NOTE: Asha is cast as Orlando Bloom (Legolas) and Ailean is Ewan MacGregor (currently ObiWan)
It was a miserable pissing night. The rain streamed down from the heavens and soaked the young man walking by the side of the road. He didn't seem to mind it too much. He held his thumb out to the passing cars more by rote than anything else. His hair was plastered to his head. He had a backpack slung across his back over his leather coat. The necklace around his neck thumped against his chest with each step he took.
The sudden buzz of presence hit him as the car slowed down. He stopped and glanced around looking for the easiest escape route.
MacLeod slowed down to take a look at the hitch-hiker. He was shocked when the presence washed over him. The young man was getting ready to bolt, his weight already forward. "Wait!" MacLeod called. The young man paused and looked over at him. MacLeod held up his open hands. "I mean no harm." The young man wavered. "I'm Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod. You needed a ride?"
After a long evaluation from brown eyes, the young man moved towards the car. "A ride where?"
MacLeod thought fast. "My friend has a bar. His apartment is over it. He'll let you take a shower and get warm."
The young man looked down the road, then up at the black sky. "Okay. Just keep your hands to yourself."
They got into the relative comfort of the car. "And you are?"
"Nice to meet you, Ben. So, where are you headed?"
"Interesting place. Have you been hitch-hiking for long?"
"Couple of months."
"Where are you from?"
"Some of it."
"Where is this bar, exactly?"
"In downtown. It's an blues bar. Do you know what the buzz means?"
"Some miserable bastard is going to try to kill me. I shoot him and leave. Simple."
"Not really. You're Immortal. So am I."
"Honestly. The only thing that can kill you is having your head cut off."
"Then I'm not immortal am I?" Ben snarked. He rolled his eyes and stared out the window. MacLeod counted to ten and drew on all of his patience.
"Mac, have you thought about sending him to Methos for training?"
"You want me to encourage that kind of behavior? He's already got the shoot and run method down pat."
Joe held up a hand. "I was just thinking that their personalities were similar. It might be more comfortable for everyone involved." The Scot snorted.
"Two against me? I'm not that stupid."
"What do you mean?"
"Ben and Methos? Together? They'd either rule the world or drive me mad."
The bluesman just grinned. "So how's our boy taking to the sword?"
"He thinks it's going to jump up off of the floor and bite him. I had to start him with a wooden sword. Richie took to it more readily." Joe smiled fondly. MacLeod had finally come to terms with the death of his student. "I was thinking of calling Gina though."
"Do you think that's a good idea? That would be just like sending him to the Old Man, only more dangerous."
"True. Has he been a good houseguest?"
"Yeah. He keeps the place clean. He was taking care of the elevator yesterday. He actually read the manual."
"I was going to see about getting him into the university. How do you think he'd take to it?"
"I'd ask him."
"Ask him what?" Ben asked, toweling his hair damp.
"Do you want to go to university?"
"An education. . ."
"is a horrible thing to inflict on someone. There's nothing at school that I can't learn elsewhere. I already know how to bullshit idiots."
"Just keep it in mind."
"I was thinking of staying a bartender for awhile. Until Joe gets sick of me."
Joe snorted. "Until you need to move on."
"Then I'll take you with me, gramps."
Ben grinned unrepentantly.
"You need to get involved in something that's not training or working."
"Volunteering at the hospital. Joining a church group."
"I'm not a Boy Scout. I don't need to do a good deed every day. I'll go clubbing, if that'll make you happy." MacLeod frowned a bit. "Oh, come off it, MacLeod. I'm not going to save the world or the whales or whatever cause is popular these days."
"You might think about finding something worth believing in, fighting for."
"The only thing I'm fighting is the urge to dump you and finish my trip, but I promised Joe six months."
"Why?" Joe asked. "Why stay?"
"You want a cuppa, Joe?"
"I like you. I'm not sure about the Scot yet. He wants me to fight with swords as if I'm the Scarlet Pimpernel or something." Asha made a pot of coffee. He leaned against the counter while he waited for it to brew. "I'll probably end up cutting off my own head."
"You'll be fine once you relax with it."
"Relax with a long, sharp pointy thing in my hand?"
"Yes. It just takes practice."
"Speaking of practice. Don't you have rehearsal today, gramps?"
"No, brat. That's tomorrow. It's Wednesday."
"I thought. . . How'd I get a day off?"
"Long nights and early mornings. Happens to all of us." Asha delivered a steaming mug of black coffee to the watcher.
"Some people sleep until noon."
"Not in this room," Joe muttered. Asha sipped his coffee – sugar, no milk. MacLeod raised his brows.
"Did you want some? You didn't say anything."
"You didn't offer."
"Thinking like that'll keep you from getting ahead. You'll never get what you want if you don't ask for it." The Immoral grinned at the Scot, but fixed him a cup – cream, no sugar. "So what is my schedule today, oh my master?"
"We'll start with Tai Chi. Then swords."
"But we ran four miles."
"You'll have to work hard to keep in shape. If you slack off, someone's going to take your head."
"Fine. I demand a nap."
MacLeod shook his head. "You'd think I was forcing you to do hard labor. What would you be doing today if you were on the road?"
"Hiking. But I can rest whenever I want and I might get lucky and find a ride."
"When I was your age. . ."
"Spare me, Mac. Joe's got better war stories."
"Tai Chi. Sword Practice."
"Fine. After my nap."
"After lunch perhaps. No nap."
MacLeod was pleased when Ben took to the forms. "You've had training in Tai Chi."
"Good. We can build on it with the sword. Sword-work is a part of the tradition."
"I know. I just don't like the things. I'd rather dodge the issue."
"You'll end up in a situation where you can't run one of these days. That's when you'll need to know what to do."
"Um hm." Ben was suddenly too deeply into the forms to care what Mac was saying. MacLeod stared, then shook his head. He should have learned by now. He let him go for awhile, studying his form, making minor adjustments with gentle touches that Ben, for once, didn't snap at. And in the calm silence, Duncan MacLeod of the clan MacLeod got the feeling that this one might just survive after all.
"How old are you?"
"Why do you care?"
"How old were you when you died?"
"I'm not sure. There's no real record of my being born. Approximately twenty-one, I suppose."
"Do you have ID?"
"I'm not a fool, Mac. I've got my own contacts. I've been surviving just fine for quite awhile now.'
"It's a reasonable response. I don't like fighting."
"You have to fight sometime. Let me teach you."
Ben sighed. "I suppose."
"We're going to use a live blade this time. You have to get used to the weight of it."
For once, the taunt was without rancor.
Asha hummed under his breath as he worked on the inventory and Joe worked on his journals. "So," Joe said, "when are you going to tell him?"
"Tell him what?"
"That you aren't what you're pretending to be?"
"What do you mean?" Asha looked up with innocent eyes.
"Doesn't work on me."
Asha counted up the bottles and checked off the invoice. "Then tell me what you mean."
"You aren't a genXer anymore than I am."
