Linear Perspective  
Story three in the Configurations arc
  by rac  
April 1997

Configurations is a multi-part story consisting of: Symmetry, Triangulation, Linear Perspective, Quaternity, Squaring Off, and Full Circle. (Stories still under construction! Thanks for your patience)

Disclaimer: Highlander and its characters are owned by Rysher and Panzer/Davis Productions. I make no claim to them, I make no money on them either. Any original characters are solely of my own invention. Do not post, link or publish this material without the express permission of the author.

WARNING! Rating: NC-17 for adult situations including m/f, m/f/m, m/m situations. If you find this offensive or not to your taste, please click here.

For help with names and terms, see the separate Glossary.

Thoughtful feedback gratefully received. Thanks for taking the time to write, it's appreciated. Impolite feedback will be circularly filed. Life is too short. This body's not Immortal. :-)

Linear Perspective: a form of perspective in drawing and painting in which parallel lines are represented as converging so as to give the illusion of depth and distance.

Linear Perspectives

“What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies.” -Aristotle-

The sunlight streamed in the uncovered windows, falling in furrows on the floor, climbing up the side of the bed as time progressed, and eventually onto the still figure sitting there. He was motionless, an arm hanging over one raised knee, the sunlight dappling his skin and making it appear even more golden. Duncan heard the shower come on in the adjacent bathroom, the sound of the water blending in with the sound of birds about their morning business. The sunlight warmed him, and he pushed down the covers warding off the early morning chill. He didn't even notice it.

It had been a long time since anyone had presented him with something to which he had no idea how to respond. He recalled his feelings surrounding the discovery that his parents were not his real parents, that in fact he was a foundling and no one knew from where he'd come. That it was also inextricably linked to his father repudiating him had made it all the more confusing, overwhelming, emotional. And that it had come about because of his unnatural, not-understood ability to miraculously survive death had added the final fillip of horror.

At the time, he'd truly wondered if he was a demon as his father had thought. Unnatural, evil, something outside the normal and proper way of things. Something to fear, to avoid, to hate.

Interesting how he was remembering that incident and those feelings at this time.

Closing his eyes, Duncan rested his forehead on his forearm. He couldn't fool himself about some things. He'd known, really. If not about the depth of feeling Methos had just revealed, then at least about the desire. He'd seen it in his eyes back at the loft a few times in the past days, in the way Methos had interacted with him. It had shocked Duncan speechless when he'd finally recognized it for what it was.

It hadn't been the first time Duncan had found himself on the receiving end of an amorous interest from another man. A few of those times, he'd been... tempted. Curious. But ultimately unmoved enough to follow through on the invitation. But now, here it was again, and he was speechless. Because it was Methos. In the years Duncan had known him, not once before now had he identified the situation accurately, although at times he had wondered just what it was that drew the world's oldest living man back into his life repeatedly. Little had he imagined at the time.

Now all he had to do was figure out how he felt, but it seemed easier to avoid the issue. He wondered what in the hell he was going to say to Methos and felt a moment's anger towards him for  putting him in this situation. Obstinate, agitating ancient, he thought. In the midst of a rush of angry emotion, he saw an image of the older Immortal, eyes dark and full of life, the perennial smirk on his mouth curling it up slightly at the edges, his whole demeanor oozing the message that he knew something you didn't. Even in spite of his anger, Duncan couldn't help but smile. I guess he did, Duncan conceded.

He heard the shower cease and knew Methos would be emerging soon. There was a sense of  irrational panic in his belly as he thought of having to respond in some way to the revelation Methos had given him. He wasn't ready, he needed more time to think, to figure out how he really felt about things. He didn't want to be forced into having such a consequential discussion until he felt comfortable about his part in it.

Choosing a path of avoidance, he pushed into the bathroom, closing the door behind him to keep in the warm, enveloping steam that billowed in the small space. Methos stood in front of the sink lazily swiping off swaths of shaving cream with his razor. Their eyes met in the mirror and Duncan forced a lightness to his tone.

“I hope you've left me some hot water,” he spoke lightly as he pulled a clean towel out of the linen closet.

“Depends on your water heater. Better shower quickly,” Methos offered, eyeing Duncan's reflection as the younger Immortal entered the shower and closed the door. Sighing, he finished up his chores and exited to get dressed. It was obvious to him Duncan wasn't in the mood for any more revelations, of any kind. He wondered just when the obstinate Highlander would be wanting to talk about what had happened, what had been said. He was reminded for some reason of one of his later wives, the daughter of an Italian Conte who had delighted in dangling him from the end of a string until he had felt as if he'd been hung out to dry permanently. He cynically wondered if he had stuck around her as long as he had because of love, lust or greed. The Conte had dowered his middle daughter quite handsomely. And his connections hadn't harmed Methos either in his work. Doctoring to the rich was much more pleasant in many ways than the lot he might have had during that time.

All in all, that lifetime had been rewarding, and Isabella had been a holy terror--in bed and out. She had died, as they all had, but her life had ended too young, struck down with a sweating sickness that Methos himself hadn't been able to combat. He recalled how surprised he'd been to realize how much he missed her, missed her intelligent arguments, her manipulations and sporadic attempts at genuine caring. Somehow he had grown attached during their relatively short time together. He spent the rest of the 16th century out of Italy, wandering northward through the Germanic principalities, far away from the Italian societies he had moved in, returning eventually to Heidelberg and the University he had attended in the 1450’s. Academia proved to be a good way to keep busy as the days moved forward and, once more, he did also, without his mate.

Would Mac prove to be as difficult, as unable as Isabella had been at admitting her feelings? Like Isabella, Mac hated to feel vulnerable, preferred to feel in control concerning his emotions. One thing 50 centuries did for me, he thought, is liberate me from incessant worry about control. I don't have to worry about it... I have it down to an exact science. Control, manipulation, gauging and playing the in the hell else did one survive so much, for so long?

As he finished dressing, Methos realized he felt like wielding something deadly and thought he'd go start breakfast, chop up some vegetables for an omelet. Possibly if done with enough force, thrashing onions and peppers with a cleaver would bring some small feeling of satisfaction. His revelation this morning was as much a surprise to him as it had been to Mac. It had been unplanned, the outcomes not calculated consciously. An unexamined action was something he usually avoided taking. Even so, usually there were ways to prevaricate or to manipulate the situation to his advantage. But that was out of the question in this case now. How could he make Duncan MacLeod be or do something, feel something, that wasn't real, wasn't true? The only, the best action he had was honesty, and time. Duncan was a sucker for the one, and everyone eventually fell prey to the second. It was just a matter of waiting it out.

He wished the whole of him truly believed that.

It was obvious that something had happened to shift the energy between the two men. All morning and afternoon, the two said more with body language than all their words combined. Merit was hesitant to interfere, not knowing what had actually transpired. She had interfered enough. Goddess willing, she only hoped she hadn't stirred up a hornet's nest and set things in motion that came back to sting viciously.

It was quite surprising then when Duncan approached her in the early afternoon. She had retreated to the bedroom to repack the few items she brought. He knocked on the door frame, wandering in to perch on the edge of the bed. For a man who normally carried himself with an innate sense of confidence, the slump of his shoulders and downcast eyes, the hestitancy in his speech screamed uncertainty.

“Am I interrupting?” he asked unnecessarily.

Merit schooled her features into a placid expression, but couldn't stop the worry from creeping into her voice. “Of course not, Duncan. What's wrong?”

He met her eyes for a moment, the struggle to speak apparent in his face, his eyes. His mouth even opened, but the urge to reveal whatever was bothering him faded, leaving him to stand, turn away and stare out the window, hands in his jeans pockets forlornly. “Do you have anything planned for tomorrow? I was wondering if you'd like to stay another night before going back.”

Whatever it was, this wasn't what she was expecting. “I’d love to, Duncan. My plans are open-ended.” She went over to him and leaned into him, wrapping arms around his waist from the back. “Is everything all right?” she began hesitantly.

He didn't answer for the longest time, just rubbed his own hands over hers, back and forth, as they stood looking out the window. “Yeah,” he murmured. “It's - I have some thinking to do. I’ll work it out.”

She moved around to the front of him. “Duncan, if there is anything I can do -”

He interrupted her. “Just enjoy yourself while you're here. It's a special place, my special place. Let the peace of it seep into you so you can take it back with you.”

“It already has,” she assured him. They stood embracing comfortably as they looked out the window at the magnificent scenery, absorbing the timelessness of the grand mountains.

Minutes passed in silence. A tread on the hall floorboards announced Methos’ presence before his knock on the open door. “Mac, you want to start loading anything into the canoe? It's nearly three now. We're cutting it close on daylight.”

MacLeod turned his head, looking at the other man. “I've got a better idea,” he began hesitantly. “Want to stay another night? Unless you need to get back...” he trailed off questioningly.

Methos felt his heartbeat trip at the suggestion. “Uh... sure. Staying’s great. There's nothing pressing back in Seacouver.” He couldn't stop the idiotic grin he felt creep onto his face.

The look on the face of the world's oldest man was so open, Duncan found himself wanting to do nothing more than embrace it, share that feeling, but he couldn't seem to get past his inhibitions to initiate it. He had no idea the room fairly crackled with energy between the two of them as they stood looking at one another, neither moving, until Merit took pity on them and held out her arm in invitation to Methos to join them. The older man did so, moving cautiously into the circle of their arms, allowing himself to be pulled into a hug by both. The feeling of strong fingers biting into his shoulder, holding tightly, was all the confirmation Duncan needed at the time. For now, staying was the right choice.

The moon was still full that evening after dinner when the three of them set off for a destination known only to Duncan. It was another clear, crisp night, the sky without a cloud, the air cooling down rapidly to downright chilly. Bundled up in layers, they tromped over what MacLeod insisted was a worn path in the forest bed. Methos snorted at that description, his flashlight playing back and forth over the area in question.

“If there's a path here, MacLeod, it's doing a good job of camouflaging itself. We're going to get lost,” he predicted.

Duncan shook his head. “Always the cynic, the pessimist.”

“The realist, you mean.”

“No, I don't mean. You're a pessimist, always expecting the worst.”

“You try living for five thousand years and I guarantee that you will also have lowered your expectations. It's easier to survive whole that way.”

“Gentlemen! Please! Any animals we're expected to see will be long gone if you continue to bellow at each other like that.” Merit shook her head in exasperation. “If that's the case, we should just turn right around now and head back.”

Duncan felt like his mother had just chastised him. His sense of humor rose. “He started it,” he pointed to Methos trudging along next to him.

“I started it? How do you figure that? I certainly didn't set us out on the ‘Quest for the Holy Grail’.” The ball got chucked back into Duncan's court.

“It's a sacred circle, old man. But that's okay, you're brain's so old it gets easily rattled.” He grinned wickedly while Methos shot him a narrow-eyed look.

“Oh, I dunno... I've got a pretty clear memory. I remember some things as if they happened just this morning.” The soft tone of his voice and the look in his eyes had Duncan's mouth going dry, his wits scrambling for a safe hold on the slippery rocks they found themselves flailing upon. It was all he could do to look away and speak nonchalantly.

“Memories can be deceptive.”

“Not in some instances. Some things are remembered in great, exquisite detail.”

Duncan avoided that one completely. He stopped, made a great show of trying to pick out the path amidst the budding forest greenery, playing his flashlight over the area before setting out once more.

Merit had a better idea of what was going on after the undertones in that exchange. She caught up to Methos, pulling him back to walk abreast of her. “That was not nice. The poor boy looked like an animal caught in headlights.”

Methos gave a predatory smile. “Play with fire, you expect to get singed occasionally.” A worried look stayed on her face, and Methos forestalled any more talk. “I can take it from here, Merit. And don't give me that innocent, confused look. You know exactly what I mean, Ms. I’ve-got-a-plan. You haven't changed that much in two thousand years.”

She threw her hands up in surrender. “All right, no need to singe my wings.” Before she could say anything else, Duncan called back from up ahead.

“See? What did I tell you? I wasn't lost, I knew where we were all the time.”

They followed him out of the tall growth cover into a clearing on the edge of high ground, a grassy knoll jutting out of the forest, overlooking the island and the water's edge. Sacred stones stood at various points around the clearing, each inscribed with worn pictographs.

Duncan pointed to them. “These told the story of how the original people came to be here in this area, how they journeyed from far up north down here to where they settled. Lack of food and wild herds drove them down here originally.” He pointed out the story on the rocks as he talked. “They lost many during the journey, because they were forced to undertake it late in the year. Snows hit and they were low on supplies. But those who survived and lived to see this place founded the new tribe. They intermarried with other local tribes later on, became part of the whole regional culture.” He walked over to a fire pit, and dropped the backpack he'd been lugging along with the deadfall branches he'd gathered. Stooping to light a fire, he continued. “The tribes would gather every year, a huge festival at the end of warm weather to celebrate a successful food gathering for the winter months. The elders would come here, sit and confer in private, discuss tribal business.” The flames took hold and he fed larger pieces to the growing warmth. “They were wonderful, civilized people, caring and warm-hearted. Modern cultures could learn much from the way their leaders handled problems.”

Methos had pulled out a large thermos from his pack and now handed mugs of hot spiked coffee to Duncan and Merit. “They're not the first good people to be wiped out of existence. And they won't be the last.”

