Lie Down With The Lamb

Sequel To: Let There Be Light

Rating: PG-13 for language and graphic descriptions

Feedback: Comments, flames, superfluous remarks and vicious 
character assassination maybe cheerfully sent to:

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.

Summary: Second in series. Mulder tries to solve a series of murders 
and finds more that he bargained for. Can the combined skills of 
four immortals finally bring a killer to justice?

Authors note: Many thanks to Arameth for guidance, assistance, 
putting up with my insane tirades and lots of little extras. Karoshi 
for beta, excellent observations and a mutual love of shopping. And, 
of course, Methos, for hard work, proofing and making me smile.

Dedicated to Estella, who deserves more and better.

        Lie Down With The Lamb
         By Ecolea

Lamb's Way Road
Inverurie, Scotland
October, 2031

"I told you to stick with the upgraded Range Rovers!" Methos snarled 
angrily, climbing out of the dark green Mountaineer the four tall 
men had been crammed into. "Then you had to go and take a bloody 
shortcut!" he shouted at Duncan MacLeod, kicking a tire. "I told you 
not to! But no, why listen to me? What do I know about actuated 
highways?! Only," he hissed, leaning in the driver's side window, 
nose to nose with the big, deeply embarrassed Scot, "that when you 
leave the main fucking roads the onboard computer shorts out!"

Connor MacLeod glanced at Fox Mulder, who shrugged. "He knows his 
hardware," Mulder admitted quietly.

"Heh," Connor grunted noncommittally, opening the door and getting 
out to stretch his legs. They were only a few miles walk from the 
town of Inverurie where they'd been enjoying the yearly Doric 
festival, celebrating the traditional culture of the Highlands. The 
narrow road, really more of a track or lane, which passed through 
what had once been farmland had been the quickest route back to 
their lodgings. Duncan it seemed had been a little too eager to get 
back to their inn -- and a pretty little brunette -- to pay heed to 
the elder immortal and admitted techno-geek's warning.

Mulder clambered out behind Connor, who was bouncing on his toes 
obviously enjoying his cousin's discomfiture. "You'll be a wee bit 
tired and filthy, but Lucille might still give you a go," the senior 
MacLeod taunted.

Duncan grimaced, getting out of the car to stare them all down. 
"There's no need to walk anywhere," he told them reasonably, hands 
defiantly akimbo on his hips. "So the auto navigator shorted out. So 
the engine motherboard is fried. So what? I flipped the collision 
alarm. The travel company knows where we are, they'll just send 
someone out. We'll be back at the inn in time for dinner none the 
worse for wear."

Methos groaned and did an about face kicking a tree this time while 
Mulder tried hard not to laugh. Connor looked askance at the younger 
immortal and Mulder sighed, shaking his head in dismay.

"The collision alarm doesn't work," he pointed out, watching Methos' 
head slowly nodding in agreement. "Not with the motherboard toast. 
The Mountaineer doesn't have redundant systems."

"It also," Methos added, wheeling angrily on the hapless Duncan, 
"doesn't allow for manual override of the system. Something you have 
to have if you're going to deviate from the larger roads."

Mac's face fell as he realized his mistake and Connor chuckled 
heartlessly. "Too much time in Japan, cousin," he commented, 
reminding Duncan that not every country had embraced the new hands 
free driving standards with which he'd become familiar over the past 
five years. Japan and Sweden were the only two nations completely 
wired. While larger countries like the United States and Canada had 
only just finished upgrading their main highways, leaving the city 
streets to the local municipalities. And no one even considered 
doing the back country roads.

"Well, let's start walking," Mac said to no one in particular.

"The hell I'm walking," Methos muttered, stalking towards the car. 
"It's about to--" A loud peal of thunder presaged his final word on 
the subject. "Rain."

Large, fat drops began falling and Methos shoved Duncan out of the 
way. He went round to the passenger side, yanking the driver's seat 
back so he could get at the onboard computer.

"Rain?" Connor asked, disgustingly cheerful. "'Tis only a fine, 
bracing highland mist."

"Right!" Methos retorted. "What the rest of us with common sense 
would call a thunder storm!" He slammed the door shut behind him.

Mulder laughed, pulling up the hood on his sweatshirt then heading 
for the trunk of the car to find an umbrella. The hardy Scots 
followed him, grabbing some plastic sheeting and a shopping bag full 
of goodies they'd purchased -- a jug of whiskey with an alcohol 
content so high it had to be sold under the counter and a plastic 
food bucket full of warm, fresh haggis -- then went to find a 
comfortable seat on a nearby log using the sheeting as a makeshift 

"Come on, Mulder!" Connor called, holding out the jug. "Better stuff 
here than you can get anywhere."

"No thanks," Mulder grimaced. "I like my stomach lining right where 
it is."

The elder MacLeod shrugged. "You'll have a bite of food then," he 
gestured toward the bucket which Duncan had opened and from which he 
was extracting a handful of something that looked like it should 
have been buried with the remains of the poor sheep from which it 
had been gutted.

Mulder curled a lip in disgust. "I was talking about the haggis."

Connor chuckled, saluted with the jug and elbowed his cousin as they 
fought over the choicest bits, or whatever they were muttering about 
in Gaelic. 

Feeling at loose ends Mulder glanced back at the car where Methos' 
muffled angry commentary could still be heard, though only his feet 
could be seen as he sprawled over the interior. Well, no point in 
getting his head bit off trying to help there. The world's oldest 
immortal was also one of the world's best techies, putting even the 
Lone Gunmen to shame at times. Methos, despite what everyone thought 
he did for a living, which was translating obscure ancient texts for 
near penniless historical foundations, had in actuality made a hefty 
fortune in software design and microchip engineering. While the 
MacLeods argued over the steam engine or space flight, Methos 
maintained the advent of the computer was Mankind's greatest 
invention. Mulder, of course, quietly held out for the microwave 
oven. A life saving necessity where all the rest was pure luxury.

With an internal shrug Mulder headed in the direction they'd been 
going. If Methos got done in a reasonable amount of time they could 
pick him up further down the road. If not, he'd be back at the inn 
in a couple of hours where he'd get a nice hot bath, an even hotter 
meal and maybe some warm lovin' from the very put out Lucille. 

Well, maybe not the last. The MacLeod charm was legendary and 
Lucille had seemed rather taken with the overblown good looks of 
MacLeod the Younger. Oh well, at least they had satellite.


"Where's Mulder?" Methos asked, finally coming up for air when he 
had the car back in working order, and doubly pleased to see it had 
stopped raining.

"Walked," Duncan pointed west, hiccuping.

"You're drunk," Methos accused, grabbing the half empty jug away 
from Connor.

"Aye, we are!" he agreed, laughing as Methos took a deep swallow of 
the burning liquor.

The ancient immortal leaned over to look in the bucket, reaching 
down to snatch the last of the haggis before the cousins remembered 

"I knew I liked him!" Connor declared approvingly as Methos gouged a 
healthy bite followed by another swig.

Methos grunted around his mouthful of food. He also liked Connor, 
but even drunk he would never have openly made such a statement. 
Finished with his snack he belched deeply and wiped his hand on his 

"Come on, let's go find the boy before he gets into trouble."

Connor snorted in disbelief. "What kind of trouble could he get into 
out here?" he waved his arms expansively, nearly tipping over. 
"What? Is he into sheep porn now?"

Methos grinned, shoving the stopper into the mouth of the jug and 
tucking it under his arm. "You don't know Mulder. Trouble finds him 
like it does your lunatic cousin."

"Hey!" MacLeod protested ineffectually.

"The pair of  'em ," Connor nodded morosely. "Wanderin' o'er the 
world without the sense God gave 'em."


Methos laughed and helped the MacLeods to their feet. A short while 
later after he'd swiped the car keys from Duncan and tumbled his 
inebriated companions into the back seat, he took off in search of 
the younger immortal.


"Mulder?" Methos murmured as the MacLeods sat up straight, utterly 
sober. They'd barely gone a mile when the sense of a Quickening 
suddenly came into range. A little further and they saw him, 
kneeling with his back to the road completely oblivious to their 
presence. Or so it seemed until Methos got out of the car.

"Don't," Mulder ordered. "Stay on the road."

Connor came up beside Methos, noting the mounded earth here and 
there within the small clearing, over grown with weeds and wild 
heather. "'Tis a cemetery, lad. Holy ground," the elder MacLeod 
offered quietly, crossing himself and murmuring a silent prayer for 
the dead.

Mulder's head shook as he slowly stood and backed away. "No," he 
answered softly, turning sad, melancholy eyes to face them. "Nothing 
in this place is either hallowed or shriven. He stepped back another 
pace allowing them to see what he'd uncovered. Jutting from the 
cold, muddy earth was a human wrist bone. And around it, the cool 
golden glint of a medical bracelet. "It's a dump site I've found."


"Definitely an old location," Mulder reported as he began to cordon 
off the area with glow-white emergency tape he'd found in the trunk 
while Duncan called the authorities from the now working car phone.

"How can you tell?" Methos asked curiously as he watched Mulder in 
his element. Oh, not the paranormal sightseeing they'd done from 
time to time over the years, but real police work.

"Medical bracelets went out twenty years ago when they started 
implanting chips."

"And that's what makes you think it's a crime scene?" Connor asked, 
annoyed. "It's likely a family grave site. Just like I said. There 
used to be a farm near here."

"Really? Would you bury your loved one by the side of the road in a 
shallow unmarked grave?" Mulder asked pointedly.

"Enough, Connor," Methos interrupted. "He's right and you know it."

"Yes, he's right," Connor agreed. "But you're not a cop anymore, 
Mulder. This is not your business. Duncan has called the 
authorities. Why can't we just get out of here?"

Mulder just stared at the man. "Don't you think they've been alone 
long enough?"

"Good answer!" Connor suddenly grinned and slapped Mulder's back. 
The other man just shook his head and sighed, making Methos chuckle.

"It's a warrior thing," he murmured as he followed Mulder back to 
the car. "We need to test the young ones. See if they're worth 
fighting to keep alive."

Mulder nodded and leaned back against the car, rubbing his neck. 
"Yeah. It's a cop thing, too. And I've done it myself on occasion. 
It's just..."

