Carson Kearns' Highlander Fanfic

Lost in the Loving: Coming Home

Chapter 4

by Carson Kearns

He was back there. 

Dreams gathered him up and took him back, when it all became too hard. When life was too complex. In dreams he would go back to his teachers, and devote himself, and purify his heart, his soul and his mind. He would discipline every fibre of his being...of his nothingness... and eventually, their voices broke through and the tears would slow,.and he would be left hollowed out, dry, but alive. 

And he would raise his head and look into the eyes of Buddha, pure enlightenment.

Lamala kyabsuchao  (I take refuge in the
Sangyela kyabsuchao  (I take refuge in the Buddha
Chla kyabsuchao  (I take refuge in the teaching)
Gendunla kyabschao  (I take refuge in the community)

In dreams-...
searching for the right intention, hoping to be cleansed from sin...bathing in the waters of a sacred site...purging and repurging body, speech and mind...purifying by exertion...mantra after mantra...spinning, producing the sound that purifies psychic energy...

The deluding passions are inexhaustible
I vow to extinguish them all
Sentient beings are numberless
I vow to save them all

But he hadn’t saved Tessa, or Richie, or Fitz, Paul, Darius,...Tessa...Piton, Michael, Tommy, Nefertiri...Richie..Tessa..Hideo.. Brian...Richie....Garrick...Tessa...Father Bernard... Mikey...Richie...Kamir, Jim, Byron...Tessa..Little Deer... Kahani, Jacob, Clay, Case, Alex...Richie...Ingrid...Sophie, George, Edward...Tessa........... emptiness there is no form, nor feeling, nor perception, nor impulse, nor consciousness; no eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind; no forms, sounds, smells, tastes, touchables or objects or mind; no sight-organ elements ...

~In dreams~

....then you notice
that the sky and the sea
have vanished too.
Just space is left.
Lovely, lovely space, going on forever....

that space stays long
if you can do without you. Not you and space, you see
just space.

No you!

...Another means to help the dead is the practice of the Hundred Peaceful and Wrathful Deities....the deities send out thousands of rays of light, which stream out to the dead and purify all their negative karma...

...All things are impermanent, and all things die...

And it was this last statement that always brought him undone, because his very existence seemed to fly in the face of the Buddha himself. He didn’t die. Or perhaps he did die...endless regeneration....endless rebirth....

All pleasure and pain, and all delusions exist nowhere apart from your mind
To attain control over your own mind;
this is the heart of the practice for the bardo of becoming....

//Lhassa. 1781
The Dali speaking to him. Infinite patience, as one has with a child. "...Although Buddha himself set out the steps anyone may follow, the path to Enlightenment is not easy. We govern our thoughts by training, by meditations and by is choices of which we are aware, choices of thoughts, of actions, of karma. We can change our situation because we can change ourselves..."

Confusion. The Immortal Scottish infant cannot fathom this and asks of the teacher. "But situations can arrive over which there is no control, no choice..Sometimes all you can do is respond."

"No Duncan MacLeod. Always there is a choice. Always."

Despair...hopelessness... Richie. "Are there then no just battles, no causes worthy enough to fight for? What about justice?"

"There is always justice...there is karma. Positive out creates positive returning: negative out creates negative returning...the Great Wheel spins, and it is perfect justice."

Sounding so reasonable, the laws of compassion and karma....Kalas...Fitz...Ahriman...Richie...Richie...Richie...his face overlaying a despairing Duncan looking out over the seas off Iona...

"It is a journey, Duncan have become aware that the journey exists and that is progress."

The Dali turning... weeping. "...You must leave Tibet and never return...there is no place for a life of violence in the palace of Enlightenment."

"Perhaps not," the answer came as he stared at the tapestry,, at the elemental circles of time enclosing the gardens and palace of the way to eternal peace. "Perhaps all I can do is to guard the gates."