“No,” his voice was wistful, “Guess not.” Sighing, he moved over to squat next to Merit and Methos, who sat down overlooking the edge.

The moon was rising in the east, to their left, and the bright light reflected off the waters of the river and illuminated the entire field below. Gesturing down the edge of forest line, he pointed out a family of deer. “They'll be coming out now to water, feed. There's a pretty good-sized population that's here. Although they're great swimmers, so they can come and go at will.

“Look at the fawns. They're so cute,” Merit smiled.

“I haven't had venison in quite a while,” Methos commented. Merit shot him a dark look. “Hey, I remember a time you'd be the first one with a plan to catch it.”

“I find myself more well-fed these days.”

“Mmm, yes,” Methos had a serious expression, “I’d have to say I found you that way also. I could tell the difference. Especially--” He broke off at a baleful glance from Merit. “Yes, well...well-fed looks much better on you than starving.”

“Thank you,” she inclined her head gracefully.

“During Season,” Duncan offered, “I usually come up, spend a week or two and go hunting.”

Methos turned to look at Duncan. “Using--?”

“Bow and arrow. I bag the limit and donate the meat to a few organizations helping the local native tribes.” He glanced at the other man briefly. “You're welcome to come next time, Methos. We can double the limit I donate.”

The only reaction visible was a glimmer in his eyes. “I’d like that, MacLeod. Thanks,” he said simply,seriously.

Conversation dwindled off as the three of them sat, taking in the silence, the continual parade of deer and other nocturnal creatures as they trundled down to the water's edge. Methos refilled their mugs, then they sat with backs against a low stone, looking out onto the night.

Methos couldn't help but wonder what Duncan was thinking. He was acting like a wary animal, sometimes drawing near, sometimes pulling away. His offer of having Methos come hunting with him in the fall was unexpected. That Duncan would even contemplate the two of them still talking to each other, able to spend a couple of weeks together made the future look hopeful. Maybe this was his roundabout way of trying to say something, trying to tell him what he wanted. Maybe...

Methos let his head rest back against the stone, wrapping his jacket more closely around himself. The idea of hunting together had him recalling old memories, ones long buried. Interesting, the odd similarities...

Athens, Greece 5th Century BCE

Methos bent over, chest heaving, trying to catch his breath. He'd won, but not by much. The young contender was fast, very fast. And he had an interesting secret. So secret, even he himself had yet to know it. But Methos did.

“You almost lost that one, my aging lord. Maybe we should rename you after the defeated father of Immortals....Kronos,” Merit said as she handed him linen toweling to wipe himself with. She nearly took a step back as his head came up and she got a look at the light in his eyes.

“Not if you want to keep your head, woman.” He handed the toweling back to her, walking away to take the goblet of water a slave proffered.

Well. That was interesting. Obviously a point of some pain for him, thought Merit. I wonder what? I've not heard that name before. She watched as he stood and talked to others gathered outside the gymnasium this morning for impromptu games and races. Kalliklates did not look happy, he most likely placed money on his own son winning. But Dinarchus lost to Methos and so that money would soon reside in Methos’ own accounts. Merit grinned. For all Kalliklates’ wealth, he sorely hated to lose any of it. Why he insisted on wagering all the time when it seemed to bring him no happiness was beyond her comprehension.

She shifted her eyes to young Dinarchus. He was a beautiful boy, tall and graceful, strong, with a pleasing way about him, always polite and attentive to those he was with. He was a young god to his father, a favorite among the men for sport or social events. He was growing up, he must be nearly seventeen years or so now, she thought. She watched as Dinarchus approached Methos and stood, looking adoringly at the older man as he waited for him to finish conversing with another. Finally, Methos turned to the younger one, putting an arm comfortably around his shoulders as they walked casually away, Methos laughing riotously as he listened to his young companion. They looked good together, she realized. Possibly it was time for word or two to be dropped into the right ear. Merit began to plan.

Later that week, Methos lounged contentedly as a small enclave of guests enjoyed his hospitality. Most were his students, either at the gymnasium or in rhetoric, along with their influential fathers. The atmosphere was informal and carnal, with attendants catering to everyone's every whim. Even Merit had joined in, playing her barbitos and making up some ribald verses about different people in the room, sending each person into hilarity at her sharp wit.

While everyone else was occupied, Kalliklates approached Methos. “Come, walk with me, Methos. I would talk with you.”

Methos’ eyebrows rose, but he followed the serious-looking man out of the room and into the courtyard. Torches were lit, illuminating the area and Kalliklates chose a bench not far from the doorway.

“This will do,” he said imperiously. “Sit.”

Methos didn't want to antagonize the man while he was a guest in his house, so he sat without a word.Curiosity had the better of him.

“You may wonder what I have to say to you in confidence,” the other man began importantly.

Oh, please, spare me the rhetoric and get to the heart of the matter. He made an affirmative noise, nodding encouragingly.

“My wife and I must travel to Delphi, her father lays dying even now. My oldest son, Philistos, travels with us with his family, as he will be taking over the running of his mother's father's estate there.” He eyed a polite but bored Methos. “I - I hesitate to ask, not wanting to appear intrusive, but Dinarchus insisted, and I, I have trouble saying no to anything he might ask of me.” He spoke the last apologetically, with a fond smile on his face.

“He asked that I might implore you to help him, to be his guide in all things while we are gone from Athens. I will be leaving the running of our family affairs in his hands and I fear he thinks he will shame himself in front of the family with poor decisions.” He smiled again. “Foolish boy, as if I would leave him that responsibility without having seen proof of his abilities. Nevertheless,” he took a breath, “he asks for you, and I promised I would inquire.” His eyes narrowed as he looked at the silent teacher sitting next to him. “I've been quite pleased with your tutoring so far, quite pleased with its effects upon my son, else I wouldn't be here. You've my trust, Methos, as far as my son is concerned.” He finished, waiting for Methos’ response.

For once, Methos was speechless. He'd just been given an open door as far as Kalliklates’ son was concerned, and given it from Kalliklates himself. While it was not an unknown, still, it was unusual enough to leave Methos struggling for an answer.

“Kalliklates, I’ the honor you do me. Your trust is known to be a hard-won thing in Athens.”

“That it is,” the other man agreed, satisfied with that observation.

“I--” He looked up at that moment and framed in the doorway was Dinarchus, the light from inside highlighting his muscular young frame, the torch near the door light enough to reveal the anxious expression in the young man's face. Their eyes met over Kalliklates shoulder, and Methos saw the regard in the younger man's eyes, the desire he was too young to hide. It was a delicious thing, and in spite of his better judgment he found himself captured by a pair of eager golden eyes, his own desire piqued, causing him to speak before assessing. “Yes, Kalliklates, I would be honored to guide young Dinarchus in all ways while his father is absent from Athens. He is a intelligent and willing, we will get along without problem.”

He saw over Kalliklates’ shoulder that Dinarchus had heard his words, and was directing a shy smile to his tutor, in complete contrast to the languid hand slowly drifting down his mantle only to disappear in the folds near his groin. It was an overt gesture, one neither mistook. His own groin leapt in response, uncomfortably so, and Methos wondered if he hadn't lost his mind along with his heart to the beautiful child in front of him.

The first thing he found himself doing during his new tenure as personal tutor to Dinarchus was
wandering outside of Athens to the estate Kalliklates owned. Dinarchus was determined to find out what
predator was killing and stealing from their herds.

“How do you plan on handling this, Dinarchus?” Methos asked, curious to see how the young man
responded. They were traveling on horseback to the estate and hopefully would arrive within the hour
after being in the saddle for 3 already.

“I want the herds moved down from the high ground closer toward the buildings. Up on the high ground,
we'll stake out a young kid and wait in hiding to see what appears.”

Not bad. “Is there shelter so that we won't be exposed?”

“Plenty of rock outcroppings and caves in this area. We shouldn't have any trouble making it work,” he
added confidently.

They didn't.. A small stream ran near a large rocky high ground in the grazing area, so they decided to try there. Posting a small retinue of trusted spear handlers around the narrow cliff where they staked the kid,
they settled down to wait for dark.

Methos was impressed at the lack of impatience Dinarchus displayed. He neither fidgeted or talked
unnecessarily, but stayed calm and alert, watching for any movement. Many a hunt had been disrupted
from human impatience, noise alerting the animals of their presence, or lack of focus missing the arrival of their prey. Many hunters had themselves turned into prey in their ignorance.

They had been waiting many hours when Dinarchus placed his hand on Methos’ arm quietly, then
gestured minutely toward the west. Peering closely down the trail, he saw the stealthy movements of a
fair-sized mountain lion, wending its way slowly down toward the bleating and terrified kid. Hefting his
spear in one hand and checking to see that his sword was secure in its sheath, he watched the cautious
approach of the large feline. It circled around, sniffing everything, watching the kid where it was tied.
Something was making it uneasy, taking a long time to finally approach the kid down the narrow gorge.

Methos saw the other hunters pop up over the rocks edge as the big cat passed, spears ready. Once far
enough down the impassable rocky path, he waved his spear high and they all vaulted lightly down onto
the path, forming a living phalanx between the lion and its escape. The cat turned, seeing the humans
there, and screamed loudly in the night, its coughing roar intimidating to confront. He hefted the spear
easily in his hand, sighted then threw, the spear landing dead on in the side of the animal. It screamed
again, twisting and hitting the spear against the solid rock walls, dislodging it only to fall away from his
body. Blood poured from the wound, but the animal was in a frenzy of pain. Turning in rage, it charged
blindly toward its attackers, and the men, untrained for the most part, scattered to scramble back up the
rock face behind them.

Methos pulled his sword instinctively, awaited the arrival, the smell of the animal before thrusting, but
somehow Dinarchus was in the way in front of Methos, knocking Methos aside and on his rear, the
young man's own spear out and thrust into the chest of the animal before the weight of its charge
knocked him over, the cat falling on top of him.

The men were screaming behind them, wailing about the “master”, and Methos’ heart was in his throat as
he scramble madly to gain his feet again. Young fool! he raged, fear a dead weight in his throat, why did
he do that? Approaching with his sword out, he saw the cat was motionless and Dinarchus was also, a
lump buried underneath the pungent weight of the sprawled cat.

His heart slammed madly as he approached, poking the cat with his sword. He saw it was  truly dead, the blood pouring out of the two wounds and covering the man underneath. Gods, no way to tell if any of it
was his, Methos panicked, and began to push and shove the bulk of the dead animal off the still form
beneath. He bellowed to the men to help, and they came, helping to pull the mountain lion off the young

Methos kneeled down and began an inspection of him, running his hands over his limbs, his torso, pushing off the blood with his own hands so he could see the skin underneath. Nothing, no major wounds, no
claw marks, thank god. He moved to his head, and saw a bloody lump on the back of his head. The rock
nearby had a matching blood mark. Taking a breath for the first time in a minute, Methos sat back. He'd
knocked himself out when the cat fell on him. Not much they could do for him except carry him back to

He ordered a few of the men to stay and take care of the mountain lion, giving instructions on how to skin the animal, then had the remaining few pick up their young master and begin the trek back toward the
estate buildings. Methos went ahead and had servants ready with a hot bath and clean linen when they
arrived with the still-unconscious form. Supervising every action of his care, he rested finally when the
young man was laying prone on the sleeping couch in his room. Gulping down a cup of wine, he too then stripped and bathed, having a servant scrape off the gore and blood from the evening's activities. Once
clean, he waved away the servants, preferring to watch over the beautiful, courageous and stupid young
man himself.

Laying down next to the still form, he observed the even rise and fall of his chest, testament that he still
lived, still breathed. Foolish young Heracles! Wanting to protect me (me!) from that lion... He shook his
head in wonder. Kalliklates would have me torn limb from limb if his precious youngest son was killed
while in my care. He looked at the beautiful face, the noble nose, the strong jaw, the arms and chest that
had yet to develop any hair but were thick with muscle, the bronze skin stretched and emphasizing each
line, the graceful yet strong hands, long of finger to match the long line of leg. All in all, a veritable god of face and form, and with the courage and intelligence of the gods, also. Truly, I think I would let
Kalliklates take out his revenge, if this one weren't destined for more than a trip across the river Styx
when he died.. He lay his head down on a folded arm and rested.

It was long since light outside when Methos felt the questing touch of hands upon his body, light fingers,
a soft touch, exploring under the light cover of linen he'd thrown over himself rather than don a robe or
loincloth last evening. Laying still, he let the hand wander where it willed, having to restrain himself from
pressing into the warm contact and asking for more in unspoken words. The hand smoothed down his
arm, crossing over his chest, his shoulder, sliding slowly down his stomach, an errant finger dipping into
the well of his naval, then even more slowly traveling downward to tangle in curly hair. Finally it found its
goal, fingers wrapping gently around his flaccid cock, and Methos couldn't help the breath he released as
the hand set out to arouse the sleeping flesh.

Eyes still closed, he reached his own hand down to tutor his charge in the ways he preferred to be
pleasured, the touches, the movements he most liked. It was only when the warm, eager body pressed
itself along Methos’ turned back, an erection pressing rhythmically against him, that he stopped the hand,
and rolled over abruptly, pining down the surprised young man in one move.

He took in the healthy color, the bright eyes in a single glance and let loose his temper. “What did you
think you were doing last night?” His voice hissed out in anger.

