"Don't Let the Turkeys Get You Down" Paula Stiles thesnowleopard@hotmail.com

Rating: PG

Summary: A few weeks after the events in 'Indiscretions' (in late October 1998), Joe persuades Methos to have Thanksgiving dinner with him and Amy Thomas.

Disclaimer: Panzer/Davis own Methos, Joe, Amy and the Highlander universe. I don't own the sea shanty, either, which dates from WWII and is traditional. This is my story. No money is changing hands.

Archive: Yes, for Seventh Dimension. Others, ask, and ye shall probably receive permission.

Note: When Ann Fountain of Seventh Dimension complained that she only had two Thanksgiving stories in her archive, I thought, "A Thanksgiving story ought to be easy enough to write. Joe, Methos and a turkey--if that's not a recipe for a holiday disaster of biblical proportions, I don't know what is."

This is story number seven in the "Armed Intervention" series. This tale, and the rest of this Joe and Methos series can be found, with recommendations for other Joe stories and Methos series, at:

http://www.geocities.com/RainForest/Andes/3071/arch2.html

And (except for "Parce que J'ai Peche", which is by Judith Hill and is at:

http://www.geocities.com/RainForest/Andes/3071/arch2.html ) along with my other stories at:

http://www.geocities.com/RainForest/Andes/3071/arch.html

Many thanks to Judith for betareading this for me.



DON'T LET THE TURKEYS GET YOU DOWN

"Absolutely not, Joe."

"That's not funny, Methos."

"Not meant to be. No, non, nyet, kai, la, immo. Am I being clear, yet?"

"Look, it's just dinner."

"Ha. Thanksgiving dinner, you mean. Holiday dinner, Joe. For family."

"Methos, aside from Amy, you and Mac are pretty much all the family I've got. And neither of us knows where Mac is." Joe watched the Old Man's face for a reaction to the guilt trip. Methos scowled, refusing to rise to the bait.

"C'mon, Joe," he whined. "I just saved her life for Halloween. What, I have to risk her shopping me to the Watchers for Thanksgiving? What's her Christmas present? My head?"

"It'll be fine. We'll pretend you're Uncle Ben." Methos frowned. Joe played his final card. "You owe me."

Methos looked stricken. "That was low."

"You left. For over a year. Just ditched and ran when I needed you the most." Joe leaned forward on his cane. "I appreciate that you took Walker's challenge to save Amy, and I know that you only risked your life for her because she's my daughter. I *really* appreciate that you saved my sorry ass, too. And I'm sorry that I tried to sell you down the river. I owe you for those things, maybe for the rest of my life, but you still owe me for abandoning me."

Methos glowered at him. "It's just for the day," Joe pleaded. "You, me, Amy, and a turkey the size of a prehistoric ostrich. How bad can it get?"

Methos sighed and shook his head. "I am going to regret this, aren't I?" Joe didn't bother to confirm that. "Fine." Methos conceded defeat. "I'll do it."



*********



Amy was stunned. "Have you lost your mind?" she said, before she remembered that she was speaking both to her natural father and her supervisor.

"Amy, please. It's just dinner." Joe's voice, on the line, was pleading. She remembered the tone because it was not far from the one he had used over the phone when Morgan Walker had threatened her. Damn him.

"Will that Immortal be there? Not MacLeod, the other one?"

He hesitated, picking the right name to use, no doubt. "Ben will be there, too, yeah. I asked him." That did not surprise her in the least, since their last conversation had played out with Dr. Benjamin Adams (or whatever he called himself now) lurking on a barstool nearby, well in earshot. The way they had both played Walker, Joe passing him off so casually to Adams, indicated that Joe had known Adams better than he should have, for a lot longer than he should have. That wasn't surprising, considering all the rumours about the other Immortals swirling around Duncan MacLeod. But, it was still a shock to encounter one of them, especially one who took the existence of the Watchers so in stride. "Is that gonna be a problem?" Joe asked anxiously.

She thought about it. This Adams had saved her life, so she did owe him something, and she had barely spoken to him before she left. She had been much too focused on Joe and their unfinished business--namely, that he, and not her mother's husband, was her father. Somehow, the fact that he had acknowledged her, with an almost desperate pride, when she confronted him, had not helped. She was more used to rejection. Why hadn't he just turned his back? She knew how to deal with that. This was getting to be far too complicated.

