Carson Kearns' Highlander Fanfic

Lost in the Loving: Coming Home

Chapter 10

by Carson Kearns

 

 

He was becoming Methos.

For what else, Duncan MacLeod groggily asked himself, could explain why he, a strapping warrior who would normally  bounding out of bed at the crack of dawn would instead be here in bed, luxuriating in the hot cocoon of a feathered quilt. He was determined to sleep …….to fall back into the middle of the nurturing feathered cloud……//safe………sleeping……..being lazy//………ignoring unsubtle distractions trying to pull him out of, and away from, his beautiful thick cloudy quilt….//getting soft ........definitely becoming Methos//…… someone's hand was disturbing him……..stroking and surrounding his penis. //Methos//…Unwanted and unwelcome consciousness - mmmmm...//perhaps//???.

Methos' expert ear for obscure languages quickly translated the Scot's mumbled, expletive peppered verbal jumble as something along the lines of: "Don't even think about it Methos!"

"Think about what?"

"Exactly."

"Exactly what?"

"That."

"This?"

"Is it just me, Methos, or have Abbott and Costello just wandered in here?"

"It's just you……..Lou…….."

"I thought you, quote, 'Didn't do mornings!' Of all bloody mornings ….//just another hour, please//……….."Go away Methos!" …(swatting the invading hand seeking out his genitals)..…//thirty minutes…….…..ten minutes even//…...."

"I don't. But I'll gladly do you."

"I'm not on the menu."

"Since when?"

//Damn// "Since everyone already thinks we're bloody feral rutting pigs. And since this is Mary's last morning. Move it Methos! I'm tired……!"

"Feral rutting pigs eh? Then why disappoint them?."

"Because I don't like being thought of as a rutting pig, that's why. It's embarrassing."

"Is it actually being a rutting pig or just being thought of as one that's the problem?"

He didn't even have to look at Methos to know how large his eyes would be. All innocence. //Butter wouldn't melt in his mouth.// "Don't even think about starting one of those mind games. I'm not playing. My mouth might be speaking but my brain is still sound asleep and that's the way it's staying for another thirty minutes. "

"Your cock isn't."

"Isn't what?"

"Asleep."

"Yes it is. It's just having a nightmare. Thinks it's being strangled. If you'd remove your bloody fist it could go back to sleep - along with its owner."

"But it thinks I'm its owner and it's talking to me. It says it feels like a big morning stretch, MacLeod. It says it's happy to stay up and for you not to worry about a thing and to just go back to sleep and leave everything to it and its rightful owner - moi. It says…."

"Get fucked Methos."

"Exactly."

"Exactly what?"

"Get fucked. That's exactly what it wants. To be fucked off. See - Feel that! It's talking to you too now."

"Tell it I'm not listening. Christ. What am I saying? You've got me actually talking to my prick as if it's a person. Just shut up and go back to sleep. You're supposed to hate mornings."

"The fact that I hate mornings doesn't mean that I'm against dawn risings."

"Well raise your own prick and leave mine out of it."

"Mine's been at attention for a ridiculous amount of time. It just wants to whisper something to yours. It will only take a minute."

"It never takes a minute with you. You always say it will only take a minute and …"

"Well can I help it if they both find each other fascinating?"

"You're impossible Methos."

"I try. Come on. Just a little mutual rub to let them know they're still friends?"

The beautiful long dark hair lay across the pillow, not one strand having moved during the entire conversation. Its owner was determined to make Methos beg. "Methos - have you regressed to childhood or somethin'? We've got five and a half thousand  years of prick between us and you're talking about them as if they're characters out of something Mary would watch on Play School."

"God - you got regaled with them as well did you? After hours with young Mary there's nothing I don't know abut Bananas in Pyjamas and associated cultural impedimenta. I think our poor horse was even ga-ga by the end of the day. Gods what an image - Banana 1 and Banana 2 in garish striped pyjamas. Not that she was talking about pricks, MacLeod. They're banana cartoon characters. Twins. At least I think they are. Of course, you never know these days. Much simpler in the old days. Now I won't be able to sing that new song she taught me without thinking about fucking you."

"What new song?"

"'Bananas in Pyjamas'. Of course, even Mary would have the sense not to encourage you to sing."

The appalling strains of a five thousand year year old man starting to sing,

".......Bananas in pyjamas
are coming down the stairs.
Bananas.
In Pyjamas.
Are chasing teddy bears….."


was almost enough to make Duncan lose it, convinced that he was in the throes of the Mother of all nightmares.

"Come on Duncan. Okay! Okay!  Fine!  Shut your eyes. I'm sorry. I won't say another word. You won't even know I'm here. Mr. Inconspicuous."

"Promises…"

"What's wrong with you anyway? Do you realise how many people there are who'd kill for what I'm offering?"

"Go find one of them." //Hah!//.
Methos, he noted with satisfaction, was becoming suitably frustrated.

"Well.." Methos harrumphed - "I didn't say they were in Glenfinnan, exactly.'

"Exactly. Pity!"

"Thought you wanted to take Mary for a last morning walk.'

"I do."

"Well why not start off fresh and alert. By letting me fuck your brains out."

"And how, exactly, would that leave me feeling fresh and alert?"

"It wouldn't - exactly. I lied."

"That'd be a novel experience. Tell me about it."

"What? Me lying (strictly for your own good MacLeod) or fucking your brains out?"

"Methos. How about we both pretend that I'm sound asleep and you just help yourself to whatever you want to help yourself to. Just don't make any noise and don't wake me up."

