Story two in the Configurations arc

 by rac

final version September 1998

WARNING! Rating: NC-17 for explicit polyamorous adult situations. If you are underage in your locality or this is not to your taste, please do both of us a favor and go away now.

Disclaimers: None of the original Highlander characters actually belongs to me, but do belong to Rysher and Panzer/Davis Productions. Mores the pity. I certainly make no money off this.

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 is not Immortal.  :-)

Triangulation:  The location of an unknown point, as in navigation, by the formation of a triangle having the unknown point and two known points as the vertices.


"Only solitary people know the full joys of friendship.  Others have their family - but to a solitary and an exile, his friends are everything."           ~Willa Cather~

    The trip upriver to Duncan's island was beautiful.  It was sunny and had warmed up considerably.  Birds were everywhere in the newly budding trees as they prepared nests for a new season.  The river was slightly swollen with run-off from recent rains and snow melting at upper altitudes.  At times, the current demanded strenuous paddling for the canoe to make any headway.  The three of them took turns with two sets of oars, steering the packed canoe to its rest on the sloping shore by Duncan's cabin about two hours after their departure from above the small dam.
    They’d packed food enough for a week, every square inch of the large canoe stuffed with packages and bundles.  Duncan said he kept imperishables stocked at all times, so they had transported only the perishable kind, eggs, meat, fresh produce, milk, cheese, anything that took their fancy.  Duncan and Merit especially liked to cook, and their trip to the store had Methos backing off hurriedly, citing no interest in the insides of American supermarkets.  When they’d packed, Methos had eyed the bundles, silently wondering to himself if he shouldn’t have gone along as a moderating influence.

    Duncan steered them over to land at the base of a gently sloping lawn. Methos hopped out first, more than willing to get his jeans wet in exchange for feeling terra firma underneath his feet as he pulled the canoe up onto the small shoreline. While the other two hopped out, he looked up the hill toward the rough-hewn log cabin.  He knew MacLeod had first built it in 18?? , but it was obvious that there had been many modernizations and additions since then.  Now, the windows and the enclosed porch and deck had totally rejuvenated the appearance of the structure, bringing it into the twenty-first century while at the same time not destroying the cabin’s original flavor.

    He stood, enjoying the view, when a large bundle was plopped unceremoniously into his hands.

    “Here, thanks for helping.”  Duncan turned back to get another armload himself to cart up the hill.

    Methos followed Merit up the wide, grassy distance to the cabin to bring the items inside.  The interior was beautiful, full of light woods, wide, expansive windows, and colorful  native artwork and crafts lovingly displayed.  A massive stone fireplace occupied one wall, and an open wooden staircase ascended to the second floor with a wooden balcony overlooking the room below.  The kitchen was partially modernized; Duncan wanted to get away when he came here, but not necessarily to have to live as he did when he first built it.  There was something to be said about creature comforts and conveniences of the present era.  The master room was off of the great room, and the second floor boasted a huge loft with extra beds. Duncan had recently added a second bath upstairs for the convenience of guests.

    Duncan insisted that Merit take the master room.  “Please, do this,” he spoke over her protestations.  “The sleeping area upstairs is dormitory-style.  Down here, you can have your privacy.”

    Merit thought for all of about ten seconds.  “I will do this for you, since you insist so nicely.”  She took her duffel into the room, eyeing the huge bed piled high with pillows and a goose-down comforter. A small stone fireplace was stacked with logs and ready for kindling.  There was a private entrance to the cabin’s back deck and Merit immediately went to throw open the double doors, letting in sunlight and the fresh Spring scents. Beautiful, she thought, the place was absolutely wonderful. Absolutely perfect.  Impatiently, she took a deep breath and let it out slowly, walking out on the deck. Soon enough.  She stood at the railing, looking out onto the vista of virgin woods and brush, listening to the bird call and the rustle of the breeze through new leaves on the tall old trees. Merit said a moment’s thanks for the help she’d been given in arranging this time here.  They would all relax in this harmonious, peaceful setting.  It was what they all needed.

    “How did you ever get the local shamans to give you permission to build on their holy ground?”  Methos inquired of Duncan curiously.  They were out back, chopping wood for the fireplaces.  Duncan knew from long experience that even though the day had been pleasant, the nights would still drop down to well below comfort zone.  A fire would be a welcome thing for more than aesthetics.

    “I’d known the tribes throughout this area for some time, spoke their language, lived with them on and off.  There were a few elders and wise ones among them that saw the writing on the wall about their fate, and the fate of their lands in the hands of the infiltrating white man.” Duncan placed another log on the stump and brought down the axe with a swift thwack.  Methos reached down and picked up the two severed pieces.  “Some of the other tribes didn’t.  The tribe I was living with, a small band of wandering Kootenai, was decimated by contact with the army. Smallpox," he shook his head, lingering bitterness after all this time still tasting bad. "Did you know that the army would hand out blankets, as a “peace” gesture," Duncan's lip curled in disgust. "The unsuspecting tribes would take them, not knowing they were contaminated with disease.  A wonderful population control.”

    The axe fell again with force, three times in succession.  “These were their lands, this was their heritage.” Duncan gestured to the land around them, his eyes distant.  “No more would their warriors hunt these lands; no more would their shamans commune with the nature spirits and gods; no more would the laughter of their children ring out over the woods as they grew to adulthood.”  Once more the axe rose and fell steadily for a few minutes as Duncan allowed the old anger and helplessness and grief to be felt and purged by the chore's clean exertion.

    He paused, wiping a bead of sweat from his eyes, leaning on the axe as he surveyed their surroundings.   “I needed to drop out for a while.  I’d had my fill of death, of loss.  I just wanted to live simply in the moment, to just be.  I built this cabin here on Holy Ground, and swore that as long as I was able to do so, I would protect the land, be its guardian, and never let the ways of The People go unremembered.  I knew the elders of the tribe would have honored my desire and would haven give me their blessing.” Duncan seemed to suddenly recall to whom he was talking, and looked abruptly at Methos. He gave a small self-conscious shrug.  “I’m sure you’ve read all this before, you said that you’ve read my chronicles.  Although why you’d want to, I can’t imagine.”

Methos looked at Duncan, smiling slightly. “Long ingrained caution, wanting to know who I was dealing with.  That was one large reason I went into the Watchers in the first place. Then, reading yours, it was just a damn interesting read.”

Embarrassment passed over Duncan’s face.  Methos felt a dichotomous response; perverse pleasure that he could effect the normally imperturbable youngster, and an apologetic urge.  Both irritated him.

Duncan set one last log on the stump.  “You’d think I’d have gotten used to the idea of strangers pouring over my life history.”  His mouth quirked up.  “At least you’re no stranger now.”  He brought the axe down, cleanly splitting the wood in two, “I suppose I don’t have anything to hide.”  The last was said with the calm tone of a man who truly feels that nothing he has done could cause him shame.

    How ironic, Methos thought. Or actually, how apropos. He picked up the split logs, helping Duncan bundle them into carriers to be taken inside. Duncan feels guilt in droves, assumes the weight of the world, but he feels no shame for his actions. While I on the other hand.... Methos lost himself in his thoughts for a second. Only the steady presence of a waiting hand in front of him brought him back.  He looked up to find Duncan standing patiently, waiting for him to hand up the carrier's handle straps.

    Methos waved the hand away, eyeing Duncan’s sweaty body.  “Go on inside, I’ll bring them in. Go, wash up.”

    Duncan nodded.  “Thanks, Methos, that sounds good.” He grabbed up the sweatshirt he’d removed and disappeared through the deck doors.

    Methos grabbed both carriers and maneuvered the bulky things through the deck doors.  Depositing one by the central fireplace, then one in the empty master suite, he wandered into the large bright kitchen to find Merit standing at a bank of windows, overlooking the river.

    “I was telling Duncan the other day that I missed the green! As much as I love Greece, my island leaves much to be desired in varied scenery.  This feeds my soul.”

    Methos leaned against the end of the long island and pulled Merit back next to him, placing his arm around her waist. “How long have you been there?”

    “Three years now.”  She gave a little shrug.  “It’s I am 2577 years old, and for the first time I can ever remember, I feel fulfilled in ways I never have before.”  She looked sheepish for a minute. “Silly, eh?”

    Methos pulled her close and sighed.  “No. I find myself envying your contentment.  I can’t recall feeling contentment like that in centuries...”  His voice faded, then came back tinged with his habitual sarcasm again.  “At least, not without paying dearly for it.”

    Merit turned around, leaning close to him, her arms around his shoulders.  “It’s really good to be with you again, Methos.  Did I tell you that before?”

    “That’s what they all say.” His mouth quirked up.

    Merit couldn’t help but grin.  “Somehow I sincerely doubt that.”  Methos' eyes turned flat. Before he could respond, Merit twisted out of his embrace, moving toward the refrigerator.  “Want to help with dinner?”  She began stacking vegetables on the counter. “Here, chop these up for me.”

    Methos pulled a large chopping knife from the knife rack, the blade flashing in the slanting sunlight.  Lining up onions and peppers on the cutting board, he began to slice routinely, watching the blade move up and down almost faster than his eye could follow.  His mind wandered.

Asia Minor, 5th Century BCE

    Methos reined his horse around, the blade of his sword singing in the air.  Before he had completed his move, another of the Persian outlaws had fallen.  A cry alerted him and he glanced over his shoulder, seeing one last outlaw bearing down upon him, sword grasped loosely in one hand, a short spear poised for throwing in the other.  With no room to maneuver the horse, he fell off to the side, narrowly avoiding the spear’s path.  Rolling in the dirt, he came up sword first, parrying his attacker’s offensive.  He had been silent the entire time, saying not a word, not one sound or cry of war. He had saved his energy and focussed his brutal purpose into his moves and attacks.  Now that purpose glowed in his eyes, and his opponent had the look of it first hand.

    His countenance was blood-smeared, covered in dirt from his roll off the horse, yet he had not lost one ounce of strength and determination. At such a grim face, the Persian fell back slightly, his eyes widening. The Persian himself had seen this Greek injured by his own brother’s hand, and yet he neither slowed nor weakened. Was the man a demon?  That  thought raced through his mind as he felt his own weapon seized from his grasp and flung far beyond his reach.  He saw the look of the Underworld in the demon's eyes, then he felt the bite of the Greek’s sword deep in his belly, the final twist bringing a shriek of death as darkness closed in.

    The victor stood in the midst of the carnage he himself had created. The weak dawn light on the horizon cast its glow over the scene, highlighting the bloodied and dismembered bodies lying around the central fire pit.  Two other horses slowly moved toward the center of the camp, picking their way through the wreakage.

    “My lord, that was the last of them. Except for the women who fled, no other survives this camp.”  A tall, dark-skinned man spoke in accented but correct Greek, his hands on reins slick with sweat and blood from the hits he had taken while fighting.

    “Let the women go, they were not the ones for whom we rode.” The second rider spoke and came forward.  “Nizelus, you’re injured.  Come, dismount, so that I may tend to your wounds.” Nizelus looked offended that his wounds would be mentioned when the other two involved had none.  He tried to ignore Merit.  “Methos, tell him to let me attend him.”  Merit was losing her patience.  In this heat and dirt, wounds festered quickly.

    Methos finally looked up at the two near him.  “Yes, yes, Nizelus, let Meritia tend to your wounds.  I don’t want you taking sick now. And neither do you, now that you’ve earned your freedom.”  Nizelus’ eyes widened as Methos continued.  “For your loyalty and courage on this trip, I give you your freedom.” He shrugged. “You may do with it as you choose.”  He turned away, lost in his own thoughts.

    Merit pulled supplies from her horse and did the best she could to bind up the cuts on the ex-slave’s arms.  He stood stoically throughout her attentions, bowing stiffly when she was through and leaving her to walk through the encampment, searching for valuables.  Merit stowed her things away and went in search of Methos.  She found him sitting on a rocky crag on the far side of the outlaw’s camp.  Quietly she sat down near him, silent and waiting.  The sun rose off the horizon before her patience was rewarded.

    Methos leaned forward, arms crossed on one upraised knee.  “It took us a whole growing season to find this group of ...outlaws. And now, it is still not finished.”

    “No, it is not,” she agreed.  “What do you plan?”

