Carson Kearns' Highlander Fanfic

Lost in the Loving: Coming Home

Chapter 9

by Carson Kearns

 

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It was some minutes before he realized that he'd stopped reading and had let himself go wandering over past landscapes crowded with the Highlander. His face, body… smell and touch…mind... moods…touch…eyes… touch… touch…touch…

//Leave the Highlander indeed! //

As soon leave life and living and passion. Frustration, anger and fear. Leave feeling…yearning…wanting…needing. Leave bleeding. Breathing. Laughing.  How many /ing/ words can there be, he wondered?

Once - once - he would have defined stasis as living. But that was pre the 'Great Divide' when a razor sharp throwaway quip was sufficient to keep most life forms at a calculated distance - a very long way away from his heart and his soul.

On the Before Duncan side ( his BD period) of his Life Register lay over five thousand years.  He had, however,  long ago decided that the six years on the After Duncan side of the ledger contained more feeling, living and loving than he'd ever experienced. But
perhaps, he sometimes chided himself, that was just romantic nonsense? The pathetic outpourings of a selective memory, perhaps? 

Pleased with this train of thought he reached for another beer…reassuring himself that it was all relative. After all, white always seemed whiter after prolonged bouts of black - and he'd had many many lovers who were exhilarating, passionate, intense.  Lovers whose memories and talents could still bring him undone.

BD loves and lovers.

Before Devastation.

//Before you//….

He let the last of the sun bathe his face, took pleasure in swirling the golden liquid around his mouth and luxuriated in a full stretch. In reality he found this late afternoon a bit too cool but he'd needed to get away from Duncan, and his throwaway line about wanting to discuss "…women…". He shook his head, sighing. The Scot, he decided, was too quickly becoming an expert on pushing as many of Methos' buttons as used to happen in reverse. He now seemed to know instinctively just what to say, and how to say it, to leave Methos unnerved and worrying. Not that he could possibly know the effect he was having, Methos reassured himself.

//Perhaps Gradhach you're right. Perhaps we do need some time apart//….

Maybe, just maybe, their relationship could only survive in bursts, leaving them seared.  Needing air currents and space to stretch and grow further in……just like a Quickening?

Disliking the train of thought intensely, Methos let his fingers find yet another bottle he'd carefully stacked under his chair. He chuckled as he recalled Duncan teasing him about being a sodie-heid - having a head full of nothing but bubbles. He'd pleaded guilty as he recalled and suggested that such an air heid needed supporting.  And yes….the large strong hands of a Highland warrior placed just so, on either side of his face…and a warrior's mouth covering the sodie-heid's mouth, preventing any further air leakage……just so……..

He shook his head and drained the rest of the bottle. And having taken care of his higher order needs he picked up the discarded Chapman Magazine Duncan had bought for him in Glasgow. He sought distraction - and Scottish poetry seemed just the thing to do it.

His well thumbed magazine fell open at the selection he'd been reading before his mind started its wandering. Jon Corelis'
"From Scotland to Suburbia: A Landscape of Current British Poetry." It should have been dry enough and academic enough to keep his mind off the Scot.  Instead he kept finding that every incisive sentence threw up an image of Duncan MacLeod that gave extra fire to the tome before him.

Corelis argued that
"…The work of these Scottish poets exemplifies many of the qualities which I personally find most appealing in poetry: a diction which is both naturally colloquial and deliberately poetic, the ability to express intense emotion with unapologetic directness but without sentimentality, an unaffected delight in lyric songfulness, an ability to be humorous while still being serious and, often, a non-polemical political and social consciousness which gains conviction from the quietness of its rage. These are, I think, old fashioned virtues, or at least currently neglected ones. …"

Methos smiled and said aloud: "Neglected? Not in my Highlander they're not." He let the superb summary of virtues wrap itself around him, giving him extra warmth. //What a summation of all that you are Duncan.//

 "Colloquial and poetic diction" (even if mumbled half the time..)? Yes. "An ability to express intense emotion with unapologetic directness but without sentimentality?" It had taken a while, Methos admitted to himself, for Duncan to re-find this. He had been far too damaged and hurt in recent times to allow himself the luxury of admitting intense emotion into his uttered speech. Unless totally distracted or irrational with fury. He'd buried it deep inside himself far away, where only he could find it and go visiting. He'd have internal conversations with himself ("You're brooding Duncan!"). Yes - it had taken a while to uncover this characteristic, he had to admit. 

