While There is Breath

In the shaft of late autumn sunlight filtering in through the heavy drapes of their hotel room dust motes danced, rising and falling in the air currents from the heater. Methos sleepily scratched the side of his nose and then listened quietly to the labored breathing of his lover, Alexa Bond. Although he'd been a doctor several times in his long past, he tried not to respond to her as a doctor… but rather as a man in love. He smiled at the thought. He'd never thought he'd ever love again… indeed, until 1995 he'd pretty much walled himself off from most human content.

That was before he'd met Duncan MacLeod. The Highlander had managed to draw the ancient immortal into his circle of friends and acquaintances. And despite his better judgment, Methos found he enjoyed the human contact. In fact, had it not been for MacLeod, he wouldn't have stopped b the Highlander's place last fall and thereby met Alexa. His Alexa… his spitfire… his anchor to sanity and his greatest weakness. If he could only heal her… save her… give her the life she should have.

It still galled him that the Methuselah stone had been lost in the Seine. Perhaps it would have changed things. As it was, Alexa had rallied slightly and once the doctors had said she could travel, she'd insisted on coming home. Ever the gallant knight… at least as far as she was concerned, Methos… known to her only as Adam Pierson, mild-mannered grad student, had swiftly acquiesced. Whatever she wanted. He hadn't even argued about plans to see London or Constantinople or even St. Petersburg. Those were places with history that he wanted to show her. She only wanted him in the remainder of her brief life.

She stretched in her sleep, slowly opening her eyes which fluttered in a most beguiling way.

"Good morning my love," he whispered to her and bent to kiss her cheek softly.

"Mmmm," she sighed. "I do love the way you wake me up each day." Her watch alarmed buzzed. "Oh joy… just in time to take meds," she chuckled and rolled to one side, sitting up slowly, the sheet gathered about her all-too-slim waist. She always wore a cotton nightgown when she slept now. One that covered the scars he had come to love… and the body that seemed little more than skin stretched over bones. She seemed unable to eat much, and all too often lost what she did manage to get down. She was dying by inches now… and there was nothing he could do.

Methos lay back in the bed… needing her… wanting her… needing her to want him again… at least once.

"Stop feeling sorry for yourself and order breakfast," she teased him and slapped his bare leg. One thing Alexa had not lost through everything… was her sense of humor. He nodded, reached for the phone and ordered a light continental breakfast for both of them.

She rose, rubbing her fingers across her bare scalp while explaining, "I can't eat all that. It goes to waste."

"Perhaps today is the day you'll have an appetite. No reason to have to have room service make two trips." It was a daily ritual between them. But he never pushed her to eat, nor chided her for not doing so. He knew the medication made eating difficult… it was just that he so wanted to give her the world.

She smiled at him and blew him a kiss. "Dibs on the bathtub," she said with a smile and vanished into the bathroom.

His mobile phone rang. It was MacLeod. "Mac… buddy… what's up? My plans? Oh dote on Alexa. Actually she's visiting family today and wants some alone time with her Mum. I'll be at loose ends this afternoon. Sure… sure… I can stop by… what's up? Okay… tell me when I get there. Ciao!" He stared at the phone a moment before shutting it and then stretched out on the bed once more to await his goddess… fresh from her morning bath.

If it weren't that she was dying… he'd be content.

After dropping Alexa at her parents' home, Methos drove across town to MacLeod's dojo and loft. He'd not seen the Highlander since arriving in town a few days ago. The trip had taken a lot out of Alexa and he hadn't wanted to leave her. But she seemed somewhat stronger today. She'd marched strongly up the front steps without his help, her scarf, tied like a turban covering her shorn head, fluttered slightly in the light spring breeze. She was his center… his true north… his absolute. He greeted her parents; chatted a few moments, made certain they had his mobile number, and then reluctantly left. Every moment away from her was one he'd never recapture.

