Saying ‘No’ nicely
One of the many things that Methos loved about Duncan MacLeod was his consistency. Knowing, for example, that after the positively shitty day Methos had had, he could rely on Duncan’s fridge being full of assorted alcoholic beverages with a bar full of even more exotic and expensive spirits. There would be a variety of foodstuffs that Duncan would later whisk up into a gourmet delight. And, third best of all, (after the fantasies of Duncan’s bed), would be the large, Methosian indented, green leather couch where Methos could lie and watch Duncan cook and clean up afterwards! There would be an assortment of many interesting books, an eclectic music choice, a varied video collection – and Duncan.
He smiled. Life was good – too good to let the appalling shallowness of the youth who passed for scholars these days spoil his anticipatory mood. The lack of any warning buzz as he bounded up the steps of the Dojo was welcome – more time to shower and relax before the Maestro arrived home to pace and paw before Methos’ sprawled, couched form.
Leaving a trail of his clothes scattered across the Loft floorboards (polished and dust-free, of course, he sniggered) he took time to wonder how long it would be before the Highlander opened himself up to moving the relationship onwards and upwards (in more ways than one!) to where Methos was selflessly, (he congratulated himself) leading it.
He stopped by the small desk en route to the bathroom and started to remove his watch. A single piece of paper sat in the printer, just begging to be picked up and read. Just his luck, he seethed later in the shower, that he couldn’t keep his bloody nose out of Duncan’s business. Then again, he reminded himself (in the more charitable moments reserved normally only for himself), it was no doubt the indoctrination of centuries that resulted in his total inability to ignore the written word.
It had been the heading that first caught his eye:
‘How to say “No!” gracefully.’
He sniggered, starting to walk towards the wicker basket, before the possible intended meaning of the heading sank in. Casting about for any signs of Duncan’s imminent return, and finding none, he made his way back to the desk and read the print-out that Duncan had obviously obtained from some web-site for the non-Assertive.
His good mood and complacency dissipated as he read the sage advice that the Highlander had apparently been seeking:
‘Sometimes you need to say no when someone makes a suggestion, offers something or asks you to do something for them. Of course, saying just ‘no’ can be rather rude. Here are some of the most common ways to say ‘no’ nicely - or at least not rudely.
Would you like to see a
I’m afraid I can’t go out tonight. I’ve got a test tomorrow.
Why don’t we have some
Sorry, but I don’t particularly like Chinese food.
How about taking a nice
I’d really rather not take a walk this afternoon.
Would you like to come to
the museum with us?
Thank you, but it’s not my idea of a fun afternoon out….’
A rare feeling of guilt left Methos remembering how, only on the weekend, he had said something much ruder to the Scot when Duncan had suggested that they both take in the latest exhibition at the Seacouver Museum. Indeed, he couldn’t recall ever starting a sentence with “Thank you” in it to anyone! Then again, he didn't suffer from non-assertiveness!
He continued reading the list that Duncan, it seemed, had been practising:
“Let’s go for a
Sorry, I’m not really fond of driving for the fun of it.
Why don’t you stay the
That’s very kind of you, but I really have to get back to the city.
NOTE: Notice how we often
say ‘thank you’ in some way before refusing the offer. When
someone makes an offer it is polite
to first thank that person and then say no, often offering an excuse for not wanting or being able to do something. Just saying ‘No’ is considered very rude behavior indeed! …’
“Great,” Methos mumbled aloud. “I finally catch you thinking about asking me to spend the night only to see that you’re trying to find ways of not inviting me!”
Laying the paper back down where he had found it, he gathered up his watch and other discarded items from around the vicinity of the desk and continued on to the bathroom. Fifteen minutes later he was clean but not relaxed. Indeed, it was as if the steam had targeted the very marrow of his bones. He was broiling.
“Right MacLeod! Can’t just come out and kick me out! Trust you to make a song and dance of it.” He determined, in between vigorous rubbing, that he’d at least make the Scot pay for being such a woos. “Fine! You don’t want this to go anywhere? Fine! Don’t want us to go anywhere? That’s fine too! I mean, it’s not as if I care!”