Inwardly, she sighed. Ah, well. The least she could do for this Immortal was to break bread with him, once, thank him politely and see him off to wherever he wished to go. She ignored the little voice that told her this was interference of the most egregious kind. It had nothing to do, of course, with a certain curiosity about Joe. She was still angry with him, but she was beginning to see why. It wasn't because he was a bad man, but rather, because he was a nice man, whom she would have preferred to have met much sooner than age 27. But, wasted time was still wasted. Wasting three weeks more had made her rethink her decision to walk away.

"I'm English, you know. I'm afraid that I don't have the same feeling for this particular holiday that you would." She wasn't going to make it easy on him, relenting or not. Then, she noticed how much she sounded like her mother and winced.

"Don't worry." He sensed victory, she could tell. "I can fill you in as we go along. Ben doesn't know much about it, either. At least...I don't think he does."

She laughed. She had a feeling that most of her future conversations with this man were going to be full of unsolved mysteries. "All right. Tell me when I need to show up and with what." Her mother would be appalled if she knew where Amy would be spending the last Thursday in November. Suddenly, that seemed like the perfect reason to do it.



*********



Methos whistled off-key as he took the old elevator up to Joe's apartment. Joe had given him his apartment key, begging off the bulk of the cooking with a "They don't recognise Thanksgiving here, so I still have to open the bar and anyway, holiday cooking is not my thing". Methos felt rather suspicious of the former excuse, since Joe (with the Watchers as a silent partner) did own Le Blues, but he suspected that the latter was a gross understatement. No matter. Joe could do all the washing up, if that was really how he felt. Methos could live with that.

He had two pies, baked just last night, balanced on one arm, and a load of various roots and vegetables in his backpack, as he strolled out of the elevator and down the hall. He didn't love cooking much more than Joe, and did not share MacLeod's enthusiasm for bizarre pasta preparation tools. He could certainly prepare and feed himself a hot meal, though. Caspian had taught Methos to be suspicious of the cooking of others, having poisoned his brothers more than once (deliberately and not) and served them baked slave too many times to count. Methos didn't quite understand those who complained about cooking over modern appliances. Uneven cooking? They should try cooking over an open wood fire and *then* complain about their electric stove.

He let himself into the apartment. "Joe?" he called, just in case Joe had come back early or changed his mind about braving cooking detail. No answer and no surprise, there. To be honest, he was relieved. He'd only left that damned hospital a month ago and he was still decompressing from it. He needed a break from mimicking appropriate social behaviours, especially if he were going to spend the evening being Watched from across the table by a suspicious young girl.

Still.... "'e's run off; 'e's scarpered," Methos muttered to himself, crossing to the kitchen. At least it was clean. As he recalled, Joe had someone in once a month to do the whole place.

Methos set the pies on top of the refrigerator, out of the way. "Right, Joseph. Let's see if you were paying any attention when I gave you that little lecture about turkey-thawing and salmonella-avoidance." He opened the refrigerator and his jaw dropped open when he saw the turkey Joe had bought. He invoked a long-forgotten deity, guardian to a long-disused paradise. Then, he closed the refrigerator door.

"That thing is *huge*. How many relatives does this man have?!" Shaking his head, Methos went looking for a turkey baster.



*********



"This turkey," Methos announced, "hates me."

Coming into his kitchen, Joe burst out laughing at the sight of Methos standing in front of the stove, holding a turkey by its legs over a pan on the burners. The Old Man had pushed up his shirtsleeves and flour whitened his hair. He grimaced at Joe.

"It's not funny," he complained. "How big is this bird, anyway? Twenty pounds? I'll be surprised if it fits in your oven."

"It'll fit," Joe assured him, choking back his mirth. He'd survived a harried test the night before, managing to jam the thing in and extricate it without falling down. An image of himself with the half-frozen avian carcass balanced under one arm, leaning so hard on his cane he'd thought it would break, came to mind. He decided not to mention this to Methos. "I warned you it was gonna be big," he said.

"I thought you were kidding. This thing must have been raised in the shadow of a nuclear reactor."

"Well, I wasn't and it wasn't." Joe raised the bag in his hand. "I brought back cranberry sauce, pickles and beer."

"Beer?" Methos dropped the turkey into the pan. "Oh, I could murder a beer. I'll take one now, please." He grabbed the bag out of Joe's hand, set it down on the counter, and began to fish through it.

Joe watched him in dismay. "Aw, come on," he begged. "It's not even noon. Don't get drunk on me. Not today."

