What the Thunder Said

An alternative conclusion

by Farquarson

The characters of Methos, Joe, Duncan MacLeod and others belong to The Powers That Be, not the author. The ideas contained therein, however, belong to Farquarson, and this story is posted with permission.

J. Campbell's notes: My bleak story inspired my good friend and best beta, Farquarson, to rewrite the conclusion in a completely different manner. My version illustrates the futility of the Game. Farquarson's version shows that even in the worst of situations, there is a ray of hope. The beginning of this piece is structured around my original ending; however, Farquarson builds well beyond it to create something beautiful.

Joe breathes out explosively. "Wow."

"That's it?" Methos frowns and rubs his chin thoughtfully. "Just 'wow'? I expected something a bit more profound."

"Like what?"

Methos shrugs. "Oh, I don't know. How about, 'Get the hell out of my bar, you murdering bastard, before I kill you myself!'' "

Joe gives him a deep measuring stare, and Methos shivers at the pain, bitterness and, yes, betrayal, in the Watcher's eyes. Joe may not admit it, even to himself, but he is enraged that one of his best friends has died at the hands of the other. There is a pause, and then Joe turns away, focusing all his attention on the laborious task of polishing one whisky tumbler, over and over and over again.

It takes forever for Joe to speak, but at last he does, saying the words that Methos has longed to hear for what feels like half-past eternity.

"Did you really think I would blame you for MacLeod's death?"

Methos winces at the rawness of the pain, the grief and, yes, the guilt, in Joe's voice, just as he drinks in Joe's joy that he, Methos, the last of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse and murderer of Joe's best friend, is still alive and well. Until this moment, he hadn't known how badly he needed Joe's--acceptance? Forgiveness?

"Well, honestly I didn't know how you would react." Methos lifts his beer in salute. "I have to say that you handled it quite well."

"Thank you, sir." Joe raised his glass of Scotch. "A toast. To Duncan MacLeod of the clan MacLeod. The most heroic son of a bitch to ever walk the planet."

They clink glasses, and as Methos drinks, he thinks quietly of the Highlander. 'Goodbye, MacLeod. I hope you're in a better place than this. You deserve it.'

A sudden tidal wave of loneliness washes over him, blinding him with its intensity. He squinches his eyes shut, yet the figures of his friends and lovers, mortal and Immortal, dance behind his eyelids mockingly. They gaze at him with all-too-familiar expressions: Darius, half-smiling quizzically at Methos; Fitz in the middle of some ridiculous and totally implausible tale; Silas looking at him wonderingly, as if trying to understand something Methos had just said; Alexa, glancing at him over her shoulder with the joy and enthusiasm she brought to everything in life. And MacLeod. Dear God, MacLeod, standing before him, with a solemn expression in his Coke-bottle brown eyes, and paying no attention to Richie Ryan--who still seemed to be afflicted with Christmas-puppy enthusiasm, or to the sharp-featured man who was staring appreciatively at the golden-haired beauty stroking MacLeod's cheek.

Methos closes his eyes even tighter, but the ghosts don't go away. He can almost hear them whispering his name. And he can feel their eyes, burning with expectancy as they stare at him.

A hunger for their companionship --so great that it is a physical agony-- rips through him. To spend the rest of infinity craving the love and friendship of the people who made Immortality bearable will drive him insane. Not that it seems to matter at this point. If madness means seeing those he loves again, he would rather be mad.

If only there were a way to bring them back, to resurrect them all into a world where friends didn't kill friends to free them from a madness born of an uncontrollable urge to kill each other. Where beautiful and loving women didn't die before living long and happy lives. Where the Immortals had no reason to fear each other, or to crave each others' Quickenings.

If only it could be true. If only. If only.

Sighing, he opens his eyes, banishing the ghosts. Someday, he'll surrender to madness. That is inevitable, and he knows it. But not yet. Tonight he still has a few questions to ask of the only living friend he has left.

"So what now?" Methos kicks his feet up on the table, and Joe promptly pushes them off. "What do we do now?"

The question is a good one, and deeper than it looks. The two things that had driven both their lives were now over. There is, after all, no Game anymore. And what point in Watching Immortals when there is only one left?

But Joe's answer, when it comes, is a prosaic one.

"Now, I get this mess cleaned up and hit the sack," Joe says as he stands. "If you don't mind my saying, it's been a long night. I'll worry about making sense of all you've said tomorrow."

"Here, I'll help." Methos grabs his empty beers as Joe goes to the bar for a washcloth. One bottle slips through his fingers and shatters on the floor. "Oh, shit. Sorry, Joe."

"Don't worry about it," Joe says as he returns to wipe down the table.

Methos gingerly picks up the glass shards, but a sharp pain in his thumb causes him to drop them again. Blood wells from a small cut, which Methos ignores as he finishes collecting the glass. Grumbling at his own clumsiness, he throws the shards in the trash and joins Joe at the bar. Only after settling onto a stool does he notice his thumb, still pumping red.

