Carson Kearns' Highlander Fanfic

Lost in the Loving: The Calling

Chapter 2

by Carson Kearns

carsonkearns@hotmail.com

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En Route to London. (cont)

There were so many times when it seemed as if the Scot wanted nothing more than to push everyone who loved him as far away as possible, so mistrustful was he of his ultimate sanity and his ability to keep them safe.

The drone of the jet engines brought Methos back to the present and their current location, high above the Atlantic, en route to London. He reached across and held his partner's strong forearm. "Duncan, let it go. Let him go. It's not worth it. I've no intention of spending the next few days wondering where you are every time you disappear. I mean it, Duncan."

Turning from the window, Duncan called for a refill from the hovering attendant before answering. "I'm not asking you to do anything. It's not up to me. Now, let's talk about London."

"What do you mean, 'It's not up to me!' Who in bloody hell do you imagine it's up to?"

Duncan was adamant, desiring nothing more than to end the conversation about Masters. "It's my business, not yours!" He turned back to the window, hoping again to deflect his lover and the threatening conversation.

Methos was stunned. "So you're saying that you are not my business?"

Joe harrumphed from across the aisle, raising his eyebrow as he raised his glass, managing to glare a reminder at them to keep their voices down.

Duncan's fierce whisper did little to disguise the fact that a serious quarrel was in progress. "No, this isn't your business. I know you have a passionate philosophy of non-involvement. You've rammed it down my throat often enough. Just leave it, okay!"

"How many, MacLeod?" Methos' hand had long since left his lover's arm.

"How many what, Methos?"

"How many heads in the past six months?"

"How many do you think there've been?"

"Until five minutes ago, I stupidly thought there had been a couple, perhaps. God, and I used to pride myself on how well I read you."

Duncan counted to five. God...God...it would be so easy...so easy, he brooded, to lose his temper, hit back with a smart-assed retort. He was so good at losing his temper. He had no doubt that they could have a full-fledged battle going within seconds if they both set their minds to it. They were famous amongst their closest friends for their spectacular and theatrical screaming matches. Both hotheads. Both arrogant, strong-willed, stubborn. Both with so many sins and bitter regrets that the targets were just too easy to locate and hit again and again--and again.

No one could wound him like Methos could. Turning back to the window, he decided that this was a conversation that needed to be dropped. Soon. "You're imagining things. I didn't challenge him, whoever he is. He challenged me. I'm here, aren't I? I boarded the plane. I didn't stay in New York and fight him there and then. You're worrying about nothing." He let his voice soften and turned to visually capture Methos, reaching across to squeeze his thigh.

Seeing the advance for what it was, Methos reacted. "Knock it off, MacLeod. I'm five thousand, not five!"

"Fine. Have it your way. I'm going to sit with Joe." Methos quickly barred his attempted rise. Leaning in to gain what little privacy was possible, Methos asked again, very slowly and very deliberately. "How - many?"

"There've been a few heads. A few...leave it, Methos."

"A few..."

"Yes, a few," he echoed.

The phrase circled, but finally, Methos had to either ignore it and let it dissipate--or receive it, and react. He allowed it entry. He was genuinely shocked and very angry at the realization that the Scot was indeed an active player in the Game again. //And I knew nothing about it! // A chill prickled through him as the worst danger of their relationship--his most profound fear--fought its way to the surface and became a reality. The fear that he would become so lost in the loving of Duncan MacLeod that he would no longer see the world as it was and people as they invariably were. His fear that he would no longer see the blind fool he had become.

//A bloody dream world....//

"So. We've been living a lie. I should have known it was too quiet. God...talk about bloody stupid. So when did the challenges happen? Was your promise always a fucking lie, Duncan? Did you ever intend to keep it?"

"Yes, of course I did." A full minute passed. Finally he looked up and into Methos' furious eyes. "But it isn't that easy, Methos. I'm not you. I never went hunting, but if people found me...well...I'm not a quiet researcher or a scholar or a recluse. I can't become a clone of you without losing me. What I am!" When Methos tried to turn away in disgust, the Scot reached over and took Methos' face in his large, strong hand, refusing to disengage. "I get lost when I try to become your idealized image. I'm sorry." Lowering his hand, he continued to hold his gaze. "It's not as if you've set any benchmark for me to emulate when it comes to being open and honest in this relationship."

Both knew that what was said in the next two minutes would determine how they would spend the rest of their lives. Methos drew back and closed his eyes, warring with his powerful instinct to lash out and hurt the man who had successfully tricked him into such a false sense of security. He shook his head and downed a full glass of cold beer. The bottom line, of course, was a foregone conclusion. //God...that's what it all comes down to now, after five thousand years. Secret lives and lies.// Duncan MacLeod's paternalism and Clan-Chief obligation to do what needed to be done, to keep them all safe. "Don't you worry your pretty little head about it..."--Highlander mantras circling their relationship, feeding off the lies like carrion.

In reality, however, there was almost nothing he wouldn't accept from the Highlander. The last few years with him had been hell on earth, but a hell combined with the most indescribably blissful, wondrous ecstasy he had ever, in all of his aeons, ever experienced....

Almost nothing he wouldn't accept...

At the end of the day--at the end of the day--did he choose a life alone, without knowing whether Duncan was safe? Or did he choose a continued existence with one of the most infuriatingly disturbing and disturbed, exciting and passionate men on the planet? A man who loved him and was loved--completely and totally. Looking over at the Scot, he bit down on his lower lip and chose to ignore the deliberately provocative taunt about Methos' own honesty. "So, just for the record. How many fights in the past six months?"

The Highlander pulled away. Shrugging in a show of feigned indifference, he gave the answer Methos genuinely didn't want to hear. "About ten, give or take a couple."

"Ten...when, for fuck's sake!" His whisper rose measurably as he turned to Joe and told him to thank his lucky stars they were on an airplane in an almost deserted first class cabin with no obvious swords present. "You must have known about it!"

