Anxious Meetings and Sneaky Watchers:

This is yet another obligatory post horsemen fix-it. It is slash, rated R. Not terribly explicit, but the warning is there! Feedback very welcome - please read and review, e-mail me on lajk24@hotmail.com, visit my web-site: www.the-word.freeservers.com.
I'd like to thank everyone who has given me such nice encouragement on my crossover stories - at least one will be finished very soon, I promise!

Disclaimer: I own no-one here, and am making no profit. I hope you enjoy.


Part One:

The sound of the telephone interrupted Methos in the middle of a particularly good dream.
"Pierson here. This had better be good. Do you know what time it is?" Whatever the time was, he was sure it was too damned early. Even though Immortals didn't get hangovers, he had been at Joe's bar last night until well after closing time. He'd been drowning his sorrows and luckily his friend had taken pity on him and not thrown him out.
"Yeah. 10.30, Adam. Late enough. Listen, I need a favour..."
"Joe, what can I do for you?"
"I can't really say, but can you be at the barge in a half hour?"
"MacLeod's barge?"
"You know of another we both know round here?
"What's going on?"
"Just be there, old man". With that the bartender hung up, leaving one rather annoyed yet curious 5000 year old man to drag himself out of bed. As he showered and dressed his thoughts, as usual lately, drifted to Duncan MacLeod. He sincerely hoped that whatever Joe had in mind that the Highlander would be out. Didn't he go running or something ridicuously early each morning? Surely Joe would have to sense not to put him in the same room as Duncan, especially after last night. Did he really want the death of the oldest immortal on his conscience?

'La Blue's Bar', the previous evening:

"How long is this thing going to go on between you and Mac?" Joe asked Methos, gently, pouring the old man a glass of his usual beer.
Methos just shrugged, and refused to meet his friend's gaze.
"Methos, can't you just talk to him? Get it over with?"
"He's the one who didn't want to talk. He's the one who said we're through".
"Yeah, but he's not the one sitting in my bar trying to drown his sorrows", Joe commented.
Methos suddenly stiffened in a gesture that Joe knew so well. Another Immortal was nearby.
"Wanna bet?" Methos replied with a wry grin, taking several large sips of his drink.
Sure enough, a second later, the bar door opened to reveal Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod. He stood in the doorway for a second, the rain dripping off him as he tried to regain his bearing. It was blowing a gale outside, and had started raining about fifteen minutes ago. Duncan shook out his long, black coat and attempted to tame his hair, which had begun to escape the confines of it's silver tie and was reverting to it's past form of wild and unruly. He gave Methos a quick, black glance before moving to sit at the opposite side of the bar. Joe just raised his eyebrows at Methos, in silent comment, and went to greet his other friend.
"Hi Mac."
"Hi Joe. How have you been?"
"Fine, fine. What brings you here on such a god-awful night as this?"
Duncan grinned slightly and shrugged.
"Just needed a change of scenery, I guess. After all, rain can't kill me, right?"
"Guess not. As you can see, the old man had the same idea. Good thing I've got some regulars, hey? Night like tonight, I doubt anyone else will venture here".
"Yeah, don't worry, Joe, as long as you have beer on tap, you'll keep Methos' custom." Shuttered, dark emotions flittered over the Highlander's face as he spoke of the oldest Immortal.
"Mmm", was all Joe could comment, as he poured Mac a drink. Whereas Methos, much as he refuted it, wore his emotions close to the surface, MacLeod, for all his talk of people being open and honest with each other, was often a closed book when it came to showing what he was really feeling. Now, it was obvious that the Scot was brooding, and was still angry with Methos. Beyond that, who knew?

Joe still didn't know exactly what had gone on in Bordeaux, sometimes he felt that he would rather not know. MacLeod had become an expert in changing the subject whenever the oldest Immortal's name was mentioned. Methos had told him that Mac had followed him, Kronos and the other two ex-horsemen to Bordeaux, where after further disagreements, Mac had killed Caspian and Kronos, and Methos had killed Silas. Joe still could hardly believe that. He could see how upset the old man was over the fact that Silas was dead, and the fact that he himself had done the deed. Silas may have been one sorry excuse for a human being but Joe could see that Methos had cared for the other man, that in a sense, they really had become like brothers. As both Watcher and friend he had pushed the issue, and Methos had finally told him that if Silas had lived, Mac would now be dead. Joe had shaken his head in awe, and had wondered to himself if Mac knew just how much he really owed the older Immortal. Or how much Methos cared for Mac.

