|Carson Kearns' Highlander Fanfic|
Warning, Background and Disclaimer
THIS IS NC-17
RATED: Male/Male Sex
Lost in the Loving: Coming Home Chpts1-2
by Carson Kearns
Warning, Background and Disclaimer
Scotland. Summer 2001
Methos gazed out over the beautiful stillness of the lake. It had been a long time since beauty and peace had been any part of his life. With Duncan had come beauty, of course. But never peace.
Leaning back against the nearest tree, he breathed deeply and let himself be caught up in the tranquillity of the setting. He deserved it, he told himself. Ever the cynic, however, he wondered what eddies and currents - what monsters - lurked beneath the still waters before him. Five thousand years should have taught him to take nothing for granted, that just when you most relaxed, just when you let yourself get lost in the loving, the monsters would start circling, and destroy it all.
How many times, he wondered, could he say that name over and over. How long before it lost its power over him? How could he, with all his years of living, of knowing what life had a habit of doing - how could he have ever taken their future for granted?
Certainly, he berated himself, he had taken the Highlander's strength for granted. As he had, once, taken his sanity for granted, with disastrous results for them all. And with death for Richie. But one sin, he reassured himself, of which he had never been guilty, was ever taking Duncan's love for granted. He leaned back against the solid bulk of the trunk behind him, letting it take the weight of his 5000 years. He let his memories and his conscience re-visit those tragic events when he had assumed that Duncan would and could cope with anything and anyone. He had been hopelessly, disastrously wrong.
He doubted his failure to prevent what happened then and afterwards would ever really leave him at peace. He laughed quietly.
"Gods," he muttered aloud. "It must be the bloody air or something. I'm sounding like a brooding Scot!"
He leaned down and pulled another beer out of his backpack and let himself slip down the trunk of the tree, so that he was sitting comfortably, back still supported. He had spent too many years feeling unsupported in any way, shape or form. And too many years failing to give support.
Gazing out over the still waters of the lake he marvelled at how truly beautiful this place was. No wonder Duncan had always loved it so, he reflected. Without realising it, he started to nod his head, slowly, agreeing with himself. No, not with himself, he realised, agreeing with Duncan. He could hear him down the years, laughing, eyes flashing with good humor and love, - Methos telling him that one day he would bring him to his home, "...Glenfinnan, on the shores of Loch Shiel..." he had mimicked. He gazed out over the lake, letting the place that had nurtured Duncan begin to seep into his soul.
He whispered, "I promised you, Highlander. I kept my word. I brought you home."
Tears started to fall slowly down his cheeks and he did nothing to stop them.. It was a welcome release. There was something about this place that reached out to him and gave him comfort in no doubt the same way it had always done for Duncan. He decided that he liked this experience, discovering the land that nurtured Duncan and made him into the magnificent warrior that he had become.
The saltiness of his tears mingled with the alcohol on his lips. He started talking to himself, a bad habit of late. "Tears and beer! Well MacLeod, that certainly sums up my life since our first meeting," he mumbled, leaning down to let his lips play with the neck of the bottle, beginning to lose himself in the remembering.
He quietly chuckled, even amidst the tears. That had been a favorite game, out in public, in restaurants, Galleries. One of them would look up, only to find the other sensually rubbing a lip with the neck of a bottle (or a finger), seemingly innocent, the tip of the tongue exposing itself just enough to hint at private sensual pleasures before retreating quickly, leaving a moist trail on the luscious lips. Duncan, he recalled, had it down to a bloody art form!
Methos swallowed, just thinking about it, and felt the first stirrings of desire as the memory of those lips and those amazing hands started to wash over him and take hold. Duncan's hands. A warrior's hands. A lover's hands. An artist's hands, moulding, creating, giving life where there was none. Such love in those fingers, such strength, gentility, surety. They could always stir long dead feelings, reactions. Awaken the dead.
To have given such life where there had been formless clay would have, he knew, marked Duncan out as a god in many of the cultures and times through which Methos had existed.
The splash of the lone swimmer broke his train of thought and drew his eye to the long sensual strokes of the golden arms and the cascading water pouring from the body as it ploughed through the still waters of the Loch.
What was it about water, he wondered, that was so sensual? He seized the fragment of memory and focused every sense on rebuilding it, recapturing it. The memory was to do with Duncan, and he had long ago determined that he would remember every fragment, every snippet, every syllable. Not for the dry archival reporting of his journals, but to remind himself, constantly what they meant to each other. Gradually the scene he was searching for began to play itself out before him...
...It had been the winter of 1999, the morning after a particularly theatrical and hurtful argument. Duncan had disappeared for days and Methos had finally found him sitting alone in the Luxembourg Gardens, amidst the snow. He started to laugh aloud as the voices in his head began to speak. After the reconciliation he and Duncan were lazing in bed, in the barge, satiated, exhausted, tangled in each other's presence and bodies. Languid and satiated. All Methos had wanted to do was sleep, but Duncan had started muttering about how water was the most sensual medium that he knew. Methos' own pleas for silence, he recalled, met deaf ears. Duncan had insisted on sharing his thoughts and feelings out loud and keeping Methos awake. That voice, so low and erotic, murmured insistently in his ear of the slickness of the water, its sucking motions against the barge, how it always stimulated him. Duncan had suddenly started to laugh out loud, revealing to a fully awakened and aroused Methos his realisation how phallic the barge was, and how feminine the Seine. Methos smiled, remembering how he had accused Duncan of being an appalling macho stereotype, citing the T-bird and the barge, amongst other pieces of evidence.
"Surrounded by all that subliminal stimulation, no wonder you're always so horny," he had teased. Of course, what always made such retorts doubly delicious, was watching Duncan mentally worry over them, obsessing slightly.
Until I distracted him.
With his awareness now returning to the vista of the beautiful, silent loch, he further recalled how Duncan was so very easily distracted in that regard.........
The trouble with alcohol, Methos mused, swigging another mouthful of beer, was that it freed up not only the mouth, but also the soul and the memories. Despite the pull of the glorious Loch and the distraction of the golden skinned swimmer ploughing its surface, Methos found that his thoughts were returning again, as they so often did, to that fateful night in Paris four years before, when his lover had discovered what hell looked like, what its heat felt like and what its bitterness tasted like.
