Canon note: This falls after the episode "Methuselah's Gift," and close to "Through A Glass Darkly."
Story note: This is the world of "How To Win Friends and Influence Immortals." Amy and Methos have been friends for almost a year and a half by this point. I place this about one month after Alexa's funeral in Paris.
The references here are subtle, but if you've read "Postcards from Alexa" in An Evening At Joe's, I think you'll get it.
We Have Been Friends Together
by Caroline Elizabeth Sarah Norton
We have been friends together,
In sunshine and in shade; ...
But coldness dwells within thy heart,
A cloud is on thy brow;
We have been friends together—
Shall a light word part us now?
They stared at each other across the cold expanse of the concrete plaza. Gray concrete, gray stone. A modern building dropped into ancient Paris, sucking the life out of the area. Benches painted with garish colors were out-of-place, alien to their surroundings, unwelcome by the colorless concrete.
Amy knew she was just as unwelcome as she gazed across at Methos. His eyes were hard, arms crossed. He remained on his bench, forcing her to close the distance between them. She re-wrapped her scarf around her neck, freed the ends of her short hair, and started across the plaza. Her hands stayed in her jacket pockets, holding it shut while walking, her eyes locked on his boots.
To Methos, her slow walk clearly stated she didn't want to be there. Neither did he, and still wasn't sure why he had let himself be talked into this. It was obviously a moment of grieving weakness. He made a mental note to stay far away from his friends when adjusting to the death of his next wife in a few hundred years.
Amy stopped next to the bench and Methos offered no welcome, made no room for her. Instead he stared blankly at the street. Amy remained standing, staring in the same direction, unsure of what she could say.
The fog blew in tendrils between them.
Only a few humans in their dark coats were outside, the brave few standing defiant against the Parisian spring and the fog it invariably brought. Fewer still crossed the great concrete expanse, scurrying past the forbidding blankness. The sun was giving up its battle with the clouds, only peeking through on rare occasions.
Amy was sure her heart couldn't hurt any more. Alexa's death had taken one friend, words spoken without thought had taken another. So here they were, unable to talk to each other, both stubborn enough to wait on the other, and MacLeod between, frustrated and saddened by them both until he intervened and, with Joe's help, demanded that they meet.
Without speaking Methos stood and began to walk slowly toward the river. Side by side, hands shoved in their respective pockets, they walked. The inches between their shoulders were an impassable chasm.
They came to a bridge and began to cross it. By unspoken agreement, they paused in the middle and stood, staring down the river, leaning on the rail.
Amy gathered her courage. "You know, it's unfair of us to do this to Mac, especially when I was so irritated with you for doing it to me."
"What's that?" Methos' eyes didn't leave the river on its march to the English Channel.
"Putting him between us since we refuse to talk."
"I didn't know we had anything to say." The coldness in his voice came out more strongly than he meant. He made himself not care.
Amy gripped the rail until her knuckles turned white and watched a tour boat pass under the bridge. By the time it disappeared behind them, she didn't feel as threatened by the pressing tears.
"You didn't come to the funeral," he accused, not hiding the anger he clung to, using it to keep from drowning in his grief. I needed you.
The accusation was true. She had abandoned him in Geneva and gone directly to Joe's, an ocean and a continent away, not returning to Paris until last week. Instead of being at the funeral of her best friend, she had hidden away from the memory of their fight and the uncomfortable silence she was afraid to face.
"No." Because I'm a coward. Without moving her head Amy watched a bicyclist pedal along the river's edge.
"Joe made it, even though he could only be gone for two days." Watching carefully from the corner of his eyes, Methos saw her eyes close and her jaw clinch. He wanted her to break, he needed to know she hurt as much as he did. "Have you bothered to have MacLeod take you to her grave yet? Did her friendship mean anything to you?"
Amy had visited Alexa's grave that morning - the sixth time in a week - to watch the sunrise in solitude and cried. After the morning spent bawling her eyes out in the cemetery, she thought she was done with tears. Dammit, how can I be crying again after doing so much already? She blinked rapidly, unwilling to give herself away by raising her hand and wiping her eyes.
"I'm sorry." The two most difficult words out of the way, she could finally turn to face him. Forced to speak to his profile, she refused to quit. With a deep breath she continued, "Everything I said…I wish… I wish I had the ability to take it all back and…" Suddenly her throat clenched so tightly that she couldn't continue speaking. She had to look at the water, the sky, anywhere but at the stony set of his jaw.
"And, what?" Methos turned to snarl at her. You said you wanted to be my sister, to bear the burden with me. "And you think saying sorry makes it okay that you left and didn't have the decency to come back? Why now? It's over. I don't need you."