He also had a feeling that Mac was missing the old man as much as Methos appeared to be missing him, but was just too stubborn to talk things through. Poor Duncan, Joe mused. He was a good man. One of the best. But, his underlying need to play judge and jury sometimes became a case of cutting off his nose to spite his face. Duncan had lost a good friend in Boudeaux and had put Joe in a very difficult position. Maybe it was time to do something about it, the Watcher decided, a smile creeping onto his face as he returned to talk to Methos. A flash of lightening caught his attention, and he decided that he, for one, was glad he didn't have to leave the building at some point that evening. He considered closing the bar and spending the rest of the evening literally knocking his two friend's heads together. It was unlikely he would get any more customers tonight. The wind was getting even stronger, if possible, and Joe was sure there would be some fair damage done by the morning. Cables down and fences crashed. Probably a great number of trees felled. Joe couldn't help a wry grin. He liked storms. They cleared the air. He often thought it was nature's way of letting off steam and was worth it just to feel the freshness in the air afterwards. It was a lesson many humans could do well to learn, he mused, especially the two men sitting in his bar who really were old enough to have learnt it by now. The atmosphere before a storm hit was always the worst, but afterwards, well, there was nothing sweeter. He could feel the tension between his two friends and knew that once this storm hit it would be fierce, but once it was over, things should be a lot clearer. He just hoped he wouldn't be caught in the carnage.

Methos watched out of the corner of his eye as Joe served Mac his drink and the two men made small talk. He sighed. Joe was right. Surely they could talk this thing through, be friends again. There was nothing he wanted more, but all he could think of was Duncan telling him they were through. He never wanted to hear that ice in his friend's voice again. The one small consolation was that he could also hear Duncan's voice telling Cassandra not to kill him. Although, he mused, that was probably just so that he could live with the knowledge of what he'd done. And the suffering. The memories. And the pain of having Duncan so close and yet so far. The Highlander was ten feet away, but could have been a hundred, thousand miles. Before Bourdeax, the Scot would have greeted him with a warm smile and a friendly comment. Now, he would hardly spare him a glance. Was he deliberately torturing him, he wondered. Did the Highlander know how he could hardly tear his gaze from him? Especially with his hair all wild and sexy, and his eyes smoldering with the intensity of his brooding. Methos often got annoyed with the Scot when he got into brooding mode, but, he acknowledged, the dark, intense looks and the obvious deep emotions that showed in his eyes, giving instant added sex appeal, more than made up for it. Methos grew a deep breath and struggled to change the focus of his gaze. It rested upon Joe, who had just returned to his side of the bar. Methos hadn't even noticed, so intense was his attention on Duncan. Joe greeted him with a quizzical eyebrow and a small smile.
"Admiring the view?"
Methos frowned. Could he have been so obvious?
"What? No. Just wondering at MacLeod's new hairstyle," he mumbled.
"Right. Whatever you say, Old Man. Want another drink?" Joe tactfully changed the subject and pointed to Methos' beer glass, which had somehow managed to empty itself over the last ten minutes.
"Yeah, thanks Joe".
Joe just smiled and mumbled something about just having to change the barrels, then he'd get the beer.
Methos nodded and, as he watched Joe leave, found his gaze drifting back towards Mac. The Highlander was sitting staring into his whisky, looking almost as fed-up as he felt. Yet he was still completely irresistable.
Mentally telling himself to get a grip, Methos decided that, on second thoughts, another drink would be too much torture, and that he would surely be better off at home. At least there, if he couldn't stop thinking about Duncan, he could actually do something about it. Not that it would be anywhere near as good as the real thing. He assumed. Not that he'd ever get the chance to find out.

Decision made, he stood and began to make for the door. The storm didn't bother him, and in fact rather suited his mood. Perhaps he would wander around outside for a while until he got hit by lightening. It could be rather exhilarating, in a very masochistic way.

He faltered slightly as he passed by Duncan. Maybe he should just try to talk to him, he wondered. Duncan, sensing him, turned to face him, his eyes locking with Methos'. Methos just stared, beginning to get lost in the deep, dark pools that were the Scot's eyes. He always thought that he could drown in Mac's eyes, and he couldn't think of a better place in which to loose himself.
"Mac", he breathed. Duncan just stared at him, and, after a minute, turned in his seat, facing the bar again and ignoring Methos. A chill which had nothing to do with the storm outside ran through Methos, and he quickly marched through the door.

Once outside, though, he found that he couldn't face returning to his empty little apartment, and ended up wandering aimlessly around the freezing city for the next hour. The temperature dropped even lower, but Methos hardly noticed. The chill in the air was nothing compared to the ice in his heart. He honestly hadn't realised until then just how much warmth in his life came from Duncan MacLeod. What was it about the Highlander that, when he looked at you, you felt needed, and when he smiled at you, you melted right to the tips of your toes? He was just a man, but he seemed to inspire such goodness, that he drew people to him like the proverbial moth to a flame. Methos had found that he no longer wanted to live out in the shadows. Oh, it was dangerous to be around Mac, that was true. But it was a risk that Methos had long ago decided was worth it, surprising even himself. He had been attracted to Duncan ever since meeting him. Who wouldn't be? The man was gorgeous. Unfortunately, he also believed himself to be God's gift to women, and the couple of times that Methos thought there had been a spark between them, he had reluctantly convinced himself were just his imagination. He had never done or said anything to reveal how he felt, not wanting to jepotise the friendship. Lately, though, he had realised that the attraction was growing slowly into something more. Until the whole Horsemen incident. Now, he would be lucky if he could ever even have a friendly drink with the Scot again.