Methos ran his hand through cold water, wringing them to get the blood out of the creases of his flesh and not bothering with the soap. Connor knew some of it. Methos couldn't believe that anything he said or did tonight was coincidence. Amanda and Richie must also suspect something, although that he was one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse isn't something one randomly wonders about their so-called friends. What could they know? Methos wondered. That he didn't want to tell his story, but was pressured into it, and that it holds some painful memories that he didn't want to deal with, but felt obligated (forced?) to share anyway? Whatever was brewing in their minds was better than if they were mulling over the truth, however.
Finally satisfied that the raw red color his hands had turned was from the cold water and the harsh abrasion of wringing them together instead of from blood, Methos splashed some of the cold water on his face and turned off the water. He grabbed some paper towels and dried his hands, inspecting his visage in the mirror. He looked two days dead, but at least some of the spark had returned to his eyes. Time to face the music, he thought. I hope you're happy, highlander.
Methos exited the bathroom and returned to his seat in the booth. Conversation suddenly stopped when he emerged, and all eyes were upon him expectantly.
"Right, now where was I?" He asked, as though the previous incident had never occurred and his soiree into the bathroom but a brief interlude in a lecture.
Duncan placed a reassuring hand on his forearm. "You don't have to do this," he said earnestly, almost pleadingly.
Methos looked up suddenly, both startled and touched. He took his time regarding the faces that stared back at him. Duncan, Amanda, Joe, and Richie had nothing but quiet concern on their faces, yet all that Connor's stoic features betrayed was a quiet yet profound curiosity.
"It's ok MacLeod," Methos said softly, "I want to."
A small pause to collect himself and Methos launched back into his tale, yet this time affecting the air of the most boring lecturer to ever speak in front of people. There was no trace of emotion whatsoever, just a resigned five thousand year old man reciting facts as though he were reading a recipe.
"As I said, her gift to me was beer. Of course it was warm, and didn't have enough head on it, but it was beer nonetheless. I remember that I spit it out the first time I sipped from that goblet. She went from looking like the child proud to give her father a macaroni tie for Christmas to someone afraid that she would be… punished." They others wondered at what word was almost spoken as Methos took a deep breath, and continued.
"It was her reaction to my reaction that did it. I couldn't turn her away thinking she had completely failed. I asked her to tell me what exactly it was I was drinking—you can imagine my surprise when I discovered it was another form of alcohol. Actually, she called it another form of mead, but mead is made from honey." Methos laughed. It was soft, sad, and lasted barely a breath, but it was his first genuine laugh since starting this tale. "I had her tell me all about how she made it. Similar process, the basic principles are the same. Just change a few of the ingredients around, mess with temperature and duration, and voila! Grade-A beer." Methos paused again, checking to be sure his audience was still with him before continuing.
"I guess you could say I wanted to give her an A for effort. I chose her gift over all others and as promised she became mine alone. My companions thought that I had made a good choice, having tried the beer and liked it a bit more than I did my first time. I told her to make sure that we had plenty of it in supply. That was difficult when the base camp traveled, but during the stretches where we were gone for days or weeks at a time, she was always ready when we returned with fresh goblets of beer. Eventually she learned how each of us liked it and brewed separate batches for each, incorporating subtle differences in taste. Ironically I still didn't like it, so I placated myself with water and just let them all believe I was getting intoxicated right along with them. I don't think I drank a drop in those two years."
Methos paused again, this time for his own benefit. He took a few more deep breaths and let them out, smiling at some hidden secret.
"Two years she was mine. We pressed north and west across Europe, and for some reason, cold weather seemed to follow us. I think those were two of the harshest winters I have ever endured." Another pause, but a brief one. "The others had taken to the shared bodily warmth concept to keep their respective tents warm, and in such fashion she shared my bed at night—relax," Methos cut off all argument before it began. "We simple held each other for the warmth of it. It was purely innocent, if ever you could believe I had moments of innocence during that time. I also abstained from my taking my rights, as she was considered my property. Our very first night I had the mind to, but revulsion quickly chased it from my mind. Darius had once said that I had a father's love for her, and I think I agree with him."
"You knew Darius?" Duncan asked before he could stop himself.
Methos looked up suddenly, the spell broken. "What? Oh, yes, I knew Darius."
"His chronicle goes back to the sixth century, though there are incomplete documents of him from before that time. I don't recall any mentions of you." Joe told him, the watcher in him taking over.
