Encounter In A Small Town II: The Stationery Man

By: Dannell Lites



SPIFFY DISCLAIMER THINGIE!

Ah do not own Smallville nor its residents; likewise Ah do not own Methos/Adam
Pierson nor the Highlander charcters. Smallville belongs to the WB and Methos
belongs to Panzer Davis Productions. This is a fan fic for entertainment
purposes only and is not intended to infringe upon copyrights held by either of
the above nor anyone else, so don't sue moi:(:(

Rated PG for suggestive dialogue and for some psychological nastiness. Please
ingnore the misspelling and such! Moi's spell checker is non compos mentos:(:(
WAAAAAAH!

Author's Note:

Yes, Ah know that Cassandra Carver died at the end of the "Hourglass" ep! But
Ah have resurrected her for purposes of this fic:):) <G> Just consider this an
AU where she lived!

Special thanks to Sarah for advice and encouragement above and beyond:):)
*smootchie*






Adam Pierson looked up from the carefully preserved copy of Shakespeare's First
Folio master of "Coriolanus" when the bell tinkled, admitting a customer; his
first of the day for Pierson's Antiquarian Books.

"Well, as I live and breath," he grinned. "If it isn't Lex Luthor himself. To
what do I owe this great honor pray thee?"

The billionaire's son flashed an equally false smile back at the chameleon like
Immortal. Methos always blended in. Always. Any place -- any time. It was one
of his more useful talents.

*One* of them.

"I just thought I'd come and see what all the excitement was about," Lex
quipped, casual in his manner. His smile was still in place but his eyes
narrowed. Methos AKA Adam Pierson almost laughed.

"Excitement? Is *that* what this is?" He glanced around the quiet bookstore and
shrugged.

The budding industrialist pulled a Gallery Edition of Elizabeth Barrett
Browning's "Sonnets From The Portugese" from the shelf and carefully perused
its friable pages. His long fingers caressed the vellum quite as if they were
something other than simple paper.

"Clark can't say enough about you, lately," Lex remarked, not at all casual,
now. "It's 'Adam this' and 'Adam that', constantly. I came to see what sort of
magic you might have to enthrall him so."

Battle was joined and accepted.

"Adam" lifted an eyebrow ceilingward. "Hoping it might rub off, Lex?"

The bald man replaced the book and withdrew another, studying it carefully.
Arrian's "Life of Alexander of Macedonia", Pierson noted and did not let himslf
smile this time. Lex Luthor would hardly be the first power hungry man to
admire the incomparable Macedonian. But in this case the thought rankled on a
personal level.

A deeply personal level.

********************************************************************************\
**

Methos remembered a rainy day, a 'soft' day they still called them in Ireland,
and a walk. He had always loved the rain.

"Colonial Britain? 19th century?" Duncan MacLeod asked. At Methos look of
mystery, the Scots Immortal frowned. "Don't tell me you were part of the Black
Hole Of Calcutta!" his fellow walker in the rain inquired. Methos tossed his
head in denial.

"I've been in worse balls up's than that in my time, but, no. Try eariler."
Duncan's brow furrowed in concentration for several moments. "Persians?" the
Highlander guessed, probing. The Oldest Man In The World shook his head again,
already enjoying his coming victory.

"Earlier still," Methos advised.

"Earlier? But ... " Dark eyes widened in wonder and delight. "You mean ..."

Methos laughed, a low, tinkling musical sound that had pleasure at its heart.
It wasn't often that his past brought him joy.

"I was there with Alexander," he acknowledged.

To his companion's patented delight, Duncan froze in his footsteps, staring at
the ancient man at his side. No, he wasn't joking. His fellow Immortal was
certain of that.

"ALexander!" the Scottish warrior almost shouted. "You fought with Alexander?"
Methos steered the Scot to a nearby park bench and sat down beside him. He let
the rain wash his face for several moments perhaps in the hope that it could
wash him clean of the ugliness that lived in his mind just then. MacLeod waited
in silence, impatient, but unwilling to break the spell with words. Methos
would speak when and if he chose.

"He was sixteen the first time I met him," Methos said dreamily to the air, not
looking at his listener. "And it was more than fifteen hundred years before I
saw any man as beautiful ..." The Highlander did some quick arithmatic and
blushed at the thought of Alexander's still living rival. It was unlikely that
the Macedonian had ever heard of Hibernia (AKA Scotland), after all One thing
he had discovered about the presence of his fellow Immortals: one developed
patience in their company.

"He was fresh from conquering the Illyrians; dug those savages out of their
mountain fortress' and made them submit to Macedonian overlordship. And then he
made them love him for it ... They would have followed him to the ends of the
Earth ... And did. All the way to Persia. Charming the birds out of the trees
doesn't begin to describe it ... He took that victory and laid it at Phillip's
feet like the suppliant child he was. 'Here, look what I did for you!' And
Phillip ignored him. Phillip always ignored him. Poor Phillip. It can't have
been easy for him, such a talented man in his own right, knowing in his bones
that the only way he'd be remembered to History was as Alexander's father."
Methos smirked. "And he wasn't even certain of that. It would have been just
like Olympias to cuckold Phillip in his own Palace."