He applied the brakes as he pulled into one of the parking spots across from the dojo and turned off the ignition. A huge knot filled his throat and he sat behind the wheel, sobbing for some moments before he regained control and alighted to enter the dojo. The Jimmy chirped behind him when he hit the security button.

Entering the dojo, he exuded the calm, detached air he usually showed MacLeod. After all… he never wanted his true feelings and weaknesses to show. "MacLeod…" he said, throwing his arms wide. The Highlander was pushing a broom and glanced up with relief. With a laugh, the Highlander tossed the wooden push-broom at Methos, who caught it horizontally with both hands, while Duncan grabbed a wooden bokken. Within moments the two were sparring with one another and the crack of wood on wood was accompanied by laughs and grunts. With an unexpected move, Duncan knelt and swept the bokken against the back of Methos' knees while Methos, ever determined to keep his true strengths a secret and willing to lull his friend into a sense of personal accomplishment, fell for it.

"Ow! You tossed me on my bun," he complained rubbing his rear with one hand while reaching up for Duncan with the other. Duncan laughed, tossed the bokken away and leaned over to offer a hand to his friend. The imp of the perverse inhabited Methos. With a grin, he pulled and flipped Duncan onto his back and knelt over him, the broom-handle against the Highlander's neck.

"You never learn," Methos chastised him. In the next moment the world changed. Methos glanced up as he heard the elevator from the loft grind and groan as it descended and he sensed an old and powerful quickening, He rose, his eyes wide. He swallowed nervously. He didn't need this! Not now! He couldn't leave Alexa!

"It's okay Methos. It's why I called you. She's a friend. She needs help."

"She?" he said… his heart thudded like a steam-powered hammer in his chest. She? It couldn't be! But it was. He knew it the moment he saw the tousled mane of hair as she exited the lift. She stared at him and then attacked, claws extended.

"You!" she snarled.

Methos slid behind Duncan. "Wha…?"

"I swore never to forget your face!" By this time Cassandra… if that was even still her name… was nearly at him. Duncan held her back trying to calm her. She twisted free and pulled her bastard broadsword free of her light coat. "Let me go! Your friend rode with Kronos! He raped and murdered along with him and the others!"

"You're mistaken," Methos insisted, still keeping Duncan between him and the screaming fury out for his head. "I don't know you! You're mistaken!"

Duncan secured his hold on Cassandra. "Just go! I'll talk to you later."

Methos scurried for the door. Once at his Jimmy… he unlocked it and climbed in. He sat for a moment… the keys fumbling in his fingers as he tried to think what to do. But nothing occurred to him. Finally he started the ignition and, with a roar, raced down the street. He drove without plan but soon found himself at the shore. He parked the Jimmy and got out… pacing back and forth, filled with a desire to primal scream. Never had he felt so trapped. He clutched at his hair while tears ran down his face. He couldn't do this now. He needed to collect Alexa and go… go where? What would happen when she learned what he had been? What he was? He hunched over and sobbed with a strangled scream, falling to his knees and beating at the rocky shore until his hands were bruised and bloody.

At that point he became aware of a nearby immortal. Hurriedly he looked up and about, surprised to see a slight, smiling man with a scar on his face, leaning against the Jimmy. "Kronos," murmured Methos. "It never rains but it pours." Slowly he got to his feet while Kronos laughed, spread his arms wide and then slapped his hands together before him, rubbing them with a huge grin.

"Greetings, Brother!"

Methos eyed him suspiciously. How much did his old comrade know? What did he want? After all, the last time they'd seen one another Methos had poisoned Kronos and cast him into a deep well in Iona. That had been nearly two thousand years ago. "What do you want?"

Kronos threw back his head and laughed loudly. "You should have seen yourself. You were on all fours, grubbing about, wailing and an easy target for any passing immortal. Pardon me Methos, but honestly… you were a mess."

Methos tugged at his coat, feeling the comfort of his broadsword within it "I've had a rough day."

"Yes… Cassandra. She is still quite the hot-headed one. I loved that she was ready to kill you this time and not me. I rather think she no longer loves you."