"It's my job. Of course I knew about it," the Watcher calmly agreed, clearly having heard every word.

Duncan intervened, anxious to quell Methos' too-audible anger. "Leave it, please."

Methos waited for the attendant to move further down the aisle, then simply shook his head. "One part of me is so attracted to just allowing you to continue not letting me know anything about it. But either we're together or we're not. I'm not some fragile flower who needs protecting from life's harsh realities."

"But in many ways that's exactly what you do need. I'm in the Game in a way you haven't been for centuries." He looked away, struggling to find words that would express what he wanted to say without further insulting or hurting his lover. "I won't leave the Game. I won't run away. I'm sorry. For Christ's sake, I haven't made the slightest attempt to disguise myself or change my identity for centuries, and I'm not starting now."

Duncan's eyes were full of passionate insistence as he attempted to get Methos to accept who and what he was, unworthy though that might be in the ancient one's eyes. So the Highlander continued with some cold, hard statements of fact. "I was out of the Game for a year, after...after Richie's death." He stopped, shut his eyes against the memory and fought to catch his breath. "And even after I'd defeated Ahriman, I tried to stay out of it for as long as possible. Nevertheless, I chose to stay in Paris. I live out in the open in one of the largest cities in the world. I'm not going to hide or go to Holy Ground again, Methos." He looked down, out the window, and again closed his eyes to gather his thoughts. "So they're going to keep coming. I can't run from what my life is and what it was meant to be." He continued, talking more to himself now than to his lover, staring out the window into emptiness. "I've thought about this a lot, and I can't and won't do what you want me to do. I'm sorry." When Methos said nothing, Duncan looked across at him and further challenged him, "How has not knowing about my challenges for the past six months hurt you?"

"Duncan, it hasn't hurt me--it's hurt us! It means that there's a whole area of your life that I haven't been a part of!" His hands rose in frustration, punctuating his tense, clipped, almost stuttered sentences, the personal pronouns stretched out to reflect his anger and frustration with this child who still seemed to have no idea of how very important his survival was to so many people. "No part of your thinking...your worries...your fears. It means that you've been doing things alone that we should have been doing together. But what frightens me shitless, Duncan, is that maybe part of you wants one of them to win." He shook his head, pleading, "Don't do this to yourself. Don't do it to me, please."

Duncan's eyes were large and moist with grief and anger. "Don't you dare! You're such a bloody hypocrite. How can you say that it's not fair to you that there's a part of my life you don't know about. Fuck it! As opposed to the five-thousand-year slice of your life I don't know about? That never seems to be a problem for you." As his voice started to rise with his anger, Joe tried again, unsuccessfully, to signal for calm. Duncan continued. "You decide on my behalf all the time what I can and can't cope with from your past, what I'll forgive, what I'll judge you for. It fucking hurts, doesn't it, Methos, to have your decisions made for you, and your thinking done for you, all the time! When will you get it through your thick skull that it wasn't what you did--it was the fact that you never trusted me enough to tell me, to warn me. How many times do I have to tell you that? You set it up to get the only reaction possible then congratulated yourself on how clever you'd been. You wanted me to hate you so you could beat yourself up about how unworthy you are. You try and manipulate so many strings that you wonder why we keep strangling in them."

"Don't try and deflect this. This isn't about Kronos. It's about your fucking lies and pathetic charades!"

Joe shook his head in resignation and leaned across the aisle. "Boys--remember what daddy told you about fighting when we're out in public!" he growled through gritted teeth. At least they don't have any swords, knives, or guns, he reassured himself.

Methos and Duncan simply glared at each other, both breathing heavily, both silently fuming. After some minutes Duncan pushed his way past Methos, stopping in the aisle to leave his lover with one more tattered thought. "It doesn't have to be this complicated. It really doesn't." He then stepped across Joe and sat down with an uncharacteristic lack of grace.

Methos noted, in his silent rage, that the Highlander had deliberately and provocatively chosen to make Joe a barrier between them, instead of choosing one of the many empty seats surrounding them, effectively preventing Methos from joining him. //Fine! Fine, brat!//

Joe continued to read the back of the air sickness bag, taking delight in telling his Immortal that it was eminently more interesting than the repetitious display he'd just been forced to witness. Deciding that pleasant small talk was beyond his ability or interest, Duncan mumbled to his old friend, "Well, there's an obvious answer to that, Dawson. Stop tagging around everywhere I go, and then you can stay home and watch daytime television." Turning back to the window he made no effort at all to be pleasant company, refusing any food or wine or attempted interaction from either Joe or Methos.

"Daytime television wouldn't be half as interesting as this soap opera!" Joe chuckled, refusing to let the latest Duncan/Methos histrionics unnerve him.

When his attempt to lighten the tense mood failed, Joe grew increasingly annoyed with Duncan's intransigence. "You can be a real bastard, you know that, MacLeod? The two of you can be complete pains in the ass!" Joe hissed in his ear before giving up on him, rising from his seat, and nudging Methos to move over to Duncan's vacated window seat.

Being alone, Duncan rationalized, gave him time to think about Masters and Amanda. He'd take Masters out quickly, he decided, before Amanda could discover that he was still alive. He was shaken from his reverie when Methos rose from his seat and walked towards the back of the plane. Duncan moved like a cat, his grace and litheness once again in evidence, and was standing in the aisle waiting for Methos when he returned to his seat.

"He's not on board. You'd have felt him. Remember, he's mine. Don't even think about interfering."

"Wouldn't dream of it, Boy Scout."

Glancing in the direction of the coach passengers and back again to his lover, Duncan scowled. "Sure. Just like Keane. Wonder why don't I believe you? I mean it, Methos," he whispered.

They were interrupted by an announcement from the flight attendant indicating possible turbulence ahead. The polite voice requested all passengers to return to their seats and fasten their seatbelts.

