Carson Kearns' Highlander Fanfic

Warning, Background and Disclaimer

THIS IS NC-17 RATED:  Male/Male Sex
You have been warned. Do NOT read any further if this is likely to
offend or if you are underage.

 

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Lost in the Loving: Blackest Waste

by Carson Kearns

(carsonkearns@hotmail.com)

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This piece is emotionally harrowing. .It records the events immediately following the death of Lord Byron..If you're only reading it for the sex, well, ""Sah-ry"" as Duncan would say. It ain't in this one. An existing strong and loving sexual male/male relationship is certainly evident so if this offends stop reading now.

I enjoy thinking about what happens after each episode, when Mac and friends all leave us for another week. Sometimes I stand in the background, quietly watching and recording..........

Please let me know what you think of these stories, where they could be improved, what you liked........

I feel my immortality oversweep all pains, all tears, all time,
all fears, - and peal, like the eternal thunders of the deep, into my
ears, this truth, - thou livest forever! 

(Byron (1788-1824)

 

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It was a brutal Quickening. At first it had filled him with all the beauty, creativity and wit that had been Byron - the color, the vibrant energy of his life and mind. As the storm diminished however, he saw the colors of Byron's life fade and heard his music die. And as he fell to his knees he was overwhelmed by the torturous yearning and hunger, and ultimate hollowness, of what Byron had become.

"Methos.....", he gasped, having no idea who had really called out for their lover - Byron or himself, or both.

He stayed on his knees, head bowed down with weariness, and continued to silently weep for what he had just done to Methos - and for the loss of all Byron might have been.

Finally he looked over at Byron and heard, for the first time, thousands of fans screaming for the fallen idol. He wondered whether Byron had ever really heard them. His right eye streamed blood where Byron's sword had skilfully sought out his head. His foot still throbbed from Byron's bullet wound. He felt physically and spiritually battered. But Methos was waiting, and he knew that if he didn't go to him now he never would again.

A slight movement in the shadows caught his over-alert senses and, despite his aching body and soul, he moved like the lightning he had just absorbed, Katana once again singing as it sought fresh blood.

He gazed in horror at what he saw. Pressed against the darkness of the wall stood a young woman. He wondered whether she was a fan of Byron's. He realised that there was no explanation he could give, no believable excuse. "No getting out of this!" he sighed. *How* could he explain the decapitated body of Byron and the bloodied Katana?. Perhaps, he mused, he would have many years to think about this night's doings in the peace and quiet of a penitentiary. Oddly, he began to find the thought momentarily appealing.

But, as always, a deep seated longing for living amid light and warmth took him over. Jails were solitary, souless places. Survival instincts kicked in. He didn't want to be on his own any more. He wanted to live and love in Methos' world, and breathe the air that Methos was breathing. He wanted to be with his companion. Forever. And every extra piece of debris that the fates kept hurling across their paths he was determined to sweep away - with his sword, his body, or wash away with their tears. Whatever it took, he would do it. Even if it left them both bruised, bleeding and stained from each others' pasts and present, and their sins of pride, envy, lust, revenge, - murder. Somewhere, he insisted, there must be a balance sheet that gave some credit, somewhere, for good intentions.

But he wanted and needed this new lover more than he believed he could ever want anyone. Forever. And Methos wanted him. Needed him. Forever. Even without the shared Quickening, he had known. *With* the shared Quickening any doubt or uncertainty was spectacularly scorched away. And his panicked demand of Cassandra to let Methos live had swept her out of the Highlander's life and bed, and brought Methos back in. But, he reflected, his life was chaos and he often wondered how long Methos would be able to bear living in the firestorm that was the Highlander's life.

He shook his head, thinking that hours must have once again passed, and gazed once again into the wide eyes of the young terrified fan before him and his bloodied Katana.

"It's all right Mr MacLeod. Please. Don't kill me. Joe Dawson sent me. To watch. Please don't hurt me."

"Joe sent you?" Duncan repeated.

She spoke to him again - as if he was a young child. "We'll take care of things Mr MacLeod. You need to leave. Please leave."

