Tuning In

The Holyground Highlander Forum Midweek Challenge

Archivist’s Note: The stories and vignettes offered here from various Holyground Forumlanders have not been edited or changed other than having a spell-check performed and being reformatted for this website.

Contents

The Challenge by Leah CWPack
Waiting on a Friend by Mistress Rose MacWench
Please Refrain by celticangel
Killing Him Softly by vixen69
Music to my Ears by lynnannCDC
The Wake by Robin
With and Without You by Daire
Love Means Never Having to Say… by Wain
A Standard Evening by HonorH
Homecoming by Celedon
Remembrance by Guinevere W. MacWench
Music Hath Charms by Ghost Cat
As Time Goes By by Pat
The Honeymoon by SwingGirl
I Will Remember You by Titania CWPack
Helping Hands by Ysanne

Only for the brave: MID-WEEK CHALLENGE: TUNING IN

Posted By: Leah CWPack <bizarro7@aol.com>
(IP: spider-mtc-ta024.proxy.aol.com)
Date:
Tuesday, 3 April 2001, at 12:36 a.m.

The challenge this week is fairly daunting, and as usual, for those who choose to participate. Suggested by GhostCat:

HL characters (minimum 2), a
public place, and a jukebox. The catch? There can be no dialogue, all communication between characters must take place by way of the songs chosen.
Creative use of titles and lyrics is encouraged, but there should be a storyline.

DISCLAIMER: Remember to put "MWC" in the title of your posting if you desire to have it archived among the others.

MWC: Waiting on a Friend

Posted By: Mistress Rose MacWench <rose@clanmacwench.com>
(IP: s107.surfari.net)
Date:
Wednesday, 4 April 2001, at 4:04 p.m.

Okay, folks, be gentle...this is my first time at a MWC thingy....but something just sparked in me when I read it, so I hope you enjoy....

Waiting on a Friend, by Mistress Rose MacWench

The bar was more than morose. The air was heavy, the sound of the ice hitting the glass held no music, just another thudding reminder that more alcohol was needed this day.

The mystical grapevine that fed all immortals had put the word out that Amanda had been taken. No other word had been heard. Joe was looking into it. Methos sat at the bar seemingly unaffected, his head tilted as the words from the jukebox washed over him.

If I had just one wish, only one command, I hope he's not like me, I hope he understands, that he can take this world, take it by the hand, and he can greet this world, with arms wide open...

The song wrenched the hidden part of Methos for so many reasons. He thought of the many children he raised these past millennium, knowing they were no more than dust, wishing he believed they were more. He stared long into his draft as the many images of Amanda flowed over him, and knew that somehow, somewhere, she had learned what he never could. She did greet life with open arms, embracing the good and the bad, leaving every place just a touch brighter. A single tear surprised him. He wiped it from his cheek and wondered at its source. He questioned if he would ever tell his friends about his children, the beautiful souls he adopted, raised, and buried. His thoughts returned to Amanda. He wanted her to know about his children.

Methos finished his beer and signaled for another, his attention turning to the man in the corner beating himself up over yet another situation he couldn't control. The song ended, and the slow whirring of the jukebox was a comfort as they silently waited the first notes of a new offering.

To really love a woman, to understand her, you've got to know her deep inside
Hear her every thought, see every dream, and give her wings when she needs to fly
and when you find yourself lying helpless in her arms, you know you really love a woman.

Duncan's hand jerked as the words flailed him. How many times had he been helpless in her arms? But Amanda's need to fly, her indomitable spirit...she always lived out there, taking risks, sure she could handle whatever came her way. Duncan let the whiskey burn its way down his throat, wishing there was something, anything he could do to ease the frustration he felt. But until Joe found out more, there was nothing he *could* do.

Duncan leaned back in his chair, closing his eyes and letting the music be his sole companion during yet another vigil of waiting on a friend.

In the back of the bar, more alone than any other, sat another immortal. More than worry or fear kept him company. Regret and guilt and anger were just as much a part of his heart as worry and love. Hearing the haunting notes of the Bryan Adams song finish, he said a silent prayer of thanks, for the words ripped the threads of his already tenuous control.

I've been trying to get down to the heart of the matter...but my will gets weak, and my thoughts seem to scatter but I think its about....forgiveness...

Forgiveness. Nick shuddered at the word. His pride and anger had frozen out any possibility of forgiveness, the last thing Amanda had asked of him. As much as he hated what she'd done....he couldn't hate her. Hearing that Amanda was in over her head had brought him here, and now he had to face that he may have lost the only chance he had to forgive her. He said a quick prayer for his own redemption, and one that Amanda come home.

The jukebox whirred again. A door opened. The unique silhouette could only be her. She walked in, the music adding lilt to her step. She walked past Methos, stroking his face with her hand and a smile.

She took a few more steps, then stopped to stare at Duncan, a bittersweet moment. Blowing a kiss to him, she continued to the back of the bar.

She walked up to the table to stare into the green eyes she'd missed for so many months. She couldn't believe he was here.

She held her breath. He smiled.

And this love Is like nothing I have ever known...
Take my hand, love
I'm taking you home
I'm taking you home

------------
"With Arms Wide Open" by Creed
"Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman" by Bryan Adams
"The Heart of the Matter" by Don Henley
"Taking You Home" by Don Henley

MWC- Please Refrain

Posted By: celticangel <celticangelusa@yahoo.com>
(IP: 1Cust134.tnt1.indianapolis.in.da.uu.net)
Date:
Wednesday, 4 April 2001, at 3:27 a.m.

My first MWC in a long while. I couldn't resist. Probably deserves a PG-13. Set in my universe, but it shouldn't distract much.

________________
Please Refrain

Sweater wearing, jean clad, back pack carrying Adam Pierson wandered into Joe's new bar expecting to meet MacLeod and Richie for a beer after a long day at the hospital. He could feel the presence of other Immortals through the large crowd of college students and professors and soon found his friends at a table near the bar. As he collapsed into the seat he finally let the heavy strains of Metallica fill his ears. MacLeod was busy reading a paper Richie was having a difficult time with, so he closed his eyes for a moment and let the words in. Oh, great!

{The Horsemen are drawing nearer, On the leather steeds they ride, They have come to take your life, On through the dead of night, With the four Horsemen ride, Or choose your fate and die.
Time has taken its toll on you, The lines that crack your face, Famine, Your body it has torn through, Withered in every place, Pestilence, For what you have had to endure, And what you have put others through.}

The music pulsed through him. He fought the urge to get up and kick the plug loose from the jukebox. Why were they even listening to the damnable thing anyway? Oh, that's right. Joe had laryngitis. Couldn't he just get another band to fill in? Couldn't he just play music? Oh, yeah, he had been the one to diagnose him with a fever and strep also. He bit his lip until it bled. If he ever found out who picked this song he would show them what the Horsemen were really like.
Death, Deliverance for you for sure, There is nothing you can do.

He was surprised to feel a hand on his shoulder, gripping it tightly. He opened his eyes and saw Duncan standing there, smiling understandingly. He sighed deeply as the Scot moved away and went to the jukebox. Richie stuffed his paper in Adam's hands for his opinion. Adam reached into his backpack and pulled out a medical book and shoved it back at Richie.

The eternal teenager looked at him curiously and flipped through the pages, with a look of indignation and quickly slammed the book shut.
The music started again as Adam tried to concentrate on the paper before him, twisting his tense neck muscles back and forth. Richie had dropped his head to the table for a quick nap. Duncan sat back down and started cracking peanuts. Adam pretended to be reading the paper, but he was actually wondering when MacLeod ever took the time to listen to Queensryche, let alone long enough to know the words to Someone Else.

{When I fell from grace, I never realized how deep the flood was around me. A man whose life was like a kettle left to boil and the water left scars on me.}

{I know now who I am, If only for awhile, I recognize the changes. I feel like I did before the magic wore thin and the "baptism of stains" began.}

Adam grinned and shook his head. MacLeod. He would never let him wallow in his own self pity. No backsliding. Face forward and on with the future! MacLeod grinned at him. Adam smiled quietly and took a swig of his beer and once again pretended to be reading Richie's paper.

{Here I stand at the crossroads edge, afraid to reach out for eternity. One step, when I look down, I see- someone else not me.}

Another handful of popcorn and a gulp of beer later, he was still trying to decide when MacLeod had ever heard the song. Try as they might he nor Richie could ever get Mac to listen to "their" music. Opera, Blues- yes, but Rock? Heavy metal- Metallica? Heavy mental- Queensryche?

{From where I stand at the crossroads edge there's a path leading out to sea. And from somewhere deep in my mind sirens sing out loud songs of doubt as only they know how. But one glance back reminds me, and I see, someone else not me.}

Adam got up and went to the Juke box. Hmm. How could he respond to this? What would be appropriate? Maybe he should just pick any song at random. Flipping through the choices, nothing seemed to come to mind. Too serious. Only appropriate if they were lovers. Boring. He looked back at MacLeod who was pretending to be absorbed in Richie's paper again. Richie still had his face buried in his arms trying to sleep. He refocused on his choices. Nothing!

A pretty young girl came up and smiled at him. She motioned to the machine and he smiled back. She dropped in a quarter and seemed to know just which selection she was there for. He smiled again, gave up and went back to the table where he flopped into his chair.

The music began. Duncan lifted his mug and took a drink, trying to concentrate on Richie's paper. Adam opened his medical book and began reading about the joys of the human liver.

{I made it through the wilderness, Somehow I made it through, Didn't know how lost I was, Until I found you.}

Adam cocked his head just slightly as he recognized the song. Who knew she wasn't, he wondered about the girl who had dropped in the quarter.

