|Carson Kearns' Highlander Fanfic|
Lost in the Loving Musing:
Killing the Deer
by Carson Kearns
Warning, Background and Disclaimer
All standard disclaimers apply. The Highlander characters are the property of Davis-Panzer and are used without permission. But I'm not making any money out if this. This material may not be copied or distributed without my permission. Do not link, publish or post this material without permission.
Thank you everyone who has emailed me with comments. It's because of this feedback that I've been inspired to keep writing.....This was written as part of Tiffany's Fiction challenge. I decided to go the whole hog and write in a point of view that I don't normally like all that much. Hey it's called a challenge! Thank you Tiffany.
Paris. March 1999
He asked me once what epitaph I'd choose. I told him that the question was pointless because I'd never let anyone take his head. I told him to stop being so morbid that we'd had too much of that of late. But I know what I'd choose. If I had to choose, I know what I'd choose.
I'd gone with him to Richie's grave and stood for over an hour while he sat there. He didn't say anything. Just quietly wept. When I couldn't stand to watch it any more I came up behind him and laid my hand on his shoulder. It was enough to bring him back to me.
He was looking at the epitaph Joe had chosen. "What would you choose for me, Methos?" he asked, looking up at me with eyes awash in tears.
" '...He brought the seasons back into my life....' That's what I'd choose Mac." I love it when a thought is just too hard for Duncan. It's as if his mind gets neural constipation. I told him that, once, when I was trying particularly hard to be insulting. Normally I don't have to try very hard. But Duncan - he always brings out the best in me. Makes me go that extra mile. Try that bit harder.
"What do you mean 'neural constipation'?" he'd insisted.
"You're an open book, MacLeod. Face it. You couldn't hide a thought if your life depended on it. If a thought needs more thinking your eyebrows get heavy - you scowl..."
"You're impossible, Methos."
"I try," I'd laughed.
And here he was, kneeling in front of me, staring at that epitaph, trying to work out why I would choose the phrase I had for Duncan MacLeod. But he didn't ask me any more questions - just filed it away, the way he always does. He'd brood about it, worry over it, take it apart and put it back every which way. And then he'd ask me about it again at some future time.
God I loved this man.
I'd spent months with him in Malaysia. Months. A good part of it I spent with him in that Monastery - looking for the ball of string to lead us back. And even when I thought that all was lost, that I'd never get him back in one piece again, he'd always surprise us. He'd find the frayed bits of string and he'd plait them together, over days..and gradually he'd pull himself back...again and again...back from the abyss. He'd come into my arms and he'd shelter, like a wounded animal.
I would have held him until hell froze over.
And then he'd told me he was going back to Paris and he asked me to stay away. Said that he couldn't look after what was left of him and worry about me as well. He made me promise. Poor Duncan. He still believes that people keep promises. So I agreed. Funny thing is that I did. I kept it. That's the effect Duncan has on me. Sometimes occasionally - I actually keep my promises.
And when I came back to Paris I didn't presume - didn't intrude. Even went to my own apartment. I can read him like a book. A 'No more relationships for Duncan' phase in full Highlander swing. No more responsibility. No more emotional expenditure. Denying all that we'd been to each other. I'm five-thousand-year's old. I'm good at waiting.
He came into Joe's that night reeking of Amanda and sex, babbling about O'Rourke. I could see it in his eyes. "Another one dead, because of me." That's when I did start to get worried. I seriously thought that I might lose him forever. But he always surprises you. Just when you think you've got him all worked out, he surprises you. Just as he did on Iona, after Ryan's death, when all was despair.
He bought the seasons back into my life. And that meant that at some point, it would have to be high summer. Our relationship was owed a high summer.
Later that night I stood there and watched O'Rourke shoot Amanda and watched the panic mar Duncan's beautiful face as he desperately sought inspiration. And when none came, he taught me something. I'd never seen anything like it.
Once upon a very long time ago, the sun rose and set on my days, and my life was governed by the natural rhythms of day and night; light and dark; life and death; love and hate. To everything there was a season and a time to everything under heaven. Once upon a time.....
But that was thousands of years ago, in the days when the world was young. Before the void. During the void, between life and Duncan MacLeod, there was just existence.
I just *was*.
I lost the colors that had once defined the richness and the textures of my life. Somehow, in the two thousand years that I slept, they'd leached away, and had taken with them the contrasts that marked out the cycles of living and dying. Empires rose and fell. Stars changed positions. But I survived. I existed. I was.
And all around me there was the vibrancy of the contrasts of the seasons....being born and dying; sewing and reaping; killing and healing; destroying and building; weeping, laughing, mourning, dancing; embracing and shunning; gathering and discarding; winning and losing; speaking out and remaining silent; waging war and decreeing peace. All around me, these things happened - while I was in that void.
Before Duncan. BD.
