Carson Kearns' Highlander Fanfic

Lost in the Loving: Lighting You Home

Chapter 4

by Carson Kearns

carsonkearns@hotmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

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

August – September  1997.

The weeks that followed saw Duncan seeming to keep his side of the bargain.  He started to exercise.  He eventually ate without vomiting - although that had taken some very volatile and theatrical fights between the two. He started to walk - the very thought of jogging exhausted him.  And despite Iona only being some three miles long and one mile wide, even the walking proved to be extremely tiring.  He could heal his body but the exhaustion of spirit seemed beyond his reach to influence or heal.

 He would, however, give Methos what he had contracted for – three months.  And in that three months he would lead what appeared, to any observer, to be a normal life – he would exercise, research, eat, - let himself be fucked.  He would not make love and would not allow himself to be loved. And by the end of the three months it was his intention that the deadness that filled his core would have spread to the outer shell of his body.  The image of a slow burning coil came to his mind, gradually consuming more and more of its own substance until all that remained was lifeless ash.  

He accepted that he needed something to occupy his mind – to make the twelve weeks pass quickly – for no other reason than to deflect any meaningful discussions between himself and Methos.  He soon started to devour the library that was already in the house they occupied - at least he tried to.  Concentration eluded him for many days until through sheer force of will the discipline of centuries eventually started to exert itself.  He soon became well acquainted with the history of Iona, its symbols and myths.  He also started to become a regular visitor to the MacLeod research centre and various historical buildings for which Iona was famous.  

He knew that Methos was feeding him all varieties of natural and unnatural additives - and he even admitted to himself that he felt better for it.  He refused, utterly, to allow the improved physical and even mental health to deflect his course and intent in any way.  Indeed, he was able to use the healthier appearance to deflect and delude those who mistook his seemingly improved state as a sign that he was in some way returning to the world of the living.  So he used the increased energy from his exercises to sustain the hours of reading or to fuel conversations he was forced to have with various people on the island. And with Methos.

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

There was an irony to his discovery that one of his own clansman was responsible for the very establishment of the modern community on Iona. ”What is it about MacLeods?” he asked himself quietly one afternoon.  When he read that Lord George MacLeod had served in the trenches in Flanders he wondered how close he might have come to actually meeting him.  And he was honest enough to admit  that he felt a warrior’s pride at reading that Lord MacLeod had been decorated for bravery by both the British (a Military Cross) – and the French (a Croix de Guerre).  He even felt some real kinship when he read that George had been dispirited after the war and had turned to non-violent pursuits. He was soon ordained into the Presbyterian church in Scotland. 

His admiration of the man grew – his independence, his snubbing of authority, his reputation for being outrageously outspoken on social justice issues. At dinner that night with Methos, he found himself talking about George MacLeod.

 “Did you know him – or ever meet him?” He watched Methos’ eyes as they followed Duncan’s tearing off of a small piece of the fresh bread, before using it to soak up the rich gravy. 

 “Yes – I did meet him.  Like all MacLeods he could be a prize pain in the arse.  Especially when he was on a mission from God.”

 “Well lucky for you that you won’t have to put up with that much longer,” Duncan replied, looking straight into Methos’ eyes. 

Saying nothing further, Duncan then arose from the table and walked to one of the large windows at the front of the house and looked across at the Abbey. “Did you know that he was responsible for the community project that was established in the late 1930s to rebuild the Abbey?”

“No Duncan – I didn’t.  I don't make it my business to follow the activities of every bloody MacLeod in the world,” Methos sneered.

"Just me, then?" Duncan continued, feeling both guilty and pleased with the shortness of temper Methos was displaying.

"Just you...," was the almost inaudible response.

"Did you know that he had to agree to be responsible for all the costs himself?  Now I wonder where a mere Reverend could get that sort of surety?  Or donations?” he further inquired, as he turned and looked more closely at his increasingly bored lover.  If the word lover could still be accurately used?

“I’m sure that, had he known of Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod, then he could have relied on your good graces?”

 Duncan smiled, positive that he had hit the mark.  God, he loved chess.  “But he didn’t know of me and I didn’t know of him.  So he had to rely on someone else didn’t he, Methos?  Someone else who had a long association with this place. Maybe someone who needed to buy some salvation?”

 “Possibly,” Methos sighed.  “I wouldn’t know.  I’ve never been into buying salvation myself.  It’s cheaper to just learn to live with yourself.” With that he cleared up the few remaining dishes and disappeared into the kitchen. “Or give up on guilt.  That’s cheaper still,” he threw over his shoulder, not caring where it landed. 

