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Leaving the Drowning Pool

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He awoke under water. Surrounded by darkness and his body feeling pressed in by hundreds of thousands of gallons of water.

He panicked for a moment, thrashing around, bumping his arms and legs hard against soft squishy bodies and hard metal before he finally forced himself to a modicum of calmness.

What the hell happened? he thought, but he knew there was no time to wonder. He had to get out of here.

It wasn't the first time that he was glad for the Immortal ability to breathe underwater, and he was fairly certain that it wasn't going to be the last. He was just glad that he wasn't going to drown and keep on drowning here, trapped miles beneath the surface in this hellish tunnel.

Damn Stryker anyway, he thought, gritting his teeth and pulling himself along with his hands. He couldn't see anything, but instinct was driving him toward the surface.

Several times he bumped himself painfully against obstacles in the dark, but he didn't stop his crawl. He had to get out and that was all that mattered.

.

He didn't know how long it took him to reach the exit, but by the time he fumbled open the door and swam to the surface of the new lake, he was just glad to have finally escaped.

First thing I'm doing is having a hot shower and drinking a shot of whiskey, he thought. The icy cold water and the freezing air already had him shivering uncontrollably.

Wrapping his arms around his body, he waded to the surface and stumbled up onto the bank. From there he walked the dozens of miles to the nearest house, tripping and falling several times, dying from hypothermia a dozen more. He didn't allow anything to stop him from putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward. He had to get out of this place.

Knocking on the door of the storybook style cottage, he clenched his teeth to keep them from chattering so hard they broke. He felt horrible, but there was no way he was giving into the weakness of the moment.

When there was no answer to his polite knock, he began kicking the door as hard as he could in increments of three. THUD! THUD! THUD! Wait a few seconds. THUD! THUD! THUD!

After nearly ten minutes, the door opened a crack and a face peered out. "Who's there?"

"H-h-help m-m-me," he stuttered.

The door opened wider and the woman looked at him in shock. "Oh my God! What happened to you?" She reached out and grasped his arm gently, pulling him in. "Come in here, hurry."

Methos tried to follow her command, but his legs finally gave out on him. It was as though his body, knowing that he was finally somewhat safe, decided that it was time to shut down completely and deal with the trauma he had put it through.

He barely felt the arms that caught him, but somehow knew that it was all going to be all right now, somehow.

.

Waking up was an experience in discomfort. It was always worse coming back from the cold. It was one of the reasons that he lusted after a warmer clime.

"Who are you?" he rasped at the shadowy figure next to him.

The shape moved closer to the bed he was lying on. "My name's Amy Winters. Do you know who you are? What happened to you?"

Methos squinted a little, trying to bring her face into better clarity. The room he was in was too dark for his sleep-confused eyes to really make anything out. "My name is Daniel Benson. I... I think I slipped and fell into that weird lake back there, but I don't really remember. I just... I woke up pulling myself out of the water and it was so cold. I don't know how I managed to walk all the way here." He sounded younger than he'd bothered to sound for years, playing on the fact that he was skinny and lanky and looked to barely be in his twenties when he let his stiff expression go.

A gentle hand brushed across the side of his face. "It's all right, you're going to be all right, I promise. Is there anyone you want me to call for you?"

Methos shook his head. "No. I'm here by myself."

"Do you have parents or friends I should call?" she asked again.

"My parents died when I was a child, and I don't want to bother any of my friends with forcing them to rescue me. Like you said, I'll be all right," Methos said. "I have enough money to get me home and I don't want anyone I know to have to worry about me."

"Maybe you should call someone anyway, just to let them know that you're okay? If something else should happen to you..." She sounded like she was really wondering whether he was all right.

Methos shook his head. "Don't worry. Just... can I warm up here a little and maybe get a ride from you into the nearest town?" He added a hint of pleading to his voice.

Amy cocked her head. "That's fine. You can stay here until you're well enough for the trip into Brauttersburg."

"Thank you," Methos said, reaching out to pat her hand. "I know you don't have to help me, so I'm extremely grateful to you."

She smiled a little, but just nodded once. "Please don't make me doubt the intelligence of my helping you by turning out to be a psycho killer."

"I promise I won't," Methos said.

She drew back from the bed. "I'll leave you to rest awhile. I've got soup simmering on the stove. It should be done soon."

"Just in time to calm my hunger," he said.

"Just about."

He watched her leave the room, the opening and closing of the door shining the only real light he'd seen since he'd awoken on him. He still had no idea if this was any kind of place he wanted to be, but there was no other choice. Unless he got a ride into town, he'd have to walk the distance, and that really wasn't something he wanted to try without knowing if Amy really wasn't trustworthy.

Methos lay in the bed for close to ten minutes, trying to force his body into a state of relaxation. It wasn't working; his every nerve thrummed with nervous energy and the prickling of his arm hairs practically screamed at him that something was wrong. Amy had seemed nice, but he didn't feel safe, and he couldn't explain why.