    “Plan?” He thought of the bloodlust that had driven him and that had found fulfillment with the bite of his sword in human flesh.  “Dinarchus is still dead to me.”  He gestured at the camp, his eyes far away.  “I-- I was once as they were, not so long ago, an outlaw. And now, unlike me, they are dead for the crime of killing others.  Plan?”  His face hardened.  “What can be planned? I don’t know where to find this other Immortal, the dishonorable one who stole Dinarchus’ Immortality before he could taste of it.  He could be anyone, anywhere.  As much as it pains me, I’ll have to trust in the Fates to see that one day justice is done.”  He looked at her, his eyes bleak.  “There is nothing else I can do.”

    Methos stood abruptly and walked away from the camp, Merit following him.

    He stopped at a fair-sized stream, one of the many headwaters of the Cayster river, flowing downward toward Ephesus on the Aegean Sea where they had made port many months ago.  Kneeling down, Methos splashed water on his face, scrubbing at the dirt and blood.  Not satisfied with his progress, he stepped back and began to strip off his clothes and armament, leaving them in a pile on the bank as he waded into the waist-high water.  He took his time, washing off the blood and gore that splattered his arms and legs.

    Practical, Merit stripped down also, joining him in the early morning bath.  The air was warm, the water not unpleasant as she too scrubbed away the effects of their raid.  Eventually she became aware of his eyes on her and she changed her motions to more langorous ones.  It wasn’t long before he was behind her, grasping her breasts, his erection hard against her bottom.  Rubbing against him, she twisted in his arms, her mouth hard on his.  His hands fell to her bottom, pulling her into him, and  Merit pulled herself up on his body, arms around his shoulders, legs tight around his waist.  Still mouth to mouth, Methos walked toward the bank, each step shifting his erection against her flesh, causing her to shift restlessly, trying to further the contact.

    They fell in a heap on the bank, Merit straining against him.  Her excitement and fear from the morning raid came together in a culmination of passion.   Methos' weight atop her pushed Merit back into the grassy verge, the small stones in the embankment going unnoticed.   As he plunged into her, she cried out from the suddenness of it, her teeth sinking into the skin of his shoulder as he rode her hard.  There was little subtly or play in this coupling; they were too full of the smell of death and reaffirming life in the most fundamental way.  Their wet skin made moist noises as they rubbed and slapped against each other in their haste.  Merit moaned briefly as she felt her climax upon her, panting as she clutched at the body over her.  Methos slowed as he felt her spasm, enjoying the feeling of her tightening around him.  She relaxed her hold on him as she came down from her high, the initial rush of energy expended.

    Methos continued moving in her at a slower rate, not ready to reach his peak yet.  He pulled Merit’s legs up around his waist, allowing him a deeper access.  Her breasts bounced from their movements, and Methos reached down and began to suckle them.  He heard her sigh in his ear, her “yes” a faint sound.  Threading her fingers in his wet hair, overlong now from months of wandering, she tugged until he met her mouth with his own. Merit's hand wandered to his groin, curling around his balls and pressing against sensitive skin. His pace quickened, his breath caught, then he slid easily into his own peak. A faint groan slipped from beween his parted lips as he buried himself to the hilt and his essence poured forth inside of her.

    They lay still, the early morning sunlight warming the air and slowly drying their wet skin while they caught their breath.  At Merit’s wriggle, Methos rolled off onto the grass next to her, watching as she waded back into the water to wash off again.  Emerging like Aphrodite from the sea, she made her way to her clothes, exclaiming in disgust over the filth on them.

    “Cover yourself,” Methos said.

    Merit blinked. “What?”

    He just smiled as he stood up and raised his voice.  “Nizelus! Bring our clothes from the horses!”  Merit understood and sank back into the water with her clothes, taking advantage of the moment to scrub the dirt from them.  Methos didn’t bother, looking once at his and throwing the hoplite’s tunic aside.  In a few minutes, Nizelus appeared over the small rise with both horses in tow. They smelled the water and needed no urging, walking swiftly down to the river’s edge.  The men nodded to each other and Nizelus disappeared once more over the ridge.

    It took them little time to find clean clothes. Merit also took time to find a wooden comb with which to comb her wet hair then fix it into a single braid down her back.  Bread and wine had been wrapped in a skin bag on her horse and she took them out now, offering them to Methos as they lounged back on the grass.

    “You fought well,” he observed. “I was watching.  We were three to their twelve,  normally dangerous odds.  The ones you engaged only managed to wound you lightly.”

    Merit's eyes glittered.  “You honor me, Methos.”

    Methos shrugged, squirting more wine into his mouth from the skin. “I’d say it reflects on the quality of your teacher more, wouldn’t you?”

    “Huh.”  She reached out with her foot and knocked him sideways.  “One thing you don’t suffer from is a lack of importance.”

    He righted himself and continued to eat.  “Seriously, you have learned much.  Whereas before you were ripe for the picking, now you are an Immortal worthy of combat.  You could face anyone I know and hold your own.”  He pulled off another piece of bread.  “Have you given any thought to the future? Where you want to go, what you want to do?” Methos looked at her questioningly.

    Merit sat and looked at him blankly.  “The future?”

    Brushing crumbs off his tunic, Methos stood. “I find I grow weary of the limitations in Athens just now.  I plan on traveling for a time before I return.”

“I--,” she stumbled to a halt, completely unprepared. If Methos wasn’t returning to Athens at this time, then Merit knew that neither would she.  She had gotten too used to the freedoms their relationship had afforded her while living in the city.  She sincerely doubted that she could ever hope to match that in another Athenian male.

Merit only wished she’d had some notice about his intentions.  “I suppose,” she said slowly, “that I might travel to Egypt as I once had thought to do.  I’ve always wanted to see the land of my birth.  I have gold enough, now, to do so in comfort, thanks to you.”

Methos busied himself at his horse, repacking his hide bags and straightening the equipment.  “Did I ever tell you that Egypt was the land of my birth, also?  Perhaps I’ll make that journey with you.  It may prove diverting,”  he said casually.

Merit sat there a  moment, watching as he continued to busy himself with the horse.  A small smile played about her mouth as she arose and walked to him.  Laying her head on his shoulders, she hugged her arms around his waist and chest.  “Oh, but Methos...I had planned to make this journey by myself, a pilgrimage to my birthplace, to discover the land of my birth.” She felt him stiffen minutely under her hands as she spoke.  “But then again...I suppose I could make an allowance for your presence.  I’m sure you’d be good for something, sooner or later.”

Before she had a chance to even think about laughing out loud, Merit found herself thrown over his shoulder as he walked up the slope and dumped her on the ground like a sack of grain.  He followed her down, covering her body with his, holding her arms off to the side with his own stretched out to the limit.  “Need I show you exactly how good I can be? Perhaps the lady wishes for a more convincing demonstration as to my humble worth.”

The last drew forth a large snort of laughter from her.  “Humble? You?  I think not.”

He only smiled.  “What is false modesty except a hollow lie?”

“So--you will come?” she said simply.

The sigh she heard from him was faint, but definite.  His fingers rose to trace the line of her jaw and lips.  “Yes, I suppose. As I have nothing else to do at the moment,” he added.  Leaning in, he kissed her, not a kiss of lust, but one of sweetness.

She closed her eyes against the depth of her feelings.  “Well.” She took a breath.  “Nizelus no doubt waits for us impatiently back in the camp.  We should hurry.”  He moved obligingly when she shoved.  They both mounted up and rode the short distance to the outlaw camp.

While they were occupied, Nizelus had looted through the standing tents and rummaged for anything worthwhile.  A sizable pile of valuables lay at his feet, an odd mixture of metals, bronze, silver and gold, in all forms from weapons to jewelry to household items.  There were leather goods and materials in piles, foodstuffs and household equipment.

“You’ve been busy,” Methos commented.  “Where are the horses?” Nizelus pointed to the far side of camp.  “One third of this is yours.  Let’s load it on the horses to take back to camp.”  He dismounted and strode away to lead some of the captured outlaw’s mounts back to the pile.  Nizelus stood still, Merit watching as he struggled with some overwhelming emotion.  Hopping off her horse, she went and stood near the tall, dark-skinned foreigner.

“What do you plan on doing with your share and your freedom?” she asked him.

He looked at her openly, his eyes shining with unshed tears.  “Home.  I plan on going home,”  he said simply. Turning, he made his way over to fetch another horse.

They loaded the goods on the remaining four horses, the others having gotten away during the attack.  Returning to their base camp by early afternoon, Merit and Methos retired to their tent, its sides partially rolled up, to avoid the incessant sun baking down on the land.  Kehzia followed them with a skin of wine and a platter of olives, dates, nut meats and bread.  Lounging on skins spread on the ground, they ate their fill and dozed.  It was early evening before they awakened once again.

Merit had awakened first, laying quietly in the dim heat of the tent until she heard Methos’ breathing alter, signaling his wakefulness.  “You never answered me earlier today, Methos. Are you pleased with the day’s work?  I really want to know.”  She spoke quietly to him.

“Pleased...”  He contemplated what he’d felt as they’d stormed the outlaw camp, as his sword had tasted the blood of the men who had been responsible for the ambush of Dinarchus’ survey party and their brutal, final murder.  He knew the man that had wielded the sword which had killed his student and lover was conspicuously missing, but Methos had imagined each time his sword had pierced flesh that he had been the one, and this was his revenge. His voice changed minutely, roughening with some little-seen emotion.  “I’ve done all that can be done.  Dinarchus’ voice no longer cries out to me in my mind, urging me on to revenge.” He paused. Merit heard their breathing loud in the quiet of the afternoon camp.  Methos exhaled long and quietly. “I suppose I have bought myself a bit of peace.” He turned a cold gaze toward her.  “But one day, I want that peace to turn into satisfaction.”

It had taken almost a year for Methos to experience this inner quietude, which wasn’t really a peace, but in comparison to his earlier turmoil, it felt very much like it. The feeling had been worth the effort.  He thought of the incalculable times he’d killed for no reason and realized he liked having a particular reason in comparison.  At least it offered justification inside his own mind.  The voices that taunted him in the dark were recurrently too numerous to deal with.

He still missed the effervescent nature of his young student, his beauty and grace, his wit and quick mind. But after almost twenty five hundred years, Methos had grown accustomed to the fleeting nature of things.  The only thing that he mourned deeply was Dinarchus' useless Immortality, lost before he could even taste of it.  That was a waste Methos couldn’t dismiss easily.  The thought of returning to Athens, to once more walk again amid the pathways and agoras where he and Dinarchus had walked at one time-- no, this, Methos was not ready to do.  Time enough to return sometime in the future.

Methos turned to Merit, feeling her cool, naked skin against his own.  He thought about the odd need to feel the touch of another in dark times, how it soothed the empty places of his soul.  Gathering her close, he pressed himself to her softness, feeling the flex of muscles shifting beneath her soft skin.  No matter how active she was, Merit never seemed to lose her rounded figure, her full breasts and hips.  He supposed she would have this shape for eternity.  He smiled, nuzzling her neck.  She shouldn’t worry; he doubted the female form would ever go out of fashion if one looked at the kore sculpture Athens produced.  But then neither would the male form be out of style; the kouros were even more prevalent.

Settling her comfortably against him, Methos thought of the immediate future. Time to make plans. No urgent business required his traveling to Athens immediately.  It would be some time before Methos felt comfortable once again in that close-knit, confining community.  For now, his wanderlust had been stirred awake, his blood charged by the excitement of the hunt-and-chase they had just completed.  They had spent the better part of one complete turn of the seasons with their minds focused toward a singular end; he was finding that turning his thoughts back toward more tame pursuits would not be as easily accomplished as he’d thought.  Traveling down the coast into the land of his birth was an idea that found a willing recipient in his restlessness.

Methos' breath ruffled Merit's hair as he murmured, “When did you want to leave for Egypt?”

Present, Washington State wilderness (MacLeod’s Island)

That day and the next, the three Immortals experienced a rare and priceless circumstance.  Relaxing on holy ground, in quite beautiful surroundings among ‘old’ friends that they actually trusted and could let down their guards around, was an incalculable treasure in the normally stressful lifestyles they led.  Merit was an instigator at heart, and she rousted the two men for hikes around the island, impromptu swimming in the as-yet frigid waters, and a hilarious free-for-all wrestling match on Duncan’s back lawn that had Duncan laughing so hard he couldn’t speak for a minute.

