"How long have you known?" The words were delivered in the crisp English accent I hadn't heard in months, and some of my pleasure at the speaker's arrival on my doorstep faded. She had been the last person I'd expected to see today; not many people stopped by my house, since I was usually in the bar.
"Amy — "
She looked at me, measuring me, and finally shook her head, the short bob of chestnut-colored hair barely moving as she did so. "Joe, don't even try to lie to me. I can see the truth inside your eyes. " She looked towards the ceiling. "I don't believe I'm seeing this from my own father. How many other Immortals do you count as friends? How could you have taught me to believe in the Oath when you break it without hesitation?"
Damn. I'd been so hoping she had come to try to... oh hell, be a daughter so I could play father, when I didn't even know how to be one. That someday had come. Instead, I got the Inquisition. I sighed heavily, knowing I had to tell her something, reluctant to tell her everything.
I knew she'd been assigned to help Dr. Amy Zoll on the Methos Chronicle, after Adam Pierson had gone AWOL from the Watchers and been discharged in absentia. (Which had been a laughable waste of the Tribunal's time, considering that by that time, they knew "Adam Pierson" had been Methos all along... but the Tribunal had rarely listened to me, and that bureaucratic joke had been yet another shining example.) I had hoped that Amy, my Amy, could do some damage control as Dr. Zoll's assistant, once she understood just who had saved her life... but it was clear to me now that she took her Oath as seriously as I once had. Maybe even more seriously than I did.
God knows I've had more than enough cause to doubt the validity of keeping it. What use was "observe, record, and never interfere" when the very people you were supposed to be not interfering with became such a part of your life that you had a hard time remembering when they weren't? When they had risked their lives to protect your own? Yeah, I still believed in recording Immortals' lives for history... but I can't say I won't interfere. Not when the best players are my friends, and I ain't ready to see the Gathering happen in my lifetime. Not by a long shot. I don't want to know who wins, and I damn sure don't want to record the damn thing, knowing who lost, knowing who were friends.
Still, I knew that my bending of the rules had placed me squarely into the Game, when at most, I should've been a semi-innocent bystander with perhaps too much knowledge of the truth. Now I could be — and had been — used as a pawn, or perceived as a viable threat. I wanted to spare Amy that as much as possible; what wasn't known about me couldn't be used against me — or any of my Immortal friends.
Honor was a damnable thing, and I knew it, but I couldn't stop myself from clinging to it. I couldn't ignore the fact that I'd lived by the Oath far longer than I had otherwise. Everything I had experienced since 'Nam was tied into that Oath and the organization that demanded its featly — including the daughter who stood before me, the daughter I'd pretended didn't exist.
"How long, Joe?" she demanded again, breaking my reverie. "How long have you known Methos?"
Awkward with the blunt accusation, I shrugged my shoulders slightly. "I met him as Adam Pierson first, over a decade ago. He had me fooled, too. I didn't know until Mac met him and told me."
I paused, seeing the hurt in her pert, high-boned face at yet another deception from me was exposed. "Honey, Walker knew him as Dr. Benjamin Adams... and I wasn't about to correct him. Not when I was more concerned with seeing that you were safe."
"If you really had been, you would've made sure that I didn't get assigned to that slime ball in the first place."
Oh, Amy, if I had known, you probably would've ended up with a perfectly harmless Immortal who probably would've gotten whacked within your first week of being a field Watcher... but my influence only extended so far, and losing the one you Watched wasn't easy. I wanted to spare you that if I could. I didn't say what I thought. Somehow, I suspected she wasn't willing to hear it.
She exhaled heavily. "I don't suppose it matters what you tell me now. You could resurrect a thousand words, and all you'd be doing is deceiving me. You'd protect your Immortal friends to the death, won't you? Even if it means breaking your Oath and lying to your own flesh and blood."
"It's not that simple." I didn't know how, but I had to make her understand the world wasn't so black and white, that friends were friends no matter what their mortality was. I didn't have much in the way of family these days, and my friends were the strongest ties I had left. "I thought I was doing the right thing... and maybe I got caught up in the novelty of getting to know my subject more closely and I've lost my perspective on this whole thing. Don't you know that if the Tribunal had gotten their wish, you and I wouldn't be having this conversation?"
She hugged herself tightly and stared right at me. "You lied to me. You should've told me who he was, instead of pretending he was just some other Immortal."
"Would it have changed anything to know who he was?"
"Yes! He was your friend, and you had a duty to the Watchers!"
"He is my friend," I answered steadily. "And he asked me not to tell. Amy, Methos saved your life once. Doesn't that count for something?"
"If you think that it's just going to make his actions somehow more acceptable — "
"Damn it, Amy," I exploded, "if you knew you weren't going to like the answer, then why did you come all the way here to Seacouver to ask the question?"
She held my gaze for the longest moment, then sighed. "I don't know, Joe." She laughed shortly. "Every time I think things are going to be simple, they get more complicated."
She rose to leave, and I knew she was going to walk out the door and not come back. I didn't want that. I'd lost too damn much, made choices I couldn't retract, and tried to tell myself that I could live with not needing anyone, especially my family. Maybe it was the memory of just how close I'd come to losing my only immortality — my daughter — that made me feel this way. Maybe it was just how tired I was of people I cared about leaving, and letting me wonder what happened to them while a thousand regrets played through my mind. I struggled to find the words, and wished speaking was as easy as playing my guitar and letting it say how I felt.
"Amy... I can't take what I did back."
My words arrested her movement just as her hand reached the doorknob. She turned, and the look she gave me was like a bullet to my heart. "You think it's just going to be that easy? I forgive you for withholding the truth from me again? That whatever you say is going to change my mind?"
I looked at her, silently pleading that she would change her mind.
She said nothing for a long moment. I found myself memorizing the way she looked in a burgundy-hued, V-neck shirt, black jeans, and sneakers. The necklace I'd sent her for her birthday glinted in the afternoon sunlight as it lay nestled in the hollow of her collarbone. She had her mother's almost elfin face, her mother's elegant carriage, and my heart ached at the things I'd missed, the things I was going to miss if we couldn't move pass yet other decision I'd made.
"Joe, I can't listen anymore. I don't know what to believe about you, except that you're my father, and you've manipulated my life more than anyone else I know." She paused, and pulled open the door. "Good-bye, Joe."
I closed my eyes, and pretended not to notice the door shutting with a firm click. Maybe, if I gave her a few days, she would calm down and see things reasonably.
Yeah, a voice in my head scoffed, and maybe you can tell yourself another lie while you're at it.
Lyric: "I see the truth inside your eyes"; and the partial lyric "You could resurrect a thousand words"
Disclaimer and Notes: Here I go again, hopping down the old rabbit hole into my little version of Wonderland, and taking the Highlander characters along with me. <g> I promise, Joe Dawson, Amy Brennan-Thomas, as well as Methos and Dr. Amy Zoll (listed on the Watcher CD-ROM as being the person who connected the dots and came up with Methos = Adam Pierson) won't be any worse for the trip. Written for the Mortal Revolution of the Lyric Wheel.
Thanks to Johanna Gribble for the lyrics to "A Thousand Words" by Savage Garden (which, borrowed without permission, are at the end of the story.) Special thanks to Amand-r, Dana, and Jam for their friendship and inspiration.