EVE
Beginning Four

Joe Dawson concentrated on cleaning the bar, putting his anger and frustration into action, wishing he had a pair of stubborn, pig-headed Immortals here so he could vent his frustration on them. They were, after all, the reason for his state of mind.

It had been two weeks since the Horsemen incident and, to his knowledge, Methos and MacLeod had not even been in speaking distance since then. Barring the meeting at the church, that is. Joe mumbled a curse, wondering if their friendship was salvageable then reminded himself that of course it was. If only MacLeod would just realize that the world was not all black and white and that Methos was not the man he had been three thousand years ago.

He heard the door swing open and frowned, certain he had locked it. Maybe it was Amanda, practicing her lock-picking skills but when he glanced up, he saw that the figure standing outline in the doorway was too tall for the Immortal thief.

"We're closed." He said, hand sliding down to rest lightly on the grip of the gun concealed under the bar.

"I'm sorry, the door was open. I'm looking for Adam Pierson." The voice was that of a woman's, a gentle, oddly familiar tenor with an equally familiar accent. "I understand he hangs out here."

"Oh?" Joe's hand tightened on the gun. Adam Pierson was Methos' current alias. "On occasion. Would you care to leave a message?"

"I suppose so." She said doubtfully. "Could you let him know his sister is looking for him?"

"Sister?" Joe's voice rose an octave. He let loose of the gun. "Wait a sec! I didn't know he had a sister." Actually, he didn't know Methos could have a sister. He'd never heard of Immortal siblings. Of course, she had said Adam. . .and now that he thought about it, there was mention of a sister in Adam's Watcher file. He'd thought it was just a piece of fiction concocted by Methos to make Adam's history seem more real. Then the woman stepped into the light and he revised his opinion of that.

She looked just like Methos, not necessarily a good thing, especially with that nose but it seemed to work for her. Same short brown hair, same gold-green eyes, same pale skin. The angular face was somehow feminized, the nose, prominent on Methos, softened and *just right* for her. They even, Joe noticed in bemusement, dressed alike; her black long coat was opened to revealed a bulky fisherman sweater, faded jeans and short boots.

"He didn't mention me then?" She asked.

"Errrr, no." He paused then decided to test the waters, so to speak. "He did mention brothers. . ."

The woman looked at him sharply, an expression that increased her resemblance to Methos. "Last I heard, they weren't on speaking terms." She said cautiously.

"Well, I think I can guarantee they'll never speak again."

"Oh?" She studied him for a long moment then nodded. "Good riddance to bad rubbish then. Do you know where I can find him?"

"I think I can contact him. Here." He set a beer on the bar. "Have a seat and let me see if I can call him."

She hesitated then slipped off her coat, draping it over a stool and watching as he made his way into the back room. Joe considered closing the door then rejected the idea, not wanted to give this woman a reason not to trust him. Plus he wanted to keep an eye on her. He tried the number he had for Methos first but got only an answering machine. He left a brief message asking him to come to the bar then called MacLeod. Another machine, another message. He hung up and rejoined the woman.

"I left a message on his machine."

"Hmmmm." The woman said thoughtfully then suddenly reached across the bar to grip Joe's wrist firmly, turning it over to look at the tattoo on the inside of the wrist before letting him go. "I don't suppose I could get something to eat? I'm starving." She said pleasantly.

Joe blinked, wondering whether he should say anything then shook his head. "Sure. I was about to make myself some lunch. Hamburgers do?"

"As long as itís rare. Very rare." She smiled, revealing very white sharp teeth. Joe blinked and hastily turned away, telling himself firmly that he did not just see fangs, that it was a trick of the light.

"Adam never mentioned a sister." He said again, slapping two hamburger patties onto the grill. "And your name is. . ?"

"Take a guess." She grinned and Joe decided he was going to like this woman.

"Eve." He said without hesitation and her grin widened.

"Yep. And you would be Joe. . ?" She gestured vaguely at the name of the bar.

"Joe Dawson."

"Ahhhhh. Can I help?"

"No. I got it." He slid a plate in front of her and another next to her then made his way around the bar to sit down. "So, Eve, what do you do?"

"Currently? I'm a perpetual student." She grinned. "Specializing in dead languages and history. I've been considering a position with the local University. Imagine my surprise when I found that one of the other applicants for the position was my own brother."

