Willow blinked, her eyes struggling to adjust to the darkness after leaving the, albeit not very, bright lights of the Watcher motherhouse behind. Adam had left her a note, tacked to the door of her room, to meet him outside after dinner.
And so she was, wondering belatedly if perhaps she wasn't, despite Duncan's blessings, walking right into a fight for her life. Her sword, a katana similar to that which her mentor uses, lay beneath her jacket, tucked neatly into a sheath inside the long covering. Back home, the jacket would have been out of place, here it was just enough to make a comfortable dent in the cold breeze that blew through the trees.
She slipped around the back of the house, letting the moonlight provide guidance along the paths through the gardens. This was paranoia talking, of course. Adam hadn't spent years, from what she'd heard, in the Watchers, only to risk it by challenging her right there on the motherhouse grounds. She was just being overly cautious, that was it.
It seemed to her eyes that he appeared out of nowhere, though she knew that it wasn't the truth. In reality he had been standing near a tree, his dark clothing blending in with the blackness of both the night and the tree trunk, only stepping away when he saw that she was approaching. She breathed a mental sigh of relief as she noted that there was nowhere on his person that a sword could have been hidden. The sweater he wore was a light grey and, though not tight upon his person, was also not baggy enough to hide anything very large. Unless he was planning to knock her out and then saw through her neck with a kitchen knife, she could relax.
"Hey." She smiled shyly. She had found herself wishing, upon hanging up with Duncan earlier that day, that she had asked the number one most important question regarding the enigma that was Adam Pierson.
Is he single?
The fact remained that the man was attractive in that kind of way that she had always been drawn to. Not drop dead good looks like Duncan. Or boyish charm like Richie. But that learned, studious look. And Adam had that down to a tee. Whatever he may have been in previous lives, right now he was a scholar. It showed in his face and hands. He had a callous on his writing hand, she had seen it earlier that day while they poured over ancient texts. He liked to write.
And he was warm and friendly, if not a little guarded. But she supposed that was a trait that she, too, would come to learn more and more of as the years toiled by. One didn't live very long in the Game without learning caution. There were secrets that he was hiding, and they were his secrets to have, just as her mentor had advised her.
"Hello." His smile was warm, welcoming. "I guess you're wondering why I wanted to meet all the way out here."
Willow shrugged. "I'll admit to being curious."
"Well, it wasn't to take your head," he chuckled.
She blushed. "You think you're good enough?"
His face sobered. "I have no doubt that I am, Willow. Very little doubt at all. You have never been challenged before. And I've ---" He paused, eyes distant. "I've been in more than my fair share. That's part of the reason I wanted to talk to you, actually."
There was a bench there, near a bed of flowers that appeared, in the darkness, to be nothing more than black blobs on stems. She sat down, waiting for him to do the same. Her curiosity was more than piqued now. Was he going to offer to train her? Something about challenges? She was confused.
"MacLeod said that I need to trust you since we're in this together." He waved a hand at the motherhouse, indicating the Watchers within, the tattoo that they both bore on the inside of their wrist. "And there's really no getting around it, anyway. You're smart. Very smart. I knew the moment you started telling me about your prior research experience that I was in for trouble."
She nodded slowly, not quite understanding what he meant but following along, just the same.
"Will you give me your word that what I am about to tell you will stay between the two of us. That you will tell no other, discuss it with only those that you know are already aware of the situation?"
Willow's forehead creased with confusion. "I can't swear to something before knowing what it is, Adam. What if what you're asking me to swear to is against my morals or ethics."
He frowned. "That's a good point, I suppose. But this has nothing to do with right and wrong. Nothing to do with your morals or beliefs. At least, I don't think it does. I suppose there could be a bias lurking somewhere in you that I don't know about." He stopped, staring down at hands he held clasped in front of him. "Truly, though, it is about me. It is a secret of my own."
Willow bit her lip, still wary of making a promise like this. Promises could always be broken, of course; but that was against everything she believed in. Her word had to mean something.
Still. . .she was terribly curious about Adam.
"Fine." She sighed. "I promise. But no telling me anything Goddess-awful that makes me want to try to take you out. That would just suck and I'm pretty sure Duncan would be mad if I killed you or you killed me or vice versa. Then he'd get mad at himself for the whole situation and he'd end up taking it out on Joe. So, for Joe's sake. . . don't tell me anything too horrible or morally wrong, 'kay?"
He laughed. "It's a deal. In fact, Joe already knows what I'm about to tell you. So does MacLeod and Richie. Even Amanda."
"Well, there you go - my entire, limited, circle of Immortal friends." She smirked. "Pathetic, I know."
He smiled. "Very well. I don't suppose there's any easy way to say this. So I'll just come right out and get it over with. I am Methos."
Willow felt a dull rushing in her ears, steadily building to a ringing. She swallowed, hand grasping the edge of the bench so hard that she could feel the old wood biting into her palm.
The confirmation did little to rid her of the dizzying ringing in her ears or the overall feeling of 'what the Hell' that had just overtaken her. It was impossible. He couldn't be. Even if he did feel old. No, older than old. He felt like someone that had walked the earth for thousands of years. Which, if he was telling the truth, he had. She swallowed again, mouth suddenly very dry.
"Are you alright?"
She nodded. "Oh yeah, just peachy."
"You don't look 'peachy'." She could feel his hand on hers, slowly prying her fingers from the wood of the bench.
"Sort of. . .um. . ." She blinked, struggling to focus. This man was Methos? The legendary oldest Immortal? "Right. . .not doing too well, actually."
"I didn't think so," he laughed lightly.
"So, you're . . . And. . .Wow. . . I told Duncan you felt 'old', but this goes beyond that. More like ancient. . . .Five millenia. . ." The last bit of babbling was muttered under her breath, though she guessed he heard because there was that laugh again.
"You make it sound like I'm something of a dinosaur."
Her brow creased in thought, and a wry smile tugged at the corner of her lips. "Well, aren't you? Tell me. . .what -was- it like running from T-Rex?"
It felt good to make the joke, like this was nothing too out of the ordinary and, she guessed, in the oddness that was her life, this really wasn't that bad. It only served to figure that she, of all Immortals, would end up working in close proximity with the oldest living Immortal --
Studying and searching for him?
"We're working on the Methos Chronicles." She muttered. "Methos is working on the Methos Chronicles. The irony is overwhelming."
"Thus the reason I had to tell you." He spoke up. "Can't have you undoing all the misdirection I've managed over the years."
"Of course." She sighed, rubbing at her eyes. This was all too crazy. Definitely not what she had been expecting when she came out here. A challenge might justh have been -easier- than trying to process this bit of information. She opened her eyes, laughing at the worried look on Adam - no, Methos - face. "Don't worry. I just need a drink."
The smile that slid across his face was slow and completely disarming.
"A woman after my own heart. Come on, my treat."