Carson Kearns' Highlander Fanfic

Lost in the Loving: Lighting You Home

Chapter 2

by Carson Kearns

carsonkearns@hotmail.com

 

Late May, 1997.  

Paris to Scotland. 

Some thirty six hours after Duncan had begged him for death, Methos had managed to get him to Charles De Gaulle airport to board a flight to Glasgow.  It wasn’t that hard – Duncan had retreated into a shell and was like a child in terms of simply doing as he was told.  Otherwise he refused to engage or connect in any way with Methos.

The result was that the trip from Glasgow to the Western Scottish port of Fionnphort was no different than the rest of the trip from Paris, except that Duncan had a least shown a little animation when the plane touched down in Scotland.  He had spent the trip from Paris staring out from behind dark sunglasses into the empty skies.  He had refused all food and beverages.  

Methos had spared no expense - there being little point in continuing to effect his impoverished persona when his audience was incapable of responding.  Thus a chauffeured limousine awaited them in Glasgow and they were soon en route to Oban and the Caledonian MacBrayne ferry that would finally see them first on Mull.  From there it was only a short ferry trip across the Sound of Iona out beyond Fionnphort on the southern most tip of the Isle of Mull.  And then, then, he sighed, they would be safe on the haven of holy ground that was Iona.

Duncan meanwhile showed no interest in Methos' musings and continued to show little interest in his surrounds.  He leaned back into the soft leather of the luxury car.  Finally, he spoke, not bothering to open his eyes.  “It won’t work,” he offered.

“What won’t work, Duncan?”

The Scot refused to make eye contact and turned to gaze out the window.  “You think that by bringing me back to Scotland it will somehow be alright.  It won’t be alright.”  He turned and made rare eye contact with his grieving lover.  “It will never be alright.”

Methos stared into the same eyes he had seen the day Duncan told him that they were finished...the same shocked large chocolate eyes, filled with so much pain.  He reached out and took the Scot’s hand in his.  He nodded slowly and brought it gently to his lips where he placed a connecting kiss.  “I’m here.  I’m promising nothing except to stay here.  With you.”

Duncan looked at him and slowly turned his head away.  “I don’t recall asking you.  And it’s a bit late isn’t it…” he sighed.

“It’s never too late.”

“Sure..” was all Methos could interpret of the vague verbal distortions that emanated from Duncan’s lips. Methos watched in frustration as Duncan proceeded to turn away, deliberately breaking the tentative and fragile connection. 

Duncan  tried to sink further back into the seat.  The lack of food and quality sleep had started to take a heavy toll and he looked completely physically and emotionally exhausted.  Methos felt him stiffen as he took the Scot’s hand once again and held it fast in the large warmth of his own two hands.  The look the Highlander gave Methos said what his lips didn’t appear to have the energy to mouth – that it was too late - too late….. it was too late. 

He then sharply pulled his hands back from Methos' cocooning grasp and turned away from the man trying so hard to protect and care for him.  His eyes were sunken and hollow as he stared towards the hills of his homeland. His large hands now lay useless on his lap and he gazed down at them, as if they were foreign to him - or as if he wished that they were.  It alerted Methos to another danger and he was suddenly shocked when he realised that he had only ever thought of Duncan actually taking his life.  He had never considered that he would deliberately maim himself.  Without hands, Methos realised that he would have no choice but to end Duncan's  life. He said nothing in the hope that he was imagining the direction of Duncan's intentions.  But it did serve to alert him to the realisation that Duncan was as resourceful a warrior and an opponent as Methos had ever come across and he could not afford to underestimate his stubborn motivations and intents to get what he wanted.

Duncan's voice intruded on his thoughts.  "The only thing I want is an end to it all.  You know that."

"Yes - I know that." Silence then enveloped the car and as Methos looked across at Duncan's profile he reminded himself  that Scotland was indeed a place that would give strength to the warrior within Duncan MacLeod - and to his determination  to leave this Game and world forever. 

