Universe: A virtual "6th" season wherein "Modern Prometheus" was the finale of season 5 and ignores all events in the "real" season 5 finale and all of season 6, as well as the last movie. This season takes place 1997-1998
Summary: After unexpectedly running into each other in a Paris cemetery, Amanda and Methos reminisce about their first meeting: at Rebecca's abbey in St. Anne while Amanda was still in residence as Rebecca's student.
Disclaimer: If I owned them why would I waste my time posting to fanfic sites? I'd be off making lots and lots of money! But since I'm not, I therefore don't, nor do I pretend to.
AN-"Preset day" of course means Spring, 1998 ;)
Montparnasse Cemetery, Paris
Methos stood at long last, haphazardly wiping his hands on his soiled pant legs and achieving no more than the spreading of the offending dirt. He accomplished his goal, however. Alexa's grave-site was adorned with flowers once again.
It had been Methos's custom, every spring since Alexa's passing, to plant new flowers at her grave. She'd lived just long enough to see spring blossom two years ago, and now Methos wanted her to have new flowers to admire every year thereafter. It was always annuals he planted, for in doing so he would be forced to return year after year to plant them anew. This gave Alexa variety, and also and probably more importantly, kept her fresh in his mind, for he still wasn't through grieving for her yet. Perhaps when his heart felt ready to move on, he would plant perennials and come tend them less often and with less care, but right now, as he stared down at the colorful assortment of marigolds he'd selected this year, that time seemed too far off to contemplate right now.
"I miss you," he confessed to her grave, the language he used escaping his notice for the moment. "I hope you like the colors. But then, you found beauty even here, in a gray Paris winter..." Methos's thoughts drifted off again as he stood there, oblivious to the cold and the beginnings of rain as he let his memories wash over him in a gentle sea.
Amanda cursed vehemently, in archaic French, as she stormed along the cemetery path. Her light duster, while sufficient enough to keep out the chill of the air (and conceal her sword), was far from waterproof. She had been so lost in thought as she wandered that she hadn't realized how far away from the cemetery entrance--and her rental car--that she'd traveled. As she felt the dampness of the rain soaking through her duster and clamming her skin she cursed again and quickened her pace, hoping all the while that she was indeed winding her way back the way she came.
Amanda had been visiting Rebecca, as was her wont every spring. She usually came here on the anniversary of Rebecca's death, or as close to it as circumstances would allow. She felt guilty now and then for the years that she came late, but then she knew that Rebecca would not want her student to constantly put her life on hold. It was enough that she came, Amanda rationalized, and it felt close enough to the truth to ease her conscience. Besides, she actually came early this year--and not because she felt the need to atone for being late the year before. No, something inside her whispered that she should be here now, a full three weeks before the anniversary.
Well whatever it was she cursed it now, vehemently and long, in the cold drizzle of a miserable spring morning. And she thought of Rebecca, who would laugh to see her student so disheveled and distraught--right before ushering her inside and into dry clothes. Rebecca would then ply her with tea or strong Turkish-style coffee, depending on what century it was and where she was living at the time, and before Amanda knew it she'd be sitting before a roaring fire, relaxing in the gentle warmth of Rebecca's hearth. Sometimes they would talk, but not always; Rebecca was very good at divining which problems needed talking out and which went better with silence. It was a trick Amanda never managed to learn, but then she was never the student of humanity that Rebecca was. It's what made her such an effective teacher--and Rebecca managed to teach everyone that didn't outrun her, even seasoned immortals--while in contrast Amanda always pawned off what few students she'd found on friends far more qualified.
Amanda never would have guessed, never in another thousand years, that it would be Rebecca's innate love of knowledge--and the need to impart it without prejudice--that would be what finally cost her teacher her head. Even now, four years hence, Amanda still has trouble believing, not that Luthor had killed her--he'd always walked hand and with depravity so it really was par for the course for him. That the weasely little shit had been gunning for Rebecca's head wasn't surprising. No, the real shock was that Rebecca had let him take it. It was the fact that she was really gone.