"I met him shortly after the light quickening," Methos confessed. "Word had reached me that… his predecessor… was dead." There was an off quality to Methos's voice, something in the way he spoke the words, that made them all wonder exactly what his connection to the fabled 'Ancient' had been. "We kept a… rather informal friendship after that, though I didn't see him often."
"And to the ordinary watcher you were just another everyday visitor," said Connor with a grin, which Methos readily returned. He seemed lost for a moment, caught between times, but then suddenly he blinked and returned to them.
"Anyway," he continued with much effort, "I guess after a while my companions could tell that I wasn't getting any and figured that I had made the wrong choice for my personal servant. Never being one to let an opportunity go to waste, I asked if I could also have the boy who carved me the bow. This suggestion didn't go over too well, share and share alike and all that. The only reason the others didn't complain when Fearless Leader gave me the girl was that she was keeping them all in steady beer supply. A compromise was reached. I had him see to my armor and weaponry, like a squire, and he too would share my tent at night. This allowed me to spend more time planning since I didn't have to see to what few belongings I actually had, which was good for the group, and I had to release the boy to whoever wanted him if they came to claim him." Methos laughed now. It was lighter than before, yet still sad.
"Of course I told him to avoid my companions whenever possible. Out of sight out of mind, right? And it worked, mostly. He was rarely ever called away from me at night. The three of us shared my bed, making it warm enough to bear the winters." Methos sighed tiredly, giving pause before continuing.
"It was a time when I was at peace, that year and a half. I did my day job out of sheer routine if nothing else, but the enjoyment was gone. I would come home and have everything in its proper place. My bed would be warm and my gear taken care of. And my companions and I would sit by the fire and trade stories over strategizing and planning our next move. The four of us still had our disagreements. Swordfights still ended in death to settle who was right. But there was a sense of brotherhood, a true camaraderie. If I could have preserved time I a bottle, I would keep those eighteen months just as they were." Methos sighed again, this time from the weight of remembrance, and he closed his eyes, his breath hitching in his throat ever so slightly.
Duncan placed a reassuring hand on his forearm again and shook it slightly. Methos looked up and met his gaze, then forced a weak smile.
"It's alright, Mac. I'm sure we all have had times that we wish we could revisit."
"My time training with Rebecca," said Amanda absently.
"Heather," said Connor immediately following.
"Thirteen years," said Duncan, thinking of Tessa.
"A year and a half," said Richie, also thinking of Tessa, and of Duncan, of the precious time when he lived with them. It was the only time in his mortal life when he had a real, if non-traditional, family.
Only Joe was silent. The time he wished to preserve in a bottle, as Methos put it, was happening right now. He secretly wished he could tell them all that the happiest years of his life have been these recent ones, the ones since he and Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod, his charge, had become friends, resulting in his subsequent friendships with the others sitting at this table. He couldn't recall a time when he was happier, not even when he still had legs. He wished he could tell them that, and he decided that he would. Eventually.
"Well as I said," Methos continued after everyone was granted a moment to stew their own thoughts, "I was the happiest I had been in a very, very long time. They were so young, and I would truly like to say that they were innocent, but whatever innocence they had before, we took by right." Methos hadn't openly used the word "slave," but he didn't estimate the intelligence of anyone present to be unable to pick up on the cues.
"My intro to anthro professor said something about how morals haven't changed through the millennia," Richie interjected. "People have just gotten smarter. They acted on what they knew, and when that knowledge changed, so did their perceptions and their subsequent behaviors."
Methos regarded the teen—no, the young man curiously for a moment. Richie wasn't someone easy to peg, not like his teacher. Duncan was so predictable it was almost laughable, but Richie could say and do things that were utterly surprising. One never knew what to expect from him, aside perhaps from his unswerving loyalty to Duncan. Methos smiled, pleasantly surprised that Richie was able to provide the perfect answer to the unspoken questions hanging in the air.
"I guess we abolitionists had above average intelligence," said Connor. His tone was light, a simple barb, but Methos winced.
"I guess you could say that," he said upon exhaling a breath he didn't realize he was holding. What he didn't see was Duncan's similar response to Connor's statement. They had both been abolitionists during the American Civil War, but for once he had the forethought to not mention that to Methos right now. The man who supposedly hadn't felt guilt since the eleventh century yet still carried around 'a thousand regrets' didn't need one of the big ones rubbed in his face… again.