"Don't you think you should let him know that? And maybe you should tell him about the katas you practice when no one's looking."
"I watch. It's a habit."
"It's a profession. So what are you going to tell him?"
"But you think I should? When he's playing I know best? I don't think so. I'm going to just milk this for awhile."
"If you hurt him, I'll take your head."
"I won't hurt him. But I might shake him up a bit." Asha perched on the edge of Joe's desk. "I'm not a stalker, Joe. I don't have a taste for Boy Scouts."
"You wouldn't be staying at my place if you were. You'd be as close as possible to him."
"You know me pretty well, gramps."
"Watch it, brat. Where are you from, Ben?"
"Would you believe New Orleans?"
Joe snorted. "Nope."
Asha blinked. "Damn. Have to work on the accent then."
Joe laughed. "Don't bother. I'm not that intent on finding out. How's the inventory?"
"Bastards shorted us two bottles of vodka and a bottle of rum."
"Phone's over there. Give 'em hell."
"Call Amanda. Tell her Galan's here. Ask her if I'm a danger to MacLeod."
Joe shook his head. "Sometimes, I just go with my gut."
Asha picked up the phone and smiled over his shoulder. "I know."
It wasn't more than two days later that MacLeod went haring off after a challenge with strict orders for Ben to stay put and shoot any immortal that wasn't his teacher. "Whatever. Don't lose your head," Asha had replied. MacLeod gave him a glare and left. Joe sighed and followed.
"Don't let them burn the place down or steal the cash."
"Yes, sir, gramps."
"Be careful, Joe. I don't want you in the way of the Quickening."
"I've been doin' this for years." The Watcher left to track his assignment. Asha sighed and went to tend the small lunch crowd.
Methos watched the Highlander leave and Joe follow him. He decided that it was a challenge. But he hadn't seen MacLeod's new student. In fact, he was fairly certain that "Ben" had to be still in the building. Mike had left and Joe wouldn't have left quite as calmly if someone weren't watching the bar. The oldest Immortal made sure his buzz was tamped down completely. He pulled on his most harmless persona and went to buy a beer.
Asha turned towards the newcomer and nearly dropped the glass he was polishing. Holy shit! It was Methos' twin. Too bad this one was mortal. He wanted to see Methos rather badly. It had been a couple of years. "Hi, what can I get you?" he asked smoothly.
Even the voice was similar.
"Is Joe around?"
"No, he had to go out. He should be back a little later. Do you want me to leave him a message?"
"You the new bartender?"
"Hi. I'm Adam Pierson."
"Good to meet you."
Methos debated with himself. It couldn't be Asha. There was no way that he'd just stumble across him like this. Not in a blues bar. He'd been there when Asha swore he'd never set foot inside another one. He'd held to that rule for some two hundred years.
"I'll leave a message if I leave before he comes back," he told the man behind the bar. He was glad when he had to go fill other drinks. Methos stared into his beer as if it held the answers to the universe. Which, of course, it probably did, but he wasn't really interested in them. There had been three of them there the day the bar had gone up in smoke.
The inn was empty. It hadn't been a good year. The town was dying in general. Travelers stopped in on occasion, but most of the time it was Methos, Asha, and his lover, sharing some beer and a story or two with the town drunks. One of those drunks had died the night before. He'd been found in the street dead in a pile of his own vomit. It had taken strong brandy to calm down the young wife who had found him there. The first sounds of rain had been welcome. It meant that travelers might be looking for shelter sooner rather than later. Then, the thunder started to peal. The first strike of lightening had taken down a tree. It missed the roof by inches. The second strike hit the roof. Luckily, the rain seemed to keep it from catching fire. The third strike hit the hay in the stable and set it ablaze. The fire spread quickly and the horse's terror was what alerted them to the fact. Methos had dashed into the stable and freed the creature then, bolted outside as the roof caved. There was very little to do except grab what they could of their belongings and watch the place burn.
"That is the final straw, Doc. I'm quitting. From here on out, I am not setting foot inside a bar. I will never work for a living again. I will find rich patrons and gullible suckers and live off of them until I die."
Asha's lover shook his head. "I don't believe you."
"I'll do it. Just you watch."
"I don't think you'll last a fortnight."
"I'll last a Hell of a lot longer than that, beloved."
"In ten years time you'll be sick of that life as well."
"I don't think I shall." Asha kissed the younger Immortal gently on the cheek. "What do you plan to do? I'm going to stage my death. I'm just going to disappear in this rain."
"I think I'll stay a bit longer. I'll meet you in London in ten years?"
"London. By the river. I'll visit it every day at noon."
"Noon. By the river in London. Ten years from now. Our spot?"
"By that time you'll have a job again."
"What are you willing to bet?"
Ailean shook his head. "I've learned that lesson. And you, Doc? Where are you going?"
"I think I'll head to America. I love developing countries."
"Will we see you in London too?"
"In ten years."
"Ten years," Asha confirmed. He kissed his lover once more and faded into the night.
Asha settled his hand over the newcomer's fingers. He'd been drawing what would look like geometric patterns to anyone else on the bar. Startled hazel eyes met his own. "Hey, the lunch crowd's gone. Joe's not back. Help me lock up, brother?" he said in Assyrian.
Methos grinned. "Yes, brother." They locked up, easily falling into old rhythms. As soon as that was done, Asha threw himself into Methos' arms. Methos felt his ribs creak under the strength of the squeeze.
"Where have you been?"
"Here and there. Gods, I'd thought I'd lost you. Why the hell haven't you written?"
"I lost your address."
"I just came to tell Joe whether you were a threat or not."
"I’m not. I'm just teaching your Highlander a lesson."
"You've got your own stubborn Scot. Stay away from mine."
"No way." Asha released his grip a tiny bit. "Have you seen Ailean? Have you heard anything? I can't find him. He missed our last meeting. I haven't seen him in half a century."
Methos pulled him in. "I'll find him. And then I'll send him to you. Don't kill MacLeod in the mean time."
"You aren't leaving. You've just gotten here."
"Wouldn't you rather I was looking for your Scot?"
"Not until I know everything that's happened in the past seventy years."
"Mac told me to kill any immortal that showed up."
"'Shoot any immortal that isn't me.' That's what he told me." Asha rested his chin on his brother's shoulder. "Damn, I've missed you."
"I'm not going to let you shoot me."
"I'd rather not be dead when Mac shows up."
"Don't you trust me?"
Methos snorted. "Right. Not that much."
"So, give me the highlights."
"I became a Watcher for fifteen years. The Horsemen are dead. Byron's dead. I got married. She died within the year. Let's see. Amanda attempted to get me involved in some scheme during World War II and I told her I wouldn't be anywhere near it. I decrypted messages for the British, then I ducked out and went to Tibet just in time for it to be invaded by the Chinese. I played roadie during the sixties and seventies. That's the quick version."
"There's a fuck lot more I need to know about several things. Are you going to disappear and give Joe a reference for me?"