He shook his head, trying to sort things out. His Katana whistled and sang a mournful dirge as he shook the blood from it. One part of him would never forgive this gross invasion of his privacy by the Watchers. Stalked and spied upon. Immortalised. Trivialised. Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod - a character in a Chronicle to keep some bored Watcher company. He looked at her, shook his head, and stumbled away from the ghastly scene and commenced his journey towards the next one, with Methos.

Duncan had never shied away from bearding the lion in his den and tonight would be no exception.

Finally he stood outside the nightclub, knowing Methos was inside. He threw his head back to gaze at the stars and breathe in deeply, trying to center and anchor himself. What could be more permanent, he wondered, than the stars? But even the stars had changed for Methos, leaving him with nothing to anchor himself, no ties.

Then what hope did *he* have, he berated himself, of keeping Methos, when even the cosmos couldn't anchor him. Five thousand years of swirling, shifting images surrounded the world's oldest immortal. And Duncan had just severed one of the few fragmented ties that Methos had to a world spinning increasingly out of control. He suddenly stopped, overwhelmed and in awe as he realised what he had just been thinking. The *stars* had changed their positions. But Methos remained. Methos survived. Methos endured. Methos.

Feeling increasingly insignificant and humbled, Duncan breathed deeply again, and pulled the curtain aside as he descended the stairs into the suitably dark and lonely nightclub.

Inside the Club Methos waited.

He knew that Duncan would come - the Scot was nothing if not courageous. In truth, he had been desperately afraid that he may have misjudged the Highlander, and that he would not come. Then Methos would have had to seek him out, and his ancient pride would not have let him do that. And so he would have lost him. He knew that he would never have been able to live with that loss.

So Duncan was coming to him to be punished.

Methos was determined not to disappoint.

He continued to sit, sprawled, sleeves rolled up. He deliberately looked away, angry and hurt, as Duncan released the curtain and descended the stairs. Duncan had often commented on Methos' ability to subsume, to make any object his own - (including his lover) - to insinuate himself naturally onto the surfaces and planes of his surroundings and into the souls of those who loved him. Like Duncan. Methos continued scowling and sprawling. For after all, he mused, the furniture was there to serve him. Joe played for him, the haunting guitar an appropriate backdrop to the continuing tragedy that was life for most immortals. Patrons had departed for Methos, leaving him to brood in scarifying silence.

But, he reflected bitterly, no-one was able to save Byron for him.

Methos refused to look at the Highlander, but was still aware of his every movement.

Duncan looked away from Methos, at Joe, genuinely unsure what Joe's opinion of Duncan's recent hunting was. Certainly his look was not one of welcome.

And suddenly the Highlander was very angry. Welcome to my world, Joe.... But he stopped that line of thought before it could take hold. It would just lead him to pointless fury about Watchers, like the young woman, and their constant intrusions and interferences in his life. It was too easy, too cowardly, to strike out at Joe. Too distracting. And maybe he was reading too much into Joe's mournful look, he decided. Maybe Joe was simply reflecting Duncan's guilt.

Listening to Joe's haunting music he thought again of Mike, and the tragic, premature death of *his* music. So, once again, he had judged. And Byron and his poetry and music and art were now dead. Why, he wondered? Simple head hunting? Jealousy? Retaliation? It had been so clear, until he had gazed at the stars, on the stairs outside.

He continued moving forward, towards Methos.

Watching those movements, Methos was torn, as he so often was, when Duncan entered a room. Even when the Highlander tried to be under-whelming, he reflected, MacLeod just couldn't help himself. He knew of no one in his long life who had ever had the charisma and presence of this stunning Scot. He drew people, and energy. He breathed life - and dealt death. He consumed passion and love. And, like all God's avenging angels, he smote the wicked and the unrighteous.

As Methos' world slowed he watched Duncan come towards him through the smoke filled haze of the room. He laughed inwardly as Milton's immortal phrase captured his mind. As he continued to stare at the Highlander he was back with Byron and Mary once more on the shores of the lake that long hot summer so many many years ago. Methos' rich voice enfolded them as he took his turn at entertainment, reciting that wonderful epic of 'Paradise Lost'

"...so here the Archangel paused
Betwixt the world destroyed and world restored..."


Returning to his current world, Methos shook his head, dislodging the tattered images and scattering their remains.

