|Carson Kearns' Highlander Fanfic|
Lost in the Loving: Lighting You Home
by Carson Kearns
Mid September, 1997
Methos had made more promises in the past few months than he would normally have made in a century. And none of them seemed to matter now. He stood, with his back against the wall, eyes closed, hands splayed behind him for support. He’d intended leaving the house after the bitter confrontation – having been brought so low by Duncan, after flying so high with him in their bed. But he had only got as far as the adjoining room before realising that he was incapable of going anywhere. At first it was the chilling silence that unnerved him. And then it was the sound of the heart-broken sobbing – sounds he hadn’t heard since the terrible night of Richie Ryan’s death. That night it had been as the result of shock, accompanied by crazed self-mutilation. This night he hoped and prayed that it signalled a release.
Thirty minutes before, he’d left Duncan in their bed, bruised and bloodied from two brutal slaps across his face. One might even have been a fist – he couldn’t remember. All he could see was the image of Duncan, eyes filled with despair, lying there with blood running from his beautiful mouth – and both cheeks bruised black and blue by Methos’ own hand.
So many promises. In Paris, he’d promised Joe that they wouldn’t play these games:
<<Joe had been sitting on the side of Duncan’s bed. "You're going to have to get him somewhere safe. Maybe the island? No one else can do it. Promise me that you'll look after him Methos. No more fighting with each other. You have to look after him or I swear I'll - .". And he remembered sitting on the bed and pulling the old Watcher to him. "It's okay Joe. I promise.">>
He’d promised Duncan that he would light him home. But Duncan had never asked for that promise and all around them was a beckoning abyss. What was worse was that Methos could feel himself being pulled into that same abyss. All those grand promises had been reduced to standing alone in a room, his back to the wall, appalled at what he just let himself be manipulated into. And fifteen feet away was Duncan, alone, still lost in despair and hopelessness.
Who, Methos wondered, loved the better? Perhaps it was Duncan, after all, who wished only to safeguard all around him and would pay any price to do that, including his own death. Duncan saw only the people affected by his actions. But Methos focused on the bigger picture and was always willing to sacrifice the many - and see it as a small price to pay if it safeguarded the one – Duncan.
He had vowed to Duncan that the price of his taking his own life would be the sure knowledge that Methos would follow him. But in the dark, quiet hours he wondered whether he would, in fact, do that. And he hated himself for thinking those thoughts. He’d avoided them by trying to ensure that things never came to that. But what, he wondered, if they did? With only hours to go until Duncan’s deadline, he found himself wondering whether this might be another promise he would not be able to keep.
Leaning further into the wall for support, he let himself think of the promise he had made to Connor -- another blood promise, to keep Connor’s kinsman safe. Methos had had no idea what he was entering into when he had made that promise, having failed so spectacularly to change that other MacLeod’s intentions to remove himself from the Game. He’d long ago decided that there must have been something in the waters of Loch Shiel that resulted in such pig-headedness in the two MacLeods. At the time it had never occurred to him that Connor would not come out of Sanctuary – or that Methos himself would become hopelessly lost in the loving of his clansman.
They would argue long and hard, Connor with stubborn, low-voiced intensity and Methos with careful, cool logic. But in the end it came to nought, with Connor doing exactly what he pleased, going on to seek release from his own pain.
“What is it about MacLeods?” he again wondered. But of course, he knew. They were men of extremes. They scorched those around them when they soared - and plummeted. For truly only those who reached so high, could be brought so low.
Pragmatically, Methos knew that the mix was too dangerous. But who could counsel mediocrity and safeness and not realise that it would slowly but surely destroy both Highlanders’ souls. Two blood oaths had been taken – both diametrically opposed. In five thousand years he could count on the fingers of one hand the times he had actually pledged his soul in such a way. And two of the five concerned the man still in the room beyond. Duncan MacLeod. Two oaths. One to keep him safe. And one to kill him. Which, he wondered, would be the greater betrayal?
He sniggered as he thought he heard the laughter of the gods of his youth. Or maybe it was just the swirling wind over the Sound?