~In dreams~


//Seacouver. 1996

"It has been a difficult life you have lived. Darkness and light have both touched you, I think. Yes? Tell me Duncan MacLeod, have you found peace in the path you walk?"

"I found myself, "

"And do you still guard the gates?" he asks

"Someone still must, Your Holiness."

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

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

And wakefulness came, as it so often did, with the Great Wheel turning towards him and his loved ones, crushing everyone he had ever cared about and sought to protect, turning, ending all life, all love.  At least in this reckoning.

We are a part of the universe’s ceaseless becoming...there is no abiding Self.

Methos was prepared, having often taken on the role of Gatekeeper for Duncan’s nights. And while these episodes were becoming more rare,
they still happened with enough regularity for Methos to know their patterns. Duncan would call out, trying to break free of the recriminations and accusations, the guilt that he was such a poor student of Enlightenment. His heart could never seem to reconcile Immortality and the cruelty of The Game with the wise and wondrous words he internalised so long ago in Tibet, and again so recently in Malaysia.

The first noble truth: nothing moment, no feeling, no thought, no person...all is impermanence.

And saturated with sweat on this Scottish summer night he once again cried out in despair, while Methos soothed him, held him, moved on top of him and covered him with his body and enfolded him to kept the monsters away. And even when Methos thought that he would surely crush him, Duncan would not let him go, until, finally, Methos’ presence drove the darkness away, and Duncan slipped back into a welcoming nothingness, consciously choosing Western oblivion over Eastern acceptance.

When he awoke thrashing a third time Duncan decided that he couldn’t bear the additional burden of causing Methos such a broken night, despite Methos’ protestations to the contrary.

“I’m a morning person. You’re not. Sleep for a few more hours while you can. I’m fine. Really. I just need to clear my head...I’m fine.........” And finding his exercise clothes he slipped quietly from the room.

Methos watched him leave, feeling helpless, but not really surprised. Duncan MacLeod was nothing if not predictable and there was never going to be any way, Methos had decided long ago, that Duncan would ever be able to put guilt totally behind him. It was simply just not in his nature, no matter how sensible the Buddha sounded about it all. Indeed, it was one of the reasons that Methos pushed him to bring Tessa and Richie to this place and to give his continuing grief a tangible focus around which to resolve itself. Duncan had not attended Richie’s funeral, had not chosen his coffin or his last resting spot, had never watched the clay sods falling down on him. He had never suffered a cleansing rite of passage. And so residual parts of the pain had continued to sit there in his soul. Unmoving. Neverending.

So Methos had not only suggested a suitable rite of passage but had done most of the organising, at least at first. And then Duncan had taken over in his usual way, as Methos had hoped that he would. And chosen two new coffins. It was the Highlander who personally oversighted the disinterments and he had travelled with the coffins from the time they had left Paris until they had arrived in Glenfinnan. He refused to let them out of his sight.

“I can stand guard.” he had said, more to himself than Methos, “Hopefully, better in death, than I did in life.”

Methos sighed but said nothing.  //Duncan Duncan Duncan. The Great Wheel doesn't wait for your hand to be on its rim.......//

Throwing back the bed covers, Methos decided to shower and give Duncan a 30 minute head start before following him. As he approached the Conservatory he could hear faint echoes of soothing music swirling around the glass walls of the beautiful plant house, providing a haunting foundation against the backdrop of the mountains, just visible in the first rays of the sun rising across Loch Shiel.

Clad in a black pleated pair of exercise trousers, loose fitting top, his hair tumbling around his neck and shoulders, Duncan was sitting in a lotus position in the middle of the magnificent glass walled domed room. Methos had no doubt that Duncan knew he was there. But he was not acknowledged. Duncan continued to recite the Vajra Guru mantra, OM AH HUM VAJRA GURU PADMA SIDDHI HUM.  It was a suitable choice, mused Methos,  representing as it did the transformative blessings of all the Buddhas, purifying the subtle channels, the inner air flow of energy and the creative essence, the negative actions of the body, speech, and mind, the environment and all other beings within.

