Carson Kearns' Highlander Fanfic

Lost in the Loving: Coming Home

Chapter 6

by Carson Kearns

 

The mourners accepted that it was time to finish the Wake when Duncan fell asleep.

“No pun intended!” announced a wry Methos.

Duncan had been reading to Mary, now also sound asleep on the Highlander’s lap, her golden head nestled into Duncan’s shoulder. His arm curled around her protectively and it took Methos some minutes of gentle talking and shaking before Duncan was aware enough to release his hold on the child, without reacting to Methos’ intrusion with a sharp weapon.

As Wakes go, it had gone well. Then again, Duncan has reassured them, if there was one thing Celts were good at, it was inebriated genuflections to life’s continuing back handers (and occasional gifts). Gallons of whisky seemed to have disappeared, lubricating the telling of many reminiscences of Duncan’s childhood, his time with Tessa and her beauty and talent (*her* ability to keep him in line, offered with a smirk towards Methos), and his feelings for Richie. 

Joe and Anne further enlightened Rachel on the young Richie Ryan, his life and loves. Before Duncan fell asleep, he had taken the time to further enchant Mary and convince her of his utter perfection, by quoting for her some fairy poetry of Walter De La Mare. As Duncan began to weave his spell, Anne wondered how she would ever be able to bring this child back to the mundane realities of life in Seacouver, without her dark Prince to entrance and entertain her:

“Come - gather near to the smoldering fire
The embers, aflame, will console and inspire!
Sit in the glade when the faery muse comes -
Magick is made with the flick of our tongues!

Oh! dance with the Sidhe under silvery moon!
Word woven trance is the light of their boon!
Bear ye the hearts of all mortal men -
Dance with the fey in the boughs of Green Glen!”


Mary had stared at Duncan with eyes as large as saucers as he told her of an ancient Celtic ritual that she could perform to call his protection around her and promised to buy her the necessary Faerie Candle to have her Mother light “...to help you draw in the energies of the Sidhe....You have to be very relaxed, no angry thoughts, and then you ring a small bell three times, and begin to speak to the Faeries. You have to close your eyes and see them, flying around you. See the light of their spirits gathering all around you. Ask for what you want, and then ring the bell seven times. And you must listen carefully to hear what they are telling you.” His beautiful rich voice momentarily mesmerised the room, as from somewhere in the rich storehouse of his memory he brought forth a Glenmorangie marinated simple child’s invocation to the Sidhe:

"Mist-clad in the light of the moon
Starspun seekers - I search for thee!
Faery light - I ask thy boon
Of branch and thorn and Elder tree!
Wood woven creatures, shadow weavers
River keepers - come to me!
Just beyond reaching
Never in keeping
Spirits of Faery - I call unto thee!
Wind-hewn wildness
Dark and brightness
Spiral enchantments - born of the sky!
Cradle me with elven hands,
Abide with me, thy human child!
"


Joe watched the Immortal finish the recitation, gently kissing Mary’s golden curls. He wondered whether he was the only one present to feel the poignancy of the last line, and felt his eyes moisten as Duncan handed the human child over to her mother, a mother who could not cope with the realities of such fairy tales in her life. Fairy tales which had come to life in the Immortal form of Duncan MacLeod, who was in every respect that mattered, a Sidhe Prince.

Methos was oblivious to the poignant musings of the mortals, and instead, had laughed, listening to Duncan recite the innocent verse. He remembered a not so innocent poem he was determined to recite to Duncan, once he had him to himself. It wasn’t one of Yeat’s greatest poems, he admitted, but they had certainly had a wild time in its creation. Unbidden, Yeats’ Faery Song started to weave its words around the few remaining pieces of unsodden brain cells that he still seemed to possess, at the end of the Wake. The world still believed that Yeats wrote it as a song that the Faerie people sang over the bridal bed of Diarmuid and Grania. Methos had certainly never bothered to correct that view. A bed is a bed, he rationalised, thinking of the welcome pull of the waiting bed upstairs, and the body he would soon be sharing it with.

"We who are old, old and gay,
O so old!
Thousands of years, thousands of years,
If all were told:

Give to these children, new from the world,
Silence and love;
And the long dew-dropping hours of the night,
And the stars above:

Give to these children, new from the world,
Rest far from men.
Is anything better, anything better?
Tell us it then:

Us who are old, old and gay,
O so old!
Thousands of years, thousands of years,
If all were told."

