It was quite late at night as Liam and Methos entered the bar. They had been to a hockey game and were still laughing and arguing about the result. Hockey was one of the few major sports to survive the new fads in sport that had accompanied the Taelon arrival on Earth.
They'd decided on one quick drink before they went their separate ways. Liam was scheduled to fly Da'an to a conference in New York and Methos was planning on doing nothing at all; he'd had five millennia to perfect loafing about and he was very good at it. He'd been busy lately and he wanted a break.
They walked into the bar and looked at the other patrons. Liam stopped dead in shock but quickly recovered himself. He quickly headed off to the opposite side of the bar with a perplexed Methos in his wake.
"What's up, Liam?"
Liam looked at him with an unreadable expression.
"The guy over at the end of the bar, with the blonde, that's Sandoval."
"Oh, really," said Methos in a deceptively mild tone of voice.
He casually glanced over and looked at his friend's father. So this was the man. He honestly didn't know what he felt. This man had caused Liam so much grief and anguish; on the other hand, his young friend loved him, the old adage being true - those we love are the ones capable of hurting us the most.
Methos decided to take his lead from Liam. The young man had appeared startled, but quickly recovered himself and they simply ignored Sandoval's presence.
Sandoval didn't ignore theirs. Liam would have been surprised to hear that Sandoval was no less startled to see him enter the bar than Liam was to see him there. Distracted, Sandoval had to ask his contact to repeat her information.
Quickly dismissing her, he concentrated on the drink in front of him, wishing for once that he could actually be affected by its alcoholic content; but no, of course not, his bloody wonderful, amazing CVI took care of that for him too.
About an hour later, Liam and Methos left the bar.
Sandoval followed a few minutes later. He stood outside for a moment wondering whether or not there was any point of going home, or if he should just freshen up at the Embassy. That's when he heard the sounds of a scuffle in the alley.
Cautiously approaching the entrance to the alley, he peered down its shadowy length. Swearing softly, he saw Liam and his friend fighting what looked to be about four or five youths. Then he saw the young man lying bleeding on the ground; Liam had obviously stumbled into a mugging gone wrong and as per usual he'd jumped in to help somebody in distress.
He went in to the alley to help and tackled one of the muggers that was trying to sneak up on Liam from behind. That's when he saw the gun in the hand of one of the other robbers; it was aimed directly at Liam! Sandoval called out a warning, too late! The gun had been fired.
That's when he saw Liam's friend deliberately step in front of the bullet, saving Liam at the expense of his own life.
Liam cried out in horror and redoubled his attack on the muggers. So did Sandoval. A few minutes later there was a bunch of unconscious robbers lying in the same alley as their unfortunate victim.
Liam ignored them and dropped to his knees beside his friend. Sandoval hovered in the background, trying to give Liam a moment of privacy.
For a moment Liam had forgotten what his friend was, and then he'd just sat there waiting for him to revive, studiously ignoring Sandoval's presence. That was one problem he didn't have a clue how they were going to handle.
It was too late now to worry about it. Methos gave a sudden gasp and took a deep breath. Liam heard a muffled oath from behind him but he ignored it, concentrating instead on helping Methos to sit up. He asked, "Are you all right, Adam?" remembering at the last minute not to use Methos' real name.
"I'm fine, Liam," said Methos.
As he did so he was casting an appraising eye in Sandoval's direction. Why the hell did he have to be here tonight of all nights? This could prove to be disastrous; the Taelons could not be told about Immortals, the possible consequences were too horrifying to think about.
That's when he got his latest surprise of the night, as did Liam. Sandoval crouched down beside them and said, "Please don't worry, Immortal. I do know of your kind. I have for a long time. Leave now before the authorities get here. Liam and I will handle this and meet you back at his apartment. I think a few explanations are going to be required. Yes?"
Suspicious, but unable to come up with a better suggestion, Methos acquiesced to Sandoval's plan.
He spent the next couple of hours waiting impatiently in Liam's apartment. What was taking them so long?!
