MWC: I Get a Kick Out of You
Posted By: Ysanne and Leslie Fish
Date: Saturday, 12 January 2002, at 7:21 p.m.
(Ysanne was totally stumped about how to end this little story, so she threw herself on the mercy of the Forum. Leslie Fish kindly supplied the ending, and the two parts fit perfectly.)
MacLeod paced the floor of his London apartment, the quickening he had taken hours ago still writhing over his sensitized nerve endings. He found it hard to think coherently, but he could feel, and he felt terrible. Worse than terrible. He felt as if he were plugged into an electrical outlet like a bloody hairdryer or a George-somebody-or-other grill, an appliance with no off-switch. He’d gone through his most strenuous workout, done everything that used to give him relief before this maddening brain-itch had begun. Nothing. Nada. Maybe he should set a tied hanky on his head, roll up his pant legs and tell everyone he met that his brain hurt, ala Monty Python. He punched the wall with one big fist as he rounded the corner of his kitchen and stalked down the hall.
The quickly-healed abrasion generated enough pain to distract him for a moment, but not enough to stop the relentless, off-key buzzing in his ears. As he paced back from the bedroom to make his way around to the kitchen again the buzzing was joined by pounding, and a far-away, irascible voice. He finally realized someone was at the door, and went to peer through the little peep-hole. He saw a fish-eye view of Methos, and the Old Guy was looking pretty unhappy.
“Go away, Methos,” he shouted through the door, “I’m not up to playing host tonight.”
“Let me in, you idiot,” Methos shouted back, his voice muffled by the heavy pine door, “or I’ll shoot the lock off.”
He’d do it, too. Gritting his teeth, MacLeod opened the door and let in one rumpled, exhausted-looking Immortal. Methos glared at him and stalked over to crumple onto the sofa.
“Do make yourself at home,” MacLeod grumbled sarcastically under his breath. Aloud he said, “Why are you at my door at…” he paused to consult his pocket watch…”three in the morning, calling me names?”
“Better question: why are you up rocketing round your flat at three in the morning?”
“None of your business. If you’d stay home, you wouldn’t have to participate in my ‘rocketing.’”
“Ha! If only,” Methos said darkly. “Why don’t you stay home yourself instead of hunting up stray Immortals and lopping their heads off in the middle of the night? Developed a taste for rough quickenings, have you?”
“I don’t hunt up stray Immortals! I was ambushed, if you really must know. And what makes it any concern of yours, anyway? Did Joe take early retirement?”
MacLeod moved restlessly around the room straightening art objects, then headed into the kitchen. After wiping down his spotless sink he headed down the hall. Methos craned his neck to see into the kitchen, then sighed theatrically as MacLeod bore down on him from the opposite direction.
“Sit down, will you? Stop pacing and pour me a drink. Please,” he added belatedly.
“I’m an Immortal, not a bartender,” mumbled MacLeod petulantly, but he opened the drinks cabinet and poured them both a short whisky. He finished his in a few quick gulps and stood fiddling with the heavy crystal glass until Methos reached over and took it from his hand.
“Sit down,” Methos repeated firmly, “we have to talk.”
“Sure, nothing better than a nice natter at three ack emma. Methos, why are you here? You look like hell, and I must look the same. Go home, get some sleep. Somebody should, and I’m fairly sure it won’t be me.”
“Have you tried warm milk? Cold beer? A blunt instrument to the skull? Work with me, here, Mac, you’re killing me.”
“Oh, so sorry! It’s me that’s vibrating like an off-balance washing machine; what’s it got to do with you?”
Methos looked uneasy, almost guilty, and through the strident thrum inside his head MacLeod felt slightly alarmed. Methos didn’t do guilt, as a rule. MacLeod shifted from foot to foot and jiggled the change in his pockets as his friend hemmed and hawed. Suddenly Methos’ eyes narrowed. He rose, put his hands on Mac’s chest and pushed. Mac fell into a chair and sat there looking stupefied.
“Will you stop fidgeting for five minutes? It’s got everything to do with me since you’ve been taking heads every day but Sundays! Every time you take a quickening I…” Methos paused and glanced away, looking a bit shamefaced.
“What?! And I am not fidgeting. In fact, I think the quickening is finally settling. Or maybe your whining has drowned it out. Mission accomplished, you can go home now.”
“Fine! All right. Here’s what happens, MacLeod. You whack a head, take a quickening, feel like you’re going to explode, or implode, something very nasty, anyway. You skate round your flat like a duck on ice, or you do a twenty mile gallop, or a kata or five — anything to try and settle the quickening. It takes forever, every time. And here’s the important part: I can’t rest until you do! Whatever is happening to you is happening to me, too. MacLeod, you’re driving me crazy!”
Methos voice had been growing louder with each word, until he was shouting. Mac just looked up, his mouth slightly agape, shocked into silence. Methos reached down and chucked him under the chin.
“Oh, close your mouth,” he ordered tiredly, “you look about five years old like that.”
MacLeod sat up straight and regarded Methos with suspicion. “You mean to say that you’re sharing these quickenings? I’ve never heard of such a thing! Just how long has this been going on?” A thought struck him, and his cheeks took on a hot, rosy hue under the tan. “Uh…wait. You feel what I do? Everything?”
One side of Methos’ mouth quirked up. “Oh, yeah.”
“Oh, great,” groaned MacLeod, collapsing back again.
