EVE
Beginning Six

Methos leaned back against the couch and watched with pleasure as little Mary unwrapped present after present. All right, he had gone over board but so had MacLeod. And Joe. And Richie. It wasnít like any of them had any other kids to spoil rotten. Or ever would. Well, maybe Joe would. . .

That train of thought got derailed at the feel of his loverís hand resting lightly on his thigh. Methos looked up into MacLeodís dark eyes with a smile, reaching down to squeeze his hand gently and resisting the urge to kiss him. They had agreed to tone it down in the presence of Richie and Connor, neither of whom approved of their relationship. Not that Methos cared what they thought.

He looked around the room, smiling at the realization that sometime over the past year, people who he thought of as MacLeodís friends had become his friends. Amanda and Anne, both of whom were once MacLeodís lover and now a couple of their firmest supporters. Little Mary, who called them both uncle. The de Valicourts, married for three hundred years. Even Conner and Richie, as disapproving as they were about the relationship, could be counted as friends. And, of course, Joe, who had been his friend long before he knew him as Methos.

"Your turn." MacLeodís words drew Methos from his contemplation and he looked at the present the younger Highlander was holding out to him. "From Joe." The ancient Immortal took it with a smile and peeled the wrapping off, suspecting what it was. And he was right, at least in part. A collection of cds, some very hard to find, and he thanked Joe sincerely. MacLeod reached for a present of his own.

Tradition, Anne had said, to open their presents one by one so all could enjoy what everyone received. Of course Mary, with her towering mound of presents, opened her presents at her own pace and still had twice as many as all the others combined. She was tearing into yet another present when the doorbell rang.

"Whoíd be calling on Christmas morning?" Joe said, reaching for his cane.

"Iíll get it, Joe." Richie jumped to his feet and headed for the door, waving off Joeís thanks. A few minutes later he was back, carrying a long crate perhaps two feet high. "Special courier delivering this." He thumped the box onto the floor. "For Adam Pierson, care of Joe Dawson."

"Oh?" Methos sat up, frowning at the box thoughtfully. No, she wouldnít have. Would she? He stood up and made his way around the coffee table to drop to his knees next to it. Mary was by his side instantly, asking what was in the box? "More presents, I think, love. Why donít we see for certain? Do you have a crowbar, Joe?"

"Yeah, in the garage. Up on the shelf on the far side of the garage."

Richie ran out to the garage and returned with the crowbar, offering it to Methos. Gently, the ancient Immortal worked the lid of the crate off and to one side then scooped out the shredded paper that acted as a cushion for the contents. His lips quirked at the sight of the wrapped gifts nestled inside.

"Ohhhh! Pretty!" Mary clapped her hands at the silver and gold wrapping paper.

"Well, letís see what we have. . ." The top layer was of packages of varying sizes and he lifted them out one by one, reading the name on each package out loud before handing it to that person. Mary took hers with a happy squeal and sat down next to Methos, struggling to open it and he paused to smile at her before lifting out the last package; a long one that had both his name. . .his real name. . .and Duncan MacLeodís written on it in an elegant hand. He turned on his knees to hand the package to his lover then rose to rejoin him on the couch.

MacLeod eyed him in puzzlement. "From you?" He asked quietly, wondering why Methos would go to all this trouble but the other was shaking his head with a smile.

"But I think I know who sent them though. Go on, open it." The last was addressed to Joe, who was eyeing his gift thoughtfully. "I think all these gifts are. . .related in some manner so you all might as well open yours."

Mary jumped to her feet, waving her gift in the air then ran to Methos to show it to him. "What is it?" She asked excitedly, apparently secure in the knowledge that he could answer any question she wished to ask.

He took it gently, holding it up so all could see the silver-chained charm bracelet with the carved ivory figure. "Itís a unicorn, love. Here, let me put it on for you and you can go show your mother." He fastened the bracelet onto the small wrist, noting that the chain had been designed to be expanded as the little girl grew.

Then Joe whistled, staring at his present in wonder. The watch itself was prize enough but the carved ivory band it was set in had to be worth a small fortune. He peered at the carvings, smiling involuntarily when he realized that the main carvings on each side of the watch were of an open eye and the clasp cleverly done in the Watcher symbol. He looked up to see what the others had received.

They were all watches, all with symbols appropriate to the person receiving them. Robert and Gina's had the de Valicourts coat-of-arms, Connor the MacLeod crest. Anne's sported the ancient symbol of medicine. . .a pair of snakes twined around a rod. . .and Amanda's had a slinking cat which, upon closer inspection, appeared to be carrying a lockpick in it's mouth and a bulging pouch on it's side. Richie's was decorated with a motorcycle and a sword.

"A little expensive, donít you think, old man?" Richie said, holding the watch gingerly, uncertain about receiving such an expensive gift from someone he only marginally liked. If that.