{I was beat, incomplete, I'd been had, I was sad and blue, But you made me feel
Yeah, you made me feel, Shiny and new….}

He lifted his head from the book only slightly and reached out for his beer. When he took a gulp he noticed MacLeod was staring at him over the top of the foam in his mug. The Scot looked suspicious, and was obviously trying to make out the words of the song. Adam's eyes grew large as he realized MacLeod thought this was the song he had chosen in retaliation to the Queensryche tune. Then Madonna blurted out…

{Like a virgin, Touched for the very first time.}

Beer was spurted every where as both men choked on their drinks. Richie jumped up as he felt himself saturated, knocking his beer over and sending the peanuts and popcorn flying. A horrified Adam couldn't speak, but managed to grab his medical book off the table as Richie grabbed his paper Duncan had dropped. MacLeod nearly fell out of his seat laughing hysterically at what he believed to be Adam's musical reply.

{Like a virgin, When your heart beats, Next to mine.}

Well at least he was taking it with a sense of humor.

CelticAngel

MWC-- Killing him Softly

Posted By: vixen69 <mcvixen_69@hotmail.com>
(IP: AC8B70DF.ipt.aol.com)
Date:
Tuesday, 3 April 2001, at 6:42 p.m.

(I can't resist this one.)

At Joe’s, an Immortal could almost develop the bad habit of not looking about when another Immortal is sensed. Methos very “nearly” made that mistake (after a record mistake-free streak, too), but then he could almost * hear * the distinct sizzle of eyes boring through him.

Only one person’s eyes did that.

He looked up, first, to see if his suspicion was correct (it was), and then, helplessly, to see if Joe or MacLeod were anywhere to be seen. The last time he spoke to her, he prayed for a buffer to spare him from her acid tongue. But she turned once she knew she’d caught his eye, and he relaxed. She wasn’t approaching him—perhaps she was simply waiting for MacLeod. He watched her, still uncertain, as she made her way to the jukebox, the gray velvet of her dress brushing past chairs and the other customers in a way that made him think of her legs.

The thought caught him off guard. She stood, pondering, taking a few moments to make her selections. A few of them seemed to make her smile.

“First I was afraid—
I was petrified,
Kept thinking I could never live
Without you by my side.
And then I spent so many nights,
Just thinking how you did me wrong,
And I grew strong,
And I learned how to get along…”

He always hated disco. Hated, hated, hated. The clothes, the complicated dancing, the…tackiness. The lyrics to this, however, lent a new dimension to his dislike.

“Now you see me, somebody new,
not that same chained-up little person
still in love with you.”

Her eyes darted in his direction, but she was not going to give him the satisfaction of “watching” for his reactions. He ordered another beer, and wondered if there was a certain state of inebriation in which bad music and harsh messages actually no longer irritated. He could almost recall such a state, but the nature of being almost able to recall it made him certain that it was not inebriated enough. He relaxed as the song drew to a close. The next selection, though…

“Feeling better,
now that we’re through,
feeling better now I’m over you,
I learned my lesson,
It left a scar,
And now I see how you really are—
You’re no good…”

Of course, it was a coincidence. That was just the sort of song she would * like *. It wasn’t necessarily directed at * him *. Believing otherwise would be paranoid. What was the old saying?

Oh. Right. Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t really out to get you. He sipped at his beer and tried to convince himself she was just very big on seventies’ music, and once again was capable of ignoring the music as he realized the ringing sounds of Linda Rondstadt were about to fade from his ears. But just to be sure, he ordered a shot of whiskey.

“You’re no good, you’re no good, you’re no good,
Baby you’re no gooooooooood….”

He belted down the strong drink, and steeled himself. Just another seventies’ song, huh? Maybe a Little Anne Murray next? A little Helen Reddy? Just something…

“Shot through the heart,
and you’re to blame,
darlin’ you give love
a bad name.

I played my part and you
Played a game…”

He fished in his pocket for his wallet, and laid out enough to cover the tab plus tip. He knew when he was beat. Once she got down to the blues selections, she’d be killing him softly with her song.

MWC - Music to My Ears

Posted By: lynnannCDC
(IP: spider-wg014.proxy.aol.com)
Date:
Tuesday, 3 April 2001, at 4:43 a.m.

I really have to stop writing these things at two in the morning I have to be up in about 4 hours, have been up for 20 hours...please take that into consideration :o)

&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

MUSIC TO MY EARS

It started in the T-bird on the second day of their trip. Richie, in the back seat, had made some punk comment about the driver missing a turn that had been clearly marked. The driver, the one with the dark ponytail, turned on him and told him not to utter another word to him for at least an hour. They hadn't even had their morning coffee yet, and Duncan was not in the mood for a smart-mouth backseat driver. When the blonde in the passenger seat tried to intervene, Duncan had given his love a severe look, as severe as one can be trying to keep his eyes on the rain shrouded misty road in the Pacific Northwest.

The three settled into silence, and Tessa reached for the radio. If talking wasn't allowed, they could listen to music. Nice, soothing, classical music. However, some distance from Seacouver, they weren't picking up the classical station anymore. The Coasters filled the car. "Yakety yak, don't talk back, yakety yak, yakety yak..." the song faded out. Tessa looked back at Richie, and they both burst out laughing, but they never said a word. The Highlander growled, a warning not to mess with him. He snapped off the radio and they subsided. The bright neon sign "Din-r" off to the side of the country road drew the scowling man like a magnet. He needed coffee and he needed it NOW!

There were several pickup trucks in the parking lot, and the trio each noted the customers looked like locals, so it would probably be good food. After they placed their orders, they sat in silence, Duncan staring out the window at the forest of cedar and Douglas fir, carpeted with sword ferns that would be waist deep. Richie amused himself by flipping through the clunky pages of selections for the jukebox that was at the table. He suddenly dug into his pocket and pulled out a quarter as Tessa excused herself to the ladies room with a simple raise of an eyebrow at her men.

Music filled the diner. "Oh yes, I'm the great pretender, pretending that I'm doing well my need is such I pretend too much. I'm lonely but no one can tell. Oh yes, I'm the great pretender adrift in the world of my own I've played the game but to my real shame you've left me to be all alone...."

Tessa stopped, and turned around looking at the two men, and Richie pointed at Mac, and innocent (hah!) grin on his face. Tessa's smile grew wide, and she pursed her lips at Duncan before disappearing.

Mac wasn't sure whether to glare at the teenager, or hug him. The coffee arrived, and he contented himself with drinking some of the scalding liquid, feeling the roof of his mouth healing quickly. He glanced at the selection on the jukebox, and pulled out a quarter of his own.

By the time the smooth tones of the Platters ended, and Mac's selection began, he figured Tessa would be returning at just the right moment. "Raindrops keep fallin' on my head...And just like the guy whose feet are too big for his bed... Nothing seems to fit... Those Raindrops are fallin' on my head, they keep fallin'... So I just did me some talkin' to the sun... And I said I didn't like the way he got things done... Sleepin' on the job... Those Raindrops are fallin' on my head, they keep fallin'... But there's one thing I know ...The blues they send to meet me won't defeat me ...It won't be long 'til happiness steps up to greet me ..." Tessa planted a kiss on Duncan's lips as she sat down, the remainder of the song continuing as they just looked at each other for a long tender moment.

"Raindrops keep fallin' on my head... But that doesn't mean my eyes will soon be turning red... Cryin's not for me, 'cos I'm never gonna stop the rain by complaining... Because I'm free... Nothing's worryin' me..."

Mac started to open his mouth to apologize to them for being so curt earlier, the coffee having worked miracles, but Tessa placed a finger on his lips. She glanced at her watch and shook her head. The hour was not up.

She leaned across Duncan and glanced at the selection, frowning, shaking her head in dismissal. Then her eyes brightened and she held out her hand, wiggling her fingers, demanding a quarter. Olivia's sweet song filled the room.

Guess mine is not the first heart broken
My eyes are not the first to cry
I'm not the first to know
There's just no getting over you

You know I'm just a fool who's willing
To sit around and wait for you
But, baby, can't you see
There's nothing else for me to do?
I'm hopelessly devoted to you

But now there's nowhere to hide
Since you pushed my love aside
I'm out of my head
Hopelessly devoted to you
Hopelessly devoted to you
Hopelessly devoted to you

My head is saying, "Fool, forget him."
My heart is saying, "Don't let go.
Hold on till the end."
And that's what I intend to do
I'm hopelessly devoted to you

But now there's nowhere to hide
Since you pushed my love aside
I'm out of my head
Hopelessly devoted to you
Hopelessly devoted to you
Hopelessly devoted to you

Duncan knew which part of the message was for him, and he hugged Tessa close to his side. The selection in the table top juke box was quite eclectic, and a moment later, Goulet as Lancelot filled the air...

"If ever I would leave you--it wouldn't be in summer. Seeing you in summer I never would go: your hair streaked with sunlight, your lips red as flame, your face with a lustre that puts gold to shame.

"But if I ever leave you how could it be in autumn how I'd leave in autumn I never would know I've seen how you sparkle when fall nips the air I've known you in autumn and I must be there.

"And would I leave you running merrily through the snow? Or on a wintry evening when you catch the fire's glow?

"If ever I would leave you how could it be in springtime, knowing how in spring I'm bewitched by you so? Oh, no not in springtime, summer, winter, or fall. No! Never could I leave you at all."

Tessa met Duncan's lips once again. Her eyes, sparkled with love for Duncan, glanced at Richie across the table, sending him a little of her love as well. She was happy.

"Jeremiah was a bullfrog, was a good friend of mine..." They looked at each other in askance, but laughter from another table explained that selection. Their breakfast was eaten in silence, except for the music, the clatter of silverware against dishes and the voices of friends talking and laughing together.

