Interlunation (NC-17 D/M)

by Bone

Disclaimers: The Highlander characters belong to Rysher Entertainment and Davis/Panzer Productions. Borrowed without permission. Do not archive, repost, link or publish without talking to me about it first.

Rated NC-17 for sexual situations between consenting male Immortals. If you're a young'un, or the concept is offensive, please read no further.

Comments are welcomed (and usually responded to) at JBonetoo@yahoo.com.

Thanks to Katherine and Kat for their superb beta-reading skill, to JaC and Carmel for their enthusiasm and encouragement, and to Zen&nancy for giving the story a home.

Note: Title taken from Shelley's "A Defence of Poetry," in which the word "interlunation" is used to describe the dark interval between the old and new moon.

Less than a real plot, but more than a PWP, let's call this a "vignette" about the double Quickening and its immediate aftermath.

Part 1

Four men. Four blades. Two battles. Mortal enemies. Immortal brothers. Four men fighting to the death, with the fate of a world -- and the tattered remnants of a friendship -- in the balance. In the dark, reflections from far-flung light threw giant shadows against the concrete walls. Visions from a child's nightmare, huge black monster shapes filled with loathing and hurt, wrath and cunning.

One pair was even in size and power, the blows almost choreographed, the fight on level ground literally and figuratively. The other pair so poorly matched it seemed the smaller man should have lost long ago, he surrendered so much in size. At this moment, he tumbled backward down a steep ramp, his bear of an opponent advancing with an ax, lunging at him, plunging his weapon toward the defenseless head.

But the agile man regained his balance and moved like a cat towards his fallen sword. One word hissed in the dark stopped all motion, held each heartbeat. "Methos." The four men froze, the tableau a twisted vision of war. Kronos and Duncan stared with mirror images of disbelief. The inscrutable Methos gazed back at them, giving away nothing, while Silas' confused rage was palpable from the distance of fifty yards.

Then the frozen moment turned to fire. Kronos, with everything to lose and everything to gain, drew on the hatred of three thousand years and screamed at Duncan, "You still don't understand, do you, MacLeod. I am the end of time!"

"You're history," was the preternaturally calm reply.

Kronos' anger made him strong, but in the end, it made him vulnerable. Trying to attack with too much power, he met the immovable force of Duncan MacLeod. Without compunction, pity or hesitation, the katana swept down, severing Kronos' head from his body. At virtually the same moment, Silas' size proved to be his undoing. Unable to maneuver his big body quickly enough, he plunged two degrees too far, and then couldn't spin around to counter Methos' parry. With a mighty backhand, far mightier than the slender body itself seemed capable of, Methos beheaded his brother.

The silence that followed the singing of the sword was absolute, as if the world took a breath and held it. Each survivor had a moment to be still, to realize he was still standing, he was still whole, and another moment to see the other still standing, still whole, then the Quickenings began.

Had there ever been Quickenings as strong? Had men this old ever been lost so close together? Close in body, close in time. Close in life, close in death. The Quickenings started as fog, insidious and pervasive, blowing across Duncan's face, climbing up Methos' legs. They groaned in unison, each feeling that first erotic, defining moment when power stopped being a concept and started living in their bodies.

The essence of the Quickenings struck with the force of a hurricane. Too much for even the two strong Immortals to contain, it ricocheted from floor to ceiling, from wall to wall, leaving destruction in its wake as it searched for a home. Finally, it settled on lightning as its weapon and it started, searing its way into each man individually, jolting them with shock waves. Around them lights exploded, sparks showered. The two men held their ground, each now immersed in his own private hell as the core of the men they killed sought space in their souls. But it was still too much. Too much power, too little room.

Without warning, a spiral formed, linking MacLeod and Methos. It seemed to pull some of the extra power from Duncan and then drilled a hole into Methos, their eyes the connecting point in a union laced with sexual fury and misery. Unable to think, unable to prevent it, Duncan felt the deadly power lighten just a fraction as the spiral left him and wound its way down inside Methos. In unison, they fell to the floor. Methos sprawled on his hands and knees, shuddering, his shoulders heaving with effort, his breathing harsh. Duncan knelt, panting, struggling to regain rational thought.

Footsteps resounded on the metal floor as a figure approached.

"I killed Silas! I *liked* Silas!" The pain splintered out in Methos' voice, aching with regret, the simple message all he could think of, all he could say.

"And now I'm supposed to forgive you?" Cassandra appeared, Silas' ax held at the ready, poised to strike the exposed neck before her. Her own pain had finally found a place to rest, on the vulnerable skin between Methos' shirt collar and hairline.

"Cassandra!" Having trouble putting two thoughts together, let alone two words, Duncan forced out the protest, knowing he couldn't physically stop her.

"You want him to live?" Cassandra asked in disbelief.

"Yes. I want him to live." Duncan felt shattered, grateful she provided words for his desire because he couldn't have pulled them from his brain. Yes, he wanted Methos to live.

She raised the ax anyway.

"CASSANDRA! I WANT HIM TO LIVE!" Suddenly, it was all he wanted. More than anything, he wanted Methos to live. He could decide later if it was to love him, or kill him himself, but without question, he wanted him to live. As the words left his throat, taking on a life of their own as they echoed and lingered in the sulfur air, Duncan heard another sound, a bitter accompaniment to the affirmation of life. Methos, sobbing. The rusty, grating sound of a man who hadn't cried over much in five thousand years.

Cassandra hesitated. The pale neck beckoned her, exposed even more as the head dropped forward under the weight of its tears. After a fateful moment of indecision, she dropped the ax and walked away. Away from her ghosts, away from men she loved and hated with equal force.

Slumping in relief, Duncan buried his head in his hands. Methos' sobs continued as if now started, they might never stop.

Duncan never determined how much time passed before he was able to stand, to walk. He looked over at Methos. The oldest Immortal now lay curled up on the cold floor in a fetal position. Duncan could still hear shuddering breaths coming from him. Methos, who had offered Duncan his head rather than have an evil man take it. Methos, who had soaked up Duncan's friendship like a sponge. Methos, who had left his dying lover to try to salvage the good in Duncan after the Dark Quickening. Methos, who had raped and killed the weak and the defenseless. Not just once, not a thousand times, but ten thousand times.

Methos was no longer the man he knew. Or else Duncan had never known the man he was. Deep-seated anger warred with pity inside Duncan. A man lived his beliefs, he held to his values, he proudly proclaimed to the world who he was. At least the men Duncan admired did. But Methos did none of those things. He lied, he hid, he ran, he sheltered his heart under layers of sarcasm, his morality was as fluid as a meandering brook. And yet, for all that, in his own way, he had become a constant in the Highlander's life. If he appeared sporadically, it was always at a time when he was needed, when his cynicism would temper Duncan's idealism, when a wise word spoken in the ear was actually heard.