Duncan sniggered and continued to look out towards the Abbey.  He was too tired to engage further. But he did find himself wondering how much of Methos’ money had actually gone into the Abbey’s restoration.

On Wednesday of the following week, a large group of walkers could be seen setting off from St Martin’s Cross.  Methos had moulded himself to a large, old chair in the garden and Duncan was readying himself to set off  - to do some further research on George MacLeod, he told Methos. 

Methos waited until the pilgrims were on their way before mentioning,  “You can also thank George for what we’re seeing there with that bloody crocodile line.  Every Wednesday he used to personally lead a group on a six mile walk from St Martin’s Cross over there to the Nunnery, up and down - over and across the whole island.  Truly," he finished, bowing his head in mock supplication, "they were a spiritual and physical inspiration to us all.”. He looked up at the Scot, as if daring him to contradict.

Duncan stared at him, and shook his head.  He couldn't think of anyone who did humble supplicant as badly as did Methos.  He started to leave without replying but stopped and turned. “And at every point he’d stop for a prayer.  I know.  There was just no end to his energy and selflessness was there?  Am I supposed to be inspired?”

Pausing only to take a mouthful of cold beer Methos suggested that indeed, Duncan might learn from their example - since he found so little else with which to be inspired - particularly around Methos.  “I clearly forgot that you only take instruction and inspiration from family.” He took another sip as the verbal arrow found its target.

“Don’t have the hide to complain about your life here, Methos!  You’re the one who chose it and imposed it on me!  Don’t think that you’ll get any complaints from me if you want to break our bargain.  I’d be happy to help you pack.”

Methos simply smiled, took another mouthful of the amber fluid, and looked across the Strait, refusing to expend enough energy to even turn his head to look in Duncan’s direction.  “It’s no trouble at all Duncan.  No trouble at all.”

Despite Methos' affectation of calm, Duncan could read him.  He was pleased to see that the pressure was beginning to tell on Methos.  After all, how much could he be expected to bear of Duncan’s rudeness, antagonism, indifference.  His refusal to let Methos kiss him on the mouth – or to hold or touch Methos in any way?  There had to come a point, surely - surely - when Methos threw his own few possessions into the nearest bag, told Duncan MacLeod to “Fuck off!” and departed on the next Ferry to Mull.

As he walked towards the Abbey, Duncan realised that he had no idea what Methos actually did to fill his days. He deliberately didn’t ask and tried to take no notice.  He presumed that he spent many hours in the old book shop near the Abbey, or, perhaps, simply working at his computer? He decided to force himself to stop at the beautiful Abbey before going across to the MacLeod centre.  He felt extreme unease whenever he looked at the restored medieval church and, still the warrior, wished to confront whatever it was that was causing the fear.  It made no sense to him and he couldn’t think of what it might be that was causing the unpleasant sensations. Abbeys were not strangers to him.  So often he had sought the soothing shelter of holy ground in his past.  And at least here, in these restored Benedictine surrounds, he could be alone.  No need to talk to anyone.

 //Methos.//

 No need to explain or to excuse to anyone that his life had no purpose. 

//Methos.//

 No need to explain that there was no salvation for him.  Two years before in Darius’ church he had told Methos that.  Methos hadn’t believed him. 

//“You’re not alone.  Not out here.  And not in there.”// 

And when Methos had reached out to touch his heart he had turned away, quickly, before Methos seared him with his touch.  But Methos had been wrong.  There truly was, he believed now, no salvation for any of them. And they were both very much alone.  

He stood for a while and listened to a tour guide talking of how Reginald, Lord of the Isles had founded the Benedictine Abbey and the Augustinian Nunnery in the 12th century.  

He stopped listening, however, as the first touches of a memory – a bad memory – started to form.  Fleeting but blurred images appeared and disappeared at the periphery of his vision.  A Quickening.  And with it was pain – deep pain and terror. No images or sensations stayed long enough for him to grab hold of and engage.  But what he did know - with a frightening certainty, was that this was the same memory of his first Quickening that he had only recently recalled that night on the Barge - with Richie...

He moved past St. Columba’s shrine and entered the main nave. He broke out into a cold sweat as he moved further up the nave towards the altar and sought out a deserted part of the church, in the south transept.  The light streaming in through the large window behind the choir did little to warm the icy fingers of dread closing around his neck. He tried to push aside the sudden fear he felt and looked around for anything to distract his thoughts – suddenly afraid of where they might take him.

