The Methos and Joe Immortal Hunt and Pub Crawl by AD absolutely
Thanks to Mackiedockie and MrBiologistMan for beta duty. This was written for the 2011 Highlander Holiday Shortcuts gift exchange for Ishafel.
Late afternoon atop a roof, the eldest man sat watching the harbor. Thirteen years before, when he first purchased the building, he had dragged a wooden bench up here to the otherwise barren roof creating one of his favorite getaways for thinking. A 'getaway' by his definition felt more aesthetic than a 'bolt hole,' of which he also had many. Long ago he'd discovered that keeping a soothing getaway, in whatever city he dwell at the moment, preserved his tattered tow-line with sanity.
He had fashioned many thinking places in many cities through the centuries. Since this particular building was located in Seacouver, Washington in the Pacific we-love-the-rain-or-we-wouldn't-be-here Northwest, it tended toward the soggy think. But at the moment, the air sparkled clear and crisp, washed clean by the morning's shower. Seagulls crying and automobile traffic noise were muted in the distance up here. Methos' view of the harbor with ships maneuvering to funnel between the jetties created a picturesque and peaceful backdrop for intricate thoughts and cat naps.
The trouble with this thinking place habit, it meant he could be found by those in the know and tempted out of his quietude. The squelch of leather shoes accompanied by the thump of a cane announced the arrival of the chief tempter in his current life. Not only did the presence of Joe Dawson, Watcher with attitude, interrupt the formulating of great plans for world domination (well, more accurately the virtue of a local shop girl) but the blues-man also led a cacophony of nature in the form of a flock of ravenous pigeons and seagulls with him to further disrupt his tranquility. The birds followed their master of the popcorn manna as he settled onto the bench next to the immortal-plotter.
"So, what's up?" Joe asked.
"Not a thing, but the pigeon population." He continued to watch the ships and boats as Joe tossed popcorn to his followers.
"So, I haven't heard from Mac since...Kentaro. Have you?"
Methos shook his head. "Not today. He's still on the island contemplating his guilt-ridden post- quickening navel."
"Hmph." The conversation paused comfortably between them as Joe invested his attention toward his avian mooches, scattering the kernels in a wide arc so that even the meek should eat.
"Wanta join me on a small 'observe and record' around the harbor strip? There's a beer, or six, in it for you."
"Joe, you know my Watcher wings have been clipped. What was it the director said? 'We will remember your face until the sun freezes and falls from the sky!' Dramatic sot."
"Don't worry about him, he never leaves Paris. The Watchers in the trenches know you were just trying to keep us and Immortals from going viral on YouTube."
"Thanks for your vote of confidence, still, I can't get close to an immortal without scaring them off, or worse, being challenged."
"True, true. And I wouldn't invite you along to that sort of party, but this is a brand new immortal on the run." Joe handed his smart phone to Methos before he had time to protest that he no longer took on students.
Methos held the gadget, staring down at the image from the on-line Watcher Chronicles. His mouth formed a surprised circle morphing quickly into a wide grin.
"Joe, you could have just started the conversation, 'Wanta go stalk a wet-dream beautiful woman?'"
"I'm a gentleman."
"And a scholar..." Methos' words dropped in volume as he studied the image. "So this lovely is in Seacouver?"
Joe nodded. "Word is she's without papers and looking for a ship to take her to Canada. So I'm planning a little bar hopping down around the harbor, try to pick up her trail."
"Well, seeing as how I still have blood in my veins...."
They skipped the bar where the frozen in time people drank, and spent only one beer's duration in the tourist trap that served two dozen kinds of crab cakes, (which Methos could never pass-by without sampling.)
Walking on around the arc of the bay they entered the first real possibility on their list. The Smelt Dipper was an unpretentious tavern decorated sparingly with nets, floats and the occasional framed sailing ship photograph. The third generation owner knew the secret to eatery longevity was buying local caught fish and keeping a good cook. The Dipper's fish and chips ruled the harbor, which meant that Joe and Methos were familiar faces amongst the patrons. Here they would find fisherman who owned boats, who in theory might be persuaded to take a passenger north.
Ambling in amongst the early supper crowd, they seated themselves mid room at a highly polished pine table. Settling in with a pitcher of IPA, Joe ordered up the halibut & chips and Methos a scallop basket from a ginger haired waiter missing a finger, suggesting his own history of fishing on the sea.
A wide screen television over the bar played a college football game with the sound off, though after the Washington team fell far enough behind on the scoreboard, the owner mercifully switched to a hockey game. Over the sound system a local radio station piped alternative music low enough for easy conversation.