And even now, Duncan tended to go from one extreme to the other. There was still no real balance to his expressions, the older Immortal admitted. He could still brood with the best of them and then turn around and drown Methos in an avalanche of feeling that left the older man stunned and gasping for more such words from that sensuous mouth…….and then, having launched the words, Duncan would bury further revelations for weeks on end. It was a disconcerting brew - but riveting.

He glanced back at the Corelis article and continued to test his lover's attributes against the list:
"…the quietness of its rage…"? Yes - Duncan could quietly rage…but this was offset by the many times he did not go quietly into the night and displayed his rage as a fiery beacon, smiting all sinners….//.but not so often, lately, Gradhach//….

He suddenly reached into his pocket, drew out his wallet and quickly found what he was looking for. Unfolding the piece of homemade paper, he leaned back into the cane garden chair and let Duncan's rare gift - the baring of his heart and soul - wash over and enfold him.

Surrendering
~~~~~~~~


All sense
senses
and sensibility.

all feelings felt.
all yearnings ever yearned
all burnings burned
all learnings ever learned


Methos had simply found it in his wallet, written in Duncan's beautiful handwriting learned from the monks so long ago. He'd never said anything to Methos - and Methos had no real idea how long it had been in his wallet. He laughed as he remembered Duncan's retort when he'd asked him about the poem, and when he'd written it….

"Knowing how often you open your wallet Methos I knew it would probably sit in there for months!"

And then there was, on another carefully folded piece, another one they'd written together…both well in their cups….laughing, playfully fighting. Duncan had  told him that he'd once looked up at the stars and been stunned at the sudden realisation that the stars had moved on - had changed their very positions in the heavens…but that Methos was more permanent than the very stars Duncan gazed upon. So the stunning insight had been reduced, by Duncan, to a silly ditty - now on the distinctly grubby paper in front of Methos:


The Cosmos wends its way…
And you remain.
It doffs its showery hat,
To mark your reign...

Over aeons it recalls…
That you remain.
its stars have since moved on -
you look the same.

Its galaxies salute,
With fire and flame..
comets remember Methos…
Once again……
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So you bow low and take,
by dint of age
the stars into your eyes….
To fire your rage

And rising you survey
Your old domain
Acknowledge and accept
That you remain.

They'd laughed at the image. And, he recalled, he'd grabbed the writing pad off Duncan and finished the poem on a more serious note (after a multitude of scratched out phrases ("No Methos. You can't finish it with …'stellar fella'…") and trying to write on whisky sodden paper while Duncan insisted on trying to distract him with hot, spicy whisky kisses...burning his neck and finally scorching his mouth and tongue.……but not before Methos had finished, for himself alone, his part of the poem:

You turn towards the man
Who loves and yearns
Who fuels your heart and soul
and quietly burns

And lights the dreary dark
of empty space
Who found and put your heart
Into that place.

The cosmos wends its way
Its checking done..
Acknowledging you both…
Its moon and sun


It never got the benefit of a title. Duncan, rudely, only ever referred to it as "…that Stardust crap…" but Methos was never quite sure whether the Highlander was referring to the poem or his centuries old lover.  And the Highlander took a malicious delight in remaining ambiguously obscure, as Methos tried to tickle the truth out of him. Duncan laughed rarely, particularly in those days. It was still a delight to hear and see him actually give himself up to full throated laughter.

//Leave the Highlander indeed!//

He continued with Corelis' treatise:
"…it is only the Scottish poets who seem to have kept the ability to write lyrics which are emotional expressions rather than literary demonstrations. For instance, it is almost only among them that I have found lyrics which I could imagine someone in real life actually giving to someone else whom they wanted to seduce. More generally, the songfulness of Scottish poetry even in non-lyric modes is something I too often miss elsewhere. Even a random glance through the poets I've mentioned reveals an instinctive songfulness as a common element among radically different styles…"

Once again, he found himself drawing on an example of just the thing Corelis was speaking of:
".. lyrics which I could imagine someone in real life actually giving to someone else whom they wanted to seduce…."

He recalled such a poem that Duncan had written for him after a particularly hurtful fight and separation - when the written word seemed safer than the spoken….at first.....

Beloved
~~~~~~


