“We haven’t exactly been formally introduced,” answered Methos.
Joe gestured toward Methos while addressing the bartender. “Red, this is Adam Pierson, the never-ending grad student. His beer tab is the one that needs it’s own ledger.” Methos managed to roll his eyes and look greatly put-upon without losing his urchin-like grin.
Willow sighed, “Fine, you’re going to make me ask. What exactly are you doing?”
“Just thought I’d lend a hand.”
“Really?” Her skepticism was almost palpable.
“Yes, but if you don’t need . . .”
“No,” she interrupted, “Some help would be great. I’m just a little surprised because you don’t normally seem too big with the manual labor.”
Methos stopped sweeping and looked over at the bar owner. “Joe, I think I’ve been insulted. Did she just call me lazy?”
“Now that you’re sufficiently well-informed, would you please go?” The old man’s voice was dripping with sarcasm.
Willow didn’t answer him directly. Instead, she gathered up her coat and walked over to the still speechless Watcher. “Come on, Joe.” She didn’t even look at Methos again as they left the bar, but her mind was working furiously. / So, Adam, or whatever your real name is, you think you’ve won this round? We’ll see about that. I’m not sure why, but I’ve gotten to kind of like you, even with your trademark snarkiness. You’re going to take my help whether you like it or not. /
“Damn it, you’re just like MacLeod. You have an answer for everything.” Methos made a face.
Methos, despite his nearly infinite knowledge of languages, couldn’t make out what she said. / Maybe the reverberation in her voice and the sudden *thickening* of the air distracted me./ Methos snarked to himself.
“C’mon Mac, I don’t want to hear it. Do you have any idea how hard it is to keep track of one of you guys when you’re determined to shake us? She could already be here. Is there any chance that she’s in town for some non-decapitory reason?”
“I doubt it, and, Joe, did you just say ‘non-decapitory’?”
Joe smiled despite the seriousness of the situation. “Yeah, I guess Red is rubbing off on me. My new bartender has an interesting way of speaking. Actually, she’s involved in this potential mess too.”
“Your bartender? Is she a Watcher?”
“No, but I was thinking about recruiting her before all this started. Actually, she’s a witch. She and Methos are working on figuring out what we should do. At least, I hope they are. She didn’t really explain much before she disappeared.”
“Witch? . . . Disappeared?”
“Yeah, . . . you know Mac, you’ve been repeating what I’ve said to you an awful lot.”
“Well, Joe, this is not a normal conversation.”
Duncan couldn’t help himself. He smiled.
“Sure, coffee sounds good.”
“Great, could you show me where he keeps it? Apparently one side-effect of living for five thousand years is an inability to store coffee in a findable location.”
“Cassandra, let me assure you, I have absolutely no designs on world domination. I gave it up for Lent. Actually, I gave it up for Lent at least a thousand years before they even invented Lent, so, go me.”
Willow gave him a loopy grin. “I’m rubbing off on you.”
“Yeah, you’re contagious. I’ve even heard Joe utter some Willow-isms.”
Suddenly, she speared the pineapple with a little plastic cocktail sword and popped the fruit in her mouth. She pointed the tiny sword at Methos.
“Now where were we?” she asked.
Methos produced his own plastic sword from . . . somewhere, and with a completely straight face, he said, “En garde!”
They proceeded to duel with the little swords.
Methos waited for an explanation of that last comment, but none was forthcoming. “Okay, I’ll bite. What the hell are you talking about?”
“You know, those commercials where people get a new mattress and the counting sheep are suddenly unemployed. It’s so unfair. The sheep didn’t do anything wrong, but, *boom* they’re out of a job.”
“So, you’re saying that I should let you sleep in order to bolster the counting sheep labor market?”
Methos shook his head in amazement. “You do know that those little sheep aren’t real?”
“Oh, I get it. The *Immortal* is going to tell the *witch* who used to live on the *Hellmouth* what is, and what isn’t real.”
“I think maybe I deserve a little beating up.”
“Well, you don’t, and don’t argue with me! I’m older and wiser than you are, so . . . stop it.”
“Well, that was a persuasive argument.” Willow used more than a touch of sarcasm. “Besides, you told me that you were ‘just a guy.’ Now you claim to be ‘older and wiser.’ You can’t have it both ways.”
