Methos stretched out a sleepy hand and clicked off the alarm, reaching for the radio at the same time. An absurdly cheerful DJ announced the weather report with the kind of enthusiasm that was usually terminal, and then cued the next song. It was a new one, and Methos opened an eye, listening to it critically. He rather liked this new fad with synthesisers. It was different, and after five thousand years listening to music, anything that was different was extremely welcome.

The old Immortal climbed out of bed and wandered over to his wardrobe, deciding to dispense with a shower that morning. He was feeling gloriously lazy, and the idea of running the water and having to find some soap was really too much. Instead he pulled open the wardrobe door, eyeing the extensive collection of clothing, and trying to decide what to wear. That was the good thing about this particular period in history; clothing was quite imaginative, and he could wear what he liked.

The song on the radio came to an end, to be replaced by Adam Ant's Stand And Deliver. Methos sang along, enjoying the lyrics, and began to dress in his favourite outfit. The skin tight jeans - drainpipes the girl in the shop had called them - were not exactly easy to put on, but they were the height of fashion. He fastened a broad leather belt around his waist, grinning at the absurdly flamboyant silver buckle, and then pulled on a billowing white shirt, complete with ruffled front and frilled cuffs. Just like the song said, he was a Dandy Highwayman today. The song could have been written for him. He ran a hand through his shoulder length hair, toying with the spiky fringe that he was particularly proud of, and joined in with Adam Ant just in time for the chorus - "Stand and deliver, your money or your life. Try and use a mirror, not a bullet or a knife." He grinned to himself. He had been a highwayman in his day, although he didn't remember being especially dandy at the time. These days he was more than happy to take the song's advice and steer clear of weaponry. That would suit him just fine.

He crossed to the door and retrieved his pair of knee-length leather boots from where he had thrown them on returning home the previous day. He pulled them on, singing idly all the time, and gave himself a last, critical appraisal in the mirror. His beloved sword would have completed the image nicely of course, but these days one couldn't walk around town wearing something like that. It was 1981, not 1781.

The song finished, and Methos turned off the radio before the DJ could come back on and destroy his good mood. He left his flat, strolling down the high street with a spring in his step. He felt good. Several women eyed him as he walked on past, and he grinned, enjoying the moment to the fullest. There were times when he liked to be shy and retiring, but there were also times when he couldn't stop that other side of himself from taking over; and now was just such a time. He was screaming for attention and getting plenty of it; and loving every minute of it.

Still whistling Stand And Deliver, Methos wandered into the club where he had spent the previous night, deciding that it would be a good place to get breakfast. He liked the atmosphere of the building, and in three months of coming here almost every night, he had never noticed another Immortal.

"Can I get you something?" The man behind the bar was dressed in a stylish mock guard's uniform, complete with out of proportion epaulettes and a tangle of gold braiding. Methos shrugged.

"What have you got in the food line?" he asked, wishing for the hundredth time that Britain didn't have such ridiculous licensing laws. He rather liked the idea of beer for breakfast, but had none in his flat, and couldn't expect the off-licence to be open for another hour or more. The man shrugged.

"Just about anything you want." The place was almost deserted, and he was not bothering to keep up any pretence of the usual stiff courtesy. "We do some okay bacon and eggs, although I wouldn't recommend the eggs. Sandwiches are pretty good."

"Fine. Surprise me." Spinning around on his bar stool, Methos glanced about at the almost empty room. A band was taking down their equipment from the previous night, and the manager was watching them, running a nervous hand through his red-streaked hair. He looked young - no more than in his early thirties, which was infanthood as far as Methos was concerned; and he looked vaguely uncomfortable in his pseudo-punk costume. A lost rocker, the old man decided, and felt a burst of comradeship for the man. He had felt the same way himself until he had been rescued by the onslaught of New Romanticism. After all, he had been one of the original Romantics, so he was happy to do it all again.

"Hi." Noticing that the customer was watching him, the manager came over and sat down next to Methos. "Welcome to The Zodiac. My name's Steve Hardy."

"Paul Taylor." Methos shook the man's hand, glancing back towards the band. He could see Hardy looking at him, a frown on his face, and was taken aback by the sudden grin.

"Paul Taylor! Of course! It's a pleasure to meet you."

"It is?" Methos turned back to the bar as the man in the uniform put a plate of what looked like chicken sandwiches in front of him, along with a large mug of tea. Now both of them were looking at him, Hardy in delight and the uniformed man in interest.

"He someone famous?" the bartender asked, finally giving up on trying to work it out for himself. Hardy laughed.

"Are you kidding, Dave? This is Paul Taylor, keyboard player with The Apocalypse back in the seventies." His voice took on a note of near reverence. "This man once stood on the same stage as The Rolling Stones." He glanced back at Methos. "1974, wasn't it? You were their support band."

"Yeah, '74 sounds about right." Methos smiled. He hadn't met anybody in years who remembered that.

"Man you were great. You had a fantastic sound." Hardy's enthusiasm was infectious. "I remember Jagger saying he thought you were the best he'd heard in ages, and then you just dropped out of sight. What happened?"

"Stuff came up." Methos shrugged noncommittally. "Jon Cousins, our lead singer, got into white lines in a big way. He died in '76 from an overdose. I lost interest long before that."

"Rough luck." Hardy sounded deeply sympathetic. "You boys were really great though. The band was on just about every TV talk show I saw back then, but you were something of a recluse. I never saw you except in pictures." He smiled dreamily. "I got to see you when you toured with The Stones though. That was the greatest night of my life." He frowned suddenly. "Say, you don't seem to have changed much."

"It was only seven years ago." Methos grinned. He was beginning to enjoy being a celebrity. "You really saw one of our performances on The Stones' tour?"

"I sure did. Seriously, I thought The Apocalypse were the greatest. I heard you thought up the name? It was so cool."

"Thanks." Methos managed to inject a character-saving amount of modesty into his voice. "Yeah, it was my idea. You know, there were four of us, and I was thinking about the Four Horsemen, and it seemed to fit. We were pretty loud."

"You sure were." Hardy laughed at a memory. "I nearly got thrown out of my flat back then because of playing your stuff with the volume turned up too high. My landlady said you were a disgrace to the good name of music."

It was Methos' turn to laugh.

"Yeah, well we were never looking for her approval." He took a swig of his tea, and decided that the club definitely did not have the same magic with hot beverages as it did with the alcoholic kind. "I have to confess that I didn't listen to our stuff a whole lot, though." He nodded towards the band in the corner of the room. "They were pretty good last night. Famous?"

"No... Just friends. I'm doing them a favour. It's weird, but the bass player never turned up last night." Hardy shrugged. "I figured he was the most dedicated one of the bunch; typical bass player, you know? Maybe I was wrong."

"Maybe." Methos took another drink of the tea, in a valiant attempt to be polite. "You filled in for him last night, right? I saw you on stage. Pretty good."

"Thanks." Hardy waved away the overly attentive Dave and leant back on his bar stool. "So what brings you into these parts? What do you do these days?"

"Me? I'm doing a Masters' Degree at Imperial College. Astronomy."

"Stars and stuff? Wow." Hardy smiled. "You'd be looking for work then, being a student and all."

"I don't know. I do okay." Methos smiled. "Why?"

"Oh, no reason... Just that I could do with a piano player some nights. We do all kinds of music mid-week, and my last guy just quit to go to Hollywood. Call of the greasepaint or something. You interested?"

"I might be." Methos remembered the feel of a performance, and the way the keys felt under his hands, when the rhythm was really hot. It was very tempting.

"Come on. Give it a go tonight, see what you think. You don't have to do it every night."

"Okay." Shrugging off his doubts, Methos picked up a chicken sandwich, hoping that it tasted nicer than the rapidly cooling tea. "Why not."

