Disclaimer: No recognizable characters belong to me.
A/N: For Highlander, this is set shortly after "Indiscretions" (ignoring "To Be" and "Not To Be") and for Stargate, a few weeks after "Evolution." Will contain elements from "Grace," but should be considered AU from "Evolution."
Also, this is sort of an experiment on my part, for all that I've watched a smattering of both series in no particular order, so tell me what you think!
Chapter One: A Night to Remember
Methos smiled as he walked purposefully through the streets of Paris. It had been a while since he'd dropped in on Mac, and at the rate he was going, he'd be at the barge at…. oh, two in the morning. Perfect time for a visit to a friend.
Or maybe not, he frowned, cursing the bitter chill that swept the area. He probably should have driven, but it was too late now. At least the barge would be warm.
His eyes narrowed momentarily at the stranger he could see wandering aimlessly around the block, but as far as he could tell he was no threat. Perhaps a little crazy for being in this particular part of town so late (and what did that say about him?), but not anything to worry about. Lips quirked slightly as the stranger paused, looked at the sky, and then his watch in mild bemusement. Oh to be that absentmindedly naïve.
A loud screech was accompanied by bright headlights, and Methos barely had time to curse as a monstrous truck hurtled in his direction, going at least 70 on the tiny street. The impact was so sudden he barely even felt it, then a sharp pain hit his neck and he knew it was all over.
Five thousand years cut short by, for all appearances, a drunk driver.
'Definitely should have driven tonight.'
In that split second between life and death, Methos felt dark amusement at the irony. He felt hatred for whoever was behind the wheel. He felt jealousy for the man standing safely on the other side of the street. He felt distinct fear at the thought of Death, blade turned against its own avatar of a thousand years. And above all, he felt the will to live that had served him well over the millennia.
The moment death hit, instinct and fear drove him, not to cling failingly to his Quickening as he had seen so many dying Immortals do, but rather to push, to drive his life-essence not to disperse. Five thousand, one hundred and fifty-four years was not going to end by some ignorant mortal's hands.
He actually felt it as his head separated from the rest of him. Then, he knew no more.
Methos would have no way of knowing what the consequences would be as his Quickening dove for the nearest container it could find. He couldn't know that he'd kill someone that night, only for another to take his place.
Daniel sighed contentedly as he walked through the quiet back-streets of Paris, soaking in the scenery. It had been a long time since he'd last been able to simply experience another culture without the added pressure of diplomacy or a struggle to find a common language, and Daniel had definitely needed a break. No aliens or coworkers or guns or Honduran insurgents. Certainly no death-defying stunts from his corner. Just a nice, week-long vacation to relax and unwind.
He was almost disappointed that he'd be leaving the following morning, and had decided to take one last look around the city. After wandering around for a few hours, he'd slipped away from the mainstream attractions and had gone out to quieter areas, content to watch the flow of the city rather than take part in it.
The skyline was blurring into darkness, the final rays of sunshine dipping past the horizon. Daniel blinked in mild surprise, having paid little attention to how late it was, and realized he had to get back to his hotel before it got any later. His flight was fairly early, and he didn't want to miss it. Glancing down at his watch, he let loose another sigh. He'd have to catch a cab if he wanted to be in before it got ridiculously late.
A sudden, loud screech tore through the silence, the sound of tires scraping against the road. Daniel spun around just in time to see a heavy truck lurch past at speeds far above the limit. It weaved drunkenly, back end spinning around before finally coming to an abrupt halt as it smashed into the side of a building, accompanied by a spray of dark fluid.
Daniel's mind blanked in horror. "My god," he breathed, "did it hit someone?" Without thought he ran toward the collision. The driver of the truck spilled out of the vehicle, looking remarkably sober despite his lack of grace. He caught sight of the archaeologist, eyes wide, and ran. Ignoring him for now, Daniel continued on to the front of the truck.
He nearly tripped as his foot connected with something in the dark. Automatically glancing down, he sucked in a sharp breath. Swallowing bile, as he stared down at what was unmistakably somebody's head, he realized that the force of the crash must of torn the victim's head clean off.
Daniel stumbled back a step, blood squelching under his boot.
And then the lightning started.
A bright flash lit the darkened, storm-less sky, blue arcs of energy streaking from seemingly out of nowhere. Enormous blasts of lightning struck hard at the ground around the truck, throwing up debris as it hit with enough force to damage the road. Finally, with a shuddering intensity it blazed up into the air before arcing powerfully back down. Back at him. Frozen out of fear, surprise, and awe, Daniel couldn't move out of the way in time.