A few minutes later he heard the door opening and a tired looking Liam and Sandoval entered. The local authorities had been handled; neither the victims or the robbers had seen 'Adam' die so there was no need to worry about them. Liam and Sandoval would be called to testify, describing Adam as an informant they had managed to ensure that he was not mentioned in any of the reports.
Good, thought Methos, that leaves only one loose end. What he said was, "You know about my kind. How?"
Sandoval looked from Liam's face to 'Adam's' and said quietly, "My father, two uncles, grandfather and great-grandfather were all Watchers; are you one of the Immortals who knows who they are?"
Sandoval's announcement had met with a stunned silence. The other two men - especially Methos - were confused, to say the least. Sandoval's reputation was as a devoted lackey of the Taelons; by all normal forms of reasoning he should have made the Taelons aware of the existence of the Immortals. Liam couldn't believe the Taelons hadn't been told; Methos couldn't believe anyone from a Watcher family would ever have ended up working for them in the first place! There had to be more to this story.
Methos was the first of the three to speak.
"Yes, I know about the Watchers; I used to be one."
"What!" exclaimed Sandoval. "How was that possible?"
Methos gave slight enigmatic smile and said, "I'm a very old Immortal. I decided the best way to stay out of the Game and keep watch on our watchers was to join them."
Methos saw Sandoval glancing at his wrist. Answering the unspoken question, he said, "No, I never got the tattoo. Not all the Watchers do. You know that. Besides, I can't be tattooed; it would never 'stay'."
Sandoval still looked shocked at the thought of an Immortal having been hidden amongst the Watchers. Methos continued with his explanation. Liam just sat back quietly listening to the two men, feeling deep in his soul that this night's revelations would rock the very existence of his world.
"After the murder of Darius and the fiasco with Kalas in the late 1990s, my secret was revealed to a few of my Watcher friends. The near war between the Immortals and the renegade Watchers convinced me it was time to move on, but I have kept in contact with my friends.
"Now would you mind telling me what the hell somebody with a Watcher lineage like you have is doing working for the Taelons?!"
Liam sat forward with an intense look on his face. This he was dying to hear.
Sandoval looked at Liam while he said, "Adam, do you trust Liam with what I'm about to say? I'm signing my own death warrant if he tells the Taelons any of this. Do you trust him with your life?"
Liam looked shocked at the question. Methos laid a calming hand on his wrist; Sandoval had no idea of the inadvertent pain he was causing by accusing Liam of any possible betrayal.
"Liam would never betray my trust. He'd never betray you either."
Sandoval looked askance at Liam but saw the pain his earlier question had caused, so he moved on with his explanation.
"Have you ever heard of the Watcher sect called the Sentries?"
Methos gasped in astonishment. "I thought they were a myth."
Sandoval gave a half grin and said, "An Immortal calling anything a myth is a bit like the pot calling the kettle black, don't you think? Anyway, where was I?
"As you know, the Watchers have always been there chronicling the lives of the Immortals. Several thousand years ago in Ireland there was a Watcher living there that had just watched his assigned Immortal lose his head. He was about to return to make his report when something astonishing happened. A being arrived from 'somewhere beyond'. This being was like no human that had ever been seen. The Watcher sent a message off to the Watcher High Council and for the first time ever a Watcher was assigned to someone other than an Immortal. Kieran became the first Watcher assigned to Ma'el."
Hearing the name, Liam gave a gasp of astonishment. Sandoval ignored it and continued with his story.
"Ma'el lived for a very long time and displayed many amazing powers. He was able to practically mesmerise people into doing what he wanted. He seemed benevolent but the Watchers assigned to him over the centuries chronicled everything, just in case. They became known as the Secret Chronicles and after Ma'el's death they were hidden deep within the repository of chronicles maintained by the Watchers.
"Ma'el had announced before he died that even though he had warned his people to leave Earth alone, they might come anyway. The then-Watcher Council had taken that warning to heart. Among each generation of Watchers three were singled out and told Ma'el's story. They became the secret Sentries, on guard for the return of Ma'el's people. It was a lifelong post and when the last of the three were dead the Council would appoint three new Sentries.