Methos sat down, mirroring Duncan, at the far end of the room, and simply observed, reaching out with his mind to bring peace to his restless warrior. Finally Duncan opened his eyes and drank in the sight of his lover, standing guard. Saying nothing, because no thing needed to be said, he commenced an intricate set of exercises and Katas.

He set out his bo, a favorite, for twirling movements and keeping his fingers and hands supple. The bokken, a training form of the samurai sword followed, along with a kodachi and lastly some knives and his Katana. He had come well prepared.

The sun chose just that moment to shine across the loch and reflect thousands of prisms throughout the room, making his golden olive skin shimmer as it was caressed by warmth and light. Methos took refuge from the power of the sensual assault in a poem he had learned long ago for just this moment:

'There is a thing inherent and natural,
Which existed before heaven and earth.
Motionless and fathomless,
It stands alone and never changes;
It pervades everywhere and never becomes exhausted.
It may be regarded as the Mother of the Universe.
I do not know its name,
I call it Tao, and I name it as supreme..."

His reverie was disturbed as Anne crept quietly into the room, a wide-awake Mary firmly positioned on her hip. She spotted Adam. 
he look on her face seemed to say that whilst it was her preference to ignore him she could not do so without appearing rude, and she sat down beside him to watch the extraordinary grace and beauty that was Duncan. Mary immediately crawled into Adam’s lap and snuggled into the warmth of his chest and arms, clearly not understanding that she was supposed to be terrified of this strange friend of Unca Duncan’s.

Like her mother, she was mesmerised by the performance of the remarkable man spinning around the floor, who was larger than any fantasy in her life. She watched in wonder as he spun magic for her, amidst the prisms of light and color.

Duncan immediately went into the long, flowing sequences of cuts, thrusts, slices, stabs and parries, all combining in precisely predetermined patterns of movement. Methos found himself giving an exposition, without ever consciously deciding to do so. “You have seen Duncan do Kata before, Anne? Each Kata is a simply a sequence of those predetermined movements. You’ll notice that he started with the relatively simple movement of sword-drawing and now he’s quickly following with omote-ken-jutsu, the novice sword-art Kata.”

Anne looked at the movements, fascinated. “There’s nothing ‘simple’ about it, Adam.’

“True. The more skilful the practitioner, the simpler it looks. And Duncan has been doing these daily for a very, very, long time.”

Duncan had meanwhile moved on to various forms of bo. Methos continued quietly, “And finally comes the eight foot long naginata.” Even Methos had to admit to being transfixed as Duncan twirled it so quickly it could have been a drum stick.

It flashed through the air in great arcs as he twisted it before returning to the intricate, fast and short-lived sword-art katas. Sweat was now dripping from his body and he had discarded his top. He was relentless, thrusting and parrying, turning and striking. Despite the presence of the three in the room, he never lost focus, never let himself be distracted.

Not content with his level of exhaustion he then picked up the 9 foot spear and used it to deliver the traditional stabbing strikes made with screwing motions.
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He then took up his katana. Methos knew what this action symbolised and what taking it up on today of all days meant. Because of Mary’s presence he didn’t bother to vocalise the fact that, unknown to non-practioners of the art,  the smallest blow was capable of delivering death instantly.  A cut to the crotch would cause death in twenty seconds; one to the armpits more quickly still and a cut to the side of the throat would sever the jugular and bring death within three to four seconds.

Duncan’s cuts were invariably aimed at what would be the undersides of his opponent's wrists and inside the biceps, the side of the neck and the side and centre of the torso around waist level and at the insides of the legs. “He’s aiming at places where there were traditional gaps in the armour. but with the main arteries and veins passing through and exposed.” Anne looked suitably unimpressed, no doubt momentarily losing the sheer joy of the performance amidst the carnal reality of it’s deadly intent.