Methos sighed, sensing the real reason behind the younger man's 
hesitancy. "Mulder, no matter your age, you're still listed as a 
consultant with the FBI. I know you still do the occasional profile, 
or whatever you call it, when they send you stuff. The police here, 
or anywhere for that matter, won't question that identity because it 
is who you are. In fact, they'll be overjoyed they've got an expert 
to hand, who just happens to be on vacation. Better yet, you found 
the graves, not some poor sightseers. And you knew what it was and 
made sure no one else disturbed the evidence. That, if nothing else, 
will count for something."

"You're right," Mulder grinned sheepishly. "It's only been six years 
since I retired. And..."

Mulder trailed off as the whine of an electric engine could be heard 
coming up the road. He stood and put his game face on, heading over 
to meet the local police; exchanging hand shakes, producing his 
travel documents then leading the two officers on a brief tour of 
the site. 

Methos watched all this with an amused eye. Mulder might be one of 
the oddest men, immortal or not, he'd ever met, but he was also one 
of the most dedicated professionals he'd ever encountered. Seeing 
him charming the wary officers into devout believers and loyal 
supports in the space of a few moments was like watching a master 
craftsman at work.

"He's good," Duncan murmured as he came up behind the elder 

Methos only nodded. "He had the highest solve rate in the history of 
the FBI. Along with the highest censure record of any agent," he 
added with a grin.

Duncan snorted. "I can believe that."

They said no more as one of the officers went to call for the 
medical examiner and a forensic team and the other came over to 
question them individually. Their stories were simple and easily 
verifiable. Friends on vacation, here for the festival. Once their 
statements were taken they were told they could leave, along with 
Mulder, whose services might be requested if the ME felt they were 

Back in the car the four men were silent as they drove back to the 
hotel. Tomorrow, they would be going their separate ways. Mulder 
back to England, where he'd taken a house outside London, while 
writing magazine articles and novels under a pseudonym. Methos to 
Chicago, where he was working as an assistant curator for the 
Oriental Institute's Babylonian exhibit. Connor to New York and his 
antiques shop. And Duncan, back to Tokyo where his import/export 
business was head quartered for the Asian market. It would be a long 
time before they saw each other again and this was a sad ending 
indeed to what had been a rather pleasant moment in their long 
immortal lives.


Chicago, Illinois
December 26, 2037

"This is nice," Mulder murmured as Methos pulled into a spot in 
front of a large, two story red brick house.

"That's what Nicky Fingers said when he asked if he could use the 
carriage house out back to store bootleg whiskey. I think I've still 
got a few bottles left in the rafters."

Mulder grinned. "Don't tell me you were an associate of Capone's?"

"Hardly," Methos snorted. "Nicky drove the milk wagon. Six bits for 
one bottle of milk and three bottles of beer. Every morning regular 
as the paper boy. Sundays were cream and whiskey."

They were both smiling as they got out of the car and went into the 

"So how is Assistant Director Scully?" Methos asked as they shed 
their winter coats, referring to Mulder's brief Christmas visit with 
his former partner.

"Thinking of taking a teaching position at Quantico. Office politics 
isn't what it's cracked up to be."

"It never is," Methos agreed. "Beer?" he asked leading the way to 
the kitchen.

Mulder accepted the bottle and grabbed a seat at the counter. "So 
are the MacLeods joining us?" A New Year's Eve party hosted by the 
world's oldest man, Mulder thought with a silent sigh. How ironic. 
Now, if they could just figure out why he'd done it.

"Just Duncan. He and Amanda are flying in tonight."

"I've never met Amanda," Mulder commented, running his thumb along 
the side of the bottle.

"Good thing, too," Methos grinned. "Or you might have had to arrest 

"Not me, I--"

Mulder's cell phone suddenly rang and Methos raised an eyebrow. "You 
still carry one of those things?"

They were out of style with the advent of the video phone, but video 
phones were not for Mulder. Not as long as he was still in his first 
life. "Just call me old fashioned," he grinned then took the call.

Methos listened with half an ear as he started preparing dinner, 
then ignored Mulder entirely as the man deliberately moved away. 
More bureau business, Methos thought, having his suspicions 
confirmed a few moments later.

"A courier's coming by," Mulder told him, retaking his seat. "And, 
not to insult your hospitality, but I'll be getting a motel room 
instead of staying here tonight."

"Whatever for?" Methos looked surprised.

Mulder took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "You heard about 
the Steffanis kidnapping and murder?"

"Mulder, everyone heard about that. Poor girl," he added quietly. 
"Death by whipping is a hard way to go." 

"Yeah. Well, they found another body. Three bodies in fact. Teenage 
boys this time. Same kind of whip marks -- same whip too according 
to forensics -- but different causes of death. They're stumped, so 
they're sending me the files to have a look see."

"So why do you have to go to a motel?"

Mulder vaguely frowned. "You've never seen a serial murder case 
worked, have you?" Methos shook his head. "I need to spread out the 
contents of the files in isolation. Back at the bureau we had what 
we called the war room. It's not a place you want to casually walk 

Methos gave a sad smile. "I've seen more than my fair share of war, 
Mulder. And worse. You can use the carriage house. I only use it for 
storage now, but it's got heat and running water. We can have it 
cleaned out by morning. You'll have complete privacy."

The former agent looked thoughtful for a moment. It would certainly 
be better than running the risk of having a maid walk in 
accidentally. Their screams tended to draw attention and he'd just 
as soon avoid that for a number of reasons.

"All right," he finally agreed. "But don't say you weren't warned."


The thump of a heavy object falling onto the back porch woke the 
three sleeping immortals. They converged at the head of the stairs, 
loosely holding their swords and listening as someone moved off the 
wood porch, tramping across the gravel to the carriage house.

"Mulder," Methos grumbled, putting away his sword then heading down 
the stairs to have a few choice words with his house guest.

MacLeod sighed, doing the same. "Go back to bed, Amanda. We'll take 
care of this."

"And miss all the fun?" she responded, leaving her sword in the 
umbrella stand by the back door. "Methos in high dudgeon is always 
worth a little lost sleep."

MacLeod rolled his eyes and followed her out to the yard.

"Mulder!" Methos hissed, trying to keep his voice from echoing 
throughout the neighborhood. "Mulder! It's four in the morning. Are 
you mad?!"

"What? Oh, here," he handed Methos a box full of old records. Really 
old records, Methos noted as he glanced down at some of his favorite 
78's. Scott Joplin? Billie Holliday? Good heavens! These were worth 
a small fortune! And he'd completely forgotten they were out here.

"Mulder," he said sternly, carefully handing off the precious box to 
MacLeod, whose eyes lit up. "What are you doing?"

"Working. Or," Mulder shook his head distractedly, "trying to get to 
work." A light went on in the house next door and someone shouted 
out the window for quiet. He glanced up from what he was doing, not 
completely gone into his own head space yet and had the grace to 
look embarrassed. "Sorry," he murmured as he looked from Methos to 
MacLeod and Amanda. "Kinda forgot where and when I was."

"Yeah, well," MacLeod nodded, recalling that he'd promised to help 
clear the space, but the plane had gotten in late and they'd stayed 
up talking well past midnight. "That's partly my fault."

Amanda only smiled and wandered over to take Mulder's arm. "Come on 
inside and Mac can make us some coffee."

Methos rolled his eyes at her backhanded barb. Hers was worse, but 
then she hadn't the excuse he did. He, after all, had gotten used to 
the really strong trail coffee he'd drunk with Butch and Sundance. 
Damn but Cassidy had made a good brew, he recalled, letting go of 
his annoyance over Mulder's absentminded rudeness. Pity he'd never 
gotten that coffee plantation off the ground in Bolivia. 

After a long glance at the half emptied carriage house Mulder 
finally nodded and allowed himself to be led back across the yard.

"Don't worry," Amanda happily prattled on. "We'll just get some 
breakfast in you and then the boys can help you do whatever it is 
you have to. I'll run downtown and just--"

"Case the Art Institute?" Methos interjected hopefully as he opened 
the door.

Amanda stuck out her tongue. "Go shopping!" she insisted, pulling 
Mulder along.

"It's what she does best these days," MacLeod added, heading into 
the living room with the box of records.

"Better your wallet than mine!" Methos called, then moved aside as 
Mac stomped back out onto the porch to retrieve another larger box 
labeled 'gramophone'.

Mulder grinned and Amanda raised an eyebrow. "You find us funny?" 
she asked pointedly.

He shook his head, having enjoyed their easy banter. "No. I was just 
thinking that it's nice to know some things won't change."

Amanda laughed and patted his arm. "Oh, we were never like this. Not 
in the bad old days! Never like this at all." Methos nodded in 
agreement as he followed them into the kitchen. "We lived from hand 
to mouth. You hardly ever saw a really wealthy immortal. At least 
not one who stayed that way for longer than a couple of centuries. 
We were always moving, always running, always hiding, always buying 
our safety or safe passage away from god only knows what. Power 
hungry mortals, power hungry immortals, crazed political regimes, 
the Inquisition. No, darling, immortals never had it this good, or 
this easy. Live and let live, that's what I love about this age."

"Here, here!" Methos agreed, taking a seat at the breakfast counter. 
"Global banking, online shopping. One could live on a mountain top 
in Tibet and have their favorite foods flown in without ever having 
to face another challenge."

"I meant the friendship," Mulder smiled. "People just being people. 
Sometimes," he sighed sadly. "Sometimes that's the only thing I 
think I have to look forward to."

Amanda gave him a curious look then gently squeezed his arm. "It's 
not so bad," she told him honestly. "And you still have your work," 
she added brightly.

Mulder closed his eyes and nodded. "Yeah, my work," he murmured, 
looking at the box full of thick case files he'd forgotten by the 
back door as he gently pulled away from her. People just being 
people, he though irritably, who just happen to like killing other 

For a long moment a pall hung over the room then the opening strains 
of Scott Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag" wafted in.

"Amazing! That old gramophone still works!" MacLeod announced as he 
entered the kitchen, inadvertently alleviating  some of the 
uncomfortable tension in the room.

