TITLE: Curiosity Killed the Cat
AUTHOR: Hilton K
X-OVER: Highlander and Stargate SG1
SUMMARY: Methos gets involved in far more than he planned for.
DISCLAIMER: They're not mine I'm just having fun.
EXCUSES: Better call this AU. Anything I've watched is fair game, history and canon subject to change :0) I have a short attention span so this is an attempt to get my little universe started with a number of short stories to follow, plot holes and inconsistencies to be expected!
Thanks to RevDorothyL for the beta. All remaining errors and typos are mine all mine.
Jack opened the door for Sam into the blues bar. Adam Pierson's neighbour had claimed it was where he frequently hung out. Sam stepped through, raising her eyebrow in slight disapproval before heading straight to a table near the edge of the room. Jack, Daniel and Teal'c followed her over.
"Well, if you want to play it like that, sir, I'll have a beer." She grinned at the men standing around the table.
Teal'c, with a baseball cap covering his forehead, nodded his assent. "I also will have a beer, O'Neill."
"Fine, fine!" Jack muttered. "Daniel?" He turned to Daniel who was scanning the room.
"What? Sorry! I can't see him at the moment. I'll come with you; I should be able to see most of the room from the bar. I hope I can still recognise him."
Jack strode up to the bar and caught the eye of the grizzled barkeep. Noting his bearing and his limp, Jack guessed ex-military. "Hi! Yeah, we'll have 3 beers and . . . ," he nudged Daniel who was still preoccupied with the room.
"Huh? Oh yeah, beer too, please."
The barman nodded. "Sure thing." As the glasses were filling, he added to Jack, "We don't usually get your sort in here."
"Military. Can't hide anywhere," Joe grinned.
"Sore thumb, eh?"
"Um, actually," Daniel interrupted before they started swapping war stories, "I'm looking for a friend."
Joe tensed, looking between the two men. This younger guy he couldn't quite figure out. Didn't seem military but clearly worked with the other guy. He doubted he was an Immortal -- Joe'd spent enough years Watching to at least pick up on some signs, and besides there's no way they'd get involved with the armed forces these days. The risks were too great.
"What time are you meeting him? Perhaps he's late." Joe wasn't sure where this was going but he didn't want to take any chances.
"Well, it's um, kind of a surprise visit, really." Daniel reached up to play with his glasses nervously. "Hadn't heard from him in years and then in an e-mail he mentioned catching up for a beer sometime. Surprise!" He grinned sheepishly.
"That's one hell of a surprise. What's the name?"
"His name's Adam Pierson."
Joe sucked in a breath. How much to say? Taking the money for the beers he killed a little more time before answering. "Sure, he comes in here from time to time, but I haven't seen him for a couple of days." God, he hoped the old man didn't turn up now. He finished pouring the beers. "Well, there you go. Enjoy. Hope you find your friend." He turned and headed down the bar to serve another customer.
Jack and Daniel exchanged a look, then headed back to their table.
"Well, did you find him?" Sam asked as they sat at the table.
"No. He's not here but the guy behind the bar knows him." Jack turned to Daniel. "Was it just me or did he seem a little – off?"
"He was a little brusque towards the end, but I thought you two were bonding just fine."
"Bonding?" Sam exclaimed as Jack spluttered. "We were what!"
Daniel grinned; it was so rare he managed to get a dig in with Jack. "Yeah, you know, two old veterans, swapping tales. Any moment I thought you were going to start exchanging regiment details."
O'Neill just glared, while Carter snorted into her beer and Teal'c looked on silently.
Adam had been having a really bad day. His coffee machine had broken to give the day a really bad start, then things had headed downhill from there, including belligerent sales assistants and almost being knocked down on his way to the bar.
"I miss the horse and carriage," he muttered to himself and swung open the door to the bar.
His day improved immediately as the familiar warmth and smells washed over him. Heading over to his usual place at the bar, he quickly scanned the room.
He froze as he saw Daniel.
Joe heard his exclamation and frantically tried to usher him out the back into his office.
"What the hell have you been up to now?" Joe hissed. "Those guys have been asking after you. Seem like a military bunch, although one claimed to be an old friend."
"That's because he is." Suddenly the tension slipped from Adam's shoulders. "Well, who would have thought it? Daniel in the military, and actually taking me up on the offer of a drink." He began to laugh out loud.
Daniel's head shot up as he heard a familiar chuckle even over the noise of the bar. Whispering a quick explanation to Jack, he got up to meet his old colleague.