Methos shook his head. "Theyíre not from me." He looked down at the last present, the one still resting across MacLeodís knees, stroking it absently, his eyes faraway. "But I do know who they are from. Only one person carves in ivory like that. What are you waiting for, Mac? Open it."

"It's addressed to us both." MacLeod pointed out and Methos chuckled. Between the two of them, they made short work of the wrapping paper. Methos pulled the top off and set it aside.

At the very top of the package was a sweater, folded to fill the entire length of the box. Methos lifted it out, smiling at what laid underneath. He could hear MacLeod gasp as he laid the sweater to one side and reached in again. This time he pulled out a sword; a black-bladed beauty with a carved ivory hilt. MacLeod reached in also, pulling out a sword twin to the one Methos held.

Silently, the ancient Immortal ran his fingers down the flat of the blade, reading the inscription on it more by feel then by sight, knowing without reading it what the inscription on MacLeod's sword said.

"Who," Connor said quietly. "Would send you swords?"

Methos didn't answer. Setting the sword gently onto the sweater he had laid on the coffee table, he reached back into the box for the last items; twin sheaths for the swords, a flat box and another sweater. He had no doubt that one of the sweaters would fit him perfectly and the other would fit MacLeod but that wasn't important as he set all but the box onto the table. Without a word, he turned to offer the box to MacLeod.

MacLeod stared at him. "Who sent all this, Adam?" He asked.

Methos smiled. "A very old friend. And a very long story. Open it, love."

MacLeod hesitated then set the sword he still held on the sweater next to the other and took the box his lover offered. It wasnít wrapped; all he had to do was work the latch and lift the top. He stared for a moment before lifting out one of the watches inside. Like the others, it was of carved ivory with the MacLeod crest on one side and another crest he had never seen before on the other. He studied the latter intently, realizing that it was the side view of an odd-looking horse or maybe a unicorn, though the horn was in the wrong place, the nose rather then the forehead in front of a pair of crossed swords.

He looked at Methos with narrowed eyes. "Your crest?"

"You might say that." Methos chuckled, lifting the second watch from the box. It was identical to the first save that the crests were reversed. "This one is yours." Methos reached out to take MacLeodís wrist, obviously meaning to put it on but MacLeod caught his hand.

"Who sent these, Methos?" He asked quietly.

Methos went still, his face suddenly expressionless. "A long story, Duncan. A very long one. If you insist, I'll tell it but I rather you didn't insist. Not yet."

MacLeod blinked at Methos' words and tone, knowing that if he did asked, the old man would tell him and for him, that was enough. He smiled and released the hand he held, offering his wrist.

"How can you tell which is which?" He asked as Methos replaced his old watch with the new.

"The way the band would be worn when the carving on either side isn't identical. Your crest should be on the outside when you wear it. Don't ask me why. That's just the way she makes them." He set MacLeod's old watch on the table and reached for the one the other man still held but MacLeod caught his wrist and put the watch on himself, running his thumb over the odd crest before releasing the hand.

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

The months passed swiftly for the lovers. It didnít surprise MacLeod when Richie disappeared, though he was disappointed that they hadnít managed to resolve their conflicts. Richieís disapproval about his relationship with Methos had grown more and more apparent by the day but MacLeod wasnít sure if it was because Richie thought he was being unfaithful to Tess, because he didnít like Methos or simply because he didnít like the thought of MacLeod with a man. Methos kept reminding the Highlander that Richie had to live his own life and MacLeod had to live his and neither of them had any right to interfere with the otherís life.

They settled into a routine; teaching their classes, sparring in the dojo, meeting with Joe a couple of times a week for dinner and drinks. It was, for Methos, incredibly domestic and he was loving every minute of it. And it was far too good to last.

It was Maryís fourth birthday and Methos was lounging in his loverís arms, watching as the little girl opened a present that had just come by special courier, another ivory unicorn. She ran to her mother to have it attached to the charm bracelet she wore constantly.

"Methos?" MacLeod said quietly. "If I ask, will you tell me about the person who sent that?"

Methos sighed, rubbing his cheek against his loverís. He knew that question would come up again. "Ask me again in four days." He said just as quietly and turned to kiss MacLeod tenderly. "Okay?"

"Okay." And Methos marveled at the trust shining from the otherís eyes. When was the last time anyone trusted him that much? He smiled and snuggled deeper into MacLeodís arms.

Of course, a lot could happen in four days.

He had to wait for MacLeod to be away to make the phone call that needed to made, which was the next day when MacLeod went to teach a class. It took awhile to get through and then the person he was calling wasted several minutes pretending to be first a non-English speaking maid and then to be deaf. He would have been angry if he hadn't expected it of her. But finally he got his message across and he hung up with a sense of relief. That would make the explaining marginally easier.

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

Later, Methos would wonder why he was surprised by what happened. He'd been expecting something since Christmas, since the gift of the ivory-banded watches but he'd been hoping that, perhaps this time, she would be wrong.

