Let There Be Light

Rating: PG

Spoilers: All of XF and HL

Feedback: Comments, flames, superfluous remarks and vicious character 
assassination may be cheerfully sent to: ecolea@wt.net

Archive: All ready sent to Gossamer and Seventh Dimension. All others: 
Do it for me, do it for yourself, do it for posterity.

Disclaimer: Owning them would be too aggravating, so please sue me for 
copyright infringement. I love Court TV and need seven more minutes to 
complete my 15 minutes of fame.

Author's note: Many thanks to Arameth for guidance, assistance and all 
the little extras. And to my beloved carnivores, you know who you are, 
let's go shopping!

Summary: When a catastrophe strikes Washington, DC Mulder is left to 
find his own way until someone a little older, a little wiser and a 
lot more cynical helps him find the answers.

Dedicated to Estella, who deserves more and better.

                       Let There Be Light

FBI Headquarters
Washington, DC
January 4, 2001

It took three days and a thousand some odd rescue personnel to clear 
enough debris from the blast area to begin digging out the basement 
where one last body was expected to be found. Assistant Director 
Walter Skinner and Special Agent Dana Scully stood together, waiting 
in silent vigil in the safety zone a hundred yards from the remains of 
the Hoover Building. In the background, chattering radios announced 
the progress of the work. Slow, tedious and cautious as the way was 
cleared. An hour passed, then another and another until someone 
brought coffee and they drank without tasting on this cold midwinter's 


Fingers twitched, a hand moved and oxygen deprived lungs gasped in 
agony as a trickle of air wafted through the twisted metal and 
shattered concrete that had once defined the X-Files office. Memory 
stirred and with it came fear, confusion and discomfort. Movement was 
impossible and Mulder, trapped between his crumpled desk, the smashed 
file cabinets that had stood behind it and the weight of the collapsed 
retaining walls, waited again to die.

He vaguely remembered the distant sound of the explosion and flinging 
himself beneath his desk as the building shuddered, rocked and finally 
crumbled. Clearly remembered waking briefly several times to an icy, 
near quiet darkness where his labored breaths and the terrified 
pounding of his heartbeat were the only sounds to break the awful 
silence. Then the air would grow stale and suffocating and he would 
gratefully lose himself to the senselessness of being unconscious.

Mulder had always suspected he would die violently -- though he'd 
never consciously considered the possibility. That way led to madness. 
Or worse, paralytic fear. He'd never anticipated this. The slow, 
creeping inertia of lonely death. Didn't really want to anticipate it 
now. And maybe, he thought, with a sudden sense of fear tinged relief 
as the distant sounds of movement from above finally began to 
penetrate his stifling tomb, maybe he wouldn't have to just yet.


Seacouver, Washington
Joe's Bar

"Lucky bastard!" Joe Dawson exclaimed as he poured two shots of 
whiskey. One for himself and one for Duncan MacLeod as they watched 
the latest news report on the bombing in DC. Special Agent Fox Mulder 
presumed to be dead, found alive and uninjured beneath his sturdy 

"Y' think." Methos commented sarcastically.

Joe's head did a quick swivel in the direction of his friend. "One of 
you guys?"

Methos shrugged. "Maybe. Could just be incredibly lucky. A few hundred 
metric tons of concrete and steel come crashing down on him one New 
Year's morning and he survives."

"It's possible," MacLeod interjected thoughtfully. "Especially if he 
wasn't in the direct path of the blast and had a pocket of air 
surrounding him."

Methos nodded then sipped his beer. And pigs fly, he thought. 

Joe grinned wryly. "Not your problem, right? Well, I've never heard of 
an immortal Federal Agent. Can't imagine you could get in the FBI 
without a lot of background checking of relatives and such. That kind 
of infiltration takes more than just time and money. But just to be 
sure I'll have someone check it out. Could be a first death."

"Still not my problem," Methos smiled.

MacLeod sighed. "Nothing's your problem. We know this. Joe, let me 
know what you turn up. If it is a first death he needs a teacher."

Methos groaned. "And now, for another exciting adventure of "The Boy 
Scout Rides Again."

MacLeod grimaced. "You just don't get it, Methos. If it is a first 
death and he doesn't get a teacher soon, someone will take his head."


Dawson nodded. "He's right, Adam. A Fed beheaded by a sword? And one 
as high profile as this guy now is? Think about it a minute."

Methos sighed. "Yes, I see. An investigation might reveal the 
existence of immortals and a witch hunt could begin. Maybe. Maybe not. 
Maybe the government already knows and doesn't give a shit what we do 
to each other."

"And maybe," MacLeod finished his whiskey and stood. "They do and it 
would. We can't take that chance. Joe, I'll be at the dojo. Let me 
know what you find."

Methos watched him leave with a cynical eye. "Another beer, Joe. And 
could you change the channel? Christ! There must be something else 

Dawson gave a disgusted sigh and reached for the remote under the bar. 
"You're a heartless bastard. You know that?"

"Thank you. I try."


"Jesus!" Methos heard Joe exclaim into the phone as he exited the 
men's room a few hours later. "Did everyone get clear?" Methos raised 
an eyebrow as he rejoined his friend at the bar and Dawson held up a 
hand to forestall any questions. "Good. Good," he muttered. "No, 
don't. No one goes near this guy, got that? I don't care if he's one 
or not, he's got baggage none of our people need to be exposed to." 
Another long pause as Joe listened to the other end of the 
conversation. "Yeah, make that a directive and make sure everyone 
knows." Joe didn't bother to say goodbye, just snapped the cell phone 
shut and rubbed his eyes.

"What's up?" Methos asked casually, retaking his seat.

"This guy Mulder is hot!"

"Why Joe!" Methos uttered innocently. "I never knew you swung both 
ways. You've gone up a notch in my estimate."

Dawson sneered sardonically at the other man and ignored the jibe. 
"Hot as in fifteen minutes after one of our best guys hacked Mulder's 
file two truck loads of black ops goons trashed our Washington field 
office." Methos raised both brows and nodded for Joe to go on. 
"Luckily, they knew it was coming. Seems Mulder's file is flagged and 
tagged. They tried to spike the trace, but the system was too damn 
fast. They barely got out in time. Didn't even have a chance to read 
the guy's file."

"Your tax dollars at work," Methos drawled, nonchalantly sipping his 

Joe shook his head and sighed. "Anyway, I've called off any 
observation for the time being. Immortal or not, he's on his own."

"A wise decision," Methos agreed. Anyone with that much government 
interest in them was far too much of a threat for anyone to be 
assigned as a Watcher. Either Mulder had friends in high places, or he 
had powerful enemies and the Watcher organization certainly wasn't 
equipped to handle either of them. "So what are you going to tell 

"Jesus, Mac." Joe shook his head. "You know what he'll do. He'll go on 
his own to check him out."

"And now that somebody knows someone else is interested in him they'll 
be waiting."

Dawson nodded and moved to pour himself another whiskey. "Mac's 
already too high profile himself."

"You want my advice?" Methos offered. Joe gave him a dubious look and 
nodded. "Tell him the truth. You've turned nothing up. As far as you 
know he's just some lucky son of a bitch who isn't immortal."

Joe looked thoughtfully at his whiskey before swallowing it down in a 
single shot. "It is the truth," he murmured.

"Yes, it is. Just leave out the really exciting bits that will make 
him drop everything and run off half cocked."

"And what about Mulder? If it is a first death..."

"Joe, we all sink or swim on our own merits. He's a grown man. Either 
he'll find a teacher, a teacher will find him, or he'll learn about 
The Game the hard way. Like most of us did. Besides, he's a Federal 
agent which means he's armed. First time someone comes at him with a 
sword he's likely to shoot first and try to question the corpse later. 
He'll learn. And then he'll either live or die."

"That's pretty cold logic, my friend."

Methos shrugged. "It's a cold world and Mac's passions run far too 
hot." Methos paused for another drink. "Then we're agreed?"

Joe nodded. "Agreed."

They left it at that, drinking in silence as they watched the latest 
news bulletin on the miraculous survival of Fox William Mulder.


Arlington, Virginia
April, 2005

Mulder dropped his travel bag on the floor beside the door, stripped 
off his coat, jacket and tie then toed off his shoes eager to relax. 
His cell phone rang and he fished it out of the jacket as he headed 
for the bedroom. All he wanted was a long hot shower, a comfy place on 
the couch and some take out.

"Yeah, Scully," he answered automatically. It had become a routine 
with them. One would call to make sure the other got home without 
mishap after an unusually long assignment  First one to call bought 
lunch for the other. "You win. I'm home safe and sound."

"Do tell Agent Mulder."

Mulder paused at the unfamiliar voice. "Who is this?"

"A friend."

"My friends generally have names," he responded tartly, too exhausted 
to play this particular game tonight.

"Names can be illusions," the voice replied.

"So is pulling a rabbit out of a hat, but we all want to know how it's 

The voice chuckled. "You may call me Mr. Smith. And I'm going to take 
your head."

"My head?" Mulder rolled his eyes. "That doesn't sound very friendly. 
You another asshole with a sword?"

"Come now, Agent Mulder. You're either in The Game or you're out of 
it. Permanently. No more hiding behind that badge of yours."

Now Mulder was pissed. Every so often some loony would challenge him 
to a sword fight. At least once a year since the bombing of the 
Hoover. Guess it was about time for another. Usually, he simply put a 
bullet in some part of their anatomy that never did too much damage, 
then arrested the stupid jerks. Most of them were now in prison with 
sentences ranging from thirty to sixty years. The attempted murder of 
a Federal officer was a very serious offense. Of course, interrogation 
had led to some interesting information. The first one had gone on and 
on about some kind of game he and others like him were playing, 
laughing when Mulder didn't seem to know what he was talking about. 
That particular individual had spent some time in a psych ward before 
being found legally sane enough to stand trial. Who they were or what 
this game was about still eluded him. Another X file he and Scully had 
been unable to solve.

"You'd think after all this time with three of your buddies in jail 
and a fourth awaiting trial you'd take the hint," Mulder muttered 

There was a pause on the other end of the connection, then the voice 
became thoughtful. "Perhaps you're right, Agent Mulder. You are very 
new to The Game. Not much power in you. Yet. And you lack honor. 
Reason enough for me to find you worthless quarry, at the moment."

"I'm happy you've resolved your issues," Mulder retorted. "Now fuck 
off!" He snapped the phone shut and tossed it onto the couch. 

By rights, he admitted as he shed his clothes and got ready for his 
shower, he probably should have set up a meeting with the unknown 
caller and tried to apprehend him in hopes that it would lead him to 
however many others there were in this bizarre death game. 
Unfortunately, the last two times he and Scully had gone that route 
they'd turned up nothing and no one. All Mulder had gotten out of it 
was a migraine and the feeling that he was being played for a fool. 
He'd finally decided after the last round of this so called game that 
the next time it happened he was going to ignore it until he had to 
actually do something about it. Like arrest the bastard. Not a very 
proactive plan, but a plan nonetheless.

As for the game itself and why he of all people should be chosen as 
its target, he could only wonder. It might be some lame idea to 
distract him from his search for the truth. Or it could simply be that 
people did some really weird shit. Inexplicable shit. And as for the 
number of players in this game, Mulder consoled himself as he finally 
stepped into the steaming spray of the shower, how many of them could 
there be? 


Bangor, Maine
November, 2007

Mulder glanced at the bloody cloth in his hands with a shudder. He 
heard the trunk slam shut and quickly balled up the shirt he'd worn, 
stuffing it under the seat of the car. Scully came around to the 
passenger side, slid into the seat and handed him a clean one. She was 
pale and nervous, but they'd been through this before.

"Mulder," she finally began as he was doing up the last button. "I 
think it's time we ran some more tests."



He shook his head and started the car. "No more tests, Scully."

"But Mulder--"

"No!" He didn't want to talk about it. Didn't want to think about it. 
Let alone acknowledge this accelerated healing business with more 
tests. "What's the point," he added bitterly as he turned on the 
heater so they could wait for the local police in comfort. "Look, 
Scully. I know you mean well, but we just have to face the facts. I 
haven't been a...normal human since They took me. Since maybe before 
They took me. We know They can heal, let's just consider this part of 
the new and improved Mulder package and forget it. Okay?"

Scully sighed and nodded. He knew she didn't like it, but then she 
didn't have to. Neither did he and they both had to live with that 
fact. There wasn't an answer for this, and there was certainly no 
cure. And besides, who'd want to be cured of this anyway?

"You know," he grinned wryly. "Maybe we should consider this a 
blessing. I could have been killed tonight."

Scully shook her head and gave him a small, yet meaningful smile. 
"Maybe you're right. That last auditor certainly seemed to be 

Mulder grimaced. "Don't remind me." No injury report meant no 
reimbursement costs. "My out of pocket expenses for clothes are 
killing my lifestyle. Pay-Per-Porn won't even take my calls."

"Think of it as a small price to pay for immortality," Scully teased.

Mulder's eyes widened. "I'm not immortal! Jesus, immortal. That's not 
a blessing, that's a curse. I think They just want me alive and 
healthy. For whatever reason They need me. And as soon as They don't 
They'll just terminate this little experiment and I'll be on my own."

In the distance the sound of sirens could now be heard and as they 
stepped out of the car to wait in the open, Mulder made certain his 
torn and bloody suit jacket was carefully out of sight. It wouldn't do 
for there to be any questions. Even if his blood was all over the 
crime scene they wouldn't know it was his unless they caught him 
trying to hide it.


Washington, DC
New Hoover Annex
March, 2015

Director Skinner's retirement party was in full swing by the time 
Mulder arrived. He'd finished up the last of the paper work he'd 
needed to do and sent Scully on ahead, hoping the party would cheer 
her up. Ever since her divorce papers had come through she'd been 
quietly depressed. 