It had taken Amanda a lot longer than she was prepared to admit to get over her anger at MacLeod. It was petty, sure--MacLeod probably saved her life by interrupting the challenge, but never in all the years she'd known her had Rebecca asked Amanda for help with anything, and then the one time she needed it Duncan had to save the day. Amanda had been grateful, in the moment, when the dust from Luthor's quickening was still settling and her prevailing thoughts centered on the fact that they were both alive and Luthor was dead. Afterwards though, as the weeks stretched out and Jean moved back to England and Duncan returned to the States and all that was left was an empty Townhouse--for sale--that still echoed the ghosts of happier times and a cold monument in the styles and traditions of a religion far younger than her teacher.
And, of course, the ruins of St. Anne.
It was as she walked the grounds once more, envisioning the Sanctuary as it once was, that Amanda had finally found peace with her failure to avenge her teacher. Rebecca had never been one to condone revenge; she was like Darius in that way, and Amanda had always wondered at her teacher's relationship to the priest. They were friends, close friends even, but yet there were hints of an intimacy that never quite fit, there in the soft affection of Darius's smile, and faraway gleam in Rebecca's eyes when the conversations drifted. But Amanda's only lingering regret--one that she knew, down to the deepest corners of her soul, that she would carry with her to her own beheading--wasn't that she had failed at killing Luthor. This regret was an older one that was simply brought out and polished in the aftermath of Rebecca's death, and was slowly being sharpened with each passing year. In all her years, all her centuries, she could never shake the feeling that she had somehow failed Rebecca's teachings, and now Rebecca was dead and Amanda was left with the ache of knowing that she'd never truly proven her worth to her teacher, and that now she never would.
The drizzle opened up into a steady rain, and the drops ran down her face and mixed in with tears of frustration and anger, pain and loss, to the point where she could deny even to herself that she was crying. It was the point where this charade had reached its pinnacle that she felt it: the presence of another immortal. She tensed involuntarily, feeling the weight of her sword in her hidden pocket in her duster, and scanned the cemetery looking for the source of the buzz.
Methos didn't notice that he was soaked to the skin, or that his silent tears had long since ceased, or even that the rain had washed the dirt from his hands and turned the soil on his pants to mud. He didn't notice anything at all, except for the name on the cold stone before him…
…And the sudden intrusion of the presence of another immortal. The feeling of that presence broke across his senses like water upon rock, for all its fury affecting little change. Methos was armed, as always, but he didn't care right now. This was holy ground: no immortal in this day and age would dare assault him here. And in this relative safety (and overwhelming apathy towards it) Methos didn't give a damn who the other was. He had more important thoughts to dwell on right now.
Amanda came into a clearing on the far side of the cemetery, where the graves were less crowded. Once there, she rounded the corner of a particularly tall and ridiculously phallic monument to finally catch sight of a man standing over a grave. This mysterious immortal didn't bother to acknowledge her presence even as she felt the buzz soften and retreat into the background of the constant immortal song within her head.
Finally deciding that the other was in no way interested in her being there, Amanda turned to leave, feeling slightly guilty for intruding on what was probably a very private moment. It was the beginnings of her movement away from him that caught the man's attention.
"This is holy ground," the immortal said in perfect French. "And you're not welcome."
Startled, Amanda blushed at having been caught in an obvious faux pas. "I'm sorry," she apologized quickly, also in flawless French. "I didn't mean to intrude—" her apologetic babble was interrupted by a sudden realization: she knew that voice! "Methos?"
The immortal in question stiffened perceptibly and then released a long-suffering sigh. "What are you doing here, Amanda?" he asked tiredly, switching to English.
"Just out for a stroll," Amanda answered lightly, returning to English herself and eager to forget her own depressed musings for a time. "I could ask the same of you."
Methos had not the heart to answer, but he did turn around to face her properly. In doing so he stepped aside, and Amanda caught sight of whose grave it was.
"Oh," she said softly, blushing slightly even in the cold rain. "I'm sorry." This apology held more sincerity than the last, and Methos was both amused and touched.
"I come here every spring, to plant fresh flowers for her," he explained, not entirely sure why he was telling her that.
Amanda nodded thoughtfully. "They're beautiful," she appraised, again with acute sincerity. In him she detected the same misery she herself was feeling… well, maybe not exactly the same, but near enough. Grief in all its many shades was still grief.
