And The Stars Of Heaven Shall FallFandom:
PG-13, for violence and character deathWordcount:
“To the best of my extensive knowledge, we are the only two left.”Notes:
Many thanks to sentientcitizen
for betaing. Although the fic IS all her fault to begin with.... See, I was writing a different fic, and then she had to go and mention the Eschaton in conjunction with the Gathering. Um. So I guess this could be called the third in a trilogy, coming after my Narrow Is The Way Which Leadeth Unto Life
’s There Shall Come Up Briers And Thorns
. Somehow I doubt there’s anywhere else for us to go after this, so it shouldn’t turn into a quartet. *knocks on wood* (ETA:
This trilogy now has a title! It is called "John 21:25".)
The title is from Mark 13, which is sometimes referred to as “the little apocalypse”.It’s the end of the world as we know it
and I feel fine...
Methos is humming. It’s a song he hasn’t thought about in decades -- a century -- longer -- a cheerful, bouncy song, at odds with its lyrics. He doesn’t think about the lyrics.
He thinks about what he’s doing instead: walking carefully, one foot in front of the other, oh so slowly inching his way across the cracking bridge. If another earthquake comes -- or if he just steps too firmly -- it will crumble to pieces, and he doesn’t care for the thought of dying over and over again at the bottom of a flooded river.
It isn’t only immortals that have been dying since the Gathering began.
This was nowhere in the lore, the instructions passed down from immortal to immortal throughout history. Immortals tell of the prize, of the glory, of what happens at the end of the Gathering. They have never talked of what comes before, save speculation. It’s the end of the world, and the world seems determined to go up in flames.
Halfway across the bridge Methos stops. He can feel it, the presence of another immortal, sizzling its way down his brainstem. Peering forward, he can see a figure standing at the end of the bridge, waiting for him. Methos can’t turn back; the forest behind him is blazing too brightly for that. He cannot avoid the confrontation.
So he begins to move forward again, his careful motions unaltered by the knowledge of what’s waiting at the end. If the other immortal is impatient, that’s not his problem. He keeps humming, watching his feet as he walks.
Time passes in a blur, all the moments he has spent on the bridge as one. He reaches the end; he stops; he looks up.
Or Josh, really, but Methos would much rather think of him as Yeshua. From what little he knows of Josh, he isn’t the sort of man Methos wants to meet at the end of the world.
“Methos,” Yeshua says, standing with sword in hand. “I’ve been looking for you.”
“Hello, Ye- Josh,” Methos says, smiling grimly. “I’m thrilled to see you too, to be sure. Mind letting me by? Places to go, people to see...”
Yeshua ignores this. “I’ve been keeping track,” he says instead. “I’ve been planning for a long time. To the best of my extensive knowledge, we are the only two left.” He raises his sword.
“Josh,” Methos sighs, ignoring the pain that ripples through his chest at the knowledge that Duncan must be dead. He hopes Yeshua wasn’t the one to kill him. Well. Josh, really, because Yeshua never would have. “Haven’t given up your daft scheme, I notice.”
A scowl blooms on Josh’s face. “I’m doing what I have to,” he says. “Now draw your sword.”
“Must I? And here I was hoping to share a companionable drink with you.”
“Right, because that was such a cozy chat we had last time. Now draw your sword.”
Josh stabs forward with his blade, and when Methos steps back to evade it he nearly falls into the river. Okay, right. Deadliness on all sides; time to comply. He draws his sword.
As the blades meet for the first time, Methos says, “Your theory about the Game rather surprised me. I’ve been thinking about it ever since. And I think your theory is wrong.” He presses forward, trying to gain distance from river gorge, and Josh dances away easily.
Good. Methos uses the space to get himself as far away from the edge as possible. He still doesn’t want to drown -- although it is looking more palatable now, compared with beheading.
In moments Josh is once more up close and personal, and Methos brings his sword up again and again to defend himself, moving backwards all the while.
“How else am I supposed to do it?” Josh says as he advances. “People are idiots! Even now, in the midst of disaster, all they do is lie, cheat, steal, kill. They don’t help each other, they only help their own miserable selves. Humans.” He laughs scornfully, and strikes. The swords clang together once, twice, three times. “They’ll never become better on their own. But I will have the power to make
them better. ‘And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory,’” he says, as Methos jumps up onto a rock to evade a blow. Josh follows. “It’s been foretold. Who am I to argue with what people said I said?” He grins, strikes out again.
“That’s just stupid
,” Methos pants, as he parries the blow. “What does the prize give us, anyways? Power, yes, but that much power? Human nature can’t be changed so easily. It’s intrinsic. And if you could change it, they wouldn’t be human anymore: they’d have about as much free will as a cardboard cutout, and as much dimension.”
“Good thing you won’t win, then. You wouldn’t use the power in the way it’s meant to be used. You wouldn’t help people. God, it’s like the old days all over again. All you care about is other immortals, and the people don’t matter. You’re always trying to convince me to run away.”
Methos wants to deny, but, breath caught in his throat, he feels the sting of truth in Josh’s words. He’s never been good at caring about people who -- well, who didn’t matter
to him personally. It’s a failing of his.
“Your plan won’t help things anyways,” Methos says, bringing his sword neatly around Josh’s block. Josh ducks away, but not quickly enough, and a bright trail of blood begins to run down Josh’s arm.
help,” Josh says, quietly, forcefully, and in his tone Methos can hear echoes of Yeshua, of the stubborn, idealistic bastard he’d rearranged his life for, thousands of years ago.
He wishes this were Yeshua in front of him.
“You’re a fool,” Methos says, “and I’m glad I won’t be around to see the mess you make of everything if you win.”
Josh only snarls at him, the expression on his face one that Methos is glad he never saw on Yeshua, and steps up the pace of the fight. Apparently he’d been holding back.
Methos loses himself in the rhythm of the fight, with no more attention to spare for conversation. Josh’s swordwork is impeccable. Attack, parry, attack, parry, and then Methos stumbles. His attention is broken for only a moment, but it’s enough, and Josh knocks the sword out of Methos’ hand.
Disarmed and out of options, he kneels in front of Josh, opens his mouth to plead one final time.
The sword descends.