Post-Quickening wasn't the time to resolve complicated issues, and this was perhaps the most complex he'd faced. As he became more aware of his surroundings, Duncan realized the war between good and evil in his mind would just have to wait. He was cold, tired, irritatingly aroused and he wanted a shower, a meal and a bed, in that order. And now that he'd gained a reprieve for the world's oldest Immortal, he supposed he'd better take him with him.

Groaning like a man older than his body showed, he forced his tired legs to walk to the crumpled form. Methos lay in a puddle, unaware or uncaring. His eyes were closed, his arms hugged around his middle protectively. The ire abated somewhat in Duncan at the pitiful sight, leaving compassion in its place. Never kick a man when he's down. That truism ranked right up there with "pick on someone your own size." Looking down at Methos, Duncan shook his head in wonder. What on earth had possessed this man to take on a brute force like Silas? And what inner resources had allowed him to beat him? The word "unpredictable" took on all new meanings when applied to Methos.

Duncan crouched beside the prone man, putting one hand gently on his shoulder. No response. He shook the shoulder and it was yanked from under his hand.

"Get the fuck away from me." The hoarse words were forced through clenched teeth. Methos' eyes stayed screwed shut.

A stab of rage snaked through Duncan, shaking him. He didn't know if it was still his own hostility at Methos' blithe betrayal or the kicking of Kronos' Quickening in his body. Perhaps it was a combination of both. Whichever, two could play at that game, Duncan decided. "No. Get the fuck up."

Hazel eyes flew open, collided with Duncan's, bounced off, then returned to lock with the Highlander's. Nothing familiar showed in the glassy gaze, nothing of the serene Adam Pierson, nor of the witty, sarcastic Methos who'd inhabited his life for three years. Duncan felt a feather of unease brush up his spine. These eyes belonged to a stranger. To a Methos Duncan had never met, never wanted to meet. These eyes were cold, distant, wary. It was the last that gave Duncan some hope. That and the realization that whatever his mental strength, the man before him couldn't have challenged a 10-year-old in his current condition. Whatever beasts the bizarre Quickening had unleashed, they were subdued by a force that could still fell even a five thousand year old Immortal -- sheer human exhaustion.

"We need to get out of here," Duncan finally said, reaching a hand down again, deliberately not making contact, trying the one thing he knew would make Methos react -- the possibility of discovery. "I wouldn't be surprised if we have company soon."

Ignoring the outstretched hand, Methos rolled over and gathered his knees beneath him, pushed himself up, then immediately crossed his arms across his chest again. It was painfully obvious that he wasn't going anywhere without some help. "Fuck, I hate this," Methos groaned.

"Give it a minute, it'll pass," Mac said, keeping his distance. He could wait for Methos to ask for help, but the 20th century was fading fast and he had places to go and people to see. Which left coercion or brute force. He opted for coercion, but reserved the right to beat the shit out of Methos if he had to. "You want to be here when the police arrive? You think no one saw that fireworks display? You want to explain the friggin' monkeys?" Duncan saw the last sentence register. The monkeys. The virus.

"Self-destruct," Methos said, finally moving a little, shuffling one foot in front of the other in a mockery of his usual grace.

"What?" Duncan followed close behind, a hand out where Methos couldn't see it, ready to catch him if he faltered.

"Self-destruct sequence. One virus eats another. I added it. Just have to raise the temperature." Methos spat out the phrases, climbing the ramp with difficulty, catching himself on one hand when he stumbled. When he reached the top, the hands tucked right back into his armpits and he shivered.

"Well, do it and then let's get the hell out of here," Duncan said. Methos led the way back to the lab and went straight to the computer. But when Methos tried to type, Duncan learned why he'd kept his hands so protectively hidden -- they were shaking so hard they skipped right over the keys. Finally, exasperated, Methos gestured for Duncan to do it, then dictated a series of commands that changed the temperature of the cooling bins upward by 15 degrees.

"Now they wouldn't even catch a cold from it," Methos said, still too far from himself. "Pity in a way. Kronos was a genius with this sort of thing."

"At what, Methos, destroying the world in six easy steps?" Duncan asked angrily. He felt painfully off balance -- one emotion hardly having time to register before another muscled its way in. He'd worried, when he saw that spiral slap its way into the oldest Immortal, about what exactly it would cost Methos to relieve Duncan of some of his burden. Because it felt like Methos had ended up with not only Silas' Quickening, but some of Kronos', too. How would those ancients feel rattling around inside their betrayer's soul? If Methos seemed less than he was before, perhaps it was because there was actually more to him. Good versus evil, warring for space in a spare body whose one enduring life philosophy seemed to be "Adapt." How was he changing now? Was he the philosophical opposite of the virus they'd just disabled? Was he a cold that had just had something added to make it lethal?

Looking at the shaking hands, the wet clothes, the always incongruous post- Quickening erection visible through the Old Man's jeans, Duncan suddenly missed the mysterious, enigmatic old soul he'd befriended. What if he was gone forever, leaving this cold-eyed automaton in his place?

"Let's go," Mac finally said, not really expecting an answer to his question. The hands tucked back in the armpits and slowly, Methos turned toward the exit. They stopped to pick up their swords and coats, both groaning at the effort of bending over. Methos was having trouble walking and by the time they made their way out into the dark Bordeaux night, he had slowed to a crawl. Clearly miserable, he huddled against the wall, shaking.

"Go on," Methos mumbled.

"Don't be stupid," Duncan said, going back to him. Nothing felt right. He wondered briefly if it ever could again. "I'm not leaving you here. What's the matter with you?"

"MacLeod, for God's sake, just get out of here," Methos said a little louder, his jaw tight, throat working.

"What's wrong?" Duncan repeated, feeling the emotional pendulum swing from exasperation back to compassion at the obvious pain in Methos' face.

"FUCK MacLeod, I'm going to die from blue balls, all right? Satisfied? I'd screw the wall here if it had a hole in it." Methos was shouting now.

Duncan laughed in his face, something Methos didn't take well. Before Duncan could explain that it was relief, not cruelty, that caused his reaction, Methos grabbed his hand and pressed it to his crotch. "Think that's funny? Why don't you do something about it."

