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, 2001-2

Author's note - At present this story consists of some fully realised scenes complete with linking ideas/dialogue snippets.

UNTITLED

by Karen Colohan

As the last tendrils of the Quickening settled into his body Methos shuddered. With an effort he pushed up off his knees and managed to clamber to his feet. He swayed unsteadily. What was this, the fourth or was it the fifth Quickening in barely as many weeks? And each one seemed to hit him harder than the last. Methos knew there had been a good reason why he had stayed out of the Game for so long.

He couldn't help but wonder what had brought so many challengers out of the woodwork all at once. None of them were people he knew, nor did they seem to know him by any name but Adam Pierson. Why were they coming for him and not Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod, all round Immortal magnet? It was a mystery - and Methos didn't like unsolved mysteries, especially when they threatened his survival.

How did Duncan cope with taking so many Quickenings? The Dark Quickening aside they seemed not to affect him. Methos, on the other hand, was beginning to feel the strain of all those new voices clamouring inside his brain.

He'd once told Duncan that maybe there was more room inside him, but now Methos was starting to doubt that assertion. He felt as if he were an open vessel, holding not just his own memories, but also those from all the Quickenings he had ever taken. Only now it felt as if everything inside him was lapping at the rim, needing only one more drop to make the liquid pool of memory spill over the sides.

Sighing, Methos shook his head, trying to clear it of the disturbing imagery. He was just tired, not hovering on the brink of his own Dark Quickening, and the sooner he got home to Duncan the better. Quite apart from the fact that the Highlander would be worried when he failed to show up on time for dinner, the thought of being surrounded by Duncan MacLeod's familiar presence was a balm to the oldest Immortal's battered soul. Perhaps his lover's touch would quieten the voices for a while, keep him grounded.

It would certainly help the other, seemingly inevitable, side-effect of the Quickening, Methos reflected. He hated using Mac as nothing more than a means of relieving the abrupt build up of sexual energy within himself, but better that than simply finding the nearest available body and spending his tensions that way. At least Duncan understood what was driving him.

Lately, after a Quickening, Methos found he came closer to losing control than he liked. Methos was not fond of reminders of his days with the Horsemen and the recent violence of his appetites in the aftermath of a Quickening made him uncomfortable. Duncan seemed to take it all in his stride, but Methos suspected it had, at times, disturbed him more than he let on.

Once the overriding hunger left him, Methos always made a point of loving Duncan with as much gentleness as he was capable of. It was the only way he knew to reassure his lover that Death was indeed locked firmly in the past and had no place in their relationship.

Feeling the need to get back to the safe haven of the loft ever more acutely, Methos quickly cleaned his sword on his opponent's coat and sheathed it. Then, with the efficiency of long practice, Methos concealed the body and its severed head. Let the Watchers deal with the rest of the clean up, he thought uncharitably.

After that, Methos made his way back to the loft as quickly as he could. The initial exhaustion from the fight had dissipated, replaced by the restless energy of the Quickening still trying to settle itself in his body. Methos was more than grateful when the blocky outline of the dojo finally came into view.

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missing scene on return from challenge - dialogue snippet

"I hate this, Mac. It seems to be getting harder, assimilating the Quickenings. And it never was easy for me; it was a part of the reason I kept out of the Game for so long."

"After five thousand years you have a lot of Quickenings inside you, Methos, maybe it's only to be expected."

"I never thought I'd say this, but I'm almost beginning to wish I wasn't Immortal." Methos sighed, tiredly. "Why now and why so many of them? Why is it open season on Adam Pierson all of a sudden?"

"I don't know. I wish I did."

"Gods, I feel old, Mac!"

"I guess we all do from time to time. It'll pass."

"I hope so; I really hope so..."

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Methos' 'illness'. No buzz, unable to feel other Immortals' presence too. No memories, but still able to heal.

Duncan insists he stays with him, and Methos still feels comfortable with Duncan even though he can't actually remember him. After a while they resume their relationship and it feels right to Methos. As time goes on Duncan also explains to Methos what he is - after he heals from an injury and is freaked. He doesn't tell him his real name, though, in case he says it to the wrong person - might be dangerous when he's this vulnerable.

After that Methos discovers he can still read old languages, some things seem to be instinctive rather than requiring actual memory. He starts to hunt out his journals - which Duncan has mentioned - hoping to find out more about himself and maybe hoping to trigger some recall. He also wants his perspective, not Duncan's, on who he was. And he feels awkward having to keep asking Duncan for information. Has also rebuilt a friendship with Joe and goes to him too.

