: Flowers from BrianAuthor
: Season five, up to the Body
, for Buffy. No real spoilers for Highlander.Disclaimer
: The Buffyverse belongs to Joss Whedon et al. Highlander belongs to Davis/Panzer et al. I'm only borrowing and will return them at the end of the fic.Summary
: On the tail end of a wild goose-chase, Methos finds the unexpected in a small Californian town.~*~
Methos looked at the object in front of him, and sighed. He'd flown halfway around the world on the chance that he would find the spear that belonged to Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, in this little Californian gallery. Instead, he was looking at a reproduction, a forgery, at least five centuries too young.
The damned thing wasn't even cast in bronze.
"Thank you, Joe," Methos said. He made it sound like the curse it was. Joe Dawson, his fellow Watcher, had been positive that the spear in Sunnydale was the right one. Trust anything that involved Boca del Inferno, the bloody Hellmouth, would prove to be a giant headache. Joe was going to owe him so big...
"I take it you were looking for something else?"
Methos turned, ready to tell off the old harridan who had glared at him when he came in earlier, but stopped before he could open his mouth. The woman behind him wasn't the harridan, at all. In any way, shape or form.
A moment of silence passed, and the woman before him smiled apologetically. "Or maybe you were looking for that spearhead?" she said.
"Huh? Oh, no," Methos replied. "No, I came looking for that spear, but it's all wrong."
The woman looked to the spear and back to Methos, the beginnings of annoyance on her face. "No, I can guarantee that it is exactly what we claim, an early Babylonian spear."
"No, that's not what I meant," Methos said. Gods, the jet lag must have been worse than he thought. "I meant, I was told it was a certain spear in particular, but it's not the one I was hoping it would be. It's about four hundred years too advanced."
The woman looked at Methos so long he wondered if he had dropped jam on his sweater during breakfast. "We don't have any other pieces from the period, I'm sorry," she said. Methos found himself marveling at her amazing voice. It fit so well with the rest of her. "Perhaps you'd care to look at our catalogue, if you're in the market?"
Even though five minutes before he had been desperate to leave, Methos thought about it. It would serve Joe right if he spent thousands of the Watcher's dollars on some vastly overpriced trinket, to make up for this useless trip.
The thought cheered the Immortal immensely.
"Yes, that sounds perfect," Methos replied.
"Will you come over to my desk, then?" The woman asked, and ushered Methos to a desk at the back. They had to pass the harridan on the way, who looked at Methos with annoyance.
"Please, have a seat," the woman continued. Methos sat where he was told and waited while the woman fetched a large glossy binder. He let his eyes wander around this part of the office. There were several sculptures on the bookshelf, nothing that Methos recognized. His gaze was drawn, however, to the large stained battle axe secured to the wall by several serious-looking steel bindings.
"That's tenth-century Viking, isn't it?" Methos asked the woman when she returned, book in hand. She looked at the battle axe, surprised.
"Yes, I believe it is," she replied. "A friend of the family acquired it for us." Then she smiled. "It's not shiny enough to go on the floor, so we keep it back here."
"To intimidate uncertain buyers?" Methos teased gently, and was rewarded with another smile.
"Of course not," she said. "I just realized, we haven't been introduced. I'm Joyce Summers." She held out her hand.
Methos stood and took her hand, and centuries of chivalry came to the fore. He bowed over her hand, very conscious of his new identity. With the Watchers mad at him, he'd decided it was time for a new persona, and it was with that new passport he travelled to the States on this trip.
"My name is Brian. Brian Jefferies."~*~
Before, he had used part of his old name in the new one. He had suggested to McLeod and Ritchie that he could use Adams as a last name. When Ritchie heard the suggestion of Brian Adams, he almost choked to death on his coffee. McLeod hadn't been much more help.
Was it Methos's fault he he got names mixed up? Having thousands of years of names in his head, was it so hard to believe he didn't click on the name at first?
So Brian Jefferies had been duly chosen and a new identity created. The passport photo wasn't his best, Methos admitted, but it worked in a pinch.
So it was this new Brian that talked to Joyce Summers for three hours about artifacts and forgeries and antiques. It was Brian who offered to take a hideous Moroccan fertility effigy off the gallery's hands (Methos planned to give it to Joe as a thank-you present for the little trip to California). And it was Brian who asked Joyce if she would care to accompany him to a late lunch.
They strolled down the promenade of the little California town, looking for a place to eat. The companionable silence held.
"How about French?" Joyce asked, pointing at a small cafe on the corner.
Methos couldn't hold back a shudder. "No, no French. As much as I have come to appreciate their liberal use of cheese, I've had as much French cuisine as I can stand for about five years."
