The characters and concept of Highlander belong to Davis/Panzer and probably some other people who aren't me. I'm simply borrowing them for a while. I am making no money, off them or anything else much, so there's no real point in suing me, anyway. This is rated PG-13, for mention of homosexual sex, violence and death. Since there is a brief mention of homosexuality, if the idea of men loving men makes you gag, or if you are under the legal age of majority where you live, you shouldn't read this, so please go away.
Notes: Methos, brooding. I found Methos' behavior in Comes A Horseman and Revelation 6:8 to be curiously ambiguous, and this piece is my own answer to my questions about his motives. This is set after Forgive Us Our Trespasses, before The Modern Prometheus. There are brief references to an m/m relationship.
Methos flipped the pages of his worn book, barely aware of the words in front of him. He was sitting in MacLeod's loft, waiting for his friend to return, trying to keep his mind busy and away from the questions that had been tugging at him for months since Bordeaux. Here in the silence, alone, they were becoming impossible to ignore.
Why had he kept her for himself? He certainly had cared nothing for her. Kronos would have been indifferent to his taking her Quickening. She was young; it would have been a mere flicker. Why had he wanted to keep her with him? It hadn't been for torture. It hadn't been for her service. It most surely had not been love.
He let his mind drift back to those times, something he rarely did. He had been a warrior long before the other Horsemen were even born. By the time he met them, he had already passed through Silas' simple joy in the bloodlust, Caspian's thrill in finding new ways to kill, Kronos' fierce desire to conquer. He was old even then.
The three of them had been nothing more than a band of vagabond barbarian marauders, with a leader who burned with frustrating, unrealizable ambition. He didn't want to rule the world; no, he wanted to drive it to its knees and wring it dry, hear it beg for mercy and give none. Methos had fought them, one at a time. He'd bested Silas, then Caspian, easily, had let them live, disdainfully. Kronos, though, had fought him to a standstill; over crossed swords they'd looked into each other's eyes and laughed. He'd eaten at their fire that night. They had boasted of their conquests, and Caspian had almost taken up his sword again when Methos had told them calmly that they were nothing. He'd told them exactly what they should do, had planned their next raid for them idly, just for the hell of it. Just because he could. Kronos listened keenly to every word, and the next day Methos rode with them as they carried out his plan.
It had gone beautifully. The tribe of nomads hadn't had a chance. They had left a few alive, to spread the tale of the ruthless painted riders who had swept down upon them like a sirocco, like a plague of locusts, without warning out of the desert dawn. Kronos roared his pleasure to the skies and gave the best of the spoils to Methos, who had taken what he wanted and given the rest back.
Methos would have ridden on, the next morning. It had been an enjoyable diversion, nothing more. Would that he had. But Kronos had gotten a taste of his ambitions met, and he knew that without Methos, he would never have it again.
Kronos met him in the chill morning as he saddled up his bay mare and prepared to go. "Tired of our company already, Methos?"
"I'm not accustomed to company," Methos replied shortly. "I ride alone."
"But you haven't always. Else you wouldn't know how to plan out a raid like that."
Kronos was not subtle, and made no attempt to be. "Ride with us."
Methos barked a short laugh. "Why should I?"
"Tell me you didn't enjoy it! I saw your face. What we did yesterday, you can't do alone. And you miss it."
Methos stopped moving with his hands still on the worn bridle. Kronos laughed. "You do! Admit it! You've been away from the battlefield too long, you old war-horse; it's where you belong!"
Methos looked up, met his bright eyes over the horse's nose. "So?" he said again. "Why should I ride with you?"
Kronos walked around the patient mare, and stood too close. "You were right, you know," he murmured. "Before you came, we were nothing. And what were you? Nothing. A lone rider with no name. What will you have if you ride on? Nothing!" He spread his arms wide. "Stay with me, Methos. Ride with us. Plan our raids. Go into battle beside me. With you at my right hand, cities will fall before us. The world will tremble at the mention of us! We will be kings, no, gods! You can make of us a legend of terror!"
Listening to him, the old man was feeling his heart quicken, feeling a rush of anticipation, of life, that he had not known he was missing until Kronos showed it to him. His resolve to leave was weakening, and he knew it showed on his face.
"You will have whatever you desire," Kronos promised him, his voice soft with temptation. Then he laughed. "And besides, if you leave, who will sing the praises of your genius?"
Methos had laughed out loud, and agreed to stay. He had still, secretly, planned to leave at some point, after it was all no longer amusing. But somehow, without his really noticing how it happened, Kronos began to take hold of his soul. The more their power and reputation grew, the more Kronos came to see himself as invincible, a god who controlled all around him. At Kronos' command the little group shared everything, and after a time Kronos and Methos shared each other as well. Methos found it easy to do what Kronos wanted. Kronos had a fire in him that had been dying in Methos, and being with him breathed life on that flame. Years turned into centuries, and Methos was comfortable in his role as Kronos' right hand.