"Personal experience?" Duncan inquired lightly. And yet ... not really lightly
at all. Methos flashed him a look of horror and shivered.

"Don't even *think* it, MacLeod!" The Ancient advised. "I'm fond of all my body
parts exactly where they are, thank you very much. Always have been. There are
*some* thing not even Death of The Four Horsemen of The Apocolypse is brave
enough to do. And bedding Olympias was definitely one of them. Why, I'd rather
have coupled with a pit viper any day. Much rather. It was safer, believe me.
And infinitely less repulsive. That woman was the single most ruthless and
monumentally *evil* human being it has ever been my misfortune to meet. And in
five thousand years, that's saying quite a lot." Duncan nodded. He could well
imagine that last part to be true.

He had, after all, met some of Methos ... old friends ...

He thought of Kronos, the self-styled "End Of Time" and the mad poet George
Gordon Noel, the sixth Lord Byron and must supresss a shiver.

"So I've heard," he finally said. "Was she really as - peculiar - as they say?"
Methos lost no time in thought before he answered.

"Absolutely!" he assurred the Scottish Immortal. "She was a Priestess of the
Elyseian Mysteries, loved snakes. Even took them to bed with her, so they said.
Phillip only married her because he couldn't have her any other way. So he made
her Queen of Macedonia, bedded her, and got Alexander. Of course, *she* told
Alexander that Zeus was his father. Ha! Not even Zeus with his eternally
wondering eye would have had her. My ears sometimes still ring to the shouts
and screams of her wrath. Not that Phillip was an ideal husband by any means
... bloody bastard had one or two new mistresses after every Campaign. Trophy
wives. You could count on it like the raising of the sun."

Duncan MacLeod, ever a faithful lover, winced in sympathy.

"Poor Alexander grew up listening to his mother's constant, unending rants
against his father," Methos continued. "That and Phillip's jealous ignorance of
his existence. Phillip, you see, thought that Alexander was Olympias' creature,
loyal only to her. Fool could never bring himself to see how badly Alexander
wanted to please him. It was amazing how well they got on when they were away
from Olympias. When they were fighting together it was like the right and the
left hand of a single body. Phillip was a spearman. He knew infantry. He and
his Chief General Parmenion are the ones who actually gave birth to the idea of
the famous Macedonian Phalanx. But they couldn't have done it without
Alexander. Alexander was a Cavalryman, loved speed and the ferocity of a
horseborn assault." Methos at last turned to face his rapt companion. "But,
Olympias couldn't stand that idea - the two of them together. So she had
Phillip killed. Never trust a lover, MacLeod. When they turn on you they turn
all the way."

Duncan absorbed the advise with a skeptical ear, but frowned.

"*Olympias* had Phillip killed?" he asked. "History usually lays that deed at
Alexander's feet," the Scot pointed out. Methos was swift in his defense of the
time lost Macedonian.

"Oh no! Never. Not in a thousand years. Not Alexander." The Oldest Immortal
shook his rain soaked head in rigorous denial, sending rain drops flying in all
direction with the force of his conviction. MacLeod wondered for a moment just
how he could be so certain, but for only a moment before the truth burst upon
him. He grinned like a shark

"And what makes you so sure of that? How do you know Alexander is innocent?" he
pressed just for the pleasure of seeing The Eldest Immortal fidgit uneasily in
his seat on the wet stone bench. But Methos surprised him. Seemingly without
concern, he laughed.

"How do you *think* I know?" he said. Losing not a beat MacLeod answered
thoughtfully.

"Pausanius was the perfect tool, I'll grant you that ... A spurned, offended
ex-lover usually is, I hear. Phillip must have had a lot of those lying around,
given his proclivities."

The smug look that blossomed on the angular face of the worlds oldest man was a
wonder to behold. He held up a finger in emphasis. "Ah, but not all of them
were Strategos of The Royal Bodyguard. *That* was the really perfect part. Who
better for such a thing than the head of Phillip's security?" Duncan had to
agree.

"Who's idea was it to kill Phillip at his marriage celebration to Eurydike?
Yours? Or Olympias?"

"Oh, that was Olympias's idea, I assure you." Methos wiped his face. "Venegeful
as she was she wanted Phillip to understand *exactly* why he was dying. The
fact that it was being done to him at his marriage feast by Pausanius, an
unhappy ex-lover who'd been thrown out of Phillips bed in favor of a younger
man was rather the piece de resistance, I thought. I timed it. It took the
great bollicking bitch less than two hours after she saw Phillip's dead body to
strangle poor, silly little Eurydike with her own Bridal Chord. I really was
sorry about that part."