"Cassandra never loved me. I never loved her," protested Methos.

"Really?" Kronos shook his head. "You two could have fooled me. But that was why I took her from you. She was most ungrateful of my attentions, though."

"And you never got over it," grumbled Methos, attempting to bypass Kronos and leave in the Jimmy.

"In a rush to get back to your dying lover?"

Methos froze, his hand on the door handle. He whipped around, grasped Kronos by the lapels of his black leather jacket and slammed him against the Jimmy. "You will not touch her. If she dies one minute before her time… I… will… kill… you!" Each word was punctuated with slamming Kronos against the Jimmy again and again. Joggers walking along the shore stared at them and then hurried on.

"Easy, Brother. You'd think I know nothing of love. Mortals are such fragile things. We all of us change, Methos… we change or we die. You taught me that."

"What do you want?" Methos sneered suspiciously. "If you even talk to her… if you even walk into the same room I'll…"

"Kill me. But you've already done that at least once. No… I'm here to offer you a proposition. I will leave you alone for the rest of your lover's mortal life, as short as it must be, and then… once she's dead… you and I will ride together once again. Brothers! You will plan our raids and we will rule the world… or at least become very, very rich."

Methos snorted. "And you say you've changed. You're the same greedy little psychopath I knew three thousand years ago. A little man trying to make big plans to cover his own shortcomings."

"You wound me," Kronos mocked. He raised a hand as if Methos had stabbed him in the heart. "Right about there."

"And if I don't join you?"

Kronos genial demeanor vanished and the dangerous man he was at his core suddenly was evident in his expression and the tenor of his words. "Then Alexa Bond will meet a very sudden death… right after learning just what you were."

"I'll kill you," snarled Methos, lifting Kronos off of his feet slightly.

"No… you'll try to kill me. But you can't. You can't because killing me would be like killing yourself."

"Only who I was."

Kronos shook his head; he winked. "Oh I think you've already tried that… but he's still in you… that Brother of mine."

"I am not your brother!" Methos shouted.

"Your choice. Alexa… or this one little task I ask of you to insure you're on board with my plans." Kronos sobered and hissed out, "Kill Cassandra. Take her head."

"Why don't you kill her?"

"Because I don't want to. I enjoy her pursuing me rather than the other way around. But I give her back to you, Brother. I give her to you. You make the choice… kill Cassandra or I kill Alexa."

In horror, Methos backed away from him, shaking his head in disbelief.

"You don't love her. She's MacLeod's whore now." Kronos grinned again, "And there's the rub. Kill Cassandra and MacLeod will come after you. My plan is perfect." He gestured success and then leaned in to whisper. "Or maybe it's MacLeod you love."

Methos decked him with a roundhouse blow. "I really ought to kill you now."

Kronos indicated the elderly couple walking by, staring at them. "Oh now they'd enjoy that." He scrambled to his feet, rubbing his jaw. "Think about it… I'll be around." He turned and with a wave sauntered down the shore with a whistle.

Methos roared and turned to pace the other direction. Twenty feet from the Jimmy he screamed defiance at the heavens. Not only could he not save Alexa from an early death, no matter how he tried; now he was once more a pawn in Kronos' plans unless he could figure a way out. He would have to agree with his old comrade's demands… at least for the time being. Slowly he brought his rage and despair under control. Whatever it took… Alexa would have a worry few final days. His mind made up, he returned to the Jimmy and was just turning on the ignition when his mobile rang.

"Hi it's me," came Alexa's voice when he answered.

"Are you all right?" Methos asked, fear tingeing his question.

"I'm fine. A bit tired. Dad is driving me back to the hotel so you can spend the rest of the afternoon with Duncan."

"No… I'm in the car. I'll be right there."

"Look for me in the restaurant. I'm actually a little bit hungry."

Methos carefully considered her words. She might actually be safer in the restaurant… there would be people around her. "Have your Dad stay with you in case something happens."

"What could happen?"

"Well you know what often happens when you're actually hungry."

