Leaning against the wall outside a high security cell, arms crossed, Methos waited for the inevitable reappearance of its current inmate. The cell had both force fields and bars. With the prisoners held here, Imladrin security took no chances. The familiar whine of a transporter sounded, followed by his Immortal buzz, depositing the pirate captain in the cell, though a bit sooner than Methos had expected. Well, he'd lost that bet with Stephanie - he'd been sure that Jack would get through at least one of the backups she and Triona had come up with. "Sloppy, Jack, very sloppy," he said softly. The other man stiffened almost imperceptibly, his hand momentarily reaching for the sword that was no longer there. Then a look of recognition passed over his face, as he realized just who the other Immortal that stood outside his cell was.
"Jack Sparrow, as I live and breath!" Methos said, grinning broadly.
"Fancy meeting you here, Doc Adams. Small galaxy and all that."
"That it is." He pushed away from the wall, walking over to the cell door. "I must say though, I'm a little disappointed. Back in the day, you would have been more of a challenge to put in a cell."
Jack grimaced, looking down at the bright pink prisoner jumpsuit he wore. "I underestimated my opponent. That I'll admit."
Chuckling, Methos shook his head. "You always did have a weakness for a beautiful woman. I would have thought you'd know better by now."
At the mention of Triona, Jack exploded. "That... woman! Blasted bureaucrat, and one of us to boot - it's unnatural! Do you know what she told me? That I'd be spending the next several decades on a godforsaken prison colony! Where's the decency in that, I ask you?" During his diatribe, he'd begun to pace up and down the length of his cell. He whirled back to face Methos. "A prison colony!"
"Oh, I don't know, Jack. Seems fairly decent to me opposed to the alternatives: a few decades in stasis, for example," he paused meaningfully, "or execution."
Jack went back to pacing. "Bloody government lackeys! They never change, be it the blasted Royal Navy or the Federation." He waved a finger, suddenly thoughtful. "Now, whoever it was that snagged me and my crew, now that was a fine piece of work, that I warrant. I admire a captain who could manage such a thing, despite the pickle it puts me in. Such a talent is bloody wasted on a paper pusher like that damned woman!" Jack was once more incensed at the injustice of it all. Taking a deep breath, he waved his hand up at the roof of his cell. "It was such a pretty ship! And the engines... Doc, those engines were like the sound of silk brushing against the skin of a beautiful woman, and the trilithium conversion design something I would have never thought to see," he explained with remembered rapture. "I had to have her! And it's not like the wretched woman doesn't have hundreds of ships that she should want to imprison me for taking just the one." He stopped again, looking at Methos. "It's unreasonable, mate."
"Jack, Jack." Shaking his head ruefully, he sighed. Jack hadn't changed much in the intervening centuries. Some Immortals never adapted well to the changing times, and he was beginning to wonder if his old companion was one of them. "Unreasonable? Perhaps, on the face of it. But I seem to recall you stopping at nothing when you wanted the Pearl back."
"That was different, Doc! That was *my* ship!" Jack protested.
"Haven't you figured it out yet? That ship you took wasn't just any ship. 'That woman' designed her, it was like her child, and you stole it. You think you thought the Alqualondë was a thing of beauty? How do you think she felt about it? Of course Triona wants to toss you in a dark hole for the foreseeable future - wouldn't you?"
Jack peered at Methos, his eyes mere slits. "You're trying to tell me that that wom... the Minister," he amended, not having missed the other man's familiar use of her first name, "designed that jewel of a ship?"
Methos nodded. "And she's the one who took it back," he noted with more than a touch of pride. As much as he liked to tease his wife about her obsession with her ships, he was very proud of her accomplishments, and taking Jack Sparrow without a shot fired had been a masterful piece of work. She'd come a long way from the serious, uncertain young woman he'd first met in the last decade of the twentieth century. This was truly her time - the age of space travel.
"You don't say?" He nodded, looking as if he were carrying on some sort of internal dialogue. With a sly look, he asked, "You wouldn't happen to have any influence with the lovely Minister, would you, Doc? Convince her that I'm truly and deeply sorry for any trouble my small indiscretion may have caused?"
Snorting with laughter, he shook his head. "Any influence I may have been able to exert on your behalf, Jack, was lost when you tried your little escape attempt. She gave you your chance and you hung yourself."
"She was testing me?" He slammed his fist into the palm of his hand. "Damnable woman!" Glancing at Methos, he offered, "Though I'm sure she has many fine qualities, mate. Not to mention she's very easy on the eyes." He smiled winningly. It was obvious that the Captain wasn't quite sure just what the relationship between his old friend and his current nemesis was and had decided to hedge his bets. He changed tacks. "Benjamin, we two go way back; we sailed together, we were mates! Remember that time in Tortuga? Those two wenches?"
"The very ones! Now that was a night!"
"I believe it was several nights actually," Methos said wryly. "Absinthe and laudanum always played havoc with my sense of time though."
"But they accentuated the affects of some very pleasurable company, did they not? You can't tell me you don't miss those times, Doc."
"Every now and then," Methos admitted with a slight smile.
Jack pressed his advantage. "You were there after my first death and you told me what I was and what it meant to be Immortal. Can't you at least try and put in a good word for me? For old time's sake?" He held his hands out beseechingly.
"I don't know, Jack. That depends a great deal on how you've been spending your present - and who you've been spending it with." The smile was gone and Methos' eyes were as cold as green marble. "Just how deep are you into the Orion Syndicate?"
