Disclaimer: Highlander et al. don't belong to me. I make no money off of them, and tend to give them my money more often than not. So it goes.
A/N: Technically speaking this fic can be read without reading As the World first, but I recommend them both even if you read out of order. Every effort was made to keep this story historically accurate, but something might have slipped through for which I apologize. I had no plans when I started writing this story, so it surprised me when I filled in several little canon holes, and fleshed out something I hope more fic writers expand upon - namely that Methos and Darius make excellent friends. Thanks to havenward for reading this over before I posted.
It was an interesting time to live in Paris. Not as interesting as twenty years before during the revolution, but interesting nonetheless. The shape of Paris was changing all around his little church. He didn't approve of Emperor Napoleon's constant warmongering, and many followed the British in calling him a tyrant, but Napoleon was also one of the most modern and progressive monarchs Europe had ever seen. His civil codes were being adopted across Europe, and Napoleon's insistence on treating the Jews as equals would hopefully have a more lasting effect than Bonaparte's wars.
Darius' little church was being used as storage right now, though he had hopes of regaining full control of it soon. He had gone off to tend the wounded in the wars and found the local hotel legally using his church as a warehouse when he returned. So, if he wanted to practice his adopted religion, he had to go across the Seine to Notre Dame, its' soaring buttresses barely visible over the mass of buildings that crowded everywhere in the city. Despite its' closeness geographically, it could take over an hour some days to get there due to the carts and people that blocked the way. One could only hope that one of Napoleon's future reforms would be some sort of traffic control, or at least widening the roads. Darius thought fondly of the Roman roads of the past, then snorted at the irony of his nostalgia for his old enemies.
He was half way across the bridge when he sensed another immortal. It was old instinct that made him look behind first, and so he caught a glimpse of a familiar profile before it turned away. Darius hurried after him, pushing through the crowd. "Adam! Adam!" The other man ground to a halt, then leant casually against the side of the bridge, giving the impression he had never intended to run from Darius in the first place. His hair was long and mussed ‒ a great contrast to the Roman legion haircut he used to have. Darius tended to keep his hair short, as befit the modern holy man.
"It's Daniel right now," said Adam, who had been called Marcus when they first met. He held out a hand which Darius' clasped in the old way, forearm to forearm.
"Come with me to the cathedral?" Darius couldn't keep the question out of his voice. It had been several years after Marcus, sorry, Daniel's visit that Darius had first encountered Christianity and the tales of the Bible. He was fairly certain he knew the significance of an immortal renaming himself Adam after hearing of Methusaleh's death, but he wanted confirmation from the man himself. Curiosity had always been one of Darius' failings. "I have tea, and a chess set," Darius' offered, seeing that Daniel was wavering.
Daniel laughed, and wagged a finger under Darius' nose. "Are you tempting me, oh priest?" he asked in Latin. They'd been speaking French before.
"If the Catholic Church were to outlaw tea and chess," admitted Darius, also in Latin, "I would have to change religions." He smiled while Daniel laughed. It was a confession he would not have made to anyone other than Daniel. He was well known to other immortals as a pacifist and a Christian. Few of them would understand that he had first sought solace in the old religion and at the holy springs before turning to his current calling. After all, the first Church had been a Roman religion even if it began amongst the Jews.
Daniel had the Gallic shrug down perfectly. "I suppose I can spare some time for an old friend." His tone was light and teasing. They crossed back over the bridge and through the streets until they finally reached one of Notre Dame's side entrances. The cathedral had been in a sad state since the revolution – all the statues still standing were beheaded, and its' stone walls were crumbling. Hopefully the Church would restore her someday.
Darius had the key, and let them in through an old, wooden door before locking it behind him. Father Michel was kind enough to lend his office to Darius until Darius regained control of his own church. Darius closed the office door behind them, and set about making his special tea. "Do you always choose your names from the Bible?" he asked.
"The Bible took my name first so it's only fair," said Daniel. There was bitterness, and humor in his tone.