Huh--'Fasten your seatbelt.' I should buy that and place it above the door at the barge and the dojo, Joe decided.

The announcement also had the effect of forestalling any further conversation. Ignoring his lover, Duncan strode back to the seat he'd hijacked from Joe. But within seconds, Methos had settled next to his lover, instead of in his original seat across the aisle.

Duncan looked over at him, his eyes speaking volumes. He verbalized nothing and sharply turned away.

"Duncan. Are you going to fight him?"

Turning back from the window, Duncan pursed his lips, as if weighing up whether to answer or not. "Yes! I'm going to fight him. Someday. Some place. I don't have a choice."

Closing his eyes, Methos swallowed, feeling as if his throat had turned to crushed glass. "There's always a choice, Highlander. Always a choice. You can walk away. With me."

"Don't do this to us, Methos. It's my fight. It has nothing to do with you or us. And I don't want to walk away from this one." //Don't back me into a corner...don't...don't...don't...//

Methos let the white hot anger he'd been nurturing flare. "You said he was nothing to you. Said you didn't know him. So why do you want him? You've walked away from fights before. Let him go. Or let us go." He was furious at the Highlander for making him feel like a gullible idiot--out accepting challenges while I fucking slept, no doubt. Now here he was, calmly intending to put his life on the line once again, for a nobody like the jerk back at the terminal.

It infuriated him.

It truly never occurred to him that Duncan would choose the stranger over their future together. Even so, he knew how the Highlander reacted to ultimatums. Methos watched in fascination as every alpha instinct the Scottish warrior possessed came blazing to the surface.

Being a warrior, Duncan battled it. Battled the overwhelming urge that made him want to scream at Methos that Duncan MacLeod would bloody well do what he liked...take whatever heads he chose...fight whomever he wanted to fight. The Scot actually managed to contain, unspoken, that part of the diatribe. He thought of Masters and what he had done. He was equally angry at being given an ultimatum. "I can't leave it. I'm sorry, Methos. I just can't walk away like you can."

Methos remembered the way he'd let his own temper get the better of him a few days earlier in New York and how he'd bitterly regretted it. So he took a deep breath and tried to center himself. He took a long swig of the cold beer thoughtfully provided by the overly solicitous flight attendant, hopeful that it might do something to extinguish the burning wick of his temper and frustration. "It never changes, does it? Never...fucking...changes. We find some peace for a little while...days...but then you switch on some sort of MacLeod magnetic alert and every piece of scum within miles comes calling. Well, let me make it clear in case I haven't over the past few years--or maybe you really are just a slow learner. I've no interest whatsoever in getting involved in the petty fights that you somehow sanctify because you decide that they're part of the Game. And I have even less interest in watching you kill yourself."

Duncan stared at him and waited a full minute before replying, determined not to react to the provocative parts of the verbal lashing. "I've no intention of killing myself. Don't be ridiculous."

"Are you going to meet him?" Methos continued to ask--slowly, painfully.

"I have to," came the whispered response.

"Then you've made your choice, Highlander. And it doesn't include a life with me."

There...the words whipped and flayed their lives and their future into fragments of hopelessness and despair.

"Fine, if that's what you want." More feigned indifference.

"You're the fucking hypocrite, Duncan. You love it. Sometimes I think you set these things up just to give yourself the emotional angst you thrive on." Methos felt the poisoned waters of his invective begin to stir and swirl, gaining momentum, splashing sprays of acid at the infuriatingly beautiful target sitting before him. He could feel himself being taken over by the sheer adrenaline of his temper, with words coming out of his mouth that he seemed to have no control over, words designed to seek out and damage. He had so many dark places inside him that sometimes even he forgot the codes that kept the hurt and anger contained and controlled.

//There's a limit, Highlander. There's a limit.//

Duncan always seemed to find Methos' limit and expose his weaknesses. The words perfected over centuries were launched towards their intended target before Methos could recapture them. "If you didn't have something to brood about and torture yourself and all of us with, Duncan, you'd invent it. Or engineer events or people to deliver suitable amounts of tragedy over which to wring out your heart and hands and mop your brow."

Watching them, Joe wondered if it was all some subconscious test of each other's love and commitment. "If I do this, will you still love me...what about this? If I say this?"

Later, Methos would give thanks for the fact that they were in a public place, that the very act of having to whisper his anger at least placed a modicum of restraint on it. If they'd been alone he would have gone into full flight--despite the number of times he'd told himself he wouldn't. But no one could wound him like Duncan could. No one could make him want to strike out and maim like Duncan could. No one could leave him feeling as ashamed of himself and his five-thousand-year-old quick temper as Duncan could. Always he was left, after these scenes, wondering whether the Highlander wasn't in reality the more skilled arch manipulator, manoeuvring the older Immortal to the very outcome at which he found himself now--manipulating Methos into leaving him. Testing him and his commitment.

There were no such congratulatory thoughts crossing Duncan MacLeod's mind. He was too busy trying to remember how to keep breathing. Thinking. Functioning. He wanted to simply rail at the universe, destroy the empty seat in front of him...scream out to the gods to just...finally...destroy me.

But he did none of those things and showed none of these thoughts. He was, indeed, learning more from his ancient lover than anyone realized.

Why, he demanded of the vicious fates, did Masters have to come along now? Why, when Methos was present? Life was unfair to him, so unfair, he despaired. He remembered thinking that compared to most Immortals he knew, he had enjoyed thirty years of relative stability--even long stretches of happiness with his family, only to spend endless years being punished, repeatedly, for that period of his life. //Too much happiness for Duncan MacLeod...well over my allowable quota.// It would be so easy to wrap himself up in it...to become bitter, he reflected. Normally, it made him admire Methos' resilience all the more. He often observed that Methos wore a thick coat of cynicism to keep the endless winter at bay, keep people at bay.

