One Duncan/Methos story. My first ever.
Happy Birthday and Happy belated Birthday!
Teeth were too white these days - they were too white, too even and too complete. Methos thought it was as if everyone had mouths full of falsehoods.
Maybe he was jealous. His own teeth were clean enough, but there was a molar missing -probably a fight he'd had before his first death, or a fall or something.
"Another beer here!" If he was noticing teeth, he was not drinking enough. And *he* was late.
The entirely wrong person behind the bar refilled his glass with whatever tasteless American brew lived behind the tap. Forty years ago, there would have been some passable local beer, but the cycle had come round again after another experiment with enforced sobriety.
Forty years ago, someone else would have been serving it.
"Here you go." Methos slid a banknote on the bar in exchange. Tasteless, but there was a definite bite to it. And too many hops.
Before he could take a second swallow, he Felt another enter. He spun round on the stool, his hand poised for action.
This place should be sacred ground, damn it all.
"I wouldn't challenge anyone here, you idiot." Duncan smiled at him - a real smile of ivory teeth and ancient chips. His hair hung to his waist, loose and curly.
"I see you're doing the Highland Barbarian thing." He signaled to the entirely wrong person, who brought another glass of hops and water.
"Just keeping up with the times." He sipped, grimaced and put the glass down. Indeed, most of the men had hair Methos would have called dangerously long. And ridiculously clean and neat. Of course, his own hair was also ridiculously clean and neat, and had been for many, many decades.
"Of course." He downed his own glass as fast as he could. "You're late. You never used to be late. You left me alone with all these people with unnatural teeth and hair."
Duncan smiled. "Real estate deal. Owner got sticky. And you are sounding like an old man."
"I am an old man. I'm entitled. Especially today."
Duncan didn't argue. He ran his card over the scanner and punched in a tip. "Let's go. Like you said, it's late." His hand was warm in the small of Methos' back as they left the bar, which also had entirely the wrong name.
There was a monorail that led to their destination. Methos spent the time staring at the city through the window. He liked monorails. They were smooth and silent, and fast. And they didn't leave smells or droppings behind.
Today, though, he wouldn't have minded a fast, spirited horse so he could feel like he was moving.
Duncan stayed quiet, too, flipping through his PDA and making notes. He sat rather close to Methos, though, the length of his thigh warm through the thick material of his trousers. Methos was glad. He was cold.
Old men should be cold. It was only right.
The cemetery was damp, like the rest of Seacouver, and winter brown, with occasional bunches of flowers making odd bright patches.
The grave had been at the edge of a section when it was new. Now it was surrounded by others. It took a moment for Methos to get his bearings. Duncan, of course, had no problems.
The plaque was flat on the ground. It held his name and his dates - the second ten years ago this very date, and a symbol from an organization Methos knew only too well.
He knelt next to it, as if praying to the modern god whose image filled this place. The damp seeped through the knees of his trousers. He felt Duncan's hand on his shoulder. "Why do I do this, Mac?"
"We all do. Maybe it's safer."
"Safer? To fall in love with someone who is going to fall apart and die in our arms? How is that safer?"
"Because if it's one of us, it's not going to be in our arms. It's going to be at the edge of a sword. Sometimes, the edge of our own swords." His voice went far away, to Paris forty years earlier. "And sometimes, even they die like that." And now he was back in Seacouver again. Methos had never met Tessa.
"He was so good. So strong - there were days when I thought maybe one of them could cheat, could stay."
"I know. That's something else we all do. We're good at denial. We have to be." He squeezed Methos' shoulder. "I loved him, too. Not the way you did, but he was a good friend. One of the best I ever had. A brother, maybe."
He nodded, kissed his fingers and touched the plaque. "Maybe I'll see you in someone else's eyes, Joe. I miss you." He wondered if Joe even heard. Or could hear.
Duncan reached down. Methos grasped his hand to stand. He didn't let go. "Mac. Thank you."
"It's all right. Like I said."
"Yeah. A brother." He looked down into Duncan's eyes. "Is that what you think of me, too?"
Duncan, still holding his hand, shrugged. "Why?"
"I'm not asking for a lifetime - not even one of their's. But I need a friend tonight, and you are the best friend I have."
He nodded, once, and squeezed Methos' hand gently. "I can't promise more than tonight." He leaned over the grave. His lips were warm and skilled with centuries of practice, and Methos gave himself over to them.
Tomorrow, he'd go to a new city, one that wouldn't have entirely wrong things in them.