The sudden change of mood and topic had Dinarchus totally off-balance. In his shock he answered more
candidly and without guile. “I saw the lion charging, saw you without your spear. I was scared, I
couldn't have born to see you fall beneath the lion's claws. I would rather die myself.”

Methos saw the tears glimmer in the young one's eyes, saw the love shining out from the depths and
wanted to eat him alive, wanted to shake him senseless. He did the latter first. “Don't  ever do that again. If you're with me, don't ever make a move during a hunt without clearing it with me first. Is that
understood?” He barked the last out in the most intimidating voice he could imagine. The poor young
man had tears falling as he silently acknowledged Methos’ words and promised to never countermand the
order or assume a leadership role unless Methos first gave it to him.

The other desire had yet to be assuaged, and Methos stared at the mouth placed so temptingly beneath
his. He became aware than their bodies were pressed tightly together as he lay on him, feeling their groins slide together even as the young one slid his body invitingly beneath him. Imploring eyes stared back up at him.

“Please....” he whispered to Methos, flexing his arms against the hold Methos had on him. “Let me love
you, let me...”

He could feel the hard erection of his student pressing into his own, saw the desire in the eyes caught
between despair and love. There was something so incredibly erotic about having this beautiful young
man's eyes wet with tears as he pleaded with Methos for the privilege of being his lover. Methos felt the
lust surge through his body like a tidal wave, felt his body push helplessly against the muscular one under
him, their cocks sliding together.

He looked at his mouth. Time to eat.... “Yes.”

“Yes what?” the low voice said. “It's time to go, not time to eat.”

Methos snapped out of his reverie in an instant, seeing Duncan leaning over him, hand on his shoulder as
he tried to wake Methos up. “You were dreaming. You were dead to the world and were talking in your
sleep.” He kneeled back, an humorous look on his face. “Dreaming of food?”

Methos scrubbed at his face with both hands. “Not exactly.” He moved a bit, keeping his coat wrapped
around him, covering his groin where the lingering effects of his memories were currently making his
jeans very uncomfortable.

“We're packing up and going to walk back.” Duncan eyed him. “You awake enough yet?”

For what? “I think I can manage.” He got up, gathering his backpack, repacking the thermos and mugs.
Merit and Duncan put out the fire carefully, scattering the ashes. Duncan stood for a moment and Methos heard the phrases of a native language spoken quietly. When he was done, he picked up his backpack and flicked on his flashlight. The three of them fell into line as they silently but companionably trekked back to the cabin.

He couldn't tell what had awakened him at first. The faint light that filtered upstairs into the loft from the
banked fire in the fireplace below showed nothing moving. Glancing across at the bed on the opposite
wall, he saw Methos laying on his stomach, all but his head buried beneath the quilt. Then the sound
came again, an odd sound, a kind of half-choked human sound.

Unsettled, he rose, shoved his arms in a robe and reached for his sword where he'd laid it next to the
bed. Stopping to pull on moccasins to warm his feet, a quiet voice stopped his exit.

“You won't need the sword.”

He looked back to find Methos emerging from the covers, shivering in the chill air until MacLeod threw
him another robe.

“Thanks.” He slid arms into it and wrapped it tightly around himself. “It's Merit. She must be dreaming.”

Duncan frowned. “This must be a night for dreams,” he said quietly as they both left the room and padded down the wide wooden stairs to the living room. They walked through to the hallway and stood at the
door to the master room. The combination of moonlight and firelight shone in on the bed, revealing a mass of tangled covers and a restless sleeper. The noise came again, and a sob filled the room, choked off as if a hand covered her mouth. Duncan exchanged a concerned look with Methos and the two went and sat
on the bed on either side of the restless Immortal.

Methos smoothed hair back from her face. “Merit, wake up, agapemo.” Another sob left her mouth
before her eyes flew open, staring into the faces of the two men.

“Oh--” she breathed, taking a shuddering breath.

“We're here, agapemo. What is it?” Methos kept a gentle hand on her face, smoothing her hair back
softly over and over.

“Oh--” she repeated, her eyes filling unexpectedly with tears. “He's gone. Long gone.”

Methos frowned and gathered her up, unresisting, into his arms. Leaning back against the headboard, he
spoke softly to her. “Who's gone, Merit?”

She bit back a sob. “Cleante. Ande. My husband.”

The men exchanged a look. Duncan sat on the other side of Merit, leaning against the headboard also. “When did he die, Merit?”

Tears had begun to fall silently, dripping off her face onto Methos’ chest. “Fifteen years ago. He was a
hundred and four years old. We were together for seventy nine years.” Her voice dropped. “I was
twenty five hundred years old. After all that time, to meet him....seventy nine years....he was a part of my soul.”

Methos heard the anguish, the pain in her voice and could do nothing but hold her tighter as the soundless
tears fell.

“How do you live without a part of your soul?” Her question fell softly on the night, the pain of it
reverberating into both men, attenuating them to the ecstasy of love, the pain of loss. Neither had an
answer. They all had lived their share of love and loss, knew the pain of inevitable loss, their lot as

Methos sat and held her, rocking her gently in his arms until she fell back asleep. He slid her down onto
the pillow then appeared indecisive. Duncan sat looking at the sleeping form and when Methos would
have moved off the bed, he reached out a hand to stop him.

“No, stay. We've felt the loneliness before. She...needs us.” His stomach lurched at the thought that
followed that one, his whole body tensing. He took a shaky breath.

Methos heard it, saw the white knuckles clenching the dark green quilt. He carefully modulated his voice. “Yes. The middle of the night is the worst sometimes.” Straightening the quilt over Merit, he kept his
attention on Duncan.

The younger Immortal sighed, watching Methos’ hands move hypnotically back and forth. Wearily, he
shed his robe and slid under the covers.

Methos then did the same, burrowing near the warmth of the other bodies, shivering where the sheets
were chill. He was wondering when he would warm up when a hand reached out and pulled him closer,
pulled him right up against Merit, into the warmth, into the circle of strong warm arms wrapped around
Merit and now pulling him in. He met Duncan's eyes over top of Merit's head on the pillow.

Duncan's quiet baritone reached his ears. “No need to be cold.”

He smiled, his thought immediately on his lips. “How could anyone ever be cold in your presence?” The
sentence with its layered meanings settled quietly on them like a warm blanket. Methos had to close his
eyes when he felt a squeeze from the hand that lay over both Merit and him. He fell asleep with that touch warming him.

Duncan woke slowly, not really wanting to leave the place he was in, the feeling of warm, strong arms
holding him. He buried his face deeper in the pillow, but the birdcall beckoned him, luring him from the
hazy world of sleep. He gained consciousness all at once, not moving, nor opening his eyes, just laying
and listening, feeling the world around him.

The strong arms weren't only a dream. Just as he was wrapped around a soft warm body, the handful he had definitely female, there was another warmth at his back, arms enclosing tightly. Sometime during the
night they'd shifted, maybe one had arisen and left the bed briefly, shifting the sleeping order.

He lay quietly, absorbing the sensations of being sandwiched in living flesh. The softness on one side was in direct contrast with the hardness on the other. There was strength in both but it was of a different
quality, a different feel. The flesh under his hand was smooth with a sense of givingness to it, a soft
yielding quality, before one reached the steel of strong muscles underneath. He moved, lifting his head to
bury his face in the space where shoulder met neck, inhaling the unique fragrance of woman, faint
perfume, soap, lotion layering over that essence that comes from the pores. A known quantity, this smell, this feel, calling to his body instinctively, without thought. Easy. Simple.

He let go of Merit and turned over onto his back slowly, the better to reach the body behind him. Methos
didn't awaken, simply adjusted himself to the new position by burrowing into Duncan's side, his left leg
sliding over the younger man's left leg, the knee snugging up between his legs, a warm, heavy weight.
Hesitantly Duncan lifted his arms, encircling the man sleeping on him, not thinking, just feeling. The skin
over his back was smooth, taut, cool. Frowning, he stretched an arm and snagged the quilt that had
slipped down, pulling it up over them.

Methos sighed, murmuring something softly, his face burrowing even more into the curve between
shoulder and chest and moving his whole body closer to the warmth. His hand grasped tightly around
Duncan's waist then fell slack again, another sigh issuing from him as a distinct whisper slipped out
behind the sigh.


In spite of himself, something broke loose inside the younger Immortal.

In his four hundred years, Duncan MacLeod had numerous people leaning on him for support, for
guidance, wanting something or needing something from the strong warrior, whether or not he had
anything valuable to give. They seemed to think he did, so he had tried his best over the years to aid those who needed it, protect the weak, shelter the weary. Love those who needed it, and those who inspired it
in him.

This man had really meant what he had said to him yesterday morning. He had opened himself up, risked
Duncan's rejection, his condemnation, to speak and act on his feelings. The reality that the world's oldest living person felt that he was worth caring for in that way, that the older man might actually need
something from Duncan in return, had him thunderstruck. Awed.


What had he to offer the world's oldest man? What kind of appeal had he, a man who had never looked
beyond his narrow cultural upbringing to see the possibilities for love inherent in the other half of the
race? This man, who had lived over ten times longer than he had, wanted the kind of intimacy with him
that Duncan only rarely had found with women. He could count on one hand the relationships of that kind of depth he'd had in four hundred years. And all of them- dead, gone, lost before their time.

It scared him right down to his toes. He couldn't admit it yesterday, but he could now, in the still dawn
hours while the others slept on, warm and secure. Or were they? He thought of Merit in the night, of
pain that found expression only in the darkest hours, welling up from her depths. He realized he didn't
know Methos at all, not really. He didn't know what his fears were, what haunted him in his
nightmares... all he knew was a keen, sharp wit, a strong sense of self-preservation, a mysteriousness that came out in his actions, seemingly random, without cause.

But nothing was ever without cause. Nothing.

His own response yesterday morning... it had been real. It was real. Maybe that's what scared him too,
that he might care enough to forge down paths never traveled, never even contemplated before now. Sex
could be easy and uncomplicated with women and had been many times in his past. He was surprised at
his own reaction to Methos yesterday. It had never crossed his mind that he might ever want sex with
another man. He had never found himself attracted enough to anyone who'd made the pass. But he
honestly didn't think it was about ‘just sex’ with the older Immortal, or that he was capable of just sex
with the person laying trustingly in his embrace. There were too many issues tangled up with it, too many things spoken and unspoken between them. They had a relationship they'd formed already, as friends and as Immortals, that would be part of the equation.

It had been hard enough with mortal women, creating working intimate relationships. Harder still with
Immortal women. But with another strong Immortal male? With all their will-to-survive, their strength of
viewpoints, their differences, the potential for disaster.... It would be impossibly difficult. If not simply
impossible. And if a relationship were impossible....why clutter up what they already had with

But that was a moot point now, since the cluttering had already happened, he sighed to himself. He
thought back to what Methos had said to him yesterday morning about his haunting Methos for the past
three years - the length of their friendship. Maybe it always had been a moot point.

He felt the rise and fall of Methos’ chest as he lay breathing, faintly stirring his chest hair with each
exhalation. Moving his hands, he felt how the cool skin had warmed up once more. Traveling further, he noted the differences, the hard spareness, the ripples of muscle and sinew that lay immediately under the
smooth skin covering him, the strength in his arms, his legs. There was beauty here, a different kind then he was used to admiring, but beauty nonetheless. His bristly jaw scraped over the soft, fine hair on the
crown of Methos’ head, and it tickled his nose as he noticed the man's unique scents, a combination of
the herbal scents and products he favored, sharp and clean-smelling, and the bright, clear tang of the man

As he held him, Duncan wondered how many times over the years he had wanted to just hold another
man, feel the pleasure of their arms around him, the exchange of warmth and caring, without having to
wait until a crisis struck. Connor had held him when Little Deer had died, offering the simple caring of his arms during that crisis, and had embraced him at other times as they came and went in each others’ lives
over the years. Those moments, that man, meant the world to him, as family, as father, as friend.

But who else had been there offering the simple pleasure of their strength for Duncan to lean on? Very
few. This man had come into his life three years ago and had always seemed to be there when Duncan
really needed him. Had put his own life, his own needs, on the line or on hold until Duncan's needs had
been met. Didn't that honestly say it all?

And it still scared him. Who was there in this man's life for him to lean on? Who understood the five
thousand year old man? Who alive could even begin to comprehend what complexities existed within?

Maybe it wasn't complex at all, he realized, what the oldest man needed. Maybe it was as simple as what
most others needed, arms holding him, a shoulder to lean on. A warm body in the middle of the night
when the nightmares came. The pleasure of another’s touch, the light of passion in their eyes, the release
of worry, the freedom to respond. Caring.

He smiled to himself. Amanda had said for years that he made everything much more complex than it
needed to be. Maybe this was a very good example. Maybe all he needed to do was to let tomorrow
handle tomorrow, and keep his focus on today. On what was in front of him. On what was pressed so
tightly to him that he couldn't have found a spare inch between the two of them, he chuckled silently.

A perverse delight took over and he carefully shifted his armful, rolling them so that Methos lay back on
the pillow and he lay half-covering the lean form. Eyes followed a hand down the torso as it roamed over
every bit of skin, admiring what he had not allowed himself to admire like this before, moving down onto
the taut abdomen, the lean runner's flanks. Tracing lines of muscles down each thigh, he ran his hand
back up and into the wiry curls at his groin, not hesitating now but wrapping his large hand gently around
the flaccid member laying there. He watched as it hardened quickly, not needing much coaxing as he
squeezed, not knowing what else to do other than to use the touches that he liked, the strong rhythm he
set in motion oddly erotic to do on another male, his own body responding as if it were his own.

