"Second-String Blues" by Leslie Fish
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Author's Notes:
Standard fanfic disclaimer. This was written in answer to the "Music" Mid-Week Challenge at Holy Ground Forum.

SECOND-STRING BLUES
by Leslie Fish


Duncan MacLeod pushed open the door and strolled into the welcome atmosphere of Joe's Le Blues Bar, feeling almost at once the edge of Methos' distinctive aura. A quick glance around the main room showed the familiar lanky form huddled unobtrusively at a table in a shadowed corner. Duncan strolled that way, smiling as he noted that Methos was seated in a position where he could watch all the doors and reach the nearest of them quickly. Methos saw him coming, and greeted him with a barely noticeable smile and wave. Duncan reached the table, pulled out a chair for himself and looked toward the bar to catch Joe's eye.

That was when the song began. There was a lone singer on the stage, under a single mellow spotlight: a black-haired woman playing guitar. The instant she started to sing, Duncan recognized her voice.

"Listen and I'll tell ya how it's done."

Duncan all but spun in his chair, staring. Yes, that was a 12-string guitar all right, and yes, that was Lisa Carp playing it.

"If you want a woman, learn from one."

"Someone you know?" Methos asked quietly, reaching for his inevitable beer.

"Don't presume this is all for your fun."

"Yes," Duncan admitted. "Lisa Carp."

"These are not the ways to get laid."

While the rest of the audience snickered, and Methos raised a questioning eyebrow, Duncan tried to explain. "She saw me take a Quickening, back in Phoenix. I wound up telling her about Immortals, and she went straight to the other guy's Watcher to volunteer."

Methos stared at him, beer haled halfway to his mouth. "So she knows...?"

"First: don't ignore that measuring tape..."

"And she knows me."

"And chow down 'til you lose your shape..."

"Has she spotted you?" Methos set down his beer.

"'Cause nobody beds with Moby Grape."

"I don't know."

"This is not the way to get laid."

This time the audience howled. Duncan glanced around him again, and saw Joe making his way toward the table carrying a tray that held two glasses and three beer bottles.

"Well, Joe has, anyway," Methos grinned.

"Don't play the Cool Sophisticate to show how smart you are."

Duncan couldn't help flicking a smirk at Methos.

"Telling all your kinky fantasies will not - get you - very far."

As the audience roared, Joe came up to the table and set his burden down. Duncan pulled out a chair for him, and Joe dropped gratefully into it. Methos snagged one of the bottles.

"Don't skip washing. Do it well."

"She's something else, isn't she?" Joe smiled, looking toward the stage.

"Don't let laundry go to hell."

"Something else, all right," Duncan agreed, taking a bottle and glass for himself.

"Don't think women like the smell."

The guitar twanged an expressive note.

"This is not the way to get laid."

"The crowd loves her," Joe noted, over the audience's howls of laughter - most of it female. "And she's really good with that 12-string. There aren't many 12-string players, more's the pity."

"And when some babe comes into view..."

"I think maybe they're intimidated by the legend of Leadbelly."

"Don't let hormones think for you..."

"Not her, though."

"Or start by saying: 'Hi. Let's screw.'"

Screeches of feminine laughter rolled out of the crowd.

"This is not the way to get laid."

"Are most of her songs this, er, raunchy?" Methos enquired.

"No," Duncan and Joe said simultaneously - then stopped and looked at each other. "Uh, I've met her before, Joe," Duncan admitted.

"Yeah. She told me," Joe grinned back.

"Don't pour your whole life story out on every handy ear."

"In fact, she insisted on joining my team."

"Let's get real; your life's a bore, or else you - wouldn't - still be here."

Half the women in the audience shouted back: "You'd be in bed!"

"How long has she been playing here?" Duncan asked.

"Three days now, and she already has a following - and a popular song."

"Don't be gross when you begin..."

"It's been just a couple months since I met her," Duncan pondered. "I thought she'd still be at the Watcher academy."

"Or tell plump girls you like 'em thin..."

"She already had some, uh, remarkable qualifications," Joe shrugged.

"Or brag of where your tongue has been."