"It's a deal. Now wouldn't it just have been easier to have listened to reason fifteen minutes ago?"

"I'm asleep. I'm learning from you. I've decided that I don't do reason any more - until at least mid morning."

"Right. Now, B1 - where do you want to start?"

"B1?"

"Banana One. I thought you were asleep."

"I am.'

"Good. Then you won't mind if B1 comes rocketing up your arse…"

There was really no excuse for the fact that Methos was taken by surprise as what seemed like  ten tons of pure Highland warrior suddenly landed on top of him. After all, he'd had more warning that anyone of where the conversation was heading. Within sixty seconds, Duncan had effectively pinioned him. It took a mere sixty seconds more for B2 to be securely ensconced in the warm, tight surrounds of Methos' welcoming anal passage.

Methos was stunned. Not that he had the slightest intention of revealing that to the Scot. This lover was getting altogether too skilled at avoiding Methos' manipulations, he decided. Definitely time to gather up the tattered remnants of his reputation as a strategist..//and leave you wondering, bright boy, just who's pulling who's strings.// "God you are so bloody predictable MacLeod. Talk about 'On Time. On Target.' And by the way, you've flattened me. I need pumping up. Lots and lots of pumping….yes……it's starting to work……..harder…..so predictable…."

"If I'm boring you I could always stop….and be bloody quiet…….Ssshhhhh…"

"Then fucking pump harder or I'll scream."

"You scream and I'll kill you.'

"The
n
you'd better seal all exits…..God……..fuck…….yes….yes…….harder………"

The descent of the most sinful mouth in the world, sealing the most northerly exit, effectively cut off any further verbal accompaniments from the ancient Immortal. The simultaneous lifting of his entire weight up onto the Highlander's thighs, so that their arms encircled, caressed and imprisoned each other simply added to the sensation of being wonderfully and totally possessed. Owned. Captured.

//Used.//

He wrapped his legs around the golden torso, as if attempting to pull the Highlander as far into himself as possible. And all the while the powerful Scottish hips kept up a relentless thrusting and thrusting, while the glorious mouth and teeth savaged and ravaged anything before it resembling five thousand year old hot, silken, tender, luscious skin. And as the pummelling continued, the teeth closed on the long stretches of muscle across Methos' shoulders, sensing the hot blood fuelling the body, held fast in Duncan's arms and on his thighs and on his prick.

//Immobilised.//

Before Methos could react, Duncan roughly threw him backwards across the bed. Sliding out of his lover, he ignored the sighs and stood by the side of the bed, reaching for and forcefully grabbing both of Methos' ankles. Positioning himself to once again gain entry he pushed the beautiful lean legs up and back, grabbing the feet for better leverage, as he began to once again thrust into the wonderfully tight, receptive body spread out before him. As Methos used his legs to push him playfully away Duncan used the powerful strength of his body to force himself forwards, determined to bury himself totally in the depth of Methos. The feeling of mutual strength was incredibly erotic, one of the reasons Duncan enjoyed this position.

The dance of the ages started to take them over, its rhythms rippling through every cell, every nerve ending. And as it called to them, Duncan again thrust forward, determined to follow, never wanting to let this exquisite partner ever again dance alone. Never wanting to break contact, no matter how tenuous it might be.

Seeking…..feeling……finding……thrusting…and thrusting…….

He felt himself being swept up in  overpowering rippling sensations and memories.    In those exquisite moments of passion he became one with the natural cycles of his homeland and he remembered all of his past lustful sweat soaking into the ground, being  swept away and suckled back into the heavens.  He pictured it cycling back as rain and dew.  From high in the mountains and deep in the lochs and valleys that surrounded them.   From the bodies of the beloved.  And so was the well of love and life, laughter and the purest joy, endlessly refilled. 

Sensations assaulted him from the retained memories of every lover (including Duncan MacLeod himself) who had ever left their guttural, lusty cries and their moans, their sense and their scents and their sweet sweet juices on the fertile surfaces of this ancient land. 

And these two lovers were so attuned to each other that there was never any doubt as to the target for the encircling energies, starting their ever diminishing twirling and swirling, miles away. Finally - finally - the energies closed in on their bodies and raced from every bodily extremity straight to their joining, where explosion after explosion after explosion of mutual orgasms left them utterly, completely, totally, and undeniably, satiated.

Sweat dripped off both their bodies, and they gazed at each other in awe as the first dusty rays of golden sun sought and suckled their juices, beginning anew the age old cycle of love and lust. Duncan threw his head back, feeling his damp hair sticking to his shoulders and neck.  He felt suitably ravaged and worn, exhilarated and powerful. He'd never admit it, but Methos had been right. He did feel fresh and alert. He remembered thinking (and liking the thought) that the waste water from the coming shower and the laundry would be once again feeding the soil of his homeland with the sexual juices of Duncan MacLeod and his lover.

What, he wondered, truly constituted immortality? How could anyone ever think themselves barren when cycles of life were all about them?

Methos stretched like a great cat beneath him, playfully clawing the golden chest above, crossing his feet behind Duncan's back and imprisoning his wonderfully energetic lover. "Jesus Christ MacLeod. Remind me to wake you up more often. I've just decided that I most definitely do do mornings. That is, if my paraplegia is ever cured. I think you've bent me in two."

"You'll heal," his lover assured him, desperately trying to catch his breath. "Did we make much noise? Tell me we didn't. Lie to me," he pleaded, lustful arrogance dissipating in the golden dawn and the unwelcome memories of the tissue thin walls.

