Inspired By A True Story
30 November, 1951
Methos was not particularly looking forward to the St Andrew's Day celebration with the rest of his regiment. He was already suspect due to his preference for reading instead of playing football during free time, and if he'd turned down the invitation to go out drinking with the guys, he'd probably have the crap beaten out of him for being a sissy. He wasn't sure which he'd prefer.
That morning the CO had announced that there would be a gathering for the enlisted men in the officer's club -- a rare treat. Methos had never been inside, and was somewhat intrigued. Yet... oh, hell. What ever had posessed him to enlist in a Highland Regiment anyway?? He should've known better. Not that he minded the kilt, or even the football (when they occasionally pounded him into it). It was the fact that they were all a foot taller, smelled like horses, and snored. And Davey Graham had a tendency to spit on the floor. Made a late-night trip to the loo damned dicey business.
It was to be the first St Andrew's Day celebration in Prague, the past few years having been rather too dangerous for a bunch of drunken soldiers to go reeling about the city in honour of their national saint. Methos wondered vaguely whether it was going to be a disaster or not, and secretly hoped it would. He snickered at the thought, as he finished polishing his good boots. After all, with Scots, anything could happen.
He looked up mildly at Sergeant MacIntyre, and then lazily stood and saluted.
MacIntyre's eyes narrowed. "Finished, Pierson?"
"Are you joining in the celebration tonight, Pierson?"
"Mmphm. I see." MacIntyre made a noise in the back of his throat. "Your bonnet's crooked," he snapped.
Methos put a hand to his perfectly straight bonnet, and shoved it back on his head, the way most of the other soldiers wore it.
"Better, Pierson. Better." He started to turn away, then scratched his red beard and stopped. "Pierson!"
"Polish those boots!"
Methos growled another curse in the general direction of Sergeant MacIntyre, who stood near the head table, praising the efforts of Mr Townshend, the Military Attache, who had made the brose. Townshend was an Englishman, and there had been considerable dissention in the ranks when the sacred task of brose-making had been left to him. Still, no-one else had had the time, really. The brose now filled a huge cermonial cup, in the centre of the head table, with the rest in a large keg behind the bar. It gave off a pungent odour, detectable even from back where Methos was standing.
He finished off his beer and had started over to the bar to get another, when he sensed the other Immortal. He turned slightly toward the door, craning his neck to see. Good holy lord... He elbowed his way hurriedly through the crowd, and at last stood before the man who'd just entered.
"Vlad?" he hissed.
The other Immortal looked startled, then gave his moustache a genteel twist. "It's Jan Macek these days," the man said in a low voice. "Nice kilt, Methos." He smiled and polished his fingernails on the lapel of his velvet coat.
Methos' spine stiffened. "It's Private Pierson these days," he mimicked. "Want a beer?"
"Haven't seen you since we were putting Turks on spikes together," Methos commented drily, as they made their way to the bar.
"Ah, the old days. Sort of miss chasing you 'round the castle." Vlad the Impaler grinned raffishly and twirled his mustache. "Of course, I'm a potato smuggler now."
Methos snorted. "Don't say another word about my kilt, then!"
"Oh, but I always thought you had great legs."
"Why, thank-you." Methos paused, and scratched his chin. "The moustache is really you."
As it turned out, Vlad (or Jan, depending) was the man responsible for the troops getting their rations; which is how he merited an invitation to the party. He regularly breeched the Russian lines to bring in potatoes from Hungary. "And after all," Vlad said, "Without potatoes, there'd be no vodka."
"Actually," Methos pointed out, "Around here there's a little gem called slivovice, made from pears. Makes grain alcohol taste like water."
Vlad looked down his patrician nose. "*I* know that. Dangerous stuff."
"Indeed. Even gets *me* singing `Scotland The Brave'."
Vlad snickered. "That's a sight I'd pay..."
"ATTENTION EVERYONE!!" Sergeant MacIntyre banged his meaty fist on the bar. "ATTENTION! WE WILL NOW PASS THE CUP IN REMEMBRANCE OF OUR BLESSED SAINT ANDREW!"
The Highlanders cheered. They then gathered round the head table, and Sergeant MacIntyre took the first sip. His eyes watered a bit, but he gamely passed the cup on.
