Summary: There are days, Joe wonders if Methos is worth the trouble.
Fandom: Highlander (tv-verse)
Characters: Joe Dawson, Methos
Disclaimer: Rhysher & co's, not mine
Original story: A Postcard from Adam by lferion
Nor Gloom of Night (The Cairo Postscript Remix)
Coffee, music, and the day's email. With his mug full, steam from the hot coffee rising into the morning sunlight, Joe sat before his computer and let the sound of Muddy Waters wash over him as the machine booted up. He hummed to himself, nodding his head in time with the rhythm.
With the exception of the music, it was quiet. If he listened carefully, he could hear the sounds of Mike cleaning the bar downstairs. Other than that, nothing seemed to be stirring. It was just him, Muddy, and his coffee.
By the time Joe logged into his email, good-naturedly grumbling his way through the system, Mike was moving chairs and Joe's coffee was ready to drink.
Just in time to nearly choke on it with the first email of the day. It was an expected report from Libby Bradley, a Watcher in Cairo, her final summation on the death of her assignment, Nick Pascoe. The report was expected, but the attached picture was not. Looking at it was had Joe sputtering coffee over himself and his computer. Reading Libby's email, he had to agree with the sentiment.
What the fuck is going on?
Joe groaned, looking at the picture of Methos with Pascoe, caught in the midst of a fairly heated discussion. It was a challenge. He'd definitely seen enough of them to recognize the stance. Although Methos seemed as reluctant as ever, Pascoe displayed no such reticence, posturing like a bantam hen.
Which explained how the fight had turned out, Pascoe hadn't stood a chance. Fucking fantastic. The man was barely out the door and already on the radar. He'd taken a Quickening in front of another Watcher and, worse still, one that knew him. If memory served - and it usually did – Libby had attended the Academy with Methos. She'd probably already notified Geneva.
"Beautiful," said Joe. "Give him another month; he'll be the talk of the town. Stupid son of a bitch, what the hell were you thinking?"
Giving the picture a vicious glare, Joe went in search of a rag to clean up the mess. Well, one of them. The other, like most Immortal messes, he wasn't sure that one could be cleaned up.
With a grimace, Joe batted at the spilled coffee around his keyboard. "I should kill him for this." He looked at the picture a second time, his grimace becoming a full-on scowl. "A couple times."
He sat down again, tossing the rag toward the table. Time to survey the damage. Libby was young, but she wasn't an idiot. The chances of her making the connection between Adam and Methos were slim, but not impossible. Joe pictured the shitstorm that would kick up and snorted.
"His own damn fault for being so fucking sloppy." Still, he resisted the urge to cross his fingers as he started to read.
Name: Peter Nicholas Kemp-Pascoe
Born: 1778 A.D. - Newcastle-on-Tyne
First Death: 1805 A.D.
First Teacher: Unknown
Most Recent Base of Operations: Cairo, Egypt
Watcher: Libby Bradley
Roster of Immortals Status: DECEASED
February 3rd, 1996 - Final report on the Immortal, Peter Nicholas Kemp-Pascoe.
It's my first time doing one of these; I've never lost one of my assignments before. As firsts go, I'm not entirely sure what to make of this one. I have the sneaking suspicion that I'm mucking it up somehow. Not that I'm sure there's any other way of going about it. How does one process the death of someone like an Immortal? Particularly an Immortal like Nick?
I think I should feel more than I do, but perhaps not. I've yet to come to terms with it. As Immortals go, he's - he was - a legend only in his own mind. Nick was a talented swordsman, gifted with a blade, and a determined opponent, but he was not the Game player he thought he was.
With his methods, and habitual underestimation of his opponents, it was only a matter of time that he crossed the wrong Immortal. I suppose, one could say this outcome was inevitable.
If I sound cold, I'm afraid that I am. I've not been able to form much of a connection with my assignment. Even working for him as I have been, I've not seen much within Nick's personality that would endear me. Oh, he played the role well enough. To me, he was never anything but pleasant. Always polite, always respectful, and he paid me a king's ransom. If I hadn't known the truth, I might have even been attracted to him.
But I knew the truth. I knew what he was. I knew that just a month before he'd held a young woman hostage. The adoptive daughter of another rival, one not as lucky as last night's Immortal. The girl is fine, of course. Nick released her when he won. He was a cold-hearted bastard, but an honorable one. If that counts for anything. I'm not sure that it does.
I feel absolutely horrid to say this, but I am relieved that he's dead. God help me, but I am.
He encountered the unknown Immortal in a museum. I was happy when he ducked inside, the stone walls a cool respite from the unrelenting heat, but I didn't realize why we were there. Not until I saw him with the other Immortal. I wasn't able to get close, he might have seen me, but I have no doubt he threatened the man's companion.
As I said, I suspect that was his fatal mistake. Well, his second one. His first would've been his choice of targets. The girl was a lovely young American. We happened upon each other on my way out and spoke briefly. I tried to uncover some clue, a hint as to her companion's identity, but to no avail. She gave me nothing by which I could discover his name. Regrettable that.
I doubt I'll see the man again, but I feel as though I owe him thanks. Yet another thing I can feel guilty about. How do the others do it? I'm grateful that a man is dead.
What kind of life is this? And why can't I leave it behind?