Frankly, he mused as he watched her being chatted up by a couple of 
younger female agents, he hadn't been all that surprised that her 
three year marriage to a Navy captain had ended. Or that Scully had 
filed the divorce papers first. He'd been a teacher at the naval base 
and wanted a sedentary life. She'd spent the last twenty-two years 
running around the country with her crackpot partner. He'd always 
suspected she'd married a man like her father and hoped to be like her 
mother -- happily married until death us do part. Instead, they'd 
fought over everything until the bitter end. Including the set of 
Tiffany lamps that had belonged to his mother he'd given them as a 
wedding present

Twenty-two years, Mulder silently wondered as he looked at Scully then 
glanced at Skinner. At sixty-something, the former marine was still 
vigorous and commanding, though well deserving of the 30 year pension 
he'd earned. Scully, though still in her late forties, was just 
starting to show her age. Fine lines becoming wrinkles from too much 
time spent out in the elements traipsing around crime scenes and the 
stress inherent in the job.

And he? Mulder looked around at old faces and new suddenly startled by 
the revelation. At 55 he looked much the same as he had in his hey day 
when the conspiracy threatened and an alien invasion seemed imminent. 
And he hadn't noticed.

Well who would? Mulder reasoned. He'd never been vain or obsessive 
about his appearance. Most times he only looked in the mirror to shave 
or comb his hair and he was usually half asleep at the time. He turned 
to leave, feeling the overwhelming urge to look in a mirror. Really 
look this time and see if it were true. Had Scully been right all 
those years ago? Was he somehow immortal?

Surely not, he silently insisted as he strode down the hall to the 
men's room. The place was nearly empty with only a stall in use and he 
stared at his reflection in the bank of mirrors above the line of 
sinks feeling both relieved and appalled. Relief that he still looked 
the same as he always had and appalled by that very fact. Not an ounce 
of fat to forewarn against a hanging jowl, not a single gray hair, not 
even a frown line between his eyes to slowly form a network of ever 
increasing wrinkles. He looked as if he hadn't aged a day in fifteen 

"Jesus, Mulder, give the rest of us a break!"

He whirled, startled by the sudden interruption of his thoughts. 
"Agent Colton," he greeted the man politely, noticing the he hadn't 
aged at all well. A beer belly paunch was held in by a too tight belt 
which already showed signs of breakage in the leather against the 
strain of his weight. What was left of his hair had gone silver gray, 
while his skin looked like sallow parchment, and his nose, now bulbous 
and fatty, had fine lines of broken capillaries which told Mulder that 
Colton was probably an alcoholic.

"Cut the crap, Mulder, you selfish bastard."

"I beg your pardon?"

"You look great. You always look great. While your partner looks like 
you've run her into the ground. Everyone knows she covers for you. 
Taking up the slack because you're too incompetent to do the job. You 
even wrecked her marriage. Dragging her all over creation because you 
were jealous and too fucking full of yourself. I don't know why she's 
loyal to you. You've done nothing but wear her down and make a mess of 
her life!"

With that, Colton turned and stalked out, leaving Mulder open-mouthed 
and stunned. Did people really think that? For Scully's sake he hoped 

After taking a moment to collect himself, Mulder left the room and 
headed back to the party, pausing at the door to look around. Yes, 
there was Scully speaking in gentle tones to another young agent and 
looking... Mulder swallowed hard on the word. Motherly. Scully looked 
motherly. Not just in attitude, because it was obvious she was giving 
someone a good piece of advice, but in appearance. There was a lot 
more gray in her hair than he'd realized. And she looked tired. Worn 
out, just as Colton had said.

Without thinking about it, Mulder turned and went to his office. He 
grabbed his overcoat, hurriedly leaving the building in need of time 
and space to consider things. He knew that most of what Colton had 
said was pure bullshit and malice. He'd had a thing for Scully since 
their Academy days and he'd never tried to hide his disdain for 
Mulder. But he'd been right about one thing. The job was draining on 
Scully. She was no longer a young woman of twenty-three, fresh faced 
and eager to plunge head first into the unknown. But still she 
followed. Not blindly, yet bravely indeed.

Mulder turned onto Pennsylvania Avenue walking aimlessly past the 
White House, head down against the chill and the fine mist of rain 
that shrouded the brightly lit night sky of the city. His thoughts 
circled around what all this meant and what, if anything, he could or 
should do about it. Twenty minutes later the misting rain had turned 
to fog and he found himself alone on a side street not far from the 
Lincoln Memorial. He knew a decent bar not far from here and the urge 
took him to have a drink. Maybe a little muddling of his thoughts was 
what he needed. Some empty headed down time to let his musings simmer 
until a clear and coherent idea bubbled up from the morass of his 

He liked the notion so much that he turned on his heel and headed in 
the direction of the bar. It was just as he'd finished crossing the 
street that it hit him. Another one of those god awful headaches that 
often presaged a meeting with a Sword Bearer, although he hadn't met 
up with one of those for a few years. He supposed they'd taken the 
hint that he didn't want to play, or maybe he'd finally put the last 
one in jail. He still didn't understand it, but it was a minor blip on 
the view screen of his life. He could live with it.

Up ahead a man came out of the darkness and into the fog blurred light 
of a street lamp. Mulder paused, easing his hands out of his pockets 
to reach for his gun if need be. The man's hands also rested calmly at 
his sides, though his posture telegraphed tension and wariness.

"I'm Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod and I don't want any trouble," 
the stranger announced.

Taken aback Mulder suppressed a smile. "Special Agent Fox Mulder of 
the FBI. Glad to hear it." He edged cautiously past MacLeod, who 
looked a tad relieved as he went on about his business.

More weird shit, Mulder thought as he saw the bar up ahead. Stuff like 
that also happened occasionally, though he'd never before associated 
it with the headaches. Strange men and women introducing themselves 
and declaring peaceful intentions. Too weird. He definitely needed a 
drink. If that kept up... Jesus! What was the world coming to?


"Hey MacLeod! Long time no hear," Joe eased back in his chair, 
cradling the phone against his shoulder.

Methos perked his ears up while pretending to read the paper. He and 
MacLeod had been at odds for a few years, though nothing that would 
bring them to blows. Still, he liked to keep an eye, albeit distant on 
the Scot.

"Who? Oh yeah, him. You don't say." Joe held the phone away from his 
ear for a moment and glared at Methos, who hid a smile and tried for 
all the world to look exactly what he wasn't, innocent. "I never told 
you that. I said as far as we knew he wasn't immortal." Another long 
pause and this time Methos did look up. "We couldn't get anybody on 
him. It was complicated, MacLeod. And frankly, after, I just forgot he 
existed." A few minutes later after promising to give Mac the whole 
story when he got home and agreeing to finally put a Watcher on the 
immortal in question he hung up and sighed.

"What's up?" Methos asked, his curiosity piqued.

"Remember that guy, Mulder, the Fed who survived the Hoover bombing?" 
Methos nodded. "Well, he's one of you guys and Mac ran into him 
tonight. Did a little checking, too. Seems Mulder's been arresting any 
immortals who challenge him and charging them with attempted murder. 
He's got five cooling their heels for the next forty odd years and two 
locked up as criminally insane."

"Good lord!" Methos whispered. "They're not going to be happy campers 
when they get out. Well," he shrugged, going back to his paper, "hope 
he knows what he's doing."

"You think he doesn't know what he is?" Joe asked aghast.

Methos looked thoughtful, then shook his head. "It's been what? 
Fifteen years? Either he's fairly old and  doesn't want to risk his 
role as an officer of the law for whatever reason, or he knows about 
The Game and is biding his time until he's stronger. It's what I'd do 
at any rate."

Joe looked equally thoughtful. "You're probably right."

"Of course I am. Did Mac even imply that he might be ignorant of The 
Game?" Joe shook his head. "Well then, there you have it. Mac would 
have said something. That was the whole point of observing him in the 
first place wasn't it? To make sure he knew and didn't make things 
uncomfortable for the rest of us."

"Yeah," Joe agreed. "He's gotta know. There are at least fifty 
immortals living in and around DC. If it was a first death then 
someone must have pulled him aside, given him what he needed and let 
Mulder make his choice."

Methos nodded. "See, I told you there was nothing to worry about."

"There's still Mac. He's going to be really pissed."

"He'll get over it."

With that Methos snapped his paper open and went back to reading, 
leaving Joe to ponder the interesting notion of a Federal officer 
being an immortal. Maybe Mac could approach him, try to get his help 
in locating some of the more dangerous immortals who were too 
hazardous to keep a Watcher on them all the time. Then again, maybe 
not. By the time Mac got back he'd be in no mood to do any favors for 
The Watchers. Of course, Methos was a former Watcher...

"Hey, Adam. How'd you like to do an old man a favor?"


The appointment was for eleven o'clock sharp and Mulder waited in his 
third floor office gazing out the window at the distant promenade with 
it's vast reflecting pool gleaming in the sunshine. After the bombing 
when they'd built the new annex no one had even suggested putting the 
X Files offices down in the basement again. He hadn't argued, despite 
the fact that he now had less space. Admittedly, while Mulder wasn't 
violently claustrophobic, the nightmare of being buried alive had 
taken him years to shake. And although Scully did have her own private 
office across the hall and they shared the use of an administrative 
assistant with another department, Mulder often missed the quiet 
privacy of his old office. Still, he would never again gladly spend 
his days and nights below ground.

Another headache suddenly assailed him and he tiredly rubbed his eyes. 
They usually didn't last long, but they'd been coming more often over 
the past few days. Along with the distinct impression that he was 
being watched.

"Agent Mulder?" The admin popped her head in the door. "Mr. Pierson to 
see you."

He turned from the window, surreptitiously unsnapping the safety on 
his holster. "By all means, show him in."

Now this should be interesting, Mulder thought as Adam Pierson entered 
his office curiously glancing around. To Mulder's eyes the man 
appeared to be very young, perhaps in his early twenties. Yet, his 
movements, graceful, at ease and all together masculine belied the 
fact of his face. And his eyes told a different story entirely. 
Worldly wise and weary. Still, nothing about his appearance 
communicated the fact that he was somehow involved with the Sword 
Bearers and the threats against Mulder.

He waited while Pierson took a seat then snapped a question at him. 
"You said you had some information for me. Information about the 
attempts on my life?"

"Ah," Pierson stammered then caught himself, his soft English accent 
once again surprising Mulder. "I don't believe I said any thing of the 
sort, Agent Mulder. I did say I wasn't hunting you and would like to 
speak with you about certain matters related to The Game. Not that I 
was currently in it."

"Currently?" Mulder spat. "And how long were you in it before you 
became disenchanted with murder?"

Pierson leaned back in his seat and crossed his arms. "That's a very 
personal question, Agent Mulder."

"Murder generally is very personal, Mr. Pierson."

Pierson gave a gentle, amused shake of his head. "The Game isn't 
personal. It's about survival. Not merely survival of the fittest, but 
of the best. Or so some of us would like to hope. I can tell you're 
very young and very new to everything, and it no doubt seems that 
every challenge is singularly peculiar to you. But we've all had to 
face the fact that most of those who hunt do so because they want to 
be The One. Not because they care anything about us."


"Like you, most of us just want to be left alone to live our lives. If 
The Game didn't exist we'd all be perfectly happy. But it does." 
Pierson sighed, vaguely annoyed. "Look, I'm sure your teacher 
explained all this to you, otherwise you wouldn't still have your 

"Mrs. Fiengold said I should play nice with the other kiddies, but I 
don't think she said anything about my head. She did smack the back of 
it once for talking out of turn, but other than that... Nope. Nothing 
about my head. Now give me the information I want, Mr. Pierson, or we 
can do this just as easily in an interrogation room downstairs. 
Withholding information regarding a conspiracy to commit murder has an 
equally long sentence as attempted murder when the target is a Federal 
agent. However you're involved in this you'd better start giving me 
some straight answers."

Pierson leaned forward in his chair a look of sheer disbelief on his 
face. "You don't know, do you?"

"Know what, Mr. Pierson?"

"You don't know what you are. My god man, it's been fifteen years, 
hasn't anyone approached you? Or," Pierson sat back with a sardonic 
smile. "Someone did approach you and you ran them off. What'd you do? 
Hmm? Trace the calls? Try to 'bust' anyone who tried to help you? I 
take it no one but me ever thought to simply make an appointment?" 
Pierson shook his head. "Ah, Mulder. No wonder you've never had a 
teacher. Anyone but a Federal agent would have long since been brought 
into the fold."

Mulder straightened in his chair. The half-pitying tone that implied 
he was a child, or perhaps worse, childish was more than insulting, 
but as he opened his mouth to argue Pierson held up a hand.

"No. Words would be meaningless now. I have to show you."

With that he pulled out a small pocket knife and Mulder's fingers 
itched to reach for his gun. Still, the thing was so small and the man 
so affable and innocuous in appearance that he held off, his eyes 
following the movement of Pierson's hands as he took the blade and 
sliced deeply into his left palm.

Mulder flinched, remembering the night he'd done pretty much the same 
thing for Scully's benefit. She'd been shocked, horrified and utterly 
fascinated as she watched the healing process. What should have taken 
weeks and left a scar had taken only moments and left his own palm as 
pristine as it had been moments before.

It took less time for Pierson, Mulder noted distantly, and a small 
electrical discharge around the wound left the scent of ozone in the 
air, but still, it was the same.

Mulder swallowed hard, that same relieved yet appalled feeling 
creeping through every inch of his body until he forced himself to 
repress a shudder. He stared at Pierson, who'd tossed the blade on his 
desk and was now wiping his bloody hand on a handkerchief.

Again Pierson held up his hand, fully healed in seconds. "Now," he 
said. "Either I'm the long lost brother your mother never bothered to 
mention, or we need to talk."

Mulder nodded slowly, more to himself than to Pierson. "I think," he 
licked his lips and cleared his dry throat. "I think I need to hear 
whatever you have to say," he murmured, at last finding a sense of 
salvation in the calm, quiet eyes before him.

"Good man," Pierson smiled. "Come on, let's take a walk."


Methos followed Mulder out into the hall silently berating himself for 
being six kinds of fool. He didn't need a student, he didn't want a 
student, but no one else in the area appeared to be willing to take 
him on. Not surprising, Methos imagined, given some of the things he'd 
found out about Mulder just from what was available over the Internet. 
He'd come expecting to find a brilliant, but gullible, idiosyncratic 
flake kept on the payroll out of compassion for all he'd endured. 
Instead, he'd found a sharp, suspicious, straight-to-the-point officer 
of the law. It would have been refreshing if it hadn't meant that he 
now felt responsible for the man.

