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Usual disclaimer: Kronos, MacLeod, Cassandra, and Methos don't belong to me. (And I wouldn't want Cassandra anyway.) Rysher and Panzer/Davis have that honor, I'm just borrowing their toys (though I haven't asked first), and will return them unharmed. Even Cassandra.

Tip o' the cyber-hat to the Immortal Valkyrie, whose perfectly innocent comment a month ago sent my mind down a whole other track, and Heather Alexander, whose song "Blood Brothers" provided the prime inspiration for this tale.

Final note...I've used a good portion of David Tynan's dialogue, but in the interest of artistic license, have wandered a bit from the episode as aired.

Summary: "Comes a Horseman", from Kronos' POV. Rated....oh, R,
for language, implied m/m. Mostly UST, pretty tame for this list. This is my first attempt at an erotic piece...let me know how you think I did.

by Jacynthe Demorae

He hadn't set out to accomplish this, but when the opportunity had
presented itself, he had been unable to resist. And Cassandra made such an easy target. If a thought ever passed through her brain, it got side-tracked the instant one triggered her emotions. He'd let her get a glimpse of him, lingering just enough for the look of horrified realization to touch her features before he vanished.

Hide and seek, by his own rules. He'd linger just at the edge of her sensing range, then retreating. Had she really sensed another Immortal, or was she hallucinating? It had been a merry romp through three countries, but now Kronos was getting bored. Time for the endgame.

And so Seacouver, if only because he'd never been there. And maybe the music. Not for the night life, certainly. The Orient suited him better. He'd led Cassandra through the business district, working her into a fair lather-traffic lights were so useful-and entered the block where the neighborhood began to decay.

His plan fell apart passing the TV studio. An Immortal, ahead of him, maybe two...the sense kept shifting. Kronos hesitated, and ducked to the side, watching the front of the studio. A cluster of mortals, smiling and calling out to-


One of the men had sable brown hair past his shoulders, curling slightly. The other, lean and trim, with dark hair cropped as close as a priest's... Kronos froze, absolutely stunned for the first time in centuries.


He stared, attention locked on the slender, young-seeming man who strolled along beside the other man, hands thrust in the pockets of his jeans. So casual. So carefree. But alive. He fancied he could see the rise and fall of the man's chest, taste the hint of the man's power at the edge of his senses. No matter the modern clothing, the mild demeanor. This was his brother, who he'd long believed dead. He watched the easy interplay between the men, the banter. A slow burn he barely recognized as anger built up in the pit of his stomach, laced through with emotions he hadn't named in centuries, much less experienced.

Methos lived.

The lapse cost him. His nerve endings flared again, signaling the
approach of another Immortal. Damn! Cassandra! No time to linger here. Kronos abandoned his watchpost with one last look towards the men-who at last appeared to have detected his presence. He ducked into the alley and waited, controlling his breathing, stilling the whirl of his thoughts.

Would Cassandra spot Methos? Would she recognize him? Frustration clawed at his belly. Methos could never take the hard line needed with that particular chattel. The bitch might try for his head-or was she one of the female Immortals who had never found a proper teacher and thus never learned the sword?

Women had other ways to insure their survival-and Cassandra had learned many of them in the Horsemen's camp.

Presence flared, too subdued to be Methos or Cassandra. Male figure, sword drawn. A familiar sword, a familiar man. Kronos gave a feral grin. Oh, why not boost this game up with another moving target? He'd been cheated of this whelp's Quickening by a mortal bullet-a mortal who'd later paid for his interference. Cassandra and the younger MacLeod...a fine pair of hares for a hunt.

"Adios, Highlander," he mocked. "Now you see me, now you don't."

And then he reached, nudging at the wispy water vapor drifting through the air. It thickened, condensed and swirled between himself and the Highlander. Look for me through that, fool. He'd learned that one long after he left the desert....these wetlands offered so much more to play with.

He retreated in silence, stifling the urge to laugh as he listened to the bullish Scot try to find him. Presence sparked near-by....the woman, perhaps. He'd stirred things enough. MacLeod had seen him, and if he was as close to Methos as he'd acted, wo uld pass the information along. And then Methos would be aware. Be waiting.


Tracking Methos through the city had not been easy. Methos had lost none of his guile, and this was familiar territory for him. His range had increased, too. Several times, he stopped, almost catching Kronos' Presence, before Kronos hastily moved out of range. But now he'd followed Methos to a quiet, secluded building in a middling-to-wealthy part of the city. Kronos watched the entrance hungrily, waiting for Methos to re-appear. He still could not believe this was truly his lost brother.

