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They take Joe. Adam Pierson closes his eyes, breathes slowly and deeply, burying anything but an academic, new-to-everything reaction, and turns to Duncan. "What happened?" he demands, panic in his voice.

Joe's bar is burning. Joe himself is missing.

They're being watched and Duncan, bless his heart, actually catches on in time to not give Adam away.

"We have to get out of here," Duncan says - because he has a student to protect. A child barely half a decade into The Game.

So their enemies think, whoever took Joe.

As Duncan drives away, Adam looks back. The sight sears into Methos' memory and a deathknell plays. The sacking of Troy, Alexandria's library, the fire of London...

"What do we do?" Duncan asks, now that the eyes are off of them.

"We find Joe," Methos says. His hand itches for a sword, his thighs for a horse to cling to, his soul for his brothers beside him, riding across the plains, out of the sun and into their enemies.

"We find Joe," he repeats, "and you leave the rest to me."

Chapter Text

"Brother," Kronos proclaims once, standing on a battlefield, "the world is ours. What would you have me do with it?"

Methos laughs, glancing toward the endless horizon, already knowing that Kronos' ambition would be the death of him. "You are a god, Brother," he says, carefully keeping his tone awed instead of mocking. "Do with the world what you will."

Kronos smiles, as ever sure of their eventual conquest, and goes to order Caspian and Silas to begin counting their spoils.

Methos watches, already knowing how it will end, because even if he does want Kronos, to possess and control him, to have all of his attention—he wants to live far more.

(In more millennia than even he could've counted, once, Methos watches Kronos pace around as he plots, and he thinks, oh, Brother, I let you live once.

He still wants Kronos, will always want Kronos. To have the weight of his attention, to have the fire at his beck and call. But fire burns and Methos is not young anymore, to dare think Kronos' ambition can be managed.

I let you live once,, he thinks, and he knows that Kronos has ever misunderstood just what that meant.)

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Methos loves each of his lovers like it is the last time he'll ever feel this way. He gives each of them a full life -- all of that life. Each of them is the whole world... until they die and he moves on.

Always, he moves on.

None of his lovers are immortal, for therein lies a future calamity.

Immortality is a gift; he sees scores of young ones who do not understand. Immortality is the chance to learn and to grow, to evolve into something better. There are many things he teaches his students and the second lesson is to never love an immortal. (The first, of course, is survival above all else.)

But once in all his years has Methos made the mistake of giving himself to another immortal. They loved fiercely, dangerously – and when Methos saw the long years of eternity stretching before them, he made a choice that is not among his countless regrets.

Methos trapped his brother instead of killing him. He knew that somewhere in the future, he would come to hurt because of it, but Methos could no more kill Kronos for good than Kronos could kill him.

Love, the passion and infatuation, two (or more) hearts joined together to beat and bleed – give it to mortals. With mortals, it dies and you can move on. Dalliances with mortals are fine, Methos counsels Byron (and so many others), but do not give them more than that. Love them because they will die and be gone.

The younger Highlander swings and Methos watches Kronos fall. Kronos, all that he was, flies to Methos and nestles inside, where he has been for longer than can be counted. On his knees, Methos weeps for what once was and what can never be again, his quickening burning around Kronos’. Oh, my brother, my brother -- no words could convey what once was, what they had been, what they will never again be.

Love mortals, Methos has told all of his students. Alexa is dying when they meet, as all mortals are, but her death will come sooner than it should. He loves her, he embraces her – he even tries to heal her, though of course it fails. He loves her as though he will never love again.

He will, of course. He will love mortal after mortal after mortal, until –

Until what? Kronos whispers inside. Of all the quickenings, Kronos is the clearest. It is almost like he stands at Methos’ shoulder and speaks the words aloud, one hand at Methos neck, another over his heart.

Love mortals, Methos will say if asked, because they will leave you. Loving those who stay hurts too much.

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The sun at our backs, Kronos says, and three thousand years haven't changed him at all. He's still charismatic, still beautiful and terrible, still utter shit at planning. Caspian is as mad as he ever was, and Silas as gentle and loyal, and Methos alone, it seems, has noticed the years as they passed, has evolved with the times.

You know, of course, Methos says, unimpressed, that your plan will never work.

Brother, Kronos says, and it's four thousand years ago, in a desert with wind whipping sand into their faces, with blood drying as lightning sings.

Have you learned nothing in all these decades without me? Methos asks and Kronos' smile is still the same as it always was, as it will be for another three thousand years.

Chapter Text

Humans would consider MacLeod old. Most of them would consider Joe old, too.

MacLeod thinks Methos is old. Amanda thinks Methos is old. Rebecca and Cassandra and Darius all thought Methos old.

Kronos and Silas and Caspian, ancient themselves, all knew Methos was old.

Old, Methos tells Joe, is all relative.

He stares down into the Grand Canyon. He daydreams about the ocean and all the life she swallowed, including what had been his before he went to the desert.

Joe will wither and die. MacLeod will try to finish a fight and lose his head.

Methos will walk into the desert and out of the sea.

Old, he whispers, watching the sun. Tell me what you think that means.

"I've gotten old," Joe groans as he slowly stands. He's felt old since he first began wearing the prostheses, since he lost his legs.

Mac’s on a crusade somewhere; Joe can’t follow him anymore. He’s retired from the field altogether, but he’s been given half a dozen young Watcher recruits to train up proper, and he doesn’t feel useless all that often.

“Old,” Methos chuckles, glancing up from his beer, atop his usual stool at the bar, “is all relative.”
Adam Pierson, according to his Chronicle, is barely 40 years old. He died while working on the Methos Chronicle, and Duncan MacLeod took him on as a student. He died at 25, falling off a ladder as he searched through hardcopy files that date back nearly a thousand years. He spent his first decade as Mac’s student, neither the best nor worst. Most Watchers who know about him don’t think he’ll last that long.

“What do you know about it, Pierson?” Tom laughs, and he doesn’t notice the glance Methos gives him. Joe does, though, and when Methos meets his eyes, he shrugs.

Joe is honestly shocked that he’s made it to 65. He is old, as humans go, and he can get maybe twenty or thirty more years. Duncan’s almost 500, now. Amanda’s a thousand.

“You’ve got plenty of time left, Joe,” Adam Pierson tells him, before being dragged into an argument about the Marvel movie craze with Joe’s students, and Joe listens, trying to follow the tangents as best he can. Before long, he’s hopelessly lost, puttering behind the bar as he straightens everything up.

He goes to lift a barrel but it’s pulled out of his grasp. “I’ve got this,” Methos says softly. “Go sit down and rest.”

Joe’s whole body is aching, the gift from Vietnam that never stops giving. “I’ve got it,” he says stubbornly, wanting nothing more than to sit and maybe work on some of his songs.

“Joe,” Methos says. It’s an inflection that Adam Pierson hasn’t had enough time to earn, that Mac still stumbles over sometimes. It could give him away, if any of the more intuitive Watchers hear it.

With a grumble, Joe trudges to one of the more comfortable chairs, grabbing his current notebook on the way. The kids are still arguing while Adam Pierson takes over the bartending duties, and Joe loses himself in music.

Joe’s old, yeah, but he’s got time left.

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Children have the same questions, all the way from the beginning to the end. He lies and no one notices; any who could tell the signs died long ago, when the sky was young and there were gods. He walked on water and knocked down mountains, and flew to a kingdom beyond the horizon when the sun set. Long ago.

He is the oldest. The first. The last, too, but he tells no one that. None can see through time like he can; all who could passed beyond the ocean and into legend, and he remembers their names. He sings the lament during storms, when his sword bites deep and the lightning returns home.

thunder-bearer, earth-mother, fire-eater, sea-tamer, I hear you, I know you, I honor you now with this taste of lightning

There are four always. He follows the old teachings by giving each child four true answers. His name is never one of them.

He drops a handful of dirt onto a grave with no marking. Silas, my brother, steady as the ground beneath my feet.

He burns a body and a head, scatters the ashes into the wind. Caspian, my brother, wild as the fire that consumes nations.

He kisses a pair of cold lips, places a head into cold hands, and sinks a coffin filled with rocks. Kronos, my brother and my son, as dangerous as the roaring ocean, I have loved you best of all.

Lightning flashes in the sky. He sings the lament. The children could not replace the ancients he once knew, when the sun was newborn and they fashioned the world.

Four truths only, and never his name. Never his age. Never the origin of the quickening or the Game.

thunder-bearer, earth-mother, fire-eater, sea-tamer, I hear you, I know you, I honor you now with this taste of lightning

All quickenings, from the first to the last, want to return home to him, and he will welcome them all eventually. That is the truth from a time before memory, before life, and there is not even a legend to whisper on the wind.

"Thunder-bearer," he murmurs, staring at the sky.

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And what will you write of us, brother? Kronos asked once, on a bloody plain, body still healing, while Caspian ate the dead and Silas soothed the surviving horses.

Methos had smiled and stretched up to the sky.

.

Methos is not evil. Honestly, no matter what Cassandra cries about, throwing herself fully into her hatred, into her grief and her rage - she lives still.

No, he is not evil.

He is Death. Maybe that's an allegory or a metaphor or just a name he pulled on once, swinging a sword and becoming terror that stalked every land...

Or, mayhap, once, long ago when gods roamed and magic shuddered in everything, immortals were something more.

.

Methos writes. Journals, diaries, chronicles, histories, text books, manuals, letters, codes... in every language he knows, he has written. In every land he has traveled to, he has written. In every era, every age, every form of writing.

Methos is history’s oldest survivor. Methos is history’s oldest storyteller.

… Methos is history’s oldest liar. (And that’s the truth.)

.

There was a man, long ago, who saw a rider on a pale horse. He followed a white, red, and black horse. The man fell down in terror as they passed him by.

He wrote of what he saw that day, when he lived and so many others died.

