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07 January 2009 @ 11:08 pm
Ghosts of Christmas Past - Highlander 1/1  
This is my hlh_shortcuts</lj>fic. I'm sure most read it over there, I'm just really archiving it.

Title: Ghosts of Christmas Past
Author: idontlikegravy</lj>. Beta: strangevisitor7
Written for: Morgyn Leri
Characters/Pairings: Kronos, Darius
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: Discussion of rape and torture and other nasty types of things that Kronos liked to get up to, but nothing worse than you’d find in an episode of Highlander.

Ghosts of Christmas Past

Paris 1784

Darius made his way around the church, lighting the candles in preparation for Christmas Mass. His breath was visible in the cold air, but it would soon warm from the candle flames and the many people of his congregation. His was a small church, but he welcomed the poor and dispossessed. On a cold December night he would be guaranteed a large audience. Paris was filled with those poor wretches in need, those whom the crown refused to aid.

This time of year was one for great joy and great reflection, and Darius made it his goal to ensure his parishioners did both. He would give the Latin mass, but he would also speak directly to his congregation, appealing to their good natures to ease the suffering of their fellow man. It was customary for the rich to give alms at Christmas, but Brother Darius would gently suggest that they might offer a loaf of bread, or a glass of wine to the beggar in the street on other days of the year.

As he moved toward the altar he paused at the sprigs of holly and mistletoe that had been placed there as decoration by some of his parishioners. It made Darius smile to remember the early Christmases, when Christianity was young and it was still celebrated in August, before the church aligned it with the pagan festivals. He had not been a believer then, but he had watched in fascination as the Christians had celebrated the birth of their saviour.

He was roused from his musings by the arrival of another Immortal. He expected to see Angelina or Rebecca, but he was surprised to see a man he did not recognise walking toward him.

“I’m afraid you’re a little early, if you’re here for the service. Although I’m always happy to hear confession if you need it,” Darius said to the stranger.

The stranger laughed. It was a hard, cruel bark of laughter that echoed coldly in the empty church.

“I don’t think you’d have time for my confession, priest. My name is Kronos, perhaps you’ve heard of me? I came here looking for Darius the Goth.”

“Then you have found him.”

“You? You are the General who defeated the legions of Valens and sacked Rome? I came here for a great tactician, not a monk,” Kronos sneered, derision clear on his face. “I find myself in need of a new strategist, and I had heard you were one of the best. Perhaps I was misinformed.”

“I have not been that man for a very long time,” Darius said, shaking his head. “I live to serve God now, as best I can, and atone for my arrogance.”

“How can you believe in this?” Kronos spat, moving his arm around to indicate the church. “We, who have seen religions come and go, who have outlived gods. We are gods amongst mortals; we should not be submissive to them.”

“I serve God, not mortal men. Only through helping them can I serve Him. I seek a life of peace and strive to inspire others to share that life. I will not raise a sword against mortal or Immortal ever again,” Darius replied calmly.

“I’m disappointed, Darius, I thought you would at least listen to me. But perhaps I can convince you to my way of thinking?” He indicated a man outside the door who entered, pushing a struggling young woman in front of him. When she saw Kronos, she screamed. Kronos took her from the man, who retreated from the church, and held her so she faced Darius. He ran a finger down her cheek and lifted her chin so Darius could see her face. “Pretty, is she not?” Kronos jeered.

“Father, help me please!” the girl cried out in despair, before breaking into sobs. Kronos grabbed her hair and pulled her head back to steal a kiss from her.

“Shall I take her here, before the altar? Would that please you? We’re not so different. I know you’ve taken a vow of chastity, but I’m sure you must still have desires,” Kronos taunted. “Or perhaps I’ll just kill her, sacrifice her before your altar.”

Darius hurried forward, his arms held out in a placatory gesture, but Kronos pulled out his sword and pointed it toward the monk.

“You’d dare? Here, on Holy Ground?!” Darius said, stopping in his tracks.

“Not you, no. But her? Without hesitation. Now, will you hear my request?” Kronos demanded. Defeated, Darius nodded his head.

“If you promise not to harm her.”

“She is of no consequence. If you don’t listen to my offer, I can always find another just like her,” Kronos replied before he threw the girl aside.

She fell to the ground before scrabbling to her feet and running for the door. Kronos paid her no more attention. He sat down on a pew and indicated for Darius to do the same.

“As I said, I find myself in need of a strategist. I am good at leading men, at instilling fear and killing, but I’ll admit that I’m not so skilled at developing plans. I had…someone else to do that for me.”