Duncan finally caught his breath enough to say one word, “Twister”, which set Merit off also.

Methos sat back looking at the other two, shaking his head.  “You two are crazy.  What in the hell is so bloody hilarious?”

Duncan looked pityingly at Methos between bouts of laughter, saying in an aside to Merit, “He’s culturally handicapped in modern times, isn’t he.”

Merit was still laughing.  “It was a party game in the sixties and seventies.  It involved getting drunk--”

“Was that one of the rules?” Duncan interrupted, laughing again.

Merit ignored him, “--and moving your body like a chess game on colored circles over a large mat among other people’s bodies. The results were like our wrestling match.” She grinned.

Methos shook his head.  “And to think I missed out on this epic portion of history. I’m devastated.”  Merit rolled over and placed her head on his stomach, eliciting a mild umph in reaction.

Leaning on his elbow, Duncan looked at the two laying sprawled so negligently.  Usually he wasn’t so forward with personal questions, but he wanted to hear about their history.  “How do you two know one another?”  He watched them glance at each other, Methos with his brows raised.  Merit answered.

“Methos was my first real teacher. Oh, I’d had one initially, but...he wasn’t very educated and I only learned the basic, rudimentary things from him.  Still, I managed, and met Methos in Athens when I was around 140 years old.  Still a babe.  Methos taught me, not just fighting, but all kinds of things.  He was widely sought-after in Athens at that time, for many reasons.”  She reached up and ran a hand over his hair, smiling.  He only shook his head and looked away, uncomfortable.

“As an Immortal, you mean?”  Duncan asked.

“No, as a learned man,” she clarified.  “He was a highly respected philosophy and rhetoric tutor, an instructor in the gymnasium, and much in demand as a lover,” the last said slyly as she grinned.  Methos stifled a groan and lay back on the grass.

“I was his companion for many years in Athens. Then, we left  We both ended up in Egypt for some time, then went our own ways after that point.  We’ve caught up with each other many times over the years, but lately for a few centuries, we’ve been out of touch.  I was surprised to see him at your apartment, Duncan.”

“So was I,” Duncan said, eyeing the prone and silent man.  “I never know when he’s going to show up.”

“Makes life interesting, MacLeod.  It also makes it hard for anyone trying to track me to find a method in my madness.” Methos stretched with a lazy roll of shoulders.

“Practical as usual, Methos.”  Merit kissed him briefly, then rolled to a graceful stand.  “Anybody hungry?  I am,” she declared as she walked off toward the back doors of the cabin.

Duncan eyed her as she walked away, admiring the round thrust of her hips in the worn, stretched knit material of his own running shorts.  Grinning, he realized she must have raided his clothes closet this morning.  “Does she do nothing but eat?”

Methos gave a bark of laughter.  “I used to think the same thing.  She’s not obvious about it, but I’ve never seen anyone else put away as much food with such little fanfare.  She used to eat me out of house and home in Athens.”

There was a lull in conversation as the two men lazed on the grass in the warm sun.  Duncan gave in to the urge riding him as he watched the older Immortal lay with his eyes closed.  He broke the silence with his question.  “So you were popular in Athens?”

Methos’ mouth curved slightly without his eyes opening.  “Athenian society was a small, closely-knit group.  New blood, new voices, at least those whose ideas were welcome, were embraced fervently as a new distraction.  Life in those days was a never-ending quest for perfection, in philosophy, in speech and rhetoric, in art and music, in literature...”  his voice trailed off.

“In love?” Duncan’s voice was pitched low, so it took Methos a moment to hear something odd running through his voice.

Methos' eyes opened in response and saw the younger man stretched out next to him, eyes lowered.  Something spurred Methos to move, to sit up and face Duncan as he answered.

“In love,” he agreed.  “Love was expressed mainly as an appreciation, a worship of someone’s perfection, their likeness to the gods and goddesses of the times.  Beauty of face and of form was considered godliness. They were obsessed with beauty.”  He smiled in memory.  “And there was certainly enough of it to be found.  Proper young women of society were kept almost cloistered in the home, in the women’s quarters, much like the practice of the harem in the arab tribes and Asia Minor. But the society of lesser women, like our Meritia, “ he gestured to the house, grinning, “was quite different.  The hetaira were educated and mingled in men’s company at the gatherings.  They added much to the society in general, otherwise it would have been a solely male enclave. Which, of course, was perfectly acceptable for the times.  Older men had younger male lovers, teaching them and tutoring them in the ways of society, showing them how to get on in politics and business. The intimacy between them bound them to each other and built ties of trust and lifelong obligation.  It was an important aspect of Greek society, creating ties and links beyond family and kin. Marriage was one tie, but love and pleasure between a younger man and an older-- ah, that was a much more intimate bond.”

Silence descended when he stopped.  Never before had Duncan heard Methos wax eloquent about something in his past as he just did.  Methos’ last sentence echoed in his mind.  Almost without his volition, Duncan raised his eyes to meet the steady gaze of the older Immortal sitting peacefully in front of him.  He was aware of the power in Methos' gaze, the inherent charisma the older Immortal wielded by his very mysteriousness, the sense of calm and knowledge that Methos exuded.  How many people had he loved down the centuries, how many had come in and out of his life?  Did he mourn the loss of those faceless, nameless ones?  After fifty centuries, did his passion still burn as brightly in love?  Duncan's eyes roamed over the slender face, the prominent Medditerranean nose. Duncan’s mouth curved. No doubt that Methos' face and form had been found pleasing, with his wiry athletic frame, his classic nose, the seductive mouth tilted in humor.

Duncan suddenly realised he was staring in complete silence. Methos was watching him, his eyes dark with awareness and some other intense emotion, nostrils flaring.  Breaking their silent communication, Duncan spoke the first thing that came to mind.  “I’m hungry.”

“Really.”  Methos couldn’t stop the smile that started. It was too ironic.  “Well, by all means, Duncan, let’s see if we can appease it.”  Methos rolled over and got to his feet, holding his hand out to the younger Immortal still sprawled on the grass.  Duncan gave him an odd look as he stuck his hand out slowly and let the other Immortal pull him onto his feet.  Methos reached out and gently brushed off the grass and dirt clinging  down the front of Duncan’s clothes.  “Merit’s probably got something planned,” he commented, only half thinking of dinner.

“Something good, I hope,” Duncan added as they fell into step walking toward the cabin.

“I have no doubt,” Methos said.  “She always was an inventive soul.”

Merit was very creative for dinner that evening....she gave it to the men to cook. “Fresh salmon. Vegetables. Grill," she pointed. "Have fun," she called, walking out of the kitchen.  “I plan on soaking two hours in the bath.”

“Don’t doubt her, either. She used to fall asleep in it two thousand years ago. We’ll probably have to wake her up for dinner.” Methos helped himself to the open bottle of wine lying in the fridge.

“Hey,” Duncan called after Merit, “just what do you plan on contributing to dinner this evening?”

An airy laugh floated into the kitchen from her bedroom. “Dessert.”

Duncan sighed, picked up the bag of red potatoes and dumped it in Methos’ hand. “Here, I’m sure you can peel your way around these.”

Methos watched while Duncan went to start up the CD, loading the changer with various pieces.  He was surprised by the unusual music playing. A haunting native sound echoed softly around the cabin.  Traditional drums and percussion, a flute and  the occasional human voice were the centerpiece in the very real native music.  “Odd, but very fitting,” he approved as Duncan came back and started washing produce.  “Local?”

“No,” he shook his head, “this is southwestern, different from the local tribal sounds.  Still, it makes me feel at home here.” He shrugged faintly, as if without words to describe it.  The two men fell into a companionable routine, preparing the food for cooking, refilling wine glasses when they fell empty.

“No sense in starting it yet, we’ve got another hour before la Deesse appears from her bath.”

Methos laughed at Duncan’s description of Merit.  “How about a game of chess?”  He’d seen a beautiful hand-carved wooden set in the living room.

“Great.” Duncan snagged his glass and they sprawled out on the living room floor. A brilliantly colored woven rug, a true native work of art, cushioned them from the hard wood. Late afternoon sunlight flooded in the tall bank of windows which opened up one whole side of the room to the beauties of the view.  The well-used, soft leather furniture provided a background canvas for the variety of native artwork and collectables that lay around the room: pottery sitting on tables and shelves, woven pieces casually thrown over the backs of chairs, small individual remembrances sitting out on the mantle and shelves. Pieces of Duncan’s life were everywhere in the cabin. Kept like this, they would not be forgotten.  Methos had already spent time examining all the minutiae displayed so casually here in this, Duncan's private retreat from prying eyes.  Methos found the cabin to be singularly beautiful and restful in character, a joy to the senses in all ways.

It didn't take long before they were both caught up in the strategy of the game, trying to figure out each other’s patterns and tendencies. Neither heard the soft footfalls marking entry into the room.  “Guess we’re going to go hungry tonight,” a husky voice broke their concentration.

“No, we figured you’d be a while--”  Duncan’s voice broke off in admiration. “Nice, very nice,” he commented, looking up at the intruder.

Methos turned around to see what transfixed Duncan's gaze.  “Well, well.  Athens revisited.” He took in the simple white, long tunic that seemed to reveal as much as it concealed by some odd quirk of design, the antique Greek gold necklace and earrings dangling low, and her hair, it’s usual wild curly nature given free reign this evening as it cascaded over her shoulders.  He’d gotten so used to seeing it tightly restrained in her current styles he’d forgotten how it looked down, wild and exotic.  Her feet, bare of shoes or polish, peeked out from beneath the hem of the garment. “Yes, very nice.  Nice to see she’s still in there.”

“Where else would she be?  Everything we ever were still lives in us somewhere.”  She smiled at the two still looking at her. “Dinner? Sometime tonight?”  Her stomach rumbled to accompany her question and both Duncan and Methos laughed out loud.

“What did I tell you, MacLeod?” They laughed again as the three went to the kitchen.

“What did you tell him, Methos?” Merit questioned.

“That we’d better fix enough food for two for you,” Methos quipped.  She gave him a push with her foot on his derriere and he shuffled to keep his balance.

“Just fix it, I’ll eat it,” Merit declared.

While the sun began to sink down past the tree line, they grilled the salmon and steamed the vegetables.  It  was still a balmy temperature and too early in the season for many bugs, so they elected to eat out on the deck.  Duncan brought out a number of candles, setting them around on the railing and the table. The food was delicious and the wine flowed while they settled back, each trying to outdo the others in telling some of their more outrageous escapades.  Methos had Duncan and Merit laughing until tears came to their eyes as he recounted in his typical, dry tone his tale of avoiding Spanish Inquisitional investigators hot on his heels after dying and reviving in an unfortunately public way.

“Not a whole hell of a lot I could have done about it at the time, and once I moved, the gig was up.  Then I just ran as fast as I could, which, with six murderous and righteous churchmen after me believing me the Devil Incarnate, was pretty damn fast.  I ducked in the first open building I came to, and it gave me quite a pause.  Almost lost it and got caught.”

“What was it?” Merit asked.

“None other than a Spanish convent.  I had to...incapacitate a resident before she discovered me.  Then I thought, ah! The perfect hiding place.”

“You didn’t,” Duncan shook his head.

“Oh, yes I did. A long black cassock, a tight wimple, what could be better?  Voila, regard the new Sister.  The place was so big, they must have had over a hundred women there, I just blended in for a few days.”

“A few days!” Duncan started laughing, imagining Methos in a habit.

“Desparation makes a great motivator.  When the hue and cry died down, I left, a solitary nun on her way to another town.”

Duncan was still laughing. “Weren’t you a little tall for a female?”

Methos drank his wine, grimacing at the memory. “Yeah, well, I stooped a lot.  My back had a crimp in it for days afterwards.”

“Oh, poor baby,” Merit crooned, grinning.

“It was certainly interesting staying there, I’ll say that.  My views of women and women in religious service were forever altered.”

“How so?” Duncan wanted to know.  Merit was grinning.

“Let’s just say it was educational.”  Methos reached out and poured more wine in their glasses.  The sunlight had all but gone, the candles lit now and flickering in the faint evening breeze, the nocturnal animal life in the forest around them waking up and starting their day.  He glanced at Merit, overtly observing her empty plate. “All done? Finally?”