He had heard rumors over the centuries, whispers of the world's oldest man. Some of the more likely ones he had even investigated himself. One had led him to a stocky, grizzled man who prattled on about peace and how Immortals should all lay down their swords and talk to each other, apparently mistaking the Gathering for a social event.

Kronos had almost taken the man's head. The idiot's message was
aggravating enough, but to do it in his brother's name, his brother, who had been Death, who had ridden beside him and written his name in blood and fire across a continent... That degree of insult should not have passed unanswered. And it hadn't, but Kronos had not been the one to silence the yapping fool. Missed chances. Even Immortals had them.

But now... He would not miss this one. Not for the world at his feet once more. Not for the Prize itself.

I hope this isn't a library, Kronos thought as the time stretched on. Methos had never been able to resist the lure of books, had been the first of the four to unravel the mystery of writing.

"Thoughts preserved, Kronos. Even we cannot remember it all."

Kronos made a dismissive gesture. "We remember what we need to. If the rest fades, it wasn't that important."

Methos shook his head, his long hair swinging over his shoulders.
"You really don't understand."

He tried, for his brother's sake. Methos had always possessed an innate gift of seeing the whole and the forces moving within it. It was what made his strategies so solid, that ability to anticipate what did not yet exist. Kronos became lost in the minutiae, the fine details of the immediate. If Methos said these markings had some significance beyond a mortal's feeble attempts to outlast himself...he would listen. But he still saw no need for concern.

And Methos had been right. The new recordings *had* become important. People became aware of the Horsemen, generations after a raid. And, relying on records instead of fear-blurred memories and fire-side tales...they learned to prepare.

Kronos still thought the burning of the Great Library to have been a step in the right direction, but there was that line about spilled wine...

At last, Methos stepped out into the street, carrying a pack in his hand. Yes...this was his brother. He no longer strode with the sure confidence he'd owned as a Horseman, but he could sense that power, leashed, contained. Kronos moved forward, reaching for one of the knives he carried.

Methos' Presence shivered along his skin, almost as soon as Methos
detected his.


MacLeod. After so long, after such deception...Methos turned to him with another man's name on his lips? Rage blurred his vision, and the knife fairly leapt from his hand, burying itself in Methos' chest. One slender hand rose, pressed against the wound in a futile, reflexive effort to staunch the blood.

"Greetings, brother," he purred.

"Kronos..." Methos choked out.

Oh, how those eyes widened, luminous with realization. Kronos closed the gap between them, staring into his brother's eyes as they darkened from gold to green, to glazed brown. The other Immortal coughed and choked, his Presence flickering.

"I missed you too," he murmured, as Methos began to slide towards the ground.

Kronos caught him just before he hit the ground, as the spark of his Quickening faded to near-nothing. Blood stained his brother's lips, and he leaned in, brushing them with his own, feeling the last, dying tingle of his brother's power.

Some blood was sweeter than others. He crouched over his brother's limp form and reached, seeking out that fine thread of awareness that existed in every Immortal who still had his head. Found it, and fed it with his own power, coaxing it up to a higher level. Methos would, on some level, be aware, but the knife in his chest would keep him from reviving.

Think of that while you walk the shadows, brother. Think of that, and wonder how long it will be until I let you live again.

"We should take this out of the street," he murmured, as if Methos could hear him. "Shall we take your car? It's handy."

Wrestling Methos' dead body into the passenger seat was a bit difficult, but Kronos got him settled, the older man's coat pulled tight to conceal the knife still in his chest. He reached up and trailed the back of his fingers across Methos' slack face. Once the knife was removed, life would rush through that body once more, turning the skin warm and firm. And with the return of life...

With an anticipatory smile, Kronos started the car.


Kronos watched from the shadows, the long, lean body stretched out on the floor as if it were on private display. For my eyes only. In his hands hung the hook and chain he'd gathered up after their arrival, just in case Methos had...ideas. The bloodstained knife lay at his feet. Also just in case. His fingers moved restlessly over the forged links, testing their weight and strength.

"Been a long time." He couldn't keep the anticipation out of his voice. "How are you feeling?" he asked in mock concern. As if he had to ask.

With a little concentration, he could feel the searing pain in Methos' chest, lungs struggling to knit together, clear themselves of blood and fluid, the kind of pain that painted brilliant smears of color behind closed eyes and lingered long in the memory of the nerves.

Methos rolled over onto his side, coughing. "Like I left my heart in San Francisco."

"I didn't know you had a heart." Not one that wasn't spoken for. Not one that wasn't mine. We shared everything, brother. How could you have forgotten? "Does it hurt?"

