Ronald Jensen glanced towards the man walking quietly at his side. Four hours previously they hadn't known each other from Adam... and then had come the explosion - not that they had known then that was what had happened.
They had been part of a group of gala attendees descending from the roof restaurant of the newly remodelled Svenson Towers. Innocent bystanders caught up in an attack by foreign extremists that had taken exception to the way Patrick Svenson conducted business.
The elevator that they had been using was designed to hold a capacity of twenty people and it had been full of boisterous, happy people that had been part of the inaugural celebrations for the newly revamped Towers. The explosion had caused the elevator to plummet ten floors before the emergency brakes cut in. Power had failed throughout the massive structure and, when the emergency back-ups had cut in, the group in the elevator hadn't looked quite as happy. All except for one man... the man now walking beside him.
Somehow, in all the chaos, he'd kept his head and kept his feet. He didn't look like much. He'd been introduced to the rest of the people that had been at the charity gala in the restaurant as a linguistics professor who was an old friend of Patrick Svenson. Not much more had been said about him. Dark brown hair, shy and diffident smile, slender build; he hadn't been overly noticeable. Except for his eyes, that was. Strange eyes. They seemed to reflect the pain and wisdom of the ages, for all that his face had maintained an expression of quiet indifference all evening.
Ronald laughed at himself and his thoughts. His writer's imagination was flying away with his common sense yet again.
Still, this was the man who had surveyed the shaken and panicky group in front of him and effortlessly taken charge. Within minutes he had weeded out the injured from the uninjured and had quickly set about making them as comfortable as possible. Peremptorily issuing orders, he'd had at least one CEO sitting with a fellow passenger pressing handkerchiefs against bleeding gashes that had been caused when heads had hit the walls of the elevator during its unplanned descent.
The two women who had fallen off balance due to the ridiculously high heels that they had been wearing - and broken their ankles as a result - had been gently manoeuvred into a sitting position with their backs resting against the far wall of the elevator. One man had dislocated his shoulder in the fall. Adam, his voice never rising above the calm but firm tone that he had been using since assuming control, explained to the man that he had two choices that he could make. Either he could wait for medical assistance when they were rescued, or he could have the shoulder popped back into place there and then.
The man had chosen the second option and another interesting facet of Adam came to light. The slender build and unassuming manner deflected attention away from the strength of character and the actual strength of the man. He'd slipped out of the tuxedo jacket he was wearing before acting. The white silk shirt he wore couldn't disguise his wiry strength or the way the muscles he tried to keep hidden moved smoothly as he effortlessly popped the shoulder back in to place. Something in the way that he did it, the way he made it look so commonplace, gave the impression that he had done stuff like that more times than he cared to remember.
Taking care of each other under Adam's careful supervision, it had come as a great shock for their group to realise that an hour had gone by with no word from the outside world. Murmurs had begun. Where were the emergency services? Sitting with his oldest friend, Ronald had watched with interest as Adam's face grew more and more set. Two hours after the incident, with still no word from the outside and with no answers to their repeated emergency calls, Adam had decided it was time for action.
Ronald shook his head in wonder as he thought about the form that action had taken. Adam had glanced round the cramped quarters of the elevator and singled him out. Saying that he was going to see what was going on, he had left him in charge. His first question of how Adam was going to accomplish his goal of seeing what was going on had died on his lips the moment Adam had pushed open the roof access on the elevator car and scampered up and through with the agility of an acrobat.
He was gone for over an hour and a half, and the people that he had left behind had sunk into a brooding silence. Help was taking too long to meet them, and that could only mean that things were bad out there.
A pounding on the roof of the elevator had caused more than one nervous scream, but it had only been Adam. He stuck his head through the re-opened access panel, face smudged with sweat and soot, eyes tired. His three word greeting of, "Time to go," had raised a quiet cheer.
He'd returned with firefighters and rescue equipment - a sight that none of them had thought to question at the time; not, that is, till they were brought out into a debris-filled corridor. Adam had been up ahead talking to the senior officer in the fire rescue squad when one of its other members had related the fact that they had given up on finding any more survivors.
Given up, until one mild-mannered linguistics professor had somehow made his way through twenty five floors of bomb and fire damage to let them know that there was a group of people trapped in an elevator car. The bottom of the shaft was apparently full of debris and they had been considered lost in the explosion. His only response on how he'd managed such an amazing feat had been common sense and determination. The awe in the firefighter's voice clearly indicated that it had taken a great deal more than that.
Ronald watched as Adam looked ahead and scowled at the milling reporters and news crews. Feeling distinctly paternal towards this young professor that had put himself at risk to save a bunch of relative strangers, he said, "Don't fret so. You're a hero, Adam. You deserve a little recognition for your efforts. I'm sure that..."
"Why not?" asked Ronald curiously.
"I'm shy," was the laconic reply.
Stifling his laughter, Ronald beckoned towards a nearby firefighter and asked if there was another way out. Ten minutes later, Ronald and Adam stood chatting, waiting on the cabs that they had called. Adam had laughed heartily at Ronald's avowed intention of going home and shocking his wife by giving her a big fat kiss. He'd frowned in concern at Adam's quiet admission of having no one to call. Surely he had someone with whom he could share the story of his brush with death?
Smiling a strange, wry smile, Adam had said that there was no one. Being a writer for over forty years, Ronald had become a good judge of people. He'd caught the minute hesitation in Adam's words. Pressed gently, Adam admitted - more out of his own need to talk than any pressure brought to bear by the older man - that that was not entirely true. He had friends - one really close one in particular - that he could call; but that he'd had angry words with that friend a few months previously and that things were still a bit rocky.
Standing at the open door of his cab that had just arrived, Ronald looked at Adam and said, "I don't know who was right or wrong in your argument, young man. Quite frankly, I don't think it matters.
"You are a good, decent human being that has been through an ordeal tonight. You've also exhibited selflessness, courage and wisdom, not to mention the fact that you've saved a few lives tonight. Anyone with half a brain would be proud to call you friend. Call them!
"And Adam... thank you."
Watching the cab drive off, Adam stood with a gently mocking smile on his face. Things were not that easy in his world. Sighing, he dug his hand into his pockets as he waited on his cab. The ringing of his mobile phone caused him to start in surprise. Digging round in the pocket of his tuxedo jacket, he fumbled it open and barked out, "Yes?"
"Methos?" came the hesitant voice of the subject of his recent conversation. "I saw you on the news. Is everything all right?"
"Like anything could happen to me," said Methos acerbically.
His tone obviously gave the Boy Scout a moment's pause. "I know that, Old Man! I was just... I was..."
"Yes, damn you!"
Voice taking on a levity that had been missing in a long while, Methos said, "Nice to know you still care."
"You're my friend, you idiot! Of course I care!"
The irritation and concern apparent in the Highlander's voice eased a very old heart that had thought that the most valued friendship of his long life had been beyond salvage. For once, fighting the instincts that had kept him alive - while keeping him isolated - Methos said, "It's really good to hear from you, Mac."
"I've missed you, old friend."
Methos took a deep breath; in for a penny, in for a pound. "Do you mind an unexpected house-guest, Mac? I don't really feel like dodging the media for the next week. I did what was necessary. That's all."
"Methos the meek and mild. I know the act, Old Man."
"So... can I come?"
Laughing, MacLeod said, "Since when have you ever needed an invitation? I'll have the beer waiting."
Grinning, Methos climbed into the cab that had just arrived, saying, "See you soon, Mac. Don't lose your head in the meantime."