Breathe by Holde_Maid
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Author's Notes:
Word Count: 630

General Stuff:
The usual things apply - I don't own universe, characters or anything you recognise from TV, I do however claim the story itself as my own. So if the owners of said recognisable items object to the story being published here or the like, please let me know and I'll oblige ASAP. Wouldn't want to infringe on anybody's rights. If, however, those owners would like to use the idea, please contact me, I'm easy to strike a deal with. :-)

Warnings / Ratings:
I'd say, this deserves a rating of PG-13 for swearing. And considering that the Bible and other pretty violent books of its kind remain not rated, I think the non-graphic violence in here hardly deserves mentioning.

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Joe Dawson was more than pleased at the privilege of seeing Duncan MacLeod and Methos introduce a just-turned-Immortal guy to his new life. This was definitely the first time he felt that a Greek tragedy taking place right outside his bar had its merits...

The guy had been gunned down by his jealous significant other who had, to make matters worse, shot herself afterwards. When the man had come to, angry screams and sobbing had ensued, and it would have been a bitch getting him out of there unnoticed, if Methos hadn't suddenly turned up in an ambulance, no less. Duncan had jumped to the correct conclusion, had slipped into the jacket of the second paramedic and together they had all gotten the couple into the car. Duncan had made sure the man was quiet, trying to save the life of his partner at the same time.

Apparently they had taken the woman to hospital - hopefully together with the real ambulance crew. They'd probably have a concussion or something...

At any rate, they had returned with the man, who had looked pretty much intimidated. By now, however, he was mainly confused, and full of questions.

"So, what is this ... Gathering?" The kid had already pronounced the word "Gathering", with a capital letter, huh? Quick on the uptake, that guy.

"We grow fewer and fewer," Duncan began, "But there can be only one. And one day..."

"You younglings always think you have all the facts," Methos commented, rolling his eyes.

Six saucer-sized eyes were directed at him.

"What?!" he asked.

"Yeah, exactly," Mac parroted, "What?"

"It's not a matter of numbers, and it doesn't happen to each individual at the same time. In my experience, it's a matter of how many you've killed. Take too many Immortal lives, suck in too many of their souls, and you are lost to mindless bloodlust. What did you think was the reason why I hadn't fought a fight for two hundred years prior to meeting you?"

"But..." Duncan sputtered. Clearly his world had not just scored a crack but was threatening to shatter completely.

Joe could relate. They had both spent most of their lives believing that in the course of the Game, the numbers of Immortals would dwindle until there were just a few left. Those would gather together for a deadly final tournament called the Gathering. Surely Methos couldn't be right? Surely he had just met a lot of really mean Immortals?

Oh boy. Even more Greek tragedy ...

Caring brown eyes met his. Duncan didn't utter the words, but his eyes said, He's pulling our legs.

"Never mind," Joe heard himself say. "Get back to the point."

"Right." Mac took up his tale again, but Joe wasn't listening. He went to fill three shot glasses with the Glenmorangie he reserved for MacLeod and his friends. He handed one to Mac, one to the new Immortal, made a mental note to ask for his name as soon as he got a chance, and then closed his eyes and shot the scotch back.

He sighed.

Warmth spread in his gut, but along with it the insight slowly seeped in that it didn't make him feel better. Something like 5000 years of experience had just told him that one of the pillars of Immortal beliefs was just plain wrong, and one little drink couldn't blot that out. Damn.

Tough it out, Joe, he thought as he went back to the bar to get Methos a beer. You've gone through worse. At least this time you haven't lost two limbs into the bargain. You just have to shrug off another habit of taking something for granted, that's all. Get used to it. Breathe.

Listen, and breathe. And don't ask Methos whether that means he's been there and back. Or Duncan, for that matter...


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