DISCLAIMER - Highlander and its characters is the copyright of Rysher and Panzer/Davis Productions and no infringement is intended. The story, such as it is, is copyright Karen Colohan 1998.

With thanks to Erika and especially to Laurey for their comments and suggestions on this story. It is that much better for the intervention.

PRELUDE

Finally...

I've spent more than a few years watching this one's progress, reading the reports in his chronicles - and wondering when the fates would conspire to make our paths cross. In truth it's come sooner than I thought, Kalas has seen to that. And so here he is, the Highlander, in my house. Of course, he believed he was coming to meet with just another Watcher - a mortal. He knows better now and confusion, mixed with a healthy dose of caution, is plain to see on his face.
"Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod."

I speak his name aloud, to make it clear to him that I have been expecting him. He pauses, still clearly unsure of me. I am grateful to see that the naked blade of his sword remains lowered at his side, though. As it seems appropriate to offer hospitality and, if I am honest, because it pleases me to compound his confusion, I offer him a beer. He easily catches the can I toss his way, his eyes never leaving my face.

Duncan sees Methos for the first time

I take the opportunity to study him in my turn. In my opinion not one of the pictures I've ever seen of Duncan MacLeod actually begins to do him justice. There's a grace and a strength about him, together with an obvious passion for life, which is only apparent in the flesh. It's easy to see how he's managed to beat Immortals much older and more experienced than himself. I already know instinctively I'd trust this one to watch my back.

A part of me insists I should know better. After all, I don't really know this man at all. But he has made no move to threaten or challenge me. MacLeod is willing to give me the benefit of the doubt - even under circumstances which must have set every warning bell sounding in his head. Then, most important of all, is his reason for being here. Why does he want to find the myth that is Methos? MacLeod wants to protect him, protect me from Kalas. How can I possibly resist that?

Gods above, old man, listen to yourself! Have you learned nothing in 50 centuries? Is it to be hero worship now? That kind of tendency only makes you sloppy. It's dangerous! And yet, this one is certainly worthy of it - in every way.

MacLeod's actions, of course, speak for themselves. Oh, there have been a few shaky moments in his past - I've read his chronicles and I know some of the skeletons he hides - things he no doubt wishes he hadn't done. Then again, is there one of us who doesn't have regrets about something in all our long lifetimes? On balance though, the scales are heavily in Duncan MacLeod's favour. He is that rare thing - an honourable man.

Oh yes, he is the One - or else there is no justice in the Game. He doesn't know it, of course, but I do.

Even before today I suspected it, but now that I've looked into those eyes, I'm certain. It's a pity really - it means that one day MacLeod will have to take my head, after all. Well, assuming no one beats him to it: but I've survived this long and I don't plan on getting careless with my life now. Still, I can think of worse fates than that - to have my Quickening bound up with his for all time...

That eventuality will be a long way away though, I trust. Today is just the beginning... Oh yes, I think Duncan MacLeod and I will come to know one another a great deal better before that day arrives. I certainly hope so anyway.

His eyes have continued appraising me as surely as I have been studying him. I wonder what he makes of Adam Pierson? What did Dawson tell him about me before he came here? Not that there would be much for him to tell. Adam is, quite intentionally, a perfectly unexceptional man. Nevertheless, I suppose I always knew the day would come, that one of my own kind would come to my door in search of Methos and wanting to make use of my supposed research. Then again, what does MacLeod imagine a 5000 year old man will be like, I wonder? Whatever he might be expecting, I'm sure the reality will come as something of a disappointment!!

Actually, it's almost as if I can see the thought processes going on in MacLeod's mind as he fits all the pieces of the puzzle together. Yes, MacLeod, you know it, don't you? An Immortal, here in this house, hardly likely to be a coincidence is it? You know me - who I am - despite the outward appearance. You can't quite reconcile the myth that is Methos with Adam Pierson yet, but you'll get there. You're a bright boy.

I feel the need to break the silence that has grown between us. I have to offer him something - and not just a can of cheap beer - to seal the instinctive bond I feel with him. I don't want to let this moment slip through my fingers. I sense it's too important, for both of us.

"Mi casa es su casa."

It's all I can think of on the spur of the moment. Hardly the wisdom of ages, but it will serve.

"Methos...?" A frown, then, finally MacLeod gives voice to his intuition. Bright boy indeed!

Oh, but it's been too long since I heard that name on another's lips as something more than a topic of academic discussion. It's easy to lose one's sense of self when you hide behind other names, other personalities. I had forgotten the simple pleasure of being myself, being Methos. Well, if the Gods are kind, may it not be the last time I hear my name from your lips, Duncan MacLeod.

I bow my head in acknowledgement and look up to meet the wonder, even awe, in his dark eyes. No, Highlander, it is I who should stand in awe of you. After all, have you not done what so many have failed to do and found Methos? Truthfully I think I was actually beginning to doubt his existence myself! But even after so short a time I can feel myself coming alive again in your presence, drawn out of my long isolation.

Your fire is a wonderful, precious thing, MacLeod, and I pray you never lose it, no matter how long you live. I could warm my soul before it for a very long time...

So much for self-preservation, old man. Such passion is as dangerous as it is intoxicating - for the one who feels it and for those who move in his circle. This one will always be an Immortal magnet. Others, lacking their own fire, will constantly be drawn to try and win that passion for themselves by taking MacLeod's head and his Quickening.

I know I will not let that happen, though. Be it Kalas or some other Immortal that threatens, I will do whatever is necessary to see that MacLeod has the strength he needs to ensure that his spirit - and the vessel of flesh containing it - survives. Whatever it takes...

Yes, if there is one thing I must teach you, MacLeod, it is that your survival is paramount. That's the trouble with honour. It sometimes forgets the value of selfishness! So I will make sure you learn this lesson. After all, am I not the living proof of its effectiveness?

Remember... Live, Highlander, grow stronger, fight another day. Whatever it takes...

THE END

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