gardendoor (gardendoor) wrote in ship_manifesto,

Joe/Methos (Highlander)

Title: Grumpy Old Men
Author: Gardendoor
Spoilers: through series end
Email: gardendoor at
Personal Website: The Gardendoor Fanfiction Archive

Methos: Come on, buddy. Let's see what kind of trouble we can get ourselves into.
--Finale Part 2

Okay, I happily admit that a large reason for loving this pairing is the fact that I squealed like an Elvis fan the first time Methos smiled and said, "Mi casa es su casa" right before they cut to commercial, and the fact that I grin every time Joe says, cockily, "Why would you notice another face in the crowd? I mean, even one as extraordinary as mine?" They're both sexy as hell. Alone, they tend to smolder and sprawl, even get complacent, but when they're together, they're energized, irritated, challenged, just more alive.

Methos: Joe! We have to stop this, otherwise more people are going to die.
Joe: We?
Methos [reveals his tattoo]: Yeah. Hey, I wear one of these, too, okay? Or did you forget that?
Joe: No, I didn't forget. But we both know what you really are.
--Judgment Day

It's a fun pairing to slash for two reasons: great chemistry and a huge realm of unspoken backstory. The chemistry comes about because on the surface, Joe and Methos have very little in common: a man who has dedicated his life to the Watchers versus one who just uses them for his own ends, a handicapped, aging mortal versus the world's oldest man, a friend who wears his heart on his sleeve versus a loner who claims he only cares about himself. Yet underneath, they're both willing to risk everything for their friends, both have gone through recent crises of faith about where their true loyalties lie, and despite the revelations that Methos was really an Immortal and was even one of the Four Horsemen, they have remained friends. For all their usual banter and sniping, when they're both reeling from the shock of Richie's death, Joe buries his face in Methos's chest and weeps openly while Methos offers what little comfort he can.

Methos: You know, we actually make a really good team. We could be like Scully and Mulder.
Joe: Yeah, right.
Methos: Sipowicz and Simone.
Joe: Whatever.
Methos: Caligula and Incitatus. Well, maybe not Incitatus because he was a horse--
Joe: Will you shut up?!

More than that, they take risks with each other that they take with no one else. Methos offers his head to Duncan MacLeod, but he risks something even harder at Joe's trial: his reputation. He's done his best up to that point to keep a low profile with both the Watchers and the Immortals, trying to avoid a life as the world's biggest, juiciest target, because in this age of photographs and computer records, once someone connects the dots, Methos will never stop running. Worse, if he's suspected of being an Immortal in the middle of the war between Watchers and Immortals, the Watchers will kill him and his Quickening will be lost, the worst hell an Immortal can imagine. Yet he barges into Joe's trial with the diary of one of his former Watchers, a man who was his friend, and offers that intimate view of himself as precedent for Joe's involvement with Immortals, bringing himself to the negative attention of the Watcher Tribunal.

On the other side, in Joe's friendships, especially with MacLeod, he's always the first to say he's sorry, the first to put himself out there, even when he's the one who's been wronged. He just accepts it when friends kick him in the teeth, because he's afraid of losing them if he speaks up. But he picks a fight with Methos when the man is stitching up Joe's bullet wounds, and snarls for him to get out when Methos rightfully calls him a hypocrite. He has no fear of Methos abandoning him, despite the fact that Methos bills himself as the flightiest person on the show.

Methos: I've got a lot to offer. Five thousand years of history, Joe. I was there.
Joe: History's been written. And people have been known to kill the messenger that waltzes in with a new version of the truth.
Methos: Why would I tell the truth?
--Finale Part 2

Canon has pretty firmly established Methos's sexual preference as 'all of the above': hetero with Charlotte and the 68 wives, homo with Lord Byron, tender with Alexa, kinky with Cassandra and Kronos. The one absolute standard he seems to keep to, with the exception of Alexa, is that after leaving the Horsemen, he's never propositioned anyone or taken them without their consent. He waits for the other person to offer, perhaps because it's the only way he can be sure he's not hurting or forcing them. What's less clear, however, is whether he's genuinely changed and his past actions turn his stomach, or whether being the pursued instead of the aggressor is the only way to keep those darker hungers at bay. He's said he doesn't want the commitment of a relationship with an Immortal, but he's also clearly devastated by Alexa's fragile mortality. Joe's age and his legs aren't going to be a turnoff for Methos, but they're pretty undeniable reminders that whatever he has with Joe, it's in no way permanent, even if they both wish otherwise.

