.

The Prize

 

Methos glanced uneasily around as he crossed the street.  Immortality was one thing but dying was dying, even when you came back.  It still hurt and he tried to avoid it as often as possible.  In this particular neighborhood dying looked like it might be a common occurrence. 

“We can show you a real good time.”  A female voice purred out the offer as he stepped up on the curb.  “Wanna party with us?”  A second voice offered in a nasal tone. 

He looked up in surprise at the two women lounging on the corner.  “Ah, no!  No, thank you,” he managed to stammer out.  Of their merchandise he had no doubt.  The skin tight vinyl skirts that ended just below the curve of their shapely derrieres displayed it all too well.  The world’s oldest profession.  That had been the phrase as far back as he could remember. 

“You can party with both of us,” the nasal one offered. 

“Double your pleasure,” the feline assured him. 

“No,” he said more firmly.  “Thank you.  Maybe, ah...maybe some other time.”  He hurried on, feeling his face heat with the sound of the giggles behind him.  That he should feel embarrassed!  He was acting like a damned school boy, not the oldest man on earth! 

He passed a liquor store with security grating on the windows and a couple of sleazy bars, loud music and cigarette smoke erupting out their doors. 

“This had better be a damn good restaurant, MacLeod,” he mumbled to his absent friend.  “‘You’ll love it, Methos.  Small family run place,’” he grumbled imitating the Scottish accent of Duncan MacLeod.  He looked suspiciously around.  “What kind of family?” he demanded to no one in particular.  The sound of his own voice made him feel a little better.  He stumbled over what he thought was a pile of rubbish spilling out of the doorway of a pawn shop, but when it raised up cursing he realized it was a drunk sleeping off his latest bottle. 

“This definitely doesn’t look like your normal area of town, Highlander.”  Across the street he saw what was undoubtedly a drug buy going down and he looked the other way, quickening his walk. 

“All right, Pierson,” he said.  Using his current identity helped reinforce it in his mind.  “Where did you put that address?” 

He dug deep into the pockets of his ankle length trench coat searching for the scrap of paper he’d used at Joe’s to copy the address down on.  Through the pocket lining, his hand brushed the steel of his sword in its usual concealment under his left arm, and he felt more assured. 

Pulling the torn envelope from his pocket, he squinted at the pencil markings on the paper.  “9810 West 112th Street,” he read, frowning as he remembered Dawson’s look of surprise when he’d asked directions.  The Watcher had told him how to find the address without asking why he wanted it. 

Methos smirked as he wondered what it had cost his friend to keep silent.  He could have told Dawson he was going to meet MacLeod for dinner, could even have invited the Watcher along, but he enjoyed the look of shock too much to explain.  Glancing down the street, he now understood that look. 

“Drug store on the corner,” he made out from his scrawling handwriting.  “Down the side alley, first door on right.” 

He looked up at the address above the door beside him.  “9809,” he read doubtfully.  “Which should put 9810 across the street.  But there’s no drug store.  Drug dealers, maybe.”  He looked back down the street where the ‘buy’ was just being completed, to the mutual satisfaction of all parties, it looked like.  One of the trio entered a large, shiny black car and it sped away.  The two left behind on the sidewalk quietly faded off into the darkness. 

Methos’ eyes traveled down the rundown storefronts, squinting at the faded signs.  Garish lights and music erupted from an open door near the corner.  A couple, possibly a man and a woman, it was hard to tell, were leaning against the doorway, intertwined so skillfully it was difficult to tell where one person ended and the other began.  He watched curiously for a moment.  “Huh.  Haven’t seen that particular maneuver in a couple of centuries.”  He shook his head in bafflement.  “I really need to get out more.  I didn’t think that was possible in an upright position.” 

He continued his study of the darkened buildings.  “Prescriptions filled,” he read, barely making out the letters through the dirt and grim of countless years.  “You might have mentioned it was closed, MacLeod,” he grumbled, crossing the street.