Can hurt and pain be infinite, he wondered? Does it ever heal? Can a soul have an endless dark night? In five thousand years he had never known a bleaker, blacker night than that night three years before when Duncan had killed Richie Ryan. A night that never ended. He had never felt such emptiness. He had never felt such frailty in the face of such tragedy.
The night after Byron's killing at Duncan's hands had been an appalling example of how they could inflict lethal blows on the soul. It now seemed ridiculously petty and silly, throwing away days of happiness, not appreciating how quickly the grains of sand were beginning to fall away.
He had rarely before that night of Byron's death, denied his lover, their mergings - as close as either ever came to complete surrender of all sense, senses and sensibility. Every nerve. Every feeling. Every wanting and craving. And oblivion, "...sweet sweet oblivion..." for them both could be defined by the complete, inexorable, passionate surrender of self.
But he berated himself at the memory of the times they had taken a pernicious delight in hurting each other. Who had needed swords when words and a look could inflict such pain? It hadn't come as naturally to Duncan as it had to him, but the combination of a fast learner and a good teacher had been fatal.
On the night of Richie's death Duncan had sought from him a different annihilation, a total absence of being, seeing no way home, no way back. Just an endless, mindless one way journey into the center of nothingness.
Methos let the beer wash around his mouth, enjoying the stimulation, wondering why he couldn't better control these unwelcome memories. But they insinuated themselves when he was vulnerable, as he was now, watching the golden swimmer before him.
He had no doubt Duncan fully intended killing himself that night of Richie's death - and for a long time thereafter..
Taking forever the only fire and passion I’d felt in centuries.
After five thousand years, he would once again have no warming body or spirit, no laughter, no soul in which to lose himself.
He remembered looking down that night at his fallen Archangel, on his knees before him.
'......a slow and silent stream,
Lethe, the River of Oblivion, rolls
her wat'ry labrynth,...'
But for Duncan, that night, it seemed the river of death could not take him soon enough.
Methos recalled that he had had to do many things in five thousand years that could be defined as hard. But nothing compared to having to keep holding Joe Dawson while Duncan walked away into the darkness, leaving behind the slaughtered remains of Richie Ryan.
And it had taken what seemed like hours to help get Joe settled, to question Richie's Watcher. And all the while, as he comforted Joe, he had been silently screaming to Duncan to wait for him. And he had no idea, no idea at all, how this could be salvaged, how their relationship, or Duncan could in any way emerge intact from this latest farcical tragedy.
He had no doubt that they had totally failed each other.
On the evidence before him, he'd decided that Duncan had finally gone completely insane. And none of Methos' wit or wisdom, insights or counsel has been able to stop it.
An eternity later he had finally arrived at Darius' church...
As he had entered he had seen Duncan kneeling, arms wrapped around himself, rocking back and forth, tears streaming down his face and neck. He had had no idea what language the keening was in but had assumed, correctly, it was Lakota, for that had been in that culture that Duncan had lost another son and another family.
Despite the state Duncan's had been in, he recalled how relieved he had felt, the feeling flooding his being and weakening his knees, rendering him immobile for some seconds as he stood looking at his ravaged Archangel.... He had feared the worst, that Duncan may have, somehow, committed suicide.
The memories were now painful and he shifted against the tree, tightening his grip on the bottle as he was once again back there, afterwards, in the bathroom in the barge, gathering towels and a hot wash cloth. As he'd knelt down before the destroyed man he'd noted that Duncan had in no way acknowledged his presence.
He had started to wipe Duncan's face and eyes, rubbing the warmth into his neck. Even in deep shock, Duncan had intuitively turned his face into the touch, like a cat. Gently he'd wiped blood off the younger man’s powerful hands and towelled them dry. The total lack of resistance had been heartbreaking. His beautiful hair was sticky and stiff, blood spattered through it.
Making a decision, he had reached across and pulled the lax man to his feet, shepherding him towards the bathroom. Here he'd stripped him, clinically and methodically, and discarded the clothing. He couldn't remember a time when he could have thought that he could be holding his naked lover in his arms and have all sexual yearning and responses set aside. But he did then. The care of Duncan's sanity and soul were his only focus.
He had also stripped himself and steered a still numb Duncan into a hot, steamy shower. Here Duncan had at least reacted, immediately slumping against the wall, as if trying to escape from yet another assault on his body and senses. Methos had quickly washed him, removing all traces of the evening’s activities, then rinsed him off and wrapped him in two of the large bathsheets. Carefully he had sat him down, quickly getting himself dried and dressed, and then gently led him to the bed.
And still no words, just the shaking , the staring, the keening.
He had laid him down and rubbed him dry, hoping that the stimulation might evoke some response. But there had been nothing. He'd found some warm sweat pants and a top and had clothed him and led him back to the fireplace, letting him kneel down once more.
And as soon as he had left him, to get a fire started, Duncan had wrapped his arms around himself again, as if terrified that he would simply leak away or evaporate. As the fire took hold and grew, he had watched the flames reflect off Duncan's haunted face. It showed no warmth, no heat, nothing. Nothing, it seemed, was going to be able to penetrate this deeply wounded man before him.
He had gone to the kitchen and boiled the jug for some hot sweet tea, not knowing how long it had been since Duncan had eaten anything. As he found the tea leaves he remembered again why he had no idea. He had been ignoring him, punishing him. For Byron. He hadn't intended it to go on much beyond the next few days. They had all the time in the world, in any event. And no one did angst like Duncan, so why not leave him alone for a few days to brood? It had seemed so simple, really. And their reconciliations were always so passionate and intense.
As he poured the tea he thought of how he had, in the end, relented, and had come to the Barge yesterday only to find Duncan storming towards him screaming out to him, asking him if he'd seen Kronos. Methos had decided that Duncan was decidedly drunk, or playing some cosmic joke.