He wrote and it became legend.

.

The longest time ago, Methos opened his eyes. The world had ended and begun anew, the terrible lizards giving away to tiny furred things, and Methos, as always, evolved.

Methos is always evolving.

Death cannot die and that’s the greatest trick of all.

.

And what will you write of us, brother? Kronos asked after another battle, this time amongst a field of corpses and slaves.

Methos gazed out over their newly-conquered territory, mountains on one side and forest on the other, at the cowering peasants and the chieftain in Caspian’s grasp, and he said, Only the most interesting things.

Kronos had laughed and gone to pick his favorites of the women.

Methos watched a man in the distance, crawling away.

.

Methos writes because he can. He wants to. He’s some of the most well-known authors in existence and the ones no one can remember.

History is just words and how they are interpreted. History is written by the victors because nobody cares what the losers have to say. No one remembers the names of the also-rans.

.

There is much Methos does not remember but there is more he does.

He writes none of it.

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In his dreams there's a horse. She's beautifully formed, dark eyes, pale as bone. Sometimes there's a rider in a black cloak with a white crown on his head, but usually the mare runs free. Sometimes she's a unicorn, sometimes she's got wings. A few times, she has both.

He wakes with regret, leaving her behind. He misses her.

Sometimes the rider has a scythe, but most often a sword. His face is painted blue. His hair is long and dark, eyes flashing. He has a name, and so does the horse, but no one living knows either.

The most common dream involves a valley by moonlight, and a pale mare cantering along a river. The rider, in his cloak and crown, sword sheathed at his hip, calls a name that echoes into the distant mountains. The horse turns and canters to him, in a stride that has consumed nations. She nudges him with her nose and he rubs at her ears. He mounts with ease, the mare spreads wings as pale as her coat, and they fly from the valley.

He's wondered, more than once, what Dawson and MacLeod would make of his dreams. He knows that none of his brothers had such fantasies about the horses they rode.

But then, they were very young. And the mounts of red and black and white, War and Famine and Pestilence—they were mortal, the horses and the riders. His brothers had numerous mounts in the years they rode together.

And he, the pale rider, he had but one. As old as the ocean, as the sky. As old as him, his beloved steed from before horses were domesticated, broken to harness and rein.

She's waiting, he knows. Waiting till he calls her from the dream. Waiting till she can run free once more, till she can take to the sky, till he wields his sword and she slays enemies with her horn and hooves, and they are feared the world over, people screaming their names in anguish and in agony.

beloved, his pale mare whispers in the dream. beloved, I'm waiting.

They were and they are and they will be forever, old as the ocean and the sky, the pale horse (with wings and spiraling horn) and the pale rider (cloaked with crown and sword), and he is called Death, and his mare is called Hell, but they were and they are and they will be—

And the man legend calls Methos wakes with a sigh as a pale horse canters in his mind.

He grips his sword, gleaming and sharp, made from a material no man could know. One day, he thinks, caressing the blade and smiling as the sword bites deep, one day, beloved, we will be free again.

One day, the pale horse and pale rider will return, and her stride will consume nations and his sword will slaughter the world.

His younger brother proclaimed I am the End of Time. Death struck; Pestilence and War fell, like Famine before them. The steed and the rider, older than time, older than men, older than horses.

Death has always been. And his vacation will soon be over, this life as a legend.

You will fly again, beloved, he thinks, sheathing his sword.

And he will ride.

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Methos has skill as a painter. Of course he does. He has eternity to master anything, so he has mastered everything. But the truly crafty always keep something back.

Adam Pierson was not an artist. A doodler, certainly, but nothing impressive. And Ben Matheson is nothing to write home about, either, but he's loved the arts all his life. So when his sponsor Duncan MacLeod calls him early one morning to invite him to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, well. He could refuse, of course. But a good little boy wouldn't, and Ben is so very young, and desirous of an adult's praise and approval.

"Ben!" MacLeod calls. "Come see this one."

"And who had the clever idea to take the children to the museum today?" Ben murmurs to Mr. Dawson, hurrying to MacLeod's side with an exuberant smile.

Mr. Dawson's guffaw follows him, to a huge painting of horses. "Gorgeous," Ben breathes. MacLeod claps him on the shoulder, and Ben would say something more, but his eyes are following the lines of the horses. He wouldn't be surprised if they thundered right off the wall.

Ben has never ridden a horse. He's been poor all his life, and lived on the streets for three months, and was caught by the police, turned over to CPS, and fostered by a couple determined to see him excel. And then he was chosen by MacLeod, and sent to one of the best schools in the country, and here he is, staring at the most wonderful thing he's ever seen, in utter awe.

Ben can only marvel at the horses. They look so strong. He wonders what it'd be like to ride them, and if he had an audience beyond Mr. Dawson, he'd ask MacLeod, and hang onto every word.

Methos, though. Methos knows. He misses riding across a plain, his brothers abreast of him, out of the sun and into the horizon, the world theirs for the taking. Ben will go back to his dorm and dream of horses. He'll check out horse books from the library, watch videos online, and fall head-over-heels in love.

But Methos. Methos will go to the place where home is tonight, pull out a well-hidden sketchbook, and breathe life into his favorite pale mare again.

"Isn't it something?" MacLeod asks.

Ben nods enthusiastically. He's never seen a more amazing sight in his short, pain-filled life.

Methos… Methos is a master of horses. In his next life, he'll return to them and ride out of the sun, into the horizon.

Chapter Text

Right after the thought of eternity, the thing most infants didn't really understand was The Game. Anyone who wasn't a psychopath usually never contemplated killing to live - but to be immortal, it was the only way.

(Lie. But it's far too late to take it back.)

The Game is no more than hide-and-seek with a dash of chess. Stalk-and-pounce. Tag, you're dead. Hunting for survival, no more, no less. The greatest teachers could teach their students that. The worst had a high turnover rate.

Methos had no teacher.

(Truth. There is always a first.)

Every immortal is a killer. Not always a murderer – self defense, after all, is not murder. One or the other – I live, you die. You live, I die. Look out for Number 1. In the end, nobody else matters.

In the end, there can be only one.

(Lie. Truth. Does it matter? Either way, that's how it ends.)

Methos explained The Game to Byron as this: think of it as any other game. There is a winner and a loser, and the winner must be you. To think of it as life and death, as kill or be killed… an eternity of that, isn't an eternity you'd want, unless you were mad. He paused to look at Byron and they both laughed.

(Oh, Byron, my child. One day, you will be avenged.)

Methos' students always survive their first challenge, whether they issue it or not. If they are very good, there is no final challenge, not until Methos draws his sword against them.

One day, at the end of The Game, all of his children will come home to him.

(The ultimate truth: in the end, the last shall be the first.)

Hide-and-seek with a dash of chess. Stalk-and-pounce. Tag, you're dead. Hunting for survival, no more, no less.

Draw your sword and let's dance.

Chapter Text

Every two hundred years since he escaped the well Methos so kindly trapped him in, Kronos tracks down each of his brothers. Just to see if they're still alive. He doesn't love them or anything like that; but they are his, as they have always been. Even Methos.

Especially Methos. Once he'd worked past the anger, Kronos realized that by leaving him alive, Methos had proven that he was still Kronos', despite wanting to leave.

They had been amazing, the four of them together. Powerful. Unstoppable, save by each other. He knows that Silas and Caspian never realized how truly dangerous Methos was, with his tricks and his cleverness. Kronos has slaughtered wisemen and torn down kingdoms - never has he found another who could equal Methos.

And so he checks in, every two hundred years. Eventually, he knows that Methos will grow to miss it too much, the horse and the sword, how they dealt destruction on wherever they liked, for whatever reason. Civilizations rise and fall as years pass, and Methos tries so many things, but Kronos remembers the man who guided him out of the desert, the man who taught him to fight and to kill, the man who named him for a god.

Do you know why I gave you this name? Methos had asked. Or why I chose mine?

He had not known. With a smile, Methos had said, You will cut the world to pieces, boy. And he had laughed, standing tall and bare beneath the sun, when he added, And I am no more than a legend.

It was a long time before Kronos understood the joke. He laughs to himself, now, in this civilized age where Methos pulls on the mask of a researcher, unassuming and weak, and the mortals allow him into their innermost sanctum.

Caspian and Silas are safe; no one knows what they once were. Kronos himself has lost his mortal watcher for the moment, as he always does when he seeks out Methos. And not one of those mortals knows what is sleeping inside young Adam Pierson.

Kronos wants back what once was his, and he knows he must go about this carefully. He is still plotting when one of the mortals is murdered by Kalas and the honorable, annoying Highlander is pointed towards Methos, still masked, which just will not do.

The moment Kronos steps into range, he knows that Methos will either run or fight, so he moves swiftly. He meets Methos at the hidden door he had known Methos must've installed and shoots him in the heart.

Neither Kalas nor the Highlander will have Methos. He has belonged to Kronos for four thousand years, as Kronos has belonged to him.

What he must do now is think like Methos. What is the best way to get what he wants? What is the cleverest way to awaken the monster sleeping inside pale skin and fragile bones?

When Methos wakes, Kronos is kneeling before him, head bowed. "Once," he says in the first language he ever spoke, "you were my teacher."

"I was," Methos replies warily, the words falling easily off his tongue in a language long dead.

Kronos does not look up. "Teach me again," he implores. "The world has changed around me. I am lost."

Not all of it is a lie. Not even most of it. This is a new age, one Methos has (as always) mastered. Adaptation is not Kronos' gift.

Methos places a hand to the back of Kronos' head. "I know what you are trying, brother," he murmurs. "Rise."

Slowly, carefully, Kronos stands to his full height. The monster is not awakened, not yet. But there is a satisfied smile on Methos' face and he pulls Kronos in close for a kiss neither has felt in three thousand years.