Darius placed a small cloth over the pot, then poured the lukewarm water of his moss tincture inside it, letting the cloth catch the loose moss. He then mixed in some boiling water to thin it. "The name Methos isn't in the Bible," he said, glancing up to catch Daniel's reaction to the statement. The other man froze, his face blank. For a long moment, his eyes were hard and calculating, assessing all the variables. Darius was still instinctively, the way a deer freezes before a wolf. Then Daniel shrugged, and said, "I guess I gave you enough clues the last time we met. If I'd known what a hassle it would be to be a legend, I'd never have even hinted." His smile was self-depreciating, and Darius chided himself for the moment of fear. Daniel was harmless. Right now, his mind supplied, remembering the same man discussing power and fear with a hunger in his eyes.
"May I call you Methos?" he asked, as he poured them their tea, then fetched the chess set.
"If you like," said Methos, and settled into what should have been the priest's chair, irreverent as ever. Darius gave the man an indulgent nod and took his own seat. He chose one black and one white pawn from the board, and put his hands behind his back, hiding one pawn in each fist before holding them out to Methos. The other man taped his left fist and Darius opened it to reveal the black pawn. Methos took it and began to set up his side of the board, while Darius did the same for his own pieces.
"So where is your name in the Bible?" asked Darius.
"You know, it took a jar of wine before you asked me so many questions last time."
"I'm afraid I've grown more curious in my old age." And since the invention of the confession, he had gotten used to knowing other men's secrets.
"Perhaps I was the original Daniel," said Methos as Darius took the first move. "It would be easy for an immortal to survive the lion's den."
Darius chose to accept the lie. "How was Babylon?"
"Hot." Methos moved a pawn then took his first sip of Darius' tea. His eyes widened. He put the cup down, and mock-glared at Darius. "I'd accuse you of trying to poison me except most poisons taste better. Is that moss?"
Darius was impressed though he didn't show it. Methos was the first person to guess the ingredients correctly. Five thousand years of experience was good for something. "You're a connoisseur," he said, giving Methos his best innocent smile. "It's good for the body."
Methos snorted. "Says the immortal."
"We may not appreciate it, but mortals do." Darius moved his bishop.
"I'm surprised they haven't accused you of witchcraft."
"I am a simple man of God who happens to know some herbal remedies."
"That you are," said Methos, surveying the board, "though it's a general I'm facing in this game."
Darius nodded his agreement. He had made his peace with his continuing interest in the martial arts; he could admire the genius of the battle of Austerlitz while still deploring the loss of human life – on both sides. "Your style has changed," he pointed out, though they had played an old game called Stones all those years ago, chess pieces being in short supply. Methos play back then had been bold and playful. Now it was conservative. Shadowed.
"It would be impossible to maintain the same playing style for eternity," said Methos, his eyes distant.
"So you believe in change then?" asked Darius. There was a time when this wasn't the case.
"You remember what I said?" asked Methos, but didn't wait for an answer. "I'm forced to believe in change. I find myself in the same situations of centuries before, and I chose differently time and again. Once or twice would be boredom." He sneered. "I always liked to spare a few for novelty value."
Darius was silent, as Methos groped blindly for his tea cup and downed it without even a grimace of distaste. Darius recognized a confession when he heard one.
"There was a time when I'd have killed you for guessing my name, and not felt a shred of guilt." He stared down at the chessboard, his face hidden by his hair, before he looked up and met Darius' eyes. "Want to know where my name is in the Bible? Revelations 6:8."
Darius had never enjoyed that book of the Bible. It spoke of so much horror. Consequently, he couldn't remember what that particular verse referred to, so he got up and pulled an old Latin bible out of a chest. The smell of cedar wafted up. Methos waited, bracing himself against the table as if they were at sea, while Darius found the reference.
"Death," said Darius finally. "One of the four horsemen." He was confused. It was true that the four horsemen had been bogeymen long before they got written into the Bible, but that didn't make them any more real than thousands of other legends and horror stories. Perhaps Methos was being metaphorical. "I don't understand."