"Ahhh." Joe wondered why this woman hadn't been recruited for the Watchers. Maybe they had tried. She seemed to know of them. "Hadn't seen him in awhile?"

"No. Not for. . .some time." She grinned. "I love my brother dearly." She confided. "But he can be such a pain in the ass at times that we find it best not to stay in the same area for long periods of time. In fact, sometimes we find it unwise to be on the same continent for long periods of time."

Joe had the sudden suspicion that if it were Methos sitting here instead of Eve, he would have said the exact same thing, with Eve being the pain in the ass. He smiled then cleared his throat. "Did you know him when he was running around with his brothers?"

Eve threw him a thoughtful look. "No." She said finally. "We met just a short time after."

So she was an Immortal and at least two thousand years old. And her resemblance to the Old Man did lend credence to her claim of being his sister. Joe felt a flare of excitement. If they really were siblings, that could add a whole new dimension to the Immortals. Did that mean that, unlike other Immortals, Methos knew his real parents? Knew where Immortals came from?

"Hey!" Eve waved her bottle to get his attention and he started guiltily. She grinned at him and he had the nasty suspicion that she knew what he was thinking. She winked at him conspicuously. "So, just how large is Adam's bar tab, hmmmm?"

He blinked at her in surprise then burst out laughing.

*************************

Methos frowned at his mail, chucking junk mail into the nearest wastebasket and bills onto a table. Too many of both really and he scowled darkly. Then he spotted the blinking light of the answering machine and his scowl deepened, if that was possible. He hesitated then pushed the button.

The first caller hung up without leaving a message. . .something he really hated. Then the university called...they wanted another interview, a promising sign. Or it would have been three weeks ago. Now, well, now he was thinking of that maybe he would be moving on soon.

The next caller was Joe. "Hey, Adam. I. . .errrrr. . .I've found something you might like to see. Come over as soon as you can, okay?"

Methos frowned thoughtfully then shrugged. Oh, hell. Why not? Give him a chance to say good-bye should he decided to vanish tomorrow. He dropped the remainder of the mail onto the table and walked back out, closing the door firmly.

He parked across from the bar and slipped out, walking for the bar. It never ceased to amaze him that Joe, a mortal, could accept his past better than Duncan MacLeod, an Immortal. He swung the door open, stripping off his coat as he went only to freeze at the tableau before him. His mouth dropped open. "Eve! What the hell are you doing here?"

Eve looked up from her boneless sprawl on the floor, surrounded by ribbons of calculator paper and bottles of beer. Joe sat in a chair next to her, idly strumming on his guitar as he watched her. Both looked quite serious and a little tipsy.

"Hi, Adam." The woman waved a handful of calculator paper at him. "We're totaling your bar tab!"

"You're what?" Methos looked at the mess surrounding the couple.

"Your bar tab! It's a doozy!" She grinned.

"It's not that bad." He draped his coat over the back of a chair and reached for the paper Eve was waving at him. His eyes widened at the sight of the amount and his face paled. "Deities! You're jerking my chain."

"Nope! Pay up, bro."

Methos shook his head. "I need a beer." He mumbled, turning toward the bar. The next minute he was on the floor, Eve wrapped around his legs. "Hey!" He howled.

Eve crawled up his body, jabbing him in the chest with a finger. "Pay. Up. No beer until you pay up." She waved the finger in his face, just out of reach. Methos noted idly that her finger had finally grown back from the last time. Joe, studying them from the chair, marveled at how much the two looked alike, especially nose-to-nose like that.

"Oh, come one, Eve! I don't carry that kind of money with me! Help me, Joe!"

"I'm on her side." Joe grinned.

"Where's your checkbook?" Eve proceeded to frisk the ancient Immortal. "In your coat?" She reached over to snag the piece of clothing in question and dragged it over, ignoring the thud as the sword hit the ground. "I can forge your signature, y'know."

"You can?" Joe said hopefully. "Great! How about giving me an advance on future bar tabs?"

"Sure!"

"No! Give me that!" Methos yanked the coat from Eve's hand, scowling at the duo. "All right! All right! Let me write it out." He grumbled as he pulled out his checkbook. He rolled over to brace it on the floor.