A well vented grill kept the aroma of fish fry faint and not unpleasant when experienced with the sight of perfectly golden panko swathed victuals appearing from the kitchen. Fresh and tender, a taste bud climax. They enjoyed the meal and beer, while listening to the fishing season conversations going on around them. 'Good year for salmon after many bad ones. Crabs were filling out in their shells. And in hushed tones, thank God, no dead zones along the coast this year.' Methos told an improbable story about dragging a huge sturgeon to a river bank with a mule team. Joe made no comment, just smiled and took it in.
At last, when they reached the bottom of the beer pitcher, Joe sidled up to the bar with the supposed intention of ordering another, and fell into conversation with a fisherman known to him, which evolved into his 'searching for a missing young woman fleeing a bad situation and in need,' gambit. He showed the acquaintance her photograph and the fellow laughed. "Now who in their right mind would take a woman like that onto their boat?"
"Now, Stanley, are you that superstitious, or just that old fashioned?" Joe asked with that teasing glint of his.
"Probably both, Dawson. Haven't seen her around. But really you should check out that place where all the younger salts hang out ─ don't you play music there sometimes ─ the brewpub above the day-launch dock? That's where you'll find your foolish young captains."
Joe stepped out with exceptional pluck after the worthy meal. The sun was pinking the sky over the Pacific as it's last act of the day, while gulls lamented its desertion. So the friends decided to continue on foot up the steep walk over the hummock where their next destination perched above one of Seacouver's small day-launch dock and ramps.
Along the way, Methos commented, "You know, Joe, this isn't my normal M.O. Seeking out other immortals ─ I must be losing it."
"What about Mac? You seek him out often enough."
"Well, that's Mac, he's a boyscout."
"And Amanda, not a girlscout. Then there's Gina and Robert, Claudia, Nick...."
"Shut up, Dawson."
Joe chuckled. "Just call 'em like I see 'em."
"You're no saner, traipsing after unpedigreed immortals. Tell me, why did you really become a Watcher? I know the story of Cord in Nam, but I don't know why you decided the Watcher organization was your best option. Seems a bright boy like you could have gone back to university or ─ I don't know ─ weren't there other options for a war hero?" Methos crowded Joe's personal space as they ascended the steepest bit, to be on hand should a loose stone foul Joe's cane.
Noticing but ignoring the Adamness of Methos, Joe answered with a bitter memory smile. "Whatever other options I may have had were snuffed by the angry letter I wrote my congressperson."
"Oh. Would have to say that that is every young man's duty, isn't it? An angry letter advising the man."
Joe nodded. "That's what I was taught to believe...I, ah, cast aspersions on the morality of the 'bomb them back to the Stone Age' crowd. Guess I lacked subtlety back then ─ there was a bit of fallout, needed some distance. Decided that Paris would better suit me for the time."
"The indiscretions of youth. Tell me about it."
"No, you tell me."
Methos laughed. "I do still owe you that story. One of these days, Joe, one of these days."
They reached the top of walkway to the Stone's Throw Brew Pub and entered the establishment where they were greeted by a higher level of energy radiated by a young unsettled crowd. Continually in motion, the brew pub crowd could be an obstacle for Joe, but for being recognized immediately by the staff who knew him as a cherished, if infrequent, performer on their stage. Their attentions were pressed on him to wrangle him toward a table close to the stage, no doubt in hopes he would agree to jam with tonight's band.
Joe and Methos settled in with a sampler tray of the Pub's latest brews in order to select which of the worthy libations they would concentrate their drinking on for the evening.
"You feel any sign of a buzz?"
"Need a few more beers for that, Joe."
Dawson glared at him.
"No sense of humor! Tisk. Nope, no Spidey tingling on this floor. But the crowd has great energy. Doesn't it make you want to play?"
Joe nodded, admitting the pull. "This is the kinda crowd that gives ya wings."
"I see them eyeing you Joe." Methos nodded toward the band as they finished up Walkin' Blues.
"Dangerous to play another musician's guitar...." Joe's voice had gone low, with a touch of wistful.
"Like dallying with another man's wife," Methos suggested.
Joe smiled, took another sip of a dark ale. "The Gibson will be jealous if she hears about it."
"Don't look now, Joe, but here comes temptation."
Carla, the band's rhythm guitarist had approached Dawson from behind until she popped around the table to proffer him her own Ovation six string. She displayed a grin that was respectful, while still a bit flirty. "Please," she said simply, holding out the guitar.
Joe sighed, rocked to his feet, grabbed his cane and without a backward glance toward Methos followed her to the stage. He settled himself amongst the younger players, briefly making sure he remembered their names, then tested the borrowed guitar's tuning.
