoring the orders to stay put; and since it appeared that Pierson and Dawson were friends, it wouldn't do to have the Immortal spot him.

A moment later, he peered back out... only to find that Pierson had vanished as though he'd never been there.

<Where did he go?> Jason wondered, frowning. Bad enough he was disobeying a superior's orders, but to have lost Pierson as well... Dawson would be furious.

<I wonder... maybe he went back into the barge again... or started along the river,> the Watcher thought. He came out from under the bridge, looking around warily, trying to spot the Immortal.

Abruptly, he heard quiet footsteps behind him. Assuming that it was most likely Pierson, Jason turned around to make an excuse for his presence...

...And gasped in shock and pain as a long, sharp piece of metal pierced his chest and heart. Then he was falling into blackness, the last thing he saw the grim face of the man who had killed him.


Chapter 5

[MacLeod's barge; Paris]

Duncan jerked up, his eyes opening wide as the blankets slid down from his shoulders to his waist. He was breathing heavily, and fought to get himself under control as he tried to figure out what had woken him up. Or, for that matter, why he had woken up in such a state.

A flicker of memory came back to him - a whip descending on his back, as a tall, stocky man with cold eyes watched impassively - and then vanished as Duncan heard the sound of an ambulance siren outside.

Frowning, he grabbed a robe, glancing at the clock as he did so. It was seven in the morning; he'd overslept by a good hour. His frown deepening as he wondered why, he tied the robe's belt around his waist, stood up and walked over to the porthole nearest the bed and peered out.

Just under the nearby bridge, he could see an ambulance and two police cars. There was a large crowd of people gathered at one end of the bridge. Passersby, most likely, Duncan figured, wondering what was going on. And why he hadn't been woken up by the noise from the crowd.

Quickly pulling on jeans and a shirt, he grabbed a croissant from the counter and then headed topside to try to figure out what was going on.

He moved to the bow of the barge and peered at the crowd, trying to see what had drawn them there as he took a bite of the croissant. Had there been an accident?

Unfortunately, the crowd obscured whatever had caught its attention, and all Duncan could hear was a general babble. With a sigh, the Immortal hurried back in to grab his boots, and then wandered casually over to the crowd.

He wasn't at all surprised to realize that his guess had been accurate; most of the crowd gathered there were passersby, drawn - like himself - by curiosity. He also glimpsed both two paramedics, and a number of gendarmes.

Duncan moved closer, carefully mingling with the crowd - one of the police officers he could see was Inspector Bardot - of Homicide, which didn't bode well - and she probably wouldn't be overjoyed to see him.

When he finally got through to the police barricade and caught a glimpse of what was causing the commotion, he felt sick.

Lying on the ground was the body of the young Watcher - Jason Kallikos. Duncan could see a dark stain of blood on the young man's shirt; he couldn't tell whether it was from a bullet, or... from a sword. All he could tell was that the Watcher was definitely dead.

Slipping out of the crowd, he hurried back to the barge and called Joe.

*

[Joe's room, L'hôtel Yves; Paris]

The phone rang loudly in the room, and Joe Dawson mumbled a curse as he fumbled for it, still sleep-mazed.

"Yeah?" he mumbled into the receiver.

"Joe, it's Duncan," said the familiar voice. "I think you'd better get over here, quickly."

"Mac?" Joe said, starting to wake up a bit. There was a tension in the Highlander's voice that he didn't like. "Wha's going on?"

"I think you should come over here, Joe," MacLeod repeated. "As quickly as you can."

"You said that already," Dawson pointed out, sitting up and turning on the room's light. He was now completely awake, and feeling more than a bit nervous about the reason Mac wanted him. "Could you be a bit more specific?"

"It's about your young friend," the Immortal replied. "Look, Joe, I'd prefer not to go into details over the phone... just come over."

Before Joe could question him any more, MacLeod hung up.

"Just come over," the Watcher grumbled sourly as he strapped on his protheses. "No explanations, no real hints, just 'come over'. He's getting more and more like Methos every day - cryptic and mysterious. And since when did I go from being his Watcher to being his servant?"


Despite his irritation - which was only partially due to MacLeod's cryptic responses - Dawson arrived at the barge half an hour later. He was surprised to see a large crowd under the bridge nearby, along with an ambulance and several police cars.

"What's going on over there, Mac?" he demanded, walking up the gangplank with the aid of his cane.

The Highlander shifted uneasily. "It's... There's been a murder, Joe," he blurted. "The sirens woke me up; I came out to check what was going on, and that's when I called you."

Joe blinked in surprise at MacLeod's last statement. It was a quarter to eight; which meant that Mac must have woken up sometime between seven and a quarter past. That was strange, since Mac usually woke up around six.

Then he pushed the thought to one side; it was something to ask Mac about later. Right now, he had other, more important concerns. "You said something about it being about Jason... is he a suspect or something?" Joe asked, nervous. He had an uneasy feeling he knew what MacLeod was about to say.

"No," Mac replied, shaking his head. "No... he was the victim."

Joe's mouth tightened. "A mugging?" he suggested, ignoring for the moment what Jason had been doing out here, when he'd given the younger man strict instructions to remain in the hotel.

