NLC: Cory Raines (Highlander)
Disclaimer: Don't own 'em, just wish I did. I play with the boys for fun, not profit.
Thank you: to candygramme for the beta and constant prodding to get it finished.
Cory frowned as he looked at the paper in front of him. He wasn't the least bit introspective...
but he was going along with this idea in order to appease Amanda,who in turn wanted to appease Macleod. Just why the Scot wanted this particular list was unclear but it was probably to make him look bad. So far the list read:
(1) Never a father
(2) Never turned down a scam
(3) Never turned down a robbery
(4) Never refused a romantic encounter w/either women or men
(5) Never wrote a tell-all book
He frowned again at the second and third items. To him there was a vast difference between the two but Macleod would probably be in a nitpicking mood and refuse to accept it.
Cory sighed and looked at the fifth item. Now that had some possibilities. If he wrote a tell-all book, it would prove that he was capable of getting an honest job because writing a book counted as a real job even by Macleod's rules. Feeling pleased with himself, Cory sat down at the desk and opened the locked drawer where the address book was kept. In a matter of minutes he had an appointment to meet with a book agent. All that remained was to write a rough draft of his book.
When Macleod walked into his office and found Cory sitting at his computer, busily at work, he was not pleased.
"Just what do you think you're doing?"
"Oh no you're not. Not on my computer." He roughly hauled Cory to his feet, ignoring the outraged yelp. "Get out of this office right now. And stay out!" he added as he slammed the door shut behind Cory.
"So you made him mad. Again."
"Yeah. Again." Cory grinned at Adam. He liked Adam, who had a much nicer outlook on life and was much more tolerant of others foibles.
"What exactly did you do?" Methos glanced at the closed office, which had all of the shades drawn and door tightly locked.
"I wasn't doing anything. I was working."
"Yeah, I was working. Why doesn't anyone believe me?" Cory wasn't able to keep a note of petulance from his voice.
"Don't worry about it." Methos shrugged and didn't bother to answer. Some answers were best left unspoken. "Come on, I'll buy you a beer."
"Great!" Bad mood forgotten, Cory followed the other man to Joe's Bar. Methos and Cory were sitting at a table in the back, quietly sipping their beer. Joe had not been pleased to see the younger immortal but Methos had promised to keep an eye on him.
"So, what were you doing in Mac's office?"
"I was going to start working on my new job."
"Not a bank job, I trust." Methos knew that the dour Scot would be even more furious if he learned that Cory had been using the office computer for something not-quite-legal.
"No, this is legit. Honest."
Methos' suspicions were fully aroused now. For Cory to use the words 'legit' and 'honest' *twice* and in the same sentence could mean only one thing. Trouble.
"So, why don't you tell me about it?"
"Well, Amanda said she'd think about moving in with me if I could get a real job and stay out of trouble."
"Oh really." This was not good. Not at all. "Was she serious?"
"Yeah. It's not like she's married, y'know. She's got her own place, not staying with anyone. So I figure this might be my best chance to get her back."
"What exactly is this job of yours, Cory?"
"I'm going to write a book." Cory smiled, looking immensely pleased with himself.
"I see." A thousand different possibilities, none of them good, flashed through Methos' imagination. "What sort of book?"
"It's a book about romance, about lovers."
"Casanova and Cyrano de Bergerac have been done many times, you know. So what will make your book stand out?"
"It's gonna be a tell-all book. I'm going to write all about..."
"I can't wait to read it." Methos held up his hand. "Don't spoil it for me."
"Okay." Cory stood up, and threw some money on the table. "I have to go get a laptop."
"Good luck, Cory. Let me know if you need any help with anything." "Ok, Adam. See you around." Methos watched Cory leave and noted Joe's relieved expression. He picked up his beer and walked over to the bar, standing beside the mortal. "You see? Not so bad now, was it?"
"I guess so." Joe gave Methos a sideways look. "Just what were you being so chummy about?"
"You'll find out." Methos paused before adding, "Let's just say that Cory has a plan."
A few hours later, Macleod stopped in at Joe's Bar, hoping to relax after his annoying run-in with Cory.
"That bad?" Joe asked sympathetically.
"*Cory*", Macleod replied, as if that should explain everything.
"Yeah, he was in here earlier with Adam."
"And the place is still standing? Are you *sure* it was Cory?" Macleod found it hard to believe. In fact, if he hadn't been speaking to Joe, he would have laughed in the speaker's face.
"It was him all right." Joe sighed. "Beer or scotch?"
"Scotch, and make it a double." Macleod gulped the liquor down and gestured for another. "So where's Adam?"
"I guess he's playing babysitter."