Gradhach - 
tenant of my nights and days

I covet you

the sleek fine featured
form of you…
the warmth of you

the siren searing
sex of you…
the feel of you

the luscious lusting
line of you…
the taste of you

I covet you…


No further seduction, he recalled had been necessary, and he felt himself getting hard at the memory of Duncan, afterwards, reciting the poem in his deep beautiful sexually excited voice as he'd scattered succulent kisses all over Methos' naked body, repeating a thousand times how much Methos was coveted.

It was one of the most treasured of all Methos' memories.

Folding the precious pieces of paper he put them once again into the safety of his wallet, where there would be little in the way of disturbances, he laughed, to threaten their safety.


Picking up the magazine he made his way back to the house and the Highlander. He stopped as he heard Mary's delighted laughter, rebounding off the stone walls and thick trunks of trees that surrounded the beautiful garden. Standing to observe, he found himself smiling at the scene before him. Duncan had one of her wrists and one of her ankles securely held and was whizzing her around and around him. She stretched out her other arm and leg, clearly playing at being an airplane.

"Higher Unca Duncan…higher….higher…." she squealed.

Methos swallowed. //Oh yes Duncan….oh yes….//

He leaned back against the wall, now warmed by the day's sun and took delight in silently observing the scene before him. It was one to treasure, to imprint in his memory bank, and file away, like Duncan's poems, - for use at a later time . To warm his nights and days when the coldness might set in.

Duncan's laughter continued to swirl around the enclosed garden as he sent Mary soaring once again. The setting sun provided a majestic gold and red streaked canvas behind the two dervishes, who continued to play in their private world, seemingly oblivious to any who had been drawn by their full throated shouting and laughing. Clearly, Uncle Duncan had been forgiven for missing Mary's horse ride. 

//Then again, who wouldn't forgive you anything Gradhach - anything.//  

He grimaced at the thought of how effectively Duncan had seared a channel to his heart and soul, and forged it with links of iron.

//Who wouldn't forgive you anything.//

He started as he realized that Anne was standing next to him. "How long?' he asked, with what he hoped was just the right mix of sardonic humor and honesty.

"Here long enough to see the way you look at him."

"I'm sorry Anne. I know you don't approve but I'm afraid there's not much I can do about it or want to do about it. Neither of us ever planned for this to happen." He had managed to successfully avoid being alone with the good Doctor for days. He should have known, he counselled himself, that his luck wouldn't hold. And he didn't really trust himself to be as polite as he needed to be if Duncan's continuing relationship with Mary was to be allowed to continue.

Duncan and Mary were now flat on their backs on the grass, no doubt letting the dizziness pass.

"Why do you say you're sorry, Adam?" Anne challenged.

"Because I know what it's like to love Duncan. And that you still have very deep feelings for him. But you also need to know that I'll never willingly stand aside for anyone." His eyes twinkled, as if he spoke in jest, but there was little warmth in them. "Anyone…" he repeated.

Anne appraised him and started to nod. "You don't have to worry about me, Adam. It was my choice to leave him." She stopped, unsure of how to continue. " He loves you very much." She swallowed "It's been good being here these past few days. Good seeing you and Duncan, talking to Duncan after the horrors of his past few years. I think that, if it wasn't for you Adam, he wouldn't have survived. Whatever you're doing," she smiled, "keep doing. It's working."

"You wouldn't say that so confidently if you got to observe us for more than a few days. Ask Joe. We're …," he searched for the right word, and gave up, "…impossible. If it's possible to misunderstand one another…or draw a wrong conclusion….or say something murderously hurtful, we always seem to manage to find it."