"I don't know," MacLeod replied, glancing away uneasily. "But, Joe... I overheard the coroner say that the weapon was some kind of long knife, and... and that the time of death was most likely some time around ten last night."

"And?" Joe prodded.

"Well... that was about the time..." the Highlander paused, shifting, very obviously not liking what he was about to say. Then he blurted out, "Methos left at ten last night."

Joe stared at him. "And you think...?" He couldn't finish, shocked that Mac would even consider that Methos was responsible. Hadn't the fact that Methos had helped him destroy the Horsemen taught Mac anything?

"I don't know, Joe!" MacLeod exclaimed in irritation, throwing up his hands. "I don't know what to think. But you saw him yesterday..."

Remembering Methos' violent reaction to a question MacLeod had asked, Joe nodded his head reluctantly. "But that doesn't mean that he killed Jason, Mac," he added firmly.

"It doesn't mean that he didn't, either," MacLeod returned. He sat down, dropping his face into his hands. "Your friend knew that 'Adam Pierson' is Immortal, Joe. Methos would consider that a threat. You know that."

"If he intended to kill Jason, he could have done it before we knew what had happened, Mac," Joe declared. "He didn't. And I was getting through..." Joe didn't finish the sentence, realizing abruptly that to all intents and purposes, he hadn't gotten through. The only reason Jason would have been anywhere near the barge last night would have been to watch Adam, which Joe had firmly forbidden.

"I keep trying to tell myself that," MacLeod replied. "But... you know as well as I do that Methos isn't inclined to lash out like he was doing yesterday. What if..." He, too, left his sentence unfinished.

"In either case, Mac, the best thing to do would be to ask him, before jumping to conclusions," Joe pointed out, a touch acidly. It sounded as though MacLeod had already determined that Methos had done it, and was unwilling to change his mind. "It's very simple to do, you know. All you have to do is call up, or head over, and ask."


Duncan shook his head, not denying Joe's suggestion, just trying to get his thoughts in order. The Watcher was right; best to ask Methos before assuming he was guilty.

Picking up his phone, he dialled the ancient Immortal's number. It rang four times, and then there was a click as the line was transferred, and he heard the answering machine inside - and from the phone - recite, "I'm sorry, I am unable to take your call at the moment. Leave your name and number after the beep, and I will get back to you as soon as possible."

"No luck?" Joe inquired, having heard the machine's message from the barge.

Duncan shook his head. "We'll have to head over," he replied. "We'll take my car."

*

[Adam Pierson's apartment; Paris]

Adam woke to the sound of his own voice screaming.

As soon as he realized that it was his voice, he shut his mouth and sat up, shaking. Trembling, actually, in a combination of pain, fear, and anger.

He rubbed his face in his hands, trying to rid himself of the memories conjured up by the nightmare, and glanced at the clock. It was seven in the morning; normally much too early for him to be up. Except that the nightmare had woken him, and he had the feeling he wouldn't be able to go back to sleep.

Standing up, the Immortal glanced around the room uncertainly, not quite sure where he was or what he was doing for a moment; and then everything snapped back into focus, and he shook his head irritably.

<Be careful, old man,> he scolded himself as he headed for the bathroom for a much-needed shower. <Zoning out like that is not a good idea; especially when you're in the same country, much less the same city, as Duncan MacLeod. I swear, that man must send out engraved invitations with his address stamped on them to every single Immortal who has a grudge against him...>

After a quick shower, Adam debated heading over to Watcher Headquarters for a moment, and then rapidly decided otherwise. Marcel had mentioned yesterday that Joe had gotten half the Watchers in Paris looking for him; better to wait until MacLeod's Watcher put out the word that everything was fine. <Not that it is...> came the whisper of a thought, but Adam pushed it out of his mind. He really wasn't ready to deal with the memories called up by Kallikos' actions; not yet. He'd have to deal with them some time, of course, but the longer he could put it off, the better.

And since he wasn't going to go over to Headquarters, he might as well indulge himself with a nice, long bath. Hopefully, he'd be able to soak out some of his tension.


About half an hour later, Adam was seriously considering going back to bed; the heat of the bath was putting him to sleep, and he didn't care to drown due to falling asleep in the tub. He was debating the wisdom of that versus just partially emptying the bath and filling it back up with cold water when the phone rang.

Cursing to himself in Etruscan, he hauled himself out of the tub, and, wrapping a towel securely around his waist, hurried into the living room. He was a moment too late, however; when he picked up the phone, all he heard was a dial-tone, which meant the call had been transferred to MacLeod's answering machine.

"Damn!" Adam swore out loud, glaring at the phone. He'd forgotten to arrange for the transfer to MacLeod's machine to stop last night; it would be his own bloody fault if that was a message that the Highlander shouldn't hear. Not that he thought it likely, of course, but one never knew.

<Oh, well, at least I'm out of the bath,> the Immortal thought to himself resignedly. <I might as well get back to work on those Chronicles of Caspian's...>

Not that he wanted to, of course, but he had to find out just how much was in the Watchers' records about the Horsemen.