"If only," he'd whispered to himself, turning to look with pain at the other Immortal’s ravaged expression, the empty eyes. "If only I'd waited for you yesterday. Listened to you."
It was so clear now, in the summer of 2000, but such a joke then. Even from three years later, it had seemed like a silly joke. And even more so when Duncan had started raving about red fog, glowing eyes, reanimated corpses.
Silly idiocy, born out of watching too many horror movies with Richie, he had decided. Yet another indulgence, knowing how much Duncan actually hated horror movies. He laughed, remembering what a tremendous delight it had been to make Duncan sit through some appalling American horror movie, watching his warrior grow increasingly uncomfortable, be unable to sit still, start finding excuses to leave the room. Needing distraction afterwards.
He had stopped these memories and finished pouring the tea and looked down at Duncan. He'd not the slightest idea what had really happened or why it had. But the boy Ryan was dead, and dead at his teacher's hand. Indeed, he solemnly mused, dead at his father's hand.
He'd walked back to the fireplace and knelt down behind him, pulling him back towards him so that he could dry his hair and feed him the tea. Surprisingly, he let Methos feed him, draining the cup and another. But still he had not spoken.
Methos' memories were suddenly shattered by the body moving with such power towards him. Arm over arm sliced through the still waters, the sun glistening off the spray.
It was appropriate, mused Methos, that he should be reminded that Duncan always disturbed tranquillity. When had Duncan's mere presence not managed to turn Methos' world inside out and upside down, leaving a wake of monumental proportions? The golden arms continued to slice through the water, swiftly closing the distance between the swimmer and the man on the shore.
"Bloody Scots!" sighed Methos, shaking his head in disbelief at how anybody could voluntarily submit themselves to such icy torture. Perhaps though, not so strange an action for a person who adored total stimulation and sensation.
Taking yet another sip of his beer, he imagined what it would be like, to strip naked and dive into the chilled waters of the lake and to feel, inch by inch, every part of one's body being encompassed and caressed. The swimmer, he knew, would be in need of some warming, and very soon.
He was shaken out of his reverie by the sounds of laughter as the swimmer reached the shore. He emerged from the dark waters like a Greek god, the golden sun rising behind him, water droplets running sensually in all directions.
"...Beautiful," sighed Methos.
The long dark hair, beautiful chest, firm legs. His lower body was encased in bike shorts so Methos was unable to linger there.
So close.........he could almost,
...have been Duncan.
The golden god smiled at Methos, quickly towelled himself dry and departed, now leaving no one to distract Methos' reverie or provide a welcome alternative to thinking about why he was here.
He gathered up his numerous empties, re-secured his backpack, tightened his hiking shoes and left for the trip back to the large house he had managed to secure for the next fortnight. No mean achievement in this season, he congratulated himself aloud. After all, with Joe, Anne and Mary coming he intended ensuring that everyone had their privacy. It was going to be a harrowing few days as it was, without all bumping into each other at every turn. And he was at heart a very private person. Which had, he knew, made opening himself up to the Highlander even more amazing. The crisp weather settled around him comfortably and he found it too easy to keep thinking while he closed the distance between this part of Loch Shiel and the house.
"You should be proud of yourself, Highlander!"
The pre-Duncan Methos, he knew, would never have taken on the organisation of what had to be done. I'd have run a thousand miles and then some. But he knew what this would mean to Duncan and he knew no one in life or death who would ever be able to emotionally manipulate him like Duncan always could. Even if it hadn't always been obvious to him.
<<Even I always thought, for a time, that I was the puppet master, Duncan.>>
He stopped, taking in the glorious view, feeling insignificant amidst the haunting, brooding beauty of the glens and peaks. The earth and all the living and mythical forces that composed and layered it suddenly seemed to permeate and surround him and he realised that if it was possible for a man to take on all the characteristics of a place then truly, Duncan had. As he breathed it in, he felt those Celtic otherworlds that had nurtured Duncan and shaped him, so that he embodied and emanated not only the dark and brooding elements but also the joy, the sheer magnetism of repressed power, the rigid codes of acceptance, duty, honor and obligation. Stability always on a knife edge of volatility. Haunting beauty. Wildness. Passion and tears. Just closing one's eyes was enough to feel the grief (and strength) of centuries in the surrounding elements. Duncan truly was a cherished Celtic Prince, in every sense of the word.
Methos had long ago decided that no one did grief like the Celts did grief. They had honed it to a sharp, masochistic edge. It seemed to enervate them even amidst the despair and the howling. It fed their souls, their fires and their fantasies, their long nights and their brutal days. It delivered heroes and gods and mythical beasts and beautiful heroines. It whispered of treachery, denial, longing. It inspired with brave deeds and raw courage. It threatened. It enticed. It offered Otherworlds for when this one became too unbearable. It taunted with thin veils between the physical and the non-physical. Its tenets, beliefs, mysteries, stole in on the wings of mythical beasts and spread far and wide around the words spoken and unspoken. It claimed and finally surrounded and took possession of mortal reason.
<<Bloody hell, Duncan. You never stood a chance after your first death. There was no way they were going to pass up an opportunity like that to create another bloody mystery to be brooded over and whispered about down the centuries......the dark warrior faerie child, born on the winter's solstice......if you hadn't existed, Highlander, they'd have invented you.>>
And much as he wanted to avoid what lay just ahead on the path he decided that it would be cowardly. So he stopped at the two freshly turned graves now alongside Duncan's parents, Iain and Mary, and noted that Rachel had been busy already, planting and preparing the ground for tomorrow's ceremony.
He hadn’t seen Rachel since the day he had delivered Duncan safely home to the Barge, after the Dark Quickening. But they had begun talking yesterday as if they had been friends for years. She had always been so accepting of Duncan and as the various emails and phone calls over the past years had shown, she’d never denied where his home was and the home of his family and friends. Glenfinnan. On the shores of Loch Shiel.
//...."I'll transplant some mistletoe," Rachel had sighed.
"Mistletoe?" he queried. "OK, I give up. It's a bit early for Christmas, so why mistletoe?"