Pausing at the corner of the lifeless building that had once housed a thriving business, he stared down the uninviting alley.  Half way down, a bare bulb burned over the first door on the right.  The door opened and a young man rushed out, disappearing into the darkness behind a trash dumpster.  Seconds later, the silence of the alley was shattered by the roar of a motorcycle and a battered neon green dirt bike shot out of the alley.  Heedless of the possible threat of traffic, it roared without a pause into the street, rapidly fading from sight. 

“Must be it.  You’d better be there, MacLeod.  If I’ve come this far on a damned wild goose chase, your head won’t be safe.”  Straightening his coat, adjusting the lay of the sword at his side, he headed down the alley. 

He stepped through the door, coming face to stomach with a mountain clothed in a bulging red tee shirt and tight jeans.  He looked up the slope of stomach to a bearded face and surprisingly mild, rather unintelligent blue eyes. 

“Yeah?” The Mountain demanded in a toneless voice. 

“I, ah...” Methos started, surprised into confusion by the size of the man before him. 

The Mountain bent toward him slightly and one bushy black eyebrow lifted in question, the brows drawing together in a frown of concentration. 

Methos struggled to pull his thoughts together.  This was obviously the wrong place.  Although he was unable to see around The Mountain, the general din of noise had nothing to do with the normal sounds of a restaurant.  He realized he had entered the rear entrance of some establishment.  “Sorry,” he started to apologize.  He raised his voice to make himself heard.  “I think I’ve got the wrong address.  I was looking for Duncan...” 

Recognition stirred in the blue eyes, and The Mountain raised up, turning toward the room behind him.  “TER-RY!” he bellowed.  Having discharged his duty, The Mountain crossed arms the size of tree trunks over his chest and waited. 

Deciding that the best possible thing for him was retreat, Methos started backward. 

“Well, it’s about time!” a petulant voice stated.  A man’s head appeared from around The Mountain.  Thinning blond hair worn long, spilled across the shoulders of a small effeminate man of perhaps fifty years of age.  “You almost didn’t make it,” he fussed.  He thrust his hand out and Methos shook it in confusion.  “My name is Terry.  Terry Duncan.  Come along, come along!  Bring him, Tiny!” 

Methos watched in startled bewilderment as the man marched prissily away from him.  The man...  What had The Mountain called him?  Terry?  ...looked like an escapee from the ‘60’s at their worst.  From his five inch platform clogs and skin tight bell bottomed jeans, to his wildly flowered brown and orange shirt, he looked like Height Ashbury at its wildest.  A psychedelic nightmare, complete with love beads and granny glasses! 

Methos felt his arm grasped firmly above the elbow and he found himself being propelled along in the wake of the twitching jeans.  “Wait,” he tried to protest.  “There’s been a mistake.”  He might have been talking to a post for all the attention he was getting.  The Mountain simply ignored him.  The man tottering before him on the platforms was chattering continuously.  Methos could barely hear him above the wall of sound they seemed to be drawing near.

Staring around with interest, he allowed himself to be pulled along.  It seemed to do no good to protest anyway.  The building had a warehouse feel to it, the ceiling disappearing into a darkness of cables and catwalks.  People hurried about with cords or pieces of equipment in their hands.  A willowy woman in long flowing pants hurried past, her arms filled with billowing costumes.  Methos took a second look.  No.  It wasn’t a woman, in spite of the clothes.  Not too many of the women he’d met could boast a five o’clock shadow like that.  Takes all kinds, he thought.

More than anything it looked like the back stage of a theater.  Maybe it was a concert.  Although from the music, he couldn’t readily tell what kind. 