“No. Bring your things in,” she instructed, leading the way back into the kitchen. They cleared off the table and she brought out a tray once they’d settled back down.  “Here, try my favorite.” She took the linen towel off the plate.  “Chocolate cheesecake.”

Groans were emitted from the other two.  “You made this when we weren’t looking,” Duncan smiled.  She nodded. “Yes, this morning. Eat, enjoy.” The coffee maker finished and she poured fresh coffee to go with the rich dessert.

Duncan sighed when he finished the rich sweet. “I don’t have many addictions, but...chocolate is close to it.  That was delicious.”

Methos leaned down and kissed her cheek as he started clearing the table. After a moment, Duncan roused himself and followed suit.  Merit disappeared inside the cabin.  The two Immortals were silent as they worked bringing things inside and cleaning up the kitchen. Duncan broke that silence.  “Has she changed much since you first knew her?”

Methos considered.  “In some ways, yes. In others, not at all.” He smiled to himself. “Her essence is still the same, that surprises me. Still that optimism about life. There’s much more sense of self, more presence in her demeanor, but I still see much of the young woman I first met. It was her love of life, her love of the essence of life, that drew me in the first place. I’d had so damn much of death by then...  After all, how much of death could one explore without making the trip yourself? Much better to explore life. And Merit loved to do that."

“How about you?”

Methos looked up from the sink to find Duncan watching him closely.

“Have you changed in thousands of years?”  Duncan found it fascinating to watch as Methos’ eyes darkened, an odd shadow passing over his features, then just as suddenly disappearing.  His lighthearted response belied his momentary shift in mood.

“Me? Guess I have, probably got more boring as the years went on.”

Typical Methos answer; typical evasiveness.  Duncan slammed the cabinet door shut.  “Want a drink?” he asked shortly, pouring himself a tumbler of Glenmorangie.  Methos reopened the door, examining the contents.  He pulled out a bottle of Stolichnaya and removed the cap.

“This’ll do.”  He poured it into the glass Duncan handed him. “Where’d Merit go?”

 Before Duncan could answer, strains of some new music began filtering out from the speakers.  Duncan paused, not recognizing it.  It sounded primitive and at once modern, ancient tribal rhythms and music somehow made new.

“Here I am.”  She saw that they were finished with kitchen chores and held out her arms to both of them.  In one hand she held a bottle of wine, deep red, in the other, a glass.  “Come.”  Duncan took her arm readily, but Methos stood there for a  moment, eyes fixed on her, recognition and understanding dawning in his expression.

When he spoke, his voice was tight. “It’s April. The full moon.”

She nodded once.  “Yes.”

He gestured.  “You’re dressed in the old way.”

This time she just nodded, a faint curving of her mouth visible.

“You’ll dance.”  It was a statement.  She just looked, and smiled.

Duncan could feel the undercurrents of something eddying back and forth between the two older Immortals. Once again, he felt at sea.  “What are you talking about?”

Merit ignored his question, holding out her hand quite purposefully to Methos.  They stared at each other for some moments, but finally, slowly, he reached out and put his hand in hers.  Tucking both hands close to her side, she turned them and headed back outside, waiting while Methos opened the deck door.  Outside, with only the sounds of nature to break the silence, the strains of the music flowed hauntingly in the air.  Walking to the edge of the deck, Merit stopped. Duncan waited for his answer, and she turned to him, wanting to make him understand.

“Today is the full moon of April -- Aprilis, who was Aphrodite to the Greeks, my own chosen one, goddess of love and death.  She is the door of life through which we come into this world, and the one who decides the hour of our return.  In ancient times, they celebrated her with festivals and song in this, the time of her presence. Spring, it’s fecund and ripe energies manifested the spirit of the great goddess.”  Releasing both men, she pointed to the fat pillar candles still flickering on the table and the railing.  “Can you bring some of those?” She led the way to the lower patio around the handmade stone fireplace.  Depositing the wine, she gestured for them to put the candles down.  In the stillness, the haunting music travelled well.

“Sit, relax,” she commanded them. Merit went back to the table where she gathered up her incense sticks.  Coming back down to ground level, she stuck them around in the the fire pit, lighting them one by one as she talked. The fragrant perfume of the incense began to add its spell to the setting she was creating.  “The women of Greece celebrated their sexuality, their femaleness, in a festival called Haloa, completely without men.  In Rome, there was a festival called Veneralia celebrating Venus, or Aphrodite,  and love’s dominion over life.  Cybele, another face of the Great One, was honored during Megalisia in ancient times, a wild and ecstatic celebration of the basic urge to join, to procreate, the urge-to-life in sex.  Earlier in Babylon, they celebrated the festival of Ishtar, their great goddess, the face of Inanna.”  Holding one of the candles, Merit smiled and whirled around in a circle, her skirts like white wings billowing out behind her.  “Ashtoreth, Asherah....she was the very image of life and light, the very spark of life we see sprout forth in the need to love, to join with each other.”  Gesturing to the stone fire pit, she asked Duncan if he would add more wood and stoke up the embers from their earlier fire.

Waiting until the flames were once more crackling brightly amid the logs he’d added, Merit bade them sit back down. Holding up her candle, Merit stared into the flame, beginning to sway with the rhythm of the music.  “Even in other parts of the world, the spirit of the Goddess in her many forms is honored.  In China and Japan, they honor the Goddess of Mercy, Kwan Yin, she who brings children and who birthed the world.  In Europe, Beltane was celebrated on these spring nights, women and men giving in to the manifestation of Gaia and Pan, in the universal enactment of the cycles of life, of fertility, of the well-being of the people through procreation, growth and harvest.  Ceralia and Floralia were celebrations that honored the growth of the earth,” she indicated the surrounding forest,  “the plants and the flowers that withered and died and sprang back to life again every year.  These were faces of the Great Mother that those who tended the fields celebrated.”  Turning in a circle, she whirled around, arms out, the skirts of her tunic flying as she embraced the night.  “This is the great cycle, the great rythym of the universe.”  She looked up at the night sky, watching for the rise of the moon over the treetops in the east, and smiled.  “I’ve always thought it was a time especially close to my heart, to the hearts of Immortals....for after all, are we not living imbodiments of this great miracle of death and life?”  She tilted her head back, musing. “I like to think the life force runs particularly strong through our veins, tying us even closer to the mysteries of life than mortals.  Is it not then fitting that we celebrate this rhythm, this miracle of life, and the force behind it, love.... and the goddess whose dominion it is?”

She stopped, the sound of drums swelling in the background, a slow, steady thrumming that seemed to catch the blood and force the heart to beat in sympathetic response.  The crackle of the fire added a syncopated counter-rhythm, echoed by the sounds of the forest creatures, the creaks and groans and calls of nocturnal creatures stirring outside the small circle of the firelight.  Duncan sat motionless, absorbing everything she said, every move she made, instinctively beginning to respond to the power she was subtly calling forth.  Methos leaned back against one of the sitting stones, his face half in shadow, his eyes on her.

She looked up, seeing the beginnings of the glowing orb emerging from behind the tall line of trees to the east, the reflected glow of the sun’s rays casting its light down upon the dark wilderness and the three Immortals.  It was time.  Catching the rhythm of the music, Merit began to quietly chant to herself, almost a song, but not quite. The words were ancient, in an ancient Greek dialect.

Duncan didn’t understand and spoke low-voiced to Methos, without taking his eyes off the graceful figure before him.  “What’s she saying?”

Methos smiled, scooting down and getting comfortable.  “She’s invoking the gods and goddesses, honoring them, giving thanks for their bounty in our lives. Protocol, politics.”  Merit reached down, exchanging the candle for the wine glass which she filled to the rim.  Holding it aloft, she turned gracefully, still chanting, and spoke her words to the moon.  “Now she’s talking to the Great Mother, asking for the manifestation of Aphrodite to appear and honor us with her presence.”

“And how does that occur?” Duncan wanted to know.

Methos only smiled. “Watch.”  The wine glass was tipped over and an amount spilled onto the ground. Turning around, Merit took a large draught of the wine, glided over and offered the glass to Methos to drink from.  He did, his eyes on Merit’s. Returning the glass to her, she gracefully moved to the other side and offered the glass now to Duncan. He took his share, and when she took back the glass, Merit drained the little bit left in the bottom.  Balancing the glass on the nearest large seating stone, Merit began to move again, punctuating her actions with occasional verses of chant and song.

“She’s starting with the story of the earth goddesses, Demeter and all their manifestations.  This dance honors their power over the earth and the things that grow within it.”  Methos fell silent as the two watched the woman move in an ancient dance accompanied by the sound of the intensely rhythmic music.  Merit danced the story of spring, of birth; of summer, time of strong growth; of autumn, the ripe fullness spilling its bounty across the land; of winter, time of death, of fallow roots; then of spring once more, to show the great cycle in its turning.

graphic by fullmoongraphics

As Merit knelt on the ground, the music changed just then, becoming all drums, the other instruments having fallen away for the moment.  From the spot on the ground, Merit began to undulate, her movements sinuous and mesmerising.  For Methos, it was as if two thousand years fell away in an instant.  He remembered many nights that Merit had danced, both for religious ceremonies, and privately for him.  She was good then, she was still good now, her gracefulness and ability clearly giving evidence that this practice was one she hadn’t abandoned over the years.  Only practice and execution could allow her to be so smooth.  But there were many good dancers; what set Merit apart from others was her ability to bring something to it that defied description.  She called it “the manifestation of Aphrodite”, the goddess dancing in and through her, and to be honest, Methos had always wondered if it wasn’t true.

The dance had changed now, her movements much more sensuous, more suggestive.  They spoke for themself. Metho didn’t think Duncan would need a translation of this.  It communicated awareness of the body, of joy in the senses, a blantant sensuality and celebration of life.  It evoked longing and desire in those watching, as she spoke wordlessly of love and ecstatic union.  It had always been strange, but Methos had always thought that watching Merit dance was at once the most spiritual and the most erotic thing he’d seen, at the same time.

Duncan watched the woman he had known off and on for over a century become something he’d never seen.  Merit had been many different things over the years, but never had he seen her like this.  She embodied ecstacy, and love.  He had no idea she could move like that, could dance so evocatively that he felt himself stirring, felt his blood begin to pulse heavier and gather in his groin.  The music called him to join in, to participate in some way, but he didn’t move. He stayed lounging on the grass, his eyes following every motion of the white-clad woman in front of him. As she passed between him and the fire, her body was highlighted through the sheer material of her tunic, the roundness of her hips and breasts standing out in clear relief.  A movement to his right caught his eye and he turned, catching Methos’ eyes.  They too seemed to gleam with whatever spark of awareness Merit had spread over them, a dark, intense spark, and unexpectedly, Methos added his sly, quirky grin.

“Intense, isn’t it.”  It was more of a statement than a question.  His words, even though he spoke softly, were heard clearly by Duncan.

“I--,” Duncan found himself at a loss, caught up in a confusing mix of sensations.  Merit’s evocative dancing, the steady pulse of the music, the pulse of his body as it responded to these things, the awareness in Methos’ eyes, the spark.... “...Yes...”  It seemed then that Methos’ eyes turned completely black, they seemed to stare through Duncan.  He couldn’t suppress the almost violent shiver that traversed his spine, like a shot of pure energy.  The music raised to a slight crescendo, coming to a culmination of its fire and energy.  Merit ended her dance on the ground directly in front of the two, her head thrown back, hair cascading down to the ground in a wild tangle.  As she rested back on her outstretched arms, Duncan could see her chest rise and fall as she worked to regain her breath, her nipples clearly outlined against the white cotton material of the clever gown, even the shadow between her legs somehow a dark blur against the sheer white.  He sat transfixed, not moving, waiting.

Eventually Merit stirred, slowly sitting up as she pushed the heavy mass of her hair from her face. Duncan thought she was an attractive woman normally, but now, with something lighting her face from within, she radiated.  When Merit looked at him and smiled, holding out her hand and saying, “Duncan,” he knew he would do anything she asked of him.