He almost flinched as Duncan's shields slammed into place around his heart and soul.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

  In Oban they soon found the McBayne’s car ferry and by mid afternoon they were on Mull.  One hour later they were in Fionnphort.  Duncan said nothing for the entire trip, and seemed to actively resist sleep.

Across the narrow channel stood Iona –as if sitting under a celestial spotlight.  It was bathed in light. There were many who believed that Iona fell at the juncture of certain ley lines and that it was a strange energy that so diffused the light that surrounded it.  Methos stood staring, suddenly lost in many memories of the surreal island. Finally he realised that Duncan had noticed his fixation.  He shook his head in a futile attempt to clear it of the disturbing images from his past.

He also noticed that they had missed the ferry which had not long left on its trip across to Iona.  They had some thirty minutes before its return. The car was sent back from whence it had come and Methos retrieved their bags.  Duncan showed no interest whatsoever in helping. Methos’ unerring instinct for anything alcoholic quickly sourced the only Bar in the vicinity and the two Immortals were soon sitting staring out over the Sound and the surrounding islands.  Methos sipped his large, cold beer as if it were the nectar of the gods.  Duncan refused anything and was clearly utterly exhausted. He stared towards the endless blue of the northern Atlantic, still saying nothing.  

In the Bar, Methos engaged in small talk with the hosts and tourists. The only sign of animation and a new coherence from Duncan was when they were presented with the bill and Methos paid it without demur. 

Duncan stared, then looked away and shook his head. If Methos had been inclined to verbalise the look Duncan had given him it would have been an observation on the Scot's part that things were clearly at real crisis point if Methos felt that he had to be paying his own way.  But Methos said nothing – he didn’t need to.  

Within the hour they were on the ferry, the trip across to St Rhonan’s Bay at least providing variety and some fresh strong winds. 

Duncan chose to spend the trip standing at the rails of the Ferry, letting the cold breeze wrap itself around him. The channel between Mull and Iona was less than a mile wide and even to a man whose senses had been numbed with pain, the Western isles of Scotland did indeed threaten to return some semblance of feeling to his grieving soul.  Some five miles away the outline of the Isle of Staffa rose starkly against the horizon whilst much further out Coll and Tiree and the smaller Treshnish Islands, beyond Mull, were just visible.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Duncan MacLeod took it all in - and said nothing.  He closed his eyes and breathed in the Scottish air, deeply and slowly, Methos noted.  

As he opened his eyes he was bathed in light - stunning, golden light.  Much later he would admit to Methos that it was the light that first drew his eyes towards Iona. 

 

Without seeming to realise that he was speaking, he murmured, “It’s beautiful.  The light.”  

For indeed, Iona rose before them, bathed in the exquisite ethereal light that continued to give the Isle its place in the history of mysticism worldwide. Iona was justly famed as one of the most sacred of places.  St Columba had come here from Ireland in the mid  6th century and helped establish  Christianity in Scotland.  Tired as he was, Duncan seemed to miss nothing and reacted to the expression that now covered Methos' face. It was as if a sudden realisation washed over him.

"Look over there - beyond the Abbey.  You can just make out a white double story house on the edge of the Bay.  That's where we'll be staying." Duncan looked but said nothing.

“You’ve been here before haven’t you?” he challenged.  It was said with an air of complete resignation, as if it was only to be expected that all of this would be part of some game that the ancient Immortal was playing.  

But the ancient Immortal was having a difficult enough time grappling with his own many memories of Iona and all it had meant to him.  He looked out over the hill of Martyr’s Bay and drank in the coastal formations, once so well known and so dear to him.  Looking towards the White Strand of the Monks he finally acknowledged Duncan’s question.

“Yes - I’ve been here before.”  He offered nothing further and continued to let Iona’s light wash over him. In the distance Cnoc Mor rose in stark relief against the golden light and the magnificent Abbey stood as a sentinel against the blue sky.  Duncan turned, - and looked intensely at Methos but chose not to pursue the obvious question. 

<<"When Methos?  When?" >>

Turning back to take in the Abbey’s form, Duncan maintained his silence and kept his questions to himself, despite Methos' expert manipulation to pique his interest. "Don't think that I don't know what you're doing Methos. The last thing I have any interest in is a history lesson from you."

