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"The Secret War" - chapter 13

Sunday May 5, 1996

Methos showed up 20 minutes after I called. He knocked on the door to my apartment above the bar and walked right in. Then he stopped dead in the doorway and stared.

Shit, he’d never seen me in a wheelchair before. I waved to him with a bandaged hand and joked weakly, “You should see the other guys.”

Something flashed across his face. What was that? Grief, rage, shock? Maybe I reminded him of Alexa somehow. An affable smile quickly covered the emotion. He closed the door and walked over to drape his coat over an armchair.

“How are you feeling?” he asked, leaning close to peer into my eyes and sniff my breath. What, does he think I'm drunk? Methos's fingers moved quickly over my scalp, checking for bumps. Got enough poking last night from Dr. Lindsey, now I gotta put up with it from him, too?

“A little sore, but not bad. I’m waiting to get a new prosthetic leg – the old one got banged up.” The VA paperwork was a bitch, but I called Dr. Crane direct and got a fitting appointment scheduled for Tuesday.

“Are you hurt anywhere else?”

"Nah, I'm fine." A few stitches and a pulled muscle don't really count.

Methos hmmed at me while checking my pulse on both wrists, and then plopped down into the armchair. “You need 10 hours of sleep for the next few nights, no alcohol, and don’t try playing the guitar for at least for 3 days,” he prescribed. “Now, did you just call me for a second opinion, or were you planning on telling me what happened?”

“You were right, Adam.” He nodded lazily. “This secret little war we started has cost too many lives, and we need to put a stop to it.”

“Easier said than done, Joe.”

“Well, I’ve got an idea, and I want you to check my thinking. Ung is the key. All that crap he said in that speech to the Hunters, about being a survivor in Cambodia, doing anything he had to to stay alive, do you think that’s true?”

Methos leaned forward, eyes intent. “Yes, I think that part is true. How does it help us?”

“Adam, we know Ung is willing to kill for the cause. But I don’t think he’s ready to die for it. I wrote this letter to him.”

It took me a few tries with my hands bandaged up. In big, simple script, the letter read:

Ung –
I’m still standing. Your boys aren’t. This has gone far enough. Put a stop to it, before I make it personal.
Joe Dawson

Methos looked up from reading it. “You think you can threaten him into a truce, Joe? I’m not sure you’re that frightening,” he countered, skeptical.

“Yeah, well, you are, but Adam Pierson sure as hell ain’t gonna do it. Here’s what I need from you. Find a way to deliver this letter to Ung. On his pillow, while he’s asleep.”

A nasty little smile bloomed on Methos’s face. “I didn’t know you had it in you, Joe.” He paused, and then put the letter down on his lap, shaking his head. “But this letter is certain to make you a target.”

“I don’t think so, Adam. He already had his shot. The two guys he sent after me last night are buried deep in the woods, and that’s got to be scaring him. We need to push now, while he’s off-balance.”

Methos stood up abruptly and walked to my bookshelf. He ran his finger along the spine of the books. After a few seconds, he asked idly “Ung sent men to kill you?”

“Yeah, no tattoos. I'm thinking they were ex-military.” Neither one had much of a face left for an id, but Gary had taken their fingerprints. I had a contact in research running them through U.S. military, FBI, and Interpol databases, see if we got any hits.

He carefully folded the letter. “I’ll be happy to deliver this for you, Joe.”

As Methos walked to the chair and put on his coat I wondered what caused the quick turn-around. I was expecting more of an argument, to be honest. “Get better soon!” he wished me cheerfully, heading towards the door. Why was Methos in such a hurry?

“Adam?” I called out. He kept moving. What if he was planning on doing more than just delivering a letter?

“Methos!” I snapped. He paused; hand on the doorknob, turned away from me. “Just so we’re on the same page, Ung needs to be alive, to stop this thing. If he dies, so will a lot of other people, both Watchers and Immortals.”

I watched the back of his head and trench coat. Methos took in a deep breath and let it out. “I understand, Joe,” he told me. “I won’t be in touch for a few days. I want to make sure this errand isn’t traced back to Adam Pierson.”

“OK, Adam. Take care of yourself. Goodbye.” He opened the door and walked out, quietly closing it behind him. Well, that's one goodbye taken care of, just in case this doesn't work out.

Did I over-react, or was he really going to kill Ung? I guess I’ll never know. But that’s OK, because I trust Methos. Not to tell the truth, of course. And not to do what I think is right. He’s got his own standards, and I’ll be damned if they make any sense to me. But I trust him to be a friend to me and MacLeod, to do what he thinks is right, and to survive.

Tuesday May 7, 1996

The fax purred out of the office machine just before midnight.

