This is my RSM birthday story. We write a present for everyone else on our birthdays, here's my B-Day offering. I'm 32 and darn proud of it! Happy Halloween!!!
Thanks to the best friends ever, the RSM!
Title and lyrics borrowed without Permission from Brad Roberts and Crash Test Dummies, and Warren Zevon.
Ghosts That Haunt Me
Joe's bar was decorated in orange and black streamers, cob webs and skeletons covered the bar and the walls. Joe and the band were in full swing, and the Halloween crowd was more vocal than usual. Duncan sat back in his chair and enjoyed the festive atmosphere. A little less than half of the crowd were wearing costumes and just as a grim reaper walked past him, followed by a vampire, he felt the buzz. Seconds later Methos walked through the door. He headed straight for Mac's table.
"Happy Halloween MacLeod." Methos looked ridiculous. He was wearing one of those Groucho Marx funny nose and glasses. It had the fuzzy eyebrows and mustache and the feathery mustache hung down over Methos' upper lip.
Duncan burst into laughter at the site of him. "You look absurd!"
"Glad you think so. Here, I got one for you as well." He handed Mac another pair of the nose and glasses.
"I'm not putting those on, forget it." Duncan was still laughing at the site of the old man. What made it even funnier was thinking that Methos had actually found a costume that made his nose look even bigger.
"Fuddy-duddy. So, what are you doing to celebrate this mutated holiday?" Methos asked after he ordered his drink.
"This is about it. Mutated, yeah I guess it is. What about you?" Duncan asked over the music.
"Hmm? Oh, I'm paying homage to my own personal ghosts." When Methos spoke this time Duncan realized that the old man must have been drinking before he came to the bar. He wasn't exactly drunk, but he certainly wasn't sober.
Before Duncan could ask another question the crowd burst in cheers and applause. The band started playing something that seemed to put everyone on there feet and Methos cheered with the rest of them. Duncan had no idea what the song was, but Methos seemed to know every word. When he heard the chorus of "Aahoo, werewolves of London", Mac had to chuckle. The whole audience howled, as did Methos.
After the band finished their set Duncan looked at his friend. He seemed lost in thought, far away. He'd put away twice as many glasses of scotch than Duncan had, and was still drinking with determination.
"Is getting drunk part of this homage?" Duncan asked, pulling Methos from his thoughts. He was beginning to worry, Methos had become sullen and quiet.
"Yes, most definitely." He raised his glass in a silent toast and tossed back another scotch.
Throughout the night Methos was alternately joyous and celebratory, and quiet and withdrawn. At one point near the end of the night Duncan watched as Methos jumped up and started dancing with a young woman in a cat costume. As Methos danced and twirled the young woman Duncan was struck by what an enigma his friend was. One minute Duncan saw a 5000 year old man trying to drown his ghosts, and the next he saw a young, vibrant man joyfully dancing. Duncan knew he'd never figure Methos out completely, but at times like this he wondered if he'd ever gain any insight to the old man's nature. Methos shared so little of himself that Duncan only got glimpses of who Methos really was under the "just a guy" facade.
"Such extremes, Methos." Duncan mumbled to himself, still watching Methos dance.
The last set had ended and people were starting to filter out of the bar. Joe grabbed a bottle and made his way to Duncan and Methos' table.
"Hi Joe, you guys really brought the house down tonight," Duncan called to his friend.
"Thanks Mac. *You* certainly seemed to be enjoying yourself tonight," Joe laughed as he gestured towards Methos.
"I can but try," Methos murmured dryly.
"I also noticed you seem to be even more serious than usual about your drinking, so I brought a new bottle." Joe poured them all a drink. "Happy Halloween."
Duncan raised his glass and toasted with Joe. "Happy Halloween."
Methos just downed the scotch and slammed his glass on the table, looking to Joe for a refill.
Joe knew better than to argue with Methos about his drinking, so he just poured the old man another. "What's with him?" Joe asked Duncan, confused by Methos' mood swing.
"Something about paying homage to his ghosts," Duncan answered, rolling his eyes.