At the first feel of Methos' erection against his hand, something gave inside Duncan. At the barge, or in the loft, this would never have happened. Adam would never have done this, the Methos who'd helped him paint a porch would never have taken his hand and put it on himself. But this Methos did. And here, in the dark, in the cold, with his own cock hard and aching, it felt like exactly the right thing to do.

"All right," Duncan agreed, curving his palm over Methos' straining penis, then sliding it down between his legs, spreading his fingers to cup the heavy sac cradled along the seam of his jeans. He scraped his fingernails across the denim and Methos jerked under his hand. Duncan stepped forward, crowding Methos back against the wall, and the slighter man put his head back, inviting the Highlander in.

"I think we can take care of this," Mac whispered into Methos' neck, and felt him shudder under his mouth while he ran strong fingers up his cock again. The Old Man's skin tasted of salt, the skin smooth as ice, and as cold. Mac lifted his mouth and breathed warm air out onto the exposed skin, the most vulnerable spot an Immortal could offer. Methos tipped his head back even more, giving Duncan free access to the most tender meat he had. Duncan rubbed his head against Methos', knowing what the gesture meant. Methos, *his* Methos, was still in there somewhere. He just had to find him.

His zipper seemed a reasonable place to start. Keeping his body close to Methos, Duncan slipped the hand that had been massaging his cock up to the snap, popping it open with a flick of his thumb. "Yes," Methos whispered, putting his hand on top of Duncan's as the zipper was pulled down and the cock, freed from its punishing confinement, sprang out, bobbing towards Duncan as if it knew him already. Methos put both of his hands back flat against the wall behind him and thrust his hips towards Duncan, his eyes closing as the cold air first hit the heat of his erection.

Duncan let Methos push his hips into him, feeling for the first time in years the sensation of another hard penis touching his own. He wanted skin on skin, but it wasn't the place, and they didn't have the time. They were still frighteningly close to where the apocalypse had taken place, and it would eventually be discovered. Time for a quickie, time to take the edge off. If it stoked his own fire, well, there was still a bed waiting in a nice warm hotel.

Leaning in, Duncan pressed Methos against the wall and took the Old Man's cock in his hand, pulling down on it hard enough to expose the seeping tip. Methos' hips couldn't stay still, his head moved restlessly against the wall, but he didn't move his hands or speak. Duncan wanted him to speak. So he started the motion he used on himself, that quick, hard pumping that was about the only thing that truly satisfied him after a Quickening, when he didn't want to have to worry if his partner had come, didn't want to have to be careful, didn't want to think about anyone but himself, and how goddamn good he could make it feel. This wasn't about satisfaction; this was about survival.

Methos moved finally, putting a hand on Duncan's shoulder, gripping it hard as sound finally broke through. "Jesus, harder, harder." Mac complied, increasing both speed and fury, and reached his other hand inside Methos' jeans to the swaying sac, holding it up, feeling it draw tightly in his palm as Methos started panting, his head falling forward onto Duncan's arm. "That's it, just like that, just like..." and he came with a strong cry, semen spitting out into Duncan's palm, onto his coat, onto Methos' jeans.

Methos snapped his head back, hitting the wall behind him with bruising force. His cock didn't seem to understand it had already done its work, continuing to pump out sticky strands, the angry red tumescence still reaching for Duncan's hand. Mac kept stroking, using the moisture to slicken his path, making the channel formed by his hand feel like a hot wet vagina. Finally, Methos relaxed the death grip he'd had on Mac's shoulder. He put his hand over Duncan's and they stroked the finally softening penis together, drawing out the last bits of fluid, the last shudders from his balls. Duncan released him, stepping back, watching to make sure Methos didn't just collapse to the ground.

What a sight he was. Fully clothed, an overcoat hanging haphazardly from his back, only his jeans open, only exposing the essential flesh. Even half soft, the cock was big, the tip still twitching, the whole thing gleaming from his juices. Duncan's erection bit painfully against his zipper, wanting to be let out to play too. He wanted to take that naked bit of flesh in his mouth, make it hard again, make it come again, make him groan again, make him say "harder harder" again. It wasn't as if Duncan had never had a moment's lust for Methos. He had. He'd just never expected to act on it. Never expected to have it offered, never expected to take him up on it. Now he just wanted it to happen again.

Methos lowered his chin, bleary eyes meeting Mac's, heat still fading from his face. Duncan couldn't tell in this light if the man was recognizable. He wondered if that had played a role in his own enthusiasm -- the idea that it wasn't *really* Methos, not *his* Methos. Like maybe this wouldn't count in their eternal register of deeds done. Duncan stepped back another step, giving Methos room to tuck his cock back in his pants and zip up again. Methos took a deep breath, then blew it out. "I may live," he pronounced.

Duncan smiled, he couldn't help it. "Can you walk?" he asked, and Methos shot him a withering look and nodded. "Then let's go. You need a shower."

Keeping a careful three feet between them, the men faded into the night, their steps falling in unison on the asphalt.

Part 2

Methos forced one foot in front of the other on the dark, wet pavement. Uninvited thoughts scattered from one piece of his scrambled brain to another, none taking up residence long enough to gain his attention. All they did was punish him with the emotions they carried, for however fleeting a moment. Anger. Grief. Relief. All of them burdened by an overpowering loneliness. No one had known him as long as Kronos and Silas, no one had known him so well. If the self he'd been was abhorrent by current moral standards, at least it had been real. And now there was no one. No one to take him as he was, all the parts, good and bad, past and present. No one willing to try.

An image flew into his mind, burning behind his retinas, lingering. A picture of himself, thrust hard up against the side of a truck, Duncan's fists gripping his shirt. He was laughing at the angry Scot, laughing as he spat out words he knew full well would drive Duncan from him. He'd shown Duncan Death, when all Duncan had ever done was show him Life. The light in Duncan had been a beacon for Methos. He should have known better. The same qualities that drew Methos to him were the ones that would now keep him at arm's length. The Highlander wasn't big on forgiveness.

Methos stole a sideways glance at the weary man trudging beside him. Duncan had his head down, his hands tucked into his coat pockets, chin buried in his collar. He looked as miserable as Methos felt. The Scot's hair fell across his cheeks, obscuring his face. Seeing the tangled strands brought another searing picture into Methos' mind, and this time it brought not only an emotional reaction, but a physical one as well. Those silky strands brushing against his face, that sturdy head rubbing against him the way a mother cat rubs her kittens, a primal gesture of reassurance. Why had Mac done that, Methos wondered. Why had he done any of it? Methos had been enraged when Duncan laughed in his face, and he'd reacted without thinking, his hand shooting out to capture Duncan's, dragging it to the aching center of his pain. He'd really expected the younger man to hit him, had wanted him to, so he could hit back and start melting this cold core where his heart used to be with physical distraction.