"I'll give him a reference. How do you want to be known? As my brother or as a student? How old?"
"A little over two hundred years."
"Ah, you're Benjamin's student then?"
"I *am* using Ben Adams."
"Very well. I picked you up after Walker and before Byron. Sent you off on your own when I took on the poet."
"That works. I'll slip my leash and meet you later?"
"Fine. Call me. I'll meet you at the Tower?"
"As long as you bring something good to drink."
"I will." Methos kissed the younger Immortal's cheek.
Joe settled heavily in his office chair. "I'm getting too old for this shit," he grumbled. Mac was twitching like a live wire and Ben was trying to stay away from him. Joe couldn't even find the pleasure of deciphering motives as he booted up his system. He logged into the Watcher network and uploaded his encrypted report. Then, he checked his email.
"Joe: I checked on your new friend. He's not a threat. Benjamin trained him. Benjamin never took a head. – Adam"
Joe sighed in relief. It made a weird sort of sense. There was enough of the old man in Ben's sarcasm and dislike of combat. He relaxed and rubbed at his temples. "Ben!"
"Open up for the dinner crew."
"Sure thing, boss."
Joe whiled away an hour on the network, reading the newest updates and gossip.
Asha bit the inside of his cheek as MacLeod tried to explain what a Quickening was to him. He just kept the scotch flowing and took care of the other customers. He stuck a sandwich in front of the Highlander to try to soak up some of the alcohol. Mike finally came on shift and Ben gratefully left him to it. MacLeod peripherally noticed his disappearance, but wasn't paying much attention.
He tacked a note to the front of Joe's monitor: "Gone out. Be back late. Don't wait up. Don't worry if I'm not in by nine. –BA"
He left the building after grabbing a bottle of whiskey from the back room. He changed quickly and made sure he had extra clips and his short sword. He wasn't going to take any chances. Methos had always attracted trouble and he doubted that had changed. That he'd hated it never seemed to matter. The old man was a magnet for insane immortals. Hell, even the Scot wasn't sane. Demon possession indeed. Dark Quickening. Joe had a vivid imagination. And there was no clean report as to what had happened.
It was bullshit. Unless Methos had something to do with it. The bartender knew Methos. There was no way around it.
Methos stiffened with trepidation. He knew he'd arranged to meet Asha, but there was always another Immortal passing through Paris. Big cities were the best place to hide. He looked over the grass from his position at the foot of the Eifel Tower. His face creased in a smile. "A second case? I don't think we'll drink quite that much."
"You never know. I brought whiskey too."
"Good boy. Want to climb the tower?"
"Been there, done that."
"Did Joe tell you about Mac and Manda dancing on the top? Someone got it on film even."
"You're shitting me."
Asha broke out two beers and they settled on the floor. "So tell me. Tell me everything."
"You don't ask for much do you."
"Just the good bits. You can forget all the dull parts."
"Shall I fill you in on the MacLeod bits first? Since you've taken to teaching him."
"That will do for a start."
"I got back into the Watchers. I'd been there some ten years. I was a Methos researcher. Kalas went after Watchers. He'd tracked down my mentor and killed him. Joe decided I was probably next on his list. Mac came to protect me." Methos tipped his head to the side in a wry grin. "I thought of going the youngling route, but I didn't. I let him feel me half-strength and he figured it out. I disappeared on him as soon as possible. Then, Kalas got out of jail with the help of the irritating Amanda. The two of them fought on the top of the Tower. You have seen nothing until you've seen a Quickening hit this place. Blacked out most of Paris."
"Get to the interesting parts. Tell me about Kronos."
"I'm not drunk enough for that. Give me the whiskey."
"Shall I just inject it directly into your viens?"
"That's sounding attractive. Kronos came back."
"I'd guessed that."
"You know what he is. . . was like. It's hard to think of them as dead. He wanted me to kill MacLeod. I was even considering doing it. But I'm not the same as I was back then."
"None of us are."
"I think he'd been stirring up trouble in the Eastern Bloc."
"That sounds like something he'd do."
"The humans had captured Caspian. He was kidnapping, killing and eating men."
"It wasn't considered acceptable. They locked him up in Romania."
"Couldn't have happened to a nicer person."
"I'm sensing a bit of hostility there."
"Just remember that I've always been your brother. They were just imposters. I know you the way they never could."
"You're getting possessive."
"Getting? Haven't you been listening to me for the past five millenia?"
Methos rolled his eyes. "Far too often. Must you be quite so outgoing?"
"Yes. I can't believe that you fell in with Kronos in the first place. I mean honestly."
"Well, it kept my head and yours."
"We could have left."
"And gone where?"
"There were two of us and Silas wouldn't raise a hand against you."
"I killed him."
"And we could have. . . killed Kronos?"
"Silas. I killed Silas. Mac killed Kronos and Caspian."
"Shit. No wonder you've been keeping tabs on him. Just take his head then. Get them somewhere where they can be controlled."
"He's not been acting oddly."
"He isn't? You mean he's always been this stupidly stubborn?"
"Worse? And he survived?"
"He had Amanda and Fitzcairn to look after him."
"He needed someone to look after him. Sweet Gods. He's got me ready to bash his brains in. If I didn’t think Joe would shoot me, I'd do it too."
"Joe would shoot you. He's better than when I met him."
"And you're still breathing. Imagine."
"I don't want to take his head. That man has a Dark Quickening, two Horsemen, a Zoroastrian demon and Gods know what else in it. I'm not going to be anywhere near that quickening."
"So the bastards are dead. What was that about Byron?"
"MacLeod killed him."
"He thought he was responsible for a mortal choosing to OD on heroin."
"And Byron was being his usual obnoxious, self-centered self and Duncan about had a coniption fit at the thought that I had a friend."
"Okay, jealousy. So, is there really something going on between you two that I should know about?"
Methos coughed up the beer he'd been attempting to swallow. "MacLeod, straight as an arrow wouldn't screw *Corey* when he was traveling with him and Amanda? I don't think so."
"So why kill Byron, hmm?"
Methos shuddered. "Scots are not my type. Especially not brooding bastards that kill my relatives."
"Right. And there was mention of a wife?"
"Alexa." Methos' smile was soft. "I loved her the instant I saw her. She was dying when I met her. She died too soon. Hurt like hell even though I knew what I was in for. Of course, Mac happened to get himself a Dark Quickening in the middle of it. Talk about timing."
"Dark Quickenings do not exist."
"I beg to differ."
"You *saw* one?"
"Up close and far too personally."
"I am not. Ask Joe."
"I've read his Chronicles The man needs better computer security."
"He does. And it's true. He called me away from my dying wife, who happened to be one of his waitresses, to take care of it."
"So you're telling me the demon thing is true too?"
"Ah. And you're letting him believe this because?"
"He seems to have gotten it under control."
"And you buy that?"