"Some of them are your ghosts as well, MacLeod," Methos' voice was low and he seemed to stare a hole straight through Duncan.
Duncan thought about it. Kronos certainly was, and Byron. They had both haunted his dreams for a time. "I guess they are. What's your point?"
"No point, just an observation."
"Yeah," Joe sighed. "We've all got our ghosts."
They sat quietly, each man lost in his own memories. During this reflective silence, Methos helped himself to three more glasses of scotch. After a while he got up mumbling, "Gotta piss," and staggered off to the men's room.
"What's up with him Mac? I've never seen him get this drunk before, and his behavior this evening has been more than a little manic," Joe asked as soon as Methos was out of earshot.
"I don't know. He came in here wearing these," Duncan held up the nose and glasses. "In what seemed to be an exceptionally good mood. He's been going back and forth between wool gathering and partying like a teenager all night. The only explanation he gives me is that he's paying homage to his ghosts. You figure it out." Duncan shook his head.
"Do me a favor and keep an eye on him tonight, I don't think he should be alone." Joe's rough voice was deep with concern.
"Don't worry Joe, I already planned on taking him back to the loft and letting him crash on my couch. 5000 years must have an awful lot of ghosts." Duncan looked at the empty seat across from him.
"Think we should check on him? He's been gone for a while." Joe gestured towards the men's room.
"I'll go." Duncan stood up and went to see what had happened to Methos. When he got in the men's room he found the old man staring at himself in the mirror. He looked confused and lost.
"Methos?" Duncan spoke gently.
"Sometimes, after so many years, I wonder who that person is looking back at me." Methos spoke, but never took his eyes from his reflection.
"Come on, my friend, you're drunk and it's late. Come back to the loft, you can pass out on the couch. You'll feel better in the morning." Duncan took Methos by the arm and steered him out of the bathroom. He was deeply concerned for his friend, he'd never seen Methos so... vulnerable. It was even more disturbing when Methos didn't put up any fight. He let Duncan help him on with his coat and lead him out of the bar after saying goodnight to Joe.
The ride back to loft was silent, except for the occasional and uncharacteristic sigh from Methos. When they were riding up in the freight elevator Duncan looked at his friend and was worried by what he saw. Methos was completely oblivious to Duncan's stare, lost in thousands of years of memories. They didn't look like good memories either. Methos' brow was furrowed and the corners of his mouth were tight and drawn down in the most expressive frown Duncan had ever seen.
As soon as they were out of the lift Methos headed straight for the fridge and pulled out a beer. Tossing the cap over his shoulder behind Duncan's refrigerator he held his beer up in a toast.
"To the ghosts that haunt me!" He drained half the beer in two long swallows. "The bastards."
Duncan spoke quietly, as if he were speaking to frightened child. "Methos, Halloween has been over for a few hours now," he indicated the time on the clock. "Why don't you put your ghosts to rest for the year?"
A look of shock and anger crossed Methos' face. "Put them to rest? Don't you think I've been trying to do that for the last few thousand years? They don't rest MacLeod, and neither do I. They're there every night when I close my eyes, turning sleep into another form of torture. I'm paying homage to them because they've won, they've beaten me on the most innocent battlefield one could imagine, my dreams."
Duncan watched as Methos ran out of steam and collapsed on the couch. It would seem that 5000 years had more than it's fair share of ghosts, and they were catching up with the old man. He could certainly understand having your past haunt your dreams. Duncan had woken up screaming from dreams of his past more times than he cared to remember. All the horrors he'd learned of his friend's past took on a new light in Duncan's mind. From the look on Methos' face now Duncan realized that he had paid tenfold for his past actions, and was still paying. Now Duncan was seeing Methos' past as just that, past. The man in front of him was his friend, someone he cared very deeply for, and someone who had too many regrets. Duncan wanted to wipe those regrets away, or at least soothe the hurt. He felt guilty for having judged Methos so harshly when he'd found out about the horsemen. It was obvious to him now that Methos had judged himself just as harshly, if not more.