"You didn't tell me you were taking anthropology, Rich," said Duncan, hoping the momentary change of subject would help.
"Sure I did, you just forgot," answered Richie plainly, and he was correct.
"Must have," said Duncan, his plans to have Richie relive the excitement he had displayed when he first told him all his about anthropology class as a means of momentary distraction foiled.
Methos smiled secretively this time. He didn't pick up on Duncan's first response, but his response to Richie's assurance that he had indeed told him about his class gave enough away. The kid was perceptive, but he still has a lot to learn.
"Well anyway," said Methos, surprisingly eager to finish his tale.
"Right, you were saying Adam?" Amanda encouraged. Even though there was no need to use his alias, Methos still didn't need that particular bombshell dropped on him at the moment.
"As I was saying," continued Methos, "I was happy. But alas, all good things come to an end eventually. I just thought I'd have more time with them, or rather foolishly hoped I would."
"Amen to that," said Duncan. The others murmured in agreement.
"It was early fall, I remember we were up north someplace. Could have been present-day Germany. The borders were—"
"Different?" Joe offered.
"Non-existent," corrected Methos. "Verashkin—yes, there was definitely an 'ash' in his name." Methos grinned at having finally remembered the boy's name correctly. "Verashkin went to go find a suitable whetstone so he could sharpen my sword. That whole out of sight, out of mind thing worked like a charm. He was out of my sight, and he didn't mind."
"He who?" Amanda asked.
Methos sighed. He couldn't bring himself to reveal this part of the tale to them. That 'he' had been Caspian. A quick glance around the table showed that Duncan had understood that he was referring to one of the horsemen.
"One who was jealous," Methos explained, the most he would say on it. Then: "When I found him, it was too late. The wound on his neck wasn't severe enough to kill him, but the pain of… his injuries… caused him to pass out. He bled to death from a treatable wound."
Methos didn't dare look up; instead he cupped his hands together in the air, elbows resting supportively on the table, and he leant into the fist, shielding his eyes and praying equally that they both did and did not understand. His poor Verashkin… He often wondered if the boy had screamed. Caspian always liked it when they screamed. Yet he had gone too far out into the woods for anyone to ever know.
Finally Methos continued, thought he didn't move from his position. "He wasn't dead when I found him, but I… I thought he was. He came to when I bent down to him. There was such… anger, in his eyes, but it wasn't directed at me. He tried to speak, but he couldn't with all the blood in his throat… And, I held him. I had my hand over the wound—I already knew that he'd lost too much blood, but… what was I supposed to do?" Methos laughed then, startling them all. He shook his head briefly, yet returned swiftly to the moment he was remembering.
"His hand—on the side away from me, thrashed at the ground. I thought it was a seizure of some sort; his whole body was rigid from summoning the strength to move. He finally grabbed what he sought for—it was the whetstone. He thrust it at me, and managed to choke out his native word for 'sorry,' before dying there in my arms."
"He blamed himself for it," Duncan concluded in the silence that followed.
Methos nodded curtly, fearing that his voice would break if he spoke again and regretting that he didn't take Duncan's offer to not finish the tale. There was silence for a moment, no one daring to disturb Methos as he collected himself. He silently thanked them for that, a final consolation since he was rather unsuccessful at hiding his emotions. Suddenly he dropped the fist and looked up, a cold and unreadable expression on his face. The look in his eyes had switched from the green side of hazel to the gold and would have frightened anyone who it was directed towards.
"I took his body back to camp and instructed the other slaves to build a funeral pyre. In those days, that type of thing was only reserved for revered fallen warriors or kings. The higher the pyre rose the more respect shown for the dead, the belief being that it was easier for their spirit to find its way to heaven, or whatever we called it back then. Heaven hadn't been invented yet."
If it were possible, Methos's eyes took on an even more menacing look. That compounded with a concrete and expressionless face and his unusually pale skin after tonight's ordeal presented the others with a truly frightening image. Whatever Richie and Amanda thought, Duncan, Connor, and Joe realized with a touch of awe that they were staring into the face of Death. Put him in a warlord's garb, give him long hair, a horse, a sword, and some woad and Duncan was finally able to picture the Methos that Cassandra knew. The fact that he let the pretense slip and referred to their 'servants' as slaves was only further testimony of the transformation.
"It was a decent whetstone gave me," Methos added absently. That detached tone coupled with the look of Death, and Duncan could picture it clearly: I am Methos, Lord Death. You live to serve me, spoken as though he was referring to the weather.