"Good luck to him, he'll need it."
Methos left his apartment, leaving Cory behind to play with the new computer. Methos had insisted on buying it, for the simple reason he didn't want Cory to show up late at night with a new prototype that had been "misplaced" by the Evil Empire. Cory had been reluctant but Methos had been firm and after looking at every possible computer model the store offered, Cory had finally been satisfied with his choice.
"I didn't expect to see you back here," Joe said as Methos entered the bar again.
"I needed a nightcap." Methos smiled at Joe and sat down beside Macleod.
"Where's Cory?" Macleod asked worriedly, looking around.
"He has a job." Methos replied, snagging the beer that Joe had set up. "Just why did you throw him out of your office anyway?"
"He was mucking about with my computer." Macleod glared briefly at the older man before slumping back in his seat. "Cory is trouble that I don't need."
Methos smiled sardonically at the Scot. Mac could be incredibly short-sighted at times. If he had let Cory use his office, he could have kept an eye on him and what he was up to. As it was... well, Methos did enjoy twitting Mac now and again. It was too much fun to pass up.
Although it was unusual for him, Cory had spent the next three weeks indoors, busily typing up his manuscript. Only Methos noticed this diligent attitude since Macleod had gone to Paris in yet another attempt to save the world (or in this case, rescue Amanda from herself, which tended to be much the same thing). Joe was only too happy to have Cory stay away from the bar for a time since it meant he wouldn't have to deal with higher insurance rates or the alienation of his customer base.
In the meantime, Methos was letting Cory have full run of his apartment while he attended to business in Macleod's office. It was a very satisfactory arrangement and one that the Scot would not be happy with, which made it even more appealing.
So when Macleod *did* return (sans Amanda), Methos was ready for him.
"What are you doing here?" Macleod growled as he entered his office. Judging by the empty beer bottles and sandwich wrappers packed in the wastebasket, it looked as if Methos had made himself at home in a very short time.
"I've been watching the place for you." Methos replied. "After all, you need *someone* to watch the place while you go off to Paris for weeks at a time."
"Yeah, well..." Macleod hurriedly looked through the mail that had accumulated during his absence, annoyed that the older man had simply let it pile up. "As long as you weren't being imposed on."
"Hardly," the older Immortal replied. "I suppose that Amanda will be along shortly?"
"No, she stayed behind. Wanted to look at the new fashion collections, she said." Macleod looked over at Methos, feeling suddenly suspicious. "Say, where's Cory? Or did he leave?"
"He's working at his job."
"At his latest scam, you mean."
"That's most churlish of you, Mac. You should learn to be more tolerant."
"I'll let you be tolerant enough for the both of us." Macleod growled, angered that Cory hadn't left town yet. "Just tell me what company he's with so I can sell my stock off."
"I think I'll let you alone to enjoy all of that lovely paperwork." Methos rose from Mac's comfortable office chair and moved easily to the door. "I'll be at Joe's if you want to join me for a drink."
Despite helping Joe close up the bar, Macleod never did show up. Cory had been mysteriously absent as well and both men were feeling worried. When Methos arrived home, he found Cory on his knees, sorting through a mass of loose papers.
"Hi, Adam" Cory said, barely looking up as he continued to worry the papers. "Guess what? I'm all done with my book. Finished!"
"Congratulations." Methos raised an eyebrow at the news. "What is this then?"
"Uh, well... y'see, the papers all came loose from the printer before I could package them up in a manuscript. I need to get them back in order." The younger man leafed through the pages before looking up at Methos with a desperate look in his green eyes. "Help me out, ok? I'm gonna miss my deadline."
"Of course." Methos knelt on the floor as he helped Cory gather up the papers and reassemble them into something that might be considered a manuscript.
"Done." Cory dusted his hands off and stood up. "Look, I need to run a couple errands. Make sure nothing happens to it, ok?"
Methos nodded and watched as Cory hurried out the door. The chance to look this over was too great for him; Methos was certain that even St. Duncan would succumb to this temptation. Without further thought or qualm, Methos began to read.
Methos studied some of the names mentioned with mingled concern and amusement. Cory had a definite talent for writing but it was a pity that he hadn't taken advantage of actually learning the craft from some of the literary giants he had 'associated' with. As it was, this was tabloid journalism of the sleaziest kind, coupled with a complete disregard for grammar or spelling. Even if he allowed for Cory's natural tendency to exaggerate certain things in relationship to their historical importance, the book was still going to create a sensation in all of the wrong circles and for all of the wrong reasons. Cory's narrative stopped at about 1900, probably in the belief that the statute of limitations would be long expired on some of the anecdotes mentioned. Methos supposed it was vaguely possible that some of the remaining families would bring a libel suit (such as the family of Phillipe I), but it was much more probable they would ignore it entirely and pretend it was a work of historical fiction, if it were brought to their attention.
