Spirits of Horrors Past
A/N: I've had this one flying around for months, but couldn't post it before I introduced Methos as the hubby. Sorry it took so long and thanks for the reviews. Set during Revelations
, season five.
+Spirit of Horrors Past
Death on a Horse.
Death. On. A Horse.
The words ring in Duncan’s ears, make it hard to focus. He has Methos pressed against the car and he’s talking, talking, talking, spitting acid but the words don’t register. Death. On a Horse.
It’s not a phrase, not a sentence. It’s a title. It’s the name of a nightmare. He saw the horror in Cassandra’s eyes when she remembered. He saw. But he didn’t believe that Methos was the one. That he was the one she hated even more than Kronos.
He didn’t. He didn’t believe until now, here, Methos pressed against the car, silent, finally. Now he has no choice but to believe. The gentle, shrewd man he calls friend – has called friend – is a monster. The monster that comes and eats bad children. He’s the nightmare.
“Does Buffy know?”
There is a moment of complete silence between them and then Duncan shakes the other man, slams him back against the car. Physically he’s so much stronger. He could break the other man like a twig. But it’s not Methos who’s breaking now, is it?
I called you friend, he wants to say. Wants to scream. Instead he repeats, “Does she know?”
And Methos – Death, Death on a god damned fucking horse – throws his head back and he laughs. It’s a sound like a roar, like an ocean of convictions and assumed truths crashing against the coast of reality.
“Know?” he repeats. “Know?” He raises his arms suddenly, between Duncan’s elbows and pushes apart, pushes and twists, breaking the younger man’s hold. “We were the horsemen, MacLeod and she was our bloody queen. Who do you think collected us?”
That’s when the world, already tilting badly, crashes and tumbles and everything breaks apart.
He isn’t fighting with Joe. He’s not. He’s trying to be reasonable. But the man needs to see, needs to understand that this is different. They’ve all killed. It’s the creed they live by. But not like this. Killing is not supposed to bring joy. It is not supposed to be sport, for fun.
And people you’ve called your friends for over a century are not supposed to be the bad guys. All these years, she preached to him about forgiveness, about thinking before acting. About enjoying life. He never knew that for her, joy lies in killing, in taking life.
He never expected her to not only condone but take part in these…horrors. He never expected her to love a man that is a monster in human skin.
A quickening down his spine like cold water and then the elevator gate screeches open. His sword is in his hands before he knows it, aimed right at her, ready to take her head if she so much as moves.
She raises a delicate pale gold eyebrow and demands, “Expecting someone?”
The blade never wavers, “Yes. Your husband.”
Whether it’s his tone of voice or the sword against her neck – a neck he kissed and nuzzled and spent hours upon hours looking at when she slept next to him – her expression turns serious. “I’m out of town for a week and you have a fight. What happened this time?”
His expression is hard as stone. A few feet away, Joe shifts and moves out of the immediate danger zone. Duncan lightly rests his blade on her shoulder. A warning.
“Cassandra came by.”
Her eyes widen a fraction in surprise but her mouth turns into a grim line and then she closes those green eyes and sighs almost inaudibly. Tiredly. But not guiltily. Not full of regret.
“You know.” It’s not a question.
“What gave you the idea?”
“Mac…” That’s Joe, trying to play peace maker but Duncan won’t let him. Not this time. Not over this. She owes him the truth at the very least.
“Yes,” He snaps over his watcher’s protests, “I know. I know that Methos is Death and that Kronos is War. Did you know he’s in town, by the way? I know that you were there and what they did to Cassandra and I know that you lied to me.”
She snorts. “Lied? I never lied to you, Duncan. I didn’t tell you. Just as I’m sure there are things you didn’t tell me.”
“Yeah, but I never killed for pleasure.”
“Oh,” she says and there’s something in her voice now, something sharp. She takes a step forward, allowing the blade to nick her skin, blood trickling down her neck. “And that changes everything, doesn’t it? You’re righteous and good and pure, aren’t you? Newsflash lover,” It’s ugly suddenly, that word when it never was before, “The people you killed? They’re still dead.”