She had clucked and rolled her eyes, her smile lightening the exasperation she expressed for the products of contemporary schooling. " 'Tis the symbol of all-healing, immortality and strength, long before it was bastardised for an excuse for a quick kiss," she informed him.
He had laughed at her supposition of his youth and inadequate education, and the poignancy of the association with immortality.
"If you'd had the benefit of a classical education, Adam, ye'd know yer Pliny and we wouldna be having this conversation about mistletoe," she'd chided.
<<Bloody Pliny. Pretentious prick. I even helped him write some of the Natural History!>> he had silently consoled himself, not at all happy with being considered ignorant.
And then she’d said it. “And this is so right. This is where they should be buried. This is where the Clan honors its own. Glenfinnan. On the shores of Loch Shiel....."
He sniggered, remembering.........“It’s become a bloody mantra,” he'd once scowled at Duncan, repeating it ad nauseam for the next 10 minutes, “Glenfinnan, on the shores of Loch Shiel,” until Duncan had started tickling him. Soon he found a much better use for his throat and vocal cords.
And he was also now honest enough to acknowledge that he would do anything to avoid being where he was, standing by these two waiting holes in the ground. Think of any conversation, like the one yesterday with Rachel about mistletoe and Pliny. Recall any incident, no matter how trivial. Seize any excuse to go mentally travelling. Staring at the waiting black holes he started to talk aloud, verbally seeking his lover.
"You would have thought, Duncan, that after five thousand years I would have learned to confront and accept the physical trappings of death. But I haven't. I've never been back to Alexa's grave. I should have buried her in Greece. And I've never told you how much it meant to me to have you take over all those arrangements, be with me."
When no one answered he ceased talking and hugged himself at the sudden chill that surrounded him. <<So, Highlander, I hope you appreciate what I'm doing for you.>>
He moved closer to Duncan's parent's gravestones. It was virtually impossible to read the abraded script but he took the opportunity to simply touch them, feeling an amazing connection to the people who had loved and protected - and disowned - his lover. And suddenly he was back in the remembering, back in the Barge, arguing with Duncan about the frustrations and the burden of anonymity, - disconnectedness.
They had been playing a game of chess that had gone on for a week. Each was fiercely competitive over the smallest of things. Alpha males. Mostly. Duncan was a superb strategist but didn't have Methos' gift of bluff.
"It helps to be naturally devious, I guess," Duncan had offered, hoping to distract him.
"Guess it does," Methos had agreed, calling forth his most disarming smile. He secretly called it his Bishop Smile after that, because that (amongst other things) was what it had gained him. Duncan's Bishop. Intense lovemaking followed the capture, and Duncan had insisted on some exquisite punishments for the victor, because of his "...underhanded misuse of his physical assets to distract the superior player."
Afterwards they had lain on the floor by the fire, Methos' head securely nestled on Duncan's lap, Duncan's finger tips playing with the fine line of hairs between Methos' navel and groin, so different to the Highlander's own dark and coarser covering. Softly plucking. Playing. Savouring the Glenmorangie. This was an old game now - berating Duncan for his spoiled childhood.
"And what have you got to brood about anyway?" Methos had chided. "You at least had a home. Had parents you remember. Your home still exists. Your bloody Country still exists. I can't even remember where I was born or even if I ever knew. I have no recollection of a family. No relatives. You turn up in Glenfinnan and can still recognise landmarks, go on walks you went on as a bloody kid....still be the fucking Clan Chief."
Duncan had stopped him at that point by moving his fingers just a bit lower, just as his rich dark voice dropped in volume, taking on a dangerously enticing, erotic quality. "I didn't know that having a family was that important to you, Methos. You always make fun of things like that," he'd whispered, blowing hot air onto his face as he leaned into a kiss. It was what Methos secretly called his Ravisher Voice. Because once he triggered it nothing would distract him from having what he wanted: Methos.
"I only make fun of it because ... "
"....it gets a rise out of me. You think I don't know when you're pushing my buttons..." Duncan had growled, starting to breathe more quickly, pinching Methos' nipple with some vigour.
"Owwww!" and as Duncan had started to pinch harder Methos had quickly grabbed his other hand and placed it over his unattended nipple. "More!"
"Why not just say ‘More’ in the first place, instead of yelping......" Duncan had mumbled, most of his mouth now filled with Methos' neck. "And you can't have five thousand years and clear memories as well. Stop whining."
He remembered the way Duncan's newly grown out hair had tickled as it stroked his neck, marvelling at how every aspect of Duncan's body could entice in its own way. And when those aspects combined, Methos would have defied any living person to withstand the sensory assault.
"I'm not whining. Simply stating a fact. That I'm deprived and you're one of the few Iimmortals I've ever known who got to have a secure family life. Gods, keep doing that... " he'd moaned, as Duncan sought to press the life out of him with the full weight of his body.
"You’re a masochist. And you are whining. I brood. You whinge. There's a difference. Brooding befits a Warrior. It’s what we do. You can't have a whining warrior," he'd continued to tease. "But a researcher can whinge." Verbal teasing. Tactile teasing. Letting his body start a slow gyration as it slowly but completely overpowered the more refined model beneath.
"I want yours, then." Methos had shot back at him, determined to keep playing and not let Duncan think that he could always get away with distracting him from whatever weighty issue was being argued over and debated at length.
"It's yours. Roll over..."
"Not that - well, not yet," Methos had quickly corrected. "I want some of your memories."
Duncan had pulled back, finally distracted enough to really listen to what Methos had been saying. "I'll do better. I'll make you a kinsman. Then my family will also be yours. Mind you, I don't know that they would have particularly liked you. My Father wouldn’t have understood you at all. But I think my Mother would have liked you very much. But for a male, brawn was valued over brain."
"Clearly!" But he hadn't been quick enough to miss the gentle whap that retort earned him, after which Duncan had threaded his fingers through Methos' and held his arms securely above his head on the floor. As he started to move his hips, beginning the dance, leaning in to help himself to whatever delights Methos' mouth could provide when his tongue was silenced, Duncan had mumbled something else.
Breaking for air, Methos had asked him to repeat it.