Adam refused to be distracted by Anne’s obvious change in body language, and continued his commentary as if he were in another world entirely. “Divinity and perfection are equated in the form of the Kata, its movements cover nearly all imaginable actions that can be made with a sword, and those not covered would certainly be worthless. It’s particularly valuable because it doesn’t allow for the bad habits that can result from free-form sparring, pulling strikes before they reach full force and penetration.”

Mary tore her eyes away from Duncan long enough to look at Adam. “Why arnten you dancing too, M'Adam?”

He guffawed. “I’m lazy, Shirley.” He leaned down and kissed the top of her head and continued speaking to her mother. “The true value of Kata lies in its ability to sharpen reactions, improve balance, timing, speed and precision. It also instils a sense of self-control and discipline. And it teaches as much about *not* striking as it does about how to kill."

Before them, Duncan continued to put passion and joy onto Adam’s dry commentary. Taking up two knives, with a high thrust of his leg and a twist he was away, bowing, turning, sweeping, stabbing with deadly accuracy and intent. He threw his shoulders back as his legs and feet thrust through the thickened air, pulling his elbows back with force, grunting and breathing heavily as his upper torso sought hidden enemies.

Adam handed Mary to Anne and before she could even think to stop him he walked forward into the deadly arcs of the weapons. Duncan’s eyes remained closed but he proceeded to slash the air around Adam, seeming to miss him by mere fractions of inches. And throughout it all, Adam stood motionless. It was the most incredibly moving sight in terms of total trust that Anne had ever seen.

Duncan finished by kneeling and bowing to Methos and ritually offering both knives, but instead of bowing his head, he looked up proudly, engaging Methos’ eyes and offering the long lines of his throat. He appeared oblivious to Anne and Mary’s presence and Methos did not enlighten him. Turning around, he took up Duncan’s Katana and handed it to him and from out of nowhere produced his own sword. For ten minutes the two mortals watched a stunning sword display. By mutual assent, both men stopped as if each move had been choreographed, then bowed. In a reverse of the act of total trust they had all just witnessed, Methos fell to his knees and offered up his own sword and his own neck.

Taking it, Duncan bent down and pulled him upright and both bowed again. Duncan then leaned forward and, placing his hand gently behind Methos' head, pulled him into a soft embrace and kiss.

Mary hadn’t taken her eyes of these two wonderful men and observed to no one in particular. “M'Adam and Unca Duncan are bestest friends, arnten they.”

Anne appeared virtually unable to speak.  She would admit later, to Joe, that she had been incredibly moved by what she had inadvertently witnessed, including Mary’s easy acceptance of what these two men were to each other and to her. “Yes darling. Yes they are.”

Duncan spun around, hearing her voice for the first time, and proceeded to blush. Anne smiled and came forward and kissed him lightly before handing Mary over into their care, a gesture of complete acceptance and support.  "Duncan how did you know where Adam was, when you were slashing about him with the knives?"

"Centuries of feeling the way air moves around solid bodies - not that there's too much solid about Adam's scrawny body!" he jibed.

The slight tension of the moment was effectively relieved by visions of the fierce highland warrior in a tutu as Mary announced, “Unca Duncan’s a ballerina. I’m going to be a ballerina just like him, arnten I M'Adam?”

Duncan gave Methos a threatening look. “Don’t say it. Don’t even think it.”

“Okay Giselle, you’ve got a deal.” Laughing, all decided that Duncan definitely needed a shower and that a Scottish breakfast was to be the next item on the day's agenda.

Snippets of conversation echoed around the beautiful room as the group departed, - something about Methos wanting to observe Duncan’s various balletic positions when Duncan had finished sewing on his sequins.

“I’ll never have delusions of grandeur with all of you around. My brooding Highland warrior persona is reduced to a sniffling worrier. And as if that’s not bad enough, “ he pretended to pout, "my stunning evocation of the way of the warrior gets turned into a scene from Swan Lake. I definitely need some porridge!"