"And who's idea was it for Pausanius to be 'accidentally' killed by an
overenthusiastic Guardsman while attempting to escape?" Duncan asked. Methos
blinked, almost disappointed that the other man had to ask.

"Now, *that* was my idea. Do I look stupid to you? Pausanius knew bloody good
and well who had bided him, fed him wine and regicide for months before he
nerved himself to do it. The Macedonions had some very entertaining punishments
for treason that took a couple of days to work. I had no desire to experience
them first hand, trust me." Duncan's only answer was a curt nod of his
disapproving head.

"So you had him killed to prevent him from talking." The look of disappointment
in MacLeod's dark eyes cut deep.

"Yes," agreed Methos and left it at that.

For a long time there was only the fall of the rain. Like the both of them, the
rain was eternal and cleansing. Not for the first time Methos discovered that
it was virtually impossible to tell if someone was crying in the rain

"Who were you?" Duncan asked at last, in what passed quite well for a normal
voice.

Methos considered. How to answer? Should he answer at all? After all, he didn't
owe Duncan MacLeod a thing, least of all some finite glimpse of *Methos* as
opposed to the image with which he usually chose to shield himself. The other
man was an ingenuous combination of child and chivalrous knight, yes, but would
he understand? Methos could not be sure and if the ages had taught him any one
thing it was caution. Still ... he suspected that Duncan would understand. He
thought of the young Immortal Richie Ryan.

Indeed, Duncan would understand.

"I - " the ancient man swallowed hard at the chance he was taking but it was
too late to stop now. "My name was Hephaestion ..."

He saw Duncan's hands tighten on the stone bench, white knuckled, and he
wondered just how strong that stone was. He expected to see it crumble under
the Scot's abuse. Warily he watched the birth of a thousand questions in those
dark, deep eyes and wondered with analytical amusement which would be the first
one out of Duncan's mouth. He wasn't kept in suspense for long.

"Did you love him?" the Highlander wanted to know. Methos blinked as if he
couldn't quite understand the simple question.

"Love Alexander?" The Immortal shook his head in sad denial. "It wasn't
possible to love Alexander. He wouldn't allow it. You don't love a fire that
consumes everything in its path and leaves smoldering ashes in its wake. You
don't love a force of nature that conquers everything in its path. Not if
you're smart. And I've forever been cursed with too much intellegence; Kronos
always said so."

********************************************************************************\
**

Methos let the memories of Duncan MacLeod and Alexander of Macedonia fade from
his mind. When he looked up once more it was to lock eyes with Lex Luthor.

The youthful billionaire held up a copy of Ceasar's "De Bella Gallico",
smiling. "You have some interesting books here," he commented.

Methos smiled back. "You have a consuming passion for history?" he questioned.
"First Alexander, now Caesar."

"No," Lex informed him, "I just have an interest in people who conquorered the
world before they were thirty."

Methos laughed. "Well, Lex," he advised, "you've only got nine years left, now
don't you? You'd better get cracking, boy."

"I'm not a *boy*," Lex grimaced.

Methos measured him with a critical eye. "No," he amended, "you were never a
boy. *You* are something else entirely."

"You know nothing about me," Lex returned coolly, composed in the face of an
enemy. "You have no idea what I'm capable of."

"You're wrong there, Lex," Pierson was adamant. "I know *exactly* what you're
capable of. Do *you*?"

"Oh, yes."

The young Luthor reached into the pocket of his jacket and pulled out an
unlabeled computer disc. "*This* is what I'm capable of, *Adam*."

Methos grew very still. "Where did you get that?" he hissed.

Lex replaced the disc in his inner pocket, smiling. "It's absolutely amazing
what you can find in a close out sale at an antiquarian bookstore, isn't it?"
he said. "Paris? Shakespeare and Company? On the Rue de Belloq? Is any of this
ringing any bells for you?"

"Dan Saltzer,' the Immortal thought. 'Watcher HQ for France. Damn! I thought
that thing was destroyed. MacLeod killed Kalas to stop its publication. That
Watcher Database was supposed to be a useful tool for observing Immortals. It's
been nothing but a bloody pain in my arse since Dan and I created it.'

Lex patted the jacket pocket affectionately. "Fascinating stuff, actually.
Imagine. People living forever and a centuries old secret society devoted to
watching them do it."

Pierson's return smile was decidedly predatory. "What do you want?"

"I *want* you to leave Smallville," said Lex coldly. "A simple thing. Just that
and nothing more. You pack up and move. NOW. Or you're all on CNN by week's
end."

Methos eyes were hooded, guarded. "It seems you know a lot about that disc. Do
you know, then, what happened to the last man who made that malediction?"

"Is that a threat?" Luthor said, his eyes narrowing.

