August 6, 2003
Disclaimers: Not mine. So very not mine.
Spoilers: X2. Crossover with Highlander.
Summary: Out of the water.
Ratings Note: R.
Author's Note: I've been working on this idea for a while. Well, actually, it's the combination of two ideas. Because, well, it takes more than water sometimes.
Acknowledgments: Happy birthday, House Draven! Hope you like! Thanks go to Deb for audiencing.
The first thing Methos is aware of is weight, but he suspects this is his subconscious mind trying to protect him from the knowledge that he's under several million gallons of water, i.e., the recently drowned.
He holds his breath and pushes at the weight holding him down, but too much time has passed between reviving and motion, and he dies with his hands around the neck of a... body?
The first thing Methos is aware of is weight, and what feels to be a cramp of epic proportions. Why couldn't he have died in a good position?
The next thing he's aware of is water, a lot of water, and a tiny bright speck above him that must be sky.
He holds his breath and struggles, but too much time has passed between reviving and motion and he bloody well hates fucking deja vu.
The first thing Methos is aware of is weight, and he's not entirely sure why that pisses him off, but he goes with it, kicking out from under and... floating.
Water. Drowning. Fucking fuck and fuck.
He swims hard for the surface and thinks he has a real chance, until he jerks up short. There's a body hanging off his leg, only it's much, much heavier than any body should be, and there's long, black hair in a tangled knot around his leg and the body shifts and he looks into blank, silvery eyes for an appropriately creepy moment.
And then the lips start moving.
"Help me," she says, bubbles rising to the surface, far beyond where he can go.
He shrugs, apologetically.
The first thing Methos is aware of is a generalized sense of "the hell?" But he's cold, and he's wet, and he's mostly upright and can see the sky. A long, long way away. He swims for it, kicking, and seizes up short and remembers.
Because she's staring up at him, beautiful and very clearly inhuman and just as clearly alive by some random and terrifying twist of fate. He looks up desperately, sighs, and swims down to free the woman's arms from some chunk of former machinery. He dies gasping, long hair trailing over his cheek.
The first thing Methos is aware of is cold, bone-cracking cold of the sort that kills brain cells and makes one wish for anything, even death, even pain, so long as the cold stops.
He opens his eyes, lashes crackling with ice, and looks up into the same beautiful face from before. The crash and creak of nearly-frozen water barely catches his attention. He knows her.
The woman nods, and eyes him curiously. "I didn't know whether you would wake up again. I figured it was worth waiting."
He smiles, the cold making his teeth hurt. "I appreciate the thought. Er... I take it the... base is gone?" And there's something there...
Another nod. "And so is Stryker. His body is too frozen to have been picked at by the wolves. They tried anyway." She cracks her knuckles and there's a flash of metal, claws extending far beyond the length of her fingers. "I don't think he died slow enough."
Stryker. Stryker. He knew that name, too. Old man, false smiles, labs oh fuck labs and... pain. Just a pinch to his neck. Over and over.
"You haven't remembered everything yet."
He blinks, staring at the woman. There's ice in her hair, and her eyes are... strangely shiny. Like they'd been replaced with ball bearings. "I... no."
"You were with him when he brought me in."
And that was... that was years ago. He'd been... he remembers stepping off a plane, remembers a vague plan about the Library of Congress and the pleasures of free time, remembers... soldiers. Time passing. Names he'd never chosen and his belly seizes up hard. Hand on his shoulder, turning him over on to his side, the crunch of snow, and he vomits water and bile.
When he can breathe again he looks up and the woman is smiling humorlessly Even her teeth are metallic. "You remember enough."
And there are a million questions in his mind, each stupider than the last. Each saying more, too much more about himself than he feels comfortable with right now. He tries a small one. "Weren't you... less metal-intensive before?"
She narrows her eyes and looks down at herself. There's a rip in her uniform just to the left of her navel, and her claws scratch and scream together against the sound of the wind. When she looks up again, her eyes are blank. "An accident. Perhaps... perhaps a necessary accident, but not one I'm likely to forgive, just the same." She cocks her head. "And you? What sort of mutant are you?"
He remembers the plan in more detail now, how Adam was going to write one last paper before disappearing off the face of the earth, or at least the face of human technology. Brave new world, with such people in it. Right. He can be this. "Nothing spectacular. Just... hard to kill."