Duncan could never really work out what he had done to deserve so much pain. He could have understood it if he'd been the Kurgan, or stayed under the influence of the Dark Quickening...or been Slan or Hyde or Kronos. He sometimes thought that he might as well slaughter, rape, and pillage, since he seemed to be continually punished for having done something horrendous that he knew nothing about, anyway. Maybe in another universe, he decided, he had a father or mother who had infuriated the gods, betrayed them.... Maybe the expulsion of their son was their punishment, and he was doomed to live a life of endless tragedy. Duncan believed in Divine Retribution...in the Great Wheel spinning. And then he remembered Culloden and its aftermath. Then he remembered the murder of Sean Burns...and Richie...and the suffering of those he loved the most. He could feel himself descending into a full-fledged dark and self-pitying brood.

It's the feeling that does it, he decided. He would have to find a way to stop the feeling--like Gregor did. He was completely, utterly, totally, and absolutely sick to fucking death of it. And there was a dark attraction, he admitted, to just being on his own, no one to worry about or care about, including himself--just heads to take when the Wannabes came calling. And maybe one of them would get lucky, and he'd get to go and play endless, mindless golf with Fitz in that wonderful playground his unstable mind had so carefully constructed for him. Except then he wouldn't be with Methos....

So he said nothing in reply to Methos' diatribe about Duncan's torturing them all with his brooding and his guilt and left his lover to wonder what thoughts were reverberating inside his Highlander's dark mind. Instead the Scot took the hot towels being handed out to them, along with the cold drink, because in reality he was temporarily incapable of putting two words together or of getting any saliva into his throat to aid their delivery. He simply pursed his lips, raised his eyebrows, and cocked his head slightly, nodding in affirmation to Methos' dictate that their life together was over. His very silence signaled that he was apparently agreeable to his heart and soul being ripped from his living body.

After all, what was new about that, the Scot wondered.

As the minutes passed and deep breathing allowed him to regain some control, Duncan knew, as a cold statement of fact, that he couldn't stand to live without Methos anymore. Without Methos, everything was gray and hollow. Without Methos, he simply fell into bottomless pits of black despair and seemed to spend all of his time trying to climb out. Unsuccessfully. He really didn't think that this time he could even be bothered to try. Methos was right...maybe I do subconsciously manipulate everything and everyone to give me suitably tragic results. At the very least, his insistence that he would stay in the Game did have very real repercussions. Methos, or the Game? Denying either one, for him, meant...what? Meant a half-life...meant? He couldn't even articulate it to himself.

Finally, draining the glass in front of him, he uttered his thoughts to the man who kept trying to pull him back into the light and the warmth. "A life without you, Methos, or a life running from shadows, away from the Game, means death for me. I can't explain it to myself, so how do you expect me to explain it to you, or anyone else?"

He knew, he reminded himself, that it was only a matter of time until Methos left. It couldn't last. He never really expected Methos to stay with him. He considered every day he still found Methos by his side a bonus. This time, Duncan decided, he could at least send Methos out of his life with a seemingly mature reaction. So he simply nodded and acquiesced and even managed to find enough oxygen from somewhere to utter a sentence. "I'm sorry I could never be what you wanted me to be, Methos." His eyes were large and black, awash with sorrow. "I'm so sorry. Fad saol agat, Gradhach...."*

The most amazing thing to Methos was that Duncan didn't react in kind to the hurtful words he'd spat at him. He seemed to simply set the invective aside, let it wash over him, and run harmlessly away. How often had they done this to each other, he wondered. Maimed with words that neither really meant. Perhaps, he mused, Duncan really was the faster learner. "Why is it so hard, Duncan? You did it for Tessa! You stayed out of the Game for her. After Little Deer, you went to the island for ten years. Why not for me?"

The warm whisky finally loosened his tongue. "I'm not the same person I was then. I wasn't out of the Game with Tessa--I just managed to keep it away from her. I didn't hide or live on Holy Ground. We lived a public life, and I took on any Immortals who came for me. She just didn't know about it. There weren't too many in those days. But there are now, Methos. Whether it's the Gathering--or maybe it's Paris. I don't know. But it calls me. It calls me, and I can't hide from it. Her life wasn't any the worse for not knowing about every challenge I took. Nor is yours."

"Thank you for deciding that on our behalves. Maybe you're just addicted to Quickenings and are trying to put some sort of moral spin on it."

"Maybe I am. I don't know anymore. I do know I'm an Immortal. We must have been put here for some purpose, Methos. The Quickening must serve some purpose, otherwise why does it exist?" He put both of his hands against his temples and squeezed and pushed, hoping against hope that the pain would go away. "I don't know! What I do know is that I can't hide. I can't do that. Tha mi duilich."**

Methos couldn't recall when he'd last felt so helplessly furious. "Purpose? What fucking purpose? Why does Immortality have to have any more sense to it than any other insanity that passes for life on this planet? Maybe there is no grand plan. Did you ever really think of that?"

Rising, Duncan refused to play any more and once again stepped over Methos and Joe and sat back against the window, staring out at a future as empty and vacuous as the clouds they were flying through. He'd kill Masters, he told himself. And then? Then? Then what, he wondered...just a long empty tunnel of nothing but endless challenges...lonely nights and days...no one to bring him comfort or to make him laugh...no one to hold fast in the dark nights when the demons tried to take him to hell and beyond...no one to argue with and love and worship with his body and mind...no Methos...no sanity, no stars, no poetry...no saving wit or grace...no bitingly funny quips or cynical sneers...nothing...no thing...