"Adam," he extended his hand as he approached, studying the still youthful face before him. "You haven't aged a day."
"I finally found the fountain of youth -- always knew archaeology would yield some benefits." Adam winked as he shook his hand. "How are you, Danny-boy?"
Daniel winced. "Now that's one thing I haven't missed. Jack's bad enough."
Adam simply raised an eyebrow in question.
"Oh yes, sorry, one of the people I work with now. Listen, I know this is out of the blue but can you come over and join us at our table? We've got some questions for you."
"We?" Adam asked.
"Well, I certainly have," Daniel offered a gentle smile, and Adam once again found it difficult to refuse this charming youth.
"Alright then. Joe, the usual, please."
"Sure thing, Adam. I'll get Mike to bring it over."
Daniel led them to the table and Adam slid in next to Sam, winking at her before turning back to Daniel. "Danny, you didn't tell me your friends were so attractive."
"I didn't say . . ., I mean of course she is. I…." he trailed off as he caught the glint of mischief in Adam's eyes. "I can assure you that your warped sense of humour is something else that I haven't missed."
"Well aren't you going to introduce everybody?"
"Uh, yeah, sorry. Colonel Jack O'Neill, Major Samantha Carter, and this is Murray. Guys, meet Adam Pierson."
"Pleased to meet you, but I have to say, Daniel, I never pegged you as a government chap." Adam looked questioningly at him.
"Well, technically I'm still a civilian. I'm on loan, so to speak."
"Yeah, and you wouldn't give it up for the whole galaxy," Jack drawled. Daniel choked on his beer.
"What an odd turn of phrase," Adam smirked. "Ah, the cloak and dagger of black ops, or are you merely greys?"
"What can I say? We travel a lot."
"'Oh, for a gateway to the stars . . .'" Adam pondered out loud.
Sam couldn't help but stare at Adam; his jibes were hitting a little close to home.
Adam noticed the change in atmosphere. "Well, fun though this is, Danny, somehow I guess this isn't a social visit."
Daniel sobered instantly. "I did want to say hi," he shrugged, "but we really need to pick your brains." Daniel reached for the case beside him. "I need a hand with some translations and I remembered that ancient writings were always your speciality. I figured this was some form of Babylonian, but the syntax is all wrong."
Adam took the enlarged photos, his eyes widening in surprise and recognition. The text covered the surface of a bronze disk, set out in columns about 2 inches across.
"It's. . ." he paused to clear his throat, "it is a form of Babylonian, as you say -- well spotted, Daniel. The reason you were having so much trouble reading it is because it's an individual scribe's Court shorthand."
"Where did you find this? Its preservation is remarkable." Anything to stall for time, he thought to himself. Damn, where did I leave this? Let's see: ah, the tithes for Guyain province, so Autumn. A birthing gift for Heraine's second son on his-- Adam flicked through the photos for a better angle-- ah yes, his 15th year, so that would be about 3420 years ago, give or take a decade. He sat back in his chair and looked at his college friend for more answers
Daniel's glance to the older man made it clear that maybe feigning ignorance would have been a better choice.
"I'm afraid that's classified." Well at least Daniel had the grace to look sheepish.
Adam allowed a smirk to play across his lips. "I can't believe you managed to find Suitan. There's not been a whisper in the archaeological publications. How on earth did you keep that quiet? I would have thought the locals would have been shouting to whoever would listen. I remember the tales of antechambers in lapis lazuli, hallways of rose marble, and golden walls with inlaid rubies wherever Heraine's name was inscribed." Adam's eyes became distant as he was caught up in the memories.
Realising that everyone around the table was staring at him in astonishment. He simply raised a questioning eyebrow in Daniel's direction.
"What, am I close, or not?"
Daniel couldn't believe how accurate Adam's description of the temple from P3X-798 was. He could see Jack's face tighten with suspicion.
"That's a remarkable description, Dr. Pierson."
"I'm an avid reader-- didn't Daniel mention it?" Adam suddenly felt uncomfortable. The atmosphere no longer felt like an academic discussion but an interrogation. "If you gave me some time, I'm sure that I could find the documentation." Or fake it, he thought to himself. He smiled at the Colonel, then glanced towards the bar, wishing he had some kind of Bat-signal to get Joe to come rescue him.
"No need, Adam," Daniel shot a look at O'Neill. "So, could you translate it for us?"
"Danny, Danny. You realise that this isn't just an Ancient, very dead language, but practically encrypted as well. It could take months." Adam hoped that would be enough discouragement. Come on, you crippled barkeep, save me.