"I said 'As long as you remember who the Clan Chief is....."
The moaning didn't allow for much coherent speech after that. Just fragments. Something to do with Duncan devising a suitable punishment if Methos ever forget who the Chief was......
The warmth of the day was departing and, slowly, Methos rose from the graves, carefully avoiding the two waiting holes in the ground. He started, again, to make his way back to the house. But another obstacle waited on the path ahead, the two actual coffins, lying side by side in the beautiful old stone Church where they awaited internment. He felt the pull of the Highlander and stopped, unable to go on. Unable to pass up any opportunity to seize every moment possible to be with him, even knowing that this was not what Duncan would want.
He was satisfied, deep within himself, that the decision to bring three generations of the family together, in the peace and tranquillity of that sheltered glen, had been the correct one. Not blood relations.
Closer than that.
He struggled to remember the exact phrase that Duncan had once revealed to him, pronounced by his Mother to mark him through the ages as indelibly, indisputably, hers. If not of her blood, then of her soul.
“Ye are my son. Let no man tell you different....” Duncan had even stressed the words with her inflexions.
And Duncan had honored that marking, that psychic branding, and had never, seriously, even changed his name. And if Duncan was a treasured son, then those he honored and loved and committed to, were also family and therefore kin.
That Ryan kid, he’d delighted in throwing at Duncan, - long afterwards, when they could speak his name.
Iain and Mary’s tragedy suddenly became very real to Methos as he relived their pain at the loss of their treasured son, the light of their life. No children, no daughters-in-law, no grandchildren around them, - until now.
He quietly opened the heavy door and stood, unmoving, at the end of the Church aisle taking in the scene before him. Knowing Duncan would know he was here.
The two coffins were simple but stunning. As with much in great art, it was the unstated, the colors not used, the words not spoken, the silences, that in saying nothing said it all. The simple lines of the Church and the golden sunset streaming in through the stained glass window saturated the coffins, bathing them in golds and reds and blues.
Such vibrancy amidst the end of all vibrancy........
Everything associated with Duncan always exuded style so it was fitting that it should be so with death.
Simple strong lines, bronzed fittings. Plaques with Gaelic inscriptions.
<<And didn’t the 17th Century Gaelic stir up some interest in Glasgow, on the way to Glenfinnan!
Particularly when it came so naturally, tripping off the tongue, only to then be written down with such ease and certainty....>>
The tragically haunting scene before him stopped his reverie and he suddenly found himself unable to keep standing and sat in the nearest pew, unwilling to now move away from the presence of the Highlander.
“Gradhach....” he whispered. “Beloved...”
There had been a small number of times in his past when he had had exactly this feeling, the inescapable, unswerving belief that no other person would ever be able to fill the most recently created void in his heart and soul. But this time he knew it was true. How much of it was Duncan, how much Methos’ own need to find a 'Duncan' he had no idea and no interest in finding out. All he knew was that this man’s essence, all that came together to make him Duncan, had permeated to every dark and lonely corner of every plane in Methos’ being, and tenanted his nights and his days.
Cò chuala e no chunnaic e
No fhuair an nàdar duine e,
Gach uaisle tha,
A choinnich ann ad chré?
<<Who ever heard it, or saw it,
or found it within the nature of man,
that all the noble qualities,
have met in your body?>>
He took a deep cleansing breath and continued to stare at the scene before him, indulging himself in the remembering. He had had a rather successful period as a seer at one stage. What child of the ancients could not find the heavens and their attendant mysteries and magnetic pulls riveting (and very saleable)? Beneath the veneer of cosmic weariness and wit, he occasionally found himself totally and absolutely over-awed with the realisation that no other being in the world had been as influenced by the varying solar, lunar and stellar influences as had he. He’d always found it fascinating and had often, in the past, made a very good living explaining the universe’s patterns and plot lines to the interested and the gullible.
No one had been more surprised, he recalled, than he himself, when he had revealed himself to the Highlander that day in his apartment. But no other living being had ever known who he was, just by looking at him. And when he walked down those steps, Duncan had truly come home.
Mi casa es su casa.
Methos knew it in an instant. It was the most frightening and exhilarating insight of his long life, which was why he always referred to it by a totally superficial title. His Walkman Insight. Wouldn’t want the Highlander getting delusions of grandeur.
He shook his head, trying to remember where on earth these thoughts had started.
Duncan, of course. That went without saying. Cosmic forces...connections.....knowing. Methos....... astrological insights...........and suddenly the memory was recaptured. He’d been trying to understand why he had felt such a connection with Duncan. He had studied Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod in minute detail. And this included his life signs. He’d even constructed a very detailed astrological chart.
Like the Celts, Duncan, if you hadn’t existed, I’d have invented you, at that time of my life.
So afterwards he’d been able to rationalize why he had reacted to meeting this amazing fictional person in the flesh. In fact, he had deliberately stayed away from him after Kalas, so convinced was he that the connection had been fabricated in his own imagination in the long nights reading Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod’s Chronicles, rereading his chart.
And now, sitting here on the very spot where this winter solstice babe had been born brought it all back with amazing clarity. Or perhaps it was just that he had read it so many times that he knew it by rote:
............... in 1592, in Glenfinnan, Scotland, the sun moved into Capricorn at 12:02 pm, local time. That was the moment of the solstice, over Glenfinnan, that year. And the chart described a great ruler, prince, avatar, hero. Duncan MacLeod was born at the solstice...a Capricorn, with moon in Leo, and Aries rising.
And Duncan’s chart was so very unusual, with the Sun conjunct Jupiter exactly on the midheaven of the chart, directly over head at the exact moment of the solstice. The child born at this time had Mars in Scorpio, a warrior's energy, and Venus in Capricorn, a sensual and earthy lover.
<<Oh my gods, a truer phrase had never been uttered,>> he sighed.
If someone had wanted to choose a birthday and place of significance for an archetypal hero, this was the perfect choice.
Coming back to the present, Methos noted the irony of the last rays of the sun continuing to bathe the coffins in dying light. But then, he'd always been a magnet for cosmic irony. Duncan’s image continued to swirl before him, unclear, almost ethereal, in the colored dust particles claiming their own, tapping on the coffins, seeking the clay now that the spirit’s departure had let down all defenses.