Chapter Text

Richie is young, and he has young problems. Methos sits at the bar and listens to the brat rant at Joe about the girl who won't take his calls and the movie he wanted to see that isn't at theaters anymore and what a harsh taskmaster Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod is.

Joe listens and then he gives the kid a bit of tough love, and Richie is either soothed or he isn't.

Adam Pierson has young problems, too. He lost his job, and he can't contact that maiden aunt of his and he has to learn to fight (and Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod is a harsh taskmaster, but he's nowhere near as harsh as Time). Adam doesn't complain about his problems, though. Adam laughs about Richie's, because Adam is so young he doesn't yet understand.

Methos knows that Richie will never outgrow his young problems. There's almost no way the kid will live past his first decade. Maybe if Methos took him on… but Methos won't. He has no interest in a student this century, so that's just too bad for Richie.

Chapter Text

Methos does not have friends. He has students, acquaintances, companions; once, he had brothers. But friends... no. There is no one he trusts, no matter what lies he tells.

Duncan is a good man. Perhaps, one of the best men Methos has ever known.

There is much Methos would do to ensure Duncan’s survival. He would kill. He would suffer.

… he would not die. No. There is no one, in any life, that Methos would die for. And if the choice ever comes to Duncan or life…

Well.

Methos watches Duncan, laughs with him, offers sarcastic advice, and plans his death.

Methos does not have friends. At any moment, anyone could turn on him – or he might decide it is more prudent to cut his losses and run rather than leave at his back a single solitary soul who might know his weaknesses.

There is much Methos would do for Duncan. He dearly cares for the boy. He has dearly cared for thousands over the long span of his life.

Many of them, time or war killed. But many…

Methos survives, no matter the cost. That is the secret of his longevity. There is no price too high when it comes to his life. There is no one he cannot or will not kill.

He watches Duncan and plans.

Chapter Text

His journals are a treasure-trove for the children grasping with nervous fingers, guessing at what once was. If anyone could find them, could read them - five thousand years of knowledge, of history. Longer even, but that is when writing started.

(There was writing before that, of course. Nothing any of today's children would recognize, but writing nonetheless.)

Ask him a question; he'll tell a lie. Call him a liar; he'll smile.

You know what I was? Death. Death on a horse.

The history books are full of his exploits. Can he be trusted? Of course not. Is he a killer? Yes. Oh, yes. Is that what you want to hear?

History was. His story is. Call him the first, the oldest, possibly the greatest - he survives. Pyramids crumble and mountains erode, and he was there before them, during them, after them... thousands of years. Longer. Five thousand and more still.

Call him a liar. Call him a god. Both and neither and always.

History remembers him with a thousand names. He has walked a thousand roads, a thousand times, five thousand years.

He is older than writing. Older than fire. Older than any language the children, grasping with nervous fingers, would understand.

(How old are you? one such child asks, dear honorable Duncan MacLeod.

Five thousand, he says. That's the first I remember.

Old, he thinks. Child, you don't know the meaning of the word.)

Chapter Text

There existed once a people beyond the eastern hills. Which land? It matters not. That is not the point - listen. Be silent and listen. Do you understand?

Good.

As I said, they lived beyond the eastern hills. They were proud. Rightly so, for there were none better with horses, and travelers came from far and wide to trade for their gemstones, for their weapons. Horses they trained had no equal. They were rich and content, and so very proud. They were sure they were the best in all the world.

The world, as I am sure you are aware, child, is quite the large place. Stories traveled of the people beyond the eastern hills, who dared proclaim themselves the mightiest. It caught attention.

Once, there were those who would have said it caught the attention of gods. Perhaps they were gods; perhaps they were not. But they wore the mantle of god-kings, who destroyed far more lands than they ever ruled. You know the names? Say them.

Yes… Pestilence, Famine, War, and Death. The people beyond the eastern hills claimed they had no peers and no betters, and where does pride go?

Of course, it goes before a fall.

Sometimes, when the gods of destruction rained down their fury from horseback, they left survivors. Some they took as slaves, some they left to further the legend.

The people beyond the eastern hills had so survivors at all. Not the oldest of the wisewomen, not the youngest babe in arms. They had proclaimed themselves better than the gods and the gods struck them down for the daring of it.

War took many of the weapons, for there were none finer. Famine butchered the corpses for meat. Pestilence roamed his way through the houses and shops, seeking bright gems purely because they were beautiful. And Death… Death watched the horses, yet unbroken, panicking at the smell of blood.

“See something you like, brother?” Pestilence asked him.

“That one,” Death said, pointing at the only completely white horse in the pasture.

“Then that you shall have,” Pestilence told him.

When they left, animals had already begun feeding. The city burned. The next travelers spread the story, of the people beyond the eastern hills. They said the city was cursed – spirits wandered there, never at rest, screaming and crying for mercy. Families never reunited for no rites were said. Word spread of the gods’ anger.

Who were they, the people beyond the eastern hills? Ah, that is the point, you see. There is no record of them anywhere. They never existed, did they? They are struck from history. The weapons were destroyed long ago. The gems are lost. The bones have long turned to dust. That lovely pale mare – perhaps she bred and bore foals, who bred and bore foals. Maybe that is the only thing left of the people beyond the eastern hills.

Do you understand, child? You asked the mark I left on the world. I am history itself, and I choose who is remembered and who is forgotten. Leave me in peace now, and I might remember you.

Chapter Text

Methos has had over five hundred children. Most of them came with women, as he lived with or married widows (or equivalents thereof before the invention of weddings), but some he found and kept for various reasons.

Kronos had been one. Treated as a son, then brother, then lover—and as Kronos' personality exploded, Methos stepped back and let him take the reins, as it were. Then Kronos found Caspian and saw what a terrifying pet he could be. To even things out, Methos adopted Silas. If Silas hadn't been so quiet (except during a raid), Kronos would have engineered an accident.

He'd always been possessive, and thought of Methos as his. His father, his brother, his lover.

Methos does not like being owned. Kronos knew that, of course.

Kronos was both his brightest triumph and greatest failure, and Methos could imagine delivering the final blow. Take the boy's life, the boy he had saved and raised and loved for almost four thousand years. The boy to whom he had given the world. They were gods, once. Death and Pestilence, takers of life. Heralds of the end for three continents—all the world known, at that time. Men such as them had come and gone, but all others died and became dust.

Not so, them—Methos and Kronos, legends and terrors, and he should have killed the boy. But he did not want to. Had never wanted to. If he wanted Kronos dead, he would have taken his head instead of throwing him down a well.

But MacLeod… if anyone but Methos had to kill Kronos, MacLeod was best.

MacLeod was not a son. Surely not a brother. But he could be a lover, someday. After Methos had worked through MacLeod killing Kronos.

Kronos. He'd been such a bright boy, all those years ago. Methos had other children after him, but none had ever been his equal. None had ever been so strong.

The one lesson he never mastered was adaptability. He could fake it, for a time. Very well, in fact. But he hadn't truly changed—he still wanted to rule the world, like the gods they had once been. And when he told Methos his plan, when he asked Methos to make it workable… ah, my beautiful boy, Methos had thought. beloved, the world has changed since we rode with the sun at our backs.

It is a father's duty to teach his children to survive. At whatever cost. And when they will only destroy themselves or others… a father must take responsibility and do what he can.

Before that final battle with MacLeod, Methos had let Kronos take him one last time, and he had kissed Kronos' forehead, and watching the boy walk away, he had thought, my beautiful boy, I will miss your fire.

And as he killed Silas, as MacLeod killed Kronos, as Kronos' quickening rushed for Methos and he dropped his sword to embrace his heart's child, he thought, beloved, you have always been my favorite.

And he felt Kronos in his mind, in his soul, and the boy replied, now we are truly together, until the end of time.

Methos has had many children over the millennia. He outlived them all, even the immortal ones. None has ever been his equal, and a boy he found and raised almost four thousand years ago is the closest anyone has ever come.

Kronos called himself the End of Time. In his soul, Methos cradled the boy's quickening and hummed a soft lullaby. we lived and we grew stronger, beloved, Methos murmured. we will fight again another day, you and I, together.

MacLeod will never understand, of course. He even had Richie, and he will still never comprehend. Richie had been a good boy, and he might have one day been a good man. But all of the children today are so impatient, so impetuous. He cannot see many living to be his age.

Ah, Kronos… we could have mastered the stars, my beautiful boy, if only you had learned.

Instead he stares up at the night sky, far from any town, and he remembers.

Chapter Text

he has walked through this book before, he knows this, he has been here and felt it and survived.

he always survives. a bit broken, shattered and torn, worn and tattered, but he survives and he walks on.

he has walked through this book before, salt and iron, blood and bone, tears and sweat and sunlight, sunlight, calm before the storm and clear skies after.

they ask him for the story, for the lesson, for what he has earned in the surviving.

he could tell them a thousand different things, a million, a different parable for every day of five thousand—longer, oh so much longer—years, for every name he's worn, every man woman child he's killed, every horse—pale as moonlight, as snow, as bone—he's ridden, every lie and truth he's told.

he's walked this road before. there is nowhere he hasn't been, nothing he hasn't done, and they ask his name, his story, want their piece of the myth.

it will not matter what he says. so he says everything, sheaths his sword, pats his pale horse, and walks into the sun.

he’ll be back, of course.

Chapter Text

"Brother," Kronos says, wiping the blood off the knife and onto Methos' shirt, "are you yet tired of hiding?"

"That's one of a thousand differences, brother," Methos retorts, stretching out his arms and arching his back, trying to shake off the tremors that linger after dying.

"What, that you hide and I refuse to?" Kronos demands, letting the knife fall. Methos doesn't watch it; it's always best to keep eyes on Kronos. "I know you've missed it, Methos!"