Tossing back the covers, he rolled himself out of bed and slunk over to the door, opening it a crack to listen.

"I don't know who he is, but I'm thinking he's some kind of mutant," Amy's voice said. There was a listening pause. "He just showed up on my doorstep out of the blue, but it might just be a good thing. We've been looking for a test subject... and this is about as near to one of them volunteering as anything else. What?" Pause. "Why do I think he's a mutant? Well, while he was unconscious, I watched as all signs of frostbite disappeared from his hands and feet. And his clothes... they're all torn up like with knife and bullet wounds, but there's not a mark on him. I checked. He doesn't have a single scar... anywhere. It's like he was just born or something, his skin so perfect. He's a mutant, I know it. We can use him." Long pause. "I'm not going to turn my back on Lady Luck. This guy just came walking up to my door, and I'm not going to waste the opportunity, no matter what you say, Krosse. I'm pretty sure Sampson would be happy to use him, so that's what's gonna happen. The chicken stuck himself in the pot, and now I'm going to cook him."

Methos closed the door and silently backed away from it until the backs of his legs hit the bed. Looked like Amy wasn't quite so nice as he'd been hoping for.

Krosse? he thought. Was she talking about Howard Krosse, Strycker's "associate"? His hands curled into tight fists at his side and adrenaline jolted through him. Krosse definitely wasn't someone he wanted to mess around with. The only good thing was that Amy didn't know who he was, so she wasn't able to tell Krosse. The last thing he wanted was to be recognized by that bastard, because then he'd be hunted for the rest of his life... even if it lasted another five thousand years.

Looking around the darkened room, he was angry at himself for allowing himself to be so stupid as to be relaxed about waking up in a place like this. Sure, it seemed like the perfect place for him to sleep his strength back, but now that his mind was working, it was obvious this was a cage.

No windows and only one door out. A normal enough bedroom, except that he was stuck in here. And that bitch Amy probably had a gun, which meant bad news for him since he really didn't want to die in front of her... and especially didn't want to come back to life.

This is bloody ridiculous, he thought. I'm a little bit cold and my survival instinct just switches right off. Damn MacLeod. He screwed up all my reactions, made me too trusting of a pleasant voice.

Knowing that he had to get away, since he really didn't want to end up with adamantium bones or the fluid drained out of his brain or whatever, he sat down on the bed to think. He had a few minutes before she would be back, which meant he could take the time to think this through as clearly as possible.

He was in a cabin in the middle of nowhere with a woman that worked for a secret government agency that liked to experiment on mutants. The weather outside was below freezing and he didn't have any kind of cold weather clothes. He had no weapons. He had no money. He had no idea where he was supposed to go, because when he'd gone undercover as Lyman, he'd pretty much burned all his bridges behind him.

Sure, he could try to go back to MacLeod, but his "friend" hadn't been much of a friend lately. Too much had happened, and the self-righteous Scot had only allowed his morals to get more rigid and unyielding. In his mind, there were no extenuating circumstances for anything anyone did... unless they happened to be female. When a woman broke one of Duncan's precious rules, he practically climbed all over himself making excuses for why they killed his friends or whatever. But when Methos admitted that thousands of years before MacLeod was born he hadn't been a nice person and had killed thousands of people... he was treated as if he had been out massacring towns full of people yesterday. Never mind that things had been much different back then... none of it mattered.

He really didn't want to have to deal with the usual Duncan MacLeod histrionics. After nearly five years of dealing with Stryker's shop of horrors, he was tired and needed a rest.

I don't want to go back to Seacouver, or Paris, or wherever else MacLeod is living, he thought. Where else can I go, though? And how am I supposed to get there?

Even if he knew where he was going to go, he still didn't know how he was going to get there. He was still out in the middle of nowhere with no kind of transportation and freezing weather to deal with.

Finally he faced up to the fact that he was going to have to do something he had promised himself he was never going to do. The pain just wasn't worth it in any regular situation, but this was a time of desperation. He was tired and he needed a safe place to hide out for awhile.

"Dammit," he muttered, then walked forward to the clearest space in the room, sitting down on the floor in the lotus position. Settling his hands palm up with his first two fingers rubbing against his thumbs, he closed his eyes and cleared his mind.

Calling up his Quickening, he used it to help focus his will. Once he was certain he had enough power, he pictured in his mind where he wanted to be and Apparated.

* * *

It was right in the middle of a potions lesson when there was a flash of light and a man appeared sitting on the floor. He was wearing a pair of gray and blue checked boxer shorts and a gray tee shirt.

"Who are you?" Snape demanded.

The man's eyes snapped open and he looked up. "Looks like it worked," he said. A faint smile twitched his lips, then he keeled over sideways unconscious.