After a brief instant of blinding pain, darkness claimed him.
Daniel had no idea how long he'd been unconscious, or why. He simply woke, staring up at a sky blackened and starless from light pollution. Hazily he checked his watch, only to realize that it had been fried.
What had he been doing?
He remembered something about going to see Mac. Yes, that was it. He hadn't bothered the Highlander in a while, and MacLeod was always good for a bit of amusement, even if Methos tended to get sucked into some crazy scheme or another while –
Wait. No, no, he didn't know a MacLeod. He didn't know a Methos (what a strange name… definitely not French.) He was in France on vacation, and he would be heading back to the SGC the day after tomorrow. Sam would be coming home with the Prometheus soon, and Jack was probably tearing his hair out of worry for the both of them. Teal'c would be trying to push through his requests for lodging outside the SGC, and –
No, stop. Methos didn't know any Samantha Carter, Jack O'Neill, and definitely no Teal'c. No Daniel Jacksons in this lifetime either. There was no such thing as the SGC, and the pyramids hadn't been built by aliens. Prometheus was from Greek mythology, not a spaceship.
He groaned and clutched his head in abject misery, pains from a vicious headache making themselves known with a vengeance. Why did he feel like he'd just taken a bad Quickening? But what was a Quickening? Cursing fluidly in over forty languages, Daniel backed into an empty building. He turned, staring at his reflection, barely visible in the darkened window. Light brown hair, strong features. Familiar, but not. One blue eye, one hazel…
Daniel had blue eyes. Methos had hazel.
This wasn't working. He needed help. He could go to Mac or Joe, maybe. But no, they wouldn't recognize him would they? He looked the most like Daniel. But his friends were an ocean away and, if he were being honest, probably paranoid enough that his behavior, his appearance, would be blamed on some sort of malevolent alien. No, he couldn't go to them either.
Distantly, he could hear sirens. Had someone finally called the police? Shaking his head in a poor attempt to clear it, Daniel started away. He couldn't be found here, not like this. Pausing, Methos spun back around. Running to the truck, he ducked under it, barely flinching at the sight of his own body. Hastily grabbing his miraculously intact Ivanhoe from where it had been flung, Daniel turned and fled.
When Joe turned on the news the next day he couldn't contain his shocked gasp. The glass he had been absently cleaning slipped from his fingers, shattering on the ground. Amy, who had been visiting him in semi-regular hesitance after the incident with Walker, looked up from the table she was seated at.
"What is it?" she asked, but cut herself off as she took in the news broadcast. Adam Pierson, recently discovered as the Immortal Methos, and the man who had saved her life, was dead.
Joe stared at the picture splashed across the screen, and he wondered briefly how they'd gotten ahold of it. There were very few visual references to the Old Man, something he'd been meticulous in ensuring. But there he was, plastered on the news.
"There's no way," he heard Amy say. "He's just getting a fresh start, isn't he?"
But then the newscaster announced, in more detail than Joe had ever wanted to hear, "Dr. Pierson was found decapitated in in an car crash just outside of – "
He sat heavily, then frowned. "This couldn't have been an accident," he said, listening as the announcer continued with, " – police are looking for Harold Cook, who is the owner of the vehicle, and this man, who was also seen, unconscious, at the scene, for questioning." A photograph and a sketch both appeared on the screen. Joe stared hard, memorizing the details of both people, and noting that nothing was mentioned about a sword. Something that unusual would normally have been mentioned, so either Methos hadn't had it on him (which was as likely as him turning to sainthood), or someone had taken it. There weren't many who would know to do so.
Picking up his phone, he hurriedly dialed Mac's number. "Mac, turn on the damn TV," he growled. Amy, behind him, was quiet. She was a Watcher, but she also knew she owed him one. She wouldn't say anything. The Old Man might have been a pain in the ass, but he'd also been a good friend.
Joe was sure Mac felt the same way. Either way, whoever had taken the Old Man's head wasn't likely to keep his much longer.
Staring at the pictures on the screen, Joe knew exactly where to start, too.
It was a miracle, Daniel mused, that he'd made it onto his flight that morning. First, getting his Ivanhoe through customs had been a nightmare, and only the sheer luck of owning a license to transport such things (he was an archaeologist, and had routinely carried awkward things with him after all… nor was it the first antique sword he'd flown somewhere) that had saved him from being unable to leave at all.
Second, he'd had some trouble even remembering he was supposed to be leaving Paris the next day, confusion at the situation and his own identity rearing its ugly head.