"This has gone on for centuries, a myth in a secret organisation. Then the Taelons came. I was just about to receive an assignment of my own when they arrived. I hadn't even been given the tattoo yet. I was called before a meeting of the Council and they asked me to become one of the Sentries. They told me they needed someone on the inside, watching. They were prepared for all eventualities. I was taken for training and put through hundreds of deep hypnosis sessions to ensure that I would carry out my duty without ever betraying the secret of the Watchers or Immortals. Not even the CVI can break the conditioning. It has forced me to do some horrible things, but now with its motivational imperative gone and my own conditioning I am able to work against the Taelons to some extent while still keeping watch on them and reporting to the Council.
"I'm sure the Council passes that information on to the human authorities. I don't know who, where or what they do about it, though.
"That's the story of Sandoval. Now how about you two, what's the story here? How did a Companion Agent become friends with an ancient Immortal?"
Sandoval's question remained unanswered as Liam and Methos exchanged a speculative look. What should he be told?
Liam was just about to speak when he received a message on his global to inform him that Da'an's trip had been moved forward and that he had to get to the Embassy now.
Liam excused himself and Methos for a moment and they went into his kitchen to talk.
"I've got to go, Methos, will you tell him the rest?"
Methos looked shocked and said, "Not all of it, surely."
Liam bit his lip with an air of indecision. He said slowly, "No, not yet. Tell him about my role in the Resistance and about how we met. We'll see how he reacts to that. If things work out I'll tell him after Da'an and I get back."
Methos still looked unconvinced, but said he'd do as Liam asked. They were just about to rejoin Sandoval when Liam said, "Oh, one more thing. If something happens to me before I get the chance to tell him the truth, promise me you will."
"What do you mean if something happens? What haven't you told me about this trip?"
Liam sighed. "I don't know, it's just a feeling, you know? When you know something is coming at you but you don't know what. Promise me you'll tell him."
"I promise, kid."
They rejoined Sandoval and Liam explained that he had to leave but that Adam was going to fill him in on his story.
"Depending on your reaction to what he tells you we will talk more when I get back."
Liam left and Sandoval turned to the Immortal with a questioning look on his face. Methos gave a silent prayer that the kid knew what he was doing and said, "Where to start?"
Da'an and Liam had completed the scheduled trip without hindrance and were making their return journey. Liam missed the easier days before the election. Then they had talked or just travelled in a companionable silence. Now the atmosphere in the shuttle was usually so tense you could cut it with a knife. He was unsure about whether or not their relationship could ever be restored to what it once was.
The silence left him free to think about his earlier feeling of something happening; unfortunately, the easy trip had done little to reassure him. If anything, the feeling was growing.
Liam was jolted out of these thoughts when the shuttle suddenly lurched out of control. Swearing, he struggled to maintain a level flight path. They dropped out of ID space suddenly and the shuttle began a barely controlled descent. Liam shouted to Da'an to prepare for a crash landing and signalled both the Embassy and the mothership that Da'an's shuttle was in distress and that he was attempting a crash landing.
Thankfully they were flying over farm land and not a populated area. Liam aimed the shuttle as best he could for a clearing he had spotted below and then sent up a silent prayer for luck. The ground rushing towards them was the last thing he saw before blackness engulfed his vision and he passed out.
Hearing a voice calling him from a long way away, Liam struggled to regain consciousness. With a great deal of effort he opened his eyes to see Da'an peering down at him with a concerned face. He tried to speak, but a wave of agony passed through him as he tried to move. Trying again, he at least managed to say, "Da'an" before passing out of consciousness again.
He awoke again feeling something brushing across his face. When he opened his eyes he saw that Da'an was wiping blood away as gently as he could.
