Highlander: Deal with the Devil

by Cameron Dial

Disclaimer: "Highlander" and its associated names, trademarks and characters are the property of Davis/Panzer Productions, Inc., which reserves all copyrights. This story is for entertainment purposes only.  No monetary compensation is received by the author.

No copyright infringement is intended.

Timeline: After "Methos," before "Finale"

It was a coincidence that Joe Dawson was at the end of the bar, leaning on his cane to unload a cardboard box of new beer mugs when Adam Pierson walked through the door. It was not a coincidence that the sight of the tall, thirtyish appearing newcomer brought the gray haired bar owner abruptly around the box in the stiff-legged, rolling gait his dual prostheses forced on him, or that he ended up nose to nose with his unexpected guest.

"Hallo, Joe," Pierson said almost jovially, rocking back on his heels slightly.

"You son of a bitch!" Dawson snapped.

Adam had one moment of semi-amused surprise before he found himself flat out on the

barroom floor, gingerly fingering his jaw. Cane or no cane, he noted wryly, the man packed a hell of a punch. "If I get up, are you going to knock me down again?" he asked, levering his long form up on both elbows.

"That depends on what you say next," Dawson growled.

"How about 'I'm sorry, Joe'?"

"For what?" Dawson demanded.

For deceiving you. For letting you think you knew me when you hadn't a clue who or what I really was. For making your feel protective toward me when I'm probably the last person on earth you can or would want to protect. For using the Watchers as my private shield from the game for the last half dozen years. For getting Don Salzer killed.

"Will it make any difference if I say it?" Adam asked.

Dawson never took his eyes off him. "It might."

Sitting upright, Pierson wrapped his long arms around his knees. "Don was my friend, too, Joe," he said quietly.

For a moment, Dawson was caught off guard. "Yeah?" he grated finally. "Well, he's dead now, and unlike someone else I know, he ain't comin' back." Their eyes met and Joe couldn't resist twisting the knife a little. "So tell me--what's it like after 5,000 years? Do mere mortals lose their significance? Tell me now, because you've got about two seconds before I toss you out of here on your butt."

Joe turned away from him, maneuvering toward the bar again.

"It was just a way of staying out of the game for a while, Joe. I didn't mean any harm."

"Oh?" the Watcher asked without turning. "Just what did you mean, then? Kalas cut out Salzer's tongue while he was still alive. Did you know that? And when Kalas killed him I sent MacLeod to protect you because I was afraid you were next." Safely ensconced behind the bar, Joe raked his eyes over the immortal. "What a joke," he muttered, tasting the irony of it. Pierson--no, not Pierson, Joe reminded himself forcefully: Methos. The man Joe and MacLeod had thought of as a myth until very recently had risen and was standing, leaning his forearms against the highly polished surface of the bar, his normally placid face showing the strain of Joe's rejection. Aw, for God's sake, he looks like a kid, Joe thought suddenly. Five thousand years old and he looks like a kid.

"I never meant for it to happen, Joe," he said, his voice unsteady, "and I am sorry. Whatever else you believe of me, you have to believe that. I'm not inhuman, you know."

No, but you're probably the most dangerous man in the world, and I'm an idiot to be standing here talking to you. Five thousand years old. How could a man possibly be expected to understand five thousand years of history, standing right there in front of him?

Joe stared at the other man, knowing it was hopeless. Although they'd seldom come into contact for more than a day or two at a time, he had known Adam Pierson for six years, since Don Salzer had introduced them at some social gathering or other for expatriate Americans stuck in Paris over Thanksgiving. Turkey and dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce and Adam Pierson--a tall, gangly, harmless-looking graduate student, newly attached to the Watchers' research division--not even an American, Joe remembered thinking at the time, but British--a young man without a family, though, and exactly the kind Joe Dawson was wont to adopt. Look what followed me home, Ma. Can I keep him? Right. Me and my pet immortals. As if MacLeod weren't trouble enough.

"What do you want, Methos?" Joe had picked up the bar rag almost in self defense and was rubbing it in wide circles where absolutely nothing needed cleaning. If the use of his real name had any effect on the other, Joe couldn't see it in his face.

"I think the question might well be what you want from me."

"What?" It took him a second. "Wait a minute," Joe said. "You think--"

"Well, if the shoe were on the other foot . . ."

"I'm not in the habit of blackmailing my friends!"

"Are we still friends, Joe?"

The answer to that one didn't bear going into and they both knew it.

"You haven't turned in the report on my part in Kalas' arrest yet, have you?"

"You're standing here, aren't you?" Joe asked. By rights, he should have faxed at least his preliminary report that morning, along with MacLeod's blockbuster discovery that Adam Pierson was an immortal, but he hadn't. Hell, by rights he should have been on the phone to Watcher headquarters in Paris the moment Mac had first dropped the bomb on him.

"You're telling me that Adam Pierson is Methos?"

"I think it was his little joke on you," MacLeod said. "Adam--the first man."

Joe could picture the Highlander smiling slightly at the other end of the phone, and even he had to admire the simplicity of the plan. The man was in charge of finding himself and over the years he'd found some very creative ways to be sure it didn't happen. "What better way to steer clear of other immortals?" Joe asked, shaking his head. "He's been right there all along. I can't believe I missed it."

"There's no way you could have known," Mac sympathized.

"You hang tight, MacLeod. I'm going to be on the next plane."

"Joe," Mac said,"don't bother. He's gone, and all your chronicles went with him. He's going to be hard to find."

Not so hard, as it turned out. Like Daniel walking into the lion's den, Joe suddenly thought--but which one was the lion?

