7.5.06: For those looking for mackiedockie's great fic, I’ve taken all the parts from the comments so far and put them together in one piece.
Methos receives a mysterious package at the bar, which spurs him to journey to a forgotten Irish henge, after forbidding Joe to follow. Joe follows. The mystical snare that has been laid for the oldest Immortal is sprung upon his mortal companion. Joe wakes from a deep swoon to find himself an innocent Bard caught in an ancient Celtic blood feud, with a bloodthirsty warrior Methos on one side, and his own kith and kin on the other.
The Methos & Joe Show – Episode One
When the battered package arrived for Methos (actually for Adam Pierson--did anyone call him Adam anymore, Joe grumbled to hiimself) Joe poked at it curiously. Odd. It seemed awfully...warm...considering the pervading dank late autumn weather. Joe wrapped his large hands around it, considering. Should he call Methos? Or the bomb squad?
"Christmas come early?" Methos asked, dropping his wet coat on the bar.
Caught staring at an odd mark on the side of the box, Joe jerked, surprised he hadn't noticed the Immortal's entrance. Methos knew better than to sneak up on Joe. His nine millimeter had a hair trigger.
"Package is for you. Fan mail from some flounder?" Joe pushed the object toward Methos. Slowly. Reluctantly.
Catching sight of the mark on the box, Methos froze. "Let the box go, Joe."
"Huh?" Joe looked up, oddly loath to relinquish Methos' property.
"Let. The. Box. Go."
Methos roughly tossed his wet coat over the box and wrestled it away from Joe.
"Hey, what gives?" Joe asked aggrievedly, feeling oddly...deprived.
"It's not kosher, Joe. Hexed. Magicked. Bad juju?" Methos held the package away from himself as if it contained kryptonite.
"Magicked? Come on. This from Mr. "There are no demons" Pierson?"
"Okay. I was wrong. Once."
Methos simmered. This was not going well.
Methos stalked to a table and gingerly deposited the delivery, bending closer to examine the red-tinged device painted on the side of the wrapping. At least, he hoped it was paint.
"Who's it from?"
Methos jumped as Joe loomed curiously over his shoulder, trying to get a better look. "What part about 'bad juju' don't you understand?" he snapped.
Joe backed off. About three inches. "Hey, don't get mad at me. I just signed for it. You're the one using my bar as a maildrop," he said reasonably. "I didn't put your name on the Sidhe mailing list."
Methos' eyes widenend. "Sidhe? I didn't say anything about the Sidhe..." he countered quickly. "And what do you know about Gaelic runes, anyway, Chicago boy?"
Affronted, Joe sidled sideways. Just to get a look at the box. Just another look. "Gaelic is my mother's mother tongue. Don't insult me. I studied runeology with Don Saltzer." Joe didn't mention that some of his earliest memories were of his mother's wonderfully musical Gaelic imprecations during outings to Wrigley Field. The Cubbies invited imprecations. He smiled, just a little. "When I was little, when times were hard, we'd put a bit of milk out on the stoop for the Fear-Gorta..." he admitted, before catching himself. That probably wasn't the smartest thing to admit to the sharp-tongued Immortal.
Methos just stared. The Fear-Gorta. The Hungry Man. He should have suspected Joe had been touched by the superstitions of his forebears. "You don't really believe in banshees and brownies."
"You're the one trying to hide the box," Joe pointed out with impeccable logic.
Methos sighed, theatrically. "We both know someone who does traffic in superstitious suggestion, Joe. And she knows where you live." And probably where the Sidhe lived, too. Not that he'd let that on to Joe.
Joe frowned, and finally eased away from the table. "Cassandra. I thought MacLeod took care of that."
"She won't behead me. I don't think," Methos added with a modicum of doubt. "Doesn't mean she's done with me. And she never liked you much, either, bucko."
Joe had signed for it. That might not be a good thing. That might indeed be a very bad thing. It was damage control time, now. "I need to get rid of this."
"Don't you want to see what's inside, first?" Joe said doubtfully. "Dumpster's out back, we can just peek and pitch."
"No." Methos said decisively. The dumpster was not nearly far enough. Joe's eyes had a bright, feverish curiosity. "I'm not hauling you out of that dumpster in the middle of the night."
