Methos is coming. Sean hangs up the
and smiles to himself with a kind of dark, masturbatory joy. Methos,
the oldest of them all. Not just Adam, after all, not at all the
regular guy who's been buying swords from him for the last fifty years.
Coming to buy one of Sean's beautiful, one of a kind, hand-tooled
blades. Imagine that, Methos likes his swords. There are advantages to
being the best.
And Sean is the best, without a word
of a lie.
He's been banging, bending, folding and sharpening steel all his
Immortal and most of his mortal, life. But sometimes, he gets a little
tired out whoring out his skills to an unappreciative Immortal public.
Sometimes, he'd like a little something for himself.
Something like a 5000-year-old
Quickening might do nicely in terms of compensation.
Methos. He'd always known the skinny little bastard was hiding
something. He'd just never imagined it was something this...big. And
he's been counting coup on him all these years, slouching in and out of
Sean's life and his shop, banging him on the head with his tasty
Quickening and wandering off again to add to it with one of Sean's own
It just doesn't seem quite fair. And
if Sean's old man
had taught him nothing else (and as a matter of fact he had) it was
that a man who stood by and let another man put one over on him was no
kind of man at all. In good conscience there really wasn't anything
else he could do.
Being the swordmaker to good portion
Immortal world sure had its advantages. Who'd have thought that skanky
bitch with the nice rack would've let something as juicy as this slip?
Good thing she did though. For him, anyway. Not so good for that chump
Sean smiles to himself as he locks
his front door and
heads for the truck. Adam -- Methos -- is meeting him at Charley's soon
and he'll have to haul ass to get there before him.
is a little place, nondescript and dim. Sean likes it that way. He
blends in here with all the other working stiffs who make up the crowd.
Just one of the guys. Yeah. He smiles to himself again and catches it
in the smoke-yellowed mirror behind the bar. The grin's a little too
feral for the aw-shucks image he's going for, so he cans it in favor of
sucking down half the beer in his mug.
And then presence is
scratching beneath his skin, itching in that weird unreachable part of
his brain that makes his heart race and sweat prickle in his armpits.
He constructs a new smile out of wishes and Quickening dreams and waves
Adam over to him, grinning like the fool he's being taken for.
lopes in, looking nervous at first, dressed as always in ratty old
jeans and a t-shirt that's seen better days. It's costuming -- as fake
as everything else about the guy -- and it only makes the anger inside
him ratchet higher.
"Hey," Adam says as he plops down
him on one of the overused stools, its padding long pressed down to
nothing. The drinker on the other side of him belches and tells the
bartender to put on the hockey game, though not in such a polite
fashion. Adam's still nervous; Sean doesn't need psychic powers to see
that. There's tension running through him, pulling him taut as a steel
hawser close to breaking point.
He's swordless. Vulnerable.
The temptation to lure him out back to the alley and whack him right
now is damn nigh irresistible. But seriously, realistically, that's
never been his thing. He's never taken a head outside of a fair fight.
He guesses he's not about to start now. So he'll wait.
Let the bastard have one more drink
Adam edges closer to Sean and mutters
under his breath, "What the hell do they drink here?"
chuckles and orders him an Iron City. The first sip makes him grimace.
Sean chuckles, mostly to himself. Just because it's a last
drink, doesn't mean it has to be a good
need to relax, Adam." Yeah, that's a good one, telling a cagey guy like
this to relax when he's sitting here with someone who knows just how
stupid he can be sometimes. Hell, if he was all that smart, he'd
never've had to stash his Ivanhoe in that dumpster in Paris while
running, naked mind you, after a thieving pizza delivery wench. A guy
that dumb deserves to lose his head. He's clearly had it too long.
relax when you're in my position," Adam mumbles into his beer head,
"then get back to me." The TV screeches as Lemiux scores, and the bar
crowd echoes it. The man next to Adam orders a shot of Jagermeister,
slamming the flat of his hand down and demanding "a hat trick".
drinks the rest of his crappy beer, and his eyes are the only things
that give away how antsy he still is. Sean orders him another drink,
and it's less kind, more cruel really. What will his face look like at
the end, he wonders, when he realizes he's spent the some of the last
moments of his life drinking shitty beer? Sean drinks his own and
watches him in silence.
They're heading back to the
steel mill now; that's where Sean does his business, whether it's
swords or heads. Sometimes, but not often, it's both. Like today.
don't know what you see in this city," Adam grumbles as Sean speeds his
pickup truck down the Tri-Boro at a fair clip that Adam still manages
to find fault with nonetheless. Sean gestures to the neon signs long
gone dead and hollowed out churches gone silent, bells waiting to
teased into announcing morning mass.