Over the engines' roar, Duncan could hear the ominous sound of the Great Wheel that seemed to haunt his life turning yet again. Would he never be able to step aside from its crushing force, he wondered. Closing his eyes, he thought of the book he had been reading when he first met Methos--Sartre's On Being and Nothingness. How fucking appropriate, he laughed. //How fucking appropriate. Nothing.//

He thought of the time he had used his understanding of nothingness to defeat Ahriman. It seemed such a hollow victory now, paid with too high a price.... Become one with everything. I become one with you...and the retort from the small man before him, taunting him with venom: "Too bad you didn't think of that before you killed Richie!" That's what it always came back to...killing Richie...killing his relationships.

"I become everything. Therefore, I become nothing...therefore, you are nothing. Without my anger, you have no substance...without my pride, you have no form...without my hate, you have no being...you have no place here...."

...and Ahriman screeching, "I'm a part of you now!"

"You always were," he had replied, "You always were...nothing...no thing..."

"To faith," he had toasted Joe in the mild afterglow of Ahriman's defeat, wondering why he didn't feel more after such a supposedly momentous victory. He had faith, once, he remembered. But no more. Too often, tattered fragments of happiness were snatched away with a sneer. There had been periods of happiness, once, but they seemed so far away now, so weighed down under the burdens of Immortality. He remembered the night he defeated O'Rourke, when life suddenly seemed precious again. When he'd been so relieved to still be alive and to have his dearest friends alive that he'd uncharacteristically opened himself to them. He even recalled standing on the deck of the barge and letting the good times once again wrap themselves around him. They'd even warmed him for a short time.

Once again he heard the Dalai Lama insisting, like Methos, that there were always choices. Then I'd love to fucking know where they hide, he railed to whatever gods were listening. The words of the Dalai Lama were burned into his soul, often coming to him unannounced, in dreams, walking down the street--sitting in airplanes en route to London.

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Lhasa, 1781.

"But situations can arrive over which there is no control, no choice...sometimes all you can do is respond," Duncan pleaded.

"No, Duncan MacLeod. Always, there is a choice. Always the Great Wheel spins, and it is perfect justice...but you must leave Tibet and not return. There is no place for a life of violence in the palace of Enlightenment."

"Perhaps not. Perhaps all I can do is to guard the gates."

  Seacouver, 1996.

"...and do you still guard the gates?" the Dalai Lama asked, cocooning them both in his infinite understanding.

"Someone still must, Your Holiness."

"And will you never find a way to put down your sword and enter the gate?"

"Perhaps in time, Your Holiness. When the Great Wheel spins again."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Joe broke into his memories, pulling him back, as he so often did, to the present. "Mac...tell Methos about Masters. About you. You're not being fair to him or yourself."

Duncan gave a bitter laugh. "Fair! Since when has life been fair?"

"Mac..."

"Leave it, Joe. Please. And say nothing to Methos of Masters. Please, Joe."

But Joe Dawson had no intention of leaving it, or of watching these two hot heads walk away from each other again. He sat there, watching Duncan gaze into nothing, out the window to his left, and then he looked across at Methos, also gazing into a future of certain emptiness. He quietly sighed as he tried to count the number of times he'd acted as their relationship guidance counselor--him with his four-plus decades and the two of them with their millennia and their centuries. Huh! Just a fancy name for a plain bartender, doing what bartenders do well...listening... drawing people out....

He moved across the aisle again, taking the time to chuckle quietly at what the other passengers must think of the musical chairs and melodrama being playing out before them--the furious whispers, the murderous glares. Finally getting comfortable, he started talking, seeming to take no notice whatsoever of whether Methos was actually taking any notice. "Why, Methos?"

"You always take his side," the ancient Immortal sneered.

"Untrue, my friend, untrue. Methos, even an old fool like me can see that you two were destined to be together. And any fool can see that MacLeod has been pushing everyone away since Richie died. It's been two steps backwards and one step forward ever since then. And since you and he hooked back up it's been two steps forward and one step back." Jabbing a strong finger into Methos' chest, he continued, "He's playing you like a fiddle, buddy. Of course he wants you to push him away. To leave him. Then he has the luxury of not having to worry about anyone or anything." He stopped and allowed the attendant to refill his glass and waited for her to move away. "You didn't see what he was like, with no friends around him, back in Paris after Malaysia. He was dead and numb inside. You've done for him what he did for you when you first met. You've started to bring him back."

Joe paused before continuing, "Tell me. Do you have the slightest idea--the slightest idea--of the cumulative effect of what he's been through in the past six years?" Joe ignored Methos' attempts to bury himself in his latest book.

"Of course I do, Joe. I bloody well live with it every day."

"Do you? Well, let me tell you what I've been living with on a daily basis for over twenty years. Sure, you've seen him over the past couple of years--off and on. Well, tell me this. How many of your close friends have you seen threatened in the past six years? I've been amusing myself, doing some math as a part of MacLeod's Chronicle. And this is just what's been recorded. He's had to put up with something like ninety-seven major threats to the people he's closest to. All made because of him and because they were close to him. Try thirteen for Tessa and twenty-four for Richie; no wonder he's attracted to staying on his own, or why he doesn't listen any more when people naively tell him it's their right to choose, and they're not really in any danger being around him. He's been seriously wounded nearly forty times, taken some seventy Quickenings--that I know about--and survived the betrayal of some twenty-four close friends or lovers. And that's why I'll forgive him anything, put up with any shit. Because I don't know how he still has any sanity left to salvage, or any trust or hope at all!"

"Exactly, Joe! What I'm trying to do is keep him out of that shit. He didn't have to live in large cities. He could have kept a much lower profile. He doesn't have to live out in the open in the middle of Paris, for Christ's sake!"

"No--he didn't. And he doesn't. And I've no doubt he beats himself up about those choices. But Tessa had a career. He couldn't just decide on her behalf that they were going to live in Podunk, U.S.A. He came back to Paris to fight Ahriman. And I think he stayed because he knew that if he disappeared he'd never find himself again. I think he would have committed suicide. I think he needed to stand on the barge and look at Notre Dame and draw on its power and strength, and go through his exercises, and buy the daily papers, and do the shopping and cleaning and laundry, and talk to people in the street, and pay his bills, and be forced to carry out the million and one maintenance jobs the barge demands." Joe stopped and drew breath. "It's been a life line back for him."

