Disclaimer: Duncan MacLeod, Methos, and the Highlander universe are the creation and property of Greg Widen, Rysher, Panzer/Davis and a bunch of guys who make a heck of a lot more money than we do. Please don't pick on us, it's all in good fun. Story title and lyrics borrowed without permission from the Indigo Girls.

Rated NC-17 for homoerotic content.

We're very proud and happy to tell you that this story originally appeared in the Highlander slash zine, Futures Without End, and is being posted here with the gracious permission of Melina and Maygra, FWE's creators. Special thanks to both of them for giving us such a wonderful first-publication experience, and for producing such a magnificent collection of Highlander Slash. We were, and still are, very excited and somewhat awed to be included in such talented company.


GHOST

By Zen&nancy


Duncan MacLeod sat in his favorite chair, contemplating the grain of his desktop. He was very much aware of the fact that the center drawer of his desk was open a quarter inch. There was a letter in the drawer, the edge of which was visible from his view, sitting with his elbows on the desk and his head in his hands. Four thin sheets of stationary, folder over three times, to the size of an envelope. It hadn't come in an envelope, though, not in the mail. No, it had been left for him, propped up on his desk against his clock. He had picked it up for the first time at exactly eight thirty one a.m., two weeks ago today. The latest of his lover's surreptitious goodbyes.

He'd been sitting there for over an hour, with a dogged, determined expression on his face. He was only making it harder on himself, sitting there so close to it, but he was determined that today he wasn't going to read the letter. He had read it hundreds of times by now, he not only knew the words by heart, but also knew every ink scrawl and scratched out word, every dot that was an impression of the hand that had written it.

It was a letter that spent an inordinate amount of space, most of the four pages of spidery handwriting, talking about reconciliation. Not a very logical subject, since it was a goodbye letter, albeit of the until-we-meet-again variety. //Lately I think I love you most when we're far away from each other, Duncan// The opening line of the ridiculous letter swam before his eyes, and Duncan clenched his fist on his thigh, the thumb and middle finger of his other hand spanning his forehead, digging into his throbbing temples.

The breeze came though the porthole, the hot air stirring the papers on his desk, and the heavy length of hair at the back of his neck. Would he come back in the fall, when the weather turned cold, as he always did? If this stifling, miserably dry summer ever ended, would Methos come back? Lying in a pool of sweat, awake and alone in his bed at night, the light sheet plastered to his body, Duncan would dream of the cold, rainy days of Paris in October, and his lover's scent on his blankets.

It had started out so innocuously, just something to do to pass the time, a distraction from the gloomy winter weather and the death of yet another good friend. That was a long time ago now, and as Duncan thought about his absent lover, he realized that each time they had shared each other, the feelings had grown more intense, harder to ignore. At this point there was no denying the pain. The absence of Methos' presence was far more invasive than his discreet inhabitance of Duncan's living quarters had ever been.

The barge seemed far too small a space to contain the feelings of loss and anger and loneliness. It had never seemed this small when Methos was here. It was torture, to stay here alone, where everything his eyes found to look at reminded of him of something he had said or done. Right there, in front of the fireplace, his lover had held him in his strong, lean arms. He remembered Methos crooning softly as they swayed, pretending to dance, but really just holding each other close. What it felt like, to stand still in his arms, eyes closed, head on his shoulder, just breathing in his scent. Duncan moaned softly, dropping his head to the desk, his cheek pressed to the sweating wood. It was so hot here in the middle of the day. The still, stale air seemed to hold all his regrets, thick and heavy, pressing down on him from all sides.

Which unplanned, spontaneous words had caused the old man to disappear this time? Where had he made the mistake that took the man he needed like water away? Was it there, in the kitchen? Where he had said 'you are my everything' and his lover, relaxed and nearly glowing after sex, had tensed, and moved slowly out of his hungry embrace. Was it there, at the door? Where he had called out 'I love you' without thinking one morning before he left, leaving Methos alone in the big bed.

It seemed that the longer the ancient was gone, the more conscious Duncan was of his absence. His lover's ghost consumed the time, and grew stronger. There was a reminder of him nearly everywhere. The days piled up, long and monotonous, the lethargic heat wrapping the city in a haze of sluggish hot breezes and dry, blistering nights. Duncan paced the barge, drank too much, and cried silently, the corner of his pillow stuffed into his mouth, his shoulders wracking from the force of his muffled sobs.

It had been dangerous, of course, insanity from the first. Still, he had let himself believe. He had believed, with the faith of the desperate, that the undeniable, unimaginable heat between them would be enough to make the old man stay. The words he had tried to say in the dark were more than dangerous, they were damming, irretrievable, evidence of his weakness. Methos would smile sadly, and take him in his arms, pressing warm fingers to his lips, begging him to be silent.

Now, night after night, he would wake up gasping, his body and the bedclothes drenched in sweat. The memory of his lover's deep, rich voice in his ears, 'Patience, Highlander, all good things come to those who wait' and his throaty, affectionate laughter, just before he took Duncan in his mouth. His body would be hard and aching, anticipating a touch that he knew better than the sound of his own voice, knowing that his need would find no relief. Groaning in misery, his hand would drag slowly to his helpless, habitual erection.