 To his right he saw an elaborate tomb with two effigies to the Duke of Argyll and his wife: ‘Ne Obliviscaris’ (‘No Death.’)  the wrought iron proclaimed beneath his coat of arms. (George Douglas.  8th Duke of Argyll.  1823-1900). But there was death.  Richie was still dead.  Tessa was still dead.  He looked back at the Duke. Iona was a rich legacy for Argyll to have left behind.  He couldn’t think of anything that would truly mark his own life – four times longer than Argyll’s.

 Why, he wondered, did he still believe in a God?  And then he started, as an image of Ahriman filled his thoughts. He tried to breathe deeply, telling himself that if Ahriman existed, then there must also be credence in believing in other gods – other more benevolent gods?  

Suddenly he felt himself slipping again into memories - or delusions? He looked down and he was clothed in the raiments of the early 16th century.  Wild.  Unkempt.  An old man was calling to him, beckoning - insisting that he come to Strathconnon Forest to meet his destiny.  He tried to remember to keep breathing as the vision descended into a scene from Paradise Lost.  Flames and lightning consumed him and he found that he was staring in horror at a headless man before him.

The painful memory of his first Quickening continued to strike through him and he felt himself starting to hyperventilate.  So he had visited Iona those many years ago?  Bits of memories of a fisherman and his family started to break through his confusion. At the very edges of his vision he could hear  a gentle female voice.  

“Are you alright Mr MacLeod?”   

He turned suddenly tried to clear his jumbled thoughts.  He recognised the woman he’d met only a few days before at the research center.  He continued to stare at her in a daze and finally shook his head and reached for a handkerchief to mop his brow.  He felt embarrassed and stupid. When he had come across her she had been taking notes and a brief conversation revealed that she was an amateur historian and a professional artist, on Iona to gather material for a book she was illustrating on ‘The Warrior Tradition as revealed in the Celtic Motifs of Iona.’

He couldn't remember her name.  And all he wanted to do was get away and try and make sense of the images that had just come to him.  He then looked back at the woman and started to breathe more evenly.  For some reason she appeared to be having a very calming effect on him.  And she at least didn’t look look at him as if he had just lost his pet dog.  On the occasions when he actually noticed the solicitous looks from the locals, he wondered what Methos had actually said to them about the Scot. He had no doubt that various invocations over new age candles and crystals and incense were being struck on his behalf.  Gradually, he became aware that the woman was talking to him again. Most of the initial fear he had felt only moment before had gone.

 “It’s Lynn, Duncan,” she smiled.

 “I’m sorry for being so rude,” he offered, shaking his head to try and clear it. Damn!  Why couldn’t he be more like Methos?  Why couldn’t he snigger and sneer and bite people’s heads off?  The last thing he wanted was company.  Why was it that he always reserved his absolute worst behaviour for those he either truly despised or truly loved?  And in between was reserved for the Lynns of the world – people who called forth polite indifference or kindness.

“You’re not rude, Mr MacLeod. You mentioned the other day in the Museum that you would be here on Iona for some months.  I was wondering….I know that this is awfully presumptuous of me but…I mean, I know I don’t even know you or you me but if you don’t ask you don’t get anywhere do you and…”

Duncan took pity and sighed.  “Just ask, Lynn.” His innate kindness even produced a smile to try and put her at ease. 

“Would you sit for me?  For a portrait?”

 He was rendered speechless.  It wasn’t exactly a marble effigy, like Argyll’s, but he supposed it was a legacy of sorts.  His last portrait had been done by another woman – Louise – centuries ago.  Tessa had often tried but was never able to capture him to her satisfaction.  Or so she said. He looked at Lynn and realised that it would help fill his own empty days.  And it would be a further excuse to be away from Methos.  Indeed, he quickly realised, he could think of nothing that would quietly infuriate Methos more than to have Duncan spending his daily hours with this strange woman.  And perhaps Methos might, in utter frustration, finally give up on him? The reality was that he didn’t have the emotional energy to refuse her, wanting only to get away to somewhere quiet where he could be alone with his thoughts and memories.

And so he ended up spending many days in Lynn’s company in either research or sitting for her. Throughout the latter part of August he even allowed himself to become animated at times as he spoke of Lynn.  Methos said little at first – except that he was stunned that Duncan would allow himself to be the subject of a portrait by this unknown woman – well, by anyone really!

 “You agreed?”

 “Why not Methos?  It’s not as if I have anything else to do.”

