"How Many Goats..." by Mackiedockie and AD absolutely by AD absolutely
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Author's Notes:
Written by Mackiedockie and Adabsolutely. Methos and Joe, in the bar, late. Generic, right? Right. Honest. Warnings: Remarkably PG, all things considered. Just a couple of goats. Format and minor content edited from the original chat.

by Mackiedockie and ADabsolutely

"...Or, How Methos and Joe Decided It Was A Good Idea To Burgle The British Museum"

The owner and master of Joe's Bar closed and locked the door as the last eligible, but uninterested, blues fan went in search of a younger, rowdier crowd. Younger than the bartender and rowdier than his lone barfly companion, anyway. Joe polished the bar, which didn't need it, and sighed, because he recognized that he was only polishing because he was bored. Business was down, receipts were down, and his social prospects were lower than whaleshit. Still, there was no reason to wallow when there was a perfectly good Methos in front of him to needle. "So, O wise and ancient sage, what's your favorite pickup line?" Not that Joe needed pickup lines. Yeah. Right. Still, it never hurt to expand one's repertoire.

"Well, I've found that it changes from century to century. One can never go wrong by complimenting a woman's eyes." The old guy's grin was mischievous. "Or the number of goats in her father's herd. And if that doesn't work, I tell them I'm a doctor and ask how they are feeling -- actually that one tends to get me slapped."

"I reme...I can imagine." Joe amended his agreement. That one could get you slapped. And he'd already filled the square labeled, 'Getting clocked by the petite blonde in the cowboy bar. And her taller, prettier boyfriend.' "So...how many goats is the right compliment? Too few, she'll be insulted, right? Too many, and she'll think I'm fishing for free cheese."

Methos' smile became artificially prudish. "Never mention cheese. If you know the number then double it, of course," he replied in a tone that suggested Joe really should have know the answer without being told. A roguish expression replaced the supercilious. "So Joe, tell me your best ever line. Dad."

Where was that dirty bar towel when one wanted to paste it up side the random Immortal's head, anyway? "Keep that up, and you'll regret it. I still have some of the old Visine, bucko." Even so, Joe could still flashback to some of his youthful impertinences, when he had far more horsepower. Fewer dents. And less corrosion around the points and plugs. "After knocking at the front door, it was always good form to admire the car in the driveway. Even if it was a Chevy. Even if it was a Chevy station wagon."

Methos chuckled. "Oh what a magnificent chariot! Your fathers? Could I take the reins? Have you seen the new lions at the Coliseum?"

Joe flipped him a grin. "Your Dad's ride rocks! An LTD! LittleTooDangerous! Look at all that...legroom," he almost purred. "Are you free for the basketball game on Friday? Or we could go to the drive-in. I hear that 'The Wild Ones' is playing at the Bijou Lanes. The speakers would sound great in that roomy back seat..."

"Damn. That does sound good, Joe. And I never did get around to visiting a drive-in while they were still the thing. Too late now. Just goes to show you gotta grab the new techno-reins while they are available. I'd think being a musician provides plenty opportunities for impressing the ladies?"

"Less than you might think. Take tonight, for instance. The dancers, they get the slow romantic songs, me, I get to watch the action from the stage. Talk about singing the blues, when you see the gal you had your eye on in the clutches of some bozo who can wiggle his butt to the beat." And if Joe sent a wry glance toward Methos' butt cocked on the barstool, neither of the Watchers present were going to record it for the Chronicles. "Besides, no place to neck. During my teenage wasteland years all my money went into amps and guitars. Never got around to buying a car. "

"And then Nam...." Methos stared into his beer, looking like he felt foolish for going there. Abruptly he hijacked the subject back to the dirt he apparently wanted to hear. "But damn it, Joe, you've manage to contribute to the gene pool, something I'll never do. You are a success, biologically speaking."

Joe blinked, a bit blindsided by the unexpected reference to the war coupled with the rarer reference to his romantic Waterloo with Laura Brennan-Thomas. It was a little more truth than they usually bantered about. He blinked again and unfroze himself enough to turn around and pour himself a healthy shot, without even looking at the bottle. After the shot burned its way down (and he looked at the bottle, and put it carefully back) he managed a perfectly civil response. Considering. "Are you nuts? Success? You have a strange definition, man."

"Call it envy, Joe. The whole purpose of this mating dance we humans do is to see ourselves in the next generation, to be sure there is a next generation. I felt that I was a failure for centuries -- until I became a doctor. I'm sorry to bring up Amy. I guess I'm sticking my generous nose in again."

"It wasn't as if I was around to see jack, much less Amy." Joe pointed out. Slightly to his own surprise, he wasn't angry. He bent his head to listen to the tone behind Methos' words. Envy was one emotion he never pegged on Methos.

"Maybe you contributed more to her than you realize. And maybe there is a lot more to go? Yeah, I know, 'Go to hell, old man.' Soon enough, soon enough. Gotta interfere while I can."

"Hey," Joe finally said softly. "If anyone has any right to make remarks about my parenting skills, or lack of them, it's you, man. You risked your life for her. I'll never forget that. Ever." Joe cleared his throat, and reached back for another pour, this time from one of the lower shelves, conveniently hiding his expression.

