Alone?

Comments: Although not a direct advancement of it, this is part of the thousand years universe and relates directly to 'The Prize'

Timing: May 1995 (just after Finale II)

Comments 2: This has been written largely in response to a piece of feedback I received on 'The Prize'. The reviewer queried my main justification as to why Methos should react as he did. This is my explanation. Many thanks to Athena for the beta and many thanks to the gentleman who wasn't brave enough to leave me an email address with his feedback - at least if you're going to flame me, have the courage to receive a reply from me afterwards...

Disclaimer: Not mine, never will be, no money made, no offence meant.

Feedback: Yes please, from flowers to flames and all points in between - Rachel.Trench@blueyonder.co.uk



Alone?

Whether it was the aftermath of Kalas' quickening or the amount of whiskey he had consumed during the evening, MacLeod wasn't sure, but he started to think about the game and its meaning. It was a line of thought he had pursued plenty of times during his life without ever really coming to a conclusion, but now he had a first class opportunity to bounce some of his theories off other people.

"What's going on in that thick skull of yours?"

Amanda's question, combined with her hand waving in front of his face was enough to bring MacLeod back to reality. "Sorry...just...thinking."

"Must be pretty deep," Joe observed. "Amanda's been trying to get your attention for ten minutes!"

MacLeod grinned. "Sorry Amanda."

"So - what were you thinking about?" she asked.

"Life, the universe and everything else?" Methos suggested dryly.

"You do read minds," MacLeod accused.

"Pardon?" Joe and Amanda both looked blank.

Methos just smiled and shook his head. "Nope - no ESP here. Just a student of human nature." There was a lengthy pause. Joe, Amanda and MacLeod all stared at him bemused. Methos sighed and explained, "Whenever a man gets so deep in thought that he misses twenty minutes of conversation and a further ten minutes of a beautiful lady's attempts to gain his attention, there's only two things that can be on his mind. And since Amanda's here, I ruled out the first."

MacLeod shook his head ruefully. "I'd call you a cynic - except you're right."

Methos just shrugged. "Student of human nature - life long. That's me."

"Excuse me?" Joe interjected. "Do I want this explaining?"

MacLeod glanced at Methos, who shrugged again and retreated into his beer bottle. MacLeod sighed. "He's right. I have been thinking about life. Immortal life, at any rate." Joe raised his eyebrows. "The Game - the Gathering...the Prize. What it's all about."

There was a moment of silence, then characteristically, Amanda said, "You weren't kidding when you said it was deep, Joe. Why?" she added, looking at MacLeod.

He shrugged. "I have no idea. It's just... One of those questions. You know - is there a point to it all."

"Kalas."

Everyone turned and looked at Methos again. "Kalas what?" asked Amanda.

"Kalas is the reason," Methos clarified. "After the last...how long had you and Kalas been enemies?"

Duncan glanced at Joe. "I'm not sure. About three hundred years, give or take."

Methos nodded. "After the last three hundred years, you've no longer got a guy like Kalas coming after you. The relief of that is bound to send you into introspection."

"What degree do you hold?" Joe asked.

Methos smiled enigmatically. "Do you mean at the moment?"

Joe just shook his head. "Wise-ass."

"So," asked Amanda, "what's your theory? Do you think there's a point to it all?"

MacLeod was silent for a few moments. "I think there has to be. Otherwise, why bother?"

"And what do you think that point is?" Methos asked.

MacLeod gave a helpless shrug. "I don't know. I've never managed to come up with anything. At least," he added, "nothing that's leapt out and hit me as being *right*."

"Well," said Joe, "the Watcher theory du jour," and he smiled a little, "is that the Game is a battle of good versus evil."

Methos rolled his eyes. "Again."

"Again?" echoed Amanda.

"That's a theory that's kicked around off and on for the last five thousand years." Methos gave a rueful grin. "If not longer."

"OK, Mr Wise-ass," said Joe, "what's your theory?"

"About the Game?"

"For starters," suggested MacLeod.

Methos shot him a dirty look. MacLeod grinned and shrugged. "I think..." Methos hesitated. "No. I *hope* that the Game and the Gathering are all one big hoax. That there is no such thing. That really, all we are is longer lived human beings - and that someone made up the game in a fit of boredom."

"That's...ah..." Joe hunted for the right words.

"Quite a theory," MacLeod supplied.

Methos shrugged. "That's my theory - you ask, I tell."

"If you think it's such a big crock," Amanda began, "why do you still play it?"

Methos sighed. "I want to live. I like being alive - seeing the sun rise or set, watching the waves break on the shore, feeding the pigeons in Le Jardin de Luxembourg, hearing a child laugh...going out to buy the latest Rolling Stones album. And I can't do that if someone separates my head from my body."

There was another little silence as people digested the outburst. Methos, for his part, shifted uncomfortably in his seat.

Finally, Joe said, "So you'd want to win the prize, then?"

Methos shook his head. "Not me. I want to live, true, but..." He hesitated. "There's things I've done in my life that... If there is such a thing, I'm not worthy to win it."

"What sort of things?" MacLeod asked.

"It's done and in the past now," Methos answered tightly.

Wisely, MacLeod decided not to press.

"So you've made a few mistakes," Amanda shrugged negligently, "so what? Hasn't everyone? Let he who is without sin etcetera, etcetera. Are you seriously telling me you've *never* wanted to win the prize? Never wondered what it would be?"

Methos groaned, clearly wishing they had never started on this topic. "I am seriously telling you that I've never wanted to win the prize - in so far as I can remember."

"But why?"

"You mean other than me being wholly unworthy?"

"Yes. You said yourself; the only reason you play the Game is so that you can live. Isn't winning the Prize the ultimate extension of that?" Joe asked.

Methos slowly stood up and made for the coat rack.

"You're leaving?!"

Methos glanced over his shoulder, a wry expression on his face. "Adam Pierson has an eight o'clock meeting tomorrow morning for which he has done no work."

Joe looked deeply sceptical. "Sure. You're just running out to avoid the question."

"And that," Methos admitted.

"Aw c'mon, Methos - what've you got to lose by explaining this?" MacLeod asked.

Methos shrugged his coat on, then turned back to the waiting trio. "OK, yes, I want to live." He turned back to the door and put his hand on the handle. "But I don't want to be alone."

Then before anyone could say another word, he was gone.