"Stop trying to make me feel guilty. You know he made us all stay away from him, but I was around. You know that. I stayed away and that was a miserable failure for all concerned. All I want to do is keep his head attached. Why is that so terrible? And if I have to threaten him or blackmail him or bloody tie him up, I'll do it."

"So you weren't serious about leaving him?"

"Of course not. What did you think?"

Joe shook his head, refusing to let the five thousand-year-old glare and sneer unnerve him. "I think that it would be a darn good idea to tell him that. Because, Methos old pal, I feel like I'm sitting back in the bar with you both the night he killed Byron. You pushed too far then, and you're pushing too far now. When he weighs up your words to him, he weighs them up against the sort of figures that I just gave you. And there's only one answer when you do that. And the answer is that Duncan MacLeod is a danger to himself and his friends and the safest course of action is to keep the two as far apart as possible. You've just reminded him of that."

Joe hardly paused for breath before continuing to lay out the facts. "What do you think keeps him coming back after every fight? What do you think gives him that extra edge? At the end of the day, it's the knowledge that otherwise some creep will have his Quickening, and that you'll be vulnerable." He stopped to draw breath while a wonderful cup of real coffee was set down before him, and a cup of tea placed before Methos. "This isn't rocket science, Methos. He's going to keep accepting challenges whether you're there or not. Your being there keeps him alive. Has love turned you into a compete moron? Why not agree to his accepting challenges. Just insist that you're there, then you can make sure he never dies. At the very least you can give me some help taking out the added extras that seem to keep turning up. And if something goes horribly wrong and he dies, you'd be there to kill the bastard who took his head." Taking a very long and satisfying sip of the coffee, Joe summarized. "Like I said, it ain't rocket science."

Methos looked across at Joe and smiled, letting the wonderful aroma of the Lapsang tea fill his nostrils and throat. He couldn't remember ordering it. "You really are a sly old fox, aren't you. I really have become soft."

Joe, equally pleased with the way in which the whiskied coffee was igniting his insides, continued his lecture. "Now go and sit next to MacLeod and sort it out. I'm not letting either of you off this airplane until you do. And I mean that."

Methos had no doubt that Joe meant every word of it. After another two minutes of musical chairs, carefully balancing the teacups, he was once again securely seated next to Duncan. Finishing his own tea, Duncan paused, looked across at Methos, then looked away.

"It's too late, Methos. As always, you're right."

"It's never too late, Boy Scout. Never." Methos had last seen that look of Duncan's the night of the Keane fight. He'd been standing by the fireplace and had made a comment about their all having things to forgive. Duncan had given him such an ambiguous look--eyes as large as saucers, full of hurt and pain...and love. Now Duncan simply closed his eyes and shook his head in negation. "Leave me be. Please. I don't want it to end with more shouting. I'm so sick of the shouting." His fingers continued to unconsciously rub his forehead and temples. "I'm sorry I misled you. My word used to be important to me once. Now I can't remember when I lost even that." He refused to look at Methos and spoke with his head lowered. Finally he looked back out the window. "Please. Just let it end. Just let it all end." He buried his face in his hands, shaking his head slowly. A full minute later he lowered his hands and turned to gaze out the empty window once again. "Just let it end."

"I'm here, Duncan. You've slipped over the edge again and nearly dragged me with you this time, Gradhach. And who'd be there to pull you back then? Poor old Joe and Amanda and Connor and about a thousand other friends who love you dearly." He leaned across and took the Highlander's large hand into his own, kissed it, and clasped it between his two. "I'm sorry for what I said, for the conditions I laid down. Hold on, and you'll stop falling, I promise. I'm not going anywhere."

As he looked at the beautiful profile of the ravaged angel next to him, all he could see was the brilliant setting sun reflecting off the clouds, in turn reflecting the tears silently running down the Highlander's face. Streams of gold and crimson. But no sound, as if the noises of grief were all worn away. Reaching over, Methos used the back of his thumb to wipe the tears away. The Highlander left one hand in Methos', but placed his elbow on the window surround and covered his mouth as he turned to stare out into the void surrounding him. Surrounding them, he corrected himself.

He could feel Methos' voice, calling him back.

"Duncan, I know you'll give me a long argument as to why you're leaving me and how I'd be much safer away from you. But I'm not going. So save it for the next time and the time after that and the time after that. I love you. And that means being with you, infuriating as you are. So it's settled."

"Methos...I..."

"I'm staying. There's nowhere you can hide that I won't find you. Are we agreed?"

Duncan took a deep breath. "It's just too hard. But it doesn't sound like I'm being given much choice. But I can't be someone I'm not, Methos. I won't hide, and I won't lie to you any more. But if other Immortals come for me, and they won't walk away when I give them the choice, they'll find me waiting."

"I won't pretend to like it, Duncan, but I can live with it. As long as you tell me about them, and as long as I'm there."

"Forget it. You'd just shoot them."

"Only if they cheat. I promise."

"Huh--sure you wouldn't. Why don't I believe you?"

"It's beyond me," he answered with his Innocent Face secure and intact, despite the constant battering it suffered. "If it's a fair fight, I won't interfere. I promise."

"Really?"

"Really," he lied. God, I love good guys, he heard his voice echoing down the years. As if there would ever--ever--be the slightest chance that anyone would take the Highlander's head in his presence. But, he rationalized, they could leave that to fight about later, if it ever happened. And at least Duncan would be alive to have the fight.