"Listen, buddy," Methos retorted, his face screwed up in concentration. "I do not get up, get showered, get dressed, and go over to anyone's house before noon, let alone to cook their dinner for them, unless it is an emergency." He pulled out a bottle of beer with an exclamation of triumph.

"As far as I can tell," he continued, fishing around Joe's silverware drawer for a bottle opener, then popping open the bottle. "I am doing the bulk of the work here, when I was originally given the impression that I would be mostly lending moral support. Cut me some slack." Methos finished off his speech with a swig of beer. He leaned against the counter, closed his eyes, tilted his head back and exhaled. "Ahh. I needed that."

Joe waited. Methos didn't move. Finally, Joe said, "Well?"

Methos opened one eye. "Well what?"

"Amy is coming at eight. You told me this turkey has to cook all day." The words came out before he knew he'd said them.

Methos closed his eyes again and shook his head. "I'm gonna let that pass today, Joe. Just for you." He opened his eyes, again. Setting the beer down, he straightened up and turned back to the turkey. "Now, let's get this cleaned out and put in the oven before you drive me crazy."

Joe didn't know how to take that last remark, but it wasn't worth getting into yet another fight over it. He let it go.



*********



Amy knocked on the half-open door, and peered inside at the Regional Director of the Watchers for Europe. M. Lebeau, may I speak to you for a moment?"

"Certainly, my dear." M. Lebeau put down the book that he was reading (a Horatio Hornblower novel, she noticed, with wry amusement). "Come right in. I was only taking a small break from my reports." Amy came into the room, picked up some books from the chair across from M. Lebeau, set them aside on a pile on the floor and sat down. Lebeau's staff liked to joke about his "Comfy Chair"...and his books. Overstuffed bookcases lined the walls and piles of books on the floor obscured the lower shelves. M. Lebeau, himself, was a short, bent old man, past eighty years of age--retired when they called him back into service after Jack Shapiro was excommunicated from the Watchers. He had quietly held the fort for two years, through the worst of the Ahriman crisis and its aftermath.

Some laughed at him behind his back for his age and fussiness, but he had no opposition, either overt or covert. Everyone wanted to forget about what had happened, go back to a time when they had been innocent. M. Lebeau represented that time. And he had not wished to leave retirement. No one feared that he would seize any more power than was handed into his keeping. He was a reactionary, but a gentle one.

M. Lebeau pushed his trifocals further up his nose, leaned forward and folded his hands. "How may I help you, my dear?"

Oh, where to start? Was her life more complicated by Immortals or Mortals? "My supervisor, Joe Dawson, has asked me to dinner today."

M. Lebeau frowned. He took off his glasses and tightened one of the screws. "Are you saying that M. Dawson is...interfering with you?" God, how quaint. She almost laughed.

She shook her head, folding and refolding her hands over one knee. "He's my father." There. It was out; though she did not rate M. Lebeau a gossip. "He is American. It's Thanksgiving there."

"Oh." He looked surprised. "I see. Have you decided whether or not you are going?" He did not ask her, to her great relief, how Joe had come to be her father, when Andrew Thomas was listed as that in her file.

"I'm going...but there's a problem. There will be an Immortal there. Not Duncan MacLeod. Another Immortal. One who has no Watcher."

"Benjamin Adams." M. Lebeau pushed his glasses back up over his nose and rummaged through the papers on his desk. "Yes, I read your report, Mademoiselle. Fascinating. When we see an Immortal like this, who has no chronicle for two centuries or more, it usually means an old one, did you know? It is an indicator of their ability to hide from even us. I wrote a paper on the subject when I was in Academy." He emitted a rusty laugh. "And that was a long time ago, even by the standards of Immortals. Most of them do not live ten years beyond their first death. Very sad. You seem to have M. Dawson-- your father's--talent for attracting them. Two at once-- very lucky. Or unlucky, for your experience with M. Walker."

"He was a pig," Amy said, with more passion than she should have. "He deserved to die."

"Then, you are fortunate that this Benjamin Adams agreed with you." "He didn't, I think. He seems to have done it just to please my father."

M. Lebeau nodded. "They adopt Mortals, from time to time. The older ones seem to adopt us more often. I suppose, once they pass two thousand years, the difference between their kind and ours becomes too small to matter. This one, I see, has adopted your father, and so, you."

"But won't it be interference if I go?" Amy asked plaintively. "I don't want my father to be hurt, but he won't listen to me. I'm worried that if I go, people will talk."