I watched him go to O'Rourke that night, to die. I watched him go down to embrace his death in a manner that shattered the controls that I'd built in my void. Duncan had been picking away at the weak links that secured my void for years. Bringing me undone And now all of my defences were stripped away as I watched him kneel to accept death. There was nothing that he hadn't opened up to me about himself. No part of his soul, mind, heart and body that I didn't know intimately. He'd shared it all. There was no part of him that I had not had laid out raw and exposed. He thought he was discarding carrion. I humbly took his offering, wrapped it up and kept it safe.
But it wasn't until I saw him fall to his knees before that blade of O'Rourke's that I realized what his greatest gift actually was.
He had reminded me how to die. How to embrace death and eternity. How to say goodbye with dignity and embrace the unknown terrain of oblivion.
Duncan embraced the manner of his death with a nobility and grace that I would not have thought possible. The dignity that we'd feared was irretrievably diminished came surging back. I remember thinking that his father would have been so proud of him. Duncan could never think of anything that would make his Father proud. Gradhach, you found it that night.
I was so stunned that I waited too long to shoot the sword out of O'Rourke's hand. But that's another story for another time.
Back on the Barge that night, when it was all over, he thanked me for teaching him something. I can't remember what because it couldn't have compared with what he'd just taught me. We didn't touch, didn't gaze into each other's eyes. Did none of these things while Joe and Amanda were there. But after they'd left I started to weep with the emptiness of not having him, not being with him. For what we once had. All those tears from the void - from the time BD - wracked my body and soul. And he came to me and held me fast. On the bed. He never let me go.
And when the tears had washed away and he'd stopped stroking me and comforting me, we'd laughed in relief. "I'm so sorry..." he had said. It was as natural to Duncan as breathing - assuming responsibility for every bad thing that happened.
"You're forgiven," I'd mumbled, not wanting to disappoint him.
"Tell me..." he whispered.
"Do you know Duncan that for thousand's of years I've thought of myself as the great survivor. Survive anything. I've been so busy staying alive that until tonight I never realized that I'd just bloody well forgotten how to die." He pulled back from me, gently wiping my face and cheeks.
"I know," he'd said.
"How could you know when I didn't know?"
"Like you always said, I'm a bright boy - sometimes."
"I thought I was great at living when all it was, was that I was great at avoiding *not* living. It's been so long since I've ever seriously faced real and permanent death. I've hidden in the shadows, cheated...wheeled and dealed. I've run. And I don't know how to die, anymore."
He always has a pithy saying or quote. Corny. But I like it.
He leaned closer and pulled me tight into his embrace and kissed me full on the lips in a way we hadn't kissed for too many months. Pulling back, he stroked my hair and I simply slipped into his sorcery. I fell into his eyes. In between soft kisses he started to recite a poem that he said came from a Taos Pueblo Indian:
"I have killed the deer.
I have crushed the grasshopper
And the plants he feeds upon.
I have cut through the heart
Of trees growing old and straight.
I have taken fish from water
And birds from the sky.
In my life I have needed death
So that my life can be."
He hadn't run from it all like I had done. He carried the contrasts. He breathed in the seasons with every breath. Ever the Celt, he bowed in homage to the turning of the year and the years. The contrasts. He made sacrifice to it, often of himself. He sewed his sins, and ploughed with blood. He made reparation to the gods of his Otherworlds.
I pulled back from the depths of his eyes: '...In my life I have needed death, So that my life can be....'. Do you know Duncan, that my life hasn't *been* at all. I've avoided life and death. I'd forgotten how to *do* death."
"What were you frightened of?" he'd asked.
"Of nothing. Of no thing....Of blackness. Of not existing. For you, tonight, death was simply that moment when everything that defines who you are and what you believe in came together for one last public bow. And I was in awe, Gradhach." I reached out and touched him. Stroked his face. Traced his lips. Let my fingers brush his eyelashes. "Did you fear death, Duncan?"
"Yes - I feared death, Methos. I feared death. I've done such brutal things, mindless things. I've killed the deer, Methos. And every death reminds me of what I should have done and could have done differently. I've needed to remember what death is, what the absence of every living thing is, in order to remember what life really is. What *you* are and how I feel when we're together. I want to live. I don't want to die. I don't want to exist. I want the pain and the passion, the boredom, the sameness, the excitement, of living. I want you Methos.
He let me keep playing with him. Connecting. We are such contrasts. We share immortality but that's the only thing. Physically Im Roman. An alabaster Roman statue. Duncan's a Renaissance Prince. Golden silken skin. The heat shimmers off his skin. Mentally and emotionally we couldn't be more different. He's meticulous. I'm a pig. He cares for everyone. I care only for him. He's a workaholic. I'm lazy. He's disciplined. Im totally irresponsible. I told him all this once and he laughed and said that it was no wonder we got on so well, with all of that incompatibility going for us.
But the sex the loving. Being lost in the loving - two halves of the one soul. That night, lying there listening to the Seine licking the sleek sides of the Barge, I thought about steel and water and how we had exhausted ourselves with the exploring and the knowing. Like virgin territory after so long.
I knew that winter was approaching Paris.
But in that bed in that Barge, it was only summer.
He brought the seasons back into my life.
And what was the quotation I was given? The Killing the Deer poem above......
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