Duncan paid the tab, and left a generous tip for their waitress, and ushered his "family" out to the car. He glanced at his watch and declared the hour was up. In a better mood, Duncan turned back onto the road, and reached for the radio. A peculiar yet all too familiar odor and song filled the car, "Dead skunk in the middle of the road, dead skunk in the middle of the road, stinkin' to high heaven..."

&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

lynnann - thanks for reading

BTW - the skunk incident happened on a dark road late one night in a station wagon car! Honest! It was in the early 70's when the song was popular and a group of us were escaping college for a long weekend in the Great Pacific Northwest. Yep, I just dated myself, didn't I?

MWC: The Wake

Posted By: Robin <Catnature@yahoo.com>
(IP: 1Cust83.tnt1.santa-cruz.ca.da.uu.net)
Date:
Thursday, 5 April 2001, at 6:19 p.m.

Methos, Joe and Amanda decided to stop at the small diner on the way back from the airport. The events at Abigail’s were still fresh in their minds.

They entered the diner and the truck drivers immediately noticed Amanda then they saw Methos and Joe so they didn’t move. The trio moved to a small table and sat down. Only then did they hear the music.

“All gave some and some gave all. Some stood true for the red, white and blue and some had to fall. If you ever think of me, think of all your liberties and recall that some gave all. If you ever think of me, think of all your liberties and recall that some gave all.” The song was over.

Methos looked at Joe and Joe nodded. This is one of the songs that meant a lot to Vets.

A waitress came and handed them menus. Coffee was offered and poured.

Amanda got up and headed for the jukebox in the corner. She scanned the selected and dropped in her money. As she returned to the table the music started then she sat down.

“Did you every know you were my hero and everything I’d like to be. I can fly higher than an eagle because you are the wind beneath my wings.”

Methos reached across the table and took her hand. Tears rolled down Amanda’s cheeks and Joe put his arm around her and hugged her to him. They understood what Abigail had meant to her.

The song ended and Methos got up and went to the jukebox. He put in his money and pulled the buttons, then returned to the table.

“Bittersweet memories, that’s all I have and all I’m taking with me. Goodbye. Oh please don’t cry, for we both know I am not what you need. But I will always love you.”

To the people in the diner it looked like a break up, but for the trio, they knew it was a wake.

MWC: With and Without You

Posted By: Daire
(IP: mail.effinc.com)
Date:
Thursday, 5 April 2001, at 3:11 p.m.

With and Without You

Somehow he’d managed to be cajoled by Richie and Methos to go out and do something. They both knew what day it was. It was a double anniversary for Richie. It was the day of the year Duncan least wanted to do anything joyful on. It was his day of remembrance. The day he’d lost Tessa. It had been eight years now that she’d been gone.

They had trekked an hour or two to an antique mall. Methos and Richie weren’t into it as much as they thought Duncan might. He was, after all, the one interested in antiques. To Richie, the two Immortals in his company were antiques. At the huge building with years’ worth of antiques, Duncan perused some pieces with a critical eye, Richie made fun of the insane stuff people actually had to have bought at one time, and Methos swore a few of his things were there.

On their way back to Seacouver, they stopped at a roadside diner for dinner. It was decked out in 1950’s kitsch, complete with little jukeboxes at each table. The music ranged from the Fifties to the recent pop stuff. Tessa had always liked the environment of these kinds of places, it had been one of her idiosyncrasies. And Richie just got a kick out of the décor, glad he hadn’t grown up in the Fifties.

Duncan sat remembering the last time he and Tessa had been to one of these places. Not long before he had asked her to marry him. Methos sat staring at the other two Immortals with him and out the window, every so often letting out a sigh that no one was saying anything. He made a few attempts to start a conversation, but failed miserably. Richie sat and thought of Tessa being gone as well as his gaining Immortality. None of the trio really spoke except to order.

Just after they had ordered, a teenage girl and her boyfriend came in and sat in the booth behind Methos and Richie’s side of their table, giving Duncan a clear view between their heads. The girl was giggling, and the boy laughing. They couldn’t be more than seventeen or eighteen years old. Young love. Duncan hid a small smile as he remembered the early days of his and Tessa’s relationship. So long ago, but it felt like yesterday.

A quarter plunked into the jukebox, and Duncan watched as the girl chose a song. A few moments later, the soft instrumental beginning to a recent pop song started. Duncan wasn’t up on his pop music, but it sounded like one of those boy bands he’d heard about. As the lyrics started, he let them creep into his mind.

When the visions around you
Bring tears to your eyes
And all that surround you
Are secrets and lies

How many times had the sight of the few things of Tessa’s that he’d kept made him misty? He’d woken up more than once with tears in his eyes and his heart breaking all over again. And his life was one giant secret from those who didn’t know about Immortals. He’d lied countless times to people over the ages.

I'll be your strength
I'll give you hope
Keeping your faith when it's gone
The one you should call
Was standing here all along

Tessa had been his strength, some days she was the only reason he kept going in hope of a better tomorrow. But she wasn’t standing there anymore. Tessa was gone. Forever. Lord, he wished he could have her back.

And I will take
You in my arms
And hold you right where you belong
'Til the day my life is through

He’d done that, the night she’d been shot. She should have been in his arms, at home or on their way there. If he hadn’t stayed behind to look at Wolf’s files. Tessa resided in his heart now, the only place she could belong. He had stood at her grave after the funeral and vowed he would hold her in his soul and never forget her in all his lives.

This I promise you

The exact words he’d uttered after his vow.

Their food came then, and Duncan missed the next verse as the plates were distributed and he added a few condiments to fix it to his liking. When he finished and started eating, he let the song’s words reach him again.

Over and over I fall
When I hear you call
Without you in my life baby
I just wouldn't be living at all

More than once, he’d felt himself fall, if not physically, emotionally. When he thought he’d never love again; never find another who would look at him with loving eyes.

In the dead of some nights, he’d sworn he’d heard Tessa call to him, whispering in his ear. Sometimes it was during daylight, he’d think he saw her out of the corner of his eye and when he’d look fully, there was nothing there. His life was empty without her, and he hadn’t been living.

He lived, but he wasn’t living life. And he had all the time in the world to do it. Instead, he chose to live a life like a normal mortal would. Work, eat, sleep, fight his own demons whether they were within him or in the form of another Immortal during a challenge.

The rest of the song repeated and Duncan let his mind take it in one ear and out the other. The parts he had paid attention to were a sign. An epiphany. He had to start living and experiencing again. Just as he had as a younger Immortal; a child learning.

He could hear Tessa then, in the back of his mind, You have to live, Duncan. I’ll be with you.

Duncan closed his eyes, partly to shield the sadness in them from his friends, party to bring forth an image of his love.

I will, Tessa. This I promise you, I will.

MWC: Love Means Never Having to Say . . .

Posted By: Wain <wamba@fast.net>
(IP: maxtnt08-abe-19.fast.net)
Date:
Thursday, 5 April 2001, at 6:07 a.m.

The Hyperseine, newly commissioned bâteau mouche of the Vedettes du Pont-Neuf, bumped to a halt. Tessa Noel clicked off her microphone, and the tourists gathered their bags and cameras and began to disembark. Tessa smiled and nodded to them as they left. She automatically started to say goodbye in English, then remembered that this had been a French tour and switched languages. With all of the tourists gone and her shift completed, she stuffed her uniform hat into an overstuffed bag and started for home.

A cool breeze ruffled the surface of the Seine and blew a few loose strands blonde hair into Tessa’s face. As she strode away from the Hyperseine, Tessa checked the progress of the fuzzy, dark red tips that marked early spring buds on the few trees that grew near the Pont-Neuf. A man on a bicycle passed her, turned around, and stopped. He smiled and handed her a single stem of white freesias, an envelope with her name, and small but heavy cylinder wrapped in brown paper. And then he was gone.

Tessa’s eyebrows knit in puzzlement. On closer inspection, the cylinder proved to be a five-dollar roll of American quarters. She opened the envelope. Inside was a note: "There are no words to say how sorry I am. Please come for dinner. Seven-thirty tonight." It was signed with a single initial, "D".

Her heart fluttered. Duncan was back from his trip to China. Tessa ran her fingers along the freesias, her favorite flower. The rhythmic progression from tight green buds to sturdy open blossoms standing proudly above the stem delighted her even more than the spicy citrus fragrance. Tessa frowned for a moment. She was the one who owed him an apology. She hurried to catch the bus to his apartment in the Marais.

Tessa stared unseeing out of the bus window, her bag in her lap and the roll of quarters in one hand. She thought of the evening three weeks ago when she and Duncan had had words. First fight, last fight, only fight, she had told herself on that Sunday.

The day had seemed like any other Sunday. At two o’clock in the afternoon, she found herself seated at the dining room table in the home of her three great-aunts, her only living relatives. Tante Odile and Tante Hélène were twins; never married, with short white hair and tiny bird-like features eyes, they had been born in 1900 and were as old as the century. Tante Marie, with her white hair pulled into a chignon and dressed in black in memory of the three husbands she had buried was, at eighty-two, the older sister by two years.

From a small rolling cart pulled alongside the table, Tante Marie served a roast chicken and placed a bowl of puréed soup in front of Tante Hélène.

Tante Odile began to carve white meat away from the breast as she announced to Tessa, "Hélène’s gums are too swollen to wear her dentures today. She was up all night grinding her teeth—her gums, I mean—because we’re so worried about you, ma chère. And today . . . " she trailed off into a few clucking noises. Tessa took a deep breath; she knew what was coming.

Tante Odile continued, "I know you’re becoming fond of your young man, but what do you know about him really?"