M. Lebeau smiled. "I would let them talk. If you wish to eat your dinner with your father, then do so. If you do not wish to, then don't. We are all weary of Hunting, and your father's trial was, how shall I put it?" He chuckled again, sounding like a rasp on wood. "A fiasco, yes. The only survivors of that council were M. Shapiro, who left the scene before M. Galati initiated his massacre, and your father, who was shot and nearly died. I assure you that we asked M. Shapiro most closely how he came to escape. He had no clean answer. If it were not for his poor, dead son, I think we would have executed him. As it was...." He waved his hand like a conductor with a baton. "Mademoiselle, you need not fear for your father's position in the Watchers. He is our own elephant-in-the-room and such elephants do whatever they want--because, you know, they aren't there."

He pulled a handkerchief out of his pocket and blew his nose. He took his time. Amy waited for him to finish. "My experience with old Immortals," he said afterwards, "is that they bear closer Watching than young ones. They disappear when you aren't looking. If you are curious about this one, and you already wish to see your father, I suggest that you go." He grinned. "I will assure you, from personal experience, that it is worth it."

"I see." And she did, though up until now, she had thought he was speaking in some unknown code. She stood up. "Thank you for speaking to me on such short notice."

"Not at all." He was already picking up his book, forgetting about her. Or, so she thought, until his voice stopped her at the door. "They aren't all like Walker, you know. Don't be afraid to get to know this one, if he's willing." She turned back to see him staring into midair, a private smile cracking his pale lips. "It's an honour to catch the interest of an old Immortal. It means that they see something in you that they think will still be worth remembering in a thousand years."



*********



Methos sat in the park, eyes closed, eating nuts and listening to the pigeons coo. He'd just spent an hour picking out a pair of running shoes. He really should take it up again, running. Such a simple way to get in shape. No need for a dojo or fancy equipment. Just a decent pair of shoes and a road. After being in hospital for four months, he needed some way to relax. Aerobic exercise hadn't been high on the list of suitable activities there, and he didn't smoke anymore.

He hadn't realised how tired he was until Joe started pushing the boundaries. *I should call Rene,* he thought. That scared him a bit. He'd been better once, at keeping those two separate. He'd always got the idea that Joe and Rene would never get along. They were too much alike in all the wrong things. Just imagining the two of them bickering over that bloody turkey made his teeth ache.

*Yeah, I'll call Rene. Chat him up. Find out how Mathilde's doing. It's only been a year and a half.* Or, it could have been less. He vaguely recalled talking to Rene, early in the spring, but it could have been a dream. He'd been dreaming on his feet non-stop by then. Mathilde was, what, six now? Daughter and daddy--Mortals grew up and old so fast.

Bored with anything resembling meditation, he opened his eyes. Pigeons flocked around his feet, cooing aggressively at each other, clawing and pecking. He amused himself by beaning them with peanuts and cashews. They'd do anything to get a peanut. He'd just about worked out this group's pecking order when the squirrel showed up. It was a small, ratty, red thing that came up over the arm of the bench and perched on it. Methos tossed it a handful of peanuts. It hopped down onto the frosty seat, picked them up, and then dropped each one through the slats. It glared up at Methos.

Methos shrugged. "What? It's a peanut. You were expecting something better? Here." He tossed another handful of nuts at the creature. "Have a cashew."

Twenty minutes later, he was standing in a phone booth, trying to explain himself. "You'll never believe it, Rene, but I just got stared down by a *squirrel*." Thank Heaven Kronos was dead. A Horseman, run off by a ratty, little squirrel. What was the world coming to?

Rene's laugh crackled out of the speaker. "Oh, Adam. Mon ami, you really must get out more. Even the rodents can boss you around now."

"I'm serious, Rene. It was 'your cashews or your life'. That was one determined squirrel."

"And what did you do?" Rene sounded amused, and not the least bit sympathetic.

"What do you mean? I gave him the bag and left. I figured he and the pigeons could duke it out for the rest of it."

"Mais oui. What else is a poor old Methos Watcher to do?"

Methos laughed. "Why, give up the peanuts and walk away, of course. He wanted them more than I did, that's for sure." He leaned against the side of the booth. The problem with some identities was that they were so much more comfortable than others. Putting on Adam Pierson was like slipping on an old wool coat--shabby and unfashionable, but oh, so warm. Adam Pierson had friends who actually stayed at the same address and phone number for longer than two years.

Rene sighed. "I miss you, old friend. You should come up to Reims for dinner. Mathilde would be in heaven to see her Uncle Adam again."