"Cheers." Hardy reached behind the bar and pulled out a bottle of vodka, pouring a generous measure into Methos' increasingly neglected mug. "I'll see you tonight then." He wandered away, presumably in search of the missing bass player. Methos smiled after him. He had a feeling that he was probably making a mistake in returning to such a public profession, but he hadn't realised until now just how much he missed it. He ignored the nagging concerns, telling himself to relax and enjoy. After all, he didn't have a whole lot of time for extracurricular pursuits like this one, and he might as well take advantage of his distractions while he could get them. This time next month he would be immersed in his finals.


Over the course of the following fortnight, Methos relaxed in his new role, enjoying his status as a minor celebrity at the club. It was fun playing the piano, and he even took over on lead vocals every so often, during the requests section of the evening. The younger members of the clientele invariably asked for Adam Ant songs, or something by Duran Duran, with the slightly older patrons leaning more towards the harder rock of the recently departed seventies. Every so often the old Immortal was given the chance to indulge his passion for the music of Springsteen and of Queen, but some of his favourite moments came with the occasional request for something by a punk band. It was always amusing to watch Steve Hardy attempting to headbang along to Pretty Vacant whilst trying still to play the bass guitar. All in all, though, the evenings were fairly routine, and largely uneventful, which suited the old man just fine. Every so often some bright spark would request something truly ridiculous, usually Long-Haired Lover From Liverpool, which only confirmed to Methos that, whatever century you were in, there were jerks aplenty in every decade.

One night, in the midst of the obligatory Elvis set, Methos felt the unmistakable approach of an Immortal. He glanced around, searching for the unseen figure, his senses alive in a way that had become almost unfamiliar. It had been a while since he had met with another of his kind, and the feeling was most unwelcome now, as he stood in full view of everybody, on a brightly-lit stage. It was impossible to make out the faces of the gyrating crowd on the club floor, and he had no way of knowing which of the shadowy shapes was that of the new arrival. He played to the end of the song with a largely mechanical hand, the music and the lyrics cut off from his ears. All of his senses seemed to have tuned themselves to the struggle to identify the Immortal.

"Call it a night, Paul." Working his way back to where Methos was sitting at the piano, Hardy leaned over to talk to him during an instrumental break. "Your mind isn't on the job."

"Yeah, okay Steve." Slipping away as quietly as possible, Methos headed into the crowd, aiming for the bar. It was the least congested area of the room, and if he had any chance at all of spying the other Immortal it would be there, where the lights were more static and the air a little clearer. Dave the barman handed him a beer without waiting for the request, and Methos nodded his thanks. It was rather satisfying to have one's mortals trained so well.

"My name is Jon Harper." The voice was soft, and it came from behind Methos. "Can we talk?"

"Depends on what about." Methos turned, and saw a tall, slightly-built man of about thirty-five, dressed in jeans and a leather jacket. The jacket was short, and there did not appear to be anywhere about his person where a sword might be concealed. "My name is Paul Taylor."

"Yeah, I know." Harper gestured towards the door. "Please, Mr Taylor. I won't keep you long."

Methos glanced at the door, his mind working over the possibility that there might be a gang waiting for him out there, or even just one man, ready and waiting with a sword. He frowned.

"Please. Look, Mr Taylor, I'm a pacifist okay? And I'm alone. I only want to talk."

Methos hesitated a moment longer, then crossed to the door without even looking back to see if Harper was following him. He had never heard of this soft-spoken Immortal, but for some reason he believed the claim of pacifism. Perhaps it was his own growing belief in that way of life which made him more ready to see it in others. Either way he was prepared to give the man a chance to say whatever it was that was on his mind.

"Thanks." Harper held his arms away from his body as they reached the cool, crisp air outside the club. The sounds of the music from inside were muted by the walls and the thick doors, lending the pavement an oddly detached feeling, as though it were slightly removed from the rest of the world. "I don't have a sword. You can check if you like."

"I'm feeling trusting today. Just get on with what you wanted to say."

"Okay..." Harper took a deep breath. "I'm sorry if I scared you. I know you're the quiet type; I figured that out back in the seventies. I saw you playing one night and realised you were an Immortal, but you never came after me, and you always kept yourself to yourself from what I saw, so I figure we have a similar outlook. I haven't taken a head since 1784."


"So I decided I could trust you. A friend of mine told me he'd seen Paul Taylor playing at The Zodiac, and I just had to come. I've got a problem. I need your help."

"My help?" Methos was incredulous. "You're kidding?"

"No." Harper was silent for a moment. "I've got a slight problem, and I figured since you're a fellow Immortal, that makes you family."

"You do, huh." Methos decided to let the man continue, although he had no intention of being caught up in whatever trouble he was in. Trouble was something that the old man had been avoiding of late, and he was beginning to think that he might actually be getting quite good at keeping out of its way.

"My boyfriend, Sam. He's got into some trouble with some loan sharks. Real trouble. They've kidnapped him, and I haven't seen him in a fortnight. He was supposed to be on his way here; he plays bass for one of the bands at the club." Harper hesitated after this sudden rush of words. "I didn't know where he was till I got a letter yesterday saying that if I don't get them their money, they'll kill him." He turned away. "I can't let that happen. I mean, even if he wasn't my boyfriend, he's a mortal, right? We have to look after them."

Methos sighed. This really was not what he wanted to hear. Getting mixed up in other people's problems was a sure fire way to lose your head, and he didn't know either Harper or his friend. He wondered how he could best turn the Immortal away.

"Look, Mr Harper, I understand your concerns, but--"

"But nothing." Harper was shaking his head. "You've got to help me, Taylor. We're Immortals. Immortals stick together."

"No, Immortals behead each other. They've got about as much fraternal instinct as a bunch of sharks. Listen, I appreciate that you're worried about this Sam chap, but you should go to the police, not come running for help from a total stranger."

"If I go to the police, Sam is a dead man." Harper folded his arms, looking resolute. "I need the help of someone who can't get hurt. Someone who can help me to go up against these people and come out of it unscathed. Any mortal would be walking to their own funeral if they got involved in this."

"Thanks." Methos was delighted at the prospect of getting involved with what sounded suspiciously like a collection of psychotic killers. He lived for such proposals. "I'm sorry, Mr Harper, but I haven't lifted a weapon against another living being since 1945, and I wasn't exactly committed to the endeavour then. You've come to the wrong man."

"No I haven't. I've come to the only other man that I could find. You're all I've got to turn to, Taylor, and I won't let you say no. I'm sorry."

"And how are you going to stop me?" Methos turned back to the club doors, thinking about the beer waiting for him at the bar. Perhaps he would be back in time to take up his place at the piano again.

"I do have ways. Believe me." Harper reached into his pocket and drew out a gun. "I'm a desperate man, Mr Taylor."

"Oh right, good plan. So you're going to shoot me in the middle of a crowded street." Methos glanced about, realising as he did so that in actual fact the street was deserted. Quite how he had managed to find himself in trouble in the only place in the whole of London that wasn't crawling with pedestrians he had no idea. It was about par for the course really.

"No, I'm not going to shoot you. I told you, I'm a pacifist." Harper took a deep breath, and put the gun against his own head. "This gun takes a very large calibre bullet, Mr Taylor. At this range it would blow my head off. Quite apart from what that would do to me, I think the few spectators that there are might be interested in the effect that it has on you. Wouldn't you say?"

Methos groaned softly. He wasn't sure that he had ever encountered a truly suicidal Immortal before. He thought over the man's proposition. In all honesty, if he was that committed to helping this Sam fellow, the old man wasn't altogether sure that he could turn him down. He didn't fancy the prospect of giving The Zodiac club an impromptu firework display, and he had no intention of paying for all of the broken windows on his salary. He was also, he found to his surprise, none too happy at the thought of seeing Jon Harper kill himself. Death had become somewhat distasteful of late, and avoiding one's own death seemed to make one more determined to avoid the deaths of others as well, at least in Methos' experience. He sighed. What the hell. With the exception of his time at The Zodiac, life had been somewhat predictable and slow recently. Maybe an adventure was what he needed.

"Okay." He reached out, pushing the gun away from Harper's head. "I'll help; but I'm not making any promises. If I decide this is out of my league, I'm quitting."