"I know what’s important," Tessa said. "We’ve spent the most wonderful month together at museums and galleries and just talking. I know that he’s interested in my art. He thinks that I should spend less time working for Vedettes and more in the studio."

"With what Vedettes pays you, you can’t afford a studio, mon enfant," Tante Marie interjected. "You never really know a man until you’ve slept with him."

Tante Hélène crossed herself and gasped.

"But we . . . " Tessa stopped herself in mid-sentence. She was not about to tell her aunts what she and Duncan had done or in this case, hadn’t done.

"Do you even know where he’s from or what he does for a living?" Tante Odile asked, handing the salad past toothless Tante Hélène to Tante Marie.

"He’s going to open an antique shop when he finds the right place. He’s only been in Paris a short while. One of the locations he’s considering has a space that he’ll let me use as a studio." Tessa said.

Even without her false teeth, Tante Hélène managed a worried, "Oh, la, la, la, laaaaa!"

Tante Marie leaned forward and pinned Tessa with a fierce stare. "He won’t buy the cow, Tessa, if he can get the milk for free."

Tante Odile gripped the handle of her cane. When she spoke, it was with a fierceness that Tessa had never heard. "If he hurts you, I’ll never forgive him."

Tessa’s last boyfriend had called her aunts the three Furies with good reason. She pressed her lips into a thin line and then diverted the conversation by talking about her late mother. She knew that by telling a story with a few wrong details, her three aunts would leap in to correct her, Marie and Odile chattering rapidly, Hélène nodding and gesturing. It was a relief when she left them to meet Duncan.

People jostling past her on the bus startled Tessa from her memories. She hefted the roll of quarters and replaced it in her pocket. She descended the bus stairs and started to walk toward Duncan’s apartment. Try as she hard as she could, she couldn’t remember what had started the argument that Sunday night.

They had met for a light supper in a small restaurant in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, and had planned on going to a jazz club after they ate. It was to be their last evening together before Duncan left on a three-week trip to China to pick up some antiques and to repay a favor, he said, to an old friend. Rattled by her aunt’s questions, perhaps, or afraid that he would never return to Paris, Tessa found herself in a disagreeable mood. Duncan’s attempts to cajole and flatter her were unsuccessful, and the conversation was tense and punctuated by awkward silences. Just before the check came, Duncan’s head jerked up, and he searched the room with an intense look. In a moment, the waiter appeared with the check and a small piece of paper. Duncan read the note, dropped money on the table, and hustled Tessa to the front door. He hailed a cab and helped her inside it, promising to stop by her apartment as soon as he could.

Confused and hurt, she nearly wore a hole in the floor of her apartment pacing. She picked up and rearranged her pastels and charcoals a dozen times. She checked the window every five minutes. When Duncan arrived over an hour later and having changed clothes, Tessa was angry. Even while she was raising her voice to him, a part of her asked why she was so upset. She refused to be mollified. Exasperated, he left promising to call her when he returned from his trip to China. The next day, a bouquet of shell pink tulips arrived. Tessa kept them until the pointed buds unfurled and the petals opened and faded and dropped, hoping that Duncan would keep his promise to call and give her the chance to apologize that she found she now desperately wanted.

Duncan had kept his promise after all, and she stood outside his apartment door, nervously twirling the freesias in her fingers. She rang the bell and reread his card. "There are no words to say how sorry I am." Well, he wouldn’t need to find the words, she told herself. She intended to apologize first.

Duncan opened the door and gave her a hopeful smile. Tessa opened her mouth to tell him she was sorry; he shushed her and pulled her inside wordlessly. Maurice Williams and The Zodiacs sang a gentle cha-cha in the background.

"Stay
Just a little bit longer.
Please, please, please, please, please
Tell me that you’re going to."

She looked around the room. Her skilled eye caught the differences since her last visit—a bronze horse about a foot high and half again as long stood on a shelf, flared nostrils and quivering muscles frozen by the sculptor’s hand; a creamy porcelain statuette of Kwan-yin, Boddhisattva of Compassion, raised one delicate hand raised in benediction. The buying trip had obviously been successful. Tessa’s eyes roamed over a small table, set with linen and china and two lit tapers. In the center of the table stood a crystal vase filled with white and yellow freesias.

"Won’t you press your sweet lips
To mine?
Won’t you say you love me
All of the time?"

She walked to a jukebox, out of place in a room furnished with antiques. The chrome and glass machine nearly reached her shoulder. The colorful paper labels indicated standards from the forties, fifties, and sixties. Beyond the song titles was a mirror that reflected the turntable and needle. Tessa’s fingers followed a bubble that lazily drifted up one of the tubes of colored glass arching across the face of the jukebox. So this is what the quarters were for! The machine was collectible, perhaps, but didn’t have any hope of being an antique for another half century. She thought Duncan must be very optimistic.

He gave her another hopeful smile as the song concluded.

"Stay, come on, come on, come on and stay."

In response, Tessa walked over to the table and dropped her stem of white freesias into the crystal vase. Again she started to apologize. Duncan gently pressed two fingers to her lips before she could speak. She searched her jacket pocket for the roll of quarters and peeled back the wrapper. She extracted two coins and placed the roll on the table next to one of the places, then walked to the jukebox and made her selection. She turned and leaned back to gauge Duncan’s reaction.

"You’ve got to give a little,
Take a little,
And let your poor heart break a little.
That’s the glory of,
That’s the story of love."

Duncan’s eyes sparkled. He disappeared into the kitchen and returned with two goblets and a bottle of Bordeaux.

"As long as there’s the two of us,
We’ve got the world and all of its charms.
And when the world is through with us,
We’ve got each other’s arms."

Tessa accepted the proffered glass and sipped. She took off her jacket and laid it across a chair. Duncan led her into the kitchen.

The tantalizing aroma of roasting meat made Tessa realize how hungry she was. Her stomach grumbled, and they both laughed. Duncan pulled a rack of lamb from the oven and placed it on a platter. Giving Tessa a lopsided grin, he tipped his wine into the roasting pan and began to deglaze it.

Tessa turned her attention to the kitchen table, where washed and dried salad greens rested on a clean tea towel, which was surrounded by a wooden salad bowl, salt, a clove of garlic, oil, and vinegar. She cut the pungent clove of garlic and rubbed it on the inside of the bowl.

Duncan reached into his shirt pocked for two quarters and went to feed the jukebox again. Ella Fitzgerald’s divine voice reached the kitchen.

"Heaven, I’m in heaven
And my heart beats so that I can hardly speak.
And I seem to find the happiness I seek
When we’re out together dancing cheek to cheek."

Tessa poured vinegar and salt into the wooden bowl and whisked them with a fork. She drizzled in olive oil and then added the greens, turning them over and over until they glistened. Duncan dipped a finger into the sauce in the bottom of the roasting pan, frowned, and crossed the room. He reached around Tessa’s waist for the salt, brushing against her.

"Oh, I love to climb a mountain
And to reach the highest peak.
But it doesn’t thrill me half as much
As dancing cheek to cheek."

Duncan judiciously added salt to the deglazed sauce, tasted it again, and dipped his finger in once more, offering it to Tessa for her approval. She popped his fingertip into her mouth, smiled, and nodded. Duncan uncovered a sauté pan of golden oval potatoes, spilled them into a bowl, and sprinkled them with finely chopped parsley. Duncan and Tessa carried dinner to the table. With one more verse of Ella’s song filling the room, Duncan swept Tessa into his arms, and they began to dance.

"Dance with me.
I want my arms about you.
Those charms about you
Will carry me through
To heaven. I’m in heaven."

She rested one hand against his shoulder and pressed her lips to his neck. He curled her other hand in his and drew it to his chest, and she heard the chink of quarters in his shirt pocket.

The music ended, Duncan pulled out a chair for Tessa and seated her at the table. He reached across her plate and took two quarters from her roll, then selected some dinner music—the instrumental from the movie, "Picnic."

They devoured dinner, and they devoured each other with their eyes. When he rose to clear the dishes from the table, Duncan realized that the music must have stopped a while ago Tessa tried to rise, too, but he stopped her. He selected a Platters song from the jukebox and took the dishes to the kitchen.

"Only you can make this world seem right.
Only you can make the darkness bright.
Only you and you alone, can thrill me like you do
And fill my heart with love for only you."

He returned with a single pink and gold lusterware plate held high. With a flourish, he placed it in the middle of the table. Tessa recognized a Victoria from Rumpelmeyer’s on Rue de Rivoli, a small fluted shell of pâte brisée filled with chocolate ganache. A rosette of whipped cream crowned the tartlet, and a candied violet perched on the cream.

After another trip to the kitchen, Duncan produced two champagne flutes and a bottle of Perrier-Jouet. He hiked his eyebrows toward the Champagne in an unspoken question. Tessa peeled the wrapper away to from the neck of the bottle. Duncan freed the cork from its wire cage and twisted the bottle gently. The cork eased out of the bottle with a tiny sigh.

"Only you can make this change in me
For it’s true you are my destiny."
When I hold your hand I understand the magic that you do.
You’re my dream come true, my one and only you."

Duncan plucked the candied violet from the Victoria and placed it on Tessa’s tongue. The fragrance of flowers filled her mouth. She arose and walked around the table, reaching into his shirt pocked for two quarters, brushing against his chest as she did so. She dropped the coins into the jukebox and pushed three buttons. Nat King Cole sang the words she wanted to speak as she walked to Duncan’s side of the table and sat on his lap.

"When I fall in love, it will be forever,
Or I’ll never fall in love."

Tessa scooped some of the chocolate filling onto a spoon and fed it to Duncan, then helped herself to some whipped cream.

"In a restless world like this is,
Love is ended before it’s begun.
And too many moonlight kisses
Seem to cool in the warmth of the sun."