Cory was in an unusually happy mood, considering that he had been busy with *real* work for a change. Right now he was on his way to meet Amanda at the airport and explain to her just why he had failed to meet her in Paris two weeks ago. He hoped that his book would prove to her that he could be serious and reliable (two traits that she found strangely appealing) and stay out of too much trouble. Cory knew that he would never be a solid citizen like Macleod but then, he had no wish to be dull and boring.
Amanda smiled as she sensed Cory's approach. Despite the fact that he hadn't shown up as planned, which had led to an emergency call to Mac, she never could stay mad at him for very long. It was like being angry at a good-natured, oversized puppy. Cory was always ready for some fun, even if his idea of fun tended to leave a mess for others to straighten out.
"Amanda!" Cory grabbed her and kissed her soundly, swinging her through the air as he did so.
"Cory," Amanda couldn't keep from laughing in delight. "You didn't stand me up this time."
"Yeah, about that" Cory replied. "I'm really sorry about that, Amanda, but I got busy."
"Oh? What was her name?" Amanda couldn't quite keep a sharp note from her voice, despite her promise to herself that she would *not* let Cory see her upset.
"No no, it wasn't another woman Amanda, honest." Cory was being sincere, knowing that she would sense a lie. "I was working at a job, Amanda. A real job, real work, just like you said."
"Oh," Amanda replied. "So tell me, what was this job of yours?"
"Wait till you see," Cory beamed at her. "It's a surprise, you'll never guess..."
Over coffee at a nearby diner, Cory told Amanda how he had managed to get a real job, a *legitimate* job, for a change.
"Remember, you told me that you'd be with me if I could hold down a job and stay out of trouble." Cory smiled at her, green eyes sparkling with mischief.
"But what do you *do*?" asked Amanda. She still wasn't sure what Cory was doing. No matter what it was, she was afraid that it would be something that would send Mac into one of his sanctimonious tirades. "And I said I'd *think* about it, Cory. I've had enough problems for now."
"Come on back to my place. You have to see this to believe it." Cory smiled at her again. "You won't be disappointed. I promise."
Cory's show of innocence was too intriguing for her to ignore, so against her better judgment, Amanda allowed herself to be driven to Cory's apartment.
"Here we are, home sweet home." Cory helped Amanda remove her coat and saw that she was comfortably seated in a chair. "Now, close your eyes and don't peek."
Amanda went along with the silliness and listened as Cory moved things around, muttering to himself.
"Ok, here you go."
"Hey!" Amanda's eyes flew open as a large package was dropped in her lap. She wasn't sure what she had been expecting but it hadn't been this large, untidy bundle of papers. She poked gingerly at it as if it might bite. "What is this, Cory?"
"I wrote a book. It's the story of my life, a tell-all book. I wrote it all by myself." Cory's voice had an element of smugness in it. "Go ahead, read it. Tell me what you think."
"All right, Cory" Amanda sat back, carefully turned the first page, and began to read. An hour later, she finally paused and looked over at Cory. "I've never read anything quite like this before." She was telling the truth, she told herself; her conscience was clear on that score. "You certainly have, uh, some interesting details in here."
"Well..." They both looked up suddenly as Methos entered the apartment.
"Don't let me interrupt." Methos went over to the refrigerator and opened a beer. "I see you've had the privilege of reading Cory's manuscript, Amanda. Do go on."
"As I was going to say, I can't wait to see it in print. I never thought you could write something like this, Cory."
Cory beamed at her words, while Methos gave her a long level glance. She returned the older man's gaze without flinching. They both knew just what this book was, and they also realized that Cory was totally oblivious to how it was going to be perceived by the publishing world.
"I'd better be going now. Thank you for letting me read your manuscript, Cory."
"You don't have to go, Amanda. You can stay right here. I--I mean *we*--have plenty of room. Right, Adam?"
"Of course she is. Amanda is always welcome to stay." Methos watched Amanda, certain she would refuse.
"No thank you. I already have a room at the Four Seasons." Amanda gave both men a brilliant smile. "It's kind of you to offer though."
"Are you sure?" Cory made no effort to hide his disappointment. "Let me see you to your hotel then. A gentleman should always see a lady safely to her home."
Amanda looked pleadingly at Methos, who merely shrugged at her before smiling at her sudden glare. Moments later, Amanda and Cory left together; Cory's voice floating down the hall as he continued to tell Amanda all about his plans for the book.