Third, he'd been stopped twice for his similarity to the sketch produced on the news. He'd managed to pass it off as coincidence both times, but the scrutiny had still been rather uncomfortable. And he supposed he should count himself lucky that his eyes hadn't drawn any undue attention.
He had never been fond of attention, either as Methos or as Daniel.
The long hours of sleep he'd gotten on his flights to Colorado had helped to clear his head somewhat, but he was still horribly confused. How had this happened? He was Daniel Jackson, member of the SGC. But he was also Methos, living legend among Immortals. Well, sort of living, at any rate.
Daniel closed his eyes and leaned back in his couch in an attempt to stave off the oncoming headache. He remembered nearly tripping over his own head – something that was extremely disturbing. He also remembered feeling his head flying off, which was just as bad. Methos had pushed his Quickening, and Daniel had caught it.
Methos remembered parents in long-ago Egypt, not even named as such when he'd been found. Daniel still thought of Claire and Melburn Jackson and, strangely enough, also being born in Egypt, albeit distinctly more modern. Methos learned ancient languages when they were still in mainstream use. Daniel studied them from dusty books and crumbling buildings. They both recalled growing older and dying. Methos lived as a slave, then a scholar, a warrior, a murderer, a lover, a doctor… so many different lives. Daniel had struggled through foster care, spent time as both student and teacher, recalled the vivid humiliation when his theories were twisted and mocked, loved and had a family, and finally went to the SGC – one small blip in time in comparison, but every bit as vibrant and important.
He reached up and pinched the bridge of his nose as his head started to pound, images of a thousand lifetimes swirling behind his eyes. It was difficult enough keeping Daniel and Methos straight, but then odd bits of knowledge, memories he knew were cropping up from the mass of Quickenings he'd taken over the millennia, would pop up and he'd be left confused and wondering until he managed to fit it into the proper context. And then one of Methos' many aliases would also shove its way into his mind, and the process would start all over again.
Giving a disgusted sigh he turned in for the night. Hopefully things would make more sense in the morning.
As it turned out, they didn't really. Daniel had gotten to work that morning and sat down at his desk, staring blearily through hastily bought color-contacts at unfinished translations of languages that should have taken quite a bit of time to decipher. Instead he had looked at them, recognized the base of the languages, and had not once needed to reference a book. It all seemed oddly simple, even though dialects and strange amalgamations of various languages were unlike any he had encountered on Earth.
Things were… different. He still enjoyed his work, was fascinated by the cultural and historical records he unearthed with each artifact. But nearly everything he looked at could be connected in some way to a past he both had and hadn't lived. A papyrus scroll reminded him of his days as Pharaoh. Video recordings taken of a Romanesque village threw him back to his days as a gladiator slave.
It made Methos edgy, and he was already nervous simply because he was around military personnel and some of the most intelligent, highly observant people in the world. If he was caught here, and the NID got wind of it… he didn't want to think of the consequences.
Pushing those thoughts away, he went back to his work, starting on a small Asgard device. The safest things he had to translate were the Asgard and Ancient items as, though the base Norse and Latin were similar, the writing and culture behind the words were so vastly different from anything Methos had experienced that he never found himself lost in memory when he worked on them. He spent several hours like that, completing far more than he usually did in the same amount of time.
Jack wandered in and raised a questioning eyebrow at both the speed and annoyed ferocity with which he was attacking his workload.
"Making up for lost time?" he asked, only half joking.
Daniel spared him a glance and hummed noncommittally, fully focused on the device in front of him.
"You do realize that will still be there for you to do later, right?"
"Yes," he replied drily, "and I'll probably still be around for you to annoy later, too. As in, when I'm not busy." He shot the colonel a pointed look, very deliberately going back to the device.
Jack blinked in surprise. "Uh, yeah, actually I wanted to inform you that you're coming out with me and T tonight. Guys' night out while Carter's not around to be offended."
"Only if you're supplying the beer," he quipped absently, with none of his usual protests. He didn't realize how out of character it was until Jack threw him a strange look. Daniel didn't like beer.
Methos loved it, drank it like water and, living in ancient Egypt, had quite literally grown up on the drink. And if he could worm his way into drinking copious amounts of it for free, well, so much the better.
Methos rolled his eyes. "I'm not paying for you to drink this time," he covered. After all, Daniel didn't drink much and Teal'c didn't drink at all. Last time they'd had a team night Sam and Jack had basically guzzled down a significant portion of his paycheck. While the aftermath had been amusing, he wished it hadn't been his money they'd gotten smashed on.