Silently, the three stood, Merit holding their hands.  The moon was rising fairly high in the eastern sky now, its pearly luminescence casting a cool, pale glow over everything, throwing shadows down behind standing objects.  Merit looked at them both, smiling faintly as she tilted her head to look into their eyes, the flickering of the fire an orange-yellow light dancing over her face.  Her eyes travelled to Duncan.  “To know Aphrodite, to celebrate Her presence, is to give free reign to Her nature, celebrate Her ecstacy and Her life with Her mysteries.”  Merit took a step backward, toward the cabin.  She tilted her head at them.  “Join me, please?”

Without anymore words,  Merit lead the way into the cabin, into the large bedroom suite downstairs.  She knelt before the fireplace to start the fire she’d laid earlier, but Duncan put his hand on her arm, saying he would do this.  Both Methos and Merit then disappeared, leaving him kneeling on the floor as he started tinder burning.  Merit returned from the bath to stand behind Duncan, leaning into him, her hands pulling out the elastic from his hair and combing through the long tresses as they lay over his shoulders.  He tilted his head, face to face with her; she smiled.

“Hello, gorgeous,” she said.

“I thought that was my line.”

Merit contemplated him. “Feeling a little strange?” She tunnelled her fingers deeper into his hair, rubbing his head.

He sat silent a moment. “Some,” he admitted.

She leaned down and kissed his nose, his lips, rubbing her nose against his briefly.  “Just be honest about how you feel, what you want.  I want to feel both of you next to me, bare skin warm and does that sound?”  Duncan made a small sound of acquiescence as her fingers slipped down to his shirt, sliding the short zipper down, then pulling it up and over his unresisting head and arms.

Methos came back bearing a small tray from the kitchen.  “Here,” he handed Duncan and Merit glasses of dark red wine, “for us.” Merit took a large sip, rolling it around in her mouth and tasting the layered essences.

“Hmmm, nice.”  She backed up a few steps to the bed, sitting the glass down on the nite stand.  “I think we’re overdressed,” she commented as she reached up and loosened the ties holding her gown on her shoulders.  In one slide, it fell to the floor silently, leaving her body nude and golden in the firelight.  She pulled her hair to one side, baring her nape.  “Someone help with the necklace?”

Methos came up behind her, nuzzling her shoulder as his fingers worked the obstinate clasp that held the necklace together. Holding out her hand for Duncan to join them, she watched as he arose and stood in front of her, her hands smoothing over his chest, fingers tugging gently on the hair arrowing down below his belt.  A hand followed that path down, skimming over the buckle and resting on the zipper, shaping and molding the firmness she found there.  Looking up at him, she tugged at his pants, “Off, please.”  He helped her and stepped out of his jeans, kicking them aside as her hands roamed less restrictedly now.

She could feel the imprint of Methos’ body behind her, the warm slide of his bare chest  against her back as he also bent and removed his jeans.  Sighing with delight, she tugged the last barrier down and off a patient Duncan, his body now bared to her gaze.  Their skin tones were similar, golden tan in the firelight.  He took matters in his own hands as he bent down and kissed her, hard, his tongue passing her lips to coax her own into an erotic duel.  Gasping, she felt insistent hands on her back, tracing the spine, punctuated by small nips from teeth as they were dragged down her skin behind the hands.  Clever hands they were, as they sought out her round cheeks, kneading the soft skin, teasing down the cleft between.  When Duncan moved his mouth over to her ear, nipping at the lobe, running his warm, wet tongue around the whorls and into the center, Merit’s legs quivered, and she grasped at Duncan’s shoulders.

Duncan laughed softly, his usual self-confidence restored by such a small thing.  He smiled down at her closed eyes, speaking to Methos.  “I think she needs to recline, don’t you?”

In answer, Methos gave one last nip on her shoulder, then turned and pulled down the heavy comforter till it was half-falling off the bottom of the large bed.  Duncan lowered her unresisting body to the sheets, a deep sigh coming from her as she stretched out on its surface, her eyes still closed.   Kneeling next to her, he reached down to run his hands over the tanned thrust of her hips.  She must have been swimming nude, he thought, for no tan line marred the color anywhere.  Her figure was generous, the curve from waist to hipline very rounded as it flexed and rippled under the attention of his hands.  Tracing his hands down over her legs, he absorbed the fine texture, the small changes in muscle definition as they responded to the caress.

Methos climbed up next to her, stretching out on his side, his hand on her belly, smoothing and teasing around her breasts, his mouth tracking up her arm.  Watching, Duncan was struck by the contrast of tones, she golden brown from the hot Mediterranean sun,  Methos’ skin a pale gleam of sinew and skin as he moved against her.  The contrast was erotic; he found himself responding with a rush of desire as he knelt and watched their play, his own hands falling slack.  This was not his first time in a menage a trois, but...he’d never been as aware of another man before as he found himself now. Shared women had been just that, shared women, while this...  something was different.  He found himself remembering the way the older Immortal had looked at him that night in his loft, a whole wealth of obscure meaning and emotion in his eyes, his hands on him in a fleeting, caressing gesture.  He remembered also the way he’d responded, how it had confused him-- his thoughts were broken off with a quick exhalation.

“What are you thinking about, with such an expression?”  Merit whispered huskily, her hand gently moving up his inner thigh.  She rolled onto her side, facing Duncan, while Methos pressed close against her back..

“I--,”  Duncan’s answer was cut short as her hand reached the heavy weight of his testicles.  His breath expelled with some force as she curled her fingers around their furred warmth, cupping and squeezing lightly, her other hand slipping up to encircle his heavy sex. A soft groan slipped out from his lips.  “Not much of consequence at the moment,” he smiled. His eyes drifted shut.

Merit’s hair was a mass of cascading curls which Methos swept aside, tasting the skin of her nape.  He looked up at Duncan, watching the younger Immortal falling silent as Merit turned her attention onto his already burgeoning erection.  His eyes had shut and his head dropped back, the soft, black hair falling loose around his shoulders, his mouth slightly open as he concentrated on the pleasure felt from Merit’s attentions.  Reaching out with his left hand, Methos captured Duncan’s hand, settling it on Merit’s hip.

Startled, Duncan opened his eyes.  There was Methos,  his face buried in the mass of black hair at Merit’s nape, nuzzling her skin as he held the younger Immortal’s hand down flush against her hip, trapped between skin both soft and rough.  Duncan could feel the warmth and softness of Merit’s stomach, the swell of her buttocks under his palm while the calloused warmth of Methos’ hand covered his, directing his slow movements over her skin.  The feeling of Merit’s skin was nice, but even more stimulating was Methos controlling what he felt, what he caressed.  It was unsettling, and erotic as hell.  Their hands moved together on her lush cheeks, Methos’ hands tightening, his fingers flexing and encouraging Duncan’s to grasp lightly, kneading the soft, warm flesh under their hands. Duncan's eyes drifted closed again, the more to concentrate on the sensations he was receiving.  His fingers were coaxed into skimming down the warm crevice between her cheeks, his fingers and Methos' intertwined and moving through that dark, damp place.  Merit’s arousal was damp to his touch, the smell of sex pungent and heady.

It was an almost overwhelming sensory experience, and Duncan struggled to handle his feelings, both physical and emotional.  His hand was led  around a warm thigh, then coaxed to delve in between, skimming over damp curls to the wet warmth as Merit’s thighs fell apart.  A gentle but insistant finger pushed his into her humid warmth, and set up a slight rhythm moving in and out.  He heard Merit moan as they brushed over her swollen bud, and Duncan looked down.

Methos was suckling her breast, his body half-lying over her left side.  Duncan's hands were still intertwined with his between her spread legs.  Methos’ erection lay against the crease of Merit’s leg, the head damp from arousal as he undulated against her body slowly.  A wave of desire hit Duncan hard, his muscles contracting tightly, and he hissed from the gut level surge of lust.  The hand on his own erection tightened in response.

Merit watched him.  “Come, agapemo, don’t hold back now.  Let yourself experience, let yourself rejoice in your own nature.”  She smiled slightly, then leaned up abruptly and took him into her mouth, pulling back his foreskin slightly and running her tongue around the sensitive head.  It was warmth, and wet pleasure, and very sudden. Duncan groaned aloud.  Methos pushed Duncan's fingers inside Merit’s warmth at the same time. Both men experienced the warm depths of her together as they stroked slow and deep.  Even with his eyes closed again, Duncan could feel Methos pleasure each time he pushed his flesh against Merit's.

Merit's mouth became more insistant and Duncan's breath quickened. His fingers slid more deeply, his thumb brushed against her swollen flesh, while Methos’ palm pressed down and in.  Something hot and hard slid against Duncan's hand. Methos’ erection was sliding in the moisture as he thrust against her groin and their hands. It was flushed a dark red from excitement, long and swollen as Methos thrust wetly past Duncan's hand.  Curious, Duncan lifted his thumb and curved over the swollen length, trapping Methos between his thumb and Merit’s groin.  Methos made wordless sounds of pleasure, thrusting and searching for more stimulation.

Duncan was reeling from Merit’s mouth on him, and from the knowledge that he was bringing pleasure to another man, to his friend, to Methos.....  His body tensed up, his movements stopping, his mind intruding with doubts, fears.  What am I doing-- Abruptly, he found himself on his back, Merit straddling him.

“I told you to let your body have its way, not your mind, agapemo.  Stop thinking,”  she instructed, and leaned down to kiss him. “Just experience....”  She fitted herself onto him and slid down.  Duncan grunted from the suddenness, his hands curling around her legs as she positioned herself more comfortably on his hips.   Merit sighed, moving up and down slightly, her head thrown back as she moved on him.

Methos moved in behind Merit. Strong, pale, long-fingered hands came around and covered her breasts. Her head fell back on the older Immortal’s shoulders, their mouths moving together in a welcoming kiss.  All the while, Merit moved on Duncan, tight, hot, bringing him back to the level of joyful pleasure he’d felt before his mind interupted.

Duncan watched the ease and care between the two older Immortals in the way they kissed, the careful way Methos pulled her hair out of the way. The slow, purposeful method he used to play with her nipples, rolling them between two fingers until she caught her breath from pleasure, the way he dragged his teeth slowly along her exposed throat, nipping and then soothing with his lips along that most sensitive and vulnerable area of an Immortal’s body. Duncan watched the two in their love play, and was seduced. He felt an incredible rush of pleasure and love.

Merit looked down at Duncan and smiled.  She searched and stroked over his stomach and chest, finding small male nipples buried in the sworls of hair, gently rubbing a finger back and forth over them.  Duncn jerked again in response to the simple caress,  hands tightening on her thighs.

She smiled again. “Oh, Duncan, this is so can it be otherwise when we all care for each other the way we do?  Aphrodite revels when there’s love between her celebrants...” she broke off in a moan as Duncan’s hands moved to where they were joined, sliding once more into her wetness, stroking between her swollen lips, feeling himself sliding into that warmth.  Merit responded immediately, her body tightening up around his as spasms moved through her, her breath expelling on small sounds of passion as she fell back against Methos in her climax.

Even before her peak had ended, Methos pushed Merit gently forward, pulling her hips back against him.  He found the bottle she’d left out, pouring some of the lubricant into his hand, applying it to himself and between her cheeks.  His eyes drifted shut, caressing the dark rose of her anus, gauging her readiness. His fingers began to slide deeply inside as her muscles relaxed, her hips pushing back in pleasure. Methos slid his fingers out, replaced them with his cock and slowly but inexorably pushed into her tightness, letting her control the movements and the sensations.

Duncan could feel the pressure of Methos' gradual entry into Merit.  His senses were filled with Merit as her head lay on his chest, the essence of her desire perfuming the air, her warmth gripping his sex. The pressure created by he and Methos inside her was almost more than Duncan could bear, her muscles gripping him like a vise, the rippling motion bringing him to the edge of no return.

Gradually, Merit began to move slowly, her undulating motion enveloping both Duncan and Methos with hot pleasure.  Duncan found it hard to hold back his instinctive need to pull down the hips brushing against his and bury himself in the warmth surrounding him.  Merit  lifted her head to look at him, her hands moving in his hair.  She whispered something he didn’t understand in Greek before capturing his mouth, her tongue inviting him to explore her and revel in their intimacy.