Methos: Disappointed in me, huh? Aw, come on, give me a break, will you? What do you expect? Einstein, Freud? Buddha?!
Joe: Aw, forget it.
Methos: I'm sorry, Joe, I'm just a guy.
--Finale Part 1

Joe is a little more complicated: he's hooked up with a couple of women, sometimes very hung up on his disabilities, sometimes quite nonchalant and even rakish. He's always on the edge of the crowd, giving up everything for his friends, sad but not surprised when that loyalty isn't returned, listening when other people share their problems, but rarely discussing his own. He tends to be somewhat split in his view of Methos/Adam -- sometimes he's taken in by the mystique of the 5000 year old man, hoping for answers to life's big questions, only to be disappointed by Methos's firm refusal to be put on a pedestal, like when Salzer's widow threatens to go to the press in Finale. Other times, like in Indiscretions, he seems to take Adam at face value, as a green recruit in need of direction, teaching him to hitchhike or assuming he can lead Adam blithely into a trap.

Joe: You knew?
Methos: Of course I knew.
Joe: Well, how did you know?
Methos: Joe, you never give a Watcher's first and last name. And you couldn't go to them for help, and then suddenly one of them's phoning you with information?
Joe: All right, all right...
Methos: And whenever you lie you do this weird thing with your face.
Joe: What?!
Methos puffs his cheeks and works his jaw.
Joe: Okay, well, that's the last time I play poker with you. Why did you drag this out?
Methos: I'm easily amused.
Joe: Bonding, my ass.

This is a pairing that tends to go from mistrust to comfort and back again. Joe's loyalites are often at odds with each other: he betrays his oath for Duncan, keeps Adam's secret, but shelters Horton for more than a year. He's constantly struggling to decide which means more to him; the Watcher oath that kept him alive after Vietnam, or the friends who make that life worth living. On Methos's side, it's not entirely clear, perhaps even to Methos himself, how much of his Adam Pierson personality is a ruse and how much is genuine; whether he actually feels any loyalty to the Watchers or whether he's using them (and Joe). The court is still out on that one. He goes back and forth between selling out or manipulating his friends for his own survival to putting everything on the line for them. Methos and Joe are constantly doubting and questioning each other and themselves. It's a pairing for people who love watching two flawed men who love and accept each other for who they are.

Duncan: I'm talking about a bunch of murdering bastards that burned and raped across two continents. They butchered innocent women and children, Joe. You live with that, you see that.
Joe: I have. Vietnam. When we took out a village, we couldn't tell the farmers from the soldiers. You think somehow the bullets managed to miss all the children?
--Comes a Horseman

Unfortunately, there isn't a lot of slash out there for this pairing that I know of, which is a shame, because they have a really rich, unspoken backstory full of story hooks. Neither talks much about their individual pasts. They're both Watchers, and Methos was apprenticed to a close friend of Joe's. How well did they know each other? Did they have a relationship in the decade before Adam Pierson was revealed as Methos? Did Methos know Joe's brother-in-law was killing Immortals, and did he think Joe was in on it? What about the year when Horton was presumed dead, but was actually being sheltered by the Watchers? Joe and Methos both had a lot invested in Duncan MacLeod, how did they cope during the year Duncan went missing after Richie's death?

This pairing does great with angst and hurt/comfort: two battered and war-weary characters finding a safe haven in each other's arms, or Joe coming to terms with Methos's revelation du jour. But personally, I'm still waiting for the fic where Methos and Joe seduce each other into bed despite/because of ongoing mistrust and power plays. They both act so unpredictably when they're backed into a corner; I'd like to see them at odds as well as offering shelter to each other. I would love to see Methos in deep trouble with the Watchers, trying to manipulate Joe into letting him slide.

Slash stories:

Shippy gen stories:
Tags: highlander the series

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