He'd guessed that Mulder was immortal from the start, just as Mac and 
Joe had suspected. He'd also postulated, though he'd kept that to 
himself, that it was most likely a first death situation after the 
bombing. What he hadn't counted on, which he should have if he cared 
to admit it, was that Mulder's natural instinct to protect himself 
using the law would make him leery of anyone who approached him 
through anything other than regular channels. 

Immortals loved their own sense of the mysterious and weren't 
generally given to scheduling appointments with other immortals during 
business hours. Which was, of course, exactly why he'd done it. He'd 
simply assumed that Mulder knew the rules and would take the gesture 
as it was meant. Openly amicable and without risk. Besides being 
unable to come to death blows in public, getting a sword past security 
was nigh on impossible. Leave it to him, the oldest and supposedly 
wisest immortal alive to stumble into a mess of his own making! A 
pointed reminder, he thought wryly, of why he didn't do profound.

Mulder suddenly paused as he led the way toward the elevators, turning 
abruptly to take the stairs. Methos glanced past him, spotting a 
rather determined redhead striding down the hall in their direction. 
Her level gaze caught his and she opened her mouth to call out, but 
Methos didn't stick around to discover why Mulder was trying so hard 
to avoid her. He plowed through the door, chasing hurriedly after 
Mulder, who'd apparently taken the stairs three and four at a time.

"So," Methos asked as they exited through the garage. "Why are we 
running from your boss?"

Mulder did a double take and frowned. "My partner, Scully. And 
technically, I'm her boss."

Methos grinned. "You always run from your employees then?"

Mulder slowed to a casual walk as they reached the street. "She's not 
just any employee. At the moment she's a disgruntled employee -- with 
a gun."

Methos chuckled and left the matter there, sensing a great deal of 
history between the two. It was not unlikely that Mulder had confided 
some of what he'd been experiencing with her. If that was the case 
then it would be his decision and his alone whether to tell her the 
truth or leave her behind when this life ended and another was begun.

"So, what exactly is an X file?" Methos asked, trying to work the 
conversation around to something Mulder felt comfortable with before 
laying the big one on him. Not to mention putting it off until they 
found a less crowded boulevard to wander down.

Mulder stopped and suddenly smiled. "Apparently, we are."

Methos raised an eyebrow and Mulder shrugged. "The X files are cases 
that fall outside the purview of mainstream investigative techniques. 
Sometimes, but not always, encompassing the paranormal, the 
inexplicable and the indecipherable. Not to mention the occasional 
alien abduction."

"Alien abduction? And they let you spend tax dollars on this?"

"Maybe they know something you don't."

"I doubt it," Methos muttered sotto voce as Mulder started walking. On 
the other hand, the existence of immortals was certainly inexplicable, 
even to him. So, maybe Mulder did know something the rest of them 
didn't. Methos gave an internal shrug and moved past it, catching up 
to Mulder and letting him set the pace as they headed away from the 
monument-strewn heart of the city.

Eventually they found an empty bench overlooking the Potomac. If Mac 
had been here the Scot might have regaled him with stories of General 
Washington and his band of brothers rowing across the little river 
during a terrible snowstorm in the dead of night. And he'd have been 
arguing that the historians said it was far earlier in the day, the 
weather was clear and they'd merely drifted with the current at the 
time. But he wasn't and they certainly wouldn't be talking about 
anything anytime soon.

Methos heaved a silent sigh and sought for words to explain the 
inexplicable to an expectant Mulder. "No one knows how it began or 
why," he finally said. "It, The Game, simply was. It's really very 
simple. There can be only one. One survivor of The Game. For better or 
worse. So, when an immortal, that's what we are, comes into existence 
after his first death either a teacher or a hunter finds him. The 
teacher will tell him, as I'm telling you, the rules of The Game. The 
most important is that the challenge must be private and can only be 
one on one, blade to blade. Mortals must not see or even suspect our 
existence. If the new immortal is found by a hunter, he generally 
loses his head -- the only way we can be killed -- and his Quickening 
to the victor."

"Quickening," Mulder murmured thoughtfully. "The spark of life?"

Methos nodded. "Exactly. Your Quickening contains all you are, all 
you've known and experienced throughout your existence. It's the very 
core of an immortal. What heals us and keeps us alive. And when we 
kill, when we take a life, we take all of that life into ourselves. 
Good, bad or indifferent it is ours until we in our turn are killed 
and our Quickening passes to another."

Mulder shifted uncomfortably in his seat, distaste and disbelief 
written across his features. Whether it was the notion of taking a 
head or the idea of absorbing a Quickening which disturbed him, Methos 
didn't know. Perhaps both. He gave him a moment to digest this then he 
went on.

"Now, we do have some advantages in The Game. We can sense each other, 
or more accurately, we can sense each other's Quickening."

Mulder closed his eyes briefly and nodded. "The headaches. I had one 
right before you showed up."

"It's like an alarm going off, telling you to prepare. As you get 
older it will feel less like a headache and more like a buzz, but that 
also comes with the knowledge of what you're feeling and a lack of 
resistance to the sense of  your own Quickening. "

Mulder sighed. "Don't you guys have a handbook or something I can 

Methos smiled. Actually, The Watchers did, but he wasn't about to tell 
that to Mulder. "Handbooks are so impersonal, Fox. And they never tell 
you the finer points of sword fighting. Like how it feels to stab 
someone and have their blood run down your arms."

Mulder's eyes suddenly grew cold. "I already know that. And it's 
Mulder, not Fox."

Methos said nothing, but the thought came to him that Mulder was not 
as innocent as he seemed. It was a forgone conclusion that Mulder had 
already killed to survive, which would make Methos' job so much 
easier. Mulder wouldn't be squeamish when it came to fighting for his 
life. Of course, now he had to get him past the first shock before the 
man went into denial and decided to bolt.

"So tell me," Methos asked, deliberately changing the subject back to 
Mulder's safety zone. "In all of these X files didn't you ever once 
come across a case where there was a series of mysterious beheadings 
with no connection between the victims?"

Mulder stared at the river for a long moment and sighed. "Of course, 
but that's presupposing you can identify the victim in the first place 
to establish a connection, or lack thereof. From what you've just told 
me most immortals," Mulder shook his head at the word, "live pretty 
average lives. No criminal activity means no finger prints. No family 
means no one to file a missing persons report, or to identify the 
body. That's also presupposing that every unexplained crime that's 
committed comes across my desk. It would be more likely that a simple 
beheading would be filed as random gang activity, especially if the 
body couldn't be identified. The simplest explanation is generally the 
most accepted. Unless there was something truly unusual found at the 
crime scene, even more unusual than a sword, I wouldn't hear about."

And of course, Methos thought, that was also presupposing The Watchers 
didn't suborn every ME or local detective that got a little too 
curious and redirect the path of any investigation.

"That's good to hear," Methos murmured.

"What's good to hear?"

"That our cover has never been blown. When we first heard about you we 
were a little nervous."


"The idea that someone in the government might know about immortals, 
someone who might use their position," he lied adroitly, "to start a 
witch hunt. There's a reason the vast majority of mortals must never 
know about us."

Mulder nodded. "Jealousy is a pretty good motive for mass murder."

"And if one has no sense of honor one might use every means at their 
disposal to rid themselves of the competition. It's been done before. 
Whom do you think started the Inquisition or the Salem witch trials? A 
few immortal victims mixed in with all the rest would never be 

"So that's why you're here," Mulder murmured. "To find out whether I'm 
a sociopath, or to help you locate those sociopathic immortals before 
they become a danger to the rest."

"Or to humanity," Methos added. "Life is much richer, my friend, when 
you have an average Joe to sit down with and share a beer and some 
pleasant conversation."

"But..." Mulder began. "To live for centuries watching those average 
Joe's and Jane's grow old and die... How do you move on? How do live 
knowing every friend you make is going to die?"

Methos felt a surge of pride. This one asked the right questions. 
Maybe he'd be worth teaching after all.

"The same way mortals move through life. Nothing is certain. We live, 
we love, we go on."

"But what about the children? Do they become immortal? And if they do 
does that mean one of my parents was an immortal?"

Methos shook his head sadly. "There are no children. I'm sorry, 
Mulder, but we're all sterile. And our parents," he went on despite 
the shocked look he received, "don't enter into the equation, because 
no matter what you've been led to believe, you were a foundling."

"No," Mulder insisted. "I have a birth certificate. I even know the 
name of the hospital where I was born."

Methos sighed deeply. "You know the name of the hospital where the 
birth certificate was issued. I suspect if you dig deep enough you'll 
find that there are no charts on file to document the birth. That your 
mother told her doctor you were born at home. She might even have 
miscarried before you serendipitously appeared on her door step in the 
middle of the night. So there might even be a record of a pregnancy on 
file somewhere. But no, I assure you, Mulder, you were a foundling 
like all the rest of us. That doesn't," he added sternly, "mean that 
your parents or siblings were any less than that. Merely that a 
biological connection never existed."

For a moment it looked as though Mulder were preparing to argue the 
point, but a sudden look of comprehension crossed his features and 
Methos knew he had scored. Finally, Mulder nodded and stood.

"Thank you, Mr. Pierson," he said, putting on his best professional 
facade, though Methos knew he had to be hurting. "I appreciate all 
you've told me. Send me what you have on those immortals you suspect 
might be dangerous and I'll check it out. I can't promise to share the 
information, but I can alert the local PD's to keep a look out."

"Fair enough," Methos said. Mulder was obviously clever enough not to 
trust a complete stranger too far. Probably didn't want to give either 
side an unfair advantage. But he would protect the general, law-
abiding public which included most immortals.

Mulder started to hand him his card and Methos stood. "What do you 
think you're doing?"

"I have to get back to the office. But thank you again for your time."

"No," Methos shook his head. "You can't just go back to your normal 
routine. Now that you know what you are you have to be trained to 
fight. And there are things you need to know."

"Like what? That you haven't a clue as to where immortals come from?" 
Methos didn't bother to hide his surprise. "That was rather obvious," 
Mulder told him dryly. "You started with The Game, not 'In the 
beginning...' And as for learning to fight... I've been doing pretty 
well on my own."

"Sure," Methos hurriedly interjected. "Until the immortals you've sent 
up the river get out and come looking for revenge. And this time they 
won't challenge you openly, because as far as their concerned you 
don't fight fair. I know honest immortals who'd kill you just for 
having that reputation. Right now you've got an unfair advantage. 
You're a Federal agent and no sane immortal wants the kind of scrutiny 
taking your head would bring. But this life will end, Mulder. It must! 
And then you won't be able to hide behind a badge or a gun."

Mulder looked away, staring sadly at the river. Clearly he'd already 
begun thinking along those lines. At least in terms of his career at 
the FBI.

"A few more years where you are, Mulder, and people will begin to 
wonder whether you've a painting locked in the attic and the Dorian 
Gray comments will start. There's just so much that can be attributed 
to good genes even in this day and age."

Mulder nodded absently and Methos pressed the point. "I'm not saying 
that you have to leave for good. Just for a little while. Long enough 
to learn what you need in order to defend yourself and those you 

Methos knew he'd finally gotten to Mulder when the other man looked 
stricken and silently mouthed the single word, "Scully." As he watched 
the blood drain from Mulder's face Methos had to wonder at the 
reaction. Were they lovers? Perhaps. Or perhaps they were something 
far more important. Friends. Confidants. Partners. One thing was sure, 
Methos surmised, if any immortal dared to threaten so much as a single 
red hair on the woman's head he'd find himself a foot shorter and six 
feet underground without an iota of guilt being felt by Mulder.

Suddenly, Mulder's expression turned to one of determination. "I have 
six weeks vacation coming. And I can tack on an extra three of sick 
days if necessary. Will that be enough?"

Methos gave a reassuring smile. "It's a good start. The rest, of 
course, will be up to you."

Mulder nodded grimly as if he knew full well that there were some 
things in life worth fighting for.


"I don't like it," Scully responded. "You just met this informant and 
you're willing to go off with him? I thought you knew better than that 
by now."

"You don't understand," Mulder insisted. "He's like me. He's just like 
me! And I have to find out why. I have to know the truth, Scully."

"All right. I can accept that. But why do you have to go alone? That's 
the part I don't like. For all you know it could be a trap."

Mulder sighed. He hadn't told her the whole truth, judiciously leaving 
out the bit about learning how to decapitate immortal homicidal 
maniacs with a sword -- and even he didn't quite believe that. He'd 
told her just enough to make her curious, but not enough to send her 
into an over protective frenzy. The least she would do was follow him. 
At worst, she'd have him locked in a psychiatric facility just to keep 
him wandering off on what she would consider an insane quest. 

"Yes," he admitted, saying only the truth. "It could be a trap. But if 
it isn't... Scully, it won't be forever. I'm coming back."

Scully shook her head, refusing to listen. "This is foolish, Mulder."

"Is it? Look at me, Scully. Really look at me. Better yet," he grabbed 
her arm and pulled her into the bedroom, forcing her to stand in front 
of the mirror beside him. "Now look. Look at both of us and tell me 
what you see."

She did as he asked and saw what she'd suspected all along. Only she 
was aging.

"Don't you see, Scully? In a few years I really will have to leave and 
the opportunity will be gone."

Scully stared sightlessly at the mirror. "You aren't immortal," she 
whispered. "It isn't possible. Somehow the aging process has been 
slowed. There's a study being done in Finland that hypothesizes--"

"No!" Mulder hissed. "No more studies. No more tests. Jesus, Scully, 
do I have to stick a knife in my heart and drop dead at your feet to 
prove it?"

"Don't you even think about doing something that stupid!" 

Finally, Scully shook her head and sighed. "I guess it really doesn't 
matter whether I believe you or not, Mulder. You're going to do this 
anyway, so what's the use in us arguing anymore. But I'm going to 
insist you take some precautions and I want to meet this Adam Pierson 
before you go."

"I can do that," Mulder nodded. "And if he won't meet with you then I 
promise I won't go. Okay?"



"What do you mean she wants to meet me? I'm going to be your teacher, 
not your prom date!"