She wasn't.

It was three days after Mary's birthday. MacLeod had an early morning class so Methos had accompanied him downstairs and to the door then decided to stay in the dojo, working on the books. It was a job that MacLeod didn't particularly like, mainly because the books rarely came out in his favor. Methos was considering the possibility of somehow funneling money into the dojo when he felt the buzz.

It wasn't MacLeod's. He knew the Highlander's ~Presence~ as well as his own and this was not his. Methos rose, sword in hand and made his way from the office, relaxing only slightly when he saw that it was Richie Ryan.

"Richie. Long time, no see." He said pleasantly enough, considering the warning signals crawling up and down his spine. Something about the young Immortal's stance, the way he carried himself, screamed upcoming attack. Lowering his sword, he rested the tip on the ground and leaned on it absently. "Nice to see you back in town. Seen MacLeod as yet?"

"Not yet." Richie walked closer and Methos rocked back on his heels, getting ready for any upcoming attack. Richie noticed and his eyes narrowed.

"Expecting an attack?"

"Gee, I don't know. Expecting to attack me?" Methos kept his voice light, hoping he'd misread the boy but Richie hesitated a moment too long and Methos sighed.

"All right. What's going on, Ryan? I'd thought. . .I'd hoped you'd at least accepted my relationship with Mac. Even if you didn't approve of it."

Richie's lips thinned. "That was before I found out about your past."

Uh-oh. Methos frowned. He wasn't sure how much MacLeod had told his former pupil of Methos' past but he suspected the Highlander had glossed over the details. Like the Horsemen and a thousand years of evil. "And who, pray tell, has been telling tales?"

"Cassandra. I'm sure you remember her."

"I. . .see. And this has what to do with you?"

"I figure there's no way Mac could know about you and her..."

"You figure wrong." Methos cut in. "MacLeod does know all about that. And more. Or didn't Cassandra mention the fact that she told him all about it."

Methos had hoped that little revelation would caused Richie to back off. His heart sank when the younger Immortal nodded his head as if Methos' words had confirmed something he suspected.

"Cassandra did say that. And since Mac would never be friends with someone like that. . .let alone lovers. . .you must be controlling him in some manner."

Methos cursed to himself in as many languages as he could remember, seeing the nice, neat trap Cassandra had set up. If Richie challenged him. . .and it was increasingly obvious he meant to. . .then one of them would die. It really didn't matter which one died. Either way, his relationship with MacLeod would be destroyed.

"Richie. . ." The young Immortal now held his sword and Methos automatically raised his own. "Wait, Richie! Wait for MacLeod to come home. He can explain. . !"

"He'll say what you want him to."

"No! I don't have that ability. That's Cassandra's talent." He barely managed to deflect a blow. "Dammit, Richie! I can't control Mac's actions and certainly not his mind. Nor would I want to."

"You really expect me to believe that? No way would Mac get involve with someone like you!"

"Someone with my past or my sex? Admit it, Richie. You're just a homophobic looking for an excuse. . .ahhhhhh!"

Richie's sword slashed open the old man's arm and Methos staggered back. He'd been holding back, hoping the boy would come to his senses but it didn't look like it would happen soon. Gritting his teeth, he strengthened his defense, looking for a chance to wound or even kill the boy without being forced to actually behead him.

But Richie wasn't holding back and he was driving the ancient Immortal back. Methos managed to keep the flashing blade from his throat but acquired several wounds in the process. Of course, so had Richie but not one was fatal. Grimly, Methos started to press his attack then was forced to step back. His foot landed on something and his ankle twisted. He stumbled off-balance, looking up too late as Richie's sword thrust forward, impaling the old man through the chest.

Methos saw the triumphant look in Richie's eyes and felt an overwhelming sense of sorrow, wishing he'd had a chance to say good-bye to MacLeod then the sword was drawn from his chest and he fell to the floor. His sight darkened. . .

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

Richie swung the sword up in preparation to bringing it down and taking off Methos' head. A brief thought flashed through his mind, wondering what Mac would think but Cassandra had assured him that once Methos was dead, Mac's mind would once again become his own. Once that happened, MacLeod would understand. And probably be horrified at what he'd done under the Methos' influence. With that thought, Richie braced himself and swung the sword downward.

A searing pain exploded in his back and he fell, dead before he hit the ground.

***********

MacLeod had been halfway to class when he received the call on his mobile phone. There had been a fire near the lecture hall and smoke had damaged the hall to the point that it wasn't usable. All classes had been canceled. MacLeod had promptly turned the car around and headed back to the dojo, thoughts of enticing Methos back into bed dancing through his head. Not that it would be hard. . .

He spotted Joe approaching the dojo and pulled over to park, yelling for the man to wait up. Joe took one look at him and shook his head.

"Damn! Adam and I aren't going to get any work done, are we?"