With a sigh, he headed into his bedroom and quickly pulled on jeans, a shirt and a sweater, and then came back into the living room, settled down into the most comfortable chair, and pulled the scarlet Chronicle out of the bag. Skimming through it, he quickly found the place he had stopped last night, and resumed reading about Caspian's activities among the Dominican brothers.

The one thing that puzzled him about this particular Chronicle was simply: why had Brother Gregorius chosen to record the transcription of Anjun's record of the Horsemen in Casparri's Chronicle? Had he suspected that Casparri was one of the Horsemen? And if so, why hadn't that fact become known?

<Of course, Marcel did say that they were hidden... I wonder why? Certainly the first time I saw this Chronicle was when Marcel handed it to me...>

His thoughts were interrupted as he sensed the sudden presence of another Immortal; MacLeod, Adam knew, beyond a doubt. Ever since the double Quickening, Methos had been able to distinguish the Highlander's 'signature' from those of other Immortals. It felt... different. More in tune with his own, perhaps.

"Bloody hell, what does he want now?" Adam muttered, closing the Chronicle and shoving it back into the bag. The last thing he needed was for MacLeod to ask him any more questions about what he was doing with Caspian's Chronicles.

There was a knock on the door, and Adam opened it to see MacLeod and Joe standing there; he was surprised to see that both men looked grim.

"Is something wrong?" he asked, puzzled.

"You could say that," MacLeod replied, a raised eyebrow asking if they could come in.

Adam moved out of the way, letting them enter, and closed the door behind them. "Do you want some coffee?" he asked. "I was going to make some for myself..."

MacLeod shook his head, eyes fixed on Adam's face.

"Methos," the Highlander said slowly, "Jason Kallikos is dead."

The ancient Immortal blinked in surprise. Well, that explained why Joe, at least, looked so upset. And MacLeod did tend to take the deaths of mortals he knew personally - even if he'd only known them for a few minutes or hours. "He is?"

MacLeod nodded, and shifted uncomfortably. "He..." the younger Immortal began.

"Actually," Joe interrupted, "I wouldn't mind a cup of coffee. I could certainly use the caffeine; I didn't get much sleep last night."

"You're not the only one," Methos muttered, looking between the other two men with a slight frown. Something was wrong here... very wrong. Joe had interrupted MacLeod for a reason; one that had nothing to do with wanting a cup of coffee. It was obvious, however, that he wasn't going to get anything out of them yet; he'd have to go along with Joe, to a point.

"MacLeod? Do you want a cup?"

The Highlander shook his head. "No thanks," he replied, shooting a confused, irritated glance at Joe as he did so.

<What the hell is going on?> Methos wondered, also confused, as he started into the kitchen. Joe obviously wanted MacLeod to keep quiet about whatever it was, for a few minutes, at least.

Gritting his teeth in irritation, he started the coffeemaker, and opened the fridge to check if there was anything in there worth offering to his guests. Finding nothing there, he checked the cupboards, and then shook his head in exasperation, remembering that he'd meant to go shopping the afternoon of the day that Kallikos had abducted him.

The coffeemaker whistled, and Methos grabbed two mugs, putting cream in one, and sugar and cream in the other before pouring the coffee in. He then carried them back out, handing the one with cream in it to Joe, and sat down, taking a sip of his own coffee as he did so.

"Well?" he said finally, glancing between the other two men. Joe looked uncomfortable, and MacLeod wouldn't meet his eyes. "You didn't come just to tell me that Kallikos is dead. Why else are you here?"

The two of them looked at each other, and then MacLeod turned back to Methos.

"Methos... he was murdered. Last night, about ten o'clock, just under the bridge by the barge. I overheard the coroner say that he was killed by a knife in the heart."

It took only a moment for the implications of MacLeod's statement to sink in. Methos went pale in shock, and then his cheeks flushed in anger. "You think I killed him."

"Did you?" MacLeod demanded.

"Of course not!" Methos snapped, furious. How could MacLeod think that? "If I'd wanted him dead, I would never have taken him to the barge! I'm not stupid, MacLeod!"

Out of the corner of his eye, Methos saw that Joe was looking dismayed; it was obvious that the Watcher had hoped to avoid this confrontation. Well, it was too late now.

"He was a threat to you, Methos - to Adam Pierson," MacLeod returned angrily. "You're the one who always says put survival first..."

MacLeod had gone too far. Methos knew it, even as his anger became an icy-cold rage. Kronos and Cassandra's reappearance; his rejection by MacLeod; his abduction by Kallikos; and now MacLeod's accusation... it was too much, in too short a time, and it had pushed him too far.

"Get out."

MacLeod looked confused. "Methos..."

"Get out, MacLeod. Now."


Chapter 6

[Adam Pierson's apartment; Paris]

Duncan blinked, confused, as he looked at Methos. The slender Immortal was absolutely still, and his voice was flat, ice-cold. There was no expression on the pale face, or in the hazel eyes; only the cold voice.

"I only meant..."

"Get out," Methos repeated again. Duncan felt a shiver of fear go through him; the ancient Immortal was suddenly terrifying.

"Mac..." Dawson said, gripping his arm; Duncan hadn't noticed him move from the couch, where he'd been sitting. "Let's go."