“Fucking bastards! You haven’t won yet,” he whispered back, refusing to let either the gods or the winds they controlled have the last word. They must have known, when he pledged Duncan’s soul’s safe-keeping to Connor MacLeod, that it wasn’t Methos’ to pledge. It already belonged to another, had he but known it then. So did this mean that it was his pledge to Duncan that carried the greater moral imperative? But of course he knew that moral imperatives had never been a real consideration with him when it came to important decisions. For how could one possibly even consider weighing ethics or attempting to determine theological exactitudes? They might result in the wrong answer – and that was any answer that resulted in his lover’s death.
Standing against the bedroom wall, in the heart of this place where he’d hoped to light Duncan home, he thought these things. Reached conclusions that he didn’t want to reach. Saw scenes of his future that he would have blinded himself not to see.
Slowly, he entered the room where Duncan knelt on the floor. There was utter silence, the vocal accompaniment to the grieving now stilled. Methos reminded himself that it had only been some sixteen weeks since Richie died – yet it seemed a lifetime. When he felt himself most frustrated with Duncan’s not simply pulling out of it he had to remind himself that even for a single tragedy, the grieving for one who felt so deeply, Immortal or mortal, would be years.
Duncan’s accumulated tragedies just in the past half-dozen years were almost without number – not to mention the killing of his own student and son. He had been a fool, Methos realised, to have only asked Duncan for a few months. He saw now, looking at the defeated figure on the floor, there was no way Duncan could possibly come to terms with what had happened in the time frame Methos had set.
He refused to even consider the possibility of a Persian god called Ahriman and how that delusion added complications he couldn’t begin to cope with. If twelve weeks had been an impossible time frame to come to grips with suicidal despair, then it certainly wasn’t going to work when delusions were added to the mix.
Methos stopped and looked around the room and saw his Journal lying on the table. He didn’t normally leave his diaries out in the open – even though he knew that the Scot was far too honorable to breach his privacy so he wasn’t surprised to see that the journal was still closed. The last piece he had written had been a prayer of sorts - to Duncan – words he couldn’t say to his face and that Duncan certainly wouldn’t listen to. So he did what he had done for thousands of years and wrote them down. He was old enough to still believe that words, written down, could invoke great power:
“When loving only me you
lay, replete a while,
Inside my soul…
Please know, the candle still burns bright, to light you home -
and make us whole…”
He stepped over Duncan and slid down the wall and pulled the Scot back against his chest. Neither said anything and Methos gently massaged Duncan’s head and brow.
"My fingers trace the place
where last you lay your head -
I trace your pain …”
Duncan let himself relax against the solid body supporting him. “Methos? I’m tired, Methos.”
Methos looked down at the man cradled in his arms. He’d nurtured and protected many of his own children like this. The massaging and kneading halted, but was quickly replaced by Methos’ fingers, tracing the lines that still lay heavily on Duncan’s face. The bruises had healed but the dark shadows could still be seen in the moon’s light. They seemed perpetual these days.
“I know you’re tired, Duncan. It will pass.” He leaned down and kissed Duncan’s cheekbones. Nothing more was said of what had passed in the bed in the other room.
Finally Duncan whispered, “It will never pass.” Another ten minutes of total silence followed before Duncan’s fractured but still beautiful voice washed across them both with ancient words that stunned Methos:
am filled with you
Skin, blood, bone, brain and soul
There’s no room for lack of trust, or trust
Nothing in this existence but that existence.”
Methos closed his eyes and wondered whether Duncan’s recitation signalled that he had read the poem that Methos had written for him. It had been so long since they had done this – read to each other, even if it had only been newspaper articles and snippets. Both had been born in a time alive with verbal traditions and story-telling and these things had never left them. Duncan, in particular, had never lost his love of the Bardic traditions of his upbringing. He had been surprised, however, when Methos explained that what drew Duncan to Joe had been that Joe was his Bard – the singer of his songs and the chronicler of his nights and days.
When Methos continued to say nothing in response to the Rumi poem, Duncan once again spoke. “How could he have been so right and so wrong?”
“In what way Duncan?”
