By Leah CWPack
Methos stared at the Christmas card in his hand and sighed. "If I'd known it would come to all this, I never would have bothered."
Duncan MacLeod glared at him over the table of their diner booth. "Your gratitude is overwhelming."
Methos waved the unopened card at the giver. "It's not the gesture." He pointed at the image of the jolly old elf that decorated the front and raised his eyebrows significantly.
MacLeod didn't see the significance. "What?"
"I guess I shouldn't complain," Methos signed. "I'm responsible for it all. If I hadn't stopped at that damned tavern, that night, it all would have happened differently."
MacLeod lifted his coffee mug to an exasperated expression and sipped. "You gonna tell me, or bore me with the 'cryptic Methos' routine again? The point, Methos."
"The point. The point is, I'm Santa Claus. Or I was."
MacLeod grinned slowly. "I guess I'm going to have to confess about the Easter Bunny next."
"I'm serious." Methos put down the card and dug into a slice of apple pie, fastideously pushing the ice cream off to the side of the plate. "It all happened back in the 4th Century. Because of a serial killer."
MacLeod barely managed to keep from spraying the older Immortal with coffee. "A *serial* killer?"
"I was a merchant at the time, in the area currently known as Turkey. Just passing through some backwater town one winter night. All I wanted was dinner and a place to sleep. The area was having some hard times, and I thought an Inn would be the safest place. I stopped at a local inn and tavern."
Methos shrugged. "I ordered dinner. Thankfully, I felt it before I was served..."
"Felt 'it?'" MacLeod's lip was curled in skepticism and amusement.
"The buzz. The Innkeeper was one of us." He threw his dining companion a glance. "But his wasn't the only one."
MacLeod looked dubious and risked his coffee, once more. "There were more?"
"I felt...something. When the Innkeeper went upstairs, my curiousity got the better of me. I ventured into the storage shed in back of what passed for the 'kitchen,' back then, and had a look around." He took another bite of pie. "Mostly barrels, sacks, the usual. I tracked down the feeling, and it led me to one barrel in the back."
MacLeod was making an obvious effort not to look engrossed in the tale. "What did you find?"
Methos shuddered at an old memory. "Insanity." He put down his fork and folded his long fingers. "The Innkeeper was insane. He appeared to be collecting pre-immortals and eliminating the competition by cutting them up and packing them up in brine."
MacLeod was still for a moment, then echoed his shudder. "What did you do?"
"I don't know if I was angrier over the bastard's interference with the rules or his savagery. I remember tipping over the barrel and dumping the contents on the floor." An look that defied definition passed over his face. "It was incredible to watch, but I'd never want to see something like that again. The parts pulled together. When they were done, there were three newly Immortal boys on the floor of the shed."
MacLeod blinked. "I don't think I want to hear any details."
"Very wise," Methos agreed. "I've been trying to forget them for nearly 1,700 years." He sighed. "Anyway, I led the boys away and left them somewhere safe. I'm sure they told their tale to the wide-eyed relatives and townsfolk, which probably accounts for the stories and the eventual sainthood."
"And then I went back and took the Innkeeper's head. There are enough insane Immortals around. I regarded it as a public service."
"You regarded it as a personal service," MacLeod snorted. "You didn't want to end up in a barrel somewhere, someday."
Methos grinned. "Ho ho ho."