My deepest gratitude to my erstwhile and far too patient Beta - MacGeorge who goes beyond the call of duty in both inspiring me with her own fiction and its incisive and loving portrayal of Duncan and Methos and the Highlander universe and in beating my own work into shape.
I would also like to thank Bev S who never fails to send me motivational material - in this case, the story of the Piping College of Borreraig and how it came to be. And last but not least, I would like to thank Jubie for her wonderful picture which illustrates a certain scene below.
Background: In Coming Home, Mary invited her Uncle Duncan to attend a school occasion devoted to the most special person in the child’s life. The day has arrived ……
The Loft. Late September 2002
“I take it you haven't done one of these before?” queried one very amused ancient Immortal, between mouthfuls of breakfast cereal.
Duncan continued to lay out possible clothing choices on the bed - as he had been doing for the past thirty minutes. “Why do you ask?” he finally responded, turning a fixed glare on his irritating lover.
Methos continued eating his breakfast - slowly - watching Duncan fiddle and fuss. Finally he drained his orange juice, before giving the Scot the benefit of thousands of years of dealing with toddlers. “For a start, I’ve never seen you this jumpy even before challenges! What’s got you so anxious?”
Duncan put his hands on his hips, started to speak - and then turned away.
Methos decided to try for the sincere approach. After all, he mused, he used it so rarely that Duncan hadn’t had an opportunity to develop any defences. “Come on Duncan, I may be able to help!” he offered. He carefully avoided his ‘Helpful Face’. That, he knew, would be overkill. He was rather enjoying watching the Scot dilly and dally around. It didn’t happen that often - and Methos still rejoiced in uncovering new aspects, new expressions, of this most precious companion.
Finally the Scot turned - his eyes large and confused. “Sure! You’ll let me pour out a whole lot of gibberish, then pronounce something obvious - and then bring it up against me sometime in the future!” His arm gesticulations were suitable melodramatic punctuation.
Methos sighed - and smiled. Duncan observed it, and raised his eyebrows into their ‘Here we go again’!” trajectory.
“Well - of course I will! But that doesn’t mean that I don’t actually have some insights! Toddlers are toddlers. As long as you remember that they are by nature totally unreasonable, utterly demanding, completely egocentric…”
“Sounds just like you…” the Highlander mumbled, turning away.
“In which case you’re already an expert at handling toddler behaviour! So stop worrying.”
Duncan was clearly not convinced. “But Methos, you heard Mary on the phone!” He turned back to his chest of drawers and began pulling out socks, examining them and putting them back. A filthy look at Methos’ shoeless but socked feet made clear what his views were on the disarray of his sock drawer - and who he blamed for it. Methos ignored it. When nothing more was forthcoming on Mary’s phone call he decided to prod.
“Yes - I heard her on the phone. Anyone within a two-mile radius could have heard her. So what?”
Duncan turned and stared as if he were looking at an imbecile.
Methos smiled as it finally came tumbling out of the Scot. “ She’s so excited about this event and it seems to mean the world to her. I’m afraid that she’s built it and me up so much that I’ll disappoint her -and then…” he stopped, and turned away, pretending to re-arrange his potential sock choices.
“And then what?” Methos persisted, wandering over to hold his Highlander from behind.
“Maybe I’ll end up embarrassing her in front of her friends," he quietly mumbled through his obvious frustration. "And you know how children are about things like that!” He walked to the bed and sat down heavily, his brows huddled together in worry.
Methos resisted the urge to actually laugh aloud. Perhaps, he silently noted, having actually fathered so many children tended to leave him a little insensitive to the plight of those who hadn’t? He tried for the self-deprecating approach. “Well you embarrass me every day and I still let you hang around,” he smirked. “Has something like this happened to you before, or do you make a habit of embarrassing four year olds?”
Duncan looked up. “That’s the point - I don’t know what’s expected at something like this!”
“Duncan - you can’t always control everything.”
“I don’t want to control everything!”
“Yes you do. You know you do.” Methos reached out and pulled him up and over to the couch. “You are wonderful with children. You’re wonderful with everyone for Christ’s sake. You don’t have to do anything except be there to watch her in her environment. That’s what she’ll remember,” he added quietly.