"The sand that got everywhere no matter what?" Methos says. "The neverending aches, the blood and viscera, the fear that fled before us and trailed after us? What's not to miss?"

Kronos glares at him. "For three thousand years, I have waited. Five hundred them were at the bottom of a well, dying of starvation and thirst over and over and over again."

Methos had not felt guilt when he trapped Kronos; he still does not feel it, even as Kronos says, "But I forgave you for that centuries ago. Do you know why?"

Methos slumps back onto the table, resting his face in his hands. "Because I left you alive instead of taking your head," he murmurs.

Kronos sounds triumphant when he says, "Yes, brother. Because you knew, even then, that one day I would come for you. Because you are mine."

Sighing, Methos looks up at him. "And are you mine, Kronos?"

"Of course I am." The words are certain, and Methos does not shy away when Kronos reaches for him. "I have been yours since you led me out of the desert to the ocean, since you taught me to ride horses, since we tamed the lightning together to become gods." His fingers are gentle as he traces along Methos' jaw, his lips. "Become a god with me again," he pleads. "I need you."

"The world has changed," Methos says, already knowing his answer. He knew it when he left Kronos alive, three thousand years ago.

"Guide me," Kronos says, kneeling between Methos' legs and gazing up at him, as he did in the desert when he was young.

The world has changed, yes, and Methos too. But he reaches to caress Kronos' cheek and he answers, "Always."

Chapter Text

"Do you think they were real?" Melissa asks Adam, once Dr. Salzer has been called away to a meeting with the other Head Researchers. "I mean, four immortals who were able to ignore the game for so many centuries?" She shakes her head. "It sounds like a fairy tale."

Adam laughs. "Well, whether they existed or not," he says, tapping the newly-discovered supposed journal of Methos, the supposed oldest immortal of all, who formed a brotherhood with three other immortals, "looking for them will keep me happily employed."

Melissa laughs at that, too. She can't wait to be assigned an immortal, to go out and document, to see a part of living history, to watch how her immortal evolves. It's far more exciting than what her parents had planned for her, and she'll always be grateful to Farida for inviting her into order.

But Adam? He's definitely not built to be an active Watcher. He's too soft, too quiet. He’d get caught too easily. “Well, I hope you find some proof,” she says, reaching out to squeeze his hand.

He’s charming, and attractive in an odd sort of way, and when he smiles at her, she can see all his potential. “Thank you,” he says, a hint of laughter in the words.

Chapter Text

Duncan blinks at him and then down at the mortal who is currently missing a head, phone still recording. Methos scoops up the phone; thankfully, it was just recording to the memory card and not uploading to the internet.

Finally, Duncan regains his voice to shout, "Methos!"

"Yes?" Methos asks, deleting the video and pocketing the phone. He crouches to rifle through the man's clothes, taking his wallet and his watch.

He freezes when he feels Duncan's blade on the back of his neck. "Methos, he was mortal," Duncan growls.

"You didn't even know he was there," Methos says reprovingly. “He filmed your duel with Henders. Shooting him would’ve been too loud and I left my knife in my other coat.”

Lie. The hand Duncan can’t see has worked it from the sheath.

Methos has allowed Duncan to put a sword at his neck before, but always on his terms, whatever the child thought. In his wilder days, Methos had killed for less. He always was rash when he was younger.

“Will you kill me, Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod?” he asks, still crouched beside the corpse. As you killed my student, he doesn’t say. He wonders if Duncan hears it anyway.

“No,” Duncan says, voice trembling. He pulls away the sword and Methos dives across the body, rolling to his feet to face Duncan.

“I’ll take my leave,” Methos tells him. “I will be stopping in to say goodbye to Joe.”

Duncan nods, his hand white around the hilt.

Methos does not warn him that the next time he raises a sword to Methos, it will be his final act; if he hasn’t realized that for himself, he’s even more foolish than Methos believes.

Chapter Text

Will you tell our story, brother? Kronos asked, watching Methos fill the scroll. He was bare, skill still damp from their shared bath in the lake. A platter of meat rested next to his elbow.

Methos had been ignoring the heat of his gaze since they returned from their bath, determined to record the raid they’d conducted that morning.

You will survive us all, I believe, Kronos continued softly.

One of the slaves screamed, beyond their tent; Caspian’s cackle filled the air. Silas’ voice rumbled from where he soothed the horses.

Methos did not react to any of it, dipping the quill in the inkpot. He heard it all, as he heard everything, and he knew that Kronos had the right of it.

Come to me, Kronos said, and when Methos gently worked the stopper into the inkpot, Kronos smiled up at him. I alone you obey, he murmured, something melancholy in the words.

Do I? Methos asked as he carefully set the scroll to the side.

Kronos laughed, holding his hand out to his brother.

Only later, long into the future, would Methos realize that though he’d been planning his escape from Kronos’ violent attack on the world, Kronos had known.

I have told our story, brother, Methos said, pouring a glass of wine onto the dirt. I will ensure history remembers us, we four, and the way we rode.

Chapter Text

As the ages pass, the stories change. Evolve, devolve, it doesn't matter, really. Translations as the dominant languages become something else, and language is always shifting, isn't it? The world was different then. Were the people?

Of course they weren't. People are the one thing you can depend on to stay the same, across continents and eons, from one ocean to the next.

Death is remembered, because Death is eternal. It's why he chose the name. His brothers—

Language changes. Here in this civilized age, he sits inside an air-conditioned apartment on the hottest day of the year and sips sweet tea while a hurricane forms in the Gulf, and he watches on the flat-screen TV he won in a contest as two Biblical scholars debate about who the four horsemen of Revelation truly were.

He laughs, closing his eyes to better picture how it was, the desert beneath the hooves, a hot sun at their back, and all the world before them. His brothers had laughed, each louder than the last, and here, over a decade into yet another new century, he is the only one left.

It is fitting, he thinks, saluting the debaters with his tea. The only Horseman with a name that cannot be debated.

In three days, when the evacuation order is given, he will leave this apartment and flee. He won't come back.

Chapter Text

"I just wish I could meet them," the children all say, reading their history texts, their historical fiction, watching their movies and television shows, scrolling through wikipedias and top ten lists. "They must have been amazing/wonderful/the best there ever was."

Methos listens as he wanders through the library, as he sits in the back of the theater, as he sups at the bar with a dozen TVs blaring. He's stood on stage with both Julius Caesar and the Rolling Stones; he's counseled kings and masterminded rebellions. He's met people who didn't know they were changing the world, and the people that are forgotten who did.

What he never tells anyone, even the few who discover his greatest secret, is that, "You wouldn't like them if you met them." Whoever they were, whatever they did, whyever they're remembered— "Trust me," Methos never says, "times change. People too. You wouldn't like them, or understand them, and they surely wouldn't understand you."

"C'mon," Joe says, eyes bright with wonder. "Tell me about them."

Methos doesn't mention so many things. He paints a portrait echoed in various books, and is it a lie if no one else knows?

Chapter Text

Byron had lovely hands. They were soft when Methos first met him, when all he'd held was a quill and wrote things of such beauty Methos got lost in the words, remembering the way horses danced in moonlight, how the sun shone on sand, or the days when red painted the world.

MacLeod's hands are firm and hard, though lovely, too, and Methos will never again be able to look at them without thinking that Byron's hands are forever stilled.

Why it is Byron's loss instead of Kronos' that haunts him...

There is such beauty that will never again be penned, and he hears Kronos on the wind, feels Kronos against his skin, and perhaps it is that Kronos has not gone at all.

Do you remember the desert, brother, how you taught me so many things? You taught me to kill, to fight, to fly. Three thousand years without you, Methos... and what I missed most, all those decades, was the way you touched me. Do you remember, brother, those years you were mine and mine alone?

"I do, brother," he murmurs, fingers trailing along the blade. He is the only one who remembers, now, and he will never forget.


Chapter Text



The first time the angel speaks to him, he listens, waits for the angel to leave, and then he calls Dad. He’s on his fifth time around the country, recording people's stories, writing three different books (two fictional, one about the history of locomotion), while Dad is off pretending to be a college kid again, avoiding the Highlander (and weren't those years fun because Adam Pierson was an only child and Jimmy was too old to be his kid).

But even though Jimmy's all grown up now, even though he's out on his own and seeing the world, Dad had promised him that he could always call if he ever needed help, or just to talk, or anything.

So he does. He says, "Dad, either I'm going crazy or angels are real."

Dad's quiet for a long moment, and then he asks, "Where are you?"

.

Angels are real. Dad hates them.

When the angel comes back, Dad's with him, and Dad announces, "The boy won't be saying yes to you."

The angel demands an explanation; when Jimmy goes to answer, Dad glares at him. The angel promises that Jimmy won't come to harm, that he will be protected and honored among all men.

Dad flat-out laughs. "If your only choice is Jimmy," he says, "then you'll take me."

The angel—recoils. Jimmy glances at Dad and Dad's smiling. "Yes, I thought that'd be your reaction. But the boy is mine, you understand, and what's mine is beyond touch. So you'll take me or you'll be without a vessel for what's ahead."

The angel slips into Dad like little shards of light while Jimmy's demanding, "Dad, what are you doing?"

"Do not be afraid," the angel says with Dad's voice. "Of all of humanity, the oldest shall be safe."

"What?" Jimmy says, getting in-between Dad's body and the door. "How do you know that?"

The angel smiles at him. "Because his father is Death," the angel says, and then he's gone in a rush of wings.

Jimmy spends the next hour trying to call Dad on the phone, but there's never an answer.

Chapter Text


He sees her at Starbucks, of all places, ordering cocoa in the middle of July in the deep south. She's pretty, about the same age he appears to be, and he notices her clock him not long after he notices her. Someone's trained her, then.

She moves like a slayer, he thinks, watching her walk to a table in the corner, where she sets her things. But she's not one.