And so the Highlander had stormed into his life, destruction and chaos (once dear friends of Methos') always Duncan's constant companions. Methos had not enjoyed meeting these old friends again. The price of loving was always so high, he mused in bitterness. And he always had a tendency, he freely admitted to himself, to get lost in the loving of ones such as Duncan. Magnificent Warriors. Beautiful. Passionate. Infuriating. Exasperating. Annihilating.

It seemed as if hours must have passed as Duncan continued to move towards him. As he came closer Methos marvelled at how one person could embody such complexity, righteousness, self-doubt, honor and courage - such stubborn pettiness, pride, passion, hypocrisy - and a capacity for love and loving that Methos could not even begin to cope with.

Methos nodded his head and bit his lip, acknowledging the truth to himself alone - the Scot had restored his soul. Duncan had found for him, deep inside, that long-lost dormant fire and passion that he had feared was buried forever beneath an immovable cosmic weariness. The ancient immortal breathed to center himself and remembered the play he was now performing in. He barred his senses against the power and beauty before him.

// Not this time, Duncan. Don't think that those eyes and that mouth will make it all better just yet.//  He would wonder afterwards why he, once a master tactician, so often miscalculated where this one man was concerned.

But now it gave him further malicious amusement to know that Duncan would be sexually volatile after such a Quickening. And Methos had no intention of relieving him - yet. Duncan did guilt so well, and anger, that it would be a shame, Methos calculated, to deny him an outlet.

Accordingly, Methos looked at him, coldly, and turned away.

But Duncan wasn't leaving.

He had reflected, on his way to the Bar, that Methos had never really asked him for anything before- at least, nothing important. He'd only done it once, he realised, - when he asked him to spare Byron. And it must have cost Methos dearly to have done so, he further reflected, because he hadn't pushed it. Duncan genuinely didn't know what he would have done if Methos had pushed him - asked for himself alone, not for Byron, "...do it for me, Duncan?...". He suspected that he would have listened to him. He wondered whether Methos believed that Byron wanted to die. The ache in his foot from where it had been shattered from Byron's bullet had been enough to persuade Duncan that Byron had, indeed, wanted to live. Byron's Quickening confirmed this. But Methos need never know this, he decided.

Methos' beautifully modulated voice brought him out of his reverie.

"Matter and anti-matter. Byron knew that too. His life had become one long tragedy..." spoken across him, around him, as Methos poured himself another much needed drink.

Duncan had no idea whether Methos meant the conflicting forces within Byron himself - immortality and creative genius, - or that Duncan and Byron had been volatile opposites. For a moment he found himself wondering whether Methos was disappointed that it had been Duncan who had just walked in - and not Byron.

"We all know how those end...." he said, tritely, suddenly realising that Methos had never expected any other outcome. His hopes were a different matter.

An hour later, Joe continued to play in the smoke filled room and Duncan, with increasing restlessness, downed his fifth whisky. Methos continued to say nothing, punishing the Highlander with the sharpness and oppressive weight of his silence, taking a malicious delight in Duncan's tangible frustration.

Duncan looked around. He wasn't very good at this - this "just being there", - and he was too physical to do nothing, particularly with Byron's Quickening still charging through his system. Of course, he mused, Methos would know that and would be taking pleasure in Duncan's being so physically on edge.

(Months later, as he went over and over the events that culminated in Duncan's complete breakdown after Richie's death, Methos could never understand how he had missed how close Duncan was to the *emotional* abyss, and, he told himself yet again, he never would forgive himself for being so blind, so complacent. For leaving him so alone...............)

In the darkened Bar Duncan finally started playing with the coasters. Methos, alert for any sign that he could further unnerve the Highlander, sniggered. "You always do that."

"Do what?" Duncan could hear the accusation behind Methos' trivial words - "..I know you too well Duncan. I know your motivations."

"Fidget and fiddle. You're always moving your fingers and hands, trying to take control......". Methos continued to sit with both elbows on the table, his glass held securely in both hands and resting against his forehead, as if his head was so heavy that it would surely fall unless something supported it. His sleeves were still rolled up, revealing the long graceful lines of his arms.

Duncan replied quietly, determined not to retaliate, knowing what Methos was pushing him to do. "Maybe I'm just trying to connect, Methos." Said quietly, gently, hopefully. Duncan watched Methos' fingers caressing the glass, imagining them caressing him, touching him. Minutes passed.