Then she took stock of his appearance. Methos was soaked through, and his pants were muddy from dirt and rain. He looked a wreck, but also, he looked as though he didn't much care. "I'd say you're a sight for sore eyes, but I think actually you're more of an eyesore." She kept her tone light in diffidence to how Methos had come to be in such a sorry state.
Methos's eyes flashed bewilderment for a moment before belatedly appraising his appearance. Then he smiled at her in that amused yet defeated way of his. "And you, my dear, look very much like a drowned Italian rat."
Amanda snorted, now remembering that her jacket and boots were both Armani. There went several thousand francs. Well, at least they weren't hers. "I was on my way out of here when it started to rain," she explained. "You on the other hand…"
"I wasn't ready to go yet," Methos answered, softly defensive.
"Why do I get the feeling that you didn't even notice?"
Methos held her gaze, but the haunted and empty look he gave her before he grinned and his eyes flashed the green of Adam Pierson was enough to answer all her questions.
"It's not like you to ruin a good outfit without cause," Methos observed, deftly changing the subject. "Just what exactly are you doing here? Avoiding one of us?"
Amanda detected curiosity in his voice, but no concern. She wasn't sure if she should be offended. "I was visiting someone," she answered matter-of-factly, a flawless carefree façade erected thanks to over one thousand years of practice.
"I always thought your friends were a bit more… lively," he quipped, arching an eyebrow and flashing that charming Adam Pierson grin. Yes… she definitely could not take offense. He was retreating behind such walls as a defense mechanism and that wasn't something Amanda was about to begrudge him.
And besides, she had the perfect comeback. "I was with Rebecca."
It had the desired effect. Methos's smile faded and his eyes regained their haunted quality. "Forgive me," he said, slightly breathless, his gilded eyes cast downwards.
Amanda shrugged and waved it off. "It'll have been four years by the end of the month," she said. "I always visit her… near the anniversary."
"Twenty-third of April?"
Amanda blinked in surprise. "You remember the date?"
Methos smiled sadly in admission. "Alexa passed two years and five days later. They help me remember each other."
Amanda offered a faint smile, not sure of what to say to that. Finally she decided to change the subject yet again. "We should get out of here before we're both washed away," she said, the carefree tone returning as she gestured to the ever-swelling puddles in gentle downpour.
Methos arched an eyebrow. "Afraid you'll melt?"
Amanda shot him a look. "Funny. Where are you parked?"
Methos flashed an amused grin and merely shrugged.
"You mean you walked here?"
"Like I was supposed to know it was going to rain," he protested in his defense.
Amanda just laughed. "I'm over by the other entrance," she said, turning to leave.
"Good for you," Methos dismissed before turning back around to stare into the marble of Alexa's headstone.
Amanda released an audible, long-suffering sigh. "I'll give you a lift," she said pointedly, as though Methos had missed the obvious.
For a time Methos didn't answer, nor even acknowledge her, as he continued to fix his gaze towards the grave. Amanda's impatient expression softened and for some reason she felt the urge to approach him and put a hand on his shoulder, but she was never very good at offering physical comfort and so she stayed in place, unconsciously worrying her bottom lip as she waited.
"Fine," Methos caved at last, as though it was some concession on his part. Then with a sigh and something softly spoken to Alexa that Amanda couldn't hear, Methos turned back around.
Amanda smiled encouragingly at him and gestured for him to follow her. This he did, and eventually he fell in step beside her and they walked a pace in comfortable silence.
"I've lived over eleven hundred years, Methos," said Amanda at last, her tone casual yet echoing her earlier grief. "And I still mourn for people I buried a thousand years ago."
Methos laughed, but not unkindly. "If you're looking for me to say that time eventually makes it better then I'd have to lie to you." His tone was light, tripping over the surprising honesty of the words--surprising not for their inherent truth, but for the fact that Methos offered it so casually. "I still grieve for those I've lost many more years ago than that."
Amanda grimaced, a touch of bitter humor in it. "Actually, I was just pointing out how much immortality sucks sometimes." This was rewarded with a soft snort of abbreviated laughter from Methos before their companionable silence returned.