"Oh… right. I'll be careful. Something light and bland and loaded with calories. Maybe a chocolate fudge sundae?" she teased.

Gods but he wished she could manage to eat one. Or maybe two or three. He smiled. She was a spitfire was his Alexa. She had a gift for fighting through obstacles and always seeing a bright side. "I love you," he said simply and rang off. He always finished every conversation with her that way; as if fearful she'd slip away before he could tell her again. He hit the accelerator, and prayed the lights would be with him.

Once back at the hotel, he headed for the restaurant, stopping at the entrance when he felt another immortal. Fearfully he moved forward. He could see Alexa at a table with… Duncan and Cassandra! He stopped and swallowed nervously. What would Cassandra tell her? What wouldn't she tell her?

Reaching the table he kissed Alexa's cheek, noting the bowl of chicken soup and bread, the dark glare in Duncan's eyes, and the barely concealed hate in Cassandra's. "Where's your dad?"

"I sent him home when Duncan and his friend stopped in. They said you'd left in a hurry. I told you not to rush."

He pulled up a chair, "You are my number one priority." He clasped her hand, quietly checking her pulse. "How's the soup?"

Alexa pushed it back with the other hand. "I guess I'm not as hungry as I thought I was." She smiled at Cassandra. "He loves taking care of me… doing things for me. Was he like that when you knew him?"

Cassandra smiled grimly. "No… he was rather selfish. He wanted me to wait on him." She met Methos' startled gaze levelly and with no mirth. He groaned inwardly even as Alexa laughed.

"I knew he was too good to be true. I've always thought he had a deep, dark, secret past."

"Yes… he likely does," Cassandra replied. "But you'd have to ask him."

"But he never gives me a straight answer."

"No… he never does."

Meanwhile MacLeod just sat, seething. He was positively shaking with anger and tapping his fingers on the table.

Alex pulled her hand out of Methos' and rubbed her brow. "I'm sorry… I feel… I…" Her voice dropped away. Immediately Methos was on his feet, pulling her into his arms. Her pulse was thready now, and her breathing shallow. He scooped her up and turned.

"Go… go," Duncan said. "I've got the bill". Angry as he was, the Highlander still was fond of Alexa and knew that right now she needed "Adam" and Adam needed to focus on her.

Methos sped through the hotel to the elevator which he rode to their floor. How he managed to carry Alexa and pull out the keycard, he was never able to explain. He just managed. People in tense situations did all sorts of remarkable things. Managing a key card without dropping Alexa was his.

Laying her on the bed, he opened he checked her vitals and then turned on the oxygen, adjusting the breathing tube. She stirred and tried to fight it away. "It's not invasive, Love. You need this. It will help relax you." He rested a hand on her forehead, hoping his touch would comfort her.

"Okay," she said weakly, and then turned gray and began to heave. He rolled her to one side and grabbed the wastepaper basket. When she was done, he wet a washcloth at the sink and washed her face.

"There, is that better?"

"Mmmm. Why are you so good to me?"

"Because I love you."

"Ugly, sick, emaciated me who can't do anything but sleep and be sick."

Methos smiled and wiped her face down with the cloth. "You are my shining love. Your inner beauty shows through the rest. That's just the form you wear… not who you are. You are more beautiful than any woman I've ever know."

"You oughta watch that… looking through rose-colored glasses," Alexa teased haltingly. Then she shuddered and lay back on the bed.

Methos could feel an immortal in the hallway. He picked up the empty ice bucket. Best take care of this now while she was stable. "I'll be right back. I have to get some ice."

"I'm not going anywhere," she replied and then dozed off.

Outside in the corridor, he found MacLeod and Cassandra. He marched past them to the ice machine where he stabbed the scoop into the ice as if it were a sword. Cassandra followed him.

"I didn't tell her anything. How is she?"

"She's dying. If not today then tomorrow or maybe next week." He stopped and fought the tears once more. "What do you care?"