"I miss her, too." Methos smiled. It touched him when Mortals remembered him, especially the small ones. "But I can't do it today, I'm afraid. I'm having dinner with another old friend. He's American and it's Thanksgiving." Methos pushed up his jacket sleeve and looked at his watch. "In fact, I'd better get back before he convinces himself that the turkey isn't cooking fast enough. He kept eyeing it while I was cleaning it out and fussing about the time."

Rene chuckled. "Would this be the legendary Joseph Dawson, your old mentor? I have heard many things about him, but nothing about his cooking. You had better get back then, before he murders your turkey. Maybe you can come this weekend, eh? Will you be in town?"

"I can be." Though he knew he shouldn't. "We could take Mathilde to a film. An afternoon out."

"And then I can cook you dinner. You'll stay the night, non?"

Damn. That was the problem with friends like Rene. They expected you to depend on them. "Oh...all right. Saturday at one o'clock? That little bar we used to get drunk at? I'll meet you there. "

"ca va. Saturday, then." Methos rolled his eyes at Rene's indulgent tone--expansive in victory, as always. Ah, these Mortals. They were worse than the squirrels.



*********



Joe watched a movie while he waited for Methos to get back. The Old Man had mumbled something vague about picking up "some decent running shoes at the Mall", but Joe knew what he really wanted was to get out of the house. He squelched the conviction that Methos wasn't coming back. Of course he was coming back. This was a turkey they were dealing with, not a centuries-old demon.

How could something take all day to cook? He'd never understood that. Surely it could cook faster. He got up and went into the kitchen to check. When he opened the oven door, the thing still looked as pale and clammy as when Methos had stuck it in, grumbling at the tight fit. Ah, Hell. This thing was never gonna cook. Joe turned up the heat all the way, got another beer out of the fridge and went back out to the couch.

He woke to the sound of the apartment door opening. "I'm back," Methos said from the doorway, as Joe sat up, rubbing his eyes and yawning. He couldn't believe he'd just fallen asleep like that. "Sorry," Methos was saying. "I went for a run. Think I'm still a bit wired from Walker, if you can believe it."

"Little late in the month for that, don't you think?" Joe stifled another yawn. Methos was wearing a pair of white-and-blue sneakers, spattered with mud, so it looked like he'd been doing what he said he'd been doing.

Methos shrugged, looking as though he was putting every muscle from his shoulders to his hairline into it. "Could be. At least those bloody nightmares about poor Charlotte have stopped, and I haven't had the urge to speak like a toff or 'talk Southern' for over two weeks now. He's gotta go sometime." He raised his head and sniffed. "What's that smell?"

"What?" Joe sniffed, himself, and smelled smoke. "Uh, cooking turkey?"

Methos dropped his backpack next to the door. "Smells more like burning turkey to me." He sprinted into Joe's kitchen. "Aw, JOE. You turned up the bloody oven controls!"

Shit. "It wasn't cooking fast enough." Joe got up, grimacing at stiff muscles, grabbed his cane and hurried into the kitchen, trying to think of a way not to make this his fault. Might as well shoot for honesty and bluff it out. When he got into the kitchen, though, this quickly became a bad plan. Smoke was leaking out around the oven door.

"It's supposed to take all day. I *told* you that." Methos got a couple of potholders and gingerly eased open the oven door. He scooted back from the oven as soot and ash billowed out.

His jaw dropped open as he peered through the smoke into the oven. "Joe, you've murdered the turkey. It looks like Pompeii real estate in there!"

"I did not," Joe exclaimed indignantly. "You can't kill something that's already dead."

"Well, if it wasn't dead before, it certainly is now." Methos waved at the smoke and coughed. "Thank Heaven I disabled your smoke detector." Once the smoke had faded enough to see, he took out the turkey pan and and set it on the stove. The turkey sat there, crumbling in on itself. "I can't understand why it just went up in smoke like that, even if you turned up the temperature that high. Sure, the turkey would burn but...." He looked at Joe. "Has this oven ever done anything like this to you before?"

Joe glared back at him. "I don't use the oven. The toaster or the stove, sure. Not the oven. I told you, I don't cook."

"Ah." Methos bent over, his hands braced on his knees, and stared into the stygian murk of the oven. "So, this is Fornax Nova to you, is it?"

"Something like that. And it's 'furnus novus', not 'fornax'. 'Fornax' is a kiln. You know that."