..........Duncan’s chart..........He tried to make himself more comfortable on the hard pew, remembering that Duncan had never really taken any interest in it all. Indeed, he mistakenly thought he was Sagittarius until Methos had insisted on enlightening him one playful morning. Duncan had loudly complained about never having been so bored in his entire life and how could Methos believe that mere dead rock, millions of light years away, could possibly have the slightest effect.....and Methos had insisted on droning on, determined that Duncan must internalize how important he was, cosmically...........
”...The conjunction of the sun with Jupiter gives you Sagittarian qualities, Duncan ...”
“Give it a rest, Methos!” ........assuming that one of the world’s greatest astrological researchers could be distracted merely because, what Methos invariably described as the most sinful lips and mouth on the planet, were at that moment seeking sustenance from the very stimulated nipple below him, sucking out its life
//Concentrate old man. You’re more disciplined than that.........//
“.........as does the cluster of sun, Jupiter (both in Capricorn), Mercury and South Node (both in Sagittarius) in the 9th house (the natural house of Sagittarius). In other words, .......Duncan, ..............Bloody hell .......there is a lot of Sagittarian energy in your chart.”
Some groaning may have interrupted the lesson at that point, but since he had no idea who was responsible for it, he wisely kept his counsel.
“...... But the Capricorn energy is strong, too...your natural affinity for history & antiques , your love of strategy & tactics; ..........the leadership abilities which always have you naturally taking over, ....your strongly developed morality and over-respect for the rules. These are all ...........Capricorn ............traits,” he trailed off.
Methos moaned, unsure how much of the treatise had been actually verbalized and how much left in exploding tattered fragments somewhere between the dusty archives of his brain and the surging blood lust at his groin, fed by the indescribably sensual assault Duncan had mounted.
//Strategy and tactics indeed, Highlander!//
The object of the erudite reading had now taken possession of Methos' cock and was not letting it go, <<Thank all that was holy and unholy,>> until he had drained it also of all independent life, sucked it dry.
Methos had always looked back on the next few minutes as one of the most memorable in his life. He was never really able to make up his mind afterwards as to whether his continuing to recite Duncan’s chart, as his orgasm exploded, was an exercise in stunning self control or stubborn stupidity. Whatever - it was certainly memorable.
“...........A few other things might be .....of interest.............Duncan. ........you have.......... moon conjunct Neptune, indicating a strong spiritual, not religious, streak. god...gods ...Mars in Scorpio correlates with deep passion, ..........in love,..........in fucking love...........and in war, ...........Fuck........ and deeply held beliefs; Gods yes Duncan.....drink it....swallow it......never stop..... Pluto in the first house ...............indicating charisma and Venus opposed to Saturn and in the sign ruled by Saturn makes you ........unlucky/unhappy in love, .............except with people that are much ...............older .....Like me ...........like Amanda ..........and if you even think about stopping I’ll kill you............ Aries ascendant, conjuncted by Uranus, ....Uranus...........makes you ........... bit contrary, and very,..........very ...................independent.....”
And then he’d shattered.
Just like the stars and the super novas he’d been reciting and thinking about, and imagining.
Or perhaps, he’d thought afterwards, it was when he got to a more earthy image of “Uranus.” But at that point he’d decided that Duncan’s education in matters astrological had probably been exhausted. And Duncan’s summation of the masterly exposition on Methos’ part was evidence that Methos’ teaching, and inspirational abilities, appeared to leave much to be desired.
Duncan had crawled back up the sated and enslaved body below him, and, after letting Methos taste his own semen now nurturing Duncan’s mouth, lips and throat, had uttered the type of retort that was truly every teacher’s nightmare.
“I don’t care what you say, there’s no way I’m going to be a goat. I want to be the Archer. Warriors are archers. Not goats. So I'm going to be Sagittarius....Fuck Capricorn........”
Methos very quietly smiled at the memory.
//So that’s just what I did, Duncan.
Even if you thought, Gradhach, that I was fucking the Archer.//
Methos had an extremely rare pang of conscience as he realised that his language concerning the fucking of Archers (albeit unspoken) left a little to be desired, given that he was on holy ground. Duncan’s fault on both counts, of course. For inspiring the memory in the first place and then making him feel guilty about it.
//Then again, maybe there really is something in the air around here that just leaves everyone feeling wracked with guilt all the time.//
In that case, he quickly decided, he’d best depart as soon as humanly possible, given the motherlode of unnamed disasters and tyrannies he had yet to reveal to the Highlander about his past.
//And the last thing I need is some subliminal cosmic force bringing any of it to the surface.//
It wasn’t that he didn’t believe that there was a place for guilt in the world. And conscience. But, as he’d once told Duncan, the Celts sucked everyone else dry. And being without guilt, he said, it was such a relief that he couldn’t ever envisage trying to reclaim a single iota of it. All said with his Innocent Child face, one he was particularly proud of. The face that screamed wide-eyed purity. He normally reserved it solely for Duncan (or for matters concerning Duncan). It always worked. And Duncan had looked at him in that way he always did when he was trying to determine whether Methos was joking or not but was too afraid to ask.
Looking around at the simple fittings inside the Church he couldn’t help but be struck by the ironies of what was before him. The very concept of Immortals being delivered into eternal life certainly reeked of cosmic irony. Priests lived on holy ground because they, too, regarded it as sanctuary. Taking into themselves the body and blood of another immortal being, just as Immortals took the Quickening. Then again, he decided, the transubstantiation performed every Sabbath was certainly a lot cleaner than the way Immortals had to get their equivalent hit.
Turning back towards the coffins, he decided that he’d distracted for long enough. Quietly, he walked to the front and stood beside the larger coffin.
He didn’t do it consciously, but this place just lulled him into speaking aloud without his even realising it. His simple inquiry, gently spoken, which he had intended to be “How are you, beloved?” somehow emerged with far too many /th/ sounds for English.
“Ciamar a tha thu, Gradhach?”