"Right..." Duncan said, getting up and stumbling backwards toward the door, suddenly afraid that he'd just made a terrible mistake. Methos followed his exit with his eyes, not moving a muscle, just watching coldly, and Duncan had to suppress a shiver as Joe closed the door to Methos' apartment.

"Great going, MacLeod," Joe said abruptly, his voice rich with disgust. "Maybe, the next time you decide to make unsupported accusations, you'll take my advice and ask first, rather than making an absolute ass of yourself."

"But..." Duncan began to protest.

Joe didn't even give him the chance to finish. "I don't want to hear it," he snapped, his tone almost as cold as Methos' had been, though nowhere near as terrifying. "Christ, MacLeod, I would have thought that you'd have known better by now. I would have thought that you'd have learned something about dealing with people in 400 years; obviously, I was wrong. Talk about idiocy..."

"But Joe..." Duncan tried again.

"You'd just better hope you can figure out a way to apologize, MacLeod," Joe continued. "Somehow, though, I doubt it."

And with that, the Watcher turned away from him and started toward the elevator, leaving Duncan staring after him in shock.


Methos stared blankly at the door of his apartment for a few moments after it closed, before the reaction set in.

He began trembling, feeling the icy-cold rage MacLeod's words had sparked off start to spread through him. MacLeod had actually believed that he would have murdered Jason Kallikos.

Oh, he had thought about it; he had to admit that to himself. But Kallikos hadn't told anyone about him, about 'Adam Pierson' being an Immortal; and then Joe and MacLeod had arrived, and Methos had decided that he could let Joe deal with the young Watcher. Joe would protect him, make sure that Kallikos didn't tell - and that way, Methos wouldn't have to kill him.

And anyway, if he had felt the need to kill Kallikos, he certainly wouldn't have used his dagger. Bullets worked just as easily, and MacLeod would never have come rushing in with his bloody-minded, wrong accusations if he'd just shot the idiot.

<Damn you to all the hells, MacLeod!> Methos screamed silently, as the thought of the Highlander brought the rage surging back. <Why can't you just believe in me for once?>

Another shudder went through him, and Methos abruptly felt the walls of the small apartment start to close in on him as his control over his emotions began to slip.

<I've got to get out of here...>

He simply couldn't take it any more; the apartment was too small, and the memories were crowding too closely against his barriers, slipping through the walls he'd thrown up long ago...

><

[UNKNOWN - Methos' past]

Methos shivered in fear as he heard the door of his small cell open.

The light from the torch the guard held shone in, and Methos pulled himself away from it, shielding his eyes against the painful intensity.

"Well, well, well," a quiet, very familiar voice said from within the glow of the torch, and Methos shivered again, fear turning to utter terror. He knew all too well what awaited him now. "If it isn't my little runaway..."

"So he is yours, then?" the guard demanded, his harsh voice very different from Alchor's melodious tones to Methos' ears.

"Yes, he is."

Methos sensed a movement nearby, in front of him, but didn't dare open his eyes. The light hurt too much; and above all, he didn't want to see the face of the man now standing in front of him.

"Oh no you don't, little mouse," the voice said firmly, and Methos felt a strong, calloused hand grip his chin, jerking his head up. "Look at me," came the order.

Disobedience of this order could hardly earn any more punishment than he was due already. Methos didn't open his eyes.

"I said look at me, little mouse!" the man snapped, his hand tightening on Methos' jaw.

<No...> Methos thought, desperately trying to ignore both the voice and the grip on his jaw. Maybe if he was disobedient enough, he could end this for once and for all.

He could feel the air around his face eddy, the movement warning him just a moment before the hand slapped his face. He fell back against the wall of the cell, the cool stone hurting his still tender back with its rough edges as he hit it. He kept his eyes tightly closed.

A pull on the front of Methos' ragged tunic brought him to his feet, and then he felt the back of Alchor's hand hit his cheek, the force of the blow causing the other man's ring to slice his cheek open and send him flying back against the wall.

This time when he struck the hard stone, he felt a blackness close over him; he pushed himself into it, welcoming the sudden ending of pain, and of life.

><

[A park; Paris - present]

"Adam? Are you all right?"

Methos came back to himself with a start as he heard a voice calling him.

"Adam?"

Firmly pushing the memory away, Methos slowly opened his eyes, to find that he was standing in the middle of the park near his flat. He had no memory of how he'd gotten here; the last thing he remembered - from the present, at least - was leaving his apartment building.

"Adam? Are you all right?" the voice repeated anxiously, and Methos blinked and shook his head, mentally bringing 'Adam Pierson' to the forefront as he looked at the man who had been calling him.

"Sorry, Marcel," he said, giving the other Watcher an apologetic smile. "I'm afraid I was a million miles away."

"Yes, I could tell," Marcel returned. "And you haven't answered my question. Are you all right?"

<All right?> Adam thought. The idea was ludicrous, absurd, after everything that had happened over the past two months. He didn't think that he'd ever be 'all right' again. Or, at least, not for a very long time.

But he couldn't tell Marcel that.

"I'm fine," he reassured the Watcher. "I just got completely caught up in my thoughts, and I wasn't paying much attention to what was going on around me."

From Marcel's expression, he didn't entirely believe Adam's explanation. It wasn't important, however; just as long as the Watcher didn't question it.