Automatically, Duncan reached to hold her close, and his hands encountered another body.  Duncan felt the sleek muscles in Methos’ arms as he wrapped around Merit, all three bodies melded together as one.  The sensations moved Duncan beyond thought. All he knew was the weight of the others, the warmth that moved over him and enveloped him, the combined scents of their aroused bodies, the sounds of their passion.  He heard a groan, a gasp, and Duncan honestly didn’t know if they came from him or Merit or Methos.  His hands grasped at whatever skin he touched, uncaring about to whom it belonged.  It didn’t matter, they were of one body, one mind in this act.  He felt Merit’s mouth move down his chest to bite and suckle his sensitive nipples. Felt hands insinuate themselves between his and Merit’s body to caress them both, clever fingers that found spots of intense pleasure.  His own fingers tightened painfully, pulling both Merit and Methos toward him. A groan of indescribable pleasure erupted from him as he exploded over the edge into endless, mindless pleasure.

Merit whispered against his skin, “Yes, agapemo, yes....” and she whimpered her own pleasure once more.  A deeper, masculine voice echoed her Greek, followed by a hoarse shout of surrender marking Methos’ climax, his body surging hard against Merit’s in  fulfillment.  They hung in an abyss of pleasure as long as possible before Merit went limp and fell forward onto Duncan, bringing Methos with her as she collapsed.  All three were still joined and Duncan bore the brunt of their weight as they recovered.  He couldn't find the energy to complain. Their weight was comforting and felt like an enveloping blanket, arms and limbs a tangle in the pile of bodies.

Some time passed before he felt someone stirring, jiggling the bed as they moved and lightened the weight across Duncan's legs.  Cracking his eyes open, Duncan saw Methos crouched in front of the fire, banking it for the evening. When Methos disappeared out of the room, his eyes drifted shut again, his legs still entangled with Merit's.

Duncan must have drifted off for a while. He awakened with the feeling of Merit's body being moved from his, a low voice coaxing her to move over. Duncan felt bedsheets pulled up to cover his now exposed body and he opened his eyes.  Methos lay on the other side of Merit in the huge bed, arranging the covers over all of them.  The house lay in darkness beyond the room. The fire's small flames provided the only illumination, a flickering, faint golden glow by which Duncan could see Methos watching him.

Methos gave Duncan a very faint smile.  "Go back to sleep.  I took care of everything in the house, and the fire outside."

Duncan felt unusually languid and was grateful he didn't have to get out of the warm cocoon of sheets.  "Thank you."

Methos was amused.  The younger Scot was nothing if not impeccably polite, no matter the circumstances.  He bit back a laugh and matched Duncan's formal tone.  "You're welcome."   A sigh and a twisting of her body had both men's eyes shifting toward Merit.

Methos reached up and smoothed the back of his hand across her cheek and down over her shoulders.  "Rest, agapemo."   He looked over at Duncan and repeated the gesture, pushing back some of Duncan's hair from his face. "You, too, go back to sleep."  Methos lay down on the pillow. His face was half-buried in its folds as he relaxed flat on his stomach, his legs and feet curling up with Merit's for warmth.

Duncan watched him in the dim light, then rolled over on his side toward the others.  Stretching out an arm, he reached across Merit, enfolding her in his embrace, his hand touching other warm skin.  His fingers tightened, encircling the sinewy arm he found. Content, he closed his eyes.

As he drifted once more off to sleep, Duncan smiled as memories came to life.  He felt like an eight-year-old boy once more, curled up in the loft with Robert and Ian and old Bessie's litter of eight warm, squirming pups.  He had been warm; he was with those he loved and who loved him.  That had been a highlight of his youthful memories, the cold winter nights passed safe and warm with his best friends and their favorite playthings.  It had been an experience he never thought he'd enjoy again.

But now, the past and the present melded until he couldn't tell the difference.  Duncan expelled a long breath as he relaxed, his hand tightening convulsively for a moment. Safe, warm and loved, he fell asleep.

Methos felt the bed move very early as Merit snuck quietly out from under the covers.  He kept his eyes closed, gauging her actions by the sounds she made.  It hadn’t been hard, first the door to the bathroom had snicked shut, then he heard the shower come on.  Ten minutes later she slipped out of the room.  He barely heard the deck doors open and shut in the kitchen.

It was dawn.  She'd probably gone out to commune with nature, to enjoy the quiet and peace of the early morning as Apollo began to make his entrance for the day.  Methos couldn’t help but wonder about the he was surrounded by two who both liked to get up with the sun, as far from his own nature as possible.  In the right time, the right place, it could be useful.  But on a daily basis?  He would much rather sleep.

Methos dozed lightly after Merit had left, only to find himself coming wide awake as Duncan made a noise in his sleep and rolled over completely onto his back, dragging much of the covers with him as they caught around his legs.  Completely unabashed, Methos propped himself up and took advantage of the opportunity to stare at Duncan in private.

The body displayed before him by insufficient covers was beautiful in its artless state, the skin tone naturally golden. The muscles had been honed in over 400 years of training and fighting to their current state of perfection.  Duncan was more beautiful than Michaelangelo’s idea of perfection, a living, breathing David.  But, as beautiful as that might be, Methos knew it wasn’t the driving force behind his desire for this person.  Who wanted a cold marble statue to hold?

Rather, it was something about Duncan, something....unfathomable, indefinable.  Was it because he seemed to be everything that Methos never had been, not in all of his five thousand years?  He’d lived as long as civilization had been around, seen innumerable cultures rise and fall; seen, been, done everything there was to do on the face of the earth at least once. Yet never had he seemed to come close to the innate integrity that MacLeod appeared to have.  But did Methos really want to be like Duncan?  Duncan had his blind spots....and they weren’t conducive to survival in their Game. How many times had Methos helped him out of some tight spot he’d put himself into?  How many times had Methos' own stomach knotted tightly in fear, realizing what Duncan was planning to do?  And how many of those times had he himself just walked away, Methos thought wryly.  If it had been Duncan, he wouldn’t have walked away from any friend or person who appeared to need his help.  But Methos had, and more than once.

Maybe it was the maddening conundrum it created that appealed to him.  For five thousand years, he’d survived by caring for only himself, when all was said and done.  Now, here was another, an Immortal, one who had what it took to be the winner, if only he could last that long...  Methos found himself wanting to guard him for the whole world’s benefit, but also for his own personal desires.  That was a powerful combination, one which clashed hellishly with his own ingrained sense of self-protection.  Many times he’d found himself taking off, just to get away from the intensity of emotions the whole situation generated, but he always found himself being drawn back into Duncan's orbit again, if only just to be there and talk to him, to interact with him. To feel the pleasure such innocuous association brought him even while he harbored private thoughts of a less innocuous nature.

And now, here they were, hardly in an innocuous situation.  No, this was far from innocent and mild, as were Methos' feelings and desires.  He’d been hard-pressed last night to refrain from reaching out, touching, doing something to express the feelings he had.  He’d stayed tightly in control, keeping to the background, letting Merit work her magic upon Mac, letting her seduce him into relaxing that ever-vigilant guard that erected rigid walls so quickly whenever he felt threatened or encroached upon.  Damn stubborn, uptight Highlander.

He didn’t look so damn uptight now though, did he, Methos thought as he watched Duncan sleep.  Duncan's face, usually a mask of strength and control, was relaxed and looked even younger than when awake.  His mouth, which drove Methos crazy, was slightly open, lips parted enough for Methos to see a glint of teeth.  His breathing was deep and even, his chest with its furring of dark hair rising and falling in slow regularity, testimony to the depth of his sleep.  Methos felt a strong desire to reach out and touch the skin, feel the warmth, and assure himself this other person was real.

Methos' hand was moving before he had a chance to think rationally about his action. Gods, Duncan gave all new meaning to the word hot-natured, Methos thought. Even as his hand rested gently against the torrid heat of Duncan's chest, he realized this might not be the world’s best idea.  Last night was one thing, while Merit was the focus of attention.... but that in no way meant Duncan was ready or willing to take it any further. This could be  a major mistake.  Even that realization wasn’t enough to stop Methos at this point.

The heat pouring off Duncan made the older Immortal feel as if he had curled up next to a small furnace.  Methos could understand now why Duncan walked around his loft and on the barge, both of which were damned cold in the winter, in little more than T-shirts and briefs.  Methos had always felt chilled when staying over, bundling up in sweats and blankets.  He’d much rather have bundled up with MacLeod.  It seemsobvious now it would have been much warmer, not to mention more interesting.

When his resting hand produced no effect in the sleeping form, Methos let his hand begin to search out what he had only looked at before.  Muscles rippled beneath his touch, the hair on Duncan's chest felt springy and soft against his callused palm. Methos' hand strayed downward, feeling the thrust of hipbone beneath alayer of solid muscle.  Moving further down Duncan's hip, he explored Duncan’s right leg. The furring of hair on his thighs was very soft and downy like a babe’s.  Methos smoothed his hand downward, over knee and calf, gently grasping the foot and caressing fingers down the sole as Duncan’s foot twitched in response.  Bringing his hand back up the path it had traveled,  Methos' heart nearly stopped when Duncan reached out a hand of his own to cover Methos’ where it lay on Duncan’s thigh.

Time stood still for a few seconds while Methos waited to see what Duncan would do, if he would open his eyes, if he really was awake.  He didn’t seem to be. Duncan seemed to be  in that twilight place where dreams and reality merge and everything blends together into a unique altered experience.  Duncan's hand moved again, pulling Methos' over until it covered his flaccid sex.  Duncan flexed his hand, rubbing Methos’ against himself until Methos tightened his hand instinctively, and Duncan’s hand fell away.

The older Immortal lay there, wracked with indecision.  In his mind, he cursed Merit twice, once for bringing them to the island, the second time for leaving the bed this morning.  For putting him in this no-win situation... either way, Methos knew he was damned.  Duncan would probably never forgive him if Methos continued.  But Methos also knew couldn’t stay around Duncan after this, either, if this relationship was never going to move forward.  The personal effort it took to maintain a façade of cool, non-involvement was too great.

The hell with it.  He’d lived too long to be so filled with indecision.

It didn’t take long for Duncan to be hard as a rock, even making faint, wordless sounds  from Methos' firm, decisive actions.  When he reached out toward Methos, trying to pull him closer, Methos shuddered as Duncan's large hand moved over him, stroking and grasping for contact, even though he knew full well Duncan was still not aware of what was happening.  To him, it was a dream. He probably thought it was Merit or Amanda, Methos thought cynically.

This wasn’t fair, to either of them. Methos wanted Duncan to know it was him.

Methos leaned over the younger Immortal, pushing in close for the first time, moving in joy against his firm body. His own erection was suddenly painfully full.  Placing his mouth against warm smooth skin on Duncan's firm stomach, Methos began to nip, then tongue the small bites as he worked his way upward.  Duncan begin to waken as he became more aware of what was occurring.  When Duncan's engorged sex began to twitch in Methos' hands, Methos was swamped by pleasure to know he could arouse the youngster like that.

The older Immortal worked his way up to Duncan’s mouth, playing a finger over the full lips before finally placing his own over them.  He was very surprised when he was kissed in return, an enthusiastic meeting of lips and tongue, while hands clasped around him and threaded themselves through his short hair.  As the kiss ended, Methos pulled back to look down into just-opening eyes.

Duncan's golden brown eyes widened with surprise and something else that Methos couldn’t read.  Both were frozen, still intimately entwined, with Duncan’s arms holding the older, wiry body close and Methos’ hand still wrapped tightly around the younger one’s erection.  Methos was almost afraid to breathe, until Duncan gasped, his hips surging upward.

Methos quickly released the death-grip he’d had on the younger man’s erection.  A ironic smile crept into his face and voice.  “Sorry,” he said shortly, a part of him laughing at the awkwardness he felt.  After five thousand years, it was humorously enlightening to find out he could still find himself in original situations, feeling gauche and inept.  And it was also damned irritating, too.  Who the hell wanted to be farcical?

Methos left his hand on Duncan’s abdomen, not willing to move as long as the younger man wasn’t.   And Duncan wasn’t moving, or speaking.  His eyes were wide, though, and Methos wondered to himself if Duncan’s brain had frozen up while trying to deal with the unexpected situation.  Methos realized they might end up in this position all day if he didn’t say something first.  He tried for something humorous to break the tension.

“You’re upset,” he blurted.

Good going, you ass.  Great conversation starter.

