"Well, that’s it for me," Methos said, sliding off the bar stool and to his feet. He reached into his back pocket for his wallet.
"See you tomorrow at that antique exhibit?" Duncan asked from a stool nearby, still working on drinking his beer.
Methos fished in his wallet for some bills. "When are you going to get it? Virtually nothing is more ‘antique’ than I am. I’ll give you a call if I change my mind." He slapped the money down on the counter and turned towards the door.
"I think you dropped something," Duncan called after him. Methos turned back around, curious. The Highlander reached down to the floor and picked up a small, foil-wrapped square. "This yours?" He leered, his eyebrows rising toward his hairline. He held up the object between two fingers.
Methos turned white, then bright red. "Yes," he hissed, grabbing at it.
Duncan pulled it slightly beyond his reach. "Now what," he pronounced pompously, "would an Immortal possibly need with one of these?"
The ruckus had finally attracted Joe’s attention. The barkeep sauntered over to lean against the wooden counter and do what he did best—watch.
Methos’ blush seemed to deepen. "I happen to have a sense of mature responsibility, unlike some I could name." He seized the foil square on the second try and shoved it back into his wallet.
Joe shook his head, puzzled. "What are you talking about? Your kind can’t get a woman pregnant, and you sure can’t give anyone a disease."
"Shows how much you know. I can’t spread anything from an internal infection, but if there’s anything that might travel around on the surface of the skin…" Methos trailed off ominously. He shook a finger at Duncan. "You might want to give that some thought in the future."
MacLeod grimaced. "Sorry, I suppose that was a stupid question." His lips bounced back into a sly smile, however. "What I really should have asked was; what would you possibly need one of these for?"
Methos stared at him, trying to hide his inner fuming. "Are you implying that you don’t expect me to ever get lucky?" His pride was stung.
MacLeod said nothing. He simply leaned on the bar and waggled his eyebrows at the older Immortal, a huge grin on his face.
Methos gathered his dignity around him along with his coat. "I impart wisdom and this is my reward. I don’t know why I even bother." He turned and stalked out of the bar without a backwards glance.
The lights were out at his apartment when Methos got home, and he didn’t bother to turn them on as he locked the door behind him. He fished the troublesome silver square out of his pocket, tossed it on his nightstand beside his wallet, undressed, then slid into his bed with a sigh.
A slim figure stirred on the other side of the bed and turned to curl up against him.
"You’re late," Cassandra murmured, running her hands over his chest.
"Sorry," Methos said. "I got talking with Duncan and didn’t realize how much time had passed. Then I had a little mishap."
Cassandra cracked one green eye open. "What kind of ‘mishap’?"
"Nothing important. MacLeod spotted the condom in my wallet."
"What?" Cassandra snapped, blinking both eyes open. "You call that unimportant? What did he say? What did you tell him?"
"Don’t fret. I made up some excuse about being responsible and not spreading anything by skin contact to the mortals."
"He believed you?"
Methos nodded, stroking her hair absently with one hand. "I think so. He may have the heart of a hero, but he’s often got the head of a cabbage." MacLeod had always been amazingly easy to manipulate… which was one of the reasons Methos liked him so much. He wondered, though, what MacLeod would think of his current relationship with Cassandra. After all, as far as MacLeod knew, she still hated Methos and would be glad to see him dead.
Methos smiled slightly, remembering the fight he and Cassandra had in a hotel room in Bordeaux… and the surprising reconciliation afterwards. They’d always been good together, sexually. In the end, physical attraction and need had overridden their lingering resentments.
Cassandra rested her head back on his shoulder. "Good thing. He’s much too young to know. Not that I think he would believe the truth, if you told him."
Methos nodded, thinking that she didn’t even know the half of it. MacLeod would probably find it easier to believe in Santa Claus than to accept the fact that Methos and Cassandra were, in the common vernacular, "shacking up." Methos had thought about telling his friend, but he was saving the information for the right moment. For some truly divine moment when he could adequately savor the look of shock and confusion on poor Duncan’s face.
"Probably not," he said, when Cassandra elbowed him for ignoring her. "Every Immortal knows about the Game, and the rules, and the way of things. But almost none of them suspect that once you get beyond three thousand years old, you become fertile and you can get another Immortal pregnant." He sighed again. "I wonder where Mac thinks baby Immortals come from, after all. The cabbage patch? I must have been a father about fifty times over by now."
"Doesn’t it ever bother you?" Cassandra wondered aloud. "Knowing they’ll be left on someone’s doorstep, for someone else to raise?"
"Well, it’s not as if pregnant Immortals don’t do some research first, try to find the safest situation. And growing up with an Immortal parent is definitely not the safest situation for an infant. I mean, look what happened the last time an Immortal tried to keep all her kids together. The world got to experience the Four Horsemen. I’d say that little experiment in brotherly togetherness was a failure."
"Obviously," Cassandra murmured. She resumed stroking him, then her efforts turned away from simple petting and more towards arousing him. "How about us?" she said, after a while, when both of them were breathing more heavily and moving more restlessly.
"Mmm? What?" Methos tried to concentrate, reaching one long arm towards the nightstand.
Cassandra slapped his hand away from the condom. "I’ve never been a mother. I want to experience it."
"Because I can, now. I’m old enough. I should be fertile." She pulled away slightly, her jaw clenching. "Besides. You owe me."
Methos gave it some serious consideration for a moment. He wasn’t averse to the idea. After all, even Cassandra was still unaware that there was a terrific Quickening that came with beginning a new Immortal’s life, just as there was for ending it. This kind of Quickening was a thrill of a different kind, though, since it was shared between two Immortals. Besides, it wouldn’t even fry his apartment like the other kind of Quickening might. It had been a long time since he had experienced it.
"Oh, all right," Methos grumbled, returning to their former activity. "But remember, it wasn’t my idea."
"I wouldn’t want any of your ideas," she chided him sharply. "Let’s get one thing straight, right from the beginning. I know you think it’s a good idea to have all of your children’s names start with a ‘K’…"
"It was a tribute to Kronos," Methos protested weakly.
"Well, you’d best forget that," Cassandra said stiffly. "No child of mine is going to be named in honor of that monster. I don’t care if he was your brother."
"I’m in no position to argue," Methos panted.
"In that case, let me show you a different one," Cassandra purred…
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