Sean chuckles, and Adam
looks over at him. "Adam," he drawls, "you don't see the big picture."
His hand leaves the steering wheel in a circular motion, and the truck
swerves onto Braddock Avenue. The big picture, yeah, that's one way of
putting it all right.
Adam closes his eyes and presses his
head to the window. "What is the big picture?" he asks.
voice is rough in his throat, his words catching on something
unpolished, splintered, like this town. "Steel is something special.
These people have it in their veins." He sighed. "When I was a boy, my
father taught me to fold the steel to make things. But they were always
small things, you know?" He makes his voice wistful while he's
misdirecting like crazy, talking about anything except the thing that's
really on his mind.
And he's still talking. "We never
anything big, though," he continues, "just small stuff like swords,
fences, horseshoes. Here, I made the beams that hold up half of this
country." He grins with real feeling for a moment, remembering. "Can
you say that, Adam?"
Even if he could say that, they both
he wouldn't. It might lead to some mighty inconvenient questions about
his old pal Adam's past. Sean's not surprised at all when he answers
with just a shake of his head.
Adam's eyes close for a second
and right at that moment he looks so much like the guy Sean's always
believed him to be that he's overwhelmed with the need to explain this
thing to him, this thing he's about to do.
"I don't hardly know
you, Adam," Sean says loudly, his hand leaving the steering wheel
dangerously. "I mean, I know what you like to feel in your hand, but
that's all we do, business."
It's a feeble fucking excuse and
he's sure Adam knows it. It's nowhere near the real reason. For a
moment, he almost feels guilty, almost like they're friends. But
they're not and they never will be. Adam's just a guy who happens to be
sitting on the Holy Grail of all Quickenings and it's time he handed it
All Adam manages to say is, "I never
really thought you'd be interested in me, Sean."
It's not enough. "No," Sean answers,
scoffing with a little of the anger leaking through. "None of you ever
face gives it all away once he sees the swords. This is all he's here
for. He hasn't even considered that Sean might be a threat to him and
that makes even worse somehow. Like he's some kind of schmuck that
doesn't even deserve the courtesy of a little standard Immortal
caution. But, on the other hand, why complain? It's gonna get him what
Sean's put five swords out on display
for Adam, but he
already knows which one Adam will pick. Like he said, he knows what
Adam likes to feel in his hand and the longsword is perfect for him.
The lanky, casual guy is gone the second he picks it up, and in his
place is a fighter, hard and cold and calculating. It's easy to spot,
he thinks, once you know what you're looking for.
longsword's probably his finest work ever, beautifully balanced,
meticulously finished, flawless from pommel to tip. It's fitting in a
weird kind of way, that Methos will be holding it when he gives up his
Quickening. Only the best will do and all that happy horseshit.
like what you see?" Sean asks. He knows that he doesn't even need to
ask it. Methos wants that blade; he's looking at with lust written all
over him, like he never wants to set it down. The rest will be easy.
Enjoy it, pal, it'll be the last sword
you'll ever hold.
pulls a half-hearted arc in the middle of his office, stopping short of
the filing cabinet. Sean just watches him patiently, waiting for the
idea to come from him. There's no room in the office to try the sword
properly, which is why he shows them here. He may not be the sharpest
tool in the box, but he's no fool either.
"Shall we try it out
then?" Methos asks. His thumb is caressing the sword's hilt over and
over, like he can't stop touching it. He's in love with it already.
nods, feeling just a little self-satisfied at the way this is all
working out. He grabs his broadsword as he walks by. It's almost too
Sean knows the moment Methos realizes
going on, the second their blades touch across the space between them.
It's in his eyes; the sudden knowledge that he's been played for a fool
by a guy he was taking for one. It's worth the price of admission just
to see it. It's fucking sweet.
"Sean," Methos says warningly,
hefting the blade in his hand.
smiles, but it feels phoney, too much like one of Methos' own. No
matter. The time for tricks is gone. He lets Methos see the anger at
last. Sean brings his heavier blade up into a down swing that makes the
perfect blade in Methos' hand sing.
"Time to pay up, Adam."
Maybe not his best line, but it's true nonetheless. And then it's on
for real. He's got Methos' blade locked up tight, muscles straining
with the effort of holding him there. It's a battle of wills now, and
the first to waver will be the one to die.