In any event, it seemed to release Duncan from his thoughts.  Removing his arms from around the older Immortal, Duncan placed his palms down on the bed and pushed himself backward, sitting up against the wooden headboard.  Immediately moving away from Duncan, Methos took heart that he hadn’t bolted from the bed in fear or reached for his sword and taken Methos' head.

Long hair clouded over his eyes, and slowly Duncan reached up and pushed it back, capturing it in a queue in the back but releasing it when he realized he had no elastic.  His eyes were looking down and away from Methos, leaving Methos unable to gauge their emotion.  Time stretched out as silence reigned, until Duncan began to slowly shake his head back and forth, his eyes coming up to search out the darker brown ones.

“No, I’m not upset,” he finally answered.  His voice was pitched low in the absolute quiet of the cabin.  Outside, the birds were boisterous in their morning songs, but that seemed far, far away from the tension holding the two men in its sway.  “Actually, I’m not sure what I'm feeling. What I am.”  The last was said with a question in his tone, his eyes puzzled and thoughtful as they looked into Methos’ wary ones.

Methos hadn’t lived all those years without learning to pick up a subtlety when it was directed his way.  Cautiously, he scooted over closer to the sitting figure.  He reached a gentle hand onto Duncan’s chest, placing it over his heart.  “In here, you’re simply a person, like the rest of us. Maybe a little more complicated inside, because of your Immortality, but still just a person.”

Methos’ eyes flickered down over Duncan’s body, his hand following briefly as it slid down his torso, resting on the ridged muscles of his abdomen, faintly caressing. “On the outside, you’re an Immortal, a male of the race.” He looked back up into the other’s watchful gaze, his own sharp and waiting.  “Anything else you choose to be is, of course, completely up to you.”  Silence descended again on the pair.  Methos' own breathing sounded loud in his ears, his respiration and heartbeat both elevated from tension as he waited for a response from the younger Immortal.  He’d played his hand, now there was nothing left to do.

Duncan looked very thoughtful, a curious light in his eyes as he reached out and placed a hand on the older Immortal’s chest, his eyes following the movement of his olive-toned fingers down the hairless, pale gleam of skin and muscle.  He seemed very focused, utterly fascinated with Methos’ response, and Methos couldn’t stop the hiss of arousal as those fingers slid casually over his small nipples. His erection, which had long since gone flaccid, sprang back into hardness in a painful instant.  Unconsciously, his hand gripped hard at Duncan’s stomach.

Those thoughtful eyes took in every bit of Methos’ response to his foray, feeling the fast heartbeat under his hand, seeing the eager bob of his erection, the closed eyes and the teeth biting his lip.  Duncan waited until Methos' eyes opened, and asked one brief, grave question.  “Why?”

Without any explanation, Methos knew to what he was referring.  He gave a quiet snort of amusement, shaking his head.  “Oh, Mac....that’s the one million dollar question, isn’t it.”

“Sixty-four thousand,” Duncan corrected absently.

The laugh was louder this time.  “Whatever.”  Silence fell in a long pause, then Methos spoke.  “Look... I’m feeling a bit exposed here.”  He looked straight into Duncan’s eyes.  “Do you want me to leave?”

“I--” Duncan looked back at him, seeing a multitude of emotions behind his guarded gaze.  For some reason, Duncan recalled the care Methos displayed so naturally the evening before in his actions toward both he and Merit.  Duncan's head was moving side to side before he had even formed the thought.  “No, I don’t.”

Methos was still cautious.  “What do you want me to do?” Methos watched as Duncan seemed to turn a bit darker in the face.

“I don't know.”

Ah, so he was thinking about it, was he?  Methos smiled, relaxing and expelling a breath he hadn’t even realized he’d been holding in.  He moved closer to the Duncan, until their bodies were touching their complete length, and moved his hand from Duncan’s stomach to his shoulder.  He noticed that Duncan’s penis lay semi-erect, a good sign. They were half-way there.  Keeping his eyes looking at Duncan’s, he slowly bent down, toward Duncan’s torso, not releasing eye contact until his mouth connected with hot flesh.  Then Duncan’s gaze shifted as he watched Methos’ mouth move over the ridged surface of his stomach, moving tantalizingly near where Duncan’s penis now began to twitch again from arousal.

As he approached the pulsing length, Methos raised his head and looked at Duncan, now resting his own head back against the headboard while watchful eyes took everything in.  Methos smiled with an enigmatic expression.  “Got an answer yet?”

Duncan’s breath expelled on a choked chuckle.  “You’re not going to cut me any slack at all, are you?”

Methos seemed to consider.  “You may be just a babe compared to me, but those four hundred years should count for something.”  He looked up at the chagrined expression on Duncan’s face.  “You’re old enough to ask for what you want.”

Ask for what you want....ask for what you want....  The words seemed to echo in the stillness of the room.  Duncan thought about that. By all the saints!  To be honest, he couldn’t recall too many times he’d had to come straight out and ask for “what he wanted”.  Usually, it had been a mutual, unspoken need, or he’d let his actions speak in place of words.  Ah....

Fitting action to thought, he slid down on the bed until he was lying on his side, with Methos propped up on an elbow next to him.  Seduction and need were universal in nature...this shouldn’t be a problem. He looked closely at Methos, seeing need and arousal glittering in his eyes. Duncan marveled at the surge of response he felt from being the recipient of that look. Reaching up, his hand firmly on the back of Methos’ neck,  Duncan met his mouth halfway.  He had thought he would control the situation after seeing the other man’s eagerness.  It only took about thirty seconds for Duncan to revise that opinion.  Methos had him gasping in response to his wandering mouth as he plundered Duncan's soft lips and tongue, then stroked over soft flesh and hard palate.  After a few minutes, Duncan wasn’t thinking about anything at all, just feeling as if he were a mass of exposed nerve endings.

Elated, Methos threw himself wholly into the act in a way he hadn’t in a long time.  He had felt exposed and naked initially, but Duncan’s willing and honest response warmed and restored his equalibrium. Methos hadn’t expected or anticipated such an enthusiastic reaction. The reality of it took his breath away.  Methos set out to steal Duncan’s in return.

Slowly, Methos set out to explore every exposed inch of Duncan's golden skin.  He used his teeth, then soothed the small biting sting with his lips and tongue.  The musky smelling, sweet-salty taste of Duncan was like an aphrodisiac. The more he tasted, the more he wanted.  After each new foray, Methos returned briefly to Duncan's mouth, their kisses becoming harder, rougher. Still, he refused to give Duncan any satisfaction---yet.

Exploring down one muscular leg then back up the other, Methos nearly lost his control when he felt a wet mouth on his hip, a firm hand surrounding his own leaking cock.

Duncan's voice laughed with delight.  “You’re getting the sheets all wet.”

Methos grunted in response to Duncan's squeezing hand, cursing in a few ancient languages as he pushed himself helplessly into the warm pressure surrounding him. “If you want me to last at all, you’ll be extremely careful how you go on.  Or the sheets will get even wetter.”

Duncan spoke again, sounding suspiciously innocent.  “But I’m not doing anything, Methos. You’re the one moving.”

The fact that it was true had Methos cursing again, laughing. “Bloody hell.” The hand wasn’t exactly moving, but it sure understood how to tighten at just the right moment.... Methos’ whole focus narrowed to that small portion of his anatomy as he struggled for control.

“Anyway,”  the innocent voice continued, “I don’t have any prior experience at this.”

“That’s a bloody lie,” Methos’ voice exploded on a gasp of effort as he struggled to hold back.  “I’m sure you’ve gotten plenty of practice on one similar model over the past four hundred years.”  His head was tucked against Duncan’s thigh where he’d been exploring when he’d been so deliciously interrupted.  He realized at that moment what was in front of his face, and smiled.

“It seems to me that a five-thousand-year-old man would have more contr---ahhhh....” Duncan’s voice broke off on a strangled cry.

That worked to shut him up, Methos thought as he lowered his mouth around Duncan's beautiful cock. The tastes and the textures of Duncan captivated Methos, the sweet/sour/salty flavor on his tongue combining with the musky scent of Duncan's skin
He knew his firm rhythm was having the desired effect when Duncan’s hand fell away from Methos, dropping to the sheets and gripping the material with tight fists.  Feeling the testicles draw up, the minute changes in his muscles, Methos swiftly brought the younger Immortal to the brink of orgasm then grasped his penis, grip tight around the base, pressure on certain points to stave off the imminent peak.

As he hung there suspended over the edge, not quite falling, Duncan’s body was taut with unsatisfied tension.  His voice broke on a groan.  “ Are you trying to kill me?”

Methos moved up, hand still firmly on his penis, and smiled darkly at Duncan. “You wouldn’t be of much use to anyone, even me, that way.  No, I’m just teaching you the benefits of skills learned over 3000 years ago. What do you think?”

“I think I’d rather learn something else,” he said flatly. Unable to dislodge the hand that  held him in thrall, he roused himself and turned the tables on the amused face looking at him. In one swift move, he had the slender, wiry body trapped under his on the bed.  Duncan looked down at Methos’ expectant expression, his supine body.  For the first time, Duncan was taking the initiative and he wanted to do it right.  Remembering how responsive Methos had been earlier, Duncan started by running his hand over the smooth skin on the chest before him.  With each pass back and forth, he dragged his fingers over the small, hard nipples that had proved so sensitive.  They still were, each brush had muscles clenching in reaction.

Duncan set out to see Methos as close to the edge as he had been.  Lowering himself, he slowly placed his mouth over one of the flat nipples, scraping his tongue over it, closing his teeth over the very hard bud.  It was different to have the body under his as hard, as sinewy as his own, no soft curves, no extra cushioning to lean on.  Different, but not un-erotic. The feeling of warm skin sliding over his, the musky smells of excitement, the look of need and passion flaring in the dark eyes gleaming at him, the knowing smile curving that mouth that had so recently been bringing him such inexpressible pleasure... their very intimacy was extremely erotic.  Duncan couldn’t define it, didn’t want to define it.  All he knew, all he cared about was-- it worked.  For him, obviously for Methos.  For now, that was enough.

Duncan lingered over what was clearly an extremely erogenous zone for Methos, wringing a groan from him as he teased the other nipple.  Their bodies surged together, finding a rhythm as both thrust themselves against each other.  Methos hissed out a breath from between clenched teeth, his hands finding the firm buttocks surging slowly over him.  They were very hard, tight, the muscles bunching and flexing with every motion he made.  Groaning, Methos held Duncan’s hips tightly then pulled his face up to look him in the eyes.

“I don’t want to do anything you’re not ready for.  I don’t know what you want.” The uncomprehending look in Duncan’s gaze had Methos speaking more plainly. “I want you, I want to bury myself in you.” His voice was rough and low with excitement, his grasp on the firm cheeks emphasizing his words.  “Or,”  he thrust himself slowly against Duncan’s hardness, “you can have me.  Or we can do something else. Either way, I need to know. Soon.”  Methos reached up and brought Duncan’s face down for a meeting of their mouths, a hard, firm thrust of tongue against tongue.  Breaking off, he trailed his mouth around Duncan’s jawline, finding his ear, biting on the lobe, pushing the tip of his tongue in the whorls and crevasses of that appendage.  Duncan shivered from the rough feel of it in a sensitive place.

“Now, now,” Methos muttered, dragging hands down broad shoulders to cup the younger one’s tight butt again. “I want you, now.”  He breathed the words into Duncan’s ear, then pushed Duncan off as he rolled over to his stomach. Reaching for the table and the small bottle he’d used last night, he put it into Duncan’s hands.  “Here, use it, now.”  Giving a brief, hard kiss, he turned around once more and moved onto his knees, head pillowed down on his arms.

Duncan’s body surged in a helpless rush of desire as he looked at the vulnerable body offered so trustingly, so erotically before him.  The desire in Methos’ voice, his eyes, was enough to make his head spin.  Even as his fears were voiced, his hands reached out to caress the beautiful form in front of him. “Methos, I’ve never...” he trailed off.

Methos lifted his head. “You’re not saying you’ve never had anal sex before,” he asked incredulously.

Duncan looked embarrassed. “No, I’m not....just never with another man.”

Methos grinned, settling back down. His voice was low, and muffled from the sheets.  “No difference here, same idea. Duncan, please, now.” He shoved his hips back against Duncan’s cock unexpectedly, rolling it against the hard length.