"Joe ..." he says, his voice slightly panicked.


In answer, Methos holds up his injury, and Joe's eyes widen.

"You're not healing?" At Methos' frantic nod, Joe's jaw drops. "Do you know what this means? You're not immortal anymore."

"I noticed," Methos snaps. He swallows hard and watches in fascination as, for the first time he can remember, the blood continues to drip down his hand. "This can't be happening. How can this be possible?"

"It looks to me like you have your Prize."

"Prize! You call this a Prize!?" Methos' outraged bellow can be heard in Maine. "I call it a cheat, Joe! I call it a goddamn cheat! The Immortals are created by some god or power or whatever. For some reason, we were created with a drive to kill each other. We go on for thousands of years. We survive untold horrors. Sometimes we ARE untold horrors. But we grow. We learn. Not that that saves us. Eventually all of us are extinct but one. Now, are you going to tell me that the whole purpose of this--the reason an entire race died--was so that I could become mortal? Is that what you are telling me?"

"Easy, Methos," Joe says in a calming voice. "Take it easy."

"Take it easy!" Methos carefully pokes at the cut. The sharp pain flares briefly. "You'd think that the Powers that Be could have thought of something better."

"Like what?"

"I don't know!" Methos growls. "Maybe total omniscience. World domination. Mind reading. The ability to make the Red Sox win the pennant. Anything would be better than this--obscenity!"

"Mortality isn't an obscenity."

"Wiping out an entire race for no reason is. And that's what the Powers That Be--God, the Universe, Somebody--did. Besides," Methos adds, his voice dropping to a bare whisper, "I don't know how to be mortal. I don't remember being mortal."

And that really is the worst of it, wasn't it? His whole life has been bound up in being Immortal. Now, not only are the Immortals all gone, but so is his endless life. It is completely illogical, but he feels violated, as if his identity has vanished into nothingness. What is he if he isn't Methos, the world's oldest immortal?

Puzzled, Joe stares at his stunned friend. "Are you okay?"

"I can't be mortal," Methos repeats. "I don't know how to be mortal." He dabs the cloth at his cut and hisses. "I'm going to die of old age, do you realize that? Or I could be hit by a car, or fall down a tall staircase."

"Everyone dies."

Methos can't help but smile weakly at Joe's words, an echo of the credo he's lived by for millennia. "Yes, everyone dies," he whispers, dabbing futilely at the cut with a cocktail napkin. He looks at Joe with helpless eyes. "I don't want to be mortal."

"Not long ago you were telling me that you didn't want to be the last one. You said you'd lose your mind, remember?"

"Yeah, I know what I said." Methos throws the now bloody scrap of paper on the bar. "But that was before I knew that I wasn't going to live forever. And not only am I not going to live forever, I now have to endure the three side effects of immortality...disease, old age, and death. Madness or mortality--it's a hell of a choice." His voice drops low, so that Joe can scarcely hear him. "Maybe this is my punishment. Maybe this is my own private hell."

Joe, hearing the despair in the ex-immortal's voice, is reaching out a tentative hand to comfort him when there is a knock at the door.

"Sorry, we're closed!" he yells toward the door. "Come back tomorrow!"

"Well, all right, Joe," says a familiar voice in an amused tone. "I just thought you'd want to hear my and Tessa's news tonight."

There was a long pause, during which Joe regarded Methos with a jaundiced eye. "If this is your idea of a joke, Methos..." he mutters.

Methos looks rather wild-eyed. "Joe, I-I killed him, I swear! I don't know what's going on!"

"Well, there's only one way to find out." Joe totters over to the door, unlocks it carefully, and slides back the bolt just enough to see the person on the other side.

Methos hears a gasp of surprise, followed by a babble of unintelligible syllables. The latch is drawn back with agonizing slowness.

In strides a man that Methos knows must be a figment of his imagination. He has dreamed too often in the past month or so of seeing Duncan MacLeod again--the real Duncan MacLeod, not the madman he slew in the desert. And now, here he is, as he was when Methos first met him--black greatcoat, military bearing, and dark ponytail. A blonde woman is standing by his side, right arm snaked possessively about his waist. MacLeod, or his twin, is gazing at her with incandescent eyes.

Methos knows who the blonde woman must be. But it's impossible. Tessa Noel died four years ago.

Ghosts. Or dreams. But they seem to be very solid for all that, with MacLeod beaming at Joe. "We had to rush over and tell you--we're getting married!"

Married? Do ghosts get married? Or, Methos wonders, has he finally, after all these millennia, gone incurably mad?

"And of course," adds the woman who looks like Tessa, "we wanted you to be one of the best men."

"One of the best men?" echoes Joe, who looks as confused as Methos feels. "Who are the others?"