Looking up, he realized abruptly that Methos was awake and watching him, eyes dark and sleepy, an
indefinable emotion in them. He opened his mouth as if to speak, and Duncan placed his other hand over
it, shaking his head no. He rubbed his fingers against the parted lips, getting distracted by the feel of
another bristled jaw under his hand. That is certainly a new sensation, he smiled to himself, running his
hand over Methos’ face as he lay acquiescent, tracing the shape of his nose, pushing fingers into his silky

Leaning down over the older Immortal, Duncan placed his mouth close to Methos, his eyes gleaming, his
voice a low rumble. “I want to watch you come. I've never really watched another man before, never
watched the beauty of it...” He fit actions to words as he started again a firm, even rhythm on Methos’

The words were almost enough to make him come right there and then, so unexpected, so erotic. Methos couldn't help it, a strangled groan slipped out from his mouth. “Mac...” he gasped. Duncan shushed him, a smile on his face, then covered his mouth with those luscious lips that Methos fantasized about more
than once.

Without hesitation, he feasted. Reaching up, he fisted hands into the wild, dark hair hanging down around
Duncan's face. They suckled, tongues entwined and stroking in tandem with the eager pumping below.
He gasped again into Duncan's mouth as his hips bucked upwards, while Duncan changed the way his
hand gripped, stroking with fingers on the sensitive underside.

“I'm tempted to put my mouth on you, to see what you taste like,” Duncan murmured. It was gratifying
to watch Methos’ eyes close as he bit his lip in response. “But,” he continued, “I promised myself I’d get to watch.” His mouth brushed Methos’ as he added, “Maybe next time...”

It was like one, long, endless slide into white-hot oblivion. All he could do was hold on to the only thing
that anchored him, the very thing that was sending him on this journey. His hands gripped with bruising
strength on that hot, smooth skin, his mouth gasped for air as his body took over. He began to climax, his
hips bowing upward tautly, a groan quickly swallowed by Duncan's mouth on his, coaxing, soothing then gentling his own as he slowly settled down, spent.

While Duncan ran large hands over him, quieting his reaction caringly, Methos lay with eyes closed. His
mind reeled as out-of-control as his body had, vacillating between wanting to laugh, to punch Duncan
right in the jaw or to roll him over and reciprocate the act. The smile won out as he realized that once
again, Duncan had managed to assert control in a situation he felt out of control in. Between two
strong-willed Immortals such as they, things were going to prove very interesting.

He was once again surprised when Duncan slipped arms around him and embraced him tightly, pulling
their bodies closely together as they lay on their sides. “Let me clean up, everything will be a mess,” he
protested quietly.

“Shut up Methos, and let me hold you,” came the very definite reply.

So he did, relaxing into the embrace of the younger one, enjoying the feeling of his face next to Duncan's
on the pillow, of their legs impossibly entangled, of large, callused hands soothing up and down his back
and humorously cupping and squeezing his buttocks occasionally. He wished he knew what thoughts had gone through Duncan's head, what ideas had spurred him to this behavior, but he wasn't about to look a
gift horse in the mouth. At least not right now. All he wanted to do right now was to enjoy...

They must have dozed off, or at least he had, because the next thing he knew both Duncan and Merit
were there with warm washcloths, Duncan carefully washing him as Merit was just as lovingly attending
to Duncan. His eyebrows rose at that, and the men's eyes met. Duncan looked faintly red across the
cheekbones but there was a defiant gaze to his eyes, as if to say “I can handle this, I'm not embarrassed.”

Oh yeah? wondered Methos. Let's find out. In an abrupt move, he sat up and captured Duncan's mouth
with his own while Merit was still attending to him. He felt the shock, the stiffness that pervaded him, but the kiss persisted and gradually the younger man's tension fell away like unwanted clothes as he allowed
himself to reciprocate. When they pulled apart, Methos saw that Merit had  embraced Duncan from
behind, creating a double assault on his senses.

He smiled at Duncan then Merit. “Good morning. What a marvelous awakening.” He shifted his eyes back to Duncan. “Twice.” Before there could be a response, he grabbed the cloths and slid out of bed,
retreating to the bathroom.

By the time he returned, Duncan was sitting on the edge of the bed with Merit standing between his legs
as they held each other, her head laying on his shoulder as he comforted her. Methos came up behind her, wrapping arms around both figures.

“How long have the nightmares been occurring, Merit?”

“Long enough,” came the quiet reply.

Methos met Duncan's eyes over her head. There was an unspoken agreement in their gaze. Duncan
spoke up. “Promise me, us, that you'll not stay holed up on that damn island of yours for so long in the
future. And promise us that you'll call if you need anyone, for anything. Even if it's just to be held.”

She sniffed a bit, smiling. “Easier said than done, Duncan.”

His eyes met Methos’ again. “I know.” Raising his hand in a fleeting brush across Methos’ mouth, he
turned his attentions back to Merit, and set out to lavish all his attentions on her. “We'll have to make you
want to call us then,” he grinned as he flipped her around and bore her back onto the bed. Smiling,
Methos stretched out on the other side of her, more than willing to participate in teaching Merit the
lesson. The three came together like romping puppies, with blessed laughter ringing out into the room.

Later as they lay quiet and cuddled close, Merit took hold of Duncan and Methos’ hands, bringing them
close to her heart and kissing them as she entwined them together. “Hold fast,” she murmured. “Time
goes so quickly, even for us. Everything is so uncertain. Take your blessings while you can.” There
was no protest, only silence as she let go of them and the two hands held tightly together.

They made the trip back to Seacouver reluctantly that afternoon. No one admitted it, but time spent in the company of those with whom they could relax and share unspoken understandings was a rare thing. The
very nature of Immortality and the Game precluded much closeness between those who bore its mark.
Moments such as these were hoarded secretly in silence, a buffer against harder times to come.

Responsibilities called and time grew short for Merit. The leave of absence from her position on the small
Greek island she lived on was drawing to a close. Subdued, she asked to be taken directly to her hotel. “I've got to have some clothes cleaned or I’ll be forced to go shopping for fresh ones.” She thought about that for a moment. “Not that the idea would be a great hardship, mind you,” she added. “But
nice to have clean clothes in which to do it.”

“You're welcome to anything at my place,” Duncan offered.

“Thanks, but...I think I’ll just have housekeeping make some extra money and let them do it. I've got
some calls to make, it'll keep my busy.”

Depositing her as she wished, both men stood to give her large hugs in turn.

“Thank you,” Methos said quietly, kissing her cheek.

“None needed, agapemo.” She turned to Duncan and went into his arms.

“Take care of that one for me,” she whispered to him.

He couldn't help flicking his eyes to Methos as he retrieved Merit's duffle from the back of the car. “He's not one to let people do too much of that.”

“All the more reason then, yes?” She leaned in and kissed him.

Duncan looked back at the dark-haired woman. “And you, how about you? Who takes care of you these

“Eh,” she shrugged it away. “I have a whole island who does nothing but drive me crazy ‘caring’ for me.”

“That's not the same thing we're talking about, and you know it.” He leaned in and touched his nose to
hers. “Don't forget - you call me if you need anything. Anytime, anywhere. Even if it's -”

“-just to be held,” she laughed as they spoke at the same time. Shouldering the duffle Methos was
holding, she added, “I'm going to call and get my plane tickets tonight. I’ll let you know when. Run me
to the airport?”

“Of course, you don't have to ask. Just call, let us know.”

There was two more brief kisses then a whirl of dark hair as she disappeared through the door the
doorman held open for her.

The men were silent as they got back into the car and pulled out into traffic. A restless mood had
descended upon Duncan.

“Hungry?” He checked his watch for the time. “It's coming up dinnertime. I don't really want to have
to work at fixing anything. How about going to Joe's?”

Methos stretched his legs out, leaning back into the seat. Might as well get comfortable, he thought,
working at not being annoyed. MacLeod's going to stretch this out until he's tired of running. “Sure,” he said amenably. “I'm game. I could go for one of his big, juicy American burgers with plenty of hot,
greasy fries.”

“And a few beers on the side,” Duncan added, smiling.

“What else?” Methos agreed. “We are going to go by the loft first, though, yes?” At Duncan's
affirmation, he sighed. “Good. I want to change clothes.”

“We've got to unpack the cooler, too.”

Both loaded their arms with items as they unpacked the car. The dojo was still open so they chose to
avoid dragging things through to reach the elevator. Instead, they lugged things up the outside stairs, each grabbing a handle of the cooler. They made short work of items to be put away in the kitchen. Duncan
took a few things downstairs to his storage area  and Methos slipped in to the bathroom to clean up. After a brief shower, he dried and exited with his towel slung low around his hips.

Duncan  was back, unpacking. “All yours,” Methos offered, secretly amused by the double meaning.

The Scot stood by his armoire stripped down to his briefs as he put things away. Methos stared covertly
at the sight, castigating himself as a fool for looking. A polite “do not disturb” sign was up, had been all
afternoon. Methos swore to himself he wouldn't push, would let Duncan set the pace. But the sight of
the golden-skinned creature standing before him was sorely trying his patience.

The armoire doors clicked shut. “Okay. Be right out.”

Duncan had the gall to strip off his briefs and throw them into the corner hamper casually before he
padded into the bathroom. Methos heard the shower come on and the door slide shut. What am I, he
wondered, wallpaper? The hold he had on his patience started to slip, his temper goading him. Is he that
ignorant that  he doesn't know what he's doing? Does he even give a damn? He yanked the towel from
around his hips, throwing it heatedly into the hamper. Damn idiot probably thinks everything can just go
on like it has been, as if nothing had happened. He unzipped his large duffel and rummaged for a clean pair of jeans and a sweater, flinging them onto the bed in turn, then tore up his things further looking for
underwear. Except, of course, when he wants to do something. Like watch his boy toy perform. The
thought of this morning and Duncan's actions had Methos’ hands tight on the duffel and his body
hardening with the memories. Fucking hell! He decided to skip the damn boxers and grabbed socks,
zipping the duffel shut and flinging it back on the floor in a heap.

He had just yanked on his jeans and they sat unfastened around his hips when he heard Duncan begin
singing in the shower, a mangled aria. He sounded like a man with no concerns, nothing preying on his
mind at all.

That was the final insult. Methos stood still for all of about 5 seconds, the muffled voice raised in song
fueling his anger with each note.

Fuck it! Fuck it all to hell. He turned and slammed into the bathroom, banging the door shut behind him.
The voice had dwindled to a stop at the slam of the door. Now the only sounds were the shower spray
pounding down onto the tiles and the loud breathing of the man standing in the room.

“Methos? Something wrong?”

The door to the shower slid open with a clatter. “Yes, you might say that.” Methos stood outside the
shower peeling out of his jeans. Duncan noticed he wore no underwear underneath as he pulled the tight
legs off each foot. And he was very aroused. “We're going to work on it right now.” He stepped into
the shower, sliding the door closed behind him very gently, his gaze never leaving Duncan's.

Duncan found himself taking a step backward at the look in the older man's eyes then stopped himself as
he noticed his reaction. “Work on what? What’s wrong?” he repeated warily.

“We've got a little ‘balance of power’ issue here. I want to correct it.”

Duncan had never felt stalked in his own shower before but he did now. He couldn't help the two more
steps he retreated and felt like an idiot when his back came up against the cool tiles. “Why don't we talk
about it --” He got interrupted.

“I think not.” The gentle voice was at complete odds with the expression on Methos’ face, almost that of
a stranger. Hands came out and grasped Duncan's wrists, pinning them back against the wall as he was
flattened against it by the body connecting with his. The two men stood plastered together with the
shower spray slicking their bodies, face to face, one disconcerted, the other intent.

“Methos --”

He never finished his thought. The face in front of his moved and a mouth devoured his. The body
pushing into his couldn't actually get any closer but it seemed to, seemed to find all the spots where skin
wasn't merging with skin and correct that oversight. He wanted to yell ‘Stop, wait’ but didn't, couldn't
find the air, couldn't think straight enough to make his mouth move properly. All he could do was to
stand there while his groin was pushed tight against another, his cock quickly hardening in excitement, his body leaping down the path of passion so fast he couldn't keep up.

The mouth moved to his neck and he managed to get out some words. “Methos, please --” It moved up
to his ear, biting down hard enough to make him wince. The deep voice flooded his senses.

“Oh, I will, Highlander, I will. I’ll please myself and I’ll please you too, in spite of yourself.” The mouth
soothed where it had bitten, the tongue rough, sending sensations all the way down his spine. Teeth
dragged down and around his neck, the tongue finding his pulse point in the hollow of his throat and
stroking, mouth closing over it and suckling. He groaned. The feeling of his mouth coupled with the slide of wet skin went straight to his groin. He responded instinctively to the assault upon his senses and pulled his arms away from the restraining hands, encircling the hard, lithe form pressing against him. The
excitement in the ancient Immortal was contagious. No matter it confused him, right now it was new
and rousing. The passionate glitter in the dark eyes looking at him stirred his blood. A surge of desire
moved through him and he grabbed Methos’ face, bringing his mouth to his. Nothing else mattered at the
moment but this.