Despite his expressed hesitation, Joe's experience included jam sessions with a diverse collection of musicians. As they began Before You Accuse Me, he intermingled his licks with the band's sound with ease, playfulness and confidence; adding a bit of spice, an interesting new texture and an age-acquired fusion mojo, without grandstanding. When asked to chose a song he named Walking Stick, which the crowd adored, then they covered a new popular tune Moves Like Jagger, which Joe had never played before, but it made him smile. Next they slid into The Whole Sack of Rocks, a popular local tune, and from there into the classic Old Love.
With no one noticing, Methos slipped away to the basement level to pay homage to the great copper fermenting kettles where the beer and ale magic happened. The kitchen and quieter tables were located on this level, though the music from above could still be heard. He was alert for any stray frisson of a malingering immortal. Feeling none he chose several likely candidates for would-notice-a-beauty and flashed the .jpeg now on his phone, but with no hits.
At a table tucked near the kettle where the great Seacouver Misty Ale fermented, Methos found the young salt he really wanted to question. Alonzo Winterhunt and his crew deep fished for tuna ranging four days out and back. A more than adequate set up for the occasional passport-challenged passenger to catch sail to a quiet port north of the 49th Lat. on their way out the Straight of Georgia. A worthy service that poor young Adam Pierson had once made do with, and so was greeted heartily and shared a full pint.
Once well enough lathered, he produced the image and Alonzo brightened, "Oh yeah! What a looker. She was here earlier, about an hour ago. She wanted to port in Victoria. Way too populated we told her. Not a lot of good sense I'd say. Used to getting her way, obviously, but I had to tell her no. She's in trouble? Or is she trouble?"
"That is exactly my question, Al. Any idea if she's still around?"
"Well I hope that I dissuaded her, but you might check the Blue Dory."
"Oh, hell!" Methos swore. "I don't..." then fell silent.
"Exactly." Alonzo concurred.
They shared another pint before Methos made his way upstairs to where Joe was harmonizing on Stand By Me with the band. Couples were slow dancing and sitters were swaying. Beer flowed. No doubt the management was happy.
Methos stood with his back to a structural post and enjoyed the magic of Dawson's spell.
After two encores, Joe made his way to the nearest bar stool to be rewarded with all the beer he could tolerate. Methos met him there, shook his head in answer to the question on Joe's face.
"How do you feel about finishing the night at the Blue Dory?"
Joe gave him a look that could peel old boat paint. "Let's see, stay here and indulge in the glow or uproot to the tavern most likely to be raided by the police before midnight? Hm, decisions, decisions...."
"Hey, this was your idea of a fun evening, remember?"
Joe sighed. "Hate it when you're right."
"I know you do, but it's bound to happen once in awhile. The odds are in my favor. I'll trip on back to the car park and collect your vehicle, then we'll drive to the Dory. Give you time to enjoy a little more of the glow."
"Are you sure ─ " Joe started to ask, but Methos cut him off.
"I'll be perfectly sober by the time I get to the car. Unfortunately. Be back in twenty."
Joe perched on his stool at the long bar enjoying the company of a cheerful succession of musicians and music lovers that stopped by to shoot the breeze, or buy him a beer, paying their respects.
After Methos had been gone for more than the required time to return with the car, Joe ─ who had a very accurate internal clock ─ began to periodically check his phone for the time. This added to his irritation by making him appear as one of those tethered people who checked their smart phone every five minutes.
Methos walked briskly downhill away from the brew pub back toward the main arch of the bay. The noise of Seacouver was dampened by the night and fog, his footsteps quick beats on the paving, in the distance a fog horn blew, and a few seagulls cried in the pools of light over the moorings. If a door to an establishment chanced to open as he passed-by, a burble of human voices greeted him briefly.
The salty mist cooled his face, and sobriety had taken hold by the time he reached Joe's vehicle.
Using the electronic key Joe lent to him, Methos soon had the SUV running and turned onto the street, headed in the direction opposite the brew pub, toward the Blue Dory.
He parked on the street within sight of the dive, and watched the door for several minutes, tapping a jittery rhythm on the steering wheel. Finally, he sighed as he removed his overcoat with the comforting weight of his broadsword and second blade, leaving only the small knife at his ankle.
At the door a large fellow patted him down ─ not thoroughly ─ but trunk and shoulder holster area were swiped. With an Adam Pierson mask in place, he stepped inside. Dissipated faces, both young and old, stopped their conversations and looked at him.
At forty minutes Joe decided to step outside and place a call to Methos. As he began to stand, a woman sat on the stool next to him and said to him, "I hear that someone has been flashing my picture around." An ethereal beauty with high cheek bones, a heart shaped face, and olive complexion, studied him.