Duncan took a sip of Champagne. Tessa kissed him; the inside of his mouth was cool from the wine. He noticed a tiny dollop of whipped cream near the corner of her mouth and kissed it away.

"When I give my heart, it will be completely,
Or I’ll never give my heart.
And the moment I can feel that you feel that way, too,
Is when I fall in love with you."

Tessa rose and took Duncan’s hand. He started to speak, but she stopped him with a kiss. Taking his other hand, she pulled him to his feet. She blew out the candles and led him to the bedroom.

MWC: A Standard Evening

Posted By: HonorH the Arctic Wolfe <ksheasley@yahoo.com>
(IP: cable-193-80-237-24.anchorageak.net)
Date:
Wednesday, 4 April 2001, at 11:20 p.m.

Look, Ma! No Joss Whedon characters! Thanks to Steve Tyrell and his album "A New Standard" (buy it if you like the songs contained herein) for the idea.

***

Duncan had given up on his attempts at conversation 15 minutes ago. Methos' attention was fixed elsewhere this evening. The object of that fixation, a pretty co-ed named Maggie working her way through college by waitressing, was serving a table on the far side of Joe's Bar. And Methos' eyes were glued to her back, her front, and everything in between.

Duncan looked at Joe, who gave him a wry smile. Lately, the Bluesman's greatest entertainment was watching Methos get shot down by Maggie. She was good at it, and very creative. 5,000 years gave one a great deal of patience, though, and it was Methos' stated opinion that she would cave eventually.

She just hadn't yet.

Maggie wandered back up to the bar, bringing her empty tray to be refilled. While Joe arranged another round of beers on it, the waitress glanced over at her admirer. Methos was giving her his best lost-little-boy look. She almost smiled, but caught herself in time.

Methos' eyes followed her, of course, and a crafty look stole over his face. He stood casually, then wandered over to the jukebox Joe had recently installed. Now, Methos had frequently and vociferously complained about the selection of music on said jukebox. It was mostly comprised of old standards that dated at least back to the '40s. Duncan watched with some interest while Methos made his selection, then leaned on the jukebox, watching Maggie.

"I've been around the world in a plane,
Settled revolutions in Spain,
The North Pole I have charted
But I can't get started with you"

Duncan chuckled into his ale. Joe just shook his head. Maggie, meanwhile, looked up from her table and, meeting Methos' eyes, couldn't quite stifle a grin. Nonetheless, she kept to her work.

"You're so supreme,
The lyrics I write of you dream,
I dream day and night of you, scheme
Just for the sight of you,
But, what good does it do?"

Maggie soldiered on, biting her lip to keep from betraying her smile. Duncan gave up all pretense of not watching this exchange. The song came to an end, and Methos made another selection.

"The mere idea of you,
The longing here for you,
You'll never know how slow the moments go
'Til I'm near to you
I see your face in every flower,
Your eyes in the stars above,
The very thought of you . . . my love."

Methos slouched further against the machine, continuing to follow Maggie with his eyes. She, for her part, continued waitressing, but couldn't stop herself from stealing little glances at the ancient.

Joe rolled his eyes and sighed resignedly.

That was when Methos decided to go for the kill. He punched in a third selection just as "The Very Thought of You" came to a close.

"Give me a kiss to build a dream on
And my imagination will thrive upon that kiss,
Sweetheart, I ask no more than this,
A kiss to build a dream on.

"Give me a kiss before you leave me
And my imagination will feed my hungry heart,
Leave me one thing before we part,
A kiss to build a dream on."

Maggie came back up to the counter, set down her tray, and shrugged helplessly at Joe. Joe shook his head, smiled affectionately at her, and waved a hand toward Methos. The waitress laughed, then walked over to the ancient and took his proffered hand. They began to dance.

As they did, the Immortal buzz hit, and Amanda walked through the door. Methos waved a cheery hello to her from his dance with Maggie. The thief appreciated the scene, then walked over to Duncan. They watched Methos and Maggie for a moment, and then Duncan went over and made a selection of his own. He offered one hand to Amanda, who took it readily.

"Heaven, I'm in Heaven,
And my heart beats so that I can hardly speak,
And I seem to find the happiness I seek
When we're out together, dancing
Cheek to cheek . . ."

And Joe watched, polishing glasses and thinking the jukebox had really been one of his better ideas.

MWC: Homecoming

Posted By: Celedon <celedon1@airmail.net>
(IP: ppp01-192.algx.iadfw.net)
Date:
Saturday, 7 April 2001, at 12:59 a.m.

The December snow crunched underfoot as he silently cursed the old lock on the door before him. With a swift shake of the door the lock gave way and the door swung open and he entered the darkened room before him. He glanced over at the sheet-draped pieces of furniture and artwork that was strewn about the large expanse of floor space before he went over to the window to look out.

A winter's day in a deep and dark December

I am alone

Gazing from my window to the streets below

On a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow

I am a rock, I am an island

Memories came flooding back as he gazed down to the streets then upwards to the now changed skyline that reflected the futuristic reality that was now the present in the outside world. It was so vastly different since the last time he had stood in this very spot several years ago on another winter’s day to watch those who were watching him. Rachel’s death had re-opened wounds he would rather not re-live again but yet he knew he would have to.

He turned abruptly from the window and began removing the sheets from the furniture to see what lay underneath and check out the condition of each piece. As he worked his mind was whirling as he tried to think ahead of what his life would be like while his heart steeled itself once more from what he truly was feeling at the moment now that he was back in his own home and alone once again.

I've built walls, a fortress deep and mighty

That none may penetrate

I have no need for friendship, friendship causes pain

It's laughter and it's loving I disdain

I am a rock, I am an island

The muscles in his jaw clenched and relaxed as he moved methodically about his work. Each piece revealed something new that needed replacing or stirred up painful memories that he would have rather kept from experiencing again. His gaze directed himself to the wall which was lined with a multitude of old photographs, tintypes, paintings, certificates from the differing eras and lives he had led. They softened as they fell upon a large framed painting that took center stage in the midst of all the other memorabilia.

With a few, swift strides he was before it and tremulously reached out to brush the thick layer of dust from it. His face took on a level of grief and sadness that one wouldn’t have thought possible as he stared with longing at the lovely and fresh faced woman in the portrait. Tears unwillingly seemed to rise in his eyes; he swallowed at the hardened lump in his throat that threatened to wreck everything he was trying to do here.

Don't talk of love, well I've heard the word before

It's sleeping in my memory

I won't disturb the slumber of feelings that have died

If I'd never loved, I never would have cried

I am a rock, I am an island

Finally, with great reluctance, he turned his back on the portrait and moved on down the wall, adjusting and dusting each and everything that was hung there. But a distinct crunching of glass underfoot caused him to look down at the floor. A picture had fallen face down from the wall; he reached down, picked it up, shaking it off as he did so and turned it over to see which one it had been.

A young woman stared back at him from the black and white photo held in his hand. He slowly drifted to go back to the window to look at it better by the light provided by antique street lamps outside his now dilapidated brownstone. One finger traced the outlines of the face in the picture while his voice shakily said to himself in a silent voice, "Rachel…"

Mental images came flooding back of war and gunfire along with the discovery of a very frightened little girl in an abandoned warehouse. They then dissolved into a happy girl in pigtails swinging on an old tire swing in the large backyard then rapidly shifted from one image to another as the little girl became a young woman then an older one in his mind….

Time it was

And what a time it was

It was

A time of innocence

A time of confidences

Long ago, it must be

I have a photograph

Preserve your memories

They're all that's left of you

He sighed deeply and sat on the windowsill, looking at nothing and noticing nothing that happened below him. His heart was torn between tearing in two from the numbing ache it was feeling and the hardening against any show of emotion he might possibly feel about what had happened. The two warred with one another for some time; Connor sat with eyes closed until he thought it was safe to open them again to the world outside and below. The old habit of showing no emotion to the world and others had won out.

He stood. Walking over to his small rotunda behind and just to the right of the stairs that led up to the bedrooms and loft he threw open the doors. He walked in and breathed a sigh of relief. Here at least he could hide from any and all things. He was safe.

I have my books and my poetry to protect me

I am shielded in my armor

Hiding in my room, safe within my womb

I touch no one and no one touches me

He took the three steps downward into the room then another one before sinking into the deep blue cushions of his horseshoe shaped coach. He leaned back his head and closed his eyes to the world once more, blocking out everything except the feeling that he was home. Home, at long last.

I am a rock,

I am an island

And a rock feels no pain

And an island never cries

MWC: Remembrance

Posted By: Guinevere W. MacWench, Chief Wench of Connor
(IP: river1-cacheflow1.na1.dl.cidera.com)
Date:
Friday, 6 April 2001, at 2:17 a.m.

First time I've participated in one of these. I don't usually do well based on other people's ideas, but this stirred my muse.

==========================================

Connor both loved and dreaded this time of year. Heather's birthday was a time to remember the good times with her, but the pain of her absence still seared through Connor as if she had just passed away. He'd certainly never forget her; sometimes remembering her was all he had to hold onto in this world. When all else was making him miserable, he could close his eyes and picture being with her.

Connor flipped on the windshield wipers for a single pass. The drizzle wasn't heavy enough to bother keeping them on, but it'd be nice to see the road...what there was of a road way out here. Connor flipped the radio on as he continued to make his way toward Heather's grave.

"Love, I get so lost sometimes...days pass, and this emptiness fills my heart...when I want to run away, I drive off in my car, but whichever way I go I come back to the place you are..."

Yup, he always came back. Always back to Scotland, always back to Heather's grave. Back to his first home, and his first love, no matter where he roamed. Connor shook his head. Odd that a simple song could touch him so.

