A Holly Jolly Christmas
By Ann Wortham

“Have a holly jolly Christmas,” Burl Ives blared out of the speakers and Methos clapped his hands over his ears.

“Aaaargh,” he gritted out between clenched teeth. “I’m begging you, Joe. Turn it off!”

Joe Dawson leaned across the counter of his bar and shoved a full glass of beer into Methos’ hands. “Had enough of Christmas, have you?” he commiserated. But he made no move to turn off the music filling Joe’s Bar with holiday cheer.

Methos stared down at the drink and finally lowered his hands to clutch at it. “What did you say?”

Joe just shook his head. “Nothing important. What are you wearing to Mac’s costume party tonight?”

Methos lifted an eyebrow as he sipped at the cold beer. “What I have on?”

Joe took a step backwards to examine him. “A sweater and jeans? What kind of costume is that?”

“I’m going as me,” Methos said firmly. “If that’s not good enough, Mac can just—”

“I can just what, Methos,” Duncan MacLeod’s deep voice interrupted as he slid onto a bar stool next to the other Immortal.

Methos wasn’t intimidated by MacLeod’s arrival. He’d felt the approach of another Immortal, of course, and had known it was probably the Scotsman. They’d been expecting him for thirty minutes now. “You’re late.”

“You didn’t answer my question.”

“And I’m not going to…is that for me?” Methos gestured at the gaily wrapped boxes MacLeod had set down on top of the bar.

“Well, one of them is. The other one is for Joe. I thought I’d deliver them now. It’s getting kind of hectic over at my place already.”

“I’ll bet,” Methos snorted. “Amanda and Richie decking the halls?”

MacLeod looked miserable for a split second before he managed to paste an appropriate smile of holiday cheer back on his face. “Yeah. Something like that.”

Methos clapped him on the shoulder. “Take heart, Mac. I’m sure the place could use a little livening up.”

“Easy for you to say,” MacLeod muttered. “I’ve got to get back before Amanda burns my kitchen down. I keep telling her that the party is being catered, but she insists that she wants to ‘help out.’ Remind me again why I agreed to this party?”

Joe chuckled. “It was your idea, Mac. Remember?”

“Oh. Yeah. I have some really stupid ideas sometimes.” MacLeod snagged the beer Joe had placed in front of him, gulped it down, and turned to go. “Don’t be late, okay?” He turned huge, pleading brown eyes on first Joe and then Methos. “I’m going to need all the help I can get tonight. Oh, and Methos – you’d better come attired appropriately or you’re not going to have to worry about me. You’ll face the wrath of Amanda.” He waved a hand in the air and was gone, leaving the two presents on the counter.

“Hmmm,” Joe picked the top one up. “There’s no tag on this one.” He examined the bottom one. “This one says it’s for me.” He shoved the first box at Methos. “So, this one must be for you.”

Methos took it and shook it, hard, tipping his head over to press his ear close to the package.

“Hey! That might be breakable,” Joe protested automatically.

Methos shrugged. “It’s making a jingling sound.”

“See. You broke it.” Joe shook his head sadly. “I wouldn’t want to be the one to have to tell MacLeod…”

Methos laughed. “Good! Let’s not tell him!” He got up and began pulling on his coat.

“Wait! You’re just going to leave?” Joe protested. “What about the present?” He waved one hand at the gift box.

“What about it?”

“Aren’t you going to open it?”

“When I get home,” Methos said, snatching up the box in question and heading for the door. “See you at the party!”

Joe shook his head again as he watched the Immortal leave. “Damned infuriating sometimes,” he muttered. “I wonder what’s in here?” He picked up his own gift and shook it, hard.

Methos sat in his living room and stared down at the open gift box in his lap. There was a small card inside that simply read: “Wear this tonight or else!”. He was considering whether or not it would be more prudent to simply catch the next flight out of Seacouver to Bora Bora. Duncan MacLeod had completely lost his mind…

“I’m telling you, it was right here under the tree!” Amanda’s voice was growing more strident by the minute.

Richie had already retreated to the kitchen where he was pretending to heat up some of the food the caterer had just delivered. MacLeod tried glaring in his general direction, but the younger Immortal carefully didn’t notice.

“And I’m telling you I never touched it!” he said, frantically searching through the piled up packages for Amanda’s missing box.

Amanda tapped one foot, her hands on her hips. “Oh, really? I think you were snooping into your presents early and you took it!”

“I swear I didn’t! Ooomph.” MacLeod swore and rubbed at his backside when Amanda kicked him. “Stop that!”

“You just didn’t want to—”

“Want to what?” MacLeod had to admit he was intrigued as to why Amanda was getting so frantic over his missing present.

Amanda blushed, her face turning a very becoming shade of crimson. “You know.”

“No, I don’t know! I keep telling you that I didn’t take it! I didn’t open it early and I haven’t hidden it away anywhere.”

Fortunately, someone pounding on the door interrupted whatever was about to come out of Amanda’s mouth. She bit down on her lip and whirled around to stomp off towards the side door of the loft. MacLeod sighed heavily and climbed to his feet, mentally thanking whoever had just saved his hide…for the moment.

A sudden fit of hysterical laughter came from the small hallway, sending MacLeod and Richie both heading that way. They exchanged puzzled looks.

Amanda came back into view, her hand wrapped around someone’s wrist. “I found your present, Duncan,” she said, in between gasped out giggles. She gave a hard tug on the captive wrist, pulling Methos into view.

MacLeod’s eyes widened and his jaw dropped as he took in the sight of Methos decked out in a red felt Santa’s hat – complete with jingle bells around the edge -- a pair of boxer shorts covered in a pattern of mistletoes, and a huge red ribbon wrapped sideways across his chest with a red bow neatly situated at his shoulder. Other than his shoes, the ancient Immortal wore nothing else.

“This is the stupidest costume I have ever had to wear,” Methos griped. “I want you to know that I considered leaving town rather than giving in to your little threat. You must have completely lost your mind!”

MacLeod’s eyebrows raised as he turned his gaze on a gasping Amanda. “That is my missing ‘gift?’ ”

Amanda nodded, her eyes streaming with tears. “Well, it was meant to be opened and enjoyed in private!”

“I would certainly hope so!” MacLeod said, unable to restrain his own laughter any longer. Richie had already scurried off to the kitchen again where he was, no doubt, rolling on the floor. “Oh, Methos. You should just see yourself.”

“That’s it,” Methos grumbled. “I’m going to Bora Bora. Where’s the damned telephone?”

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