Death By Any Other Name - Part 4
Sunday, April 11, 2004

Methos wants answers, Mal wants to hurt Methos, and Zoe is forced to observe.


Disclaimer: Firefly and characters belong to Joss and Mutant Enemy. Highlander belongs to Davis/Panzer Productions, Inc.

Sorry this took so long to get out, the good news is that it's finished though, just have to finish revising the later parts. Thanks go out to Maugwai for her help with beta-ing.

Part 4 Chinese Glossary Je shr shuh muh lan dong shi – what kind of rotten thing is this? Diyu – hell Xiong meng de kuang ren – violent madman Dongwu – animal Mei guanxi, dong ma - its okay, I understand -------

Zoe appraised the man currently holding both Jayne's knife and gun. "If you think the Captain is going to just go along with this, you're an idiot."

Methos just smiled at her as he flung the pistol back to Jayne. "Look, I could give a rat's ass what Mal thinks right now. What I need from you is for you to agree to cooperate with me for a few hours at most. After that, you can stand back watch your precious captain do whatever. We clear?"

Zoe glanced at the immortal then at Jayne. The merc was still rubbing at his throat where the smaller man had grabbed him before he had been disarmed. She had realized that Methos was dangerous after seeing him perform his katas on the ship, but she had not imagined that he could manage to take Jayne down unarmed. They did need to be re-supplied before leaving the planet, so it wasn't like waiting for Mal's retribution would inconvenience them. "Fine, what are we cooperating on?"

Methos's smile sent chills down Zoe's back as she listened to his plan.

-- Amanda's home gave the impression of luxury without seeming gaudy. An understated home of Victorian design, Methos assumed it was based off a site where she had pulled one of her more memorable burglaries. Fortunately, there was a park on the same street with a hill that gave the group a perfect view of the home and surrounding area. Methos easily spotted the individuals watching the his friend's home. Whoever they were, they were obviously understaffed or they would have followed Amanda and her friend Sara when they left to meet him earlier. He decided it would be prudent to watch for a while to see if they should bother taking out all three or not. Zoe wasn't happy with the delay, but she'd already agreed to help.

Methos pointed out one of the three watchers of the home to Jayne. "That one at the back of the house by the tree. After you subdue him, there's a passage at the base of the fountain to the right of him. You should be able to get him across to it without attracting attention from his friends." Jayne nodded that he understood and left the other two alone.

"The smarter attack is to wait and follow one when they are relieved. Then you can question who's in charge," Zoe reiterated.

Methos rolled his eyes and sighed. The woman had disliked the plan from the start, mostly because he refused to return to the ship to get Mal's input on it. "Look, we went over and over this. If we wait, it only increases the chances of them attacking the ship if they are after me. If they are feds, following them only increases the odds of them recognizing you and connecting things together with the unmarked Firefly sitting in the dockyards. This is the quickest way to answer all my questions and get us back on your ship so your Captain can soundly beat me for taking the initiative." Methos started moving away after finishing his explanation. He hoped to reach the cellar and explain things to Amanda before the mercenary had subdued his target.

"I still think you should let Jayne and I do the interrogation. No offence, but you are hardly intimidating enough to get anyone to tell you anything."

Methos almost laughed out loud at that comment. If only the child knew, but then if any of them even suspected, he would most likely be floating in space right now. Instead he took a deep breath, welcomed the darker parts of his psyche back to his conscious mind, and turned to face Zoe. "I'll remind you once child, I have lived through times that make your little war you went through look like a nursery school game of tag. I will get the answers I need and you will watch since you refuse to return to your ship. And I won't be happy if you interfere because your delicate sensibilities are offended. Are we perfectly clear?"

Zoe stared back at the empty eyes and chillingly angry features unaware that the visage she now looked upon was described in the Preacher's bible as that of Death itself. Forcing down her own uneasiness which had appeared during Methos's speech, she nodded. "But the Captain will learn what happens here," she reminded the immortal.


Carlos was getting impatient. According to the men he had stationed at the dockyards, Serenity had landed earlier that morning. And yet, still nothing. No one had arrived at the house and the only people to leave had been the young neighbor Sara and the immortal's maid. He knew this mission was important. Unfortunately the organization couldn't afford too much scrutiny so the option of taking the immortal was out of the question.