"Sounds fair enough to me." Harper put the gun away. "I'm only asking for a little help, Mr Taylor. Really. If you weren't an Immortal I wouldn't have come to you at all."

"Lucky me." Methos managed to keep the sarcasm from his voice. "Just don't go telling all the other Immortals that you run into, okay? I have no desire to get roped into helping every one of our kind who finds himself in difficulties. I'm helping you because there's a mortal in danger. That's all."

"Sure." Harper nodded enthusiastically. "I understand."

"Fine. So what's the plan?" Heading away from the club, they began to walk down the street together, the sounds of the music of a hundred different pubs and clubs floating to them through the night air.

"Plan?" Harper frowned. "I don't have a plan."

"No plan. Right." The old man sighed heavily. "Do we know where they're holding him?"

"No. Well I know where their offices are, but beyond that I'm afraid that my information is a tad ropey. I was meaning to do some investigating, but I ran up against a brick wall."

"Meaning that they shot you?"

"Shot me, tied me to a chunk of concrete and threw me in the Thames." Harper managed to smile and wince at the same time. "Still, it means they won't be expecting me to drop by again."

"True." With a deep feeling of foreboding beginning to rise within his chest, Methos followed Harper on down the road. It had been some years since he had last been dead; a long, and satisfying time. He had no wish for the situation to change now. "So where are these offices?"

"By the river. Near all those Victorian warehouses the government is so proud of. It all looks so respectable."

"I'll bet." Methos wandered on a little further, thinking hard. "Besides a pair of swords and your gun, do we have anything in the way of weaponry?"

"No... But I do know a man who can get us what we need." Harper was obviously getting into the spirit of the thing now. "He's always offering assault rifles at cut prices. Has a contact in Eastern Europe or something."

"Sounds like a charming individual. Okay, we need to start with him then I guess. I trust that his premises aren't too secure?"

"You're kidding, they're like Fort Knox; but I've done a few robberies in my time. I think I can get past his security systems."

Methos nodded. "Pacifist, huh?"

"I never said I was a good citizen. I just said I don't like killing people - loan sharks not included. A man has to make a living."

"Oh, I agree." Deciding not to mention his own somewhat chequered past, Methos gestured ahead. "After you, Jesse James."

"Thanks." Harper strolled ahead, beginning to take on a new confidence in his stride. "You know, Paul; this could be fun."

"Could be." But very likely won't. Methos ignored the thought, quickening his pace to keep up with Harper. It was strange how he always managed to find himself in these situations; but the strangest thing of all was that, despite the doubts and the misgivings, he just didn't seem able to turn away.


"Look at this." Amused, Harper held up what looked suspiciously like an Uzi 9mm. "He leaves these things just lying about the office."

"Give the Inland Revenue a surprise if they turned up for a spot check." Taking care to keep out of sight of the window, Methos edged over to the safe set into the wall. It was a little more complicated than the last one he had dealt with, but he was fairly sure that he could handle it. He set to work. If this guy left Uzis lying on his desk, what did he consider dangerous enough to lock up?

"You handled the security system pretty well," he commented as he worked on the safe. Harper shrugged.

"Yeah, well it's a talent, you know? Electronics have always been an interest of mine. Well, since they were invented anyway. Before then it was mechanical devices. These mortals may not live very long but they're quite inventive."

"That's precisely because they don't live very long." Beginning to make some progress on the safe, Methos was silent for a moment. "Most Immortals, in my experience, couldn't be bothered to do anything constructive because they feel that there's no point. Having only eighty or ninety years to live your whole life in is conducive to industrial thinking."

"I guess so." Harper hung over his shoulder. "Aren't you in yet?"

"Yes." Methos opened the safe door, peering hopefully inside. After the elaborate security alarms on the outside of the building, and in the corridors on the way up, it was a little disappointing that the safe had been so easy to break into. He held up something sleek and black. "Laser sighted rifle. These things are new, aren't they?"

"Brand new." Harper took the weapon with the usual clumsiness of one who was unused to handling such things. "I've seen them on TV, but they're hardly mainstream yet."

"And how about these?" Methos lifted out a box of grenades, whistling softly when he saw how many there were. "This guy could supply the British Army."

"Told you we could get everything we needed here." Harper took a grenade from the box, eyeing it with distaste. "I don't like these things. They lack style. I much prefer a sword."

"I don't fancy going up against men who have guns, armed with nothing but a sword." Methos shrugged. "And anyway, an Immortal has to move with the times, right? Modern times call for modern weapons." He picked up a grenade. "Nothing to it; like bowling a fast ball in cricket."

"If you say so." Harper still looked troubled, showing his pacifist side in his dislike for the weaponry. "So what do we take?"

"Anything that'll help us to stay alive." Methos slung the Uzi 9mm over his shoulder and tucked the box of grenades under his arm. A pleasantly shiny automatic handgun lay in the in-tray on the desk, and he stuck into his belt. Might as well go prepared.

Harper collected a second Uzi and a couple of boxes of ammunition, beginning to wish that he had a wheelbarrow to carry it all in. Methos was already vanishing out of the door and he hurried to catch up.

"Hey, Paul. Do you know how to use any of this stuff?" he asked, struggling to keep hold of the boxes. The fact that his companion had left without thinking about ammunition for the guns made him a little doubtful about the man's expertise.

"Sure. You point the gun at something and you pull the trigger. Nothing to it."

"But these are machine guns. I had to strip them down in basic training back in '39, but I don't remember ever getting around to firing them. I was thrown out for being a conscientious objector." Harper hesitated. "Do you know how to load them?" He thought that he saw a slight hesitation in Methos' confident step.

"Yeah, sure. You open them up and stick the bullets in." Methos shrugged as far as he was able under his load. "It's easy."

"I hope so." Staggering slightly, Harper finally managed to draw level with his associate. "Where to now?"

"Up to you. Do we go after your friend now, or do we wait until tomorrow night?"

"It's nearly dawn." Harper glanced out of a window as they hurried on down the corridor. "We'd better wait."

"Fine. We'll meet by the warehouses tomorrow night then. Shall we say ten o'clock?"

"Sure." Harper felt less like he was arranging a commando raid and more like he were arranging to go on a date. It felt anti-climactic somehow, as though it should be a little more dramatic, more decisive. "Dock Seven."

"I'll be there." Despite the fact that there were no more threats, and nothing at all that was making him be a part of all this, Methos knew that he would be at the docks. It was odd, but he felt strangely exhilarated by it all. That alone was reason enough to worry, but he ignored the feeling and concentrated on just making it down the stairs without dropping the grenades. There would be time enough to worry about the dangers involved tomorrow.


Night came slowly. Methos turned the radio off at nine o'clock, cutting the Carpenters off mid-warble and trying not to look too gleeful about it. Despite - or perhaps because of - having made it through numerous centuries with little else on offer, slow music bored him. He glanced around at his arsenal, wondering for the first time how he was going to get it to the docks without anybody noticing. Last night had been fairly easy since there had been no one around; but it was now Friday night and there was no chance of making it through the streets unseen.

Striding down the stairs with his overcoat slung casually over his arm, Methos exuded an air of optimistic confidence. Dressed as he was, in full New Romantics regalia, the sword around his waist would hopefully go unnoticed. If anybody should ask, he was going to a fancy dress party. A neighbour nodded a greeting to him as they passed on the stairs, and Methos nodded back, shifting the position of his overcoat on his arm. The Uzi 9mm hidden underneath it had begun to dig in, and he hoped that the movement would not cause his collection of grenades to fall out of the coat pockets. As it was, he made it down the stairs without incident, and encountered no problems in the lobby. Another neighbour bade him good evening as he left the building, and the old man felt confident enough to exchange a few pleasantries about the weather before going on his way. Perhaps it was natural courtesy, but the man did not even look at the sword, and Methos began to think that he could have been bedecked with all manner of weaponry and still gone unchallenged.

