[...is finished, my affairs wrapped up. Tomorrow I shall take the stage and make a northwest passage to the sea, and thereafter depart for the Americas. The ship, 'The Fair Star', sails on the 16th of... ]
"Come on, Methos, I'm just taking the last of the bags out to the car."
Warm breath over my shoulder.
"What is it? One of your journals?"
Curiosity subdues duty for the minute.
"1803. I was just reading about leaving London for my first sojourn to America."
"I'd decided to leave England before that frightful little Corsican invaded."
"Yes, I remember you said you didn't fight in the Napoleonic Wars."
I turn to give him an incredulous look.
"With all those unpleasant cannon and guillotines? Definitely not."
"So off you went seeking gold and glory in the New World."
There's an undercurrent of laughter in the rich tones.
"Well, the man made living in Europe quite untenable. But I was less than happy about leaving civilization for a land as wild and savage as America."
Duncan whacks me lightly across the head, a look of mock offense on his face.
"I'll have you know some of the natives were a lot more civilized than the immigrants!"
Duncan rolls his eyes, steals a kiss, and then walks off to finish loading the bags. I wander to the window and look down. The sun shines strongly behind the overcast vault of the sky, and the street is bathed in diffuse gray light. Leaving their homes, office girls in smart black suits walk between the oak trees, chattering like starlings into their mobiles, divested of their heavy winter coats for the first time in months.
Sometimes I think all an immortal's life consists of is leaving.
Leaving homes, jobs, families, friends. Again and again. It's something you get a lot of practice at. And even when it's planned, there's a certain melancholy to the procedure, usually disregarded amongst the excitement of the new, the adventure of the unknown. It's been a good fifteen years - I've been happy. But now it's time to move on. So today we leave London, not for the first time, not for the last time.
I'm surprised by a sharp stab of regret as I teeter on the edge of going and gone. London is one of the cities I'm especially fond of. True, it doesn't have the grandeur of Rome, the elegance of Paris, or the lovely decay of Venice. It's a city you either love or hate, a jumble of row upon row of terrace housing, grand buildings ornamented with the sweeps and curves of classicism, bland boxlike inner-city offices, towers to Mamon glittering with the slick glass-curtain-walling of modernism and the organic textures of neoism. Each style built higgledy-piggledy around the other, reflecting times of wealth and depression in a clutter of good taste and cheap functionality.
London's like a gray alley cat, one that's been in too many fights, patched, battered and crumpled around the edges. But it's a survivor, one full of life and spirit, and I like that. I've spent centuries watching cities rise before me, then sink behind me again into obscurity. Ravenna is a little known point on a map. Byzantium, now Istanbul, a sorry echo of past glories. Other cities just names in history books, long dead, long buried. Londinium, Lundein, London - rises and falls and rises again.
But I know even that won't last. In time London will also be a long-forgotten lonely cairn of stones, and no one will remember her as she was, except my kind. Including, fates willing, myself and Duncan. I sigh, walk back to the armchair and pick up the flexi-book with my journal on it. Switch it off and roll it up. Ironic that technology should return once more to the scrolls of my early years.
"Hey! Time to go."
I turn to the door and raise an eyebrow.
Duncan grins at catching me brooding, and the warmth in his expression banishes the uncharacteristic sadness from my mind, brightens my heart. I'm making passage for America again, three centuries after I first made this journey - but with Duncan at my side, it's always the road back home. .