Rifling through Duncan’s drawers (“In your dreams, Highlander. No bloody pun intended!” he assured himself) he found some suitably clean and pressed jeans and a t-shirt, and proceeded to fit himself onto and into his meticulously crafted indentations in the leather couch - to await the Highlander.
Further muttering ceased as Duncan’s vibrant hum permeated the Loft. Methos welcomed it, as he always did and felt it positively charge the steam coursing throughout his body. “Right – let’s see how well you learned your bloody lines,” he cursed, refusing to admit to himself how hurt he was by what he had found – and the loss of what he had begun to hope for.
Duncan arrived laden down with two large shopping bags, which Methos recognised immediately as being from one of the most exclusive stores in Seacouver. He watched Duncan look across at the half open drawers of his mahogany chest and scowl. “Making yourself at home I see? Find anything in my drawers that interested you?” he asked innocently.
“Just some old shrunken little things.” Duncan’s scowl was the one he normally reserved for theatrical effect just before beheadings. Methos ignored it in favor of “Mi casa yadda yadda yadda.”
Duncan reacted instantly. “How come the only casa that ever gets to be anyone’s is mine getting to be yours? Sort of ‘What’s mine is yours and what’s yours is yours’ more like it!”
Methos refused to be baited. “What’s the matter MacLeod – had a bad day? Miss your Therapist appointment? You need to relax more.” He suddenly changed his tone to one of care and concern. “Instead of cooking, what say we go and see a film tonight?” he suggested – all reasonableness and light.
Duncan made his way to the bed, where he pulled out his new clothing and started to pack it away. “No thanks, I’ve got tests to give tomorrow and I want an early night.” Before Methos got a chance to snicker, Duncan pulled out a beautiful deep green sweater and threw it towards the startled Immortal. “Thought you might leave my poor shrunken bits in peace if you had something of your own to play with.”
Methos caught it as it threatened to sail past the couch and on to the kitchen. Despite Duncan’s off-hand treatment of the gift, it was beautiful – and soft. Methos refused to let the Highlander’s generosity assuage in any way his hurt and his anger – hidden as it was. Trust the Scot to try and buy his way out the friendship. “Feeling guilty about something MacLeod?” Still, being turned out onto the highways and byways of life was certainly easier in cashmere.
Duncan turned and shook his head – seemingly more in sorrow than in anger. “Can’t I buy you the occasional present without your reading all sorts of agendas into it? Maybe I just want my own sweaters back?”
“Maybe,” Methos conceded. “Listen – you look bushed. Why don’t we just order in some Chinese?”
“No thanks, I’ve gone off Chinese.”
Methos rose from the couch and went into the kitchen to retrieve a bottle of red from Duncan’s stockpile. Grabbing two glasses and a bottle-opener he proceeded to pour two large glasses. “Maybe a nice long workout – or walk?” he encouraged, downing almost half the glass in one sip.
“Nah. Thanks anyway but I’d really rather not. Too much to do. There’s someone I’m trying to impress at the University and I want to make some arrangements for next weekend.”
“Who is she?”
“None of your business.”
“Come on Mac. Out with it,” he reasoned. “Look – I’m happy that you’re finally getting off your backside and making a move. Honest.” And pigs might fly, he added silently. He’d soon source out the vixen who’d obviously slithered her slimy way into the Highlander’s affections, ensnaring and ensorcelling while Methos had been quietly abusing Duncan’s hospitality.
Duncan took a sip of the red wine and sighed. “You’re right. I do need to be in a relationship. I’ve been alone too long. Passive too long.”
“So – why not take her somewhere really wild – like a museum?”
“Nah – I don’t think that it’s her idea of a fun place to go. I’ve been too cerebral lately. I need to get back to the basics – a hot bar, hot talent – and a wild night of good old-fashioned wild monkey sex to follow.”
