It was always easier to fight with no distractions, but there, in the middle of a challenge, was some freak lightning far too close for comfort. And it wasn't just any lightning. It was a quickening, that much Methos knew. So that meant it was trouble. It was too close and he was too busy fending off a very determined challenger - some pissant kid who hadn't yet figured out that you didn't need to duel every single other Immortal you met.
Methos was just about to gut the little jerk when they both saw the lightning arc through the sky over a warehouse nearby.
"Well. That's interesting," Methos said. While the kid was distracted, Methos knocked him out and left him tucked behind a car in the parking lot they'd been fighting in. Another fight nearby meant other Immortals nearby. Well, one other Immortal nearby. It wasn't worth finishing off one challenger just to get picked off by someone all hopped up on power and bloodlust. Methos glanced in the direction of the quickening, then down at the unconscious kid. Yeah. He should at least check this out. Then come back and finish this. Or just leave. Whichever.
As he approached the warehouse, the quickening just seemed to keep going, which was a really bad sign. Nothing good came from a quickening that took this long.
"What the shit is this?" he muttered, only to be answered by a voice he didn't know.
"Good question," the voice said from the shadows nearby. "We were kinda hoping you knew."
Methos looked over and could make out a large figure in the shadows. Overcoat, reddish skin? Maybe? There were two others with him, but Methos couldn't make out any details until lightning struck again and the whole place lit up for just an instant.
With the clearer, though quick, view, Methos realized what he was seeing. Or rather, who. The fucking BPRD. And this was Professor Bruttenholm's charge, Hellboy. All grown up.
"Huh," was Methos' only verbal response.
Hellboy laughed. "Man, I usually get a bit of a better reaction than that. Cat got your tongue, kid?"
"I do not believe that is an accurate appellation," another voice came from the shadows. Methos had seen him too. Blue, with fins and the face of a fish. He'd never met the man before, but Bruttenholm had told him about several of the various agents the BPRD had. It had been a clumsy attempt at recruitment after Bruttenholm had seen Methos revive after a nasty fall.
"We have all manner of curiosities!" he'd said. "People such as yourself, with wondrous abilities and powers! You could learn more about yourself! Harness your skills!" Adorable, really. Methos had always meant to look into them, see if the Watchers had infiltrated them. Or vice versa.
Methos made a mental note to do that as soon as whatever this current situation was got resolved. Or whenever he was clear of it, resolved or not.
"You are much older than you appear," the other voice said. Abe something. That was his name. Methos frowned, trying to remember what Bruttenholm had said.
"Does it matter?" the third figure said. Methos had gotten a clear view of her, but he had no idea who she was. "He's here and he's snooping around, just like us. We need to figure out what's up and then report in." She snapped her fingers and a small flame appeared over her hand, lighting up the space around her.
"Nice," Methos said, nodding in approval. He'd met an Immortal with a power like that once. And heard of a few mortals. They were rare, but every so often you ran across them. "Ah, I'm Neil Benson." That had been the name he'd been using in the 1950s. "Is Trevor Bruttenholm still around?"
The big one, Hellboy, was in front of him in a flash, moving fast for his size. "What the hell do you know about him?"
Methos put his hands up. "We were friends!" he said. "That's all. He tried to recruit me once."
"He's dead," Hellboy muttered, stalking away towards the doorway into the rest of the warehouse.
"Shit," Methos sighed. Time did have a habit of continuing to pass. "Sorry. Look. I just wanted to know who was still alive after the fight that just went down."
"Fight?" the woman said. "Cause that looked more like a weather anomaly to us. We've been tracking them. I'm Liz. That's Abe. The big guy…"
"Hellboy," Methos told her. "I know. As I said, Bruttenholm was a friend. We met while I was doing some graduate studies." Linguistics. Ancient languages. Mostly because he'd been bored and it was always fun to reread some old favorites.
"Well, if he was a friend and he was trying to recruit you, maybe you can help us out," Liz said, walking past Abe to peer at Methos by the light of her flame.
"Maybe," Methos said. "Look, someone in there just fought someone else to the death. There's probably a headless corpse and someone with a sword. It's usually a mess."
Liz glanced at Abe and Abe shrugged at her.
"So you do know what's going on," she sighed. "Look. If you care about who's in there, we should call off Red."
"I don't know who it is," Methos started to say, but then the sound of a sword clanging off of stone got all of their attention.
"Too late," Abe said as they all hurried into the main room of the warehouse where a man with a sword was swinging at Hellboy. Every so often he got a glancing blow against Hellboy's bigger arm.