Methos laughed. "Next time I make the bookings. Why you're embarrassed to ask about the thickness of the bedroom walls is beyond me. We're the bloody customers. And yes lover-mine, we made a lot of noise. We screamed the bloody roof off. What do you bloody well think? Smoke alarms are no doubt going off for miles. There's probably a convoy of fire brigades converging on Glenfinnan as we speak." He was, he decided, definitely on a roll. "We'll be on the news, the two rutting beasts who had to be put out by the good fire wardens of Glenfinnan." Laughing, he reached up and pulled the groaning, miserable golden skinned lover into his arms, just so he could feel his powerful heart pumping and fall into its rhythm. "I thought I was going to burst into flames."

"It was good, wasn't it," Duncan agreed, licking his lips at the memory and stretching his over-stretched muscles. "But please tell me you're teasing. Maybe everyone's up already.…"

"If they weren't before, they certainly are now. It's a bit late for maidenly discretion I'm afraid. Christ - I can just hear Anne explaining to Mary about you having a nightmare! I take it that you won't want me to have a breakfast salute to dawn risings then?" He laughed aloud as he was unceremoniously pummelled. "Trust me Highlander - "

"Huh! Trust you
! That's what's got me into this embarrassing mess!"

Methos ignored his interjection. "Trust me - the best defence is ignorance. Say nothing! Look suitably blank when they all look at us." Leaning back he looked into Duncan's eyes and smiled. "What am I talking about? You're congenitally incapable of deception. Joe will have you blushing before the first spoon of porridge hits your very attractive swollen lips."

"That's it. I'm not going down to breakfast. You go. Tell them I've gone for a run."

"Forget it. You've only got a couple of hours before Anne and Mary leave. Just think how much material we keep giving Joe for your Chronicle." Pulling Duncan back down onto his chest, they both luxuriated in the smells and warmth and comfort of each other, until duty forced showers and a facing of the music and the day.

Arriving at the top of the stairs, Methos once again attempted to teach the Scot how to spell the word 'Obfuscation'.

"Don't worry Methos, I promise I won't blush. I've got it all under control. I'm not a teenager for heaven's sake." Rolling his eyes, Methos bounced down the stairs, there being little in the way of sniggers that he hadn't heard in five thousand years. And in truth, he was vastly looking forward to hearing what particular line Dawson would (successfully) use to mortify the Scot.

As they arrived at the dining room, Joe, Mary and Anne were already seated, the adults laughing about something or other. Duncan avoided looking at them and made straight for the porridge and stewed apple.

"So Mac. Mary thinks she heard hounds in your bedroom. You tell Uncle Duncan about the howling we all heard sweetheart."

Methos prepared himself to be thoroughly entertained at the Scot's expense, he himself having given up embarrassment some centuries before. Over the skim milk Duncan cringed and felt his cheeks begin to burn. H
is sense of fair play suggested a suitable retort. "That was just M'Adam pretending to be Lassie.'

"Lassie - or a lassie?" Joe innocently inquired.

Duncan gave him a withering look and immediately changed the conversation. "Do you want to come for a walk with me Mary? Is it all right Anne?"

"Of course it is. It will give me a chance to pack in peace."

Joe wasn't letting up. "Yeah - as long as Lassie here doesn't start howling again."

Determined to find a foothold on the moral high ground, Duncan continued to refuse to play. "Run upstairs sweetheart and get your jacket."

Struggling off the large chair, her little legs raced away from them, up the stairs. Anne took pity on her humiliated Highlander - particularly as his partner in crime was literally basking in the waves of embarrassment rippling from Duncan. But she knew, and Duncan knew that she knew, what an uninhibited and lustful lover he was.

"Don't let them embarrass you Duncan," she smiled, reaching out to hold his forearm. "Now - when are we going to see you in Seacouver? Mary has a very special school function that she'd love you to be present for, in late September. Any hope?"

"I'll certainly try. I have to be back in Seacouver for business in October so it won't be too difficult to come a few days early. Are you sure you're okay with my being with her?"

"It's a public function. I know I'm the world's worst worry wart when it comes to Mary but I can't see anyone challenging you at a public school function."

The reminder of the Game seemed to curdle the porridge and Duncan was pleased to see Mary skipping down the stairs and running towards him. Visiting a final withering look on Joe and Methos he rose, thankfully, and swept Mary into his arms.

Duncan put her down briefly while he went upstairs and retrieved his long coat. The resulting vision of him seeming to float down the staircase, an apparition in black jeans, black turtleneck and long black duster left everyone momentarily speechless, including Mary, who watched her hero looking only at her as he gathered her up into the safe harbour of his arms. She put her small arms around the steel cords of his throat and gazed over Duncan's shoulder . "Unca Duncan dogs get fleas donten they?  Maybe M'Adam's got fleas," she solemnly proffered.

Duncan burst out laughing. "You know sweetheart you may be right. Maybe that's why he was howling! Joe do me a favour and check Adam for fleas while I'm gone! Or rabies." he threw over his shoulder.

Methos did what he was a master of and showed not the slightest hint of amusement or embarrassment. His mind was still consumed with the vision of Duncan, coming down the staircase. Time for deflection, he decided. "Don't say a word Joe unless you want a bowl of porridge on your head."

Mary tut tutted. "M'Adam's funny isn he Unca Duncan. S'naughty to put porridge on people's heads isn it.."

"Yes it is sweetheart. Maybe I need to give him a spanking," he offered, winking at his lover, waving goodbye to the adult trio, and the moral high ground. It both amused and confused him that he didn't even mind the laughter that gently followed him to the garden's edge.