Mulder had the grace to look embarrassed. "It's that or take her with 

"You couldn't just leave?" Methos muttered angrily.

"Sure I could," Mulder drawled. "And then Scully, who's spent the 
better part of twenty years solving complex medical riddles and 
paranormal puzzles will hunt us down. When she found us, I'd get a 
lecture and a few dirty looks. You on the other hand..."

"Might end up on a slab in the morgue with a scalpel happy red head 
trying to decide which pound of flesh she wants to lop off. Fine," 
Methos sighed in disgust. "I'll meet the woman. But," he added, 
wagging a finger at Mulder. "I make no promises about your virtue."

Mulder rolled his eyes and ushered Methos into his apartment. To the 
ancient eyes of this particular immortal the place seemed to suit the 
man. Unprepossessing, sparsely furnished, with a fish tank to one side 
of the room that fairly shouted bachelor. Methos paused to appreciate 
the naked mermaid sitting atop a downed UFO while posing lasciviously 
for a deep sea diver when there was a knock at the door and Mulder 
went to answer it.

The redhead from the Hoover walked in and Methos stood, letting 
himself slip a little more deeply into his Adam "Perpetual Grad 
Student" Pierson persona -- the charming, affable, studious young 
gentleman that had served him so well for the last 30 years. 

"So good to finally be allowed to meet you, Agent Scully," he held out 
a hand without missing a beat, or the annoyed glance Scully shot 

"Mr. Pierson," Scully responded, coolly returning the gesture.

"Adam, please."

"And exactly how old are you claiming to be, Mr. Pierson?"

Out of the corner of his eye Methos saw Mulder watching the exchange 
with a calculating eye. Oh, very clever, he thought, good cop, bad 

"Old enough to drink and wise enough not to do it and drive. I also," 
he smiled, putting a little twinkle his eye, "remembered to bring 
protection." He patted his side where Mulder must know he kept his 
sword and watched a little color drain from the other man's face. 
Scully, on the other hand, had gone a bit red. Now he knew exactly how 
much Mulder had told her about being an immortal -- next to nothing -- 
and she was none the wiser about him or his intentions.

"I think," Scully finally answered, no longer trying to be the calm 
and collected Special Agent interrogating a suspect -- not with her 
face glowing two shades deeper than her hair. "That's between you and 

Methos turned a brilliant smile on the other man, who looked 
uncomfortably at both of them for a brief moment before he gave up and 
grabbed his bags.

"See you in a few weeks, Scully."

The woman nodded and Methos was relieved to see that she was not quite 
as sharp as her partner. To Scully's eyes he appeared to be exactly as 
he'd hoped. A rather likable fellow, possibly old enough to be more 
clever than she, and relaxed enough about it to tease her mercilessly 
for her impertinence. As he followed Mulder out the door, he turned to 
give Scully a winning smile and a flirtatious wink. After all, she was 
a very attractive woman and she did blush rather nicely.


"We're here!" Methos sang as if they'd just finished a two day drive 
instead of twenty minutes.

Mulder stared at the other man as if he'd gone insane. "Are you 
joking? I could walk to work from here."

"Damn, and I did so want to impress you with my cleverness taking that 
wrong exit off the expressway."

Mulder gave a wry twist of his lips as if to say, "Yeah, right, tell 
me another one," and climbed out the car. In the distance he heard the 
flickering pop of muffled gunshots followed quickly by the loud whine 
of police sirens responding. "Picked a real garden spot, Pierson. The 
old warehouse district of downtown DC. Nice."

"Isn't it though," Methos grinned, helping Mulder with his things. 
"It's perfect. Not a soul around and no one, not even an immortal 
foolish enough to come down here day or night."

"Then what are we doing here?"

"Isolation is the next best thing to holy ground. And since this is 
both it really is perfect."

"Holy ground?" Mulder asked, obviously confused as he followed Methos 
from the sheltered overhang of the side entrance where they'd parked.

"This used to be a mission," he responded, leading Mulder deeper into 
the building. "During your Civil War it became both a hospital and a 
morgue." Methos flipped on his torch, shining it around the cavernous 
room. "Later, when the area fell into disrepute the church turned it 
into a food bank and homeless shelter. Eventually, when even they 
refused to come into the area it was abandoned. A few years back I 
purchased the place. Life lesson, Mulder. A man can never own too much 
holy real estate."

There was silence from behind and Methos smiled in the dark waiting 
for the obvious question.

"Would you be insulted, Pierson, if I said your investment strategy 
was creepy?"

That wasn't the question, but Methos laughed and told him anyway. 
"Sacred ground, Mulder. It's the only place we can't kill each other. 
No immortal will ever violate that rule. So, no matter what the lovely 
Agent Scully might think, you are perfectly safe here. Even from me."

"Any sacred ground of any religion?" 

"Anyone's church," Methos agreed as he started up the wide, solid 
stairs. "Even what you'd consider pagan." 

"What about the Church of Satan?"

He paused in his step, glancing nervously back at Mulder. "Now that's 
creepy." Where did he come up with these things?

"It's hallowed ground to somebody, even if it is the antithesis of God 
and therefore technically unholy," Mulder insisted with a grin.

"Then I expect one would think twice about it," he replied tartly. "At 
least," he murmured, "I hope they would. Some of these younger 
immortals do seem a bit flighty."

Mulder ignored the obvious rebuke as Methos continued climbing. "What 
happens if someone breaks the rule?"

"No one really knows," Methos answered honestly. "But there is a story 
of two immortals mixing it up in a temple just before Mount Vesuvius 
erupted ever so spectacularly."

Before Mulder could begin speculating about the nature of God and 
immortality, or some other such nonsense, Methos reached the second 
floor landing, turned into the entrance to his hidden loft and 
switched on the overhead track lighting.

"Home sweet home," Methos said with a grin as he tossed his keys onto 
a recessed shelf that ran the length of one wall.

Mulder blinked as his eyes readjusted to the light and wandered over 
the huge sparsely furnished room. Egg shell white walls, pale oak 
floors with matching shutters on the long narrow windows, a few 
scattered white rugs, a king sized platform bed of the same pale oak, 
a desk, a few chairs, and a state of the art entertainment center. 
With the exception of a few carefully placed objets de art, that made 
up the entire contents of the room.

Mulder nodded as if he suddenly understood something which had be 
bothering him. Adam Pierson was a great deal older than he'd like 
people to believe. "Spend a lot of time in Sparta, Pierson?"

Methos glared at him. "Don't be insulting. A duller group of war 
mongers never existed. Corinth," he added. "Now that was the place to 
be. Everybody went to Corinth."

"I thought Athens was the place to be?" Mulder asked, putting his bags 

"It had its moments, but Corinth was consistently entertaining."

Well, Mulder thought as he wandered over to a beautifully preserved 
figure of a man about to toss a javelin, that placed him at around 500 
BC. Maybe earlier. Interesting. "So, how old is the oldest immortal?"

Methos shrugged and went to get himself a beer from the small 
kitchenette hidden neatly behind a set of folding panels. "Who knows," 
he told Mulder, handing him a bottle as he found a seat on one of the 
scattered chairs. "There are myths, of course. Eventually you'll hear 
them. Supposedly, the oldest immortal is a man named Methos and has 
lived for five thousand years."

"Methuselah?" Mulder asked, astonishment rounding his eyes.

Methos shrugged again. "Wouldn't know. Never met the man. Frankly, I 
don't believe he even exists. Maybe he did once, but I think he's 
dead. It stands to reason, doesn't it? How could any man survive that 
long without someone taking his head?" Mulder nodded thoughtfully, but 
said nothing. "Another life lesson, Mulder. The older you get the more 
powerful you become and are perceived to be."

"More power, so more challenges," Mulder surmised. "Still," he went 
on. "That's a lot of years. A life that long... Terrible and wonderful 
things to be remembered." Mulder suddenly smiled. "If I were that old 
I wouldn't worry about losing my head to another immortal, I'd worry 
about some secret government think tank finding out about me and 
locking me in a basement laboratory somewhere trying to figure out 
what made me tick."

Methos stared at him blandly. "Whatever for?"

Mulder shook his head, took a sip of his beer and found his own seat. 
"Curiosity. Jealousy. Greed. Or," he shrugged. "Just because they felt 
like it. Who says they need a reason? It's a thing they don't have. 
Something they don't control. Knowledge they might need, or would 
merely like to possess."

Methos stared, refusing to betray the anxiety this caused him. "That's 
a bit paranoid, isn't it?"

"Yes. And? Since when has that ever stopped the government, or any of 
the shadow governments from doing whatever they want to do?"

"Shadow governments? This is America, Mulder, there are no shadow 
governments here."

Mulder snorted in contempt. "Tell that to Scully, who was made barren 
because she got in their way. Or to my sister, Samantha, who was taken 
for their experiments. Or my father, who was murdered by one of their 
agents. Try telling that to the thousands of Americans who've been 
victimized by these same individuals over the years. They'll tell you 
I'm not paranoid enough in spite of what I've seen."

Methos looked away, saddened by what he was hearing. He'd only meant 
to distract Mulder from pursuing the question of his age. 

"Listen, Mulder. It isn't that I don't believe you. It's just that 
it's been my experience that these government conspiracies have a 
short shelf life. Factions are by nature fractious. The lust for power 
becomes all consuming and they burn themselves out fairly quickly."

"Historically speaking that's true," Mulder agreed. "Unless there's an 
outside agency fueling the conspiracy. Creating a mindset of purpose, 
if not of unity."

"And you know of something that powerful, that frightening?"

Mulder grimaced wryly and finished his beer. "Know of it? I was a key 
player. Back in the day," Mulder sighed almost wistfully. "We brought 
them down, but we couldn't make them pay. At least we avoided the 

Now that got Methos' attention. "Apocalypse?"

"Alien invasion," Mulder told him as casually as if such things 
happened every day.

"Right. Okay, no more beer for you, friend."

Mulder turned melancholy eyes on him. "It wasn't going to be what you 
think. Not the kind of pyrotechnic movie invasion that I'm sure you're 
imagining. You'll find the records in a sealed vault at the CDC. 
Remember the bubonic plague epidemic of 2008 that never happened?"

"Remember it?" Methos nodded slowly. "I lived through the nightmare of 
the first. It was the only time I've ever supported a declaration of 
martial law and house to house searches for those who refused to go to 
an inoculation center."

Mulder sighed. "It was the only excuse we could think of to get 
everybody inoculated. No one would have believed an invasion in the 
form of a sentient virus that digested its human host as it gestated."

Methos didn't bother to hide his disbelief. "Look, Mulder, I'm fairly 
old and I've never even heard of such a thing."

Mulder shrugged and stood. It had been a long eventful day and he 
really needed some sleep. "Believe what you like, Pierson. I know what 
I've seen. And I've long since passed the point where I needed others 
to embrace the truth  -- only that they learn it. That way, when the 
shit hits the fan they can't say they didn't know -- they just refused 
to believe." 

In silence, Methos helped him carry his bags to the extra bedroom 
upstairs, thinking his new student had some pretty odd ideas. Still, 
he'd believed in demons and spirits all his life. Given the nature of 
his existence it stood to reason that there was a higher power 
involved somewhere. But if what Mulder said was true, and he had no 
doubt that the man believed what he was saying, then what role did 
immortals play in the world? Were they merely bit players in the great 
drama, destined to forever kill and be killed somewhere to the left of 
center stage? Or was this, he wondered suddenly as he told his guest 
goodnight, what had averted the Gathering? He'd felt it. They'd all 
felt it. The need to travel to this continent to fight for The Prize. 
The building up of energies in every sinew of the body until there was 
nothing to do but fight. Then, without warning, it had stopped.

Methos hurried down the stairs to his own bed, nervously running a 
hand through his hair. The timing was about right, if he recalled 
correctly. December, 2007? Wasn't that when the real killing started? 
When rumblings of a possible epidemic had begun. And a few months 
later, right about the time martial law had been implemented it had 

And they'd all been inoculated. No getting around that, even if 
immortals couldn't catch the plague. He'd been quarantined and rounded 
up with the rest of Joe's patrons one day. 

And after that? Yes. It was after that, he thought with no small 
amount of astonishment. The need to fight, the feeling that if he 
didn't fill himself to the brim with Quickening after Quickening he 
would somehow burst at the seams had all just dissipated. At the time, 
he'd merely been relieved. But now? He reached for the phone eager to 
tell Joe and exchange ideas.

No. Methos tucked his cell back in his pocket. No, this he would keep 
to himself. Even if the coming of the Gathering was somehow linked to 
Mulder's averted alien invasion it didn't necessarily mean anything. 
And if no one believed Mulder, they certainly had no reason to believe 
him. The oldest, most powerful immortal in the world claiming the 
Gathering had come, gone and been a complete non-event? When they'd 
got done laughing at him they'd hunt him down just for the amusement 
of cutting out his foolish tongue right before taking his head.


"Do it again," Methos repeated despite the fact that Mulder had gotten 
the movements down perfectly after the first few times. He ignored the 
sour expression and went back to his paper. There was the clang of 
metal hitting concrete and he looked up to find Mulder standing in the 
middle of the floor, hands on his hips, breathing hard and obviously 

"Why? You're not even watching to see if I got it right!"

Methos hid a smile. He'd wondered how long it would take to piss him 
off. "You've got it right. Now you have to make it part of you. The 
basic moves are easy. Coming out of a sound sleep into the middle of a 
fight and keeping your head, now that's hard." Mulder took a deep 
breath and nodded, bending down to pick up the sword he'd tossed 
aside. "And don't treat good steel like that," he chided. "Respect 
your weapon. It should become as much a part of you as your hand."

Mulder bowed, "Yes, Master Yoda," and moved back into first position.

"I rather thought of myself as that Quon-gi fellow Liam Neeson 
played," he murmured, going back to his reading. "Now there was a Jedi 
master." A moment later his cell phone rang and he pulled it out.

