Fanfiction by Emby Quinn
Disclaimer: I do not own Highlander or any of the characters therein, nor do I own any characters based on actual historical personages. All original characters are my own creation.--eq
It had been a pleasant enough afternoon after all the unwelcome stress of the morning. Lucinda was back in time to open her gallery to catch a few of the curious onlookers drifting back from the photo shoot at Jackson Square. She left the actual supervision of visitors to the staff she paid handsomely for that purpose while she ensconced herself in her office to catch up on the bookkeeping she'd been putting off all weekend.
"I'm going to go unpack," Methos told her as she sat down. "I'll be upstairs if you need me."
"I'm always going to need you," she beamed at him. He gave her an affectionate smile and a warm kiss before disappearing upstairs.
Lucinda focused her attention on number-crunching, making sure the books balanced properly. The Clair de Lune always made a tidy profit, and even had it been a dismal failure, Lucinda had enough liquid capital stashed in various accounts to keep it running for another century without the slightest bobble. Happily, the gallery had thrived almost since its opening in the 1920s, when she'd been calling herself Lulu Devereaux.
She missed the Roaring Twenties sometimes. The music, the fashion, the freedom, the careless optimism that everything was going to be okay. The Great War had ended, the Great Depression was years away, there were no fears about nuclear bombs or fuel shortages or global warming or planes being crashed into skyscrapers by terrorists. If Methos had been here to share it with her, she could look back on that period as one of the happiest times of her life. Oh, she'd been happy enough, but she'd always been aware of something missing in her life, and she'd known perfectly well what--who--it was she missed.
You can live without me, Methos darling, but I daresay I couldn't live without you. Even when they hadn't been together, she had known he was out there somewhere. It was her firm belief that if he died, she would sense it somehow. Even if they were on opposite sides of the world, she was sure she could sense his being, his thereness. Nothing specific, not whether he was happy or sad, angry or in pain, but simply that he existed, somewhere; that he breathed the same atmosphere, walked under the same sun, saw the same stars as she did. That in itself had always been a bit of comfort to her.
The phone rang, and Lucinda realized she'd been staring at the half-finished books for twenty minutes. Damn. These things aren't going to balance themselves. She picked up the phone. "Clair de Lune Gallery."
"Saint Louis Cemetery. Twenty minutes. Come alone." Click.
Lucinda stared at the phone for a moment, then slowly put it down. She'd only heard the voice once, but that had been this morning, and she knew who it was. Cassandra. Methos's sworn enemy, the woman who wanted more than anything else to kill him, break him, hurt him in any way possible. She had every reason, of course; he'd broken her, after all, during his time as one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. He'd beaten her, savaged her, raped her, even killed her to break her to his will.
That didn't change the fact that a few hours ago, Cassandra had stood over Lucinda with her sword raised, ready to take her head. And Lucinda couldn't defend herself.
She has a gun. What if she shoots me, drags me off holy ground, and?
I could ask Methos to back me up. No, Leohtsenda, bad idea. Kerrigan, then. Uh-uh. Too intimidating. Pat. Patrick Finnegan. No one's ever felt threatened by the big Irish teddy bear, though he's good enough with a sword when he has to be.
"Come alone," she said.
"Caroline?" Lucinda reached for her coat and poked her head out of the office door. "I'm going out for a bit. If Mr. Pierson asks about me, tell him I'll be back before dinnertime."
If I'm not, she thought wryly as she headed down the steps outside, I probably won't be coming back at all.
"I'm here," Lucinda announced, standing by the empty tomb of Marie Laveau. "Where are you?"
She felt Cassandra almost immediately. The tall redhead stepped out from behind a stone angel with outspread wings. "Thank you for coming." Her voice was oddly subdued, strangely gentle, really. Lucinda looked into the pale green eyes and saw no animosity there. "I really should apologize for involving you. Whatever quarrel I have with Methos, you have no part in it."
"That's true," Lucinda answered, "so long as you don't go after his head again."
The seer shook her head. "It wouldn't change anything. I understand that now." She came closer; her hands were open and empty. With one manicured nail she traced the chalk crosses, red and white, that adorned the wall of Marie's crypt. "I can't forgive him, you know."
"I know that. So does he."
"So many years...so many centuries. I thought I'd left it all in the past--until Kronos reappeared." Cassandra looked up at the clear autumn sky, as though seeking answers there. "Then I learned Methos was alive, and I realized that he was the one I hated the most. Kronos killed me, but Methos broke me. He made me into his creature. It took me years to find myself again."
"I'm sorry for what happened to you," Lucinda said quietly. "Not just that Methos did it, but that it happened at all. The fact that you've moved past it and become your own person shows a remarkable strength of character. I don't think I could have done the same."
"You could," Cassandra said with a little smile. "You're stronger than you think. I've never seen anyone affected by the Voice throw it off so quickly and so completely."
Lucinda acknowledged the praise with a small nod. "Why did you bring me here, Cassandra? If you're going to try and turn me against Methos, you're wasting your time."
"You love him."
"If it came down to a choice between your life and his own, what do you think he would choose?"
"He's five thousand years old, I think that question's superfluous. I know who he is, who he was, what he's done and what he's capable of doing if he's backed into a corner. I know it, and I accept it."