Duncan asks Adam why he does certain things - which are Methos trademarks. Adam doesn't know, but the question makes him start to feel insecure - as if he's just the caretaker of his body, not the real owner - because even Duncan knows more about it than he does.

Also starts to feel insecure about his relationship with Duncan - does Duncan really still love him when he's only a very small part of the Methos he's originally built that relationship with. He doesn't know that when he first met him Duncan thought Methos was the Adam persona, only gradually got to learn about Methos and still doesn't know a lot about him.

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Snippet:

One thing about the oldest Immortal hadn't changed, Duncan reflected fondly, he still loved to drink beer. He also retained his uncanny ability to sprawl in a seat as if his bones had melted.

Duncan glanced across the loft to where Adam was currently occupying most of the couch. He held a beer bottle in one hand and a book in the other. Watching Adam as he read, oblivious to his audience, Duncan felt a pang as he realised just how little had changed, on the surface at least. If you didn't know better it would appear that he and Adam were going about their daily lives just the same as they always had.

But Duncan did know better.

He also found himself thinking just how young the other man looked. Taking away the burden of five thousand years of memories - many of them undoubtedly painful - had in some ways been good for Methos. The shadows that had so often haunted his face were gone entirely. In their place was a renewed enthusiasm for life that lent a sparkle to Methos' hazel eyes. The ironic sense of humour remained, but the pervading cynicism was markedly absent.

Duncan sighed. Adam was beautiful and, miraculously, he seemed to be as content as Duncan's lover as Methos had been. But the truth was that Duncan missed the old man. Their shared experiences hadn't all been pleasant, but the bond that had been forged between the two Immortals had been stronger for them.

Would Methos ever resurface? Duncan dearly hoped so, though they were no nearer understanding what had caused Methos' condition now than they had been when he first lost his memory. And Duncan found that he also hoped that, if Methos did recover, a little of Adam's unique joie de vivre would remain with him.

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Over time, occasional flashes of memory begin to surface...

"Duncan, who was Kronos?"

"M - Adam?" Duncan's eyes widened. Was Methos beginning to get his memory back? If so, what a place to start. The Highlander stared at his lover, unsure what to say.

"Did I say something wrong?" There was a trace of fear in Adam's hazel eyes as he searched Duncan's face. Whatever he saw there made him add, "You knew this Kronos." It was a statement, not a question.

"Yeah, I knew him." Duncan frowned. This really wasn't territory he wanted to get into with Adam, but could he really afford to ignore a possible avenue to Methos' lost memories.

"I - Kronos wasn't...?" Adam made a vague gesture towards himself.

"No!" Duncan shook his head emphatically. "You weren't - aren't Kronos, Adam. Kronos is dead."

"And..." Adam's brow furrowed as he tried to pull more information out of the depths of his brain. These brief glimpses were intensely frustrating, holding out the promise of the truth about himself, but still elusive. "It doesn't sound as if you liked him much. Did you kill him, Duncan?"

"Yes." Duncan's voice was flat, emotionless. "He was an Immortal, like you and I. Adam, I really don't think..."

"Duncan, this is the first real fragment of memory I have. Everything else has been just vague impressions." Adam's eyes pleaded with Duncan to understand. "I can't let this go."

Reaching out, Duncan rested a hand on Adam's shoulder, his fingers digging into tense muscle. "You should... trust me on this."

Adam simply shook his head. "I knew this Kronos too?" he persisted.

Duncan sighed, defeated. "Yes."

"And I assume the association wasn't a pleasant one - judging by your reluctance to talk to me about it." Adam held Duncan's gaze, refusing to let it be.

"I..." Duncan frowned. "I don't really know."

"You're not making much sense here, Duncan."

Duncan took a deep breath. "Adam, I can only tell you about the time Kronos showed up a few years ago. That ended badly..."

"With Kronos dead."

"Yes."

"But there's more?" Adam's voice was as tight as his posture.

"Adam..." There was no way to make this easy for the other man. "You knew Kronos something like three thousand years ago."

"What?" Adam's eyes widened and he looked stunned. "You mean three hundred, don't you? You told me you were about four hundred years old and... I am younger than you, aren't I?"