Finally Duncan said it. "I'm not sorry that I killed him. But I'm sorry for your pain." There. So difficult to say. But now said. Why, he wondered, was it always so difficult for him to talk about feelings. To be open.

"Don't worry about it, MacLeod. Plenty more where he came from," replied that light jaunty voice. An inspired piece of maliciousness took hold of Methos and he laughed, all the while reciting the words that would never again be spoken by their author:

" 'And if I laugh at any mortal thing,
'Tis that I may not weep.' "

Duncan recoiled. Methos was a master at this, thousands of years of practice. The wound was quickly and efficiently delivered before you even knew you had been struck. As Byron's words were painfully absorbed into Duncan's body, he closed his eyes at Methos' ironic twist, delivered to gain maximum hurt.

//"Plenty more where he came from."//

Methos had, of course, very few friends. Duncan swallowed and looked anywhere that Methos was not. Knowing what was coming, he took another deep breath, and looked straight into Methos' eyes.

Methos set himself for battle. "Why did you come? Checking up on whether any more old friends are around? What's that make now? Kronos? Caspian? Byron? Jealous, MacLeod? Methos not allowed to play in anyone else's sandpit?" Methos poured himself yet another beer and continued his coldly delivered tirade as if there had been no break. Duncan looked away, looked at his hands fiddling with the coasters - looked anywhere but at Methos and his pain.

Methos' words circled and trapped him. "Not too many of your friends left MacLeod, you've killed so many. So you thought you'd start thinning out the few I have left?"

Duncan visibly flinched at that, but still continued to offer himself in expiation to Methos, in sorrow for the grief he had caused him. But Methos recognised in Duncan's eyes the depth of the hurt he had just inflicted, and he felt a renewed sense of power. It was always lurking under the surface, just waiting for the right signals to trigger it.

In reality, Methos was always stunned at the large number of good friends of Duncan MacLeod - endless letters written and received, postcards, emails. But he was angry and hurt and grieving. (At least that was what he told himself later)....... After all, Duncan had come to be punished.

(Was it his fault, he later asked himself, that Duncan always seemed so strong, so resilient - as if no-one could ever really break him, or permanently damage him. But that was before Methos had stood and watched his lover go down into utter and total despair and a desperately sought death. Before his glorious Archangel descended into
"Pandemonium, city and proud seat of Lucifer...this infernal pit Abominable, accursed, the house of woe...plung'd in the womb of unoriginal Night and Chaos wild....")

But they were thoughts easier to think and see after it was all over, when it was too late.

Here, in the dark confines of the Bar, Methos could rely on a passionate response. He had taken a malicious pleasure in goading and goading further . Saying nothing and then saying it all. Knowing how over-stimulated Duncan would be, how he would be yearning to move, run, stretch out those exhausted but over-active muscles - have sex. Methos could almost hear the fresh Quickening coursing through Duncan's veins, hear it crying out for some release. Duncan's physical reaction to Methos' words didn't disappoint him, he realised, and augured well for what should be a most satisfying screaming match.

It was one that Joe Dawson didn't intend to miss. He'd stopped playing five minutes before and sat quietly observing, listening, nursing his beer.

Finally, temper completely frayed, Duncan's head shot up and he glared at Methos, his eyes wide and moist, his lips full, roseate, luscious. Methos was stunned at the power of the man before him to entice him - even now, even when he was determined to hurt him, to thrash out at him. He shut his eyes against Duncan's most formidable weapons.

Duncan misread Methos' closed eyes for disgust. "Well then, maybe you should have spent less time in debauched pursuits with him and more time in *sword* practice!"

Joe grimaced. Methos was good but so was MacLeod. He'd long observed that Methos rarely lost his coolness, his detachment, his savage, considered, deadly, poisonous responses and retorts. Duncan was all passion, all heart - blew like a volcano. When Methos hurt it was (usually) premeditated and calculating. Duncan just said whatever he was feeling. Methos occasionally said whatever he was thinking. It made for a heady combination.