Methos threw up his hands and widened his green-gold eyes in innocence. "Who
*me*? Threaten the mighty Lex Luthor?" he gasped. "Why, never! Not in ... five
thousand years ... No, not a threat. Merely an observation."

Lex chuckled. "You can cut the innocent pose. You're about as innocent as a
cobra ... "

" ... if that ... " agreed Methos affably enough.

The Smallville exile patted his jacket pocket once more. "Oh, I know all about
you, *Methos*."

The Immortal quashed his intial displeasure. Give no fuel to the enemy. An
eyebrow reached for the sky. "Do you? Do you indeed?"

"Oh, yes," Lex assured him with confidence. "I know a great many interesting
things about you. So far as I can tell you're the only one of these 'Immortals'
not listed on this disc of mine. I wonder why?"

Methos leapt upon his prey. "Becuae *I* made the disc, boy." Startled, Luthor
blinked and Methos grinned in sunny triumphant. "I see you didn't know *that*,"
he observed. "Evidently you don't know as much as you thought. Perhaps you
should rethink your postion, my friend."

"I'm not your friend. And I still know all I need to know about you," charged
Lex.

"I'll just bet you do," Methos laughed. "Fascinating fellow that I am. Well,
then, since you have me so neatly pegged, then you should know that I don't
give a bloody damn if you publish that disc or not. Go right ahead. Knock
yourself out. I can take care of myself. I'm an expert at disappearing, believe
me. I hear Bora-Bora is lovely this time of year."

"Ah, but what about your friends?" Lex said softly. "That's always the trouble
with you conscience stricken heroic types. You always have hostages to fortune,
don't you? Useful things hostages to fortune."

Methos clutched himself around the belly and laughed so hard he shed tears.
"Gods! 'Conscience-stricken'? 'Heroic type'?" He straightened himself, wiping
his streaming eyes. Give no fuel to the enemy.

"You're quite wrong, Lex. There's no one on that disc that I give a bleeding
pig's fart for. Darius and Byron are both dead. So is Ritchie Ryan. Duncan
MacLeod is .... hidden. Even I can't find him. And, trust me, if *I* can't find
him, he's not findable."

"What about Joe Dawson?" Lex pressed.

"What about him?" Methos deadpanned. "These days Joe is Watcher Head of
Security for North America. And The Watchers take care of their own. Trust me
on that, too. I know. Besides, for a cripple, Joe is amazingly agile when it
comes to covering his own ass. Good luck there."

"I'll find someone," Lex smiled. "Someone you care about."

"I think not, Lex," Methos grinned. "You see there simply *isn't* anyone like
that. The only one I care about is me. Ask anyone. We're a lot alike there."

"Oh, never fear," Luthor said. "I'll find someone."

The Eldest Living Immortal stroked his chin in consideration. "You just might,
at that." Idly his nimble fingers twirled a jeweled Parthian dagger
speculatively, juggling it from one hand to the other.

"You can put that down, now," Lex looked bored. "That and the Ivanhoe
broadsword stashed in your overcoat. Nice weapon, by the way."

"Thank you," Methos acknowledged with a flourish. "Unlike your fencing foil,
it's not a toy." The Immortal smiled. "And I *do* know how to use it. Just
because I don't like to fight doesn't mean that I *can't*. But now that we've
established my excellent taste in cutlery, where do we go from here?"

"Anywhere but Smallville," Lex responded smoothly. "And I thought we'd already
established *exactly* what you are ... "

"Why, yes we have, haven't we?" Methos returned, his tone quite merry. His
green-gold eyes glittered like hard stone. "What we haven't established quite
yet is just what *you* are, Lex."

He stepped lithely out from behind the illusionary safety of his desk out onto
the floor of the bookstore. Slowly, he backed the younger man up against a wall
beneath a matted print of "Pandemonium, Capitol City of Hell".

"It all boils down to Clark, in the end, doesn't it, Lex?" he whispered.
"Lovely, innocent Clark ... " He pressed his body even closer and whispered in
Luthor's ear. "Perhaps he's not as innocnet as you imagine. You see, your sort
always equates 'innocence' with foolishness or lack of drive. And that doesn't
describe Clark at all. No, it doesn't. But you wouldn't know that, would you?"
Lex moved to escape and Methos pinned him against the wall with a forearm. With
his other hand, he ghosted his fingers lightly along the other man's bald scalp
and felt him shiver in responce.

"Oh, I know *exactly* what you want from Clark, Lex. And you aren't going to
get it. My word on that. I'll kill you first. You'd best believe me when I tell
you that. Because I will. In a heartbeat. I'd be doing the world a favor,
according to Cassandra."

Luthor kicked out and Methos lithely dodged. "You're *disgusting!" the youthful
billionaire spat.