"What kind of work?" MacLeod matched Joe's slow strides.

"On the computer. Methos is helping me set up software for the bar."

MacLeod started laughing. "I wonder. . .could Methos set up the software to give himself free beer?"

Joe started laughing as well. "Wouldn't surprise me. Just set it up to post his account paid. Ah, well. . .what?"

MacLeod had gone still, eyes intent. "There's another Immortal with Methos." He hurried to the dojo, Joe following as fast as he could.

MacLeod pulled the door open and stepped inside just in time to see a figure drawing a bloody sword from Richie's back. Just beyond Richie was Methos, obviously dead from a thrust into the chest and MacLeod saw red. He had his sword out in a second, running for the figure before it could raise its sword for a decapitating blow.

The figure. . .the woman for now that he was closer he could see that it was a womanÖmust have heard him. She turned, sword half-raised and saw him. Eyes barely seen under the hood she wore widened.

"Eeeep!" She back-pedaled rapidly. "Wait! Wait, it's not what you think! I mean, not exactly what you think. I mean. . .oh, hell!"

Joe had followed the Highlander into the dojo, making his way carefully to the two fallen Immortals. Relief flooded him when he realized that both heads where firmly attached. He looked up to see MacLeod pursuing the unknown Immortal, who seemed to be concentrating more on defending herself then attacking the man. Well, that made sense if she was just looking for an easy kill but why would she attack two Immortals? And apparently get them both. He looked down at the two dead Immortals and frowned, an unwelcome suspicion nagging at him.

"Duncan! Duncan, wait. Come here."

"Ohhhhh, the voice of reason." The woman paused, sword lowering slightly. "I'll stay right here. Promise."

MacLeod glared at her as he backed up until he was next to Joe.

"What?" He asked irritably.

"Look!" Joe said, pointing. MacLeod looked down at the two dead Immortals, frowning, seeing the wound in his lover's chest, the blood staining Richie's blade and his eyes narrowed. He glanced up at the stranger Immortal. There was no blood or wound on her that he could see.

"Richie and. . .Me. . .Adam were fighting." Joe said quietly.

"And Adam lost. . ." MacLeod frowned.

"Which he wouldn't have done if Adam hadn't been holding back." The woman called from across the room. "Which he wouldn't have been doing if this was just a spar."

MacLeod's face tightened. "But why would Adam attack Richie?"

"What's makes you think he did?" The woman again. He glared at her and she grinned, hoisting her sword up so the flat rested on her shoulder in a gesture reminiscent of his lover's. "He wouldn't have held back if he'd attacked carrot-top there."

MacLeod flushed, ashamed of his automatic assumption that the older Immortal had attacked the younger. "Then why would Richie attacked Adam?"

"Oh! Oh! I know! I know!" The woman hopped up and down, waving her free arm like a child in a classroom. Joe almost burst out laughing.

MacLeod suddenly crouched, resting a hand on his lover's shoulder. The next second, Methos was gasping for breath, his eyes snapping open. He blinked a couple times, taking several deep breath before finally focusing on MacLeod.

"Duncan!" He literally lunged upwards, wrapping both arms around his lover and holding him close, his relief apparent.

"Methos." MacLeod murmured as soon as the other man gave him enough room to do so. "Methos, what happened?"

"Damn." Methos closed his eyes with a sigh, relaxing into his lover's arms. "Richie attacked me." He felt MacLeod's sudden tension. "Yes, love, to kill. But it wasn't entirely his doing, I think. Cassandra's behind it. At least partially."

"How. . .?"

"Well, she had him believing that either you didn't know about my past or, that if you did, I was somehow controlling you into having an affair with me."

"Damn." MacLeod's arms tightened protectively around the slender man he held.

"Yeah, damn. Good thing you showed up when you did."

"It wasn't my doing, Methos."

"Hmmmmm?" Methos looked up at him in puzzlement then followed his eyes to the mystery woman still standing across the room. Slowly he straightened, his smile broadening.

"You made good time." He said and the woman grinned, her sword vanishing into the folds of her coat.

"Is it safe to come closer?" She asked.

Methos blinked in surprise. "What. . .? Oh, you thought she attacked Richie and me. No, Mac, she'd never do that. Come on, dear and let me introduce you." Methos rose, reaching for the woman's hands and drawing her into a tight hug. "Your timing is impeccable as ever."

"Glad to have been of service." She drew back and poked at him repeatedly with a finger. "Introductions, Adam."

Methos scowled at her and grabbed the finger. "Mac, you wanted to know who made those watches. Well, this is her." The woman pulled back the hood she still wore and MacLeod felt his mouth dropped open. Behind him, Joe began to swear. "This is Eve Pierson. My sister."