“Get over it, Mac, we’re all adults here. Mostly,” he added with a leer.
“Never mind that,” said MacLeod repressively, “let’s just find out why it started, and maybe we can make it go away. The sooner the better,” he added under his breath.
“Well, I know when it began for me: Bordeaux, the double quickening.” He held up his hands to stave off Mac’s incredulous sputtering. “I only realized that in hindsight, though. Until recently what I’ve felt was nothing definite, only a quick wave of vertigo or maybe a bit of pain behind the eyes. Didn’t even connect it with your taking quickenings until recently. I think you’ll know when the worst of it started, if you’ll think about it.”
MacLeod nodded. “Kell,” he said, frowning.
“Got it in one,” Methos agreed. “Somehow the bastard is acting as an amplifier. I’d have realized it sooner if I hadn’t been so sleep-deprived. Do you actually PLAN taking all your heads in the middle of the night?”
“Yes. Torturing you is right at the top of my to-do list, Methos. Now how do we stop it?”
“I’m very old and wise, but I’m not on the Psychic Friends Network. How should I know?”
“What’s the use of being five thousand years old if you don’t know things like this?”
“Well, pardon me for having other interests. I do have a theory or two, actually.”
“That’s more like it. What’s your theory?”
“The first one has to do with deliberately setting up a sharing experience, then analyzing it as it happens…”
“Hold on. You want me to ferret out a handy Immortal, challenge him, and take his head as a kind of lab test? Let’s move along to theory number two, shall we?”
“You have something against science? Okay, theory number two. We obviously share some kind of wavelength, but perhaps Kell’s quickening isn’t tuned to the same channel. What I mean is, there may be a dissonance that allows Kell’s absorbed energy to surface and join with the newly-absorbed quickening. We perceive this quickening dissonance as an overload of nervous energy. Think of feedback on a speaker.”
MacLeod looked thoughtful. “Well, that’s a pretty good description of how it feels, anyway. So how do you propose we prevent this feedback thing from driving us both round the bend? You’re not going to suggest wearing aluminum foil beanies, are you?”
“No,” Methos sighed, "but you've given me an idea. You wouldn't by chance have any copper wire about, would you?"
"No..." MacLeod forced his jittery brain to work, turn another cog. "I've got some gold jewelry, and silver. Would that help?"
"Would you have a fairly long chain, either metal? They're both nicely electro-conductive."
"Wait a minute." MacLeod got up and trotted off to his bedroom. A moment later he came back, holding a silver neck-chain about twenty-five inches long. "Will this do?" he asked, holding it out.
"Let's try. Sit down beside me." Methos patted a space on the couch. MacLeod slumped into it.
"Let's try the easy way first. Put your arm next to mine. ...That's it. Now..." Methos looped the chain around both their arms, looped again until the chain was tight. "There. Are you feeling anything different?"
"Uhmm, it itches," MacLeod admitted. "Feels weird."
"Yes," Methos muttered, staring at the chain. "Like a static charge building up..."
A flicker of electric-blue light played briefly over the chain.
"Ouch!" yelped MacLeod. "What's happening?"
"I think it's working...whatever it's doing..."
The lightning flickered again, longer and brighter.
"Ow! Jesus! It's getting worse!" MacLeod yelled. "It's building up to something!"
"Ye gods!" Methos gasped. "I think I understand-- We've got to ground it! Come on, quick!"
With that he jumped off the couch, dragging MacLeod with him, toward the kitchen.
"Owww, it's definitely getting worse! What the hell are you doing, Methos?"
For answer, Methos pulled MacLeod down beside him on the floor in front of the sink, and yanked open the cabinet door.
"The pipes!" he shouted, above the growing sizzle of the lightning. "Ground it out!"
MacLeod understood. He shoved their chain-joined wrists against the exposed drain-pipe, just at the lower bend of the goose-neck.
The blue current jumped to the pipe, shot downward and upward. With a furious sizzle and pop, the handles blew off the sink faucets. Water spewed toward the ceiling. The lower ring snapped and shot off the bottom of the drain-pipe, letting more water spill out into the cabinet. Blue static played over their skins, rayed to the ceiling and burst the light-bulbs in a shower of sparks and glass. Small lightning-bolts rattled off the silverware in the dish-drainer, scorching the near kitchen wall. As a grand finale, the dishwashing machine exploded internally, blowing out its door.
Silence descended, except for the two men left panting on the kitchen floor, the sound of shouts from other apartments in the building, and the steady burbling of water. MacLeod pulled their arms away from the now half-melted drain-pipe, and felt for the chain on their wrists.
"Owww, pull it off," he gasped. "The damned thing's melted into the skin!"
By feel, in the dark, they pried the bits of melted metal off their arms. In a moment, the welcome flicker of healing-lightning erased the burns.
"Well, other than that," said Methos, shaking his arm, "How are you feeling?"
MacLeod had to stop and think about that. "It's gone," he realized. "The...dissonance is gone. I...I'm pretty much okay. You?"
"The same. I think it worked. We grounded it out."
"Yes... I think I'm back to normal. Just tired."
"I'm exhausted. Can I sleep here tonight?"
"Sure," said MacLeod pulling Methos to his feet, "But I don't think we'll be getting any sleep soon."
Methos looked around the darkened kitchen, listened to the sound of spilling water and shouting neighbors, and groaned.
"Lord, one way or another, I knew I wouldn't be getting any sleep tonight!"