Methos looked up at him. Joe noticed that he had large, black smudges all over the front of his jeans, and felt a little guilty, but not enough to back down. "Considering what just happened here," Methos said, "I thought that 'fornax' would be more appropriate."

"No, you just didn't want to lose the feminine declination of 'novus' by having it modify a masculine noun like 'furnus'. Show off." Joe stared morosely at the black, sodden mess on the stove. "Now what the Hell do we do? That thing is a dead loss. We don't have a turkey and we can't just go out and get one, can we?"

Methos, noticing the smudges on his jeans, went to wash his hands in the sink. "Relax, Joe. Amy is not going to cut you out of her life forever just because you torched the turkey. We'll get something else."

Joe let his shoulders slump. What a disaster this had turned out to be.... "Look, let me make this simple for you. Amy already thinks I'm the slimeball loser who abandoned her before she was even born. She will not show up in an understanding mood tonight. I've already screwed up enough of her life. If I don't do this right, I don't get any more chances. Tonight has to be perfect, do you understand? Perfect! Or I am shit out of luck."

Methos startled him out of his rant by taking him by the shoulders and giving him a shake. "Joe. Calm down. Let me tell you a simple truth about all the parties involved here: I am not Martha Stewart. You are not Martha Stewart. Amy is not Martha Stewart. Martha will not be joining us at all this evening, but I reckon that we will muddle through. We won't do it perfectly, but we will do it. That's what you and I are on this earth for. We do those hard, nasty jobs that can't be done elegantly or cleanly. We are just that type of people."

Joe opened his mouth, but couldn't think of anything before Methos added, "And if you say 'Mac would have done this better,' I will be forced to cook and serve you up to your daughter tonight. Got that?" He grinned, which made his statement scarier. Joe nodded, not sure if Methos was being serious or not. "Let me let you in on a little secret, Joe. Mac is Hamlet. We are Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Hamlet wasted most of a play worrying about how to do things just so, instead of just doing them. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern muddled through. I like Mac, and I'd like to see him live another four centuries, and I know that you just helped him through a bad time that I was not present for, but he sweats the small stuff entirely too much. I am not saying that to excuse any failings on my part. It is just a statement of fact."

"Rosencrantz and Guildenstern got whacked in the play, Methos," Joe growled.

Methos shrugged. "So did Hamlet. So what? It's a tragedy. Everyone dies in tragedies, except for the people who don't matter." He got a faraway look in his eyes. "I know. We'll get shrimp."

"What?" Joe could have sworn that Methos had been about to apologise to him for bailing on him during the Ahriman thing. So much for that. "What are you talking about?"

"I am talking about shrimp. Simple, tasty, expensive and a classic holiday food. Shrimp are going to be our salvation tonight."

Joe gaped at him. "You're nuts," he said, as Methos started hunting through his coat pockets, as if he'd find the shrimp in there.

"So, what?" Methos pulled out his wallet. "I've got a hundred francs here. Give me another hundred and I'll go down to the store."

Reluctantly, Joe dug out his wallet and handed over the money. "It's not traditional."

Methos raised an eyebrow. "Nope. It sure isn't. Then again, I'm not sure that burning the turkey to a cinder is, either. On the other hand, this is Paris, Amy is English and we are expats, so who's to know better?" He giggled. "You want turkey? Don't touch the oven at Christmas, okay?" He brushed past Joe and went back out the door. Joe waited until it shut before he covered his face.

"God, I am so screwed," he said out loud. When, at Academy, they had read out the consequences for interference with Immortals, they had somehow missed this one. Another horrible thought struck him. "Did he just say he was staying for *Christmas*? How the Hell am I going to explain that?"



*********

And in the bloody battle, When the fleet is in a mess, They call out the destroyers. Yes! They send for us express! Who cares if, when it's over, There's a tincan more or less? We ain't goin' to sea no more!

The melody sounded like a spirited rendition of the American anthem "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," but Amy didn't think that those were the original lyrics. There were two voices, somewhat offkey. One sounded like Joe--her father. She hadn't heard the man speak enough to remember it, but she assumed that the other voice belonged to Ben Adams.

Hoooooly Jesus, what a helluva way to die. Hoooooly Jesus, what a helluva way to die. Hoooooly Jesus, what a helluva way to die. We ain't goin' to sea no more!

Amy knocked on the door, hoping that they could hear her. After a moment, she heard thumping across the rug. The doorlock clicked and Joe opened the door.