But that wasn't what had happened. Far from it, though there was a sort of muted violence about the act that had followed. Remembering, his cock started to swell again. Fuck. It had only been a few minutes. Stupid cock was still sore from Mac's manhandling, but it had a mind of its own, and it wanted more. He reached a hand down furtively to adjust himself, but jerked his hand away when the motion drew Duncan's eyes to him.

"Jesus Christ, not again," Duncan said in startled disbelief.

"Don't worry, MacLeod, I'm not going to jump you," Methos retorted, wrapping his coat protectively around himself. "Your virtue is safe enough."

Duncan snorted at that and Methos found himself smiling at the incomprehensible Scottish sound. The ice melted a little, but when it did, the pain crept through, and Methos froze it hard again. In the meantime, heat surged through him in strong sharp currents, distracting him, leaving him in almost the same insensible state of arousal he'd experienced not half an hour before. He just wanted to be alone, to try to ride out the wave of grief and hunger alone. He couldn't separate them at the moment; one had caused the other and they were intrinsically bound.

Finally, the hotel where Methos was staying appeared, the cheery neon sign woefully incongruous in the cold damp night. Just a few more steps and he could be shed of MacLeod, go to his room, drink himself into a stupor, jerk off to his heart's content and try to figure out what the hell to do with the rest of his lonely, empty life. He pushed the heavy door open and stepped into the vestibule, readying himself to say good-bye to the Highlander.

"Feeling pretty sorry for yourself, aren't you?" Duncan's voice was an unwelcome intrusion, a verbal restraining hand on the arm, too close behind him.

Methos made himself turn around, made himself look at Duncan, made himself stand straight before him. The Highlander's face looked like thunder, the brows one heavy line, the jaw thrust forward aggressively. No use talking to him now. Methos could barely think straight, let alone take part in a debate. If Mac still wanted to talk about it in the morning, fine. Until then, he was willing to try to forget tonight ever happened.

"Whatever," Methos said flippantly, seeking familiar refuge in sarcasm. Duncan moved in on him again, pressing him back against the wall beside the hotel doors, close enough that Methos could feel the heat radiating from his body. He looked like a dark avenging angel, hell-bent on retribution for sins committed before the Scot's homeland even had a name. And Methos had finally had enough for one day.

"Back off, Mac," Methos warned, his tone deepening with intent. "It's not the time."

"Not the time for what?" Duncan inquired, his mild voice at odds with the strong hands that slapped against the wall behind Methos' head. "I think it's the perfect time. I'd just prefer to do it indoors."

Methos shook his head in confusion, getting very mixed signals from the man who practically surrounded him. The anger he'd sensed at the base was still there in the Highlander, seeping like an infected wound, but he also exuded waves of sexual urgency and Methos felt heat climb in his face again as he responded to that need on a primitive level.

"I don't know what happened earlier," Duncan was saying, his mouth forming the words as Methos' eyes riveted on the sensual shape of his lips. "I don't know what we'll do about it tomorrow. But I think tonight we should just ride out whatever this is," and he nudged one long thigh between Methos', leaving no doubt whatsoever which "this" he referred to. "And leave the rest for the morning."

Methos gave up trying to think, trying to read the Highlander's mind, and settled for something about which he was now very sure: Duncan wanted his body. He could feel Mac's erection, as straight-forward and honest as the rest of him, seeking his own length, bumping up against it. Methos lifted his hands as if in a trance, and slowly, slowly, put them on the sides of Duncan's face, pulling it towards him, reaching his mouth out to touch Mac's.

The first touch carried a spark. The second a tingle. By the third, they'd opened their mouths, dry lips slicked by wandering tongues, a small moan swallowed, a groan taken in with the next breath. Duncan's mouth was a revelation to Methos, a foreign, familiar thing, its textures and tastes new, but its spirit an old friend. Duncan kissed with the same focus and determination he applied to every aspect of his life. It was like being in the circle of a spotlight -- Methos felt exposed and uplifted, heated and bare. He forgot where they were and why they had fought. He sank into the kiss, silently giving Duncan everything he couldn't say.

A brush of air and the sound of voices registered over the vague roaring in Methos' ears. The hotel's inner doors, swinging open and disgorging guests. The voices stopped abruptly and Methos pushed against Duncan's chest, trying to dislodge his mouth. The message finally got through, and Duncan pulled back, licked his lips, then wiped his hand across them. He didn't even spare a glance for the mortals who occupied the vestibule with them, and in shocked silence, they left.

"That was quite a show we put on," Methos sniped. "Perhaps we could charge a few francs next time."

"Perhaps you could shut up," Duncan retorted, leaning forward and putting his mouth hard on Methos' again. This time it wasn't a surprise, but the drowning feeling came over Methos again, and he struggled against it, against MacLeod's entrapping warmth. "Mac." His protest was distressingly weak. Pushing away from the wall, Methos gathered the strength to shove Mac away. "Can we at least go up to the room? Please?"

Duncan's lips and eyes were shiny, his hair a tumbled mass. He looked like he'd already been fucked. Every person in the lobby would know when they walked through what was about to happen, what had already happened. They probably smelled like sex. So much for keeping a low profile, Methos thought. He pulled the sides of his coat across his chest, hiding his rampant erection. With a courtly gesture ridiculously out of place, he swept a hand before him, indicating that Duncan should precede him. Not even bothering to pull his coat across to hide his own sword, Mac nonchalantly stepped through the doors and headed straight for the elevators.

Wondering just what he'd invited, Methos followed him.

Thank God the elevator was empty. After the combustion in the vestibule, Duncan's endurance had reached its end. As soon as the doors closed, he reached for Methos, wrapping a hand around the back of his neck, jerking him off-balance to fall into his chest. He sealed his mouth back to Methos', finding every curve and corner to his liking. Teasing tastes weren't enough and he plundered the acquiescent mouth, nipping, sucking, exploring. Making up for lost time, it felt like. Methos dug his fingers into Mac's sweater and hung on, opening his mouth wide, closing his eyes tight in concentration.

The hunger in Duncan was insatiable. Part lust, part fury, it coiled inside him, lending an alien ferociousness to his actions. He had no desire to be gentle. His desire was to punish, to purge the anger, to prove his power. Duncan pulled his mouth away, disturbed by the overwhelming need sweeping through him. Was this how Methos had felt out there? This was intolerable.

