Better Beer

Debra Fran Baker

dfbaker@panix.com


"What are you doing here?"

"Gotta be somewhere."

I'd flicked on the light in my apartment to find Methos sprawled all over my sofa, sucking on a bottle of beer. He blinked in the sudden light.

"You have your own place."

"Yeah. You have better beer. I need better beer." With what looked like great effort, he forced himself to sit up.

I shucked off my coat and sat next to him. He'd gone through a six pack of some lousy American stuff I keep on hand for emergency. There was most of a case left. "I do have better beer, you know." I picked up a bottle and opened it anyway. It was warm.

"Doesn't really matter, Joseph. I'd just be wasting it." He downed what he had in one gulp and opened another.

"You can get bad beer anywhere. Why here?"

"I'm not welcome here?" He made as if to get to his feet. I caught a glimpse of his eyes as he did. For the first time, I could actually read something in them. And what I saw frightened me. Methos was five thousand years old because he chose to be. He looked ready to make another choice.

"You're here. You're had half of this crap already. Might as well stay."

He nodded carefully and collapsed back down, sprawling out again. His shoe-less foot brushed my right leg, where I had leg. He looked at me over his beer bottle.

"Good. Not sure I could have made it out the door."

"What happened tonight?" Dumb, dumb, dumb question. I knew exactly what had gone down.

"Some Watcher. You're going to have to turn in your tattoo. He's gone. Duncan got him."

"Byron wanted it that way. He was asking for it."

"Doesn't make it any easier. Damn it, Joseph. I'm bloody tired of saying good-bye. I've said in every damn language for five millennia and I *hate* it." He chugged down the beer and reached for yet another. If he'd been mortal, I'd have stopped him by now.

Instead, I took another slug of my own. Still bad, still warm, still...liquid. He blinked slowly.

"You'd think I'd be used to it. You'd think after a couple thousand years, it'd be old hat. Everyone I know dies. Every*thing* I know dies. Cities, armies, nations. I've seen cities you never heard of grow and die. Helped build one or two, helped kill a couple more. Languages...I've said goodbye in languages no one has spoken in so long I've forgotten their names. And it's all so much faster now."

"Faster?"

He looked at me. "Faster. Everything is *faster*. You...damn, I'm tired. I'm tired of all of it. Tired of me." He looked at the beer in his hand, and put it down. "I'm getting maudlin. Time to sober up."

"Methos, why are you here?"

He didn't look at me. He didn't seem to notice his foot was on my thigh. Was rubbing my thigh. I noticed. I wasn't sure whether I wanted him to stop or not, so I let him continue until I did decide.

"It's hard work staying drunk on this stuff. Not enough alcohol to make it worth the effort. Maybe if you had whiskey or something with a kick to it."

I shrugged. "I have some of that. Do you think it's a good idea?" Yeah, Immortals kept healing themselves. They had to make an effort to stay drunk. I took another sip of my own. This was not worth any effort. I took one more.

"I think I'll try sober for a while. Drunk is just too hard."

"Why are you here, Methos?"

"You