Ten minutes later Duncan stood luxuriating in the steamy shower. He gave himself up to being totally stimulated by the hot needles pricking his face, back and neck. He let it beat down on his face and let it wash around his mouth, before having to draw back for breath. He had thoroughly enjoyed the early morning exercise in the Conservatory and, remembering Mary’s observations, laughed aloud. Duncan the ballerina....Dancing Duncan.

He rubbed the heather scented shampoo into his hair and onto his chest and pubic hair, finding his thoughts turning to Methos and how much he had enjoyed being challenged by their sword fight. Methos, he knew, didn’t often open himself up so completely, always seeming to hold himself back, somehow.

Not like Tessa.

And suddenly the need and memories were tangible things, swirling all around him, mixing with the steam, saturating him. Guilt. Unanswered questions he had been avoiding for weeks surfaced. Now - only hours before the ceremony, it permeated him.

Why had he agreed to bring her body to Glenfinnan?

//At least in Paris I could visit her. What was I thinking? She doesn’t know Scotland. She hasn’t got any family in Scotland! Who will visit her grave?// He was suddenly furious with himself for having been so selfish. For having ignored her family’s pleas. He dried himself and dressed.

Methos found him, some twenty minutes later, standing at the window of their room looking out over the mountains and the Loch. One arm rested on the window, and the other covered his mouth. 

“Duncan? Breakfast has been ready for fifteen minutes. What’s the matter?”

He didn’t turn, but kept staring out the window. Slowly he took his hand away from his mouth. But the words tumbled out, in no order at all. “What have I done? Why did I bring her here? Scotland means nothing to Tessa. She hasn’t got any of her family here. In Paris I visited her all the time. Her family visited her. What’s wrong with me? Am I just getting Richie and Tessa out of my way, under the guise of bringing them home? Maybe I just want them away from me, from Paris. Why did I bring them here? By what right do I even still call Glenfinnan home? When you___”

Methos stopped the rambling and guilt by coming up behind him, putting his arms around him, and leaning his head against his shoulder blades. “This is So very bloody typically you. I could have set my watch by this outburst.”

Duncan pulled away, angry. “Sorry to be so boringly consistent.”

“No. I can assure you that you are many things, but you’re never boring. Frustrating? Yes. Infuriating? Yes. Predictable? Yes. Case in point? What you’re doing now
You’ve determined to be angry and to find something to fuel that anger. And you’ll try and manufacture something. So why not let me save you another hour of guilt and make it easy for you if what you've just poured out has any truth to it. As it was my idea to bring them here,  this has clearly been a nefarious plot on my part to separate you from your loved ones. And you’re clearly so weak-willed, that anyone can talk you into anything you don’t want to do. Particularly when it concerns two of the dearest people in your life. So,"   he leaned back once again to rest on Duncan's back, “I manufactured it, and manipulated you into going along with it. So there’s only one solution, Highlander. Send both coffins back to Paris and send me packing.”

Duncan folded his arms against the glass and leaned on them, “How do you do it? I was really beginning to get lost inside a major dark brood and you come along and with one puff, blow it all away and leave me feeling naked and stupid.”

“Well, there you go. There’s something else to feel angry with me about.”

“I don’t want to feel angry with you. I was suddenly just s
o -
” he fumbled with the words, clearly frustrated, unable to articulate the thoughts for some seconds,  "- frightened. And I couldn’t remember why on earth I thought this was a good idea. Remind me, Methos. Please. Tell me again why this was a good idea?” He was still leaning against the window, but raised his head to look out over the scenery stretched out before him. “You know, sometimes I feel that if I let go," he whispered, "I'll never stop falling."

“You can let go. I mightn’t always catch you the first time, but I’ll always come looking. And I’ll always find you.” He leaned into the warm, beautiful back. “And I’ll always, eventually, catch you,” Methos assured him. He left his ear against Duncan’s back, continuing to luxuriate in the feel of the vibrations against his face, everytime Duncan spoke.