Duncan said nothing at first - simply looked at Methos, and smiled. “You know, Methos, - sometimes you’re too insightful for anyone else’s good.”
Methos raised a playful eyebrow. “Is that insightful with a ‘sight’ or a ‘cite’?" he spelled out.
Duncan’s expression lightened a little when he laughed. “In your case both would be accurate!” He rose - turned to look at the multitude of clothes on the bed, shook his head as if disgusted with himself and walked towards the kitchen to make some coffee. Finally he wandered back and settled into one of the big comfortable chairs, his large hands stroking the coffee mug. With no warning, he started to talk of his childhood.
“I must have been only five or so…around Mary’s age. My Mother’s brother was my hero. I thought that he could do anything, and made a bet with Robert that my Uncle Angus could find and kill the fabled wolf of Donan Woods. When I rushed off to proudly tell Angus, he laughed at me - patted me on the head - and said that no man could do that, and walked away. Robert, of course, thought it was hysterically funny and teased me for days. My Uncle didn’t know about my bet with Robert - but I can still remember how disappointed in him I was.”
Duncan stopped and glanced up over the mug, obviously embarrassed. “Before you say anything - yes - I know how unreasonable I was being - all those things you agreed that toddlers are! And that’s what Mary is too. I don’t see Mary often - so this will be all she’ll think about for months. It already is!” he added with a suitable arm span theatric, spilling his hot coffee.
“Duncan, firstly, you’re confusing the sharpness of our immortal memories with the transience of mortal ones. Secondly, the last time I checked, there were no wild, magical wolves running around Seacouver. And thirdly, my experience in these things - which is considerable - indicates that the worst you’ll have to endure will be endless cute recitations, some totally inedible kiddie cookies and barrages of gushing parents and relatives all talking about the numerous brilliant, witty undertakings of their little horrors. Believe me - no matter the century - it’s always the same.” He paused for effect before continuing - “You, of course, won’t notice since you will be gushing yourself silly over your brilliant little Mary!”
“You’re no help at all,” Duncan countered, mopping the coffee off the Persian rug. He suddenly stopped, as if struck dumb. Methos recognised the look instantly - the large pleading eyes, the incredible soft, sexy pouting mouth - Duncan’s dreaded ‘Sugar?Look’…
“Oh no you don’t MacLeod! No way! Forget it! You’ve got more chance of seeing pigs fly than of seeing me at one of those torture-fests.” He rose and, ever the pragmatist, backed towards the bed. Duncan followed, gracefully, putting aside his remaining coffee, - and closed in for the kill.
“Methos,” he purred. “Come to Mary’s school with me? Puleeeeeeze Meeeeeethos?” This was accompanied by renewed small kisses, along with “…you know how much she loves her M’Adam…”
“I could have written the bloody script on this!” Methos sighed, as Duncan began to display his unique powers of persuasion. First, the enticing eye and mouth movements that drove Methos to melt-down - then the circling - the pleading - some feather kisses and light fingertip-tracing - then the touch of his mouth on Methos’ skin - the expert fondling of nipples. He then fell to his knees, using his large hands to control the now shaking hips before him.
“Christ Duncan - I love the way you make me feel - devoured and deflowered.” He had the good grace to laugh at himself at that pronouncement. One of the admissions he had made to the Highlander had been how Duncan’s lovemaking could always make him feel so young - so vulnerable. So innocent. Nobody, he insisted, played his body like Duncan - as if it were a treasured living instrument. Duncan continued creating a sensual maelstrom, in which body-shattering sex figured prominently - as did agreement from an eminently bribable Methos that he would indeed accompany Duncan to Mary’s school.
“I’ll have to remember to duck flying pigs,” Duncan chuckled, as he once again entered his beautiful lover.
Duncan’s powerful hands caressed Methos’ rounded backside, now on all fours before him. The caresses soon turned to a vice-like grip of his hips as Duncan sought and gained control of all of Methos’ movements. In time to his thrusts, he panted, breathless: “It’s PROBably not a GOOD thing to USE sex for BRIBery.”
Methos’ groaned, “Sexual bribery is a bad thing because??? And just fucking do it harder - harder MacLeod - stop being such a wimp - HARDER!”