Eve promptly climbed onto his back, sprawling there. "Now, be sure and get the right amount. . ." She helpfully pointed out the amount and Methos scowled at her but wrote out the amount indicated. "And sign the right name. The one you're using now." Methos glared at her. "Adam Pierson." She said helpfully and grinned at him. He twisted, planting a hand against her upper chest and pushing her over to sprawl giggling at Joe's feet.

"You okay, honey?" Joe asked, blinking at what was undoubtedly three of Eve.

"Oh, she's fine." Methos considered hiding or tearing up the check, figuring Joe wouldn't even notice. But Eve would and he didn't want to raise her ire. He stood, taking the check to the bar and sliding it under the register before grabbing himself a beer and walking over to sit in a chair across from Joe. The Watcher was still looking down at Eve in concern. The woman had curled up, head resting on Joe's feet and seemed on the verge of taking a nap.

"She doesn't look comfortable." Joe frowned.

"She would be comfortable on a bed of nails. Really sharp nails. Is there one available?" Methos grumbled then sighed. "Here." He handed his bottle to Joe. "How about we take this into the back room and get comfortable?" He crouched, picking up the slender woman and carrying her into Joe's office, putting her gently on the sofa. She grumbled and rolled over, curling up with an arm under her head.

"How much has she had to drink?" Methos frowned.

"Not that much. I mean, compared to what it takes to put you out."

A hand grabbed the collar of Methos' sweater and dragged him down to Eve's level. "Haven't slept in almost two weeks." She mumbled, glaring at him with her one opened eye. "Knew you were in trouble but didn't know where you were. Had to sneak into the Watcher database and then had to come out here. In the cold. I hate the cold, y'know." She released him and curled up, fast asleep within seconds.

Methos stared at the woman, astonished. The last thing in the world he ever expected was to have her show up, apparently determined to help him, whether he wanted it or not. But then, she always did take familial ties very seriously. He realized Joe was speaking and turn to look at him rather blankly. The mortal frowned and repeated his question.

"Is she really your sister?"

Methos sighed, running a hand through his short hair. "Yes. No. Maybe. It's a very long story. Definitely not to be told sober. If told at all." He reached for his beer and sank into a chair, frowning at the bottle as if it held all the answers. "She's. . ." Then he paused with a sigh. "Ask me another time, Joe. Better yet, ask her." He eyed the mortal and smiled slightly. "Care for a game of chess, Joe?" He asked pleasantly.

"You just want to take advantage of me while I'm drunk." Joe mumbled then shrugged. "Well, if I'm not getting a story, why not?"

Methos smiled and reached over to set up the board.

An hour later, Joe was pretty close to sober and two games behind. He glared at the board, trying to find himself out of the neat trap Methos had smugly gotten him to fall into. He was just contemplating an little accident that would, of course, knock the board over when the phone rang. He snatched it up, thankful for the interruption.

"Joe's. . .oh, hi, Mac." Across from him, Methos stiffened, looking up to meet Joe's eyes. "Methos?" He raised his eyes questioningly and Methos grimaced, sighed then reluctantly nodded. "Actually, he's here now. Oh, okay. We can discuss it when you get here. Later." Joe hung up the phone and cleared his throat. "Mac says you left some of your stuff at the dojo. He'll bring it over when he comes."

Methos' face tightened. "Yes, I did leave some stuff there. I thought. . .never mind."

On impulse, Joe reached over to cover Methos' hand with his own. "Give him time, Methos. God knows you guys enough of that." The ancient Immortal looked startled then he relaxed with a slight smile, closing his hand briefly on Joe's before pulling away.

"Do we? I wonder sometimes. Being Immortal just gives us more time to make even more mistakes and worse ones as well. So MacLeod's on the way then?"

"Yes."

Methos fingered a pawn, his eyes looking as old as his years. "Fine." He murmured. "Maybe we'll get a chance to talk. Or not." He set the piece back down.

Joe said nothing more, just conceded the game they were currently playing. They were seven moves into a new one when he saw Methos stiffen, his face acquiring that ~look~ Immortals get when another of their kind was near. Eve's reaction was a little more dramatic as she lunged from the couch and toward the door, sword in her hands and eyes not even open.

WHAM!!!!

Eve slammed into the closed door head first and bounced back to sprawl on the floor, looking more then a little dazed.