Methos closed his eyes in frustration as Duncan continued, seemingly oblivious to Methos’ attempts to halt the guilt.

“Methos I feel the weight of those two coffins. Did I bring them here because I so rarely come here? So I won’t have to see them any more, every time I drive past that cemetery in Paris? Have I somehow fooled myself into thinking that it’s some noble act. When all it is, is getting the physical evidence of my failures as far away from me as possible?” He gave a disgusted snigger. “Make them my parent’s responsibility? How ironic. Wonderful! Just what my Father would have expected from me. Another monumental failure on his son’s part. All of their hopes turned to ashes when I didn’t stay dead.” He suddenly stopped, turning around suddenly. “That’s it. That’s what this is about.” He pulled away from the window and fell to the bed.

Methos continued to stand by the window, waiting to see what the Highlander was going to reveal, knowing that whatever it was, it would simply be another weapon from his past to brutalise himself with. Sometimes, he felt as if he hated Duncan’s parents, with a passion.

Duncan looked up at the man standing by the window, but his eyes took on a distant glaze. “If I’d stayed dead, they’d have mourned, been heart-broken. But their lives would have gone on. As a couple, they would have survived. But I lived and the price of my living was the death of everything for them. Their relationship never recovered. My Mother couldn’t forgive him for banishing me. He lost his faith. It was all destruction. Because I lived. And now I’m bringing back two more corpses, but you and I know that I could be bringing back a hundred. And I keep living.”

Methos listened, realising where Duncan was going to take this. He determined to stop him. “So?” he stated, the word, the emotion, brutally clipped.

Duncan stared at him, horrified. “So? What do you mean ‘So’? That’s what
his is about. I’m just gathering, in the one spot, more deaths, more of my failures, more of ....”

The sentence was never finished. He never saw Methos move but his head jerked back painfully as the words were cut off by the back of Methos’ hand across his mouth.. And because Methos had more warning than Duncan, of what was to happen, he was prepared when Duncan’s eyes flashed fire and when, from nowhere, he produced a knife.

Methos clutched Duncan’s shoulders and drew one hand up to grab the long hair, immobilising the beautiful head. He allowed five thousand year’s worth of experience and learning and frustration to enter the ice of his eyes and to wash over the fire of the Highlander’s eyes. “Stop it. Duncan, listen to me. Stop it. No one knows better than me how difficult it is to leave past regrets and past sins behind. But what you keep brutali
ing yourself with had nothing to do with your intents or motivations or wishes or desires. If I can live with death and destruction that I did intend, surely you can live with destruction that you didnt? I refuse to listen to you continuing to savage yourself like this.  There's a point where self-recrimination becomes self-indulgence!”

Duncan continued to breathe quickly and heavily, his adrenalin still surging from the attack and the emotional turmoil he was battling with. He wisely said nothing when Methos continued. “Yes, your Father rejected you. Yes, the beloved son arose a demonic monster. Yes, their world crumbled. So tell me what you could possibly have done differently? Nothing! Duncan. Read my lips. Not one fucking thing. And if their world crumbled afterwards, at least they and you had more than your fair share of good times. It was more than most others ever dream about. Tessa died at the hands of a lunatic, 
a drug-crazed gunman. It happens every day all around the world. It could have happened years before. It might have happened the next week. You know all this. Stop doing this to yourself. And to us.”

Finally, Methos stopped, paused and took a deep breath. “Do you know your trouble, Duncan?”

Duncan was still very angry. “Surprise me! I’m sure you do and are about to tell me.”

Methos never stopped engaging with the magnificent eyes. “Bright boy! I do happen to have an opinion which I do intend to share with you. Where do you think your parents are?”

Duncan frowned and tried to pull away.

“Duncan? Where are your parents? Why is it so hard to answer me?”

The Highlander’s eyes looked up at Methos in genuine confusion. “I don’t understand the question. They’re dead, Methos. Happy? D..E..A..D.  What was so fundamental about that incisive revelation? It’s hardly the latest news.”

