Series: Chasing Death
Summary: In which Joe finally gets some answers.
Joe wasn't sure what made him look up when the door opened. It was a busy night and people had been coming and going all night, but there was something, some shift in the air, which made him uneasy. In the doorway stood a short man, at least compared to Joe's usual company, but he was broad-shouldered and carried himself like a fighter. The man took a single, expert glance around the room before settling on Joe. Joe was considering calling it a night and handing the bar over to Mike, maybe deal with this all another day, when Eliot Spencer settled in opposite him.
Joe was surprised. Spencer had offered his real name or at least what passed for his real name in his file. The Watchers thought Spencer was taking advantage of new, and apparently relatively inexperienced, Immortal Adam Pierson. Both Mac and Amanda had a number of valuable artefacts that might interest a retrieval specialist; there were even bets as to which one Spencer might be after. Joe knew better.
"Something I can get you?" Joe asked as he wiped his cloth over the counter. He was keenly aware of the pistol hidden on the shelf beneath the counter. He tried to calculate if he'd be able to reach it if Spencer made a move.
"What's going on with Adam?" Spencer said more bluntly than Joe would have anticipated, though he supposed, given what he knew, he really shouldn't be surprised.
"Why don't you ask him?"Joe asked, though he'd noticed something off about the old man as well. He'd been distant and mostly unreachable the last few weeks.
Joe knew how difficult it was to get a straight answer out of Methos. The only answers he gave were the ones he wanted you to know and they were never straight-forward.
"For the last few weeks, he's been anxious and tense," Spencer continued. "Adam doesn't do anxious."
Of course, Joe thought, Spencer hadn't seen Methos when the Horsemen were in town or Byron, or any of the stupid stunts Mac had pulled that had put the Scotsman in danger. Joe doubted Mac had even seen the half of it. It was easier for Methos to open up to mortals, without the constant thought of the Game or Dark Quickenings or any old enemies (or allies or both) coming out of the woodwork to threaten whatever kind of peace he'd built. Joe wondered how it was that this man who would one day threaten all of that, had come to mean as much as he had to Methos.
It always seemed to come back to Mac, somehow, and Joe wondered if the Scotsman's renewed presence in their lives was the cause. It was the only significant change and Joe still remembered that conversation all those many months ago. The one where Methos had been afraid of Mac. Joe often wondered if Mac knew the man he considered one of his best friends was so wary of him.
And here was Spencer, the man Methos was clearly trying to protect by avoiding MacLeod, in the one place MacLeod was likely to wander in. Sometimes the old man was way too secretive for his own good.
"I think I know what the issue is," Joe ventured. "I'll have a talk with him."
Spencer nodded once then stood up to leave. Joe's relief was short-lived as MacLeod chose that moment to enter. Spencer automatically looked MacLeod over, noted his caution and hidden weapon, and shifted his stance a little so he'd have better balance in a fight.
MacLeod glanced over the crowd in the bar before settling on Spencer. There was a tense moment when Joe thought they might come to blows, but they knew nothing about each other, and MacLeod's gaze slid past Spencer to Joe and he smiled. Spencer walked past him and out the door. Joe couldn't hold back his sigh of relief. He turned to MacLeod as the Scot slid onto one of the barstools.
"Who was that?" Mac asked and Joe made a split second decision.
"We're feeling him out about joining the organisation."
Mac glanced back at the direction in which Spencer had left and frowned.
"Is he close to an Immortal?"
"Yeah," Joe said, frowning as well.
"You don't want him, Joe. Someone's grooming him for a student."
Joe eyebrows shot up and he had to revise everything he thought about Methos and his relationship with Spencer. He still wasn't sure what was going on there, but now wasn't the time to puzzle it out.
"Well that does change things then. Thanks for the warning."
"Someone we need to be worried about?" Mac asked, though he didn't seem entirely focused on the problem.
"No, small fries, out of the Game entirely it looks like. The Watchers are just looking to expand their membership again after the last few years."
"Alright then. Hey, what's Methos been up to? I haven't seen him around much recently."
"I think he's been working on a translation for the university."
"Oh, well, I'm sure he'll surface eventually for beer."
"Right," Joe said faintly, not nearly so certain.