Methos' eyes flashed and narrowed as he moved to within inches of Duncan's face. He proceeded to strike to the core of Duncan's guilt and uncertainty- that jealousy may have been the main motivation. "You hated Byron before he'd even opened his mouth. The first thing you did was size him up. And then move closer to me! Was that so you could keep him in your line of sight? Hunting already Duncan? Or were you publicly staking a claim on *your* property?

Methos coolly appraised the effect of his words on the man before him and was inwardly delighted.

Duncan was furious - and close to losing the disintegrating controls he had in place. His arm flew forward and he roughly grabbed a handful of Methos' pullover before savagely retorting. "Methos, he challenged me the minute he looked at me - and you've got delusions of grandeur. I'm not that hard up. Do you really think I'd kill someone just because I'm jealous?"

He released Methos and stood up, tipping over the chair behind him. He started to pace, breathing deeply, knowing what Methos was doing. He covered his face with his hands, using his fingers to try and massage away the excruciating pain behind his eyes and across his forehead. He turned away suddenly, grabbing a full glass of whisky from the table and moved a further five feet away from both Methos and Joe. As if five feet could somehow put this appalling conversation and confrontation back on course. Why had he come, he berated himself? No-one could hurt him like Methos could.

Methos refused to back down. After all, he told himself later, the Highlander had come to be punished. "I've no idea any more, MacLeod, what you would do. Who you would kill."

Duncan, only recently schooled in the physical and verbal weapons of war by an expert, retaliated. He turned back to face Methos. "Well you'd certainly be the expert on mindless slaughter, Methos. Maybe it's catching!"

Methos pushed himself further back into his chair. One part of him was furious with Duncan for bringing up the one thing - the one thing - that he knew tore at Methos' soul. Strangely, another part was quite proud of what was a masterful retort. It took only seconds to calculate how best to deflect it, to turn it back with even more power and force.

"Touché. Maybe it is MacLeod. Maybe it is." He rose with animal grace from his seat and walked towards the Bar where he retrieved yet another full bottle. "You know what they say about infections. Perhaps it's time you removed yourself from the source. Maybe we'd both be safer out of the hothouse."

Duncan was stunned. He knew, intimately, how cruel Methos could be. But he also knew what a master he was at obfuscation and deceit, at hiding his true feelings behind such verbal shards. But the thought that Methos really could just discard him and their relationship completely unnerved him. Suddenly he couldn't breathe, couldn't think. He fell into the nearest chair, closed his eyes and once again turned away before asking, "Is that what you want?"

"Yes." Said so coldly. "I'm not surprised you've decided to sit Duncan - carrying around the moral weight of the world must get so tiring, along with all those judgments and accusations. But never any absolutions for we poor sinners."

Joe watched and listened. He had already analysed Methos' strategy. But Methos didn't know Duncan MacLeod as well as his Watcher knew him. Suddenly, Joe felt as if he were watching a horror movie. He was sure that Methos was miscalculating, but found himself unable to intrude on this most private of discussions.

Duncan asked again. "Are you sure that's what you want, Methos? Because it's not what I want." Duncan's enunciation was painful in its clarity.

Methos thought of the perfect response. The one that resurrected for the Highlander another agonising discussion that had almost destroyed them. It had also been a brutal physical and verbal confrontation, when Methos had thrown all that he had been in the Highlander's face, slamming him into the car, seemingly glorying in the telling of the slaughter of thousands - of ten thousand. "We're through!" Duncan had cried and had stormed away, seeing none of the tears that Methos had wept.

//The one response that will cut to the quick, // Methos mused, and mirroring Duncan's earlier cruelty, couldn't resist it. "Yes - oh yes!"

Duncan said nothing. His face registered deep pain, his jaw clenched and he started to nod his head as if finally giving assent to a long sought question. The silence stretched to minutes and still no-one spoke. No-one no-one could hurt him like Methos could.

Joe grimaced.

Duncan finally looked up, and gave Methos a look of such longing and pain that both Methos and Joe found themselves unable to move as the bizarre tableau played out before them. Duncan rose, threw back his head and lifted the whisky glass in salute to Methos. He was raised a warrior and that fierce pride, even in utter defeat, resurfaced. Two could play Methos' game, he decided. Two warriors. Two fiercely proud, stubborn, angry, desperately hurting males, seemingly trapped forever on an eternal battleground.

"I killed ten thousand!" Methos had spat at him, back in Seacouver.