Duncan looked embarrassed at having fallen asleep and quickly seemed to come to himself. He reached around and loosened his hair from its confining band and shook it loose. Any queries Methos might have had concerning the direction of Duncan's dreams was answered when he noticed where he was looking, rather, who he was looking at. And it wasn’t his lover. At least, not his current lover, he corrected. Feeling particularly old, and gay, Methos couldn’t help but recall the number of times Duncan’s eyes had caressed and lingered over the female forms and curves before him.

//..Jealous, old man?..//

He didn’t notice that he was nodding until he noticed his drink shaking. Perhaps, perhaps, he mused, the sight of Tessa had brought back to Duncan more than Methos had bargained for? Gradually, the room emptied as sleep beckoned and Methos paused at the bottom of the stairs to watch Duncan escort Rachel to her car, their arms wrapped around each other, laughing. He went up to their bedroom but when Duncan had still not returned, some 60 minutes later, Methos began to gather his indignation around him more securely, and quietly burned. He deliberately left their joint bed and settled himself, uncomfortably, in the spare, single bed.

He chided himself for being ridiculous, reminding himself that when Duncan MacLeod committed he committed  totally. The extent to which he had taken Duncan’s loyalty for granted surprised him, however. But take it for granted he had. Indeed, he reminded himself, it had been he himself who had often said that their relationship should not preclude taking other occasional lovers. But to the best of his knowledge Duncan never had. So he was unable to make sense of why he was feeling so irrationally jealous at the thought that Duncan may, indeed  be allowing himself some physical relief with Rachel. He continued to chide himself, counting down the minutes, wondering why he was allowing such petty and silly thoughts to take root. He'd noticed before that women seemed to see Duncan or himself as a special challenge once they knew that they were in a same-sex relationship.  It seemed to bring out every innate predatory instinct.  It further disturbed him that he would be so trite as to think of Duncan as his property however the old ways were sometimes very hard to dislodge.

He lovingly caressed the ring that Duncan had quietly and with no ceremony, placed on his finger during the burial...and why he should be feeling so insecure in the face of that extraordinary commitment was a mystery to him.

Duncan’s earlier comment about Methos being “...his first male lover...” played over and over in his mind. Duncan had never spoken of any other male lover. It had never occurred to Methos that there were any.  Indeed, he insisted to himself, there was no proof at all that there had been.  There was no way that the scum Masters, whom Duncan had killed a year before in London, could have been considered a lover -merely a rapist from Duncan's past. It had taken months for Duncan to tell him the truth of Masters and what he had done to Duncan.  Perhaps, he decided, hehad totally misinterpreted Duncan's remark? He wasn’t used to feeling jealous and possessive and didn’t like the pettiness of it at all. It simply made him more angry that his relationship should bring out such base instincts.

And the more he berated himself, the angrier he became.

At himself.

At the Highlander, for being so beautiful, so integral to his life. He decided to put it down to too much emotion and too much alcohol, over too short a period and pulled the thick quilt over his tired and lonely body. He even  chuckled at the realization that his life was turning into a soap opera.

But the many phrases he continually flayed his Highlander with, continued to circle and stalk the bed....stop being such a boyscout.......your overblown sense of honor........outdated moral code........look after yourself first......you’re such a pain in the arse.........grow up MacLeod.....stop being the White Knight......the age of chivalry is dead.......I gave up guilt....why would I tell the truth........

He had spent too long with himself not to appreciate cosmic irony. What if the Highlander actually started to act on Methos’ wise counsel? What would be the implications for their relationship? What if he stopped being so honourable. Stopped being so predictable. Stopped being ruled by a moral code and ethics that made him stand out, magnificently, like a beacon.  And why shouldn't the ending of an entire first phase of his life, with the burials this day, signal such a change?

//...Stopped seeing me as the centre of his world.

Found another Tessa...//

And there it was - staring him in the face. For Duncan had never even really looked at another man. Maybe, maybe, he pondered, he had simply been part of Duncan MacLeod’s grieving process for Tessa? How better, when all said and done, to avoid another Tessa, than to take as a life partner a male immortal? So many problems solved. Nothing to compete with. Tessa would forever stand alone and untouched in Duncan’s memories.

He detested feeling this vulnerable, this trapped. When had it happened?  For all his taunting, he'd gotten too used to Duncan being open and honest. Too blasé. His rational side told him that he should be celebrating the first obvious signs of a more pragmatic approach to life from the moralistic Highlander. 