Duncan turned around from where he was sitting in the first row and smiled. “Tha mi gu math. Sgith.”
“You’ve a right to be tired. And I doubt you’re as fine as you think you are, Highlander. Come on, walk back with me. You’ve left me on my own all day. Not that I noticed.”
Duncan took the outstretched hand and let Methos pull his tired body to its feet. He turned and laid a hand in farewell on each of the coffins.
“Until tomorrow, Tess. Richie.”
As they emerged from the Church both took deep breaths. Duncan turned back and looked at the coffins, as if frightened that they would disappear.
“They’ll still be here tomorrow, Duncan.”
“They’ll be here for centuries, thanks to-” he stopped himself when he saw the look on Methos’ face.
“Bright boy! Don't even think about dredging up Guilt #467 off your Brood for the Day List. You promised that if I brought you here I wouldn’t have to cope with you in a major black funk.” He looked hard at his lover. “I’m not kidding, Duncan. I’ll leave and you can meet up with me afterwards. I hear-”
Duncan cut him off. “If you say that fucking Bora Bora is nice this time of year....”
“Actually, it’s not. But New Zealand is.” But because he knew what was coming out of his own mouth, he had early warning concerning its effect, and managed to side step the playful punch of the Highlander easily.
Stopping, Duncan pulled him into a tight embrace. “I love you, Methos.”
“I know. Like I said. You're a bright boy - for a youngling.” Duncan noted that at least he had the good grace to allow his beautiful eyes to twinkle when he made retorts like that. “
Tousling Methos' hair, he smiled as they set off down the path. “So what have you been doing all day while I’ve been making the arrangements?”
“Don’t try and make me feel guilty MacLeod. I offered to do everything but you’re the one who insisted that only you could cope with the complexities of dealing with the locals.” He rolled his eyes. “What you think I did for the four and a half thousand years before Duncan MacLeod was around to do the paper work is beyond me.” A raised hand forestalled Duncan’s retort. “But, in answer to your question, I had a very relaxing time. Sat by Loch Shiel and read for hours. Some nutter was swimming...”
“You’re kidding. In Loch Shiel? Local??”
“No idea. Didn’t pay him any attention. I was too absorbed in my novel.”
Duncan smiled. “Did you miss me?”
“Didn’t think of me once?”
“Why would I sit by a Loch like some moonstruck teenager pining for companionship when I had a backpack of interesting beers- thank you by the way- and an old C P Snow to re-read.” Methos turned, and looked at him in amazement. “You really are insecure, aren’t you Duncan? It may surprise you to know that I can actually go fifteen minutes without needing a Duncan MacLeod fix.’
Duncan laughed at that. “You’re protesting too much. You did miss me.”
The path started to narrow, allowing only one person at a time. Methos suddenly stopped and threw Duncan against the nearest tree, kissing him deeply. Pulling back, he laughed and grabbed Duncan’s chin in his hand, forcing him to keep looking at Methos. “No. I did not.” He leaned in and kissed his forehead lightly. “But now that you’re right here in front of me you clearly have your uses.”
“Part of my charm.” Looking over at the Highlander he noted the lines under his eyes, always a giveaway. “How are you really, Duncan?”
“I’m better than I was.” The smile faded as he sighed. “Don’t push me for more. But I’m glad that you pushed me to bring them here. It’s like bringing them home. It wouldn’t be possible to feel any worse than I always have about their deaths, but I’ve come to terms with it, Methos. And I do feel a lot better about their being here. Together. I didn’t like Richie not being with Tessa.
He spoke for another few minutes and Methos just let him ramble, the meaning of the words being far less important than the process. As long as Duncan always had something to do and preferably someone to do it with, he was fine. But Duncan sitting for hours alongside the two coffins had not been on the day’s agenda.
“How long were you in the church?”
“Don’t try to make it sound like an innocent inquiry, Methos. I know you too well. I wasn’t there long.” Behind him Methos had stopped and raised his eyebrow in disbelief. He’d seen the dust outline around Duncan’s handprints on the coffins, the dust leaving a thinner layer where Duncan’s hands had disturbed existing patterns.
They were finishing an in-depth discussion concerning some type of linguistic bet between them, for which the loser would have to allow the winner to enact their favorite sexual fantasy, when the house came into view. Dusk was just beginning to settle. "You're crazy to get into these bets with me. There's no way in the world you could possible win you know," Methos taunted.
"Maybe I don't want to!" Duncan retorted, unnerving him. Methos immediately began re-prioritising his top ten fantasies and what a five thousand year old man could do with a dark haired, golden skinned Scottish warrior. And dark woods by moonlight. And kilts......truly, he surmised, the simplest fantasies were invariably the best...
The approaching car interrupted his catalog of possibilities and both men stood and watched as a car pulled up and Joe, Anne and Mary jumped out. Methos could feel the tangible joy vibrate from Duncan as Mary saw the tall, black coated Highlander. As she started to run into Duncan’s arms Methos felt he couldn’t let the moment pass without a welcoming commentary.
“Great! Shirley Temple’s arrived. If I find another sticky lollipop in one of my coat pockets again, or a cookie in my floppy disc drive... What’s wrong with the word biscuit?” The rest of his warm welcome was cut short by Mary arriving in a flying leap in Duncan’s arms. Mary held onto the Highlander as if her life depended on it, kissing him on every part of his face that she could find. It was a game they played.
Methos couldn’t resist. “How cute. Hey, Shirley. Leave some for me.”
Duncan was laughing at the ritualised game they always played with the child. “Adam really is glad to see you, Mary. Why don’t you give him a big kiss as well.”
Mary looked, had she but known it, at the world’s oldest man, and her bottom lip started to quiver. “M'Adam said I wasn his bestess girl any more cause his poota got crumbs.”
Duncan started to laugh uproariously. 'M'Adam' glowered. “Thank you for introducing me to her as a combination of Methos/Adam so often that I’ll eternally be M'Adam in her eyes.”
“Well - it does sort of suit, M'Adam.” Duncan buried his head in Mary’s curls, unable to keep looking at M'Adam’s narrowed eyes.