MacLeod looked from his lover to the woman beside him. The resemblance between the two of them was unmistakable. The same gold-green eyes, the same angular features, even the same prominent nose, though on Eve it was somehow softened and just right for her. Her hair was the same shade of brown, though hers was much longer and caught up in a chignon. She even dressed like him; loose sweater, blue jeans and low boots.

"Sister?" Joe finally said. "I didn't know you had a sister."

"I didn't know you could have a sister." MacLeod this time, looking at his lover with some suspicion.

"It's a very long story. . ."

"Which at this time we have no time to tell." The woman said cheerfully. "I think you are going to have to have a long talk with the youngster because if this doesnít get resolved, I will take his head because Adam won't. Meanwhile, brother dear will take Joe and I out to eat where I will regale Joe with tales of Adam's misbegotten youth."

"Hey, wait a minuteÖ!"

"I'll have to stop and get a tape recorder." Joe grinned.

"If you're going to be telling tales, then Joe gets to pay for the meal." Methos grumbled. "I thought you were going to call from the airport so I could pick you up."

"Well, I thought I'd surprise you." She plucked at his bloody sweater with a frown. "You'll have to change."

"Surprise me. . .hmmmmm." Methos reached forward suddenly, dipping his hands into her coat pockets. Before she could protest, he had pulled out a camera. He studied it then her with a smile.

"What?! Can't a girl take some pictures? Of her brother? Preferably in bed? Nekkid? Not alone? Suitable for blackmail?" She snatched the camera back. "Go get changed. Carrot-top's going to wake up any minute now and I think maybe this should be a one-on-one talk."

Methos shook his head with a sigh. "Keep an eye on her. She's likely to sneak upstairs and install a video camera in our bedroom." He headed for the elevator.

"Well, that would explain this." Joe pulled a small video camera from a bag near the door. "It is yours, isn't it Eve?"

"What? Doesn't everyone carry a video camera around? For those unexpected but hoped for situations suitable for blackmail. Not that I could actually blackmail him. The man has no shame and would probably autograph copies upon request. Heads up." She said suddenly, stepping back and looking down at Richie. The next minute, MacLeod felt that distinctive murmur of Immortality as the young Immortal revived. He straightened to his full height, what Joe referred to as his warrior-persona descending onto him like a cloak. Joe stepped back to stand next to Eve and out of the way.

Richie sat up abruptly, looking around wild-eyed and visibly shrinking when he saw MacLeod. An obviously angry MacLeod.

"Ahhhh. . ." The young Immortal started to stammer, looking around warily.

"He's upstairs. Changing. Exactly what do you think you were doing, Richie?"

"Cassandra told me about him. . .!" Richie scrambled to his feet as MacLeod stepped closer.

"I bet she did. Did she happen to mention that the Voice, the ability to control other people, is her ability and not Methos'? I didn't think so. . ."

"How can you be sure about that? How do you know he isn't controlling you?"

"Because I know Methos. And I know Cassandra. Everything that's happened between Methos and I has been by mutual consent. His and mine."

"But you're not acting like yourself, Mac!"

"And how would you know? You've only known me for five years. There's almost four hundred years of history before that! This isn't the first time I've had an affair with a man!"

Richie flinched but before he could say anything else, Eve's voice cut into the tense silence.

"Ohhhh, so that's it. He's trying to find an acceptable reason for his homophobia."

"Something like that, yeah." Joe said in a tired voice and Richie spun to look at them.

"Who the hell are you?" He snarled at the woman.

"Snarky, isn't he? I'm Eve Pierson, Adam's sister. And if you ever try to take his head again, I shall mount yours over my mantelpiece back home." She said pleasantly.

"Eve! Behave!" Methos walked from the elevator, pulling on his coat. "I seriously can't take her anywhere." He paused in front of MacLeod and reached out to draw him into a gentle kiss then a nuzzle on the cheek, not caring what Richie may think. "Eve, put the camera away." He said without looking at her.

"Camera? What camera?" The woman hastily stuck the camera back into her pocket, ignoring Joe's burst of laughter.

"Why do I have this feeling that, by this time tomorrow, there are going to be pictures of us all over the Internet?" Methos sighed, glancing over at Eve. The woman had turned to Joe and was whispering something to him. Joe looked confused but agreeable as the woman slipped off one of the earrings she wore and handed it to him. Methos frowned and looked quickly at Richie, noticing for the first time that he wasn't wearing the watch he'd received for Christmas. Well, that explained that and the ancient Immortal relaxed from tension he hadn't realized he possessed.

"Hey, Richie." Joe walked over to the young Immortal. "The other night, one of the waitresses found this over where you and your date were. Think she might have lost it?" He held out the earring. Richie gave it a glance and shrugged.

"Maybe."

"Could you ask her?"

Richie frowned but took the earring, shoving it into a pocket. "Sure. Next time I see her." Then he returned to eyeing MacLeod worriedly.

Methos smiled and pulled away from MacLeod. "Later, love. Come on, Joe. Let's go feed this bottomless pit I refer to as my sister."

