All characters belong to their creators in the Highlander universe. They do not belong to me, nor do I receive any profit from this. This story was written for the Fall 2004 Highlander Lyric Wheel. Lyrics for the song, "Time Stand Still", by Rush were provided by Ali, and you'll find them following the story. Also much thanks to the lovely and talented cruisedirector for beta duties. All remaining mistakes are most definitely my own.

 

Falling Leaves


Leaves crunched under their feet as they walked along the path. MacLeod looked up into the canopy of leaves overhead, the bright sunlight causing the leaves to glow as if from within. This was a sheltered place. No sounds of civilization penetrated, and not many hikers bothered with these trails. They'd walked along in companionable silence for nearly half an hour before Methos spoke.

"I love her, Mac."

"I know," MacLeod said quietly. He looked at his companion, and smiled dimly. Hands shoved in his pockets, Methos watched the ground go by under his feet, his mouth set in a tense line. "But you might want to tell your face."

That won him a grin, but Methos turned his head away and shook his head. "Have you ever been happy and miserable at the same time?"

"I have. It doesn't get any easier, does it? Falling in love with a mortal."

"No, but it's different this time." Methos stopped walking and turned to MacLeod. His eyes were filled with frustration and regret. "She's dying, Mac. She's only got a few months."

Sorrow filled MacLeod, and he reached a hand out to grip Methos' shoulder. He was silent for a moment, reading the depths of emotion etched in Methos' face. "Then it's a good thing you fell in love with her so quickly."

With an ironic smile, Methos turned back to the path, and they walked on. As bright as the sun shone in the leaves above their heads, the day was chilly. MacLeod inhaled deeply of the crisp autumn air. The scents of the forest swirled around them…the sharp tang of pine, the slightly sweet smell of decaying wood and leaves. This time of year usually energized MacLeod, but today his spirits were dampened.

"It doesn't matter how long we live, does it?" MacLeod said. "No matter how many times we go through it, when it stands before us again, all our experience slips away." His heart ached. Ached for Methos. Ached for himself.

"I'm going to take her away. Do some traveling. She's seen nothing of the world, and I want to show it to her."

MacLeod's steps faltered. "Where?" he asked in a rough voice.

"The Grand Canyon to start. Hit some highlights across America. Then Egypt, Greece, Venice. Maybe Barcelona."

"Paris?"

Methos stopped and turned to look at MacLeod. They stood a long moment, the air surrounding them heavy with thoughts neither one would give voice to. Leaves slowly floated to the ground. Finally, by some unspoken, mutual accord, they turned and walked on.

Methos swore softly. "Damn. How do these things happen? In particular, how could it have happened to me?"

"Funny thing about love. It'll find the chinks in any armor. And you, my friend, are not quite as cynical as you'd like everyone to think."

Methos kicked at a tree root. "She's so open, and trusting. She accepts everything I tell her, and doesn't ask for any more. With her, I don't have to be anything but just a man. She doesn't have to know Methos, the immortal; she doesn't have to deal with any of that. And while I'm with her, for just a moment, I don't have to deal with it either. And I just want to make time stand still. For a little while, anyway."

"It sounds like you need her as much as she needs you. But, Methos…don't get sucked in by the illusion of being "just a man", because you're not. If you let your guard down…"

"I won't," Methos snapped. Taking a deep breath, he continued more gently, "I won't, MacLeod. Don't you worry about me. You keep track of your head, and I'll keep track of mine."

The path turned, and they walked on. The trees were closer here, and the canopy of leaves too thick for much sunlight to penetrate. The temperature dropped a couple of degrees, and MacLeod noticed Methos hunching further down into his coat. He always looks cold, MacLeod thought. The only sounds were made by their footsteps through the carpet of brittle leaves.

"Have you ever…" Methos started, and then seemed unsure of what he wanted to say. MacLeod waited. "Have you ever been in love with more than one person? At the same time?" He glanced up briefly to catch MacLeod's eye, before looking away into the trees.

MacLeod couldn't hide his surprise at the question. He wasn't quite sure himself how he wanted to answer it. "I have," he finally said, "but then, there are many different kinds of love."

"Mmm, yes." Methos murmured, and turned to face MacLeod. His hands remained shoved firmly in his pockets, but he stood straighter, with an almost defiant air, MacLeod thought. His eyes were dark, and in the dim light of the forest, MacLeod couldn't see into them for any insight into the old man's thoughts.

"What…?", MacLeod prompted.

"But have you ever been in love with a man?" he asked quietly.

MacLeod felt suddenly disoriented, and he had to allow time for the words to sink in. Methos' eyes never wavered, never left his. "Once. Just once." MacLeod answered in a low voice, but the fervent tone, the ever so slightly forward lean of his body, and the emotion emanating from his eyes said, 'Now. Right now.'

They stood there in the dusky woods, each one searching for something in the other's face. Not speaking, not touching. It wasn't time. But in that moment, they both saw what it was they were seeking, knew that it was something beyond time and mortal bonds, and knew that the day would come.

Turning slowly, hesitantly, eyes still on each other, they resumed their walk. The trees began to thin, and the sunlight reappeared, shining through the golden leaves of the tall trees standing over the path ahead of them. MacLeod knew the end of the trail was ahead, and that they were approaching the real world again. His emotions tugged at him, wanting to slow them down, pull them back into the darkness of the woods again.

"I won't be gone long." Methos' voice was thick with a mixture of sadness and resignation.

MacLeod felt the anguish in the words, could hear how torn Methos was to say them. He felt much the same way. Sorry for the woman whose life was to be cut so short, sadness for the pain her passing would cause Methos. And disgust with himself for feeling warmed by the knowledge that when it was over, Methos would be returning.

The Thunderbird was waiting for them in the small clearing just off the road. The autumn sun had warmed its interior, and MacLeod removed his coat and tossed it into the back seat before sliding in beside Methos. "Where to?", he asked.

Methos looked away from him and out the window. "Home. I have to pack the van."

"MacLeod started the car. "I'll drop you off then."

"Thanks." Their eyes met in an understanding of things said and things left unsaid.

"Don't mention it." MacLeod said as he turned the car onto the road and headed back to town.


**********************************************

 

Time Stand Still
as sung by Rush


I turn my back to the wind
To catch my breath,
Before I start off again
Driven on,
Without a moment to spend
To pass an evening
With a drink and a friend


I let my skin get too thin
I'd like to pause,
No matter what I pretend
Like some pilgrim
Who learns to transcend
Learns to live
As if each step was the end


Time stand still
I'm not looking back
But I want to look around me now
Time stand still
See more of the people
And the places that surround me now
Time stand still


Freeze this moment
A little bit longer
Make each sensation
A little bit stronger
Experience slips away...
Experience slips away...
Time stand still


I turn my face to the sun
I close my eyes
I let my defenses down
All those wounds
That I can't get unwound


I let my past go too fast
No time to pause
If I could slow it all down
Like some captain,
Whose ship runs aground
I can wait until the tide comes around


Time stand still
I'm not looking back
But I want to look around me now
Time stand still
See more of the people
And the places that surround me
Now


Freeze this moment
A little bit longer
Make each sensation
A little bit stronger


Make each impression
A little bit stronger
Freeze this moment
A little bit longer


The innocence slips away...
The innocence slips away...
Time stand still
Time stand still


I'm not looking back
But I want to look around me now
See more of the people
And the places that surround me now
Time stand still


Summer's going fast
The nights growing colder
Children growing up
Old friends growing older


Freeze this moment
A little bit longer
Make each sensation
A little bit stronger
Experience slips away...
Experience slips away...
The innocence slips away...

 

 

 

 

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