"I choose a belief that fits my personal experiences, nothing more. Fuck it, it's true. Arihman came to him in the forms of Kronos and Horton. Horton was a Hunter. Not the elephant that heard the Who. And you know Kronos. It seems our Highlander thinks of him as the devil incarnate."
"You mean he isn't?"
"No, that's you."
"Glad you recognize it. Is he over the god-complex thing?"
"No. He thinks he had a near death experience. The total 'It's a Wonderful Life' package with Fitzcairn as Clarence."
"Fitz as an angel?"
"That was my reaction too. Ask Amanda about that though. I've only got the second hand version from her."
"I think that's the long and short of it."
"Your bitch is dead."
"Your bitch. The one Kronos hated so much."
"Cassandra? Who took her?"
"She challeneged some child who happened to actually have fighting skills and was immune to the Voice. I read it on that wicked Watcher website."
"I've not been keeping track of her. Too bad. I'd hoped to get reaquainted with her."
"Methos, for shame. Thinking of raping your ex-wife."
"Rape her? Never. Seduce, maybe. Besides, she molested a 12 year old."
"What?" Asha leaned forward.
"A twelve year old Scottish clan heir."
"She did MacLeod?"
"I did not."
"You did. And it's true. She seduced him."
"Come on, it couldn't have been that good."
Asha snickered. "Jealous, brother?"
"Hell no. And I think that she got what she deserved. Anyone else dead that I should know about?"
"Knew that one."
"Jerry kicked off."
"Garcia? I knew that."
"Next you're going to tell me Fitz *wasn't* in the Who?"
"He wasn't. I know. I worked on one of their tours. The Rolling Stones too. Mick's a pre-immortal. Hopefully he'll die in his sleep. The world does not need him around for another sixty or seventy years."
"That how long you'd hold out before killing him? I thought you liked rock."
"I like rock, at the moment. I also liked Bach when he was the next big thing." Methos shrugged. "What can I say, I'm easily lead."
"Then you'll listen to the bagpipes again?'
"No, never again. I will gut the machine and ruin the CDs. I'll gut the piper too, if it comes down to it. That music is enough to drive one mad. Whiskey?"
"Please." They sat in companionable silence for awhile. "We shouldn't be here at sunrise."
"No, but there's no hurry. It's just after, eh, three o'clock."
"If we don't leave now, we'll be too drunk to do so later."
"Very true. Come on. I've still got a place here. We'll go and drink ourselves stupid."
They clinked bottles and gathered themselves up.
"Hi, Mac. I'm here. Let's get this torture over with."
"Where were you last night?"
"Where were you," MacLeod repeated. He stepped forward.
Ben yawned in his face.
"Where were you?"
"I told you. I was out. With a friend. I don't say anything when you disappear with those women every night."
"Joe said you didn't come home."
"Joe's a busy body."
"We're just trying to make sure you're safe."
"Mac, I've got my gun. Just because I don't have a long pointy object with me, doesn't mean I'm not safe."
"Ben Adams, rules are made for your protection. You have a curfew. Closing time at Joe's. That is for your safety."
"And your power trip. Fuck off, MacLeod. I don't need your rules."
"It is not my power trip. Damn it, boy."
"I'm not a boy, MacLeod. I'm not some child you took in off the streets. Joe doesn't put these demands on me. Perhaps if it were him, I might agree to it."
"You did agree."
"I never agreed to rules about my personal life. You are my trainer, not my father."
"A teacher is as close as most immortals get to a parent. Your lineage is determined by your teachers, not your foster family."
Ben raised his brows. "Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod. Teachers?"
"Connor MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod."
"Ah, I see. Your kind join together to irritate the rest of us. Let's finish this. I've got inventory control to do."
"Sit down. Wait for me."
"I have to call Joe. Sit down. Shut up."
"No," MacLeod retorted without thinking. He looked back at Ben, whose jaw had dropped.
"You have a sense of humor. Or was Joe dead wrong about you being straight?"
"Joe was right. It's a temporary condition brought on by worrying."
"Then you need to worry some more. I'll just disappear."
"You'll sit down and be quiet. Once I've spoken to Joe, we'll get to work."
Ben rolled his eyes. "I left Joe a note."
"He was worried."
"No, you were worried and you pushed it onto him. He's sleeping. At least, he should be. If he's not, then he's up with a hangover or something."
"Joe doesn't drink when he's tending bar."
"Ben. . ." MacLeod shook his head and pulled out his cell phone. He hit the speed dial. "Joe, he's here." MacLeod winced. "I know what time it is. I just thought you should know. Goodnight, Joe."
"I told you so."
"Shut up, Ben. First forms. Then, sword drills."
Asha rolled his eyes, then slid into his forms. He flowed from position to position. MacLeod couldn't find anything to correct. The boy would be a very good student, if he'd just try things, he thought to himself. He stretched using his favorite warm ups. Asha grinned at him. "Can I use your sword?"
"I've been good."
MacLeod snorted. "No. Wooden sword."
"Yes, sir, Mr. MacLeod, sir." Asha took up the wooden sword. He stepped into the practice position. MacLeod took his place across from him. They worked through the drills with single-minded intensity. Asha found the opening that he was looking for. He would look like a lucky amateur and Duncan would remember not to underestimate a younger player. He slid his "sword" into position and knocked Mac's out of his hand.
"That's wonderful," Duncan grinned.
Asha blinked. MacLeod assumed his was surprised at disarming his teacher and said nothing.
"Let's go again."
Asha groaned and stretched sore muscles. He'd been slacking off it seemed. Or maybe he'd just never had quite as an enthusiastic sparring partner. He toweled the water from his hair. "Check the machine, Ben."
"I don't think that's a good idea, Mac."
"Just press play. It's not that hard."
"Just so you admit that I've warned you." Asha crept up on the sleeping dragon and pressed the green play button. There was a flash, a fizzle, then the power went out.
"What did you do?" MacLeod demanded from the kitchen.
"I pressed play."
"What else did you do?"
"Nothing." Asha shifted from foot to foot. "See, it's like this. I sort of have a love hate relationship with simple machines, and some complex ones. I've had computer systems crash when I walk into the room. Cars go off the road when I'm driving. Answering machines blow up. I'm okay with phones though. And bottle openers."
Ailean grinned when the bartender caught sight of him.
Joe relaxed as Ben's face bloomed into a full smile. The new immortal clasped Ben's hand. He pulled him half over the bar for a kiss to each cheek. "How the fuck are you?"
"Doin' fine. How're you? Gotten' in any trouble lately?"
"Nope. I've been a regular saint. Sit down. I'll get you a pint. Boss won't mind if I talk for a while, will he?" Ben turned pleading eyes on Joe.
Joe looked down his nose at him. "That doesn't work on me. Go ahead. Get yourselves a table. I can handle this crowd."
"You're workin'? You got to be kiddin' me. You swore you'd never work another day again!"
"Things change. You have got to hear this all the way through."