 To have this stranger seemingly bringing him comfort, filling his hours in a way that Methos couldn't - this would be galling to Methos.  So he spoke to him often of what he had learned from the woman.  And as he did so he noted that Methos’ eyes twinged with what could only be jealousy - and that suited his plans very well.

 The Highlander and Lynn became a well-known sight on the holy Isle as they wandered around the old buildings and many stopped to watch her developing portrait of the young man now well known to the locals.

One afternoon Methos insisted on walking with him and eventually they were looking out over Traigh-t-Suidhe - the Beach of the Seat.  The light - as always - was fierce and penetrating.  It was a part of the island that Duncan had avoided. This afternoon, for the first time, he spoke of it.  Nothing too loquacious, but at least there was a verbal connection.

“It's familiar.  I'm sure now that I did visit here - just before Connor found me for the first time.”

Methos looked at him intensely.  

“I miss Connor,” the Highlander sighed, wondering for the millionth time where his clansman could be and why he had disappeared so suddenly from his life. He shook his head and breathed deeply and let it pass as memories of their wild times together brought a smile to his face.

 //"It's not all a game, Duncan!" Connor would admonish...
. //

“I may be mixing things up though.  About being here on Iona. I wasn’t exactly at my best back then.”  He was thankful that Methos avoided the obvious “…as opposed to….?” retort.  

Methos let it go and gazed out beyond the horizon.  Eventually he started to reminisce. "Columba used to come here towards the end - climb this same hill, and meditate.  I think it was the white sands that always drew him here.  Blinded his eyes, he said, so that only his soul could truly see…"

It was so tempting - so tempting - to ask Methos how he knew that.  Duncan hated that Methos could always break through his shields like this.  Say one sentence that excited him and left him yearning to know what Methos had once done here.

"You know Duncan - this was always a place of forgiveness.  He came here to find forgiveness for the slaughter he'd carried out in Ireland….”

Duncan reacted.  “Go on – say it!  Say that if I asked I’d be forgiven also.”

Methos ignored the outburst.  “He landed as far south of here as you can go - Port of the Coracle….Port a'Churaich.  Gods, I remember it as if it were yesterday - so barren - so lifeless where he landed.  Except for the light.  They say that the air is thin here - that’s why the light is so intense.  The curtain between us and the Otherworld is fragile here….." He was almost whispering.

"How do you know?  Were you here?"  He hated himself for asking. Playing right into Methos' hands…

 "It was fourteen hundred years ago - June, 597 that he died.  He was the 6th Century's answer to the bloody Beatles. Came from hundreds of miles to worship at his feet.  A year before he died Pope Gregory sent Augustine to convert the English on the White Isle - Albany. But by then Columba was venerated as one of the greatest holy men in Europe."  Methos suddenly stopped, as if conscious that he'd said too much.  Or, thought the Scot, pleased that he'd said just enough to trigger Duncan's further interest.

Duncan looked at the Prince of Lies and considered what he'd just heard. "You could have picked that all up in a Guide Book!' he threw at his tormenter. 

Methos merely smiled.  “Yes - I could have, couldn't I!"

Duncan sneered at him and stormed away across the hill.

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

Methos had been insistent on the physical and intellectual regime that Duncan was to follow – but he hadn’t pushed him, sexually. One evening as they sat down to a meal he gazed across at the Highlander and was filled with a yearning that wouldn’t be put aside. Duncan allowed himself to be held, touched – but he never initiated anything. They had not had sex since before Byron’s death, despite their both sleeping in the same bed. 

If Duncan had any interest in how Methos was finding satisfaction he never inquired.  He did not waver from his intention - that the only physical release he was interested in was a final one. It seemed to be the only thought that he was capable of hanging on to for any length of time.  

He tried, at first, the more complicated katas that he would have normally done without thinking but soon found that he completely lost focus and reverted to more simple forms of Tai Chi to fulfil his promise to Methos that he would exercise.

Methos noted one day that the many tourists who made their way from the Abbey to the northern end of the island would stop at the fence and watch the golden warrior as he lost himself in the ancient forms on the hill overlooking the Sound.  If the forms were relatively simple, Methos didn't mention it.  They at least got the Scot out into the sun and involved him in some modicum of exercise and focus.

“For a man who seeks to shun the world, MacLeod, you certainly know what to do to attract its endless attention,he mused. He wondered how many rolls of Kodak and Fuji had been expended on tourist photographs of the beautiful, mournful long-haired warrior. Wherever Duncan MacLeod was seemed to automatically become a gathering place, he noted.