"Of course it works," Methos chided. "I used to fine tune the rocks 
and sticks we banged together when I first invented music." 

There was a long moment of silence as everyone paused to wonder, 
then Methos gave a sardonic sigh and rolled his eyes. "That's right. 
I'm so old I used to spank God's baby-sitter!"

Laughter soothed away the last of the tension and Mulder finally 
took a seat at the counter, watching Mac fix coffee as Amanda 
prepared an omelet. Suppressing his sense of guilt, he allowed 
himself these last few hours of good humor.  It would pass all too 
quickly, he knew. 

Now and then Methos would look at him, evaluating how much food he 
was eating or whether he joined in the conversation without 
obviously pressing the issue. The ancient immortal would keep him 
safe while he worked, Mulder thought with a sense of relief. He only 
hoped Methos would be there to find him if he lost his way as he 
once again peeked over the edge and into the abyss of mindless 
horror. He didn't even want to consider what might happen if he 


Amanda cranked up the old gramophone again then went to make herself 
a pot of tea. With Mac and Methos out for the afternoon she was 
supremely bored. Humming along to the music, which reminded her of a 
wonderful club in old Algiers, she glanced out the window to the 
carriage house, wondering again what Mulder had been doing alone in 
there for the past three days. According to Mac, he used to be some 
sort of crack investigator for the FBI, specializing in bizarre 
cases. If he was such an expert, she thought sarcastically, why was 
it taking him so long to solve a simple murder? Unfortunately, 
Methos had forbidden her to go over there, going so far as to bring 
trays of food out to the young immortal and leaving them just inside 
the door.

It was damn frustrating, she thought, checking her lipstick in the 
reflection of the spoon she was about to use. A handsome man locked 
away from her. And one who knew, she imagined, the ins and outs of 
how the police went about catching 21st century criminals. Knowing 
how they might try to catch you and avoiding it was half the fun of 
committing the crime.

Of course, she sighed, those days were over for her. Pity, she 
thought. Just when security systems were getting really interesting 
and not just about trying to get past some overweight, complacent 

With a small moue of surprise, Amanda saw the door to the carriage 
house open and Mulder step out into the snow covered yard. He pulled 
the door shut behind him, not bothering to lock it. Amanda smiled. 
If she wanted to... No, she reasoned sadly, she'd promised Mac. And 
Methos wouldn't be quite so charmingly acerbic if he found out she'd 
spied on his favorite student.

She watched as Mulder paused to breathe the fresh, icy air. Even at 
this distance he looked yummy enough to tumble into a haystack. She 
might be with Mac at the moment, but they were never going to be 
exclusive. Been there, done that, she thought. Much too confining 
for a girl like me!

With an air of distraction surrounding him, Mulder headed for the 
house and Amanda quickly put aside her cup, hurrying into the living 
room. She did a quick check of her reflection in the hall mirror 
then snagged a magazine as she practically flew into a sexy pose on 
the couch. A moment later the back door opened and Mulder went past, 
barely glancing in her direction as he dashed up the stairs. Before 
she could even think the words "How rude!" the shower in the 
upstairs bath went on and Amanda gave a slow, calculating smile.


"I really hate malls," MacLeod complained as he toed off his snow 
covered shoes.

"Quit griping," Methos retorted. "You're the one who insisted he 
needed a warmer coat. I said I'd lend you one of mine."

"And look like a homeless person? No thanks."

"Clothes horse!" Methos accused.

"Vagabond!" MacLeod cheerfully retorted.

"You know, we had a name for your sort," Methos began then paused as 
an upstairs door opened and Amanda suddenly raced down the stairs, a 
suitcase in one hand, her sword in the other.

"Whoa! Hold on," MacLeod grabbed her as she tried to barrel past 
them in the hall. He took her by the chin, lifting her pale face as 
he noted her trembling lower lip. "What's wrong?"

She shook her head. "Get out of my way! I won't stay here another 
minute. Not with that, that," she gestured in the direction of the 
carriage house. "That creature! That monster! What he looks at!" she 

Methos stepped forward, eyes cold and filled with anger as he took 
her sword, putting it on the shelf beside the door. "You went out to 
the carriage house, didn't you?!" he hissed.

Amanda took a deep breath and sniffled. "He-- He came in for a 
shower," she stuttered. "He looked awful. I-- I thought I'd go see 
if he needed anything. Maybe--"

"Maybe snoop around?" Methos interrupted.

"No, I..." Amanda denied obstinately then looked into Methos eyes 

and thought better of telling another lie. "Okay. I was bored and 
curious. And I just thought..."

"You didn't think!" Methos snarled. "And you were warned."

"Maybe not strongly enough," MacLeod interjected quietly. "I kind of 
skirted the issue," he admitted. "So she doesn't really know what he 

"She does now," Methos huffed and moved across the room to the bar. 
He poured a healthy shot of bourbon for himself, brandy for Amanda 
and a whiskey for MacLeod. "Here," he held out the small snifter to 
Amanda as MacLeod settled her on the couch. "Get this down."

With a sigh he stared at his own drink for a moment then swallowed 
half the shot. "Mac told you Mulder used to investigate murder cases 
for the FBI, right?" Amanda took a deep swallow, wiped her mouth 
with the back of her hand and nodded. "I'm just guessing, but I'll 
bet he didn't tell you what kind?" She nodded, looking accusingly at 
MacLeod, who nodded as well. "Serial murders. He profiles serial 
murderers. Apparently, he's also the best at what he does. So they 
send him the worst of the lot. Just how did you think they caught 
those kinds of murderers? Go round to the local pubs and ask if 
anyone likes to flay people alive, or whatever the latest atrocity 

Amanda paled even further and laid a hand across her eyes. "I'd no 
idea. Oh, god!" she whispered, suddenly clapping a hand across her 
mouth. She lowered her hand to worry nervously at her chin. "I lost 
my lunch inside the door! He'll know I was in there!"

Methos had to smile. "I'm sure he won't try to take your head over 

Mac nodded, then remembered something he'd thought important. "You 
said he looked really bad?" the highlander suddenly asked, concern 
coloring his voice. "How bad?"

"Like he'd lost weight and hadn't slept in days," she reported. And 
it was true. She hadn't thought about it until after he'd gone up to 
shower, but up close he'd looked like crap. It had been as good an 
excuse as any to poke around, or so she'd thought at the time.

"Maybe we should check on him," MacLeod suggested. "Three days and 
not a word is a long time."

Methos shrugged. "I suppose it will give us a chance to apologize on 
Amanda's behalf. That is," he asked rather pointedly. "If you're 
still planning on running out on him?"

"Running out on...? Oh," she looked crestfallen. "He'll think I 
loathe him, won't he?"

"It would be rather cruel to associate the job with the man who does 
the job."

"I'll stay," Amanda sighed quietly. "Just tell him I'm sorry and 
that I won't go out there again. Ever!" she insisted vehemently. 
"But," she added with a sly grin. "He can always come in and see 

MacLeod scowled as Methos laughed. "I'm sure he'll appreciate the 
sentiment behind the offer," he smirked at MacLeod, who looked ready 
to explode. "Come on, Duncan," he got hold of the other man's 
collar. "You wanted to check out-- ah, check on Mulder, didn't you?"

MacLeod rose, still staring at Amanda. "We'll talk later," he told 
her meaningfully.

"I'll look forward to it," she batted her lashes, laughing as Methos 
yanked the angry Scot from the room.


"I can't believe her!" MacLeod sputtered.

Methos didn't bother to respond, very obviously refusing to comment. 
He'd always rather fancied Amanda and could never see why she was 
attracted to MacLeod -- other than for his boyish good looks and the 
fact that he always had an easily accessible steady cash flow. Mac 
was far too straight laced for a girl like her. He, on the other 

"This was your idea, Mac. Are you coming or not?"

The man shoved his hands in his pockets, clenching against the 
bitterly cold wind. "Aye," he muttered, blinking hard against the 
snow that blew into his eyes. "What was that?" he asked suddenly, 
spotting some movement around the back of the carriage house where 
the alleyway ran.

Methos huddled in his sweater and craned his neck to see a quick 
flash of gray. "Just a cat," he responded absently, until two more 
appeared and then another, this time coming from around the other 
side of the house. Odd, he thought. With a frown he stalked around 
to the big double doors, now permanently sealed, that had once been 
meant to allow entry for a horse and buggy. "Oh hell," he murmured 
softly as he took in the debris which littered the ground.

MacLeod shook his head, not knowing whether to be angry or dismayed. 
"Steak bones, chicken bones," he recounted. "And yeah, those are 
definitely the pork ribs I made last night."

"Shit!" Methos swore with a heartfelt sigh. "I dare say he hasn't 
eaten a thing since he came out here."

"If Amanda's reaction is anything to judge by, would you?"

Methos nodded. Amanda might be naive about some things, but she 
wasn't the least bit squeamish. Not and have survived nearly a 
thousand years. Tough as nails Amanda was.

"All right," Methos decided. "Let's get him out of there. Dedication 
is one thing, but this is beginning to border on insanity."

"My thought exactly. Do you want to kill him or should I?"

Methos rolled his eyes, leading the way back around the building 
where he knocked on the door. "We might try asking him to come along 
quietly. Or is there something more sinister behind that thought?"

"Who me?" MacLeod asked innocently. "That man is like a brother to 

"That's just what I said to Abel right before I beaned him with that 

MacLeod's eyes widened. "You weren't...?"
"Of course not!" Methos sighed in exasperation and knocked again. 
"Get a grip, Mac. I'm simply trying to say, don't let Amanda's slurs 
against your dubious manhood cloud your judgment."

"Okay, okay," he agreed. "Let's just get this done. I'm freezing my 
butt off out here!"

"And I'm not?"

MacLeod growled deep in his throat and finally just threw open the 
door. They entered quickly, seeing Mulder sitting cross-legged on 
the floor at the far end of the room staring up at an oversized 
photograph on the wall.

Methos glanced around feeling an overwhelming sense of revulsion. 
He'd seen many kinds of death in many different places, even 
rendered some pretty ugly ones himself, but this was appalling. Not 
so much the nature of the deaths, which were impossible to determine 
from where he stood, but the detached, coldly scientific aspect of 
the pictures themselves. 