Duncan smiled, watching Joe squirm as the flight attendant helped him arrange pillows and tuck in a blanket, knowing how Joe disliked such attention. It was to his credit, mused Duncan, that he was nonetheless charming in such situations, chatting with the flight attendant as she fussed over him

The young lady made her way over to them, offering small talk as she settled her passengers in for the night. "So, Mr. MacLeod," she said, "Mr. Dawson tells me that you're into antiques?"

"Yes, I am!" he smiled, saturating her with four hundred years of pure male sexual pheromones, "I'm into Bronze Age antiques, actually. They're a bit dry and dusty for some, mind you...." he trailed off as Methos sniggered.

"Into antiques! MacLeod, you're definitely depraved," the Bronze Age antique chuckled as the attendant moved on to her other passengers.

Duncan stretched, tired, and still rubbing his temples. "I'm exhausted. I'm going to stretch out on my own." A strong hand on his forearm stopped him.

As was the way of it with Duncan, the black mood had departed as quickly as it had arrived. "Stay. The cabin's dark, we'll get a few hours sleep in. Stay--or I'll start reciting, very loudly, your favorite fucking positions...."

"You would, too!" his lover growled, allowing a very small smirk to signal the fact that he was thinking about letting bygones be bygones. Two minutes later, Duncan was settled against the window, eye shades luring him into the welcome darkness. As an afterthought he lifted the eye shades and advised the world's oldest Immortal, "Methos, don't even think about it!"

"Think about what? You've got delusions of grandeur, MacLeod. Believe it or not, I'm capable of sitting next to you without feeling any urges to board you," he lied.

Although Methos always seemed more alert than ever after one of their intense fights, they left the Highlander feeling totally drained and emotionally spent. He wanted nothing more than to sink into the luxury of the large, comfortable, reclining seat. Within five minutes he'd removed his shoes and belt, arranged the soft blanket across his lap, put in ear plugs, replaced the eye shades, and settled his very tired, pain-filled head onto two large, soft cushions. Within minutes he was asleep.

How, sometime later, his head ended up on Methos' lap, he had no idea. But the armrest between the two seats had been removed, and he had to admit that he was very comfortable. He raised his shades to gauge the amount of life in the cabin and was reassured to see that it was in virtual darkness. Joe's soft snores attested to his secure passage into the land of winken, blinken, and nod.

Duncan replaced his eye shades and settled his head more securely into his lover's lap, smiling as he felt Methos' fingers gently pulling his hair off his face. He had no idea when Methos had removed his hair tie. The continual reminders that his hair was a potent weapon amused the Highlander. He'd grown it back solely for Methos, who would sit for hours and play with it, stroke it, smell it. He always insisted that Duncan loosen it when they made love--or he'd loosen it for him. Settling more securely into his new living pillow, Duncan took comfort in the gentle hum of the jet engines. They were the only sounds he could discern through the earplugs, apart from his own heart's noisy pumping.

He felt cocooned--almost foetal. He felt warm and relaxed. His headache had disappeared.

He was blind and deaf.

He started to become aware of his other, heightened senses. He could smell more aromas. Feel more. Sense more. He breathed in Methos' scent, letting it permeate him.

Ever the warrior, he quickly thought about the need to practice his swordplay blind-folded.

He felt the fingers of Methos' left hand begin to move across his chest and start to play with his left nipple, while Methos' right hand continued to stroke and caress his neck, lying exposed in Methos' lap. He felt himself swallow, loudly, as the fingers found every erogenous juncture, every sensitive nerve ending. You keep discovering more, Gradhach. In the darkness he had no idea where the fingers would wander next...where they would seek entry. He was blind. His body was Braille, being read by those exquisite fingers. An erotic treatise being savored.

Methos' right hand clearly liked what it read and wanted more. The fingers moved to Duncan's mouth and traced--and traced again--the swollen outlines of the lips before eventually demanding more. More... Duncan opened his mouth and felt the inside of his lips and mouth being teased and petted. Methos coated his fingers in Duncan's saliva and traced delicious, stimulating circles across the lips.

Duncan's body demanded more, and he started to suck the fingers back in, relentless--hungry--for their taste. In his dark world behind the eye shades and earplugs, he could think only of those fingers... penetrating. He wanted. Dear God--he wanted. Reaching up, he grasped Methos' hand and encased it in his own larger one, leaving the fingers free and exposed. He fed four of the fingers in and out of his mouth, tasting every surface, greedily pulling them as far into his mouth as he could. He let his tongue speak in ways he was incapable of--flickering and circling the fingertips, licking up and down the shafts...demanding...echoing another such suckling. Another milking.

And all the while Methos kept the same circling rhythm on Duncan's nipple, until it felt as if it was made of marble, so stiff with desire was it.

Duncan stopped everything as he felt Methos' left hand move down his torso...again, those fingers reading his body, reading line after line...moving... down...down...lower...towards his very engorged penis...slipping inside his opened trousers...under the waist band of his shorts. Taking possession.

It was a landscape those fingers knew intimately.

Duncan kept possession of Methos' right hand and the fingers in his mouth, sucking them back and forth, chewing them, waiting for that delicious moment when Methos would begin the counterpoint...the mirroring with fist and cock. Squeezing. Sliding. Pumping. Possessing. Taking.

All the Highlander could hear was a distant roar. And all he could feel was fingers...finding...feeling... fucking. He wanted to be fucked by them. He was awash in sensation. He was blind and deaf to everything except a vortex of feeling and sensation--and love. He could smell its approach. Taste its imminent arrival. He wanted to be swallowed in it, cocooned in it. Battered by it from the safety of the womb he was in.

As he prayed for release he felt Methos pushing him back, settling his upper body back against the seat.... He felt his mouth covered by Methos' large, callused hand, stopping him from breathing. Stopping thought. His penis was being encased in the oyster succulence of Methos' mouth and his last coherent thought was to try to remember to shut the fuck up as Methos coaxed, teased, enticed, suckled, sucked and swallowed what seemed to be pints of rich, thick, creamy juice from his quickly drained cock.