One early dawn Methos found himself awakened by the light painting itself across his face. He pulled the warm body of the Highlander more tightly against himself and, momentarily forgetting where he was, instinctively started to kiss the cheeks and forehead behind the silken locks of hair.

Duncan moaned.

As Methos came to himself and the situation, he closed his eyes and tried to put aside his intense yearning to hold Duncan – and be held by him. Duncan, he reminded himself, was not interested in sex or being made love to. But the only thought that seemed to want to register was that Duncan was the most fuckable human being he'd ever in his long, long life held in his arms and buried himself inside of and never, ever, found his way back from. And he was ensorcelled. Just one caress of those sweet brown nipples - one fleeting touch of his chest, down around his side and across the planes of his back - a yearned for touch of his fingertips beneath the black linen pyjama bottoms and across his stomach - fondling and palming it. Just a touch and then he would stop…he would stop…it would be enough… And if Duncan truly didn’t want it, then why was he moaning like that? Perhaps another minute or two to quickly taste that neck…slide down that chest and that stomach….take that cock into his semen-starved throat. He wanted him. Wanted him. Wanted to know that he could still leave Duncan yearning for this, even in the depths of his brooding and despair. That he could make the Scot's cock swell with longing. 

Minutes later, Methos felt the flesh of Duncan's cock begin to stiffen in his mouth, and hundreds of years of cause/effect take over. It had been too long - too long - since he had felt this power. Acknowledged this power. Craved this power over this man. He let his mouth remind the unconscious Scot of what pleasures there were to be had in the hot mouth of another.

He recalled, later, that there were few universal truths that one took from one lifetime to another. Few deep and meaningful observations that were nodded to wisely down the generations - except for this. That there was little that couldn't be put into perspective by a mind-blowing, cock-crowing, semen-flowing fuck. The onrush of Duncan’s hot spurts of semen seemed a suitable exclamation mark.

Duncan turned onto his left side, moaning in unconscious pleasure. Coming back up behind his lover, Methos cradled himself against the Highlander's back and used his right knee to push Duncan's legs apart and nestle his cock against the relaxed opening. He opened his mouth and spread the remnants of semen onto his hand and then his cock. Stopping only to kiss the neck and shoulder now firmly in his arms, he started to gently penetrate the body alongside him. Duncan stirred, and awakened, realising what was happening.

"Methos -no…"

He whispered - insistent. "We made a deal Duncan. I want you - I want you. Say yes…Say yes." Eons seemed to pass as Methos squeezed and caressed the Highlander’s chest. A mumbled “Yes….’” was all that was needed for Methos to push his way into the unresisting depths. He was quickly and surprisingly, fully sheathed. It had been too long - too long - since he'd felt this symbiosis. This becoming the other. And he was positive that once he could penetrate Duncan physically, it wouldn't be long before Duncan's innate sensuality would start to break through and the iron shields would start to fracture. He was certain it would happen.

Certain. 

He reached around and took Duncan's newly stiffening cock into his fist and started to milk it once again, in rhythm to his own thrusting …"Let it go Duncan - let it out…let it out…..sssshhhhh…come on…..come with me…..come with me Gradhach…..feel it…."

Letting Duncan's sighs and groans be his conscience, he interspersed his whispered coaching with kisses and tastes of his lover's most vulnerable places. His right earlobe - his neck - shoulder. He allowed himself a quiet grin, in between tasting that glorious flesh, to remind himself that there really wasn't any part of Duncan that didn't respond to being touched. He knew that his strategy had been inspired when he put his hand in front of Duncan's mouth and the Highlander willingly filled it with saliva. Nothing but gentle words of encouragement were said over the next ten minutes as both Immortals found themselves exploring together that wonderful country that never lost its colors or textures, no matter how many times they travelled there, and no matter their condition. As they fell into point and counterpoint they finally reached the plateau where they could never bear to tarry. It was too exquisite. Too pleasurable. Too painful. As their breathing quickened Methos whispered further words, letting them wash over the outside of the body in his arms as his semen commenced to fill and nourish the empty channels inside the body he refused to release.

Duncan's body released, again, creamy evidence of his arousal. As the shudders of his body's betrayal started to ease, the nausea began. Methos quickly put his hand firmly over Duncan's mouth as the Highlander's body sought to expel everything that it had just received.

Duncan slowly turned and looked at the man pressing against his body, completely confused.

"Why Methos?"

"Because I love you. Because I'll never, willingly, let you go." He continued to hold him.