Like most men of past centuries he carried with him the taboo of 
desecrating the dead. One did not mock a corpse. Bad things happened 
to those who did. Like Achilles, dragging the body of Hector by its 
heels around the walls of Troy in his chariot. Or Caspian, who ate 
the flesh of the dead, claiming it gave him powers over their souls. 
Such things were abominations. No good could come of them. One look 
at Duncan and he knew the other man agreed. And for one man to sit 
for so long immersed and surrounded by the detritus of the grave... 

With a determination he hadn't felt before Methos strode forward. 
"Mulder? Mulder," he repeated forcefully. "Come away from--" His 
mouth opened and closed like a drowning fish as he finally saw what 
Mulder was looking at and he swore in a language whose people he 
could barely recall. Taking a deep breath to stifle the urge to 
vomit he laid a hand on Mulder's shoulder and shoved.

Clearly startled Mulder looked up, then rose stiffly, moving quickly 
to stand before the image tacked to the wall, blocking their view. 

"Is Amanda all right?" he asked, stepping forward slowly as he 
attempted to crowd them toward the door.

Methos nodded slowly, refusing to move. "Doing better. Sends her 
love. Invites you to her bed sometime," he said distractedly and 
pushed Mulder aside. His tone grew ominous as he felt the anger coil 
deep inside his chest. "By all that's holy, Mulder, what did he do 
to that poor child?!"

The face in the picture was perfect, easily matching the high school 
graduation picture set above it. Well, perfect except for the 
expression of unmitigated horror it wore. The boy's body was red. 
Beet red. And from the surrounding close-ups of the genitalia and 
extremities it looked as though all the hair on his body, except 
that on his face and head, had somehow been fused, or melted into 
the skin. 

"Nay," MacLeod whispered, low in his throat. "No man did that. 'Twas 
a monster!"

Mulder shrugged apathetically. "Man or monster, same difference. If 
you really must know," he told them dully, his tone as distant and 
detached as the look in his eyes. "He was boiled alive. Now, if 
you'll excuse me, gentlemen, I have work to do."

Methos shuddered and dragged his eyes away from the image. He'd seen 
thousands of variations on the theme of torture and just as many 
different methods of punishment, including this one. But those had 
been meted out to the worst of the worst, the most hardened 
criminals. Ones whose crimes were so heinous that there was no 
punishment men could devise that would so well fit the crime. But 
even he had no stomach for this kind of perversion. To take an 
innocent child off the streets and... He shook his head, forcing his 
thoughts back to where he could do the most good at the moment. 

"You haven't eaten in days, Mulder. And while," he swallowed hard on 
his own bile, "I can perfectly well understand why. You can't stay 
here like this."

"It won't kill me, will it?" Mulder asked, coldly amused. "I mean it 
won't really kill me. Neither would that," he twitched his head 
toward the hideous image behind him. "Or that," he gestured with his 
chin toward another set of pictures. "What are a few hungry days and 
sleepless nights by comparison? I'll live. The next kid won't. And 
if I'm right, he's already got another one."

"That's not the point," MacLeod asserted.

"Enough!" Methos silenced them with a word. "You'll be of no use to 
anyone suffering from nervous exhaustion. Bring your notes if you 
must, but you will come back to the house," he insisted. "There, you 
will eat what I serve you and you will get a decent night's sleep. 
Or I swear by every god I've ever known, Mulder, I'll put you down 
with a knife in your heart and let your body heal itself the hard 
way. Do you understand me, boy?"

There was a long pause. Then Mulder's head dipped forward as his 
shoulders slumped. "Yes," he whispered tiredly, "Jesus, yes!" and 
nearly collapsed to the floor. 

They caught him easily, half carrying him back to the house and up 
the stairs to his bedroom. "I'll take it from here, Mac," Methos 
said quietly as he helped Mulder remove his shoes.

"I'll make some broth," the other man offered and Methos nodded.

"That would be best."

Once MacLeod was gone he eased Mulder out of his clothes and under 
the bed covers, taking a moment to appreciate and not for the first 
time, the many scars the man bore from his years of mortal life. 
Perhaps, he thought sadly, the worst ones were on the inside. 

As he turned to go Mulder reached out and caught his arm. "Thank 
you," he murmured.

"Say that again next time you get piss drunk," Methos told him 

"No," Mulder chuckled softly. "For hauling my sorry ass out of the 
bottomless pit."

Methos nodded slowly, thoughtfully. "It's true then what they say."

Mulder sighed. "Know the art, know the artist? Yeah, it's true."

Methos smiled gently, nodding in sudden comprehension. "That's why 
you came into the house. You needed someone to save you from 

"I'm just sorry it had to be Amanda," he admitted quietly. "But, I 
couldn't... It's not something you can just ask anyone to do. Not 
consciously anyway."

"No, I imagine not," Methos agreed as he headed for the door and 
turned out the light. "You just get some rest. I'll send Amanda up 
with your dinner in a bit."

"Mmmm," Mulder murmured as he snuggled deeper into the blankets. 
"Nurse Amanda. I'd like that."

"If you're really lucky," Methos grinned as he slowly shut the door. 
"She might even wear a short white dress and give you a sponge 


"Well," MacLeod asked as Methos entered the kitchen. "Was it worth 
it? Does he know who the killer is?"

"I don't think it works that way, Mac. Although I'd hazard the worst 
is over, at least for Mulder." With a grin, he leaned over Amanda, 
who was shelling peas at the kitchen table and kissed her on the 

"What was that for?" she asked, startled, but pleased.

"For having such a lovely nosy nose."

"Then I did a good thing?"

Methos nodded and went to the refrigerator to extract a beer. "Yes, 
you did a very good thing."

"So what happens now?" MacLeod asked, tossing a handful of chopped 
onions and some garlic into the pot he'd put on the stove.

"I wish I knew," Methos shrugged, snatching a slice of tomato from 
the cutting board before MacLeod could stop him. "We just have to be 
here for him and lend our support. Make sure he eats, drinks, sleeps 
-- has some occasional merriment and comic relief. You know, do what 
you do best, MacLeod."

Amanda giggled and Mac gave her a sardonic frown.

"Well he is tall, dark and handsome," Amanda teased the Scot. "And 
he certainly knows how to brood a hell of a lot better than you do!"

Methos laughed. "Yeah, I've never seen Mac collapse after a three 
day brood."

"Ha. Ha. Ha," MacLeod responded sarcastically. "I'll admit he's 
good, but I've been at it for centuries. By comparison, Mulder's a 
rank amateur."

Methos grabbed his beer and headed for the living room. "It's true, 
Mac, you have been at it for a while. But," he sallied over his 
shoulder. "Mulder got it right the first time!"


Hyde Park, Chicago
January 1, 2038

Methos found Mulder comfortably ensconced in the study surrounded by 
case files and a stack of yellow legal pads. An old lap top computer 
was up and running on the coffee table in front of him and beside it 
a tray of coffee and a pile of crumbs from MacLeod's fresh baked 

"Happy New Year," he greeted Mulder, who looked up and smiled.

"Great party last night," he complimented his host. "I liked your 
friends from the Institute."

"They're nice folks," Methos agreed. "Not stodgy like some. That's 
one thing I've always liked about Chicago," he added, sprawling in 
the over stuffed leather chair across from Mulder.

"What is?"

"Great party town. People here know when to let their hair down and 
have a good time. Always have."

"Well I enjoyed myself."

"And you didn't think you would," Methos finished the unspoken 
thought. Mulder merely shrugged. "And now it's back to work," he 
stated simply.

Again Mulder shrugged, but this time smiled wryly and Methos knew he 
understood. A taste of life, a good dose of the reality he was 
fighting to protect had put the case in its proper perspective. An 
aberration within society and not the sum total of its existence. 
Like many of the brilliant men Methos had known over far too many 
centuries, Mulder was given to being consumed by his gifts. And 
while talents like his had to be nurtured and occasionally allowed 
to run amok, there was always a point beyond which a balance had to 
be restored. 

"You know, Mulder," he began, leaning forward to pour himself a cup 
of coffee and to refill the other man's cup. "I used to be a doctor. 
And though I haven't practiced in over a century, I still keep up 
with the journals."

"So I noticed." Mulder tipped his pencil at the book cases behind 
him. "You want to look at the coroners' reports?"

"And your notes, if I might."

Mulder raised an eyebrow at that. "Knock yourself out. Maybe a fresh 
perspective is what I need. God knows I haven't been able to make 
heads or tails of what's driving this wacko."

"What have you got so far?" Methos asked, reaching for a file.

"White male between twenty-five and forty years of age. Hasn't 
established a distinct preference for either gender, or method of 
killing, but a partial ID fix is on the well to do. All of the 
victims came from socially distinguished, wealthy families."

"Is he wealthy himself?"

"Probably," Mulder nodded. "Or was at one time. But it's not about 
the money. It's about the victims. None of them are remotely like 
the others. Which may be a clue, or may be a coincidence. They all 
had different interests, different levels of social skill and 
intelligence. All of them came from different areas of the country -
- so we know he's a traveling man. The only thing they do have in 
common is their parents income bracket. Which limits contact with 
itinerant serialists on the one hand, but opens up a whole range of 
contacts within a huge, somewhat isolationist subculture on 

Methos snorted a laugh. "'Isolationist subculture'," he quoted. "An 
apt description. And one of the main reasons I avoid traveling in 
those circles."

"And a wise move it is," Mulder agreed. 

Methos shrugged. "The very wealthy tend to be extremely cautious 
about who they allow into their inner circle. And with good reason. 
I learned my lesson back in Rome. The super rich not only have the 
means to obtain vengeance at any cost, but the mindset of privilege 
to carry it out."

Mulder cocked his head and stared into space for a long moment. 
Then, without another word, he leaned forward and began to search 
through his files.


"Mulder, what's this mark on the inner thigh they keep referring me 
back to? There's no description of it. Just the file reference."