"Hey Joe," he answered after seeing the familiar number on his caller 
ID. "You're up early." After a moment's pause he shook his head. 
"That's not good. Sounds like the seepage has been going on for a 
while. That's going to cost mucho dinero to repair." He caught Mulder 
eavesdropping with half an ear and frowned. "Joe, hold on a sec," he 
said quietly. "Pay attention to what you're doing!" he shouted at 
Mulder, who didn't trouble to look embarrassed. "Either keep on 
correctly, or just put it aside. Losing your concentration in the 
middle of a fight is not an option." To his credit, Mulder grinned and 
went back to his pattern without missing a single stroke.

Methos heard Joe laughing and sighed. "Yes, I've taken on a student. 
Mulder? Why ever would you think that?" He smiled and nodded at the 
man, who'd paused as he heard his name mentioned and correctly put up 
his sword. "Yes, I spoke with him and he didn't exactly agree to help, 
but then he didn't blow me off, either. Said he'd look into the matter 
and alert the locals if there was anything going on that might affect 
the civil peace." Methos grinned at Joe's comment, giving Mulder a 
thumbs up. "Yes, I thought so too. Now, I've got to get back to the 
little one or he's likely to cut something important off."

A moment later they'd said their good-byes and Methos waved for Mulder 
to go on. It was a good thing Joe had suggested he be Mulder's Watcher 
for the time being since he had to stay in town for a while to do the 
student-teacher thing. Otherwise, someone might get suspicious. And a 
curious Scot was an annoying Scot. The last thing he needed was to 
give Mulder a giant dose of sanctimonious pabulum. Fighting in the 
name of Justice was all well and fine when you were as good with a 
sword as MacLeod. But Mulder was new to The Game and Methos had seen 
what happened to Ritchie, Macleod's long dead student, when he'd tried 
to follow in his senior's footsteps. That wasn't Methos' style. First, 
he'd teach Mulder how to fight, instilling in him a bit of cynical 
self-preservation to keep him alive. Then he could play The Game 
however he wanted and, consequently, get on with his life.


Mulder awoke with a painful gasp anxiously reaching for his heart. 
There was a clink of bottles to his side and he rolled over, staring 
with horrified eyes at his teacher casually kicking back with a cool 

Methos raised a brow as Mulder got to his feet and angrily stalked 
forward. "You fucking put a sword through my heart!"

"Yes, and remember it, because the next time you screw up a move I 
know you can do blind I'm going to do it again." He watched the anger 
drain out of his student with a silent nod. They didn't have time to 
do this easy and Mulder knew that. In a few weeks he had to return to 
work and now that he'd graduated to mock fights they were going to do 
this dirty and hard. "You have a bad habit of pulling your blows, and 
while I appreciate the consideration, I won't tolerate it. If you 
can't deliver a death stroke, you'll never disable your opponent 
enough to take his head. Got that?"

Mulder nodded, his expression telling Methos that the idea of actually 
playing The Game was becoming far too real. Tough, Methos thought, 
reaching for his sword. For all his bizarre notions of alien 
abductions and genetically mutated viruses he'd grown to like Mulder. 
If he had to be a little cruel he'd do it if it meant the man would 
survive. Someday he might even give MacLeod a run for his money in a 
contest of arms.

"Good. Now let's go on to--" Methos stiffened as he felt the buzz of a 
strange immortal and looked nervously around. The last he'd heard 
MacLeod was in China on a buying trip, having gone into the 
import/export business. And besides, he doubted the Scot would try to 
track him down. Which meant this was probably a stranger. And whether 
they were here to a purpose or simply by accident neither mattered. 
"Wait here," he told Mulder.

Moving closer to the main entrance of the first floor hall where 
they'd been practicing Methos loosely, but carefully held his sword.

"This is holy ground!" he called out. "Show yourself or be gone!"

"Rapist!" a familiar voice hissed and Methos sighed, sheathing his 

"Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, Cassandra." A woman, 
tall, dark hair flowing past her shoulders and very beautiful, even 
wearing a snarl, stepped into the light. "I'm busy here. Now get out."

Cassandra gave him a nasty smile. "I'm not here for you, Methos. I've 
come to have a word with your student."

"Leave him alone. He has nothing to do with this."

She ignored him and turned to Mulder, whose face had gone still and 
expressionless. "Come with me..."

Her voice echoed in the cavernous hall, vibrating dully inside 
Mulder's head. The compulsion to go with her was negligible enough to 
disregard and his eyes widened with curiosity instead. "How'd you do 

Both Methos and the woman looked surprised. 

"Cassandra is a witch."

"Really? A real witch? With powers and everything? Cool."

Cassandra remained silent for a moment. The Voice hadn't worked, but 
the truth, Methos knew, just might. He'd dreaded this moment for over 
a month now. The moment when Mulder found out his dirty little secret 
and walked out. And with Cassandra as unbalanced as she'd been in 
recent years, she just might take his head for spite.

"Come with me," she told Mulder again. This time leaving out the mind 
tricks. "I'll find you a better teacher. One with honor."

Mulder cocked his head. "Why don't you tell me what you mean by that 
and let me decide."

Cassandra gave Methos a look of triumph. "That man you call friend is 
a liar. A murdering rapist who kills for pleasure. A thousand years he 
rode to the hunt, destroying every living thing he came across. Death, 
that's what we called him. Death on a horse. He and his band of 
bloodthirsty riders. Their evil and their memory live even now in your 

"That was three thousand years ago," Methos interjected. "People 
change! I've changed!"

"You change?" Cassandra laughed harshly. "You're the same as you ever 
were. Using him for your own ends. Playing at kindness. You don't know 
the meaning of the word."

"Oh, but I do! You taught me that. Do you think I ever had a captive I 
treated like you? Kronos saw that. That's why he demanded you. To 
sully what we had."

"What we had? What you had!" she spat.

Methos nodded. "Maybe. Yes," he shrugged. "What I had then. But still, 
I let you go. I saw you run and didn't call out. I wanted you free."

"Liar! You didn't want to share!"

"And why was that, Cassandra? Could it possibly be that I felt 
something for you other than lust?"

"You can't feel anything!"

"Enough!" Mulder interrupted. "I've heard enough. You," he told 
Methos, "go upstairs. I want to talk to her alone."

Methos stared at Mulder, but his expression was unreadable. With a 
disgusted sigh he turned to go. "Don't leave the building," he called 
without looking back. "Remember, you're still on holy ground."

"I will have your head!" Cassandra called after him. "I swear it!"

"Threaten him later, ma'am," he heard Mulder tell her as he reached 
the landing. "I'm a Federal agent and if you do that again I'll have 
to arrest you."

Methos choked back a laugh and went inside. God, he would really love 
to have seen her expression!


Mulder found him a while later sipping a whiskey. "So, have you made 
your decision?" Methos asked casually.

Mulder crossed his arms and leaned against the door jam. "I made that 
one a few weeks ago. I just needed to give her a chance to calm down."

"So what did you say to her?"

"I asked if she'd ever been in therapy and pointed out that taking 
your Quickening would be the worst possible thing. If she hates the 
thought of one part of your anatomy having been inside her, just think 
what having all of you in there would mean."

Methos raised an eyebrow at that. "Look," he began apologetically. "I 
know how you feel about knowing the truth and all, but..."

Mulder held up a hand. "Don't. It isn't necessary. I suspected as much 
from some of the things you've let slip. And the truth is, if you 
hadn't already gone through a period of temporary insanity I'd be 
really worried."

"A thousand years isn't temporary," he admitted sadly.  "And I was old 
when I started."

Mulder shook his head. "Doesn't matter. You reached a point where you 
lived through one too many horrors and became the horror yourself."

Methos smiled. "Don't kid yourself, Mulder. I enjoyed it. I was a 
monster and I liked it."

"I don't doubt," Mulder agreed. "But monsters can be made. Take my 
word for it."

"Crap!" Methos insisted. "I ought to know, I studied with Freud."

"I'm not a Freudian."

"I also studied with Jung."

"I'm not a Jungian, or any other ian for that matter. I'm a criminal 
psychologist with a specialization in abnormal behavior. I've spent 
most of my career profiling mass murderers, serial killers, and 
deviant sociopaths. And though I've never actually profiled you, I can 
guess what category you fall into."

"Do tell," Methos snorted and focused on his drink.

"You were a 'made' psychopath. A far more common occurrence than most 
people would like to believe. Kick anyone enough times and they'll 
kick back. And the more peaceful they were when you started the more 
dangerous they'll be when they finally snap. Historically speaking, I 
could name you a dozen who became military leaders."

Methos looked up, clearly startled. "So what does that make me now?"

Mulder sighed deeply. "Truthfully? I don't know. Most made psychopaths 
suicide when they figure it out, taking their truly psychopathic and 
sociopathic followers with them. I do know one thing. You are not 
suffering from any form of aberrant psychopathy. Not even a controlled 
psychopath could hide it for as long as we've been here, especially 
not with someone who knows what they're looking at when they see it."

Methos bowed his head and rubbed his face with his hands. "That still 
doesn't change what I did," he whispered.

"No, it doesn't," Mulder agreed, coming forward to sit near him. "But 
you know that. And what's more important, you feel guilt. The 
criterion for parole in this country is a full and complete 
understanding of one's actions. A comprehension of the pain and 
suffering inflicted on the victim. I can think of no better punishment 
than for you to live a year for every innocent life you've taken 
carrying the weight of that guilt."

Methos stood and moved away. "And what about Cassandra? I did what she 

Mulder rose and nodded. "I know you did. And much as I find it 
distasteful personally, I can't presume to judge a man, let alone a 
culture three thousand years dead. And that man is dead, Methos."

Sorrowful eyes turned in his direction. "But will he live again?"

"No," Mulder told him honestly. "The triggers are gone. Once a man's 
been broken he can't be broken again, and the broken place is actually 
stronger than the rest."

Methos simply nodded, his voice filled with exhaustion. "You know, I 
don't want to fight her."

"That was obvious. But just because you'd like to say to yourself that 
there's at least one person from that time in your life you didn't 
kill doesn't make it's true. The woman she was before you took her is 
dead. The body goes on, the personality remains the same, but 
Cassandra died the day you took her against her will. That said, who 
she is now has nothing to do with you. She's done what the vast 
majority of assault victims do. She's let you get inside her head and 
stay there. She gives the memory power over her by refusing to take 
that power back. Until she does, she'll remain fixated on you. And, 
yes, I told her that, too."

Again Methos nodded tiredly. "Could we change the subject, please?" 

"Not before I make a professional observation." Methos frowned, but 

"I'll give you the same advice I gave Cassandra. Go find yourself a 
therapist who's dealt with POW's and torture victims. Whatever 
catastrophic event occurred in your life to send you reeling towards 
self-destruction still has power over you." With that Mulder left him 
to go downstairs and continue his training. 

Methos sighed. Good advice, really, and he knew it was true. But how 
did one get therapy for an event or series of events one couldn't 
recall? And if he could, was it anything he'd really want to remember? 
He doubted it. May all the gods forgive him, he thought, finishing his 
drink, but better to let it just rest.



A surprised Methos poked his head out of the shower. "Joe?" He grabbed 
his robe and went into the living area. "How the hell did you... Oh," 
he nodded. "Cassandra's Watcher."

Joe nodded and made his way over to a chair. "I figured it was you 
from the description. Not of you," he clarified seeing the nervous 
look on the other man's face. "But from the way she was behaving. What 
did you do anyway? She's been wandering the streets for days snapping 
at everybody."

"Guess she didn't like what I had to say."

Joe turned in his seat, staring at the other man.

"Joe Dawson meet Fox Mulder, my student."

Joe shook his head. "You could have told me it was him. I wouldn't 
have been so worried when Cassandra appeared."

"I'm a secretive bastard," Methos shrugged. "You know this."

"You're not immortal," Mulder interrupted, having learned to ignore 
the irascible side of his teacher.

Joe grinned. "Nope. Not even pre-immie," he rapped his prosthetic 
legs, "luckily."

 Mulder moved into the room and took a seat as well. "So, what's a 

The older man winced uncomfortably. "Heard that did you?"

"It's a long story," Methos interjected. "And frankly, not very 

Joe nodded in agreement. "It's really, really boring."

"Uh huh," Mulder grunted, obviously not believing a word of it. "Well 
it appears, given our friend Adam here, that I could have as much as 
five thousand years worth of listening left to me."

Joe's mouth hung open. "You know? He knows?"

"He knows," Methos sighed. "Cassandra never was very discreet."

"Why would she be?" Mulder asked rhetorically. "What do you imagine 
her fondest wish is?"

"I'd rather not, if you don't mind," Methos responded testily. "As for 
The Watchers, they're a secret society of, well, watchers. They watch 
immortals do what they do, record it all for posterity, but never 
interfere. Usually. See? Very boring. Now, if you'll both excuse me, 
I'm going to dress."

"Take your time," Joe grinned, chuckling as Methos rolled his eyes 
disgustedly. When he'd disappeared back into the bathroom Dawson 
leaned forward conspiratorially. "So, what's he like?"

Mulder's eyes crinkled in confusion. "I thought you knew him."

"Yeah, but I met him as Adam Pierson, squeaky clean geek and 
endearingly annoying grad student. I've never actually been able to 
get to know the real Methos, immortal warrior and scourge of history. 
So, what's he really like?"

"In comparison to what?" Mulder teased.

Joe sighed despairingly.

"Stop pumping him for information," Methos chided as he stepped out of 
the bathroom, barefoot and dressed only in a pair of jeans. "Now, 
anybody want a beer?"

"It's seven o'clock in the morning," Mulder protested.

"Right. Anybody else want a beer?"


Breakfast had been Methos' favorite. Beer and sausages. Lunch had been 
the left over sausages, bread with cheese and yet more beer -- a never 
ending supply of which seem to flow out of a storage room in the back 
of the old mission. Now, as Methos was making dinner, beer fortified 
rabbit stuffed with sausages, Mulder watched him with a bemused 

In between long bouts of conversation, ranging from topics such as the 
origins of beer, upon which Methos waxed eloquent, to the origins of 
blues, where Joe's expertise held sway, he finally decided he really 
did like Methos. Oh, he'd thought about whether he did or not prior to 
Cassandra's appearance, but at that point he'd still had far too many 
questions to make an informed decision. After, he'd been cautious, 
because Methos had been -- afraid to get too close in case Cassandra's 
words came back to haunt Mulder and his student openly rejected him.