“Impatient already, Highlander?” Methos’ eyes gleamed at him as he held him off.

The look in his eye gave Duncan pause. “I don't understand-”

“I know. We're going to correct that.” He bent to his task, hands and mouth dragging over the golden
skin, sipping at the water that ran over him, suckling and leaving small dark marks that faded even before
the next one appeared. Methos began to move languidly, taking his time over each and every caress. He
suckled the small hard nipples, biting each gently, feeling his own cock harden painfully as Duncan began
to move restlessly with each flick of his tongue, sliding his erection against his own. He allowed the
action, watching the younger man as he continued his foray with mouth, turning his attentions to his
arms, firm and muscled. His tongue found sensitive spots in the bend of elbow, at the juncture of wrist
and hand, mouth moving down to suckle fingers, tongue swirling around each one. When it seemed that
Duncan was becoming too aroused, he stepped back, breaking body contact between them.

As Duncan automatically reached for him, Methos deflected his hands by grasping them with his own.
Leaning in he kissed Duncan slowly. “Let's go get more comfortable.”

The younger Immortal narrowed eyes at him but didn't demur, following him out of the shower readily
enough. They spent some moments drying each other off carefully. Backing him out of the bathroom,
Methos had Duncan sit on the edge of the bed while he slowly toweled his sodden hair. Within minutes
his head was resting bonelessly against Methos’ stomach while he was massaged with a firm touch. A
rumble came up from the depths of the large Scot.

“Mmmph...That’s magic. Where’d y’ learn that?” He brought arms up around Methos’ limber frame.

“Long, long ago in a land far, far away,” he quipped, an amused expression passing over his face.
Dropping the towel aside, he nudged Duncan onto the bed, following him down. Laying next to him, he
let his eyes and hands roam over the tanned skin.

“Do you know how absolutely beautiful you are?” He noted the slight discomfort that appeared in
Duncan's expression. Ignoring it, he continued. “I could name plenty of times and places you’d have
brought a princely sum. As a slave,” he added at Duncan's blank look.

“Thanks, but no thanks,” was the emphatic reply.

“Why not?” Methos asked as he moved slowly, straddling Duncan's hips, continuing to let his hands search out hidden sensitive points. “A slave like you would only get purchased by the most wealthy, and would
live quite nicely, pampered and cared for, your every wish granted.”

“Except freedom,” Duncan commented sardonically.

Methos smiled innocently, his eyes laughing. “Everything has it's price.”

“That's not one I care for.”

Methos leaned into him, hands moving into his hair. “Sometimes we don't have a choice. Some decisions are out of our control.”

“We always have a choice.”

“A choice, yes, but not necessarily the choice you’d want to have.”

A frown moved across Duncan's face and he shifted restlessly. “Methos, is something wrong?”

In answer the ancient leaned in and kissed Duncan gently, hands framing his face. “Roll over, let me rub
your back,” he replied, avoiding the question.

Duncan moved to do as the ancient requested, his face a study of thoughts. He saw an arm reach out for
something next to the bed. Moments later, the soothing aroma of herbal massage oil reached his nostrils
and warm, slick hands were applied to his back.

“Just relax, Duncan,” Methos murmured quietly. His fingers dug into the firm muscles across the
shoulder blades, then smoothed across the surface, rolling the flesh gently in waves, working out the
knots. His hands worked up and over the shoulders, down the spine into the lower back. Knowledgeable
fingers sought out and found certain pressure points, working them as his hands flowed. He worked
down both legs, reaching the feet. Manipulating the bones, he gave particular attention to pressure points
on his soles. Arms were stroked and hands given the same detailed attention as the feet. He attention
moved upward to the dark head as Methos shifted forward. Gentle fingers soothed head and brow.

After a long period of this attention, Duncan couldn't help but be relaxed, feeling boneless and completely
responsive. When Methos leaned forward and lay down on him, the weight of him felt comforting,
warming. Secure arms came around and enveloped him, embracing him from behind.

“Feeling relaxed?”

“Mmmph,” came a lazy response. “ ‘S wonderful.”

Methos rubbed his face against the soft, dark hair. “You like this?” He slid down just enough to run his
hand slowly under Duncan's body, down his chest, to his groin. Warm oiled fingers surrounded his
cock, slowly pulling, massaging the sac.

A sigh was heard. “Yeah.”

He stretched so that his face was next to Duncan's ear while his right hand was still enclosing Duncan's
now-hard cock. His left arm was still underneath the pliant Immortal, wrapping up and around his left
shoulder. “I like it too,” his low, precise voice rumbled in the younger man's ear, “seeing you enjoy my
touch. That pleases me.” He punctuated his words by rubbing his cheek along Duncan's, the late day
growth abrading slightly. Duncan turned his head and caught Methos’ mouth in a unconstrained kiss, his
hand slipping up and into the short, silky hair.

“That's nice,” the ancient sighed. He kept his voice low and enticing as he continued, punctuating his
words with small kisses. “But you know what’s not nice? Being ignored. Disregarded. Discounted.
That really pissed me off.”

It took Duncan a moment for the actual words Methos had spoken to sink in. His tone of voice was
soothing and quiet, at odds with the content. The hand on his erection was still firm also, and Duncan
was having trouble taking in what was said. “Methos... I don't understand,” he said for the second time
that evening.

“Duncan, think about it,” again the words were highlighted by caresses from hands and body, “If Amanda were standing in front of you, fresh out of the shower and wrapped in a towel, would you ignore her?
Not even look at her?” His meaning began to take on some recognizable shape. “When you look at her,
you think sex, automatically. Not that I blame you,” he added, humor infusing his voice. His tone
sobered. “But when you look at me, if you look at me, you think - confusion. So you don't even look at
me. Did you realize how you have completely refused to look at me directly since we left the island?”

Methos’ words sunk deeply into Duncan. My god, he was right. A wave of embarrassment and guilt
coursed through him. In reaction, he started to move, to get up, but immediately found himself restrained
by the wiry strength of the Immortal laying over him.

“No, no running away from this, not this time. We need to deal with this.” Methos was quiet, resolute.

Duncan struggled briefly against the full nelson hold the other Immortal had on him, but stopped, knowing the futility of it. His anger and frustration found an outlet. “No running away? That's rich, coming from

The barb found its target. Methos paled and after a moment, released his hands from behind Duncan's
neck, pulling his arms out from under him. “Fine. We don't have to talk about it. Let's just forget it.” He rolled off the younger man and made to leave.

Even before seeing Methos’ face, Duncan felt contrite. “Dammit,” he bit out, rolling over and kneeling
while reaching a hand out onto the other man's shoulder. “Don't leave. You're right. I've been --.”

“An ass?”

Duncan appeared annoyed and chagrined at the same time. “Maybe, yeah.”

A bright smile broke out on Methos’ face, breaking through the tension. “Just know you're the most
gorgeous ass I've ever seen.” He reached to caress the part in question.

Duncan felt his face heat in reaction, feeling behind the eight ball. “Please, let’s talk,” he paused briefly. “I'm still feeling out of my depth with this. Not exactly fun,” he grimaced.

Methos hesitated, then moved to sit up against the pillows, scooting under the quilt. Looking at Duncan,
he pulled back the cover and indicated he should join him.

Duncan smiled, shaking his head. “You're always cold.” He sat down next to the other man, moving his
legs next to him. “Let me be bed warmer.”

“Anytime,” Methos agreed. A companionable silence fell over the two for a minute as they sat lost in their own thoughts. Eventually Duncan stirred, frowning.

“You're right, I was avoiding you. Mentally and physically.” He noticed Methos’ hand laying on top of the quilt and enfolded it in his own. “This... us,” he said lamely, not finding something comfortable to label
them with, “It's .... I just started getting used to the idea on the island. Now we're back among friends,
back in my life. I honestly don't know how to view you, how you fit in anymore.”

Methos looked thoughtful. “Mac, if I were a woman, what would you do?”

His answer was readily given. “I’d want to spent time with you, take you out. Go places together. Get
to know you more. Go to bed.” He grinned a crooked grin.

“Do you want to spend time with me?”

Duncan played with his hand unconsciously, answering slowly. “Yes. I always have. I was always
surprised and... gratified... when you showed up unexpectedly. Like this last time. I always wondered
what it was that had you showing up.”

“Now you know.”

“And now I know.” They exchanged a long glance, Methos looking away first.

“Look, Mac, I understand this is something that will take time for you to get used to. Do me a favor
though, would you. Don't treat me like wallpaper.”

Duncan looked disconcerted. “Wallpaper?”

“Yeah, you know, just something there, something that you don't notice in detail.”

That made Duncan smile. “Isn’t it ironic how two people can read all the signs backwards? I always
notice you. I just... felt awkward. Easier to ignore you.”

“Ah, Highlander,” Methos smiled and turned to him, a hand on his face. “It's never a good idea to ignore
me.” He leaned in to sip at the full lips that curved in a smile, welcoming the touch of a tongue against his own. The kiss deepened slowly, the two letting the easy touches of mouth and hand speak for them.
When Duncan leaned over Methos to deepen the caress, Methos held him off.

“Mac, trust me?”

He looked confused, but Duncan nodded slowly, waiting.

“Let's go get dinner first. We have all night.”

Dark eyes watched him as Duncan took a moment to try and figure out the ancient. First he practically
attacks me, now he wants to stop and go eat dinner? He thought about his unsatisfied desire and sighed. “Are you always this perverse?”

“Not always. Sometimes it's worse,” he admitted, eyes twinkling.

Duncan sighed. “Damn.”

He figured it would be a long evening. He had no clue how long it could be. And was. The end of week
crowd was lively and large. He was always surprised at how many of the regulars he knew and who
knew him. It gave him a warm feeling inside in spite of himself to have a place where he was recognized
and accepted as one of the crowd. That was something that hadn't happened too often in his long life.

Joe was behind the bar when they entered. “Well, well. Look what the cat dragged in.” Smiling, his face
and tone conveyed how glad he was to see the two Immortals. “The usual?”

Duncan slid onto a bar stool. “Two beers. On his tab.” His thumb stabbed toward the ancient leaning
against the bar next to him.

Methos raised his eyebrows. “Guess I'm paying tonight.” Taking the bottle from Joe, he tapped it against Duncan's before he took a sip. “To freedom and love.”

Duncan found himself drinking, his gaze on the warmth in the other man's eyes as he leaned casually on
the bar, his body close enough to feel the heat emanating from him.

“Freedom and love... interesting choices. What brought them up?” Joe asked as he fixed mixed drinks for one of the waitresses. He poured and measured without missing a beat, his eyes never overlooking a

“Just a conversation we were having earlier.” Methos finally looked away from Duncan, turning to Joe to
ask him something about the club. Duncan ignored their chatter, instead focusing on the form next to

What was it he'd said? If he had been Amanda, he'd have looked differently at him. Turning his head
slightly, he looked now at the older Immortal standing next to him. He'd worn a dark blue mock-necked
sweater, tighter than he normally favored, not one of those loosely hanging ones. This one hugged his
form and disappeared into faded jeans. The thin knit had a kind of sheen to it, shimmering under the soft
lighting and emphasizing the breadth of his shoulders, the shape of his lean form. This was definitely a
deviation from his usual “fade into the background” type of clothing. Staring, he thought he could even
make out the rise and bump of his chest muscles, flat nipples on each side. He felt an overwhelming urge
to reach out and touch that chest, feel the rise and fall of muscle, see if his body responded to his touch-

“Mac, you hungry?”

The words intruded into his reverie. His eyes slid upward to find Methos looking at him quizzically. He
nodded, the accumulation of his previous thoughts curling his lip slightly at the edges. “Yes. Very.”

Methos’ eyes fixed on his while a stillness settled over him and Duncan knew that somehow the other
man understood. The ancient broke the momentary silence. “Why don't I order for us?”

Duncan gave a small nod and slid off the stool. “I’ll get a table.”

Before Methos could make his way to the table Duncan had chosen in the corner, some acquaintances and patrons of the dojo had spotted Duncan and struck up a conversation. Methos came back and slipped into the vacant chair across from him, nodding hello to the group of men and women sitting and standing
around the table.

The younger Immortal found his focus split between the words spoken to him and watching the face
across from him. Some of the group had drawn Methos into conversation. Duncan was struck by the
animation he was showing. He caught a few words here and there, enough to know they were discussing current movies and stymied him. Pop culture was creating this animated response in the
world's oldest man? How strange...

He let the conversation flow around him, interjecting a word or two here and there, content to sit and
watch this most unexpected behavior. The low lighting shimmered on the blue sweater  and caused
Methos’ sudden and frequent smile to flash white in the shadows of his face. Something the young
woman said to him had his eyes sparkling, his laughter ringing out clearly. It struck him that the young
woman  (what was her name? Terri, blue belt class) was taken with ‘Adam’, and was subtly putting out
available signals. Damn, but he wished he could hear their conversation, hear what Adam was saying
sotto voce to the clear-eyed young brunette, but the conversation around him precluded it. He resigned
himself to sitting back and watching only.

The arrival of their dinner broke up the group, who moved off to let the two men eat in peace. Methos
had ordered Duncan a good-sized T-bone steak, seared medium well just the way he liked it. The
significance of that detail didn't go unnoticed. Duncan saw that Methos had indeed ordered a large
hamburger buried in mushrooms and Swiss cheese.