“Once again. Where are they Duncan?”

“As far as I know they’re six feet under the earth, half a mile from here. Happy now?”

“Where are they Duncan?”

Duncan continued to stare at Methos and then his face took on the pain of centuries of unrequited grief as the answer to Methos’ question started to break free from somewhere long buried inside him. “I don’t know where they are. I wasn’t there when they were buried. I know where their gravestones are because that’s what I was told. But I wasn’t there to say goodbye or say any prayers or weep next to them or soothe them when they were drawing their last breath, or hold them in my arms when the light started fading, and tell them it would be all right. That I’d be there to look after the one left behind. To tell them how much I loved them and how proud I was to be their son. To beg forgiveness for living when I should have died. They were such good people, Methos. And I was their only child. And I didn’t bury them. I should have sent them on their last journey. And I didn’t bury Richie. I wasn’t there for him either. And Tessa’s family took control of the funeral in Paris
. The look in her mother’s eyes still haunts me. And the ceremony was theirs, not mine, or Tessa’s. It wasn’t what she would have wanted. It helped them. But not me. Not Tessa.. I took her away with me. I didn’t protect her. And then I couldn’t even fucking bury her properly.” He wiped away tears that had started to fall.

“Oh Duncan, Duncan, Duncan. Where are they?” Methos continued to whisper, kissing the bowed head before him.

I don’t know. I keep seeing them in those coffins and I know that they’re not there but I don’t know where else to look for them. I keep seeing them trapped, in a dark place, looking to me to get them out but I can’t. I can’t get to them. I know, I know rationally, how stupid that is. But it’s what I feel, Methos. It’s what visits me at night.”

Methos gathered the Highlander to himself more firmly, stroking his head, trying to surround as much of his body as he could with his arms, cradling him to his body as Duncan continued to speak his thoughts. “Dammit.. I hate it when I cry. . Pathetic.”

“You’re not pathetic. You love with your entire being. I’ve never known anyone who feels like you do, Duncan. Everyone else gets to take these bitter regrets to their graves. They get to bury them. They don’t get resolved. They’re hidden. They’re denied. They’re ignored. And, for mortals, they die when their lives end. But we don’t die, and our regrets are revived every single bloody time we are, along with all the crap from every Quickening we take. And I don’t think that anyone’s taken more Quickenings than you, these past few years. And they all need to be integrated into our already cracked and crumbling psyches. It’s an impossible task for anyone, Duncan. Even a god. And we’re not gods.”

He leaned down, kissing Duncan’s swollen eyes. “We don’t die. And no matter how hard we try to resolve things, the years breed and grow our guilts and our fears and our thousands of regrets. We’re just one long case study of unresolved conflicts, interspersed, if we’re very lucky, by some occasional good times. And in between, people are trying to decapitate us or kill those we love.” Methos’ calm, soothing voice started to have an effect on the distraught man in his arms. “We’re all screwed up, Mac. It’s just that most of us aren’t as honest about it as you are. But that’s who you are. Most of us have learned to bury our feelings under so many layers that they are rarely ever uncovered and dealt with.”

When Duncan looked up Methos had the good grace to be smirking. “We’re going to break some new ground. We’re going to work out how to fix this, so that you never have to feel these same fears and guilts again.”

"Gods. Someone to take control. Could life really be that simple?" Duncan mouthed quietly. 

He stood up, wiping his face with the flats of his hands and gathered up the ancient Immortal in his arms. Leaning across, he stroked his chin across Methos' hair. “How do you always know the right thing to say to me? Hmmm?”

“I don’t. Most of the time I’m winging it.”

“Well?” Duncan queried, “Tell me. How are we going to fix it?”

“You’ve said it yourself. You need to say goodbye to these people in words that they would want to hear, with people they would want to be there, in a ceremony they would have chosen.”