“I wanted to be filled with nothing, but I’m filled with you – with complete trust in you and with no trust in you. But it isn’t enough Methos. That existence isn’t enough to justify living. I should have died a long time ago – if I had, so many people would still be alive.”
Methos didn’t argue – there was no point. He simply kept on stroking until Duncan fell into a fitful sleep. And then he spoke to his lover, lying on his body. Who, he wondered, was sheltering whom?
make great sky-circles
What had happened, he wondered, to Duncan’s wings? Had his and Connor’s simply fractured in the falling? Or had they soared too high – and Icarus-like, been irreparably seared? As his wonderings continued, he felt himself slipping into sleep, still cradling the sleeping Highlander, too tightly, against his torso. His own sleep soon brought him dreams and images that he didn’t want to see.
The Rumi poem echoed again and again as a sleep-induced vision began to play itself out in the image of a bloodied golden eagle, trapped and betrayed by the very currents that should have lifted him out of danger. The eagle struggled, refusing to surrender while those on the ground simply stared in wonder and horror. They told themselves they were powerless to help and continued to watch the epic battle in the skies above them.
Finally the great eagle turned, in his exhausted struggle, and sought the one place that had always been home. No matter the battles and killings that took place in the troubled skies, no matter how many were instigated by the eagle itself, there was always one place that provided safety and rest - the gloved arm of his Falconer. The golden bird found a current, as he always impossibly did, and rode the wind to the outstretched arm of the one who gave him succour and rest.
|But this time the Falconer’s gloved arm and fist gave forth a golden arrow, which struck the eagle through the heart. It bowed its head – not in anger or betrayal but in supplication and thanks, then raised its brown eyes to the Falconer, and plummeted into the abyss. It was only then that the Falconer realised that he had betrayed no one but himself and that he had done exactly as the eagle had wanted him to do.||
Methos awoke with a start and looked down at the head cradled on his lap. The long, silken feathered strands covered his thighs and blood still lay caked on Duncan’s mouth. “Yes,” Methos acknowledged to the malevolent gods, “this time you have been more clever than me.” And to the wounded and dying eagle laying against him, he now invoked a blessing and a curse. For what purpose could the Falconer have, if his golden eagle lay dead. Who was the bird and who the prey? Who the trainer, guide, protector? Who the hunter? Both had become one.
Another of the poet master’s incredible word paintings came to his mind and he started to recite ‘In the Arc of your Mallet’ aloud.
go anywhere without me
let nothing happen in the sky apart from me,
on the ground, in this world or in that world
without my being in its happening.
Vision see nothing I don’t see.
Language say nothing.
The way the night knows itself with the moon
be that with me. Be the rose
nearest to the thorn that I am.”
The Falconer then looked down at his own body, imprisoned in those same chains and felt himself weighed down with the realisation that he was imprisoned inside millennia of fears. Despite his promise to Duncan, on the cliff top, he knew that he might be too afraid to follow his soul’s longing, and follow, if Duncan died. He was too trapped in the earth’s foundations, too weighed down with surviving, to soar free. His eagle was ever yet the warrior and explorer – forging ahead, seeking out new planes of existence, even amidst his blind despair. The Highlander just seemed incapable of not being brave, even when he was castigating his own cowardice.
And until September 20th, Methos had no idea what events his firing of the golden arrow into the heart of the falling eagle would bring. He looked down and saw that Duncan was awake and had been listening to him – and looking at him.
“I thought I was dreaming - listening to the chants of the Shaolin monks.”
Methos smiled. “No. Just me. You know, Duncan, I’ve become so used to living that I think that I’ve forgotten how to die. I’m the greater coward.”
Duncan pulled himself upright and, turning, encased Methos’ face in his two large hands. He let his eyes take in all the fine features, the fear and the longing on the face before him. “I’ll teach you. But not so you can die. I want you to live, Methos!”
Neither had the heart to say anything further on that – or when that last phrase of Duncan’s had been uttered. In Bordeaux he had screamed out to Cassandra that he wanted Methos to live. He had been shocked by his own passionate insistence that Methos must be allowed to live. Or, if not, that Cassandra would die. He had then sat for what seemed like hours and watched Methos, on his knees, in despair. He set the memory aside. He didn’t like memories like that anymore. So instead he sought the relief that both now desperately needed.