“Miss those over in Europe?”

“Mmmph,” Methos closed his eyes in bliss, “Nobody does these like Dennis. Something in the sauce he
puts on the mushrooms. I haven’t figured it out yet.” He took another bite and chewed, thinking. “One
day, though, I’ll get it and reproduce it.” One more bite had juices from the burger running down his
fingers and chin. As he licked it off both spots, Duncan found himself transfixed at the sight. He paused, his fork in midair, reality striking him hard in his gut. He wanted him. Now.

He wanted him naked, next to him, under him, wanted to feel the heat of him searing into him, wanted
those dark eyes looking at him, wanted to hear him saying he was loved. Wanted to tell him how he felt.

The shocking rawness of his thoughts had him lowering his fork to the plate and taking a pull on his beer,
his eyes never leaving the other man. Maybe it was the very intensity of his feelings, of his gaze, that had
Methos looking up and meeting Duncan's eyes. Whatever he saw had his breath catching, fire lighting in
the depths of his own eyes. Before either could say anything, the band started tuning their instruments,
warming up for the first set.

Methos took the opportunity to move his chair around to the other side of the table next to Duncan, facing the small stage. He didn't look toward the younger man, just spoke quietly to him. “Unless you want to
shock your friends right here and now, you’d better tone it down.” He sprawled back in his chair, legs
stretched out under the table, the long line of his left leg close up against Duncan's right one. “Otherwise
I refuse to be responsible for what will happen.”

That arrowed straight down into Duncan's gut. “We can leave now.” His voice sounded hoarse, rough to his ears.

“Not yet.” The other man leaned forward with a faint smile on his face. “I want to finish dinner, listen to
the first set,” he nodded to the stage where Joe sat with the band playing their first number. Deliberately
Methos picked up his burger and took another mouthful.

Duncan took a shaky breath. “You planned this. Teaching me a lesson?”

At that, Methos leaned an elbow on the table and rested his head against his hand, contemplating the
beautiful, dark face of the Scot. He seemed a bit stunned.... by his own feelings, possibly?
Under cover of the table, a strong, slender-fingered hand reached out and rested warmly on a tightly
muscled thigh, reassuring and intimate.

“Mac, how could I plan what is essentially your own personal response to things? I can’t control that,
only you can. I can hope, but that's about all.” An amused light lit up his gaze. “And I’ll bet in four
hundred years, somewhere along the way you’ve learned to appreciate the value of anticipation.”

Duncan shook his head slowly, a long sigh escaping. “Somehow it always seems more valuable when
you're not having to exercise it,” he mourned ruefully.

Methos grinned at him, then threw his head back and laughed out loud, a carefree and joyous sound. It
struck Duncan that was the first time he could recall in quite a while that the older Immortal looked that
relaxed conversing with him. Impulsively, he reached under the table and grasped Methos’ hand with his
own, wrapping fingers tightly and holding on.

He spoke, his voice urgent and low. “I want you to know, you were right before. There is as much time
as we need. And I really do trust you.”

Methos was the one looking slightly stunned this time at Duncan's gesture. He looked down for a
moment, turned his hand over to entwine his fingers with those laying over his. When he looked back up, his eyes were bright. “You can really pick your time and place, Highlander, I’ll give you that.” He turned
to look at the band for a moment, letting the sounds of the piece they were playing register. Joe looked,
once more, in his element. The band and the crowd were just warming up. Glancing at the amount of
food left on Duncan's plate and his own, he calculated. “Finish your steak and salad.” He glanced at his
watch. “Another half hour.” He turned away from the quick grin on Duncan's face to wave down the
waitress and order more beer. He had a feeling he might need it to last the next thirty minutes.

Joe knew there’d been some curious energy between the two powerful Immortals when they'd settled at
the bar earlier, but it hadn't seemed at all negative, thank God. The last thing he or anyone else needed
was to have these two at odds with each other. Not only were they friends, but they were both good
men, and important players in the Game in their own rights.

So it did him good to see them sitting, talking, laughing together, at ease with each other and having a
good time. When he signaled the start of the song before their first break, he was surprised to notice the
two Immortals standing up to leave. He'd thought they'd stay the whole evening as they had done many
times before, listening to the band and kicking back a few beers or a good deal of MacLeod's favorite
scotch. His attention was momentarily absorbed back in the music, in the opening riffs he played. When
he looked up again, the two were at the door. He nearly lost track of the music, recovering sloppily while
struggling to absorb the image.

Duncan had his arm around the waist of the ancient Immortal, laughing and leaning his head close to
Methos’ while pulling him out the door.

The car was parked around the corner and down the street half a block. There seemed to be a dearth of
street lights on this walkway this evening, leaving the whole of it in shadows. Methos got treated to
Duncan's playful side as every twenty feet or so he stopped and pulled him tightly in, petting and kissing
him. He had seen him like this with Amanda, but it was still a shock to suddenly have him unreservedly
turning his seductive attention onto him in public when it was only hours earlier that Duncan had been
doing his best to ignore the whole thing. MacLeod was nothing if not impetuous and decisive at times,
throwing himself into whatever he made up his mind about. Apparently he'd made up his mind about
them. He certainly wasn't acting confused anymore. Methos didn't know whether to feel amused or

They made it to the car and drove back the several blocks to the dojo. The five thousand year old man
felt gleefully silly as he bounded out of the car in the faint light reflected from the street lamp.
Immediately, he started up the outside stairs to the loft at a fast sprint. There were thundering footsteps
on the metal stairs behind him. The structure shook from the pounding it was getting as he reached the
door, fumbling for his keys and laughing like a child.

Hands grasped his arms from behind. “Gotcha.”

He leaned back into the solid shape, still laughing, a kind of bizarre giddiness coursing powerfully  through him. “Yes, you do. Now what are you going to do with me?”

Gentle hands turned him then moved to his jaw and into his hair, framing his face. He was unprepared for
the sudden shifting of mood he first saw deep in the dark eyes then heard in the Highlander’s sober
words. “I'm going to finally get this right. Forgive me. You deserve better than what I've given you so
far.’s taken me this long to figure it out.” A crooked smile appeared on the beautiful
face close to his. “Guess it's that stubborn, hard Scottish head of mine.”

Methos couldn't answer even if he had tried. First his breath was stolen by Duncan's words, then by his
mouth. It seemed as if his very soul were being drawn up and out of him with the slow, careful way
Duncan kissed and held him. It went on and on, until he was forced to hold tightly to his hard figure in an
effort to find grounding as his equilibrium went the way of his heart.

Duncan slipped a hand down to his, taking the keys out of his lax grip and inserting it in the door. It
creaked a bit as he opened it, drawing Methos in with a hand on his. The interior of the loft was nearly as dark as the outside, the only lighting a small lamp on Duncan's desk left burning earlier. Methos followed
wordlessly as Duncan led them both into the loft and tossed the keys on the desk. He slipped off his own
leather jacket and hung it up on the hall tree, then turned to Methos and removed the long duster he wore.
That too was carefully hung on the rack with care for the sword concealed inside. Taking the ancient’s
hand again, he pulled him through to the bedroom area, to the large bed on the rear wall.

Stopping, they turned and faced one another. Duncan reached for Methos’ other hand, holding both in his while he took an audible breath. “What you said earlier,” he began, his words so low they were almost a
whisper, “about Amanda. It made me think. I realized you were right, so I.... ‘adjusted my thinking’ a

“Seems to have worked,” Methos murmured, watching the multitude of emotions cross the face of the
normally controlled Immortal.

A slow smile spread over Duncan's face. “I was going crazy trying to figure out how I should act
toward a male friend of mine who I’d passionately kissed.” He looked down at their hands together, olive
fingers grasping pale ones, and marveled at the sight. “You helped me realize even though you're still a
friend, what you really are is a lover. Just as much as Amanda.” The smile faded away as golden brown
eyes searched darker ones. A large hand drifted up and rested on the knit-clad chest, resting against the
rapid beat of the elder’s heart. He met dark eyes again. “Maybe more,” he added faintly, a hint of a
question in his voice.

“I meant what I said to you at your cabin, Mac. Every word,” Methos said cautiously, almost warningly.

“Yeah, I know.” MacLeod leaned his forehead on Methos’. They stood there silent for a moment or so,
taking in the sensation of closeness. Quietly, MacLeod murmured determinedly into the silence. “I've
already had sex with you. Now... let me make love with you.”

As the words registered, Methos had the fleeting memory of offering his head to MacLeod the very first
day they'd met and wondered if it would be more life altering to lose his head to this man than losing his
heart. One, he feared, was as irrevocable as the other. After five thousand years, he'd done what he
never wanted to do - fallen in love with another Immortal. Even though he had known this for some time, the reality of it hit him hard as he heard the one he loved ask to make love with him.

He took a breath that sounded like a sob as he encircled Duncan's waist. “Gods, yes, Duncan. Yes.” His
words released Duncan to act as he wished. And what Duncan wished for was to please the person in his arms as much as he could.

Once more Duncan brought his mouth to Methos’, drinking him slowly for now, sipping as if he were a
fine brandy. He recalled when Methos had him a mass of nerve endings from little more than the touch of his mouth on him and wanted to return the gesture with interest. Slowly he divested the older Immortal of the blue sweater, pulling it up and over his head gently.

“This damn sweater,” he mumbled. “I noticed you in it the moment you took off your coat. I wanted to
touch you, here...” He trailed his hands across the bare chest, feeling how smooth, how taut it was. The
flat, dark disks beckoned and he trailed fingers lightly across both at the same time. He felt the shudder
race through the lean figure and smiled. “I wondered how you’d respond to my touch there. I wanted to
see proof you wanted me.”

Another shudder went through Methos as Duncan rolled sensitive nipples between careful fingers. “Oh god,” he gasped, “no trouble with that. I want you,” he affirmed. Grasping one of Duncan's hands,
he pulled it downward, resting it over his jeans and the hard bulk under his zipper. Leaving it there, he slid his own hands over to Duncan, one under the loose shirt and up his back, the other down onto Duncan's
tight jeans, firmly caressing his erection through the heavy denim. “I want you,” he reiterated, moving his
mouth to trail Duncan's  jawline. He reached his mouth and let the younger man take his in a deep kiss.
As they parted, he looked candidly into the golden eyes, so bright even in the low lighting. “You're so
damn beautiful, you take my breath away.”

Warmth rushed through Duncan at Methos’ words, fueling the need to touch, to please. Fumbling slightly with the metal button and zipper, he eased Methos’ jeans down over his hips, amusement sparkling his
eyes as he realized the ancient wore nothing underneath.

“In a hurry earlier?” he asked as he  pulled the denim down his legs.

“Not really,” amusement echoed in Methos’ voice and in his eyes. “Just like the feeling of the material
against my skin. Too many years lived without the modern conveniences of boxers or briefs.” He drew a breath as Duncan began to trail his mouth down his chest, moving as he pushed down the pants.

“Yes, ah know wha’ you mean.” Duncan encouraged Methos to step out of the pants while his mouth
continued to wander over spare hips, stressing his brogue in his answer. “Too many years wearin’ the
kilt had me feeling terribly confined in breeches at first.” The mouth wandered close to Methos’ erection
without touching, teasing the older man.

“Well by all means, lets get you out of your pants too, then.” Methos slipped nimble fingers to Duncan's
jeans, unsnapping and unzipping them in seconds and sliding them down over his hips and off onto the
floor. He needed to see the rest of him and had his loose shirt unzipped and over his head quickly.
Duncan himself slid down the pair of navy briefs while Methos reached around and gently pulled the
elastic out of his hair, letting it fall free over tanned shoulders. He sighed at the sight of him, like a golden
god of old standing in the dusky lighting.

“The gods truly worked together on their creation when they made you,” Methos said with reverence.

Duncan shook his head slightly. “It's all in the eye of the beholder, isn’t that part of the point you were
trying to get me to see? So let’s look.” He pushed Methos back onto the bed, running hands down taut
runner’s legs to pull off socks. Toeing off his own, he followed Methos down onto the bed, leaning over
him to look into his eyes and see the desire there. Moving back, he ran callused hands gently over pale,
gleaming skin. “Beautiful,” he announced, tracing the line of muscle over each shoulder and down each
arm. “Beautiful,” he whispered, his mouth following fingers as he tongued the indentation of naval, the
rise of hipbone. His hand slowly slid up and encompassed a firm length of erect cock, holding it still while
he brought his mouth close, blowing warm breath on it. “Yes, absolutely beautiful,” he breathed as he slid
his mouth over its length.

Methos gave himself over to the warm ecstasy embracing him, the love words rumbling almost inaudibly
from Duncan's throat as he gave attention to any part of the body that fascinated him, which seemed
practically everything. The strength in his hands, the muscles of arm and leg, the firmness of each
buttock were examined and exclaimed over. The silkiness of his hair, the curve exposed at the back of his neck, the whorls of his ears were admired and thoroughly loved with his hands and mouth.

As Methos groaned from Duncan's latest exploration, the younger man smiled, nipping skin along the
other man's cheek and neck. “So tell me, who is a construct of the gods?”