Mulder glanced up from the computer where he'd been searching the 
bureau's data base. "Hm? Oh. Check the Steffanis girl's file. She 
was autopsied first, even though she wasn't the killer's first 
victim. Whenever there's a repetitive wound ME's will just refer you 
back to the original data unless they don't concur with the 

Like the whip marks, Methos thought, which he hadn't bothered to 
follow-up on since he already knew what and how they were achieved 
in intimate detail. He did as Mulder suggested and quickly found 
what he was looking for. A small, rectangular shaped burn mark on 
the left inner thigh, iron flakes embedded in the scar tissue, 
probably achieved by using a patterned fireplace poker or antique 
curtain rod. Methos ignored the statistical information on the 
composition of the alloy, reading only the ME's conclusion that the 
object used had been cast by hand, not machined, and was definitely 
aged iron, though radio carbon dating had been inconclusive as to 
the exact date of manufacture.

Methos felt a sickening lurch in the pit of his stomach. It might 
not mean anything, he reminded himself. It could simply be some 
twisted aficionado of ancient cultures enacting some warped part of 
his dark fantasy. Or, it could be truly coincidental. Yet, the 
placement of the mark which appeared on all the bodies was 

He looked through the file to see if the ME had made a drawing, but 
there was none and he was referred to a particular photograph, just 
as the other ME's had done in their various reports. Damn! He would 
have to go back out to the carriage house and look.

He quickly made a list of reference numbers and quietly excused 
himself. Mulder barely glanced his way and it was just as well, he 
thought. It could be nothing, or something so incidental as to 
merely be an addendum to the motive, like the whippings. Still, to 
his mind, it was too great a coincidence to be ignored, though it 
was a minor historical point with which few, save himself and a 
handful of other immortals and historians might be familiar.

Carefully avoiding Duncan and Amanda, who were playfully tossing 
snowballs at each other in the front drive, he exited through the 
back door and hurried across the yard. After unlocking the door he 
braced himself. This was not a desecration of the dead as Mulder had 
kindly pointed out to Amanda when she'd asked. It was a technique 
which allowed the dead to tell their story in the only way left to 
them. Through the physical evidence contained within their bodies. 
Nor were these pictures a glorification of the conditions in which 
they'd been left, but a clear and distinct message sent by the 
murderer, whether he cared that it might be received or not. In the 
pursuit of such evil, Mulder had offered, there should be no stone 
left unturned, no grave left unearthed and every clue investigated 
if there were the least chance it could bring the killer to justice. 
Hideous as it was, and it was all that and more, he'd agreed, what 
kind of man would he be if he turned his back simply because he was 
too afraid to look at the depravity that existed in the minds of 
these corrupted souls.

There had been a time, Methos knew, when he would have done exactly 
that. Not entirely out of self-preservation, but merely because the 
consequences of getting involved were too much for him to bear. His 
own soul was so heavy with regret and shame that oftentimes he could 
barely stand to look in the mirror. How then could he, as corrupted 
as he'd been, dare to pass judgment on anyone?

Yet here I stand, he mused, raising his eyes to walls covered in the 
invisible miasma and rotten stench of painful death. Why? he 
wondered. Why now? Why this?

He had no answers, or none he wished to examine at the moment. Let 
it be sufficient that I do it for Mulder, he decided. That I may 
have information he requires and that honor demands I repay him for 
the gift of his friendship. And maybe, he thought with a wry twist 
of his lips, that was the only answer he truly required.


"It's called a tessera," Methos said as he laid a pile of photos on 
the kitchen table where Mulder was having a sandwich and coffee 
while reading the newspaper.

"What is?" he asked around a mouthful of ham and cheese.

"The brands he made on their inner thighs. Now," he held up a hand 
to forestall the obvious question in Mulder's eyes, not to mention 
the laughter from watching him play amateur sleuth. "I'm not saying 
that's what it really is, mind you. I'm only saying that's what it 
appears to be."

"Okay," Mulder nodded. "I'll bite. And what is a tessera in layman's 

"It's Latin for a mark of ownership. A scar, a tattoo, or in the 
case of the Romans, a brand. Always done on the right inner thigh 
using the sigil of the master's house. It was always done to slaves, 
and always in that location so they could be easily identified and 
returned to their rightful owners if they tried to escape."

Finally, Mulder picked up one of the photo enlargements Methos had 
done on his computer. "So you're saying that the scarring caused by 
the brand is in actuality a form of writing? Like a pictographic 


"And the way it appears here was only done by the Romans? The very 
ancient, very dead Romans," he reiterated. "Oh, but wait," Mulder 
slapped his forehead lightly. "There could still be a few of these 
guys running around today! It could be... No, let me guess! An 

Methos shook his head. "This doesn't mean it's an immortal, Mulder. 
It could be someone who knows something of the history and either 
found or purchased the iron."

"And the chances of that are?"

Methos sighed. "Realistically? Slim to none."

"Shit! No wonder I couldn't get into his head!" Mulder tossed the 
rest of his sandwich down and hurriedly went through the photos. 
Eventually, he focused on the enlargements. "I swear this looks 
familiar," he shook his head, unable to recall where he'd seen it. 
"Can you tell me whose sigil this was?" he finally asked.

Methos sighed and shook his head. "Everyone from the emperor to the 
green grocer down the street had a household insignia in those days. 
It was like a personal logo for the illiterate. They stamped them on 
everything from the wax seals on letters to amphorae being sent to 
the troops in Gaul. It could belong to anyone."

"Okay. So he's telling us they're his property."

"No, Mulder. He's telling them they are his property. It wasn't done 
simply for identification, because it's a mark that can't normally 
be seen, though anyone in those days would have known it for what it 
was on sight. But it is a mark the slave carries with him in the 
knowledge that he bears it always. How can you run away and hide if 
you know that you can never strip for your husband or wife without 
fear of being found out and betrayed? Or for that matter, go to the 
public baths where slaves were not generally admitted and a lack of 
nudity would have been suspicious."

"But why mark these kids? They sure as hell didn't know what it 
meant. And they certainly wouldn't have cared who saw it if they got 
away, because the first person who would have seen it after the 
police got done would have been a plastic surgeon."

"I didn't say it made sense to mark them. That's why I don't believe 
it is an immortal. He'd have to be so out of touch with reality as 
to be incapable of functioning in society."

"Maybe," Mulder agreed. "But then I really haven't lived long enough 
to have gained any perspective on how time moves differently for an 
immortal of even MacLeod's age. Let alone someone whose lived a 
couple of thousand years."

Methos sat back in his chair and nodded thoughtfully. This was a 
subject he hadn't thought much about for quite some time. "It is 
different, I suppose, if you look at it from the mortal view point. 
But the truth is, on the grand scale, people's needs don't really 
change, just their expressions of them do. They, and we as human 
beings, immortal or not, all want the same basic things. Full 
bellies every night, warm clothes when it's cold, a roof over our 
heads when it rains, the joys of companionship and love. Those 
things are constants in humanity. The only things that change are 
the masks we wear to hide our motivations for doing what we do in 

"At one point in Rome it was perfectly acceptable to conspire with 
your neighbor to have your other neighbor arrested for treason. As 
long as there were two witnesses, or at least two free individuals 
claiming to have heard the neighbor in question make a derogatory 
remark against any aspect of the empire, the poor sod could be 
executed, his property confiscated and his family sold into slavery. 
And the two neighbors who'd conspired would receive a bounty for 
having turned their friend in to the Guard. Today, of course, people 
might attempt to do the same thing, but they'd have to be much more 
elaborate in their schemes, because they'd certainly find themselves 
being investigated by the authorities even before the authorities 
investigated the accused. And the bounty would likely be their 
fifteen minutes of fame on one of those tabloid news shows. So, 
while the people don't change and the social acceptability of greed 
remains the same, because it's always been perfectly acceptable in 
any day and age to be greedy, how one goes about being greedy in 
public has changed. It's pretty much the same for all the virtues 
and vices we find in humankind."

Mulder nodded slowly. "That makes sense. So you don't perceive time 
differently, it's just more of the same but lots of it in different 

"Yes. For example. If I was mortal and I suddenly decided to spend 
the next fifty years learning to be an expert weaver, I'd be making 
a life choice. For an immortal it would simply be something one 
might choose to do to because it was an interesting way to alleviate 
the boredom between challenges."

"As fascinating as this discussion is becoming," Mulder sighed. "I 
think we'll have to come back to it later."

"Well, we certainly do have the time," Methos quipped, earning a 
brief smile.

"Yes, but the potential victims don't. So, getting back to my 
original thought. Can you make a drawing of this tessera for me? One 
that I can run through the bureau's data base."

"Certainly," Methos responded.

The sudden sense of two immortals and the sound of laughter from the 
front hall drifted into the kitchen and Mulder quickly scooped up 
the pictures, sliding them into the newspaper he'd been reading.

"Look what Duncan bought me!" Amanda squealed as she entered the 
kitchen, showing off a very expensive diamond studded bracelet.

"Beware Scots bearing gifts," was all Methos had to say as he picked 
up the newspaper and stood.

"Jealous?" Amanda asked pointedly, not the least bit put off by his 
lack of enthusiasm.

"Of MacLeod? Never. Of the bracelet allowed to hang about your 
delicate wrist? Always."

Amanda laughed, delighted by the compliment. "And what about you, 
Mulder? Do you like my new bracelet?"

"I like the fact it's bought and paid for. Me? I'd have gotten you a 
genuine set of acrylic Darth Vader head earrings."

"Ooooh, you do have a sense of the wicked!"

By the time MacLeod entered they were trading best and worst gift 
ever stories, and in the ensuing laughter Methos quietly slipped 
away. Much as he'd have liked to continue playing with the children, 
he thought with a wry smile and a touch of excitement, he had to go 
help Mulder catch a killer.


"You know, I'm really beginning to hate this immortality crap."

Methos looked up from the book he was reading, a little surprised by 
Mulder's comment.

"Something wrong?"

Mulder tossed a file on the night stand beside Methos' bed and moved 
to gaze out the window. "I ran that drawing through the bureau's 
data base and came up with zilch. Nothing. Then, on the off chance 
it was an immortal, I ran it through Interpol. Remember seven years 
ago? Scotland? Eight dead kids buried by the side of the road?"