Duncan reacted as if Methos had slapped him again. He pulled away and again covered his mouth with his hand, a traditional gesture Methos had come to associate with Duncan struggling with a thought. Pulling his hand away, a short time later, he turned back to Methos. “God - it was so simple I almost missed it. I would have missed it, if you hadn’t stopped my self indulgence. I’ve been thinking about a ceremony. You were right Methos. So right.”

“Naturally. Er.......right about what? When it comes to me being so intuitive, even I sometimes miss it,” the world’s oldest Immortal admitted, hoping for a more detailed clue as to what Duncan was thinking.

Duncan ignored the genuine query, his eyes now shining with new found direction. “I need to see Rachel.”

Turning back to Methos, he brought him into a firmer hug. “I love you.” He leaned across and let his voice tell Methos what he meant to him, while his lips gave a more physical demonstration.. All Methos could later recall of the next few minutes was the Highlander’s mouth and lips moving across his forehead, temples, cheeks, his wet mouth massaging his jugular while his hands and fingers kneaded and caressed. While Methos sank into the sensation, he was vaguely conscious of Duncan’s incredibly erotic voice, accompanying his hands. Duncan’s sensual assault continued. ”I love you. I love going to sleep in your arms. I love waking up entangled with you. I love the way you look at me and the way your eyes glaze over when you want me. And how you care enough to slap me down when I start raving.”

“It was a pleasure,” he laughed, tousling his Highlander’s hair.

“You have no idea how much I’d love to stay and play, but I’ve a busy few hours before the ceremonies. I need to find Rachel. But here’s something to keep you going until tonight.” He recommenced the journey his lips had started, as if there had been no interruption. “I love the way your breath starts to get short...and you always look at my mouth and my lips... and I know you’re thinking that want... is for me to keep kissing this....and tasting this...and sucking this...and wetting my mouth with my tongue and letting it slide up ...and down ...the side of your neck ...and over your jugular, sucking this..”

Taking a deep breath, Duncan pulled back and pulled himself together. Methos simply slid onto the bed.

“Duncan. Please?? Please keep going or I’ll go mad!.”

The object of Methos’ desire stopped only to grab his wallet. “Take a shower!” And as he disappeared out the door he threw over his shoulder, “Korean?”

Methos shook his head, attempting to dislodge visions of Duncan’s soaped hands wrapped around his painfully engorged cock. “Fucking maekju!" He shouted after the retreating larger than life figure. "I hate this game! Duncan? Duncan! Come back! Do you hear me? You’ve only got five countries left!”

But the Highlander had disappeared in a black swirl of cashmere and wool and firm resolve. Methos continued to shake his head, completely incapable of working out how his lover could possibly have run such a gamut of emotions in such a short time. He mumbled to himself as he headed for the shower.  "Let’s see. In thirty minutes we’ve gone from introspective major brood to killing anger to absolute confusion to distraught grief to totally focussed clarity. Yep. That’s my Duncan. Who ever said life was dull? You couldn’t just let him rant and rave and brood. Oh no. Gods. When I think of how I could have distracted him....Jung would be impressed. What in bloody hell happened to the selfish, self-centered prick persona I’ve been perfecting for centuries? But good old Dr Pierson had to play counsellor didn’t he! And I don’t even know where he’s gone or what the brilliant solution is. Take a bloody shower indeed! One of these days I’ll learn to keep my bloody mouth shut. And stop talking to myself!"

Visions of mouths being enticed open were enough to get him through the next thirty minutes, in the shower recommended so highly by the departing dark angel, as he swept out of the room. There really was nothing like fierce angst to send an over-supply of blood to the groin. And if Duncan declined to help, then really, what was a frustrated Immortal to do but cover himself in heather, and musk-scented soap and shampoo and body gel, and relieve the unresolved tensions himself.

Until tonight. Tonight the only heather he intended smelling was the heather scents impregnated in every pore of a certain Highland warrior.



Go to Part 5

Re-edited 1 January, 2001
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