"How did he do that?" Hermione Granger asked in a raised voice. "He just appeared and that shouldn't have been possible with the anti-Apparation wards up. I don't understand what..." her voice trailed away to an agitated mutter. She had always hated things that she couldn't explain, and her overwhelming need to control everything had only gotten stronger as she grew older.

Snape knelt down beside the man and felt his neck for a pulse. "He is alive," he pronounced. He turned to look at the class. "Potter, Draco, take him to the infirmary immediately."

"Yes Professor Snape," Draco said, though he shot Harry a vicious look when Snape turned away.

"Be careful with him," Snape ordered, giving Harry a quick glare.

The black haired boy nodded. "Of course."

Using their wands, the two boys floated the man out of the room. Once they were gone, Snape turned to the rest of the class.

"Get back to work, all of you."

Hermione hurriedly bowed her head back over her potions ingredients. Inside, though, she was still poking over the hows and whys of the man's strange appearance. She still couldn't understand how he had gotten past the anti-Apparation shield, and the curiosity was practically driving her insane.

Once a mystery presented itself to her, she was driven to solve it. She vowed that she was going to talk to the man later and find out how he had done the impossible. She had to know.

* * *

Methos woke in the Hogwarts infirmary. "It looks almost exactly the same," he said to himself, sitting up.

"Ah, so you are awake, young man. How are you feeling?"

Methos turned his head to look at the round, friendly-faced woman that had spoken. "I feel fine," he said. "My name is... Adam Pierson." A tried and true identity, one that was easy to go back to since it had been his last one before becoming Lyman.

"It's very nice to meet you, Mr. Pierson. You may call me Madame Pomfrey. I am the school's mediwitch." She reached out and patted his shoulder comfortingly. "When you were brought in, I thought that perhaps something had happened to you, but you had simply fainted."

Methos thought. "Yes, too much magic used without a wand to focus my energy. I'm lucky I managed to reach here safely and wasn't smeared across the landscape like so much smooth peanut butter on warm toast."

"Well, that's a lovely prospect, but you seem to be perfectly fine." Pomfrey smiled at him so cheerfully that he had to smile back. "Well, now that you're awake, I dare to say that the Headmaster would like to talk to you."

"Fine, then. Direct me to his office, and away I'll go," Methos said, standing up.

"Ah, ah, ah." Pomfrey shook her finger at him. "I will call Professor Snape to take you to the Headmaster's office. We can't have you wandering around the school and passing out in some odd corner somewhere. You just wait a few minutes, and I will send someone for the professor, then we shall find you something more appropriate to wear." She gestured at Methos' boxer shorts and sleep rumpled tee shirt.

Methos glanced down at himself and shrugged. He had never been self-conscious about his lack of dress before, and he wasn't going to start being embarrassed now. "If you have some clothes, that's fine, and if you don't, that's fine too."

She shook his head. "Boys today. They'd walk around naked if they thought they could get away with it."

Unable to help his smirk, Methos kept himself from saying what he was thinking. "Yes, well, I don't think I plan on being one of those 'boys.' A change of clothes would be a good thing."

"Just hold on, and I'll find you some robes."

"Thank you."

Methos made himself as comfortable as he could on the narrow bunk and waited as Pomfrey bustled around for the next ten minutes, once disappearing to the door to call out to someone passing by. Finally, she came back over and presented him with a white shirt, black pants, and a plain black robe.

"Thank you," he said, taking the clothes.

"You can step behind the screen to change. Someone should be here in a minute to take you to Dumbledore."

He nodded at her, giving her a bright smile before standing and beginning to dress right there.

She flushed a little, then hurried back to her work. She glanced up at a him a couple of times as she sorted a box of potions' vials. He thought it was kind of cute, though really, she was much too old for him.

The door opened and in stalked an imposing figure wrapped up in lengths of black cloth. "I'm here to take our guest to the Headmaster," he said to Pomfrey.

She gestured at the calmly standing Methos. "There he is, all ready to go." She looked at Methos. "Mr. Pierson, I would like you to meet Professor Severus Snape. Severus, this is Mr. Adam Pierson."

"How do you do," Methos said, holding out his hand.

Snape looked at it as though it was a dead halibut, but he finally took it after a long moment, giving it an unsure half-shake. "I am not sure whether I am pleased to meet you or not. You suddenly appeared in my classroom and disrupted my lesson. Who are you?"

"Madame Pomfrey told you: I'm Adam Pierson," he said. Methos couldn't help looking the other man over, searching for signs of familiar characteristics. He had known quite a few Snapes in his time.

Snape shifted a little uncomfortably under the close examination. There was something about those changeable eyes that made him feel impossibly young and gauche. "How did you get past the anti-Apparation shield?" he demanded.

Methos shrugged. "Just lucky, I guess."