********************************

It was a beautiful morning, the sun already up and a hint of crispness in the air. "Is there anywhere special you'd like to go, sweetheart?"

Mary pulled on his hand and instinctively he stopped and bent down to her height, taking delight in the effort her little face was going through, as she weighed up all her choices. What those choices could possibly be was beyond Duncan, knowing that she'd hardly seen much of Glenfinnan.

"Just wif you."

Duncan felt his throat catch at the sheer simplicity and power of her avowal to him. //Just with you.// How many people would give their souls to have another human being think that much of them, he wondered.

//Just with you.//

As he pulled the child to him he remembered Tessa making such an avowal, in that awful time after Darius' murder. He had been all set to race off to the States, without her, and she'd pulled him up short, (just as Mary had just done), with a statement of love and trust, loyalty and commitment that humbled him and reminded him that the living must take precedence over the dead.

"We're either together, or we're not," she had said. Together or not together. Dead or alive.

How ironic, he sighed, that those words should come back to him now, so close to Tessa's grave. It was almost as if he was being given permission to give precedence to the people who still lived and loved. "Oh sweetheart…" he unknowingly sighed.

Mary, of course, thought that he was talking to her. "Yes Un-cul Duncan? See - Un-cul Joe's been teaching me. Only babies say 'Unca' instead of 'Un-cul' donten they?"

He momentarily chastised himself for not simply letting her call him 'Duncan'. But 'Uncle' denoted a special relationship that gave him an enormous amount of pleasure. "Say U-n-c-l" he encouraged, placing her on his lap as they sat under a magnificent pine tree. Fifteen minutes later, she appeared to have mastered the linguistic complexities and they set off once again for no-where in particular. He castigated himself along the way for being so petty - determined that *he* would be the one to teach her how to pronounce Uncle Duncan, not Joe. He quietly laughed as he predicted Methos' weary sigh…. " "Ah well - as long as you feel *guilty* about it there's no harm done…..getting your daily quotient of brooding material I see, MacLeod….."

A further twenty minutes of chasing, hide and seek and airplanes followed with Duncan then deciding to take her to visit the lovely old church. To do so they had to pass the freshly dug graves, where he stopped, unsure of what to do. Mary broke into his reverie. There were times that he found himself wondering whether she did, in fact, sense his sadness. She seemed to have a special gift for re-focusing him. He liked to think that his mother kept a special watch over her namesake and cringed as he imagined Methos' response to that particular little morsel of flagellating material.

"That's my mother's grave, Mary."

"Was your mummy nice?"

"Yes Mary - she was wonderful." He knelt and tenderly touched the gravestone. Mary mimicked him, gently touching it as well. He looked at her and smiled, thinking how his mother would have loved to have had this child in her life. He knew that there had been daughters born to Mary. He could even remember one who was born and died when he was still very young. He remembered his Mother's tears, and the blood, and how sad his mother had been.

She never spoke of her dead babies, but he saw it in her eyes when she looked at the young girls of the village. He remembered his father becoming exasperated, at times, with how much love and affection his mother "squandered on the boy!". He hadn't really thought about it before, in terms of their being no daughters and sisters. Methos had told him, on more than one occasion, that he loved the androgynous quality in the Scot. And Duncan had, at first, been outraged and insulted. Coming on top of suddenly finding himself in a gay relationship had lead to another of their famous theatrical fights. But he'd never thought of himself as in any way feminine. Gradually he had come to acknowledge and accept what Methos was talking about. Indeed, if he was being honest, he admitted to himself, he now played on it. At first he'd seen it as a dilution and a lessening of who he was. Now he realized that it was a wonder-filled addition.

But he'd never, until now, linked it back to his upbringing.

As Mary's only beloved child he'd had been afforded very unusual and privileged insights into feminine mysteries, views and insights. Methos always commented that Duncan felt too much and didn't think things through enough. It was only now, as he looked at his mother's grave, that he remembered the many many hours spent absorbing her *feeling* and being part of those feelings. He supposed it was always there, in him, but there was also no doubt, he now realized, that Mary nurtured the feeling side of him and encouraged "her beautiful boy" to give full vent to the softer side of his nature. Had there been sisters, or even more brothers, he doubted that this would have occurred. There was no doubt in his mind that his mother had given him much more time than would otherwise have been the case, had she had daughters to share her time between.

For it was Duncan who comforted her when Iain was overdue from hunting, or from some border skirmish. It was Duncan who gently wiped away her tears or told her funny stories or made her something sweet, or secretly brought her some flowers (hidden from Robert and the other boys, who would laugh at him if they knew.). He sighed as he luxuriated in the remembered warmth of her and her strong arms and her smell and her laughter and the songs she sang him to sleep with…..the feel of her long hair as he brushed it out for her or plaited it for her. Maybe, he wondered, that's why he kept his hair long now - his mother had loved it so. And it was a tangible connection to her.

Little Mary's ceaseless chatter finally brought him back to the present.

"……..I waz talking to you Uncle Duncan but you wernten listening," she admonished.

"I'm sorry sweetheart. I was thinking about my mother. You know you're called after her. She was called Mary too. That shows you how special you are to me."

"Did you have any brovvers or sistas?"

"No. There was just me."

"Was you a good boy?"

"*Were* you a good boy," Uncle Duncan corrected.

"But I'm not a boy!" she laughed.

"No - you said "*Was* you a good boy?" You should have said "Were you a good boy?"