He turned back to see Duncan piggybacking Mary around and around the garden. A part of him was stunned that he'd made such an honest observation to Anne, whom he hardly knew and had no great desire to know.

"Maybe that just shows how deeply you both care and feel. And maybe there's a part of both of you that resists anyone getting that close. Maybe you keep wanting to test each other? Anyway, you don't have to tell me, Adam, how infuriating Duncan can be. I had more frustration, fear and anger in the few months I was with him than any other time in my life. He's one of the most paternalistic…." She hesitated, …..

"Boyscouts?" Methos offered.

She laughed…."..boyscouts I've ever come across. I don't need to tell you that everything Duncan does he does to extremes. I've watched him exercise until his body is screaming for relief. He just doesn't know how to do anything in a half-hearted way. He feels more than anyone else I've ever known. And when Duncan MacLeod decides that you're part of his clan, there's no escaping. I thought I wanted to once, but I don't. Not really. I want Mary to know this man - and what he stands for, risky as it is. I also won't pretend I haven't heard raised voices from your room, though…"

"Ouch! Sorry about that. And I'm the one who warned Duncan about the tissue thin walls. And you're right. He can be bloody infuriating. So can I, but never tell him I said that," he smirked.

"Don't worry about this morning. I didn't stay to hear your fight. I gathered Mary up and we went off for a long early morning walk. I can't imagine the stresses and tensions in your lives. I can't even begin to understand your day-to-day lives or the Game. I don't know how you stay sane..."

"We don't!"

"..and I won't pretend that a petty part of me doesn't hurt to see what you've both found in each other. But I'd be blind not to see it - even if Duncan himself hadn't told me this morning.

Methos took a deep breath. "And what, exactly, did he tell you this morning?"

Across the garden Duncan paused in his play long enough to watch Anne and Methos deep in conversation. With Mary's little voice babbling in his ear, he toyed with the idea of going and rescuing Methos, before deciding that he was old enough to look after himself. He found himself smiling at the thought of what Anne would be saying to Methos….about how he had seduced the poor innocent Highlander…….how vulnerable Duncan was at that period of his life……..how Methos was simply a rebound from Anne and all mortal women……….//serves you right old man.. …….you get yourself out of it.//

As he once again spun a magical world for Mary, he sent her flying into the air, up and down, surrounding himself with the usual turbulence that characterized his life. 

//If only I could pass through it as easily as you can, sweetheart//….As she squealed in delight, he mused on how much of the turbulence was, indeed, of his own creating. Setting her down on the ground and holding her steady he watched in fascination as warm moist air was breathed out of her tiny mouth. He watched the air swirl and rise, before disappearing heavenwards and was immediately transported back to another glorious garden in Paris, covered in snow.

They'd had a fight (again) and Duncan had disappeared for two days (again). He'd gone to the Luxembourg Gardens and was sitting on a lone bench, freezing, when he'd felt Methos coming. They just sat, neither talking. Just sat next to each other, as if they had become part of the garden's wooden and marble fixtures.

Finally Methos had taken the Scot's hand and pulled him up and walked a few paces before pushing Duncan against the strong snow covered trunk of a large tree where he'd given him a kiss of such longing that Duncan had felt warm, moist air being breathed into his lungs. Finally, he pulled back from Methos, still saying nothing - as if it was the most normal thing in the world to come across a man sitting alone on a snow covered garden bench in the middle of Paris and to then sit beside him for hours while the snow lightly fell and then to set him on fire with the white hot fire of his kiss.
As they turned to leave, together, Duncan remembered how he'd leaned forward and whispered across the surface of Methos' ear…."I'm sorry."


Methos had said nothing - just reached up and stroked his cheek with the backs of his fingers….such sadness in his eyes, - as if he knew that this couldn't last……and of course it hadn't. He remembered thinking, as they walked out of the snow shrouded garden, about how he was cursed. Cursed. 