He looked at the Old Man still clutching at his sweater, his eyes still closed, a supplicant at his altar. God, what a sight. Kronos would have come in his leather pants if he'd seen him like this, Duncan thought. Hell, Kronos probably *had* seen him like this, and the stray thought shocked, then excited him. Never again, he thought in exultation. Never again would Methos be subjugated before that fucking psychopath. Never, ever again.

"I go with the winner," Methos had said, not just once, but twice. Taunting the Highlander, goading him to action. Hedging his bets? Or drawing Duncan out? Either way, the winner had been firmly established. The Winner -- still angry, still hurt, still wanting more of an explanation than Methos had seen fit to bestow upon him, but mostly still horny as hell. And the cure was breathing soft breaths on him, long fingers kneading unconsciously at his chest.

The elevator doors opened and Duncan pushed Methos out before him, grabbing him at the hip when the older man stumbled at the sudden movement. "Key?" Duncan inquired as they reached the room door, and Methos dug in his jeans pocket for the flat card. Duncan opened the door and repeated Methos' earlier gesture, indicating Methos should go in ahead of him. The door closed with a defiant click and Duncan threw both the deadbolt and the interior security latch. Whatever was going to happen, they weren't going to be interrupted. When Methos moved towards the light on the small desk, Mac grabbed his arm. "I don't think we need lights."

Methos turned to him, his eyes glitter-bright in the dull room. "No, I don't suppose we do. But I do need a shower. You mind?"

Duncan actually weighed the decision before answering. A big piece of him (and getting bigger by the minute) didn't even want to wait the length of time it would take to get out of their clothes. He wanted to pull down Methos' jeans, flip him to the wall and skewer him. Jesus, where had *that* image come from? Reluctantly releasing Methos' arm, Duncan went to stand in front of the sliding glass doors to the balcony, struggling for control.

"Go ahead," he finally managed to get out. He could actually feel the moment Methos left the room. The unbearable tension eased minutely with the object of his desire out of sight, though within seconds, the sound of the water being turned on made his cock leap again. Methos would be testing the temperature of the water with his elegant hand, stripping off the soggy shirt, the damp blue jeans. If he felt anything like Duncan, his cock would be standing straight up, inflamed and eager. If he felt like Duncan, his hand would already be stroking it, rubbing the tip, squeezing it to try to make the feeling last longer.

Duncan groaned aloud, the pictures so vivid in his mind that his hand reached down to stroke his own erection through the cloth of his trousers. He closed his eyes, letting the sensation build as he slid his hand over the length of his cock, opening his legs wider to give his balls a little more room, his fingertips slowly rubbing up and down. His hips started an involuntary subtle pumping motion and he rode the feeling, losing himself in self-provoked delight.

The shower stopped abruptly and Duncan came back to himself. He'd unzipped without realizing it, and was now stroking bare skin. He glanced down at his penis, at the seeping tip, the head completely exposed from the foreskin. Why do this to himself when he had *that* waiting for him? Duncan tore off his coat, then unbuttoned his shirt, tugging the tails from his pants and ripping it off. He jerked off his shoes and socks, then stripped his pants quickly, until he stood in all his naked glory. Any hesitation he might have had, any reservation, was submerged by the need to finish this, to see if he could reach his Methos under all that ice, to see if coming inside him would help heal the festering rage that still clawed through him.

The bathroom door opened. Methos stepped out, trailed by tendrils of steam, his damp skin reflecting the vanity lights. A towel was wrapped dangerously low on his hips. He was a straight column of sleek ivory skin, perfect in every way. His expression schooled to that careful impervious mask he'd shown Duncan in the church, Methos put his chin up and his shoulders back as he sauntered towards Duncan, standing before him as straight and tall as the Scot had ever seen him. No slouching casual manchild here. Here stood five thousand years of sexual self-assurance.

Those few minutes in the bathroom seemed to have gone a long way toward restoring his equilibrium. Duncan wondered which touch he should use first to rattle the Old Man out of his complacency.

Methos cocked an eyebrow and a hip, the very picture of studied carelessness. Not a bad trick for a man tenting a hotel towel. "You going to shower, MacLeod? Or are we just going to go at it?"

Duncan growled. "We're just going to go at it, asshole." He'd do whatever it took to shatter the shell Methos could build in the space of a breath. He'd shatter it, or he'd kill himself trying. Willing or unwilling, it didn't seem to matter much to Duncan anymore, and if the shock of that impulse towards violence didn't stop him, nothing would.

Methos kept his eyes on Duncan's as he slipped a thumb under the towel's edge and flicked it off. Then he opened his palms at his sides, offering himself to Duncan with a gesture that should have connoted surrender, but managed to be the height of arrogance instead. Come and get me, it said, if you think you can.

Duncan felt more than capable of answering that challenge. He took the one step needed to bring them together, his strong arms reaching out to clasp Methos' shoulders, drawing him in so skin touched skin for the first time. The luminous colonnade of the man was a sharp contrast to his own darkness, the cool skin against his own hot body made him shiver in reaction. Methos smelled clean, whatever shampoo the hotel had supplied had left the damp strands of his hair smelling like the ocean, and his skin slipped sweetly under Duncan's marauding palms. Methos shuddered once, his whole body contracting, then he pressed in closer to Duncan, his arms reaching out to splay across Duncan's back, ten long digits tensing on his shoulder blades.

Exactly the same height, their torsos lined up perfectly, one of Methos' legs sliding easily between Duncan's, their feet finding natural places to plant. Two hard cocks kissed for the first time, nudging into each other with far less friction than the men themselves were feeling. The cocks seemed to understand the game, each sliding smoothly against the other, leaving glancing streaks of pleasure in their wake. Duncan growled again at the sensation and slid one hand down to rest lightly on Methos' hip, bringing the other between their bodies, wrapping it around both cocks, pressing them together with strong fingers.

Methos turned his head into Duncan's neck, brushing his short damp hair against his shoulder. He licked delicately at the pulsing vein in Duncan's neck, tracing the line up to his ear and back down. He inhaled a quick breath each time Duncan squeezed his cock and exhaled when the tension relaxed. Finally Duncan started to move his hand, and Methos brought one of his own down to join him, lacing his fingers through the Highlander's, touching Mac's erection at last. No longer held to each other, they stayed where they were, close enough to breathe each other's breath, close enough to watch each reaction in the other's face.

Duncan stroked the two cocks with the assurance of a man who knew just what he liked. He couldn't draw this out, not this time anyway, and he finally capitulated, relegating the punishment to later, wanting only to ease the terrible wanton need he felt. His cock felt huge, way too big for its skin. His balls had ridden up in the crack minutes earlier, ready to spill, but he was determined to see Methos come first. Releasing their erections from his grasp, Duncan dropped abruptly to his knees, grabbed Methos' cock and swallowed as much of it as he could.