"And all my instincts, they return...and the grand facade, so soon will burn...without a noise, without my pride, I reach out from the inside..."

Connor sighed. That was one thing he'd never had to do with Heather -- hide his Immortality. She had learned about it with him. She loved him no matter what, she believed he loved her. He'd had no barrier to put between them. There would never be anyone else with whom he would be that way.

"In your eyes, the light the heat; in your eyes, I am complete; in your eyes, I see the doorway to a thousand churches...the resolution to all the fruitless searches..."

Heather had been his resolution, the love and acceptance he'd needed. The completion he would never find again. Connor blinked tears from his eyes. That's why he was going to light a candle. Though lighting a candle might be difficult in this rain; he probably would have been better off going to a church.

"Love, I don't like to see so much pain...so much wasted, and this moment keeps slipping away...I get so tired working so hard for our survival...I look to the time with you to keep me awake and alive..."

Awake. Alive. Sometimes Connor didn't feel like he was either. And sometimes he wished for the chance to be with Heather again, even if it meant his death. He wasn't sure he believed in life after death, though often enough he found himself talking to her as if her spirit were listening. If there really was life after death, he hoped she'd be waiting for him, arms open, at the gates of heaven, so that he could look in her eyes again, feel her spirit shining through...

"the light, the heat...in your eyes, I am complete...in your eyes....I want to touch the light, the heat I see in your eyes..."

Guin's Highlands -- home of my fanfic

MWC: "Music hath charms"

Posted By: Ghost Cat <ghost_cat@hotmail.com>
(IP: cf-02-cgy.nucleus.com)
Date:
Saturday, 7 April 2001, at 7:31 p.m.

Music Hath Charms

The Bonded Blade was a quiet little out of the way place; as a matter of fact, if it weren't for the traditional wooden sign, no one would have guessed it was a pub. A very specialized customer demographic passed under that sign (a sword tied to its scabbard) and they liked their privacy. It hadn't taken long for Deb to discover the Blade; as a Highlander fan, an Immortal and the current holder of Hugh Fitzcairn's Quickening, how could she not? In fact she had become quite a regular, taking upon herself the duty of introducing others to her favorite sanctuary.

Deb was surprised that her escort for the night hadn't heard of the Blade already; she felt it was a supreme honor to be able to show him something new. When they arrived at the pub, she waved him through, unable to resist a comment about age before beauty. There was a strict policy of checking all weapons at the door, and after the harsh glare Deb received for what was, for her, a minor pun she was glad of it. She waved at Dave behind the bar, receiving a nod and a smile in return. Dave was perfectly suited to working the Blade: tall and lean, with an even temper and quick reflexes. Though quite Mortal, he was one of a rare breed both willing and able to Bounce a rambunctious Immie if necessary. When the bartender noticed the man at her side, his smile widened; it was a rumor, almost legend, but everyone knew that a visit from Methos was good for profits.

The Old Man tried to flee as he realized they weren't the only Immortals around, but Deb was ready with a grip on his arm and an offering of a good Canadian beer. The bottle of Big Rock seemed more comforting than the friendly hand, but at least it got him as far as a table. She picked a corner booth so he could have his back to the wall. Walking from the bar, she felt a familiar sensation; no student would ever fail to recognize the feel of her mentor. She wasn't strong enough to keep him from spinning around as the Buzz hit him; a soft gasp hissed in his throat and he shot the young author a look that said, clear as words, "you knew."

Deb was genuinely surprised and protested her innocence. She had of a soft spot, though, for hopeless cases and happy endings, and a plan was beginning to form. It took some time for everyone to relax and the tension to drain from the room, but she was learning patience. After a while, she leaned over and whispered something to him, when he protested, she all but pushed him out of his chair.

Recovering from a stumble, he took a couple of steps towards Cassandra's table. She noticed him instantly; fixing him with a glare that could melt steel. He quickly adjusted his stride, as if he had been aiming for the jukebox all along. He leaned against the machine for the longest time, choosing the perfect song. They say music hath charms to soothe the savage breast. When he finally turned back to the table, the tones of a Rolling Stones classic poured from the speakers-


Baby been a long, long time; been a long, long time
Been a long, long time; I was wrong girl and you were right.
Baby, baby, took a long, long while; took a long, long while
Took a long, long while, but I found out you were right....

Methos glanced toward the other table with a hopeful, apologetic smile, waiting for a reaction. Deb cringed inwardly, thinking it could have been a good opening, if the Stones didn't insist on peppering every single one of their songs with "baby" or "honey." Across the room, the redhead almost overturned her chair; her lean hips swinging with every angry stride. She looked ready for battle, but at the last moment she too moved to the jukebox and dropped in a coin. The twangy, borderline country-and-western tune that followed was so unlike her normal tastes it was clear she was sending a message. "Ain't no way to hide your lyin' eyes...."

With a few quick words, Deb tried to calm her companion; across the room, Cassandra was being soothed. Round one hadn't been exactly a love story, but it hadn't erupted into war either. Subtle encouragement, an appeal to his latent pride, convinced him to try again.


There've been good times
There've been bad times
I had my share of hard times too,
But I lost my faith in the world,
Honey when I lost you....

First an apology, now a recall of better days, only he would think there had actually been any "good times." Cassandra didn't believe any of it for a second, and the fact that Deb seemed to be in on it hurt her deeply. She made her feelings clear in no uncertain terms with her next choice.


You're a real tough cookie with a long history,
Of breaking little hearts like the one in me.
Before I put another notch in my lipstick case,
You better make sure you put me in my place.
Hit me with your best shot....

Looking at the sneer on the woman's face, it was almost tempting to take her up on the challenge; but this was a public place and, while not Holy Ground, it was a sanctuary of sorts. He did have one more shot, and he had saved the best for last.


There are places I'll remember
All my life, though some have changed,
Some forever, not for better,
Some have gone and some remain.
All these places had their moments,
With lovers and friends I still can recall,
Some are dead and some are living,
In my life I've loved them all.

But of all these friends and lovers,
There is no one compared with you,
And these memories lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new.
Though I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before,
I know I'll often stop and think about them,
In my life I'll love you more.

Deb was surprised, she didn't think he had it in him; he didn't seem the Beatles type. It was a profoundly meaningful piece, almost written for an Immortal. The young woman found herself on the edge of tears, yet the object of all these appeals was still as cold as ice. His best shot had been deflected easily.

Cassandra didn't wait this time; she forced him to retreat from the machine before the song was even finished. Angry fingers punched the buttons; her steps matched the hard rock beat of the music--


Shame on you, you took me by surprise.
Shame on me, I never realised.
Shame on you, you planned it from the start.
Shame on me, you went straight for my heart.
Shame on love! Shame on love!

Methos needed no urging to counter-attack. No more apologies. Chick-songs, eh? Well two could play at that game. Same artist, same album; completely different message--


Pain of the years, reflected in your eyes,
Time to let go, don't hold it all inside.
Ooh, that was yesterday,
Move on, move on; change your ways.
Ooh, that was yesterday,
Move on, move on; live for today...

Deb began to regret she had started this whole experiment; things were starting to get out of hand. As the situation deteriorated, she began to estimate Dave's reflexes, and the distance between Cassandra's table and the locked weapon rack. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try; the happy ending never comes. Methos put a hand on her shoulder as if he read her thoughts; maybe, at his age, he could. Gesturing for her to pay the bill and retrieve their checked items, he made he way to the jukebox one last time. There was genuine regret and sorrow in his eyes as he turned his back on the only woman who could truly understand him....


And every time I've held a rose
It seems I only felt the thorns.
And so it goes, and so it goes
And so will you soon I suppose.

And this is why my eyes are closed,
It's just as well for all I've seen.
And so it goes, and so it goes
And you're the only one who knows.

So I would choose to be with you,
That's if the choice were mine to make.
But you can make decisions too
And you can have this heart to break.

And so it goes, and so it goes,
And you're the only one who knows.

Clan Northlander HQ

MWC: As Time Goes By

Posted By: Pat <Nutmeg9cat@aol.com>
(IP: spider-tj062.proxy.aol.com)
Date:
Wednesday, 11 April 2001, at 12:16 a.m.

AS TIME GOES BY

Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod, sprawled on his comfortable couch, bare feet up on the coffee table, next to a cold beer and nearly empty bowl of buttered popcorn, and watched the end credits roll on the TV screen, to a stirring rendition of “Le Marsellaise”. He loved movies, and he was watching one of his favorites on DVD. He was warm and dry, on a rainy March afternoon, in his Seacouver home, and he sighed in contentment.

He remembered the first time he saw Casablanca, in 1946, in a tiny art theater in Greenwich Village. He had been on his way to Washington, D.C., from London and briefly stopped in Manhattan to see Connor MacLeod. He was killing time until his kinsman was free to meet him at this little Italian restaurant where, according to Connor, the pasta was great and served by pretty college girls in very short togas. He’d never heard of the movie, having missed its original release, during the war. The title intrigued him - he knew Casablanca from a time long before the French colonial occupation. But, truth be told, it was Ingrid Bergman that drew him in to the dark and deserted theater on that sunny spring afternoon. Duncan had a passion for Ingrid Bergman, known only to himself.