He shook his head and dislodged the painful memory and immediately threw himself into holding Mary tightly to him before tumbling her over his head and around his shoulders so that she ended up on his back. "Now you hafta be my horsie Unca Duncan cos you didden come riding today didden you?"

Uncle Duncan laughed at her inflexions but agreed with their sentiments. And as he went through his paces with her he stole an uneasy glance at the two people by the wall who, he knew without a doubt, would never get along and indeed, wouldn't even try to if it weren't for Duncan. He would have given anything to be able to overhear the snide comments that he knew came as naturally to each of them as did breathing to anyone else. //And they'll both find a way to blame me for the barbs they'll hurl//……

"And what, exactly, did he tell you this morning?" Methos had asked her a full minute before, hoping his Dismissive Face would soon discourage Anne.

"That living longer gives him more time to discover things about himself. That his love for you isn't an illness that needs therapy. That was for my small minded benefit!" she laughed. "And he said that what he'd found with you was the most precious thing that has happened to him in centuries."

Methos knew that he had a silly grin on his face, completely ruining his mask, but it refused to depart. So he just nodded.

"But it will no doubt cause you a moment's delight to know that I refused to back away gracefully from defeat - accused him of having fallen into your clutches because he feared mortal female relationships." She could still hear her words: " 'Who better than an Immortal male to avoid ever having to think about children, about mortality.. ' He said that you took away the emptiness…made him laugh. Said he loved loving you and having you love him. And that he wants to be with you for the rest of his life."

Methos found that he could hardly speak - indeed, was afraid to speak. After what seemed like too many minutes he tried. "Why have you told me this?"

"Because I know Duncan MacLeod and unless you've worked miracles with our boyscout, he's probably come to this conclusion all on his own and having done that, will file it away and neglect to tell the person it most concerns. I only got it out of him through gross emotional manipulation. And I'm not apologizing for that. It was the price I demanded for looking after him this morning. He's still very fragile, Adam. This is the Doctor speaking, as well as his good friend. Very fragile."

"We're all fragile, Anne. Believe me. And neither Duncan nor I would win any prizes for openness I'm afraid. Yes - he's still fragile. He's suffered more in the past ten years than anyone should have to in ten lifetimes. He'll come through it," he announced with certainty and finality, finishing the conversation.

Interrupted by welcome laughter, they watched in silence as Mary set upon Duncan, tickling him and generally making a thorough nuisance of herself in that way that children did when they just didn't know when to stop.

Anne sighed. "I'll go and rescue him."

Methos gently pulled her back. "I think you'll find that in four hundred years he hasn't yet built up the normal adult intolerance to children. He's loving it. "

"She's going to miss him terribly. When are you going to be back in Seacouver?" Anne looked nervous.

"Is this about the special school occasion? She told me about it today and that she wants Duncan to come. I think that he'd fly around the world to make sure he's there."

"Good! It will make leaving tomorrow that much easier if she has that to look forward to." //I'll have something to look forward to//…..

Duncan's voice suddenly broke through their conversation. "Go on, Mary. Say it just like I taught you."

"Feashar math. Ciamar a tha thu M'Adam and Mummy?"

"Good afternoon to you too, Shirley. And both your Mother and I are very well indeed, thank you very much."

Mary beamed, delighted at having been understood, knowing nothing of the intellectual contortions M'Adam had gone through in attempting to decipher the likely meaning from her quite unique delivery of the Gaelic.

Duncan's smile lit up the fading day. "Go on - say the next one."

"Tha sinn air saor-laithean!"

Methos wondered where Duncan had suddenly found the marbles that appeared to have taken up residence in Mary's mouth. Squinting, he put his mind into translation overdrive, without success, until Duncan came to the rescue.

"Perfect Mary! '…We are on holiday…….' Leaning down he kissed the tip of her nose. "Said just like I taught you. Adam was just about to answer you, weren't you Adam?"

"Definitely. Don't give up your day job, Highlander!"

Laughing, the four of them worked their way up to large house and the welcoming fire and meal awaiting them.