Methos stifled another groan. “Right now I think we're both gods,” he spoke raggedly. He pulled Duncan down firmly onto his prone body and anchored his knees around the muscled hips. A brief undulation had their cocks sliding together trapped between their bodies.

Duncan stretched over to reach the bedside table drawer, retrieving the bottle of lubricant stashed there.
With a minimum of fuss he had a small amount in hand and applied it to both of them, taking the
opportunity to further caress his lover for both their pleasures.

Methos moved suddenly, shifting his legs higher around Duncan's hips and settling the younger man's
cock between his buttocks. The lubricant caused skin to slide deliciously against skin, stimulating nerve
endings. Duncan's head flew back as both gasped. Pausing, his arms were rigid as he held himself up,
then Methos deliberately moved his hips again.

When Duncan could open his eyes again, he looked down and saw a mirror of his own expression on
Methos’ face. Profound joy that they were sharing this moment filled his being, causing a warmth and
exhilaration to expand from his chest. It was so unexpected a feeling it scared him, all but causing him to
withdraw from Methos’ embrace. His sudden tension was palpable.

“You okay?” A hand came up and caressed his face, tunneling back into his hair as it fell forward onto his

Duncan closed his eyes against the love he saw shining in Methos’ eyes. “Yes.” His voice was hoarse,
his throat tight from emotion. He couldn't get out his thoughts. They seemed almost too big, too
overwhelming to give voice to. Instead, he rolled out of his position over Methos, moving next to him on
the bed onto his stomach. Handing him the small bottle of lubricant, he leaned in and kissed him. “Here.”

Methos understood immediately, turning on his side and raising himself on one elbow. He reached with
one hand to caress him, running a soothing hand down over flowing hair, across tight shoulders, down to
the small of his back. He didn't try to talk Duncan out of it, just honored the choice he had made.
Especially, he valued the gift of trust he was given with the request. Immediately he set out to relax the
prone man.

Moving to Duncan's left side, he encouraged Duncan to lay on his left side while Methos embraced him
from behind. With his left arm under Duncan's neck, he placed that hand flat on top of Mac’s chest, the
warm beat of the Highlander’s heart a reassuring presence against his hand. His right arm he draped over
Duncan's hip, cupping his hand over his genitals. Adjusting until he was comfortable, he relaxed, paying
special attention to Duncan's breathing, purposefully attuning his to the younger Immortal’s. When
Duncan began to question the activity, Methos shushed him.

“This is ancient, as old as I am,” he explained, his voice deep and relaxing in Duncan's ear. “I studied
thousands of years ago with master tantricas. Let me lead the way, Duncan.”

With body relaxing once more, Duncan put himself into the care of the other man. He found himself
drifting in a relaxed state of heightened awareness after some time, hyperconscious of both himself and
the other Immortal. A warm feeling began to spread throughout him, generating from both of the elder’s
hands. The connection with Methos’ body all down his spine was beginning to heat up as well, until he
felt flushed from the top of his head down to his toes. He realized that he was hard as a rock, without any movement or specific thoughts to cause it.

By the time Methos moved, Duncan had sweat forming on his skin from the heat they were generating.
Cool air rushed down his spine as Methos gently pushed him over onto his stomach from his current
position and he couldn't contain the shiver that coursed through him. It was immediately replaced with
more warmth as Methos moved on top of him, his body a hot blanket down his spine. Once again,
without either moving, he felt his desire expand until every nerve ending on his skin seemed to feel the
very caress of the air hitting it. He moved slightly and the slide of his erection against the comforter under him was intense, bringing a gasp to his lips.

Methos seemed to sense his state and had him roll over to his back. Slowly, almost reverently, he
caressed his way down to the erect length jutting up helplessly. Without using hands, he slowly engulfed
the wide length in his mouth. The wet heat was just about enough to bring Duncan to peak by itself and
his hips arched up in reaction, readying for release. Immediately, Methos grasped his scrotum, squeezing
and pulling down gently. The pleasure of the mouth on him didn't lessen or cease but the need to reach
his peak quickly lessened. As that faded, he felt new levels of pleasure from the mouth on him, the hand
warm on his chest. He heard the bottle lid snap and felt the wet warmth of lube being applied below his
scrotum down to his anus. Fingers caressed along the slick skin and he moaned, the sensations beginning to come from all directions, scattering his thoughts, making it impossible to do anything but feel. Strong
fingers curled into the bed as knowledgeable ones caressed around and over the tightly clenched rosebud,
never stopping in their relentless pursuit of its seduction. Once again, he felt his body draw tight as the
sensations hurtled him toward his peak. This time as Methos moved his hands, he gently pressed two
fingers into a special spot midway between his scrotum and anus. He felt the energy of the touch all the
way to the top of his head, and slowly the need to ejaculate faded for the second time, leaving behind an
even stronger pleasure.

He nearly wept from the sensation. “Methos...please...” he said harshly, not sure what he was asking for,
relief or more of the same.

The elder briefly released him. “Wait, Duncan, just wait. Soon.” Again his mouth surrounded him.

Gentle fingers again began their seduction, this time finding tight muscles beginning to relax. They teased
him, promising but not quite delivering their promise, and Duncan moved his hips, not to encourage
Methos’ mouth on him, but encouraging more sensations from clever fingers. Slowly, Methos slid one
slender finger in, caressing until a second could slip in. By the time he had slowly relaxed the muscles for
three, Duncan was pushing firmly to feel more of the new sensation. When Methos crooked a finger and
caressed inside against his swollen prostate, Duncan cried out, his body shocked by the pleasure coursing
through him. For the third time, Methos removed his mouth from his erection and moved his hand, this
time grasping it tightly around him an inch below the tip of his cock. As the waves of mindless pleasure
still were felt where Methos caressed his prostate, the nearly irresistible desire to ejaculate once more
slowly faded, leaving him nothing more than a bundle of pleasure as he moaned softly.

“Last time, Duncan,” Methos whispered. He moved, turning Duncan over without stopping his caresses
in him and on him. Encouraging him quietly to rise onto his knees, Methos got more lube and applied it to
himself. Duncan was fairly vibrating from what he'd experienced. Methos placed a warm, caressing
hand on the small of his back to steady and reassure him. With one last press against sensitive areas, he
withdrew his fingers slowly, immediately placing the tip of his own cock against the opening. He thought
to move slowly but Duncan took matters into his own hands and pushed back firmly. Both men cried out
at the sensation of the hard, swollen cock joining snugly within the slick, tight flesh. Methos instantly
began breathing deeply, working to control his reaction to the feeling of sliding slowly and deeply inside
the person he loved. He wanted to wail, to shout out, to let himself merge mindlessly with his lover, but
he struggled to restrain his urge, wanting most of all to wait and bring Duncan with him on the trip.
Slowly, he began to caress slick skin below where they were joined, pressing lightly until his fingertips
heated and Duncan groaned, hips moving restlessly, muscles tightening convulsively around Methos’

“Ah, Duncan....” he trailed off breathlessly, the pleasure rushing through him now more than he wanted to deny. Leaning forward over Duncan, he wrapped arms around him, one slick hand enclosing his stiff,
weeping cock and pulling. Mouth close to his ear, he whispered, “Now, Duncan, let go now.”

Taking a shaking breath, Duncan began to move, cautiously at first, then more smoothly as they built a
rhythm together, his hips pushing back and onto his lover’s cock then forward, pushing his own into the
encompassing, warm hand. He didn't know where he stopped and his lover started, they seemed to be
almost one together in this act, flesh melded together and creating pleasure wherever it connected. His
motions flowed more quickly, a hot, white haze moving up his spine from where they were joined,
flowing through his heart and into his head, blinding him, letting him see, smell, taste and feel only his
lover. He tried to breath, couldn't seem to draw a breath as the feeling expanded inside him, ecstasy
exploding in slow motion from his spine upward to his head. He called out one thing as he was swept
away, “Methos --”

As Duncan called out his name, Methos felt the heat rise in him, felt the shudders begin deep inside, and
he finally let go to ride his own rising energy upward to bliss. Grasping the trembling body under his
tighter, he held on as he catapulted into orgasm, the heat and beauty of it nearly melting him, gasps
escaping from behind closed lips. Buried deeply inside his love’s body, he rode the waves of bliss as they
slowly brought him back down to earth, where he was still holding on bruisingly to Duncan.

Duncan slowly slid forward, his body collapsing gently, unable to hold himself up any longer. Methos
followed him down, not releasing him yet from his embrace. They lay that way for some time, Methos a
limp human blanket on Duncan's nearly unconscious body. When Methos finally was able to move, he
gently disengaged himself from Duncan's body and moved around to enfold the younger man in a
complete embrace. With his mouth nestled near Duncan's ear, Methos whispered the words that seemed
such a plain truth.

“I love you, Mac. Don't ever doubt it.”

He knew Duncan heard from the way the muscular arms tightened around his waist almost painfully.
When Duncan's body began to tremble, he leaned up and brushed the tangle of dark hair off his face.
Duncan lay with his eyes tightly closed, moisture seeping out from underneath the lids.

He frowned, concerned. “Duncan... you okay?” He continued to smooth his hair away from his eyes, his
thumbs wiping underneath his eyes to sweep away the moisture. A tear clung to his thumb and without
thinking he stuck it in his mouth, wishing he could as easily drink in the emotions bothering Duncan.

Finally Duncan spoke, his voice husky and raw. “Too much,” he whispered, “it's nearly too much.”

Methos wasn't surprised at his reaction. They had opened up many doors with the joining they just
experienced. It could be overwhelming for the uninitiated, causing layers of long-suppressed feelings to
be let loose. That was the technical truth. The working reality was that Duncan was feeling too much
from all the opened doors, and Methos felt stirrings of regret for his action. He anxiously wanted to do
whatever he could to heal it.

His hands never left the other man, tried to make a reassuring contact to help calm him. He too was
beginning to feel uncomfortable from the amount of responsibility he felt for this person he loved...ever a
hazard when one's heart was engaged. He sighed. “I should have waited. I've been too much to deal
with,” he murmured, thinking out loud.

Before he was finished talking, Duncan had already begun shaking his head no. His eyes opened and
Methos found himself drowning in the look in the golden brown eyes swimming in moisture. There was a vulnerability he'd never, ever seen in their depths before, an honesty that went far beyond his normal
position of honor and truth.

“No, Methos, you're not too much. I've never been given anything like what you just gave me, I...” he
broke off and shook his head. “It's me, what I'm feeling.” He closed his eyes away from the gaze of the elder. “It's too much, not sure I know how to handle….” He took a shaky breath. “Hold me,” he asked
his voice raw..

Methos complied instantly. “Always, Duncan. Always,” he murmured in reply.

When Merit called the next morning, the phone rang nearly seven times before Methos gave up on finding
the cordless on the bedside table. Sprinting across the room, he yanked the wall phone off its hook. “Yeah.”

“Well, good morning to you, too. Am I disturbing something?”

Methos turned to look across the room. Duncan still lay sprawled on the bed, sound asleep. “No,” he
spoke quietly, not wanting to disturb the sleeping form. A quick glance at the wall clock showed him that
it was after 9:30. “If you’d called last evening, then…yes.”

“I did call last evening, left a message on the machine. Guess you two were too distracted to see it.”

Methos leaned back and peered at the answering machine indicator on the wall phone. One message was
blinking unread. “I guess so,” he answered vaguely. “Did you get your tickets yet?”

“My plane leaves at 3 this afternoon. Will both of you take me to the airport?”

“Of course,” he said, rummaging around in the refrigerator for the juice. “What time should we pick you

“Say…around 12:30? We could go eat lunch before I have to leave.” Merit sounded wistful.

He quickly swallowed the mouthful of juice he'd drunk from the container. “Sounds good.”

Merit hesitated. “Is everything going all right, agapemo,” she asked vaguely.

He knew what she meant, refused to give direct voice to the subject. “Yes, my interfering friend.
Everything is going well. But things are….. fragile. Promise me no more interference in the future,
hmm?” He eyed the stirring comforter.

“Was I wrong?” she queried softly.

Methos turned away, looking out the window. “No, agapemo, you weren't wrong. You, my dear, were
very, very right. See you later.” He hung up the phone.

Turning back to the kitchen, he hunted until he found the coffee and started a pot brewing. Pouring a large glass of the orange juice, he took it back over to the bed, sitting it on the table then slipping into the
bathroom to relieve himself. By the time he came out, the smell of coffee was strong in the loft and
Duncan was starting to wake up.

Hopping back under the covers to take the chill off, he found himself engulfed in warm arms, pulled back
against Duncan's heat. “Cold,” a throaty voice spoke near his ear. “You're damn cold.”

Methos gratefully sank into the furnace of Duncan's body. “You're not,” he shivered as his body worked to warm itself up.

Duncan wrapped his feet around Methos’ icy ones, trying to help. He waited until the chill had faded
from the other Immortal’s skin before shifting. “Who called?”

“So you were awake. Just faking it so I’d have to answer and freeze my ass off?”

Duncan moved a hand to the body part in question. “Mmm, nope, sorry. Still there. Answer the

“Merit. Her plane leaves at 3. We're to pick her up at 12:30 for lunch before.”

“Mmm, good,” Duncan acknowledged. “What time is it?”

“About 9:45.”

Stillness reigned as both men fell silent, curled together. Duncan's hand on Methos’ chest was reassuring and warm, the fingers idly playing lightly over the skin.