He’d lost count of how many times he had seen it since, but it had never grown old for him. One of his pleasures had been to see it with someone who had never seen it before. He loved to watch their reaction. Of course, in the TV and home video age, he figured most people have seen the film fairly young, and frequently. Richie hadn’t. So, he and Tessa had dragged Richie to the student forum theater at the University to remedy the situation. At that time, Richie had had an aversion to watching anything “old” (by his definition, before Star Wars), anything black and white, and it seemed to Duncan, anything which didn’t star Arnold Schwarzenegger. Duncan wanted him to see Casablanca in a theater, with an audience, and a big tub of popcorn with extra butter. The disgruntled teen, after the first ten minutes, was engrossed. Tessa tossed Duncan an amused look at Richie’s total intensity. He even forgot to eat the popcorn. All the way home, Richie did bad Bogart impressions, and when he slung his arm around Tessa, muttering out of the side of his mouth, about the beginning of a beautiful friendship, schweetheart, Duncan had laughed with delight.

When he’d first moved in, Richie had been surprised that Duncan loved the movies. Apparently, he’d thought the 400 year old’s interests would be limited to activities popular before the Industrial Age, like ale drinking, caber tossing, and of course, sword fighting. He was shocked that Duncan could program the VCR and use the microwave. Until Duncan explained that movies were really just extensions of the storytelling traditions he had loved to listen to as a boy, sharing the warmth of a fire and clan life. It pleased him to see the wheels start to turn in Richie’s head, as the teenager seriously considered history as more than a boring school subject, that it might actually just be the stories of real people, living their lives.

Tessa had loved Casablanca too. She had seen it in college, though dubbed in her native French. Duncan had taken her to see the original version when he learned that. In his opinion, Bogey just did not translate well into French. Tessa and Duncan used to play a game with favorite movies and books, casting their perfect choices of movie stars, living or dead, in their own penultimate production, not limited by budgets, or age, or death. Duncan would exasperate Tessa with his choices of actors or personalities she never heard of, and accused him of making up. Sometimes, they did it with real people that they knew, like their accountant who looked like Donald O’Connor’s evil twin. In Casablanca, as directed by Duncan MacLeod, Tessa was always Ilsa Lund. But Duncan was never Rick, in his mind’s eye production. He knew he could never leave his Ilsa at that airport.

On sleepless nights, after Tessa was gone, he’d still occasionally play the game in his head. Casting friends and lovers in favorite films. In his Immortal version of Casablanca, Fitz was dashing Captain Louis Renault, although Fitz had never needed to use extortion to lure a woman to his bed. Hell, Duncan had even known prostitutes to refuse payment from Fitz, much to Duncan’s envious astonishment. Beautiful, larcenous Amanda was the wily pickpocket, leaving her victims breathless and aroused in her wake. (A very young and callow Duncan MacLeod had experienced her technique first hand.) Robert and Gina de Valicourt were the young Bulgarian refugee couple, although Gina was the one who loved, and was unlucky at, roulette. Joe Dawson made a very satisfying Sam, with just a slight change of musical instrument. Duncan treasured the bluesman’s husky and haunting version of “As Time Goes By”. Richie was the young Russian bartender on the make, with his eternal 19 year old's libido. Duncan would laugh at himself for fitting Connor into the Peter Lorre role. Connor’s only resemblance to this repellant character was his trademark staccato laugh. And Methos... Duncan gave up trying to cast Methos in his shadow play, when he found he fit, chameleon-like, in all the parts. The thought of multiple Methoses populating a surreal Rick’s Café Americain kept Duncan awake, instead of lulling him to sleep.

Methos, he knew, had an affection for this movie, although they had never watched it together. Methos seemed to use the film as a criterion... a touchstone for determining intelligence, education, refinement, or some other obscure Methosian measure of the worth of a person. Duncan had heard the old man sneer on more than one occasion, when displeased at some unfortunate remark, that the offending party had probably never even seen Casablanca. The ultimate putdown, apparently, to his five thousand year old mind.

Duncan drew a sharp breath, as he was struck by a sudden insight. He also used Casablanca as a personal touchstone of sorts, but in a different way than Methos’ rants. Enjoying the movie, being able to enjoy the movie, and let the magic take him away from himself, and into the world of the film he was watching...was only possible if Duncan could connect to it, and the world around him, and find the joys in life, no matter how simple. In the two years since Connor was gone, since Duncan had unwillingly taken his life and his Quickening, Duncan hadn’t wanted to watch this movie; maybe couldn’t watch this movie; perhaps, if he admitted it to himself, was even afraid to watch this movie, unsure of his own reaction. Connor, his teacher, who had taught a desperately lonely Duncan how to live as an Immortal, after the death of his mortal world; who had taught Duncan to find the joys in their long lives, despite the pain; who had taught Duncan that the bonds in this life were the only things that held any man, Immortal or not, in this world, was dead forever. Connor had lost all hope. Oh, how Duncan had mourned the loss of this man, who had been teacher, friend and brother. But Connor, in despair and death, had taught his student one final lesson.

On that terrible day, when he had killed both the man he most loved and the man he most hated, Duncan had died from the cumulative effects of his wounds and Kell’s Quickening, cold and alone, high on a metal platform above the city. When he revived, lying on that freezing metal, disoriented, gasping, then groaning in pain, he found his head was pillowed on Joe’s sweater, and he was covered from toes to chin with Methos’ long black coat. When his vision cleared, he found Methos kneeling next to him, his long face impassive, the expression in his eyes unreadable.

“Can you get up, Mac? Joe’s getting the car, and we have to get out of here now.”

Duncan, with great effort, managed to get to his knees. He looked up to see Methos’ strong hands reached out to him, and took them, leveraging himself to his feet. When Duncan got his somewhat shaky balance, he tried to let go of Methos’ hands, but the eldest kept a tight hold. Duncan looked at him with confusion for a moment, then Methos enfolded him in an embrace. With this unexpected gesture, Duncan was undone. He wept into the older man’s bony shoulder, clutching him like a lifeline, while Methos held him, comforting the younger man, like a child. And Duncan was comforted. Heartsick and grieving, Duncan turned to his friends for love and support. Connor taught him this last lesson, which Connor himself had been unable to learn, isolated at the last, turning away even from the brother of his heart.

Two years....And Methos and Duncan had never spoken of that moment. But Duncan had re-established his ties with Methos, and Joe. They were a part of each others’ lives again, and Duncan was immensely gratified and profoundly humbled by this state of affairs. Two years...and he had re-built a life for himself, a new home, and teaching position at the University. Two years ... and Casablanca was still here, still the same old wonderful story, of love and glory, and do or die. Two years...and Duncan MacLeod had found he could still welcome the world... as time goes by.

***************************

You must remember this,
A kiss is still a kiss,
A sigh is just a sigh.
The fundamental things apply
As time goes by.

And when two lovers woo,
They still say “I love you”.
On that you can rely.
No matter what the future brings,
As time goes by.

Moonlight and love songs never out of date,
Hearts filled with passion, jealousy and hate.
Woman needs man...and man must have his mate,
That no one can deny.

It’s still the same old story,
A fight for love and glory,
A case of do or die.
The world will always welcome lovers,
As time goes by.

This is my first attempt at fanfic. I hope you like it. It’s a combination of 3MWCs: on movies, the ending of Endgame, and the song/jukebox challenges. None of them are a perfect match, but it sparked the story. I borrowed from Ysanne’s MWC “The Clansman” which I thought was wonderful. She made an interpretation on Endgame about Connor’s final lesson, which dovetailed perfectly with the end of the series. She graciously gave me permission to use her idea and words in this story. Thank you for reading. I’d like to hear your feedback.

MWC: "The Honeymoon"

Posted By: SwingGirl MacSlow <SwingGirl3@yahoo.com>
(IP: 1Cust145.tnt5.cle1.da.uu.net)
Date:
Tuesday, 10 April 2001, at 11:45 a.m.

Gina de Valicourt was smiling to herself as she pulled her car into the driveway. The wedding had been yesterday and everything had gone better than she could have imagined. Many of her and Robert's friends, both mortal and Immortal alike, had been there. The chapel had been decorated with hundreds of tulips, her favorite flower. Duncan had given away the bride and Robert had looked particularly handsome in his tuxedo. As she thought about it, Gina shook her head, now finding it unbelievable that she had ever considered a divorce.

Now she was looking forward to fixing him a surprise romantic candlelight dinner. They renewed their vows every hundred years and usually went on a honeymoon afterwards, but this time they had decided to just stay home and spend some time alone together, which is exactly what they'd been doing since they had returned home from the reception last evening. She had had a hard time getting him to leave, but then Duncan had called this morning, wanting Robert to go out with him. Gina didn't know where they were going, but Duncan, who knew what she was planning, had promised to keep him out long enough for her to get everything ready for dinner.

Gina got out of the car, several bags of groceries in her arms. As she entered the house, she knew that there was another Immortal there. And then she heard music.

"Some day, when I'm awfully low,
When the world is cold,
I will feel a glow just thinking of you
And the way you look tonight."

"Robert?" Gina called out, wondering what was going on. She went into the living room and found him. Vases with flowers, tulips she noticed, had been placed all over the room, along with many glowing candles. The thing that caught her attention the most was the antique jukebox that sat in one corner of the room. She had been alive for a very long time and he seen many things, had seen many eras come and go, but American culture of the 40’s and 50’s had always interested her, especially the music. Once, when she and Robert had been antique shopping, she had seen the jukebox. They hadn’t bought it at the time, but now she realized where Robert and Duncan had been earlier that day.

She was about to say something, but Robert approached her, stopping her from speaking with a gentle, passionate kiss. Then he took the groceries from her and set them on the coffee table. As the music continued, he swept her up in his arms and the two began dance.

"Yes, you’re lovely, with you’re smile so warm
And your cheeks so soft,
There is nothing for me but to love you,
And they way you look tonight.

With each word, your tenderness grows,
Tearing my fear apart...
And that laugh that wrinkles your nose,
It touches my foolish heart.