Methos looked at the man, then at Bruttenholm's demonic adopted son, or whatever he was, and then at their surroundings. There were four bodies on the floor of the warehouse, each lacking a head. Their swords were nowhere to be seen. Only then did Methos realize they'd all been tied up.
"Oh, now, that's just not very sportsmanlike," he said. "See how their hands were tied?" he asked Abe and Liz. The two of them seemed to be a little bored by the proceedings, but perked up when Methos pointed out the bodies. "He was taking their heads, one after the other, without giving them a chance. I mean, I can't fault him for trying, but it's the sort of thing that gets you killed."
The man's sword clattered to the floor, sliding under a wooden pallet as Hellboy knocked it away and grabbed the man by the arm.
"Come here, you," he said, dragging the man over to Methos, Liz, and Abe.
"So who the hell is this guy?" Hellboy demanded, shaking the man in Methos' direction.
"I don't know!" Methos told him. "Didn't Bruttenholm ever tell you about us? Immortals?"
"Oh!" Abe turned to look closer at Methos. "I see! Very interesting. He did once mention that to me. Men and women who could live forever, granted their heads remained attached. He never made any mention of the ability to disrupt the weather, or we wouldn't have bothered coming. We thought we had a stormcaller on our hands. Very unstable, very tricky."
"We've got a room with plenty of drainage to keep them in until they learn control," Liz told him.
Maybe twenty years back a whole bunch of anomalous lightning in the middle of a clear night might just have made the back pages of a local newspaper in the morning and been noted in some crackpot's ranting on alt.talk.weather.storms, but now? Now people had smartphones and social media and alerts set to notify them of any anomalous weather patterns. They had satellites and government surveillance and secret organizations with all those tools looking for the paranormal. Which freak lightning storms definitely were.
"So wait," Methos asked, ignoring the protests and promises of reprisals coming from the other Immortal. "You've been tracking this guy specifically? How do you know?"
"Caught him leaving the last place we saw this pattern," Hellboy said. "And shut up, you," he told the other man. "You're pissing me off. So what's this about Immortals? Are you telling me this jackass is going to live forever?"
Methos shook his head. "No, I mean, he could. But if he's making a habit of capturing others and chopping their heads off all at once for a big fix? He was going to get a reputation eventually. Someone was going to come for his head."
He realized that the other three were all staring at him. Hellboy had clamped his free hand over the other Immortal's mouth but all he was doing now was glaring sullenly at Methos.
"So, Bruttenholm definitely didn't mention the part where we fight to the death. With swords." Come to think of it, had Methos mentioned it to him in the first place? How would he have known? He couldn't for the life of him remember if he'd told Bruttenholm that part of it. Hm. No matter now. "Well. We do. But we're not supposed to do it like that. It's frowned upon."
The other three looked at each other, then Hellboy looked at Methos. "So, you just do this shit?"
Methos shrugged. "Sometimes. I'd prefer to avoid it, but sometimes it just can't be avoided."
The BPRD team seemed to share a look that said collectively that this apparently wasn't their problem.
"It's not a stormcaller," Liz pointed out. "Red, we can just leave this one. Head home. Maybe grab some burgers on the way."
"Oh hey, there's a White Castle nearby," Hellboy said. "Here, Benson, if you deal with him we'll stick around for cleanup."
Liz groaned. "Come on, Red. Really?"
Methos felt another Immortal presence grow, then fade completely away. Seemed like the kid he'd been fighting might have peeked inside and decided that discretion was the better part of valor. Good idea.
"Hey, he's taking care of a problem. We can take care of the bodies."
Hellboy shoved the Immortal away towards Methos as he and Liz kept talking. Abe had already backed away and seemed to be content to observe while the others bickered.
"You mean it's me taking care of it," Liz said.
Methos pulled out his sword and smiled at the other man. "So, I know you're probably feeling a little hungover from those four heads you just took, but let's at least try to put on a good show, hmm? I'll even let you go for your sword. I'm just that nice."
"Hey, you're the best!" Hellboy was saying as the Immortal dove for the pallet where his sword had gone. Methos lunged for him and slashed at his neck, catching him from behind.
"They're so gullible sometimes," he muttered as the quickening hit him. Through the haze of it he could see Abe pull out a little notebook and start writing. Maybe he should point the Watchers in his direction.
No. That was a horrible idea. It was the quickenings talking.
When it was over (it went on forever but then it was done, thank goodness), Hellboy and Abe were already at the door while Liz set the bodies on fire, quickly burning them down to nothing but ash.
"Handy," Methos commented as they headed out of the warehouse. "You know, maybe I would like to find out more about this organization of yours." After all, he was done hiding in the Watchers, but there was always somewhere new to learn about.