"What do you think?" Methos snarled. Recovery appeared to be going

"Since you ask?" Kronos knelt down and pushed him on his back again, the chain swinging, links clanking ominously.

"I think you're not used to pain, brother," he taunted through clenched teeth. "What's happened, you got soft?"

He barely heard Methos' retort about adolescence. The body beneath his hand was as lean and strongly muscled as he remembered And Methos was still disoriented from the healing. Vulnerable.

"For a long time I thought you were dead. I didn't even bother
looking for you." Why look for a corpse, after all?


Methos had been challenged. With a smirk and a nod for his brothers, Methos rode off to meet his latest victim. Kronos and the others made themselves comfortable in the small bit of shade available. This shouldn't take long.

Kronos pillowed his head on his hands and closed his eyes. The place in his mind where Methos' presence usually occupied was empty. His brother had blocked him out for the duration of the challenge. Anything else would be a violation of the rules even the Four Horsemen had to live by. Too tempting, in the heat of a challenge, to tap into another's strength to supplement one's own. It was what they all did on raids. It was part of what made them, collectively, invincible.

Time passed. The sky darkened from hot white-blue to the deeper shade of approaching twilight. And still no sign of a Quickening.

"It's taking a long time," Silas said. Even Caspian was beginning to be concerned.

Kronos didn't open his eyes. "He's playing," he said, confident in his brother's martial skills. "Why interrupt his sport?"

Lightening split the sky, followed by a scream of wind made hollow by distance. Kronos sat up, smiling. "Well, that settles that."

He reached out to touch Methos' presence...and found nothing. The
desert air went cold around him.

"Get the horses,' he told the others.

"Why?" asked Silas. "He'll be back."

Caspian, catching on, said nothing, but dragged their slower companion to his feet. "The horses."

They rode in grim silence, Kronos trying again and again to find Methos. It should be easiest for him. Mind, body, and soul...he'd touched all of Methos, could find him across an empty plain or a village green. Except now he had only emptiness. Could Methos have lost?

The Horsemen crested a rise. Caspian's sharp eyes spotted it first, the swathe of pale fabric half-buried in the sand. Silently, he reached out and touched Kronos' arm to get his attention, then pointed. The Horsemen closed in, drawing their mounts to a halt.

Kronos vaulted off the horse, all of his attention focused on the
half-buried body in the sand. He shoved aside the sand with his hands, his demeanor warding off any attempt by the others to help him. He had to be the first to see, to confirm by sight what he already knew. They had seen the Quickening.

At last, the sand was cleared away. Methos' clothing, rent and
blood-stained, armor shattered over the heart... Metallic glints proved to be shards of his brother's shattered sword. His strength had not failed him, the sword had. No sign of the head, probably carried off as a trophy, along with the rest of Methos' gear.

He looked up, saw Caspian and Silas standing just out of range.
Blind, seething rage boiled up from the wellspring inside him.
He made a broad, violent gesture to Caspian.

"Find him," he rasped. "Find whoever did this."

Without a word, Caspian turned towards his horse.

"But that can't be Methos," Silas protested.

Caspian growled something. "If he says it's Methos, it's Methos. Now shut up and ride."

Kronos waited until the last hoofbeats faded. Then he reached out,
touched the cold, stiff body. Empty. Just as he was now. Three, instead of four. There could never be enough blood to pay for this.


Kronos sat back and let Methos get up. The fresh warmth of the other man's body still lingered against his fingers. He watched hungrily, as the slender man recovered himself.

"I heard rumors about the world's oldest man," he whispered. "You slipped up there, old friend. You got sloppy."

Methos shrugged. "Well, we're none of us perfect."

"I shouldn't be surprised you're still alive. You were always the one I counted on. You weren't the strongest or the toughest, but you were the survivor. It's what you do best. Or did."

Until you let me believe you were dead. Until you sent us on a rampage of vengeance that scattered us over the world. *Deception*, my brother, is what you do best.

"So you've come to kill me."

I should. For what you cost me.

Kronos sat down next to him. The older Immortal's Quickening sang against the exposed areas of his skin. He'd missed that. Mortals, other Immortals...weren't the same.

"It's what I do best!" he said cheerfully. "But you do have a choice."

"Oh, I'm all for choices."

"Well, you can either lose your head. Or you can join me."
And then I will have your Quickening--have *you*--forever.

"Since you put it that way . . . Welcome back, brother."

Triumph surged through Kronos and he reached out, putting a hand at the back of Methos' slender neck.

"Then welcome me properly, brother," he whispered.

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