"I never could house-break her." Methos said pleasantly to Joe as he stood and walked over to the door. "Let me explain this again, Eve. You have to open a door before going through it." He followed words with action. Standing on the other side of the door, looking tight-faced, was Cassandra. Methos stared at her for a moment then slammed the door closed again. "Of course, the skill of closing a door is equally important."

Despite himself, Joe burst out laughing. Eve dissolved into a fit of giggles, a circumstance that made it difficult for Methos to help her to her foot. That changed abruptly when the door swung open to reveal a now furious Cassandra, sword in hand. Eve's giggles evaporated and she shoved Methos back, bringing her sword up, eyes fierce and expression grim.

Joe's laughter vanished as well and his hand reached for the gun he kept nearby. He had no qualms about interfering. . .he never did like Cassandra and besides, he had his brand new sound system to think of.

Methos rested his hands on Eve's shoulders. "Easy, love. Not in the bar. You'll blow out Joe's electricity."

Eve grunted. "Tell her to sheath her sword and I'll back off. She doesn't and you've one less worry, brother."

Methos grimaced and threw Joe a helpless look. Cassandra's eyes narrowed.

"Brother? Who are you?" She demanded.

"Eve Pierson. Sometimes called The Kirien." Eve sketched a salute with her sword. "And you're Cassandra. The witch. I've heard of you. Put it up, woman. I'm far better then you ever were."

This time the other woman's eyes widened. "The Kirien? I've heard of you as well. . ."

"So have I." Amanda appeared suddenly, peering over Cassandra's shoulder. "You robbed the Stephens' estate before I could. You must have gotten a good haul."

"Good enough." Eve said smugly. "Enough to live off of for about sixty years. But then, things were cheap back then. Friend of yours?" She indicated Cassandra with her sword.

"Not in this lifetime." Amanda eeled around Cassandra and walked over to sit in Adam's chair. "Are you going to fight her?" She asked in an interested tone.

"If she doesn't put that sword away, yes. Adam, y'see, won't fight her. He feels he owes her something. Males are stupid that way." She shared an exasperated look with Amanda. "I, on the other hand, have no such qualms." The smile she gave Cassandra then was anything but friendly.

"Cassandra!" MacLeod snapped from behind the woman. "We are not here to challenge anyone!"

"Why are you here?" Eve asked. "Too early for All Hallows Eve so the witch has no reason to be roaming. Nothing worth stealing. . .except maybe that mega-check Adam just made out to Joe. . .which is where?" She asked Methos sharply.

"Under the register. Honest!" Methos had retreated to the couch and was watching events unfold with an air of bemusement.

"And no one to rescue. Or help across the street. So we don't need a boy scout. . ."

"You have been receiving my letters."

"Hush, brother. Who else is here?"

"Probably Richie Ryan." Methos said. "MacLeod's student."

"Is she putting that away or am I going to have to make her eat it?" Eve asked MacLeod, now visible over the witch's shoulder. "I can, y'know. Be happy to do it. I've missed a few of Adam's birthday and Christmas presents. This would make up for that." She smiled brightly at the thought.

"Put away your sword." Cassandra commanded, her Immortal ability of using her Voice to command others weaving through the words.

Methos sat up from his customary sprawl, his eyes wide and alarmed. "Cassandra! Don't. . .!"

Clang!

Eve's sword hit Cassandra's with enough force to tear it from her hands and with such speed that none of the others even saw her move. The next second, Eve had Cassandra against the wall, the razor-sharp edge of her sword against her throat.

"Try that again, witch, or I'll have your heart for a mid-day snack." The grimness of her expression and the deadly tone of her voice left no doubt that she would do it. "Now," She stepped back, lowering her sword and speaking in her earlier cheerful tones. "What is this all about?" She looked at MacLeod, now standing in the doorway, then at Richie and lastly at Amanda. It was the latter who shrugged, hands held apart.

"Don't know. Duncan gave me a call and told me to meet him here. Just said it was important."

"I bet." She walked over to curl up next to Methos, setting her sword on the back of the couch. "I've a suspicion as to what this is about. I also suspect it won't turn out the way Cassandra thinks."

Methos raised an eyebrow. "Precognition now?"

"Among my many talents, brother mine. For example, dear Cassandra's little ability doesn't affect me at all and since I trust her as far as I can throw. . .well, I don't trust her at all. Now, I can handle anyone with a sword but with a gun is another matter. Joe, would you mind emptying that gun you have?"