A keening sound accompanied the precipitous change of position and Methos' hands dropped heavily onto Duncan's head, pulling him closer in, forcing him to take even more. Duncan gagged, then consciously relaxed his throat, needing to take in more, wanting to hear that sound again. Methos bent over Duncan's shoulders, giving Duncan a much easier angle to work with, and then it was all in, all the way down his throat, a hot salty cannon in his mouth.

Duncan slid his arms around the Methos' hips, cupping his slender buttocks in his hands, caressing him roughly as he began to slide Methos' penis in and out of his mouth. He raked his teeth across the big vein that bisected Methos' cock and was rewarded with another groan. Methos wrapped his hands in Duncan's hair, clutching fistfuls in a punishing grip. "Hold still," he ground out, and Duncan stopped his hands and the motion of his head. Methos straightened up again, moving his erection up against Duncan's hard palate. Taking a ragged breath, he moved minutely, bumping the very tip of his penis against the roof of Duncan's mouth. Duncan kept his lips sealed on the length he could reach, sucking hard. Three more little strokes and then Duncan's mouth was flooded with come, so much that swallowing wasn't even an option. Duncan opened his mouth and let the fluid seep out the sides, feeling it spill down his chin and onto his chest. His heart beat furiously at the expression on Methos' face: Tortured ecstasy.

Methos stepped back, letting his cock drop out of Duncan's mouth, staring down at the Scot. He seemed to be debating something, then he dropped to his knees in front of Duncan. He put a cool hand on Duncan's chest, rubbing drops of his own semen into the crisp chest hair, one fingertip circling a tight nipple. Duncan closed his eyes, not wanting anything to intrude on the electric sensation running from his nipple to his cock. Soon, soon, soon.

"Suck or fuck," Methos asked quietly, and Duncan's eyes flew open again, swerving up from the Old Man's dripping cock to the hard lines of his face. Lingering pleasure still smoothed the harsh planes, but there was nothing of youth in his expression. Suck or fuck. Sucking would take care of him in the next two minutes. Fucking would require leaving the floor, getting lubricant, moving Methos, prepping him. Too much trouble, too much time.

"Suck." MacLeod heard the vulgar word leave his mouth like an endearment. Amazingly, Methos grinned at him, and Duncan realized all his previous thoughts might as well have been blazoned across his forehead -- Methos had seen them all.

"Lie back," Methos ordered, and Duncan could find no reason to disobey. Stretching out on the carpet, he drew Methos with him, laying him flat out on top of him for a long minute. It wasn't an embrace, but it might have been, on some other night. Methos pulled away from him, moving to kneel beside him. Duncan felt his cock start seeping fluid at the intense gaze Methos gave him. "Methos, do it. Now." He was going to embarrass himself and come with or without Methos' help. He was reaching for Methos when the older man ducked toward him, opening his mouth over the girth of Duncan's cock, not taking it into his mouth, but running his lips from root to tip, over and over, cradling the underside in the palm of one hand, cupping the tight sac with the other. He breathed hot gusts of air out on the Highlander's hardness and Duncan started pumping into the hand, his hips leaving the floor in a desperate attempt to claim more of Methos' mouth.

At the last minute, when Duncan's body was already clenching in release, Methos put his mouth over the tip and drew in hard, pushing both hands down the entire length of the pulsing cock at the same time. Duncan exploded, shooting what felt like a quart of come and perhaps some of his brains as well. Methos drank some, then allowed the rest to paint Duncan's torso. Duncan watched as Methos swept a hand across his chest, mixing his fluid and Methos' there, co-mingling their scents.

Duncan lay gasping, feeling his heart pound in his chest. He wondered how long the respite would last. Methos had been ready again just minutes after his first climax. Hazarding a glance at Methos' crotch, he could already see stirring. Good God. Just as the Quickening itself had been anything but ordinary, this wasn't the normal post-Quickening rush of horniness. This was bone-crushing desire. How much would it take to satiate them? Duncan heaved himself to a sitting position. Methos started to reach for him, but Duncan put his hands up, warding him off.

"Oh no you don't. I want that shower now, and I'm going to get it. You can just wait your turn." Duncan stood up, feeling oddly ungainly next to the sleekness of Methos' nude body. He looked down at the oldest immortal. If he'd been supposed to teach the Old Man a lesson, something had gone seriously wrong.

Part 3

The bathroom door closed authoritatively behind MacLeod. Methos released the breath he'd been holding and slumped back on the carpet, leaning against the bed and pulling his knees to his chest. His cock was sore and he looked down at it. Tiny red spots were healing as he watched. Teeth marks he realized, and shook his head in disbelief. Duncan MacLeod's teeth marks were tattooed on his penis. He'd have lost that bet, his own fantasies notwithstanding. He touched one as it faded, an even scrape just below the foreskin. Even though he'd already had two orgasms in the space of less than an hour, his fingers on the tender stalk were making it rally again, bobbing to life like one of those screaming punching dolls that hadn't the sense to stay on the floor.

"Are you out of your mind?" he inquired softly of his dick. "Oh, that's right, you don't *have* a mind, that's how we keep ending up in situations like this." He wondered if Duncan had ever had a post-Quickening experience like this one. It was unknown in his own five thousand years, and that scared him a little. Usually a quick whacking off and a drink would release the tension, but not this time. Methos wondered if Mac's Dark Quickening had felt like this -- like someone else had not only taken up residence in his soul, but was making calls to 900 numbers and leaving the refrigerator door open. Methos didn't *want* to spend what was left of his life with Kronos and Silas duking it out inside him. And he didn't want to see MacLeod's gilt sullied in any way by whatever dredges of Kronos Methos hadn't managed to pull out of him.

Maybe they could just fuck it out. As a plan, it probably had some flaws, but barring the presence of a magic spring in the Hotel Lune, it was all he could think of. Each time he'd climaxed, it felt like he claimed a little more of himself back. It seemed worth a try. His penis twitched in enthusiastic support of the plan and he rewarded it with a long stroke. Methos got up and went to his duffel bag, rummaging through it until he found the little bottle of Astro-Glide. MacLeod might be the Boy Scout, but Methos was *always* prepared. Feeling a bit like Daniel headed into the lion's den, Methos went to the bathroom door and opened it.