The other Watcher nodded. "As long as you are well," he returned.

"I've been looking for you," he added then, and Adam blinked in surprise.

"Why? Is there something wrong?"

"I don't know," Marcel replied with a shrug. "But you've been summoned to a meeting at Headquarters, and I kept getting your answering machine, so I decided to come and try to find you personally."

It was on the tip of Adam's tongue to say that he didn't have an answering machine - or at least, not one that was unpacked and plugged in - when he remembered that he still hadn't stopped the automatic transfer. He'd gotten absorbed in Casparri's Chronicle, and then Joe and MacLeod had shown up, and he had forgotten completely about it.

<I just hope he didn't leave a message...> Adam thought grimly, but he gave an apologetic shrug. "Sorry."

"Well, we've got about twenty minutes to get there," Marcel continued. "I brought my car; we should just be able to make it."

As he followed the mortal Watcher to the car, Adam could only hope that this meeting didn't involve recent events. The unlikeliness of that being the case kept him silent during the drive to Headquarters.

*

[MacLeod's barge; Paris]

Duncan flung himself onto the couch and stared blankly at the fireplace, running over what had happened at Methos' apartment again and again in his mind's eye.

<Why did I do that?> he demanded of himself. Joe was right; he had, in effect, flat out accused Methos of killing the young Watcher.

<Damn it...>

Only twelve hours ago, he'd decided that he had forgiven Methos, that he would try to repair their dying friendship. But as soon as he'd discovered that Kallikos was dead, he'd immediately assumed that Methos was responsible. Why?

<Well, to start with, there's the fact that Kallikos was a threat to him,> Duncan reflected, lifting his tumbler of Glenmorangie from the table and taking a sip. This would be a great deal easier to face if he was drunk. <After all, he was a Watcher, and he discovered that Adam Pierson is Immortal. As I said to Joe, that's certainly enough to have gotten Methos' survival instincts engaged.

<Then, there's the way he was behaving last night... It... well, it wasn't normal for Methos. He never loses control like that. Never! But he did, which is what puzzles me.

<And then, of course, there's the fact that Kallikos was killed by a knife through the heart.>

According to what Duncan had overheard the coroner telling Inspector Bardot, the knife (or dagger) had been precisely placed to kill almost instantly, going between two ribs and straight into the heart. And while most Immortals were skilled with both knives and daggers as well as swords, Duncan didn't know of any of them that carried a dagger around with them all the time, the way Methos did. And street muggers and gang members might carry knives, but they surely weren't that... proficient at killing with them.

Putting the now half-empty tumbler down, Duncan buried his face in his hands. All the evidence he knew of pointed toward Methos as being the killer, and the fact that Methos had denied it... well, the ancient Immortal had lied to him before.

But he'd been so angry about it, about the fact that Duncan thought he had done it... Duncan didn't think he'd ever seen anyone - much less Methos - that furious before. Not even when Duncan had confronted him about Cassandra's accusations.

He was brought out of his brooding as he heard the answering machine click on. Frowning, since he hadn't heard the phone ring, Duncan listened to Methos' voice say the message.

After the beep sounded, Duncan heard a French-accented voice that sounded vaguely familiar.

"Adam, it's Marcel. It's about 10:30 am. You need to come over to Headquarters; there's a very important meeting scheduled for an hour from now. I'll drive over to your flat now - meet me downstairs."

Duncan stared at the machine in shock as it turned off. Hadn't Methos stopped the phone line transfer yet?

Then the contents of the message connected, and Duncan grabbed his phone and rapidly dialed Joe's cell number. If there was an important Watcher meeting, he wanted to know what the hell it was about.

The phone rang twice before Joe picked it up.

"Dawson here," the Watcher said.

"Joe, it's MacLeod..." Duncan began.

"I don't have time to talk right now," Joe snapped. "I'm busy. If you absolutely have to talk to me, call me back in about four hours."

"Joe, wait!" Duncan shouted into the phone, hoping his friend hadn't hung up yet.

He heard a sigh, and then Joe said, "All right, what is it?"

"I just got a message on my machine for Adam, about some meeting at Watcher Headquarters," Duncan explained. "Do you have any idea what it's about?"

There was a pause, and then Joe said, "Yeah, I'd say so; I'm right in the middle of it. Listen, I really don't have time to talk; I've got a thousand things I have to do. And I'm not going to serve as a messenger for your apology to Adam."

"I wasn't going to ask you to," Duncan snapped back, abruptly irritated. "Look, Joe, I just want to know what's going on!"

"It's none of your business," Joe returned. "I'll talk to you later." And then Duncan heard a click as the line was disconnected.

*

[Watcher HQ; Paris]

"Who was that, Dawson?" demanded Evelyn Richards, the present Head of Western Europe.

"A friend of Adam Pierson's and mine," Joe returned. "We're having an argument, and I think he's trying to convince me to side with him."

He could see by the expression in her eyes that she didn't entirely believe him, but Evie was an old friend of his, and Joe knew that he could count on her not to pry.

"All right," she continued, "in that case, let's get back to business. Now, Andrew, what have the police discovered so far?"