"Killjoy," Joe sulked.
Methos frowned. Some of the red rune coloring was coming off on his coat. He liked that coat. He'd have to lose it with the package. He moved to wrap it up again, and was interrupted, this time by a cold beer thrust into his hand. Sneaky Joe. "It goes back where it came from," Methos said decisively. He peered at the smudged postmark. County Clare? County Cork? "Any Watcher jets we can hijack back to the Old Country?"
"My frequent flyer miles don't rate the Lear Jet," Joe said sarcastically. "You could call up the Methos Chronicle Department personally and ask Amy Zoll for special dispensation."
Methos smiled for the first time, his teeth gleaming predatorily. "That's right. They owe me. They killed Pierson. I liked Pierson."
"Let's put it on the video cam. I want to see Amy's face when you say that," Joe grinned. "When do we take off?"
" 'We' don't take off. 'I' take off. Keep the beer cold, Joe, be back before you know it..." And with one hand Methos fished out his cel, while gathering up the the package and sweeping out the door. Joe couldn't even draw breath for an argument.
Methos didn't even finish his beer.
Methos always travelled light, and it only took minutes for him to round up travel papers, travel sword and a change of clothes. The box he stuffed in a leather satchel, since he didn't have anything lined with lead. He wished he had some verbena. Or wolfsbane. A sprig of rowan, at least.
Methos strode out to the jet, bemused at how easily Amy had caved in to his demand. He suspected he'd have to elude a whole posse of Watchers once he touched down in Dublin.
As the door hissed shut behind him, Methos glanced around suspiciously. There was no such thing as a free lunch, and Methos knew just how much he couldn't trust the Watchers. But the cabin was empty, with comfy seats dressed in real faux leather, and a huge refrigerator. He checked. With beer. Lots of beer.
"Bless your pointy Italian shoes, Joe."
Methos stowed his sword close to hand, and the box significantly farther away. He'd have to trust the Watchers to get it through customs. They were good at nefarious activities like that.
Speaking of nefarious...Methos studied the profiles of the two pilots in the cockpit. Neither of them graying or grizzled. He relaxed slightly, as the engines warmed up and they taxied out onto the tarmac.
"Please take your seats and fasten your seatbelts," the pilot intoned. Which was odd, since Methos was already belted down.
The door to the tiny lavatory swung open.
"What was that crack about my shoes?" Joe asked politely as he eased into a seat and buckled up.
There was no point in bickering, though Methos indulged himself for an hour or so just to needle Joe. Or let Joe needle him. Sometimes Methos wasn't clear either way. Still, it turned out to be Joe who steered the conversation back to the point.
"Do I need to look up the rune on the box, or are you going to tell me?"
Methos frowned, wondering how much truth he had to tell. "The mark of Aine."
Joe's brows rose. "Aine of the Leanhaun Sidhe? Patrons of the poets?"
"Death of bards. They traded inspiration for the energy of youth. They would suck a Bard dry, Joe. But their poems would live forever...those who pretended to her powers, she would drive mad."
"How Byronesque," Joe muttered, without a breath of irony.
Joe was silent for a while. Finally, he prodded at the leather satchel with his cane, uncovering a corner of the box. It's wrapping was just a bit ravelled.
"Stop that, Joe," Methos snapped.
"Why? Aine goes after the young and pretty poets. That would make me doubly immune," he said with a cocky grin.
Methos pinned him with a frosty glare. "Not when you are acting like a 12 year old."
Banned from playing with the package, Joe fiddled for a few minutes, arranging his legs and punching a pillow. "This is going to spoil me for the red-eye coach seats, next time I get called on the carpet at Watcher HQ," Joe noted dryly.
"That carpet's got to be worn out by now," Methos noted darkly.
"Just talent, I guess," Joe shrugged. "Gotta battle evil spirits wherever you find them." Then with the ease of an old soldier, he pulled the red curtain closed over the jet window and settled into a traveling doze.
Methos frowned, and played with the seam of the red curtain over his own window, remembering an old wives tale. Red thread and amber... Methos had great respect for old wives.
By the end of the flight, Methos had liberally laced Joe's coat collar, shirt pocket and even the inside hem of his levis with strong red curtain thread.
One battled evil spirits with the all the tools at hand.
To be continued… ?