//..After all, I was always such an inspiring teacher...//

..but his emotional, petty, inner child railed and screamed at having apparently succeeded in dragging Duncan MacLeod of the clan MacLeod down to the more tolerable ethical planes inhabited by mere Immortals like Methos.

//...Be careful what you wish for...// he further advised himself, wondering for the thousandth time what his lover was doing with Rachel MacLeod. And curiously, another part of Methos was able to stay detached, taking genuine interest in such new and unworthy trite thoughts and feelings on his part. One part carrying on like a jealous brat. One part shaking his head in wry amusement at what loving Duncan had done to him. Had reduced him to. So much for the survivor!

//And what if he's down stairs reading? Hmm? Go to sleep. You're drunk.//

  He decided that that was the most intelligent advice he'd heard from himself all night. //..Who needs a television in the room when I've got me?..// But the part of his brain that never shut down insisted on knowing why, this day of all days, when he should have been left in no doubt whatsoever of Duncan's feelings for him, he should be left feeling so insecure. //Perhaps that's it? Perhaps, now that he's committed totally, he feels he can actually step outside the boundaries of just the two of us - just as I've been telling him he should......me and my big mouth....//

Finally, Duncan came to him. It was all Methos could do not to sniff the air for evidence of his lusting.

There was no way that Duncan could have missed seeing where Methos had chosen to sleep, but he said and did nothing. Pulling off his shoes, socks and pants he went straight to the bathroom, completely ignoring his lover.

And what tell tale scents, Methos wondered, required such careful expunging, at this hour of the night?  He couldn't believe that he'd just thought that and decided that the only thing missing was a Hitchockian music accompaniment.  But he found that he wasn't laughing - not laughing at all.

In the bathroom, oblivious to the emotional theatrics going on beyond the wall, Duncan stayed under the shower until the hot water ran out. He luxuriated in the cleansing needles of heat stimulating his already sensitive skin. //..Electricity. What an invention....//.. He smiled as he thought of his past cleansing practices - or lack of them - in this same location. An occasional plunge into Loch Shiel perhaps? His mother futilely attempting to scrub him. He continued to let his thoughts drift, circling and wafting away with the steam, oblivious to the predatory thoughts circling his lover’s single bed, just feet away.  What he found strange that was he had never felt unclean in those days.  The thought of such irregular bathing habits, now, repelled him.

Rachel had been so warm to hold, so soft...smelled so wonderful. He hadn’t realised how much he missed good perfume.  His thoughts turned to Methos, in the single bed, and he wondered why he was sleeping there. Must be getting old, he laughed, drying himself. //..Can’t take his alcohol in such quantities anymore?..// He debated whether he’d wake him and drag him back to their bed, but decided that he should respect Methos’ apparent wish not to interrupt his lover’s sleep.

But part of Duncan couldn't understand why Methos would think this, knowing that they both always slept better when they could wrap themselves around each other.

He told himself to stop being the eternal control freak, constantly trying to arrange the world as he desired it to be ordered. //Boyscout//.he heard Methos chiding down the years. He quietly closed the bathroom door and stood staring for some minutes at Methos, tempted to get into bed with him. Deciding that Methos wouldn't appreciate being second guessed, he slipped into the cold sheets of the larger bed and was asleep within seconds.

Two hours later, Methos watched Duncan writhing in distress. And no-one was there to hold him. No-one to reassure him. The distress built and built. Finally Duncan awoke, in a blind panic, crying out with his second terrifying nightmare. It was then that Methos felt a large portion of Celtic guilt settle over the single bed, an unwanted gift from the carrion still circling above. As gatekeeper to Duncan’s nights he normally did this job well. A labour of love. These days he was always, always, able to stop nearly all of Duncan’s nightmares, with a simple warm caress, a gentle kiss, a murmured sleepy assurance and reassurance of love.

//Oh Gradhach, no gatekeeping tonight..........

No gatekeeping tonight.//

Methos shut his eyes against the thrashing in the bed next to him. When was it, he wondered, that Duncan was to be considered guilty until proven innocent? He was just about to leave the single bed to take the Highlander into his arms when Duncan swept from the bed, breathing heavily, holding his stomach. Methos watched in silence as Duncan raced from the room, grabbing his silk dressing gown, and holding his mouth.