Retrieving his little-used car from the garage was easy, and Methos headed off on his way, keeping a careful eye on the speedometer. He had no desire to be stopped by some enthusiastic policeman when he had enough hardware in the car to take over a small country. That might take some explaining. He reached the docks without incident, however, and found Harper waiting for him in the shadows.

"Paul! I was wondering if you were going to come."

"I was wondering myself." Methos climbed out of the car and began removing the grenades from his coat pockets, fixing them onto his belt instead. He slung the Uzi over his shoulder and straightened his collar. "How do I look?"

"Like Adam Ant gone psycho." Harper tried not to smile at his companion. Methos scowled.

"You bring the rest of the stuff?" he asked. The other Immortal raised his eyebrows.

"Are you kidding? I have an Uzi, a sword and a laser-sighted rifle hidden under my coat. I was beginning to think I looked like a pregnant woman. The ammo is hidden over by the buildings, but we're not going to be able to carry much."

"We can take what we need." Throwing his overcoat back into his car, Methos glanced at himself in one of the wing mirrors. Harper was right; he did look a little odd. Less the Dandy Highwayman and more a desperate pirate who had got his centuries confused. Looks were not the issue now though. He strode off after Harper, trying not to look too enthusiastic. This was an insane venture, and yet he couldn't seem to stop enjoying it. He felt like a small boy playing some great game.

"Which is the office we're heading for?" he asked. Harper glanced over the long line of warehouses and offices before them and shrugged, a little too vaguely for comfort.

"It's a big white one," he offered thoughtfully. "Sorry, but last time I was there I was dead. I wasn't taking notes."

"I guess... Then what's the company name?"

"Don't know."

Methos rolled his eyes.

"Harper... I thought we were here to rescue the love of your life? I mean, do you want the guy back or don't you?"

Harper looked momentarily affronted.

"Of course I want him back. I'm just not used to this sort of thing, that's all. I'm a pacifist, remember? Pacifists don't tend to be tactical geniuses. Find me the building and I'll break in. This is one of the reasons why I needed help."

"And I was the lucky soul you picked." Taking a deep breath, Methos sighed and began to walk on down the line of buildings. High gates and electric fences towered over his head, and not for the first time he began to wish that he wasn't alone. His thoughts wandered to Kronos, and he wished that his old friend were here now. Kronos would walk up to the first building, blast his way through the electric fence, seize the closest guard by the throat and demand to know the whereabouts of the nearest loan shark. Then he would repeat the process until he found what he was looking for. The idea brought a smile to the face of the old man, and for a brief moment he contemplated trying it for himself. The fact that that just wasn't his way anymore almost made him sorry that the times had changed. He was a man of thought more than action these days, and bowed to modern convention, letting his mind do the walking. Logically, the building he was looking for would be one housing a finance company of some kind. The gang would hardly announce their identity as loan sharks, but they would almost certainly have a cover as a more respectable lending agency. He wandered on, eventually coming to a large, white building bearing the legend Millennium Loans. A lone guard stood by the gate, and Methos ushered Harper under cover. There were lights on all over the building, which rather put paid to their plan to sneak in undetected.

"You thinking what I'm thinking?" Harper asked. Methos glanced back at him, his eyes lingering on the guard.

"Probably." He took one of his grenades, toying with it in a hand that was suddenly cold. "If I throw it right, nobody'll get hurt."

"No... But every policeman in the city will be here before the dust can settle. Can't we find a back way in?"

"Only if you fancy swimming up the Thames." Methos was silent for a few moments, then grinned broadly. "Give me ten minutes."

"But--" Harper fell silent, watching as the tall, lithe figure of his confederate slipped away into the night. He was beginning to learn that there was no arguing with Paul Taylor.

Losing himself quickly in the darkness, Methos hurried onwards, heading for a building he had seen from the road. Running flat out he reached it in only a few minutes, and threw himself into the shadows thrown by its great height. There were no guards that he could see, and no guard dogs, but the fences were high. He listened carefully, but could hear no telltale buzzing to indicate that the fence carried an electric charge. Taking a few seconds to catch his breath, he began to climb.

The fence was topped with a foot of barbed wire, and Methos began to wish that he was still wearing his overcoat. It was only through taking great care that he managed to negotiate the top without serious injury. He heard his beloved shirt tear, but the damage did not seem to be too great. He growled nonetheless, hoping that he hadn't cut himself going over the wire. Tears in material could be mended, but blood stained.

Slipping closer to the building, Methos peered through one of the windows. There were no lights on inside, but he could just make out the shapes of boxes stacked on top of each other. Numerous boxes piled almost to the ceiling. A grin of childish delight decorated the Immortal's face, and with something of a flourish he pulled one of the grenades from his belt. He used his sword hilt to smash the glass of the window, ignoring the sudden alarm which burst forth from the darkened interior of the building. Carefully he pulled the pin from the grenade, stepped back, and hurled the small bomb with all of his strength. In the same, abrupt movement, he spun around and headed back for the fence, hurling himself up it with all of the speed that he could muster. He heard the first, dull explosion of the grenade; and then in a moment of joyous confusion, all hell broke loose. Methos felt the force of the explosion lift him, and allowed it to carry him over the fence, hurling him through the air in a blaze of colour and fire; then everything was mixed-up, and he was no longer sure where he was.


"What the bloody hell was that?" Storming into the room with an expression somewhere between anger and confusion on his face, Methos stopped short. The long, oak dining table lay in pieces on the floor, and the remains of Kronos' equipment rested in shattered shards all over the room. Kronos himself, his clothes somewhat dusty, emerged from behind a bookcase, his face lit up with childish glee.

"Sorry brother. Miscalculated I think."

"Miscalculated what?" Methos glanced through what remained of the bottles on a nearby desk. He didn't recognise half of the names on the bottles, and couldn't read most of them anyway. Long, complicated strings of syllables written neatly in black ink, innocuously described some new brainchild of his slightly misguided brother.

"This." Kronos clambered over the broken table in order to reach the other Immortal. "I've been mixing some of these chemicals together. They have some fascinating properties."

"So I see. But do you think you can refrain from blowing up our furniture next time? At this rate we're going to have nowhere to live."

Kronos scowled, the expression of one who despaired at his friend's lack of imagination.

"Methos, with this stuff we'll be unstoppable. We can open any strong box."

"You mean we can blow up any strong box; and probably whatever's in it too. That's not the way to get rich, brother. That's the way to make fools of ourselves."

"It'll just take a little refining, that's all." Kronos picked up a bottle and shook it hard. The liquid inside glowed ominously. "I'm going to make you rich."

"You're going to make me get blown into little pieces." Methos sighed. "Okay, show me how it works." He suspected that he was going to regret this, but he had to admit that he was intrigued. These explosives had promise, especially given their rarity. Very few people had any experience with them. Despite their unpredictability, Methos had a feeling that he could come to be quite fond of explosions.


"Ow. Ow, ow, ow." Methos climbed to his feet, checking himself over for broken bits. "Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow."

"Are you okay?" Harper's voice made the old man swing round, caught by surprise. He had been so confused by the explosion that he had failed to feel the other Immortal's approach.

"Yeah I'm okay. That's why I keep saying ow." Methos bent to pick up his Uzi and winced again. "Ow."

"We'd better get out of here." Harper glanced back at the demolished warehouse, watching as yet another explosion lit up the sky. "What the hell possessed you to blow up a firework factory?"

"It's a distraction." Methos began to jog away from the colourful wreckage of the building, taking a moment to watch as a huge cluster of fireworks went up together, the noise drowning out all sound of the nearby traffic. "I think I underestimated the gunpowder content."

"Come on." Harper caught his arm, beginning to run back towards the Millennium Loans building. "This place is going to be swarming with firemen soon."