Mary thought about it. She didn't look convinced but appeared to decide to humor him. "Were you?

"Most of the time. My father was a very important person in our village and it would have made him sad if I was naughty. I had lots and lots of jobs to do to keep me busy."

"What? Did you have any pets? Did you get to watch much TV or videos?? Or go on bus rides? What were your favorite cartoonies?"

 Not Bananas in Pyjamas he reminded himself, and smiled. "We had lots of pets - cattle, sheep. And there used to be lots of deer and other wild animals. Once there was a big white wolf attacking the sheep. My village was too small to have TV - we used to have a man tell us stories and poems and sing to us all instead. And I had my own horse to get places.
A bus would have got stuck in the mud."

"Who's grave is that one?"

"A man called Richie Ryan." //A child…a brother…..a son……a weeping wound that never heals//…...

"What's he dead of, Uncle Duncan?"

//What's he dead of?// How often had he tried to answer that, he wondered.….//Too much love…too much caring and loyalty……trusting where he shouldn't have//………"He had a bad accident, sweetheart. Do you want to come and look at the church?"

//Still so painful…so raw….still the guiltthe loss....the missing of his youth and vibrancy and companionshipthe missing of *him*....all that he was and could have been//.......

"Did you know him? Was you in the accident too?"

He let the grammatical mistake go. "Yes, I knew him. That's why I brought his body here to my home, so he could be with my parents. And yes, I was hurt too."

"Are you all better now?"

"Most of the time, sweetheart."

//Most of the time//.....

"Do dead people live in the ground? I'm not going to live there. I'm not going to die am I?"

He swore at himself for frightening her. //Brilliant, MacLeod. Bloody brilliant//

"No sweetheart, dead people and animals don't live in the ground. Remember how I told you about the Sidhe and the Fairies…well, it's sort of like that. We go to the Otherworld where there's lots of laughter and light and games." //Damn - don't make it sound too attractive, idiot//. "But you don't have to worry sweetheart. I've got lots of friends who live in the Otherworld now, like Tessa - that's her grave there, and Richie of course, and they'll be waiting for us when it's time for us to go travelling there. But it's not going to be for a long long time sweetheart. There's lots of games to be played here first."

"Will you come wif me to the Ovverworld?"

He leaned down and kissed her and held her fast. "Y
ou're far too young to think about Otherworlds, Mary. Come on, there's lots to see still and you have to go soon."

She started to pout and sat down, refusing to budge. "I don't wanna go. I wanna stay here wif you."

He lifted her up into his arms and started to walk towards the Church. "But I'm not staying here. I have to go back to work back in Paris. But a little birdie told me that you were going to invite me to come to your school?"

"I'm in a special play wif music. I want you to come and watch me."

"I'd love to come sweetheart, but only if you're a good girl for your mummy and me. I'll phone you every week and you keep sending me your special drawings. Remember how I showed you how to draw on the computer. Well, Mummy is going to show you how to send me special letters on the computer."

"Is M'Adam still cranky about the crumbs in his pooter?"

"Well - he loves his computer. You shouldn't eat or drink anything near a computer…".

No matter how old he got, he realized, he never ceased to be amazed at how quickly a child could move on from one topic of conversation to another. Here he was, mortified at his having traumatised her with talk of graves and death and Otherworlds and already she was beyond the conversation, onto crumbs and theater. What a pity, he sighed, that the same couldn't be said for adults. //If only I could move on//...

And so the scattered conversation went for the next hour.

Back at the house Methos was luxuriating on a large, comfortable lounge, strategically placed before a large sun drenched window. He was totally surrounded by crumpled newspapers. In the corner, Joe finished a telephone conversation with Rachel MacLeod.

"Well, well, well Joe. Is it just me or do I sense something stronger than mere friendship going on there?"

Joe laughed and rubbed his beard for a while before answering. "Thought you were buried in three days of old news?"

"I am. Five thousand years teaches you how to do two things at once. Besides, interpreting that ludicrous grin on your face every time Rachel's name has been mentioned around here in the past few days is hardly rocket science."

This, of course, was a blatant lie. Methos had, in fact, paid not the slightest attention to what was going on with anyone else over the past few days. Indeed, some twenty-four hours before, he was convinced that Rachel had her sights set on MacLeod (and vice versa). In reality he knew he completely exploited the fact that they all misinterpreted his behaviours and facial expressions. For the most part, whenever they thought that he was plotting and planning or scheming, the odds were that he was probably, he admitted, day dreaming - of his lover, beer, his journals, his lover, food, sleep - his lover. But he wasn't going to pass up an opportunity to needle Joe, who of course had come to expect such things of the ancient Immortal.

"She's a fine woman, Methos. And that's all I'm sayin' buddy."

"Suit yourself Joe. Far be it from me to point out that five thousand years of observing mortal interactions has taught me anything." And now, he congratulated himself, the coup de grace: "Wait until I tell MacLeod…" he teased.

"Do me a favour. Seriously, Methos, please don't say anything to Mac - not yet, anyway."

It always worked. Somehow, he was always able to find out what was going on. Not because of any superior detective skills on his part, but because they all just assumed he always knew everything - assumed that a five thousand year old man would know everything about human nature.

//If only. If only.//

He put on his Accommodating Face. "Your secret's safe with me, Joe." He decided that a change of subject was required. He picked up the nearest crumpled newspaper sheet and proceeded to read from it. "Listen to this, Joe. 'The cellular way to lengthen a lifeline: immortal telomeres.' Now here's one for the Watchers to keep on top of."