"And… fix something that shouldn't be broken." She forced her eyes to stop their darting and meet his. His stare clearly displayed the depth of his anger and she despaired of healing their rift.
Methos closed his eyes and inhaled deeply before answering. He preferred feeling rage over the overwhelming blackness of sorrow, but he also knew he was dangerously close to losing control. He bent towards her slightly and filled his voice with disgust.
"You couldn't be bothered to help her a month ago, and suddenly you want to fix something? There are things that can't have a magic fix." Methos sneered the word 'magic' with derision. His eyes snapped as a thought struck, and his voice became dangerous. Low and cold, it slid between them, melding with the fog. "Or maybe this could have? Go back in time and help me when I actually needed you! Alexa died because you refused to help me! Fix that!"
Amy clamped her lips shut and tried not to flinch. She finally understood that he had lashed out in his grief in Geneva, and he was doing it again. She would not respond. She would not restart that argument.
"Go back and heal her before it becomes too late! Use your worthless magic to protect her!"
She bowed her head in the face of his fury. Turning away, not to ignore him, but agreeing with the guilt he heaped upon her.
"You made it quite clear you couldn't be bothered then, well I can't be bothered now. You couldn't even stop and think that maybe she would have wanted you at her funeral? Then I don't want you here. I don't need you to fix anything, I can do this on my own." Every word meant to wound, her hunched back gave him a perverse pleasure.
Ducking her head until her chin rested against her chest, she acknowledged he was right. She deserved his anger. She had caused his pain. She hugged herself and bowed her head lower still, tears streaking her face as she struggled to breathe.
Methos felt his fingers twitching towards the hilt of his sword. Remembering they were in public, he balled his fist instead and punched the rail as a raw scream of grief tore from his throat.
One. Two. Three hits before the bones in his hand shattered, bringing him back to the present with a demanding jolt of pain and wave of nausea.
Holding his hand while it healed, he had nothing to do but stare at either the river or Amy and he was forced to look past his own grief for a moment. Her pride, her defiance, was gone. The confident face she presented to the world was destroyed. Head bowed and sniffling, tears dripped off her nose while her back shook with silent sobs.
A bitter taste developed in his mouth and a conversation they had shared over a year ago came to mind.
[A friend is dying and Peter can't stop it...He calls himself a healer, but he can't take it away!]
["Is this the first time you've had to deal with the death of a close friend?"]
[I've lost friends and family...But I've never had to watch them waste away and ask why we have these so-called gifts, and the one time I think there's a purpose - it's worthless!]
Realizing slowly that he had been a fool, he had to ask one thing. He had to look away from her before his voice would co-operate and stay steady. "Amy, last year when I found you smashing plates because you were mad at Peter for not healing your friend, who was that?"
She shook her head quickly without unfolding from herself. "It's not important anymore."
Her small voice made his heart sink.
[I've never had to watch them waste away...]
"It was Alexa." He watched Amy freeze like a rabbit hoping to remain unnoticed. "Tell me I'm wrong. It was Alexa, wasn't it?"
She nodded quickly, once only, still hugging herself and then gave over to a fresh bout of sobs.
"Oh gods," he whispered. "Amy, why didn't you tell me..."
"I need to apologize for what I said. It was…" She stopped when his hand touched her shoulder. She didn't open her eyes.
Methos tried to pull her around so they could see each other. "No. I never thanked you for -"
"I didn't do anything, I -"
"Thank you for the day you gave us, a day we wouldn't have had because I was off chasing that damn crystal." His voice cracked and Amy turned to face Methos, placing her hand over his.
They spoke at the same time and smiled weakly together.
Amy bit her bottom lip and turned back to the river. "So, shall we quit beating ourselves and each other up and remember what's important?"
Methos leaned his forearms on the railing. "What's that?"
She imitated his lean against the rail. "We both lost somebody we loved dearly."
"Desperately," he whispered, staring at the dark waters once again.
The breeze played with the old man's short hair, making it stand up more than usual. Loosened bits of her long waves blew across Amy's face. She pushed the last of the tears off her eyes.
Behind them, the sun pushed through a thin spot in the clouds and sent light dancing across the river and the buildings that lined its banks. The water turned bronze, the buildings flared briefly with golden light. The clouds marshaled together and recovered the sun, not as thickly as before.
Perhaps she could play her violin for him tonight.
We have been sad together,
We have wept, with bitter tears,
We have been sad together—
Oh! what shall part us now?
We Have Been Friends Together
by Caroline Elizabeth Sarah Norton
Author note: There is a particular building here in town I went to at least once a week through the late winter/early spring. The cover photo is of the plaza out front. Every time we walked across the plaza to the entrance, a very particular image came to mind.
I saw two friends. They sit, side by side but so far apart, fear and pain keeping them distant. How do they make the first step towards each other?