Using the lubricant generously on himself, Duncan ran his hand down between the smooth, tight cheeks snuggled up against him, reaching for the differences.  The testicles and penis he took in hand and covered with lube, hearing the groan of pleasure, the thrust of body as his hand slid wetly over the generous organ, teasing, stroking, then retreating back to search out the sameness that Methos talked about.  He found it, puckered tightly against intrusion, and set out to seduce it into opening.

Stroking with firm, slick fingers, Duncan coaxed Methos’ body to open, accepting the slick intrusion of his fingers as he became accustomed to Duncan’s presence. He stroked the tight dark place, feeling Methos’ thrusts back against him, his own eyes drifting shut as he began to focus on the sensations he felt as he slowly stroked himself between Methos’ thighs.  Their movements became stronger, the sensations sharper, and Methos rasped out a plea, “Now, Duncan.”

Positioning himself against the relaxed cleft, Duncan slowly pushed inward until the head of his penis was gripped firmly inside that tight place. Methos writhed against him, almost sobbing his frustration at the slowness of Duncan’s progress. Slowly but inexorably he slid in until there was nowhere left to go since they fit tightly to each other.  He stayed still, not knowing what Methos liked or wanted, not wanting to hurt him.

There was a gasp, then Methos began to move, to stroke himself on Duncan’s length, minutely at first, the movements growing larger as he began to get caught up in the feeling, the overwhelming pleasure of knowing this was Duncan as his hands grabbed Methos’ hips and held tightly, fingers digging in, body beginning to move in tandem with his.  Methos couldn’t contain his sounds of pleasure, groaning as he grasped the bedsheets and pulled blindly.

When he felt Duncan bend down closely over him, reaching around to grasp his rock-hard penis, he nearly lost it, crying out.  Duncan released his grip immediately, alarmed, and Methos struggled to reassure him.  “It’s all’s all right.  Don’t stop, please, god, don’t stop don’t stop...”  he trailed off as the hand encompassed him again, slick with lube, setting a matching rhythm that had Methos sobbing into the pillow as he tried to hold on, make it last, make it last....  He concentrated on Duncan to refocus and hold off his own peak.

Tightening his muscles in rhythm with Duncan’s steady thrusts, he heard Duncan moan in reaction, felt him begin to thrust harder, his hand grasp more tightly.  He tried to wait, he wanted to wait, to feel Duncan come first, but he couldn’t, couldn’t seem to hold back that last delicious head-long rush toward the ecstacy, feeling the pleasure begin deep inside him, hearing his own voice cry out roughly, incoherently, as his body surged forward in Duncan’s hand, pumping out its climax helplessly.  He was aware of Duncan’s body almost slamming into his, the frenzied movements nearly pushing him off balance as the younger Immortal pushed himself in to the hilt, his own hoarse shout sounding his orgasm, the strong pulsing of where he was buried inside echoing his pleasure.

The room’s silence rang with the echoes of their cries, the sound of their breathing harsh in their ears. Neither moved; neither could move, still lost in the sensations they had created, still feeling the other hot against him. Finally after another minute, Methos began to slide his legs down out of the cramped position they were locked in, releasing the tension in tightly flexed muscles. Both men slid down to the sheets, Duncan laying heavily on top, his arms automatically holding the other body close to his.

Methos’ head was buried in the pillow, his arms cradling it as he let out a deep sigh, relaxing his body.  Duncan took a breath, realizing he didn’t want to move but that he must.  Slowly he extricated himself, feeling bereft at the loss of intimate contact.  Frowning, he rolled off Methos and onto the bed next to him.  It startled him briefly when a questing hand came onto his face, blindly tracing his mouth, his chin and neck, settling onto his shoulders and pulling close.

“I’ve waited a long time.”

Duncan turned his head to find sleepy brown-green eyes looking at him from the next pillow. The low voice continued. “I dreamed about you the day I met you, wild, bizarre dreams.  I woke up in the middle of the night, covered in sweat, hard as stone.”  He shook his head a little. “I wasn’t happy about it. You were the last thing I wanted in my life, an Immortal “magnet”.  You attract every headhunting contender from every continent in the world.  I hadn’t taken a head in two hundred years, hadn’t really tried to keep my skills up to par.  Every second I stayed around you, I was putting myself in real danger.”

“But you came back.”

“I was crazy.”

“You offered me your head right after we met.  Your 5000 year old head.” Duncan sounded bewildered. He asked the one question he always wanted to ask Methos. “Why?”

Methos trailed a lazy finger over the golden skin under his hand. He gave a short laugh.  “Because... I couldn’t bear to see Kalas win by taking your head.  It would’ve skewed the Game for years, possibly forever.” His eyes clouded over for a second, then cleared and crinkled as he grinned a quirky grin.  “This head’s too gorgeous to lose its body.  I kind of like them together.   Preferably very close to mine.”  He moved suddenly, leaning over and placing his mouth against Duncan’s, a slow merging.  Pulling back, he looked down into the golden eyes, then sighed.  “I still have intercourse on the mind, but I can see from your eyes you have intercourse of another nature in mind.”  He settled back propped on his elbow, waiting.

Duncan fidgeted under his gaze and sat up, his arms crossed over raised knees.  “I’m not sure what to say.”

Methos sighed again. “I’ll say it for you. You’re having regrets.”

Duncan looked serious, thinking. “, not that I know of.  I just feel....I don’t know.” He shrugged slightly.  “It’s strange, feels strange, like driving on the wrong side of the road.  At least now it does, thinking about it. Before....before it just felt....overwhelming.”  He looked confused. “I couldn’t stop myself if I’d wanted to.”

“I’ll just have to keep you in bed then. Problem solved,”  Methos shrugged, only half kidding.

Duncan just shook his head, leaning his cheek against his folded arms.  Methos felt his stomach sink, realizing that he probably pushed things too fast for Mac.  The younger Immortal had a need to maintain his space, his control over self and life, that Methos had just challenged successfully.  Coupled with the challenge to his traditional Judeo-Christian mores, Methos was damned grateful that Duncan wasn’t angry.  Still, his pensive, lost demeanor didn’t bode well.

Methos’ own dichotomous response to the situation wasn’t helping.  There was a part of him that wanted to just overwhelm Duncan, take what he wanted, force the response he knew the younger Scot proved he was capable of having.... force him to acknowledge his own feelings and needs.  This was the ancient part of Methos, a part not accustomed to waiting or compromising, or losing anything he wanted.  It was a strong, dark current running under the surface of his life, one he constantly struggled to control and contain, lest it overwhelm him.  In the past two hundred years, this part had seemed to lie dormant, sleeping as if from an overdose of activity in the previous eras of his life.

But lately, he felt it stir into awareness, felt the rush of bloodlust, of power, and it had begun to disturb him.  It was so at odds with his Adam persona that at times he himself was confused as to who and what he was.  He felt fractured, separated into bits and pieces, each one wanting to go off in its own direction, with its own goals.

The other urge he had when it came to MacLeod was to reveal his feelings, appeal to Duncan’s sensitivities, the deep emotional nature that he tried to keep under cover and out of sight.  That hiding was a futile attempt, as anyone who knew MacLeod at all couldn’t help but be aware of his caring, his empathy, the deep need he had to create equality in the world around him, no matter the gruff nature of his response or the way he retreated if people tended to get too close.  The only stumbling block here were his ingrained attitudes and mores learned over the space of 400 years. Pushing someone to go too far afield from their inner view of self was a sure way to bring disaster to a situation.

Methos looked again at Duncan.  Sitting up next to him, he hesitated, indecisive, but finally put a hand on the hunched back, letting it rest warmly against him, willing his own feelings to be transferred through touch to the younger Immortal.  Duncan shifted his head without lifting it, turning until he had a clear vision of the ancient Immortal’s face.  He spoke the same question for the second time that morning.


Methos took a breath.  He knew what MacLeod was asking him this time.  He either needed to say something now or lose his chance.  There was a silence as the question reverberated throughout the room.  Damn, it was harder to do than he’d thought.  He withdrew his hand, his face a panoply of emotions and looked away.

Resting back on his hands, he presented a false, calm front.  “Because, Mac, you’ve haunted my life for three years.  I don’t like the feeling, yet it consumes me.” He turned to look back at Duncan.  “What would you have me do?”  His expression was impassive, all except for his eyes. They burned a deep dark fire inside the normally amused orbs.

Duncan sat looking into those eyes, seeing the intensity and the emotion so carefully contained within them, and felt overwhelmed.  “I don’t know what to say.  I guess I’m not prepared for this, it’s just all so...” he trailed off.

“Bizarre? Unnatural?” Methos’ voice, even though low-pitched, sounded suddenly harsh and sarcastic.

Duncan sat up and looked straight at the ancient Immortal, reproach clear on his face and in his voice.  “Unexpected.  It was unexpected.”  He turned away and made to leave the bed.

Methos reached out abruptly, his hand grasping Duncan’s arm tightly, refusing to let him go.  “Don’t.... stay. Please. I’m sorry.”  He heard a thin edge of panic in his words and mentally cringed, feeling stripped open and bare to his gaze.

The other Immortal heard it also and paused, looking back.  Methos still had a death grip on his arm.  His head was bowed, an expression of pain on his face, his eyes closed tightly.  Duncan waited.

Methos took a breath and expelled it forcefully.  “You didn’t deserve that.  Nothing you’ve done or said warranted that.  I apologize.”

Duncan still looked at him.  “Only if you tell me why you said that.” As Methos began to pull back, withdrawing his hand, a closed look coming over his face, Duncan got angry.  He twisted his arm around and grabbed Methos’ hand, not allowing him to move. “Don’t back away from me!  Dammit, I think I deserve some honesty from you, more than a throw-away sentence to appease my curiosity.  After the honest response I’ve just given you, don’t you think I want some in return?”

Methos stared, seeing the fire flare up that Duncan usually took such pains to keep under control. He couldn’t help the curve that lifted his mouth...damn, the man was a force to reckon with when angry, even if it was directed his way.  Perversity had him leaning in and placing his mouth forcefully against Duncan’s, stealing the taste of him while he was too stunned to retreat.  Eyes crinkling, he sat back.

“Hell.”  Duncan released Methos, running his hand up and through his hair as he tried to regain his composure.  “Don’t avoid the subject, Methos. I’m serious.” His voice had lost the anger of a moment ago.

Methos looked away out the windows unseeingly to the sunny day outside, a frown wrinkling his features.  “Mac, I’ve lived so damn long, I can’t even remember all of my life. Parts of it are blank spots, dark holes that have no substance.  I’ve lived in one culture after another, each with its own values and beliefs, some at total opposition to each other.  I’ve had to reinvent myself so many times, there have been moments where I’ve lost all sense of self.  I was just a cipher, a chameleon whose main skill was adapting.  You know,” he spoke musingly as if it was of no import, “there’s no one alive who can really understand what it’s like to have as much inside as I do, to know so many different realities, to be at home with so many different truths and values.”  He turned bleak eyes to Duncan.  “I’m sorry, I judged you as a rigid product of your upbringing. I expected the worst from you, rejection and disgust.  ‘Strike out first, lest ye be struck down unexpectedly’.    I don’t think I could bear that from you, Duncan MacLeod. For you see, I don’t think I’ve ever felt--” he broke off, closing his eyes, then continued with obvious effort, “Ever loved anyone quite the way I do you.”

He opened his eyes once more.  “There is your ‘truth’, Mac.  It’s yours to do with as you will.”
He slipped off the bed, standing close to where Duncan sat in silence.  Reaching out, he traced a wistful finger down Duncan’s cheekbone, neck and chest, stroking back the tangled black hair falling over tanned shoulders as they looked at one another. Softly, he added, “As am I.” After one last look, Methos turned and walked into the bathroom, closing the door behind him.


Something About the Way You Look Tonight /Elton John & Taupin

There was a time / I was everything and nothing all in one / When you found me / I was feeling like a cloud across the sun / I need to tell you / How you light up every second of my day / But in the moonlight / You just shine like a beacon on the bay
And I can't explain / But it's something about the way you look tonight / Takes my breath away / it's that feeling I get about you, deep inside /  And I can't describe / But it's something about the way you look tonight / Takes my breath away / The way you look tonight
With your smile / You pull the deepest secrets from my heart / in all honesty / I'm speechless and I don't know where to start /

And I can't explain .....


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