"You used it," said Richie. Again it wasn't a statement.
Methos turned to face him, and Richie saw the look that was the forerunner to the expression he used when explaining why everyone was going to be referring to him by alias. Richie slid back in the booth almost reflexively as his color paled, but didn't say another word.
"I used it. On my sword. On my axe. On every dagger I possessed. I wore them all when I left my tent. The funeral pyre was approaching waist-level, Celesta making sure that the others constructed it to my liking. It was a good thing I didn't have to correct them. I would have hated to dull my blade on someone else." All pretenses were gone as Methos delivered the speech exclusively to Richie, who regarded him with wide, fearful eyes, but still said nothing. No one did. No one dared.
Methos returned to addressing the whole group as opposed to just one person. He didn't even realize that he had remembered the girl's name.
"I had only revenge in mind. I knew where to look to find the one responsible, and I… satisfactorily, avenged Verashkin's death."
Duncan bit back a gasp. Cassandra had told him the things that Methos was capable of doing to other human beings, especially to immortals, and that was when there was no personal motive behind it, only pleasure and sheer amusement. He forced his mind not to contemplate what Death would have done to someone when motivated by the thirst for vengeance.
Methos stared each of them down, almost daring them to speak. He was caught reliving the emotions and didn't have the resolve to force them behind his usual walls and defenses. Death had emerged again in his defense, and Methos was well aware of him, and didn't have the strength left to care.
It was Connor who answered the unspoken challenge. "I would have done the same," he said genuinely, but still with the chill in his voice from earlier as if to emphasize the statement.
"Would you?" Death challenged him.
"I have," Connor said immediately, his voice and expression the same.
"Have what?" Death spat, as if words could kill.
"Introduced men to death."
"Death?" Methos said it, his own name, in a 'what, who me?' sort of tone. Connor didn't so much as blink, but Methos knew. Connor knew exactly who was staring at him just now. Methos felt the weight of that one word spoken with unchecked double meaning. In Connor's eyes Methos saw Ramirez, his judgment and his rage. It was enough for Methos to force Death back into the nether regions of his subconscious. His expression softened like melting snow and his eyes returned to a shade of green that conveyed the exact opposite of Death's uncaring, sociopathic malice: vulnerability. He wasn't even Methos anymore. Adam Pierson had returned, looking lost and slightly frightened they way young children do when they are about to be punished.
"Was her name Celesta?" Duncan asked gently.
Adam looked at Duncan in bewilderment for a moment before realization dawned, and with it Methos returned to his expression like someone had drawn the shade in a sunlit room.
"Celesta…" He breathed, closing his eyes and finally giving a name to the face. "Yes." When he opened his eyes again, the look that had been there when he came back from the bathroom had returned. Once again, Methos continued as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened just now.
"By the time we set fire to it, the pyre was over my head. I had to climb it and have the others pass his body to me. He wasn't embalmed, but the body was bathed and his hair was combed. They put on clean, unsoiled clothes. I remember objecting to that at first, but relented because he didn't die in battle, so had no battle wound to show off when his soul reached its destination. And the clothes he died in were… soiled." Methos paused to glance at faces once again. No one seemed afraid of the man telling the tale. Curiosity and sympathy were all he read from them.
"I put his hands on his chest over the stone, which I placed over his heart. He didn't die free. I didn't know what his belief was as far as the next life was concerned, but I wanted his spirit to be free. I carved the word in Cuneiform on the stone, since that was the easiest to carve into rock. He died in early fall. By late winter I had lost Celesta too."
"I'm sorry," said Amanda. It had all the effectiveness of trying to blow out a forest fire, but it was the sentiment that counted.
Methos merely shrugged. "I had gone scouting. We were headed west and I wanted to see where a suitable place to camp could be found. I was on my way back when a blizzard struck. My horse couldn't find his way in the snow and took a bad fall. After my legs healed… Well, his legs weren't so lucky. I had to put him down. Thus went my chance for warmth, so I decided to keep going. I could freeze to death, but it's not like it would be permanent. Thankfully I had scored some of the trees with my axe as I passed on my way out, so I had a trail I could follow back to camp. I had made it most of the way there, I think I only had another mile to go, and then it got dark. With the blizzard there was no moon so I couldn't see. I sat by that tree to wait it out, either for the blizzard to end or the sun to rise. Sunrise happened first." Methos paused as he was forced to repress a reflexive shiver.