Duncan knew that he had seconds before being violently ill all over the prize hall rugs. He used all of his self control to keep the whisky and assorted food down, until he could reach the large bathroom, seemingly at the end of forever. He berated himself for not using the bathroom in the bedroom he and Methos shared, but had determined not to wake Methos. Particularly not for this. //Another bloody nightmare//. He had naively thought after today’s ceremony he might be left in peace. Clearly, his conscious mind had forgotten to tell his subconscious that it could stop flaying him now. That it could stop ripping away living pieces of his soul, piece by piece. //It never ever ever ever fucking stops..//  He reminded himself how easy it would be to slip into despair, without Methos.

With seconds to spare he threw himself over the toilet bowl and proceeded to regurgitate what seemed like the entire contents of the past seven days food and alcohol. 

Mea culpa, mea culpa mea maxima culpa echoed the holy phrases of his upbringing..I confess...that I have sinned exceedingly in thought, word and deed through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.......Domine, exaudi orationem meam....Oh Lord hear my prayer.......Et clamor meus ad te veniat.....And let my cry come unto Thee. He wondered why living hard disc memories couldn’t be erased in the same way computers could. No memories. No well intentioned priests and their endless droning on of sin upon sin upon sin. Of constant flagellation combined with the need for a stained and soiled soul’s cleansing and redemption. My soul.

It was at times like these that he found it easy to believe that he was once again going insane. Too much angst, he decided. Too much alcohol, (like Methos). Too little proper food. Too many dead bodies.

Too much Catholic upbringing, here in this place.

Too many memories.

Too lonely in the bed tonight.

The nightmare images that had led to this episode came back to him..... of Methos, standing where Deborah Campbell had stood, on the cliff edge, holding his sword to his own throat - and then tumbling away, following Deborah’s beautiful body ..........Methos’ head separated from his body......other dismembered bodies.......all falling......and Duncan standing at the cliff top, watching in horror.........distraught...swords tumbling end over end.....heads...........faces laughing, crying, jeering............bloodied hair flying in the breeze.....all tumbling towards earth, miles below.....Tessa in her wedding dress ................Richie’s headless body, Levi clad ..............Fitz .....................Methos laughing, sneering, crying out “Boyscout!” over and over as his head turned and turned and turned. 

Caeduntur gladiis more bidentium: Non murmur resonat, non querimonia; ”Like sheep their blood they poured: and without groan or tear, they bent before the sword”..........

So much for bloody Immortality, he sighed, between dry retching. Indeed, there were times when one’s only fear, he mused, was that one wouldn’t die. Heaving........and heaving again.....and again........... into a strange toilet bowl.........

in the early hours of the morning .......(heaving)

regaling himself with disparate snippets of turgid Latin .........(heaving)

as an accompaniment to endless viewing and reviewing of the heads of his friends and lovers ........(heaving)

was..............

definitely ...........

one such time.

Finally, the heaving stopped and he tried to remember how to breathe normally. A warm hand on his shoulder caused him to cry out and he turned, desperate for it to be Methos, alive. He remembered once calling for Richie like that - similar desperation, similar despair.

“Duncan?” Anne pulled stray locks of his hair back, away from his mouth and wiped his face with a damp washcloth. He turned his face into the comforting touch, revelling in the nurturing and comforting. “Ssssh, take some deep breaths..........it’s okay.....that’s it...........” Anne couldn’t decide later, what had awakened her. Was it her medical alertness that had her on her feet in seconds, on hearing the distressed groaning and heaving? Or simply her newly honed Mother’s instincts? Or both?

Either way, the sight of her worrier, in such obvious distress, brought out every tender, nurturing feeling and instinct she had ever had for this amazing man.

Gazing up at her he shrugged his shoulders and eyebrows, grimaced, but said nothing. Even if he had been able to get an unbroken sentence out between renewed dry retching, what could one possibly say, he wondered.

Leaning down, she kissed his head and continued to wipe his face.

“I’m beginning to think that it’s me, Duncan. Not very flattering for a woman to think that she constantly reduces the men in her life to nauseous, terror-filled nights.”

Her reference to Garrick and the living hell to which he had reduced Duncan, also brought back memories of yet another time Duncan had tried to kill Richie Ryan. It never goes away. Never. No matter how many years passed, how sorry he was, how many times he buried them. It had taken him over ten years to even begin to cope with his grieving for Little Deer and Kahani. But he had.

Eventually.

And gone forward.