Oh, no, she is something far older. It's been a long time since he's seen something so powerful out and about. She's chained, though. Shackled in this form, given flesh and blood, bone and attitude—she's a good glare on her. Keeps darting glances at him, trying to camouflage them as taking in the art on the wall.

(His current life is as an interior decorator who has ranted about Starbucks' art before. If he thought she'd let him close, he'd tell her just to hear her laugh. She looks like an excellent laugher.)

Instead, he stays by the counter to wait for his drink, and when it comes, he salutes her with it and leaves. There was a time he would’ve courted her for the power, would’ve broken her and used her. Instead of a continent, he could’ve laid the world bare, taken everything, possibly moved on into other realms not seen in longer than his life.

But those times are gone. For now.

He glances over his shoulder; she’s watching him go. He wonders what she sees.

Chapter Text


In a thousand years, after the end has come and gone, still, he will be there standing.

A thousand years ago, after the end had come and gone, still, he was there standing.

That is eternity, child, and you still don't know what it means.

.

In the sludge and the rain, alone, he knelt and breathed. He breathed and breathed and breathed, the freshest air the world ever knew, and it was good, and it was enough.

In the sludge and the rain, before anything else had a mind to think, he stood and stared at what no one had ever seen.

In the sludge and the rain, he learned to walk and he learned to run.

In the sludge and the rain, he was alive.

.

Things are ended, now. Things are ended again. His friends have turned their backs and blood runs in the streets, as civil war divides the world.

Again, he thinks. Because civil war always divides the world eventually.

.

It is lonesome thing, having no one to rely on. No one to trust. Never has he trusted anyone, and his caution has always proven to be necessary, because everyone wants him for his knowledge, for his skill—not for him, the man who once knelt in sludge and rain, knowing what it was to be alive.

It is a lonesome thing, his existence, but still—alive is better than not, and there is no one with the skill to end him.

He stands in the middle of the apocalypse, as he had stood in the middle of the others, and he knows there will be more.

He turns his face up to the sky and feels the rain.

Chapter Text


Like most things, it started in a bar. Kronos had been dead for a year, along with their brothers. MacLeod continued preaching, Joe kept watching and recording, and the world continued to turn.

Small annoyances crept in, Methos dealt with them, and nothing ever changed.

Nothing would ever change again.

Methos was sitting in a bar, drinking swill, listening to a band wail, and Joe was chatting while he poured drinks, and MacLeod was lecturing the boy about something, and Methos realized that the world was long overdue for the cleansing fire.

Had that been what Kronos wanted? At the time, it had seemed mad—but that was because it was Kronos' plan, and the four of them knew that Methos needed to plan things. But he had only taken Kronos' blueprints and refined them.

He should have scrapped the whole thing and built something new.

But no, he thinks, fingers tightening on the bottle. He'd still been blinded by MacLeod.

His brothers are dead. He sets down the bottle and tilts his head, covertly studying the righteous child who dared defy the ancients.

Why, he thinks, did I turn on my brothers for this child? He cannot remember.

How long has it been since fire cleansed the world? So much is corrupt and stagnant.

Oh, my brothers, forgive me, he pleads, standing and striding to the door. In your honor, I will ride again. He pauses, glancing back at Joe, at MacLeod and his boy, at the mortals who had no idea of the god in their midst. For you, Kronos, out of the sun once more.

.

It starts in a bar.

It does not end there.

Chapter Text

To be perfectly honest, Methos misses the day of god-kings. He knows they'll come again, but not soon enough, in his opinion. He just hopes that when they do, the internet and AC remains, too, but even if they don't—

Well. He survived before, didn't he. He even thrived, a god and a king and rider of horses.

The children get younger every year, it seems, no matter the centuries that pass. They bleat about morals and right and truth, as though any of those things matter when night falls. Few of them have ever been gods, and even those were not gods like him.

A god-king with a herd of pale horses. Three people in all of history would've understood, and they are gone from his story now.

"Hey, Adam!" Joe calls as he walks into Joe's latest bar. MacLeod is away at a retreat and there's something rising in the air.

He's felt this before, is the thing. The world always warns when a nation is about to fall.

But he just smiles, fathomless and terrible as the ocean, taking the offered beer.

He misses the days of god-kings. And he laughs with Joe, waiting until he can shed all the years, mount the pale horse, and become a god again.

Chapter Text


Most would assume it was Caspian, mad as he was, blood-thirsty and ever hungry, who wanted only to slaughter whatever he could catch, who left an ocean of blood from one side of the continent to the other.

Or perhaps Silas, simple as he was, who followed orders without thought, who killed humans indiscriminately but was gentle with beasts.

Or surely Kronos, who is immortalized in so many legends as a demon or a tyrant, who wanted to rule the world, or destroy it, depending on the day.

Not Methos. Of course not. Methos is the good one, the one who left, the one who has lived quietly for three thousand years.

Not Methos.

(The pen is mightier, so they say. He who writes the world rules it.)

Chapter Text

 


"You tell me you didn't see this coming," he says, slowly unsheathing his sword. He tosses off his coat and doesn't watch where it lands. His eyes stay firmly on the man he used to claim to love.

(Lie.)

"It doesn't have to be like this," Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod pleads, hands still empty. "Methos, it doesn't -"

"Of course it does," Methos interrupts. "You know the rule, the only rule of our kind that matters."

"No!" Duncan shouts. "That doesn't - nobody knows where it came from! Whose law are we following, Methos?"

Methos just smiles and hefts his sword. "We are following the law of survival, my friend."

(Truth.)

"Live," he says. "You have lived for a long time, and lived well. You carry so many inside you; surely you can hear them screaming to come home."

Duncan blanches but he still doesn't draw his sword.

"Grow stronger," Methos continues. "You've done that, Duncan. There is a reason, after all, why so many Watchers thought you'd be the One."

"Methos," Duncan cries, "please.”

"Fight another day," Methos finishes. "This is the last day, Duncan." He moves, quicker than lightning, and slices Duncan across the face. Duncan lunges back, hands going to his bloody cheek, already healing.

"Fight me, boy," Death commands, "if you want to live."

Duncan fights. He fights well, but it's all by rote - his heart isn't in it. And when he's on his knees, seven hundred years after his first awakening, he holds his head high and tells Death, "It didn't have to be this way, Methos. We all were wrong."

"No," Death replies. "There is only one law of our kind, and the first himself made it."

(Truth.)

"Fare thee well, Duncan. I only ever loved a single soul more than I loved you," Methos says quietly, and then his sword sings.

For one, lovely moment Methos is the only immortal in the world. He carries within him over ten thousand souls, from over five thousand years. He can feel the lightning in his blood.

And then, across the continent, a baby girl begins to howl her rage at being born.

Death laughs. Time to start the greatest game over. And maybe this time he'll lose.

(He doesn't.)

Selena is nineteen years old when the man who makes her head shiver first wanders into her family’s café. It’s retro, decorated to resemble the cafés that used to dot Europe, back when Europe was multiple countries. Vic called it pretentious once, before he left to travel. Selena will inherit it, one day, because everyone knows Vic would rather sell it than deal with the bother.

Selena loves the café. But then, she’s always loved history.

Even when he first wanders in, looking like any other student, Selena knows there’s nothing accidental about him at all.

.

She doesn’t inherit the café.

“It’s the oldest game,” Ben tells her, “and we’re going to change the rules.”

She’s always loved history and wanted to be spoken about someday, like the Queens Elizabeth, and Alexander the Great, the men and women who created nations and ended wars, the scientists and politicians and the defenders of justice who rose up after the turn of the 21st century to stop power-hungry fools from destroying the planet. She wanted to somehow make a difference (without knowing exactly how) and be remembered.

But not like this.

.

“I’m in the history books,” Ben says, when she finally falls silent, tears of anger and anguish drying on her cheeks. “So will you be, if you live long enough.”

He doesn’t hand her a sword, because swords are relics of an age long lost, and they’re rewriting a legacy longer than she can actually understand.

“Live,” he commands, and he kills her a hundred different ways so that she’ll be able to wake up without panicking.

“Grow stronger,” he commands, teaching her to fight and teaching her to flee when needed.

“Fight another day,” he commands, giving her access to the greatest collection of knowledge in all the world.

She will never know how old Ben is, or who he was in the history books she’d devoured all her life. But this is her chance, and she takes it, eyes wide open.

Chapter Text

They meet up every few hundred years, beside a stream or in a tavern or walking down a road that doesn't exist. They chat, catching up and sharing jokes and arguing for the sake of it. A few hours every few hundred years, and it's enough.

For a very long time, it's enough.

.

They've told each other a thousand names, none of them truer than the rest. Every name is who they are, who they've been, who they'll one day be.

This day, his name is Eshu and his companion is Adao; it's storming and they're standing on a beach.

This day, Adao is furious and spends the first hour of their meeting shouting into the wind, cursing and screaming, and Eshu waits.

"My brothers are dead," Adao finally says, voice hoarse and fists clenched. "There was no other way and now they are gone." He closes his eyes, shuddering, wrapping his arms around himself. "And I can't even avenge them," he murmurs, words almost stolen by the storm. "I'd have to destroy myself, and even for my brothers, even for those children…" He turns to face Eshu, desperately demanding, "You understand, don't you, that I won't destroy myself for anyone?"

"Of course I do," Eshu assures him, not reaching out to hold him because Adao would not accept it right now.

Adao turns back into the storm; Eshu stays at his side until the storm blows out.

They go their separate ways until the next meeting.

.

(Lucifer kills Gabriel without hesitating.

Death's son pulls Gabriel back from his father's grip, and Father lets the angel go with a smirk because he's always had a soft spot for tricksters.)

.

In a few hundred years, Heyókȟa thanks Maitias. Maitias simply shrugs and smiles, saying, "Knock knock."

Heyókȟa laughs, long and loud, before asking, "Who's there?"