Moments like this were now very predictable. When one said something to the other that was just too much to be borne, or when pain caused the heart to stop beating and the lungs to stop breathing – then they would silently signal a truce. And then either one of them would depart – or one would use humor as a proffered shield against the pain. It at least gave some minutes for blood to start slowly moving again. And this time it was Methos who signalled the need for such a truce in this merciless war. He set about lightening the moment. “Well, youngling, living is one thing I’m very, very good at.”
Duncan closed his eyes, decided to be kind and to allow Methos the time out. He smirked, “Don’t call me ‘youngling’. I hate it.”
Methos smiled and playfully swiped at Duncan’s head. “Good. And I call you that because that is what you are – a green youngling who still has a lot of growing up to do and things to learn from his wiser elders.”
“What happened to ‘I’m just a guy!’ or the man who never had any words of wisdom?” Duncan taunted.
“He was just a front I use to avoid free-loaders. I’m free-loader enough without any others getting on board. But in your case I’ll make a rare exception.” And with that they both rose, stiffly, and returned to their ruined bed where linen was quickly changed. They finished the night as they had started it – together.
|As Methos moulded himself to the Highlander’s back another insight revealed itself. He watched the dawn starting to lighten the night and realised that it wasn’t only Duncan who needed to be wary of the light of Iona. It had a way of bringing to life that which had lain hidden and/or dead for a very long time. His thoughts were suddenly interrupted by Duncan’s voice:|
“Methos, I know ‘In the Arc of Your Mallet’. It was one of Tessa’s favorite poems. It’s what I want to feel forever when you take my Quickening. He finished the poem for Methos:
want to feel myself inside you when you taste food
in the arc of your mallet when you work
when you visit friends, when you go
up on the roof by yourself at night.”
Methos pulled the Scot to him more firmly, and finished the poem for them both:
How, he wondered, could he light Duncan home, when Duncan himself was the only one who seemed to know the way? But at the end of Duncan’s way, he reminded himself, lay not salvation, but endless grief and a bloodied, murdered eagle.
As he made his way towards Lynn's make-shift Studio, he found himself ruminating on Iona and was now more certain than ever that he had been on Iona at some stage during his wanderings after his banishment and that it had been the location of his vision of his first Quickening. Coincidence, he reassured himself. He found it ironic that it should also be the backdrop for his final Quickening. It seemed beyond coincidence that he should only now be here because of a remembered prophecy from the same hermit who had ravaged his soul on that bleak day so long ago. The Great Wheel turned…
|Over the next few days Duncan spent many hours with Lynn as
she attempted to finish her portrait of him.
She was meticulous and all
around him were discarded images which she pronounced either not good
enough or not doing justice to him. They troubled him - not because
of any lack of technical expertise, but because they were triggering
memories of his upbringing, his duty and his obligations - and there
was such a marked heaviness to his features that surprised even him. His
face truly now was etched with grief. It pained him to see what
Methos must be seeing every day and he looked away from the discarded
Lynn broke into his reverie to reveal that she was expected to unveil it on the night of the 20th, when the great Celtic feast of Mabon, the Autumn Equinox, was to be celebrated on Iona, on the top of Dunn I. “Promise me that you will come, Duncan. There won’t be many of us but it would mean a lot to me if you were there, after all the hours you’ve spent posing for me.”
Duncan was momentarily speechless. Of course he knew that the celebrations for the most important turnings of the year were always begun on the evening before the actual solstice or equinox. He had thought about how it seemed a suitable time for him to leave this world, when the veils would be thinnest between the worlds. In reality, he realised, his day for dying would always have had to have been the 21st, since Methos would demand that all the minutes and seconds of the 20th September would need to pass before he would acknowledge that the Covenant must be honoured. He didn’t relish spending that time alone with Methos so the celebrations would provide a suitable distraction. “Yes, Lynn – I’ll come.” And, he thought later, it was right that he should leave the world at the time of a season's turnings, just as he had entered it then. It gave him even greater certainty that what he was doing was right.