Cassandra crossed her arms. "I still want to kill you… but it can wait. I wouldn't want to rob the girl of your doting attendance."

Methos grumbled his thanks and pushed past her to run into the stone edifice that was Duncan MacLeod. "It's true, isn't it. You killed all those people."

Methos ran a hand through his hair. "Do you want the truth? Yes. Now let me pass. I don't want to deal with this right now."

Duncan grasped Methos' arms. "You killed hundreds of people!"

Methos laughed hysterically. "Hundreds? No thousands. No… tens of thousands. It was the way the world was in those days. I loved it… riding through the world as a law unto myself. No one stood up to me… no one." He focused on MacLeod. "But I was different then."

"That's what I tried to tell Cassandra. I told her about Alexa. She wanted to see for herself."

Methos whirled on Cassandra. "Let me bury her in peace. Then if you want my head… I'll kneel down and let you take it. That way… I can rest at her side."

Cassandra shook her head. "You really love her? It's not an act?"

"Do you find that I can love so impossible?"

Cassandra looked away.

"Or just that I didn't love you."

She glared at him. "Love had nothing to do with how we were… what we were."

"No… it didn't," Methos admitted sadly. "In other circumstances, perhaps it would have."

She looked away again. Duncan let him pass and he returned to the nearly silent hotel room where only the slight sound of hissing oxygen assure him that Alexa was still with him. He ought to call her parents… but not now. No… she wouldn't want that. She'd had a lovely morning with them. Perhaps that was the way she wanted them to remember her. Sadly he slipped off his boots and climbed into the bed beside her, holding her lightly and whispering his love to her.

How long he lay there he had no idea. The shadows had grown since he'd lain down but at first he wasn't certain what had awakened him. Then the mobile phone rang. He scrambled for it, relieved to see her react slightly to his rising and roll onto her side still sleeping.

He went into the bathroom and closed the door. "Yes?"

"Why is the bitch still alive?"

Methos started and then realized that Kronos, for that's who it was, was referring to Cassandra.

"Right… I take her head while doctoring Alexa. You'll just have to wait!"

"No. You want to be able to bury Alexa when she dies of her illness… you kill Cassandra… tonight."

Methos scrambled for a clear thought. He had something to give… something his old comrade might want more than Cassandra's head. And… it would give him time. "Wouldn't you rather have Caspian and Silas?"

"They're dead."

"Unless they died in the past few days… no… they're not."

He heard a shout of triumph. "The four of us! Together again! The world will tremble before us as it once did! Where are they?"

"I'll tell you… you go collect them… both of them… and then I'll deal with Cassandra," Methos said evasively. "I'll bury Alexa and together we will blaze a trail of terror across civilization."

"You're lying," Kronos hissed over the phone.

"Perhaps. But if you don't collect them… you'll never know." Darkness crept into Methos' voice, a darkness he'd not used in ages, a darkness he'd not felt since killing Akhenaton Ra in Egypt a few months ago. It had taken him hours to banish the darkness and face Alexa once more. He'd been terrified he'd not manage it. Not even two hundred years out of the game were enough for him to maintain his placid exterior very long if he returned to the killing. Knowing she was lying in the bed beside him that night had brought him back. She needed him. Without her, he would have been lost. Now… she was still the only thing holding him in this life.

"Tell me then," Kronos ordered.

Methos told him, knowing that the locations and conditions would keep his old comrade occupied for some time. When the call ended, he returned to bed. He doubted he'd get much sleep tonight… but the feel of Alexa in his arms, the smell of her, soothed him and he slept despite his intentions.

He awakened the following morning to the feel of an immortal in the hallway. He rose, glanced at his hidden sword and sighed, padding silently to the door to peer through the peephole.

Cassandra stared back at him as if she knew he was there. Reluctantly Methos opened the door and stepped out into the hallway. "What do you want?"

"I'm leaving. If you didn't know, Kronos is on the move."

Methos merely nodded. She'd be enraged to know he'd spoken to him.