"Well, Richie, naturally," says MacLeod's twin in a matter-of-fact tone. "And Adam, over here." His coffee-colored eyes twinkle mischievously. "I knew you'd be here, Adam. You always are. That's why I insisted on coming here tonight--to kill two birds with one stone. Might as well let both of you know at once."

"Richie?!" Methos can't stop himself. " But--you killed him! You killed him nearly three years ago!"

MacLeod and Tessa look at him as if he has grown three heads. Slowly, MacLeod exhales and shakes his head, a worried, almost paternal expression in his eyes. "Maybe you'd better lay off the beer for a while, Adam. I mean, if you're having those kind of nightmares. Richie is fine. He's asleep in his own bed above the antique shop. Why in the name of God would I have killed him?"

Methos considers mentioning Ahriman, Zoroaster, and Horton, but he stops himself. MacLeod would never believe it. Hell, he doesn't believe it, and he was there.

He chooses his words carefully. "I thought Richie died in a freak accident with your sword."

MacLeod frowns. "Why would I have a sword?"

"Well, maybe in one sense, you possess one, " Tessa purrs, leaning against him. "But that's the only one I know about."

Methos stares at the bewildered couple, a suspicion growing in his mind. "You don't own a sword, " he says softly.

MacLeod nods.

"Have you ever heard of the Gathering?"

Tessa crinkles her forehead, struggling to remember something. "You mean the card game?"


"Well," drawled MacLeod, "I've heard of Quicken software. But not Quickenings. Is that the latest version?"

"The Buzz? Holy Ground? Decapitation?"

Tessa's puts a cool hand on Methos' forehead. "Adam? Are you feeling all right? You sound delirious. Did Alexa convince you to try eating an anchovy pizza again? You know you're allergic to anchovies."

Methos stares blindly at Tessa, so still that he seems to have frozen. Finally one word escapes his novocained lips: "...Alexa?"

"I felt sure you'd remember Alexa, Adam," drawls MacLeod as he rolls his eyes up to heaven. "After all, you've only been living with her for three years, not to mention traveling around the world with her, discovering the cure for her illness...I suppose next you're going to tell me that you aren't going to marry her this December 21st."

Methos blinks stupidly. He must be imagining things. MacLeod couldn't have said what he just said. It's impossible. "Marry? In December?"

Tessa dimples. "Of course, Adam. Don't you remember? Duncan thought that you'd picked December 21 because it was his birthday, but you said it was because of all the days in the year, December 21 had the shortest day--and the longest night."

"That does sound like you," comments Joe as he turns to Methos. He smiles at MacLeod. "I suppose Darius is going to perform the service."

MacLeod grins broadly. "Naturally. Who else?"

"Oh, I don't know," says Joe with a sidelong glance at Methos. "Maybe Fitz. Or Gabriel Larca. Or the Kurgan."

MacLeod frowns. "Has everyone gone nuts tonight? Joe, you know as well as I do that Fitz is a caterer, not a priest. Dr. Kurgan--I don't know him, and considering that he's just been found guilty of a score of crimes against humanity in Bosnia, I don't want to know him! As for the Reverend Larca, I sure as hell am not inviting a televangelist to perform MY wedding!"

A sudden thought slams into Methos' brain. He says it very softly. "MacLeod? Do I ..have...any...brothers?"

"The only one I've ever met is the veteranarian, Silas. The other two-- you told me they died in a knife fight when they were very young."

Methos sits down very carefully. His mind is whirling around. MacLeod, alive. Tessa, alive. Darius. Fitz. Richie. Silas. All alive, except for Kronos and Caspian who had died young.

And Alexa. Dear God. Alexa.

How long he sits there dazed, he doesn't know. But eventually Tessa approaches him and sniffs.

"Beer. I thought so. You drink too much, Adam. And leaving Alexa home alone all this time--that's no way to treat a woman. Especially a pregnant one."

Methos' mouth opens and closes like a goldfish. Finally he staggers to his feet. "I'd--I'd better get home," he says softly, surrepitiously drawing his wallet half out of his pants pocket and peeking at his driver's license. Yep, same address."I don't think I've told Alexa how much I love her, lately."

"Yeah," says Joe. Methos can hear the joy and laughter in his voice. "Don't forget to tell her what a prize she is."

"I won't," Methos murmurs, and headed for the door.

"So, are you going to be one of our best men, Adam?" MacLeod calls after him.

Methos grins. "Well, I'm certainly going to try."

He walks out to his Volvo, noting that it now has MD plates on it. Next to the Volvo, Joe's van has bumper stickers for a local bird-watching club and the Society for Creative Anachronism.

He seats himself in the car, and, just for a moment, whispers a soft "Thank you" to whatever power has made this possible. Then, fingers tremblind, he pushes "O" and asks the operator to place a call to the Pierson residence. The phone is picked up on the first ring, and he hears the soft voice of the woman he loves once more. He can barely stammer out his message for her:

"Alexa? It's me. I just wanted to tell you--I love you. And I'm coming home."

The End