"That good huh?" Just then the buzz past through them both and they turned to the door, just as Duncan strode in. "Fuckin' lovely. Duncan MacLeod of the clan MacLeod. A bigger ass has never been born. Insufferable when he was a mortal, worse since he became immortal... Give us good Scots a bad reputation."
"Told you, you needed to hear this all the way through." Ben carried two pints towards a table after a smile and nod in Duncan's direction.
MacLeod glared, but continued on to Joe. He figured he could get a run down on the situation from the watcher.
"You sure that's gonna be enough beer to last? How the hell did you manage this? Speak, speak."
"Nope, but I figure Joe'll be over to give us a pitcher as soon as Mac starts pestering him. He picked me up on the side of the road. He assumed I was a newborn. Now, I'm staying with the barman and Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod is 'trainin' me."
"Why the hell didn't you let him know you've already been trained? You don't have to tell him everything. Just enough to get out from under him. For God's sake, he's a MacLeod. Conner's okay, but Duncan is insufferable. Been tempted to take his head a time or twelve hundred."
"Oh, I don't know. I figure I might be able to break him down some. Remember Doc? He started the process. I'm just going to help out a bit. Besides. I've been learning his technique. It'll make it easier to take him down. And I'm livin' with a Watcher. It's a sweet deal. I can always bug out with a note."
"If you manage to break him down I'll buy you the fuckin' Eiffel Tower. If Doc couldn't do it, what the hell makes you think you can, Asha?"
"I'm not working with the handicap of him thinkin' I'm the old man. Besides, he's footing the bill."
"Ah. It is finally explained. I swear, you should have been a courtisain."
"I've got more class than that. And I think we need more beer."
"There is always a need for more beer. I don't know, I think men would have paid top dollar for you. Showered in gold and jewels. You name mentioned through out history...." He grinned at his friend. "God knows, I would have paid top dollar for you, and then bought you for the rest of time just to make sure no other could touch you."
"Hmm. I might take you up on that." Asha leaned across the table. "I've missed you. Where the Hell did you disappear to? Tibet?"
"Nah. Not my style. Actually I've flitted about here and there. Stayed at a lovely missionary for a few months on Bora Bora." He reached across and laid his hand over Asha's. "And I meant ever word about how much you are worth to me. You are the best friend I've ever had. I've missed you a great deal."
Asha turned his hand up underneath his friend's. "Thank you, Ailean. Do you have any place you really have to be?"
"No. No where to go, and no one waiting for me."
"Good. Stay till closing? I'll keep the brat away from you. Just don't kill him or Doc will go ballistic on me. Though I still don't know why."
"Could it be that dear old Doc has a bit of a crush on the brat? And of course I'll stay until closing. After if you wish me too."
"Gods, he'd never admit to it if he did. I'd like that."
"Have you noticed that Doc has a bit of a weak spot for us Scots?"
"He looked in on Connor because Ramirez taught him. That might be why he's protective of this little brat. Some strange sense of family.
"I think he's just got a soft spot for Scots."
"Well, we are a rather cuddly people. Would you mind terribly much going over to your teacher and telling him to stop trying to burn a hole between my shoulder blades with his glaring? It's making me twitchy."
Asha sighed and made sure his persona was in place. "I'll go. Don't move or we'll lose the table." He walked back to the bar, glasses in hand, and behind it. He pulled up two more beers. "He's a friend, Mac. Stop making him uncomfortable."
"How long has he been a friend?"
"Years, Mac. Years. I know him back and forwards. He's not a threat to me."
"How do you know? How do you know he wasn't waiting for you to become an immortal and then take your head? What is his name?"
"Ailean Campbell. I've known he was immortal for as long as I've known him, Mac."
"He told you?"
"Yes. He did." Asha smiled. "And I believed him. He's honest, Mac. He's a nice guy. Just leave him alone."
"Wait, you said his last name is Campbell?" Mac growled. "He's Scottish?"
"Yes. Is that a problem?"
Mac took a deep breath. "No. It is not a problem." Asha could almost swear to hearing the sound of teeth grinding
"Good. I'm going to take these beers over there and talk to my friend. He's going to hang around until closing, then we're going to go somewhere and not stop until I have to be back for work. You can stay, but don't you *dare* hurt him." Asha glared at MacLeod.
Joe shook his head. "Go whenever you want, Ben. Make it up to me later."
"You sure, Joe? I know how you older generations think of us poor Gen Xers as slackers. Don't want to perpetuate that belief."
Joe snorted. "I'm sure. It's not like I'll get anything useful out of you anyway." He smiled to take the sting out of the words.
"Thanks, Joe. You're the greatest."
"Just keep it in mind the next time there's a six a.m. delivery."
Asha moved quickly across the room. Ailean looked up at him and accepted a beer. "The boss says I can leave whenever we want."
Ailean grinned. "How about we finish the beers and then find some place a bit quieter to talk?" Asha agreed and they quickly downed their beers.
They got up and left the bar. Asha giving a nod and smile to Joe and Mac. Once they were outside, Ailean ran his hand through Asha's thick hair to cradle the back of his head. He pulled Asha closer to him and brought their lips together.
Asha's lips parted willingly to the gentle touch. Ailean tasted of the sea. It was wonderfully familiar. He slid his hands into the soft hair at the back of his lover's neck. He could feel the muscle move under his fingers.
Ailean pulled back and rested his forehead against Asha's. "I've missed you, love. Fifty years is far too long. Come, let us find a place a bit more private. I personally don't want to be arrested."
"Handcuffs can be fun, but not tonight." Asha wrapped his arms around his lover's waist. "Do you have a place or do we have to find one?"
"I have a hotel room. It's fairly out of the way. Seemed rather empty."
They pulled away from each other and Ailean took Asha’s hand and led him to his car. Ailean unlock the door and held the door open for his lover. Asha rolled his eyes.
“Scots. You always have to be gentlemen don’t you?”
Ailean shrugged and grinned. “It’s just how we were raised.”
Asha walked up to Ailean and pressed his body to the other man’s. “At least you weren’t raised to be the clan leader.” He ran his hand over the younger man’s side and then climbed into the car.
Ailean closed the car door, closed his eyes, and took a deep breath. He fought down the urge to pull the other immortal into the backseat and ravish him. After fifty years, he wanted it to be in a bed and slow and loving. He hurried around to the driver’s side and climbed in.
He started the car and pulled out of the parking spot. He could feel Asha’s gaze on him. He turned to look at the other immortal. He smiled. “What?”
Asha reached out and ran the back of his fingers over Ailean’s cheek down to the cleft chin. “I’ve just missed being able to look at you. Your name fits you. Handsome. How did your clan know?”
Ailean blushed. He hated that Asha always knew how to get to him. He turned his attention back to the road. “I’m nothing compared to you, love. No one notices me when we are in a room together.” He felt Asha’s hand fall to his thigh and give it a squeeze before resting it there.
“I know I’ll never change your mind, but we will have to agree to disagree.”