“One of your Horsemen, I presume,” Darius said.

“So, you have heard of me. Good,” Kronos said with a smile.

“If he’s Immortal, why not find him?”

“He’s currently not an option. I still haven’t decided whether or not to take his head. You see, my brother betrayed me, and while I do not easily forgive, to take the Quickening of one of my brothers, that is no small matter either. So, in the meantime I have a position open.”

“And what exactly would you require this strategist to plan?” Darius asked. He was not really curious, but did not wish to anger the Horseman. Perhaps if he played along he could find a solution to this dire situation he found himself in.

“Nothing that should be too taxing to a skilled military tactician such as yourself. I simply wish to continue what my brothers and I started. I want you to help me conquer the world,” Kronos replied.

“That will be difficult for two Immortals to achieve without an army. The world has changed somewhat since the Horsemen. Perhaps you put too much faith in my reputation,” Darius suggested. Kronos stood, smiling at Darius.

“That would be a shame. If that were indeed the case, Brother Darius, then I would have wasted my journey here. I should have to find myself some sport to make it worthwhile. Perhaps that girl is still around, she looks like she might last a few nights. If I don’t tire of her first,” he replied. His eyes were cold and dead as he spoke, sending an involuntary shiver down Darius’ spine. Suddenly Kronos’ demeanour changed and he acted as if they had just been chatting about the weather. “So, I’ll leave you to think about my offer, shall I? It’s a big decision, I’m sure. I’ll be back tomorrow, just before mass.”

With that, Kronos left as the congregation began to arrive for the service. Darius stood and made his way back to the chancel, his head swirling as he prepared for the service. He proceeded to deliver the mass, reciting the words automatically. Somehow he managed to make it through to the end of the service.

Kronos’ words sounded in his mind. We’re not so different, the Horseman had said. But was that really true? Was his heart as black as that of War himself?

He had led the Goth army once, and that very name had become synonymous with rape and pillage, the same kind of barbarism that the Horsemen perpetrated. But he was nothing like them, even at his worst. He had shown mercy to his enemies, killing them swiftly. He never tortured, and he never took pleasure in the slaughter of innocents.

Even if he had not had his epiphany and even if he was still the man he had been before that fateful day at the gates of Paris over thirteen hundred years ago, he would still have refused to join the Horseman. But then, he would have simply challenged the other Immortal and that would have put an end to it, one way or another.

No matter what his decision, mortals would be hurt on his account. If he accepted the offer, he knew he could not prevent Kronos from killing for very long and he could certainly never convert War to his way of thinking. Yet if he refused, Kronos was bound to take out his displeasure on whatever poor souls stumbled into his path.

To challenge Kronos would be to break his vow to God and that was something he could not countenance. Perhaps the only answer was to step from Holy Ground and allow Kronos to take his head.

But then, Kronos would have all his knowledge. Darius had been a great general who had developed brilliant strategies and been undefeated. It was a prideful thought, but he still had the mind of a great tactician. He could not allow Kronos to obtain such knowledge.

As his parishioners left, Darius knelt in silent prayer, asking for guidance and, perhaps, a Christmas miracle. He could think of only one solution so, reluctantly, he asked a lay brother to go to the next quarter and fetch an Immortal friend.

An hour later, the brother returned, followed closely by the Buzz of an Immortal. Darius turned to greet the newcomer, his face calm, masking his inner turmoil.

“Thank you for coming so quickly, and at such a late hour, my friend,” Darius said.

“Your message implied it was urgent, so I came,” replied Methos. Darius nodded and ushered Methos back towards his chamber.

Once safely in the privacy of his room, Darius seated Methos and addressed him.

“Methos…would you like a drink? I think I have some mead somewhere, or there may be communion wine left after the service?” Darius asked. Methos shook his head.

“It must be serious if you’re offering me alcohol,” Methos replied with a chuckle. But he grew sombre when Darius didn’t laugh. “What is it, Darius?”

Darius sighed. He knew what he had to say, but he didn’t know how to say it. He deeply regretted what he was about to do, but Kronos left him no recourse. Sitting opposite Methos, he sighed again before speaking.

“Kronos came to see me tonight,” he said.

The effect on Methos was instantaneous. The ancient Immortal shot to his feet, his face ashen with fear. Darius had never seen Methos emotional, and certainly never afraid.

“He’s here? In Paris? My gods, he’s come for me, hasn’t he? You must give me sanctuary Darius, or else I must leave tonight,” Methos said, pacing the floor.