Lynn beamed. “Wonderful. Please bring Adam. I know that he will find it all very silly but there’ll be food and wine and…”
Duncan interrupted her. “Just promise him beer and you won’t be able to keep him away.” She laughed again, and promised to find some unusual brews.
Duncan also found himself spending time doing some sketching and painting of his own. He started with the easy and obvious – the farm houses and the great Abbey. That inevitably drew his memories back to the church in Glenfinnan and then to Notre Dame - his own private sentinel.
His mind lingered on the importance of churches and monasteries in his life and soon Darius started to take shape before his eyes.
His fingers moved the pencils over the pad in ways that Tessa had taught him. And then he started to think of Tessa and her beautiful skin and the way his fingers had revered her flesh. When realised that he was remembering the night that Richie had come into their lives he almost put the pencil down - but Tessa's shape on the sketch pad was like a siren calling him too keep her memory alive while he could.
He ignored his first inclination to abandon it and instead, over the next few days, he finished it. Lynn had asked him at one stage, “Is he why you’re here?”
|As he brought his thoughts back to the present he was stunned and shocked to see what his hand had sketched while his thoughts were elsewhere. He recognised the scene as an observer might have drawn it – Duncan, taking Richie into his arms in a fierce and protective hug.|
“He’s one of the reasons,” was all Duncan offered and she didn’t push any further. But he put down his brushes and packed his materials away.
“I’m sorry Duncan. I shouldn’t have said anything. I didn’t mean to stir up anything.”
“You didn’t,” he lied. But he backed away and quickly disappeared without saying anything further.. ...but the sketch wouldn't leave him. He'd been saying goodbye to Richie after he had publicly died at the motor bike track. He castigated himself for having been so incredibly weak and indulgent to have allowed Richie to ever come back to Paris. Perhaps, he mused, that memory was so strong because it was linked to that time in his life when he had had the prospect of raising Anne's child so cruelly dashed. Two children lost...one day - one day he would paint that memory...
Methos finally found him at the top of Dunn I. The fresh wind whipped the Highlander's long hair about his face and head and the Treshnish Isles lay straight ahead. Over on their right, on Mull, stood Uamh nam Marbh – the Cave of the Dead. Methos observed the wind helping Duncan's dark blue cotton pullover define a body now lean - but fit and strong. The denim jeans no longer hung loosely on him.
Duncan broke the silence.
“I want you to kill me. Over there. In the Cave of the Dead. And if you can work out how, I’d like to be buried anywhere along the shores of Loch Shiel.”
“Suitably melodramatic and theatrical to the last I see,” Methos snapped. “Why would the small matter of killing you and transporting a headless body miles in the trunk of a car be a problem?”
Duncan seemed oblivious to Methos’ taunt. “You could always call the Watchers. They’d take care of it.”
Methos shook his head and closed his eyes before spitting back the only response possible. “Why just call any Watcher? We’ll call Joe. After all, he’s earned the right. He could probably get me a good discount on a Watcher-friendly car rental company. Plastic-lined trunks a standard item!”
Duncan continued to ignore him and stared out across the Atlantic. “I’ve organised all my business affairs. It’s all in a folder on the desktop of your computer, plus there is a separate disc.”
<<It was war,>> Methos reminded himself, so he did the unexpected and took the conversation off to focus on a new target. He gestured to a nearby small structure. “That’s the Well of the Dead,” he replied, in a seeming total non-sequitur.
Duncan gave a short laugh. “It will take a lot more than a holy well to fix things this time, Methos.”
“Columba was distraught – suicidal. He thought he’d never be forgiven. Look what the world would have lost!”
Duncan bowed his head, and finally looked up, and turned to look at Methos. “I’m not a fucking Saint, Methos. There’s no comparison.” He quickly turned away.
Methos didn’t want it to be like this – he wanted to be controlled and calm. But in the face of such determination he found himself starting to lose hope. “Think of all the times you’ve grieved, Duncan. All the times when you wanted to end it. It always passed. You did many, many very good things…”
Duncan spun to face him, interrupting, his face now a picture of self-disgust. “And many bad things.”