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The effects of Culloden took decades, indeed, centuries, to heal. And the deaths of his parents? In many ways, it was only now, 409 years later, he acknowledged, that he had really come to terms with it. If being on his knees hanging over a toilet bowl could be considered a state of emotional stability, he grimaced. It was the realisation that he did survive that had been gently uncovered for him by Methos. This realisation had allowed him to stop falling into total despair and frustration from his nightmares and his guilt at how they disturbed Methos’ nights. But the raw pain could still come out of nowhere, and lash him mercilessly. And strike out to shred his heart.

As these thoughts pounded through Duncan’s head, Anne Lindsay wondered why Duncan was where he was, alone and kneeling on her bathroom floor. How many nights, she wondered in some anger, had Duncan slipped from his bed to heave his heart out in solitary despair? What sort of lover couldn’t be aware of a thrashing and distressed body next to them and its need for comforting?

Duncan, equally oblivious to the thoughts of the woman above him, was thankful that he’d managed to avoid disturbing his clearly unwell lover. The same lover currently being tried and executed in Anne Lindsay’s thoughts. Being Duncan, he couldn’t avoid feeling guilty about his having disturbed Anne. “I’m sorry. Don’t worry. It’s nothing. Too much whisky....”

Anne turned his face towards her and proceeded, with brutal efficiency, to medically analyse his appearance. Lifting his eyelids she raised her eyebrow. “Sorry. This is Dr Lindsay.” She felt his pulse point at his neck. “Those dilated pupils and that heart rate don’t result from a hangover. And you had your last whisky hours ago. Anne Lindsay, ex-lover, friend and Mother would guess night terrors. Am I right?”

Duncan grimaced and said nothing.

“Thought so.” She brushed his hair off his damp forehead, wondering yet again what it was about this man that had so captured her. It had all seemed so easy, once. All so logical. No way, rationally, a relationship could ever work. It would endanger the child. Endanger her. She still had dreams where she saw his face, over and over, fading in and out, when she had asked him if he wanted a child. Yes, he had admitted, possibly for the first time in his four hundred odd years. Yes. The one word spoke of such yearning and such longing. His fingers had unconsciously stroked her stomach, reaching out to connect with the unborn child she had offered him.

Then she had taken the unborn child back. And all of his hopes . He had been so rational, so logical, so caring of her and the child. Nodding, he had silently agreed as to why it was really a very bad idea for him to be involved with her and the child. "He did say it was a girl?" he had asked, so excited. And when he’d held her, to comfort her, to let her know that he understood why she must go, she could have sworn that she had felt his heart slowly break.

Anne looked down at his beautiful body and reached out to caress him, too aware of the extra cracks that she herself had forged in his heart. Seven years ago she had lain in his bed on the barge and listened to him heaving and sobbing on the deck above. Neither had ever spoken of it. The next morning he had taken her to the airport and she had taken herself and the child out of his life. Duncan had kept his word. He’d never intruded. Never tried to insinuate himself into her life or the life of her child. //Just did simple things, really, like delivering my baby (our baby) amidst that chaos of explosions and falling concrete. And worked on a house for us for months. And you couldn’t say, darling man, what you wanted to say, when you handed me the key. “I wanted you to have something....of me..".//

She’d heard from Joe, not long after, that he had gone mad. Something to do with a Quickening. And that Methos had brought him safely home.

Finally getting the nausea under control, Duncan laughed cynically, bringing Anne back to the present. “Not much to choose between me and Mary is there?”

She smiled, stepping behind him and pulling his head back against her stomach. ‘No, Duncan there isn’t. Both of you are dearly loved. Both give endless joy. Both need a warm and comforting shoulder every now and then. And lots of hugs.” She squeezed him, taking her own advice. “Come on. Unless you intend sleeping on that tiled floor? It’s a few hours till dawn. Let me chase the bad guys away for you.”

At his worried gaze she reassured him that it was purely platonic. “We’ll just lie on the bed.” Smiling wearily, he let himself be pulled into her warm embrace.

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“Methos isn’t well either. He’s sleeping in the single bed so’s not to disturb me. And I’m on my knees in a strange bathroom, so’s not to disturb him. We’re pathetic, aren’t we.”

At the end of the hall Methos closed the door to his and Duncan’s bedroom and sighed. He had been within seconds of going to Duncan when he opened the door, only to see his lover and his lover’s ex-lover disappearing into her room. //To find, no doubt, more receptive arms and bedding than you managed to find in here, Gradhach. As if life doesn’t throw enough real issues at us.// Why invent them as well, he wondered.