"This is for Alexa." Cassandra held out a wooden box. Methos accepted it and lifted the lid to see some bags of herbs and some aromatic oils and unguents. "I didn't know if you had any of these. The herb mixtures I've found work wonders on the digestion for people in chemo-therapy. I ran a shop for a while in New York City. The oils and unguents are soothing."

He lifted one, managed to open it and smelled. Methos nodded. "Yes… I've used this one on her. I'd run out though." He replaced the lid. "Thank you."

"I don't do it for you. I do it for her. Cancer is a terrible disease for anyone to endure… but she is so young. It breaks my heart." She tossed that remarkable mane of hair about her head and stared at him defiantly.

Methos nodded. "Still… thank you."

Her eyes widened. "You're welcome." She sounded surprised. She turned to leave.

"Cassandra," he called after her. She turned back. "Be careful. Kronos knows you're after him. He wants you dead."

"How do you know that?"

Methos paused. "He contacted me," he finally admitted.

Green fire blazed in her eyes. "You're still involved!" she hissed.

Methos shook his head. "I didn't even know he was in town until after I left the dojo. Evidently… he heard rumors of Methos in Seacouver and came to check things out. Did Duncan tell you about the other one?"

Cassandra nodded. "So fiction and reality merged. He visited here and you came to town shortly afterwards. The irony of the two of you being in the same place within weeks of each other is ironic."

"At least we didn't meet. Did you ever meet him?"

Cassandra nodded. "Centuries ago. I figured if he were using your name… you were dead and that he had killed you It did surprise a few years later that he started his 'we don't have to kill' crusade. That didn't sound like you at all.."

"While I simply accepted his masquerade as just one more level of obfuscation for me to hide beneath. Never wanted to meet him. Never did."

"I wonder who he truly was?"

Methos considered it a moment. "Darius likely knew."

Cassandra started. "Yes… I should have asked him."

They stood for a moment longer in the heavy silence… all the deeds and misdeeds of three millennia hanging between them. Finally Cassandra left and Methos returned to his room and the dying woman he loved.

Using the room's coffee pot, he heated water and brewed her a cup of tea. The aroma made her stir. "Adam? What's that? It smells horrible."

He smiled. "Cassandra stopped by. She said she's given this blend to people in chemotherapy for years. It might help."

Alexa blew on the tea and then took a sip. She made a face. "It taste's worse than it smelled and I didn't think that possible." She grinned widely… apparently feeling light-hearted after a good night's sleep.

"I'm not surprised," Methos replied gently.

"So what's the whole story on you two?" She curled up in the bed, the cup between her hands.

He shrugged. "We were an item once… we were much younger. It didn't work. We ended up wanting to kill one another."

She laughed and Methos' heart thrilled to hear that laughter. "Oh seriously. As if anyone would kill someone over a love affair gone wrong. Oh wait… some people do." She winked and drank more tea.

He stretched out next to her, satisfied to just watch her, her humor infecting him and making him content. He pushed the thoughts of Cassandra and Kronos far away. He could focus on Alexa once more.

Her strength grew in the hours that followed. She kept down a decent breakfast and wanted to sit on the patio in the afternoon sun. He made a thermos of the tea to take down with them, and bundled her up to accompany her down. She laughed and leaned conspiratorially near him, commenting on the people who passed them… making up stories. For a while, it was as if they were back on Santorini before she became so sick. Methos gradually relaxed as the afternoon waned and she showed no signs of weakening. Clearly this was a good day. He prayed that there were still more of them in their future.

A bellhop stopped by to tell him he had a phone call at the desk. He rose, kissed her on the cheek, "I'll be right back. Might be MacLeod or Joe. We still need to go by and see him at some point. I love you." He strode purposely toward the desk and picked up the phone.

"Hello?" He heard nothing… not even a dial tone. "Hello? Is someone there? Adam Pierson here." Still nothing. A kernel of worry and doubt began to grow in his mind. Slamming the receiver down, he hurried back to the patio.

