lounge act
by Pares

It was a dapper little yuppie bar, studded with a dozen bright television screens and nonsensically decorated with what seemed to be bonsai trees. Still, the sign proclaimed it 'Matt's Irish Pub', and a chalk-clouded slate at the door announced Live Piano 5 Nights a Week!

There wasn't so much as a surreptitious head turn when Mac walked up behind the man playing the shabby upright in the back.

"I didn't know they still had these places."

Methos was currently finishing what Mac recognized as "Accentuate the Positive".

"Well, now you do." One note twanged dully, and Methos sighed, lifting his hands from the keys.

Mac settled on the piano bench beside him, nudging Methos with his hip and facing out, arms folded across his chest.

"Make yourself at home," Methos said mildly. "Got a request, mac?" At last he met Mac's gaze with bright, shrewd eyes. "And think twice before you ask me to play 'Misty' for you."

When Mac didn't reply, Methos began to play again; this time it was "Swingin' On A Star".

Mac was fascinated... right until he was affronted: Methos was singing softly (and tunelessly) under his breath.

"...his back is brawny but his brain is weak..."

Methos seemed to note his huff, and his lips quirked. Again, his hands left the keys.

"Bing Crosby musicals not your style? I could play you something more martial... you'd have been in the Resistance by 1944."

"Is that the theme, then? Music from the forties?"

"It's very retro hip. Sweeping the nation and all that. Still, let's try something else." His hands moved down the scales, and he started into Chopin's lively Polonaise.

"And how did you know I was in the Resistance?"

"Well, we have met..." Methos said leadingly. "And I've read your Chronicle, of course."

Mac's eyebrows climbed.

"I'm a sucker for historical romance."

Mac studied the floorboards, flustered.

After a long moment, he said, "You play beautifully."

"I do any number of things beautifully, Mac." His tone was sly. "Practice, as they say, makes perfect."

The piano gave out another jarring sour note and Mac frowned.

"Can't you get that awful thing tuned up?"

Methos laughed a little. "It's full of dry rot. And it needs new hammers and strings. I could do it, but I rather like this as it stands." Methos rippled another stretch of Chopin and continued, "Americans persist in believing that while a new piano lends class, an old piano adds charm."

Mac realized the two of them had been basically bellowing above the piano, and that a table crowded with women enjoying the Happy Hour drink specials was staring shamelessly.

An attractive brunette was prodded by one of her fellows and came over with a handful of singles.

"Do you know 'Marie'?"

Methos cocked his head at her and obliged her with a quick smile, shifting instantly into her request. She beamed, pressing the handful of folded bills in the deep bowl of the outsized brandy snifter set on top of the piano before making her way back to her compatriots.

"She likes you," Mac intoned.

"Who wouldn't?" Mac pursed his mouth and Methos grinned. "Believe me, I've turned down more requests than I've played. American women love an Englishman. Although, in France," he added conversationally, "you'd do better to be Australian."

After 'Marie' came to a close, Methos swung around on the bench and leaned back, his elbows balanced on the piano's music ledge.

"If you want to say hello to me, you could buy me a beer."

"Who says I want to say hello?"

"Well, if you've come to take my head, you should still buy me a beer. Last requests are only sporting."

"You're incorrigible."

"I am indeed. And you're a stick in the mud. Aren't you glad to see me?"

"It's been months. Of course I'm glad to see you!"

"Funny about running into you here in Chicago. Just happened to have business in town, did you?"

"Joe told me you'd be here," Mac admitted.

"Ah, but it took you three months to ask him," Methos said sagely.


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