 

Chapter Text

The Watchers were created to be a hunting ground. Of course, they do not know that. Every few hundred years, Methos (Benjamin, Adam, Pierce's son, Matthew, Bartholomew) slips in and culls those who are weak and those who are strong. Every few hundred years, a dozen or so immortals go missing. The world is a big place, though.

The world is a big place, and there are always other immortals to Watch and record and remember.

.

Adam Pierson exists to watch Duncan MacLeod. He's become noticeable. He's become too big for the small world immortals occupy.

Then Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod, a strong contender for the Prize (a lie that's grown and grown and grown, and won't the winner be surprised when nothing at all happens [well, no, because, of course, the winner will the one who invented the story]) , walks into Adam Pierson's apartment and recognizes Methos for what he is.

Well. This could be fun.

.

Kronos stabs him in the shoulder and Methos says patiently, "Brother, what are you doing?"

A very long time ago, Kronos had been a mistake. But he'd been Methos' pet for so long that Methos had mercy and left him alive when he tired of the child. But now, Kronos has become a threat, and those Methos does not abide.

When Methos strikes, it is a move he never teaches his students, and Kronos dies with wide eyes. As he breathes in Kronos' quickening, Methos sighs in pleasure.

He does so love a good quickening.

.

Kronos is the oldest quickening Methos has ever taken, so he decides to go after Silas and Caspian. Caspian is a scrapper, like he's always been, but Silas is gentle like a lamb. He's always been devoted to Methos, and Methos has no trouble preying on that weakness.

With Silas' death, there is no one left who comes within a thousand years of Methos' age.

.

Adam Pierson is very young, and the Watchers cast him out because immortals are Watched instead of Watchers.

No matter. Give it a few hundred years; human memory is short.

.

Adam Pierson dies in his third challenge. The immortal who takes his head dies later that evening when a terrible traffic accident beheads him on the freeway.

Duncan MacLeod mourns his student and his friend; the Watchers record it avidly.

.

In fifty years, a ghost steps out of the past and strikes before Duncan can even say his name.

Methos is a hunter; Duncan has become too loud.

Duncan vanishes, no matter how fervently the Watchers search.

Methos watches the children scurry about and flips a coin to see if the time has come to burn them down.



Chapter Text

He finds the pale mare on a deserted plain, long after the people have moved on. She's heavy with foal and watches him with wary eyes; if she weren't clearly exhausted and starving, she'd flee from him.

"You're a good girl," he says, moving in slowly. His brothers are beyond the mountains, any tribe that could claim him is long dead, and Kronos—oh, Kronos. "There's a sweet girl," he murmurs, holding steady and letting the mare smell his palm. "What are you doing way out here?"

She's perhaps the prettiest horse he's seen. "If you come with me, I'll find us a quiet place," he says. "I'll take good care of you." She lets out a heavy sigh, leaning into him slightly. “There’s a good girl,” he whispers.

Methos spends the night out in the wild and in the morning, the mare follows him back towards civilization.

.

Four months after Methos finds a quiet place to begin building a new life, the mare goes in labor. She panics, nearly hurting herself and then Methos before he’s able to calm her. It is a hard, long labor, and the foal—“What are you, my dear?” he asks the mare as the foal climbs to its feet, all eight of them.

The mare eyes him more warily than she has in weeks as she slowly rises in order to begin cleaning her child.

.

It is a quiet existence the three of them have. Methos forages what he can, grows what he can’t, hunts when he feels the need to. The foal grows slowly, as pale as his mother. Both of them are smarter than any other horses he’s seen in all his years.

He writes and he sleeps and he recovers himself, who he is when not Death.

He also trains the foal that grows into a magnificent stallion. Besides the fact that he has eight legs, he is mostly a normal horse, though still clever enough for commands no other horse Methos has raised have understood. The mare listens when she chooses to, and Methos knows she understands everything.

“You know that if people discover him,” Methos tells the mare one day, years and years after finding her, as civilization beings encroaching on Methos’ little plot of land, “they will… well, I am not quite sure. They might worship him, or they might try to destroy him.”

She snorts at him. “I know that you’re not truly a horse,” he adds, patting her shoulder. He is unsurprised when she spins around and canters away.

.

That night, Methos checks the field where the horses sleep and finds them both vanished. He stays nearly a year after and when they do not return, he eventually leaves, as well.

.

It is many years later when a petite, dark skinned woman steps into the blacksmith’s shop that is currently Methos’ home.

“Yes?” he asks, looking up from his project.

“I’ve a horse I might need to shoe,” the woman says. “Would you come look at him?”

Methos has not lived so long without realizing when something is not quite right. “Of course,” he agrees, leaving all his weapons in the shop save the three knives he always wears.

Out in the street, there is a pale stallion, tall and strong and perhaps the most gorgeous horse he’s ever seen. He grins at the woman. “I knew you weren’t simply a mare.”

The woman smiles in reply.

.

When Methos leaves that life behind, he goes with a woman who calls herself Salome (for now) and a stallion. He alone, he is informed, will see the true horse and all the rest of the world will see a very common horse of no importance.

“Has he a name?” Methos asks the first day outside his shop.

Salome shrugs. “At the moment, he likes Sleipnir.”

.

Far away, there is a realm missing a prince, and a brother who mourns. There is a queen at a loom. There is a king who must reassess millennia of planning.

On earth, there are sporadic reports of the immortal known as Methos. In some, Methos is a man with pale skin while in others, Methos is a dark-skinned woman. Some reports (though they are discarded as decades pass) mention a horse that seems far too smart.

Adam Pierson meets Duncan MacLeod and later that evening, a woman smiles at Kalas before exploding his head.

“You are Methos?” Duncan MacLeod asks, eyes wide, expression hopeful, and Adam Pierson laughs.

“I’m seeking him,” Adam Pierson says. “I just… who would deny being Methos when asked?”

Adam Pierson died without knowing, and now that his status has been revealed to the Watchers, he is sent on his way.

“You are such a beacon for trouble,” Sophia tells Adam while a very large dog naps on the floor.
It’s quite odd for Methos, because horses surely weren’t meant to curl up the way cats do. Magic, he has learned over the years, will ever be weird.

“Of the two of us,” Adam retorts, “you’ll find that you are the troublesome one.”

Sophia laughs.

.

Adam Pierson moves on to become Ben Pearce. Jacqueline and her mutt of a dog (currently known as Sarge) follow.

Sometimes, the woman who once was the second prince of Asgardr misses the family she knew. However, when she had to choose between the child she carried or the father who put her in that position in the first place—

The choice was easy. Jacqueline sits on the floor, Sarge’s head resting on her thighs and Ben reading aloud one of Byron’s poems, and she knows that it is a choice she would make again.

Chapter Text

He does not know his age when the god comes to him and says, I could kill you, but I would like to try something new. The god invites him to walk through the desert side-by-side and calls him brother and says, I am Methos. I name you Kronos, and so Kronos he becomes.

They walk and they walk and they walk. They find another god to call brother, one with horses, and so they ride.

They ride and they ride and they ride. They find a fourth god to call brother, one who bathes in the blood of humanity, one who eats their meat, and Silas the horse-tamer laughs, and Methos-who-is-death-but-chose-life smiles, and Kronos welcomes Caspian the bloody to join them.

Kronos speaks for the gods. By their welcome, he becomes a god himself.

.

It will be a long time, the longest time, before Kronos realizes that he desired Methos' attention and devotion and time because of love.

It will be a long time, the longest time, before he also realizes that he hates his brother just as much.

.

They spend a thousand years tangled in each other, entwined so tightly, sharing everything. Caspian and Silas are brothers, too, but it is not the same. They are brothers - Kronos and Methos are more. Because they were the first? Kronos will never know.

But Methos is his. Methos has been his since that day in the desert, when Death looked at a nameless boy and gave him a name.

.

Methos leaves Kronos in the well and Kronos knows his brother loves him for he is still alive.

Methos, in time, will pay dearly for that, and then together they will ride forth once more, the world for the taking, for they are gods and what can stand in their way?

 

Chapter Text



"Seven thousand years," he says, "and here we are again."

"You can't possibly be that old," one of the boys says, stumbling after him through the desert.

"Of course he is!" one of the girls shoots back, quickly overtaking the boy to walk beside him and shyly holding onto his hand.

Civilization, all of it, tossed back to his heydays, and the mortals and immortals alike scrambling to survive.

It seems like only yesterday... it is, of course. Air conditioning was his favorite thing, better even than the internet, but he survived for ages before they were invented. And he saw the end coming, of course he did, and hid away all the great tomes, centuries of knowledge saved for when humanity rose again.

Alexandria did not burn this time, for he learned from that disaster.

Of course, this time, he will not leave humanity to wail and squabble, oh no. With but a few scant million left, he will become their benevolent master and guide them back to enlightenment.

“Can you tell us about the old days?” the girl asks, sunburnt and thirsty for both water and knowledge.

“Of course I can,” he says, and he enthralls all within hearing in a tale about indoor plumbing and flying metal beasts controlled by man.

Over three hundred years for these poor sods; a mere breath ago for him.

Chapter Text

 

once, a very long time ago, when the sky was young and the ground stretched out forever below it, there was a throne. all things living bowed to it and the one who sat thereon.

once.

but it was a very long time ago.


.

Since the invention of the sword, Methos has never used another's. He forges his own, tempered to his will and his might, and nobody else can wield it—just as once, long ago, nobody else could ride the horse that raced beneath him.

For a few centuries, Methos made a fortune as a bladesmith. He's also been world-renowned as a horse trainer. His swords were the strongest, his horses the surest, and everyone who was anyone wanted the ones from his own hands.

