Once in Rome

Part 2.

4.

Rome, 65 BCE.

"Ressius, calm yourself." Xanthia couldn't stand his pacing any longer. "Nothing terrible has happened. Truly, it's a pity your conspiracy was discovered, but at least nobody get hurt."

"Ha," Methos finally sat down. "If it had been my conspiracy, it wouldn't have been discovered in the first place. Conceited youngsters!"

Xanthia smiled and approached her lover, and began to massage his shoulders.

"Dear, what do you want from them? People rarely learn from their own mistakes, and you expect them to learn from yours… Nothing irremediable has happened, really. Your Julius will just start another game that is all. But he should be more careful with his allies, Catiline is hardly the best choice."

"You are more than right. But that patrician is dangerous. And needs watching."

"Maybe. But, Ressius, be careful. Catiline is still in the habit of killing without second thought."

"I know."

There was something strange in the way he said this 'I know', something that bothered Xanthia. She couldn't exactly tell what it was, but she decided to pay a closer attention to Methos's political games from now on.

5.

Three years later (62 BCE)

The rituals were over and temple grew quite as Xanthia made her way through it to one of the hidden rooms. Methos had been staying there for a few months now, since 'Ressius Lanius' had gotten himself killed in some accident. (Xanthia still wasn't sure if it really had been just an accident of he had done it on purpose). But his 'death' hadn't stopped Methos from taking part in the current intrigues, he'd just moved to the shadows. He'd grown a beard (Xanthia didn't like it at all, but had to admit it did change his appearance), wore different clothes, used face paint to stay unnoticed and so far it worked. But, as time passed and the final act of a play called 'Catiline conspiracy' drew nearer, Xanthia became more and more worried. Methos took this all a little too seriously. There was no reason for him to be so concerned about the future of Roman republic or even Caesar wellbeing, there just wasn't an explanation. There was something more to it and today Xanthia was determined to know what exactly.

Methos was in room, sitting in front of the small table and mixing face paint. So he was going to participate in person in the denouement of the drama.

"You sure you need to go? You have done enough already, can Cicero and Senate handle the rest?"

The funniest thing of that all was that Cicero actually believed he had discovered the conspiracy all by himself.

"I don't want to leave anything to chance."

Oh. Well, maybe the direct question would be the best choice.

"Methos, what did Catiline do to you? Personally?"

"Nothing, Xanthia, I assure you. It's just… Pestilence must be stopped."

"Pestilence?" she asked quietly. "As in the Horseman of Pestilence?"

Methos's hands froze above the bowl, he cast a quick sharp gaze on her… then suddenly burst out laughing.

"I really should watch my tongue more carefully in your presence, lady Xanthia."

"Well?" she remained serious.

Methos sighed.

"Yes. The horseman of Pestilence was a person a lot like Lucius Sergius Catiline."

"Was?"

Methos sighed again. He didn't want to lie to her, and he knew too well that no trap was perfect or eternal.

"If you ever come across Immortal with a scar over his right eye — be wary."

With that he returned to his paints and Xanthia left him alone.

One of the slave boys brought the news that a battle between Catiline and Senate forces had begun. And though she should have known better, Xanthia still felt nervous. And so the first rays of the Sun found her waiting on the rear porch. At last she felt the Presence and an instant later saw Methos coming, clearly exhausted.

"Well?" she asked, hiding her relief.

"It's over. Catiline is dead, so are his main allies."

"Good. But you know, someday you will have to face him, not just the resemblance."

"Maybe. But not tomorrow," he said wearily.

"Not tomorrow," she agreed, reaching out to touch his cheek. "Come in, I'll help you with the bath."

6.
Nearly a month later it was truly over. The remaining participants of the conspiracy were judged; Caesar had happily avoided any accusations and now was building bridges with Pompey, choosing another way to get power. It was time to go.

Methos was packing in his room, Xanthia watched him silently, leaning on the far wall.
Suddenly he heard her footsteps; then saw out of the corner of his eye as she put a coin-size token on the table.

"There is a tavern on the Appian Way, close to the city, called after Mercury. Show this to its owner, and there will a horse for you."

"Thank you," he waited till she withdrew her fingers from the token and came back to that wall, then took the token and hid it in the small embroidered bag on his chest.

Couple more moments had passed before he sharply turned to Xanthia and asked, surprising himself more than her, "Aren't you tired of this life yet?"

She smiled actually was tired and the idea of traveling with him was more than tempting, but… She couldn't abandon the people of her household, and the Crystal was now hers to guard, she had no right to risk it in unprepared journey.

"Send me a letter when you find a place worth settling down."

He nodded understandingly and returned to his packing. When he was nearly finished, he asked quietly, "Can I ask a favor of you?"

"You can ask."

"Caesar or not, but soon someone will turn that dying Republic to an Empire. Make sure it'll be someone worthy."

"You overestimate my influence here, Methos," she answered with an ironic smile, "but I'll do my best."

"Thank you," with that he tightened the bag.

"Your journals?" surprised, she pointed to scrolls and papyruses, left on the table.
"Keep them for me for a while, until I find a place worth settling down."

She laughed, acknowledging the hit. He pulled the bag over his shoulder, took a step towards her and stopped, knowing, that one more step — and he wouldn't be going anywhere.

She locked gaze with him.

"We will meet again." There was no question in her voice.

"We will."

Epilogue.

Two millennia later and some hundreds of miles to the northwest, in a place once called Lutetia, a lean tall man stood in the cemetery with a single lily in his hand. The epitaph, engraved on a white stone in front of him, said 'Rebecca Horne. 1959-1994'. Methos sighed. He never knew why she had kept this particular alias for more than millennium, never asked who or what she had been honoring and remembering by it. And now it didn't matter anymore.

They met again and again throughout the centuries, never loosing track of each other for long. She'd kept his journals from time to time and continued to see right to his soul through all his masks and lies. More than once he had sought (and found) sanctuary under her roof, more than once he'd come to her side, when she'd needed support. More than once they had consoled each other in the aftermath of mortal loves. More than once they'd shared the most marvelous secrets of this world. More than once he'd dumped new Immortals he'd come across on her , openly teasing and secretly admiring her belief in the young ones, her ability to teach them, to make a person out of a wreck… She'd failed as a teacher only once but it had been enough.

Methos bent forward and placed the flower on the thin layer of snow, close to the headstone.

"It's over now," he whispered in the long forgotten dialect of Ancient Greek. "The Horsemen are finished. I thought you should know."

Or maybe she already knew. Her body lay beneath that snow, last piece of her crystal was in Amanda's care, her Quickening somewhere inside MacLeod, but… Where was her soul? Methos sighed. The Greek concept of afterlife had never been among his favorites and yet…
"We will meet again, Xanthia of Miletus. We will meet again."

The End.

Notes:
Lucius Sergius Catiline and both his conspiracies existed in reality; Caesar's part in them is debatable. Catiline is also a notable character in "Spartacus" by Rafaello Giovagnoli; he does resemble Kronos in that novel.
Lutetia is the ancestor of present-day Paris.