Joe answered quietly, "Someone as striking as you are ─ I expect that happens on occasion."
Her gaze lowered from his face down to his wrist where his Watcher tattoo was concealed by his shirt cuff. She reached out toward him, holding a small envelope. "Please give this to Mathius." Without breaking his stare he took the note. Breathing seemed to be optional, and as wretched timing would have it, then his phone rang.
"You better answer that." She left as suddenly as she had appeared, rapidly weaving her way through the crowded brew pub.
Joe drew in a ragged breath, answered his phone, "Dawson.....You've got to be kidding!"
As he stood to leave, Joe asked the bartender to call a taxi for him. Patrons still greeted him as he walked through the crowd, even though his smile had vanished. At the door he stopped and scanned the house in hopes of catching another glimpse of his target.
Muttering to himself, he stamped outdoors to wait for his ride to arrive. He breathed in the crisp evening air and after a few minutes ceased tapping his cane on the pavement.
When the taxi pulled up he identified himself to the driver and requested, "1213 Marine Drive, please."
"Sure thing. Bailing out a friend?"
"Yep. Mind waiting?"
The wait was a short one as those things go. The police station, none to eager to retain all the denizens from the Blue Dory, efficiently processed them out. The inebriated and underage drinkers they held on to, while an apparently sober man, Adam Pierson, rapidly departed.
When Methos appeared, Joe growled, but otherwise said nothing, accepting responsibility for transporting him away. The immortal's face, unreadable inside the small police station, developed a broad smile once they exited.
"You couldn't wait for me!"
"Who would have bailed us out if we'd both been in there?" Methos asked in his most reasonable tone.
"Now you can't know that anymore than I can remember if I had a father. I'd like to think that I did and that he'd been a lot like you!"
"Time to shut up, Adam."
Joe growled, again.
A generous tip went to the taxi driver once he dropped them at Joe's SUV, parked on the street near the now closed Blue Dory.
"Don't suppose you want me to drive?"
"Nope." Joe climbed behind the steering wheel and so Methos schlepped into the passenger seat.
Joe didn't take right off and Methos filled the silence, "Never caught sight of our prey. I'd just walked into the Dory when the cops arrived. If I were a more paranoid sort, I'd say they'd been waiting for me."
Joe chuckled; then said, "I'm guessing she's the one that made the call reporting underage drinkers, once you showed up."
"Why do you ─ " he stopped mid-sentence when Joe handed him the missive from their mystery immortal.
"She asked me to give this to Mathius. One of your older monikers. She was no "new" immortal. You know who she is, don't you?"
Methos gave a long sigh and nodded.
"There's no one better than she is at staying off the grid. She has no papers, because she never does. A Watcher just got lucky and witnessed her accidental death. She's just drifting along on the fringes like she has for ages."
"Friend or enemy?"
Methos scrunched up his face for a moment. "Acquaintance?"
Joe scowled at him, then waved a hand at the note he held. "Well open it!"
Methos complied, tearing open the envelope and removing the folded paper. Joe peered over to read it with him. In flowing script:
Hey, there! Long time.
After a moments paused, "No!" Joe shouted.
"Yes," Methos replied.
Methos smiled. Joe shook his head, but finally started the vehicle and drove them back to the brew pub, where beer could be applied continuously until closing time, in a couple more hours.
They scored a small table out of the main path and continued their assault on sobriety.
"So, do you think she found her transport?"
"To somewhere, yes, but after spying us I doubt Canada is her destination."
"And so why did you come looking for her with me? Like you said, you don't usually seek out immortals you don't count as friend."
"Guess I just wanted a glimpse of the old master."
"You knew I'd been a slave."
"It's OK, Joe. I ─ I'm ambling down the road to peace with myself, or at least with my checkered past. May never get there, but at I'm not constantly on the run anymore...." he paused, then began again, "If I could talk to her, I'd tell her, that it's possible. That she can stop. That at least, in between battles, there are places where you can stop and look at the sea, instead of crossing it."
"That almost sounds profound."
"Sorry. Maybe I should switch to whiskey?"
"No, no, I'll just risk the occasionally profound pronouncement. Not going to pack you home, or bail you out twice in one night."
"Once is my limit, eh?"
"OK, OK. Oh! Speaking of upper limits, I should tell you about the time I spent drinking with Ian Olliphant of the Loch of Wester. He was the hardest drinking man I've ever known. One long winter night (just to take off the chill) we drank until there was literally nothing left to be had..."
Joe smiled as he listened to another unlikely story from his friend, soaking the words in to be transcribed later...
And they drank happily ever after.