Methos ignored that and instead chose to comment on the other weapon that he had chosen for this damaged youngling.  From somewhere so deep in the depths of his memory he knew he would never recall where and when he had first heard them, some words briefly surfaced, giving him a sudden insight into what Duncan should fear about the light of Iona. Slowly, in his deep beautiful voice, he articulated it for Duncan's benefit.

“…If a ray of light break in upon us, it is but to make darkness more visible; to show us the new limits, the Gothic structure, the impenetrable barriers of our prison…”

Duncan didn’t bother to turn and face Methos.  "If you think that a dose of Scottish soil will somehow revive me you are very mistaken Methos. More mistaken than you could possibly realise."  He appeared to weigh up Methos’ oblique references to having once lived on Iona and turned and spoke into the wind.  “Knowing you, you’re probably lying anyway about ever being here.  So spare me the ‘Methos as Druid’ or ‘Methos as St Columba’s right-hand monk’ stories.”

Methos’ eyes flashed.  “Who said I was on their side?” he inquired.  He studied Duncan closely, noting how tightly he gripped the rail, how ashen his face even in the biting wind off the water, and mentally he gave them no more than thirty minutes before Duncan collapsed. He wasn’t surprised that the words were said with so little enthusiasm - as if their very enunciation was leaching out the few bits of remaining energy.

“Naturally.  Why would’ve I thought any different?  Given your history - the bit you’ve bothered to share - you would’ve been on the raping and pillaging side wouldn’t you -  the side that destroyed it all.  Coming back to congratulate yourself at what a good job you did Methos?  Does everything you involve yourself in end up dead or destroyed?”

It was without a doubt the longest few sentences that Duncan had uttered for days.  And Methos couldn’t help but smile at the irony.  So many words.  Such a long retort from Duncan-  to signal that he knew what Methos was doing, what game he was playing - and that he would not talk!

“No Gradhach - not everything.  Not everything.”

Duncan gave a short, bitter laugh - still standing in profile, refusing to make eye contact, gazing anywhere that Methos wasn’t.  It appeared that the Scot was playing his own game - hoping to so infuriate Methos that he would quickly give up on his babysitting and leave the Scot to his own fatal devices.  Methos supposed he couldn't really blame Duncan. He hadn't really ever gone out of his way to demonstrate any interest in nurturing or caring for anyone else - except Alexa.  Duncan' s response interrupted his reverie, his choice of a retort that hooked straight back into their most painful episodes bringing a wry grin to Methos' mouth.

Duncan turned and for the first time reached out and touched his lover, cradling his face in his right hand.  Staring into Methos’ eyes, he gently stroked his cheek.  “You know what I want.  If you loved me - if you ever truly loved me - you’d do this for me. End it for me.”

Methos reached up to cover the hand caressing his cheek - refusing to let it go.  “Never, Duncan.  It will never happen.”

Duncan pulled away, in anger. “Then you love yourself more than you ever loved me!”

“You only say that because it suits you, Duncan.”

Duncan turned on him, his whisper fierce and pain filled.  “And you only say that because it suits you.  I don’t want your kind of loving or caring.  I don’t want any more loving from anyone.  It destroys. I don’t want it anywhere near me.”

Methos simply nodded - “You’ve survived so much - so many deaths.  You survived Tessa’s death.  You can survive this.  We can survive this.”

Duncan shook his head and closed his eyes.  “I barely survived Tessa’s death.  I blamed Richie - deep down, I blamed him for not saving her that night.  If I’d only told him that he was going to be Immortal he would have stepped in front of that gun and saved her.  And I blamed him – I did.  If he’d done what I asked and not come into the house that night then I’d have kept Tessa with me until I’d finished going through the computer.  But he was there so I let her go with him…I blamed him afterwards…I was so hard on him.  I try to keep them all safe and they all die…I’m so tired of the killing Methos. I’m tired of life.”

Methos said nothing.