"Four thousand years ago, I and my three immortal brothers brought a wave of death and destruction to two continents. We were unstoppable. Mortals remember us in their nightmares even now. We chose names and aspects for ourselves because that was what gods were, and I chose Death." The sunlight through the windows had disappeared, and Methos face was in shadow. "You could treble your kill count, and it wouldn't even come close to my own." It was a statement of fact, tinged with weariness.
"Are you searching for forgiveness?" Darius asked. That was usually the purpose of confession.
"No." That wasn't completely the truth, but neither was it a lie.
"Then why tell me?" He hoped it wasn't for judgment. Darius would have found the position hypocritical.
Methos slumped back into his chair. "You told me centuries ago that I had changed…"
"And now you tell me your past to see if I still believe it."
Methos nodded. "There is a part of me that could go back to it."
"But would you be happy?" asked Darius. Methos looked shocked. It was obviously not a question he had ever asked himself.
"No," said Methos slowly. "I find no joy in killing or fighting now. It's a necessity."
"Then you have your answer. The things that make you happy have changed, therefore you have changed." Darius hesitated, wondering if he should push on. Methos was too cynical to believe anything religious, but perhaps something simple… "Assuming you wish to be happy, you should do the things that make you happy. I find great happiness in making others happy. You may find yours elsewhere."
To Darius' surprise, Methos laughed. "Have you studied Buddhism or any of the so-called Eastern religions, Darius?" He had not. Darius was far too attached to France and his chapel to travel so far from it.
"I'll get you some of the famous texts to read," promised Methos. "You'll like them."
"And what will you do for yourself?" asked Darius.
Methos took his time answering, moving his queen in their all-but forgotten chess game. "When I was younger I lived by the principle, 'Live, grow stronger, fight' I suppose it's time I officially changed it to 'fight another day'."
Darius took Methos' queen. "How did it end for the Horsemen?" he asked.
"I left, and made sure they couldn't find me again."
"You were unhappy, which means you were changing even while you were with the Horsemen." Darius kept his tone mild, but a slight hint of triumph at proving his point might have crept in.
Methos gave him a sour look, and moved a pawn. "Checkmate," he said, radiating smugness. Darius stared at the board in dismay. Methos had hidden the pawn in plain sight. Darius wondered briefly if the whole purpose of their conversation had been to distract from the game, but decided that Methos was not that petty.
"Another game?" Darius asked. The bells were chiming the hour.
Methos shook his head. "I've got somewhere to be at dusk."
"No. Bonaparte took something of mine when he left Egypt. I intend to get it back."
"So, just imperial treason then," said Darius, amused in spite of himself.
"He stole from me first!" Methos was the picture of wounded innocence. It was disconcerting.
"I would wish you well, but that would be condoning sin." Methos snorted. "I'll let you out," said Darius. He regretted that they wouldn't have more time, but he had his own duties to attend to soon. It was a short walk to the door. Darius paused with the key in the lock, and turned to his friend.
"Methos, if you hate fighting and killing so much, why don't you stop?"
"Live my life on holy ground?"
Darius shook his head. He looked into Methos' eyes. "My friend, you are one of the cleverest men I have ever met. If you can avoid your brothers for thousands of years, surely you can avoid all the other immortals. Not for forever, but enough time for you to find happiness."
"I‒" began Methos, then stopped, his thoughts turned inward. "It is possible," he said, "though I'll have to break a few rules. Not ours," he said to forestall Darius' protest. "Do you know about the Watchers, Darius?"
Darius shook his head. Methos grinned. "I'll tell you all about them when next I'm here."
"So I'm not to be included in the 'avoiding immortals' plan?" asked Darius with a false frown.
"I'm afraid," said Methos with mock gravitas, "that playing chess with you makes me happy, so I shall have to return." Darius might have imagined the small, true smile Methos gave because a second later his arms were seized in the traditional warrior's embrace, the lock clicked, the door boomed shut, and Darius was alone, looking forward to their next chess game.