Always before Mulder had wondered if the man had been play acting. And 
to some extent that was certainly the case. But seeing him  share a 
beer and conversation with his average Joe, Mulder realized that much 
of the play acting was Methos as he had been. The underlying 
personality that time had filled with anger and cynicism. No wonder 
Dawson couldn't tell where Adam began and Methos ended. There was more 
of Adam in Methos than there was ancient immortal warrior king. Still, 
Mulder knew he should never discount the ruthless aspect of the man 
which must be there. That would be naive in the extreme.

As Mulder reached for his beer the sudden buzz he'd learned to 
identify as an approaching immortal hit him square in the center of 
his forehead. At the same time, Methos turned towards the door 
listening intently as heavy footsteps sounded loudly on the stairs.

"MacLeod," he muttered, wearing a vexed expression and turning furious 
eyes on Joe. 

Dawson shook his head. "Wasn't me. Must have been--"

The door flew open and slammed against the wall, shattering the 
plaster. "What did you do to Cassandra?!"

"Who said he did anything?" Mulder blurted before either Joe or Methos 
could stop him. 

"Who the hell are--" MacLeod paused. "I know you. The FBI agent." He 
discounted Mulder immediately, turning instead to Joe. "What's he 
doing here?" He twitched his head in Mulder's direction.

"Ah," Joe hesitated, looking helplessly at Methos.

"He's my student," Methos told him coldly. "And I think you'd better 

"I'll leave when you answer my question. What did you do to Cassie?"

"He didn't do anything." Mulder stood and moved between the two men. 
"I told her the truth. That she needed to seriously consider having a 
psychiatric evaluation and hospitalization."

The vengeful expression on MacLeod's face was all Mulder needed. Even 
as the big man moved to hit him Mulder ducked, shoving the indignant 
Highlander hard into the wall and slapping a pair of handcuffs on him. 
"Don't fuck with me, Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod," he growled 
angrily. "I'm not in the mood for it."

MacLeod twisted around until he was facing the room. "And what gives 
you the right to say anything to her? You don't know her. You don't 
know what she's been through!"

"But I do. She told me. Of course, first she tried to seduce me into 
leaving using some kind of mind trick. But hey, it was a novel 
approach, so I let it slide."

MacLeod took a deep breath. "So you know, that still doesn't give you 
the right."

Mulder shrugged and pushed away from him. "I just call 'em as I see 
'em. The woman needs psychiatric care. If you're really her friend 
you'll see that she gets it -- before someone figures out that if she 
knows Methos from back in the day it would be far simpler to take her 
head right then and there than to wander the world searching for a 

MacLeod seemed shocked at the suggestion, looking to Joe and Methos 
for confirmation. 

Dawson shrugged. "He's right, Mac. She's playing a dangerous game. 
This isn't the first time she's tried to convince some poor kid to go 
after Methos."

"And don't I know it," the immortal in question complained bitterly. 
"She trains them up just to throw them at me in the hope one will 

This time MacLeod looked to Mulder, who nodded shortly. "As soon as we 
were alone," he confirmed, "she tried it on me."

Some of the air seemed to drain from MacLeod's sails and he sagged 
against the wall. He closed his eyes and nodded. "You can remove 
these," he clinked the metal gently.

Joe nodded. "Take 'em off, Mulder. He's gotten it out of his system. 
Now, he'll listen to reason."

Mulder stared at the man then went to do as he'd requested, hoping Joe 
would be able to talk some sense into the man. From what he'd learned 
during the past few hours Cassandra had done quite a number on the 
young Duncan. Even going so far as to seduce him as a boy of thirteen 
in order to plant the idea in his little pre-immortal head that one 
day he would face a great battle against evil. The evil being her 
former teacher, a powerful warlock she couldn't defeat.

Before leaving he turned to Methos and caught his eye, silently asking 
that he give them some privacy. MacLeod was not going to like what Joe 
had to say and he'd like it even less with an audience.

"You think he'll listen?" Mulder asked, just to have something to say 
as he led the way to the roof. He'd discovered that at sunset he could 
see the back of the New Hoover's garage. He kept hoping for a glimpse 
of red hair just to reassure himself that Scully was all right. Still, 
he had her e-mails and he'd even phoned her a couple of times. She was 
worried, but surviving.

Methos went to edge and took a seat on the parapet. "Who knows," he 
sighed. "MacLeod can be the most pigheaded, stubborn, narrow-
minded..." With a shake of his head he turned and dangled his feet 
over the side. "Depends on how Joe explains the situation, I guess."

Mulder moved to sit as well, knowing there could be no better time to 
have this discussion. "So tell me, how did you become one of the Four 
Horsemen of the Apocalypse?"

Methos gave him a sideways glance, no doubt wondering if Mulder really 
wanted to hear it, or was fishing for useful tidbits to use as 
ammunition. Either way, Mulder thought, it was more than MacLeod had 
apparently done. According to Joe, he hadn't been all that interested. 
Finally, Methos seemed to decide he had no ulterior motive and began 
slowly, almost desultory.

"I'd been working as a mercenary, I don't know for how long really. My 
employer was the son of some petty Assyrian king, I think. I didn't 
really care who paid me at the time as long as I got my money. I can't 
remember much before that. Except for a few odd bits and pieces that 
really stand out it's all a blur. I do remember that I'd been around a 
while. A couple of thousand years more or less, maybe.

"Anyway, I met up with Silas first. Of all of us he was perhaps the 
most honest. Put him on a battlefield and he tore through the enemy 
like they were stands of wheat. A berserker plain and simple. Hand him 
a homeless puppy and he was as gentle with it as a mum with her new 
born baby." Methos paused to swallow his tears. "I had to kill him, 
you know. He was a big, dangerous beast of a man, but I liked him."

Mulder said nothing, wondering what it must be like to carry not only 
the memory of a friend in your mind, but his soul as well. He hoped he 
never learned how it felt.

"Be that as it may," Methos finally went on. "Caspian was an entirely 
different story. In fact," Methos glanced at Mulder. "Given your 
profession you may have even heard of his last incarnation. Evan 

"Caspari," Mulder murmured, rolling the name around. "The Romanian 
serial killer? The one who escaped about twenty years back?" Methos 
nodded. "Jesus, I was sent to Paris to work with Interpol on the 
original task force. Nasty piece of work that bastard. Never could 
find a trace of him though."

Methos nodded. "Trust me, he never got the chance to harm anyone. 
MacLeod saw to that."

Mulder nodded, filing the information away. He'd make a note of it 
when he got back and pass the word to Interpol that Caspari was 
definitely out of action.

"A nasty piece of work," Methos continued with a nod. "Caspian was 
exactly that. Not much of a fighter, but what he lacked in skill he 
made up for in horror. He wasn't much of a threat to me, not with 
Silas around. And he really wasn't interested in The Game, except for 
figuring he'd been granted immortality to pursue his own devices. The 
seal of approval by the gods and all that. If he had to take a head 
now and again, risking his own life in the process he figured it was a 
fair trade.

"Then Kronos showed up. He was there for the big battle. Our petty 
king was making a move on another petty king, albeit one with a real 
city inside his border. Two little men fighting over a pile of mud 
brick huts. That's how I saw it at any rate. But it paid well, the 
beer was fresh and the food was decent enough." Methos sighed and 
smiled wryly, shaking his head.

"Anyway, Kronos was a bit more complex than the others. He was 
actually capable of real sustained thought. Of course, it all centered 
around being known as the biggest, the badest and the meanest, but at 
least he had a plan. 

"When the battle was over and our petty king came out on top we all 
got our walking papers. Mercenaries are useful in a fight, but heaven 
help you if you keep them around during peace time. But that was okay, 
too. I had a big bag of gold and all the armor I'd stripped from the 
dead on the other side. That stuff makes great trophies, by the way, 
especially if you could find some nobleman's son who was too afraid to 
actually get right in the fighting. They'd pay a fortune for a banged 
up helmet or a rusty sword just so they could go home and claim they'd 
taken it in single combat. Made a better trade if you hung around to 
give them a really good story that would bug out the relatives eyes." 

Methos chuckled at Mulder's expression. Not horror or fear, but 
intensely fascinated. "So, where was I? Oh, yes. Kronos." Methos 
paused and sighed. "I remember the day he told me his plan. We were in 
a bath house at some temple, I forget which god, but apparently one 
who liked his worshipers clean. I usually avoided him, although I have 
to admit a large part of me was attracted to the picture he painted. 
We were gods. Earthbound and condemned to squabble amongst ourselves, 
but still gods. Instead of hiring ourselves out to whatever little 
king happened to be in a greedy mood at the moment and hope like hell 
we didn't accidentally 'die' in battle before we got paid, we should 
band together and make them pay us tribute instead. Of course, we 
couldn't take on an entire army, but with hit and run strikes we could 
cause enough terror to incite the tithe paying populace who would 
eventually demand our price be met. And that, ultimately, was our 

Mulder laughed softly and nodded. "Those who could ran to towns which 
grew into cities, which built bigger walls, which fielded bigger 
armies and were therefore able to protect more of their property. 
Without meaning to you spurred on the growth of modern civilization. 
That must have irked Kronos."

Methos grimaced wryly and nodded. "We'd started out as raiders and 
briefly became wealthy warrior princes. By the time I came across 
Cassandra we were already on a downward slide. We didn't roam across 
two continents because we liked to travel. The pickings just got slim. 
And every time a new king was crowned he'd come marching out into the 
countryside with his army, putting on a show for the indigenous crowd 
and refusing to pay our tribute. Eventually, most of the undefended 
villages had been replaced by small cities where the people came out 
only during the day to tend their crops. We spent more time sabotaging 
irrigation ditches that we did fighting for a while. Quite a come 
down, wouldn't you say?"

"So what made you leave?"

Methos shrugged. "Probably the same reason I'd originally stayed. 
Fear. I was afraid of being alone. And with the others I didn't have 
to fight for every scrap and mouthful only to lose it when a bigger, 
stronger immortal came and tried to take what I had. We shared 
everything. And our one rule was never to raise a hand against each 
other. We called ourselves brothers and we meant it. After a while, I 
thought myself happy. I was Death and I was good at it. I was Death 
and I took pride in it. I was Death and I never saw the end coming."

He paused for a long moment and sighed. "It wasn't Cassandra's escape 
that triggered my departure. In fact, I had to stay on several years 
after that just to make certain Kronos didn't suspect what I was 
planning. I'd really been thinking about it for a while. At some 
point, I'm not sure when, we raided this pathetic little caravan. For 
our trouble we came back with a few bolts of cloth, a handful of 
painted baubles and a dozen or so books -- scrolls actually -- and 
some slaves.

"I could read, of course, but Egyptian, Assyrian, Akkadian and 
Sumerian are nothing like Greek writing. So I forced one of the new 
slaves to teach me. Probably told him I'd sell him to a good house 
where they wouldn't beat him too regularly. And since people back then 
were a lot more practical and pessimistically accepting of whatever 
fate the gods ordained, he agreed."

Methos shook his head and smiled. "Those books were it really. They 
made me start to think."

"What were they?" Mulder asked curiously.

"The collected works of King Philip of Macedonia, Alexander the 
Great's daddy. He wrote about the proper disposition and rule of a 
city. How duty, honor and courage could make a man of the most humble 
means into a great leader. He insisted that talent and not patronage 
be used to determine who ruled -- after all, he was an elected king. 
He wrote about what part philosophy and education could play in the 
betterment of the individual. And, well, all sorts of crazy, dangerous 
new ideas that were considered scandalous in those days. Even the 
broad minded Athenians were shocked."

A smile played at Mulder's lips at the passion he heard in Methos' 
description, as if the man were rediscovering all those ideas once 

"It shocked me too, I can tell you," he went on. "I couldn't stop 
thinking about it. I made the mistake of telling Kronos and he made me 
live to regret it. I could see him after that ever so subtly 
undermining my position with the others. Making them think less of me, 
questioning my orders, double checking with him about my suggestions. 
I suppose, looking back, I took Cassandra because I felt isolated. I 
needed someone to need and respect me. Only me. When I finally left I 
took the coward's way out. I found some poor mortal who resembled me, 
took his head and left him for dead."

They sat quietly for a long moment until Mulder sighed and slapped the 
other man's shoulder lightly. "It's a good story, but it still doesn't 
beat 'my sister was abducted by aliens and I saved our planet from the 

Methos pursed his lips thoughtfully and nodded. "No it doesn't. But 
what have you done lately?"

There was a noise from behind and they both turned to see MacLeod 
standing in the shadows. Mulder had no idea how long he'd been there, 
but he suspected from the big Scot's expression that it had been long 
enough to overhear most of what Methos had said.

"Duncan," Methos greeted him quietly.

"You'll want to turn the oven down in a bit."

Methos nodded diffidently and Mulder raised an eyebrow at the inane 
comment. A moment later, MacLeod silently turned away and headed down 
the stairs. All the way down and out to his car which Mulder heard 
revving in the distance.

"He'll be back," Methos commented. "He loves my rabbit with sausage."

Mulder stared in disbelief. "After all that?"

Methos shrugged. "MacLeod means well, but he's very young. Far 
younger, emotionally and psychologically even than you."

"How old is he, exactly?"

"Exactly? Four hundred and twenty-three."

"And what's the median age among immortals?"

"Eleven hundred years. It's a young man's game. Most immortals get 
sloppy after the first millennium. We start to believe in our own 
immortality, lose our edge and start making mistakes. Or worse, we 
can't move forward. An inability to change with the times that leads 
to self-destructive behavior. You're lucky in a way, Mulder."

"How's that?"

"Most immortals don't get the opportunity to live out their first life 
span normally. I died in my early twenties and like most immortals 
born before this century was cast out of my village. Even MacLeod, who 
was a chieftain's son was exiled from his people. You can't imagine 
what that means. To be loved one day, feared and hated the next, not 
knowing the how or why of it. We died very publicly and there was no 
doubting that we were not like the others of our clans, or anyone else 
for that matter. And being foundlings didn't help. You, on the other 

"Died on national television and CNN."