"You would of course be compensated for your time, Dr. Pierson," Sam interjected.
Adam interrupted abruptly. "I've spent my recent years immersed in academic study, Major; poverty is not a stranger. I have no doubt your Government," he sneered, "wouldn't allow me to publish any of my findings. I have better and more amenable tasks at hand.
"Thanks for the offer, Daniel, it was great to see you. Next time, an e-mail or coming alone would be preferable." Adam flashed a quick smile to the others at the table and rose, anxious to leave the presence of these military men and women. As Richie might once have said, his Spidey-sense was tingling, and he hadn't lived this long without paying good heed when he felt in danger.
Startled at his old friend's sudden rudeness Daniel reached out a hand to Adam's arm. Due to his edginess at possible discovery from the others at the table, Adam reacted instinctively and defensively, blocking Daniel's arm and sweeping it down and away from him. Daniel's hand caught the table hard enough to knock over the drinks and cause one glass to smash to the floor.
Determined to get away, Adam backed up one step then started to weave through the other people in the bar, away from the table.
"Hey, I've warned you about any more trouble. Out, now!" Joe pulled Adam towards him, then shoved him towards the door, whispering, "The back door is open."
Joe hastened towards the table apologising for the trouble, offering free drinks and effectively blocking them from following Adam without making even more of a scene. "I'm real sorry about that guy. I don't think he's welcome in half the bars in the city."
Having seemingly settled them at the table Joe returned to the bar.
Adam sat in Joe's office kicking himself for his stupidity. He'd been watching some cheesy Sci-fi film in which ancient humans had contact with alien races and remembered Daniel's obsession that the Egyptians had links with alien races too. It was only on a whim that he'd contacted him, and now he could feel himself sinking into a whole world of trouble.
He started slightly as Joe entered the room.
"They've left." Joe sank into his chair and looked expectantly at Adam.
"I can't believe I lost my temper," Adam sighed.
"Nor can I. You know, you couldn't have done anything worse. There's nothing like a mystery to get military guys like them chasing up on something – like an old acquaintance acting strangely, or a supposedly mild academic pulling off some pretty fancy defence moves." Joe slid over a glass of whisky drawn from his personal stash. "What happened?"
"They asked me to look at some pictures. They were of some Babylonian writing discs that needed translating. They were mine, Joe." Adam looked at him, "I don't know where in hell they got them or why they should interest the military, but something is definitely not right."
Joe sat waiting expectantly for the rest of the story. Adam leant back and closed his eyes, remembering.
"I was a scribe in the city of Suitan," a smile played across his lips, "several thousand years ago. It was a good life: most of the immortals were out fighting each other in the open still, and so I felt comfortably hidden in my role as a civilised man. One summer we were raided, the city stripped of metals and the people taken as slaves. No warning, nothing--they seemed to come out of nowhere. We'd never seen the tribe before: big and strong, mixed race, which was highly unusual, and they had tattoos on their foreheads. They proclaimed their leader as a god, and they could control lightning, or so we thought back then. I managed to get myself killed rather than taken." Joe could see the tiny shudder that ran through him at the thought of dying. "When I revived there remained only the old or infirm, and most of those had been killed." Adam fell silent before slapping his hand on the table. "I feel like I should remember more, something important, but can't."
Joe was surprised by Adam's apparent agitation.
"Take it easy, old man." He reached out and topped up his glass. A touch of sadness crept into Joe's eyes. "So are you going to leave?"
"Trying to get rid of me, eh?"
"Well, I'll lay odds that those guys will be back. How are you going to deal with them?"
Adam's eyes took on a glint that made him nervous. "Joe, the more I remember about that raid, the more intrigued I am about where they got my notes."
"It can't be worth the risk!" Joe exploded "Adam, you have no idea what these guys are capable of."
"On the contrary, I have been tortured and experimented on in the past by more factions than you can think of. Besides, I always have the Boy Scout to come to my rescue." Adam stood. "Joe, think back to what I just told you about the raid: they had staffs that shot lighting. Combined with Daniel's area of expertise and his link with top secret military, what if they were lasers or pulse weapons of some kind?" His thirst for knowledge for once overrode his desire for anonymity and safety.
"Aliens, Joe! What if I've actually met an alien!"
"He definitely knew more than he was letting on." Jack was pacing the hotel room he and Teal'c were sharing. Daniel and Sam sat on the beds while Teal'c leaned against the wall. "He knew far too much, too much to be mere coincidence." Daniel started to protest. "No, think about it, Daniel. What are the chances of this guy not only having memorised a text that described the temple damn near perfectly, but he also recognised a text which you have been pouring over for nearly a week with no luck? It took you two days just to decide it was some kind of Babylonian, let alone shorthand, or whatever the hell he said it was."