Suddenly, he felt a tap on his shoulder. "See anything worth looking at?" Jayne asked. While the other man was too surprised to reply, the mercenary slugged him. After checking to make sure no one was watching, he pulled the body to cellar entrance that Methos had shown him earlier.

Zoe helped eased the load some once he had cleared the stairs. "So, you ever going to let Mal take a passenger again when this is over?" he asked as they carried the body through a passage and into the cellar of Amanda's house.

"Only if we can tie them up in a hidey-hole for the trip," she replied as they let the large Hispanic man fall into the chair Methos had provided.

Amanda stood a short distance away with the other immortal. "I forgot that I sent you the house plans while it was being built. You will try to limit the blood spatter this time, right Chuckie?"

Methos just smiled at her as he proceeded to tie Carlos to the chair. "You should leave before he wakes up. No need for him to associate Amanda with any of us."

Amanda nodded and left the room while Jayne just looked to Zoe. "Jayne, go back to the ship. Let Mal know we'll be returning shortly," Zoe said as she kept her eyes on Methos. "Oh, and tell him to watch out for any folks that are overly curious about the ship."

Methos let the mercenary leave without bothering to look at him. Turning his back on Zoe completely, he picked the lock on a very old looking leather chest. Inside, a large number of finely crafted metal knives were revealed. Picking up the most intimidating one, he turned back to Serenity's second in command. "Really, I appreciate the help, but well, I wouldn't want you to feel required to stay and witness anything that might give you nightmares." Methos hoped she would take the opportunity to leave. For this plan to work, she needed to be able to stand by and watch the torture; unfortunately, he knew that she and her Captain were both very righteous individuals. Their similarities to a certain immortal boy scout worried him.

Zoe refused to back down and take the out that he offered. She could face heated gun battles with airships raining down artillery, walk unarmed into Niska's stronghold, but here a man holding only a knife while she had a gun was unnerving the hell out of her. "I think I can handle an interrogation. Besides, if I walk out that door, Mal will never know what the hell is going on."

Methos gave her a concerned look as the tied man began to stir. "Just remember later, I warned you." As he walked towards the tied man, Zoe began to wish she had left with Jayne.

Carlos's eyes widened when he saw Methos standing in front of him. "So, anything you'd like to share with the class?" Methos asked in a detached voice as he ran his finger lightly over the blade he held.

"Je shr shuh muh lan dong shi? I don't know what the diyu you are talking about man!" Carlos replied as he struggled with the ropes.

Methos began to circle the chair slowly. "Why are you watching this house? You aren't with the feds – or if you are, you didn't bring any ID."

Carlos looked around in desperation. His anger at his boss for not warning him of the danger presented by his target warred with his fear of what the other man might do to him. "Look, lady you gotta help me. Don't let this xiong meng de kuang ren -" His plea was cut off when Methos suddenly cut his face with the knife.

"I won't be insulted by the likes of you. I have been a lot of things, but I have never been a madman," Methos responded.

"Pierce," Zoe interrupted.

"You wanted to witness this, then watch girl. Watch, but keep your mouth shut!" he told her. Returning his attention to his subject, he changed tactics slightly. "Now then, this is fruitless so far. Let me tell you how things should work dongwu. You answer my questions, and I won't hurt you as much." Methos squatted behind the chair so he was speaking into the man's ear as he slowly ran the knife down his face leaving a trail of red. "We'll start slow so you can keep up. What's your name?"

"Carlos," he replied looking at Zoe with wide eyes.

Methos suddenly changed the position of the knife and left a deep gash in the man's chest. "You didn't give me your full name."

"Carlos Varela."

"That's better. Now, why are you watching the house?" the immortal asked again.

Carlos closed his eyes as he felt the knife run over his hands and his arms, pricking every once in a while to maintain the constant warning of worse to come. "I was told there was to be a shipment to the woman. I was supposed to intercept it."

"You're learning. Good," Methos praised next to his ear. "Who was delivering the shipment?"