The table where he'd left Alexa was empty. A server was clearing it off.

"Where did she go?" he cried, grabbing the server's arm.

"The young woman? She left with a gentleman. He left a wonderful tip," the young woman said.

"Which way did they go?" Fear rose in him. Alexa was so trusting. But would she have left with someone she didn't know?

Oh…" the young woman pointed toward the bar. "In there I suppose."

Methos whirled and made for the bar. He did not find her. He tired the front desk to see if there was a message. Nothing. He returned to the room, hoping that she'd simply become weary and gone up without him. She wasn't there.

He tossed the coffee carafe toward the wall, luxuriating in the sound of glass breaking. He ripped the bedclothes from the bed… as if somehow she were hiding from him. He screamed his despair and fear and fell to his knees.

His mobile phone rang. Snatching it up, he answered it breathlessly.

"Ah, Brother. So good to hear your voice. Have you lost something?"

"Kronos!" Methos said warningly. "If you hurt her…"

"Yes, yes. I fully understand. However… you don't seem properly motivated." He rattled off an address of a deserted warehouse on the waterfront. "Fifteen minutes," he warned Methos. "If you leave now… you can just make it."

The phone call ended. Methos shoved the mobile in his pocket, retrieved his sword and rushed for the parking deck and the Jimmy.

While he drove recklessly for the waterfront, running stop signs and red lights, and passing more slowly moving vehicles, he considered calling MacLeod. "He's the Boy Scout. He's the one accustomed to saving damsels in distress. But this was his Alexa. He would never forgive himself if something happened to her because of his past. How had Kronos managed it?

Visions of his old comrade being charming and Quixotic flitted through his imagination.

"Hello Miss… was that Adam Pierson? Why he's my oldest and dearest friend. You might say we were brothers.

Have a seat, Mr.…

Kronin (or something equally bland) Shall we go surprise him?"

Oh yes. He'd have her leaning on his arm and steered off in another direction before she realized something were wrong. Then he'd be merciless in subduing her.

The thought of that made him hit the accelerator and the horn even harder.

He leapt out of the Jimmy once he reached the warehouse. Long shadows filled the area and the chill of the wind off the ay made him feel cold. He could sense an immortal within the warehouse… no… two immortals.

Drawing his sword, he crept in carefully. The first thing he saw was Cassandra, hog-tied and lying in a spotlighted area of the floor. Slowly he moved toward her.

"There you are Brother!" crowed Kronos from the shadows. "You seemed to have a hard time finding her so I've done the hard work. She's all yours. I'll watch."

"Where's Alexa?" Methos demanded.

"Oh she's safe. I haven't harmed her… yet. Kill Cassandra and the young lady is free to leave with you."

Methos stood over Cassandra, staring at her blankly. All he had to do was kill her. She was helpless. He had a sword. It was so very tempting. It would end everything. "No," he argued with himself. It wouldn't. He'd be under Kronos thumb once more. He glanced about.

"I need to see her. I need to be sure."

A light turned on over an area over a metal walkway two stories up. "Oh very well." Kronos stepped into the light, Alexa in his arms. He held a knife to her throat. "Kill Cassandra!" he warned.

Methos nodded. He turned back toward Cassandra and raised his sword. He took a deep breath. This wouldn't be easy. He pulled his revolver, aimed and fired.

For a moment Kronos stared at him, then, as the bloody hole grew in his forehead, he tottered and fell to the ground floor.

Methos sighed in relief. He lowered his sword and met Alexa's fiery gaze. He knelt beside Cassandra and cut her bonds. Then he handed her his sword. "Once I gave you to Kronos. Now… I give him to you. Do what you will with him… just wait until I get Alexa out of here." He rose and climbed stairs to the woman he loved.

She glared at him over her gag. He removed it and gathered her into his arms. "Let's go home."

She relaxed into his arms and he lifted her, aware as always of little she weighed now… like a glass filled with light. He carried her to the car and was two streets away when the quickening erupted. He nodded. Hell hath no fury! he thought. Cassandra certainly hadn't wasted any time. He hoped her desire for revenge would be sated with Kronos' death.