.

legend tells of the children of gods, who walked the earth and shook the mountains.

legend tells of a king so beloved the sky itself wept when he died, the ground trembled when they laid him down.

legend tells of a woman who created a crown of stardust and sunlight and allowed a man to sit on the throne of the ancients.

legend tells of how the woman smiled, as the man kissed her hand and swore to follow her will in all things.

legend tells…

well, that's the trick, isn't it. legend tells so many things.


.

Methos' sword sings, when he listens closely enough. Horses shout his name, when he listens closely enough.

There is a mountain, so worn down now that none could imagine how high it once soared, that calls for him, endlessly. Whenever he tires of the children and their small problems, their young plights, he travels to a fissure in the earth and lets himself fall.

.

oh, how she laughs to see what has become of the world.

he smiles at her joy and holds out the sword while a mare dances behind him, and she places the crown of stardust and sunlight on her own head.

i have held it in waiting, he says. are you ready to return?

mountains shake open and the throne again glitters in the dawn.

follow me, child, she says as horses gallop into the light. we ride again.


.

Methos wields swords like they're a part of his arm, and he rides horses like he was born for it.

They are and he was.

.

once, long ago, a realm was given into the keeping of guardians. the guardians foundered and the realm fell to decay and despair.

all but one forgot, and how could one do what needed to be done?

legend tells that the mother will return and reward the one for how he tried.

there can be only one, and he rides a pale horse, following closely behind she who sat on the throne, and soon, the realm shall be healed, at last, again, for always and forever.

her will be done.


.

"C'mon, tell me," Joe cajoles, handing Adam a cold beer. "What's the first thing you remember?"

Adam smiles at him, the wide, brilliant smile of a little boy with a secret. "What every man remembers," he says. "There was a woman, and she was… oh, Joe, she was something else."

Joe laughs, "Of course there was," and goes to serve another customer.

Chapter Text

His name is Matt again, and he's considered cannon fodder. He's flying under the radar, trying to live without making too much of a splash. He figures he'll find a nice-enough planet and let himself die.

Except, seven missions in a row, the planets are unbearably awful, so he doesn't die. He saves the captain, first officer, and CMO, and now people are noticing him. Being noticed never ends well.

And then he does die and McCoy nearly gets his head blown off trying to protect his body, out of some misplaced sense of loyalty, and Matt wakes up to McCoy yelling at the natives, trying to hide his fear.

"Fuck," he mutters, lunging to his feet. The natives scream, drop their spears (and, seriously, why are all the planets pre-industrial? he's read records of ones that aren't, but hasn't been to one yet. he tired of living without air-conditioning way before it was invented), and McCoy stares at him, open-mouthed and wide-eyed.

"This doesn't have to make it into the report, right?" he asks.

Chapter Text

There are many things Kronos, Silas, and Caspian never understood, and that was their downfall. They didn't realize the power of hiding, of lying, of pretending. At least, they didn't understand the long game. For a short time, yes, for a few decades. But not for millennia.

Kronos had the right idea, but he moved too soon. His apocalypse was clever, but too obvious. He'd only been planning it for a couple of decades, after all, and even then, he needed Methos to make it work.

Methos slays kings, ruins towns, beats high mountains down. As he likes. He plays the longest game, and it will not end (this time) for centuries yet.

Chapter Text


"Professor," the boy on the front row asks, "how do you know it's true?"

David sighs. This kid—Adamson? Addison? Something that starts with an A—has to question everything. "Whether it's true or not," he says, for the fifth, fifteenth, fiftieth time, "it's what the book says, so that's what I'm teaching, okay?"

The kid glares at him, ignoring all of his classmates' looks. "But if it's not true, what's the point?!" the kid demands, and David has no idea why he's taking this so personally.

"Look," David says, "if you want to have this discussion, come to my office hours. But this will be on your midterm, and your final. So can I get on with it, please?"

"Fine," the kid mutters, crossing his arms and sitting back in his chair. He doesn't take a single note for the rest of class.

When the kid shows up at his office hours, David bites back a curse. "Dr. Conrad, I'm not sure you remember me—I'm Matthew Adamson," the kid says politely, hovering in the doorway.

"Yes, Mr. Adamson, I remember you," David says. "Please, have a seat."

They argue for the better part of an hour, and Matthew brings up several points David's never quite thought of like that. Finally, David says, "This! This is how you should speak in class. Don't just flat out refuse to listen—guide the discussion. Alright?"

"Yes, Dr. Conrad," Matthew says, ducking his head.

David asks, "This is your passion, isn't it? And it's killing you being in a 1001 class."

Matthew nods without looking up. "I couldn't just skip the general studies, and I missed the deadline for testing out," he mutters petulantly.

David chuckles. "Think of this as an easy A, son. And stop trying to derail the units."

"Yes, sir," Matthew says, recognizing the dismissal and rising to his feet. "I'll see you in class on Monday."

.

Matthew still argues in class, but he also gets the other students involved, raising issues and demanding explanations. It's the most fun David has had with his beginner class in years. He's pretty sure that, given a few years, Matthew will revolutionize the field.

At the end of the semester, David writes, Thanks for all the food for thought, on Matthew's final and looks forward to the kid's future.


Chapter Text


Over the course of thousands of years, it is not unreasonable for even the oldest to be captured and held against his will.

Methos is a survivor. That means he survives. Not unscarred (mentally, physically) and not easily—but he survives. He lives, he grows stronger, he escapes.

Every time, he escapes.

In the modern day, in this delightful child of a nation the United States, even medical experiments are given a small amount of comfort.

He survives every test. He dies, of course, a few times, but he always awakens, strapped to that table, and someone makes a note. They want to make a supersoldier. Oh, children always want to make a supersoldier.

None of them seem to wonder what will happen when their supersoldier turns on them. And if any part of Methos is used—oh, yes, the supersoldier will turn on them.

The scientists have yet to learn anything of value. That's why Methos allowed himself to be caught—anyone else would have given it all away. No one else has survived what Methos has. Cassandra thought herself so strong, so tortured, and Methos was even going easy on her. They are the only ones left older than three thousand years.

Live.

Methos watches the guards. He has been the model prisoner for almost a year. He's wept for them. He's begged. He's promised things he could actually deliver, but of course they don't believe.

He's given food, shelter, clothes. Even a thick blanket. They study him. They hurt him. He bleeds and breaks and heals. He screams and pleads and whimpers.

Grow stronger.

They call him Subject 1. He tells them his name is Adam—a small joke. None of them, even the best and brightest, really knows what is allowing them to keep it caged.

But a year to the day, and he's tired. The entire facility has been mapped out in his head for over eleven months. Every guard and scientist has been measured, all found wanting. No one here is worth keeping alive.

So they take him from his cell to the lab and he plays his part, and then he makes his move.

Fight another day.

When only the head of the project is left alive, cowering on the floor, sobbing as he stares up at his death covered in the blood of his fellows—Methos pauses. "You asked how old I was," Methos says. "You asked if I had any advice for the children carving up my insides."

"Please," Dr. Wilkes gasps. "Please, please, please."

Methos smiles. "I am old, and my advice would've been to run, if I felt like giving it." He laughs, and the good doctor screams, and Methos stands alone.

Methos always stands alone.

The facility burns to the ground, all corpses left inside. All their data has been ferreted out and destroyed.

Methos takes the identity of an Australian on holiday in the States, cuts the trip short, and goes home, where he stands in the Outback for a week, face toward the sun.

Chapter Text

As a kid, the boy who would be Neal Caffrey wanted what all kids want: to live forever. Barring that, he wanted to be remembered. It didn’t matter for what.

A man calling himself Matthew picked Neal up one winter night. “You have potential,” Matthew told him. “You’ll be great.”

Neal expected to be put to work, either his mouth or his ass, but Matthew signed him up for school and taught him about culture and took him fun places like art galleries and museums.

In the six years Neal spent with him, Matthew never changed. He was always firm, but neither kind nor gentle. He always expected the best, so that’s what Neal gave him. Neal learned to fight with blades and his fists, and to fire and care for guns. He leaned all the tricks of forgery and confidence schemes.

When Neal was thirteen, he witnessed a duel between Matthew and a very angry woman. The woman—Cassandra, Matthew called her—screamed horrible things, but it wasn’t until she said, I’ll take the boy and teach him the truth about you, that Matthew quit playing with her.

Matthew held his sword with one hand and pulled a gun with the other. He shot Cassandra between the eyes and watched emotionlessly as she fell. Once she was down, Matthew swung the sword, taking her head.

Neal couldn’t look away. Matthew hid the weapons, swiftly moving to Neal, and pulled him close, led him to safety.

That night, Matthew explained about immortals and rules and forever. Neal wasn’t one, he said, but Neal had caught his attention, a smartass kid, and he had to take Neal under his wing.

Matthew never told Neal how old he was. But Neal learned three martial arts, seven languages, and tricks that not even Mozzie would know when they met.

Neal left when he was sixteen, with the promise to call if he ever found too much trouble to handle. Matthew said he’d check in now and again, and that Neal would one day be a legend.

As a boy, Neal had imagined living forever. But all he really wanted was to be remembered.

Matthew would remember him. As long as he lived, Matthew would remember the scared, angry kid he took in, and the greatness he saw in the kid’s blue eyes.

Neal’d never know how old Matthew was, but he was sure that if anyone could live forever, Matthew would.

Chapter Text

1

"You know what I was? Death. Death on a horse," he spits, knowing that admitting to it is a mistake. He's the best liar there ever was; he could've gotten out of this.

But he's so damn tired of pretending to be something he's not.

2

Okay, so drinking eighteen barrels of beer and defacing the pyramid was a mistake. What of it? It was fun.

3

MacLeod's sword swings. Kronos falls.

Oh, my brother, Methos thinks.

& 1

He rides the pale horse.

 

Chapter Text

Only fools want to wear the crown and sit on the throne. Methos has ruled more nations than any other, and he has sat on the throne and been put into history a mere once—and died when revolution came. He learned.