Joe blinked then shrugged. With a practiced move, he pulled the clip from the gun, cleared the chamber and set the gun back it belonged. The clip he placed in the center of the chessboard. Eve nodded in satisfaction before turning to look at Cassandra expectantly. Methos looked up with an identical expression and Joe almost burst out laughing. Schooling his expression into somber interest, he too turned to look at Cassandra.

The witch was rubbing her throat, eyeing Eve uncertainly.

"Well?" Eve said impatiently. "Are we just going to stare at each other all day or is there a reason for this gathering? Pardon the expression. Sit down, boy." The last was directed at Richie. "You're making me nervous."

"Yes, maíam." Since there were no chairs available, Richie hastily sat down on the floor, obviously not wanting to make this odd woman nervous.

Cassandra stared at her, looking more then a little put out. Apparently things were not going the way she thought they would. But then, she hadnít counted on Eve.

"I thought that perhaps Methosí friends may wish to know the truth about himÖ" She said acidly.

"Which truth?" Eve said brightly.

"Excuse me?" Cassandra stammered, thrown off-balanced. Hurriedly she gathered herself and opened her mouth to continue her planned speech.

"Which truth?" Eve repeated. "Your truth? His truth? How about my truth? And concerning what?" She paused, waiting expectantly. "Youíre beginning to remind me of a fish, Cassandra."

Cassandra snapped her mouth closed then snarled through her teeth. "It concerns his history of murder, rape and torture!"

"Ahhhhh. Doing or receiving?" Eve asked politely. "If itís the latter, weíre going to be here awhile. You might want to close the bar for about five days, Joe. Seven, if you plan for sleep and meals. Mind fetching some beer, boyo?" The latter was directed to Richie.

"Ahhhh. Sure. Just a minute." Richie jumped to his feet and out the door, reappearing so quickly he must have run. He hadnít bother grabbing any bottles, heíd just snatched up a case.

"Smart lad." Eve said approvingly, taking an offered bottle. Richie grinned, grabbed a bottle of his own and retreated to his chair.

"Iím talking about what he did to me!" Cassandra was almost screaming.

"No need to shout, child. We can hear you perfectly well. And donít slouch."

"You grew up with that?" Joe asked Methos, beginning to feel sorry for the man.

"Not exactly. Get me drunk later and maybe Iíll tell you the tale."

"Donít bet on it." Eve jabbed her elbow into Methosí side. "Hush. I think sheís actually going to speak."

"Or choke." Amanda said, watching in fascination as Cassandraís started to make strangled noises.

Cassandra took a deep breath. Obviously the reactions she was receiving was not what she expected. She launched into her story, telling of the slaughter of the tribe that had taken her in, her first death and her time with the Horsemen. She finished with a triumphant look at Eve.

"Well, let's see." Eve looked thoughtful. "How many times did he beat you? You seemed to have glossed over the point." Eve said politely.

"That doesn't matter. . .!"

"How many?"

Cassandra muttered something.

"Come, come, child. Speak up."

"Once!" She snarled.

Eve grinned and rolled over so she was facing Amanda once more. "I'd love to contribute that to kindness on Methos' part but I suspect it has more to do with the fact that she has no spine." She confided to the woman and both of them burst into giggles, ignoring Cassandra's shocked look. "By the way," Eve drew herself up onto her elbows. "I love that skirt you're not quite wearing. I wish I could get away with wearing something like that."

"Are you kidding? With those legs? You'd wear this better then I ever would!" Amanda stretched out her legs then eyed Eve's long limbs with envy. "That sweater and those jeans do nothing for you! Why wear them?"

"Habit, I suppose. For the first several centuries Adam and I traveled together, I was his younger brother. Figured it might keep me a bit safer. Worked until we got to Greece. There it was more dangerous to be a young boy then a young girl. But I usually traveled as a man. Even after we separated. Besides," She pulled her sweater away from her body and peered down into it sadly. "It's not like I have anything to show off."

Amanda studied her with a frown. "Do you even own a skirt?"

Eve blinked then looked thoughtful. "I don't think so."

"When this is over. . .whatever the hell this is. . .we'll go shopping. I'll have to get some money, of course. Or a credit card." Amanda smiled at MacLeod.