"Spit it out," Joe said.

"I'd like to stay in the Watchers."

"I'll just bet you would--"

"How long have you been watching MacLeod?"

"What? About fifteen years. Why?"

"And he's never slipped off somewhere for a breather away from the game?"

"Well, yeah, once--"

"I've read his chronicle, Joe. He was out of the game for almost a century, right before he took in the Ryan kid."

"So what?"

"So the Watchers have been a great hiding place and I'm not quite ready to give it up. I almost crapped when Don Salzer recruited me six years ago--I'd known about the Watchers for a long time, but being asked to join was too good to be true. Can you imagine? Me, hired to look for me?" He shook his head, grinning at the memory, and looked about twenty-five. "Look, I'm going to be in a world of hurt once the higher-ups find out Adam Pierson is the prosecution's main witness against Kalas. I'll probably be drummed out for interference in immortal matters as it is, but I'll be damned if I'll let Kalas get away with it. You were Don's friend. I'm asking you to let me see this through, to prepare a new cover if I need to, to take care of a few things--"

"You're going to testify? As Adam Pierson?" Joe stood perfectly still, trying to remember everything MacLeod had told him about the past few days in Paris, wishing he'd been there himself. "Were you there?" he asked abruptly. "You saw Kalas murder Don?"

"Truthfully, no. But the police don't know that, and they don't need to. Kalas is going away for a very long time if I have anything to say about it."

"MacLeod--"

"--has no idea where I was when Don was killed, and I doubt he would rush to Kalas' defense even if he did know I was lying. No one's going to know a thing you don't tell them."

Oh, shit. Roped, thrown and tied, all well under the buzzer. As much as he wanted to see Kalas put away for Don's murder, Joe bristled at the realization that he was being used, even if it was to get something he, too, wanted. "And I'm supposed to believe you're doing all this out of some sense of altruism?" he asked, annoyed.

"Of course not, Joe," Methos said. "I didn't survive five thousand years by being altruistic. But I don't abandon my friends, either."

"And what do I get out of this deal with the devil?"

Methos shrugged. "What do you want?"

No—Joe closed his mouth on his first response. MacLeod safe. Kalas jailed. Don Salzer avenged. It seemed he already had a fair amount of what he wanted. Common sense said he should at least report "Adam Pierson" to headquarters as a newly identified immortal, get a Watcher assigned to him. Yeah, right. Report him to headquarters and watch him bolt, as quickly and effortlessly as he'd already disappeared from his Paris apartment. What did he want? For Methos to stick around, known and Watched, even if it meant double duty for Joe Dawson. And if he kept his mouth shut, it looked like he could have that, too.

"If I do this—let you testify against Kalas and keep my mouth shut so you can stay in the Watchers—will you answer three questions for me with absolute honesty?"

A shadow flitted through the hazel eyes, the narrow, mobile lips flattening momentarily as he considered it. Then, slowly, he nodded. "All right," he agreed. "Three questions."

"And you answer them with absolute honesty," Joe repeated.

"Agreed."

"First question: Are you really Methos?"

"Adam's" lips quirked in amusement, his eyes lighting. "Yes," he said. "I'm really Methos, and I took my first head five thousand years ago. I don't know how old I was at the time, or how long I had been immortal." Almost conversationally, he added, "I do remember knowing Methuselah and I survived the Great Flood."

"How?" Joe asked.

"As I recall, there was a lot of drowning involved," Methos replied, totally deadpan. Joe's eyes had narrowed, his mouth opening automatically, but Methos cut him off, eyes dancing. "I take it that was not your second question," he said pointedly.

"No," Joe said quickly. "Maybe we can talk about it some other time." His hands had gone still on the bar in front of him, the bar rag forgotten. "Why did you offer your head to Duncan MacLeod?" he asked.

Methos hesitated, then drew a breath. "Because I'd only survived my first encounter with Kalas through trickery. Because I was tired and had been out of the game long enough I knew I couldn't defeat Kalas face to face a second time. Because it was unthinkable for Kalas to have my power and use as I knew he would. Because I was willing to die at that moment if MacLeod had taken me up on it, but I didn't really believe he would. And because I had to know if he was the man I thought he was."

"Is he?"

"Last question," Methos reminded him.

"You think MacLeod could win the prize."

"Technically speaking--"

"Answer the damn question, Methos," Joe snapped.

"I think I'd like for MacLeod to win the prize," Methos temporized. "I've read his chronicles, and now that I've met him I think he's strong enough to win. And if mankind is destined to live under the rule of a single immortal for all eternity you could certainly do worse. After all, you could get stuck with me--"

"Heaven help us."

"My point precisely."

"Wait a minute," Joe said suddenly. "You said 'if.' Does that mean you don't believe in the game?"

Methos' eyes glinted momentarily. "And that would be question number . . ."

"All right, all right. Another time maybe. So how long are you going to be in the states?"

"Not long. Since the French authorities gave me strict orders not to leave Paris I really should get back before they notice I'm missing. I might have time for a beer or two, though."

"Or three or four?" Joe asked. Out of habit he reached for a couple of glasses and drew two beers from the tap, sliding one toward the other man.

"Or five or six," Methos allowed.

"You're not driving, are you?"

"I'll call a cab if it makes you feel better."

Joe grinned ruefully. "Then I'd have to worry about the cab driver." He lifted his glass in a toast. "To Don," he offered.

Methos nodded agreement, touching glasses with Joe. "To Don," he echoed. "And the devil take the hindmost."

Half smiling, Dawson snorted—a sound of assent, but of amusement, too. "As long as it isn't me," he agreed.

The End

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