by Te
January 2003

Disclaimers: Not mine, nor even close to mine. Dammit.

Spoilers: Various Methos episodes.

Summary: On identity and time.

Ratings Note: PG-13.

Author's Note: For Isilya's Literary Challenge. Details after the story.

Acknowledgments: To the Spike and Cassandra for audiencing and
timely questions. All problems are entirely my own fault.

Feedback clears things up.


For Methos, there was a certain satisfaction to crafting a persona.
At his drunkest (and most pretentious), he had called it the last
true art.

What other art was so complete?

So pure?

A master was at once immortal (ha!) and the very apotheosis of
ephemeral, his creation shifting from persona to person to, finally,

Byron was convinced the true art would be the alteration of
another person. Once, Methos considered it just another part of
his endearing dissipation. Later... well.

There were times when Methos wondered just *when* Byron gave
up, when it became obvious (if only to himself) that he could only
live, and only as himself.

Only himself, until the end of time.

Or a century or so.

Some would say that Byron flared and burned precipitously. Methos
was rather impressed he lasted as long as he did, knowing what he
knew now. Before, he'd thought it a choice that the man had lived as
he did for so long.

Terribly disconcerting to realize just how much one took for granted,
even at an advanced age.

Because was there anything, really, that Methos *hadn't* chosen? One
way or another, consciously or not -- and wasn't he *thrilled* by the
advent of psychology! Like the birth of language, easily as important to
the world as Sumerian or BASIC.

No, there was something terribly active about his self -- or at least his
vision of himself, and after so very many years of forcing his visions
into the minds (if not the hearts) of those around him, wasn't that the
most important thing?

Philosophy be damned, he saw no problem in wallowing in a proactive
self-image. Even if it was false, it wouldn't be for long.

It was the beauty of living his life -- his *lives*. He has committed
suicide enough times to snap the very *axle* of the karmic wheel, and
yet mourning remained a luxurious treat. Something to heap on the
ice cream sundae of a particularly interesting life, along with the wife
and adopted children.

Perhaps he would feel differently if he'd been the one left behind as
all the Adams and Matthews and Benjamins "died" to live again
somewhere far from prying eyes, or even just his own. This was
something he'd studied: survivor guilt among immortals, even in the
millennia when it was so unhelpfully unnamed, was something huge
and lasting.

And something that faded, just the same, well before the end of the
second millennium of existence. Whether or not an immortal developed
a healthy sense of the practical, there was only so much emotional
sturm and drang anyone could stand before becoming....

Philosophical. Or just sick enough of themselves to abandon everything
resembling who they were when once they wept and... well.

There was something endlessly satisfying about knowing yourself well
enough that the turn of your thoughts could be effortlessly crafted into
circles, spirals, any geometry whatsoever -- so long as it avoided the
crux of the matter.

The heart of things, or the heart of the man beside him. For Adam,
the two were near enough to be the same. From an artful distance,
they would be. A vanishing point of the literal and figurative.

From the distance of time... well, that *was* the question, wasn't it?

Adam flattered himself that this relationship, this *love* was different
enough from all the others that experience -- even five thousand
years of it -- oughtn't be brought to bear in judgment.

He had a point. Macleod was an immortal, and their sex life was tied
to neither business nor politics (even politics at the point of a sword).
He agreed with Macleod so rarely that every discussion walked the
wire between tease and argument, tension only seeming to intensify
with time.

Macleod was, perhaps, the most important influence on who Adam
has become, though telling him that would be less than productive.
He would undoubtedly think it terribly unhealthy, if not horrifying.
Perhaps easier to suggest a menage a trois with a sheep than to
nudge Macleod into anything even resembling incest, however

Another point in Adam's favor -- Macleod was different enough from
the typical run of (profoundly different in their own right) immortals
to make any relationship with him unique.

Something telling in the fact that he could express the word or concept
for 'unique' in forty-seven different languages.

Why, a cynical man would suggest he'd know even more if he hadn't
taken *quite* so many Chinese wives.

Macleod was, of course, a cuddler. As such, Methos' body was
acutely aware of his sleep cycle. Nothing particularly *new* about that,
and yet always something to get used to.

This bed, this man, this shifting of his body toward or away, depending
on the signals that would never reach his conscious mind without

Methos never left until after Macleod was well and truly asleep. Not
necessarily out of any sense of poetry; rather because of the
game of it: If Methos could detangle himself from Macleod's arms,
legs, and hair without waking the man up, then he deserved the
comfort and quiet of his own bed.

Or: If he could maintain his reputation for catlike independence
without even the hint of three a.m. awkwardness, with nary a
breath of the Ugly Little Scene...

Well, then there was nothing wrong, was there?

He should stay the night, he knew this. If only for the sake of
pride -- what had he to fear from falling asleep here? It would...
solidify things. The world was new and miraculous; Adam could
conceivably live for another thirty or forty years right here and
never raise an eyebrow.

If he was to *be* Adam, than he really ought to make the

Methos rubbed -- carefully -- at Macleod's frown line, made
somewhat ridiculous with the slackness of the rest of his face --
the anger of an idiot. He had, perhaps, grown accustomed to the
state of being undefined.

Macleod left nothing -- like that -- to chance. He wanted Methos,
if only so he could make decisions of his own.

What would be the proactive thing to do?

Methos grinned to himself. Perhaps he would go back to the
business world. Familiarity would undoubtedly beat his awful new
vocabulary out of him. For now...

He could be Adam enough to sleep, just a little, in his tangle of

If there was anything he'd learned, it was that no decision meant
much of anything, if you buried it under enough time.


Question: Who was I when I used to call your name? (Stolen from
"Prayer", a poem by Marie Howe)

Word: mourning

Taboo word: but

Fandom(s) in order of preference: Forever Knight, Highlander, Buffy,
Smallville, LOTR (not RPS)