Methos, however, had other concerns.

"I'm fine," Alexa insisted once they'd returned to their room and he was checking her over. "Or at least as fine as I can be. Now I want an explanation. Who was he? Why did he want you to kill Cassandra? What was the business with the sword? Why did he think you would actually kill her?" Her questions came fast and furious.

Methos paced back and forth, his mind grasping at explanations. Finally he sat in the club chair and leaned forward, clasping his times. "I'm an immortal," he finally said plainly. "So is Cassandra. So was Kronos. We are over three thousand years old."

Alexa stared at him for several moments. Then she nodded. "Of course you are."

Methos sighed. "It's true. You can ask Joe or MacLeod. They'll back me up. Immortals have always been a part of history. We hide our special gift behind many different identities."

"And the three of you?"

Methos sighed. This part would be even harder. "I was very young. Kronos… that was the name I knew him by… was enticing. He showed me a whole different way of life. We ran roughshod over an entire region… raiding, murdering, raping." He looked at her guiltily.

She arched an eyebrow. "You were a Bronze Age equivalent of a juvenile delinquent?"

He chuckled. "Something like that."

"How did Cassandra fit in? Did she ride behind you like a biker babe?"

"She was one of our slaves," he shrugged.

"So if you're immortal… how and why did Kronos want you to kill her?"

Methos held his breath a moment and then let the truth rush out. "He wanted me to behead her with my sword. So far… no one has ever healed from losing a head."

Alexa began to laugh hysterically. "Oh this is too rich. You and your friends set this whole thing up… right? A little play-acting to divert me. You even had MacLeod involved." She continued to laugh.

Methos sighed and watched her laugh. He supposed it did all seem too fantastic to be true. He considered slicing his palm open, but decided to let her keep her illusions. Still… he had to admit to himself that he had hoped she would have hugged him… told him how sad for him she felt… how horrible it was to watch everyone he knew grow old and die. Then they could have had a tender kiss and possible made love once more. Alas… things like that didn't usually happen in real life.

He smiled at Alexa and shrugged. "Yes… all a little play to amuse you."

"I knew it!" I told Mr. Kronin that very thing. He was very amused by it. I knew he wouldn't hurt me… he was such a gentleman and tried so hard not to hurt me when he gagged me and tied my hands. Is he a stunt man… falling like that?"

"Yes," Methos replied. Perhaps the less said the better.

Late that night, he sensed Cassandra in the hallway. He opened the door carefully. She held out his sword. "You might need this back."

"Then I'm not next on the hit list?"

"Hardly. I have a lot to deal with right now… lots of confused feelings and dark desires." She darted forward and kissed him, giving him lots of tongue. To his surprise, he kissed her back. She pulled away, a mercurial gleam in her eyes. "I knew it! You really, really liked him."

"I was kissing you… not him."

She smiled knowingly. "Of course you were. Now then… have fun with Alexa. I'm off to Europe. Caspian and Silas are where you said… right?"

Methos nodded blankly.

"Well I have to deal with them… pay them back. Once that's done… perhaps we'll meet again." She laughed and patted the side of his face. "Later, Lover."

He watched her go with an inward groan. Kronos was bad enough… but a Kronos-quickened Cassandra could be a true nightmare. He closed the door and put his sword in its case.

"Who was that," asked Alexa.

"Cassandra," Methos said climbing back into bed and settling comfortably beside her.

"Did you thank her for the tea? I really do feel ever so much better."

He nodded and kissed her shoulder.

"In fact," she teased. "I think maybe we can do more than that."

"Are you certain?"

"Silly immortal. Maybe it's all that tea I drank or maybe the fun of today, but I feel great. Just try me. I will give you a night to remember for a thousand years. She kissed him and then licked his ear while her hands slipped about him.

"Any night with you is memorable," he moaned as she caressed him. Then he concentrated on loving her one more time.