'Sex won't change the way I feel Methos. You can fuck me all you like - but Richie will still be dead - they’ll all still be dead!"

"And we'll still be alive…" Methos asserted.

"Some of us maybe. Some of us." Making no attempt to clean himself, Duncan refused to verbally or emotionally engage any further. He consoled himself with an accusatory look at the ancient Immortal and tried to turn away.

"And don't tell me you didn't enjoy that Duncan. You bloody well did. Your body doesn't lie."

"It was just sex Methos. Just sex. Rutting. It counts for nothing. Don't think that I don't know that you drug me most nights.  You took advantage of me and you know it," he accused.  Turning away he again mumbled, "…it was just a mindless fuck…” As he settled back alongside the distant Highlander, Methos was vaguely aware of his own voice answering that observation as he drifted off into a more satisfying sleep than he had in too long - "….and that's a bad thing because? ....and I don't drug you every night...not anymore…." Further words from Job came to his cluttered but satisfied mind as he finally drifted off to sleep;

"They are joined one to another,  
they stick together,
that they cannot be sundered."

“Amen to that - Amen to that,” he sighed, unaware that he had muttered the verse aloud.

Duncan MacLeod didn't dignify the comment with an answer. He merely pulled his shields around him more firmly, determined that even if his body betrayed him and let Methos inside, he would not let him anywhere near his heart - no matter how tempting.

But ever the warrior, he realised before he finally fell asleep, that Methos had just revealed where his weakness lay. Sex. And Duncan intended exploiting that weakness. After all - he had never asked Methos to love him. So under the guise of disinterest and resistance, Duncan realised that he had a formidable weapon at his disposal. For surely a satiated and stimulated Methos might also be a Methos who let down his guard once too often. He would lure Methos into thinking that he had penetrated more than the Highlander's body and was actually connecting with his spirit and will to live. And when Methos was totally incapable of denying him anything, he would call in the terms of their agreement. After all – it was a blood covenant and could not be broken. 

The last thing he recalled that night was wondering if Methos had had the slightest idea that, when he set the three months timeframe to their bargain, he had sealed its end date with a birthday. On the 20th September - three months from the date of their bargain, Richie Ryan was born. And on the 20th September, 1997, Duncan MacLeod intended that, by sunset of that day, his burden would be ended and Richie’s murderer would be truly dead. It would have to be done on Mull, since Iona was holy ground.

It was indeed war - and Duncan MacLeod was on his home turf.

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

The days continued to pass. With only ninety people on Iona it didn’t take long for both Methos and Duncan to become well known figures. While it was summer and the thousands of tourists and pilgrims at least diluted their presence, in reality there was no way that any two men with such presence could possibly hope to remain unnoticed in such a small place. And this was just as Methos had intended. Duncan brought out all the protective instincts of every woman (and many men) on the island. He was Wounded Warrior personified – hauntingly beautiful inside his grieving and pain-ravaged shell. Methos commented at one stage that he would love a pound for every picture of Duncan taken by the tourists – Iona’s own Archangel….and if Duncan noticed that cell phones seemed to be as prolific on Iona as elsewhere he never mentioned it.  Methos, of course, knew - having supplied a good few of them himself to young locals who would keep him informed of where his Highlander was and what he was doing.

With Lynn, the Scot continued to draw pictures of various Celtic artefacts and works of art and spent hours researching their history. It was rumoured that hundreds of Celtic crosses lay in the waters off Iona – the trashed legacy of one of the many Viking raids that had destroyed so much of the peaceful community and its priceless heritage in the 9th and 10th centuries. It was even believed that much of the Book of Kells was in fact done on Iona and sent to Ireland for safekeeping, along with Columba’s bones. Duncan surprised Lynn and her colleagues when, one afternoon, he copied, almost perfectly, a page from a beautiful Kells-like manuscript. He simply smiled at their praise, remembering the many hours he had spent over the centuries with Paul in the monastery, perfecting not only Latin and reading but also the art of illumination. There had been many periods in his long life when he’d relished the months of quiet retreat with Brother Paul.

Back in the house that evening he noticed the sun beaming on some paint brushes that were in a back room of the house. He soon found himself idly fingering them, remembering the times over the years that he had had to draw copies of his antiques and possessions, there being no cameras. Tessa had helped further refine his technique. So he allowed himself to sit with Lynn while she encouraged him to draw and paint in the magnificent summer sun, and at dusk and at sunrise. And if he realised that the sun was giving his skin back the gold, and occasionally teasing a smile for Lynn and her friends, it wasn’t obvious. In Duncan’s mind the artistic and historical pursuits were the only alternative to spending each day in the company of Methos. It was enough to know what he was doing to him – he didn’t need to watch the heartbreak as well.