Some time later, both groaned the groan of the totally satiated. Duncan had recently started referring to this state as ‘TS’, his being too totally satiated, he had insisted, to find any strength to enunciate the phrase in full. He'd insisted on practising it:
"I'm too TSed," or
"Sorry we can't come over - we're both pretty TSed at the moment...", - since, he'd announced, it was going to be one of his most common expressions if their lovemaking kept up to its current exquisite intensity.
"It needs a vowel," had suggested Methos. "It has to have a single consonant - more than one consonant is too exhausting." And so it had become "ToSSed" for Totally Sexually Satiated. One of those wonderful private, silly jokes that lovers loved sharing - not because of what it was, but what it re-called about them at that time of their lives..
Recovering from his ToSSed state, Duncan mumbled: “You have no idea how close I came to thrusting you right off the end of the bed, you whining fossil. Next time I will.”
Both started to laugh aloud at the image of one ancient Immortal, naked and on all fours, flying through the air like a satyred missile, due to one Highlander thrust too many. Again, in the way of lovers everywhere, the laughter returned to a gentler chuckling and stroking. “Whenever I need to cheer myself up, Methos, I’ll think of you flying naked through the air in an all fours position, your prick pointing the way.”
“It wasn’t that funny MacLeod!” Methos insisted, belying his own words by chuckling again. Methos announced that he would never again allow himself to be rutted from behind, without a protective barrier between him and orbit. That reduced Duncan to further unrestrained laughter and Methos was pleased to see that the recent tension had evaporated, and the worried frown was now replaced by a brilliant smile. He gave him a light kiss, before pronouncing, “Now get off me you big lug. You’re lying on top of a full breakfast!”
They both headed for the bathroom for cleansing (and invigorating) showers. Duncan surprised Methos by forgoing his usual electric razor for an old-fashioned lather and close razor shave. Methos leaned back against the doorframe, indulging himself in the sight. There was always such a wonderful smell that seemed to last for hours on Duncan’s skin when he shaved this way. After the second nick, Methos took charge and sat Duncan down before him.
“Sit down here and let me do it! So much for being the expert knife wielder in a circus! You’ll cut your bloody head off at this rate.” In truth, it wasn’t as if it was a hardship, having a freshly washed, almost naked Highlander sitting in front of him. Indeed, Methos found that the situation was giving him many ideas for future foreplay.
Neither mentioned the incredible trust that was present - for an Immortal to allow another to come anywhere near him with a razor - much less sit passively while his neck was shaved with said razor. Methos had no idea if the worried look on Duncan’s face was indeed due to the genetic fear of exposing his neck - or lingering concern about the upcoming school event.
Finally, after Duncan had lost patience with the amount of time Methos was taking to “…get rid of a few stray whiskers…” both Immortals were putting the final touches to their clothing of choice. In Methos’ case, that required no more than choosing between very very worn jeans, very worn jeans and worn jeans, accompanied by a favorite over-stretched brown sweater.
Duncan, (“..of course..” sniggered Methos), chose Armani. Black slacks, softly pleated at the waist, draped over his muscled backside and flowed down his long, strong legs. A soft cashmere/silk black turtleneck was tucked into the pants, and Methos couldn’t help staring at the muted silvered hue of muscles reflecting off the silk thread. Duncan’s choice of a silver Celtic hair-tie and belt buckle set the entire outfit off beautifully.
“Geez Mac – it’s a five-year old’s function – not a shoot for bloody GQ! What did that sweater cost, as a matter of interest?”
Duncan turned and peered through narrowed eyes. “Keep your grubby hands off it. I mean it, Methos. You’ve ruined just about every sweater I have. This one cost $800 and that was only because I’m such a good customer. It’s mine and it’s staying mine and I’ll know if you’ve even opened the drawer it’s in!”
Methos shook his head – sadly. “You are really pathetic, MacLeod. What have you done – read some old Agatha Christie and stuck a hair across the drawer opening or something? Geez – all I was doing was letting my lover know how gorgeous he looked. Forget I said anything.”
Duncan was just about to mumble an apology when Methos headed it off at the pass with “…even if that $800 could have been much better spent on at least five new sweaters for me…”.