"Why is Townshend looking so fish-eyed?" Methos said under his breath to Corporal MacGillivray. The MA had a self-satisfied expression on his face as he watched the passing of the cup.
MacGillivray hiccuped and the fumes of a great deal of brandy wafted into Methos' nostrils. "Bugger all if I ken," he muttered.
Soon the cup reached them, and Methos started to take a small ceremonial sip. Just as the cup met his lips, however, MacInnes elbowed him from his left and he found his mouth full of... slivovice??
He gasped for air as he lowered the cup, and the regiment cheered. "Good show, Pierson!" MacIntyre hollered. "We'll make a man of ye yet!!"
Bloody hell. Townshend, that rat, had loaded the brose with slivovice. Most of the regiment was too far gone to even notice the taste, but.... by the time they finished the barrel... He groaned inwardly at the thought. He tried to catch Vlad's eye at the end of the ring of people. "Slivovice!" he mouthed, gesticulating wildly.
Vlad gave him "huh?" sort of look, shrugging and accepting the cup as it came to him. He took a hearty swallow, and Methos cringed as the other Immortal's eyes bulged. "I tried to tell you," he mouthed.
Vlad shuddered, and passed the cup back to Sgt MacIntyre.
"Brose for everyone!" MacIntyre yelled, and gestured to the barkeep to break out the mugs. Each man was given a brimming mug full of the potent concoction, and Methos gamely sipped.
It was going to be a damned long night.
Methos giggled softly as he watched Vlad roll up his sleeve to accept MacFarquarson's arm-wrestling challenge. "Five pounds on Macek!" he wagered, pleased with himself for remembering his friend's alias.
Vlad looked hurt. "Only five pounds?"
"Well, a soldier's pay..." Methos hedged.
MacFarquarson, a burly lad from the Isles, grinned. "We'll see," he said menacingly.
To the surprise of all the observers, Vlad nearly won, but when Private MacPherson suddenly vomited on the table, he was taken by surprise and MacFarquarson slammed his hand down. A cheer rose, and Vlad shook the muck from his fingers, grimacing. "You're out a fiver, friend," he said to Methos.
Grumbling, Methos paid MacDonald, who had graciously taken up the position of book-maker for the evening. "C'mon," he said to Vlad. "Le's ge' s'more brose."
The pair stumbled back to the head table and filled their mugs. "Here's to potatoes," Vlad toasted.
"To the 'ighland army," Methos replied, just to be contrary.
"And to that lovely kilt," Vlad snickered.
"And to a pike with your name on it," Methos rejoined.
"HARK NOW THE PIPES ARE CALLING..." the regiment chorused for the fortieth-odd time in the past hour.
The average note was stuck somewhere between a B-flat and an F-sharp, but the men proudly sung out with all their hearts. Methos sat on the bar, swinging his feet, and keeping time with rhythmic lifts of his mug. They were only halfway through the barrel.
MacNee had accused MacDonald of fixing the arm-wrestling for his own personal gain, and the resulting melee had ended in: MacNee with a broken nose, MacDonald with a broken arm, Willie Campbell with cracked skull, Geordie Campbell with a crushed hand, MacInnes with a broken ankle and several members of the regiment with deep tooth-marks on their various appendages.
The survivours caroused on, singing and drinking, with Vlad making indecent proposals to Davey Graham.
At three am, there were only four survivours. Most everyone else had passed out on the floor, been carted off to the hospital, or had gone out into the streets in search of further entertainment. Vlad was still standing, as was Methos, Alex Gordon, Alex MacLeod, and Jamie MacSomethingorother. Vlad was flirting wildly with Alex MacLeod. Methos had impressed the other two by inventing the "brandy fanny banger," a drink not for the faint of heart, involving as it did not only brandy, but also lemon juice, cream, sugar, whiskey and a slice of potato. (The potato was Vlad's idea.)
In short, the Czechoslovak Republic's first and only St Andrew's Day celebration went off as it would have anywhere. Several minor casualties, English treachery, and men in skirts dancing the hornpipe. 'Twas a night to be remembered by all. (Or not, depending on their individual hangover levels.)
Vlad smiled benevolently at Methos as he cruised out the door, Alec MacLeod on his arm. "Darling, we simply *must* do this again sometime."