"Hey! I resent that! I think." Eve slipped one arm under Joe's and the other under Methos'. "I spotted a nice-looking steak place down the street. I think it said all you can eat."

"And can she eat." Methos added, earning him a sharp elbow in the ribs. The trio exited the building, leaving a very uncertain Richie alone with MacLeod.

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

"What was that all about?" Joe asked as soon as they reached the sidewalk.

"What was what all about?" was Eve's bland reply.

"Eve. . ." Methos' tone was exasperated. He looked past her toward Joe. "For some reason we've never been able to figure out, the ivory that earring and all those watch bands are carved from have a negating effect on certain Immortal abilities. Among them, the Voice. Richie hasn't been wearing the watch, making him easy prey for Cassandra's abilities."

"I don't think it took much pushing on her part."

"Hmmmm, I doubt it as well. Richie never approved of my relationship with MacLeod but at least before he more or less accepted it. I suspect she just gave him a legitimate excuse not to accept it. Ahhh, here we are. Let's get her fed before she starts wasting away before our eyes."

Eve stuck her tongue out in his general direction. Joe grinned at what would seem to be normal sibling sniping. . .only these siblings couldn't possibly be siblings, despite their obvious resemblance. Immortals don't have siblings of any kind. Or could they?

They settled at a table and ordered. Joe ordered soup and salad, Methos just a drink, and Eve the largest steak she could as rare as she could get it.

"All right." Joe said as soon as the waitress had move away. "I heard something about stories." He grinned expectedly.

"Well, let's see. . ." Eve leaned forward with a grin.

"Have a breadstick." Methos handed her the bread basket and said something in a language Joe didn't recognize. They spoke back and forth for several minutes then Eve punched him. . .hard. . .on the arm.

"Now, where was I? Oh, yeah. Stories." And Eve launched into a tale about Methos, a keg of beer, a pair of twin girls and a goat that had Joe laughing so hard that he almost fell off the chair. Half-way through the story, the food arrived and Methos excused himself. Joe ate absently as he listened to Eve finish the tale.

"And you should have heard him trying to explain how that goat got into his bedroom." Eve poppod a piece of steak into her mouth.

"You put it there, didn't you?" Joe guessed with a grin.

"Who, me? Never! That's my story and I'm sticking to it."

"Wait a minute." Joe frowned. "Where is Adam?" He glanced around, realizing that the Elder Immortal hadn't yet returned. He looked at Eve, feeling his heart sink. "No. Please don't tell me. . ." He almost whimpered the words, shrinking at the thought of explaining to MacLeod what happened to the old man and wondering how fast he could get out of town.

"No, he is not gone permanently. He just didn't want to argue with MacLeod about what he has planned."

"Which is?"

"Cassandra is a fool. And a coward. She can't win against Adam in fair combat and she knows it so she's being sneaky. She can't use MacLeod. . .or maybe just doesn't want to use him. . .so she's visiting his Immortal friends, trying to talk one of them into taking Adam's head."

"What does this have to do with Adam vanishing?" Joe whimpered, trying to figure out a quick way out of the city.

"Joe, listen to me." Eve waved her fork sternly at the man. "Adam is not running away. He has too much at stake here to do that. Besides, he knows I will hunt him down and hurt him if he does. He is removing himself from possible confrontations. I know where he is. I know where he is going. But he does not want to chance getting his head taken by one of Duncan's friends or chance taking one of their heads."

Joe visibly steadied himself. "All right. You said that this ivory somehow negates Cassandra's ability?"

"Yep."

"So the others should be safe?"

"If they're wearing the watches. Would they be?"

"Amanda would. And Anne. They both loved them. And the de Valicourts as well. And. . ." Joe raised his arm to show her his watch. "Now, Richie doesn't like Adam so I don't think he's been wearing his. And Connor. . ." Joe grimaced. "Connor doesn't much like Adam either."

"You mean Richie doesn't like the sex part. Connor. . .?"

"Doesn't like Adam. He's 800 years old. I don't think the sex part phases him much."

"Okay, how much do they know about Adam's past?"

"You mean, the Horsemen period?" Joe shrugged. "Not much, I suppose. It's not exactly something one brings up in casual conversation."

"That may have been a mistake. Now, what we have to do, and what Adam suggested to me, was to, shall we say, spike Cassandra's guns. In other words, Adam tells his side of the story. He just wants to make sure it's in a place that's fairly safe."

"Where would that be?"

Eve frowned, cleaning the plate absently with a piece of bread. "He said that Duncan owned an island that was holy ground. . .?"

"Yeah. That's perfect."

"Now, he's heading out there and I am going to follow. . ."

"No! No, no, no. You are going with me to explain all this to Mac."

"No. I am going out there to guard Adam's back. You tell Duncan what's going on, ask him to get everyone together and out to the island in three days. But make sure not to tell about the ivory. We don't want it to become common knowledge."