"Well, you need to be a Grandfather, so keeping Amy safe is rather key to that future event. Now all we have to do is find the perfect gene donor. There's that brainiac that took over the Methos chronicles. Jay Spencer? or Spence? Good looking kid...What!?"

Joe looked at Methos, utterly aghast. "Are you trying to marry off my daughter?" he asked. "To SPENCE? That spindly...he can't even play poker!!!" Damn. He'd spluttered. Joe was mortified. "Besides. Amy's grandmother would never allow it. Spence is almost as Irish as I am." So there. "Besides, I'm too young to be a Grandfather. I'm still looking for a date, right?" Methos playing yenta for his daughter. Behold the myriad possible catastrophes.

"Right! Of course. You have plenty of time to continue the Dawson line. Hey, I see the ladies come up to you after you play. Opportunity Joe, opportunity. Still, if you're worried about the number of goats for a bride price for Amy...no, no I can see by the look on your face. Just trying to help, Joe. Speaking of...Amy's mother, isn't she Irish too?"

"Christ, no. Or not publicly. English Public School, Church of England, Lord of the Manor born Londoner. The Brennans were some sort of tenant landlords during the Famine. Her ancestors starved mine, the truth be told." Joe looked down into his drink, feeling like a ridiculously typecast Hibernian. "Besides, she was already married." Methos already knew that. He was reminding himself. Talking about creating catastrophes--Joe managed to screw up perfectly well on his own long before he had Methos' help.

Methos nodded and gave Joe a measuring look. "Sorry, Joe. Hey, did I ever tell you about being married to three sisters? Talk about a no win situation! I only lasted a couple years..."

Joe opened another beer for Methos, and after a hesitation, one for himself. Too many shots and he'd make an even bigger fool of himself than he already had. He took the bait Methos offered, and let his own checkered career fade into conversational limbo. It wasn't as if the Immortal hadn't heard hundreds of variations before over the generations. "Three sisters, huh? Whattaya mean, no-win? Seems like a young, healthy lad like you would be happy to have three...herds of goats."

Methos snorted with laughter showering Joe with beer. "Sorry, smart ass. I kid you not. Nor nanny or billy. Three spirited sisters who fought with each other incessantly, except when they would gang up together to harangue me. Never a moments rest. No wonder my horse decided to trample me. Wonder whatever happened to my goats -- er -- wives. We've all done things we regret, but three sister's is on the A list of stupid."

"Phht. If you're going to waste beer, I'm doubling your bar tab." Ruefully, Joe reached for a clean rag, wiping down the beer on his bar, on his barstool, and on his belt buckle. He was lucky Methos had pretty good beer aim, or he'd have some even more embarrassing wet spots. "I have to suspect the horse had the right idea." Methos was probably lying, anyway. He did that. It was part of his charm. "Three wives, check. Will try to avoid filling that square," he sketched a box in the air between them. "But come on. 'Fess up. What's it really like?" Joe put up his lie detectors, and finished, "Being married, I mean. To one person. For a long time. Having somebody always...around." Joe had been a bachelor so long, that he couldn't imagine the alternative anymore. Methos open his mouth then closed it, and the mischievous smile faded.

"There was Rachel. Dear, sweet Rachel. Thirty-five years together. Well...you become human in my case. You learn to accept yourself and all your faults, because she accepts you. And when she's gone you're lost, but the human remains." He had a thousand mile stare going, and a forgotten beer warming in his hand.

Joe was used to the lies, and came to look forward to them, really, over the years. But he hadn't figured out how to defend himself from the truth. Or defend his friends. "Sorry, man. Not about the good parts. Just..." He shrugged, running out of the kinds of words guys used to express the inexpressible. "I won't tell you I know how it feels. I don't. But I've been lost, I guess." And there he was, wiping the bar again. Putting all his frustrations in the effort, he threw the wet rag all the way across the bar, nailing the exact center of the stage.

Methos' smile was brittle, but did reach his eyes. "Score for the lonely side. She could still be out there you know. Maybe you've even met her already...could be. When I walked in here and met Alexa for the first time, well, just, it was. OK. Enough of this serious stuff." He heaved a hearty sigh. "Time to tell me a lie, Joe."

Joe huffed in self-derision. He was lucky he hadn't knocked himself on his ass, and Methos obviously knew it. "Let's see, lies and consequences. Didja hear about the time I almost got signed by Alligator Records? Wanted to give me a car, give me a contract, give me a tour. I held out for a 1964 Galaxie 500 XL with bucket seats."

"Did I ever mention you have a tell?" Methos began peeling the label from his beer. "Sometimes I'm an idiot. But the three sister/wives is a true one. Would you like to read that journal? It's one I've made a point of keeping track of. It's in a drawer in the British Museum. Actually it's time to move it to a new location, before someone gets around to reading it. Wonder what Amanda is doing? Course I guess I could do it the easy way and get a job there again. Still, 'Manda needs her fun. Of course you don't get to keep it."