Methos had to laugh. "You can lie to yourself, boy, but not to *me*." He leaned
in and sniffed delicately at the sweat on Luthor's upper lip. "I can smell it
on you, Lex. Lust has a peculiar tart odor all its own. You can't mistake it.
Not once you've inhaled it." His grin was carcahrodontic. "It's a lot like the
smell of fear that way."

Luthor squirmed and tried to free himself to no avail. Methos pinned the other
man's arms to the wall at the billionaire's back. Lex growled, looking pale and
sweaty.

"Well, I hope you pine for it, Lex," Methos whispered in the exile's ear. "I
hope you dream about it and lust for it; I want it to invade your slumber and
keep you awake at night." Methos released the industrialist's struggling hand
and lowered his own, stroking the sides of Lex's long neck. "Because you can't
have it. Remember what I said, boy. You touch him or hurt him and you die. I'll
fillet you like a mackeral."

Concealed in his sleeve a very small, very sharp dirk popped into the
Immortal's waiting hand. Like tame dogs to the heels of their master, the
weapons of death and war came to him. He lay the cold, naked steel against
Luthor's cheek, smiling.

"We're finished!" Lex hissed, pushing him away.



... finished ...

... finished ...

The memory was inappropriate in the extreme. They almost always were. Now was
*not* the time for it. But that did not, of course, keep it from coming.

He remembered Duncan MacLeod again. So many, many things began and ended with
The Highlander, didn't they?

********************************************************************************\
*

Harsh words and a cold, cold Autumn night that chilled the bones.



A hastily packed RV and the familiar unresisted urge to flee, to slink off into
the night. Anything except having to explain. How to explain the world of three
thousand years ago and Death of The Four Horsemen of The Apocolypse? Not merely
Biblical rhethoric* but, Bronze Age Immortals. Raiders who killed and enslaved
because they could. Because it was what powerful men did in those times. Over a
thousand years of rape and slaughter, burning and destruction. The memories
sometimes still woke him in the fastness of the night.

And not all the dreams were nightmares.

THAT was the problem.

<Things were different, then, MacLeod. *I* was different. The whole bloody word
was different. ... >

<Did you DO it? *Did* you? DID you, Methos?>

Did you ...

Did you ...

Did you ...

Losing his temper at the self righteous Scot. Pounding him up against the side
of the RV with a strength that astonished even him.

<I killed - but I didn't just kill fifty, I didn't kill a hundred, I killed a
thousand. I killed *ten* thousand. And I was good at it. And it wasn't for
vengeance, it wasn't for greed, it was because ... I liked it. The people were
nothing. Whole villages were nothing. Do you know who I was? I was Death. Death
on a horse. When mothers warned their children that the monster would get them,
that monster was *me*. I was the nightmare that kept them awake at night. Is
that what you want to hear? The answer is yes. Oh, yes.>

The lost look of anger and betrayal that claimed Ducan MacLeod's dark features
would stay with Methos for a very, very long time. That and the sound of the
pain in his musically accented voice.

<We're finished, Methos.>

************************************************************************

Taking advantage of his distraction, Lex Luthor, wriggled free and turned to
flee. Reaching out, Death on a horse, grabbed the escaping youth by his jacket
collar.

"Oh no, Lex. We're not done yet, boy."

The Luthor scion struck out at the Immortal with a cletched fist and gritted
teeth. Not a very physical person, he did not connect. Methos, once again,
easily avoided the intended blow. With his open hand Methos slapped the scion
of wealth and power in the temples and the fencer fell back, stunned. Methos
hauled him to his feet once more bracing him against the wall. He pressed his
groin to the industrialist's. He blew hot breath into the other mans ear and
wached him struggle unsucessfully to free himself.

"Cassandra told me about her vision of your future. Didn't tell you, though,
did she? She told me what you'll do to Clark ... what you'll do to the whole
world if you're not stopped."

Again, the unbidden memories came.

********************************************************************************\
**

"Give me your hand," Cassandra Carver requested and held out her own. Methos
hesitated. He believed in her gift, he really did. That, in fact, was the
problem. Did he really want to know his future?

The answer was ... yes, oh yes.

Gently he took the elderly seer's arthritic hand in his and held his breath,
waiting. He could feel Cassandra's fingers stroking his palm, probing, feeling
their way. Suddenly they froze.

"You have a life line the size of the Amazon!" cried Cassandra. "Who *are* you?"

And then the world exploded in a great blinding flash of cascading vari-colored
light to be replaced by the ring of bladed steel, the song of battle. The sword
in Methos hand lashed out to be met with the solid feel of another, different
blade. Against his will Methos green-gold eyes widened at the sight of the
ancient carved ivory dragon's head gracing the katana wielded by his yet unseen
opponent. Forged by the legendary swordsmith Muramassa in 1640, the ancient
weapon glittered in the dying light of a waning sun. He stumbled back, filled
with recognition. He knew that sword.

Methos hand tightened around Cassandra's aged, frail one, but the sightless
woman did not cry out.

NoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo

His Ivanhoe flashed in his hands and his shadowed opponent cried out, struck in
the upper arm. Deftly, the other Immortal tossed his katana into his left hand
and continued. Methos smiled.

'Yes! That's the way. Come on. You can do it. You can!'

Steel sang against steel. Sparks flew. Methos watched one of them landed on the
back of his hand and ignored the brief sting of its dying. His opponent pressed
and Methos fell back. His blood sang along with the steel, now. He ducked under
a long bladed sweep meant to send him to the earth in a tangle of arms and
legs.

"Come on!" he shouted. "You can do better than this. I know you can! Fight me,
curse you! Fight!"

The larger man twirled the ancient blade in his hand, stepping back. Methos
read it in the other man's eyes, then. Those dark, deep pools that shielded
nothing, hiding not even the most basic of his feelings. They softened and the
light of battle went out of them like a flickering candle extinguised by a
brisk wind. The sword wavered in the skilled hands.

And then the katana lifted itself, primed for a great cutting strike aimed at
Methos neck. For the first time those eyes were hidden, now. Unreadable.
Unknowable.

Methos willed himself to stand still. To accept the descending blade. But his
body betrayed him. Quite against his will, the Oldest Living Immortal, Death of
the Four Horsemen, and so many, many other things made two swift strokes at his
open and now defenseless opponent with the great broadsword clutched in his
white knuckled hand.

The other man smiled, waiting, accepting the coming blow.

The first cut was directly to his foe's unguarded heart, followed by a slashing
blow to the neck that neatly decapitated his foe. Methos lips formed words and
his voice croaked when he whispered them.

"There can be only One ... "

And Duncan MacLeod, the Highlander, fell lifeless to the wet ground.

Still smiling.

Lightning stirred in the clouds covering the bright, full moon. Like a woman
who'd lost her lover, the sky began to gently weep, pouring forth its moist
grief upon the earth below.

Sobbing, Methos sank to his knees. "Damn you, MacLeod! Damn you to Hell! Why?
Why didn't you fight? WHY?"

The Quickening came this time upon soft little cat's paws, taking him like a
gentle and tender caress from a brother's hand. A warm mist, it sank within him
and settled to rest lightly, no burden at all. Darius was there, shining forth
peace and traquility as a star radiates light. And Byron ... all fire and
passion ... the beauty and Romance of his poetry too much a part of him to be
seperated from his madness.

And now a part of Methos.

But clearest of all there was Duncan MacLeod. The Highlander.

<You know why, Methos. You know. You've always known.>

Horrified, he tossed Cassandra's hand away, standing so suddenly that he upset
the chair in which he sat, sending it flying back into a wall with such force,
that it shattered into peices with a sound very much like splintering bone.
Huge eyed, Methos backed away from the sybil, shaking his head in terror.

"You *saw*!" Cassandra cried. "You saw, didn't you?"

Tripping and stumbling, he fled to the small bathroom. It wasn't until Clark
Kent heard the sounds of retching creeping their way between the cracks of the
solidly closed door that he cautiously approached, peeking through the wood
with his x-ray vision. What he glimpsed apalled him.

Methos was on his knees hugging the cold porcelin of the toilet and vomiting
into the bowl until only the dry heaves were left. The superpowered teenager
snatched the door open, careful not to rip it from its hinges. His uncertain
feet stepped into the small room.

"A-Adam?"

Methos head snapped up and he stared at the boy. Involuntarily Clark took a
step backwards, striken in the presence of such pain and self loathing.

"Don't call me that!" the five thousand year old man shouted. "Adam Pierson is
a lie. Like Benjamin Adams and Lucien of Samothrace, Dr. Polidori and
Amun-Nefer the Scribe, Dudley Soames and a thousand, thousand others just like
them. A lie! He never existed. Do you hear me? Never! Do you want to know who I
really am? I'm Deeeaaaath. Death of The Four Horsemen. He's real! *He* lives!"

"Methos," Clark pleaded. "Methos, let me help - " He lay a hand on the shaking
shoulder.

"DON'T TOUCH ME!"

Unheeding, Clark moisened a cloth and wiped the tear stained face. He took the
Immortal into the circle of his strong arms and held him. "Listen to me,
Methos. What Cassanda sees isn't written in stone. The future never is. We can
change it. We can. She told me that someone close to me was going to die ...
and they didn't. No one died."

<Yet ... >

The Immortal pushed the youth away from him, hard. "Get away from me!" he
hissed. "Get as far away from me as you can. Do you understand me? Get away!
It's your only chance."

Clark picked himself up and walked on his knees back to Methos side. He reached
for the ancient man's hand. "No." he said. "I won't leave you."

"The you're a fool, farm boy!"

The young man set his full, ripe lips in a stubborn line. "Maybe," he admitted.
"But I'd rather be a fool than a coward."