Liam gave himself a quick inspection and winced inwardly; this was so not good. There was blood everywhere, and he seemed to have a piece of his flight chair embedded in his thigh. This was not good. He was going to need help from one of his own doctors, but that would mean betraying their knowledge of his heritage to Da'an.
Hoping that she would forgive him, Liam made his decision.
He looked at Da'an and said, "The rescue teams will be here soon. I gave our position just before we crashed. I know we've had our differences recently, but I need to ask you to do something for me. As soon as we are found can you arrange for Dr. Park to be the one to treat me?"
"Yes, Liam, but why?"
Liam gave a half-hearted smile.
"She delivered me, Da'an. She knows about my peculiar heritage and has the most experience in treating me. Please just call her. I trust her."
Da'an agreed, realising that his young Protector had placed his life in his hands, literally. All he had to do was let a Taelon doctor near him and his heritage would be revealed. Liam had trusted him not to do that. He'd also trusted another person into his care; Dr. Park had been revealed as a Resistance member and the doctor that had delivered him. Either reason would be sufficient for Zo'or to order her arrest and interrogation.
Da'an smiled. The trust between them was not completely destroyed after all.
Da'an's head lifted as heard the rescue shuttles land and as soon as the first Volunteer arrived on the scene he immediately demanded a message be sent to Dr. Park to expect Liam as a patient.
Sandoval and Methos had spent the night in Liam's apartment talking. Sandoval had been astonished to find that Da'an's Protector was the leader of the Resistance. Methos had been extremely curious about the Sentries and the separate duty that the Watcher Council had placed on them.
The next morning Sandoval had gone home to change and get some rest, as had Methos. They had arranged to meet for lunch and wait on Liam's message to say that he had returned home.
In the cafe they were sitting chatting when Sandoval's global signalled a message. He opened it to hear the message and sitting opposite him, Methos could see Sandoval's face literally go white in front of him.
Sandoval spoke to the person on the other end of the message, saying, "I'm on my way, Da'an." He then looked at his companion and said, "Adam, Liam's been hurt in a shuttle crash. It's serious; he's lost a lot of blood. He's being transferred here immediately so that Dr. Park can treat him. I need to get to the hospital."
Methos knew his face echoed Sandoval's concern, but just as Sandoval was about to get up from the table, Methos placed a restraining hand on his arm, stopping him.
Sandoval shook his hand off, saying that he had to go.
"No, wait! I have to tell you something about Liam first. He made me promise that if anything happened to him that I would tell you."
"Tell me what?!" demanded Sandoval.
Methos said quietly, "He's your son."
Sandoval dropped back into his seat and gasped, "That's impossible!"
Sandoval sat there in shock as Methos laid out the entire story: Ha'gel, Beckett, accelerated growth, genetic knowledge, everything. It rocked the very foundation of his existence, but it explained so much! Everything from Beckett's reaction to him to why Liam kept saving his life. Liam had provided the blood that saved his life! God! Never in a thousand years would he ever have guessed. One thing was clear; he had to get to his son, now!
Excusing himself, he left at a rush to reach the medical facility where Liam was being moved.
He arrived to find an exhausted Dr. Park standing despondently in the corridor. She looked up when she heard someone approaching, her eyes assuming a guarded expression when she recognised him.
"What do you want, Agent Sandoval?"
Glancing round the corridor to make sure they were alone, Sandoval quietly said, "To see my son."
Dr. Park started in surprise. When had he been told?!
"He's in ICU suffering from massive blood loss."
"Does he need a transfusion?"
"His blood is unique. You know that. I'm sure you were told about the abnormalities in the blood he gave to save you."
"That's what I mean. Will my blood help? I'm his father; he gave me blood, can I give him mine?"
For the first time Dr. Park's expression took on an appearance of hope.
"Maybe. Come with me!"
She turned and rushed down the corridor, Sandoval at her heels.
After a period of testing she decided that Liam's body would be able to accept the blood. Hopefully that would give him the boost he needed to allow his body to start its own recovery.