"Hi, honey!" he said, too loudly. He face was flushed. He looked anxious, and as scared as she felt. "You weren't waiting out here long, were you?"

"Oh, no. I just got here." She held up the bottle of wine and the ridiculously large box of chocolates she had spent two hours picking out. "I brought a contribution."

"Oooh.... Red wine. Great!" He beckoned to her. "Come on in. Uh...Ben is almost done with the food. You can help me finish setting the table." He staggered as he turned around and headed over to the table. Dear Lord, was he drunk? He couldn't be that nervous, could he? No. It must just be the way he moved around with the cane. She noticed a wheelchair through the bedroom doorway. She hoped he wasn't avoiding using it just because of her.

The apartment reeked of scorched meat, and seemed a bit chilly. "Did you burn something?" she asked.

"What?" Joe looked up from putting out forks. "No! No, of course not. What makes you say that?"

Before she could answer, Benjamin Adams sailed out of the kitchen, a large casserole dish in his hands. "Shrimp," he announced, plonking the dish onto the table. "Oh, hullo, Amy. Glad you could make it." He smiled at her, looking not the least bit ancient. Actually, he looked drunk. Downright potted, from the way he listed to port as he headed back into the kitchen. Joe rolled his eyes and sighed at the tablecloth as Amy moved up to help him with the knives and spoons. What was going on? What had happened to the two renegade professionals who had got her out of Walker's foul grip? Dear God, was this what they were really like when they let their hair down?

Adams was, if anything, having even more trouble when he came back out with another dish. "Mashed potatoes," he announced, dropping the bowl onto the table right in front of Joe.

"Hey!" Joe yelped. "Don't break that! I've only got three bowls."

"Hmm." Adams looked unimpressed. He turned to Amy. "And how was your day, Miss Thomas?"

"Amy," she suggested.

"Am-y." She could see him filing the name away, along with the thousands of other small bits of information that had, no doubt, piled up in his head over the centuries. "And your day?"

"It was quiet." She decided not to mention her visit to M. Lebeau. "And yours?"

He looked puzzled. "My what?"

"Your day. How was it?" He frowned. "Was it quiet?"

He shook his head and chuckled. "'Fraid not. No."

"Oh. I'm sorry to hear that. What happened?"

"Well, first I had to do all the cooking, which I had *not* anticipated doing. Then, I got mugged by a squirrel. And, then the--"

"Where did you put the apple sauce?" Joe interrupted him. This was just as well, since she was still digesting the bit about the squirrel mugging.

Adams glanced over at him, looking bemused. "What? It's in the kitchen." He turned back to her as Joe scowled at him. "Where was I?"

"Something about a squirrel mugging?" she suggested.

"Oh, yeah. And then--"

"Where in the kitchen?" Joe asked.

Adams frowned in puzzlement and turned back to Joe. "What?"

"The apple sauce. Where is it in the kitchen? It's a mess in there."

"It's in the refrigerator. Cooking makes a mess, Joe. You should try it more often." Adams turned back to her. "Anyway...." he trailed off, looking blank. "Oh! Right! And I got running shoes. I'm taking it up again. Want to see 'em?"

"Umm, all right," she said, even as his head ducked under the table. He reappeared as he stood up, holding out on enormous trainer to her. "Cool, no? I like the blue, leather strip on the side, myself--"

"Oh, for Christ's sake--She doesn't want to see your shoes!" Joe exclaimed, heading for the kitchen. "Get in here and show me where the apple sauce is, already!" He grabbed Adams' sleeve and dragged him into the kitchen, leaving Amy holding the trainer.



*********

"I really wish you'd stop complicating things, Joe," Methos complained as Joe cornered him in the kitchen. "We've already got so many secrets flying about we need a decoder ring just to arrange dinner. Who cares if she knows about the turkey?"

"*I* do." Joe stared him down.

Methos held his gaze for several seconds, then shrugged. "Okay," he said.

Joe couldn't believe his easy victory. "That's it? 'Okay'?"

Methos picked up Amy's bottle of wine and began uncorking it. "Yeah. You were expecting something else?"

"I expected you to keep on being a pain in the ass." Might as well be honest about it.

"Oh, I only do that when you're being passive- aggressive."

"Or when you're drunk, maybe." Not that he looked drunk. He was probably just yanking Joe's chain.

Methos popped out the cork from the bottle and grinned. "Who said I was drunk?" He peered into the bottleneck and wiped off some sediment. "Does this have to breathe first?"