It took only a further thirty seconds for Duncan to find just the right weapon - a verse. He was determined that Byron should join them for such an important toast. As the words formed and re-formed, Duncan hoped that memories from Methos' dead lover would pierce the cool detachment before him, fan the guilt of Methos' vacuous and hedonistic past excesses, and leave Methos, not Duncan, to mourn a different 'ten thousand'.

He continued to hold the glass towards Methos, its gold liquid the only thing capable of moving. Finally, Duncan's rich baritone broke through the silence:


"Think'st thou there is no tyranny but that
Of blood and chains? The despotism of vice,
The weakness and the wickedness of luxury,
The negligence, the apathy, the evils
Of sensual sloth - produce ten thousand tyrants..."


Methos backed up to the Bar and gazed at the beautiful creature mouthing such hurt before him. Byron or Duncan? He thought again of the creative richness and depravity coursing through Duncan's body as Byron's Quickening sought release. Breathing deeply, he quickly adopted an appearance of calm detachment. Methos' eyes betrayed nothing. Joe almost believed that, if he listened hard enough, he would be able to hear the iced water trickle through the channels of Methos' heart. For all Duncan's ability to wound, its source was fire, not ice. His body radiated it. It flashed from his eyes. His nostrils flared to better accommodate it. It burned those around him.

Methos continued to stare, determined not to react to Duncan's brilliant ploy. If Joe spoke to him in that time he didn't hear. He had eyes only for the Highlander. He only ever experienced this level of emotion when total, annihilating hate or love was the driver. He had no doubt as to what drove it now. His intense love of Duncan terrified him, making a mockery of his prized detachment and aloofness. When, he wondered, had he lost himself so, opened that long sealed doorway to pain and passion. He nodded, agreeing with himself. The hurting and suffering figure before him was reminder enough of why he should have left that doorway that connected him with others forever sealed.

He continued to gaze at Duncan's frightening beauty. He asked himself what he had contributed to Duncan MacLeod's life. "can a man live for five thousand years and say he did nothing, risked nothing, merely stayed alive?" that other more worthy Methos had challenged. He had had no answer then. He had none now.

Finally, Methos looked up at Joe. "Go home, Joe. You deserve better than to have to watch this tawdry melodrama at this hour of the morning."

Joe Dawson poured himself another whisky and for the hundredth time that evening, ran his hardened graceful fingers through his silver hair and across his lined face. "I watch. Remember." he said, gulping back both whisky and tears. Sometimes he wondered what he had done in a past life to have been chosen to have to stand on the side lines and watch the continuing tragedy of immortality. There were no easy answers though to the complexity & ambiguity of the two lives before him. They were forced to live them on so many levels, amid so many layers, that it was inevitable, Joe had long ago decided, that they would occasionally get utterly and totally lost. Emotionally. Spiritually. Personally. And that was why the *good* ones, like Methos and Duncan, were so desperate for a loving anchor amid the chaos and uncertainty and fleeting moments of happiness that made up their lives. Closing his eyes, sighing, Joe shook his head in sorrow. it shouldn't be that much to ask he told himself, again.

Duncan could feel every wisp of air searing through his body. From somewhere in the room a deep red was reflecting off his glass, so that the whisky looked like blood. The image of the smashed and bloodied Frankenstein print wouldn't leave him as he thought of Byron's headless corpse, surrounded by blood. Steeped in blood. *He* was steeped in blood.. Byron had called them all an abomination, he remembered. An abomination. He turned his hands over and back, shook his head in sorrow and from somewhere deep inside him he heard again Byron's chiding words, but this time they were for the Highlander:

'I see before me the Gladiator lie:
he leans upon his hand - his manly brow
Consents to death,...'


He decided that Byron had been the lucky one. He finally had found the way home and the boatman had ferried him over. While he, Duncan MacLeod, was doomed to stand upon the sand, watching everyone he loved and cared about draw further away from him on their continuing journeys. but they never take me.....

"Duncan?" Methos reached out for him but stopped himself from touching him.

Duncan fought to get himself under some semblance of control, determined not to reveal any more of himself to Methos. He recoiled from the proffered touch. "Don't! If you touch me I'll....." He stopped himself from verbally offering any more ammunition, but silently finished the thought. "......never be able to leave."