"Uh huh," Jack smirked. "Pizza or Chinese?"
"Pizza," he settled on, warily.
"Great. I'll bring the beer, you get the food."
Daniel groaned. Feeding three grown men that could eat like horses wasn't much better.
Jack watched Daniel carefully the moment he stepped through the door, pizza boxes in hand. The dry retorts and strange comments hadn't made a reappearance since their conversation in the linguist's office, but every interaction afterward had seemed oddly forced, as though he was trying especially hard to act normally.
Which meant that something was wrong.
"Pizza," Daniel said lazily, dropping the boxes on the coffee table. His lips were quirked in a smile, but overall he looked tired. There were shadows under his eyes and his shoulders drooped slightly in an unfamiliar slouch.
"Beer," was what Jack said in reply rather than voice his concern. He lifted a pair of bottles held loosely in one hand.
The linguist actually seemed to brighten a little at the proffered drink and took one, cracking it open and absently tossing the cap on the table. Jack had to resist raising an eyebrow at the uncharacteristic lack of decorum. Teal'c didn't bother.
"What's the movie?" Daniel asked falling gracelessly onto the couch, feet propped on the table. He took a deep swallow of his drink.
Jack smirked. "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry."
Daniel choked on his beer, shooting a quick glance at Teal'c. The Jaffa merely quirked his eyebrow in a bemused fashion.
It wasn't long after the movie started before Teal'c's confusion about Tau'ri culture came to the fore. "Is not incest taboo among your people?" Jack grinned. Daniel was no help whatsoever, eyeing the screen in disappointment as a pair of gorgeous twins barely stopped before giving each other some tongue.
"Depends really," he drawled. "After all, twins are incredibly sexy, and do you have any idea how competitive sisters can be in – "
"Daniel!" Jack could not believe what he was hearing.
The archaeologist shrugged innocently. "I was going to say 'in matters of love,'" he lied blithely.
It didn't get much better from there. Jack was more inclined to think the movie incredibly funny, while Teal'c took it a little too seriously; unable to understand why Chuck could not be a beneficiary in the first place. And Daniel… well, "What, you've never slept with another man before?" he'd asked frankly.
Teal'c shot him a Look. "I have not," he replied simply. Jack was too busy trying to clear his windpipe of alcohol to answer.
After Daniel left his house that night, Jack cast a thoughtful look at Teal'c. "Hey, T," he asked, "is it just me or was Daniel acting a little… weird… today? I mean, weirder than usual."
Teal'c's brow rose. "I have indeed noticed that he was behaving in a manner most unlike himself."
"Yeah, that's what I thought," he muttered, then added, more loudly, "Not to mention how much beer he drank tonight. I was afraid he was gonna poison himself or something."
"Perhaps he is having and 'off-night,' as you put it," Teal'c suggested.
Jack doubted it. "Yeah, maybe," he shrugged. "Night, T."
Teal'c nodded and headed toward the guest room.
Jack would just have to keep an eye on him for a while. After all, if something was up with Daniel, he wasn't likely to tell them. He'd just have to figure it out on his own.
Methos cursed himself as he got ready for bed that night. He was a better actor than that; both sides of him were far too used to keeping their secrets to be anything but consummate performers. But there he was, making amateurish mistakes. He'd acted more like Adam Pierson than Daniel Jackson.
'In front of people I shouldn't have to act for,' he thought wearily.
Eyes narrowing dangerously, Methos clenched his toothbrush in a white-knuckled grip. Why was he having such a difficult time with this? It was like he'd just taken a particularly unsettling Quickening, and the personality aspects hadn't settled yet. Maybe that was it. After all, he'd basically taken a Quickening that night hadn't he?
He shook his head, giving up on his nightly ablutions. What he needed was a good workout to calm his mind and tire him out. Making his way through his cluttered living room, he picked up his Ivanhoe and went out to the backyard. It was small, but there was enough space to practice.
Daniel ran a finger along the edge of the blade, drawing blood. He was almost surprised when it healed with a bright blue spark. But maybe he shouldn't have been.
Daniel hadn't been Immortal, he mused, sliding into a familiar stance. Methos was. He had also been a master swordsman, he thought, frowning as muscles awkwardly worked in ways they simply weren't used to. That would need to be fixed, preferably before he ran into another Immortal.
Driving the blade into a more powerful thrust than he intended, Methos scowled. Or perhaps Daniel did, but who would notice?
Who was he, really?
A/N: I would just like to say that a large vehicle at high speeds can hit with enough force to tear apart an unprotected pedestrian, even if it is unlikely.