Joe groaned quietly and got the apple sauce out of the fridge. He couldn't win for losing, sometimes. "Never mind that. She's still got your shoe. We stay in here long enough, she'll leave and take it with her." He led the way out of the kitchen back to the table, Methos trailing him, docilely enough. "Sorry. Little cooking conference in there."

"Yeah, I only opened the wine just now and we decided it needed to breathe," Methos said.

"Oh. I see," Amy said, looking confused. She was at the other end of the room, playing with the TV remote. She set it down and came over to the table. Methos pulled her chair out for her, which seemed to impress her, and then got Joe's chair for him, which seemed to impress her even more. Joe had never really thought about that too hard. It was just something that Methos had always done. If only he weren't so damned inconsistent with his choice of little courtesies.

Joe led the Grace. Amy, bless her, knew what to do and Methos behaved himself (hadn't he been a monk once, back in the eighth century?). Joe started passing food around. Everything seemed to be right on track, finally, until he looked up and saw Amy staring at the empty space at the center of the table. "Umm, I'm not an expert on American holidays, but...isn't there supposed to be a turkey?" she said.

"Well, now, you see, there was a turkey," Methos informed her, before Joe could whack him under the table with his cane. "But sometime during the day, it went up to that great Thanksgiving table in the sky. Your father sent it off in the finest Roman tradition. Fortunately, there was no need to call the fire department, although we did have to unplug the smoke detector and open the windows for about an hour. Still, I'm happy to report that we have more than enough shrimp, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, pickles, and various cooked vegetables to fill in the gap." He smiled innocently at Amy. She gazed back at him in bemusement. Oh, how well did Joe understand the feeling.

"I see," Amy said, clearly at a loss for any more indepth response.

"The dessert oughtta be great, though." Joe tried to break the disastrous spell.

"Yeah," Methos sunnily confirmed the good news. "I baked the pies yesterday and since the freezer was not involved in the Great Turkey Immolation Incident, the ice cream is in excellent shape."

"You...you *baked*, too?" Amy sputtered.

"Why yes," Methos chirped. "The turkey would've been fine, in fact, if your father hadn't diddled the oven controls."

"I was just trying to get it done faster," Joe tried to explain.

Methos raised an eyebrow at him. "Joseph, you do not get a turkey 'done faster'. It is done when it is done. It is not Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup. Next time, stay with the shrimp."

"I'm flabbergasted," Amy admitted. "Just three weeks ago, you cut off a man's head after he'd spent two days trying very hard to kill you and my father. And today, you are sitting at a dinner table telling me how everything is fine because, despite the two of you trying to set fire to my father's apartment with a flaming turkey, you baked the pies yesterday. So, they're safe and ready to eat and therefore all is right in the world."

Methos regarded her gravely. "I am afraid that I'm not getting your point."

"It's just so--so mundane! So ordinary!" Amy threw up her hands in astonishment.

"Most of the time, my life *is* mundane," Methos told her gently. "So is your father's, and his has been quite eventful, for a Mortal. If that were not true, I, for one, would have gone barking mad a long time ago. Come to think of it, there was a time when my life did become so extraordinary and unmundane that I *did* go mad. And I stayed that way for a very long time. I do not care to repeat the experience. What about you? Do you intend to judge the rest of your life on the few hours that you spent kidnapped by a four-century-old, slave- running idiot?"

"Well, no...."

"Or would you rather judge it on the day that you ate Thanksgiving dinner for the first time with your father and the guy who cut off the slave-running idiot's head for you?"

Amy stared at Methos, who stared blandly back. She looked at Joe, who shrugged. Methos did have a point. Joe would take a cindered turkey with his daughter over a bad Immortal on the warpath any holiday of the year.

Finally, Amy said, "Did you say that you had pickles?"

"Yes, ma'am." Methos picked up the glass dish of green, shrivelled cucumbers in salt water and handed them over. "Your father went all out on buying the pickles, I can assure you. Eat as many as you like."

"Thanks," she said. "And while you're at it, I think I need some of that wine. Forget letting it 'breathe'. I could really use a drink."

"Yeah, Morgan Walker had that effect on me, too," Methos confided, as he filled her glass. Thank God she laughed.

*Honey, please don't ever date him. He drives me crazy enough, already,* Joe thought. To reassure himself that Hell would become a theme park before that ever happened, he helped himself to one of Methos' Jumbo shrimp.

END

For now, but Joe and Methos will return in 'Parce Que J'ai Peche, part two.'