Daniel shrugged. "I told you, he's an expert in ancient languages."
"Oh, and you're not?" Daniel shrugged. Jack shook his head, making a decision.
"Sam, you and Teal'c go back to his apartment. Daniel and I will go back to the bar. I'm not sure, but I think that barman's covering for this Adam guy, too. I want radio checks every half hour. Let's move, people."
When Jack and Daniel reached the bar it had closed for the evening but the back room light was still on. Jack pulled the rental car over to the side of the road, winding down his window to get some air into the car. It was surprisingly mild for March. He settled down for a long wait.
Daniel started fidgeting almost immediately. "So, are we going to check that the man we are *spying* on is actually in there?"
"Daniel, I know he was-- is your friend, but there is definitely something not quite square about that guy. You said yourself that temple contains information that can help us work out possible weaknesses within the factions of the System Lords. Even if it is ancient history, we know firsthand how long the Snakeheads bear grudges. If he can help, then I say we draft him in and get him translating."
"You heard him: he's not going to help us willingly."
"Yeah, that's why I said *draft* him in. He doesn't have to know a thing about the Stargate. We can just shut him in a room with that disc for starters, with a notepad and pen."
"Charming," Adam drawled leaning onto the roof of the car. "You could at least give me a laptop."
O'Neill, startled, turned to the figure at the open window, cursing to himself and wondering how much the man had overheard.
"So, what's a Stargate?"
"Aliens!" Joe spluttered, "What the hell are you talking about?"
"Think about it. Advanced weapons thousands of years ago, black ops military protecting the secret from the general masses-- it's classic conspiracy theory stuff."
"Exactly: conspiracy theory wackos. You've gone completely mad, senility must finally be setting in due to your advanced years, or you've been watching too much TV." Joe glowered at the Immortal before him.
"What better way to hide the truth than in plain sight? Besides, the most compelling piece of evidence is my boy Danny being involved up to his eyeballs."
"Oh yeah? I suppose you're gonna try and spin me a tale about how he's really a Martian, now, are you?" Joe threw his hands in the air in exasperation and poured himself another large drink.
Adam rummaged in his satchel and triumphantly threw a paper down in front of Joe. "Danny wrote that paper years ago, ruined his career with his theories that the pyramids were built by Aliens. What if he was right and they drafted him into some project of theirs?" Joe just rolled his eyes. "Fine, but when I'm proved right you can wipe my tab clean." Joe choked on his drink.
"Ha. How about when you're proved wrong you can pay your tab?" Adam winced.
"OK," he growled. "It's a deal!" Grabbing his coat he went to leave.
"Adam." He stopped and turned back to Joe. "Whatever's going on, just be careful, OK?"
He nodded. "Good night, Joe."
As he entered the alley out the back of the bar he automatically checked around and instantly spotted the sedan in the street. Slipping away down the alley he quickly looped round the block, approaching the car just as the discussion inside was getting interesting.
"Eavesdropping is not polite, you know," Jack growled. "I should have you hauled to Leavenworth for breach of National Security."
"National security, now? My, my, it just gets more interesting, but seeing as I'm not currently a member of the military, nor a United States citizen, I guess Leavenworth will just have to live without me. Enjoy your evening, gentlemen. For your information I'll be walking back to my apartment now-- feel free to tail me along the streets, but they do frown on curb crawling. I'm sure the lovely Major and your big hulking friend will be in position at my apartment if you want to avoid the local authorities." Adam straightened before striding down the street.
Jack slammed his hand against the wheel in frustration. As he watched Adam disappear around the corner at the end of the street, he turned. "Daniel, take the car to his apartment; I'm going to try and talk to him."
Adam was lost in his thoughts, an internal debate raging.
Quit. Run now; who cares about a wild theory? It's not worth your head. But the knowledge, the possibilities, . . .who knows, maybe even answers about where Immortals came from.
Suddenly his head whipped up as he caught the unmistakable sensation of another Immortal.
"Shit" Adam checked behind him, no sign of Daniel or his irritating friend. He could only pray that they had taken him up on his offer and had gone straight to his apartment. Seeing the mostly likely lurking place for the other Immortal he loped off down an alley in the opposite direction.