Methos leaned back in his chair, the book forgotten. What had changed? When had he become... uncomfortable? He closed his eyes, allowing the memories of those times to wash over him, looking for answers.
Cassandra. He didn't remember if he'd ever called her by name. She'd come from a poor village in the rocky interior of Thrace, barely worth the trouble of raiding. They had had nothing worth taking. The Horsemen had wiped them out simply to announce their arrival to the larger villages between there and Macedonia. When Methos felt the tickle inside his skull that betrayed her true nature to him, he had laughed aloud. A stroke of luck; the village had something that might be worth taking, after all. His companions hadn't known what that peculiar feeling meant, and so he had taught them.
If she had been mortal, he would have brought her back alive, to serve them as the other pretty young women did. If she had been a man, or anything but a pretty young woman, he'd have taken her little Quickening and that would have been that. The others would not have begrudged it to him; after all, he'd gotten to her first.
As it was, he had thought to have some fun with her before he took her head. Kronos had listened to the sounds they made in the night, and had watched as she went from defiant spitfire to docile slave, and had met Methos' eyes over the campfires with knowing smiles. The other two had ignored them. Oh, yes, if he had had the sense to kill her then, or taken her to Kronos' tent a time or two, all would have been well.
But he hadn't done that. He'd kept her in his tent, taught her to please him, taught her that she was his and his alone. She'd known, when she stopped fighting long enough to think about it, that she had it good, compared to the other women. Kronos had been wrong; it was she who'd become attached to him, not he to her. He was her protection, and the only thing in the world she could be sure of anymore, and when she finally decided to surrender, he'd treated her pretty well. As he'd told her in her cage in Bordeaux: Stockholm syndrome.
He hadn't even thought about how odd his behavior had become, until Kronos had come to his tent to take her away.
He hadn't tried to stop him, of course not. To raise a hand against his brother, his leader, over a girl? Unthinkable. He knew Kronos wouldn't rob him of her Quickening; besides that, it didn't really matter what Kronos did to her. So why had it hurt so much when he took her away?
Methos snapped his book shut with a curse. Go to bed, old man, he snarled at himself. Forget about it. It's long since over.
But he couldn't. Not now, not after seeing her again, and knowing he was unable to let her die even though she would have killed him.
She had been nothing to him, a pretty possession, no more. So why had he placed himself in danger for her?
Not for her. The thought came as a surprise to him, as if it had come from outside himself. It wasn't for her, it was for me.
He leaned his head back against the chair and tried to follow this startling thought to its origin.
Before them, he had been alone. Master of his own life. After he joined them, Kronos had become his master. Somewhere in their association, he had become afraid of Kronos. Somehow, without even a fight, he had surrendered his soul to Kronos' fire, to Kronos' will. Had it been before or after he'd surrendered himself to his bed? It didn't matter. He'd done it, that was the important thing. It had been easy, and Methos had always tended to go the easy route. He hadn't wanted to lose that fire that Kronos brought to life in him. Yes, and then one day he'd seen what he had done. The day Kronos had come and taken his woman away, and he hadn't raised a hand to stop him.
He should have. He should have drawn the line then and there.
She would have thought he did it for her.
But he let the madman take her, and felt something inside him break. When he saw her run into the wilderness in the dark, he let her go. He had let the Highlander believe that it was out of compassion that he hadn't tried to stop her, but that was a lie. Now, he could look back with compassionate eyes, but then he had thought nothing for her misery, her trials at his hands. Maybe he'd had some respect for her courage, maybe that, but not compassion. No, he let her go because he didn't need her anymore. What she had been to him was over, and he had no desire at all to chase after her into the night.
He had placed her between himself and the other Horsemen, just as she had, with her surrender, kept him between them and herself. With one simple act, Kronos had broken their walls down, and shattered their need for each other.
We share everything. Those words had been at first a bond between them. It had become a stranglehold. The more Kronos gave, the more he took, until Methos felt as if he had been emptied of all that was his own, and filled up again with only what Kronos would allow him to have, to be. But Cassandra had been his own. From the first time she had given herself without a fight, she had become the only thing in centuries that was his and his alone.
And Kronos simply could not allow him to have that.
It had not been long afterwards that Methos, still and forever unable to fight Kronos, had slipped away from his brothers, and fled across the world until an ocean stopped him from running any further. It was years then before he felt anything but empty.
Methos leaned forward and put his face in his hands, shaking uncontrollably. <That's what I get for asking myself questions.> He drew a ragged breath, got up and stumbled to the bed.
MacLeod found him asleep, curled up tight, with tear stains on his cheeks. The Scot watched him sleeping for a minute, then with a sigh, took off Methos' shoes, tucked a blanket around him, and went to sleep on the couch.
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