Fifteen minutes later, Methos was disturbed by an angry thumping at his door. Opening it, he was unsurprised to find an irate Macleod.
"Hello, Mac. So nice of you to drop by."
"Where is she?"
"Don't play games with me, Methos. I know Amanda's back, and I want to see her."
"I'm sure she can call you if she wants you, Macleod. Why don't you wait until morning?"
"Because I want to see her *now*", Macleod growled. "And where's Cory?"
Methos decided to ignore the question. He didn't want to lie, and he knew that telling the truth would only make matters worse. Instead, he walked over to his refrigerator and opened it.
"Here, drink this." He said as he handed Macleod a beer. "And stop pacing. Have a seat."
"Yeah, yeah." Macleod sat down on the couch, knocking a few stray papers to the floor. "What's this rubbish?"
"Nothing special." Methos said as he attempted to take the papers from Mac's grasp. "Just give them to me and I'll put them away."
"Wait a sec." Macleod said as he looked more closely at the pages. "Is this what Cory's been doing? It *is*. I can tell by the look on your face."
"You said he had a job." Macleod began to read and looked up, his face dull red with anger. "What do you call this?"
"A book." Methos finally grabbed the papers back and laid them carefully with the others. "Writing a book is a perfectly respectable occupation."
"There is nothing respectable about this," Macleod roared, all thoughts of the errant Amanda temporarily forgotten. "You don't mean he's found someone to actually buy this, do you?"
The argument was cut short as both men sensed the approach of another Immortal. Methos devoutly hoped that the newcomer would prove to be Richie or better yet, Amanda. Sadly, it was neither of them.
"Honey, I'm home." Methos winced at the sound of Cory's voice. It was unfortunate that Cory chose that particular moment to return; even worse that he would decide to mimic an old TV line as his greeting.
"Honey? Honey?" Macleod looked stunned for a moment before the rage returned. "You let him call you *honey*?"
"Hi, Macky-boy." Cory was nothing if not consistent. "How was Paris?"
"Just how do you know about Paris?" He snarled, turning to face Cory.
"Well, Amanda said that you..." Cory trailed off, belatedly realizing that Mac was in a foul mood. "I just thought...."
"Your problem is that you don't think," Macleod bellowed. "I won't have you bothering Amanda, do you hear me?"
"You don't have to yell, I'm not deaf you know. And Amanda is a big girl, she can decide if I'm bothering her or not." Cory's sullen look was not lost on Methos, who sat back and observed the gathering storm. This was going to be interesting.
"Do you know what I'm going to do, Cory?" Macleod asked in a suddenly pleasant voice.
"Go home and sleep it off?"
"I'm going to kill you!" he roared again, chasing Cory out of the apartment and down the hall.
Methos thought it was highly probable that Mac might have actually caught Cory, if Mac hadn't slipped on a stray piece of silk handkerchief and fallen down the elevator shaft. Both Methos and Cory peered into the darkness, listening to the resounding thump as Macleod crashed to the bottom, and inwardly determining how many minutes it would take the angry Scot to recover enough to climb back up using the elevator cables.
"He's going to be pissed, isn't he?"
"I'm afraid so." Methos looked thoughtfully at Cory. The younger man had a positive genius for stating the obvious and once his book was published (if ever) a lot of people -- mortal and Immortal -- were going to be after his head. "I'm afraid you'd better go, Cory. Macleod is mad enough about what little he read and he's going to be even madder when he finds out that you've been with Amanda."
"Yeah, I guess so." Cory looked strangely sad and Methos realized that he was going to miss the younger man.
"Also, I think you'd better take your manuscript and hide it someplace safe."
"Why?" Cory asked in genuine bewilderment. "I thought you liked it."
"I do, Cory. I do." Methos hastened to reassure him. "But you wouldn't want something to happen to it, would you?"
"Oh, okay." The two men walked hurriedly down the hall and Methos kept watch as Cory packed his belongings. Fortunately this took less than a minute, since Cory merely threw his papers in a duffel bag.
"It's been nice meeting you Adam. Maybe I'll stop by again one day."
"You do that."
Methos watched from his window as the younger man exited the building, crossing the street and disappearing into the night. Once again he headed down the hall, this time waiting patiently for Macleod's re-emergence from the elevator shaft.
One of Cory's favorite hiding places was an old abandoned hotel in the middle of Los Angeles. The Ambassador was a grand old lady that fallen on hard times and was now largely populated by feral cats. Cory made his way to the top floor and pulled out a heavy metal box from an inner wall. He smiled as he looked through his treasures, pausing briefly to caress a delicate monogrammed silk nightgown of pale pink. Someday, it would be safe for him to write *this* story too.