Methos ignored the interruption. “So that’s it is it? Just lay down your weapons and surrender the battlefield?”
Duncan gave a vehement “We’re not going to have this conversation,” and turned to walk away.
Methos did nothing for a minute before shouting after him. “You accuse me of always walking away, but you’re pretty damn good at it yourself. I at least deserve to know why. Why!?”
Duncan stopped and lifted his head and finally turned back to face him. It was a heart-breaking scene to see Methos silhouetted against the cliff top, his face distraught. It was one that Duncan had hoped to avoid. Methos’ phrase echoed over and over in his memories and he recalled that it was Tessa who had asked the same question when Connor and Slan had come calling. She had tried so hard to understand the inexplicable, the unsupportable, the unforgivable.
<<‘Just tell me why!” she had cried out in anguish. “Is there anyone, anywhere, who can tell me why?”>>
And of course, there wasn’t. Just as there wasn’t now. The least he could therefore do was to try and give this lover an answer.
“You already know why, Methos. You always comment on how quiet things are when I’m not around. In other words, people go on living their normal lives. Where I am, there is death and violence. I admit that a lot of these I welcomed in terms of the Game. But there’s too much damage to innocent people I love. I’ve become too high profile to live quietly and I can’t just live for myself alone. I can’t stand by and watch evil and do nothing.”
Methos stepped in front of him, to face him directly. “Listen to yourself! You think that your death will somehow remove evil? Or perhaps you just want to remove the obligation to have to do anything about it!”
Duncan’s whispered, “The latter,” was enough to give Methos what he had been searching for. He turned his back on the Highlander. “And wouldn’t Daddy and Connor be proud of that.”
Duncan grabbed his pullover and spun him around. “I don’t care anymore what they would or wouldn’t be proud of!”
Methos wasn’t having any of it. He smiled and then closed in even further, physically and emotionally. “Yes - you do! You still care very much indeed. In fact, you care so much that you’d rather be dead than go on living with the guilt you feel about not living up to their expectations.”
Duncan let go and tried to turn away but it was now Methos’ turn to capture the Highlander by his pullover and hold him in front of him. Duncan then made a move that Methos hadn’t seen for many months and within seconds the Highlander was free and Methos was rubbing his almost fractured wrists. Painful as the karate blow had been, Methos didn’t complain – after all it was the first time that Duncan had made any move involving self-defense at all.
Duncan made no further attempt to leave, but tried to avoid looking at Methos. He turned to look anywhere that Methos wasn’t, but that proved impossible. As he made to depart the painful scene Methos once again grabbed his pullover.
“Tell me, in words of one syllable, why you feel such a failure?” When there was no response, Methos moved even closer and moved his hands up to Duncan’s shoulders. He then used his right hand to force up Duncan’s chin and therefore his eyes. “Don’t think, Duncan. Just talk!”
And then the flood of guilt and failure, lost hopes and dark despairings began to break through the thinning barriers between their worlds. As Methos continued to hold him, Duncan’s litany flowed like a Celtic invocation. The words, and what they gave life to, were captured on the high winds’ caressings, and seared by the light. The dross was turned to ashes and blown into the Atlantic, leaving only a cocoon of hope amidst the confessional soul cleansing. And still Duncan spoke, without pause of the betrayals of his hopes and his dreams, those he had called friends, past lovers’ vows to be with him. He spoke of the desolate achings that always visited anew at the important turnings of his life; the anniversaries that marked what should have been his joys and his blessings but instead seemed to increasingly mark his failure to find, keep, nurture and protect a family….”…and it gets to the point where all you see and feel and touch and taste is a darkness that has no end. Just a deep, deep pain that won’t go away, Methos.”
Methos captured the tones, the phrases, the visuals and wrapped and stored them in that special part of his always active mind that devoted itself solely to the Highlander. The funereal drumming that had been their constant companion all these months seemed to have lessened, he realised. The urgent thrumming that signalled impending doom seemed to have slowed. But he also knew that the lancing of Duncan’s pain left no room for such hopes. Indeed, spaces left behind by the discarding of the dross could quickly, if Methos wasn’t careful, be filled with renewed determination made all the more dangerous by Duncan’s renewed clarity and sense of purpose. “If you’re going to feel guilt, Duncan, at least make sure that it’s justified and get rid of the rest.”