The Mountain drew near Terry, and Methos could make out his words.  “How on earth they can expect me to work miracles and only give me minutes to do it in, is beyond me,” the leader of their weird parade protested, hands gesturing wildly.  “I do the best I can, and is it appreciated?  I can tell you the answer to that.  No!  It is not.  Of course not.  I’m an artist, not a hack.  Give me time and I can turn out a masterpiece, but nooo!  I have to...” his voice was momentarily drowned out.  He led the way to a door and opened it.  There was a pause in the music.  “...in here.  There simply is no other place.  It will have to do.  Tiny,” he turned to The Mountain, staring up into his face, “you know what to do,” he said carefully, not bothering to raise his voice.  “Get him out of those horrid clothes.  I’ll get his changing.”  

“Sure, Terry,” The Mountain agreed in a slow deep voice.

Methos watched for a moment in amazement as Terry minced his way down the hall, then he was thrust into a broom closet sized room.  Coming up hard against the wall, he was momentarily stunned.  The brief lull of near quiet ended with a deafening clamorous noise.  Only the teeth-rattling bass beat identified it as music. 

To his horror, Methos felt, rather than heard, The Mountain enter the tiny room behind him.  He turned, stumbling over a mop and bucket.  Good God!  It was a broom closet!  “Wait!  There’s been some mistake.  My name is Pierson.  Adam Pierson.”  Methos shouted to make himself heard. 

Terry’s head appeared around the edge of the door frame.  He held something resembling a bed sheet.  “Tiny!” he wailed.  “You don’t have him out of those clothes yet?”   

“Enough is enough!” Methos muttered, reaching under his coat.  His hand closed around the hilt of his sword and he brought it out, knees half bent in a defensive stance.  He’d make himself understood, one way or the other! 

Totally oblivious to any possible peril, a pained look crossed Terry’s features and he grimaced.  “Oh, for crip’s sake!” he complained, in a high pitched whine.  “Why didn’t you tell me you were The Roman?  You’re awfully thin for The Roman!  But you’ve certainly got the nose for it.  Now I’ve got to...”  His head disappeared. 

Feeling a little stunned that his attempt to intimidate these people had been completely ignored, Methos felt a ham sized hand close over his and his sword was stripped from his grip.  He watched The Mountain lay it on a shelf above his head.  It would take a ladder or at least a chair, for him to reach it.  What the hell was going on!? 

Faster than he would have believed possible, Methos was divested of his coat.  His sweater was stripped off over his head as if he were a child.  Meaty hands were at his waist, unfastening his belt before he was aware of it.  “NO!” he cried in panic, beating at the hands.  They withdrew but when no progress was being made in the undressing department, they reached forward again.  “I’ll do it!” Methos protested frantically. 

Realizing that, unless he undressed himself, he would be undressed, Methos fumbled with the laces of his shoes, slipping them off under the watchful, totally uninterested eyes of Tiny.  What a ridiculous name!  He slid his jeans off and stood seething, clad only in white jockey shorts. 

Terry’s head reappeared and he thrust a cardboard box into Tiny’s hands.  Methos could see some kind of shiny metal sticking out the top of the box and something else that resembled an oversized whisk broom.  Terry looked Methos over critically, sizing him up.  “You’re too thin!”  Then he caught sight of the white underwear.  “You don’t have spandex?” he cried in anguish.  “Oh, for the love of Mike!”  He disappeared again.  His grumbling could be heard even over the beat of the bass.  Seconds later a pair of black spandex briefs hit Methos in the face.  “Get them on!  Get them on!  There isn’t time.  You have to hurry.  Don’t you hear the music?  They’re half through and you’re not even dressed!  Tiny, help him!  I’ll have to have a chat with Hugh.”  He disappeared. 

Tiny reached forward again but withdrew when Methos glared at him.  “Don’t you dare!” Methos threatened between gritted teeth.  “Turn around!”  He was surprised when Tiny complied.  Afraid he would be forcibly stripped, Methos peeled out of his shorts and pulled the skin tight black spandex up over his narrow hips before Tiny could turn back. 

“This is a mistake,” he tried again.  “I am not who you think I am.” 