In Anne’s room, the moonlight streamed in through the French doors, across the sleeping form of the child in the single bed. Duncan gazed at her and gave thanks yet again, for this child in his life. Methos had once told him that Mary MacLeod Lindsay only existed, in every sense of the word, because of Duncan MacLeod. He truly thought of her as his daughter, a life he’d been responsible for creating, albeit indirectly and in less than honourable circumstances. She would never have been conceived, he'd once told Methos, had Anne not thought him dead. He never overly intruded in her life but Anne had been far more relaxed in the past three years about Duncan sharing more in Mary’s (and her) life. They had rigorous ground rules. Duncan took Mary to very public places, or with a group. He carried a loaded gun as well as the katana. Joe warned them when a strange Immortal was around or due and Duncan avoided the Lindsay’s until the all clear was given by Joe. Or until Duncan had silently and permanently eliminated the potential threat.

Anne slipped onto the larger bed. Duncan followed, after taking the opportunity to drink two glasses of water to remove the stale aftertaste in his mouth before finally settling into her arms. He let himself be pulled onto her right shoulder and allowed his body to half cover her as they found the old familiar places of comfortable fit. His right arm stretched across her chest and rested on her left shoulder. He luxuriated in the feeling of her hands massaging his throbbing head, enjoying the movement it created in her breasts. He breathed in her compelling perfume and realised he knew it. Diorissimo. "I'm sorry Anne. I thought the nightmares would stop now. I hoped they would."

"They will Duncan. Think about what your last few days have been like. Maybe tonight will be a purging of some of your worst nightmares as well," she comforted him. And he decided to believe her as he started to slip into the safe haven she had created for him.

He remembered buying that brand for her once, a long time ago. ....liked it........................liked the feeling of silk beneath his cheek............fingers caressing his scalp............... forearm covering her breasts.................. tasting her...........her smell..............soft..............Tessa was soft...... suckling her......he himself the only child he could ever give her......beautiful sensuous belly..............womb............. loved resting his head on a woman’s breast and feeling its curve against his face.....cupping them in his hands....the nipple so responsive to his mouth and tongue...................

As he fell into a deep, calming sleep he gave thanks for all the wonderful people who filled his life, friends and lovers.

Anne loved the weight of him. The smell of him. The feel of him. She’d never found a lover who even came close to giving her the pleasure that Duncan had given her. Or the terror, fear and hidden truths. As she continued to stroke his head and his back, she could feel him slipping into a deep, deep sleep, sighing in contentment. For the millionth time, she asked the question that had plagued her for years. How does the most heterosexual man I know suddenly become gay? Or bi-sexual? She had no idea whether Rachel MacLeod had ever been a lover of Duncan’s but it haunted her to think that, after her affair with Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod, he had eschewed female mortals as life-long companions. Even, seemingly, as occasional bed partners, if Joe could be believed. She knew that this time with him was precious and gathered him more firmly to herself, pleased that she had been able to give him something that his male lover had not. Petty, she agreed, as she slipped further into sleep. //But satisfying.//

Duncan’s incoherent thoughts were chased away by a golden-haired six year old who was straddling his back, riding him to Banbury Cross. The feel of his morning arousal pressing into the quilt and mattress below was a graphic reminder of why that particular nursery rhyme had come to mind. He was immediately thankful that he was lying stomach down. Reciting the rhyme for Mary, he laughed, reminding himself to share the joke with Methos. Ride a cock horse..... Suddenly nursery rhymes didn’t seem so innocent.

Ride a cock horse
to Banbury Cross
to see a white lady
upon a white horse
with rings on her fingers
and bells on her toes
she shall have music
wherever she goes.......


“Unca Duncan...what are you doing on my Mummy’s bed?”

Turning his head, but not his body, he tried to focus, not an easy thing to do with hair covering his face. “I had a bad dream, sweetheart, and Mummy chased the monsters away.”

“But you’re stronger van Mummy. I can see your big muskuls.” She pressed her tiny hand onto the muscles of his upper arm, where his gown had slipped and had become tangled. Thank god there’s another muskul you can’t see. How do I get into these situations?