Suspicion burned in Snape's gaze. "That's not good enough."

"It never is."

"Who are you, Pierson? Where have you come from and why are you here?" Snape demanded.

"My, you're a rude one, aren't you?" Methos said, a smile curving his lips. He had always loved the volatile tempers of the Snapes. They were just so charmingly young. Speaking to them always kept him fresh and he could well appreciate that.

Snape sniffed contemptuously and raised one arrogant eyebrow as he looked down his nose on Methos. "I do not trust you," he said. "If you were an intelligent man, you would start giving the answers that are asked of you without any further prompting. I would hate to have to hurt you."

"Yeah right," Methos said, rolling his eyes. "You're just waiting for your chance to get some answers out of me by any means necessary, and don't even try to pretend otherwise."

"Be that as it may. Who are you really and why are you here?" Those jet-black eyes glared into Methos', demanding answers to those questions and more.

"That is a very good question," a gentle voice said.

Methos turned to see a white-haired wizard with a long white beard walking through the door. Blue eyes twinkled with habitual merriment behind round spectacles. There was a spark of memory along Methos' nerves, but he had never seen that face before, at least, he didn't think he had.

"I am Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster here at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. I have been told that your name is Mr. Adam Pierson, but there is some question as to the veracity of your claim, seeing as you slipped through the anti-Apparation shield charm as though it was not even there." He stepped further into the room, his robes swirling dramatically. Behind him stood Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, and a pouty-looking Draco Malfoy who had his arms crossed as he tried to pretend not to be with the others.

"Truth is all in the eye of the beholder, is it not Headmaster?" Methos asked.

"Professor Potter!" Dumbledore gasped in surprise, his eyes widening almost comically.

"Wow, I haven't heard that name in awhile," Methos said. He squinted at the older looking man facing him, searching out recognizable features. "Well I'll be... little Albie Dumbledore. I haven't seen you in an age."

"Albie? Professor Potter?" Harry said sotto voce to Ron. "Who is this guy?"

"He's your great-grandfather," Dumbledore said, not turning his head. "The legendary Andrew Terwilliger Potter."

"My great-grandfather?" Harry stared at the young-looking man, his eyes wide in his more pale than usual face. "How is that possible?"

"That is what I would like to know," Dumbledore said, suspicion creeping into his voice. He had almost visibly drawn himself back together and was back in his role as Headmaster of Hogwarts. "The only ways to stop aging like that would involve some of the darkest of Dark magics. And Andrew Terwilliger Potter was a powerful wizard and a Defense Against the Dark Arts instructor here at Hogwarts, certainly strong enough to do whatever needed to be done to stop his aging."

"Pshaw." Methos waved the near-accusation away. "Who needs Black magic when you're me?" He smiled charmingly at them all.

This truly was an unexpected development. He hadn't expected to run across anyone that he had met in his old life, so he really hadn't been prepared, not that that had ever stopped him from playing it cool. His little side trip to Hogwarts hadn't exactly been part of the plan, but he had been so desperate to escape all the badness of Strycker and the anti-mutant contingent that he had instinctively retreated to his last memory of true safety. Hogwarts had always been his refuge of last resort when the whole world seemed to be intent on bringing him down, and so this was where instinct had guided him.

"You're Terwilliger Potter?" Snape asked in disbelief.

Methos flicked the back of his hand over the side of his face and fluttered his eyelashes. "It's good to be famous, or infamous as the case may be. And you're a Snape. And, that," he pointed a hand at Harry, "is obviously a Potter, though I'm not sure of which generation or of what name."

"My name's Harry Potter," Harry said, drawing himself up as tall as possible, which wasn't very considering his middling height. He despaired of ever getting any taller and was intent on forcing himself to becoming used to being of average physical aspect.

"Harry Potter," Methos said musingly. "Harry James Potter... that is your whole name, is it not?"

"Yes." Harry nodded, staring at the man in front of him, trying to see some kind of similarity between this man and himself. This was his great-grandfather? How was that even possible? This guy didn't look old enough to be his father, much less his father's-father's-father.

"And your father was James, son of Richard?" Methos squinted at him questioningly.

Harry bobbed a nod, unsure of what he was supposed to say.

Methos walked up to the boy, looking at him intently. Finally, he smiled and held out a hand. "It is a pleasure to meet you, Harry. I can see Richard in the shape of your face, and there's something of the James I knew in you, though the last time I saw him he was only fourteen years old and had a bruised face from a bludger to the nose. Still, I really do believe that I can see him in you now."

"How..." Harry's voice trailed off and tears filled his eyes at the thought that this man might actually be related to him.

Methos smiled gently. "I will explain everything, I promise."

"And Andrew Terwilliger always kept his word," Dumbledore said.

Methos flashed the older looking man a bright smile. "That's one of the reasons why I very rarely give it."