"We'll be fine." They skidded to a halt outside the large white office and watched from the shadows as a handful of guards ran outside to watch the spectacle. The entire horizon seemed to be ablaze with fire and colour, and Methos could not stop a grin of self-satisfied delight. Okay, so maybe he had miscalculated a little, and maybe he was seeing internal fireworks as well as external ones, but he couldn't deny that the result had been spectacular. This was rapidly turning into the best night out he'd had in years. He pulled another grenade from his belt, pulling the pin out and keeping a firm grip of the handle.

"Aim for the dustbins," Harper hissed at him, and he nodded, moving slowly around into a better position. He was taking a risk that the guards would see him, but he no longer cared.

"Good luck." Whispering the words to the grenade in a hushed voice, Methos sent it flying through the air. He watched it go straight to its target, vanishing amongst the dustbins and the piles of stacked rubbish. Almost immediately it exploded; a small display compared to the distant warehouse, but enough to send the group of guards scurrying for cover. One of them ran for a fire extinguisher, and a second began shouting into the radio he wore clipped to his jacket.

"Come on." Keeping close to the ground, Methos edged towards the gate. Harper made short work of the alarm, and they pushed the gate open, watching the guards carefully. None of them seemed aware of the intruders, dividing their time between trying to put out the fire in the rubbish heap, and watching the huge impromptu firework display on the neighbouring dock. Methos watched impatiently whilst Harper opened the main door, his hands itching to push the younger Immortal aside. The temptation to blast his way in using another of the grenades was almost overwhelming, and he chided himself for getting carried away by the adrenalin rush. He glanced back towards the guards, weighing the Uzi in his hands and almost wanting one of them to turn around. He wasn't quite sure what he would do if one did; and he didn't want to know. It was all too easy to get carried away when there were powerful weapons at hand, and when the excitement was so palpable.

"We're in!" Harper pushed the door open and led the way inside, glancing about for signs of other guards, or of any security precautions. He could see nothing at all; not even cameras for a closed circuit system; and that worried him.

"Where now?" Methos asked. Harper frowned.

"Top floor I think. There are lifts, but we better take the stairs."

"Okay." Spying a stairwell ahead Methos ran towards it, almost immediately meeting a guard coming the other way. He made short work of the man with the butt of his Uzi, but couldn't help feeling that the guard's presence was some kind of omen. Obviously their extraordinary luck at being able to go unnoticed was now over. He glanced over at Harper, almost amused by the other Immortal's expression of distaste. Clearly he had been telling the truth when he had claimed to be a pacifist. Methos would ordinarily have shared his feelings, but tonight was different. Tonight he was no longer himself; or maybe he was being himself again for the first time in years. He wasn't altogether sure.

"This way." At the top of the stairs Harper took the lead, apparently sure of himself again. They hurried down a deserted corridor to a large door marked Executive Offices, and Methos listened carefully, trying to hear whether there was anybody behind the door. He could hear nothing at all. Maybe they had all gone home. Maybe the lights which burned in nearly every room were just a burglar deterrent? Somehow he doubted it, but with no noises to indicate the presence of anybody behind the door, he had no choice but to open it and find out for sure. Some past encounter with a soundproof door registered in his memory and he hesitated, recalling that incident with displeasure. All the same, they were never going to know unless they tried. Glancing across at Harper to confirm that his companion was ready, he flung open the door.

The first gunshot came from somewhere to his right, and he ducked instinctively, seeing the flash from the gun's muzzle in the darkness beyond the door. There was a scurrying sound, and the scratching of people looking for better positions, then another gunshot rang out. A chunk of wood tore itself free from the door frame some ten millimetres above Methos' left ear, and he jumped.

"What's going on?" Harper's voice sounded panicked, and Methos pushed him aside, trying not to listen to the sounds of heavily armed men moving stealthily closer. He raised his Uzi, wondering for the first time if his earlier confidence about using it might have been misplaced.

"Keep down," he hissed, glancing about for the nearest convenient exit and coming up with a blank.

"How many are there?"

"I don't know." There was another volley of gunfire and the lights in the corridor exploded, engulfing the pair in darkness. "Great."

"At least they can't see us now." Harper straightened up, pulling the laser-sighted rifle from out of his coat. "I'll make a break for the office, you cover me."

"Are you nuts? We can't go in there." Another burst of gunfire made short work of what remained of the door, and Methos backed away, looking blindly about for something to shoot at. Harper brandished his rifle angrily.

"We have guns. They can't hurt us, and Sam might be in there. I'm not leaving here without finding out."

"You're crazy. There's nothing you can do. Either they were expecting us, or they've got great reflexes. Either way that room is full of tetchy men with big guns, and I am not planning to get myself in the way of their bullets."

"Then I'll go on my own." Harper started forward, the rifle kicking into life in his inexperienced hands. Methos saw a trail of lead eat its way up the wall and across the ceiling as Harper tried to gain control of the leaping weapon. The gun shuddered, and an answering volley came back from the offices beyond the smashed door.

"Get back, Harper!" Methos hurried forward, unhappily coming to a necessary decision. He glanced over the Uzi, wondering if there was something on it that would indicate how full it was, and pointed it hopefully at the door frame before pulling the trigger. The gun leapt about, jarring his wrist painfully, and he grabbed at it with both hands. A flash of flame burst out of the end of the gun, and a splintering of wood answered it. There were muffled shouts from the offices, and the sounds of men leaping for cover.

"What now?" Harper asked him, letting Methos do the shooting, and using the laser sights of his rifle as a makeshift torch. He saw several men hiding behind bullet scarred furniture, and saw the vast collection of automatic weaponry which suggested that Millennium Loans had plenty to hide. One man raised his gun, taking aim at the dark shape beyond the bright red dot, and Harper fired at him, sending sparks flying from the barrel of the man's gun where the bullets struck it. He grinned in triumph. He liked this gun.

"I'll keep them here. Take a look around." Methos stopped firing, but swept the gun in a broad arc, watching the shadowy figures carefully. He pulled a grenade from his belt and waved it about. Nobody moved.

"I'll be as quick as I can." Lowering his rifle, Harper hurried towards the nearest door. He pushed it open, looking at the room beyond. The bright lights were a welcome contrast to the darkness of the main office, but there was nothing else of use to him in the room. It housed three terrified secretaries, hiding together behind an instant coffee machine. Harper smiled at them and exited sharply, wondering if they were the same three women who had seen his dead body last time he had been here. Judging by their expressions, they were.

The next door was locked. Harper rattled the handle, then fired a shot into it, flinging the door open in triumph. He saw three men sitting at a desk, and at the same moment he heard a burst of gunfire behind him. The sound surprised him, and he turned immediately to make sure that Methos was alright. The other Immortal fired off a few rounds over the head of whoever had fired the shots, and in the same instant there were the sounds of further shots. Methos turned his head and saw Harper's chest explode in a burst of red as his body danced forcibly from the impact of the bullets.

"Harper!" Leaping into action with the instincts born of millennia, Methos hurled the grenade into the room from which the shots had come, at the same moment leaping towards the main door. He had no intention of dragging the dead Immortal from the building as well; they would dump the body and Harper could rejoin him later. He was almost at the door when the lights came on, filling the room with a hot, unwelcome glow and identifying him as the target for a roomful of guns. He dived behind the nearest desk, raising his gun and firing desperately. Answering fire filled his ears, and he wiped the sweat from his eyes, trying to see who he was shooting at. He could see no one, unable to raise his head far enough above the desk to see anything at all without getting shot in the process. His gun juddered one final time in his hands and fell silent. Damn; Harper had the spare ammunition.

"Come on out with your hands up!" The command came from the smoking rubble in the office where Methos had thrown his grenade, and he scowled. Obviously no serious damage had been done. It was a pity; he had been feeling truly vindictive for the first time in years. He felt for another grenade and then hesitated. He wasn't sure how much abuse this building could take, and he had no desire to kill Sam with a misplaced bomb. Grimacing he pulled out the hand gun instead, wondering how many people he could take out before he got shot himself. The thought made him wonder about Harper, and whether the other Immortal had revived yet. Perhaps he could hold off the enemy until Harper awoke, and then the tables might be turned yet again. He pulled the trigger. Nothing happened. He pulled it again. Still nothing happened. He shook it desperately, glancing above the desk and seeing three men heading his way. He groaned. Still nothing happened. The gun, he had to conclude, was not loaded. Muttering angrily in a long dead language which was by far his favourite where curses was concerned, he drew his sword and gathered his strength. It would be a fairly useless gesture, but a gesture nonetheless. He leapt to his feet.