Standing under the shower spray, Duncan was contentedly reliving the previous half hour, a soapy hand substituting for Methos' mouth, when the shower door opened, letting in cold air and a naked, aroused, very old man. He had a bottle of lubricant in his hand. The sight of it excited Duncan even more. Yes, that was what he wanted. Mouths and hands were one thing, but to be inside him, to conquer him, to make him submit, -- now that was the stuff dreams were made of. Duncan's body felt heavier than usual, his groin a solid weight, even his eyelids drooped to half-mast. He tried to read Methos' expression, but the enigma had returned. The Old Man's cock couldn't hide what it wanted though, and Duncan concentrated on that.

Duncan reached up and twisted the shower nozzle so the spray no longer beat down upon them, letting the water slide down the wall and pool at their feet on its way down the drain. "No foreplay," Duncan warned, reaching for the lubricant. He grabbed Methos' arm with his other hand and turned him so Methos faced the shower wall, his beautiful back presented to MacLeod.

"No foreplay," Methos agreed, spreading his legs and bracing his forearms on the wall. Duncan froze momentarily at the sight of Methos so pliant against the wall, so *willing*. Methos wanted this as much as he did, Duncan realized. That helped somehow. Rough sex was one thing, rape was quite another. There wasn't enough of Kronos inside him to combat four hundred years of considerate lover, but there was just enough to make him not want to be quite so careful. Duncan flicked open the bottle of lube, dripping a healthy amount onto his fingers, then smearing it onto his throbbing penis. He dropped the plastic bottle on the floor and it rolled to a corner. Duncan let his eyes caress the exposed neck, the wide expanse of shoulder, the pure line of the back as it narrowed at Methos' waist. The small, flawless buttocks led to strong thighs, rounded calves, sharply defined Achille's tendons and long graceful feet. The man was beautiful. And at this particular moment, he was all Duncan's, to do with as he wished.

"Take a picture, it will last longer," Methos tossed over his shoulder. The sarcasm infuriated Duncan -- or was it being caught gaping? Whichever, he abruptly ran out of patience.

"No more talking," Duncan snarled, putting a heavy hand on the back of Methos' neck, pushing his face to the wall. Methos yelped as his nose hit, and he hastily turned his head to the side, pressing his cheek against the cool tile. Duncan kept Methos' hips pulled away from the wall, bending him to the angle he wanted. Methos' bottom clenched as he adjusted his weight, the muscles gliding together. He closed his eyes as MacLeod took the tip of one index finger and traced it down the length of his spine, ending up between Methos' cheeks. Stepping a little closer, MacLeod spread one big hand on Methos' hip. When the wandering finger reached its destination, it circled there with teasing, delicate strokes. When the very tip dipped for the first time inside, pushing past the tight ring of muscle, Methos began to tremble.

Duncan looked down at the man before him. Given the submissive stance, the oldest Immortal should have looked cowed, or at least humbled, but he didn't. Methos looked like what he was: A powerful man who'd chosen to defer -- momentarily -- to another's strength. Duncan pushed the finger in farther, then added a second, moving them inside Methos, encouraging the tightness to ease. Methos pushed back against him, forcing the fingers in deeper. Methos lifted his head from the wall and leaned back a little, taking more of his weight on his arms. The shift pushed Duncan's fingers against his prostate, and the sound that Methos made then caused each small hair on the back of Duncan's neck to rise up. The sound went straight to Duncan's eager penis, and he withdrew his fingers roughly, positioning his slick cock at the tiny entrance.

Duncan put both hands on Methos' hips and impaled him, feeling his hunger grow, not subside, as Methos' body swallowed each inch. He pushed in until he couldn't go any further, until the Old Man was panting, his legs quivering, muscles corded in his arms at the force of the coupling. It had been a long, long, *long* time since Duncan had done this. He'd forgotten the indescribable heat and tightness of the inside of a man. For a couple of minutes, he stayed still, knowing this delirium would be over before it even started if he moved even a fraction of an inch. Friction would undo him, and he wasn't ready to be undone. He was glad he couldn't see Methos' face. Just remembering the ecstatic look as Methos came in his mouth made his cock spasm in its snug new home.

The twisting emotions that had wrecked him all night washed over him, and when he felt he finally had it under control, he began to move. Duncan could see bruises forming on the pale skin of Methos' hips as he gripped them hard to shove the Old Man away, then jerk him back, setting a driving, harsh rhythm. It was all different from fucking a woman - he had to use brute strength to make the tight channel release him, then force his way back in each time. His world narrowed to the moans coming from Methos' mouth whenever he scraped across the swollen gland inside him, to the hot wet groove he slammed into with increasing intensity, to the rushing sense of power he got from having this irascible, irresistible, irritating man reduced to a shuddering, groaning vessel for his desire.

Duncan leaned over Methos' back, making him bear some of his weight. He slid one hand around Methos' stomach to his cock. Duncan wrapped a hot hand around Methos' erection and scrubbed at it in counterpoint to his hard thrusts. Methos arched his neck, butted his head against Duncan's and gave a hoarse shout as he came all over Duncan's hand, his anus spasming around Duncan's cock. That pretty much did it for Duncan. He dropped most of his weight on Methos' back, laid his cheek on the bulge of one shoulder blade and pushed in as far as was physically possible, crowding in as the tip of his penis swelled to impossible proportions before shooting semen deep inside Methos.

The aftermath was sticky and uncomfortable. Duncan had to wait until his penis had shrunk a little to pull out of Methos' vice-grip channel. He'd seen dogs stuck together after mating once, and the image hit too damn close to home. Methos finally shrugged him off and Duncan reluctantly straightened up, eventually just roughly jerking his cock out of Methos. No bloody streaks showed on his half-hard penis and Duncan felt relieved that despite the force he'd used, no damage had been done. It had never mattered to Duncan that Immortal wounds healed quickly -- wounded was wounded and he'd never wanted to mix sex with pain. Then he saw the bruises -- angry purple marks in the exact shape of his hands, mirror images on each pale hip. All right, he admitted to himself ruefully, maybe he *had* wanted to mix sex with pain.

The Highlander reached for the shower nozzle again and turned it full force on Methos. The Old Man still faced away from him, but he raised his face to the spray and washed it vigorously with his hands. He stepped back, but when his body met Duncan's, he flinched. Methos let the water run down his body, washing away the residue from his orgasm, and MacLeod's, from his stomach and thighs. He kept his head turned away and before Duncan could reach for him, offer a more tender touch, he'd stepped out of the shower, leaving Duncan alone again.

