Methos poked half-heartedly at the fire in the hearth when he suddenly felt the presence of an Immortal, or maybe more than one. Unless headhunters were starting to travel in packs, he had a notion of who it would be. His blade was in hand, but not in view as he opened the door on a familiar couple. Amanda had a wide smile; Duncan seemed more subdued, until he realised the Scot was wearing a Christmas scarf. "So, what are you planning on doing today?"
Methos leaned on his sword, leaving a new mark on the rug next to all the others. His voice took on that familiar sarcastic drawl; "Well, I was thinking maybe I’d go out and find an evergreen, the ancient symbol of Eternal Life and ceremonially chop it down. Then I’ll torture it for a while by putting it in a pot of water and wrapping it in electric lights. Finally I’ll display the remains in my home until it turns into a dried up husk. How about you?"
Duncan shook his head in a mix of amazement and disappointment; "Are you sure you never met up with a man by the name of Dickens, around 1843?" Amanda leaned farther into the doorframe, adding, "If he says ‘Humbug’, I’m leaving!"
Methos simply scowled. "Very funny, ha ha. Don’t even think about trying to Scrooge me, because I fight back."
"We wouldn’t dream of it. Besides, the only person who could reveal your past to you would be Cassandra, and I think she’d much rather play the role of Christmas Future. You are going on a trip today, though."
Amanda made a shooing motion, "Hurry up and get ready, we’re going to be late!"
"I repeat, for what?"
Duncan stepped in, double-teaming him; "This’ll go a lot easier if you don’t ask so many questions."
Methos knew when he was beat; he slipped into his boots, gathered his coat and scarf and, after much persuasion, put aside his blade. They dragged him to a busy warehouse, where they stacked bag after bag of parcels into the back Duncan’s car. Every time he asked a question or tried to protest, another sac was shoved into his arms. He scowled silently as they drove to the Seine, but the sight that greeted him when they arrived took him completely by surprise.
The Nobile, which usually sat at its dock in quiet dignity, was filled from top to bottom and stem to stern with people. Joe was playing music with a clear, honest passion that brought new life to the old carols. Maurice was cooking, when he wasn’t telling stories, indulging in his two greatest joys together. Children swarmed around them as soon as they saw the gifts, looking up eagerly at the three of them. "Who’s he?" one curious boy asked, eyeing Methos suspiciously.
"He’s the one who brought all the presents." Duncan answered simply. The boy’s scepticism didn’t waiver; "He looks too young to be Father Christmas."
Trapped by a child’s logic, Methos found himself defending his role as Father Christmas, even though he had neither the desire nor the intention to play that role. Putting aside his load of parcels, he confronted the child one on one. "Now, wouldn’t a man have to be young and strong to be able to deliver all those presents in just one night? I mean, elf or not, an overweight senior citizen wouldn’t be able to get a sleigh moving, never mind travel all around the world." With his extensive knowledge of the ins and outs of Father Christmas, Methos was immediately appointed as the new storyteller, allowing Maurice to return to the kitchen. He spoke at length on the aerodynamics of reindeer and how the simple fact that the trip could be completed in one night proved a disproportionate number of naughty children.
Far from being discouraged, the children loved every minute of it and begged for more. In fact, the whole place was filled with a contagious joy. These were people who had nothing, absolutely nothing; yet the children laughed and played games, families sang carols or shared stories. One old man who could barely walk solemnly asked Amanda for a Christmas waltz. It was amazing, it was awe-inspiring and it helped one hard, old cynical heart, as the saying goes, grow three sizes.
Methos found himself grinning in spite of himself, standing back and watching it all. He found himself next to the gracious host and hostess; "How long have you been doing this?" he asked in a near-whisper.
Duncan smiled gently. "Events like this have been going on for years; most of them started around WWII. It was Richie’s idea though, that we should get involved. He said that every Immortal is born an orphan, and so we shouldn’t let ourselves forget our roots. He believed that it was our duty to give something back. I – kept it going after he was gone. It just seemed the right thing to do."
Methos shook his head slowly; "I had a feeling that boy was wiser than his years. Not much common sense, but a good heart." His mood lighter than it had been in decades, he turned to the stacks of gifts. "All right, who’s going to help me open these?" A swarm of gleeful children didn’t need to be asked twice.
MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!!!
This story is dedicated to, and the Barge Party inspired by, those
charity organisations which make Christmas possible for those who need
it most. In Edmonton, they are: The Christmas Bureau, Santa's Anonymous,
the Boyle Street Co-op's annual Christmas Dinner for the Homeless and many
others. I salute you, and your equivalent entities all over the owrld.