"Nobody move!" Shouting the words with as much force as he could muster, Methos brandished the sword with a flourish. One of the men stumbled backwards out of the way, as much through surprise as through fear. The old man grinned, jabbing the sword at another of the men who was beginning to raise his gun. The razor sharp tip of the blade cut a long red line down the back of the man's hand, and he yelped in anguish, almost falling over backwards in his desire to get away from the madman with the sword. Methos took another step forward, and felt a gun jab him in the side.

"Surprise," a voice said, sounding unpleasantly close. The old man groaned inwardly, turning to face his latest assailant. A large man, dressed in an impeccable white suit with a pastel pink shirt that looked tailor made, had come from nowhere. He was smiling pleasantly, although the hard light in his eyes suggested that there was something else beneath his businessman's exterior. He held out an expectant hand, and Methos hesitated. The gun jabbed painfully against his ribs and he handed the sword over, watching as it was passed to a uniformed guard.

"Welcome to Millennium Loans," the white-suited man said politely, although his gun did not waver even slightly from its target. "I'm the president of the company, John Wilkes. Can I be of service to you in some way?"

"Paul Taylor." Methos decided to dispense with the ritual shaking of hands. "I'm interested in arranging a loan."

"Really? I thought you were more interested in blowing the building up." Wilkes put his gun away, trusting in the presence of his men to keep the prisoner in line. He folded his arms, watching Methos with interest. "Actually I had hoped you were here to pay a loan off. You came here with the, er... the late Mr Harper, and he owes my company a lot of money."

"Yeah, let me guess. Some hard up musician comes to you for a loan, and then you charge him some crazy amount of interest. What was it? Two hundred percent? Three hundred? Then when he can't pay up you decide to be a little more insistent." Methos glanced about at the faces looking his way. "Is he here? Or do you have other offices somewhere else?"

"You know quite a lot." Wilkes shrugged. "But it doesn't matter. Now that we've got rid of Mr Harper - permanently this time I hope - all that we have to do is to recover our money. Then we can get rid of you and Sam Gordon and everything will be neat and tidy." He smiled. "That's if it's alright with you of course."

"Of course." Methos smiled back. "But since I don't have your money..."

"Naturally you don't have our money." Wilkes was smiling broadly now. "But you do have access to The Zodiac club, am I right? And they have plenty of money, especially on a Friday night." He glanced at his watch. "So. All we do is wait for the club to close down, and then we go over there, clear out the safe and everyone's happy."

"What if I don't help you?" Methos asked him. Wilkes' smile vanished.

"Then you're a dead man."

"But you're going to kill me anyway," the Immortal pointed out, beginning to wonder how much point there was to this line of conversation. Wilkes' grin came back out for an encore.

"Naturally. But there are so many different ways of killing a man." He reached out for Methos' sword, curling his fingers around the hilt as though he were extremely familiar with the weapon. He raised it so that the blade lay across the old man's throat. "Still want to argue with me, Mr Taylor?"

"Not terribly." Methos tried to stop his over-active instincts for self-preservation from making him take a step backward. He did not want Wilkes thinking that he had won a psychological victory; and he certainly didn't want any of those present registering the fact that he had a very sensitive neck. Instead he raised his hands slowly. "So, er, we're going to The Zodiac then?"

"Smart boy." Wilkes lowered the sword and handed it back to the guard. "We have another five hours until the club closes. Somebody clear up that mess-" he gestured at Harper's body- "and get him out of here." This last was a referral to Methos. The old man felt strong hands grab his arms and force them behind his back, then he was propelled out into the corridor. In the last few seconds before he was dragged out of view, he thought that he saw Harper open one eye; but he was moving too fast to be sure. He let his guards drag him onwards, and tried to relax. At least, he thought optimistically, he was probably being taken to wherever Sam was. That meant that he had succeeded in part. He managed a small smile. Okay, so it was a very small part, but it made him feel better.


"So you're with Jon?" Sam, a tall, serious looking man with intense eyes and an apparently permanent soulful expression, was trying to make small talk. Methos nodded, trying to keep from wondering whether all bass players looked so serious all the time, or if that was just his experience of them. Now was hardly the time to be wondering over facts such as that one.

"Yeah," he answered lamely, wondering instead why British people always felt that they had to be polite; even when they were tied to chairs in the basement of a building belonging to loan sharks with suspiciously sociopathic tendencies. Sam was no different.

"How is he?" the mortal asked. Methos opened his mouth to reply, but refrained from telling the young man that his boyfriend was dead, no matter how tempting it was.

"He's fine," he said instead, thinking about the interesting way in which Harper's chest had blossomed out of his shirt. Still, the resulting condition was only temporary. "He's upstairs I think." More likely floating down the river by now.

"Oh, right." Sam nodded. "How'd you two meet?"

"The Zodiac club. He said you were a fellow employee, so I felt duty bound to help out." The old man began to wriggle about, trying to work some slack into the ropes which bound him. "Can you see anybody?"

"No." Sam, who was facing the door, tried to see through the gloom which filled the room. "Do you think you can break free?"

"Not without a sword." Realising how odd that comment must have sounded to a mortal who quite possibly knew nothing about the Immortals, Methos added; "Or anything sharp." Sam laughed.

"You're one of them, aren't you. Like Jon. I guess that's how come he managed to get you to help him, right?"

"Right." Methos nodded. It was a relief not to have to pretend. Sam must be trustworthy, or Harper would never have taken the risk of telling him about who and what he was.

"Cool." Sam sounded almost impressed. "So are you one of the old ones, or are you a recent one, or what?"

"Trade secret, sorry." Methos began his wriggling again. "My name is Paul Taylor."

"Sam Gordon."

"Yeah, I know." It had only been two days, if that, since Methos had first heard the young man's name mentioned, but he already felt as though he had known him for years. "Look, er... you realise they're planning to kill us?"

"I'd guessed that bit, yeah." Sam shrugged. "But I'm guessing that doesn't bother you very much, right? And I'm sure Jon will get here on time."

"Yeah, sure." Methos remembered how sure Harper had been that he could not rescue Sam on his own. Now that he had to rescue Methos as well, he was in an even more awkward position. There weren't that many understanding Immortals in town who were prepared to help out in these situations. "I think we have to be ready to help Jon when he does turn up, though. I want you to stay alert. Be ready to move. They can shoot through me, and they can shoot through Harper, but they can't shoot through you; at least, not without making a mess."

"Point taken." Sam grinned, appearing remarkably calm and casual about the whole thing. "That could be pretty cool; getting shot and not getting hurt."

"It does hurt. A lot." Methos recalled one particular incident and wished that he could rub his stomach, recalling the pain when the bullet had torn through his lower intestine. "I'd really like to avoid it if at all possible, but just in case something does happen, you have to be able to move fast; get away if you can. Harper and I can join you later, once we've had the chance to revive. Understand?"

"Yeah, sure." The mortal nodded enthusiastically. "Don't worry about me." He hesitated. "You, er... how come you didn't take Jon's head?"

Methos frowned at him, considering his answer carefully.

"Because I haven't taken a head in a long time," he said finally. "I've managed to stay out of the Game just like he has, and I have no desire to get dragged in again, for anybody. I have a policy not to kill mortals, too, and I'd kind of like to stick to it."

"Sure. I'm sorry." Sam seemed to relax slightly, reassured that this new contender had no interest in killing Jon Harper. "So, er... what do we do while we wait?"

"What have you been doing for the last fortnight?" Methos asked. Sam shrugged.

"Getting bored mostly. They only moved me here today, 'cause the time ran out for the loan to be paid back. I've been in some boarding house the last fortnight. Had a TV."