Placing his fingers against his chest with a look of surprise and innocence, Jack took a step forward. "Me? The Orion Syndicate? Doc!"
"Come off it, Jack," Methos snapped, not in the mood for games. The Orion Syndicate had tendrils everywhere. Any sort of criminal enterprise there was in the galaxy, they had a piece of the pie. Drugs, weapons, prostitution, gambling, murder for hire, slaves. The Syndicate was powerful enough to put extreme pressure on smaller governments like the Imladrin Planetary Union, up to and including assassination.
"Fine, the truth. The truth is that I'm only as involved as a man in my line of work has no choice than to be." Shaking his head resignedly, he continued, "I keep my head down and do what's needed to avoid their attention, but yes, sometimes I'm forced by circumstances to deal with them."
"I'm sure you are," the other man replied with more than a bit of menace.
"Doc, don't be like this. You know me!"
"I used to."
"I swear, I haven't changed! I don't deal in slaves, never have and never will." Methos' expression hadn't changed. "God's honest truth, mate!"
"And assassination? What about that? I'm sure you know nothing about the attempt on Defense Minister MacAlpine's life at the trade conference two years ago, do you?"
"Assassination? You're balmy! Yes, if she challenged me, I'd kill her if I had to, but assassination? That's not my style! You should know that."
Methos put his hands on the wall to each side if the cell door, his face bare inches from the force field. "Hear me well," he said in a low voice that was now devoid of any warmth or friendship. "I swear to you, Jack, that if you're lying, if I find out that you're up to your eyeballs in the Syndicate, and that you had anything even remotely to do with the attempt on my wife's life, you won't have to worry about that penal colony." The pirate took an involuntary step back at the threat in Methos' eyes. "Because I'll kill you where you stand. Savvy?" Jack nodded silently. "I'm glad we have an understanding." Pushing away from the cell door, Methos gave him one last look before leaving Jack alone to ponder his fate.
A few hours later, after settling his bet with Stephanie, Methos found Triona with Lucien on the deck of their island home. The red giant sun was setting and sky was a wash of amethyst and ruby light. Triona was sitting on a wicker settee with her legs tucked underneath her, leaning against the ancient vampire's shoulder. Her eyes were dark and heavy, a sure sign that LaCroix had recently fed from her. More than that, the very atmosphere was like a warm blanket of contentment, one that Triona drew him into as she reached out a hand to him. A hand he took, letting her draw him down to sit next to her. Over the centuries, Methos had mostly gotten over his aversion to vampires, or at least, his own particular ones. Ever the pragmatist, he'd learned that there were definite... pleasurable advantages to his relationship with Triona and LaCroix. He leaned in to kiss his wife, a sensation that was both physical and mental coursing through him as her soft lips parted against his. Smiling as he drew away, he thought, definitely advantages.
"What?" she asked. "Care to share?"
Shaking his head slightly, he replied, "It's nothing. I'm just happy to see you."
Looking at him quizzically, she returned his smile, deciding to accept his response - for now at least. "An interesting conversation you had with Captain Sparrow." She grinned. "Security logs, darling," she reminded him at his look of surprise. "I thought you hated the ocean? Monks, chanting, crossing the Atlantic? I'm fairly certain that you've told me that story, oh, at least a few dozen times."
"Indeed, Methos," LaCroix said, amused. "Pirates? I would not have believed it if I had not heard it with my own ears."
"Well, one has to pass the centuries somehow," he said airily, leaning his head back to look at the Roman vampire. "Let's just say it was convenient at the time to go to sea."
"Another one of those angry husbands?" Triona asked, stifling a giggle at Methos' look of long-suffering exasperation. "A really angry one if it drove you to signing up with Captain Sparrow and his band of miscreants!"
"You know, it wasn't always an angry husband!" he protested.
'No, sometimes it was an angry mistress," LaCroix interjected, his eyes alight with amusement.
"Mmm... wasn't that what got me into this," she waved her hand at both men, "in the first place?"
"Are you complaining about the outcome, my dear? LaCroix stroked her throat, making her shiver.
Sighing, she replied, "No, not particularly."
"Glad to hear it," Methos said, kissing her once more.
But she wasn't quite ready to be distracted from the topic at hand, much to the Immortal's frustration. "Speaking of mistresses... twins? Tortuga? And what's this about absinthe and laudanum?"
She really could be like a dog with a bone. Time to more permanently divert her. He shot a pointed look at LaCroix, who smiled in response, taking the hint.
"As entertaining as this is, I hope you both will excuse me. I am attending a performance of the Jovian opera at the Moria Arts Center with Janette this evening and need to be on my way." The vampire gently moved Triona against the back of the settee as he stood. Taking her hand in his, he brushed his lips against her palm. "Till later, child." In an eye blink, he was gone.
'I'm not that easy."
"What are you talking about?"
"I'm wise to all your little tricks, you know. You think with Lucien gone, you can distract me so you don't have to tell me about those twins!"
"You're so suspicious," he tsked in mock disapproval.
"Do you deny it?"
"Maybe? What kind of answer is that?"
"The only one I'm willing to give at the moment," he replied brightly. "But if you're very good, I might be persuaded to give you a more substantive answer," he kissed her once, twice, then slid his lips down to her throat, feeling her tremble at the sensation, before whispering, "later."
On to Part Four