"No, you're not..." Duncan's hand tightened on Adam's shoulder. "And you did know Kronos that long ago... you were with him for something like a thousand years. I don't know exactly... What I do know is that he thought you were dead, but when he found out you weren't he came looking for you. What happened then was complicated and not exactly pleasant for any of those concerned."

"You have to tell me, Duncan," Adam said softly. "I can see you don't want to, but I need to know."

"Adam, you have to understand... this nearly destroyed our friendship before. I'd really rather not talk about it any more." He sighed. "This is a part of your past that's better left undisturbed."

"Duncan, you can't make this choice for me. It's my past, my missing memories. I have a right to know." Adam drew Duncan over to the couch, sitting and pulling the other man down next to him. He caught hold of Duncan's hands between his own, then met his dark, troubled gaze steadily. "Okay, I can handle this. Oh, and I think maybe it's time you told me what my real name is as well."

"Adam?" Duncan looked startled.

"I'm not stupid." Adam gave a wry smile. "You've started to call me something else on more than one occasion... a name that starts with M. Please, Duncan, I really need to know who I am."

Nodding his acknowledgement of this, Duncan drew Adam's hands up to his lips, kissing them softly. "You're right, but I would rather have protected you from this. Dammit, if you were going to remember something... I would have wished for it to be anything but this."

"All right, I understand that," Adam conceded. "Now, tell me."

"Firstly, your name - and I'd caution you not to use it in public, it would definitely attract attention you don't want - is Methos." Duncan watched the other Immortal try out the name, soundlessly mouthing the two syllables. "The reason you want to keep that quiet is because you're the world's oldest living Immortal. As far as you used to be able to remember, you're around five thousand years old."

That visibly shocked the other man, not that Duncan could blame him for that. Adam's eyes mutely begged the Highlander to tell him it wasn't true, that this was all just a joke. But Duncan knew that, if he looked, Adam would see the truth of his words reflected in his steady gaze.

"Was this why I forgot?" Adam murmured finally. "Were there just too many memories?"

"I don't know... Methos. I wish I had answers for you, but I don't." Duncan tried a smile, wanting to reassure the other man, but it came out more like a grimace. "At least you know your true name now. I was serious, though, about keeping it a secret. Before all this there were only a handful of people who knew your real identity, because a lot of Immortals would like the head and the quickening of Methos. So I think this name should remain between ourselves. Outside of here you should still be Adam Pierson."

"Dear Gods, I agree." Methos still wore a stunned expression, but there was an edge of excitement too. "I... Duncan, this is incredible! Five thousand years?" Abruptly he became serious again. "So, now you can tell me about Kronos... and about how he knew Methos three thousand years ago."

#####

At this point Duncan takes Methos into his arms, holding him close before he begins. Then he slowly and carefully explains what he knows of the history of the Horsemen, ancient and modern. He spares nothing, telling Methos how he rode as Death and also explains about Cassandra.

#####

"But, Duncan, if I was such a monster how can you bear to have me near you? I..." Methos was pale and shaken, desperately wanting to disbelieve.

"Hush, Methos, it's all right," he said gently. "All this was resolved between us a long time ago, I promise. Don't worry."

"I - I can't believe..." Methos squeezed his eyes shut, a look of disgust twisting his features. "Gods, I wish I hadn't remembered!"

Duncan softly kissed Methos' brow. "Not all your memories will be like this. There will be good things too."

"Like us?"

"Yeah, like us."

Unshed tears sparkled on Methos' dark lashes as he reached up blindly and kissed Duncan.

The Highlander drew him closer, offering comfort in the strength of his body.

"Duncan..."

"Shh... It's going to be okay. I promise." Duncan rested his cheek against the dark spikes of Methos' hair. "Listen to me... There was a very important lesson you taught me. It took a while to get through my thick skull, but I got it in the end. You told me that there are things in life we can't change - things we've done - but we have to accept them, learn from them and then move on. You've done that once where your time with the Horsemen is concerned. You can do it again."

"And you?" Methos shifted back, opening his eyes so that he could look into Duncan's.

Duncan met his gaze squarely. "I accepted that the Methos I've come to know has some terrible things in his past. But I also know they are in the past. My Methos... you are a different person entirely, someone I love and trust with my life absolutely."

Methos' eyes were troubled. "But I'm not... I'm not your Methos. I can't be; I still don't know who he is, only what he was. I can only be Adam. That's all I know how to be."

tbc


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