A collection of memories of damp dungeons and unpleasant prisons ran through the old Immortal's mind, and he smiled inwardly. Either times were changing or bad guys were.

"We could play I-Spy," he offered. Sam smiled.

"Thanks, but no thanks. I've got a pack of cards in my jacket pocket... But they're kind of useless right now."

"Just a little." Settling himself back to wait for the next few hours, Methos gazed up at the ceiling. It was tiled, so he could at least amuse himself for a little while counting how many tiles were up there. It was better than making small talk.

"I wonder what Jon's doing now," Sam muttered softly to himself. Methos had a pretty good idea. He only hoped that the Thames did not carry the other Immortal too far away before he was able to get to the side, or they would really be in trouble.

"He'll be along," he said, his voice distant and thoughtful. "Maybe you'd better get some sleep. We could have a rough couple of hours coming up."

"Yeah." Sam settled back, although his eyes remained open. "Goodnight."

"Goodnight." Trying to get himself comfortable, Methos began to relax, starting to work on a plan. He thought about Steve Hardy, and hoped that the likeable mortal wouldn't decide to stay behind after the club closed that night. His presence could make things awkward. Eventually, tired and feeling stressed, Methos gave up his attempts at formulating strategy. It was too much like hard work. Staring up at the ceiling, he began counting roof tiles.


With dawn lending the skies a golden glow, and the moon a faint ghost above the horizon, Methos and Sam were marched out of their basement and hurried outside. A car waited beside the front gate, and they were pushed towards it. By the look of things the firework display was long over, and the fire engines had all gone. It had been a good distraction, Methos thought happily; one of his favourites in fact. He remembered the force of the explosion, and the sensation of being hurled helplessly through the air. Okay, so there had been one or two minor faults, but on the whole it had been nicely effective. A good deal more so than the actual rescue operation had been anyway.

The car drove slowly through the almost empty streets. There were six men in the back, including the two prisoners, but no one spoke. Methos watched the other four carefully, trying to gauge their importance. Two of them were hired muscle and no more, that much was clear. The other two he wasn't sure about. They had not spoken to Wilkes at all, which suggested that they were not on an even footing with him. The guns displayed casually underneath their neatly tailored suits hinted at their role as some sort of guard, perhaps armed with a little something extra in the brain department. Wilkes himself was silent too, never once turning around from his position in the front, next to the driver. The old man imagined the self-satisfied smirk on the president's bland, unpleasant face, and imagined how much fun it would be to break free right now. He smiled to himself. So much for pacifism.

The car slowed to a halt outside The Zodiac, then edged down the alleyway which ran beside the club. For a moment nobody in the car moved, then all four doors opened at once. The guards climbed out first, and Methos felt insistent hands suggesting that he follow suit. He looked about, hoping that Hardy's car had gone, and relaxed slightly when he didn't see it anywhere.

"Shall we go?" he asked cheerfully. All four guards glared at him at once and he smiled back, unperturbed. "Does anybody have a key?"

"We don't need a key." Wilkes nodded to one of his men, who made short work of the back door. There was only one alarm in The Zodiac, and it had a ten second delay. Methos gave Wilkes the number which stopped the alarm, more than happy to co-operate that far. It didn't exactly suit his plans to have the police turn up with their sirens wailing. That would more than likely get Sam shot, as well as any number of policemen; not to mention Methos himself. He was still determined to avoid that if he could. One of the guards entered the number on a keypad, watching as the red light blinked to green, signifying that the alarm had been disarmed.

"We're okay to enter," he announced, leading the way into the club. Although it was dark inside, the instruments still lay on the stage, and several drinks still stood on the tables. Methos felt an odd burst of fondness for the place, recalling his nights up on the stage. He hated to think of Wilkes stealing the club's hard earned cash.

"Okay, now we need you to tell us where the safe is." Wilkes had never lost his pleasant smile and businessman's tone of voice. He used both now, as he loomed over Methos. "Got any ideas?"

"It's behind the bar." Methos wandered forward, but was stopped by one of the guards. It was hard to resist with his hands tied behind his back, so Methos offered the man a broad smile and left him to approach the safe alone. He crouched down behind the bar, obviously sizing the safe up.

"No problem," he announced. "Basic design, old fashioned. Just a simple four digit combination and a solid steel door. I'll have this open in a second."

"Get to it." Wilkes sat down on one of the bar stools. "So have you two got any last requests?"

"Clemency?" Methos sat down on the edge of the stage, trying to see what the safe-breaker behind the bar was up to. Wilkes laughed.

"You have a fine sense of humour, Mr Taylor. I like that in a man. I think I'll let you die quickly."

"You're all heart." Feeling restless the old Immortal stood up again, joining Sam in an attempt to bolster the mortal's nerves with his presence. It seemed a shame that he should have come so far just to now be able to do so little. He would be helpless to prevent Sam's death, and was only too aware that Wilkes could give the order at any time. Perhaps they wouldn't do it here; perhaps they would wait until later, when Harper would have had more of a chance to come up with a plan; but he knew that he was grasping at hopeless straws. They had no need to wait until later. At any moment they would have their money, and would consider themselves paid in full. Half crazy plans came and went in his mind, but at best they were worse than useless. He dismissed them all.

The sensation of an approaching Immortal made Methos snap to a full state of alert, through no choice of his own. He froze, afraid that somebody might have seen his sudden reaction, but realised that everybody was too interested in what was going on with the safe to bother watching him. He glanced around, wondering where Harper was. The unpleasant suspicion that it might not be Harper was too great to ignore, and and he wriggled his arms in agitation, trying to work at least one of his hands free.

"He's here, isn't he." Speaking in a low voice, Sam leaned closer. "Where is he?"

"Sh. Be quiet." Listening carefully, Methos gazed steadily at Wilkes and the others. "Be ready to make a break for the door."

"I'm ready." Sam sounded emphatic. "Are you kidding? I've been waiting two weeks for this."

"When the chance comes, run. Don't look back. Remember that whatever it looks like, Harper and I will be fine." Methos knew only too well how hard it was to impress that on a mortal. It was always hard to see someone die right in front of you and not lose sight of the fact that their 'death' was little more than an illusion. Behind him he heard a noise, and he smiled to himself. Harper's timing could use a little work, but he was willing to overlook that just this once.

"What are you smirking at?" Suddenly deciding that now was the time to come over and check on his prisoners, one of the guards appeared in front of Methos, smiling unpleasantly. "You're out of time."

"Get back," Methos told him. The guard frowned at him.

"I beg your pardon?"

"I said get back." There was a tinkling of glass, and a small, grey object rolled across the floor towards them. The guard stared down at it, his eyes widening in horror, and in the same instant Methos pushed Sam aside. They crashed to the ground together, rolling across the floor as Harper, his shirt front a gory mess from his shooting the previous night, erupted into the room. He was carrying the second Uzi and had at least half a dozen grenades attached to his jacket. There was a silence. Everybody looked at the grenade on the floor. Harper grinned.

"Oops. Forgot to pull the pin out."

"Dammit, why can't you stay dead." Jumping to his feet, Wilkes drew his gun with blinding speed. Harper grabbed at a grenade at the same second, dragging the pin out and hurling the bomb towards Wilkes, immediately leaping backwards out of the way. There was a moment's hectic scramble as the president and his men dashed aside, then silence as the grenade again failed to go off.

"Harper! Shoot them damn it!" Struggling to his feet, Methos turned on his ally with surprising rage, certain that if he had had his sword at that moment he would have beheaded the man. Harper spared him a second's grin, then hauled Sam to his feet, almost throwing him towards the door.

"Call the police!" he shouted, failing to realise the essential difficulty in doing so with one's hands tied behind one's back. Fortunately Sam did not wait to point this out.