The rest of the short trip was spent is silence. Ailean pulled the car into the parking lot of the hotel. Before was able to get out of the car, Asha grabbed him by the collar and pulled him into a deep kiss. Ailean’s mouth opened under the assault. Their tongues battled until Asha pulled away, sucking on Ailean’s tongue. Asha gave the other man’s lower lip a nip before exiting the car.
Ailean sat there for a moment, trying to regain enough control so that he could walk without pain. The door beside him opened.
“Are you getting out any time soon?”
Ailean looked up into the teasing brown eyes of his lover. He got out of the car and glared at Asha. “Are you trying to kill me?”
Asha grinned. “No. That comes later. For now, I want you very much alive. Now, which way to your room?”
Ailean stepped forward and forced Asha back. He shut the car door and walked towards the building. Asha stood where he was and watched Ailean saunter away. This was one of the things that he had missed greatly. The sheer joy of watching the younger immortal walk, and the tight black jeans that Ailean was wearing, hid nothing.
Asha jogged to catch up to the other man. He slid his arm around his lover’s waist. Ailean gave him a smile and slung his arm around Asha’s shoulders. They arrived at Ailean’s room and Asha leaned against the wall as the other man unlocked the door.
Ailean opened the door with a flourish and Asha entered the room. Ailean locked the door behind them and turned around. He was pushed back against the door by Asha who picked up where their last kiss had ended. He plundered the younger man’s mouth. His hands trailed down the muscled chest to Ailean’s belt buckle.
Ailean was unaware what Asha was doing; he was so caught up in the taste of his lover. He had missed the spicy taste. A taste that reminded him of sandalwood. He cried out into his lover’s mouth as Asha’s hand wrapped around his erection.
Asha pulled back and watched Ailean’s face as his hand caressed the hard flesh. Ailean’s eyes closed and the lids fluttered as Asha ran a fingernail under the head of his penis. Asha fell to his knees and lapped at the head of the erection in front of him.
Ailean’s eyes flew open and he looked down at the immortal in front of him. He raised a hand and caressed Asha’s cheek. Asha leaned into the warm palm. He had forgotten how warm and comfortable the other man’s love had made him feel. He moved forward and took the other man’s erection into his mouth.
Ailean moaned as he felt the wet heat surround his penis. He reached down and ran his fingers through the thick brown hair. He wasn’t holding him or guiding him, but he needed to touch the other man. His head fell against the door as Asha’s mouth moved over his erection. He knew that he wouldn’t last long if Asha kept this up.
“Asha. Asha, I’m going to come.”
Asha pulled off of Ailean. His hand continued to pump the hard organ. “Good. Come for me, Ailean. I want to hear you. I’ve missed this.” Asha took Ailean’s erection deep into his throat and swallowed.
Ailean’s hips bucked as he felt the rippling around his erection. He tried to hold still but his body wasn’t listening to him. His hips pumped a few times before he exploded inside Asha’s mouth. Lights flickered behind Ailean’s closed eye lids and he cried out as his essence flowed into Asha.
Asha felt Ailean swell and he pulled back far enough that Ailean’s come flooded into his mouth, rather then straight down his throat. He didn’t want to miss the flavour that was uniquely Ailean. He continued to suckle Ailean until he was pushed away. He looked up as his lover who was still shuddering with the aftermath.
Asha rose to his feet and took Ailean’s head between his hands. He smiled at the look of contentment on Ailean’s face, as Ailean gasped trying to catch his breath. He lowered his lips to the open lips of his lover.
Ailean groaned as his tasted himself in Asha’s mouth. He wrapped his arms around the slimmer man and pulled him closer. “Your turn, Love,” he whispered into Asha’s mouth.
Asha pulled back and grinned. “Yes, it is my turn.” He moved his hands down to the buttons of Ailean’s shirt. He unbuttoned the shirt and licked every inch of skin that he uncovered.
“I thought… Oh God. I thought I was supposed to be pleasuring you,” Ailean moaned. He felt Asha smile against his skin.
“You are pleasuring me, Love.” He ran his tongue across Ailean’s collarbone. Ailean’s body shuddered. “That’s it.” Asha raised his head and stepped back. “Undress for me, my Ailean.” He ran his hand down Ailean’s heaving chest. “Let me see you,” he whispered. His eyes moved across Ailean’s body taking in the open shirt still tucked into the unzipped pants, Ailean’s half hard penis uncovered towards his gaze.
Ailean moved away from the door and shrugged out of his shirt. He knelt down to untie his hiking boot. He switched feet and untied the other one. He stood up and toed off his shoes, his eyes never leaving Asha’s. He pushed his pants down to puddle around his feet. He used his toes to peel off his socks. He stepped out of his pants and moved towards Asha.
He stopped a foot away and dropped to his knees. He looked up at his lover, waiting for his next order. Asha’s gaze ran over him. The older immortal took in the sight presented to him. A beautiful young man in his prime with dark reddish-brown hair. Changeable eyes that at one minute were blue, the next green, the next grey and then a mix of the three. At the moment they were a stormy grey. Pale skin was stretched over firm muscles.
Asha sat down on the bed. “Come here, Love.” Ailean shuffled over to Asha on his knees. Asha grinned. “You were supposed to stand up.”
“Too much effort. Not to mention I’m at a much better level here.” Ailean bent his head and nuzzled Asha’s clothed erection.
Asha placed a hand under Ailean’s chin and raised it up. “Not yet. Later. Right now I want you in bed.”
Ailean reached up and gave Asha a quick kiss before climbing onto the bed and lying down. Asha ran his hand down Ailean’s flank before standing up. “I’ll be right back.” Asha went into the bathroom and started rummaging in the free samples that the hotel gives. Finally he found some hand lotion. He unscrewed the top and smelled the lotion. He grinned when he recognized the smell as sandalwood. He remembered Ailean telling him once that he smelled like sandalwood.
He striped off his clothes and walked into the bedroom. He came to a halt when he saw Ailean stroking himself. Ailean opened his eyes and looked over at Asha. “Come here.”
Asha was unable to resist that softly spoken order. He sat down on the bed next to Ailean. Ailean ran his hand over Asha’s bare chest. He trailed his hand down to the hard length between the older immortal’s legs. Asha grabbed his wrist before he could reach it.
“No. If you do that it’ll be over far too quickly.” He placed Ailean’s hand on the pillow next to his head. He leaned down and kissed the prone man. He shifted so that he was lying on top of Ailean. Ailean spread his legs so that Asha was nestled between them.
They both hissed as their erections brushed against each other. Ailean pulled his mouth away. “Please. Now.”
“As you wish.” Asha sat up on his knees and reached for the lotion. He opened the bottle and coated his fingers with the spicy scented lotion. He reached down between Ailean’s legs and ran his fingers over the tight pucker.
Ailean moaned and pushed his hips down, trying to get more pressure. Asha complied and pressed one finger into the tight hole. He thrust his finger in and out of the tight hole, until the lotion coated the tender tissues. He added a second finger and watched as his lover pushed his hips further down on the fingers.