"I remember," Methos said, finally putting aside his book to pick up 
the file. "You said the site was so old that the killer was likely 
dead or in prison for some other crime."

"It was and I did. But it was that profile which pretty much quashed 
any real investigation. It was the age of the site which threw me. 
Something that old and no other bodies ever found with a similar MO 
usually means exactly that. I never thought about an immortal. Never 
thought to check with Interpol. Never thought about that mark I saw 
carved into a nearby rock." He turned back to Methos, a terrible, 
haunted look in his eyes. "Until today that is."

Methos rose and went to him, gently resting his hands on Mulder's 
shoulders. "You cannot blame yourself. You couldn't possibly have 

"That's what I keep telling myself. Except that I should have 
considered every angle. Every possibility. Even that an immortal 
might be responsible. I should have known because I knew about 
Caspian. And the fact that--"  Mulder broke off and moved away, not 
meeting Methos' eyes.

"Go on. Say it," Methos told him coldly. "The fact that..."

Mulder inhaled deeply and nodded as he stared Methos' down. "Every 
last one of you is a mass murderer whether you want to be or not. 
MacLeod. Amanda. Connor. That's the name of the game. Call it what 
you will."

"And you've been thrown into the deep end with the sharks."

"Oh, I can swim with the sharks. It's the sea monsters I worry 

Methos smiled grimly. "Immortals are no more free of madness than 
the rest of the planet, Mulder. Quite the opposite. We are, by the 
very nature of The Game and the endless rounds of mortal death which 
surround us, prone to insanity. But what this monster does has 
nothing to do with The Game, or with the strain of being an 
immortal. It's his own warped perception of his place in society 
that's at work here. He's taking slaves in a world where slavery can 
no longer exist. Not because he gets off on it. But because he 
believes he has the right to do so."

Mulder rubbed his eyes and face, shaking his head though he felt the 
truth of what Methos was saying. "I don't understand," he whispered. 
"How can anyone who's lived so long and seen the world change around 
them continue to believe they have the right to snatch some kid off 
the street, enslave and kill them?"

"Because it's not about killing them, Mulder. Their deaths are 
incidental. It's about obedience to the will of the master."

Mulder growled in frustration and threw up his hands. "This isn't 
Rome, Methos! Christ, it isn't even the Old South! He's taken kids 
in Scotland, Ireland, England, France and Spain. And now he's here. 
Explain it to me. Explain it in a way I can comprehend. Because if I 
can't think like he thinks, I can't know what he wants and I sure as 
hell can't predict his next move. We'll lose him, Methos. And there 
will be more dead kids and more grieving families, simply because I 
never bought a fucking slave!"

"Or been a slave," Methos murmured, seeing Mulder wince at the 

comment. "Perhaps you're right," Methos nodded, reaching for his 
robe. "And I'll try my best to help you make the connections you 
need. But it won't be easy," he warned. "For you it will be a 
completely alien way of thinking."

"Alien? You forget, that's my specialty."

Methos rolled his eyes, helplessly smiling. "Fox Mulder, you are an 
incorrigible brat."

"But that's why you like me."

"Yes," Methos grinned. "It is. Now come downstairs, for this I 
definitely need a drink."


"Okay. Let's see if I can follow this to its logical conclusion," 
Mulder finally said. It was nearly dawn and they'd spent most of the 
night in the kitchen talking about the life and times of the Roman 

"Go for it," Methos told him.

"Once upon a time there was a very powerful, very wealthy Roman, who 
was brought up to believe that might makes right and that all things 
were his for the taking. Having lived through a couple of thousand 
years where this was for the most part still true, he ends up in the 
modern age, where, in the blink of an eye by immortal standards, all 
this is swept away by a simple change in the mortal point of view. 
People who believe in human rights and self-determination make for 
lousy slaves. The kids he takes, who in previous generations would 
have been brought up to be obedient to the will of their parents, 
society, God and the law without question, now fight what he views 
as the inevitable, the will of the gods, whatever. They fight, he 
gets pissed, he punishes them as if they were slaves who should know 
better until they finally piss him off enough to convince him that 
they are so intractable as to be useful only as an example to his 
other slaves. That about right?"

"Close enough to make no difference," Methos agreed.

"Wonderful. Next step. Why try to enslave a bunch of smart mouthed, 
over indulged teenagers, who probably think they're better, smarter 
and faster than he is? He could easily find a couple of dozen very 
willing masochists, who'd probably pay him for the privilege, by 
simply taking out an ad in any one of a hundred bondage and 
discipline magazines."

"He'd think they were mentally deranged. No one wants to be a slave, 
Mulder. Not the real kind like we had anyway. There were no safe 
words and it was not by any stretch of the imagination the kind of 
loving give and take relationship people fantasize about today. A 
slave was an object, like a chair, or a lamp. It had no feelings one 
needed to take into account, no right to voice an objection, no 
purpose other than to serve. But, if you were unlucky enough to be 
enslaved in those days, you were expected to accept it as part of 
the natural order. Besides, if he was what I think he was, then he 
has a particular type of slave in mind. The kind he would have been 
entitled to either purchase or confiscate as a matter of course 
during his mortal life."

"Which would have been?"

"You said it yourself. He's taken most of these children in Gaul and 
Brittany. There was only one class of Romans, other than the 
emperors and their families, who had such widespread powers over 
populated areas. The magistres militum peditum equitum."

"Magistrates of military, infantry and cavalry?"

"Very good!" Methos raised his beer in acknowledgment of Mulder's 
linguistic abilities. "They were essentially military governors. And 
the first ones, I might add, to make themselves into petty kings in 
the power vacuum created when Rome could no longer administer her 
territories. They ruled with an iron fist, taking who and what they 
wanted when they wanted, and without anymore thought than you or I 
would give to whether we wanted Coke or Pepsi."

"I give a lot of thought to that. There's a whole area of psychology 
being explored in the realm of people who like Coke versus Pepsi."

Methos nodded dubiously. "I must have missed that issue of Pop 
Psychology Today."

"I'll see if I can find you a copy."

Methos chuckled and shook his head. "Mulder, there are times when 
I'm not sure whether or not you are really serious," he admitted.

Mulder grinned. "Actually, it was an article I wrote for Advertising 

"In any case," Methos went on, laughing. "Imagine someone who's 
every desire has always been met, often before they were aware they 
had it. It puts a whole new spin on the term instant gratification."

"Okay, I can see that. So, the big bad Roman dude likes pretty 
little Celts to serve his every whim and hasn't quite made the 
connection that the conquered tribes have become the masters of 
their own destiny."

"Something like that."

"He's one can short of a six pack, Methos. Two thousand years old or 
not, he's a fucking head case."

"I never said he wasn't," Methos agreed. "At the very least he 
doesn't have a firm grasp on reality. I doubt he ever did. But for 
most of the last five thousand years one could have unrealistic 
expectations if one were powerful or rich enough to get everyone 
else to look the other way. Ever hear of Elizabeth Bathory?"

"The Countess Bathory? The one who thought bathing in the blood of 
virgins would keep her forever young and beautiful? She's part of 
the whole vampire mythology."

"The point I'm trying to make is that her peers allowed her to do as 
she pleased. The only reason she was stopped was because she 
offended someone who was equal to or above her station in the power 
scheme. And she wasn't mad. She simply lived in a time where the 
particular system of belief in existence gave her free reign over 
the lives of her serfs, in essence, her slaves. There were no 
scientists around to point out that bathing in virgin blood wasn't 
going to keep her in mint condition. And even if there had been, 
they wouldn't have dared try to argue her out of this ridiculous 
belief. Not if they wanted to keep on living."

"So this son of a bitch is probably still very wealthy and very 
powerful. He'd have to be for this mindset to continue across half a 
dozen countries among the richest scions of society. The rules don't 
apply to him, because he believes himself to be outside of time and 
outside the law of mortal man."

"Yes. That's exactly what he thinks. It's what Caspian believed, 
even when he stopped believing he was a demi-god."

Mulder nodded slowly. He was getting closer to being able to profile 
the subject in detail. "Great. Now, what kind of industry would he 
be in?"

"Oh, never industry, Mulder! Running a business would be beneath 
him. He'd be an advisor, or a consultant in one of the less nasty 
trades. Maybe gold futures or the diamond market. Probably has a 
seat on the stock exchange."

Mulder rubbed his chin with a finger, then reached into his back 
pocket for the drawing Methos had made. He stared at it for a long 
moment then smiled grimly. "Think he's arrogant enough to want the 
world to know who he is, even if we don't necessarily get the joke?"

"Oh, definitely," Methos agreed. "What did you have in mind?"

"I think I'll run this through the Registry of Trade Marks data 

"Run what?" Amanda asked as she strolled into the kitchen and 
immediately went to make coffee.

The two men looked at each other and Methos finally shrugged. "It's 
worth a shot. She might actually know something."

Amanda frowned and simply reached across the counter, snatching the 
drawing from Mulder's hand almost before he realized what she was 

She looked at the page, her eyes going wide in amazed delight. 
"Marco Fronti!" she cried out gleefully. "Is he in town? I haven't 
robbed him in years!"

"Robbed who?" MacLeod asked as he joined them.

"Marco Fronti," Amanda waved the drawing at him.

"That jackass? Is he still alive?"

"Apparently." Amanda was practically dancing around the kitchen. 
"Goodness, I haven't seen him in ages. He always had the hottest new 
security systems. Years before anyone else got them. Not much worth 
stealing, but oh what a joy just to break in for the fun of it!"

"Amanda. Amanda!" Mulder shouted finally getting her attention. He 
grabbed her by the shoulders, keeping her still. "You have to tell 
me everything you know about this guy Fronti."

"Why?" she asked quietly, looking from Mulder to Methos, who was 
laughing hysterically and back again.

"Because it's a good bet that he's our killer."


"Marcellus Ancillus Frontiae," Methos murmured as he dressed his 
sword. "You who are about to die should salute me."

"You know, MacLeod thinks he going to take his head," Mulder pointed 
out as he looked up from e-mailing the last of his reports to the 

"He can have what's left when I'm done."

Mulder sat back, crossing his arms. "You don't like to fight, 
Methos. So why are doing this?"

"Because I want his head."