A moment later, The Mountain turned around, holding out the box Terry had thrust on him.  Something about the shape of the whisk broom did look familiar.  Methos pulled at it and found himself holding a crested helmet, polished to an almost mirrored shine.  Terry’s words came back to him, ‘The Roman...’ 

“It’s a Roman Legionnaire’s outfit,” Methos said.  He pulled each piece from Tiny’s box as he identified them, helmet, sandals, the tunic and the metal armor.  This too was polished beyond anything possible in the second century.   

Methos’ sense of the ridiculous surfaced then and he grinned.  What the hell!  There was no Immortal about, he’d have sensed him before now.  If worse came to worse, he knew he could extract himself from this situation.  He’d gotten out of more difficult spots than this. 

He’d stumbled into a performance of some kind, he had already realized that.  Besides, it had been centuries since he’d worn a Legionnaire’s uniform.  Fingering the red silk of the tunic, Methos smiled.  This would definitely feel better against the skin then the coarse wool ones he’d actually worn.  He set about dressing himself in the reproduced clothing.  Pulling the tunic over his head, he tugged at the length trying to get it down further.  The real ones had reached to mid thigh, this one ended just below his crotch.  He knew when he donned the chest armor it would shorten it even more.  He was glad of the black spandex. 

He felt a quickening of his heartbeat as his memory pulled him back through the centuries to the time he’d actually worn a uniform such as this.  It had truly been another world then. 

The armor was in two pieces, one sat on the shoulders, the other encircled the chest.  He set the shoulder armor around his neck.  “Can you give me a hand with this?” he asked, trying to get the buckle fastened that held it together.  Tiny didn’t move.  “Hey!”  Methos reached out and tapped The Mountain’s back.  Tiny swung around, bending slightly to see Methos’ face.  “Can you give me a hand with this?” Methos repeated.  Tiny nodded.  Methos was stunned as he watched the large hands delicately fasten the buckle.  He realized there was nothing wrong with Tiny’s mental capacity.  He was deaf.  He simply hadn’t heard any of the questions Methos had asked. 

Tiny wrapped the metal bodice around Methos’ chest, tying the leather throngs down the front.  The last piece of clothing was the cingulum or belt.  The eight decorated strips of narrow leather hanging down the front had offered some protection for the groin during battle but the main purpose of the belt, for a real legionnaire, was as a badge of office, as was the crest of the helmet.  Only Centurions and other officers wore crests on their helmets, not as an affectation but so their men could see them and follow them into battle.  Methos had worn such a crest on his helmet almost two thousand years before. 

Turning the bucket upside down, he sat down, slipping his feet into the sandals and twining the laces up his legs to tie just below his knees.  Picking up the helmet, he carefully pulled it on.  Tiny turned to stare out into the hall. 

Methos stood up, shifting the leather around his waist and tugging the armor into a more comfortable position.  Not a bad fit.  He had worn worse.  He smiled in satisfaction. 

He stood on the bucket, reaching for his sword and somehow wasn’t surprised when he saw Tiny’s hand reach over his head and grasp the hilt.  Methos stepped down and turned.  The Mountain held the sword out to him, hilt first and Methos took it with a nod of acknowledgment.  Outside the room, he could hear faintly Terry’s ceaseless chattering. 

Tiny pressed himself against the wall and Methos squeezed past him to stand in the doorway.  Since there was no scabbard for his sword, he stood, the flat side of the double sided blade resting casually on his right shoulder.  Legs spread slightly apart, he waited, one thumb hooked into his leather waistband. 

Talking to himself, Terry stood with his back to him, his arms crossed over his chest, one hand pulling fretfully at his hair.  “There’s just no way he’ll be ready in time.  And I’ll be blamed for it.  I always am.  He’s just too thin to be The Roman.  Romans were more muscular.  Arnold Schwarzenegger.  Ohhh, now there’s a body,” Terry murmured in admiration.  “What a legionnaire he would make!  Wouldn’t I just love to dress him!  This one...” he shook his head sadly.  “Just too thin.” 