Methos grinned. "Not quite, but you were alive when they found you and 
seeing you rise from the ashes made the country happy. So no one was 
willing to look any further than that. But it's given you something 
most of us don't get. A chance to have a real life where you can have 
a beginning, a middle and an end of your own choosing. And, more 
importantly, you've had the opportunity to live as mortal for more 
than fifty years. There's something to be said for that. You've 
matured as any individual must, aware of your own mortality. That, 
believe it or not, colors the way you view the events of your life. 
You learn from your mistakes, knowing that because you have so little 
time every day means more as you age. So, in many ways, you are more 
like Joe than you are like Mac or me."

Methos turned from the edge of the roof and stood. "And while four and 
quarter centuries may seem like a great deal of time to you, in my 
eyes MacLeod is young enough to be allowed a bit of slack. He's a good 
man at heart, though he is still very much a product of his upbringing 
and judging the world around him from that point of view. So, in an 
hour he'll be back with an expensive bottle of wine and I'll invite 
him to sit at my table and share a meal with me. In spite of the fact 
that he's been rude and obnoxious. And in spite of the fact that he 
thinks Cassandra can do no wrong. Because life really is too short and 
good friends, no matter how screwed up, are incredibly hard to find."

With that, he turned and left, leaving Mulder behind to sit and ponder 
his own life, and what if anything, when the time came to leave, he 
would say to Scully.


"So, there we were in Antarctica. Stranded and freezing when--"

Someone's cell phone rang, interrupting Mulder's story. Four men 
searched their pockets, but only Mulder came up lucky.

"Hey Scully, missing me?" he grinned. 

Mulder's face went still, brow furrowing as he listened. Methos shared 
a glance with MacLeod, who gave a negligible shrug. Students who went 
on with their normal lives after first death were extremely rare, so 
anything was to be expected. Suddenly, Mulder's eyes shot to MacLeod 
then quickly moved away as he rose and ambled to the other side of the 
room talking quietly into the phone.

"I can be there in ten minutes," they heard him say as he turned, 
heading for the door.  "No, I'm not at my apartment. I'm staying with 
a friend in the city. See you there."

Methos got to his feet and hurried after him. "Where are you going?"

"To work," Mulder told him, briskly taking the stairs to his room.

"You can't leave," Methos insisted, following him up. "We aren't 

Mulder didn't bother to stop as he collected his weapon and checked 
the clip. "I'll come back, but right now I have to go."

"Why? What could possibly be more important than your life?"

"I can't discuss an ongoing investigation."

"All right," Methos nodded. "I understand the call of duty. But give 
me a minute and I'll drive you."

Mulder shook his head. "I can't take a civilian to a crime scene."

"Then I'll loan you the car, but give me a minute to get something."

Mulder nodded, whipping off his sweat and dirt stained tee shirt. 
"I'll meet you downstairs."

A few minutes later Mulder was ready and waiting when Methos, MacLeod 
and Joe joined him. In his arms, Methos held a long, narrow package, 
while Duncan held Mulder's overcoat -- which he distinctly recalled 
not having seen since Methos unaccountably sent it to the cleaners.

Methos cleared his throat gently. "I'd meant to do this later, but now 
is as good a time as any. I've never been much for tradition anyway. 

He thrust the package at Mulder, who took it, opening the cloth 
wrapping carefully.

"Wow!" Mulder whispered when he saw the sword Methos had given him.

"A Spada da fante?" MacLeod asked, staring in amazement.

Methos nodded. "I had it specially commissioned when I lived in 
Venice. It's wickedly dangerous and the longer blade makes it hard to 
handle, but I think he's capable."

"He'd better be," MacLeod stated emphatically. "Watch your swing with 
that thing, Mulder. You've got to come in at just the right angle or 
you're likely to lose your edge and sprain something."

Mulder nodded, hefting the blade and sighting along the edge as he 
tested the balance and weight. "I see what you mean," he agreed. "I'll 
be careful with it." He gave Methos a small nod, fully intending to 
give him more profuse thanks later when they were alone. "Now, if you 
gentlemen will excuse me, I've really got to go."

Methos sighed and handed over the keys. "Remember, if you get into 

"Holy ground, I know," Mulder finished, opening the driver side door.

"Wait," MacLeod said, tossing the coat at him. "You'll need this."

Mulder caught it easily. "I wondered why you had that out. It's a bit 
warm for a trench coat, don't you think?"

Methos rolled his eyes. "I took the liberty of fitting it with a 
sheath. Don't leave home without it."

Mulder threw it onto the passenger seat where he'd laid the sword. 
"You know, I'm not intending to go into battle here."

"As if that makes a difference," Methos chided. 

"I'll be in the company of Washington's finest, not to mention Agent 

"Well, yeah," MacLeod pointed out. "That would make a difference." 
Methos shot him a nasty stare. "Well it does!" he insisted.

Mulder grinned, turned on the engine and pulled away before he was 
drawn into the argument. For a long moment Methos simply stared after 

"Who would have thought you could be such a mother hen," MacLeod 
chuckled, laying a hand on Methos' shoulder.

The older man shrugged it away. He had a very bad feeling about this. 
"Come on, let's go have dessert. I have a marvelous German beer that 
will go very nicely with some German chocolate cake."

They headed back into the building, MacLeod helping Joe up to the 
second floor. 

"So where's the-- Methos?" MacLeod looked back down the stairs.

Joe followed suit, shrugging when he didn't see the man. "Maybe he 
went to get the beer."

"I think--" MacLeod paused as he heard a car engine revving. 
Frantically, he searched for his keys, Joe doing likewise as he 
suddenly realized what Methos was doing.


"Gone." Joe finished, frowning. "That sly little bastard. He picked my 

"Our pockets," MacLeod fumed, moving back down the stairs.

"Hey wait up!" Joe called as he fell in behind the angry Scot. "Give 
me a minute and I'll hot wire the Chevy." MacLeod stared in surprise. 
"You guys aren't the only ones who had a disaffected youth!"


The scene at the abandoned factory was lit only by the headlights of a 
dozen police units and a van from the coroner's office. Broken glass 
littered the ground and the scent of ozone hung heavy in the air as if 
a storm had just past. Mulder flashed his badge at couple of uniforms 
and was pointed in the direction of the body where Scully stood 
waiting. She gave him the once over with her eyes, but said nothing.

"So, what have we got here?" Mulder asked.

"You should know, Mulder," she said, lifting the sheet and giving him 
a good look at the upper torso. "You're the one who instructed the 
local PD to call the bureau if there were a series of unexplained, 
random beheadings. We've got at least three in as many days."

"At least?" he asked, kneeling down to examine the neck. Yup, the head 
was definitely missing.

"They just called a new one in. Headless corpse seen floating in the 
river about five miles from here."

"Any ID on the victims?" he lowered the sheet to see the rest of the 
body, noting the lack of defensive wounds, or even slashes in the 

Scully pulled a note pad from her pocket. "The first was John Cray, 
age forty-two, employee identification says he's a banker, no family, 
or at least none we could verify. His maid says he never mentioned 
any. He was killed at home. Second one is a Marianna Van Lundt, age 
twenty-seven, a psychiatric student at Georgetown University. Her body 
was found in the university parking lot about four a.m. this morning. 
No one's been able to locate her family yet. This," she gestured to 
the body as Mulder replaced the sheet and stood. "Is Ahmad Naftari, 
thirty-five years of age. He's a haute couture shoe salesman from 
Paris. And this," Scully ushered him over to a utility pole about 
fifty feet away where the police were lowering a charred body rigged 
in a climbing harness. "This is Henry Wallinski, age forty, a lineman 
with the phone company. He was out here working when he was apparently 
electrocuted. That's how the bodies were discovered so quickly. 
Someone spotted him from the highway and called it in."

Mulder grimaced and nodded. With the exception of the bystander it all 
sounded pretty much as Methos had described. The question now was just 
how much he could tell Scully. She'd never believe it, but that wasn't 
new. He sighed and took the coward's way out.

"I need you to autopsy the bodies," he began, heading back to the car.

Scully trotted faithfully along behind him. "And what am I looking 

Mulder shrugged. "Drugs, ligature marks. If they weren't lured to 
their deaths, they were certainly pretty complacent about being 

Scully nodded. "And what are you going to do?"

"Check out the body at the river, then swing back to the other crime 
scenes for a start." He climbed into the car.

"Mulder," Scully leaned down, resting her arms against the door. "I 
know these killings seem odd, but what do they have to do with us? 
They're not X files. If anything, they're gang or cult related, maybe 
even vengeance killings over drugs."

"You're probably right," Mulder agreed. "But I'll just see what I can 
find out. You okay with that?"

Scully smiled brightly. "Actually, it's rather nice to be working on a 
case that doesn't involve the paranormal. Just," she added hastily, 
"for the sake of variety."

"It is the spice of life," Mulder nodded, thinking this was just a 
little too easy. "See you later."

He pulled out missing the expression of wary suspicion that crossed 
her features. Mulder was never this easy unless he was hiding 
something. A moment later Scully turned and went to her own vehicle. 
It would be at least an hour before the most recent body could be 
brought to the morgue at Quantico. In the meantime, she'd follow him, 
just to be certain he did in fact go to the crime scene. Neither ever 
noticed the black Mercedes traveling between them.


"I cannot believe I'm riding around looking for a headache!" Mulder 
muttered. He had a vague uneasy feeling about who the rampaging 
immortal might be, but he didn't want to rule out anything. At first 
he'd thought MacLeod might have gotten into something while out buying 
just the right wine to serve with beer braised rabbit. But according 
to Joe the man was a marvel of self control, unless he happened to 
think the wheels of justice would turn far too slowly and be better 
served by slicing off the miscreant's head. Mulder didn't like it, but 
he could understand the point of view that would lead an immortal to 
think only they could police their own. It wasn't so much justice, he 
thought, but simple expedience. He certainly was not looking forward 
to running into those immortals he'd jailed when they finally got out 
of prison. Still, he mused, glancing at the seat next to him, at least 
now he could defend himself in the time honored tradition.

Another thing about these killings bothered him. Methos had indicated 
that few immortals would dare to fight a duel to the death in DC. 
Hell, even the local gang bangers had self-preservation enough to 
avoid shooting outside their own community. The president's 
neighborhood might be dicey, but his security was excellent. Any 
murder within a five mile radius of the White House fell under intense 
scrutiny. And, while he might be an officer of the law, he knew damn 
well if he didn't protect immortal secrecy he'd probably be the one to 
end up under the microscope in some hidden laboratory. That left only 
one assumption and he was loath to make it. Someone wasn't thinking. 
Someone who might be under a great deal of stress and taking out their 
anger in killing. 

Cassandra, he thought sadly. He hadn't meant to push her over the 
edge. But if it were her then it was his responsibility to get her 
some place safe where he could see she got proper therapy. Even if he 
had to put her in jail to get it. Had it only been other immortals he 
might have considered shipping her off to a secure facility in Europe 
and getting Methos to foot the bill, but the telephone company 
worker's death made things complicated. Not overly complicated, but 
complicated nonetheless. She knew better than to challenge someone 
with a witness present. What had the woman been thinking?

He turned onto a side street, still headed in the general direction of 
the Potomac. Washington was not a very big city, but at night 
everything seemed more distant. The buzz hit him just about the time 
he smelled the river. She must be tired, he thought, on foot and 
walking. Though he himself had never experienced one, two Quickenings 
in fast succession must be exhausting.

Mulder pulled over, noting the area. Mostly boarded up dilapidated 
buildings, out of business stores shut up behind steel, graffiti 
covered gates, and a few empty lots where apartment blocks had once 
existed. He reached for his sword then drew back his hand. No, he did 
not want to appear threatening. He had another weapon at his disposal 
and if he could just get her down and the cuffs on he could get her 
someplace safe. If he couldn't... Well, he was probably dead anyway. 
He was definitely not strong enough, or skilled enough to take on a 
three thousand year old witch. Maybe like MacLeod she would listen to 

He got out of the car, moving cautiously forward as he eased his 
weapon out, keeping it at his side. "Cassandra!" he called. "It's Fox 
Mulder. We need to talk." He caught a glimpse of something moving at 
the far edge of a vacant lot and he made his way toward it. "I know 
you're hurting, Cassandra. I only want to help you."

"Then die!"

He dropped and whirled, firing once as the blade missed his head by 
inches. A woman shrieked and he heard trash cans tumbling as he lost 
his footing.

"You don't have to do this, Cassandra," he called out calmly, getting 
to his feet.

"You're wrong! I have to be strong. Strong enough to take him!"

"Is that why you're doing this?" Mulder asked, moving deeper into the 
shadows as he followed the echo of her voice. "Is that why you were 
willing to kill innocent men and women?"

"They were my students! They gave of themselves willingly!"

"Is that how you justify it?"

"I don't need to justify anything! Not to one who would choose Death 
over me!"

Mulder paused. "Or is it that Death chose life instead of you?" There 
was a long silence and he slowly moved forward. "That's it, isn't it, 
Cassandra? You bought into the myth. You'd almost have to back then, 
when raiding for women was synonymous with getting married. If you 
didn't you'd probably go insane." He felt his way up the alley, trying 
to keep her thinking rather than reacting. "It's not all that 
different now, Cassandra. My secretary likes to read those novels. You 
know, handsome warrior prince carries off beautiful peasant girl who's 
really a princess in disguise. He ravishes the fair maid and in 
showing her her heart's desire falls madly in love, keeping her safe 
and protecting her honor from various and sundry bad guys. But your 
prince wouldn't fight for you, would he? Wouldn't die for you. He 
wouldn't even come after you when you ran away, so you could go off 
together and hide. You thought you meant something to him. That's why 
you hate him, isn't it?" He turned another corner, nervously searching 
the darkness.

"I never loved him!" she shrieked.

"No? Then why try to kill him? He never once offered you death, 
Cassandra. Not even in taking your first life. So how do you justify 
killing him? Tell me I'm wrong, Cassandra. Tell me you didn't get over 
the past and move on with your life when you believed Methos was dead. 
It's been three thousand years. It must have occurred to you somewhere 
along the line that what happens to the body is ultimately 
meaningless. We are our minds, Cassandra, not just our flesh."