Joe was stunned. "What in hell are telomeres? I haven't seen anything about them in the Watcher reports."

Methos yawned. "Here - read the article yourself. But basically they're being billed as the cellular fountain of youth. In short, they think they can now genetically engineer your own cells to reproduce telomerase which will render your cells immortal. The human cells' potential to divide is apparently determined by the length of telomeres. Er…you look confused, Joseph!"

"I'm still no clearer. What in hell is a telomere?"

"Hmm..here it is. '…sequences of DNA that protect the ends of its 46 chromosomes like rubber feet on chair legs…'. I
n mortals they wear away and leave the genes unprotected so they start to age. There - all clear now?"

"No! Is there a cross-word puzzle in that crumpled up mess you've made?"

"Or you could go to http://www.swmed.edu/home_pages/cellbio/shay/ if you'd prefer."

"You made that up didn't you?"

"Nope. But I must say Joe - pass a beer will you - that it is certainly a sorry indictment on late twentieth century lifeforms that a five thousand year old has to be the one to keep you all up to the mark on technology."

"Yeah, well, I guess after learning to shave flint stones it was all pretty easy for you after that."

Methos had the good grace to laugh. "Yep - did I ever tell you about those cave paintings I did in Lascaux?"

"So now you're claiming to being fifteen thousand years old instead of five! Sure."

"Well, don't say you didn't hear it straight from the horse's mouth."

Joe sniggered. "And don't think that I'm picking up all those beer caps from behind the couch before we leave."

"It's okay - mention it to MacLeod. He'll be suitably mortified and pick them all up."

"You take him too much for granted, Methos."

"Joe - I can assure you, I don't. But even you must admit that he's very predictable in some things."

"Careful Methos. In my experience with Duncan, just when you think you've got him all figured out he goes and does something that throws you for six. Be careful, my friend."

Methos paused before replying. "You're right. All jokes aside, I don't take him for granted, or what we have. Believe me Joe, I know how fragile it is."

Before Joe had a chance to question Methos further, Duncan and Mary appeared, laughing and puffing.

Duncan felt both stimulated and totally exhausted by the time they'd arrived back at the house. But he admitted, it was a wonderful way to exhaust oneself. The car was soon packed and Mary reminded them to circle it three times.."…do the train thing Uncle Duncan…".

Methos finally worked out she was talking about the deiseil that Duncan had told them all about. Mary's final words to him were to make sure that he kept practicing his dancing so he could be in the best circus in the world and get to live with "…hephelants and tigers and lions…." It took him a while to remember that that was what his centuries old katas and sword play had been reduced to in Mary's eyes….a circus act…….

He gave Anne a genuinely warm kiss and held her to him, thanking her for what she brought into, and allowed into, his life. They watched Mary's little hand waving until the first hill took them from view. He wasn't even aware that he was daydreaming until Methos physically grabbed his arm and shook him. "Don't even think about brooding or I'll personally behead you. Let's go and get some sword practice in, followed by a nice lunch and a walk to the Loch."

Duncan looked at Methos and then at Joe.

Joe just laughed and sympathised. "Yeah Mac - I'd be suspicious too. Why are you being so nice Methos?"

No-one even tried to answer that.

It was such a beautiful day that they decided to go through their forms and do the sword practice in the garden. It wasn't long before they had a spell-bound audience of the various workers from the estate. Joe never tired of watching these two. He couldn't ever envisage the day that he would become complacent, knowing what he was watching. He chuckled as he thought about what the people observing would do if they actually realized that one of the men before them had fought at Culloden and the other one had known Cleopatra…..and ridden as one of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. Of course, Death on a Horse threatening to pour a bowl of porridge on your head would tarnish the terror somewhat, he admitted.

Mary hadn't been too far off the mark with her automatic linking of the katas and sword play to dancing, he decided. With the golden sun light and slight breeze, Duncan had already discarded his shirt and was clad only in a pair of beautifully tailored black pants, pleated at the waist and flaring out to fullness before tapering to the ankle... //probably had them specially made//.…. His hair was loose . Methos, of course, was in old sweat pants and a loose top. Duncan looked like a taller and darker Baryshnikov, whilst at the same time he was a warrior through and through. It was this layered complexity and ambiguity that made him so magnetically compelling. Joe had always understood men and women falling in lust and love with Duncan MacLeod. He'd just never bargained on Duncan MacLeod falling in love with one of those men.

The words of a beautiful poem that he had read the day before came to his mind. He'd memorised it and had intended turning it into a song, having read it in one of the many Scottish magazines scattered throughout the house:

"There's no flaw in your step,
there's all law in your leap,
there's no rust or sleep
in your motion there.

Lengthening your stride,
Intent on what's ahead,
Who alive or dead
Could outrace you
?"


When the Gaelic poet, Duncan Ban Macintyre wrote it, he no doubt thought he was writing about the red deer stag of Glencoe, mused Joe. Maybe, maybe, he decided, that Duncan Macintyre once saw Duncan MacLeod in all of his glory as well.

Methos was a different story. He was the ultimate chameleon…..going out of his way to blend in and be unobtrusive. Duncan took a delight in standing out. But once the onlooker had gone past the superficial, it had to be admitted that Methos was also quite beautiful, in a completely different way. Where Duncan was the epitome of virility and masculine beauty, he was almost so beautiful that he was androgynous. Methos could have been the model for any number of Roman statues. There wasn't a wasted ounce of flesh on him, all sleekness and latent power. He was, realized Joe, refinement personified, all sharpness to MacLeod's sensual curves.