Elizabeth J. Bradley
"I wish to hell I knew, Libby," said Joe. He sat back, rubbing his forehead as he stared at the screen. She hadn't called Adam by name. That was something. He looked at the telephone and chewed his lower lip, debating making the call. She deserved some kind of explanation.
Frustrated, Joe muttered an oath and grabbed his cane. "She's not the only one." As far as he was concerned, Methos still owed him one, not that he expected to get it. The old bastard reveled in his anonymity. Near as Joe could tell, Methos had contaminated his Chronicle almost beyond repair.
Pushing to his feet, he abandoned the computer and went to the phone. He wasn't surprised, despite the time difference, Libby picked up immediately. "Sorry to keep you waiting."
Across the line, he heard a chuckle. Rueful and bitter. "Considering the subject," said Libby, "I can hardly blame you." She paused, admitting, "Then there's the matter of you being fresh out of bed."
"There's that," Joe agreed.
"Did you know?"
He looked back at the computer screen and the picture on it. "Not until recently." Silence broken by intermittent static stretched out across the miles as Libby thought it over and Joe waited.
"I don't know what to do," she said, finally. "He's a friend, but…"
"He's an Immortal."
"He isn't just turned, either," said Libby. "Don't try to tell me that he is. I watched that fight, Joe. Whatever Adam is, he's not new to this." She sighed. "You know what we're supposed to do, Joe. He's an Immortal, hiding within the Watchers, and he's using our resources – "
"No," cut in Joe, his voice sharp. "Whatever Adam is doing, he isn't using the Watchers to hunt. I'd know if he was."
"You hope you'd know," said Libby, giving voice to his private fears. "Why the Methos Chronicle, Joe? Why did he want that assignment?"
Crossing his fingers, Joe looked heavenward as he lied, "Your guess is as good as mine. The assignment keeps him isolated and out of the way. Could be all he's looking for is a good place to hide."
"And maybe pigs will fly," said Libby.
"After everything we've seen, would you be surprised if they did?" asked Joe.
She laughed. "No, I suppose I wouldn't be." A sigh followed up the words. "Tell me what to do, Joe. Please."
"I can't," said Joe. "You have to make up your own mind on this one. No one else can do it for you, least of all me." God knew he didn't have the right to say a fucking thing. Not with the secrets he was holding back. "You'll know what to do."
"No," said Libby. "But maybe I can fake it."
Exhaling heavily, Joe closed his eyes. "Listen, kiddo, sit tight, huh? I'll talk to some people over here. You need an easier assignment this time around."
"Bribery works wonders," said Libby, somber. "Just get me out of here, Joe. I don't care to where, just get me out of here."
"I will," said Joe. "It's the least I can do."
She laughed and hung up. Listening to the dial tone, Joe looked at Methos' face on the screen.
"You, buddy, are way more trouble than you're worth."
"You're just now figuring this out?" asked Methos, upon Joe's repetition of the same. "Really, Joe, I would've thought that patently obvious." His amusement was obvious, but still layered beneath a level of exhaustion. Methos was out of practice. The Quickening wasn't settling easily. "I thought I saw Libby in the crowd. I'd hoped I was wrong."
"Yeah, well, you weren't. She saw you, she recognized you, and she's got a picture to prove it." Looking up as Mike passed, Joe nodded at him. The younger Watcher was headed for the door, ready to lock up for the night. Joe waited until he was out of earshot before adding, "Five thousand years and you're this sloppy? How the hell did you live this long?"
"Dumb luck," said Methos.
"I'll believe the dumb," muttered Joe. "Listen, I talked to her. I think she's going to keep quiet for now, but I don't know how long that's going to last."
"I'm not worried."
"You should be," said Joe.
"No, I really shouldn't," said Methos. He sounded brighter. The son of a bitch was enjoying this. Joe grabbed two glasses off the bar, dumping them in suds. For a moment, he happily indulged himself in imagining it was Methos' head. "Trust me, Joe; Libby Bradley's not half the threat that you think she is."
With a frown, Joe straightened up. "And just what the hell is that supposed to mean? Damn it, Adam, for once in your life could you try giving someone a straight answer?"
"Let's just say that dear Libby is hardly in a position to blow any whistles," said Methos. "The situation is handled, Joe. Or, rather, it will be soon enough."
Sorting through the meaning, Joe's eyes widened. "Absolutely not…" he started to say, intending on denying it. He couldn't finish. It made sense. Nick Pascoe had taken an uncharacteristic interest in Libby. "She's pre–" he shook his head. "I can't believe it."
"Well, it's not the first time it's happened, now is it?" asked Methos. "I'll tell Alexa you sent your love."
"How is she?" asked Joe, momentarily setting aside his frustration. "Really?"
"Better than could be expected, worse than could be hoped for," said Methos. His self-satisfied amusement vanished in the face of the situation. "We're leaving for Jerusalem in an hour, a week there, and then on to Greece."
"Safe journey," said Joe. "And Libby?"
"Will be dealt with later," said Methos. "I'll speak to her. In the meantime, could you – "
"I've got some friends," said Joe. "I already told her that I'd try to get a better assignment for her. Something in Europe maybe," he said, then paused. "I hear there might be an opening in Research."
"You wouldn't dare," said Methos.
"Damn right I would," said Joe. "She's your problem now." He hung up without giving Methos a chance to argue. "Hey Mike, grab me a beer, will you?" Looking over his shoulder, he let himself grin. "And put it on Adam's tab. He owes me one."