"Bullshit," Mulder retorted mildly. "You don't want anyone's head. 
You hate Quickenings. They hurt like hell and, in your own words, 
you're 'not into rough sex'. So why now? Why this one?"

"MacLeod can't handle it."

"Come again?"

Methos sighed and finally sheathed his sword. "Ancillus' Quickening 
won't be like any other MacLeod has ever taken. In many ways it 
would be much like a Dark Quickening, but more insidious. There are 
elements of Ancillus' personality that will appeal to the Clan 
Chieftain in him. He could distance himself from the madness of 
Caspian and the megalomania of Kronos, but he was raised in much the 
same way as Ancillus. To believe in the rightness of his own best 
judgment. That he was born to rule and wield great power over the 
life of the Clan. These are elements in MacLeod's personality that 
could be suborned by Ancillus. You've never taken a Quickening. It 
is unsettling at best. At worst, it can overwhelm the mind."

"But you can swallow Fronti whole and walk away with a smile on your 
lips and a song in your heart."

"Something like," Methos grinned. "He is nothing to me. And he will 
be nothing inside me."

Mulder shook his head and smiled. "You're weirdly altruistic, but 
I'm not going to argue. Frankly, I don't give a damn who gets his 
Quickening. I just want him stopped."

"And you're not still upset about having to trick the authorities?"

Mulder shrugged. "In this case? No. I've given them enough to track 
him down. By the time they find the body they'll think he was killed 
by one of his victims, or by some other serial killer, and they'll 
leave it alone."

"Another serial killer?"

Mulder grinned wryly. "There are other kinds of hunters out there. 
We don't usually talk about them, but they exist nonetheless. Serial 
killers who prey on other serial killers. They do the research, they 
find their target, sometimes even befriending them in the same way a 
cat plays with a mouse. More importantly, they never prey on 
innocent civilians. Not enough of a challenge. These are big game 
hunters, Methos. They aren't interested in executing sheep."

"And law enforcement just looks the other way?" he asked, surprised.

"For murderers who only kill murderers who prey on innocents? Sure 
we look the other way when we're able. You do."

"You mean MacLeod?"

"He is what he is, which is why I don't bother him. It's rough 
justice, but it satisfies a need. And MacLeod isn't really a hunter. 
He's opportunistic."

"I wouldn't tell him that," Methos commented.

"I hadn't planned on it. Knowing what he is would break him."

"It would indeed," Methos agreed quietly. "Are you ready?" Mulder 
nodded. "Then let's go do this thing."


LaGuardia Airport, New York City
January 3, 2038

"You can unclench those sphincters now, Mac," Methos called from the 
pilot's chair. "We're here."

Amanda giggled and slid out of her seat, ignoring MacLeod's 

"I wasn't nervous, Methos. Just surprised they'd let a senile old 
coot like you get a license to fly one of these things."

"It's a small private jet, Mac, not the Starship Enterprise. And 
I've been flying planes for over a century."

MacLeod raised his brows in disbelief and Methos sighed. "Do you 
really think I spend all my time locked in libraries?" From the 
expression he now wore it was obvious he did. Methos finished 
shutting down the engine, climbed out of his seat and kicked Mulder 
in the shin.

"Wake up, kid, we're here."

"Ow! Jesus, you don't have to get violent," Mulder complained, 
limping after everyone onto the tarmac.

Methos briskly led the way into the main building and down to the 
baggage claim area where the rental car kiosks were always open. A 
half hour later they were speeding across the 59th Street Bridge and 
into mid-town Manhattan.

"Okay, where to first," Methos asked Mulder. "Beekman Place or the 
Trump Tower address?"

"Beekman Place," Mulder told him. "For a man who lives alone he has 
an unusual amount of food being delivered there."

"So that's where he's keeping the kids?" MacLeod asked.

"Probably," Mulder acknowledged. "A townhouse has certain advantages 
over a penthouse apartment. Specifically, underground parking and 
loading docks with basement storage space and cellars easily 
converted into sound proof slave pens."

"Not to mention the amount of privacy required for such an elaborate 
plan," Methos added. "Beekman Place is noted not only for its old 
money inhabitants, but for the very fact that few of them are still 
full time residents. It's a convenient location when needing to do 
business in the city without having to put up with the substandard 
conditions at five star hotels. And it's a gated community in the 
very heart of  New York, New York."

"I loathe Beekman Place," Amanda commented to no one in particular. 
"Antique safes, fat rent-a-cops who couldn't catch an alley rat with 
a broken leg. No security to speak of worth a damn. Hardly a 
challenge for a bright girl like me."

"And anything worth stealing wisely locked up in banks," MacLeod 
finished neatly, causing Amanda to pout.

"Well, you can have some fun later getting us into Trump Tower," 
Methos consoled her.

Amanda sighed happily. "Darling man! You say all the right things."

"Could we focus here, people?" Mulder interrupted as they turned 
onto 1st Avenue. "We have no idea if Fronti is even at the Beekman 
location, or what his state of mind will be if we find him there. 
The objective at this point is to get in fast and get any hostages 
out. They are your primary concern, not Fronti's head. Is that 
clear?" Everyone nodded. "We know who he is and where his bolt holes 
are. So if it comes down to a choice between him and the kids, they 
come first."

A few minutes later they dropped off MacLeod and Amanda near the 
rear gate of the small cul de sac that made up one of the wealthiest 
neighborhoods in the world. Ostensibly, the plan was to converge on 
the townhouse in a quarter of an hour from different directions. 
Instead, Methos turned to Mulder and smiled.

"That went well."

Mulder nodded. "Think they bought it?"

"Of course they did," Methos chided. "MacLeod is nothing if not 
honorable and thick. After all, if he were supremely wealthy he'd 
have a penthouse in Trump Tower. The Chrysler Building is where the 
really old money lives."

"You are a true expert in the Art of the Ditch," Mulder grinned as 
they pulled out into traffic.

"And the police have already been here?"

"They finished clearing out the Beekman address an hour ago. Now 
they're tracking down Fronti's other residences. It'll take them 
awhile to clue into the Chrysler."

"God," Methos muttered, "but the arrogance of the man."

Mulder nodded in understanding. They'd only found the place because 
the fool had purchased the top floor penthouse in his original name 
-- doubtless thinking no one would ever recognize Marcellus Ancillus 
Frontiae as anything but a well heeled, upper crust, pompous Italian 
ass. Of course, he wouldn't view it that way, but his neighbors, if 
he thought about them at all, probably did. And more to the point, 
it was where he first came into contact with the Steffanis girl when 
her family owned an apartment there.

They pulled into a spot about half a block away from the rear 
loading bays behind the building. Being made up mostly of office 
space, the Chrysler had fairly standard security. Except on its 
residential floors. One apartment per floor, one elevator per 
apartment. No halls or corridors, just a grand foyer where the 
elevator opened according to the plans Mulder had accessed. As he 
reached for the passenger door Methos put a hand on his arm. "No. 
Wait for me here," he ordered.

Mulder's expression told the ancient immortal just what he thought 
of that idea as he pulled out a gun and checked the clip. 

"No," Methos repeated firmly. "I don't want you up there. You've 
never taken a head and this is neither the time nor place for 
childish heroics, Mulder."

"How about I just shoot him in the head and you can have all the 
real fun later?"

Methos shook his head and smiled. "It's too dangerous, Mulder. You 
can't arrest him. And if he challenges you first..."

"Save your breath, Methos. I'm not you and I'm not MacLeod. I don't 
give a damn about honor. He can challenge me first, last or sideways 
for all I care. I'm here to see a rabid dog put down. You can fight 
him on your own terms and that's just fine by me. I'll stand back 
and keep quiet. But know this. If he takes you down, I take him out. 
And I won't be standing around waiting to do it honorably. That's 
why I'm going up there."

Methos rested his forehead against the steering wheel, not knowing 
whether to laugh or cry. "Where were you when I was raiding?" he 
finally sighed. "We could have ruled the world together."

"You mean you don't already?"

Methos merely offered his most enigmatic smile as he and Mulder 
simultaneously opened their doors.

"You know," he drawled as they walked toward a little used side 
door. "I knew the man who built this place."

"You knew the architect?"

"No," Methos clarified. "I knew the builder. Back in the early days 
of skyscrapers I was fascinated by the engineering side of it. I 
spent two years as an apprentice in his office. Did you know that 
the Chrysler was built during the height of Prohibition? And that in 
those days the building contractors always left an escape route for 
the bootleggers?"

"I take it they were well paid and the architect was in on it?"

"Of course." Methos stepped up to an unassuming bronze panel, 
similar to all the other decorative panels which graced the 
building's facade. "In fact, as you can see by the ambiance of the 
structure, he had a great love of ancient Egyptian building 
techniques. You just have to know," he pressed several points on the 
panel in quick succession, "where to look for the patterns," and it 
suddenly and silently opened.

"Impressive," Mulder complimented as they entered and Methos reached 
out to turn on the lights. "Now how do we get upstairs? Climb?"

Methos grinned. "You can if you like. To your left are the fire 
stairs. They go all the way up, of course. Me, I'm going to take the 
emergency elevator."

"An emergency elevator? Which runs along the fire stairs?" Mulder 
asked, dumbfounded. "We're these people nuts? You don't get in an 
elevator during a fire!"

"Rich people don't walk, Mulder. And besides," he added, reaching 
above the metal cage of the antique elevator, seeking the key he'd 
once seen hidden there. "This was long before modern fire 
regulations came into being. Eventually, of course, it was closed 
off and forgotten. Although," he went on as he ushered Mulder inside 
and slid the cage door shut. "You can still access the private 
dwellings, because up until the 1940's their Negro servants were 
required to use only the back entrances."

"Wait!" Mulder exclaimed as Methos turned the key. "Maybe we should 
split up. One of us should take the front."

"You'd never get past security. And while I wouldn't mind, you seem 
to have other plans this evening." 

Mulder frowned. "What's to stop him from running?"

Methos smiled widely. "Honor, of course. He would consider it 
shameful to flee from such pitiful forces."

"Oh, yeah," Mulder nodded. "The idiot factor."