In Ung's handwriting, it said:

Mr. Dawson –

You defend your position with unexpected vigor. In light of your recent feedback, I am willing to call a temporary halt to my group's activities if you will do the same. Alternative methods may produce comparable benefits with significantly less risk.

- Narath Ung

I collapsed into my desk chair, as muscles that had been tied up in knots for a month suddenly gave way. Thank God. Thank you, God. Ung blinked first.

It was over.

I spent the next three hours composing and transmitting book-coded messages to my people, letting them know that a cease-fire had been called. Then I went to bed determined to sleep the clock round. I hadn't gotten a decent night's sleep in weeks, and I deserved the rest.

Wednesday May 8, 1996

Greg Trudeau called at 6 in the morning. He was pissed off about something. At first I couldn't make heads or tails of what he was saying. When he finally got through to me, it felt like a mortar round. Greg was upset because he'd been reassigned away from Watching Duncan MacLeod, as of yesterday. He couldn't figure out what he'd done wrong.

I don't remember getting up, putting on my new prosthetics, getting dressed, or logging on in my office. When I called up MacLeod's file I saw that David Shapiro had been assigned as his new Watcher. David Shapiro. Jack Shapiro's son. I dialed Mac's number. No answer. Tried again. Still no answer.

I was sitting alone on-stage with my Gibson an hour later when the official call came through. The war’s final casualty died yesterday in Paris, France, right before the truce went into affect. Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod was dead.

He's dead.

Did Ung finally decide he was a threat? Or did he do it just to hurt me? I always figured getting close to Mac might get me killed. But no. 400 years, a top contender in the Game, and I was the nail in his coffin.

I failed Mac as a friend. I didn't warn him he was in danger, and I wasn't there to save him. I hadn't even seen him in months. All that time, wasted. I thought I was protecting him.

I failed Duncan MacLeod as his Watcher. An Immortal's final moments are important, and I wasn't there to record them. Whatever David Shapiro might report, I'll never know the truth. His Chronicle will never be complete.

I had to … make arrangements. He'd want to be buried next to Tessa in Paris. I needed to call people; let them know he was gone.

He's gone.

But I couldn't. Not yet. First I would fly to Paris. Take one last look at the barge. See his body. Then I'd start contacting his friends. I'm sure the Watchers won't approve. But I could get all the numbers before they cut my access. Nothing's worse than the uncertainty of a friend MIA. Amanda would cry. Methos ... Methos would forgive me. I wasn't sure I could face that.

Mike was very helpful. He was lying again, hiding something. I didn't care what it was.

Annie must have heard. She left an urgent message to call her. Annie had a voice like a general giving orders on the battlefield, and I almost called her out of pure reflex. But I didn't want to talk to her about it, either.

All those good people dead, and now MacLeod to top it off.

I reached deep down inside for something to help me through this. A spark of anger to warm me up. Faith that he's gone to a better place. A song to help me mourn. But I got nothing. Nothing.

It was over.



( 31 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 14th, 2007 02:24 am (UTC)
That was amazing!! Absolutely awesome! Damn, you can write a hell of a story :) This is going in my 'read over again and again' file. I can't wait for the next part! Yes, I'm greedy [g]
Jan. 14th, 2007 04:40 am (UTC)
So glad to hear that you enjoyed, Ithidrial!
(no subject) - ithildyn - Jan. 14th, 2007 04:48 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sophiedb - Jan. 14th, 2007 08:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - keerawa - Jan. 14th, 2007 11:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 14th, 2007 03:50 am (UTC)
Great story. I enjoyed reading it very much.

Just tell me this -- in the sequel, Ung gets what is coming to him, yes? Because I'd be very happy with an extra-long torture scene where Methos starts by pulling his nose hairs out one by one and then goes on to his fingernails, toenails, and works his way from the outside to the core.
Jan. 14th, 2007 06:06 am (UTC)
Oh, Ung certainly does pay for his crimes. In fact, you have an ASTOUNDINGLY appropriate icon there.

The sequel will be wound around Judgement Day, One Minute to Midnight, and the time between them.

Just don't hold your breath - this one took me over a year to finish!
(no subject) - elistaire - Jan. 16th, 2007 01:41 am (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 14th, 2007 04:42 am (UTC)
Oh, wow. This is great, and fits in with the timeline of the series perfectly. I love your Joe voice and your descriptions of Methos being Adam Pierson. I cared about all the OCs (whether I loved or hated them) - it's a vivid universe that you've created here. Definitely looking forward to the sequel!
Jan. 14th, 2007 06:22 am (UTC)
Thank you, Ekaterrin!

