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by Te

by Te
January 2003

Disclaimers: Not mine, nor even close to mine. Dammit.

Spoilers: Various Methos episodes.

Summary: On identity and time.

Ratings Note: PG-13.

Author's Note: For Isilya's Literary Challenge. Details after the story.

Acknowledgments: To the Spike and Cassandra for audiencing and timely questions. All problems are entirely my own fault.

Feedback clears things up.


For Methos, there was a certain satisfaction to crafting a persona. At his drunkest (and most pretentious), he had called it the last true art.

What other art was so complete?

So pure?

A master was at once immortal (ha!) and the very apotheosis of ephemeral, his creation shifting from persona to person to, finally, himself.

Byron was convinced the true art would be the alteration of another person. Once, Methos considered it just another part of his endearing dissipation. Later... well.

There were times when Methos wondered just when Byron gave up, when it became obvious (if only to himself) that he could only live, and only as himself.

Only himself, until the end of time.

Or a century or so.

Some would say that Byron flared and burned precipitously. Methos was rather impressed he lasted as long as he did, knowing what he knew now. Before, he'd thought it a choice that the man had lived as he did for so long.

Terribly disconcerting to realize just how much one took for granted, even at an advanced age.

Because was there anything, really, that Methos hadn't chosen? One way or another, consciously or not -- and wasn't he thrilled by the advent of psychology! Like the birth of language, easily as important to the world as Sumerian or BASIC.

No, there was something terribly active about his self -- or at least his vision of himself, and after so very many years of forcing his visions into the minds (if not the hearts) of those around him, wasn't that the most important thing?

Philosophy be damned, he saw no problem in wallowing in a proactive self-image. Even if it was false, it wouldn't be for long.

It was the beauty of living his life -- his lives. He has committed suicide enough times to snap the very axle of the karmic wheel, and yet mourning remained a luxurious treat. Something to heap on the ice cream sundae of a particularly interesting life, along with the wife and adopted children.

Perhaps he would feel differently if he'd been the one left behind as all the Adams and Matthews and Benjamins "died" to live again somewhere far from prying eyes, or even just his own. This was something he'd studied: survivor guilt among immortals, even in the millennia when it was so unhelpfully unnamed, was something huge and lasting.

And something that faded, just the same, well before the end of the second millennium of existence. Whether or not an immortal developed a healthy sense of the practical, there was only so much emotional sturm and drang anyone could stand before becoming....

Philosophical. Or just sick enough of themselves to abandon everything resembling who they were when once they wept and... well.

There was something endlessly satisfying about knowing yourself well enough that the turn of your thoughts could be effortlessly crafted into circles, spirals, any geometry whatsoever -- so long as it avoided the crux of the matter.

The heart of things, or the heart of the man beside him. For Adam, the two were near enough to be the same. From an artful distance, they would be. A vanishing point of the literal and figurative.

From the distance of time... well, that was the question, wasn't it?

Adam flattered himself that this relationship, this love was different enough from all the others that experience -- even five thousand years of it -- oughtn't be brought to bear in judgment.

He had a point. Macleod was an immortal, and their sex life was tied to neither business nor politics (even politics at the point of a sword). He agreed with Macleod so rarely that every discussion walked the wire between tease and argument, tension only seeming to intensify with time.

Macleod was, perhaps, the most important influence on who Adam has become, though telling him that would be less than productive. He would undoubtedly think it terribly unhealthy, if not horrifying. Perhaps easier to suggest a menage a trois with a sheep than to nudge Macleod into anything even resembling incest, however theoretical.

Another point in Adam's favor -- Macleod was different enough from the typical run of (profoundly different in their own right) immortals to make any relationship with him unique.

Something telling in the fact that he could express the word or concept for 'unique' in forty-seven different languages.

Why, a cynical man would suggest he'd know even more if he hadn't taken quite so many Chinese wives.

Macleod was, of course, a cuddler. As such, Methos' body was acutely aware of his sleep cycle. Nothing particularly new about that, and yet always something to get used to.

This bed, this man, this shifting of his body toward or away, depending on the signals that would never reach his conscious mind without effort.

Methos never left until after Macleod was well and truly asleep. Not necessarily out of any sense of poetry; rather because of the game of it: If Methos could detangle himself from Macleod's arms, legs, and hair without waking the man up, then he deserved the comfort and quiet of his own bed.

Or: If he could maintain his reputation for catlike independence without even the hint of three a.m. awkwardness, with nary a breath of the Ugly Little Scene...

Well, then there was nothing wrong, was there?

He should stay the night, he knew this. If only for the sake of pride -- what had he to fear from falling asleep here? It would... solidify things. The world was new and miraculous; Adam could conceivably live for another thirty or forty years right here and never raise an eyebrow.

If he was to be Adam, than he really ought to make the decision.

Methos rubbed -- carefully -- at Macleod's frown line, made somewhat ridiculous with the slackness of the rest of his face -- the anger of an idiot. He had, perhaps, grown accustomed to the state of being undefined.

Macleod left nothing -- like that -- to chance. He wanted Methos, if only so he could make decisions of his own.

What would be the proactive thing to do?

Methos grinned to himself. Perhaps he would go back to the business world. Familiarity would undoubtedly beat his awful new vocabulary out of him. For now...

He could be Adam enough to sleep, just a little, in his tangle of highlander.

If there was anything he'd learned, it was that no decision meant much of anything, if you buried it under enough time.


Question: Who was I when I used to call your name? (Stolen from "Prayer", a poem by Marie Howe)

Word: mourning

Taboo word: but

Fandom(s) in order of preference: Forever Knight, Highlander, Buffy, Smallville, LOTR (not RPS)

If you enjoyed this story, please send feedback to Te

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