The two Immortals grabbed long black overcoats, amidst stereo questioning of who was the most pathetic, lazy, selfish, self-indulgent, pariah-like person each had ever met?
In between laughing, Joe Dawson, who had been standing at the door grinning for five minutes, continued to listen. He was finally reduced to a loud guffaw at Duncan’s: “I was just thinking yesterday that I don’t seem to own anything anymore! You’ve settled over everything – like old dust.”
“Everything alright boys?” Joe innocently inquired.
Both turned from mutual glares to offer an immediate, wide-eyed “Fine.” This was quickly followed up with stereo castigations of Joe’s never knocking.
“How much louder can the elevator get?” he queried.
Duncan gave up – and sought Joe’s view on Methos’ choice of wardrobe – described by Duncan as the most ratty, tatty few strands of wool he’d had the misfortune to gaze upon in years and that someone should put it out of its misery.
Methos was totally unfazed. “If you bought better quality in the first place, then we wouldn’t be having this discussion.”
“My sweaters were in perfect condition when I owned them!” Duncan offered – reasonably.
Methos glared. “I save you a fortune! If I left them with you they’d be full of sword cuts and bullet holes…”
“Only from you!” came the quick retort.
“Geez MacLeod – get over it. It was years ago. What does it say about you, that I have to be reduced to putting the odd bullet hole in every sweater that I want, just to get you to discard your cast-offs?”
Duncan knew that he had actually been reduced to standing, open-mouthed. “Joe – he is joking isn’t he? Isn’t he?”
Joe continued to laugh and simply shook his head. “Well – with anyone else I’d say a definite yes…but this is Methos we’re talking about.” He decided that a quick change of subject was in order. “Speaking of whom, I didn’t realise that you were coming to the school.”
Methos laughed. “Duncan can be very persuasive.” He stopped and appeared to think for five seconds. “Though if I’d known about that Armani sweater I’d have chosen that over the pathetic bribe that he did offer,” he continued.
“Don’t push it Methos. I’ll remember that next time you’re panting for me.”
A stereo reaction of “Too much information!” from Joe and “Delusions of grandeur,” from Methos (giving the Armani clad derriere a playful swipe) completed the act that had just played out in the theatrical surrounds of the Loft.
“So – you ready, Mac?” Joe asked.
“Ready as I’ll ever be. How do I let myself get into these things? I won’t know what to do.”
Joe took pity. “Mac – there’s nothing to do except be there. The kids will sing or dance or something. We’ll all holla and hoop – Mary will take you around and show you off – piece of cake. Stop worrying!” He paused for a good chuckle before revealing that he had bought his guitar along in case of any embarrassing silences.
As Duncan went ahead to warm up the T-bird, Joe and Methos indulged in a good laugh at the Scot’s expense. “Well done, Dawson - he doesn’t suspect a thing!” grinned Methos.
Thirty minutes later the three walked through the doors of the Seacouver Montessori Nursery School. All heads turned as the three stopped at the entry looking about for Anne and Mary. Small voices called out: “That’s Mary’s Uncle Duncan - that’s the worrier -that’s the ballaweena - isn’t he pwitty…”
The adults, male and female, appeared to be finding it too difficult to enunciate anything and simply stared.
Mary’s cry of delight broke the silence, and Duncan’s embarrassment, and she came squealing with laughter into his arms. He swept her up and threw her high, before catching her to him and giving her a big kiss.
“Ciamar a tha thu?” he asked of the laughing child in his arms.
“Tha gu math!” she answered – very slowly and deliberately.
Duncan congratulated her on the progress she was making with her Gaelic. “I’m very pleased to hear that you are well, sweetheart,” he laughed, as he brought her back to floor level. “See – I told you that I would be here. And I’ve brought Adam and Uncle Joe as a surprise.”
Mary was unfazed. Gathering up a large breath she poured out all of her worries. “Mummy said that you mightn’t not come ‘cos of…” (she hesitated, clearly attempting to recollect the precise sound of the word she wanted)…”biznus and you’re a vewy important and busy man Mummy says. But I knew you’d come Uncle Duncan,” she said in all seriousness, laying her head on his shoulder.
“How cute,” Methos sniggered, rolling his eyes.