"They think it was a mugging that went too far," Detective Inspector Andrew Vespis - the Watcher who was their best source of information within the police department - replied. "Kallikos had a couple of bruises; it looks like the muggers tried beating him up before deciding to kill him."

Joe hid a wince; whomever had killed Jason, it hadn't been the same person who had given him the bruises - that had been Methos. But Jason had done something to the oldest Immortal; possibly something that was as damaging - if not more so - than the bruises Methos had given him in return.

"And they're sure of that?" Evie pressed.

"Yes; the stab wound was made by a switchblade knife of a type favoured by some of the local hoodlums," Andrew explained.

"That still doesn't eliminate the possibility that an Immortal was responsible," Evie returned, looking carefully around the room, her eyes flicking over the faces of the ten highest ranking Watchers presently in Paris. <Though it does eliminate Methos,> Joe thought in relief.

"Kallikos has been missing for two weeks; he didn't report in, and certainly wasn't following Duchêne during that time," she continued. Her gaze then settled on Joe. "Adam Pierson has also been missing during that time - apparently having gotten sidetracked somehow in Marseilles. But he didn't report in either, so we aren't certain of that."

"So you think that their absences might be connected," Sam Aliston - the Head Researcher for Western Europe since Don Salzer's death - said, leaning back in her chair. She and Joe exchanged looks; Sam considered Adam to be her 'golden boy', the pride of her section. In the past thirteen years, he'd managed to find more information about Methos than the Methos Chroniclers for a century before him put together. As such, she felt quite protective of him at times.

"Quite possibly," Evie replied. "That's why we've summoned Adam."

"We've summoned him for 11:30," Sam pointed out. "That's still almost an hour away, so why have we started this meeting now?"

"Because there are a few things that trouble me about Kallikos' death," Evie declared.

Joe had a sudden, sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach.

"Like what?" demanded Charles Verbourg.

"Like where he was found," Evelyn said. "Right by Duncan MacLeod's barge."

"Oh, come on, Evie!" Joe burst out. "You surely don't think that MacLeod killed him, do you?"

"No, not MacLeod," Evelyn reassured him. "He knows about us - which I don't like, but it was unavoidable - and I can't think of any reason he'd have to kill another Immortal's Watcher. If he was going to go on a Watcher killing spree, my guess is that he'd either start with you, Joe, or try to locate Headquarters and go for broke."

"Which is all just theoretical, since he hasn't," Joe said, calming down.

"True enough," Evie admitted.

"So who do you think it might have been, if it wasn't muggers?"

"Quite honestly? I haven't the faintest idea," she replied. "The number of Immortals who have found out about us is phenomenal. Both Kalas and Jacob Galatti went on killing sprees through our ranks. They're both dead now, but it might have been another victim, or near-victim, of Horton's, or just an Immortal who doesn't care for being watched; or, as the police think, it might be a random mugging.

"Hopefully, Adam will be able to give us some hints about what may have happened."

Joe slipped a bit lower in his chair, feeling uncomfortable.

Duncan had been right in saying that Methos' behaviour had been... erratic... last night on the barge; and he had certainly not been at his best this morning. Joe was terrified that whatever Jason had done, it had unhinged some of the ancient Immortal's tight control. And if that had happened... well, the Adam Pierson that walked in the door might not be the Adam Pierson that this group was expecting to meet.


Chapter 7

[Watcher Headquarters; Paris]

They'd been discussing and wrangling about the possibility of an Immortal having killed Jason for almost an hour when a knock finally came at the door.

Verbourg stood up and went to open it, admitting a Watcher Joe didn't recognize, followed by Adam Pierson. The other Watcher stood in the doorway, and Adam came in and sat down in the empty seat beside Joe.

Joe frowned slightly as he studied his friend. He was relieved to see that the Immortal had his 'Adam Pierson' persona on full force. That was good; the other Watchers would have known something strange was going on if Methos had still looked the way he had yesterday.

On the other hand, he was also very pale, and Joe could see a definite tension in Adam's slender frame.

"You're late, Adam," Evelyn said, after she had dismissed the Watcher who had escorted him here.

The researcher shrugged, settling back into his chair. He appeared relaxed, but Joe had known him very well for almost two years, and could still see subtle signs of tension. "I went for a walk in the park, and didn't even hear about the summons until twenty minutes ago," Adam explained calmly.

<So he's talked to Mac?> Joe wondered, feeling hopeful as he remembered the worry that had been in MacLeod's voice when he had called. Worry about Methos, Joe knew. God, the relationship between those two was damn near impossible to figure out...

But Adam's next words blew that theory right out of the water. "Marcel managed to find me, and drove me over. So, what's up?"

<Oh, damn...> Joe thought, trying to catch Adam's eye. <If he hasn't seen Mac...>

"You've been missing for two weeks, Adam," Evie said quietly. "So has Jason Kallikos. Now you've both reappeared, but Jason is dead. We need to know what you might know about this."

Adam blinked. "Why would I know what Mr. Kallikos has been doing? He's a field agent; I'm a researcher. I would have thought he'd be busy following his Immortal... Duchêne, isn't it?"

