No Child is Ever Mine by AD absolutely
Thanks so much to Mackiedockie and Iferion for editing this story!
The sun crested over the hills, and the women of a once great city state began to wail at the dawn's reveal of the battlefield. It crushed the souls of those who looked upon the slaughter, including the tall outsider who had stayed behind when the invaders he had ridden with trampled away and onward toward their next target. Bodies scattered across the valley as leaves in autumn tore the last of his warrior's mantle asunder. This was more destruction than even his former brothers could have dreamed. Blood smeared and wretched, Methos shook his head, cursed his original gods, and fell to helping the survivors bury a generation.
All this destruction so that a conquerer could spread his seed from one sea to the next!
Amongst the carnage a healer rapidly worked seeking life, wrapping wounds, applying poultices and soft words. For the first time Methos noticed the healer. A healer like many, so very many that he had ignored over the millennium of his existence as they attempted to stop death. Stop death! But this time he did not laugh. Did not belittle or begrudge the attempt. This time he watched. Furtive glances at first, then lingering in the healer's sphere; eventually asking questions.
So he began again, as physician. He sought them all: herbalists, shamans, healers of all degrees to learn their art. Not as an attempt to make amends, least not completely, but driven by his curiosity he determined to feel what they did. Turning from death, holding onto life, because he could, and because he'd seen of a sudden how much braver this fight was for them. They fought for life knowing that in the end death always wins.
A murder of crows in an ash grove watched the resurrection, giving it a poor review for creating excess noise in their murky bog below. Caw, caw!
Amanda pulled herself from the murk where the soldiers had thrown her. Water drops rolled from her face. There would be revenge.
Thirty odd years of life was surely enough for a heartless king who allowed women and children to starve to make his point. Number your days, king!
...She walked the whole distance on bare, sometimes bleeding feet. Soldiers, at least the important ones, had horses to cover the distance. Yet time favored her.
On the last day of her journey, at the edge of the field where her quarry's latest and last stand played, she felt the warning tingling caused by the close proximity of another immortal brush against her. From behind a large oak she peered around trying to locate the danger.
"Here I am," spoke a soft deep voice from behind her. Amanda startled, but quickly slid out her sword a hands length -- turned, then stopped as she recognized the immortal. It was the old one with the young face, and name you did not speak. The one Rebecca had told her not to annoy, but listen to what he tells you!
Trust was a hard concept for Amanda.
"No need to worry about the king, Amanda. He'll not last the week."
"What did you do?"
"Me? Nothing. The same as you are going to do."
"I have to --."
"No! I won't have Rebecca after me for letting you come to harm. Be patient. Allow the king's feckless healer to finish him.
The basement where he revived this time was open to the sky, and the amber light of dawn filtered through the burnt ruins. He was lying off to the side of the epicenter of the last blast and had been protected from the fire by sheltering inside a survivor's box, though apparently, by the feel of it, he hadn't actually survived.
Whoever had pulled him out was gone now, but had slapped a NATO tag to his shirt. Been counted again. Here in the blessed piece of real estate worshiped and fought over more than any other. And the majority still did not appreciate the irony.
Slowly he eased himself to his shaky knees, then decided after a moment he felt mended enough to struggle to his feet. Too damned old for this...and laughed sardonically at his old immortal joke.
A quick check of the radiation monitor around his neck was still light gray, amazingly enough. He hunted down his medical bag and took off looking for other survivors.
In the school corridor the odors of cut grass, spaghetti, and old farts mingled. As the designated adult for Cloe while her mother was in rehab, Amanda had spent the morning arguing with teachers and counselors about the "track" to which they were attaching the shy little great granddaughter of Lucy Becker. She walked away from the school with a growl percolating in her throat.
The task left her brain tired and argumentative, and as such, more than eager to keep the prearranged late afternoon drinks with Methos.
He kept a placid expression fixed as she ranted. "This, this bureaucracy! Half an education -- stashing kids in sterile classrooms --."
"Yes, Amanda, but all the better for caging adults within cubicles, toiling at half jobs."
"Methos! Not in the mood for your sarcasm."
"But I do it so well." Amanda growled at him, and a small smile curl the corners of his mouth. "Perhaps you would like to do something about it instead of just getting angry?"
"The problem is huge!" Amanda shouted at her old irritating friend.
"The solution infinite."
The ship's archives included all recorded history. Still, the gaps in chronology amazed him, and Methos intended to fill all of them with what he could remember. The ample time available during this, his next to the last hundred year shift, he diligently spent speaking to the ship's computer each wake cycle after 1st inspection. He often continued recording afterward until 2nd inspection, unless a recalibration was required. After 3rd inspection, as protocol required, he unwound by reading or meditating.
The hundred year shift ended soon and he would again enter stasis. Using stasis to cut in half the length of the voyage, while not required for an immortal, had psychological benefits for both of them. This turn from living life in the shadows to leading this diaspora was as significant as his turn from the battlefield to the doctor's kit had been.
He touched her cheek as she woke from stasis.
"Your turn to walk the corridors," and monitor the children. "Last time! When you wake me next I'll start the descent calculations."
Methos' chattering did the trick, finally waking her. She blinked at him and smiled as her body lost the chill.
At last she found her voice, "And I'll pop the buns in the oven."
"Amanda! What an odd old expression -- we want to raise a civilized brood."
"Lighten up old man. It's going to take a sense of humor for our youngsters to conquer this shiny new world."
"There will be no conquering necessary, my dear."
Amanda took Methos hand as she climbed out of the stasis unit. "We both need to tone down the war imagery in our speech. Gonna study war no more."
Methos smiled shook his head. "Oh, they're going to study it. They're just not going to worship it."
"I've picked a name."
"For the planet?" She nodded. "So planet 312Mica49YDp3 isn't doing it for you."
"Just doesn't have that ring to it."
"So what will it be, my dear?"
Methos nodded. "As you wish."