He sat down next to Methos on the couch, trying to find the words that could comfort his friend. "Methos, I think you've paid enough for your past. Don't you think it's time you let it go?"
Methos stared at him with tired, ancient eyes. "Don't you think I've tried?" He finished his beer and slumped back into the couch. He was worried that tonight even his never fail nightmare cure, sleeping on Duncan's couch, wouldn't work.
As if he was reading Methos' mind, Duncan asked, "I've never known you to have nightmares. Do you hide it well? I mean, you've spent enough nights on my couch, you'd think I'd have noticed."
"Yeah, well, I don't have them every night." It wasn't a lie, but it wasn't exactly the truth either. Every night on Duncan's couch was nightmare free, every other night was filled with the usual terrors.
Duncan watched as Methos finished his beer and got up. He was afraid that the old man would try to leave, and he smiled when Methos took off his coat and hung it up. He was seeing a side of his friend that he hadn't known existed. Methos seemed truly haunted, and Duncan was seeing him vulnerable and exposed for the first time. He was slow moving as he went to get another beer, and Duncan saw just how tired 5000 years of life can make some one. He desperately wanted to help Methos, but he wasn't sure that his help was wanted. Methos always kept his feelings so guarded, whenever Duncan tried to dig too deep or get too close Methos would cut him down with a snide remark. Tonight Methos was acting so differently that Duncan didn't know what to think. It almost seemed as if Methos wanted Duncan's support, his comfort. All he really wanted to do was hold the old man and tell him that he was safe, that everything would be okay.
Duncan had nothing to worry about, there was nothing short of the apocalypse that would make Methos leave the safety and warmth of the loft. Honestly, it was the safety and warmth of Duncan's company that Methos needed, but he wouldn't let himself acknowledge it. Sleeping on Duncan's couch meant that he could fall asleep with the sound/feel of Duncan's buzz in the back of his head. Worked every time, after all, what night demon wouldn't turn and run when faced with Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod?
Methos stood, leaning on the island, lost in thought, drinking his beer. Duncan got up and went to bathroom, changing into a pair of sweatpants. When he came out Methos hadn't moved, he was staring at the floor holding his empty beer bottle. The urge to chase all of his demons away was overwhelming and Duncan decided that was exactly what he was going to do. Approaching Methos slowly, he took the empty bottle from the old man's hand and set it on the counter. Methos looked up at him, startled out of his thoughts. Duncan put a hand on each Methos' shoulders and spoke quietly to him. "You don't have to do this alone, let me help."
"How?" Methos stared back at him, his eyes begging for an escape from his ghosts.
Duncan pulled Methos into a warm, protective embrace. He felt Methos lean into him and tightened his hold. They stood like that for quite a while, neither saying a word. When Duncan let go it was only to wrap his arm around Methos waist and lead him to the bed.
"C'mon, you're falling asleep on your feet."
Methos didn't seem to realize what was happening until Duncan had pulled off his sweater and was pushing him into bed. He looked up Duncan and raised one eyebrow.
Duncan turned off the last light and crawled in bed. He lay down and pulled Methos to him, cradling the old man to him.
"Shh, just go to sleep. No nightmares, you're safe." Duncan gently pushed Methos' head to his shoulder and stroked the short hair.
Methos smiled, touched more than he could say at the protective Scot who was trying to chase away 5000 years of terror. "Are you going to chase away my ghosts MacLeod?"
"Aye, now go ta sleep." Duncan felt Methos chuckle, then sigh, then actually snuggle closer against him.
"Thank you," was whispered into Duncan's neck as Methos drifted happily off to sleep.
"You're safe here, my friend." Duncan whispered back. The last thought he had before falling asleep was how right this all felt.
There are nights when all my aching bones won't let me sleep
Demons come to plague me as I lie in bed
But I know that if you were sleeping there beside me then
That you would fend them off and they would let me rest
'Cause you're so kind
I know you would not mind
To send away the ghosts that haunt me now
Lyrics borrowed without permission from Brad Roberts and Crash Test Dummies.