Evelyn frowned. "You've both been missing for two weeks," she repeated. "Neither of you reported in, and Duchêne hasn't been watched during that time." Her eyes narrowed as she glared at Adam. "You told M. Bruneau that you were in Marseilles, Adam, but you didn't report in to the regional office there either. So, the question is, if you were in Marseilles, why didn't you report in; and if you weren't, then where were you?"

Adam slumped down in his chair, looking ashamed. "I thought I had a lead on Methos," he said, his tone embarassed. "I went down to Marseilles to check it out, and, well..." he hesitated.

"Go on," Evelyn ordered.

Adam squirmed in his seat. "I wanted to find him by myself, if it was really him," he admitted finally. "I knew that if I reported in, I'd have to explain what I was doing down there, and you'd flood the area with field agents."

Joe just stared at his friend in shock. Luckily, everyone else in the room was doing the same thing, although for a different reason.

Joe couldn't help but remember when they'd found out that Christine Salzer had found Don's copy of the CD database, and was bringing it to the editor of the Tribune. Methos had offered to do a bit of spin control, offering to go to the editor and let Clancy know who he was. Joe had pointed out to him that history had been written, and a new version of the truth was likely to be unwelcome. Methos' response had been, quite simply, "Why would I tell the truth?"

He had, however, never fully realized until now just how good Methos was at twisting the truth. It was no wonder that none of the Watchers had ever connected Adam with Methos; in fact, the real wonder was that Mac had managed to do so. Although Mac did have the advantage of being able to sense that 'Adam Pierson' was Immortal...

Evie sighed and shook her head, bringing Joe out of his contemplation of Methos' acting skills. "You should have known better, Adam," she scolded him. "As you said only a few minutes ago, you're not a field agent. You don't have the training or the aptitude. If Methos had realized you were following him--"

"It wasn't Methos," Adam whispered.

"What?" Evie prodded.

"It wasn't Methos," Adam repeated, a bit louder this time. He shifted uneasily in his chair, his tone more than a bit embarrassed. "I made a mistake."

"And how do you know it wasn't him?" Charles Verbourg demanded irritably.

Adam abruptly pushed his chair back and shoved himself to his feet, beginning to pace back and forth. Joe frowned; it appeared that his relief had been premature. This was definitely not normal behaviour, for either Adam Pierson or for Methos.

"Because he wasn't an Immortal at all," Adam said. He glanced around the room, and Joe saw a hint of a shiver go through the ancient Immortal. "Hamad al-Raji - who was apparently in Marseilles on business - passed him on the street, and there was no reaction whatsoever. Which means, of course, that the man I was following isn't Immortal."

<How on earth did he find all this out?> Joe wondered, astonishment at what Adam had just said making him forget about his concern for the Immortal for a moment. <How does he know whether or not al-Raji was definitely in Marseilles during the past two weeks? Evelyn will check it; and if she doesn't, Verbourg certainly will. He doesn't appear to care for Adam at all.>

"Then what made you think that he might be Methos?" Sam prodded, speaking for the first time since Adam had come in. "There had to be some reason."

"Actually, there were two," Adam replied, and Joe's concern deepened again. Methos hadn't stopped pacing, and his voice was starting to betray the tension evident in the tightness of his shoulders.

"The first was the fact that this particular man was in a car crash recently; one that was fatal to everyone but him. When I saw the newspaper article, it got me thinking that he might have been an Immortal. I did some digging, and I couldn't find a number of legal documents, like a legitimate birth certificate; which only supported my theory. And then... well, while we don't have a very good description of Methos, we do have a general one, and this man fit it.

"And, well, I guess I was kind of hoping that I had found Methos. After all, it would be quite a coup, to be the researcher who found the oldest living Immortal... I got a bit carried away."

Evie sighed. "All right, Adam, thank you," she said. Then she looked around at everyone. "I think it's time to adjourn for lunch; I'll want all of you - except you, Adam - to be back here in two hours to resume our discussion. Hopefully, there'll be more information from the police by then."

Adam was out of the room like a shot as soon as the door opened. Concerned, Joe hurried after him as best he could. He finally caught up with the ancient Immortal just outside of Headquarters.


"What's wrong?" Joe asked from behind him.

The Watcher's tone was concerned, but Methos didn't care. He'd had to get out of that room, out of the building, before the walls closed in on him again and pulled him back into long-forgotten memories.

"Adam?" Joe repeated. "What's wrong?"

Methos took a deep breath, and let it out in a silent sigh, trying to re-establish some control over his face and emotions. Dawson was sometimes too damn perceptive for his liking.

He turned back to the mortal Watcher with a faint smile on his face. "Sorry, but I had to get out of there before they tried to ask me any more questions," he explained. "I didn't have time to work out all the tiny details of my story, only the broad outlines."

"I'm surprised you had time to do even that," Joe commented, eyeing him carefully. With luck, however, he'd been deflected from his concern about Methos' actions. "How much of that story about the car crash is true?"

Adam blinked at him innocently. "All of it," he replied. "After all, Joe, they are going to be checking it out. Everything I told them can be supported by records, including the article - which we have on file, since a few other people agreed with me that he might be an Immortal - and the fact that al-Raji was down in Marseilles over the past two weeks. I told you that I didn't get much sleep last night."