"Hah. Shows what you know. Ever heard of a Xerox?" Joe teased, and slightly relaxed. He knew he had tells. Some of them, he used judiciously, now that he knew Methos knew most of them. Methos had tells, too, and peeling the beer label was one of them. "Three...." he shook his head, his imagination going where bluesmen had never gone before. "Got your exercise, did you?"

"Not as much as you'd imagine. I was frequently 'in the dog house.' And no, they did not come to my bed together. They each had their own small yurt." He sighed. "I realize you don't believe me, but it's all in the journal. My guess is our location was some northeast of present day Mongolia. Fantastic ponies. Goats average to middlin'. Didn't return to the region until the last century on a paleontological dig."

"Who did you think you were, Indiana Jones? Bet that went over well with the White Russians," Joe said dryly. The last century had not been a peaceful one in the Gobi, even for paleontologists. Joe reached back a little further in time and had the sudden mental image of Methos tiptoeing between yurts in the middle of the night, furs clutched against the howling wind while a woman yelled the Northern Mongolian equivalent of 'Never darken my door again' into the blizzard wind. Methos was probably lucky that his favorite parts hadn't frozen off. "Only middlin' goats, huh," he commiserated. "You do realize, if Amanda gets that journal for you--she's going to read it. And probably take notes."

Methos mouth opened, then closed. "Shit. Well, maybe I need to dust off my resume and get back inside. I like it there, quiet, lots of pieces that used to belong to me. Hey, maybe I can drag you and Mac along to London. You haven't owned a British pub yet, Joe. One of those things a bluesman really ought to do for the betterment of the mother country. Aye?"

"An Irish pub...?" Joe corrected wistfully. "I always wanted good Harp on tap." He actually thought about it, before assigning the idea to 'Things Immortals do that mere mortals with mortgages only dream about.' But he'd definitely follow Methos and Mac to London. He'd follow them to the ends of the earth. And if Amanda were there, that would just be sparkly gravy. He grinned and inadvertently said aloud, "That would be a foursome."

Methos eyes rounded momentarily, a question look then smiling -- "Oh! Amanda makes four. Though with Nick hanging around could be five. Every now and then she still leaves him on my doorstep in hopes I will impart ancient wisdom. Phff! Fat chance. He never believes my stories either. So I always make a point of telling him only true stories. I figure that'll teach him. Hmph! Nobody takes the old guy seriously." He heaved another dramatic sigh.

"Such a cross to bear," Joe laughed. "You know you love it. Perennially underestimated. Incidentally, if we are partying in London, Nick is NOT invited. Man has no sense of humor." And altogether too free with his right cross. Nick hit even harder than Jacques Vemas.

"Well, you know how it is with those Catholic school boys. They tend to take the world seriously. Give him time. Amanda will knock off his edges."

"I resemble that remark. You ever get tired of him, I wouldn't mind knocking off an edge or three," Joe growled, just for the practice.

"Oh, and what was that little altercation about anyway?"

"I never said there was an altercation," Joe answered carefully. "We just had a little misunderstanding." Between Nick's fist and Joe's jaw, but that was none of Methos' business. Besides, he'd deserved it, for caving in to Amanda's wiles like a winsome teenager. Not that caving in to Amanda didn't have it's unexpected side benefits.

"Hmm. Have you always been a scrapper, Joe?" Methos took another swig of his beer.

"What the hell? Scrapper?" Joe challenged. "I'm a lover, not a fighter." And there went another one of his tells. "Okay, yeah, I got into a couple of tussles now and again. Irish? South side of Chicago? Kind of a neighborhood requirement." He dropped his eyes, somewhat sorry that the bar rag was across the room and out of reach. "Is it still that obvious?" Joe had worked hard to clean up his act in the Watcher Academy.

Methos smirked. "I think you and the kid have much in common. Still, I put up with you." He raised his nearly empty beer in salute to Joe.

"I am NOT anything like that hammerheaded cop." Joe glared. "Stubborn...ornery..." Joe finished off his beer just to cool down. "And besides, he was rude to Amanda."

"And you've never been rude to Amanda? Why, Joe, you must be a saint!"

"Saint, my ass."

"Or at least a very good boy!"

"You bet. I'm real good. Just ask Amanda. 'Saintly' isn't near as much fun."

"You got that right. All that pesky scourging and denying and fasting. I hated fasting. Speaking of which...you hungry, kid?"

"I'm starved. There's a Mongolian takeout over on Magnolia," he added, just to see Methos' eyes roll. First Dad, then Granddad, now Kid. Methos was in for it. This was going in his Chronicle. "How do you spell 'yurt' by the way?"

"With an 'h' I think. As in hurt."

"Yurrrht. Got it. Three co-wives mean one yurhtin' cowboy." Joe ducked the bar napkin Methos chucked at him, and sidled down to the end of the bar to get his coat and make a quick note on a bar tab. 'Call Amanda re obtaining Chronicle in BM. Confirm details about goats.' Not to mention threesomes. As they locked up the loading dock, Joe inquired innocently, "So...gonna tell me about that time in Iberia with the three brothers? How many goats did they have?"

"I never tell. Baaah."

"Very realistic," Joe grinned. "Let me guess. If you knew the number, you tripled it."