“Because you can’t.”
“Yes, I can.”
“No, you can’t.”
“Yes, I can.”
“No, you . . . oh, Goddess! Who would have thought that a five thousand year old man would argue like a nine year old boy?”
“Oh, great,” Buffy muttered. “Hey, Mac!” she called. “New plan. I need to get in there. Let’s clear a path, huh?” she grinned, and then stepped into the throng of demons, the swings of her broadsword driving them back.
Duncan shook his head at her brave, or foolish, actions, took a deep breath, and followed her. Methos rolled his eyes at the two of them. Duncan had finally found someone just as idiotically heroic as he was
At the mention of his lover’s name, Methos groaned. Damned fool Highlander was probably getting himself into trouble even as they spoke.
“We really should get going,” Giles’ voice broke the silence. “Before the authorities arrive.”
“Right,” Spike drawled. “‘Cause we all know how quickly the Sunnydale public servants respond to a crisis.”
“Still,” Giles said. “Two explosions in one night might get their attention.”
Xander turned his head and caught sight of Willow and Spike. “Ack!” he cried out, pointing towards the couple on the couch and covering his eyes with his other hand. “My eyes, my eyes!”
“Wow,” Buffy breathed thoughtfully. Hearing about their healing abilities was so different than seeing it in action. “I died once. Don’t want to try it again though.” She gave a small smile as she dropped the shirt and stepped back.
“Yeah, that hurts a little,” Methos mumbled.
“Can we go home?” Anya asked. “I’m so tired I’m not even going to make Xander give me any orgasms before we go to sleep.”
“Thank you, honey,” Xander muttered, in a combination of gratitude and embarrassment.
“What are you doing, MacLeod?” Methos shivered as the twin sensations of Duncan’s tongue at his neck and light touch at his side tickled. “You got a thing for doors I should know about?”
“I used to wash Dru’s hair,” he said without looking at her.
“Must be why you’re so good,” Willow replied with a deep sigh of satisfaction. “You’ve had practice. Hey! Over one hundred years of practice! You can wash my hair every day, if you want,” she added, putting a hand out to the wall to hold herself up as she began to sway, her body relaxing at his touch. “Oh, did you paint her nails, too?”
“Hmmph! You need someone to watch your back, MacLeod. And I think I’m just the man for the job.” He laid his head back down. “Leave you alone for a minute and you get yourself into all sorts of trouble,” Methos continued to grouse.
After several moments of silence, Duncan asked, “Was that my back, or my backside you were going to watch?”
“Kinda partial to both,” Methos responded sleepily.
It wasn’t as if Methos was a coward. He had no qualms about taking a head if there were no other option. Rather, Methos was a survivalist and the first rule of survival was don’t let men with sharp swords attempt to chop off your head, no matter how good you are.
“The great and powerful Methos taken down twice!” Richie snickered to himself. “That must do wonders for your self esteem old man. Pretty soon you’re gonna start needing Viagra just to get your sword up.”
“One more crack from you kid and you’ll really see what my sword can do.” Methos growled.
“I’m confused, was that a homoerotic pass at me, or were you threatening bodily harm?” Richie’s voice was puzzled, but still joking. Methos sighed and grabbed the kid by his ear until he cried uncle. Buffy watched the interplay and suddenly missed the Scooby gang more than ever. Richie’s antics reminded her fiercely of Xander and Methos’ responses, oddly of Cordelia, but that could just have been Richie’s homoerotic comment talking.
“An evil psychotic immortal,” Methos mused. “It’s a wonder you haven’t run into him before Mac.”
“I mean, when did you become Martha Stewart’s twin brother?” She paused as she took a bite of sausage. “She’s not an immortal is she? Did you take her quickening and suddenly have the urge to cook?”
“Yea, and I’m Santa Claus,” Buffy said sarcastically. “Methos you’re a lot of things, but moral support guy isn’t one of them.”
“She’s got you there,” Duncan said mildly. Methos looked slightly offended.
“I will have you know that I can be a very sensitive person. For instance I saw a movie last night and cried.”
“A movie made you cry?” Richie scoffed. “Why, did a brewery get blown up?"