On departing the ferry they were met by a young man who appeared to have no difficulty in recognizing the two men.  Duncan gave him no acknowledgment at all and turned away, leaving Methos to deal with the passing across of keys. 

Soon they and their luggage were being transported past the old Nunnery and MacLean’s Cross-, the Reilig Oran and the Abbey.  Duncan showed some slight interest as they passed the MacLeod Centre before they stopped at a beautiful double story white stone house looking out across the Sound towards Mull.  

The youth attempted to make conversation.  “Ever been to Scotland before Mr. Pierson?”

Methos smiled.  “A long time ago - a very long time ago.  What was it Mendelssohn said?  ‘…when in some future time I shall sit in a madly crowded assembly with music and dancing around me, and the wish arises to retire into the loneliest loneliness, I shall think of Iona…’. “

 

And thus any thought of further conversation was effectively quashed.  It pleased Methos inordinately that Duncan was still paying enough attention to give him one of his ‘You can be such an arrogant shit!’ looks, letting his gaze momentarily rest on the youth before looking away.  He thus missed the smirk that signalled how very self-satisfied Methos felt with the entire past thirty minutes.  Duncan had shown more life in the half hour since boarding the ferry than in the previous five days.

With their luggage soon delivered, the two Immortals were left to themselves.  Duncan had retreated behind a solid wall of silent but very obvious antagonism.  Methos had decided on a strategy used with coma victims.  He spoke, as if Duncan were interested in his every word, listening to his every phrase.  And he intended to keep talking, because it was at least a connection of sorts.  And in truth he had not the slightest idea what else to do.  So he recommenced talking.

It had been his intention to do no more than spark his lover’s continual curiosity about Methos’ past.  He knew how it frustrated the Scot to know so little of what had shaped Methos - and still haunted him.  And to feel frustration meant that Duncan had to, indeed, feel.  He had to acknowledge and admit to feeling.  And Methos intended feeding that incessant curiosity with a constant stream of tempting observations and insights into his own tragic experiences on the beautiful isle before them.

He looked around the room they were in and gestured to include the entire property. “In case you’re wondering, I own it.”

Duncan turned towards the window and mumbled so quietly that Methos had to strain to hear and decipher the response. “I wasn’t wondering.”

Methos ignored the response, and didn’t pause in the packing away of the clothes that he had brought with them - and his Journal.  “It’s usually rented out.”  He continued to talk, never taking his eyes off the brooding Scot.  He took in every movement.  Every sigh.  He knew that, given Duncan’s sheer exhaustion and the lack of food and drink, they were on a count down to something - a collapse, a tantrum…..

“I’m going to run a bath for you Duncan.  Here’s a robe.”

Duncan turned slightly and appeared to be on the verge of telling Methos what he could do with his fucking bath when he suddenly stopped his near outburst.  "At last I can have some peace and quiet!"  He turned to Methos as he walked to the bathroom.  “You don’t need to baby-sit.  I won’t do anything.”

“Then you won’t mind leaving the door open will you?”

The emotional button pushed, he snapped.  “Yes!  I would.  I’d like some fucking peace and quiet.  I don’t want you here!  Or any one! Can’t you just go away and leave me in peace?  I don’t want anyone in my life.  I don’t want you!”  He slammed the door to further reinforce the point.

Methos listened at the door, reassuring himself that he could hear quiet splashing as the Scot settled into the hot, scented bath.  It actually surprised him to hear Duncan swear.  No matter the provocation, it was something that Duncan rarely ever did. He waited ten minutes before knocking quietly, ignoring Duncan’s further expletives.

Methos settled on the edge of the bath and commenced washing the wind-tangled hair, ignoring the studied hostility.  He had the satisfaction of feeling the taut muscles begin to relax as he kneaded and massaged away the iron resistance beneath his strong hands.  He left while Duncan soaked for a further few minutes before eventually appearing back in the front parlour in the black cotton Japanese style pyjamas and robe that Methos had left for him on the bed.