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

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

MacLeod lead the way up to the cabin, stopping abruptly at the sight that greeted him. And he really wished he had a video camera.

Methos was almost naked, only his occasional twists and turns revealing that he wore a loincloth. Eve wore the same with the addition of a breast wrap. Each held twin swords and were using them with a skill that made MacLeod's mouth go dry. More then once, a blade would whistle heart-stoppingly close to cutting one or the other but never was contact made. They weren't fighting, he realized. They were dancing, sword-dancing in the truest sense of the word.

A twist, a turn, all four swords locking and then they were kneeling, heads bowed, foreheads touching. As one, they rose and stepped apart to bow to each other then Methos handed his swords to his sister and turned to greet the visitors.

MacLeod didn't give him a chance to say a word. He stepped forward to grip Methos' upper arms, drawing him close into a deep kiss. Methos responded eagerly, making MacLeod wish he had come over by himself first.

A sudden shriek distracted him and he looked over Methos' shoulder at an outraged Eve.

"Where's my camera?"

"Down the well." Methos said pleasantly, not looking at her. "Where you'll be if you don't behave."

"Ohhhhh." She threw a rock at his back before stomping into the cabin.

MacLeod looked after her in amusement. He'd had sister-in-laws before but never quite like this one.

He realized suddenly that Methos was shivering and tightened his hold.

"Planning on getting dressed?" He couldn't help but think if he'd come over without the others and they had run off Eve, Methos wouldn't have to get dressed. Not right away at least.

"I think I better shower first." Methos chuckled, nuzzling MacLeod's neck. "Which means I better get in there before Eve uses up all the hot water. Which she's likely to do just out of spite." He nipped his lover's neck lightly then turned to walk into the cabin, MacLeod appreciating the view every step of the way as he followed. He snuck a look at the others and couldn't help but grin at the looks on the women's faces, obviously enjoying the view as much as he. Robert looked both pole-axed and envious and even Connor looked appreciative.

"I can understand your interest in the lad." Connor said in a low voice to his kinsman and Duncan threw him an annoyed look.

"You understand one of my interests in Methos." He said coolly as he stepped into the cabin. Methos was already out of the room but Eve was there, poking at a boom box. She grinned at them cheerfully as she flipped the music on and darted from the room to a rock version of Tam Lim.

Duncan grinned, shaking his head as he walked over to turn down the music, a move greeted by an angry wail from Eve but he ignored her as he gestured into the living room. "Have a seat. I'll check and see what we have in the way of drinks."

Joe made his way to the cluster of couch and chairs, pausing with a low whistle when he saw what rested on the coffee table. "Donít bother with the glasses, Mac! There's some out here! And tea cups as well!" He half-heard the reply as he sank into a chair, reaching for a glass with a wry grin.

It was actually a mug mainly carved from ivory with panes of etched glass set into it. The etchings were different from mug to mug; there was the Watcher symbol, here the de Valicourts coat-of-arms, there the thieving cat that appeared on Amanda's watch. The tea cups, on the other hand, were all obviously of the same set, delicately carved ivory.

"Ohhhh. . ." Gina admired one of the mugs. "The woman, Eve, she does these?"

"Apparently." Joe grinned, cradling the Watcher mug in his hands, waiting for something to fill it with and watching warily as Cassandra picked up a mug, studying it with a frown. "Methos said that was his "family crest", as it were." Joe said in answer to the woman's puzzlement. "I'm not sure what it is. . ."

"The Kirien." Cassandra said bitingly. "A legend older then Methos. It's said in circles that it's the forebear of the unicorn legends." She set the mug down as if loath to touch it and nodded abruptly. "A fitting crest. Legend has it that the Kirien was a carnivorous horse-like creature, a killer. . ."

". . .covered in armor and bearing a horn on its nose." Methos' voice finished as he walked into the room, his hair still damp and tousled. He was dressed now in jeans and a sweater, a sheet draped over one shoulder and a hand full of combs and scissors. He paused to let Duncan pass, his hands full also. "Eve thought it was a fitting crest." He stepped over the couch, setting what he carried on the back of it and spreading the sheet behind.

"Who is this Eve?" Cassandra asked and Methos threw her an amused look.

"Surely Joe told you? She's my sister." He climbed over the couch gracefully, sitting on the back of it.

"Immortals don't have siblings."

"True." He said agreeably, watching as Duncan played host, filling glasses and handing out drinks. There was a pitcher of beer and another of lemonade, plus a still-steaming tea kettle and even a couple unopened cans of both soda and beer for the distrustful.

"Then who is she?" Cassandra demanded.

Methos took the mug his lover offered him, filled with beer and etched with his family crest. "She's my sister." He said pleasantly, motioning Duncan to sit next to him, not in front as he originally intended. "I have to do Eve's hair." He explained at the puzzled look Duncan gave him. "You'd think after a hundred years, the woman could get a beautician."