That line made Methos spew his mouthful of beer. The rest of the audience laughed so loudly that nobody could hear the chorus line.

"I'll bet she wrote that one," Duncan murmured.

"I'm sure she did," Methos coughed, wiping off his chin.

"Don't assume they love your bod..."

"She did," Joe replied. "She plays all her own stuff, no covers."

"Or that your dick is a holy rod..."

Methos muttered something about "uncovered", and made up for his lost mouthful of beer.

"Or that your feelings are the Word of God."

This time all the snickers from the audience were female.

"This is not the way to get laid."

"Her previous piece was radically different," Methos commented. "A rather grim love-song..."

"That was 'Nothing To Lose'," Joe recalled, "And I don't think it's just about ordinary love gone bad."

"No one's gonna fill your bed just because you're you."

"Ouch," Duncan muttered.

"Nobody cares what you think or feel, unless you - give them - reason to."

The audience was quieter, thinking that over, as Lisa swung into the instrumental break.

"An unusual woman," Methos noted. "And she's you assistant co-Watcher now? Assigned to Duncan?"

"Right." Joe gave Duncan a half-embarrassed look. "She's a lot more mobile than I am. Expect to see her trotting around after you a lot."

"Your personal groupie," Methos smirked.

Lisa wound up the instrumental and strummed into the last verse.

"'Cause if you... Talk and act like a dirty shmoe..."

"More of a friend," Duncan caught himself bristling, and wondered why he felt obliged to defend her in front of Methos.

"Look and smell like a buffalo..."

"Interesting friends you collect, Duncan." Methos took another mouthful of beer.

"Then even the whores are gonna say no."

"Look who's talking," Duncan chuckled.

"This is not the way to get lai-aid."

"Well, better a friendly Watcher than..." Methos looked at Joe, and shrugged. Joe smiled ruefully.

"Grow up, baby, and don't say 'maybe'..."

"Yeah." Duncan took a healthy swig of his beer.

"Or else you'll never get laid."

The thunderous applause that followed the closing chords made conversation impossible for long moments. The three friends at the corner table contented themselves with absorbing the beer, and Duncan finally noticed that the brand was Red Wolf. He wondered how Joe had managed to get the stuff in Paris.

"Just a short break, folks," Lisa announced, unslinging her guitar. "Have a drink, a sandwich or a potty-break, and I'll be right back." She set the guitar in its nearby case, picked up a half-filled glass near her foot, got up and trotted off the stage.

"She saw me, all right," Duncan noted, "And she's coming here."

Methos started to shove back his chair, then paused, giving a pained look to his unfinished beer and the fresh bottle.

"Oh, stay put," Duncan sighed. "You may as well meet her now as later."

"I think too many people know me already," Methos muttered, but he pulled his chair back to the table and reached for his glass. "She was singing a song about it being 'That Kind of a Day' when I came in," he grumbled. "Is the lady psychic, or what?"

"I'm not sure," Duncan admitted, remembering the great Arizona fire. "I saw her sing up the wind, once."

The other two froze and stared at him. Duncan squirmed inwardly, wondering if he'd have to tell the whole story right now. The decision was postponed as Lisa came up to their table.

"Hey, Joe," she greeted her supposed employer, and then turned a beaming smile on Duncan. "Hey, Duncan! Good to see you again."

"And you, too." Duncan caught himself returning her smile. "So they didn't keep you long in Geneva?"

"Nope." Lisa slid, catlike, into the remaining chair. "I aced the placement test, and they didn't have that much left to teach me."

Joe shook his head in appreciation.

Lisa peered at the third man at the table, and her smile returned. "Damn!" she marveled. "Adam Pierson, no less! Hello, legend." She stuck out a hand.

Methos took it briefly, rolling his eyes at Joe. "God," he muttered, "How wild a reputation do I have at the old school?"

"It's not that bad, really." Lisa reached for her drink and made half of it vanish. "Just that you were a good researcher, and one day something happened to let you know you were an Immortal..." She paused, raising an eyebrow at him.