"Get him!" Gun wavering frantically between his three targets, Wilkes stared at the second unexploded grenade, shouting to his men. The four guards drew their guns, and Methos, his heart sinking in sorrowful acceptance, looked towards Sam, looked back towards the guards, and realised that there was no way that the mortal was going to make it to the door in time. As Harper raised his own gun - which was, Methos thought with a sudden bitter smile, undoubtedly unloaded - the older Immortal flung himself forward, skidding to a halt directly in the line of fire. The four guards fired, Sam hesitated for a fraction of a second; then reached the doorway, unscathed. Methos, his body jerking under the onslaught of the bullets, crashed backwards to the ground, no longer aware of anything.

"Damn." Aware that he was now very much on his own, Harper pointed his Uzi hopefully at the group of loan sharks. "Give it up."

"You're joking, right?" One of the guards kicked at the first unexploded grenade. "Do you have any more terrifying tricks up your sleeve?"

"I guess that's a no, then, huh." Harper glanced over at Methos as if expecting him to leap to his feet right away. The Immortal lay sprawled on his back, his chest torn apart. Harper, having recently recovered from a similar injury, could sympathise, but he still wished that his companion would hurry up and heal.

"Goodbye, Mr Harper." Obviously feeling no need to be afraid of a man who went armed with useless grenades, Wilkes ignored the Uzi and strode up to the Immortal. "Please die properly this time."

"Bye." Harper closed his eyes, waiting for the inevitable gunshot. All in all this little venture did not really seem to have gone very much as planned; but he had been right about one thing; he wouldn't have had much of a chance going up against the gang on his own. And at least Sam was safe. He heard the gunshot, and then heard another one almost immediately afterwards. Blood filled his vision and he knew no more.

"At last." Wilkes stared down at the apparently lifeless body of Jon Harper, then crossed to the bar. "Is that safe open yet?"

"No." His safe-breaker hurried round to finish the job, finally succeeding in pulling open the door. "Here you are. Do we take the lot?"

"I don't see why not. We'll consider the extra as payment for our troubles here." Wilkes began taking the bundles of money, eyeing them with evident relish. "Maybe we should leave enough to pay for the funerals."

"Why? Who's dead?" The voice came from right behind him, and he froze, feeling the gentle touch of his own gun in his ribs. He recognised the voice, but had no desire to turn around to see if he was right about who it belonged to.

"Maybe he means his own funeral." The second voice was just as familiar, and Wilkes felt a burst of cold fear in his heart. The first voice was one thing; he was willing to accept one optical illusion, or maybe even a miracle; but the second voice as well? That was three times that he had seen Jon Harper die now, and they couldn't all have been illusions.

"Maybe indeed." Suddenly feeling very cheerful, Methos wandered closer, enjoying the sight of the terrified gang leader frozen in disbelief. At least Harper had had the sense to grab Wilkes' own gun instead of using his own. The president's gun at least was loaded. He smiled cheerfully at the nearest gunman. "Drop your weapons, or my friend here will pull the trigger." He hoped that he sounded confident, given that Harper's earlier entrance had had 'pacifist' written all over it. Thankfully nobody seemed inclined to argue with him. "Now how about somebody untying me?"

"When you've finished there, Paul, could you ask a couple of these obliging gentlemen to lend us their shirts? I'm a little nervous about meeting the police wearing this one." Harper glanced down at his clothing, now liberally sprinkled with two lots of blood. He watched out of the corner of his eye as his companion was freed, and then began to supervise the acquisition of two shirts that were a reasonably suitable fit. They took it in turns to change, amused by the stunned silence which still prevailed in the room.

"How-?" Finally summoning up the power of speech, Wilkes gaped at them both, his confused mind unable to grasp the situation properly. "You're both dead. I saw you."

"You saw nothing." Methos smiled at him much as an adult might smile at a child. Somewhere in the distance they heard the sound of a siren, and the old man relaxed, glad that the situation appeared to be over. He wondered about the grenades, but decided that the police would probably be prepared to overlook them since they had been rendered useless. He headed towards the door to let the new arrivals in, feeling his step suddenly lighter, and his heart bright.


"They're dead," Wilkes told the policeman who was leading him out to a patrol car. Standing with the uniformed inspector nearby, Methos smiled.

"Poor chap. He isn't taking this at all well." The inspector nodded.

"Probably can't accept that it's over. A lot of them can't, when they've been caught red-handed like this."

"I suppose so." Methos hesitated. "Er... about the grenades."

"Don't worry about it. They'll have to be impounded of course, but I can hardly call them dangerous weapons. And since the gun wasn't loaded either..." The policeman smiled. "Just be careful in future, Mr Taylor."

"Yeah sure. Thanks." Watching in amusement as the gang was led away, still protesting that Taylor and Harper were dead, the old man joined Harper and Gordon. Both seemed relieved that it was all over.

"You." Prodding the Immortal in the chest with a firm finger, Methos glowered. "Those grenades had had the firing mechanism removed. What the hell were you playing at?"

"I told you I was a pacifist." Harper shrugged. "It worked out okay, didn't it? Oh, I had to drive your car over here by the way. It's outside."

"Don't evade the issue." Looming over the other man, Methos glared at him. "I ought to take your head. We were about to get shot, and you were hanging about somewhere disarming our weaponry. I have seen better strategies in a crowd of lemmings."

"Sorry." Harper grinned. "And incidentally your sword's in the car. I rescued it."

"Good. I can use it to behead you with." Sighing in exasperation, Methos sat down on the nearest bar stool. "Oh what the hell. I think I need a holiday."

"Don't we all." Sam leaned happily against Harper, breathing a contented sigh of relief. "We were thinking of going to the States. Why don't you come along?"

"Oh yeah, sounds great. I mean so far our acquaintanceship has been perfectly wonderful."

"Don't be such a spoilsport Paul. Come to America with us. You might like it." Harper sounded as though he truly meant the offer, and Methos smiled.

"Thanks, but I think I'll stay on here for a while. I have some finals coming up soon, and you two would probably much rather be alone." The more that he thought about it, though, going to America seemed a very good idea. He had a sudden desire to hitch hike across the vast continent, wandering for miles through uninhabited land. Memories of Jack Kerouac came to mind. "I'll look you up in a month or two."

"We'll look forward to it. Hell, we'll have to come back here for the trial anyhow, so if you haven't made it to the States by then we'll some looking for you."

"Sure." Methos turned to leave, but felt a hand on his shoulder. He looked back.

"Thanks Paul," Harper told him. The old man grinned.

"Feel good, doesn't it, knowing that we don't have to just kill each other." Even as he said the words he realised how much he missed having another Immortal as a friend; someone to share his experiences with. The realisation made him eager to be on the road again, and to leave behind these latest ties to the world of mortals. He wanted another change of identity; another name and another job. Another home. Bidding his two new friends a final farewell he headed for the door. What was the point in staying to get a degree under one name only to move on to the next identity, and lose the credit for that degree? Suddenly the exams seemed pointless and unnecessary. Maybe he would just head off on the first plane he laid eyes on. America by way of... Tibet? Beijing? Sydney? It really didn't matter. All that he had to worry about was what to call himself this time. Sliding behind the wheel of his car, he clicked the radio on and listened as the DJ cued the next song. Adam Ant and Stand And Deliver. The old man grinned. He was really getting to like this song; and even though he was looking somewhat less than dandy at that moment, he still had the heart of a highwayman. There could be only one new name for him. He laughed out loud, turning the volume up, and began to sing along with his new namesake. He could already feel Paul Taylor's ties and concerns beginning to float away in the wind. Life was good, and so was his new name. It was as if Paul Taylor really had died back at The Zodiac, and had made way for somebody new. Somebody that Methos could truly identify with. He could feel great things in the future for Adam.


What can I say? 1981. What else could Methos have been but a New Romantic? I apologise to Adam Ant for appropriating his song (and his name), but it all seemed so fitting. It was either that or have the ROG being a Bucks Fizz fan.

As for Kronos, he makes no apologies. He says that if the old man is going to blow himself up, he thinks it only fair that he should get to hijack the resulting dream sequence. I wasn't going to argue.