"I do!" Eve appeared in the doorway, scowling at Methos. Her long hair was wrapped in an oversized towel and she held another towel in her hands. "But after twenty years, they tend to notice I'm not aging. Besides," she tossed the towel over her brother's head. "You're the only one who does it right." With that, she sat in front of him, wriggling back comfortably. He sighed and unwrapped her hair, letting the thick mass spill over his leg and onto the clean sheet.

"Have you thought of having it cut?" He asked, reaching for a comb.

"Fine talk from the person who convinced me to let it grow long to begin with."

"That was over a hundred years ago! Actually," he paused thoughtfully. "More like two hundred years ago. Lean." He pushed lightly at Eve's back and she raised her feet to set them on the coffee table, leaning forward to rest against them, arms wrapped around her legs and chin on her knees.

Cassandra cleared her throat. "I asked who is she?" She said in a cold voice.

"You're not listening." Eve took the mug Methos handed down to her. "I'm his sister."

"Immortals don't have siblings!" The witch snapped and two pairs of identical eyes looked at her politely.

"And your point is?" Eve asked. Methos chuckled and returned to combing through Eve's hair.

"Leave her be, Eve." He reversed the comb and worried at a knot intently. "It's a long and complicated story but, for all intents and purposes, Eve is my sister. If you don't believe it, Anne could run blood tests."

"I'd rather hear the story."

"I'm sure you would but I am not going to tell it. And neither are you!" Methos snapped when Eve opened her mouth. She shut it again and winked at Joe, who grinned back cheerfully, suspecting that he'd hear it later.

"I think perhaps we should hear it." Cassandra said coolly. "To hear how you managed to convince this young woman that you are her brother."

Methos' head snapped up, as did Eve's. They both stared at her for a long moment then they both started laughing, so hard that Methos fell off the back of the couch, drawing a yelp from Eve as the fall pulled at her hair.

"Hey!"

"Sorry, love." Methos' voice came from the floor, still choked with laughter. "Glory! If she could prove you weren't my sisterÖ"

Eve sniffed. "You wouldn't care."

Methos rose, still cradling the mass of hair and looking thoughtful. "You're probably right." He climbed back onto the couch and rearranged the hair. "Gods! You have more knots. . .why don't you just let me just cut it?"

"You do more then a trim and I'll trim you! And he. . ." She jerked a thumb at Duncan. ". . .won't like what I trim!"

Duncan looked at her. "Is she saying what I think she's saying?" Duncan asked.

"Yep. And she means it too." Methos looked at his lover and his hands stopped moving as their eyes locked. The heat between them was almost visible.

"You are going back with them when everyone leaves, right Eve?" Duncan said, eyes not leaving Methos'.

Eve turned her head to look at them then looked at Joe. "I now know what people mean when they say 'in heat'. However, I have come prepared." She groped under the coffee table and pulled out a seltzer bottle filled with ice and water, brandishing it threateningly. "All right you two. I have ice water and I am not afraid to use it!"

The two men looked at her then Duncan turned forward and Methos returned to her hair, concentrating more then necessary on the task. Eve grinned, offering the bottle to Joe. "Here, keep this close, will you? You have a clearer shot then I do."

"You got it!" Joe set the bottle on the floor next to him.

"Gee, thanks Joe. You're a buddy." Methos shook his head. "Gimme the beer Eve." The woman obeyed and her brother took a deep drink before handing it back. "Now, we are not here to tell tales, neither me nor Eve. We are all here to hear your tale, Cassandra. Spare you from wearing yourself out running from one of MacLeod's friends to the next, trying to convince one of them to take my head."

"Because you're too big of a damn coward to try for it yourself." Eve added.

"Eve. . ."

"What? It's the truth. If she wants your head, then she should try for it! Not run around leading adolescent males by their hormones and the Voice to try for it themselves."

"Richie's hardly an adolescent." Joe commented.

"Compared to me, everyone's an adolescent." She refilled the mug. "Actually, everyone's an embryo. Including Methos. And I'm not just speaking of Richie." She looked pointedly at Connor, who had the grace to flush slightly at the implication in her words.

"What if I told you I wasn't trying to get someone else to take Methos' head?" Cassandra said purringly and Eve very calmly threw what beer remained in the mug at her, drenching her in the process.

"If you try to use the Voice here again, on any of these people ever again, I shall tear your head off with my bare hands." Eve said pleasantly.

"Holy Ground. . !" The woman stuttered.

"What an interesting concept, Holy Ground. I must thank whoever thought of it. That only works on Immortals, my dear, and I am not an Immortal. Don't do it again."

Now everyone was staring at Eve in undisguised curiosity.

"That's why I didn't feel a buzz when you killed me!" Richie blurted.

"Exactly."

end beginning six


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