"Oh, don't bother." Eve held up a small brown case. "I lifted Adam's when I was frisking him for his checkbook."

Methos whooped and snatched the case from her hand, riffling through it to make sure everything was still there before shoving it into a pocket. "Use your own damn money!" He snarled. "Now shut up. I think Cassandra's trying to make a point."

Eve looked over her shoulder at him then back at Amanda. "Males are so stupid." She repeated with a sigh.

Amanda grimaced in sympathy and both women turned to look at Cassandra expectantly.

Joe wished feverishly that he could report what was actually happening to the Watchers, though he doubted they'd ever believe it. The witch was rapidly losing control, of both the situation. . .if she was ever in control of it to begin with. . .and of herself. MacLeod rested his hands on her shoulders, scowling at the two women. "I would think you'd be more sympathetic."

Methos snorted then looked down hurriedly as MacLeod glared at him.

"Sympathetic?" Eve said. "About what? She's lived almost three thousand years and she's still stuck on one year that happened to her some twenty years into her life. If I feel anything, it's pity. That woman needs some serious help."

Amanda nodded her head in agreement.

"What he did. . ." The Highlander started.

"Yes, yes. I know. What he did was horrible. Terrible. Etc., etc. But it was three thousand years ago. And I know he hasn't done anything like that recently. . ."

"How?" Cassandra snapped.

"Because he'd have called me with an invite." She turned back to Amanda. "How about we stop for a bite on the way to the stores? Oriental would be good."

"There's this wonderful place on the way. Are you serious about. . ?"

"Him inviting me along? Listen, if I'd known him while he was a Horseman. . .well, let's just say the world would be a very different place. As it was, he was away from the Horseman and free of Kronos' influence. Of course, he still wasn't the nicest person under the sun. Just the most sun-burnt."

"Ain't that the truth." Methos muttered.

"Of course, I still don't see the reasoning behind this little get-together." Eve continued, absently peeling the label from her beer bottle. "Just so Cassandra can recite what Methos did to her some three thousand years ago? Let's see. . .killed most of the clan that took her in. Hard times back then. For some, raiding was the only means of survival and, of course, her clan wasn't free of it. Exactly how many other clans did that one misplace on the journey from well to well? How many did they attacked and kill to get needed goods? At that time, it was the way."

"But not necessary." MacLeod snapped.

Eve rolled her eyes. "No, not necessary. Just the way it was. The desert is a very hard environment and the people were hard as well. Ask your lady friend about the babies her tribe used to leave out in the desert because they were malformed or too much of a drain on the food supply or just not wanted. And as for being mistreated. . .she was beaten once. Other then that, she, like everyone else with the Horsemen, ate when there was food, drank when there was water. Slept in a tent with blankets. And rape?" Eve shrugged. "She was a slave, worth less then the horse Methos rode. In fact, I'd say she was treated just as slaves in her tribe had been treated." She caught the look on Cassandra's face and snarled. "Don't you dare tell me that tribe didn't have slaves! Methos struck the chains from the wrist and ankles of a half-dozen such slaves himself!"

Cassandra closed her mouth, looking confused. "All in the tribe were slain by the Horsemen!"

Eve snorted. "Less then a third were slain. Most escaped into the desert. After Adam killed you and rode away, he found the tribesí slaves housed in a grotto. He struck their chains, told them to hide until the others were gone then take what they could of what was left behind and head toward sunup. The opposite direction the Horsemen were headed."

"He told you this. . ?"

"I know this." Eve said firmly. "I know everything about Adam. Good and evil. From his days as a slave to his days as a scholar and everything in-between. I know more about him then he does. And you, woman, have no right to judge him." Her eyes shifted to MacLeod. "And you have even less right."

"She's right, you know." Amanda spoke up. MacLeod opened his mouth and the thief threw up a hand to cut him off. "Oh, what happened to her was horrible. I'm not arguing with that. Of course, I doubt there isn't a female Immortal over five hundred that hasn't been in a similar situation. . .or, for that matter, any male Immortal over five hundred."

Cassandra gaped at her in disbelief.

"What did you expect, Cassandra?" Joe spoke up. "Did you expect me to toss away ten years of friendship with a man over events that happened three thousand years ago? He's not the same man he was then anymore then I'm the same man I was thirty years ago."