They both laughed. “Well, MacLeod, no matter the century, that can always be relied on to make an impression.” He re-filled both their glasses and walked over to the window. It was a beautiful night – stars shone through the inky blackness and a cool breeze wafted in through the open window. “Sure you don’t want to go for a drive down to the headland? We could take a couple of bottles?”
Duncan sank into his favorite chair. “No thanks – I’ve decided that I’m not really into driving just for the fun of it.”
Methos turned and stared. “Since when? You’ve always loved driving just for the fun of it!”
Duncan refused to be dissuaded. “That was yesterday. This is today. Today I’m a new person. Decisive. I’m sick of just settling for second-best.”
Methos turned back to the window. “Second bloody best!” he mumbled quietly. It brought home to him how arrogant he actually was – second fucking best! He’d show the Scot second puking best! Well – this was going no-where. Clearly it was time to gather up his new sweater and an armful of alcohol and head off to Joe’s. He started to do just that, hurt that Duncan said nothing as he filled his backpack. He took delight in throwing in Duncan’s favorite t-shirt and sweater. Still no reaction from Duncan.
“Well MacLeod, see you and your lady-friend around campus.”
He almost got to the door as Duncan’s rich, honeyed voice surrounded him. “Why don’t you stay the night?”
It was then that the penny dropped -
Turning, he gazed straight into eyes that were crinkling with suffused joy. “I think that my line is: ‘That’s very kind of you butI really must get back to the City.’ “
He knew that the Highlander was quick, but how he got from the chair to standing within inches of him, taking his bag from him, would always remain a mystery. “So – I take it that you don’t want me to vacate the premises for some wench?”
“No! The premises are taken already Methos. Just like their owner. And you’re the only person on campus I’m interested in a relationship with. And I'm sick of being afraid to start anything in case it ends everything.”
"Feeling brave are we?" Methos laughed.
Pulling Methos back to the couch, Duncan firmly pushed him onto his favorite indentation. “If we don’t start doing something physical very very quickly you’ll force me to start reciting the next chapter: ‘Making Complaints.’ Leaning across he gently stroked the smooth skin on Methos’ cheek. I’ve already learned it by heart, since I figure that I’ll be needing to make a lot of complaints with you permanently in my life. And that's where you're going to be - like it or not.” Methos felt all the steam leave his body, to be replaced with an incredible, indescribable warmth. He started to laugh as Duncan began to imitate an English school Ma’am:
“...There are a number of formulas used when complaining in English. It’s important to remember that a direct complaint or criticism in English can sound rude or aggressive. It’s best to mention a problem in an indirect manner. Here are some of the most common:
I’m sorry to have to
say this but...
I’m sorry to bother you, but...
Maybe you forgot to...
I think you might have forgotten to...
Excuse me if I’m out of line, but...
There may have been a misunderstanding about...
Don’t get me wrong, but I think we should...”
Methos turned his head and neck into the touch. “Mac – “
“Mmmmm – “
“I’m sorry to have to say this but I think you’re going much too slow. Maybe you forgot to touch me – here – and here –and there -
“ His sighs gave the lie to how much of a genuine complaint was really felt.
Duncan started to explore with his lips, softening up Methos’ ear with his tongue before filling it with his whispered intentions “Methos –excuse me if I’m out of line, and don’t get me wrong, but I really want to get you naked and fuck you so hard I’ll turn you inside out when I finally pull out of your beautiful arse. Would that be a problem?” he smirked.
“No!” agreed the world’s oldest Immortal. “And just so there isn’t any misunderstanding, I don’t intend getting out of your bed until you’ve drilled at least five new entrances into my body.” He quickly added, before Duncan could change his mind, “And scoured my oesophagus with what had better be, after all my fantasising, the most beautiful prick in Christendom. Would that be too much trouble?”
As they kissed their way towards the bed, Duncan’s muffled and saliva-impregnated “No!” was carried away by new waves of hot steam heating all in their wake.
“I love the way you say ‘No!’ “
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