A suspicious look. "You were dead when I dragged you out of the water. I checked."
He thinks about telling her something about stress and human error, but she seems like exactly the sort of person who, if he pissed her off, would be ready, willing, and able to keep trying to kill him until she beheaded him, Stryker's little potion or no. He shrugs, instead. "Hard to keep me dead."
She smiles at him, and it's more than a little bit of relief. Stands up out of her crouch and shakes the worst of the ice out of her hair. "There's a village a few miles west of here. Can you walk?"
His rumpled military uniform and her far less... identifiable uniform attract looks, as does the way they both drip all over the floor of the small, disreputable diner, but somehow both their wallets had managed to survive watery Armageddon, and money is still money, no matter how damp.
She frowns at her mug. "This coffee is terrible."
"Mm. Point. Your accent is different."
"I..." Stryker, close enough that Methos could smell the far better grade of coffee on his breath. Talk American or I can't use you! He closes his eyes for a moment and represses a shudder as best he can. "The other... was his."
Slow nod. "It never sounded right for you," is all she says, and then their food arrives in great, greasy, steaming hot quantities, and they say nothing for a long time.
The potatoes alone threaten to renew long dead faith in a higher power, and Yuriko is eating precisely like a woman who's been trapped at the bottom of a lake for... for however long it's been.
He suspects he's making no better showing for manners.
The waitress, bless her, immediately brings them both seconds, and by his fifth cup of coffee he feels something like human again, if by no means ready to engage in introspection.
There's something in him that's screaming for home, and while it's been a long time since he's been naive enough to think that such voices could ever be wholly stilled, he doesn't want to touch it. Doesn't want to hear it until he's... safe.
He smiles to himself and gets a curious look from Yuriko. Toasts her with his mug. He's probably safe as houses unless he ticks the woman off. Or someone comes after them with a needle.
He pushes his plate away and makes an abortive move to check his watch. There's water standing beneath the face. He strips it off and drops it in his plate.
Thinks about heading south, about stores hidden here and there with new identities just itching to be used to get away.
Tahiti. New Zealand. Brazil. Someplace warm. "Well, it's been about as pleasant as it can be --"
She taps the watch with one long, but still-human-looking metal-grey nail. "I know who did this to us."
It freezes him where he sits. "Stryker's dead," he says, too loud, and has to force himself not to look around. "You said --"
"There are others. Other bases. Other scientists." The last comes out in a hiss, and he can hear the creak of metal beneath her skin. When she'd sat down, the booth had creaked as if she were far, far larger than she is.
"I don't see --"
"They're going to keep doing it, you know. Keep taking us. Using us against each other."
'Us,' indeed. He thinks of Duncan, blind and benign, or perhaps charmingly warlike as he finds another evil Immortal to relieve of his head. "We are free."
Her smile is sharp. Predatory. "For how long, Sergeant Lamb? I can use a man who's hard to kill. Or who won't stay killed."
"I daresay you're better equipped for this than I --"
"Does your neck hurt?"
His fork hits the table with a clatter, and he realizes he'd been tapping it restlessly, twirling it like a toy. He imagines it buried in Stryker's eye. He imagines... they'd taken his sword --
"What's your real name, soldier-boy?"
He doesn't say the first thing that comes to his mind, but he feels it, just the same. His palm itches for a hilt. He had been... it had been years. "Adam," he says, at last.
She nods like she knows what he's not saying, eyes slitted and the precise grey of quicksilver. "Come with me, Adam."
He licks the edges of his teeth. "I have no great desire to be some... mutant crusader. I'm no politician."
A smile, and Methos wants to know who she'd been, before all of this. She feels like everything he'd tried not to be. She smells like vengeance. "No. But I think we'll have fun anyway, won't we?"
"I need a sword," he says before he can think, but she just grins a little wider and slices the watch-face open with her fingernail.
"That can be arranged."
Cold lake-water mingles with the grease on his plate. He licks at his teeth again, hard enough to taste blood. Yuriko peels a few soaked bills out of her wallet and slips the thing back into her hidden pocket, the rip at her belly gapping open to show nothing but smooth, clean flesh.
The voice at the back of his head is screaming about something entirely different, but it feels good to reach across the table and clasp forearms with the woman.
It feels good to be free.
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