"You see it?"
"I see it. I think I just wanted someone to confirm it."
"Are they playing us, or are they really that clueless?" the one woman said to the other as they stood in front of the mirror in the Ladies' Room of Joe's.
"God help them, but I think they're that clueless," the other replied. "I should either be really annoyed, or I should just count my blessings and accept what I could get. He's rich, he's handsome. I'm not looking for anything permanent. Why should I care if he lusts after someone else?"
A dab of lipstick. "It's the romantic in us, because we know it's about more than lust."
A spray of perfume. "I think we're going to lose membership in the Single Women of America if we do what I think we're going to do."
"I know my mother wouldn't understand. She never believed in corporal punishment, but I think she'd turn me over her knee if she realized I was going to let go of an honest-to-goodness college professor. And he's a doctor. Doesn't matter whether it's an M.D. or a Ph.D. He's a doctor. Maybe we should rethink this."
Dark ringlets shimmied as the other shook her head. "No, it's like you said. If it was something simple like sex, I think we could possibly come out winners. But with the way it is, we'd only be hurt in the long run."
"You're right. Let's get this over with. They may not--take it well."
"Then that's their loss. Let's go."
The two walked out of the Ladies' Room and to a table occupied by two men, who rose gallantly as they approached.
"Can we order you another glass of wine, ladies?" Duncan MacLeod asked. "And no, I'm not offering to buy you another beer," he added quickly before his friend Adam Pierson could open his mouth.
"That's very sweet of you, Duncan, but Maria and I were talking...." Shana looked at her cousin for encouragement, smiling when the other woman nodded. "Duncan, Adam, we have a question we want to ask you."
Joe Dawson walked out of the storeroom where he'd been inventorying some stock, and noticed the two men sitting alone at the table. Already amused by the thought of Duncan and Methos on a double date, he figured a little bit of teasing while the ladies were away would make up for time he'd wasted mindlessly counting bottles. "So what happened to your lady friends?" he asked. "They give up on you already?"
"That's right, Joe," Duncan said sourly. "Kick a man when he's down."
Joe's eyes widened. "You mean--"
"We were dumped," Methos replied eruditely.
Joe was stunned. MacLeod was never dumped and Methos--well, Adam could be charming when he wanted to be. "So what did you guys do? Have a farting contest or something?"
Duncan raised dark, sad eyes. "We didn't do anything. The evening was going well--"
"As well as a double date could go," Methos interrupted.
"Look, it's not my fault Shana's cousin came to visit and she didn't want Maria feeling like a third wheel--"
"I thought that was a fifth wheel, unless of course you're talking about the two-wheeled carts of the--"
"Oh, put a lid on it, Methos, and drink your beer like a good little alcoholic," Duncan scoffed.
"They thought you guys drank too much?" Joe asked, trying to understand what had happened.
"No," the two men chorused.
"They thought you were boring?" Two shaking heads. "They thought you smelled?" Two more negatives. "Then why the hell did they walk out on you?" the blues musician almost screamed.
"TheyaskedusaquestionandthenShanatookMariahome," Duncan mumbled.
"What?" Joe asked.
"You know they were fine until they went to the Ladies Room," Methos said. "I've often had suspicions about that place."
"It's a bathroom, man," Duncan said dryly, then looked at his friend. "Isn't it?"
"I've often wondered," the old man said suspiciously. "You know, when women just squatted behind the closest tree they didn't act the way they do now."
"So you think there's something going on behind the door that I'm scared to even touch?" Duncan whispered.
Methos nodded. "I think it's not merely a door. I think it's a portal to another universe. Trust me, mere bodily functions don't take that long. And have you noticed they almost always go in pairs? Probably balances the transport device."
"I've often wondered how they could go in with a purse the size of a postage stamp and come out with fresh lipstick, makeup, powder, and I swear, some of them have even changed clothes," Duncan acknowledged solemnly.
"It's all in that other universe," Methos said resolutely.
"You're both full of bullshit," Joe said, shaking his head in amazement. "So what was the question they asked you?" It had taken him a while to figure out Mac's reply, but hell, he hadn't Watched the man for decades for nothing.
Duncan flushed and slouched in his seat. Methos, who was already slouched in a full Methosian sprawl, looked at his companion sympathetically before laying it all out on the table for Joe. "They wanted to know why we weren't dating each other."
Joe was glad he had a cane to hold him up. "They wanted to know what?"
"In that other universe they concluded we were perfect for each other, and that even if our brains didn't know it, our hearts did and that it was perfectly obvious to anyone who looked."
Joe cocked his head to one side, and looked at the two Immortals. At first glance they appeared to be opposites. The dark, brawny Scot versus the fair, slim Englishman. He took a step back and looked again. If a person knew who they really were, he could confirm their differences. A gallant four-hundred-year-old who believed in truth, honor, and justice, and a cynical five-thousand-year-old who believed in nearly nothing, except doing whatever was necessary for survival.
Joe took a step forward, his gaze never wandering even when a member of his band called out that it was time for their set. But if a person got to actually know the two men in question, he would find two men who--despite differing views and different approaches--had similar goals, cherished life in all its forms, and fit together like a hand in a glove. They argued passionately, and agreed with cocky confidence. They could hurt each other with a single word, and defend the other with a loyalty bordering on obsession. They fought with the bitterness of cats and dogs, yet protected one another with the fierceness of a mother bear.... Well, damn.
Grinning, Joe waved his reply to the drummer and started to take his place on the stage. Then as if it was a secondary thought, he turned back to the table and asked, "Well, why aren't you?"
He laughed at the glares that followed him on stage.
Duncan watched Methos' long fingers tap against his beer bottle in time with the music. This had been one of the weirdest nights of his four hundred year-plus existence. No, it wasn't the first time he'd been dumped, but he had to admit the reason was unique. And insane. The ancient Immortal was more of a pain in the ass than the love of his life. He was exasperating, annoying, difficult, a liar like the world had never known, and his morals didn't exist. Okay, maybe he secretly liked the way Methos challenged him. He kept him on his intellectual toes, and a spar with the old goat was physically demanding. And maybe sometimes he enjoyed the comfortable silence the two of them fell into when Methos visited the loft. The irascible Immortal always seemed to know when Duncan had bought a new book. He'd eye the book casually, flip through it curiously, mumble something about "I always meant to buy this one", and flop down on Duncan's sofa while holding out a hand for a beer. With a sigh, Duncan would go retrieve the book Methos had "meant to buy" the week before, settle into the leather recliner, and the two of them would spend the whole evening never speaking, but communicating nevertheless.
And maybe, just maybe, he'd watch Methos stretch languidly ,or his changeable eyes would capture the light just so, and Duncan would feel desire so intense that he'd find his palms sweaty and his hands shaking.... Well, damn. "So, you got plans for tomorrow night, Old Man?"
Methos shrugged, his eyes on the band. So what if the Highlander added fire to his life? So what if baiting the man made him smile more in the last five years than he had in the last five hundred? So what if the handsome form had played the leading role in his fantasies for the past four years.... Well, damn. "I don't know. I was thinking about maybe cooking dinner and inviting you over."
"I'll bring the wine...and flowers?"
"Flowers for the table would be nice. Probably go well with the candles." Methos' hand left the beer bottle and settled on the table.
Duncan looked at the hand and placed his on top of it. "It's a date?"
Methos turned his hand over to entwine his fingers with Duncan's. Shyly, golden eyes turned to the Scot. "It's a date." The hands dropped below the tablecloth.
Joe watched the entangled hands disappear...and segued into a bluesy love song.
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September 13, 2000