And all the while Methos still sucked. And kept on sucking, so hungry was he for every last drop of that sweet Scottish semen. He wanted it to stain his lips and mouth and throat. He wanted it to coat his insides. He wanted to become one with Duncan. He wanted it to feed his own lust and his own semen, so that soon--soon--the Highlander could have every last drop back again, with all the added richness of every other lover Methos had ever suckled dry. Let me drink you in, Duncan, so that I may feed you anew. Sucked and suckled. The cycle of life spinning and swimming. The joining.

Duncan sat immobilized, oblivious to everything but Methos and all that was Methos. And sex. Pure, unadulterated, exquisite, sensational sex.

Blind and deaf.

Methos' voice broke into his silence as the Scot felt one of his earplugs removed. "Toilet. One minute. Be there. Or we do it here." He felt Methos leave and slipped the eye shades down around his throat, waiting fifty-five seconds before he followed.

All was dark and quiet in the near-deserted cabin, the few passengers seemingly sound asleep with headsets and ear plugs--and fantasies--of their own. Slipping open the door of the larger first class wash room, Duncan stopped, stunned. Methos sat naked from the waist down, on the closed toilet.

Even with the larger accommodation, it was going to be a very tight fit for two large men. And that, he mused, made it all the more forbidden and enticing. There was no light, but what Duncan could see left him breathless. Above the toilet were two large handles--no doubt for people with disabilities. Gives a whole new meaning to customer service, he decided. He quickly stepped out of his trousers and shorts and noticed the moisturizer coating the large, engorged cock, waiting for him to lower his body onto it. Waiting to welcome it into his own dark, hot depths. He lowered his eye shades again, wanting to recapture the sensations of blinded sex, and straddled his waiting lover. Grabbing hold of each handle, he carefully lowered himself onto the waiting cock. Blind and deaf, he used his powerful arms to give him desperately sought leverage, and with his feet and arms working in unison, he slid up and down the hot silken cock, reveling in its relentless pumping and driving and thrusting. The dull roar of the engine was almost a match for the power that he could feel beneath him and around him and through him. He threw his head back against the door as he used his anus to squeeze and entice Methos' juices into the hidden depths of his body.

Methos was lost--but neither blind nor deaf. He had fucked and been fucked so many times, his experience was beyond counting. He had made love many thousands of times. But no experience, he decided, compared to the sight before him...his blinded lover, long black locks whipping the air and door behind, his powerful golden arms pulling and driving his body above Methos like some giant human piston. Duncan had pulled his T-shirt front over his head so that it was caught behind his neck. Methos had the pleasure, therefore, of the glorious sight of Duncan's sweat dripping down the powerful chest and running into the black pubic curls. Duncan's penis was again erect, and Methos used every lesson in self-restraint he had ever learned to stop himself screaming and screeching out his pleasure. Grasping the Highlander's cock he pumped it in unison with Duncan's own relentless rising and falling, luxuriating in the slapping of Duncan's balls against his stomach every time Duncan let his full weight drive Methos' cock deep into his body, clearly slamming into his prostate with every lustful descent.

And then, it was there... inexorable... unstoppable...unbearable...inevitable. Unbelievable. Wave after wave after wave washed over them both for what seemed like hours, coating their bodies, inside and out.

Eons passed.

Finally Methos became conscious of the dead weight straddling him and made a concerted effort to remember what speech sounded like. "Duncan... Duncan?" Reaching up, he removed the Highlander's earplugs and eye shades and listened to his lover chuckle.

"God, Methos...God...God...God...I can't move. Don't move or I'll die." He was panting, trying to catch his breath; his head nestled on Methos' shoulder. "I can't move. I've seized up...." he managed to mumble.

They both started to laugh. "Bloody hell, MacLeod. Move or that bloody attendant will start knocking on the door. I've no idea whether we made any noise."

Duncan started to laugh in earnest. "We could always pretend that you were constipated."

That reduced both of them to muffled hysterics. Five minutes later, Duncan had managed to get his legs to support him and had even effected minor ablutions--at least on himself. He ignored his lover's pleas for help as he struggled to get back into his clothes in the confined space.

"Not bad for someone who shies away from letting anyone see him touch me in public. You've done this before, I take it."

"We're not in public. And does the word Amanda mean anything?" He started to laugh again. "Though I have to admit that there seemed to be a lot more room with her, and she's a hell of a lot more agile than I am."

"You think we're not in public, eh?" He took pleasure in watching Duncan pause while he thought about that. "And Highlander--you were more than agile enough for me."

Duncan slipped out the door and back into his seat. To his relief, everyone seemed to still be safely asleep, which was why he got the fright of his life when Joe didn't even bother to open his eyes as he asked the Highlander for his considered views on the user-friendliness of the first class toilet cubicle.

"Depends what you want to use it for," Duncan chuckled, effecting bravado in the darkness, knowing that Joe couldn't see the embarrassment in the color of his face.

Joe smiled and shook his head. "And are we going to see our friend before we land?"

"Depends how good his healing abilities are."

The flight attendant, on overhearing Mr. MacLeod's comment about Mr. Pierson's need for healing, hurried forward to offer assistance and was directed, straight-faced, to inquire of Mr. Pierson in Toilet #1. Three minutes later, Mr. Pierson was helped to his seat by a most solicitous attendant, who hurried off to obtain a glass of Perrier and a cool wash cloth for his obviously over-heated face.

"You'll pay for this, MacLeod," he promised, but was unable to pretend seriousness for long, and all three found themselves giggling like school children in the face of such solicitous concern for the results of Methos' lust-induced, fevered state.

 

 *********************************

 

* Fad saol agat, Gradhach...(Long life to you, Beloved.)

Tha mi duilich ("I'm sorry.")

End of Chapter 2.

 

Go to Chapter 3.

 


Posted here in this format 26 May, 2001
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