“Actually, the Romans weren’t all that muscular,” Methos said.  He didn’t even have to raise his voice.  Much.  “In fact, they were built quite a bit like me.” 

Terry swung around, startled, almost unbalancing on his platform shoes.  His breath drew in sharply.  Oh, my!” he breathed appreciatively, for the first time falling silent.  “Oh, my, yes!”  He stepped forward slowly, hands outstretched to touch the uniform worn so naturally by the man before him.  “It is art!” he whispered.  “I am an artist!” 

“You also realize you’ve made a mistake, don’t you?” Methos inquired. 

“Oh, yes.  Yes, I did,” Terry said excitedly, misunderstanding Methos’ words.  “You are The Roman.  The perfect Roman!” 

Methos shook his head in exasperation.  The music nearby rose in the finale and after a few minutes of half hearted clapping, silence descended. 

“You’re on!” Terry beamed.  “Tiny, bring him!”  He led the way down the hall toward a set of double doors. 

Methos turned back toward the broom closet, intending to change back into his own clothes.  He had truly run into a bunch of certifiable loonies.  It was time for him to reclaim his own life, find out what the hell had happened to MacLeod and demand an explanation from him for this farce of an evening.  Besides, he was hungry.  He still hadn’t eaten. 

He came up against The Mountain again.  “Oh, for the love of Mike!” Methos said, repeating Terry’s earlier words.  He once again found himself propelled in the wake of the little fashion plate ahead of him.  The doors opened and the back of a curtain was revealed.  It parted a fraction to emit a man as scantily clad as himself.  Methos stared, open mouthed, at his clothes.  A tattered damp tank top clung to a well muscled sweaty body.  Minuscule jean shorts hugged the man’s form so tightly, Methos wondered how he sat down in them.  Over the shorts, he wore a leather tool belt with various screwdrivers, wrenches and other small tools hanging from it.  A hard hat perched on top of shoulder length blond hair.  Shrewd eyes sized Methos up as he passed, taking in every aspect of his costume.  Just as he drew level, a gleam entered the man’s eyes and to Methos’ horror, his lips pursed together in a silent kiss in his direction. 

“What the...!” Methos breathed.  Tiny literally slid him the rest of the way toward the curtain.  “What is this place?” he demanded as he drew near Terry. 

Terry couldn’t have been heard had he seen fit to answer.  The voice booming through the now open doors drowned out every sound backstage.  Terry reached and pulled the curtain aside.  From his position, Methos could only see the far side of the stage.  A dark silhouette hovered over an array of knobs and levers resembling a sound board.  The figure bent forward into the microphone.  Methos had his answer. 

“AND NOW, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN!  FOR YOUR ENJOYMENT!  THIS EVENINGS FINAL CONTESTANT IN TONIGHT’S AMATEUR BUMP AND GRIND CONTEST!  ON STAGE FOR THE FIRST TIME!  THE ‘STRIP AND SHOUT’ IS PROUD TO INTRODUCE THE ROMAN LEGIONNAIRE—THE CENTURION!” 

The collective scream that echoed through the hall was similar to the blood lust Methos remembered from the Roman colosseum when Christians were thrown to the lions. 

Music started and The Mountain pushed him through the curtain.  To Methos’ horror, he found himself face to face with a room filled with crazed, hot, sweaty women with money in their hands.  He felt soft hands against the bare skin of his waist and looked down to find a woman tucking a folded ten dollar bill into the waistband of his leather belt.  Lust filled eyes looked up at him. 

“Shake it, baby!” 

~~<>~~

 

Even before the loud pounding began on his door, MacLeod was struggling to free his mind of sleep.  The mental awareness of the other Immortal demanded it.  Throwing the comforter back, he slid silently out of bed, sword in hand.  Clad only in his underwear, he hurried toward the door, determined to put an end to the pounding. 