Duncan gave a small laugh. “Lessons from the expert in guilt. Spare me!”
Methos’ eyes narrowed in a way that any who knew him would have instantly recognised and recoiled from. “You’re right, bright boy! I doubt that there’s a soul on this planet or beyond who could tell you more about what it feels like to carry the burden of guilt that I carry. But this isn’t about ‘You show me yours and I’ll show you my bigger one’. It’s about what reparation should be paid and what self-punishment is appropriate.” He paused and took some deep breaths to calm himself. He then took the Highlander’s upper arm and sat them both down, out of the wind. As with the night before, he imprisoned Duncan by holding him tight against his chest. And then he started his own litany of betrayals and lost hopes – except that his covered millennia. Where Duncan had lost one or two, Methos had lost hundreds.
“Do you think that I haven’t wanted to die, Duncan – more times than you can imagine? But if I’d taken that option then I wouldn’t be here now. I’d never have known you.
Duncan finally spoke. “Then you wouldn’t have missed it, if you’d never known it. That just shows you are a stronger man than me. Your act of reparation is to live with it. I can’t.”
“Living is the only act of reparation that has any meaning at all, Duncan. But I can’t truly say that I do live with it. I continued to exist. Being with you has started to teach me how to live with it.”
“And the fact that it also means that you get to keep surviving never colored that view?”
Methos sniggered. “You can be very cruel, Duncan.”
“I had a good teacher.”
“Yes, you did. And he still has a lot to teach you yet. Wasn’t it you, though, who told me that the dead still live while we remember them? For the failures that are real, living with them and finding some bloody way to turn that pain into something worthwhile can be the only reparation,” he insisted, his mouth close to Duncan’s ear as he refused to let him rise.
Duncan managed to shift in his embrace and reached out and closed his fist around Methos’ forearm. Whether it was an attempted connection or a farewell, however, Methos had no idea.
Duncan started to talk, quietly. ‘I know that Buddhists talk about the light inside the dark. But maybe that light isn’t always earth’s light. Everything you said sounds sensible. So sensible. Only you could rationalise survival at any cost as an act of supreme selflessness and humility.”
Methos found his response in the wiser insights of Rumi and this closed the cycle on these final hours of Duncan’s life:
I could give up tricks and cleverness
that would be my greatest cleverness…”
At that, they both rose and headed towards the house and their last evening alone with each other, since it had been decided that they would both attend the Mabon festivities the following night. Methos had agreed when he realised that either there would be something to celebrate or, if not, it was a suitable ritual to mark Duncan’s exit from this life and into another, at a time when the Otherworld was at its most receptive. He even found himself wondering whether the gods hadn’t planned this all along – to take the beloved Highlander into their own realm since this one had failed so spectacularly to use his gifts as the gods had intended.
As they neared the house, Methos paused, reached out, and traced the Highlander’s face and cheek. “Do you want to know something really funny Duncan? You’re right. Sometimes survival at any cost can be the ultimate act of self-sacrifice.”
Duncan turned into the touch and let himself be stroked. “But I prefer my sacrifices to be more tangible,” he sighed. He remembered Methos’ poem, and the love and pain it painted. And how the fingers lightly echoing the structure of his face were described in the poem – reaching out to touch his form and grace. He pulled back from the ghosting caress and headed towards the house and their bed.
Later, as he pulled back the sheets, the words slipped past him and lay scattered and fractured across the bedding and floor:
it so wrong to long for scents
that flavour still you passing through…”
“No Methos, it isn’t,” he mumbled aloud, as he pulled up the scented shroud to cover his nakedness. With his fingers, while waiting for Methos, he traced the place where Methos would lay his head and let his hand soak in the echoed pain that permeated all the places that they had been and still were. “But our love was never in vain,” he told himself and his absent lover. “I did some things right…” - And loving Methos had, he knew, been one of them.