Joe frowned. "Fine," he said slowly. "Listen, have you talked to Mac?"

At the mention of MacLeod, Methos felt his control starting to crumble again. "Why would I have done that?" he snapped.

"So that he can apologize," Joe replied, his frown deepening.

"Apologize for what? For thinking I might have killed Kallikos? Oh, but this is MacLeod we're talking about, isn't it," Methos continued sarcastically, as he tried desperately to rebuild his control. "So it'll just be an apology for jumping to conclusions. Well, sorry, Joe, but I'm not interested."

"Damn it, Adam, he's worried about you!" Joe shouted.

"Worried about me? Well, that's new," Methos returned. He ignored Joe's glare, trying his best to push the Watcher away from figuring out just what was wrong.

Joe heaved an exasperated sigh. "Look, it'd probably be better if we discussed this someplace else; having this conversation right in front of Watcher HQ is definitely not the best idea in the world," he said. "It's too easy to overhear us. Why don't we head over to your apartment?"

"No!" Methos blurted out, before he could stop himself. At the thought of going back to that cramped little flat, panic rose; panic that served to crumble his barriers even further. <This isn't good... get control of yourself, old man!> "No, why don't we go to the park, instead?" he suggested, forcing calm into his voice. "It's a rather nice day for a walk."

Joe eyed him warily, but nodded in agreement. "All right," he replied. "The park it is."


Joe studied the man beside him carefully as they wound their way along one of the trails. Methos was very much on edge; that had been obvious even before his little explosion. The question was, just what was wrong with him?

Joe didn't think that this was just a matter of MacLeod's reaction to Jason's death, although he was certain that that played a part. No, this was more than that.

"All right, Methos," he said quietly, "what's wrong?"

"Wrong?" the Immortal repeated. "Aside from the matter of MacLeod's tendency to jump in without looking around first, what makes you think there's anything wrong?"

Joe stopped and turned to face him. "Oh, come on, Methos," he snapped. "I may have only known you - as you - for two years, but I do know you well enough to know when something's bothering you. And something's really bothering you now, and it's not just MacLeod. So what else is it?"

Methos looked away for a moment, and then looked back at Joe, his hazel eyes cool. Joe almost groaned in dismay at the expression; obviously, Methos had no intentions of telling him anything.

"Nothing, Joe," the ancient Immortal said, his tone harsh.

<Damnit, Methos... you should know better by now...> "Come on, Methos," Joe pleaded. "I'm your friend, for God's sake! If something's wrong - and I know something is, you're not that good an actor - I want to help you with it!"

For a moment, Methos looked startled. Then the cool mask slipped back over his face; but it was frayed around the edges. "Thank you for the offer, Joseph," he said, his tone much warmer than it had been. "But I'm afraid this is nothing you can help with."

<Well, at least I've gotten him to admit that something is wrong...> "Why not?" Joe asked, his own tone softening. "I mean it, Methos; I want to help."

A sad smile flickered across the ancient Immortal's face. "And I do appreciate that, Joe. But... this is something that I have to handle myself. It's not that I don't want help; it's that it's impossible for someone else to help.

"Don't worry, Joe," he added then, the smile widening a bit. "I've handled it before; I can handle it again."

Joe wasn't sure that he believed that, but he decided to just play along for the moment. He'd see about having a few words with MacLeod a bit later; maybe if the Highlander did manage to apologize, Methos might accept his help better than he accepted Joe's. "All right," he replied out loud. "But Methos... if you do need any help, I'm here, okay?"

"Okay," Methos replied. Then he looked at his watch. "You should be thinking about getting back, Joe," he said. "Evelyn Richards may be an old friend of yours, but she's a stickler for being on time. You don't want to be late."

Joe nodded, and started to turn away; then stopped, and turned back to face Methos. "I know you didn't kill Jason, Methos," he said quietly. "I know that. But... do you remember anything of what happened when you left the barge... anything that might help figure out what did happen?"

Methos sighed, leaning back against a tree, his hands in his pockets. "I knew he was watching the barge," the Immortal admitted. "I saw him as soon as I stepped out. He wasn't being particularly careful. When he stepped back under the bridge, to try to avoid being seen, I slipped under the ramp, and stayed in the shadows. That's about all I can tell you, though; I didn't notice him following me, so I just figured that I'd lost him with that little maneuver. I didn't notice any signs of a struggle, or anything."

Joe nodded. "Thanks, Methos."

"You're welcome," the Immortal replied. "I'll see you a bit later, okay?"

"Sure thing," Joe returned. "Do you want to meet at Maurice's for dinner?"

Methos paused, and then nodded. "All right. Give me a call on my cell when you get out of the meeting, okay?"

"Will do. And Methos... you might want to stop that transfer to Mac's answering machine," Joe added, as he turned to leave.

"Right..." Methos muttered behind him, and then Joe heard him start walking away.

He turned around to watch the Immortal head deeper into the park, rather than toward his flat, and a frown crossed his face. Methos' reaction to his suggestion that they go to the flat had been abrupt and panicked, and Joe didn't think it was because there was something at his place that he wanted to hide. No; there was more going on than he knew... but he would find out. As he had pointed out to Methos, they were friends; and friends helped each other.

> * <

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