The unmistakable sound of footsteps following him caused him to curse in more languages than Daniel had even heard of, let alone translated. Realising there was no easy escape he turned his attention to finding a battleground he could turn to his advantage. The parking lot of a deserted industrial unit proved his undoing. Unable to find an exit that didn't leave him exposed, he turned to wait for his pursuer.
A youthful blond stepped from between the shells of two burnt-out cars. "I am Richard Donnay, and you are a coward!"
"Yes, well done. How very perceptive of you. Listen, I have no desire to take your head and I happen to know there are a number of people in the area who we really don't want to find out about our little Game. So, some other time perhaps." Methos' eyes hardened as he assessed the man before him: trim, showing a good sense of balance, he held his weapon with confidence, but his stance and grip suggested a modern style, so he doubted he was any more than a couple of hundred years old.
"So you can run again? I don't think so." Squaring his shoulders he stared Methos in the eye. "There can be only one!"
Drawing his sword from within his coat Methos snarled his frustration. "That line is getting very tired." Donnay charged and the clash of steel rang between the buildings.
Jack headed after the irate professor, slightly surprised at the man's turn of speed and grace. Most academic types were weedy. Of course Daniel had come on a long way in terms of fitness and improvement from the ghostly pallor of a bookworm when he had first met him.
The sound of a car horn caused him to turn and return a frank and explicit exchange of views with the driver. When his eyes returned to the last place he'd seen Adam he was dismayed to find he'd lost sight of him. Hurrying to the next interchange he caught a brief glimpse of the flap of a long coat disappearing down an alleyway and headed in that direction.
Ahead he could see the area opening out. He could hear voices but was unable to make out the words. The tone, however, was in the universal language and translated into trouble. Hunkering down behind a dumpster he radioed the rest of the team for back up.
He heard a car pull up in no time and was surprised to see Daniel hurrying down the alley. "That was quick. Trying your hand at curb crawling?" Jack raised a questioning eyebrow.
Daniel didn't bother to answer, but tried to see ahead. "What's going on, is Adam alright?"
Jack shrugged. "I'm pretty sure he headed down here, and he's obviously with someone." All thoughts of explanation stopped as the sound of metal on metal reverberated around them.
Unable to stop him he watched as Daniel dodged round the dumpster and raced down the alley, bursting into the open then stopping in shock at the sight before him.
Adam and another man were scything at each other with swords, of all things. The sight of the two combatants captivated Daniel: it was almost like watching a dance. But then reality hit him as he realised that both men were bleeding in a number of places.
"Adam!" he cried out as a vicious riposte lashed out and caught his friend across the abdomen, his face spasming in pain.
Donnay growled in anger as he realised his opponent had brought reinforcements. "Traitor," he hissed. A savage blow caused Methos to back up a step, giving Donnay the time to pull a revolver from behind him.
Jack overcame his momentary shock and pulled his own piece as the blond man took aim at Adam.
Methos couldn't believe how quickly things had gotten out of control. He was peripherally aware of Daniel's buddy pulling a weapon, but his attention was on the gun in front of him. He was fairly certain his head would be safe, as hopefully Donnay was just going to run if he had any sense at all.
"Drop it now!" The authority in the voice was enough to divert Donnay's attention briefly. Methos took stock of how to turn it to his advantage. He realised the impending tragedy as Daniel attempted to move to his aid. To his horror the movement also attracted Donnay's attention.
Unthinkingly Adam threw himself towards his friend, but internally it was to Methos' utter dismay. Unable to contain the shout of pain as the bullet tore into his flesh, Methos was dimly aware of a series of gunshots ringing out behind him.
The bloody Boy Scout must be rubbing off on me, he thought despondently as he sank into darkness.
Carter and Teal'c were running down the alley when they heard the gunshots. Entering the parking lot they came across what looked like a scene from the movies. O'Neill had his sidearm drawn and was covering the body of a blond man while Daniel sat some distance away, cradling his friend Adam.
Sam knew there was little hope from the amount of blood that soaked their clothes and was forming a pool around them. She approached Daniel, sympathy on her face.
"Let me see, Daniel," she said softly.
He looked up and she bit back a gasp as she saw the anguish in his eyes. "He's dead, Sam. He. . .," his voice broke, "he was trying to save me."
"I'm thankful that he did." She eased the body to the ground and checked for a pulse. She looked round to the Colonel and shook her head. "Sir, do you want me to call the police?"
Jack approached the pair and helped Sam get Daniel to his feet. "Let's move up the alley a bit and we'll call from there." As they approached the entrance to the alleyway no-one noticed the blue lightning dancing over the wounds of the two men behind them.