"Do you wish it had never been?" Methos suddenly asked. "That you had just died when you were supposed to instead of waking up again?"
The question quite thoroughly surprised her; it wasn't something Amanda had ever honestly considered (while sober), and it certainly wasn't something she'd ever expected to hear from Methos of all people, but Amanda saved from having to answer by their arrival at her rental sedan. She fished the keys from her pocket, disarmed the alarm, and unlocked the doors.
"Where can I drop you?" she asked, her voice studiously casual as she climbed in on the driver's side.
"I have an apartment in the Latin Quarter," Methos answered, apparently content to let her dodge the question.
"Adam Pierson can afford that?" Amanda asked in amusement.
"No, but the watchers who pay for his living expenses can."
"I thought you said that you were through with the watchers?"
Methos shrugged. "They changed my mind."
"Oh? And how'd they manage that?"
"They can be bloody persuasive at times," Methos grumbled, petulant and long-suffering.
"I'm sure," Amanda purred.
Methos merely scoffed. Then: "turn left up here."
The rest of the drive was completed in silence, save for Methos odd comment for direction. Presently Amanda found herself parked in front of a well-to-do townhouse in a row of almost but not quite identical three-story brick buildings.
"Thanks for the lift," he said, gazing out the car window at his humble abode. He made no move to get out of the car.
"I thought you stayed at the barge whenever you were in town," said Amanda, breaking her long silence.
"Well, I need a place to stay when MacLeod's not around," Methos offered with a slight shrug. There was a sadness in it though, and Amanda was reminded of the strained she had perceived between them last Christmas. Neither of them would say a thing, preferring rather to pretend that the noticeable tension did not exist between them.
Amanda's curiosity was piqued. "Very true," she conceded. "And I bet the watchers were beginning to get suspicious."
Surprisingly, Methos laughed. "Because MacLeod is aware of them, Joe tells his people to keep a very good distance away from the barge so as not to spook him," he explained. "Even with binoculars, it enough that I can come and go as I please without too much trouble."
"By keeping your head down and your coat collar turned up," Amanda concluded with a rueful head-shake. Typical Methos. She'd bet money that he'd even put the watcher up to that.
Methos merely grinned. Indeed Joe did keep the men assigned to MacLeod in Paris back farther than usual protocol allowed. The argument for this being that, ever since that debacle with the tribunal two years ago, whenever MacLeod perceived the watchers were getting too close to him he'd deliberately lose the shadow and disappear for days or even weeks. MacLeod was too active a player in the game to not have a regular watcher so they couldn't back off for a few years to let things settle between them. MacLeod was content to go about his daily business so long as he didn't feel like he was being watched. The watchers, therefore, were able to track his general movements well enough, but at the cost of a detailed picture of the people he chose to associate with… people like Adam Pierson. If the other were immortal, then their watcher would know about the meeting anyway… if the other had a watcher, of course.
"It works well enough for Paris," said Methos, sighing slightly. "Adam Pierson is well known out here. Being seen freely associating with immortals would be… unfortunate."
Amanda frowned. "Is that why you didn't want me to give you a lift?"
"Are you telling me that you didn't bother to lose your watcher as soon as you landed in Paris, Amanda sweet?"
"It's not my fault if the poor dears can't keep up."
"You know, you really are incorrigible."
"Learned from the best."
Methos laughed. "Don't start with me, Leaswene," he warned with humor.
Amanda had the good graces to look indignant. "Me?" she questioned in mock aghast. "You started it, Adræfan!"
Methos threw his head back in mock suffering as Amanda laughed. "I'm sure MacLeod would love to know that name of yours," he teased. "And it's origins."
"You wouldn't dare!" Amanda countered. "Else Joe and his chronicles might learn yours."
Methos went suddenly still, and all at once tension seemed to bleed from him into very the air. Amanda could have kicked herself--names were very important to Methos. It was one of the more esoteric traits that he and Rebecca shared.
"I don't go back on my word, Methos. You know that," she demurred, thoroughly contrite.