“That’s enough. I want you in there,” Ailean growled.
Asha grinned and thrust his fingers in deeper and felt for the small gland. Once he found it, he ran his fingers over it and watched as Ailean’s body convulsed. He withdrew his fingers and coated his erection with the lotion. He positioned himself at the tiny hole and pressed in.
Ailean moaned and wrapped his legs around Asha’s waist. Asha pressed in slowly.
“Faster, damn it.”
Ailean growled and tightened his legs. It forced Asha deeper. Asha felt the tight heat grip his erection and couldn’t stop his hips from jerking, forcing himself deeper. He gave up and buried himself to the hilt. They both moaned at the feeling.
“Oh God,” Ailean sobbed. He waited for Asha to move. After a minute had passed with no sign of Asha moving, he opened his eyes and glared up at the other man. “Move,” he growled.
“If you insist.” Asha slowly withdrew until only the head was still inside. He slowly stroked back in. He repeated the slow, torturous movement several times.
Ailean growled and used his muscles to reverse their positions. He looked down at Asha. He rose up off of Asha’s erection and the dropped down hard. Asha gasped.
“That’s what I wanted, you son of a bitch,” Ailean growled.
Asha reached up and grasped the sides of Ailean’s head. He jerked him down. “Shut up.” He pulled their lips together and ravaged the other man’s mouth.
Ailean rode Asha hard. It didn’t take them long before they reached orgasm. They cried out as they fell over the edge together. Ailean slumped down onto Asha. They were silent as they tried to regain their breath. Ailean raised his head and smiled at Asha.
“I love you, Asha.”
Asha swallowed. “Ailean, I-“ He was stopped by Ailean laying his fingers across Asha’s lips.
“Don’t. I know. It’s okay. I have enough love for the both of us. It’s enough to know you care and you haven’t pushed me away.” Ailean gave Asha a soft kiss and laid his head on Asha’s chest.
Asha wrapped his arms around his lover and pressed a kiss against the top of Ailean’s head. He felt Ailean’s breath even out as he fell asleep. He smiled down at the head on his chest. He couldn’t imagine anymore what life would be like without this man’s occasional presence in his life. He thought back to the day he met the Scot.
Asha rode through the forest. He had gotten used to the only sound around him being his horse’s hoofs on the ground, so he was almost startled out of the saddle by the sound of thunder. He looked up into the sky and saw blue. That could only mean that it was an immortal battle.
He pinpointed where the sound was coming from and he rode towards the area. He wanted to know who was around. He arrived at a clearing just as the last lighting flickers faded away. The survivor struggled to his knees and then his head snapped up and turned towards where Asha was standing.
The other man tried to reach for his sword. Asha held out his hands. “I’m not here for your head. I was just curious.”
The man tried to speak but he fell face forward. Asha approached the other man carefully. He wasn’t sure if this was a trick or not. He rolled the man over with a nudge from his foot. Once the man was on his back he saw the knife sticking into his chest. He must have been stabbed after he was already into the down swing to take the other immortal’s head.
Asha wasn’t sure if any mortals were around, but he figured he wouldn’t take the chance. He brought his horse over to where the immortal lay. He manhandled the man onto the back of the horse. He climbed up behind the immortal and nudged his horst onto moving.
He rode for a few hours until the sun started to go down. He found a small clearing not far from a small creek. He started a fire and walked over to the immortal and pulled out the knife. He knew he had a while until the other man woke up. He decided that it might be a good idea to go and find some fresh food. His travel rations were almost gone. There wouldn’t be enough for both of them and it looked like the other man could use something to eat. He hadn’t weighed much.
He retrieved the other man’s sword and placed it next to him, before leaving the camp site. After a few hours and a good bit of success in hunting he returned to the campsite. The other immortal had not regained consciousness yet, so Asha settled down to cook the meat.
The meat was almost finished by the time the other immortal woke up. Asha felt the strengthened buzz that indicated the other man had revived. The other immortal held himself still for a moment before rolling over, grabbing his sword, and rising to his feet. He held his sword in front of himself, facing Asha.
Asha held his hand out. “If I’d wanted to kill you I’d’ve done it while you were still out. Why don’t you put down your sword and join me for dinner?”
The other immortal watched him for a few minutes before lowering his sword. He walked around the fire and sat opposite of Asha.
Asha smiled at him and handed him one of the spits that held a piece of rabbit. “Here. My name’s Asha, by the way.”
The immortal took the meat. “Thank you. I’m Ailean Campbell.”
“Scottish, are you?”
“Not very talkative either.”
“What do you want me to say? I just woke up from being dead. It doesn’t tend to leave me in a very good mood.”
Asha didn’t have much to say to that so he turned his attention to his food.
Asha smiled down at the man in his arms. Ailean had been so prickly back then. To this day Asha was unsure as to why Ailean had struck around for the first few days. Ailean finally had thawed out and they started talking. Asha had been thrilled that he and Ailean appeared to have had a good bit in common.
They traveled together for about five years, and Asha was becoming aware of just how handsome and desirable his companion was. Ailean had grown up in a very small house with a lot of people so he was used to being touched. He was not, however, used to being kissed by another man.
Asha sat down next to Ailean and stared into the fire. He was tired. They had ridden hard to escape the villagers that wanted to burn them for being witches.
“Did you really have to say that?” Ailean asked in his soft Scottish burr. Asha admitted to himself that he had missed that accent while they had been in Hamburg.
“I wasn’t thinking.”
Ailean laughed and slung an arm around Asha’s shoulders. “That was clearly evident.”
Asha looked over at Ailean and saw him grinning. It was a grin that lit up the man’s entire face. Asha couldn’t resist his impulses. He leaned forward and pressed his lips to Ailean’s.
Ailean froze for a moment before scrambling away. “What the hell are you doing?”
“I’m sorry, Ailean. I just couldn’t resist.”
“It’s a sin, Asha.”
“It wasn’t when I grew up. It was a normal thing, and you are so beautiful. I’m sorry for making you uncomfortable. I didn’t mean to.”
“Times change, Asha. It is now considered a sin. I would appreciate it if you didn’t do that again.”
“You have my word that I will not touch you in that manner again unless you ask me.”
Ailean looked at Asha trying to determine his sincerity. Finally he decided to trust him. “Fine. Just don’t expect me to ever ask.”
Asha had agreed and they tried to forget what had happened but for the next two weeks Ailean had sat across the fire and had tensed every time Asha touched him.
Ailean woke up wrapped in a comfortable, familiar scent. He nuzzled into the smooth chest under his cheek. He felt a hand caress his hair. He opened his eyes and smiled up at Asha.
“Did you sleep at all, Love?” he asked.
“I wasn’t tired. Ailean, where have you been? You didn’t meet me in London. I thought you were dead.”