With a devilish grin Methos turned the handle and the circular 
shaped elevator began its long ascent within the spiraling confines 
of the fire stairs. The ride was slow and smooth, though the metal 
creaked and the pulleys groaned making Mulder nervous. He reminded 
himself that he could not die and that Methos was onboard. Though 
why that thought should comfort him in the face of falling fifty or 
sixty stories to the unforgiving ground below he hadn't a clue. 
Finally, they reached the top and stepped out onto the landing. 

"May I?" Mulder inquired politely, pointing to the door.

"Be my guest."

By the dim light of the single overhead bulb Mulder picked the old 
fashioned lock. As he opened the door and they moved inside the buzz 
of a single immortal could be felt by both. From what Mulder had 
learned through trial and error it was possible for some immortals 
to distinguish the sensation in multiples even when immortals 
arrived simultaneously. It was not possible however, to discern 
location until the distance between the two had closed. Which meant 
nothing, except that Fronti would likely move toward the main 
elevator in expectation of a direct confrontation.

Mulder slid his weapon out as Methos did the same.

"I've got your back," Mulder murmured, pointing with his chin toward 
the other side of the narrow hall where they had come out. To one 
side was the kitchen and the old servants quarters, to the other 
would be the apartment proper.

Methos nodded once and they moved swiftly past bedrooms, a formal 
dining hall, a library, and other various spaces all done in dark, 
hand carved woods, gleaming marble floors, and rich heavy velvet 
brocades. The style bespoke serenity in wealth and a sense of 
antiquity with its staid and stately facade. But it was only a 
facade, Mulder reminded himself, for despite their many 
accomplishments the Romans had often been as savage and unrestrained 
in their lusts as any of the so-called barbarian hordes they had 

As they neared the central living space the sense of direction grew 
stronger and Methos indicated with a glance that Mulder should hang 
back. He did so, but reluctantly, especially when the older immortal 
suddenly disappeared like a wraith into the shadows. With a frown 
Mulder moved forward into an immense ballroom which ran the rest of 
the length of the apartment. It was lit only by the glow of the 
bright Manhattan night and surrounded on one side by floor to 
ceiling windows. To the other side was a wide marble stairway 
leading to the grand foyer. At the top of those stairs stood Fronti, 
a Roman cavalry sword casually held at his side -- and Methos was 
nowhere in sight.


"Where is your compatriot, boy?"

Mulder effected a disinterested shrug. "Oh, he's around here 
somewhere. Probably checking out the library," he remarked loudly 
and pointedly.

Fronti gave a contemptuous snort. "What else can one expect from 
this modern trash," he remarked coolly. "Your friend has fled and 
left you to face me alone -- cowardly hiding until I have your 
Quickening before he attacks."

"It's a good plan. At least one of us will get you. I frankly don't 
care which."

Fronti appear slightly rattled. "You wish for death, young one?" he 
asked, mildly curious.

"Not really, but I'll be satisfied with yours."

"So be it," Fronti agreed, raising his sword and moving down the 
stairs until he took up his battle stance at the foot. "I am 
Marcellus Ancillus Frontiae, Master General of Gaul and Brittany of 
Imperial Rome, prepare to die."

Suddenly, the muted buzz that was Methos' signature which Mulder had 
long ago learned to ignore, increased in intensity and volume. It 
rose and cascaded, washing across their senses until it pushed 
Fronti back a step and drove Mulder against the wall. A peal of 
thunder shook the windows and lighting struck the peaks of nearby 
buildings in a wild display of color and violence. Only once had 
Mulder heard of such a thing. Ancient, powerful immortals capable of 
generating a storm by the very strength of their Quickenings. Then, 
out of the shadows, an indistinct figure appeared before the windows 
and a thunderous vibration rolled through the room until it 
coalesced into a voice.


"Hear me roar!" Mulder gasped as the presence once again seemed to 
blast into his very soul.

Coat discarded, wearing form fitting blue jeans and a pristine 
Megadeath tee shirt, Methos strode forward and the overwhelming 
presence of his Quickening suddenly vanished as if it had never 
existed but for the echo it left in their minds. 

Megadeath? Mulder thought irreverently.

Fronti stared hard at the figure coming out of the darkness. "I know 
you," he murmured disdainfully. "You are the memoriae."

"Hey, I was the Emperor's personal memoriae. Not just any secretary, 
dick wad."

Fronti again gave a contemptuous snort. "The great Methos, a mere 
scribbler. A servant to Augustus Aurelius, no more."

"I was never just anything to Aurelius, Ancillus. I was his 
political advisor. How else do you think you ended up in that piss 
hole Gaul?"

The Roman glowered. "It was an honorable appointment."

"But not in Rome. Never again in Rome. It was exile, you moron."

"You know nothing," Ancillus stated coldly.

Methos laughed cruelly. "I know it all. Just as I knew your parents 
and how you betrayed them to the Imperial Guard. Dometia wanted a 
son and Marcellus took you in to please her, adopting what he knew 
to be the spawn of the slaves who found you. He raised you up to 
believe in the restored Republic -- as Aurelius did, as we all 
wanted -- to save Rome. Only you wanted power you never deserved. 
You sent your parents to their deaths as traitors and took their 
lands and chattel for your own. For that alone I should kill you."

"If not for that then why are you here?" Ancillus questioned, 
obviously puzzled, but denying nothing.

"Well I could always let my friend there arrest you for your crimes. 
But then you would be subject to the will of the mob you so 

"That is why you are here, boy?" he laughed at Mulder.

"Actually, I'm just here for the entertainment," Mulder responded, 
pulling out a handful of sunflower seeds as he found a place on one 
of the marble benches against the wall. "You know, two warriors 
facing off. Hot, sweaty, gleaming bodies by moonlight. Oh hey, I 
think I rented that video once."

Methos gave an imperceptible shake of his head and chuckled. "We'll 
talk about your predilection for porn later, Mulder."

Ancillus looked highly affronted by their casual conversation in the 
midst of what he considered such deadly serious business. To add 
insult to injury, Mulder thoughtlessly spat a seed husk onto his 
exquisite marble floor.

"And of what crimes would you accuse me?" he finally sputtered.

Mulder shrugged. "Kidnapping, false imprisonment, transporting 
minors across state lines for immoral purposes, human rights 
violations such as rape, torture, deprivation of food and comfort, 
failure to allow self-determination. Oh, and let's not forget 
multiple counts of murder. We won't even go into fraud, theft, 
destruction of personal property and your deviant sexual practices."

"Your laws do not apply to me. They have no meaning. As a Roman 
citizen I am entitled to take what I wish, the best your pathetic 
world has to offer."

"Yeah, yeah," Mulder nodded, spitting out another husk. "Tell it to 
the judge," he pointed a thumb at Methos.

Fronti looked to the eldest immortal. "But you are like me! A 
patrician. You know what is right. What is correct and proper. You 
cannot think to fight over such as this," he flung a hand in 
Mulder's direction.

"Especially for such as this," Methos responded, lifting his sword 
to the guard without saluting his opponent.

Without another word Fronti lunged forward, engaging the battle. But 
Methos wasn't having any of it. He avoided the thrust, turning to 
the side and in one swift movement whacked off his opponent's sword 

"You're not worth the price of the dance," Methos sneered over the 
sound of Fronti's screams, and in a blur, whirled and sliced through 
the exposed neck, putting the strength and weight of his entire body 
behind his sword.

Startled, Mulder saw the head fly, heard the dull meaty thunk as it 
hit the wall and watched the body slump to the floor. 

"That was quick," he observed dryly. "Good thing we didn't sell 

Methos laughed and settled himself, raising his sword in both hands 
with his feet set wide apart. As the Quickening rose around him in a 
thick, substantial fog Methos glanced at Mulder. "Better duck." 

A few minutes later, once the lighting and the screaming had 
stopped, Mulder peeked out to see the last of the show. The widows 
were gone and the storm outside was quickly dissipating. As 
Quickenings went it hadn't been a very big one, most of it being 
accounted for by Fronti's age. Still, it was satisfyingly large, and 
noisy enough to have drawn the attention of the neighbors when the 
fire alarms had gone off.

Mulder hurriedly found Methos' coat then went to where he knelt on 
the ground gasping in pain and grabbed the exhausted man beneath the 
arms, hauling him back to the fire exit. Out on the landing Methos 
shrugged him off.

"I can walk," he croaked, stumbling into the elevator.

"Sure," Mulder nodded dubiously and set the cage to go down. 

He waited a moment until Methos had caught his breath. "How are you 
feeling?" he finally asked.

"I'm fine. He's a bit unsettled about having to spend eternity with 
rest of the rabble."

"Seems fair," he commented, already forgetting about Fronti as he 
crossed his arms and stared at Methos' chest with an odd look in his 

"What?" the older man asked glancing down.

"Megadeath? And that shirt looks brand new. What did you do, buy in 

"Me?" he asked. "What about you? 'I am Methos, hear me roar'? What 
kind of intro is that?!"

Mulder burst out laughing.

"It's not funny!" Methos insisted. "I'm a legend. Like Marilyn, 
Elton and Cher! They never had to put up with inanities like that!"

Mulder was still laughing by the time they got down to the car. And 
all the way back to the hotel Methos complained -- vociferously and 
in numerous languages until finally Mulder apologized -- sort of.

"Okay! I promise," Mulder insisted as he unlocked their suite. "You 
will never roar for me again."

"What do mean by that? That's no apology! I can roar for you anytime 
I like!" The sense of two other immortals entering the room didn't 
even faze Methos' in his tirade. "And what's wrong with my clothes? 
Megadeath was a great band!"

Duncan cleared his throat, looking as though he didn't know whether 
to be angry because they'd ditched him, or whether he should leave 
the scene of what sounded like a lovers' quarrel. He was about to 
say something when Amanda laid a hand on his arm and shook her head. 
"Come on," she winked. "Let's leave those two alone to...well, 
whatever." MacLeod shrugged and quietly followed her out.

As the door closed behind them Methos suddenly fell silent and 
Mulder smiled. The older man put an arm around his student's 
shoulders and led him over to the bar where he found the bottle of 
champagne he'd ordered and popped the cork.

"I just love it when a plan comes together."