Winter Sunlight

Highlander ficlet: "Sharks"

Title: Sharks
Fandom: Highlander
Rating: general audiences, no pairings
Word Count: 1300
Summary: In my request for HL prompts, [personal profile] scrollgirl suggested the first time that Joe met Adam Pierson.

As Duncan MacLeod's Watcher in Paris, Joe found himself settling into a relaxing and unexpectedly happy routine. MacLeod and his artist girlfriend seemed to have settled into a permanent thing; they'd been together for four years now, sharing an apartment in a pleasant neighborhood outside the Périphérique. Joe had picked up the idea that they were looking at moving somewhere else eventually, but he figured by that time he'd be ready to move too -- one of the things he enjoyed about field work was the frequent changes of pace and scenery. In the meantime, with MacLeod's life so quiet and devoid of challenges, he had most of his days to himself and had been taking full advantage of the opportunity to explore Paris and environs. He was becoming fluent in French and had a casual but mutually satisfying on-again, off-again thing with the Watcher presently assigned to Robert and Gina de Valicourt.

He couldn't remember the last time he'd been this contented -- before 'Nam, probably.

There was also a strange kind of nostalgia to being this close to the central archives at Western Europe HQ. He'd spent a year or so there during his probationary period, but he hadn't gotten out much at the time, and this time around, he was too interested in exploring the city and surrounding countryside to feel like retreating into the dusty stacks of century-old archives. Fifteen years ago, it had been a welcome escape from the world, but it felt like a tomb to him now. Still, it was nice to renew his acquaintance with some of his old friends from the Paris research division, like the Salzers.

It was Don and Christine, in fact, who talked him into going to the mixer at Watcher HQ. Watchers were, by and large, a solitary lot who formed their own social connections in small groups among themselves, not unlike the Immortals they Watched. But the management took a periodic interest in trying to encourage mingling and cooperation, particularly in terms of introducing the new people to the old guard.

And, hey, free drinks.

He'd expected to be bored out of his skull, but in fact there were a lot of people around that he hadn't seen in years, and for a change, the management hadn't skimped on hiring a decent caterer. And look at me, noticing things like that, he thought with a private grin, selecting a canapé off a little plate: Mrs. Dawson's boy, eating expensive appetizers and drinking even more expensive wine, and actually appreciating it. Back in the old days, a hamburger and a cold Miller were the height of haute cuisine in the Dawson household.

"There you are," Don said, sidling up to him at the buffet table. "Have you seen Adam? He keeps disappearing on me. I had even more trouble getting him to come tonight than you, and now that he's actually here, all he seems to want to do is find a quiet corner to read a book."

"Who's Adam?" There was an Adam in the clerical division, but he was about ninety and, as far as Joe knew, he and Don didn't get along.

"The new kid I'm mentoring. Adam Pierson. You haven't met yet?"

Joe shook his head. "Not that I remember."

"Sorry. Didn't realize. He's always in and out of the bookstore, and so are you; I figured you two had crossed paths at some point. Oh, there he is."

Adam turned out to be a baby-faced twenty-something in an oversized cable-knit sweater. He did indeed have a book tucked under his arm, and he grasped Joe's hand in an unexpectedly firm handshake. "Ah, Joseph Dawson. I've heard about you."

"Good things, I hope?"

Adam's quick grin was shy but mischievous. "Actually, I believe there was something about a night out on the town, four bottles of syrah and a stolen goat ..."

Joe mock-glared at an unrepentant-looking Don Salzer. "Thanks for airing the dirty laundry, Salzer. Are you trying to scare him off?"

Don snorted. "Youthful indiscretions, that's all. Everyone does stupid things when they're young. I'm sure Adam has plenty of his own embarrassing stories, and" -- he nudged Adam "-- I plan to learn them all."

Adam looked a little flustered. Joe suspected that for Adam, a wild night on the town would mean staying at the library 'til midnight rather than knocking off at nine. This kid was the sort that Joe and his jock buddies would have tormented mercilessly in high school -- something he wasn't too proud of, these days. Well, you couldn't change who you used to be, and a whole new world had opened up for him when Ian Bancroft sat down with him all those years ago in 'Nam. Maybe the same thing was happening for Adam right now. It was hard to remember, sometimes, what it felt like to be that young, with your whole life ahead of you, still finding your direction in the world.

Joe offered Adam the plate of canapés and the kid took a few. "So Don's sponsoring you into the Watchers, right?"

Don chuckled and nodded. "He came into the bookstore almost every day for months while he was researching his thesis at the Sorbonne. Wouldn't leave me alone, kept asking questions -- tough ones! Long story short, we struck up a friendship."

"I was planning to leave the Sorbonne for a research fellowship in Athens, but that fell through," Adam explained. "Don said that he might have another job offer for me."

"And the rest is history. So to speak." Don took a sip of his wine.

