The Elvis Minutes #06: Finale II

(Duncan)

AM I READY?

By

Dayspring


After my fifth stumble, I admit defeat. I can't find the concentration to finish my morning kata. With a sigh, I lower myself to the deck of the barge and pick up the two items I'd left there when I thought I had something else to do, when I thought they were just slight distractions.

A messenger had delivered them to me. Never had I realized how much of a creature of habit I was until the boy had shown up two seconds after I'd stepped outside. Apparently Methos knows my routine down to the very moment.

Methos.

He's the reason for my distraction. And if I'm honest with myself, he has been since the moment I met him. He's a creature of contrasts. Age bundled in youth. Wisdom concealed by sass. Strength shielded by vulnerability. At times I look at him and all I see is Adam Pierson, mortal grad student and Watcher researcher. At other times, like when he stood before me guiding my sword to his neck, I see Methos, the Immortal legend. At least I think that's him, but I'm not sure. Would a five-thousand year old man willingly submit to death at the hands of someone as young as I? But then, there had been no submission in those eyes, had there? As I've said before, I would have been a fool to accept his offer. He had subsumed me from a distance. Once he was inside of me, I would have ceased to exist.

And now the chameleon was showing me another color. The note was deceptively simple:

Mac, work has suddenly taken me out of town for an unknown period of time. Talk to you when I get back. Adam.

I quickly read between the lines. Apparently the Watchers were punishing him for creating the CD and had sent him to do gruntwork. Maybe he deserved the punishment. The CD had been poorly thought out and had nearly outed our whole race. Why Methos had thought.... It probably had something to do with the mortal, Salzer. It was probably his concept and Methos had gone along with his "mentor". And it has cost the mortal his life and "Adam" his freedom for a while. Inconvenient, but payback usually is.

But it's not the note that's my real distraction. It's true that Methos and I have "unfinished business", but with Amanda here, still curled up in my bed where I left her after a night of celebration, that particular aspect of our relationship had to wait anyway. Amanda and I aren't exclusive, but I won't leave her bed--mine actually, but you know what I mean--and leap into someone else's. So maybe his "serving time for his crime" is not that bad of a situation.

No, it's the note's companion that has me as discombobulated as a schoolgirl on her first date.

Methos, the conniving bastard, sent me a single ruby-red, perfectly-formed, long-stemmed rose.

Am I ready, can my heart be true?
Am I ready, to fall in love with you?

The problem is that I don't know how to take the gesture. For all I know, it could be a joke of some type. Maybe he thinks I can use it to stir up jealousy in Amanda. Maybe he thinks it's a hoot replaying some sappy scene in a movie he'd been forced to watch. Maybe he just passed by one of the older women on the street who sold flowers for a living and felt sorry for her. Maybe he just wants to play with my head.

And maybe...maybe the rose says exactly what he wants it to say.

I have touched your lips, and now I know
I would be a fool, to let you go

More than likely the note's for me, and the rose is for Amanda. He made it clear he was interested when he was berating me for thinking about becoming a martyr.

"I was in Rome once--93 A.D., the Coliseum. I saw Christians facing the lions. Some of them looked almost happy to die for their faith," he'd said.

I'd put my hand on his arm, stopping him before he gave me the entire history of Christendom. "Your point, or are we just strolling down memory lane here?"

Those magical eyes of his had looked at me. "That afterwards, the only ones looking happy were the lions."

Frustrated, I'd moved away. "This isn't about faith!"

"No, it's about sacrifice. It's a hell of a thing to be a martyr, MacLeod, and that's what Kalas wants. He's pushing all your buttons."

"Well, I'm open to suggestions. Enlighten me!" Why did everyone treat me like an idiot, I'd fumed. I didn't want to die, but if my death could save my race, my people.... Why couldn't anyone understand?

"Maybe Amanda's right. You fight your best fight."

"What? Every man for himself, and to hell with the rest?"

"So what if the world finds out? Life is about change, civilizations rise and fall."

God. It was like beating my head against a brick wall. "This isn't about civilizations. This is about people--Amanda, Dawson, Richie. Our world is not an ant farm!"

He'd just shaken his head. I think I amused him. "The passion of youth."

First I was an idiot and now I was being called a child. "Yeah," I'd replied sarcastically. "Boys will be boys."

"And every cloud has a silver lining."