Cassandra stared at him then at Amanda and on to Richie. The latter shook his head vigorously, holding up his hands to ward off any questions. "Hey, don't ask for my opinion! I'm not taking chances of getting her upset with me!"

"Bright boy." Methos mumbled, still staring down at his hands.

"I agree." Eve said thoughtfully. "Any chance of taking him home with me?"

Methos looked at her out of the corner of his eye. "A little young for you, don't you think?"

"Everyone's a little young for me."

"More like a lot young." Methos gave her a shadow of a grin and Eve jabbed him in the ribs again with a elbow.

"What exactly do you hope to accomplish with this recitation, Cassandra?" Eve asked. "Since you've gone to all this trouble, what do you want? Do you want an apology? I'm certain Adam'll be happy to oblige and I've no doubt he'll mean it. Do you want monetary reimbursement? Give me an amount and I'll have it drawn from our joint account. Do you want him punished?"

"Don't you think he deserves some kind of punishment?" MacLeod asked but his tone was oddly uncertain.

For the first time, Methos looked up from his hands to stare at the woman, his face white and drawn. Silently, he reached over to tug the pins from her hair. Eve absently shook her head, letting the hair spill down her back and slipped from the couch to sit at Methos' feet, leaning back against his legs. Methos ran his fingers through her hair then began to braid it with a single-minded purpose. It occurred to Joe that Methos knew what Eve was going to say and was using the excuse of braiding her hair to keep his face and expression hidden. And his hands busy.

"What kind of punishment? Let's see. . .he killed members of her tribe. He killed thousands of people besides them. Would you have him die for every person he's killed?" Cassandra looked thoughtful but before she could say anything, Eve was shaking her head. "No, that won't work. Last time I tallied it up. . .maybe fifty years ago, Adam was still 60-plus deaths in the credit. And that's counting the Immortals he's killed. Torture? Hardly fair. Methos didn't do much of the torturing. That was Caspian. Even so, I'd say that any torture participated in with the Horsemen would be covered by that thirty-year span before he joined the Horsemen. And as for rape, well, between his first five-hundred years and that previously mentioned thirty-year span, he's so far into credit, it's not even funny."

Methos' hands were shaking slightly and he was giving his self-appointed task for more attention then was needed, ignoring MacLeodís stare. Eve noticed it.

"Surprised, MacLeod? What? Did you think one morning some four thousand years, Methos woke up and decided to wipe out half of Europe? Human monsters arenít born, MacLeod. Theyíre created. By other monsters. Worse monsters. In this case, human mortal monsters."

"What comes around goes around." Joe said suddenly.

Eve nodded. "Exactly." She caught MacLeodís eye. "Youíre too fixated on Adamís past, ignoring the thousand-plus years before that and the three thousand years after. Youíre just too busy being self-righteous to let little details like. . .oh, letís see. Before the Horsemen. . .ouch!" She glared over her shoulder at Methos. "All right! I wonít go into that. How about after?"

Methos didnít say a word, just continued braiding her hair, gentler this time.

"Okay, fine." She turned back, wrapping her arms around her legs. "Letís see. . .how about the many villages Adam helped protect over the centuries? The thousands of Jews and Gypsies Adam helped me rescue from Hitlerís Germany? The fact that he offered you his head to help you defeat Kalas? The times he saved your life? How many times was that, hmmm?"

MacLeod didnít answer. Like Methos, he was studying his hands intently, not wanting to meet Eveís eyes.

"Thought as much." Eve said with some satisfaction.

"That doesnít matter!" Cassandra yelled.

"Wrong, Cassandra." MacLeod said, still staring at his hands. "It does matter." He raised his eyes to look at Methos. "Methos."

Methos ignored him.

Eve frowned and jabbed Methos with her elbow a couple times then growled and reached up to tug hard on his nose.

"Ouch! Damn it. . !" He glared at her then reluctantly looked up to meet MacLeodís eyes.

"Iím an ass. . .which you already knew, Iím sure. I donít have a right to judge and I have been. Iím sorry."

Methos looked down to meet Eveís eyes and also to hide a smile. "Apology accepted." Tension seemed to slip from him, his shoulders no longer bowed in defeat and he resumed plaiting the womanís hair.

end beginning four


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