Duncan tried to answer Mary’s innocent observation about muscles, strength and monsters. “Some of the biggest muskuls are on the inside where people can’t see them. Your Mummy’s are on the inside.” Fortunately Anne arrived at that point with a tray of coffee and some toast, relieving him of any further explanations of his sleeping arrangements.

What had seemed so logical when he was feeling so ill, distressed and tired only a few hours before, now seemed like a decidedly very unwise action. He doubted that Methos would be so easily convinced of its innocence. Methos often observed they had no ownership rights on each other or who they slept with. Despite this, Duncan had no doubt that there would be only one muskul that Methos had any interest in when it came to Duncan and Dr Anne Lindsay. More specifically how and where that muskul had found itself occupied. For all Methos’ cynical observations that they should take other lovers, Duncan had never doubted that what was said so eloquently via the mind and mouth was not echoed in Methos’ eyes. Not that it had ever been an issue, given that Duncan had never had the slightest inclination to be with anyone else but Methos. //Maybe I'm misreading him. Maybe he wouldn't care?//

Feeling that it was now safe to turn over, he jigged Mary up and down before leaving the bed and swinging her around the room. “You go and get a bit more sleep, young lady, and when you wake up I’ll take you riding. If your Mother says its okay.” Carrying her back to her bed, he tucked her in, holding out little real hope that she would go back to sleep. But she started to give a good imitation. Pulling his robe more securely onto his shoulders he reached once again for his coffee and walked to join Anne on the balcony leading off the bedroom.

“Duncan...” Anne stopped, as if unsure how to proceed.

“Mmm,” Duncan smiled, hoping to deflect her. //Damn. Here it comes.//

“About you and Adam.”

//Payback time for last night.// “Uhmmmm?”

“You’re not going to make this easy are you?” She didn’t take her eyes off him.

“Nope!” He suddenly became engrossed in the coffee in his hands.

“Duncan. I know it’s none of my business....”

//Why do people *say* that and then go straight ahead as if they hadn’t said it? As if just saying it removed any privacy obligations?//  He continued to drink his coffee, as if he was calm, cool and collected concerning the conversation that he had been dreading. In reality, he’d been waiting for it for years. Her questions, he told himself, were sure to be about taking a male lover.

Anne refused to let his tense body language deter her. “I know it’s none of my business, as I said. You don’t owe me anything and what you and Adam do is certainly up to you...”

“I used to think so,” he said, softly. He grimaced at how harsh he still managed to sound. But he didn’t apologise.

Anne recognised all the signs of “Stay Away” going up around the Highlander. “Okay. Sorry I asked. I had no right.” She rose, only to have Duncan reach out for her. His guilt for speaking harshly, after her kindness towards him, impelled his actions. “Anne. I’m sorry.” He came up behind her and pulled her back against his chest. “I’m sorry. It’s just that I’m not very good at these types of conversations.”

She turned and looked at him grimace, press his lips together and raise his eyebrows. Such a Duncan expression, she mused, when he just didn’t know what to say or how to say it. “Tell me about it, Duncan,” she smiled.

He kissed her forehead. ”Okay, I’ll try to answer what you want to know. Ask away.” She heard him take a deep breath.

She turned once more and leaned back into his strength and luxuriated in the smell, and warmth and power of him. Looking out over the beautiful misted Loch where this most masculine of men had been raised, she finally asked what she had wanted to ask him since learning of his relationship with Adam. “Were you always bi-sexual?”

A surprised explosion of air left Duncan’s throat before he could control it. “Well, so much for the subtle and gentle lead in!” he laughed. “No. I wasn’t always bi-sexual. At least not knowingly. Adam is the only male lover I’ve ever had. Believe me Anne, no one was more surprised than me. And I can’t really explain it because I have a hard enough time understanding it myself. All I know is that from the moment I first saw him there was just,........ I don’t know..” He shrugged his shoulders and looked skyward, hoping for some inspiration to explain the unexplainable, ”...something....there.”

She said nothing.

He decided to forge on. “Living longer gives you more time to discover things about yourself. One life time just isn’t enough to put aside the attitudes you were raised with.” He laughed. “I’m a slow learner so it’s taken me however many lifetimes you can fit into 409 years. About six, I guess. My love for Methos isn’t an illness that needs therapy. It’s the most precious thing that has happened for me in centuries.”.

“Duncan, you first met him not long after you’d left Seacouver, because of Kalas.” //Left me. Thinking you were dead.//  Unstated, unsaid. But it struck out, like a guilt-seeking missile, and found its mark. She turned and noticed his eyes desperately seeking to find something else to focus on, in a body equally desperate to be somewhere else.