At the sound of a gasp, everyone spun and became frozen to the spot in astonishment.
Methos felt the burn as his lungs suddenly went into spasm, desperate for air. As he drew in a gasp he was startled to feel the buzz of another Immortal. Why hasn't he taken my head? Self-preservation made him roll to his feet and look around him, his body still cramping in pain. The memory of the last few moments came flooding back, and he was relieved to see Daniel, bloody but apparently unharmed. Turning his attention back to the other Immortal he was pleased to note he was slower coming around.
Donnay shook his head, trying to shake off the grogginess he always had after dying. He caught sight of his gun a few feet away and knowing the other Immortal was close, he moved as quickly as possible. The first targets he saw, however, were the interfering mortals from before. Methos saw the danger, drew his hidden dagger and threw in one smooth move.
Donnay realised his error in letting his anger at the mortals distract him. Dropping his revolver as he hunched over the embedded dagger in his chest, he tried to reach his sword. Methos had no such hesitation and finished his move, bringing his blade down across the blond's unprotected neck.
Methos dropped his weapon and took a step back from the corpse. Feeling the power build he yelled at the figures in the alleyway to run for cover, not bothering to check if they complied. He became transfixed by the swirling energies and braced himself as the lightening arced into his body.
Screaming in a mix of ecstatic pleasure and excruciating pain until he was hoarse, Methos finally dropped to his knees, spent.
As the world exploded around them, Jack grabbed Sam and drew her down behind cover, noticing that Teal'c had done the same for Daniel. As he gingerly looked around his meagre shelter he couldn't believe the pyrotechnic display before him. Blasts of blue energy were causing mass destruction to the buildings and remains of cars in the area, but his eyes became riveted to the figure in the centre of the chaos. He seemed to be almost absorbing the energy and it didn't appear to be a pleasant experience.
As things seemed to calm down the four members of SG1 edged gingerly from cover.
"Everyone OK?" Jack asked.
"Just a few cuts and bruises, Sir," Carter replied, Daniel and Teal'c nodding in agreement.
They all turned towards the man hunched on his knees in the centre of the destruction.
Methos groaned, uncontrollable shudders wracking his body. How could I have once been addicted to this? During the Horsemen's reign of terror he revelled in the sensations derived from quickenings, but now they left him feeling disorientated and sickened.
Daniel, seeing his friend's distress, moved instinctively to his aid.
"Daniel, No!" Jack and Sam drew their sidearms, knowing the man before them was a stone cold killer.
Daniel knelt beside Adam, putting a supporting arm around his shoulder. "Jack, he just saved my life twice-- yours too, potentially, in case you hadn't noticed where--" he looked across to the other combatant and regretted it instantly. He swallowed, "where he was aiming before Adam, umm, . . ."
"Decapitated him," Jack said pointedly.
"Yes. OK. He needs help, and you can shout at me later, but I'm doing this now." He helped Adam to his feet. "Where do you want to go, back to your apartment?"
"Daniel, he just killed a man. We have to call the police."
Methos shook his head. "No, please," he croaked. "Let me get this cleaned up and I'll explain." He looked at the Colonel, knowing he was the only one of the group he needed to convince to sort out the current situation. "If any one has a phone that wasn't just shorted out, let me use it and then we'll leave. I'll explain about what just happened and that tablet of yours. Please."
Sam indicated to the Colonel that her phone was functional. He nodded.
Adam tried to decide whether to risk bringing Joe into this. No, it just wasn't worth it. He decided to use his emergency plan. He rang a long distance number in Chicago.
"Jimmy, it's your Eternal pal Benjy." He could hear the sound of the man choking on whatever he'd been eating. "I need a favour. I'll consider your family's debt to me wiped clean, OK?" He smiled as the man exclaimed that there was nothing they wouldn't do for him, and if there was anything in the future, to contact him, and he'd even throw in a discount. "Cheers, Jimmy. Listen, there's a problem that's about a head short and needs to be cleaned up. It's a parking lot just off of Shannet Street in Seacouver, and it needs to be done yesterday." There was more effusive praise and a promise that it would all be taken care of pronto. "Thanks, Jimmy. Take care."
Methos handed the phone back to the Major. "Shall we go?" He stooped to pick up his sword, smiling inwardly as the weapons were instinctively raised. He tucked it into his coat. "I assure you, it's purely for my protection."
He headed off down the alley, not looking back to see if they were following.