"You're from a small provincial town in Lorraine," Joyce guessed.
"No, but close. Paris."
Joyce's eyes grew wide. "You're from Paris?" She smiled wistfully. "I always wanted to go to Paris."
Methos opened his mouth to tell her that it wasn't worth the hype, that the city was dirty and the drivers were insane and the food wasn't that great, but the look on her face stilled his tongue. He realized something in that moment, that he couldn't explain.
Joyce was dying.
Not 'all mortals die eventually', but 'she has months to live'. He couldn't explain how he knew this, what part of his brain told him his companion was not long for this world.
"You've never been?" Methos said instead. "It's beautiful in the spring, when the sun is rising over the Notre Dame Cathedral..."
He took Joyce's arm in the classic continental style and swept her off down the street, toward the little French cafe on the corner.~*~
"Would madame care for some wine with her lunch?"
"No, I don't think..." Joyce paused and looked at Methos. He smiled slightly, a daring smile. "Yes, I think I will," she told the maitre d'.
"Very good. And monsieur?"
"For myself as well," Methos said.
The pair was left to decide on their lunch. The cafe was only half full, even on the lunch hour. Joyce concentrated on her menu. Methos glanced down, then closed the menu.
"What would you suggest?" Joyce asked.
Methos shrugged. "I have no idea," he confessed. "I usually leave the ordering up to other people. I'm horrible at deciding these things. I'll probably just have what you have."
"I'll probably going to have the salmon," Joyce warned.
"Then I guess I'm having the salmon," Methos said genially.
The waiter came and took their order, then vanished into the back.
"So tell me about Paris," Joyce asked. "I wanted to go there when I was in my twenties, but life seemed to get in the way."
"Never got around to it?"
"Got married and had a daughter," Joyce clarified.
Methos considered. "But you're no longer married," he guessed. "No wedding ring, and a tan on your hands where such a ring should have been," he explained at Joyce's questioning look.
"You're right," she admitted. "I've been divorced for more than six years."
"So, Paris awaits?"
"Not quite. There are the girls, and the gallery, and..." Joyce played with her napkin. "And my life didn't work out that way."
"Your ex isn't in a position to take the girls for the week?" Methos pressed.
Joyce looked up, startled. "Oh, no, Buffy could take care of Dawn. She's almost twenty-one."
"You have a twenty-one-year-old daughter?" Methos asked. "You've got to be kidding." Then he reviewed what he said, and winced. "That didn't come out the way I wanted it to. It wasn't a pick-up line, it's just..." he smiled bashfully. "You don't look old enough to have a daughter that old."
"You know what to say to a girl," Joyce said.
"It's the truth." He waited as the look in Joyce's eyes changed. She was reconsidering him, he realized.
His heart was pounding in his chest as the waiter came with the salad course. Good grief, he thought, he was acting like a hormonal four-hundred-year-old Scottish heartbreaker, not the old man he was.
But Joyce blushed when he glanced back up at her, and he found himself wondering.~*~
"Well, this is my stop," Joyce said, coming to a halt in front of a nice two-story house. As she hadn't had to go back to work after lunch, Methos offered to walk her home. It had been a long time since he enjoyed a woman's company so much. Not since Alexa.
"It was really nice to spend some time with you," Methos said as he escorted Joyce up to the front door.
"And it was a real treat to talk with someone who knows something about antiques," Joyce replied.
"It's all book-learning," Methos said dismissively. "You'd never have thought that learning to read would be such a useful skill."
Joyce actually laughed. Then the smile faded from her face, and Methos found himself hoping. But no matter how much he wanted this, he would not press her.
He was mad to even have stepped foot in Sunnydale. But now he was happy he had taken the risk.
"Would... do you want to come in?" Joyce asked. "For some coffee?"
Now his heart was back pounding in his chest. Spending so much time around the Highlander was definitely a bad influence on him.
"Yes," Methos said. "I would like that very much."~*~
Sitting on the plane the next morning, as it took flight from the Los Angeles tarmac, Methos thought wistfully of the previous afternoon. When he kissed Joyce good-bye, he told her he hoped to see her, one day, in Paris.
He was six thousand years old. How many encounters had he had? Thousands, probably. He remembered most of them. He wondered how long he'd remember Joyce.
Before he left his L.A. hotel, he had called a Sunnydale florist and arranged for them to send Joyce a bright and cheerful bouquet. He told them to sign it, "Thanks for the lovely evening. See you soon? Brian."
He wondered if she had the flowers yet.
He wondered if she would remember him fondly.
He wondered if she'd ever see Paris.-fin