"Unfortunately I had frozen to death and revived so many times that I didn't exactly notice anything but the interesting shapes of the snowflakes." Joe laughed slightly, picturing the scene, remembering what Methos had told him over Thanksgiving, about his tendency to get lost in snowstorms. Methos smiled slightly, also remembering the conversation, and this gave the others permission to laugh a little, and the tension was deflated.
"Celesta found me. I don't know how she did it, but she stolen Fearless Leader's horse and set out to find me and bring me back. She didn't know about my immortality. She left when it started to get dark and had been searching all night. I vaguely remember her heaving me up on the animal's back. I recognized the animal and didn't realize it wasn't ridden by its usual owner. It's a good thing she didn't understand the language I spoke in the entire ride home." His tone was light, as if it was something laughable now. Or maybe he was remembering what exactly he had said believing her to be Kronos come to save him.
"I came to my senses in my tent, a healthy fire was going and I felt quite warm. All wonderings of how I managed to find myself back in my tent were abandoned once I realized that I was naked in bed with one very naked Celesta asleep on top of me." His tone was light enough for that statement to incur a laugh. "Shared bodily warmth, people!" Methos said with mock indignation, only to be greeted by more laughter.
"Anyway," he said, trying to restore order. He wasn't about to get this far in his tale to quit now! "She didn't feel too cold so I slid out from underneath her without waking her, dressed, and went to address our humble leader. I had meant to thank him for rescuing me from the cold, but he informed me that Celesta had stolen his horse and gone off in pursuit of me and that it was a miracle she didn't freeze to death, another that she found me in the middle of a blizzard, another that she didn't get hopelessly lost, and a fourth that he didn't kill her when she came riding back into camp on his horse."
This time Duncan laughed, picturing Kronos's face when he sees a slave riding into their camp on his horse with a mostly dead Methos slung across it. The others joined in the laughter and Methos let the moment pass before continuing.
"Four miracles," he said blandly. "The fifth would have been if she had managed to not catch a chill out there. The sixth would have been if I was somehow able to prevent it from developing into pneumonia. The seventh would have been if she had been able to fight off the illness. The eighth would have been if the ground weren't too frozen to bury her or if we could have spared the firewood to light a funeral pyre. Four miracles. Four tragedies. And I couldn't even give her a proper burial."
Whatever mirth was in the air died out completely by the time Methos finished that statement. His tone was lifeless, once again the air of the lecturer speaking about trivial academic things.
"The first few days I wasn't all that worried—every mortal catches colds. But… she worsened, and in the next few days I realized it could be developing into something serious. And the next few days I was trying to find a remedy—you can't know how surprised I was, that I remembered… but in the dead of winter I couldn't find the proper herbs, and we were in the wrong part of the world from what I knew. I could only pray it wasn't pneumonia." The regret in Methos's voice was a palpable ache that everyone felt. He took a moment to gather his thoughts, as once again they threatened to run away with him, but soon he continued.
"The next few days she was bedridden, and I tried to stave off the fever and coughing fits that left her breathless. The days after that I… accepted… that I could not save her. And I didn't eat, and I didn't sleep, lest I not be there when she needed me. After that, she grew delirious, and I knew the end was near. One night I prayed to her gods that they would ease her pain and speed her passing, but by then she had ripped enough blood vessels in her lungs for blood to fleck on her face as she coughed. The… the next night, I prayed to mine, before I made her drink a poison that would act swiftly and painlessly. It did, and she… had peace at last." Methos supported his head on his combined fist again, wiping at unshed tears with his knuckles.
He wasn't the only one. Amanda was crying too, and so were Richie and Joe. Duncan had come dangerously close, the part where Methos, or rather, where Lord Death got on his knees and prayed to his gods on behalf of the girl nearly did him in. Connor's face was expressionless, but there was sympathy in his eyes.
"We had to bury her in the snow, there was no other way. I insisted on doing it myself, but Fearless Leader insisted on helping me. We had a little wine left. I was saving it for a special occasion. I performed a short ceremony for the benefit of her gods since I didn't have anything appropriate to carve her freedom into."
"What type of ceremony?" Joe asked, motivated by scholarly curiosity.
"The closest I can compare it to is a baptism. Essentially I gave her a new name, one that isn't the name of a slave."
"What name," Joe persisted, anything to keep Methos talking, to prevent the memories from taking him.