Lovely...never, ever change.
Keep that breathless charm.
Won't you please arrange it?
'Cause I love you, just the way you look tonight"

The song ended and the next one started and they kissed again. Then, groceries and dinner forgotten, Robert took her by the hand, leading her to the bedroom. As she heard the song, Gina thought that there couldn't be a more appropriate song.

"Out of the tree of life, I just picked me a plum.
You came along and everything started to hum.
Still it's a real good bet, the best is yet to come.

The best is yet to come, and won't that be fine.
You think you've seen the sun, but you ain't seen it shine.

Wait till the warm-up is underway,
Wait till our lips have met,
Wait till you see that sunshine day.
You ain't seen nothing yet.

The best is yet to come, and won't that be fine.
The best is yet to come, come the day that you're mine."

MWC: I Will Remember You

Posted By: Titania CWPack <rthogan@gte.net>
(IP: dsl2-180.dynacom.net)
Date:
Monday, 9 April 2001, at 7:18 p.m.

"I Will Remember You"

Methos heard the door open. He didn’t even bother to turn around when he felt the presence of another Immortal. He knew that Dawson had called MacLeod. He knew that they were all worried about him. He didn’t care. He just kept looking through the jukebox selections.

Duncan entered into the dim light of Le Blues Bar. He had rushed over as soon as he had gotten off the phone with Joe. As Duncan walked across the room to the bar he heard the words of the song currently playing.

I never dreamed that

I’d meet somebody like you

And I never dreamed that

I’d lose somebody like you

Duncan looked over at Joe behind the bar. Methos was deeper into his melancholy than either one of them had realized. Duncan reached out for the beer that Joe was holding. He took it and approached his friend.

Methos was intensely looking at the jukebox. His eyes seemed to be watching the lights and bubbles of the jukebox, when in reality they were far away remembering a better time. Duncan caught his eye and offered him the beer. He declined. This was one of the few things that he did sober.

No one could have saved me but you

Strange what desire will make

foolish people do

I never dreamed I’d love somebody like you

Methos never dreamed he’d fall in love with someone like Alexa, someone who was quiet and insightful, someone who wanted to give more than she received, someone he desperately wanted to live out the remainder of her days with. How ironic that those days were so short numbered. The mournful sound of Chris Isaak faded from the speakers. The ancient one’s next selection filled the bar.

Ain’t no talking to this man

Ain’t no pretty other side

Ain’t no way to understand the

stupid words of pride

Methos remembered all of the times he had let his pride almost ruin their brief interlude together. He shook his head as he remembered the beginning of their journey. He was so determined to show Alexa the Grand Canyon that he had almost driven her away. She had been so certain that he had abandoned her after their first night together. He had been such a fool! But she had been trusting and had forgiven him. Trusting of him! Cassandra would love that! How many times had he been grateful that Alexa didn’t know everything about his past? When he was with her he didn’t think about his past, only his future, with her.

No earthly church has ever blessed

our union

No state has ever granted us permission

No family bond has ever made us two

These simple words from Sting always made him smile. In a way, this had been their song. When he was at his lowest during the days after her death, he would think back on their wedding night and picture her lying on their marriage bed, the roses scattered everywhere, the candlelight as it shone upon her body and the look of complete and absolute contentment that had been on her face.

No flowers on the altar

No white veil in your hair

No maiden dress to alter

No Bible oath to swear

The secret marriage vow is never spoken

The secret marriage can never be broken

Duncan looked at his friend in amazement. He knew that Methos had loved Alexa, but this was the first that he had known of their marriage. Methos just smiled a secret smile at Duncan and continued to listen to the music he had selected. Duncan knew that the worst of remembering the regrets was over and that now Methos could remember the good things.

Duncan was surprised to hear the beat of a current song. Usually Methos only listened to the songs that he and Alexa had shared together. Maybe Methos had reached a new place in his mourning.

You’re beautiful that’s for sure

You’ll never ever fade

You’re lovely

But it’s not for sure

That I won’t ever change

And though my love is rare

Though my love is true

I am like a bird, I’ll only fly away

I don’t know where my soul is,

I don’t know where my home is

Or maybe not. Duncan could understand that more than most. Duncan watched his friend.

Methos was standing in front of the jukebox with his palms on the front as if he was trying to channel Alexa’s spirit. Maybe in a way he was. As he stood there with his eyes closed thinking about all the places they hadn’t seen and all the stories about his life he hadn’t told her he wished more than anything that he could have given part of himself to her and made her live longer. He wished that he could have delivered Methuselah’s stone to her. Most of all he wished that she was standing beside him listening to this song. He knew she would have loved the lilting beat and the sultriness of the singer’s voice.

It’s not that I wanna say goodbye

It’s just that every time you try

to tell me, me that you love me

Each and every single day I know

I’m going to have to eventually

give you away

And though my love is rare

And though my love is true

Hey I’m just scared

That we may fall through

As the chorus faded Methos opened his eyes and looked over at his two friends. The two men who knew more about him than anyone ever would. The only two men he would ever let witness this part of him, this mourning for Alexa.

“Five years.” He thought. Five years full of struggle, grief and loneliness. He looked over again at Joe and made his last selection. Joe gathered his overcoat and keys while Duncan walked to the door with their friend. Methos turned around to look at the jukebox once more. He had exercised Alexa’s ghost for another year and was now ready to visit her grave. As they stood in the open doorway Sarah McLachlan began to sing.

I will remember you, will you remember me?

Don’t let your life pass you by,

Weep not for the memories

FIN

This story is dedicated to Jess Garrett.

Really Late MWC: Helping Hands

Posted By: Ysanne
(IP: dhcp065-024-105-229.columbus.rr.com)
Date:
Wednesday, 11 April 2001, at 5:36 p.m.

Rude, raw-boned hands, MacLeod thought coolly, studying his own long fingers, and the wide, square palms. Suitable for rough work, strong enough to do hard labor. He turned them over so that the palms rested on the arms of his chair and contemplated the backs that were lightly dusted with fine dark hair. He felt strangely disconnected from these useful appendages of his, so he lifted both hands in an unconsciously graceful gesture borrowed from a meditation kata. Yes, they were his, all right.

His to use for the myriad small tasks of everyday life; cooking pasta, pouring juice, setting up a chessboard. His to employ in the refurbishing of antique clockworks or old houses. His to command in hitting the heavy bag, or twirling martial arts weapons, or wielding a sword.

Sword-wielding hands that obeyed only too well. He clenched his fists and stared at the large, tight-knuckled knots of bone and sinew. Fighting for Bonny Prince Charlie, for clan and country. Hiring out his clever, clever hands to protect noble families. Defending himself from an angry mob or a disgruntled gambler, or thieves, or from another Immortal bent on swordplay.

Murdering hands that knew no difference between friend and foe, between an enemy and a brother.

His fists opened and his hands moved restlessly until he took control of them, crossing his arms over his chest and imprisoning each hand under his biceps. He hunched in the wooden chair, hugging himself, and behind his closed eyelids Connor’s face coalesced, his slight, affectionate smile at odds with his sad, resolute eyes. Connor’s lips moved.

“…my true brother…”

Duncan’s breath caught in his throat at the dim echo of the familiar, accented voice.

“I love you, Connor,” he repeated silently, his racketing heart rushing in his ears.

At the other end of the half-empty room Joe Dawson watched his friend quietly, knowing that MacLeod was not really here, listening to the jukebox in this half-remodeled bar, but trapped in the dark, on a freezing rooftop. In the weeks since Connor’s death and the defeat of Jacob Kell, Joe had witnessed several such shifts in MacLeod’s awareness of his surroundings, and had never mentioned them. Well, maybe the time had come to interfere, and to hell once again with his Watcher’s creed; this was his friend, and he was in pain. There was no reason for him to carry the burden alone.

Joe lifted himself out of the chair and balanced on his artificial legs with the ease of long practice, and approached MacLeod, still not sure of what to do, but knowing he needed to do something.

He opened his mouth, searching for the right words, then abandoned that idea: he had no words eloquent enough to comfort the Highlander now. Here was a man grieving for a lost comrade, and Joe knew how that felt. Feelings for MacLeod welled up in him, nearly overwhelming in their intensity, and he stopped trying to contain them. If he couldn’t reason out how to help Mac, he’d just have to go with his instincts. He just hoped it wasn’t too ridiculous that a goodly share of those instincts seemed to be fatherly toward a man who was three and a half centuries older.

Stepping closer, he laid a hand on Mac’s stiff shoulder. When Mac’s body leaned into the touch before he mastered himself again and moved out of reach, Joe knew that he had found the way. He shifted awkwardly, hooking his cane over one arm and moving behind MacLeod’s chair to rest both hands on the broad shoulders, then he began kneading the tense muscles gently, ignoring Mac’s half-hearted rebuff.

Joe’s hands moved more strongly, pulling MacLeod back, finding a soothing rhythm. Gradually, the hard bunch of muscle under his hands relaxed, and Mac’s head fell back. Joe encouraged the motion, finally persuading Mac to rest his head against the sturdy wall of the Watcher’s chest. He saw that Mac’s arms had relaxed as well, and his hands were lying half-open in his lap. On impulse, Joe reached to cradle Mac’s head for a moment, digging his thumbs into the back of Mac's neck, and smiled at the sigh this invoked. He dropped his hands to Mac’s shoulders, and, finding his rhythm again, he began to sing along with the jukebox softly, one of those old blues tunes he loved so well:

“I walked into a beer tavern,/To give a girl a nice time.
I had forty-five dollars when I entered/When I left, I had one dime.

Wasn’t that a beer-drinkin’ woman,/Don’t you know, man, don’t you know.
She was a beer-drinkin’ woman/And I don’t want to see her no more.”

Ysanne
(Okay, it doesn't quite meet the challenge, but I got carried away. *g*)

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