Methos never took his eyes off him. He whispered, still goading, still not fully realising that Duncan truly intended leaving him. "This is exactly what I told you would happen to us. There are things inside us both, dark and terrifying...This is our nightmare Duncan. We're not safe to be around. You're not safe to be around." There! Said. A final satisfying thrust.

He continued staring at Duncan, oblivious to everything around them, anxious now for this play to be over and to take Duncan into his arms and bed. They had both been cruel. He had been more cruel. It was, he thought, the least he could do for Byron.

Joe said nothing because there was nothing that could possibly be said.

Duncan looked around, first at Joe, and then at Methos, but didn't dare say another word, knowing that there were no words he knew of that could possibly fix this. His eyes shone - in fear, anger, and final defeat.

'you're not safe to be around.' Methos had just confirmed for him.

He clenched his lips and silently nodded his head in agreement. Loving someone, for Duncan, had always meant putting them first. And his own desires last.

Methos suddenly realised what Duncan's silence was portending. As he watched him start to back away he reached out to seize his hand and brought it to his lips, refusing to let go. Duncan turned to go, pulling forcefully away, but stopped and looked back at the lover with whom he had so desperately wanted to spend eternity. He saw with heart-breaking clarity that it could not be. He would bring down destruction on Methos. There never would be safety or security with Duncan MacLeod. He backed towards the stairs, never letting his eyes leave Methos.

"Don't do this Duncan. Don't do this to us ......."

He never heard Duncan's reply.

Stunned, Methos watched him walk out the door and felt part of him simply shut down. He gazed at Joe.

"Give him a few days, Methos. ...... Richie's coming to town tomorrow. I know MacLeod - he'll shake this off, rise to the occasion, drag poor Richie off to some highbrow event.........in a few days, ....I'm sure.............it's just the Quickening.........." Joe wondered why his words seemed so hollow, even to him.

Methos shook his head. "Not this time, Joe. This is different. I've lost him and he's lost himself. How can I have been so stupid? And if I go after him now he'll disappear." He turned back to the Bar, running his long fingers through his hair, trying to think. More thinking and less feeling would have prevented the entire fiasco from ever happening, he angrily berated himself. There were so many times when he had been too clever. And cleverness made for a cold companion.

"Perhaps you're right. Perhaps I should just give him some room for a few days. Give us both some room." But every instinct screamed at him to follow, to go and take Duncan into his arms and offer him some much needed shelter. It was one of the few times in his life that he ignored his intuition. He never did again.

Once more, he gazed at Joe and shook his head. "Why, Joe? Why does it have to be this hard? Are we really that evil? Every time we get even close to thinking that we might be able to have some bloody hours of happiness it gets ripped away. Five thousand years and it just keeps getting bloody worse." He turned to stare at the empty doorway, a passage to his equally empty future. More to himself than Joe, he whispered "I've never loved anyone as much as I love him...Never wanted anyone....."

"That's probably not real obvious to him right now Methos."

Duncan stopped at the Quay de la Tournelle and took in the sight of the Barge shrouded in mist and fog. Notre Dame towered behind it, an ever present symbol and silent witness to this, yet another tragic chapter in his long life. No matter how many solid and permanent structures he attempted to surround himself with, he and his world continued to crumble. He fell to his knees and stared up at the Paris sky and turned his gaze to take in the flying buttresses of the mighty Cathedral. But he could find no equivalent supports in his own chaotic life. "Darius....."

But, he remembered, Richie was coming so he'd have to be strong - at least for a few days. Maybe, in a few days...he and Methos.....perhaps.......

But the thought was suddenly engulfed in the sound of his sobbing. The fog crept closer, quietly circling him. Somewhere in the distance he could hear the soft and sensuous lapping of the Seine, wearing away at his soul and his sanity.

Some miles away Methos lay in his cold and empty bed, listening in vain for Duncan's deep breathing, yearning for Duncan's arms to enfold him and hold back the void.

"When we two parted
In silence and tears,
Half broken-hearted
To sever for years,
Pale grew they cheek and cold
Colder thy kiss."

.
Finis


August 1997; Re-edited: 28 December 97.
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Copyright © Carson Kearns 1998-1999

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