Duncan gave Mary the gift of himself for her last evening in Glenfinnan. By the time she had fallen asleep in his arms she was an expert on the Sidhe and the deities that inhabited rivers, lochs, groves, moorland, mountains and glens. While Rachel, Joe, Anne and Methos pretended to be completely engrossed in their own small talk, all had listened with delight as Duncan revealed more of his heritage to the golden-haired child he had taken into his heart. After explaining in detail about deiseiling, the circling three times, deiseil, or sunwise, of a certain place, house or whatever to bring good luck and fortune, they had all found themselves up and circling the large couch, deiseil, to bring good fortune on all who sat in it hereafter. "Not quite the intended use of deiseiling, " Duncan had admonished them. And Mary made them all promise to circle their departing car in the morning.

"Thank you Duncan. I can see the rest of my life being spent taking three times longer to do everything!" Anne chided.

"Ah - don't discount the power of the sun, Dr Lyndsay," he retorted.

Duncan had even given Mary a 'peighinn pisich' a lucky penny, to be turned over three times in the pocket at the first sight of the new crescent moon. He'd let her hold, once again, the small segment of the Fairy flag he carried in his wallet. Together they made Anne promise to plant a Rowan tree, for protection, at their front door. And in a poignant moment he reassured Mary that she must never worry if he seemed to disappear - that it just meant that he was with the fairies for a while in their magical dwelling place 'over the sea' - an island beneath the waves….

Finally the child was taken to bed, to be followed soon after by all of the seemingly exhausted adults. And if Methos was dreading an in-depth discussion on Duncan's thoughts about sleeping with women, it was apparent from the dead weight covering most of his body that that conversation was at least second on the Highlander's priority list, well behind sleeping the sleep of the just, entwined around the body of the man you said you loved loving you.  Methos - the man Duncan wanted to spend the rest of his life with…the man who, he had revealed to Anne, took away his emptiness and made him laugh.

Methos sighed and allowed himself to feel real guilt at the memory of how he had physically and emotionally abused and assaulted Duncan not thirty minutes after he gave these precious revelations of his love for Methos,  to Anne……

But they were definitely making progress, as he'd reassured Duncan. Because Duncan was still here in his arms, loving him. And Methos was learning to temper his pride, to read his lover more cleverly than he had in the past…although any passing stranger would have been excused from believing that this morning…..And they had learned to say sorry.

They'd both learned that.

He laughed quietly at the realization that for all their warrior training and finely honed crafts and skills, the hardest thing of all, for them both, was learning to say "I'm sorry".

As he drifted off to sleep he pulled Duncan more securely into the circle of his protection, letting his mind replay for him Duncan's yearning …//tenant of my nights and days……I covet you……the sleek fine featured form of you…the warmth of you……the siren searing……sex of you…the feel of you……….the luscious lusting line of you…….the taste of you………I covet you…

I covet you……..I covet you//………and if there were any night mares come to graze again at Duncan's fields and wells of memories, hurts and guilts, the deiseil Methos called down on the precious man in his arms, as his hands circled his back and head three times, must have been partially heard…far away in the Otherworld.

For only one came pawing this night - snorting and scouting. Breathing hot moist air all over the Highlander, enveloping him in a vaporous mist which finally dissipated ..and all the while he was swirling the golden haired child around and around in the white mist of his dream. And as in his dream he twirled her higher and higher, light snow started to fall around them, along with blood, spraying the pure white snow . And the faster he spun the child, the more blood started to fall all around him. And then he realized that it was coming from the child, and that her blood had made an almost perfect circle, closing him in, trapping him and her . No circle of protection here, only a circle of doom.

So he held her fast amidst the blood on the snow, and encircled her with his arms, turning his strong back to shield her from the savage elements…realizing too late that it was his own hands that were too sharp, causing her to bleed…….……

Feeling Duncan's obvious distress at the dream, Methos pulled him more securely into the shelter of his arms, and held him fast, and visibly relaxed as the night mare paced, snorted and finally went looking for less well protected pastures….

 

Go to Chpt 10


Updated 16 May 2001

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