“You’re just jealous,” Duncan winked.
“Come and see my paintings I dwew for you,” Mary suddenly insisted – all breathless and full of excitement. “Hello Uncle Joe! Did you bwing your gettar wif the strings?”
Finally Mary took an even longer breath before holding out her arms to her M’Adam and giving him a kiss which he took great pleasure in theatrically wiping away. “I didn’t know you was coming, M’Adam!” she squealed.
“Were coming,” Duncan corrected.
“Were coming,” Mary slowly enunciated. “What fings do you do M’Adam?”
“Well, Shirley, I’ll think about it. I’m sure I’ll come up with something,” M’Adam promised.
Mary laughed and turned to Uncle Duncan. “I’m Mary arenten I, Uncle Duncan! Not Shirley.”
Duncan whispered in her ear, loud enough for M’Adam and Uncle Joe to hear. “We have to be kind to him, Mary. He’s not very bright,” and both nodded sadly and sagely in the way that the gifted usually inclined their heads towards the less fortunate. Methos’ narrowed eyes portended a suitable payback would be in order for a certain Scot – eventually. One with a razor, if Methos’ mimed actions were any indication. Joe laughed aloud at Mary's little voice asking her Uncle Duncan why M'Adam had held up his Mr Pointy finger and pretended to cut it off.
"Mr Pointy!" Joe sniggered to Methos. "I've heard Mac's cock called lotsa things - but that's a first...Mr Pointy...."
"Remind me of it when we're all somewhere public," Methos suggested. "No-one blushes like our HIghlander." Both went off in search of a beer and settling instead for the only offering - a raspberry cordial. "The things I do..." muttered one very dry Immortal.
Anne soon joined them in what turned out to be an event that could have been scripted from Joe’s predictions. Various performances, interrupted by the occasional toddler tear, loud clapping, hooping and hollering from assorted relatives and friends were all the order of the afternoon’s festivities.
Little Mary, Methos mused later, doubled her potential MacLeod inheritance with a reading that had the Highlander and most of the room wiping tears from their eyes. Methos insisted afterwards that Mary give him the storybook she had drawn of Uncle Duncan in various Uncle type activities with Mary. It included various stick like figures with a conglomeration of limbs doing things that Mary insisted were obviously her Uncle Duncan giving her a shoulder ride; flying her around like an aeroplane; dancing with M’Adam with two swords – and a piece de resistance of him in black with beautiful bright blue ribbons and bows throughout his long, snake-like toddler-painted locks.
“Pretty good likeness of you, Adam!” Joe guffawed, pointing to the stick like figure. “Your sword leaves a bit to be desired though. I think you need more encouragement from the clearly superior stick figure in that drawing.”
Duncan took pity. “I know for a fact that there’s nothing wrong with Adam’s sword or sword-work.” All hushed as the more formal part of the afternoon was clearly about to begin. Methos and Joe looked at each other and laughed. To Duncan’s query of what had set them off, Methos suggested that if he kept quiet it would soon become obvious.
Mary then told one and all why her Uncle Duncan was the most important person in her life. She spoke of how he always told her that he loved her "and Mummy" and how he always made her laugh, read to her and played with her favourite toys. She then went on to tell one and all how the best thing about her Uncle Duncan was that he let her play with bright blue ribbons in his hair, which he always insisted that Mary tie for him. She finished by announcing that her Uncle always made her feel warm and happy "and full."
She then finished her rendition with a suggestion, carefully enunciated (as if recalling a learnt text), that her Uncle Duncan might tell them all a story “… if he was asked nicely…”. Duncan’s hearing of a certain Methosian inflection in his little sweetheart’s request was confirmed when Mary turned to M’Adam and called out “Did I say it wight, M’Adam?”
The assorted laughter didn’t get the Scot out of doing as was asked and he momentarily went white. Mary looked at him with large, blue adoring eyes. Upwards of twenty kindergartners all gathered around for one of Uncle Duncan’s “…wonderful tales…”.
Methos, seeing the stricken look on Duncan’s face, took pity and leaned across and whispered: “Try ‘The Dunvegan Piper’…”
Go to Part 2.
9 November 2002
|Copyright © Carson Kearns 2001||