Methos wearily climbed the steps to his apartment. He let himself in, removing his coat and draping it over the arm of the sofa before collapsing onto it. Leaning his head back he tried to collect his thoughts -- surprisingly difficult when all his nerve endings were jangling with the after-effects of the quickening.
He opened one eye a crack, noting Daniel's face switching between eager expectation and horror in the armchair across from him and the defensive position the others had taken. Warriors all, he thought to himself. He sighed.
"You'll have to excuse me if I'm far from a courteous host, but frankly I feel like crap."
"Yes, well, you did just murder a man!" Carter exclaimed.
"Major, when it comes down to kill or be killed, moral dilemmas fall by the wayside." He gestured down to his gruesomely stained clothes. "I had no qualms about killing that man, just as I'm sure he had none towards doing the same to me. Not that there's a need to justify my actions to you, but I gave him ample chance to walk away. The man was an immature idiot, and it's amazing he lasted this long in the Game." He winced as he realised that in his agitated state he'd once again given away more than he intended. It was becoming a worrying habit.
"Game!" She shook her head in disgust. Methos shrugged, doubting she'd ever accept his reasoning. He looked at Daniel to judge his reaction.
He seemed surprisingly calm. Noticing his attention, Daniel gave a tentative smile. "I've," he glanced at the colonel, "seen a lot recently and discovered that a lot of the time there are reasons for people's actions, even if we disapprove. Who's to say who's right and who's wrong?"
Well, there's a turn up for the books, Methos thought to himself, noting with surprise that the others in the room seemed, in varying degrees, to agree.
"I have to admit that I'm feeling a little cautious in explaining things to you further." He hurried on, noting them wanting to argue. "I, and others like me, haven't had a good track record when it comes to run-ins with the military. Generally, inhumane experimentation and torture seem to be the rule."
He let their indignant disclaimers wash over him for a moment and was surprised to find they seemed quite genuine.
"We're not what you'd call normal military, Mr. Pierson. I think we've proved you can begin trusting us by letting you deal with that little incident in the alley. Let's face it: there's nothing we can do now without getting ourselves involved with aiding and abetting." The colonel tried to reason with him.
"I'm sure you have some wonderful 'get out of jail free' pass with those on high, Colonel." Methos' eyes narrowed in contemplation. "How about a bit of quid pro quo? I'll tell you all about me, and you can tell me about the Stargate."
Jack laughed. "I like your style, Mr. Pierson, but haven't you heard of 'classified' information?"
"Well, maybe after you've heard my story you'll change your mind. Plus, as I said earlier, I'm not US military, but I do have fairly high clearance."
"You! Have clearance?" Jack repeated disbelievingly.
Jack hummed under his breath before answering. "No promises: we'll hear your story, then check out your *clearance* if necessary. OK?"
Methos settled back on the couch. "Well now, children. If we're all sitting comfortably I'll tell you a story…" He paused. "Hey, big guy, grab me a beer from the fridge."
"Immortal." Sam stared at him.
"As in, cannot die," Jack deadpanned.
"Pretty much. You've seen the exception, but I'd rather you didn't spread it around."
"Some fountain of youth," Daniel muttered.
"Sorry to disappoint, Danny."
"Who started the Game?" Jack began to pace.
"One of the Eternal mysteries, pardon the pun."
"So, your incredible ability with ancient languages…?" Daniel queried from beside him.
"Is because I lived through most of them, yes."
"And the tablet?" Jack brought the conversation back to the reason they were there in the first place.
"Was written about three and a half thousand years ago in a Babylonian court," Adam finished the last of his beer, "by me. Daniel was unable to translate because it was in my shorthand."
"So what does it say?" Daniel looked eagerly at him.
"Sorry to disappoint, but it's simply a tithe list for a local province." He shook his head, surprised how well they had taken it. "I believe that would make it your turn." He looked to the Colonel expectantly.
Jack shook his head in wonderment at what he'd just heard. He couldn't deny the guy had come back from the dead -- he'd witnessed it himself. Pierson would be one hell of an asset, if they could convince him to join the SGC.
"First things first. You claimed you had clearance?" Methos sighed before getting up and collecting a pen and paper.
"Call whoever you trust to transfer you and verify this is an official number, then give me the phone." Jack took the paper wordlessly and made the call. After getting the confirmation he handed the phone over to Pierson.
Methos gave his passcode and waited for the voice recognition to kick in before handing it back to Jack on speakerphone. It was only a minute or so before a voice came on the line.
"This is Brigadier General Hutson. I can confirm that the person who made this call has had his identity verified and has Alpha clearance."