The silence on the dark barge would absorb his harsh, uneven breaths, as he touched himself disconsolately. Willing the memories of his lover's touch, his hand stroking himself lightly in an imitation of the long, graceful fingers, Duncan would writhe on the bed, begging fate to bring Methos back, if only for one night.

The emptiness that swallowed him up after the tension was released was even worse than the physical pain of needing him. He never felt so alone as he did panting softly in the dark, his arms wrapped tightly around himself, whispering his lover's name. He would curl in a tight ball, muttering angrily to any god that would listen that if there was anything worse than this, let it happen, and put him out if his misery.

The sweltering Parisian nights had never seemed longer. The hours dragged and his memories haunted him ruthlessly. They followed him from his bed, where it was too hot to sleep, up to the deck, where the voices drifting on the water made him even more lonely. He drank hundred year old scotch like water, and cursed the ancient in every language he knew. The minutes would assault him, the clock ticking on the mantle sounding horribly loud in the silence. He lost track of the hours he spent pacing and muttering, only to fall back onto the bed, moaning piteously.

He would sometimes doubt his sanity. It felt like he was slipping, and drinking only made it worse. The edge of madness that taunted him when he was drunk and raving was like his lover, only coming to claim him when pain had already exhausted his ability to feel. He drank steadily, with a belligerent, almost desperate, determination, willing the presence of lover's ghost into the empty room. The ghost taunted him, sending him hallucinations of scent and taste. One night, he thought he felt his lover's quickening, his mind reaching out with maddening hope, but it was only the wind.

In the morning, confronted with the evidence of more empty bottles, the anger would return. An endless, pointless, cycle of longing and fury. The futility of his anguish sent him into a melancholia that seemed to swallow him completely. He suffered in ignorance, not even knowing if the man he loved with an all consuming passion still lived, or if his spirit resided in the body of another. If he was alive, out there somewhere, was that really any better? What if he was breathing in and out easily, without pain, laughing and perhaps making love, with someone else? His captor refused to see the truth. Refused to acknowledge that the beauty they created together was anything more than a pleasant distraction. The time in Methos' company was only slightly less painful than the time spent waiting for him to return.

The bitterness poisoned him, turning his anger against his love for the man he could never hope to hold for any length of time. The ancient drifted in and out of his life, and his bed, slaying him with his easy smiles and careless goodbyes, and he let him, never gathering the courage to ask for more. His lover's long history intimidated him, frightened him into hungry, miserable silence. Each time he was confronted with the opportunity to ask for more, he would bite his lip, horribly aware of the unspoken warning in his lover's eyes. He told himself, on these too bright, recriminating mornings, that he only had himself to blame for him misery.

The one he loved was as inaccessible as the truth he carried inside him. His history was the world's history, and his isolation and elusiveness a product of survival. He would very likely never get any closer to Methos than he was now. It was foolish to think that the man who had survived fifty centuries would risk everything for something as inconsequential as desire. It was as senseless to love him as it was to judge him, but Duncan knew that he was incapable of doing anything less. He would love this man forever, and maybe, next time, if there was a next time, he would find the courage to beg him to stay.

The End


there's a letter on the desktop
that i dug out of a drawer
the last truce we ever came to
in our adolescent war
and i start to feel the fever
from the warm air through the screen
you come regular like seasons
shadowing my dreams

and the mississippi's mighty
but it starts in minnesota
at a place that you could walk across
with five steps down
and I guess that's how you started
like a pinprick to my heart
but at this point you rush right through me
and i start to drown

and there's not enough room
in this world for my pain
signals cross and love gets lost
and time passed makes it plain
of all my demon spirits
i need you the most
i'm in love with your ghost
i'm in love with your ghost

dark and dangerous like a secret
that gets whispered in a hush
(don't tell a soul)
when i wake the things i dreamt about you
last night make me blush
(don't tell a soul)
and you kiss me like a lover
then you sting me like a viper
i go follow to the river
play your memory like a piper

and i feel it like a sickness
how this love is killing me
i'd walk into the fingers
of your fire willingly
and dance the edge of sanity
i've never been this close
i'm in love with your ghost

unknowing captor
you never know how much you
pierce my spirit
but i can't touch you
can you hear it
a cry to be free
oh i'm forever under lock and key
as you pass through me

now i see your face before me
i would launch a thousand ships
to bring your heart back to my island
as the sand beneath me slips
as i burn up in your presence
and i know now how it feels
to be weakened like achilles
with you always at my heels

this bitter pill i swallow
is the silence that i keep
it poisons me i can't swim free
the river is too deep
though i'm baptized by your touch
i am no worse than most
in love with your ghost

you are shadowing my dreams
(in love with your ghost)
(in love with your ghost)
(in love with your ghost)

Lyrics borrowed without permission from Emily Saliers.


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