MacLeod was pure Renaissance.

Methos was Rome.

As Joe studied them more closely he even imagined one being able to light a match on Methos, so beautifully sharp and sleek was he. A perfect match for his mind, he sniggered.

As the two warriors started in on each other in earnest, Joe also realized that in exposing so much skin, Duncan was also giving himself an advantage, for Methos would have to pull up on his strokes to ensure that he didn't so much as scratch his lover, if he didn't want immortal healing to be displayed before a small crowd of curious onlookers. From the smirk on Duncan's face it was obvious that the thought had not been lost on him either. "You're learning, Mac,", Joe quietly chuckled.

In reality it was a superb performance on both their parts. Joe never tired of seeing the beauty and skill of the sword work. As a Watcher he had been very privileged to have had an Immortal who took his immortality so seriously. Once Joe realized how serious Duncan was about his fitness and skill levels he had taken delight in researching the various forms. It provided another neutral area of conversation between the two of them. There had been times in their stormy relationship when both had been thankful for such neutral stepping stones and life buoys.

An hour later they were all sitting down to lunch. Joe noted that they seemed to be back from showering in record time, Methos looking suitably peeved. Joe had no doubt that Duncan had absolutely refused to give Joe any ammunition for any further barbs to be thrown in his direction about their voracious sexual appetites. //Aah well, old man, I warned you not to take him for granted.//

Duncan regaled them about Mary's incessant chatter (omitting the graves) and Methos proceeded to repeat the morning's fascinating scientific reporting on Telomeres. "Well - it sounds like my morning was a hell of a lot more interesting than yours. I'll take Mary over Telomeres any day."

No-one disagreed. "There was also a tragically depressing article about Oetzi," Methos threw into the conversation.

"Okay, I'll bite," agreed Duncan. "Who's Oetzi?"

"Long lost cousin of mine. Remember the frozen pre-historic remains they found in Austria in 1991 - the world's oldest mummy at five thousand three hundred years old?"

A chorus of "No!" greeted the revelation.

"You both realise I hope that this could be *me* that Italy and Austria are fighting over. Here - have a look at him! Christ - imagine that. That could be me being kept in a specially windowed fridge at minus 6…"

"As long as it was a beer fridge I'd have thought you'd be in seventh heaven," laughed his youthful lover.

"Very funny MacLeod. Here, look at him. See any resemblance?"

"You both look pretty dried out, but his face is definitely more ….mmmmm….let me think…..sensitive and expressive," offered Joe, studying the picture that accompanied the article.

The playful banter continued. It had long been a very comfortable trade mark of the trio's relationship. So many times there had seemed so little to laugh or smile about, that it was almost an unwritten rule that the times that were free of pain should be filled with laughter and hope. Reaching behind him, Joe picked up his guitar. "I'm going out to the garden to catch the sun. I'll catch up with you two later. Make sure you leave some whisky for coffee tonight."

Duncan poured them both some coffee and sat down on the large couch, letting the sun caress his upper body as is streamed through the window. Suddenly the strains of Joe's song - a beautiful, haunted and very familiar melody came to him from across the garden - and he froze:

When the night has come
And the land is dark
And the moon is the only light we'll see
No, I won't be afraid
No, I won't be afraid
Just as long as you stand
Stand by me
pjjoeov.gif (37257 bytes) If the sky that we look upon
should tumble and fall
or the mountains should crumble to the sea
I won't cry, I won't cry,
No, I won't shed a tear
Just as long as you stand
Stand by me
So darling, darling,
stand by me,
oh, stand by me
oh, stand,
stand by me
stand by me

Duncan closed his eyes, determined to not let the song get to him. After all, he reasoned, he'd heard it off and on in the past couple of years. But he'd never heard Joe sing it - except for the vivid dream he'd had when he'd once again gone down to despair when he faced O'Rourke and been shot and hit his head. But that Joe, the Joe of Duncan's haunted conscience, hadn't been able to sing it. Yet the strains of it were now coming through the window loud and strong. And what had started off as a shock gradually turned into something positive for him. He was suddenly conscious of Methos' strong hand grasping his upper arm.

"It's okay. It's nothing," he reassured his worried friend. He'd never told any of them about the vivid nightmare he'd had that night. It had seemed so real. And something inside him made him fear that if he revealed any of it, then the wonderful time he'd spent with Tessa in that dream would be lost to him - dissipated in the telling. And he'd always felt guilty about the self-centerd
ness of that dream - even if it had encouraged him to recognise that sometimes he was actually a positive influence on those about him.

He shuddered as he thought about what Methos' and Joe's reactions would be to being told that in Duncan's alternative universe, constructed according to Saint Fitz, everyone's life was the pits because Duncan MacLeod hadn't lived. He drained his coffee as he thought about the new meaning it would give the phrase Duncan's Delusions of Grandeur. But it was a time in his life when he so desperately needed the people he loved around him and was, at the same time, so afraid to let them close. The dream had at least, he rationalised at the time, offered a different and very welcome perspective for him, by allowing him to believe that something of his life had been of value to someone, at some time.

"What is it Duncan?"

"Nothing. It's nothing."

Clearly, Duncan had no intention of revealing anything, so Methos decided to let it go - for the moment. "Come on - you might have been hoping I'd forget but there's the small matter of a bet that you lost. How to say the word 'beer' in fifty different languages, as I recall. It's pay up time MacLeod. We leave Glenfinnan tomorrow and I want my reward before we leave."