"Yes, Sir. Thank you, Sir." The call ended abruptly. Jack looked to Pierson; he couldn't help but be impressed.
Methos suppressed a sigh of relief. He hadn't been entirely sure the protocol was still active, but it seemed that at last one of his many promised favours from over the years had paid off.
"Right then, Colonel. Enlighten me."
Jack sat down on a chair and began the briefing on the workings of the SGC.
"You found a device buried in the Egyptian sands that allows transportation to other worlds. . . ." Adam unthinkingly took another swig from the new beer in his hands. His mind was still reeling from the revelation.
"And you find that harder to believe than immortals who decapitate each other in order to win an unspecified prize?" Jack asked pointedly.
"I wasn't doubting you, Colonel. It goes a long way toward explaining many things your recent visit brought to mind. Joe isn't going to be happy when he finds out I won the bet," Methos smirked.
"You can't tell anyone, of course. Can you imagine the public outcry at the knowledge our world is under constant threat of annihilation?" Methos sighed in disappointment at Daniel's words. They were right, of course -- it'd be as bad as if the world discovered the existence of Immortals. The masses were an unstable bunch.
"Well, if push comes to shove, you'll have to help me cover my bar tab. Although I'm not entirely sure your budget could handle it." He grinned proudly.
Methos was ushered into the base with minimal fuss and issued with an identity card for Adam Pierson, Visitor. He'd been wracking his brains on the way over and had assured the team that his current credentials would stand up to scrutiny, eliminating unnecessary complications with security arrangements.
He had phoned Joe and told him he was going to disappear for a while until he was sure Daniel's friends weren't going to be a problem. He'd felt a little bad in lying to him, but he figured that he'd worry less in the long run, as Methos couldn't explain the situation properly.
They were now sitting around the huge table in the briefing room where Methos was reintroduced to the members of SG1.
As Sam, Jack, Teal'c and the general began an informal discussion about the upcoming trip, Methos looked over to Daniel.
"Oh, quit it with the kicked puppy look."
Daniel glared balefully. "I can't believe you never told me."
"Oh, sure. 'Hi, fellow student, my name's Adam and I'm Immortal. How are you?' An icebreaker at parties for sure, but a quick way to lose my head." Methos shook his head ruefully. "Don't take offence: since meeting you and your friends the number of people who know about me has practically doubled." Methos smiled wryly and looked up through the glass window out into the gate room. Unfortunately, he thought to himself. But was it worth the price, he wondered, this doorway to the heavens?
Daniel still looked hurt. There was only one way to deal with goody-two-shoes. Guilt. He smiled to himself: at least some good has come out of the years spent with Mac.
"I'm not the only person to have secrets in this world, Daniel. Self-preservation, self-interest, and survival --all good reasons, as far as I'm concerned. Of course, you were going to tell me everything, rather than lock me in a room with a notepad and pen." Daniel's head shot up, a protest dying on his lips as Methos drew his gaze across to the gate. "Everyone has secrets, and we all think it's for the best. Who knows if we're right? But in the end, it's a case of 'just deal and get over it. '"
Daniel sat back in his chair. Tentatively he smiled.
"Hi. My name's Daniel, and I travel through wormholes to other planets. How are you?"
When Methos had finally stopped laughing, they settled down to discuss their mission to P3X-728 and how to go about getting translations of the temple inscriptions.
It had taken a lot of fast talking to convince them to let him go through the gate rather than just work with photographs, but there was no way, having exposed himself this much, that he wasn't going to get a trip to another planet included.
Which is how he'd found himself here at the bottom of the ramp, deep underground, staring at a shimmering pool of, . . . ,well, actually, he wasn't entirely sure. Major Carter had begun to explain about the event horizon and so forth but had been silenced by O'Neill.
"OK, kids, let's go." Methos simply raised an eyebrow at O'Neill's use of the term.
"You prefer Grandpa?" O'Neill smirked at his look of disgust, then head up the ramp with Teal'c and Carter and went through the gate. Methos headed up the ramp as well and Daniel joined him side by side before the gate surface.
"Ready for the ride of your many lifetimes?" The young archaeologist's eyes twinkled and Methos found his excitement infectious. He grinned back at Daniel before taking a calming breath and moved forward.
Daniel laughed as he caught Adam's last words before he stepped though the horizon.
A/N Apologise to any outraged historians for my flagrant misuse of history (and lack of knowledge about ancient civilisations!)
More adventures to follow, I hope. Any thoughts would be appreciated :o)