“Who is it?” he yelled above the noise.  He’d learned a long time ago not to take chances by opening his door to unidentified Immortals.  The pounding ceased. 

“Who do you bloody well think it is?” a British voice demanded.  “Let me in!  It’s cold out here.” 

“Methos,” MacLeod muttered, struggling with the locks on the door.  “Hang on a minute, this one sticks.”  A bump with the heel of his hand freed the mechanism and the lock snapped open.  He pulled the door open and stepped back.  “Where have you been?” he demanded of the half seen figure standing on the stair landing.  “I waited an hour before I finally gave up and ate without you.  Did you run into trouble?” 

Methos snorted.  “You might say that.” 

“Who was it?” MacLeod asked, voice suddenly serious. 

“Not Immortal trouble,” Methos assured him.  “That might have been easier.” 

“Come on in,” MacLeod invited, waiting to re-lock the door.  In the tight hallway, the scent of cigarette smoke and stale body sweat in Methos’ clothing was overpowering.  MacLeod waved his hand in front of his face.  “Where have you been?  You reek!” 

“Do I?  I’m not surprised.”  Methos sniffed his arm, interested.  “I can’t smell it.” 

“Take your coat off.  Let me get some clothes on.” 

“If it’s all the same with you, I’ll keep my coat on,” Methos said, heading into the kitchen.  “Mind if I have a beer?”  He opened the refrigerator door, the light glistening off something under his coat. 

“Has it ever mattered what I minded?” MacLeod demanded.  He walked back to the bed for his robe, shrugging into it.  “You help yourself to my beer every time you’re here.” 

“That’s only because I know you don’t mind,” Methos assured him. 

It was MacLeod’s turn to snort as he reached for the lamp switch to turn the light on.  A soft golden glow filled the sitting area.  Laying the katana down on the coffee table, he tied his robe shut.  He rubbed one hand through his hair as he yawned.  He was aware of a strange slapping sound as Methos walked toward him. 

“Want one?” Methos offered, holding a bottle out to him. 

“No.  I don’t ‘want one.’  I want to know what you’re doing pounding on my door at two AM.”  Seeing the beer extended, MacLeod jerked it out of Methos’ hand with an exasperated sigh.  “Fine,” he said, opening it and taking a sip.  “What are you doing here?  Where were you earlier?”  He sat down on the sofa, putting his bare feet up on the coffee table. 

Moving around to the large chair across from MacLeod’s, Methos said, “It’s a long story.” 

MacLeod frowned at him feeling put out at the missed dinner appointment and at having his sleep disturbed.  “Give me the abridged version.” 

Methos pulled his coat tighter around his body and sat down.  He took a long drink from his bottle.  “First tell me the address of that restaurant where I was supposed to meet you.” 

“I don’t remember the address,” MacLeod protested.  “Somewhere in the 9800 block of 112th, I think.” 

West 112th?” 

“No, not West 112th,” MacLeod said sharply.  “No one goes into that area.  At least, not after dark.  It was East 112th.  Everybody knows what West 112th is like.  You take your life into your own hands when you head down there.” 

“Everybody doesn’t know what West 112th is like, MacLeod.  I didn’t!” Methos stated emphatically.  “At least, not before tonight!”  He shifted indignantly and his coat came open slightly, again exposing a flash of something shiny. 

“I’m sorry, Methos,” MacLeod said sincerely.  “I should have told you East 112th.  It just never occurred to me that you’d go west.”  He leaned sideways slightly, trying to get a better look at the gleam.  Was it metal?  “What happened?” 

“Do you know what’s at 9810 West 112th?” Methos demanded. 

MacLeod shook his head.  “I don’t think I’ve ever been down there.  Why?” 

Methos shifted uncomfortably, suddenly unsure he wanted to explain.  He put one foot up on the edge of the table in front of him. 

“You’re wearing sandals!” MacLeod exclaimed. 