Of such stuff, he castigated himself, are true cowards made…

What he hadn't revealed to Methos was that on many of the days that he pretended to go to the Abbey or the research centre, he would go to various hidden coves or hidden overhangs.  And there he would sit for hours, doing nothing except building up his stores of energy to get  him through the next block of hours when he would have to interact with people - and with Methos. One afternoon he sat, emotionally exhausted, on one of the many wooden benches scattered around the island. He had spent the morning at the Abbey, researching and was now sitting amongst the ruins of the Nunnery. Every day he exercised. He looked down at his forearms and noticed that the muscle tone had returned. But he felt none of the passion or drive or pride which usually fuelled his physical disciplines. On a pragmatic level, he knew that he had more chance of defeating Methos’ will if he was physically fit. He stared again at his forearms and wondered why his blood still felt like sludge and why a constant weariness was his most loyal companion. He stretched out on the bench and let the children’s voices from the neighbouring primary school wash over him. He recognised the poem – an old Celtic one called 'A Mother’s Blessing'. It had been a long time since he’d had a Mother who had held him in her arms and whispered such invocations over her bonny boy…

“Christ’s Watch within your dreams tonight;
To soothe your mind, to quell your fright.
Christ’s Peace be flooding all your room;

To light the dark, to chase the gloom.
Christ’s Love to fill your tender heart;
To hold you fast while we’re apart…”

Who, he wondered, would be there to hold Methos fast, once they had parted forever?

*******

Duncan spent the next few days wandering the island in further research with Lynn and her colleagues. With her he didn’t have to be a Clan chieftain. Or an Immortal. Or a murderer. He was simply a man, haunted by a tragedy that none spoke of. He couldn’t remember when he had last been in such a non-demanding situation. No one expected anything of him or asked anything of him. Methos noted that invariably, after these sessions at the Abbey or the research center, Duncan was almost his old talkative self - except that he never asked how Methos filled his days or showed any interest in what he was doing.

The sun was setting over the Sound as Methos poured them both a whisky and they sat staring out at the last of the light. Where once Duncan had luxuriated in the silence, he now sought to fill it. From out of no-where, related to nothing, he suddenly said, "I think she's a Druid - whatever the female Druids are. What are they?" 

"Druids! What do you think they'd be – Druidettes? And you don't earn the right to be called a Druid just by sprouting odd bits of porridge philosophy!"

Duncan chose to ignore the taunt and merely worked on feeding it. "I never have to say anything - she never stops talking. And she's good Methos - I felt like I was looking in a mirror when I saw what she'd been painting. He stopped suddenly - pained. "In one of them there's a sword lying next to me - and lightning. I asked her why she'd put it there."

Methos looked up from his beer.  "Well it's hardly surprising that a painting of a warrior would have a sword in it, surely?

Duncan looked at the narrowed eyes and knew what they signified. Methos really - really - didn't like anyone else being close to his Scot, it appeared.  His Scot.  Duncan filed the realisation away, for later use.

Perceiving the slight break, Methos castigated himself. "Don't let my petty jealousy stop you. What other pearls of wisdom and psychic insights did MoonBeam or whatever her name is have to impart?"

"Lynn - her name is Lynn. Nice and simple. She talks about everything. And that means I don’t have to. I'd never thought about how important water is to me until she started to talk about it and Islands. I grew up by Loch Shiel. By choice I always live on the water or by the water in coastal towns. I never really thought about it before. My retreat is an island." 

Methos interrupted in the snide and clipped cultured phraseology he reserved for such occasions.  He pointed out that five thousand years of erudition did tend to leave one with the odd snippet of useful and interesting information -  were Duncan bothered to listen to any of it. "Celts have always depicted the Otherworld and the Beyond in the shape of islands lying to the west or north of the world. You must know that?" He couldn’t help but smirk at the irony of almost wishing for the silence from Duncan that had characterised their first few weeks on the island. It was almost as if the Scot were making up for lost time.

"Well if I did, I'd forgotten it. She reminded me. Her hero in her artwork series is on a quest - seeking truth, peace - immortality. I almost choked when she said that. Wanted to tell her that he was doomed to disappointment and a life time of high farce. She says that lightning symbolises fertilisation - ejaculation of the heavens into the earth and that rain is celestial semen…”

Methos rolled his eyes at that. “Gods! Spare us – please…Hippies – ya gotta love them. What else did Ms. MelonPatch, Druidette of the Year, enlighten you with?  And I've changed my mind," he added as a mumbled afterthought. " There truly are Druidettes!” 