Zoe watched as the immortal's face took on an expression that was impossible for her to read. She winced as he placed the knife under the man's ear. "And who am I?" the immortal asked.


"I will end that, that thing!" Malcolm Reynolds swore as Jayne finished his story. "You'll take me to that house now."

Jayne backed up and motioned with his hands for Mal to back off. "Look, Mal, I don't think that's a good idea. Zoe said that someone might be interested in the ship."

Mal advanced on the man. "I didn't ask you to think gorram it, I told you to take me to wherever that hundan and Zoe are and to do it now!"

"Zoe said his plan was good. He just wants to know that the woman's safe."

Mal slammed his fist into the locker beside Jayne's head. "Do I need to remind you who's captain of this gorram boat? Now get moving."

Their exit of the bridge was interrupted by Wash's voice over the intercom. "Mal, there's some nice folks down here in the cargo bay asking after the good Charlie Pierce and his luggage."

"Mei guanxi, dong ma. I'll be right with 'em Wash," Mal replied. Turning, he glared at Jayne. "This is his fault, I know it. Go get Vera and take a position on the catwalk. Hopefully River's still asleep or we might really be humped."


"I don't know!" Carlos's reply ended as a scream as Methos calmly sliced half his ear off. "I don't know I swear," he sobbed. "He just showed me your picture, that's all. Said it was important to off you and make sure the shipment didn't make it here."

Methos stood as he considered Carlos's words. He was only dealing with a messenger and errand boy then; the man might not know anything useful. Then again, he would be informed if it was thought that his target was dangerous, assuming Carlos's bosses truly wanted him dead. Before he revealed anything he might regret, he sliced open both sleeves of Carlos's long sleeved shirt. He ignored Zoe as she moved to his side, unnerved by what she thought he might do next. Carlos struggled when he realized what Methos was looking for and that in itself made it unnecessary to see the blue circular tattoo with a 'W' in the middle. Of course, it also made this interrogation much more complex as well. Things would be simplified if he could be sure that the woman would have no qualms with him killing the man, but then it really didn’t matter. He could always leave it for Amanda to do.


"Kaylee, where you at girl?" Mal asked as he checked to make sure his guns were loaded and ready.

"I'm in the engine room Cap'n."

"Good, stay there and lock the door. Do you know where Simon and River are at?"

"River's still asleep last I knew, and Simon's helping me."

Mal rolled his eyes. No telling what kind of help she was talking about and right now he really didn't care. "Both of you stay put till you here from me or Zoe, okay?"

"Yes, sir. Anything you need us to do?"

"Just what I told you for once would be nice." That bit of business taken care of; he exited the bridge and ran into Jayne exiting his bunk. Wash and Book had gone into town to pick up the supplies they needed for the rest of the trip, so Mal assumed that Book was in the cargo bay with Wash.

"How you wanta play this?" Jayne asked.

"You stay in position. Worst happens, get to the bridge and don’t let them take it, you hear?" Jayne nodded.

Once at the cargo bay Mal walked to the top of the ramp. Looking down, he saw three men holding guns on Wash and Book while a fourth searched them for weapons. "Howdy folks, heard you wanted to talk," Mal shouted as he aimed his gun.


"And the woman you were watching, what were you to do with her?" Methos asked, not bothering to mask the menace he felt from his face.

"Wer-Weren't told to do nothing. Just make sure she didn't get the shipment," Carlos almost stuttered out of fear.

Methos turned to Zoe. She surprised him; she was keeping all emotions off of her face. If she regretted staying, he doubted he would know. "What do you think, baby? You think he's told us all there is to tell?"

Zoe glared at him for the use of the familiar term. However, she didn't protest it either; she realized he was carefully making sure that no names slipped that would allow this situation to be tracked back to Serenity. She wondered if he planned on allowing this man to live when he was done. But then she supposed if he didn't get what he needed from Carlos, they might be able to follow the messenger back to his bosses. Methos appeared to actually be waiting for answer from her, not just playing to his audience. "I don't know. Do you think he's scared for his life yet, or just wants to avoid the pain?"