Tomorrow was Richie’s birthday.
For what was supposed to be their last night together Duncan wove a web of soft, sensual delight. Little was said. But for the first time since Byron, Duncan took the lead in their love making and the house above the Sound was finally christened with love – deep, heart-felt, soul-defining love.
“Let me be your road and your knower of roads. Your map. And your love, “ he whispered to the weeping man in his arms – feathering him with kisses and refusing to let go. “Do you want me to stop?” he asked, once, when the pillow beneath Methos was drenched in silent tears.
“No, Duncan. Give me this…”
Duncan rose up above Methos, his hair wild and jet-black in the moonlight, his body washed in the light of the Moon Goddess. And Methos worshipped as he felt himself entered and filled. Duncan never seemed to close his eyes and Methos marvelled at how they could reflect so many golden lights amidst the blackness of his passion. He remembered, later, being so pleased at having at least given him back the gold.
It had been so long since Duncan had worshipped him like this – fixated on the paler skin, determined to have it all. Duncan, when in this mood, never took any prisoners. He simply took. And in the taking he left every sense that Methos acknowledged and newly born ones, exhausted, over-stimulated and over-used. And all screamed out to be so used, again and again.
Duncan was relentless.
Leaning down he gently traced Methos’ mouth with his tongue before once again exploring, with caution at first, the sharp tongue that could, so devastatingly, cut and polish his words with such finesse and skill. Once he had kissed, and let himself be kissed, he left the gentleness aside and plundered. Once Methos noticed blood on Duncan’s mouth but had no idea whose it was. He suspected that, in his abandonment, he had caused the wounds and watched in fascination as they began to heal. This always turned Duncan on, and the Scot quickly leaned down to let the small bolts of electricity sear their kiss and fuse their passion again and again. Once his mouth and tongue had healed, Duncan wiped the blood with his finger and offered it, in supplication, to his lover and his life – the knower of his thoughts and the bearer of his coming release.
It seemed impossible but Duncan was once again rock hard. He moved up Methos’ body so that Methos could feast on his cock. He groaned and moaned aloud as his large hands took control of Methos’ head. He was rewarded when he felt throat muscles, trained over millennia, pull him impossibly deep inside. They wove their own welcome and milked him as if remembering a long savoured, favorite meal. Duncan withdrew and then turned Methos and covered him completely with his body as he entered him from behind – slowly, at first and then he once again became the wild warrior who could always reduce Methos to a quivering wreck.
There was nowhere that Duncan’s strength wasn’t, as he impaled himself like a living god into the beautiful body beneath him. Only another Immortal could possibly have withstood the ecstatic physical abandonment, forcefulness and repeated joinings. And only a person truly loved and sure of that love could have withstood the bestowing of all that Duncan was. Duncan cried out his joy as he filled Methos, over and over, with his life’s essence. Methos returned the love in kind, amidst the tears, determined that if Duncan was travelling to other worlds, then he would not go without the warmth of his lover to keep him safe and satisfied until Methos came for him.
Finally, a silent, searing joyfulness seemed to have soaked through all the pores of their skin and the sheets beneath. And Methos now knew, that what lay behind Duncan’s exquisite lovemaking had been a determination to leave as much of himself with Methos as Methos could take – the memories, the actual sexual essences, the smells, the passion, - the love.
As they both fell asleep, completely entwined in each other, Methos remembered a suitable description from Rumi of what the night had been:
Methos gazed across at his sleeping lover, knowing that Duncan thought this his last night. Ever. He watched the moonlight caressing Duncan's face and chest. In the final few seconds before sleep captured him, Methos spent precious minutes plotting and planning to ensure that the sun continued to rise and set on Duncan MacLeod... In the distance he could feel a dark thrumming gathering force, but ignored it as the product of an over-stressed and over-taxed mind. He let his thoughts return to his lover, now deeply asleep beside him.
Last night of his life indeed!......Truly, Methos sighed, holding Duncan's sleeping form more firmly, ...truly....the young could be so incredibly naïve.
End of Chpt6
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