Friends


     It was closing time at "Joe's."  It had been a normal night,
with a clientele that leaned heavily to the Watchers, and somewhat
to the Watched, and a sprinkling of folks who were simply there for
good jazz and good company.  Word of "Joe's" was spreading through
the jazz community, with the note that the owner was as pleasant to
the ears as any one featured on its tiny stage. 

     Richie and a short, pretty, plump dark haired girl who looked
about his apparent age had left about midnight.  Duncan and Amanda,
as striking a couple as ever, were going out the door now.   One
man sitting at his bar cast a longing look in their direction - and
it wasn't Amanda he was looking at.

     "It's a mystery to me, Joe."

     "How a man could be so straight?"

     "I've seen grown men literally throw themselves at him.  He
doesn't even notice.  It's as if it doesn't exist in his world."

     "He's always been that way.  It's not just upbringing.  It's
MacLoed himself.  It's simply not in his worldview."

     "I know.  It's in his Chronicles.  He's four hundred years
old, and the only reason he's moved beyond vanilla is Amanda." 
Methos stared glumly at his beer glass.

     "Duncan's a slow learner.  He didn't even pick up reading for
fifty years.  Give him time.  How long did it take you?"

     "No time at all.  I never worried about the package."  

     "I learned that lesson myself."  Joe looked directly into
Methos' eyes.  "Another lesson I learned is that there isn't all
that much difference between friends and lovers."  

     Methos smiled at that, and touched Joe's hand.  "That's
something I learned early.  Friend."  Joe smiled back.

     Methos was surprised at Joe's apartment.  Somehow, he'd always
pictured it as cluttered with books and papers and vinyl and cds. 
Instead, there was a series of low bookcases lining all the walls,
where all the material was neatly organized.  The living room
contained one sofa and a spectacular sound system and no other
furniture.  Joe had excused himself as soon as they'd walked in, so
Methos made himself comfortable on the sofa with a Chronicle.  

     After a bit, he heard Joe cough politely - but from a lower
position than Methos expected.  He looked in that direction.  Joe
was sitting in a low, armless wheelchair, with a tray balanced on
his lap.  His prostheses were off.  Methos could see the calloused
ends of Joe's stumps peeking out of the shorts Joe had evidently
changed into.  

     "You look entirely more comfortable like that."
     Joe handed him one of the two beer bottles on his tray.  "I
am.  It's just easier to deal with the world on false legs than on
real wheels."