There comes a time when things finally come to an end. A momentary stillness-the calm in the storm, the hush of morning breaking into day. The slow slide of autumn days as they give way to winter.
MacLeod watched Katya leave and returned to the barge. He stood in the center of his home, wandering over to the galley, busying himself with the few items that needed cleaning. He wasn't exactly sad to see her go; it felt right, knowing she had many things to work out and her life to renew, but it left a bittersweet feeling in his heart, one that was difficult for him to define.
He enjoyed these moments of peace, for their rarity and their gift of restoration; all to precious in the life he led.
Finished with the kitchen area, he continued with the rest of the barge, picking up odds and ends that had been misplaced during the past few days. It didn't take long for he had few possessions. Maybe he should get a couch, a few more chairs? His previous need for a clutter free life had eased somewhat. Yet he was unwilling to continue as if nothing had changed. Everything had changed, himself most of all. Maybe he should go for a run? Or another session at the salle d'arms? Something. Anything.
But often these rare moments of peace and stability were accompanied with a distinct flavor of something missing. Since Tessa's death, it had been like this. He'd once cultivated those quiet moments, eager to spend them with her. Now a strange sort of restlessness fell on him that was only eased with distraction, usually in the form of Amanda, or in more recent times, Methos. Two different types of distraction, both needed.
The day ended and a new one began. MacLeod moved through the motions of life, visiting with Joe or with other friends. He promised Robert and Gina he'd check up on their estate. He took a trip to London, to see Claudia play. Always there was something pressing at the back of his mind, like he'd forgotten his keys in the car, or had left the oven on. Only it wasn't any of those things and when he stopped and tried to figure it out it slipped away, like autumn leaves. But it always came back, insistent.
Though only mid morning, the roof of the barge sent up waves of gentle heat captured from the slow moving sun. A late fall heat wave burned away the clouds and the mists, giving Parisians one last warm weekend before the weather turned and autumn settled in to stay.
Waves broke up against the side of the barge and against the stone wall of the Seine. MacLeod sat cross-legged on a straw mat, his eyes closed. He concentrated on the heat pressing up from underneath him, on the water lapping sleepily around him, feeling sweat gather across his forehead and face, slipping down his spine. Birds chattered nearby, squawking, perhaps fighting over a piece of bread. Car engines purred past, louder than the ever-present hum of a large city. Notre Dame tolled the half-hour.
A car door slammed shut just as Immortal presence rang brightly across and down his back. Footsteps and the barge pitched as someone walked across the plank and onto the barge.
MacLeod followed the footsteps, his eyes still closed and head just slightly bent and listening. He noted a pause in the footsteps, perhaps a moment of indecision, then a little walk around to a step and onto the roof. Another pause.
A hand waved in front of his face, fanning air across his skin. MacLeod opened one eye, squinting into the sunlight. He looked into a pair of familiar hazel eyes blinking at him worriedly, brow creased with concern.
"Oh. You're alive." Methos made hand gestures of relief. "What are you doing?"
"I was about to ask you the same question?"
"Isn't it obvious?"
"Contemplating your navel?"
MacLeod snorted, despite himself. Then he scowled. Then he laughed. "Something like that. It's good to see you, Methos," he said, quietly.
Methos' hazel eyes looked at him, shifting in the bright sunlight. He smiled and nodded. "Good to see you, too. Are you about done? I didn't mean to disturb."
"Almost. No, it's okay. Sit for a bit." MacLeod moved over to share the mat, making room for Methos to sit cross-legged in front of him.
On impulse, MacLeod took Methos' hands in his. Methos raised his eyebrows, looking intently at MacLeod. MacLeod gave him a little smile then closed his eyes, knowing Methos would close his as well.
A breeze blew, chilling the sweat at the back of MacLeod's neck. A swell in the river rocked the barge in a gentle up and down sway. Methos' fingers relaxed in his. MacLeod could hear his breathing, low and steady, and he matched his to it. And that sense of missing finally eased. Ah, thought MacLeod.
He squeezed Methos' hands gently and opened his eyes. "Thanks," he said. Methos only nodded. They stared at each other a moment, before Methos made a move to stand up. Quietly, MacLeod rolled up the mat.
"So, what brings you to my door, Methos?" he asked, not sure he wanted or needed an answer, but he couldn't think of anything else to say.
"Oh, well," Methos paused at the door, turning to look back at MacLeod, a small wry smile on his lips, "would you believe I missed you?"
"Really?" MacLeod stopped Methos with a hand.
"No. Just kidding," replied Methos, straight-faced.
MacLeod rolled his eyes and pushed him toward the door, but Methos stopped again, his eyes suddenly serious, placing a hand at the center of MacLeod's chest.
"Mac, I'm sorry." Hazel eyes colored with shades of sorrow and pain, knowing so much.
MacLeod looked down at his feet, feeling heat rise up in his eyes and the back of his throat. He swallowed. And then Methos hugged him and it was unexpected, bringing tears to his eyes. He blinked them back.
"I missed you too, Methos."
They let go. MacLeod swiped at his eyes.
"Come on. Got any beer for an old man dying of thirst? It's bloody hot today."
MacLeod followed Methos down the steps into the hold of the barge.