Methos cocked his head at her response. He'd expected her to say yes, to want to end the torture. She definitely wasn't the type of soldier that enjoyed inflicting pain on her enemies, but she was a good enough soldier to endure the means for the proper result. "Interesting question. What's your answer to the pretty lady's question Carlos?"

Carlos renewed his struggle against his bonds as Methos began to walk back towards him.


Two of the guns automatically moved off of Book and Wash to cover Mal. The man searching the two pulled out his own gun and placed it against Wash's head. "We want all the items brought on board by Charles Pierce," he demanded.

Mal's eyes glanced to the left while his head remained still when he heard the quiet click of Jayne preparing Vera. Hopefully the mercenary was still invisible. "Good for you; however, I'm not in the habit of handing off my passenger's goods without receiving compensation. Makes it hard to have repeat customers and the like, ya understand."

The leader cocked the gun he held to Wash's head. "The payment is your lives Mr. Reynolds."

Mal swore silently. Now would definitely be a good time for Zoe and Methos to return. "I'm afraid you have me at a disadvantage. I prefer to know the names of men threatening my life." Scratching his head to hide his signal to Jayne, he continued. "I like to know whose name to curse to the Nine Hells you know." As soon as he finished speaking a bullet planted itself in the forehead of the leader. Both Wash and Book lurched forward as soon as they heard Vera shoot and managed to knock the two men standing in front of them off balance. Mal killed the third as he ducked cover.

Book and Wash both quickly restrained their targets and Mal hurried down the ramp, finally jumping off the last level to the cargo bay floor below. "Anyone hurt?" he called out as he hurried to shut the ramp door from prying eyes.


Methos kicked the chair over so that Carlos could only look at him. "Well Carlos, any other tidbits of knowledge? How 'bout you explain your pretty tattoo to the nice lady? I doubt she understands it."

"It's nothing. Just something I did during the war, drunk with my buddies," Carlos cried.

Methos stood at the base of the chair, not even meeting the captive's eyes. Slowly, he sliced deep cuts in the man's right calf. Moving to the other leg, he poised the knife over Carlos's thigh when the man's desperate cries stopped the knife.

"Watchers, means I'm a Watcher. Follow immortals, record their lives," he whimpered.

"You are such an interesting subject Carlos. See that answer just brings up all sorts of new questions. We won't dwell on the immortals for the moment though. I have a more important question – if you're a Watcher, why would you be told to follow and kill me? What's my importance to your game?" Methos moved so he could see the other man's face. Depending on his answer, he would learn more from Carlos's face than he would from the words.

Despite the man's fear of his interrogator, Carlos was very aware of the possible results of a Watcher tribunal should he manage to live. Carlos considered his options. He really didn't know what the importance of this man had been. He'd heard rumors, but they were ten years old – this Pierce was much too young for them to refer to him. Although it was possible that he was a relative maybe? "I really don't know. Rumors that's all."

Methos placed the tip of the knife back against Carlos's thigh and began to apply pressure slowly. "Stop, please, I'll tell you," Carlos screamed. Methos ignored him and continued to pierce the muscle deeper and deeper, only pausing when Carlos began to blabber quickly in a desperate attempt to stop the knife. "Heard that a bunch of the Watcher's collection from the Game disappeared about twenty years ago, right after one of our research boys took the head of an immortal. Don't know anything else though, her watcher was found dead. It was assumed that he'd taken 'em for the money, had it planned with the immortal and then changed his mind at the last minute. That's all I know. That, that was the shipment and why it couldn't be given over to this immortal woman."

Methos looked into the desperate face of the man on the floor. He'd told all he knew and more importantly, would be too scared now to return to his boss. When Methos had disappeared after killing Cassandra, the society had become even more paranoid. They now killed anyone they believed to be disloyal out of hand without bothering to ask questions. He cleaned the knife and handed it to Zoe for her put away. When her back was turned, he reached down and snapped Carlos's neck in one clean motion. *** TBC in Part 5


Sunday, April 11, 2004 11:37 AM


This one is developing nicely...really getting pulled into it more and more with each installment. :-)

Sunday, April 11, 2004 11:59 AM


Oh yeah, this is just building into a great story, love how you have written Methos and our heroes. Can't wait to see what happens next, gorrammit! Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me


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