It was many minutes later before a more composed Methos faced Cassandra Carver
again, slumped into the uncomfortable confines of one of her straight backed
bedroom chairs. The blind soothsayer looked right through him it seemed and
Methos closed his eyes. Her papery parchament thin voice spoke volumns when it
echoed in the halls of her room once more.

"You're The One," she said, simply.

Methos sat bolt upright as if he'd been electrified. "No! I can't be! I don't
*want* to be! You're wrong! You have to be. It's MacLeod! MacLeod, do you hear?
I'm going to see to it."

The old woman looked sad, the ancient lines of her face pulled tight. "You'll
try," was her prediction. "You'll try so very hard. But that's not his destiny.
To be The One. It's *yours*."

Wild eyed, Methos ran away, then. The thing he'd always thought he was best at.
Ran away to the nearest tavern and the cold, empty solice of too much dark
German beer. Lager and the smooth and smoky, peat flavored taste of vintage
Glen Morangie Scotch. He did not let himself remember where and in who's
company he'd acquired a taste for it.

He didn't recall much until he woke up the next afternoon in the cozy safety of
the loft in the Kent family barn. Clark's Fortress of Solitude.

The next day, he slipped away into the early dawn silence, disappearing. No one
in Smallville laid eyes on him for more than two weeks until he returned to
find Clark Kent sitting patiently behind the sales desk of Pierson's
Antiquarian Books. The boy's blue eyes shone at the sight of him. The Immortal
tossed his duffel bag casually in a corner and watched the teenager smile like
the rising sun.

"I knew you'd be back," Clark explained softly. At the sight of Methos
quizzically rised eyebrow he stammared. "The books .... I knew you couldn't
leave all that history, all that knowledge behind ... "

Methos turned away, hiding his face.

"Something like that."

********************************************************************************\
**

Methos blinked, returning to the present. The Immortal looked up to see a
fleeing Lex Luthor. This time Methos let the other go. Walking carefully, he
made his way back behind his desk and sat heavily down. Steepling his fingers,
The Eldest Immortal took stock. Well this was another fine bloody mess he'd
gotten himself into now, wasn't it? Blast and damn! And all for ... All for a
naive, vulnerable fifteen year old child ... All for a pair of big blue eyes,
for kissable lips to kill for ... All for a body who's many burgeoning delights
he was never going to sample ...for a lonely, confused orphan child cast to the
mercy of the merciless stars.

... All for the hope of the world.

He rubbed his burning eyes. "So what are you going to do , *Adam*?" he
interrogated himself in harsh tones. "And I'm talking to Adam Peirson, not
Methos. I *know* what Methos would do. But what about Adam Pierson, Watcher,
scholar, lover of history and dusty old tomes that no one else cares for? What
about him? Any suggestions?"

He thought about it, then smiling, he reached for the telephone.

"I need an overseas operator, sil vous plait," he said, his grin broadening. "A
Paris exchange. Yes, that would be: tolon- 8138. Merci."

He hoped she was at home. Tracking her down would be entirely too time
consuming and, quite frankly, time was something he was a bit short on just now.



********************************************************************************\
**



He was waiting for Clark when the young man climbed the stairs to the barn loft
and his "Fortress of Solitude" a week later.

The boy brightened at the sight of him. "Meth - Adam!"

The Oldest Man in the World smiled. He looked up from the lens of Clark's
telescope, beaming. "Hadn't seen you in the shop in a day or so, so I thought
I'd investigate." The Immortal wiggled an eyebrow. "Besides," he said, "it
gives me a chance to flirt with your mother."

Clark's eyes widened and then he rolled his eyes. "I never know when you're
joking," he grumbled.

Methos supressed laughter. "Neither do I," he replied solemly. Methos peered
into the telescope once again, studing the stars. "Have you seen Lex Luthor,
lately?" he asked casually. "What's he been up to?"

"Well, I don't know," Clark frowned. " I haven't seen him for a while. But Lex
is really pissed about something, I know that much. He won't say what. He just
keeps muttering about theives and theivery."

Methos shrugged, smoothly changing the subject.

"Clark? Have I introduced you yet to my friend Amanda Darrieux? Amanda is ...
an expert in the appraisal and ... ah ... recovery ... of beautiful, valuable
things."**

The fifteen year old small town teenager's blue eyes widened at the vision of
feminine pulchritude gliding on high heeled feet his way.

"Oh my," cooed Amanda, running one long red laquered nail down the smooth
muscled, flannel covered chest. "Methos, you *do* know the most interesting
people .. " She smiled and Clark was in severe danger of melting into a puddle
of goo. But the smile on his face said that it might be worth it, at that.
Amanda, the Immortal thief, smiled.

"Whip me! Beat me! Make me write bad checks!" Clark breathed and Methos covered
his eyes with his hand. Gods have mercy, what had he done?