“Mac,” Methos began.

“Hmmm?” he prompted when the rest wasn't forthcoming.

Methos changed his mind about the topic. He rolled over to face the younger man, stretching. “Morning.”

Duncan smiled. “You made coffee.”

Methos nodded. “But I'm not getting out of bed to get it.” He put a hand up to feel the morning
scratchiness of Duncan's beard, thumb running over his full lips. “I've got juice here, want some?”

“Methos, about last night…” Duncan said slowly.

Methos stilled his hand, poised on the edge of a cliff. He felt almost afraid to move.

Duncan continued. “I…” he stopped.

“Spit it out, Mac.” Tension made Methos’ tone gruff.

Duncan frowned. “I wanted to thank you for last night.”

That took Methos by surprise. He had expected Duncan to back off. His blank expression mirrored his
momentary confusion. “You want to thank me?”

Duncan got exasperated by the lack of response, confusing the elder Immortal's reaction for disappointment. “Do you need me to say it? Fine. I love you, too,” he scowled at the elder Immortal.

That delivery tickled Methos so much he couldn't contain his hoot of laughter. “Is this the vaunted MacLeod technique that bowls them over and has them lining up outside your door?”

Duncan uttered a few choice curses in Gaelic.

Methos could tell he was agitated when he pulled back and leaned against the headboard, eyes closed. They elder could have bitten off his tongue for responding so quickly, so flippantly, but he himself was rattled too by Duncan's stark revelation.

“Mac,” he said as he scooted up next to him on the headboard. “Mac, I'm sorry.” He speared a splayed hand through his hair, mussing it to match his rapidly growing agitation. “I have rarely in my five thousand years felt as completely… unsettled, as I have around you.” He shook his head with a self-depricating expression on his face. “Or ended up putting my foot in things as much.” He gave a bark of humorless laughter. “We're like two bull elephants, with as much delicacy and subtly at times.”

That had Duncan smiling, his eyes opening slowly. He took in the sincerely disturbed look in Methos’ eyes and let out a breath slowly. “I know what my excuse is. What’s yours?” he asked lightly, wanting to soften the tension that arose so quickly.

His humorous smile faded gradually under the intense and serious look Methos gave to him as the older Immortal turned, facing  him. Silence stretched out as the olive-brown eyes played slowly over every aspect of Duncan's face. “My excuse,” the elder Immortal said slowly, “is simply that I'm scared to death.”

That sure as hell wasn't what Duncan was expecting and the surprise and confusion must have been obvious on his face as Methos continued, talking almost as if he were talking to himself.

“I'm scared to death because I feel something I haven’t felt in a long time, if ever. And for someone who’s an Immortal, which I've rarely done. Someone who’s not only Immortal, but quite a well-known one. Someone the Watchers watch diligently, a name the other Immortals know and come after. Someone who had never explored this aspect of his sexuality before, and has a few old taboo issues surrounding it.” His hand reached over and Duncan felt feather-light caresses against his hair. “You asked for my excuse. Does that cover it?”

It struck Duncan then what Methos was risking to spend the amount of time he did in Duncan's presence. Every minute was a threat to his continued anonymity, his present 'Adam' persona. Not to mention his neck. He already had faced a serious challenge in Duncan's stead. Then there was the uncertainty of Duncan's own response.

He made up his mind immediately. ‘Two bull elephants’ was right, he thought. Swiftly he reached out and grasped Methos, feeling the wiry strength as he pulled the slightly resisting form into his arms, not letting him draw away.

He took a girding breath, determined to have his say. “I said I love you. I don't know what else to call it. Hell, it's scary for me to even say it." Unconsciously, he rubbed his hands over Methos' shoulders, at times grasping tight enough to be uncomfortable. Methos never moved, but it made it clear to him that Duncan's words were true. "Sorry, I've never been in this exact situation before. All I know to call what I'm feeling is love. I want to have you in my life. Damn, I've been wanting that for quite some time… and as for the rest of it, maybe I've been wanting that for some time, too." Duncan paused, ironically aware he had just said more to this male person in his arms then he had to most females he'd embraced intimately. "I have to admit, it feels odd to be saying this to you. But," he looked amazed as he added simply, "I don't mean it any the less for that."

Methos started to speak but Duncan stayed him with a hand held up. “Last night was-” he hesitated slightly, “Incredible. I want more. Of being with you. But you're not the only one who’s afraid.” He reached a callused hand to stroke down Methos’ arm, grasping his hand and bringing it in to lay on his own chest, warm against his skin.

Methos could feel the elevated pace of his heartbeat, steady and strong under his palm, and he knew the younger Immortal was honestly effected by the situation. “Duncan-” he tried again.

“Not of you,” Duncan interrupted. “For you. I don't think I could handle it if you… because of me… Already it's happened once. More than likely it'll happen again.”

There was a small silence before Methos asked mildly, “Have you so little faith in me even after five thousand years of survival?”

Pain etched Duncan's features. “My track record’s not so great in the relationship department,” he admitted bluntly.

Methos thought back to all the premature and violent losses Duncan had with his relationships, recorded faithfully in his Chronicles. For all his four hundred years, he had yet to live out a ‘reasonable’ lifespan with one mate.

“I am neither female nor mortal. As far different from your past experiences as one can get.” He grinned at Duncan. “Maybe part of my charm?”

“Maybe.” He smiled briefly. “Still, I can’t be responsible-”

“That's right,” Methos spoke flatly. “You can’t. Not for what another lucid adult chooses to do with his or her life. Stop assuming so much. Allow me to decide how I want to live my life. Don't attempt to make choices for me based on your own needs. And have a little faith in me, hmm?” Methos leaned forward and kissed Duncan. “I've got tricks up my sleeve you haven’t even dreamed of..”

Duncan rolled his eyes at that. “After last night, I can believe it.” He sighed, shaking his head.

They were late picking up Merit. They ate at Joe's, preferring someplace handy and relaxing. Joe was pleased to meet another Immortal about whom he had read so much. He was discrete, not probing, but his expression promised both Duncan and Methos they would undergo the third degree in private later. For now he was content to serve them their drinks, leaving them in peace to eat their meal and talk quietly among themselves.

"Part of me doesn't want to go back home. I'll miss both of you." The sentiment was delivered simply, Merit's dark eyes clearly relaying her affection.

Methos looked out of the corner of his eyes at Duncan. "Then there's nothing for it but that we come to visit you sometime. Soon, hopefully. Warm and sunny sounds infinitely more appealing than chill and drearily damp."

Duncan sighed as Merit laughed, saying that was a wonderful idea. "I can tell when I'm being coerced," Duncan offered. Methos raised his eyebrows silently. "But nicely, I will concede." The youngest shook his head. "I have to admit, a warm, sunny Greek isle has a nice ring to it. Maybe," he concluded, eyeing Methos back out of the corner of his own eyes.

Departing downtown, they headed out toward the airport. During the drive, Duncan couldn't help but bring up the subject of Merit's unhappy dream from the other night. "You sure you're going to be okay by yourself?"

She laid a hand on his arm. "I'll be fine. It was just a bad case temporary emotional weakness. I'm old enough to claim temporary insanity, aren't I?"

"Yeah, I guess so. But it's not insane to feel lonely, at least I never thought so. Damned uncomfortable at times, but not insane. Just very, very normal," he finished softly.

The silent elder in the back seat spoke up quietly. "The older you get, the more normal it becomes. Best be prepared," he predicted.

Duncan looked in the rear view mirror and saw Methos staring bleakly out the side window. Frowning himself, he let the remark pass for now. The airport turn-off was approaching and he concentrated on changing lanes and exiting the highway.

Over Merit's protests, neither man let her dissuade them from parking and walking into the terminal with her, each pulling an article of her luggage. "Shut up and be thankful we've got nothing better to do today," Methos commented, grinning.

"I've been put into my proper place," she said to Duncan. "Thank you, my lord," she swept Methos a deep curtsey.

"That's more like it, child." Methos flashed a wicked grin.

It was with laughter they awaited the departure of the flight to Heathrow. When they called first class boarding, both men embraced the dark-haired woman.

"Thank you, both. Do me a favor. Take care of one another, yes?" She saw their quick look at each other. "And I want to see you soon, philos. So start making plans." With a flip of her long hair, she turned and was down the breezeway.

Neither man was talkative as they made their way back out of the busy airport to the parking lot. Unlocking the car, Duncan let them in, but sat without starting the engine. The expression on Methos' face as he talked of loneliness being the norm disturbed Duncan, made him want to wipe it off, no matter how irrational the impulse. He knew what loneliness was, what living person didn't? But the stark aloneness Methos evinced was so profound it had taken Duncan aback.

Now he wanted to say something about it, but found himself at a loss as to what it should be. Turning to the elder sitting next to him, he found that Methos was sitting quietly, watching Duncan. He just sat, no impatience, no overt question in his expression, just acceptance, mystery veiled behind his eyes. Duncan realized that the loneliness displayed so prominently had to be in there somewhere, hidden under layers of masks and walls.

Finding words elusive and inadequate in any event, Duncan reached over and drew the elder Immortal closer to him, watching the change in the blank expression to surprise and confusion, even slight wariness lurking in the depths of his eyes. He made no demur, coming willingly into Duncan's easy embrace, but it was obvious he wasn't sure what was compelling Duncan's actions.

Duncan felt the warmth of his body next to him. Silence reigned in the car, punctuated by the roar outside of jet engines in the vicinity, the slam of car doors, the approaching and retreating sound of voices and footsteps as others went about their hurried business. The woolen sweater Methos had layered over a knit shirt was thick and warm under Duncan's gentle hold, the feeling of strength apparent in the hidden, draped form. He might be deceptively strong, Duncan thought, in all ways, but that doesn't make him immune from emotions. He feels. He bleeds. Once more, Duncan grounded himself in Methos' humanity, finding the connection to the impossibly older Immortal through that door. The connection between them burned bright in his own mind.

Gently, he touched his mouth to Methos', not a passionate joining but more a communication of not-aloneness, of companionship, of caring. As he spoke wordlessly of his thoughts, playing mouth to mouth, he knew that the older Immortal was listening. Methos' hands, lax on Duncan's upper arms, clenched tightly in response, fingers digging in almost painfully as if he was reeling from the impact of the younger man's message. When Duncan went to move back slightly to adjust his angle, a hand jumped to the back of his head, grasping tightly and prohibiting his leaving.

"I'm not quitting. Or leaving," he murmured quietly to a stricken ancient. The unconscious action had bothered Methos and he made a conscious effort to loosen his hand, pull back, but this time Duncan wouldn't let him.

"I told you I don't have a great track record in this department. I mean it." He played unconsciously with Methos' sweater. "It scares me." His eyes moved upward to tangle with dark greenish-brown ones. "But not enough to back off. I'll concede your right to choose where you want to be. I'll try to have faith in your 5000 year old talents. Just do me a favor."

Methos looked warily at the younger Immortal. "What?" he asked cautiously.

"Don't end up feeling alone even when you're with me. That really... bothers me. If you're going to be with me, then be with me. Talk to me about yourself, what you're remembering, what you're feeling. Don't hold back from me. "

Methos eyes were veiled even now. "You don't know what you're asking of me."

Duncan raised his eyebrows. "Oh no? In its own way, no more than you asked of me in getting into a relationship with you. Breaking down walls I wasn't even aware I had. Societal taboos, you called it. Not to mention the more personal ones, old feelings." He shook his head. "I think I have a good idea." Shifting, he leaned sideways against the seat back, observing Methos' face. "I saw your face when you talked about getting older and loneliness being the inevitable. If we're going to do this right, it shouldn't be, at least not when we're together."

Methos read the earnestness on Duncan's face, the simplicity of a man to whom life was only black and white, not infinite shades of gray. He acquiesced, if only to make life easier between them. "I'll try. Give me time, allow me to try to ... be what you want." His eyes looked back into the distance of time, unfocusing for a moment. "I haven't been open and trusting like that in my memorable history. I don't know if it's possible to be the open person you want."

Duncan pulled him back into an embrace. "There's no time limit. It's about us, it's about getting to know one another. I want to know you, understand you better." He shrugged, a small movement of his shoulders, while a smile appeared on his mouth. "The women in my life taught me it's much better this way. Their lessons stuck."

Methos sighed, relaxing into the warm embrace of the younger Immortal. So young, so young, he thought. And what about when we're not together anymore? What about when one too many layers strips away and you run from me, appalled? Loneliness will become a whole new creature then, because I will know just exactly what I am missing.

But for now, it was worth it. He tightened his hold on the solid form, as if to prohibit him from turning away, even while knowing there was nothing that could stop Duncan if he chose to do so.

Methos had a bleak, fatal feeling it was inevitable.


| To the next story: Quaternity |

The End Will Come / Elton John & Taupin

And when we start we say forever / We say we care, we need, we feel / We read the movement of our eyes / But in our hearts we still believe

The end will come, before we know / The silent rule of love applies / We light the fuse and let it burn out /
We just accept that love must die --
And so they say, the end will come for us / And so the world slows down to let us off / Just hang it up and let it go, accept it if I must / But I don't believe, I don't believe that the end will come for us / No I won't believe the end will come for us --
The end will come like sudden rain / The end is never what it seems / We sink the ship before we sail / We just accept what failure means

And so they say, the end will come for us... (chorus)

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