Where’s Methos or Mary when you really need them, he wondered, realising that there would be no easy escape.

“Duncan, you were very vulnerable then. Maybe you were searching for a way to never have to go through what we’d been through. Who better than an Immortal male to avoid ever having to think about children, about mortality, “ ...keeping the little woman safe.....?"

He hated being psychoanalysed. Maybe, he decided, this could all be over a lot more quickly if he just went along with it, and then escaped. Not to forget that there was still the small matter of explaining why he was coming to Methos from Anne’s bed, clad only in half of his pyjamas. //Perhaps. Why does life have to be so damned complicated, he wondered.. Maybe I’ll just grab Mary and we can both ride off into the sunset? Then again, she asks me more questions than her Mother does.//  At least, he chuckled, Mary's were usually funny.

He took another deep breathe. //Plough on.// “After Kalas, I......although .............compared to what happened later ....I........” He stopped and shook his head, not bothering to explain what he meant. //Just say it.//  “Anne, I never expected a male Immortal lover to provide any solutions.” He sighed, knowing that nothing that he said could possibly explain any of it. Perhaps, he decided, the simple talking, the process, was therapeutic in itself for Anne. “I don’t know what it was about Methos. But he took away the emptiness.... He knew what it was like to be Immortal. He made me laugh. And cry. But I wasn’t consciously sexually attracted to him. It was years before we became lovers.” 

“Are you attracted to other men?”

“Well, there is that handyman at Rachel’s pub........and the gardener.” He laughed as she spun to face him. “Relax. I’m joking. I love Adam. What he is. How he thinks. All that he is. I love him loving me. I love loving him.” He felt himself starting to slip into the warm safe haven of memories, until the inquisition continued.

“Are you still attracted to women?”

“Of course I am ! I still love you. Truth to tell, it’s pretty much only women I’m attracted to. But I find now that I’m more open to at least looking at both sexes in a way that I never was before.” He doubted that Anne was finding any of this reassuring. //She thinks that Methos has ensorceled me. Where did that word come from? Too close to Donan woods....//.“But I want to be with Methos, for the rest of my life.”

Anne said nothing for over a minute, letting his words sink in. When she spoke, her words were soft and evocative. “And you can honestly see yourself never again sleeping with a woman? Never feel a woman’s body beneath your hands or mouth? Duncan, I know how you genuinely love women and women’s bodies.”

“To answer you honestly? No, I can’t see me not sleeping with women for the rest of my life. But I wouldn’t do it behind Methos’ back any more than I would have betrayed you when we were in a relationship. Ironically, he’s the one who sees nothing wrong with a bit of ”healthy sleeping around”, as long as it’s for sex only. I’m the one who’s still trying to work out what I think about that.”

He shook his head, pulling his robe around him more securely and continued to plough on. “Am I gay? No. Am I bi? Guess I am.. Would I sleep with other men? Maybe. Are there any with whom I want to? No. Any women? Yes. Do I love you? Yes. Will I always love you? Yes. Can I stop yet? My head’s hurting.”

“Yes, you can.” Taking his hand, she walked to the balcony and took a deep breath. “Thank you Duncan. I know how much you will have hated this.. But I needed to know. I know how stupid that sounds, particularly from a doctor. But I needed to know that I wasn’t responsible for turning you off women.”

He laughed aloud and turned her to face him. “Turning me off women? Anne, I’ve had female lovers since we broke up. Joe doesn’t know as much about me as he likes to think. And believe me, I still find women very, very attractive. I always will. But Methos has opened up new ways of looking at the world - at our world. He gives me far more than I could ever repay, Anne. I love him. I don’t know what else to say to you, or how to explain it.” He kissed her lightly on the forehead. Pulling away, he readied himself to face further difficult questions in the room down the hallway.

Anne smiled, returning his kiss, lightly. “And yes - Mary can go riding as long as she’s on the same horse as you. And Duncan, you’re going to have to settle on what your lover’s name is. At least I now understand Mary’s ‘M’Adam’!”

They both laughed. “Trust a six year old to come up with the most appropriate name he’s ever had!” revealed Duncan. Moving away, he spoke of needing a shower and some time with Methos, and agreed to meet to take Mary riding in a few hours.

Go to Part 7


Re-edited 7 January 2001
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