The man's thought patterns were indecipherable. "What do you mean?"

"If you die, Amanda will be free to date."

So does he really want Amanda, or was he just goading me? I have to admit that his words gave me pause when I was battling Kalas. No, not the part about Amanda, but the wisdom of fighting my best fight. If anyone knew about the rise and fall of civilizations, or of how people would react to startling news, it would be a five thousand year old man. How many gods had been proven false in his lifetime? How many world-altering facts had been discovered and announced? The world wasn't flat. The earth wasn't the center of the universe. The girl in "The Crying Game" was really a man.

I feel the approaching presence of a woman who will *never* be confused with being a man. I shove both the note and the rose beneath a tarp.

"Darn, did I miss the show?"

I smile and stand. "What show?"

"Rumor has it that every morning a devilishly handsome, half-dressed man comes out here and entertains the neighborhood with daring shows of agility and grace."

Agility and grace? "Well, I've been out here for a while and he definitely hasn't shown," I reply truthfully.

"Perhaps I'll catch him on my next trip."

I reach out and pull her to me. "You're leaving?" I'm not surprised. I expected it when I saw she was fully dressed.

"Places to go," she says with a shrug.

"And things to steal," I add, giving her a squeeze. "Be careful."

"Always, darling. You're okay with this, aren't you?" Her eyes scan mine carefully.

"With you leaving? Of course." We'd said--well, almost said some things to each other that we'd never voiced before. About how we truly felt about each other. She's been such a stable part of my life for so long. Not stable as in always being with me, but stable in always being there *for* me. I love her. Maybe one day I'll be able to tell her that.

"And with what happened with Kalas."

"Nothing happened. He died, and the disk fried. End of story."

"You were going to die for us, Duncan, for Immortals. I can't bear to think of you contemplating that again." She shudders against me.

"I didn't, Amanda. I found another way."

"But what happens if--"

I place a finger against her painted lips. "We're all alive and safe. Let's not borrow trouble."

A car horn sounds on the quay.

She nods and kisses my cheek. "My taxi's here."

"I can drive--"

"It's better this way. Watch that head of yours, Duncan MacLeod."

I watch her shoulder her bag and scamper to the cab. She gives me a wave and I watch the car disappear. I shake my head. Less than twelve hours ago, I had a lover in my bed, a potential one in the wings, and the fate of the Immortal world on my shoulders. Now, the world is safe, and I'm completely alone. What happened to the hero getting the girl--or the guy, for that matter?

I grab the note and the rose and go below. I toss the rose on my bed, tuck the note in my wallet, then take my bag from the armoire. I lied to Amanda when I said nothing happened with Kalas. Something did happen. Inside of me. I don't know what, but I'm different. Maybe it's because I did come so close to becoming a martyr. Maybe it's because I've realized how much people mean to me. I thought I was shut off after Tessa's death. I tried to love Anne, but if she hadn't ended it, I probably would have. I tried too hard to recapture what I had, I think. But now I know that I don't have to try, that this pain I carry hasn't shut me off. I still care--for mortals and my own.

That's the good that came out of this incident with Kalas. The bad is that I almost died--no, I almost surrendered myself. Methos had the right of it--if I had died, only the lions would have been happy.

Methos.

I perch on the bed and that's when it hits me. It doesn't matter what Methos meant by the rose. What matters is what the rose means to me.

Should I, could I, how I wish I knew.
Am I ready, to fall in love with you?

I pick up the delicate flower and roll its thornless stem between my fingers. Even when he's not here, he plies me with questions. A challenge without a sword, without an opponent. And this is the man I want in my bed? Hell, yes...but not until I know who's going to be in the bed with him.

I need to find myself again. The loss of Tessa and Darius--God, Darius had been my touchstone for so long. I miss my old friend. I truly do. I wonder what he would think of me and Methos.

I wonder what I think of Methos.

Rolling my eyes at my thoughts, I get up and start to pack. After I stop by Lolande's Art Gallery to check on a piece I've ordered, I'm going to take off for a while. Be by myself. Think about my future--what it will be and who I will share it with.

Maybe...maybe I'll even go home--to Scotland.

Should I, could I, how I wish I knew
Am I ready, to fall in love with you?

Am I Ready ~ Words & music by Tepper - Bennett

Continues in Elvis Minutes #07