"Do you plan on moving into fieldwork eventually?" Joe asked Adam.

Adam laughed and ducked his head self-deprecatingly. "Oh, I don't think I'd do well at that. The archives, though -- the archives are wonderful. I could spend a lifetime there. Two lifetimes." His eyes had lit up; his enthusiasm was obvious.

"He's a natural-born researcher," Don said proudly. "We need more of those. Most people think of Research as a temporary posting, the sort of thing you do when you're learning the ropes or put on downtime for some reason. They want the glory and excitement of a field posting." His wry tone made it clear how he felt about that. Don had never been near a field assignment in his life. "Which means we're constantly training new people. Every time someone's finally got the system down, then a field post opens up and they're off to the jungles of Borneo or some such thing."

At that point some more of Don's friends from Research showed up, and the conversation promptly turned to shop talk: a newly unearthed Chronicle from the tenth century that made mention of the Methos legend, Don's particular area of study. Joe made polite noises and slipped off when he caught sight of Vicky, the de Valicourts' Watcher, over at the bar.

Adam seemed like a good kid, but damn, Joe hoped Don knew what he was doing, sponsoring a quiet, bookish kid like that into the organization. The Watchers were an eclectic lot, but most of them had more than a little shark about them, even without taking the field personnel into account. Joe hadn't been in Research long, but it'd been long enough to have figured out that it was full of cliques and office politics and unexpected social minefields -- not terribly surprising in a millennia-old organization that most people joined for life.

Poor kid, Joe thought; he was going to get eaten alive.


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*laughs* It'll definitely teach him to underestimate people, that's for sure!
Oh, Adam and Joe first meeting story. *claps hands* Wonderful! Joe reminds me of you after watching the first Methos eps :D No offense!
Thank you; I'm glad you enjoyed it! Heh, I actually find the early Methos episodes a bit difficult to rewatch now, knowing what we've come to know about the character and his performativity. (Well, on a meta-level, I guess it's more like the show changed their concept of the character as the series went on, though it works quite serendipitously within the universe, also.) But it is interesting how "Adam" is distinctly a persona he puts on ... and continued to use around people like Joe and Alexa for a while after he stopped using it with Duncan.
Oh my god, Methos as Adam is so adorable here. I really do love his Adam persona. And poor Joe is certainly going to be learning something of a lesson from this...!
Thank you; I'm glad you liked it! Yeah, that'll teach Joe to underestimate people ...!
You definitely have to watch out for those shy, bookish characters. No wonder he felt like kicking himself years later when he found out the truth. I like your version of their first meeting.
Thank you so much! :) Yeah, it's always the quiet ones you have to look out for. *g*
wow! wonderful story! really wonderful! thank you.

**Poor kid, Joe thought; he was going to get eaten alive.** ha ha ha, sly methos! )))
you are absolutely right about changed concept of the methos' character with time of the show. but this made methos even more complicated and more interesting for us, that's why we love him so much. he is enigma after oll. :-)

i really like your story. are you planning companion story to this? maybe about shy adam but with sharp tongue, which became famous among watchers with time? (but still not methos!) how joe see him his time. what do you think?
Thank you very much; I'm so happy you liked it! Several people left me prompts involving Joe and Adam, or Joe and Methos, so I'll have to see if any of them spark something in my brain ...
Poor kid, Joe thought; he was going to get eaten alive.
"And, hey, free drinks."
You have a good Joe voice, and I have a soft spot for pieces with Joe between when he got the MacLeod assignment and when we meet him in canon -- especially ones that include Tessa, as you take a moment to do here. I enjoyed visiting this fleshed-out Watcher world around Joe, with so many canonical characters in their proper places, yet without the burden of Horton's machinations and the other rot even then eating the organization from the inside out.

I laughed aloud in delight when "Don's particular area of study" was mentioned, so casually, the sly punchline Joe does not yet get... but will look back on eventually, oh yes.

Thank you for sharing!
Re: "And, hey, free drinks."
Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it -- one of the things I love most about HL is how well-realized the world is, in general; how there's a sense that the characters have lives offscreen, and relationships outside the ones we see on the show. So I wanted to touch on that in this story: that Joe has a life, and friends, and lovers, completely apart from his association with Duncan and Duncan's world.
Love this. It's just fun to see Methos as Adam, especially when Joe doesn't know. I would read a whole story stuck in this little window. Great Joe voice, and I love the little comparison to sharks. Luckily, Adam does have a little shark in him, for values of little that equal old and behemoth.
Thank you very much! I'm glad you enjoyed it. Yep, just a little shark. *g*

(Also, I don't know if I said so at the time, but I absolutely loved your Duncan & Methos chibi from awhile back. It was one of the first pieces of fanart I ran across in the fandom, and it made me grin so hard!)
LOL Oh Joe, you must've kicked yourself so hard when you finally found out Adam was Methos... *snickers*