The next morning found Sandoval sitting at Liam's bedside. Waiting. Hoping. Praying. He was so lost in thought that he nearly missed Liam's awakening. Quickly pressing the call button to call for Dr. Park, he smiled down at Liam.
Liam said one word before lapsing back into sleep. Sandoval stared at him in wonder.
He'd said, 'Dad'.
Sandoval and Methos - he'd eventually been told the truth - were sitting in Sandoval's living room chatting quietly. They'd developed a hesitant friendship in the last week; it was still a bit tentative, but their shared concern for Liam was the glue binding them together. Methos had had to work hard to overcome his protective feelings - too many long nights listening to Liam relate his misery about the latest act perpetrated against him by his father. However, the Immortal had been around this world long enough to see true remorse and caring when he saw it. Sandoval had been horrified to think of what he had done to his son. That his past actions had been carried out under orders did nothing to ease his guilt; he had hurt his son so many times! How could he be forgiven?
Liam had, though, that was the amazing thing. Sandoval hadn't left his bedside till he had regained consciousness. Liam had opened tired eyes to see him. His expression had been confused at first, but he had seen an expression in the other man's eyes that had caused him to give a smile of joy. Sandoval had looked down and saw love and forgiveness shine forth from his son's eyes. It had been the most wonderfully joyful moment of his entire life.
Within two days Liam had been desperate to get out of the hospital. Dr. Park had initially refused; she wouldn't let him go home with no one there to take care of him. Seeing his son's dejected face Sandoval had spoken before his brain had even registered he was speaking. It was a toss up as to who was more stunned by his statement, Liam or Dr. Park.
"What did you say?" asked Dr Park.
Glancing from Liam to the doctor and back again, he said, "Liam can stay with me till he's fully recovered. I'll look after him."
Dr. Park had been less than sure about the wisdom of such a course of action, but Liam had begun to practically bounce up and down in anticipation and it would have to be a person with a harder heart than she to refuse the look of pleading coming from the young man's eyes. She gave in with a smile and a nod, a fond look on her face as she heard Liam exclaim one word, "Cool."
Kids, she thought to herself.
Methos stayed with Liam whenever Sandoval had to work and Sandoval took over when he got home. It had been a learning experience for all three men. Finding out that the Immortal was the legendary Methos had certainly shocked Sandoval; however, the shocking revelation had not consumed his entire waking thoughts as it might have done a few weeks earlier. Liam's existence did that.
Liam and Sandoval had had to learn how to express their true feelings. This was much easier for the younger man, but the bonds binding them together had deepened and grown. Methos had smiled to see it.
Some things Liam still felt more comfortable sharing with a friend. Methos was just happy to see his young friend finally whole.
Sandoval's musings were interrupted by a muffled cry from the bedroom. Both he and Methos jumped from their seats and raised into Liam's room. They found him dreaming, caught up in a nightmare from which he was unable to escape. Suddenly he sat up in the bed and screamed out in a terrified voice, "Dad, watch out!"
Then he slumped, boneless, back on to the mattress. He was awake and weeping. Sandoval sat beside him and pulled his son up into the protective cradle of his arms.
"I'm here, Liam, I'm fine."
Liam gasped out in horror, "I saw you die!"
"Hush now. It was only a dream," said Methos as he sat on the opposite side of the bed and laid a comforting hand on Liam's shoulder.
"But what if it was real? I've had visions that came true before."
It took Sandoval and Methos over an hour to get Liam calmed down enough to sleep and even then Sandoval had taken up a vigil till he was sure Liam was asleep once again.
He returned to the living room to see his look of concern mirrored by the Immortal. Methos tentatively made a suggestion.
"I can take him away for a while for a break. I've got a very good friend in Seacouver, he'd put us up. It'd give the kid a change of pace, allow him to finish healing. You would be welcome to join us any time you had a free day."
Looking back towards the room where his son could be heard stirring again in an uneasy dream-filled sleep, Sandoval said, "I'll need to clear it with Da'an. Whatever it takes, though. We get him well."
Methos' expression echoed his determination and he said, "I'll start making calls."