There's fear naked in
Methos' eyes. Sean takes a moment to revel in it. The surge of power
feels good, better than good, better than sex even.
a flicker of an eyelid, Methos is slipping his blade around Sean's,
enveloping it, pushing it up and away while he backs off a step or two.
Sean lunges for him, but it's too late, Methos turns on his heels and
takes off like a motherfucker.
It's the last thing Sean expects.
is damn quick, he's got to give him that. Sean takes off after him, but
Methos dodges and ducks like a weasel and he disappears between a
couple of big vats. Now there's only his buzz to tell Sean that he's
even here at all.
But he is
crunches beneath his feet no matter where he puts them. But that works
both ways. He stops and listens, makes his breathing slow and quiet
while he filters out the noise of the mill with his head cocked like a
hound dog. There! Off to the right, somewhere close, there's the quiet
crackle of a foot shifting on the rough ground. He's not far away at
Sean rounds a corner and then, Christ,
a foot of virgin blade in his gut. He throws himself backwards, feels
it slip free with a sucking noise that sickens him almost as much as
the pain. But his blood's up and the pain doesn't slow him down for
long. He's in the other place now, the place where the pain doesn't
matter, the place where all that matters is the Quickening he knows is
going to be his real soon. He just needs a moment or two to heal this
canyon in his belly.
He doesn't even notice at first, but
Methos is talking to him.
"Sean, really, you don't want to do
this," he says, like words are going to make one bit of difference now.
Heh, good luck, pal.
"You really expect me to let you out
of here?" Sean growls.
shrugs, his eyes a little too wide and innocent looking. He's up to
something. Sean widens his stance and lifts the tip of his blade to
"I said I'd pay you," Methos says.
"Why do you have to do this now?"
smiles. "Change of heart. Change of plans. Change of initiative."
Especially that last one. A five thousand year old Quickening is a hell
of a powerful incentive.
Methos doesn't answer him, just
lunges forward with a great hacking slash that Sean has to scramble to
parry. The blow jars all the way up his arm. Damn, the bastard's
stronger than he looks. He turns the parry into a backwards cut, aiming
for Methos' gut, but Methos' sword is there first, blocking him.
There's a slash, coming at him almost faster than he can see, taking
him fair in the thigh, making him stumble.
He's still in this
with a chance, but Methos isn't giving him a second to recover, he's
pushing him hard, moving in fast with a wicked combination that seems
to strike at his leg, shoulder and head all at the same time. Fuck,
It occurs to Sean, in some strange,
calm part of his
brain, that this might have been a really bad idea. Methos isn't
counting coup on him now, if he ever was. This is the real deal.
it's too late to turn back now, even if he could. Maybe he wouldn't
anyway. Maybe this is meant to be and a few minutes from now he'll be
sitting pretty with Methos' Quickening making his head spin and his
dick get hard.
And he's doing okay now, getting in a
good hits. Methos bleeds real well, especially when you hit him in the
face. Course, a coupla inches lower and he'd be thinking about a beer
and a whore about now, but he'll just keep plugging away. Banging on
anvils for a hundred years has given him power in his arms that this
guy will never have.
He's feeling good now, strong all of
sudden, charged with some new energy that makes him dance just out of
the reach of Methos' flashing blade. This is a long way from over.
knowledge makes him cocky, makes him want to rub his old 'friend's'
nose in it. "Think I could charge more for that sword the next time I
sell it?" he snarls. "Once owned
by the legendary Methos. Pretty
good advertising spiel, doncha think?"
gets him. There's just the smallest falter in the hard, set look on
Methos' face. He smiles, but it's as cold as Sean's ever seen.
He rolls his eyes. "I'm really going to have to do something about
her," Methos says as he slashes fast and low, ripping Sean open across
his waist. "Later."
The pain's unbelievable and he's sure
his innards he can feel slipping hot and slimy between his fingers.
It's not over...it's not. He hits out, overhead and optimistic, aiming
for Methos' neck in a single blow, but it's weak; he can't even keep
his blade straight.
His knees hit the floor -- he's not
sure how he got there or why and it's all gone wrong, so terribly
wrong, and he'd take it back if he could only there's no going back,
nothing left for him but pain and the soft singing hum of his best work
coming for his neck in slow motion.
It's beautiful and it's terrible,
even more terrible because it's made by his own hand.
All of it.
Back to Contents
Many thanks to Amand-r for writing
the original story from which this was remixed. Blades
Talk is a wonderful,
insightful story with a brilliant sense of place and history, which you
should definitely read.