True power is being behind the throne, whispering into the ear of royalty and commoner alike, sowing seeds and reaping what grows.

No, only fools want the people to see them, to bow at their feet, to cower and worship and rise.

History, after all, is the killing of kings. Who knows that better than the record keeper?

Chapter Text

Methos at 1000 was enamored with mortals, with their mayfly lives.

Methos at 2000 was experimenting with death, learning all the ways there were to kill.

Methos at 3000 was relearning how to live, how to blend, how to rule from the shadows.

Methos at 4000 was traveling, seeing the far corners of the world that were yet unexplored.

Methos at 5000 was mastering technology, enthralled with what the internet would become.

Methos at 6000—

“I remember this,” he tells the child, barely 500 and still so wild.

The child glares at him, grubby fingers around a sharpened rock. “We survive,” he tells the child gently. “We grow so much stronger. And we will always have another day.”

He speaks a language not yet created in the child’s world; but he will remember, and he will understand the words one day.

Methos at 500 was mad, angry at existence and helpless to do anything about it. Methos at 6000 is the most powerful person in the world.

“I will send you back,” he tells the child. “But know that one day you will be where I am—one day, we will have the stars at our command.”

The child’s fingers clench on the rock; Methos murmurs the incantation, sending him back to the fertile plain of their youth.

A very long time ago, Methos looked upon himself in fear and in wonder, and he did not understand for millennia. The Game had not yet been invented and Methos had thought himself alone, the only one to die and then live again.

He rises to his feet and strides to the window, looking out over his empire. He is a benevolent ruler; very few people even know they live by his will alone.

The Game is won.

Chapter Text

Matt Bennison is weird. That's what his roommate Kyle says, anyway, when he joins their study group. Elise and Monty want to hear more, but Matt arrives (late, of course, because he's never on time ever) with notes from his meeting with Dr. Oliver, and so Yvette shushes them all because Matt is so soft spoken.

Kyle, Elise, and Monty go out for drinks after the studying is done. Elise thinks Matt's quietness is a mask for something wild and dangerous (but she also thinks her roommate is Kali reincarnated, and everyone [including the roommate] is pretty sure that's not true), and Monty doesn't like that Matt sometimes makes proclamations about something without being able to back it up.

Matt's a good guy, though, everyone knows that. Just… weird. Kyle tells them about Matt talking in a dozen different languages in his sleep, the sword he hides in the back of the closet, the notebooks full of scribbles in a language no one in the language department could identify, and how terrifying Matt was when Kyle returned with pictures of those notebooks.

But the thing Kyle doesn't tell them, the thing he knows would convince them because nothing else has—Matt never looks in the mirror. Never. In the five months they've been rooming together in the dorms, Matt has avoided the mirror.

Who does that? What does it mean? Google and the psychology department weren't much help beyond it being a "bad sign," which, no shit, he already knew that.

And sometimes, late at night, Matt cries. He's an orphan and an only child, so Kyle doesn't talk about his own family in case that's insensitive, and Matt doesn't have any pictures of any loved ones or friends. He came alone and he's still mostly alone, and Kyle—Kyle doesn't want to be his friend. Because Matt… he's just so cold sometimes. Like he thinks it's all pointless, like he thinks they're all nothing, and this is just—Kyle doesn't even know, but he doesn't like Matt.

And by Matt never looking in the mirror… Kyle's pretty sure Matt doesn't like Matt, either.

Chapter Text

"Come now, brother, tell me," Kronos says, sliding around the chair and standing in between Methos' knees. "You must have a thousand ideas."

Methos glances up at him through his eyelashes, tilting his head to the side. "And what of it?" he asks. "You know that tonight is my night to do as I like, without question. And tonight I like to read."

Kronos reaches down to brush Methos' lips with the tip of his finger. "Then I'll find my own game, and I'll slaughter it however I like. And tomorrow, tomorrow you'll read about in the paper, and you'll know that you could have been with me."

He turns on his heel and stalks out. Methos watches him go, shakes his head, rolls his eyes, and looks back down at his book.

When he finishes the chapter, he stands and follows his brother.

Chapter Text

Devon raises his hand and asks, "But how do we know it's right?"

Mr. Benson smiles at him. "What do you mean?"

Devon swallows and licks his lips, looking around the room. Callie gives him an encouraging nod. "Well, I mean," he says, "the winners write the books, right? So, all of the past... how can we know that's what it was really like? It's all guesswork, isn't it, or propaganda?"

Mr. Benson chuckles. "That's what everyone who looks at the past wonders, Mr. Wiles." He turns to the board and writes To the victor go the spoils in broad, sweeping letters. "Now, can anyone tell me what this means?"

George says, "What Devon just said. The winners write the history books. Who cares about the losers? They were all enslaved or wiped out, anyway."

Mr. Benson nods. "Exactly. History is whatever the victor wishes it to be." He holds up their textbook, then lets it fall to the desk. "And how would any person know for sure it's wrong?" He shrugs. "It might he harder today to fake something, or rewrite it how you like - but not impossible."

A moment passes, while Devon stares at his book in growing horror, and Mr. Benson says, "But we're not here to investigate the veracity of a millennia's worth of historical texts. We're here to learn what will be on your tests. So turn to section three and read about the Black Plague that wiped out Europe."

Mr. Benson raises an eyebrow at Devon. Devon flips open his book.

.

(In ten years, Devon dies in a carwreck. One of the EMTs sneaks him out of the morgue and he hears about his family's lawsuit against the city for losing his body. Sarah teaches him how to live in this new world – guys with swords after his head, and waking up after death, and living forever if the guys with swords don't get him.

And then Mr. Benson finds them at the place Sarah said was safe, a bar in a city protected by the best of them all, and Mr. Benson says, "I knew I'd see you soon."

Devon gapes at him. Mr. Benson hasn't aged a day. "But—you—I—"

Mr. Benson laughs. "Call me Adam, child, and ask your question again."

Staring at him, Devon tries to remember. History had been fascinating that year, with all of Mr. Be—Adam's snark about what the book said. Quips and asides, and pithy comments that had even the least interested kid sitting up in anticipation of what might come next.

Devon asks, "How can we know the books are right, when the winners write the books?"

Adam smiles. "Live long enough to find out," he says, and buys Devon a beer.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

The end of the world happens on a Sunday. Methos is unsurprised.

.

There are survivors, of course, because there always are. Mammals survived the dinosaurs and then the earth warming; of course pockets of humanity survive the aliens.

.

Aliens, he thinks. The things you live to see.

.

After, in the shaky peace, the aliens and humanity’s spokesperson agree to share the world. With half of all life dead, there is plenty of room.

Share? he thinks, watching from the back of the crowd. Oh, no, that will not do.

.

Most immortals survived the initial attack and the invasion, after. Some did not because being exploded tends to separate the head from the neck.

Methos does not like to fight. He prefers to blend, to run, to arrange things so others fight for him (often, they do not realize). No, he doesn’t like to fight.

That doesn’t mean he can’t.

.

Many survivors are tired and just want to move on with what’s left of their lives.

But there are many who want vengeance.

.

“And why should we follow you?” a woman asks. What’s left of the population of Europe moved inland, meeting up with what’s left of Asia. There are others, throughout the world. There are others, but here, he has a group of 18000.

The time of science and reason is over; the age of god-kings has come again. Methos takes out a knife older than any nation and slices his palm wide open, holding it up for all to see.

“Because this world is mine,” he says.

.

He remembers the endless ice and the giants that walked.

He remembers the woman called Isis, whose cult stretched from sea to sea.

He remembers the Nazarene and how words changed the world.

Once, gods were commonplace.

.

His far-flung people stream in, as he had known they would. A thousand immortals, 18000 humans, and invaders from the stars.

“Do you really think we can do this?” a little girl asks, a kitten cradled in her arms.

He smiles at her. “The end has already come,” he says. “And we are in the after, now. Yes. We can do this.”

.

He writes because he always has, and he leaves his chronicles in the safest place, and then Death mounts his horse, leads his army, and goes to war.

 

Chapter Text

If Methos were to sit down at a table somewhere, pull an unused notepad close, and write down every time he has been executed, he would run out of paper.

He could list all the reasons, too, and he remembers most of them fondly. He has always enjoyed inciting a riot.

In his long life (longer than any guess), Methos has been killed in all the ways there are to die except the final. He was to be drawn-and-quartered once, but he has a way with horses and so began a new legend of the invincible man.

(Truth: if there is a legend of an invincible man, it is probably Methos in one of his guises.)

He smiles down at the notepad, putting a star next to trampled by horses. That had been an accidental execution, and one he wouldn't mind enduring again. Horses are such lovely creatures.

Every time he was sentenced to beheading—and there were numerous occasions, especially when his tongue got the better of him and told his masters of the time exactly what he thought—Methos magicked up an escape. (Not always with magic, but it was close enough for the belief to build.)

He has been a revolutionary and a criminal and a man far ahead of his time. He has had said unliked and unwanted truths, and he has lied until empires crumbled away. He led emperors to their deaths and sent thousands of peasants on the road to starvation, and one day he'll do it all again.

But for now, he caps the pen and sets it aside. Joe is at the bar chatting with a pretty customer and MacLeod is on the way with the brat in tow. And Methos drains his beer, looking down at the last item on his list—in pursuit of the Prize.

There is no Prize. There is no Game. Quickenings are magic, and there are few left who speak that language fluently.

Oh, yes. The game the children play would see Methos dead, but he is no inclination to die.

"Hey, Mac! Richie, get over here," Joe calls from the bar.

Methos flicks a glance at the notepad and it disappears. He grabs his beer, refilling it with a thought only to drain it again.

No, he is not ready to die. He has lived too long a life.

(Truth: beheading will not work any better than all the rest.)

(Lie: that he'll ever let anyone try.)