Another one of my suggestions comes to the Challenge (thanks Leah!): write a story that has two or more HL characters, and a jukebox. The catch? No dialogue; all communication between characters must be through music. Everyone ran to their CD collections and lyric sheets for this one, myself included.


Music Hath Charms

The Bonded Blade was a quiet little out of the way place; as a matter of fact, if it werenít for the traditional wooden sign, no one would have guessed it was a pub. A very specialised customer demographic passed under that sign (a sword tied to its scabbard) and they liked their privacy. It hadnít taken long for Deb to discover the Blade; as a Highlander fan, an Immortal and the current holder of Hugh Fitzcairnís Quickening, how could she not? In fact she had become quite a regular, taking upon herself the duty of introducing others to her favourite sanctuary.

Deb was surprised that her escort for the night hadnít heard of the Blade already; she felt it was a supreme honour to be able to show him something new. When they arrived at the pub, she waved him through, unable to resist a comment about age before beauty. There was a strict policy of checking all weapons at the door, and after the harsh glare Deb received for what was, for her, a minor pun she was glad of it. She waved at Dave behind the bar, receiving a nod and a smile in return. Dave was perfectly suited to working the Blade: tall and lean, with an even temper and quick reflexes. Though quite Mortal, he was one of a rare breed both willing and able to Bounce a rambunctious Immie if necessary. When the bartender noticed the man at her side, his smile widened; it was a rumour, almost legend, but everyone knew that a visit from Methos was good for profits.

The Old Man tried to flee as he realised they werenít the only Immortals around, but Deb was ready with a grip on his arm and an offering of a good Canadian beer. The bottle of Big Rock seemed more comforting than the friendly hand, but at least it got him as far as a table. She picked a corner booth so he could have his back to the wall. Walking from the bar, she felt a familiar sensation; no student would ever fail to recognise the feel of her mentor. She wasnít strong enough to keep him from spinning around as the Buzz hit him; a soft gasp hissed in his throat and he shot the young author a look that said, clear as words, "you knew."

Deb was genuinely surprised and protested her innocence. She had a soft spot, though, for hopeless cases and happy endings, and a plan was beginning to form. It took some time for everyone to relax and the tension to drain from the room, but she was learning patience. After a while, she leaned over and whispered something to him, when he protested, she all but pushed him out of his chair.

Recovering from a stumble, he took a couple of steps towards Cassandraís table. She noticed him instantly; fixing him with a glare that could melt steel. He quickly adjusted his stride, as if he had been aiming for the jukebox all along. He leaned against the machine for the longest time, choosing the perfect song. They say music hath charms to soothe the savage breast. When he finally turned back to the table, the tones of a Rolling Stones classic poured from the speakersó

Baby been a long, long time; been a long, long time
Been a long, long time; I was wrong girl and you were right.
Baby, baby, took a long, long while; took a long, long while
Took a long, long while, but I found out you were rightÖ.
Methos glanced toward the other table with a hopeful, apologetic smile, waiting for a reaction. Deb cringed inwardly, thinking it could have been a good opening, if the Stones didnít insist on peppering every single one of their songs with "baby" or "honey." Across the room, the redhead almost overturned her chair; her lean hips swinging with every angry stride. She looked ready for battle, but at the last moment she too moved to the jukebox and dropped in a coin. The twangy, borderline country-and-western tune that followed was so unlike her normal tastes it was clear she was sending a message. "Ainít no way to hide your lyiní eyesÖ."

With a few quick words, Deb tried to calm her companion; across the room, Cassandra was being soothed. Round one hadnít been exactly a love story, but it hadnít erupted into war either. Subtle encouragement, an appeal to his latent pride, convinced him to try again.

Thereíve been good times
Thereíve been bad times
I had my share of hard times too,
But I lost my faith in the world,
Honey when I lost youÖ.
First an apology, now a recall of better days, only he would think there had actually been any "good times." Cassandra didnít believe any of it for a second, and the fact that Deb seemed to be in on it hurt her deeply. She made her feelings clear in no uncertain terms with her next choice. Youíre a real tough cookie with a long history,
Of breaking little hearts like the one in me.
Before I put another notch in my lipstick case,
You better make sure you put me in my place.
Hit me with your best shotÖ.
Looking at the sneer on the womanís face, it was almost tempting to take her up on the challenge; but this was a public place and, while not Holy Ground, it was a sanctuary of sorts. He did have one more shot, and he had saved the best for last. There are places Iíll remember
All my life, though some have changed,
Some forever, not for better,
Some have gone and some remain.
All these places had their moments,
With lovers and friends I still can recall,
Some are dead and some are living,
In my life Iíve loved them all.
But of all these friends and lovers,
There is no one compared with you,
And these memories lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new.
Though I know Iíll never lose affection
For people and things that went before,
I know Iíll often stop and think about them,
In my life Iíll love you more.
Deb was surprised, she didnít think he had it in him; he didnít seem the Beatles type. It was a profoundly meaningful piece, almost written for an Immortal. The young woman found herself on the edge of tears, yet the object of all these appeals was still as cold as ice. His best shot had been deflected easily.

Cassandra didnít wait this time; she forced him to retreat from the machine before the song was even finished. Angry fingers punched the buttons; her steps matched the hard rock beat of the musicó

Shame on you, you took me by surprise.
Shame on me, I never realised.
Shame on you, you planned it from the start.
Shame on me, you went straight for my heart.
Shame on love! Shame on love!
Methos needed no urging to counter-attack. No more apologies. Chick-songs, eh? Well two could play at that game. Same artist, same album; completely different messageó Pain of the years, reflected in your eyes,
Time to let go, donít hold it all inside.
Ooh, that was yesterday,
Move on, move on; change your ways.
Ooh, that was yesterday,
Move on, move on; live for todayÖ.
Deb began to regret she had started this whole experiment; things were starting to get out of hand. As the situation deteriorated, she began to estimate Daveís reflexes, and the distance between Cassandraís table and the locked weapon rack. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try; the happy ending never comes. Methos put a hand on her shoulder as if he read her thoughts; maybe, at his age, he could. Gesturing for her to pay the bill and retrieve their checked items, he made he way to the jukebox one last time. There was genuine regret and sorrow in his eyes as he turned his back on the only woman who could truly understand himÖ. And every time Iíve held a rose
It seems I only felt the thorns.
And so it goes, and so it goes
And so will you soon I suppose.

And this is why my eyes are closed,
Itís just as well for all Iíve seen.
And so it goes, and so it goes
And youíre the only one who knows.

So I would choose to be with you,
Thatís if the choice were mine to make.
But you can make decisions too
And you can have this heart to break.

And so it goes, and so it goes,
And youíre the only one who knows.



This whole Challenge came out of a dicussion I had with a friend about music, so it wasn't too surprising that he also gave me a lot of help with the story. He provided a lot of insight, not to mention quite a few lyric books. Okay, I guess I've officially joined the group of fans who secretly wish that Methos and Cassandra could get back together. The only problem is, no matter how many times I throw those two together, they just don't get along.

The first draft of this tale had a really weak ending, and even as I was getting ready to post, I was disappointed. Just by chance, my friend showed me an album (yes, I real live vinyl album!) that he thought might work. I didn't really like his idea, but by chance I turned it over and saw the lyrics to So It Goes. I think it was the rose and thorns that caught my attention first, but by the time I got to "but you can make decisions too" I knew I had found the perfect ending: ambiguous, sentimental, and a little bit hopeful.
 
 

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