"Why do the words, 'No I won't be afraid, no I won't be afraid' seem so appropriate at this point?" Duncan inquired of the salivating man seated next to him.

"Maybe, because they are appropriate. Right - time to get your butt down to the Loch."

With a groan that could be heard in the garden, Duncan rose from his comfortable seat and let himself be pulled towards the door. "I mean it Methos. I'm not doing anything I don't want to do!"

"You always say that," announced the world's oldest Immortal, stopping to grab a back pack on the way. Duncan found himself worried and excited by its possible contents.

Methos grabbed Duncan's arm, determined to not let him get away from him, as they neared a very sheltered part of the Loch. "We still haven't had that conversation about women, Duncan."

"It can wait. There's no hurry. Now ," he smiled, leaning to touch Methos' face with the back of his hand, "tell me more about your favorite fantasy - and me."

"Ah - thought you'd never ask. Right - strip!"

"*Here*! Are you kidding? No way, Methos. I mean it."

"Duncan - be sensible - no one can see anything for miles. We're completely sheltered."

"Only a naïve twit who hadn't spent his formative years finding every peek hole along this shore would say that. Believe me, Methos, there's no such thing as a secure and sheltered part of this Loch." In reality, there was and this was one of them. But Methos didn't have to know that, he decided.

The next ten minutes saw continued squabbling about the meaning of honor, giving one's word, the moral conservatism of Scotland, the repercussions of being banned and ridiculed in his own homeland, the repercussions for innocent Rachel. But at the end of the argument Duncan found himself standing naked on the shores of the beautiful Loch.

"Now what?" he asked mischievously.

"Now I want to sit here against this tree and re-live a delightful episode I had here a few days ago. I want you to get out into the Loch and swim for me - nice, long languid strokes - nothing too physical. And stay there until I give you permission to get out. Go on - into the water."

Duncan was incredulous. "Do you have the slightest idea how freezing that water is? I'm not kidding Methos - I'll get hypothermia! And my prick will have shrivelled to nothing."

"Then won't it be fortunate that I'll be here to give mouth to mouth and get your blood racing again."

Duncan sighed and shook his head from side to side but made his way to the edge. Turning back, he laughed and promised his lover that today's arrogant rooster would inevitably become tomorrow's useless feather duster, before launching himself into the chilled dark waters of the Loch. He hoped he hadn't betrayed to Methos that swimming nude in the chilled waters of the Loch was one of his favorite memories. He couldn't recall the number of times he'd done it - including at night, and in winter. There was no feeling to compare to the sudden over-powering total immersion in the water. It's ability to touch him totally and comprehensively was, he remembered, exhilarating. He let himself glide under the water for some time before giving Methos the image he sought, diving in a sleek golden line and bursting through the stilled surface like a god, long dark hair streaming down across his golden shoulders and upper arms as he proceeded to swim with fierce, expert strokes across the water.

svcosa5c.gif (11229 bytes) Methos pulled out a beer from his well stocked back pack and luxuriated in the sight before him. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small gold watch, flicked it open and stared at the picture within. Closing it he took a deep breath, laughed and called out that Duncan was turning into a right woos, complaining about a slight chill. Of course, that in no way translated itself into a compelling reason as to why Methos should join him, he replied to the questioning Scot. "You can rest assured, I'll be joining with you a little later!"

"Promises, promises. I'll be in a coma later," came the dripping reply as Duncan launched himself into a stunning backflip.

The late afternoon sun sent its remaining golden rays to illuminate the playground surrounding them, catching water droplets and water sprays in prisms of Expressionist color. Methos remembered later that he didn't believe it could be possible to ever surpass the sight of Duncan emerging from the Loch, laughing and shaking his hair all over Methos, while Methos pulled out of his well provisioned back pack a large thick towel and a flask of Glenmorangie. He rubbed the beautiful Scot down and re-wrapped him in the towelling, laughing at his blue lips and teeth chattering, and offered the flask like a baby's bottle. Duncan let himself be swaddled and comforted as Methos' mouth soon replaced the flask.  As he fell deeper into the kiss he let his fingers play with the small intricate ear stud he had bought for Duncan on their anniversary the previous November.  His finger tips traced the small golden candle, amidst the Celtic
knot work, and he reminded himself of how precious their time together was.

Iona...one day - one day, he would tell him of the time on Iona in those tragic days after Richie's death, when he had stood on a cliff top, and watched this golden warrior do this very same thing - immerse himself in the cleansing waters of his homeland and take control of all that natural power.  Where for weeks he had once craved only to be lost in that water, that afternoon, three years before on an island to the west of them,  he had started to find himself and what he stood for.  Methos had always believed that it was on that day that Duncan had truly started to heal.

He put the memory aside in favor of an old Tantric verse as he  finally pulled back from Duncan's now rosy red mouth.  He gazed in love at the man in his arms and gave thanks for the precious, precious moments that some rare, benevolent god had deemed them worthy to have. Somewhere, at some time, he had done something right and the Great Wheel had turned:

"Being in a space that's home
I served you tea that never got drunk
Intoxication filled the air
Kisses came soft and slow
Our bodies shed off their clothes
And we entered into our souls."

kmontage.jpg (11185 bytes)


Finis.
6 July 1998.

Finally re-edited 20 May, 2001

Thank you everyone
- especially Nancye for her valiant attempts to edit out my numerous mistakes. And thank Davis-Panzer for giving us these amazing, compelling, multi-layered characters.


Updated Sunday 20 May 2001
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