For his part Methos sighed, his body relaxing by degrees. "Forget about it," he dismissed as he suddenly removed his seatbelt and opened the car door.
Amanda hesitated; instead of driving off she sat and watched as Methos crossed the short distance to his front door. She saw him fumble through his pockets for his keys for a full minute before coming to the dejected conclusion that he must have left them upstairs. An amused smile twitched Amanda's lips as she killed her engine and got out of the car.
"Forget your keys?" she asked, teasing.
Methos shot her an annoyed glare as he pulled out his wallet.
Amanda balked. "You aren't going to use a credit card on that..."
"Don't be ridiculous," Methos scoffed as he removed a small piece of cloth and began to unravel it.
Amanda's eyes widened. "Lock picks!"
Methos selected two of the five instruments in his hand and held them aloft for her to see. "I never leave home without them," he quipped as he bent down to go about picking his own lock.
"Why don't you let me do that," Amanda offered, almost condescendingly.
"I'm not totally incapable, Leaswene," he said dryly as the lock suddenly popped. He turned the handle and opened the door with flourish.
"So I see," Amanda relented, still thoroughly amused. "I should have known."
"Well you did say you leaned from the best," Methos reminded her as he entered his front hallway.
"I didn't mean you!" Amanda retorted as she followed him in and shut the door.
"Oh, you wound me," said Methos with mock suffering. It was then that he noticed that Amanda was standing behind him at the base of the stairs. His questioning look was met with an innocent stare. "I suppose you're wanting to come up then," he said at last.
Amanda's smile turned genuine. "I gave you a lift. The least you could do is offer me coffee."
Methos half shrugged, nodding. "Come on then."
Wordlessly Methos led them both up to the third floor, the old stairs groaning ever-so-slightly beneath their weight. Once they reached the top, Methos gestured for Amanda to precede him. Once she was standing at the door, she glanced over her shoulder to see Methos staring expectantly at her.
"Really," she sighed, exasperated, as she fished through her purse for her own lock picks. She removed what looked to be a lady's nail care kit and opened the lid.
Methos gave an impressed nod when he saw that the nail file and clippers and the like had been replaced with different assortments of lock picks. "You get top marks for style."
"Just wait 'til you see the final product," she said distractedly to the doorknob as she inserted two long, slender slivers of aluminum. The lock released smoothly and Amanda stood, replacing her lock picks in their case. "Voila!" She mimicked his flourish as she thrust the door open.
"Not bad," Methos observed with a slight grin.
"Not bad?" Amanda echoed, scoffing, as she led the way into the apartment. "I did that faster than you did!"
"The outer lock is the hardest to crack," Methos defended.
Methos held up his hands in defeat as Amanda began a spot inspection of his apartment. She noticed that it was fairly well kept, with high ceilings and hardwood floors. They stood in a short entrance hallway, long enough for a coat closet and a framed movie poster for Au Revoir, Les Enfants on its opposite wall.
Amanda lead the way into the apartment, the hallway opening up into a larger room that served as both kitchen (on the left) and dining room (on the right). A passing glance at Methos as he headed to the right showed her that the kitchen was tidy, indeed not looking like it had been used much of recent. The dining area, where Amanda stood and watched as Methos opened the fridge in search of a beer, had a hutch for dinerware against one wall and a small table backed against the wall other wall by the windows, surrounded by three chairs. The past week's mail was strewn about in hastily sorted piles. A potted plant stood in the corner by the window, and the only other decoration was a large replica painting of Van Gogh's Starry Night that was by now an antique in its own right.
"Nice place you got here," she offered, taking in the inexpensive yet tasteful furniture and decorations in the next room. There was an archway in the back wall of the kitchen-dining room, directly opposite the entrance hall, that led into the living room. "A little Spartan…"
"Try actually living in Sparta for a year before you go making analogies," Methos chastised, grabbing a much-sought-after bottle of beer.