He turned another corner, which opened onto the interior of a half 
demolished building. Only the front facade remained and it was there 
he saw her standing calmly in the rising moonlight.

"I want to help you, Cassandra. Will you let me?"

"Yes, you can help me," she nodded, pointing her sword which crackled 
and danced with the energy of her Quickening at him. "You can die."

Mulder raised his gun as she rushed forward and the charge along the 
blade skipped and arced. It hit him square in the chest, taking his 
breath and knocking him to the ground. To his right he heard the sharp 
report of his gun accidentally fire as it hit the concrete foundation, 
skittering along the floor. Then Cassandra stood over him, sword 
poised, and he knew in that instant that he was going to die. Every 
nerve in his body felt seared by lightening and he realized why her 
students hadn't been able to fight. He shut his eyes as she started 
her swing, suddenly startled by the metallic clang of blade against 

"Not this time, Cassandra!" Methos hissed. "This time we settle the 

In a blinding succession of thrusts and parries Methos drove her back, 
giving her no chance to marshal her arcane strength, until with a 
single lunge he plunged his sword into her chest. "I wanted to help 
you," he told her, watching the light die in her eyes. "Mulder wanted 
to help. And Marianna, the only student of mine you hadn't destroyed 
wanted to help. But you don't want help, Cassandra. You want revenge. 
And for that I'm sorry. I won't have you stalking my children for all 
time." With that he pulled the blade from her heart and with a cry of 
anguish sliced his sword through the air separating her head from her 

There was a scream as the body slumped to the ground and Mulder 
shuddered at the sight of Scully standing on a rise of bricks nearby. 
As the wind came up a mist began to rise from the stump of Cassandra's 
neck. It lifted higher and a flicker of light began to glimmer inside. 
The glow expanded in the mist, enveloping Methos and the snapping 
crackle of an electrical charge shot out and upward arcing into the 
sky. Light seared Mulder's eyes again and he watched in fascination 
and horror as bolt after bolt of energy tore into Methos, who fell to 
his knees screaming in agony. And it was like a living thing the 
lightening. Aiming itself at Methos, at his sword and at the place 
where he knelt, until bricks imploded and the wall behind him crumbled 
and collapsed into the ground. A moment later it was gone. A few 
trailing wisps of static moving along his sword until it stopped 
entirely and the only thing Mulder could hear were harsh exhausted 
pants interspersed with tearful sobs coming from that dark distant 

"You bastard!"

Mulder saw MacLeod coming from behind as the other man raised his 
sword. He reached out, catching an ankle and pulling the man to the 
ground. Quickly, he scrambled over, shouting, "He tried!" while 
punching MacLeod's wrist until the sword fell from his grasp. "He 
tried! We tried! She wouldn't listen! She killed them all! Every 
student she had! Every student he had! She wanted enough power to take 
him. To take his Quickening and survive!" Finally, MacLeod ceased his 
struggles. "She wanted vengeance, not life," Mulder explained. "Not 
one that would have meant anything anyway after he was gone. She loved 
him, MacLeod. And she hated him for it. After all those centuries it 
came down to just one thing. The anger of a woman scorned."

He saw the light of understanding come into MacLeod's eyes. 
Comprehension of the depth of Cassandra's rage. He'd seen such things 
before. Perhaps even been the victim. Whatever the case, he nodded, 
grimacing as he realized what both he and Methos had known from the 
start. Cassandra would never have stopped until either or both were 

"I don't know what's going on here, but you're under arrest for 

Mulder turned his head to find Scully standing over Methos with her 
gun drawn and her cuffs out.

"Drop the sword and put your hands on your head slowly," she ordered.

"Scully, no." Mulder rose and staggered over. "She would have killed 
me, like she killed the others. The others like me, Scully."

She stared at him, perplexed and disbelieving as always. "What are you 

"I'm saying that it was self defense. That it was the only way she 
could be stopped."

"He's right," MacLeod added, wiping tears from his eyes. "Your justice 
would have meant nothing. I knew Cassandra. She would have used her 
powers to walk out of wherever you took her, or pretended to die. And 
then she would have been back, killing more innocent immortals. You 
can't gain power by simply taking heads. Not if you can't control your 
own. And Cassandra couldn't."

"Mulder, what the hell is he talking about?"

"Remember The Game, Scully?" She nodded shortly. "That's what this is 
about. It was always about power. A power I didn't know I had until I 
met Adam."

"Look," Methos interrupted. "Why don't we all go back to my place. You 
can explain everything there. Then, if she still wants to arrest me, 
I'll go along. Peacefully," he added. "I've done prison. And I've done 
being executed. As long as no one whips out a guillotine I have no 
qualms about doing it again. Satisfied?"

Scully looked to Mulder, clearly unsure as to what to think of 
anything. "I'll vouch for him, Scully. All I want you to do is hear me 
out. Trust me."

After a long pause Scully finally nodded. "All right, but I want those 
weapons secured. And him," she twitched her gun at Methos, "cuffed 
until I decide whether or not you've completely gone insane."

Mulder looked at Methos, who shrugged and put his hands on his head. 
"Just give me a chance," he told her, doing the honors on Methos 
himself. "That's all I ask."

Scully nodded. "And that's all you're going to get."


"But Mulder, that makes no sense!" Scully reiterated. "There is no 
scientific basis for that conclusion. It's totally illogical!"

"Yes, Mr. Spock, but it's true."

"Butt out, Adam!" Mulder ordered.

"Just trying to help," Methos muttered, a bit miffed.

"Thanks, but..." Mulder rubbed his eyes. They'd been at it nearly an 
hour and still Scully refused to even admit that the possibility of 
immortality could exist. This was getting them nowhere.

"Listen folks," Joe interjected, having remained silent during most of 
the argument. "I'm used to dealing with this kind of thing. Mind if 
Agent Scully and I talk privately for a bit?"

He glanced at Scully, who nodded and they moved away to talk quietly 
in the little kitchen. "How are you doing?" Mulder asked Methos, 
checking to see that the cuffs were allowing for proper circulation.

"Better now that we're on holy ground. It was a difficult Quickening. 
I wasn't sure about everything you said out there, but with Cassandra 
here I can feel the truth of it. I'd no idea," he whispered sadly. 
"She thought of us as married. She didn't really want to kill me. She 
only wanted to hurt me, as I'd hurt her."

"You had no choice," Mulder reminded him unnecessarily.

Methos nodded tiredly. "You're the last of my students," he admitted 
bitterly. "Marianna... Sweet, gentle Marianna. I found her wandering 
the coast of Flanders. Such a tiny little thing. She'd been beaten to 
death and dumped in the sea by the people of her village after she 
changed. She'd called to let me know Cassandra had come to see her 
asking for therapy."

"She knew?"

"Not the gory details," Methos allowed. "Just enough to know I'd 
wronged the woman and mistreated her badly. I guess Cassandra realized 
she knew too much to merely be a sympathetic listener. Marianna was 
always very trusting."

"Look, about Scully," Mulder began.

Methos shook his head. "She won't listen. No matter what you do or 
say. I know the type. The minute she's alone she'll compartmentalize 
everything she's seen and find a logical reason for why she didn't see 
what she thought she saw. But I might be able to help you there."

Mulder nodded for him to go on.

"Cassandra's powers. I have them inside me. I can, if you're willing, 
obscure the memories. I can make her forget what she's seen.  Make her 
forget even," he sighed, "that you're immortal." Mulder's eyes 
widened. "You could go back to work and she'd never suspect anything. 
Put a little gray in your hair and retire naturally in five, maybe ten 
years. Move someplace quiet and sunny. Give her a call now and again 
and invite to a retiree party."

Mulder looked away. God, how many times had he wished for exactly that 
in the past few weeks? And tonight, when she'd been pleased by working 
on what she thought was a case without paranormal leanings he'd seen 
at last that she wasn't really happy. True, they'd worked a lot of 
mainstream cases in recent years. But only as consultants. And mostly 
in his capacity as a profiler. More often than not when they weren't 
in the field working, she'd been lecturing over at Quantico. He'd even 
heard she'd been offered a tenured professorship at one of the Ivy 
League universities.

"It isn't fair, is it?" he asked quietly. "Her watching me go on and 

Methos shook his head. "It's why we so rarely marry. I've had sixty-
nine wives in five thousand years. And each time I wished I could take 
it back. Take back even the good years if I could just let them die in 
peace. Let them have at least the dream that one day I might join 
them, even in death."

For a long while Mulder stood thinking, then he nodded to himself and 
quietly unlocked the cuffs on Methos. "Take it all," he murmured and 
turned away. "Everything."

He refused to look as he heard Scully's tiny shriek as Methos came up 
behind her. Or see the look on her face as he took her memories. He 
hated himself for a coward, but he knew it was a kindness Methos was 
doing. She would grow old and they would drift apart during his forced 
retirement. And, one day, he would stand at her grave and remember for 
her, he silently promised. One day he would remember everything.

A long time later a hand clasped his shoulder. "Take her home, 
Mulder," Methos murmured gently. "Let her sleep. When she wakes in the 
morning she won't recall any of it. She'll transfer the case to 
Violent Crimes and remember only that she thought of calling you and 
decided against it. She didn't want to spoil your vacation."

He nodded and went to get Scully, leading her carefully down the 
stairs and to her car. She was quiet, as if she were sleep walking. 
When they reached her apartment he brought her inside and waited 
silently while she readied herself for bed then tucked her in.

"Good night, Scully," he whispered as he shut the door behind him. 
"May you always have peaceful dreams."


Malibu, California
November, 2025

The door bell rang and Methos nearly tripped over the carpet in his 
eagerness to answer it.

"Good God!" Methos uttered as he took one look at Mulder, then hugged 
the man, pulling him inside the entry way. "That's amazing," he 
grinned, grabbing his jaw and turning his head from side to side.

Mulder had 'aged' gracefully. After a few years of adding a touch of 
gray around the temples he'd finally begun frosting entire sections of 
his hair until it was completely white. A little spirit gum and faux 
molded skin around the eyes and mouth created the illusion of fine 

"Amazing, yeah, but it itches like crazy. After five years I think 
it's given me a permanent squint."

Methos grinned. "Well, go take it off. Dinner will keep." He pointed 
the way to the bathroom and Mulder saluted.

"How's MacLeod?" he asked as Methos came to watch the youthful face 
re-emerge as if from chrysalis.

"Getting by. You know, Joe passed last year."

Mulder nodded sadly. "He wrote to tell me. Said he didn't think his 
new Watcher was going to be half as much fun to hang with."

Methos snorted. "So he claims. First time he approached the kid the 
boy nearly wet himself. Thought MacLeod was going to kill him. But he 
seems to be doing better."

"Good. So when do I get mine?" Mulder asked casually. Once upon a time 
Joe had agreed that putting a Watcher on a Federal agent would be 
redundant. Especially when the most significant portions of his day 
were readily available on the public record. The rest... Well, Mulder 
had insisted that as long as he was with the bureau he wouldn't be 
taking any heads. Shoot first, imprison later seemed to be the only 
route he could safely take without drawing attention, even if it was 
only that of The Watchers.

"You don't. At least not if I can help it."

Mulder glanced at him questioningly, the last of the fake skin coming 
loose as he dabbed it with alcohol.

"I deleted your name from the Watcher database back when Joe first 
retired. They should never," he grinned slyly, "have let me help 
develop the software in the first place. So, how's Agent Scully?"

"That's Special Agent In Charge Scully. As soon as I announced my 
retirement they promoted her. I guess they were waiting for me to bow 
out gracefully. There are already rumblings of an Assistant 
Directorship next year."

"Good for her," Methos declared. "She's what now? Almost sixty?"

Mulder nodded. "Yeah, and taking full advantage of the new federal 
retirement guidelines. Wish I could have," he added wistfully. With 
more than half the nation made up of so-called senior citizens, and 
most of them still working, new laws against age discrimination were 
being passed almost daily. One could work until one decided to retire, 
or was found incompetent to perform the skill set the job required. 
Unlike the generations before them the baby boomers had refused to go 
home, sit down and let the young folks come out to play.

"You had a good run," Methos told him honestly. "If you'd stayed any 

"I know," Mulder agreed, washing his face with soap and water until it 
was completely clean. He grabbed the towel Methos handed him. "The 
thing is there was so much more to do and see."

"It doesn't have to end here," Methos told him once he'd dried his 
face. "You can still explore the paranormal, if that's what takes your 
fancy," he added, leading the way to the terrace overlooking the 
Pacific. A brilliant, orange-pink sunset suffused the clouds as the 
sea lapped delicately against the beach.

"I intend to," Mulder admitted, taking a seat at the little dining 
table Methos had set. "I've already laid the foundations for a dozen 
new identities." At Methos' questioning glance he grimaced wryly. "I'm 
not ever going to have the kind of access being employed by the FBI 
affords again. I thought I'd lay a little ground work to take me 
through the next couple of centuries."

"Wise move," Methos complimented, grabbing a couple of beers from a 
cooler he'd placed nearby. He handed one to Mulder and slid into 
another chair. 

"The thing is, I don't really know what I want to do now that I'm 

"You could write your memoirs," Methos suggested. "Or take up shuffle 

Mulder smiled blandly. "Sounds thrilling, but I was looking for 
something a little more relaxing."

Methos grinned and reached across to uncover a warming dish. "You 
never did get to taste my beer braised goat with sausage stuffing. Dig 

Helping himself to a plateful, Mulder paused as something occurred to 
him. "You know, I never did get to ask you. After fifty centuries you 
must have seen a hell of a lot of unexplained phenomena."

"Certainly," Methos admitted.


"Well what?"

 "Tell me."

"Tell you what?"

"What you've seen!" Mulder practically shouted.

"Oh, that," Methos shrugged. "Really, Mulder, don't you know, some 
things have to be seen to be believed?"

Mulder laid his head in his hands and sighed. "You're not going to 
tell me, are you?"

"Actually," Methos said gently. "I thought I'd do you one better."

Mulder looked up, staring at what Methos held in his hands. A pair of 
airline tickets.

"I thought I'd show you instead."

Mulder snatched at the tickets, but Methos pulled them away. "Oh, come 
on! Where are we going?"

"To a galaxy far, far away..."