I worked hard not to contradict the canon and timeline. (Even when it didn't make sense. How the HELL did Mac's freighter get from the Pacific NW to Paris in one week after the DQ?)

Writing Joe feels like coming home to me. This had a LOT of OCs. At one point if I needed to write a "cast of characters". Glad to hear that they worked for you!
Jan. 14th, 2007 06:07 am (UTC)
This is just fabulous! What a great read. Well-characterised and written. Can't wait for the sequel.
Jan. 14th, 2007 06:29 am (UTC)
Thank you, lastrega!

I'm so pleased to hear that you enjoyed it.
Jan. 14th, 2007 10:09 am (UTC)
Here following the command from ithildyn
Wonderful story, can't wait for the sequal :)
Jan. 14th, 2007 10:58 am (UTC)
*chuckles* We all must bow before her.

Thank you for letting me know you liked "The Secret War"!
Jan. 14th, 2007 05:19 pm (UTC)
Great story. Very well written. Looking forward to the sequel.
Jan. 14th, 2007 11:54 pm (UTC)
Thank you for the feedback, Robi!

Sadly, the sequel is a few fragments on my hard drive right now. I wouldn't bet on it being finished before summer.
Jan. 14th, 2007 07:12 pm (UTC)
I certainly enjoyed this. It gave me a much needed break from reconciling receipts for tax time. Far more fun! Too bad it seems that Dr. Ung managed a final power play. Joe should have let Methos whack him. ^_^
Jan. 14th, 2007 11:57 pm (UTC)
Always glad to help a friend in need.

Ung surely did pull a fast one on Joe there, and it's canon, of course. But Joe couldn't let Methos take him out. If Ung had died with the war still going on, who would have been able to switch it off?

Don't worry, pragmatism will win out in the sequel. Ung'll get what's coming to him.
Jan. 14th, 2007 08:38 pm (UTC)
You are EVIL! I got the rec for this story from Ith and read the first of the series before reading this one. Both are great.

Hopefully you're writing the sequel now?
Jan. 14th, 2007 11:59 pm (UTC)
Evil, eh? I'll take it as a compliment.

Glad to hear that you enjoyed both stories. There was a year gap between "The Price of Interference" and "The Secret War". I might be able to complete the finale in less time, but I wouldn't hold my breath.
Jan. 16th, 2007 02:38 am (UTC)
Great story. Love Joes voice, and how well you've braided your story with the series. Look forward to the next part.

Jan. 16th, 2007 03:06 am (UTC)
Glad to hear that it worked for you, ad!

Thanks for the feedback.
Jan. 18th, 2007 10:12 am (UTC)
Methos ... Methos would forgive me. I wasn't sure I could face that."
Another completely adorable line.

Great story - sound plotting, grand lines, wonderfully in character!

Jan. 18th, 2007 02:46 pm (UTC)
So glad you enjoyed, and I really appreciate the feedback at the end of each chapter. It makes me feel like I'm re-reading my story over a friend's shoulder.
(no subject) - holde_maid - Jan. 18th, 2007 04:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 19th, 2007 02:53 am (UTC)
Carol comments on your The Secret War
This is THE BEST Joe story I have ever read. Wonderful job. The Best!
Jan. 19th, 2007 04:04 am (UTC)
Re: Carol comments on your The Secret War
Thank you, Carol!
Mar. 13th, 2007 11:51 am (UTC)
Oh, excellent! I'm so glad you pointed this out to me. You filled in a lot of very imprtant and interesting blanks in canon with this story. Can't wait for the sequel!
Mar. 13th, 2007 11:16 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Mischief!

Filling in the blanks is what makes fanfiction SO much fun. As for the sequel - 6 months to a year. I write SLOW on the long stuff.

The prequel (The Price of Intereference) is right here, though, if you're interested.
Sep. 29th, 2007 04:14 pm (UTC)
This came up with a recommendation on crack_van, and I thought "hey! a story about Joe! cool!" because there are not enough of these. And it is indeed cool, and you really get him and his strengths and weaknesses, and I love the way you weave this in and out of the season's canon. Really excellent work -- thank you so much for writing it! And I hope that you do write the sequel to it, because hey! cliffhanger ending!

Marvelous -- I had a great time reading this.

Oct. 1st, 2007 01:54 pm (UTC)
Thank you, [Unknown LJ tag]! Sorry about the cliffhanger ending -- although it is canon. For a Duncan's eye view of what happened next, you could watch "Judgement Day" and "One Minute to Midnight".

Of course, we know that Joe and Methos are keeping secrets from him. Sadly, they're also keeping secrets from ME. Hence the long wait on the sequel...
( 31 comments — Leave a comment )