Amanda shook her head at his inquiring glance. "Oh, I've been there," she assured. "Granted not in the right time period…" Her voice trailed off as she walked through the archway into the living room and began a small tour of the rest of Methos's apartment. She saw that his living room had a futon against one wall with a run-of-the-mill Formica coffee table in front of it facing a modest entertainment center on the other wall. The television was small but had a built in VCR. Amanda didn't bother to look in the cabinet below, surmising that a modest collection of videotapes sat within. The shelving along the right hand side held a CD player and a tape deck along with a few assorted knickknacks; the largest bottom shelf had overlarge, heavy-looking books. A decent CD rack stood next to the entertainment center.
Methos snapped the top off his bottle and took a long, refreshing swig as he waited for her to finish showing herself around his modest abode. "But you would have looked simply ravishing in a toga," he said, almost wistfully yet still loud enough for her to hear.
"As I'm sure you did," she returned, her voice distant. She had wandered through the small hallway behind the living room, noticing a small yet adequate bathroom next to what Methos had set up to be his bedroom. This too was modest, having only a double bed and small dresser whose top was bare aside from a reading lamp.
Above the bed hung a rather large tapestry. Far from antique, it appeared rather like one of the new-age concoctions college students and hippies prefer for decoration. The design was rather eerie, however. From the view of someone lying on a forest floor, four trees grew up into simulated enormous height from the four corners of the tapestry. Their limbs reached towards dull stars, all save four. These four caught and wove towards each other just off from the center of the tapestry. Inside the slightly octagonal shape those branches created, the dark blue sky turned pitch, and there were no stars. A sickle moon was the only shape present there, and Amanda shuddered before turning her back on the bedroom.
The room she saw on the other side of the hallway was larger than the bedroom, and Methos had set it up to be his office of sorts. A decent sized computer desk filled one corner, and boxes covered it along with most of the floor.
"Been here long?" she asked in amusement as she walked back into the living room area.
"Barely a week," Methos informed her. "I'm not exactly settled yet."
"So I noticed," Amanda mused with a grin. "But seriously, you could have gone with more… amenities," she stated plainly as she came back through the archway into the kitchen area.
"The watchers pay for the rent, not the decorations."
"Nor for the groceries," said Amanda dejectedly as she shut the refrigerator door. "All you have is beer and water!"
"Does a grad student need anything else?" he asked in all innocence.
"Ah, yes," Methos conceded. "Third cabinet on your left."
Amanda fetched the jar of coffee grounds, then cast her gaze around the countertops, seeing a toaster-oven and a set of steak knifes, but not the appliance she was looking for. "Coffee machine?"
Methos grinned. "Still haven't bought one, I'm afraid."
Amanda shifted her gaze between the immortal and the jar of coffee grounds in her hand a few times, a confused expression on her face. "Honestly…" she released a long-suffering sigh before returning the coffee grounds to their rightful cabinet. "When I said you could offer me coffee in return for the lift home, I meant of course in the liquid form."
Methos laughed merrily. "But you didn't say that now, did you."
Amanda groaned. "You know, I think you've been hanging around Joe too long."
Methos arched an eyebrow.
"I don't recall you being so easily amused, especially by tormenting poor innocent ladies who try and help a guy out."
"A lady you may be at the best of times, Amanda, but innocent you are not."
"Oh ha! Very funny. That must be how you rationalize taking shameless advantage of me--just the next bloke in line."
Methos's face darkened, that cold stillness congealing around him again as his eyes flashed golden. "Innocence is arbitrary, Leaswene," he said gravely. "You know that."
Amanda swallowed around the painfully dry lump in her throat as she searched for words. Conversing with Methos was a bit like strolling through a minefield, but he always had a way of making her ashamed of her missteps. Not even MacLeod could managed that with such consistency. It was another in the long line of quirks Methos and Rebecca shared.
Then suddenly Methos blinked, and banished the pall that had settled over them with a shake of his head. Warmth bled back into his expression and he shrugged, shattering the stillness. "Well if you want coffee c'mon, I know a place."
Amanda smiled brightly, relieved. "That'd be great."
Methos headed for the bedroom. "I'll just grab a change of clothes…"
"Take your time," Amanda called after him.
Methos was quickly changed, however. He reemerged wearing a clean pair of jeans and a loose long-sleeve tee shirt.
Methos nodded. "Much." He brushed passed her on his way to the door, grabbing his coat along the way. "Now let's go."