"He would let you die."
"Yet you choose to remain with him?"
"My life isn't Methos's responsibility, it's mine. If I'm stupid enough to get my head chopped off, I can hardly blame him for it." She lifted her chin. "I can look out for myself."
"I can see that." Cassandra looked at the tall blonde appraisingly. "At least he's not deceiving you."
"Methos doesn't lie to me. Or at least I've never caught him at it."
Cassandra couldn't help grinning. "Most likely the latter."
"Most likely, yes. And you haven't answered my question. Why did you call me, Cassandra?"
"To see what kind of person you are, I suppose, when you're not trying to impress the man you love. I wanted to see what kind of woman Methos thought it was worthwhile changing his entire personality for."
Lucinda laughed aloud at that. "Methos didn't change for me. He only changes to suit himself. He hasn't substantially altered his character since I first met him in 796." At Cassandra's mild quizzical look she amended, "A.D."
"He took you as a student?"
"He did. If it weren't for him I would have been dead by the end of the first millenium of the Christian Era."
"And as a lover?"
"Not for a long time. I wasn't interested. At least, I was, but I didn't want to give myself to any man. A woman who did that back where I came from surrendered all her rights to her own identity, so for centuries I gave Methos no sign that I was even mildly interested in him."
"But he was interested in you?"
"I suppose he must have been. There had to be some reason he kept carrying my corpse off the field of battle to let my wounds heal up before someone struck off my head."
Cassandra tried to reconcile this personification of Methos with the heartless Horseman who'd destroyed her life. It wasn't possible. Yes, centuries had passed between her escape and the time Lucinda encountered him--eighteen hundred years--but still..."But he did finally convince you to--submit to him?"
Lucinda grinned. "That wasn't quite how it happened. As I recall, I practically had to seduce him--which was no small feat for a six-hundred-year-old virgin." She cocked her head a bit. "And if you want more details than that, we're going to have to start talking movie rights."
Cassandra couldn't help laughing at that. "No, thank you." She ran a hand through her flaming hair, pulling it back from her face. "I can sense you're telling the truth. You are...happy with him." She almost had to force the next words out. "You are very important to him. I'm...glad for you." She put her hands in the pocket of her short jacket and met Lucinda's gaze straight on. "I won't bother you again." She turned on her heel and began to walk away towards the northern exit of the cemetery.
The redhead turned and looked back at Lucinda. "Yes?"
"Have a good life," she said, and meant it with all her heart. "Find your own happiness."
Cassandra smiled and gave her a nod, then turned and walked out of sight and sensing.
Lucinda was back in her office, finishing up the books, when she felt his approach. It was impossible to distinguish one Immortal's sense of presence from another's, but Lucinda felt sure she could tell Methos's particular signature apart from anyone else's, and she had yet to be proven wrong. She looked up with a smile as he entered her office.
"Been working hard, have you?" he asked, flopping down onto her couch.
Lucinda was instantly alert. His tone was just a bit too light, a touch too casual. He was upset about something, and she was very much afraid she knew what. "Just finishing. Whose turn is it for dinner tonight, mine or yours?"
"It's already in the oven." He lay back and fixed her with that particular steady glare that always made her felt like a pinned butterfly. "Why didn't you tell me?"
Lucinda sighed and closed the ledger. She looked at him with a sort of quiet, calm defiance. "She asked me to come alone."
"So it was Cassandra you were hurrying off to meet." He sat up sharply, and Lucinda cursed herself for a fool--he wouldn't have known if she hadn't told him. "I saw you from the upstairs window, nicking down Chartres to Saint Louis Street, which leads right to--"
"--the cemetery," Lucinda finished with him. "All right, you win. It was stupid."
"Too right it was!" Methos abandoned his facade of calm. "Lucinda, she tried to kill you this morning. And she has a gun, she could have used it to--"
"I know that," she cut him off. "On the other hand, if she just wanted me dead, she could bide her time and shoot me through a window, then come in and take my head. Or get some big dumb lummox with a sword to do it for her."
"No, MacLeod's still in Paris." Methos didn't even crack a smile at his own joke. "So what did she want?"
"She said she wanted to find out what kind of person I was. I think she wanted to make sure you hadn't brainwashed me, or something equally unpleasant."
The elder Immortal heaved a sigh and rubbed the back of his hand over his brow. "Did you even take your sword?"
"I never leave home without it," she answered, a bit waspishly. "Methos, I'm not as clever as you are--"
"You're not stupid, Lucy, but your instinct for self-preservation leaves something to be desired. Assuming you have one."
"I'm not as clever as you are," Lucinda persisted, "but I think I understand what Cassandra wanted to know. Needed to know."
"And that would be?"
"That the man who did those horrible, unthinkable things to her--the Methos who rode as a Horseman--no longer exists. She had to be sure that you really had changed. She couldn't believe it from you."
"But she believed it from you?"
Lucinda thought for a moment before answering. "I think she does, now. I don't think it's so much what I said as what she saw for herself."
Methos grunted and rose from the couch. He walked around the desk and sat on the edge, then reached out and pulled Lucinda forward so he could rest his forehead against hers. "What am I going to do with you, woman?" he growled.
"Keep me around for the entertainment value?"
"Keep you on a leash, more like."