He removes the sword since it’s obviously not going to stop her advancing. Instead he yells right in her face, “I had a reason to kill them!”
If a perfect world, she would now retreat, would fall apart like a house of cards and confess her sins. She would plead for forgiveness. And Duncan would give it because three thousand years ago, the world was a different place and he loves Buffy. He loves her husband, too.
But this is not a perfect world and she does not back down. Instead she spreads her arms wide, baring herself to his anger, his disgust, unafraid. She revels in it and she is not afraid because she knows. She knows exactly what and who she is. There are no delusions here. There never have been.
She is five thousand years old and she left regret behind a long time ago. It’s what makes this so hard. She feels no guilt.
“So had we,” she tells him, voice even, just loud enough for Joe to hear in the far corner where he stands forgotten. Paraphernalia for a fight that hurts, hurts badly.
“We killed them for their food, their clothes, their weapons. We killed them for their water, their tents, their animals, for the pre-immortals living among them. We collected them like stamps, you know. Kronos was one of them. He was priest. Methos gave him his first death and we took him home and he belonged to us.”
He takes an involuntary half step back in the face of her calm recollection. Then he catches himself. “And I assume you had reasons to rape, capture and torture, too?”
She shakes her head, arms falling to her side. But her voice does not lose its edge. She will not be cowed by his righteous rage. “I never condoned these things. I never condoned what they did to Cassandra.”
Duncan has no idea what to say. So Joe does it for him. “But you didn’t stop it either.”
“No,” she admits, head held high, eyes hollow, “I didn’t.”
“Why?” The sword falls to the ground, unnoticed. There’s no point to it because he knows that cannot beat her. Not now, not ever.
The smile that flits across her features is ugly and tired, so tired.
“Because it’s wrong
! It’s evil! It’s despicable. It’s-“
“Alright,” hands raised not in defence but to placate him. His rage. His betrayed feelings. “Alright. You want to know why? Because I was alone. There was nothing but the sun and the dirt and the dying, so much death. There was no mercy, no relief, no care, no love. Anything weak, anything different had to die. I was different, Mac. I was what they made me. I was a weapon. A tool. I was a terrifying thing and then they abandoned me, cast me away like a broken toy.
“I was tired. So fucking tired. Do you know how long a century can be when you spend it dying? How it is to be a god among insects? The mortals despised me, they hated and feared me and they killed me. So I stayed away from them. I don’t know how long I was alone, Mac. It might have been centuries and I…And then I found Methos and he was mine
. He belonged to me and me alone and he didn’t die like everything else. He didn’t leave. He wasn’t weak and pathetic and he didn’t cower in the dark. He was strong. And so was Kronos, and Silas and Caspian. They were all mine, Mac. They belonged to me. Me! They made it so I wasn’t alone anymore, alright? I would have let them set the world aflame if that’s what it took to keep them with me. I would have killed anyone, let them murder every living being on this planet, just to make them stay
And then her voice drops to a whisper and her smile turn bitter and lost, “You know what? They left anyway. Well, Methos did. He…he felt guilty. Over Cassandra. Over everything. He left me. He left me alone and it was just like before. It was -”
Joe is there suddenly and he tries to hug her. She shakes her head, evades his arms. “No,” she refuses, “No.”
She looks Duncan straight in the eye and visibly straightens. “I don’t feel guilty, Duncan. I never will. And if I could change it I probably wouldn’t. Not if it meant losing Methos. Hell, not even if it meant losing the others. The world was insane back then. It was…you can’t imagine what it was like. Those four were all I had. They were my sun. No apologies, no regrets. That’s how it goes. And now I have to find my wayward husband before he and Kronos try to kill each other permanently. Or before Kronos comes up with some insane scheme to bring terror to the masses. Whatever happens first.”
Her smile is as weak as her attempt at a joke and then she’s gone.
For the longest time, Duncan just stands there. The rage is gone and what’s left behind is a bad taste in his mouth and a hollow in his chest.
Joe doesn’t say a word.