"I was hit by a truck," Methos pulled out his cover story, flicking only the briefest glance at Joe. "When I woke up beside the road with my clothes shredded but my skin intact, I knew what it meant."

Duncan and Joe looked at each other, then hastily buried their faces in their beers. They knew that Cassandra's Watcher had blown Methos' cover during the Horsemen caper, but only a handful of the inner circle of the Watchers were privy to the knowledge.

"Ah..." Lisa nodded sympathetically. "And of course you didn't want to announce that fact to the whole wide world."

"Hardly," Methos smiled. "I'm sure you can understand my predicament."

"Well, you eventually let it be known, and then quit," Lisa grinned. "And there was great consternation - not the least over your sending in regular reports on yourself. Terribly embarrassing to the old club."

Duncan was hard put not to laugh out loud. He hadn't heard that part of the story.

"You'd think we'd have guessed," Joe put in, "That after all these centuries it had to happen, sooner or later, that one of us would turn up immortal."

"There was some talk," Lisa reflected, "Of hiring you back as a bird-dog."

"A...what?" Methos looked slightly pole-axed.

Joe caught it, and snickered.

"They'd like you to help sniff out undiscovered Immortals," Lisa explained. "After all, you can sense them, and we can't. And you really were a damned good researcher, you know."

Studying the expressions that flickered, fast and subtle as hydrogen flames, over Methos' face, Duncan guessed that the man was seriously tempted.

"I...I'll have to think it over," Methos murmured, playing his Adam Pierson persona to the hilt. "It sounds rather dangerous."

"So is life," Lisa shrugged. "Meanwhile, since it's really Not The Proper Thing to have you Watching yourself, how about taking me on?"

"I beg your pardon?" Methos' stunned look was totally unrehearsed.

"I mean, since I'm only the second-string biographer for Duncan, and you two pal around a lot, why not let me be your Boswell too?"

Duncan and Joe struggled to suppress snickers at the sight of Methos' mouth opening and closing with no sound coming out.

"That's a first!" Joe couldn't help saying.

"Not really." Lisa glanced at him. "Reading between the lines on ancient Watcher history, it's pretty clear that in ancient times a lot of Immortals were worshipped as gods - and we were their priesthood. Priests don't hide from their gods; quite the contrary, if anything. I get the distinct impression that the ancient gods were rather tickled with the idea of priestly secretaries trotting around after them, dutifully recording all their deeds and sayings for posterity. Great for the ego, that sort of thing."

The light was too dim for him to be certain, but Duncan could have sworn that he saw Methos blush.

"So it's not as if we were setting a precedent, or anything," Lisa finished. "Just let me hang around with you and take notes - when I'm not here, singing, that is. Speaking of which..." Lisa glanced at her wristwatch. "I have to get back on stage. Stay and listen, won't you?"

She took the remains of her drink with her as she got up from the table and strolled back toward the stage. The audience, seeing her coming, began to clap in anticipation.

"It wouldn't be the first time," Methos mumbled, reaching for his beer.

"She's not bad company," Duncan smiled.

The noise died down as Lisa resumed her seat on the lone barstool, pulled her guitar into position and strummed some opening chords.

"She's a lot of fun, in fact," Joe considered, "And a damned good musician."

Duncan noticed that the chords were falling into a Latin beat instead of Blues, and shot a questioning look at Joe. "Yeah," Joe replied. "Every song she does is different."

"Very different," Methos mumbled into his beer.

At that point Lisa started in on the words.

"Carmen Miranda's ghost is haunting Space Station Three."

The crowd whooped, but not too noisily; everyone wanted to hear the words.

"Half the crew has seen her, plus the Portmaster and me."

"She's fascinating," Duncan admitted. "Where does she get all these weird ideas?"

"And if you think we've had too much of Cooky's home-made rum,"

Joe couldn't help saying: "It must be the company she keeps."

"Just tell me where those basket-hats of fruit keep coming from."

"You know," Methos considered, watching her, "Hanging around with her just might be fun."

"Score another for Lisa," Joe chuckled, raising his glass.

Duncan could think of nothing better than to raise his, too.


--END--



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