He walked to the large window overlooking the bay and put his hands over his eyes. He appeared to be in sensory overload - as if trying to stop the bombardment of words and light and images - and memories.  It washed around him, as if  trying to enter.  Methos watched as the exhausted Scot started to fall asleep standing up and then quickly came to himself - as if suddenly aware that an enemy lurked at the perimeter of his being.

 He turned and looked at Methos, sighed and turned back to look out over the bay - to look anywhere that Methos wasn’t.

Methos continued to watch the dust motes dancing along the golden beams of light as they bathed the Highlander at the window.  It did not take any great perceptive power to see that Duncan had been pushed well past his limit.  They had been travelling for many hours and neither had had any real sleep for days.  The lines beneath Duncan’s eyes now appeared permanent, their dark shadows standing in stark relief against the unusually pale skin.  Methos reassured himself that a few hours of Iona’s sun would soon bring the bronzed glow back to his lover’s skin. 

Duncan's perpetual golden glow had disappeared over the previous few weeks.  It was as if the Highlander’s life force was dulling before Methos’ eyes - simply evaporating away.  His skin was dry, almost pasty. 

Bruises were not healing... 

It further amazed Methos how powerful and disturbed and focused Duncan’s mind could be.  It was currently over-riding the Scot’s Immortal healing abilities and as a result he was looking damaged, hurt and ill.  Duncan’s dark silhouette at the window reminded Methos of the varied images of mystical wraiths he had seen and collected over the years.  The light formed a corona around Duncan - as if determined to enter and heal and give him back the gold.  Methos watched it shimmering in frustration around Duncan’s form as the Scot’s shields repelled any words, any touch, and any natural or unnatural forces that sought contact with him or entry of any kind.

Methos quietly took the contents of a small vial and continued talking to the unmoving man by the window, and mixed it with a shot of warmed brandy.  He brought it across to Duncan and placed it on the windowsill, said nothing and slipped behind him where he pressed the length of his body against Duncan’s unresponsive back.  It was enough...

Finally, saying nothing, pulling away from Methos and avoiding eye or further physical contact, Duncan took the glass and drained it. Methos stood quietly behind, still saying nothing - waiting for the sedative to kick in.  He watched as Duncan reached out to the window sill to steady himself as the sedative's effects started to take effect.  Leaning forward he rested his forehead against the window pane, refusing to give in.  As his knees started to buckle Methos was suddenly there, supporting him and helping him to the couch.

He noted that the Scot's eyelids were too heavy to keep open, his limbs lead-like.  Duncan still tried to struggle to pull himself away from Methos' grasp.  His indomitable will appearing to be warring between outrage at Methos' cavalier  taking away of his choices and his desperate yearning for the oblivion offered by whatever drug Methos had just fed him.

Methos watched the struggle and then sighed as Duncan gave in and fell into a deep stupor.  He was gambling that at some stage Duncan would rebel at having all of his life decisions made for him.  It might take months but at some stage, he was convinced, Duncan would rebel - or he didn’t know his Highlander at all. 

In the meantime they were both going to get many hours sleep - if not rest. He pulled Duncan up from the couch, quickly overpowering the automatic fight reflex that that action triggered in Duncan.  Ignoring the moaned and slurred  “….no…no…” he heaved him onto his shoulder and headed for the bedroom.  Once settled in the large bed Methos reached out and took Duncan into his arms, kissed his forehead and settled into what he hoped might be their first deep and undisturbed sleep for many days.  He drifted off to sleep with his senses filled with fresh Highlander, giving thanks to any god who still took a cynical interest in his life, that he could at least be assured of one more night with Duncan MacLeod.

If the drugged Scot had been capable of hearing at all, he would have heard Methos invoking Baku, the Devourer of bad Dreams, to visit Iona for a little while and satisfy his hunger by seeking out and eating the night mares that paced the perimeters of Methos’ property. This house.  Duncan MacLeod...

Sniffing the blood on the wind….

Smelling the bleeding soul of the tortured man within the circle of Methos’ arms. ...

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


End of Chpt 2

Go to Chapter 3


25 November 2000
Re-edited 2 January 2001
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