"Trust me, Clark," Amanda whispered. "It isn't your money that I want .. "

"Good!" the superpowered youth announced, "Because I haven't got any!"

Amanda pressed closer, molding her lithe body to his. "Oh, I think you've got
quite a bit, Clark," she chuckled. It was plain that it wasn't money that was
under discussion here, now.

Methos lay a cautionary hand on the Immortal vixen's bare shoulder. "Amanda ...
" he warned.

She left off nibbling an invulnerable ear lobe and Clark's breathing was quick
and shallow.

"What?" she demanded, all wide eyed innocence. "Did I do something wrong?"

Methos sighed. "Only if you call the Legal Code of the State of Kansas, wrong.
It's called statutory rape, Amanda. He's fifteen."

The1,200 year old woman pushed out her lower lip in a fetching pout. "You never
let me have any fun!" she accused. "Since when did *you* get to be such an old
fuddy-duddy, anyway?"

"Yeah," groused Clark, "what happened to the carousing, huh?"

The Eldest Immortal turned to first Amanda and then Clark. "Since the last time
I was crucified for 'perversion'. 319 BC, I think it was." Clark winced. "As
for the carousing," he informed the boy, "it's on hold until you're legal.
Contributing to the delinquency of a minor is likewise a crime."

Amanda sighed deeply. "Such a pity ... But don't forget to call me when you're
eighteen. I'll be here with bells (and *nothing* else!) on."

Clark rised a hopeful finger. "The age of consent in Kansas is sixteen," he
husked. "I checked."

Amanda brightened. "And how long until you're sixteen?" she wondered.

"One month, six days, nine hours, ten minutes and - " Clark consulted his
watch, "... forty five seconds!" he said instantly.

Amanda kissed his cheek. "It's a date!" she promished.

Taking Amanda's hand Methos lead her firmly away, down the steps, out of the
barn loft and Clark's 'Fortress of Solitude'.

"Clark aside," he asked, helping her into her car, "Did you get what you came
for?"

She lifted a sculptured eyebrow. "Have a little faith," she said. "Of course I
did! Casa del Luthor is a shieve. I was in and out before anyone even had time
to blink. The safe was a bitch, though. I haven't seen a vault that tough since
I rode with Butch and Sundance." From her bodice she pulled a computer disc,
handing it to Methos. "And no back ups this time, either. I checked. But just
to be on the safe side I wiped the hard drive on Lexy's computer anyway.'

"Good girl!" smiled Methos, bussing her cheek.

"No, I'm not," she chuckled. "I'm a very *bad* girl. And you love me for it."

Methos cleared his throat, experimentally. "Amanda ... about Clark ... " He
gathered himself and set his face. "If you hurt him I'll kill you. It's that
simple."

Amanda's eyes darkened in wrath. "You bastard!" she hissed. "I think you really
would."

He grabbed her hand and held it fast. "Sticks and stones, Amanda; stick and
stones ... Yes, I would. Believe me. One day this boy is going to be very
important to the whole world. VERY important."

"Saving him for yourself?" she snarled.

He tossed her hand away in anger and she rubbed it, watching the bruises
disappear. "No, I'm not," Methos said. "I thought you knew me better than that."

"And I thought you knew *me* better than that!" she cried. But then she
softened, abruptly. "Methos, I'd never hurt him. He's adorable. And sexy as
hell. I can be careful and nurturing. I can. Can't he and I just curl up and
play house for eigthy or ninety years?" She looked away. "Methos ... I - I - I
miss MacLeod. And this boy is sooo damned much like him, it frightens me."

Methos closed his eyes. "I know ... " He bit his lip. "All right, Amanda. Just
be very careful, okay? He's quite ... vulnerable ... right now." He didn't
consider the irony of his words too deeply or closely . He ran his fingers
through his dark hair. "I suppose I can't shield him forever, can I? Especially
from something he wants so badly."

Amanda smiled. "No, you can't He has a right to this experience, Methos." She
patted his hand. "And would I make such a terrible native guide?"

He laughed shaking his rueful head. "No." was all he said before she started
the sports car's powerful engine and zoomed off with a final, "Toodle-loo!" and
a wiggle of her talented dexterous fingers.



The End!



Author's Note:

*The Biblical verse is Revelaztions 6:8 -- "Behold! A pale horse. And the man
who sat upon him was Death. And Hell followed with him."

**Pshaw! Amanda is a thief!:):) One of the very best in the world. After all
... she's had *centuries* to practice. <VBEG> And that's the name of that tune!

In case any one is interested ... here's a picture of Methos!
http://home.talkcity.com/ChaplinCt/truedanziger/methos2.jpg

And here's a picture of "Death on a Horse":
http://home.talkcity.com/ChaplinCt/truedanziger/methos2.jpg

And here's Amanda!
http://www.joebutton.com/joebutton/amanda/img_amanda/amanda09.jpg