Methos paused, as though he was considering whether or not he would answer. "Vardiel," he spoke at last, decisively. "The language was long dead even then. It means 'exalted daughter.'"
"You adopted her posthumously?" Joe asked, still not satisfied.
"Something like that," said Methos with a sad smile. Joe's tactic was working. "And after that, well, I felt the need to get drunk."
"Understandably," said Connor.
"Unfortunately I had used the last of the wine," Methos continued, not giving Connor's statement any recognition. "There was the beer, however. Three sizeable casks of it, one for each of the others, buried just outside camp. I dug them up one by one until I had consumed every last drop. Surprisingly, it tasted much better cold." Slight laughter from the others at this. Then: "This led me to experience a brand new way of dying: alcohol poisoning. Not one of my favorite methods I'm afraid. To spite being drunk, it was horribly painful. I remember throwing up in my tent, Fearless Leader laughing at me as he held my hair back and forced me to eat snow, for my taste buds and the hydration." Methos looked at Joe with an annoyed expression on his face suddenly. "Yes Joseph, I had long hair once. Half way down my back at that point if you believe it."
"I didn't say anything!" Said Joe defensively, cursing when Methos's face contorted into an, 'I got you' shaped grin.
"Anyway," said Methos continuing, his voice back to lecture mode, "he left me in bed at one point, and I died shortly thereafter. I vaguely recall wondering if I would stay permanently dead. When I revived, disappointed that hangovers come with waking up even from death, I drank all the water I could find." More laughter, and this time Methos joined in.
They were still laughing when Methos said: "I grabbed Celesta's possessions, and Verashkin's, stole a pack horse since my horse was dead—didn't bother with a saddle though, and I rode out of camp without looking back."
Duncan, Joe, and Connor stopped laughing abruptly, Richie and Amanda got the hint and stopped a few seconds later. Methos still had a huge grin on his face, the point of the story finally having come across.
"You left then?" Duncan asked softly.
"Yup," Methos answered, as though the question was as trivial as 'you like cheese?' "She gave me beer, a gift that I didn't like, but her gift gave me a daughter in return. My first time drunk on beer killed me, literally, and in the early hours of the morning after I effectively handed in my resignation, and left."
"Wow," Richie breathed. No one else spoke.
"So beer was your way out?" Joe asked after the pause.
"Not my way out; just a significant player in the circumstances of my leaving."
"And it's your connection to her now," Duncan concluded, thinking of all the pieces of Tessa's art he has at both the dojo and the barge.
Methos didn't answer that. He didn't have to.
Amanda absently fiddled with her crystal necklace. They sat in silence for a few moments, each letting the immediate effects of Methos's tale run their course.
"Suddenly mine doesn't sound so bad," said Richie, a weak smile on his face. For a moment it looked as though the comment landed in dead air.
"Don't say that," said Methos, not looking at up from the spot on the table he had become so interested in, but his voice conveying a level of sympathy and sad understanding that surprised everyone. Then, as if all emotion was deftly harnessed and pulled back behind the traditional Methos mask, he stood up, and with a wave to the booth he said: "Well I'm going to head off; it's already past my bedtime."
Everyone sat stunned. By looking at and listening to Methos just now you couldn't tell that anything significant had been said or done this entire evening. It was as if telling the beer stories never happened.
Methos put his coat on and opened the door.
"Snow's let up, but you should all drive carefully anyway. Perhaps you should all pile into Connor's rental jeep—I don't think either car out there will be any good in this weather, and Richie has already proven that his bike isn't—oh! Right. Richie. I think that you should stay at Joe's tonight. Tomorrow when the roads have been plowed and salted you can arrange to get your stuff from the dojo and head over to my place. Just be sure you call first."
Richie blinked in surprise. "Yeah, sure" he managed to stammer.
Methos flashed one of his characteristic sarcastic half-smiles and shut the door behind him on his way out.
"What the hell just happened?" Amanda asked once they heard Methos's range rover drive off.
"More than you know," said Duncan, more to himself than as an answer to Amanda's question.
"Well the night's still young," said Amanda, "why don't you fill me in on the inside jokes."
"Not a chance," Duncan negated.
Before Amanda could give voice to her indignant expression Joe said: "It isn't his story to tell, Amanda. You'll have to ask Methos."
"Right, like he'd answer me," she scoffed.
"You never know," said Duncan, looking at the door where Methos exited. "You never know."