Methos jerked his foot down, his coat falling open to expose his naked leg.  He hurriedly covered it. 

“What have you got on?” MacLeod demanded.  Methos didn’t answer.  “Have you got any clothes on under that coat?” 

“Of course, I’ve got clothes on,” Methos said scornfully. 

“What?”

“None of your business.” 

MacLeod threw one hand up in exasperation.  “Fine! Then what are you doing here at this time of the morning?” 

“For the love of Mike!” Methos muttered, half to himself.  He stared at MacLeod suspiciously.  “You really don’t know what’s at the address you gave me?” 

“No.  I told you that!” MacLeod promised.  “What’s there?” 

“A club,” Methos muttered. 

“A club?” 

The ancient Immortal nodded. 

“What kind of club?” 

“A club specializing in dancers.” 

“Dancers?”  Enlightenment dawned.  “You mean strippers?” 

Male strippers.” 

There was a moment’s pause then MacLeod roared in laughter.  Methos frowned at him and sipped his beer.  Finally, MacLeod stopped laughing long enough to wipe his eyes and say, “I would liked to have seen the expression on your face when you walked into that place expecting a nice little restaurant.  That would’ve been priceless.” 

Methos finished off the last of his beer, setting the bottle beside his chair.  Standing up, he watched MacLeod tilt his head back to take a long swallow from his bottle.  Something, a cross between amusement and devilment entered Methos’ eyes.  His lips twisted in a smile.  “Then you would have absolutely loved tonight!” he said, shrugging out of his coat to reveal the Legionnaire’s costume, minus the helmet.  “It was amateur night!” 

The gleam from Methos’ armor caught MacLeod’s eye and he lowered his bottle to get a better look.  The spray of beer shooting out his mouth and nose soaked his robe and the coffee table.  Half choking, he went into a spasm of coughing.  His watering eyes never left his friend as Methos turned, returning to the kitchen for a second beer.  The red silk of the brief tunic cupped under Methos’ rear with every step.  Pausing at the end of the bar to twist the cap off the bottle, Methos stood, one thumb hooked in his belt, watching MacLeod try to breathe. 

MacLeod sucked in a lung full of air.  “You didn’t...!?” he demanded, red faced, staring at the scanty costume barely covering his friend’s private parts. 

For the sole pleasure of watching MacLeod’s eyes widen in surprise, Methos lifted his arms and rotated his hips in a slow imitation of the classic bump and grind.  The shocked look on MacLeod’s face was more than he hoped for.  “Lord!  You are a prude, Highlander,” he laughed, returning to his chair. 

“I am not!” MacLeod denied hotly.  “You mean you did it?  You stripped?  In front of a room full of people?” 

For a second Methos considered lying but the truth won out.  He shook his head.  “It was just a dance contest tonight.  Anything goes but the clothes!  No stripping for the amateurs.” 

MacLeod wiped the remaining beer off his face and shook his head.  “I’m seeing a whole new side of you, Methos.  I didn’t think you had it in you.”  He leaned back and took another sip from his bottle.  “So what are you doing still in those clothes?  And where are yours?” 

“Back at the club.  Everything was going fine until they started giving out the awards.  That’s when the police showed up in a drug bust.  I high-tailed it out through the back door with the help of a couple of friends.  Terry said I could come back after my things tomorrow.” 

“You actually did this!” MacLeod said in disbelief.  A look of skepticism crossed his face.  “So, how’d you do?” he asked, with a smirk. 

Methos leaned forward, fingering around in the pool of fabric on the floor that was his coat.  “Actually, I didn’t do too badly.”  He pulled out a foot high trophy and set it in the middle of the coffee table.  It showed a nude figure with its arms stretched above its head in triumph.  “I took first prize!” 

“My God!” MacLeod breathed weakly. 

Methos looked up, adding proudly, “Tiny said if I bring it back tomorrow, he’ll engrave my name on it.”