Methos turned to Mary. “The computer did not get crumbs Mary, as when one gets a cold. You gave it the crumbs, and honey, and butter, when you tried to jam that piece of soggy toast into it.”
With a pouting lip that had been perfected through imitation, insisted Methos, of Duncan, Mary turned her large blue eyes on the Highlander, always her refuge when M'Adam got snitchy. “But it was hungry.” she pleaded.
Putting on his Mary Face, when she gave her many and varied explanations of the many and varied crimes she always committed, was something Methos had down to an art form.. Indeed, so good was he with it that Duncan really did not know, for certain, how Methos felt about her.
Duncan bit his cheeks, badly. Turning to Methos he lost his battle and started to laugh. “I told you not to use something as crass as a flying toaster screen saver! Mary, sweetheart, we’ll talk about it later. You run back to your Mother and Uncle Joe and help unpack the car.”
Methos watched her little legs race back to the car, grateful that she was in fact here for Duncan, who clearly adored her.
As did he, of course.
And he never begrudged Duncan time with her, and for that Duncan was thankful.
Looking after her, Duncan leaned over to Methos' ear, taking the opportunity to breathe hot, moist air all over it. "You can stuff my floppy drive whenever I look hungry...." he whispered, his eyes full of definite sinful intent. Before Methos had a chance to make a suitably clever retort, Duncan had left him alone to consider the Highlander's general state of health, and whether some forced feeding might not be in order.
Duncan strode out behind Mary, his long cotton duster coat flowing behind him like a mast. Reaching Anne, he leaned down and gave her a warm kiss, commenting on how tired she looked.
“It’s been a hectic time in London, but my Paper went very well. And I’d be lying, Duncan, if I didn’t admit to being exhausted." She placed her arm through his. "Thank you for inviting us up here. Mary hasn’t stopped talking since your invitation came through. If you don’t manage to find Nessie for her she’ll never forgive you,” she teased.
He laughed. “We’ll manage to find something close for her. I only found out from Joe two days ago that you were in London and I couldn’t pass up the chance of showing you and Mary Scotland, when you were so close.” As he leaned over to help with the luggage, Anne took him aside. “Duncan, Joe’s told us why you’re here. I can’t help but feel that we’re intruding in something very personal. And Mary isn’t going to understand, and I don’t want to have to be telling her to be quiet all the time.”
“Hey, I wouldn’t have invited you both up here if I didn’t want you here, " he smiled. "It’s important to me to have the people who are the closest to family that I still have. And you don’t have to worry about Mary. I’m much more tolerant of her noise than you are and you know that’s true.”
“When is the burial?” They turned and began walking back towards the house.
“Tomorrow. Anne, it’s a closure for me. I feel as if I’ll be able to let go, in a way I haven’t been able to until now, knowing that they’re at peace and there’s nothing more I can do. You don’t have to worry about dark brooding days. And besides, Methos has threatened to fly out to Bora Bora if I get morbid.”
Anne looked at him closely, smiled and nodded her head. She would never understand this strange relationship with the acerbic-witted Dr Pierson. And especially, she would never understand how the best lover she had ever had, and the most heterosexual, could be so enamoured of Dr Pierson. She suspected that he had been captured, when most vulnerable, by the seductive and wily Immortal . She had never actually stayed in the same house as both men and found the prospect of seeing Duncan and his male lover interacting at such a close distance unsettling. Particularly as she herself had never really gotten over Duncan's equally seductive charm.
Leaning in to give Duncan a tender kiss, she held him close for comfort, until Mary insisted on riding on his back. Cheerfully he managed to accommodate her wishes, while carrying two large bags back up to the house.
Passing Adam, Duncan turned to Mary and said, “You know Mary, you should have asked Adam to give you a ride. He’s a much better Horseman than me.”
Joe started choking.
‘M'Adam where’s your horsie? I wanna ride him.”
“You are!” M'Adam scowled.
Even Duncan burst out laughing at that, although Mary insisted on knowing why Duncan was M'Adam’s horse, and did M'Adam whip him (“Not as often as I should.”) and was Unca Duncan a good trotter (“Unbelievable!”) and could they both brush his mane and give him a sugar cube (“Of course. Why, we should even think about branding him with our own special sign.”).
Whereupon, M'Adam’s very special horse was made to squat down and give Mary endless wild rides until Adam returned with the requisite materials, a brush and a marker pen. One hour later Joe and Anne sat having a very warming whisky in front of a fire, watching the extraordinary scene of one of the deadliest men on the planet having his hair brushed and brushed and brushed, plaited, threaded with ribbons, and having reigns put on his broad shoulders so that Mary could better keep her balance. Adam showed her how important it was to gently pull your horsie’s ears, and tickle their tummies, and rub noses with them. He even designed a special sign, a Bull’s head, which he drew with painstaking care on Unca Duncan’s wrist, very occasionally using his tongue, when none were looking, to make the color run, just so.
Duncan stared at the wonderful drawing appearing by stages before his eyes. “It’s my clan crest, Mary, the special symbol of the MacLeods. The bull says ‘Hold Fast’ which means never give in, always stay strong.”
“Do you always do what va bull says to?”
Methos closed his eyes at the poignancy of the question.
Out of the mouths of babes, mused Joe, shaking his head.
“No sweetheart, sometimes I’m naughty and I don’t always stay strong. But I try. And that’s why I have friends like you," he whispered, leaning down and kissing the tip of her nose, "and your mummy, and Uncle Joe, and Adam. They help me stay strong....”
Before anyone could get morbid, Mary broke the tension of the moment with, “I’m strong. I can lift you right up in ve air. I’m a bull Unca Duncan arnten I?”
“Yes sweetheart. You are a bull. You can be my special bull.” Duncan looked up at Methos, both smiling at the irony of the words coming out of the six year old mouth. for who could have guessed that at six, she should be providing such support to the man before her who was, did she but know it, over four centuries old.
And picking her up her Highlander swung her around, before bringing her to him, and holding her fast.
Go to Chpts 3-4
Re-edited 24 October 2000