Ailean sat up and sat against the headboard. He pulled Asha into his arms. “I meant to be there. Truly I did, but I ended up in a very cold place. I was working in the USSR trying to get people out of the country who wanted to go west. I got caught and after spending a little time in one of the jails getting the crap kicked out of me every night, they sent me to Siberia. I finally managed to walk out of the country. After freezing to death at least six times, if I remember correctly.”
Asha was silent in shock. He had thought that Ailean had either forgotten the date, or had just decided to blow him off. He never imagined that he had been a political prisoner. “You’re damn lucky Stalin’s men didn’t decide to kill you!” He wrapped his arms tighter around the younger immortal. He didn’t want to think about what Stalin’s goons would have done to Ailean if he had discovered what Ailean was.
“I know, Love. I got very lucky.” Ailean shrugged. “But it’s over now. Hell, it was fifty years ago. I won’t deny that I still have a few nightmares, but it’s gotten much better. I got to London about five years after we were scheduled to meet. I was hoping you had stuck around but I couldn’t find you.”
“Oh Gods, Love. I stuck around for four years. I decided to go look for you. I needed to know if you were still alive or not, and if you were I was going to take your head off for just leaving me there without word.”
Ailean pressed his lips to the top of Asha’s head. “You thought I might have abandoned you, didn’t you?”
“The thought crossed my mind.” He felt Ailean smile into his hair.
“I would never abandon you, Asha. If I don’t show for one of our meets, believe me when I say that it’s not by my choice.”
“What did Stalin’s men do to you?” Asha asked in a small voice. He wasn’t sure why the thought of what Ailean must have gone through bothered him so much. He had seen the horrible things that men did to their fellow men, but the idea of Ailean going through all of that made him nauseous.
“You don’t want to know, Love. Trust me you don’t want to know.”
“Yes, I do. Ailean, my mind is coming up with all kinds of horrible things. I need to know. Just to put my mind to rest.”
“All right, but I don’t want to do this in our bed. Let’s get up, get some breakfast, and go some place quiet. Do you need to call Joe or MacLeod and let them know where you are?”
“I should at least call Joe. I don’t want to worry him; I don’t give a damn about Mac.”
Ailean grinned. “Okay, why don’t you call while I’m taking a shower.” Ailean slid out of bed and gave Asha a quick kiss before heading for the bathroom.
Asha took the time to watch Ailean’s smooth, bare backside as he left the room. He shook off the haze of lust and picked up the phone. He dialed the familiar number and waited for Joe to pick up the phone.
“Hello?” Joe’s voice was hoarse from sleep.
“Hi, Joe. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you up.”
“It’s okay, Ben. What’s up?”
“I just wanted you to know that I’m not going to be in until later. I found out some things that I really need to talk to Ailean about. It’s not going to be a pleasant conversation.”
“Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I just found out why he didn’t meet me one time when he was supposed to. I’m going to be getting the gory details. It’s not going to be a great time. I’ve heard some of the things Stalin’s men did to prisoners.”
There was silence on the other end of the phone for a few moments. “If you need to talk to anyone, you can come to me. I know what it’s like to see someone you care about suffer.”
“Thanks, Joe. I’ll be back in time for the dinner crowd, I promise. You’ll take care of Mac for me?” Asha heard the shower turn off in the bathroom.
“I’ll let him know what’s going on. Well not all of it, just what he needs to know.”
“Thanks. I’ll see you tonight.”
Asha hung up the phone and headed towards the bathroom. He entered the room just as Ailean finished drying off. “I was hoping I could help you dry off,” Asha pouted.
“Sorry, beloved. But we really don’t have time.”
Asha sighed. “Yeah, I know. I just couldn’t help it. I’ve missed you.”
“I’ve missed you too, but you wanted to know what happened to me and you still have to get to Joe’s.”
“I don’t have to be a Joe’s until dinner.”
“I would like some time with you, where we are not talking about what happened to me in Russia. I want some time for happy things.”
Asha couldn’t argue with that, so he pushed the other man out of the room. “Fine, then go get dressed and figure out where we are going to eat breakfast, while I’m taking my shower.”
Asha grinned at Ailean and closed the door. He took a quick shower, dried off, and dressed. He left the bathroom and sat down next to Ailean on the bed.
“So figured out where we are going for breakfast?”
“Eh, why not. I haven’t had a Rooty Tooty Fresh and Fruity in a while.”
Ailean grinned and nudged Asha with his shoulder. “You actually like those things?”
“Yeah, why? What are you getting?”
“I was thinking about just a normal stack of pancakes. With maple syrup.”
“You are so plebeian.”
“I like my simple tastes.”
“I thought I taught you to like the richer things in life,” Asha sighed.
“You did, but I’ll always be a simple herder for the rest of my days.”
“What am I going to do with you?”
“If I answer that question we won’t be going any where for quite some time,” Ailean grinned.
Asha grinned back. “All right, let’s go then.” They both stood up and left the hotel room.
“I’m afraid you are going to have to give me directions to the nearest IHOP. I don’t know this area.”
“Why don’t you just let me drive.”
Ailean looked at Asha in disbelief. “You must be kidding. I remember what you did to that farm cart. I’m not letting you drive anything.”
“One accident. That’s it. Just one and you’ll never let me forget it.”
“Hell, no I won’t let you forget it. I died in that one, and I’m not going to even mention what happened three years before that.”
“Uh yeah, let’s not,” Asha said quickly. He walked to the passenger’s side and waited for Ailean to unlock the door.
Asha and Ailean walked into Joe’s. Asha took both of their coats and took them into the back room, while Ailean took a seat at the bar.
“What can I get for you?” Joe asked.
“Coffee would be fine.”
Joe looked at Ailean. “You sure you wouldn’t like anything stronger?” Ailean was clearly unhappy about something.
“Okay.” Joe poured him a cup of coffee and set it down in front of him. “You want to talk about it?”
Ailean took a sip of the hot liquid. “Just a difference of opinion. Ben wants me to tell him something that I don’t want to talk about. I dealt with it, got help from a professional and have banished it from my memory. I really don’t need to resurrect the memories, but Ben wants to hear it all.”
“Sounds like a painful memory,” Joe responded.
“Eh, thinking about torture is never a fun thing.” Ailean slugged back his coffee. “You know, something stronger might just do the trick. I’ll take some scotch. Straight up.”
“You got it.” Joe poured him a double of scotch and set down the bottle within Ailean’s reach.
“You trust me to tell you how many I’ve drunk?” Ailean asked.
“Hell no. I know exactly how much was in that bottle. I’ll just see how much is left, if any, and charge you accordingly,” Joe responded with a grin.
“My kind of guy. Trust no one.”
“Just call me Fox.”
Ailean had to fight not to spit out the mouthful of scotch he had all over the bar. “Funny, you don’t look like the X-Files type.”
“It takes all kinds.”
“So it does. I personally connected with Krycek more then Mulder. Mulder was a little too black and white for my tastes.”
“That’s odd coming from a Scottish Clansman.”
“I was a normal Clansman, not a Clan Leader. There’s a big difference.”
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