Duncan completely ignored the interruption. “Fire and water, you see! I couldn’t help remembering how our swords are said to symbolise a Cross of Light. And how the Katana is said to have originated in lightning." He finally stopped, and looked at Methos. It made me think about our Quickenings -the way they penetrate us - fuck us - and impregnate us with the seed of the person…" And then he stopped, suddenly realising what he was saying - and whose seed lay dormant within him, as he'd refused any integration of Richie Ryan's seed of new life and power.

"Go on Duncan - what were you going to say?"

The Scot started to back away and turned as if to flee. "Nothing. It doesn't matter. It wasn't anything."

Methos refused to let the lesson in mythology finish so abruptly. 'Haven't you ever wondered why we're so ripe for sado-masochism?"

"Some of us maybe!" He spat the words at Methos, turning to make sure that they had hit their mark.  

"Think about it Duncan. What's more painful than a Quickening? All that power and that phallic symbolism of the sword - it's one long excruciatingly painful, exquisite orgasm. We’re powerless while it penetrates us. Over and over. Bound and trapped. We're socialised to associate sex with pain and pleasure!"

Duncan started pacing the room. "Stop it! I don't want to talk about this. Richie's death was more than a good fuck, for Christ's sake!"

Methos rose out of the chair his body had appropriated and confronted the agitated man before him. Grabbing both of his upper arms, he prevented him from further pacing. "He would be so much more if you'd let him be. Integrate his Quickening! Take in everything he was and would want you to have. You're both left sterile and frustrated, useless and trapped unless you do that Duncan. Let Richie into your soul!"

"Stop it! Stop it!" Duncan desperately tried to pull away but when that didn't work he simply kept repeating the phrase, over and over. "Stop it Methos. Please - please - stop it."

"Oh Duncan – Duncan!"

And finally - for the first time since their confrontation on the cliff top, when the covenant had been sealed, the tears came – but this time it came for both of them. Duncan pulled away and looked in horror at what he had caused. Methos also pulled away, as if taken by surprise by the intensity of his own reaction, and had fallen back into the arm chair. His beautiful hands came up to cover most of his face and any sound that might escape his mouth.  His eyes were awash with tears -  which all too quickly overflowed and streamed down his cheeks and across the backs of his hands. 

With all they had been through – all the harsh words – Duncan had never seen Methos weep like this. He'd seen him on his knees, after the deaths of Kronos and Silas.  Heard his body rent with broken-hearted sobs.  But he had never seen this - the flood of silent tears that came from the soul.  He stood, transfixed, and then fought against his natural inclination to take Methos into his arms and hold him, and protect him. And then he reminded himself that this was war – and he left the battlefield.

They didn't discuss Quickenings after that….

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

Over dinner the next evening they both intentionally kept the mood light. There was a need, both seemed to silently acknowledge, to have the occasional truce if for no other reason than to regroup.. Duncan surprised Methos by himself initiating questions on Methos’ time on Iona.

“Were you really here Methos? Tell me the truth.”

Methos sniggered. “What do you think Duncan?”

“I think that you were.”

Methos neither confirmed nor denied.

The Scot said nothing more but his own research and Lynn's endless chatter now gave him other possibilities for how Methos might have once come to be on Iona. “Well, Methos, Il-Shona was the old Gaelic for Iona - 'Isle of the Saints' – but that’s not an appellate that anyone would ever associate with you. But Innis nan Druidhnean - Isle of the Druids. That might be closer to the mark?” Methos gave away nothing. Duncan continued with his teasing. “But then I found it - Ioua, - goddess of the Moon. That made sense to me Methos. I could just see you prancing around as a Druid or a worshipper of Ioua - far more than as a Christian monk. Methos the lunatic!”

For the first time in many months they even laughed. Well – sniggered… 

It was only later, as he stood by the window overlooking the Strait that Duncan reminded himself of how careful he would have to be of the power of Methos and the life-giving light of Iona.  Reaching down he took the hot mug of chamomile tea and whatever else Methos had laced it with and prepared to go down again into nothingness...

 

 *******************

 

End of Chpt 4

Go to Chapter 5


2 June, 2001

[Top] [Home]

Hit Counter


Copyright © Carson Kearns 2000

Disclaimers

Contact Carson Kearns:

carsonkearns@hotmail.com