“He wasn’t here for you, Methos. As far as I know, he doesn’t even know you’re here. He wanted me to take your place as his advisor.”

That stopped Methos’ pacing and he turned to look at Darius, a wary look on his face. That look told Darius that Methos knew exactly why the monk had asked him here.

“Oh, then thank you for the warning, I’ll be going. Good luck with that,” Methos said.

“Please, Methos, he’s threatened to kill mortals if I don’t join him.”

“He’s good at that,” Methos said darkly, “But I don’t see the problem. Join him or challenge him.”

“You know I can’t do either of those things. Methos, I’m asking you to help me. Please,” Darius replied, anguish plain on his face.

“I am sorry, Darius, but I’m in no mood to risk my head to protect your vow to your god,” Methos answered, heading toward the door.

Darius had hoped to appeal to Methos’ better nature, but he realised now that the oldest Immortal wouldn’t willingly put himself into the lion’s jaws. Chasing after Methos, Darius grabbed him by the shoulder and spun him around. Although he loathed the idea of threatening Methos, lives were at stake and so Darius played his final card.

“You owe me, Methos. Remember Rome,” Darius reminded him. Shocked, Methos stared at the monk for a moment before he shrugged his shoulders and nodded.

“I’ll think of something,” Methos said with a sigh and then left the monk alone with his thoughts.

*-*

As Christmas morning dawned, Darius went outside to pass on the alms that had been donated by his parishioners. But there were no poor waiting outside for him, instead there was a great commotion coming from the square nearby. Puzzled, Darius called out to a young man who was hurrying toward the noise.

“My son, what is going on?”

“A hanging, father,” the man replied.

“On Christmas Day? What crime could have been committed that warrants the desecration of this holiest of days?” Darius asked.

“Earlier this year, a man killed sixteen women and then disappeared. Last night, the magistrate was told where to find him,” the man explained before eagerly continuing, “They say that he forced himself on the women before and after killing them and that he burned them with hot pokers… I’m sorry father, I shouldn’t have…”

“Don’t worry, my son, but tell me, who did this awful thing?” Darius asked, suspecting the answer.

“A stranger to the quarter, a man with dark hair and a scar across his right eye,” the man replied before hurrying on to the square.

Darius felt the approach of another Immortal and turned toward the church as Methos stepped out from the shadows. Darius did not have to ask, he knew from the wry smile on Methos’ face that this was his doing. Instead, he voiced an altogether more important concern.

“Is he guilty?”

“A thousand times yes. But of this particular crime? No. The man responsible for those brutal murders was killed in a card game in Toulouse two months ago,” Methos answered. “So the guilty are punished.”

“But Kronos is being punished for something he didn’t do?” Darius said, stepping closer to Methos. Methos laughed.

“Isn’t this what you wanted? Kronos will have to leave Paris, and he won’t be able to return for at least a generation. I gave you your escape option, Brother Darius, and not one mortal life has been lost on your account. Besides, he deserves far worse.”

“Judge not, lest ye be judged, my friend. For are we not all deserving of the same fate?”

“Spare me your scripture today, I’m in no mood. We are even now, yes? All accounts are settled?” Methos replied. Darius nodded.

“I release you from your debt to me, yes. And I thank you for aiding me, if not for the manner in which you did it. Now, come and share this Christmas morning with me, please,” Darius said gently, and gestured toward the church. With a shrug, Methos turned and headed inside.

Darius paused in the doorway of his church, reflecting on this turn of events. Whether he was executed or he managed to escape, it would not be safe for Kronos to return to this quarter of Paris for some time to come.

Darius knew that the matter was not over, but for now he had received his miracle. He only hoped that he would have time to think of a more permanent solution before Kronos returned.




 
 
 
 
bugeyedmonsterbugeyedmonster on January 8th, 2009 01:36 am (UTC)
Oh, yeah, I read this over at hlh... Loved it. I so love Sneaky Methos.

(^_^)/
BEM
But, I don't want to be a pie,: painty methosidontlikegravy on January 11th, 2009 05:33 pm (UTC)
Thank you! :)
fractured_sunfractured_sun on January 8th, 2009 12:18 pm (UTC)
I loved this the first time I read this, and I loved it this time too. It's such a Methos solution to the problem :-)
But, I don't want to be a pie,: pleased hamsteridontlikegravy on January 11th, 2009 05:33 pm (UTC)
Thank you, I'm glad you think so, I always find it tricky to get the Old Man.