By the time Duncan had washed and dried himself, Methos was in bed, lying on his stomach, carefully taking up only one side of the big bed. He watched as Duncan dried his hair with a towel, gave a final swipe across his groin and tossed it back in the bathroom. Duncan went to turn off the light, but took one last look at Methos, trying to decipher what he was feeling. Methos met his eyes, but the mask was securely in place. With a silent sigh, Duncan flipped the light switch and made his way back to bed in the dark. He climbed in beside Methos, tugging the covers up over his chest. He lay on his back, staring up the ceiling.

"Methos," Duncan started to say, but Methos cut him off.

"No more talking," Methos muttered, his voice deep and without discernible expression. Then he turned away. Duncan looked at the back of the shorn head. His body was there, but despite having been *inside* him, Duncan felt no closer to finding his Methos. He'd fucked a stranger, when what he'd really wanted to do was find a connection to a friend.

Methos awoke gasping for breath, feeling as if he'd been killed and revived. Naked, sweating profusely, his whole body felt like he'd been in the Saharan sun too long. He couldn't move his arms or legs and the heat made him feel like he was melting. Awareness returned in tiny increments. He opened his eyes, taking in the sterile hotel room, barely visible in the dark. So he hadn't died after all, unless one counted "le petit mort." His body was glued to Duncan's equally naked one, their sweat making a seemingly impenetrable seal. In his sleep, the Highlander had wrapped around him from behind, spoon fashion, one hot arm and one hot leg imprisoning Methos in a sweltering cage. He was stifling Methos. An intense feeling of claustrophobia drove Methos to action. He peeled himself away from Duncan, grimacing at the squelchy sounds those motions provoked. Looking down, he saw patchy red marks where he'd pried his skin away. If this became a habit, they'd have to wear pajamas -- he didn't plan to spend his nights in a human-induced sauna.

If this became a habit. Methos shook his head at the hopeless thought. Not bloody likely. The sex and the sleep had helped temper the ravaging forces of Silas' Quickening, and however much of Kronos' he had taken as well, but he still felt unsettled. He could feel their unfamiliar tingles and zings and wondered how long it would take to feel like his whole self again. For a few minutes there at the beginning, as he'd forced himself to move through the pain, to do what needed to be done to dismantle the weapons Kronos created, he'd wondered if he would ever find himself again in the maelstrom his brothers left behind inside him.

Into his confusion and agony had come a very different MacLeod. The straightest man in the world had bent to him, not just accepting Methos' advance, but responding with such alacrity and aggression that Methos could feel his tired cock twitch to life again at the memory. Still, with the extreme emotions from the Quickening finally subsiding a little, Methos could see the events of the evening more realistically. This rough and tumble mutual seduction hadn't been the beginning of a romance. On the contrary, it was more likely the end of a friendship.

"What I've done, you can't forgive. It's not in your nature. Will you accept it?" The words he had spoken to Duncan in the church still kept vigil in Methos' heart. Duncan had answered that question with one of his own, and Methos had never gotten an answer. Or had he?

Sighing, Methos crept from the bed and searched until he found his jeans in a heap on the bathroom floor. He tugged them on but didn't bother zipping them up. He went to the sliding door and opened it quietly, stepping out onto the tiny balcony. The blessed coolness of the night air on his skin felt like a caress, the cold tile under his bare feet a welcome jolt. He tipped his head back, welcoming the breeze that played across his skin, cooling it by degrees. He relished the goose bumps that formed across his chest and shoulders, easing the heat and tightness. He could hear himself breathing, feel his heart beating in the stillness. Above the city lights, the storm clouds had passed and the sky was alive with stars. He felt familiar pleasure shimmer through him as he greeted one of the few constants in his long, long life.

His old friends the stars were brighter than usual without the moon to dim their fire. What had that sap Shelley called the dark interval between moons? Ah, yes. Interlunation. A pretty fancy word just to describe the absence of something. Methos missed the moon. The stars did their valiant best to shine light, but without the bright disc to aid them, there was little they could do alone to combat the darkness. He raised his hand to his forehead in a salute to the effort they made, twinkling away in the cosmos, their light traveling so far to reach him that whole generations of mortals lived and died while the light's path reached from There to Here.

He always took comfort in the knowledge that a lifetime for a star was just as unpredictable as his own. Nothing in the universe was truly constant -- even these steadfast companions changed -- new ones appeared, old ones flamed out, some shifted slightly in their cradles as the millennia unfolded beneath them. He could still remember the thrill when he'd learned just how far away those little stars were. And how far from little they were. They were powerhouses, each and every one, in their own worlds.

This was where he belonged, he thought to himself. Here in the dark, with the stars, alone. Every couple of centuries, he forgot what it was really like to live among his kind, to care, and he rashly, stupidly, let himself be brought out into the open, or as much open as he could ever bear. It had been three years this time, three years before the proverbial shit hit the fan. Three years of upheaval and unexpected kinship, of killing and death, after two hundred years without. What was the point in regaining passion long lost, if it only led to heartbreak and destruction? Maybe it wasn't passion. Maybe he was just going soft, just like Kronos said. The edge, the wariness that protected him had blurred, leading to the discovery of secrets long buried, of a persona long since relegated to the "been there, done that" pile.

Methos glanced back into the room, to the wide bed where MacLeod now took up all the room. The man was catnip. Utterly irresistible, desirable to a laughable degree, if only Methos were able to see some humor in it. Maybe later, maybe in a decade, or a century, he would be able to look back on this night and feel something more than emptiness. He'd gotten what he'd wanted. And it wasn't enough.

From the first moment he'd laid eyes on Duncan, he'd loved him. Oh, he'd wanted him, too, this wasn't some adoration from afar. But he'd always wanted more than a tumble in the sack. The Highlander, so legendary, so pure, so protective. And he'd turned that light on Methos. Over and over he'd imagined moments like this, naked, wearing each other's sweat, bathed in each other's scent, together, alone, but the travesty of the reality compared to his fantasies undid him.

The pleasure he'd felt couldn't wash away the knowledge that anger, not love, had propelled the Highlander into his arms. That much as he'd like to believe MacLeod had finally had lightning strike -- literally -- and discovered he had the same feelings for Methos that Methos had for him, it was much more likely that it was the bits of Kronos leaking inside Duncan that had guided his actions. Methos recognized that combination of force and ardor -- he'd lain underneath it often enough. "Be careful what you wish for," he whispered.

The man in the bed stirred, his hand sweeping across the cool sheets at his side. "Methos?" he called quietly.

"Out here," Methos replied softly, as his heart leapt.

He watched MacLeod rise like Neptune from the froth of the bed, unselfconsciously bringing the top sheet with him and wrapping it low on his hips as he came to join Methos on the balcony. His skin shone in the timid starlight, each muscle brushed with light and shadow. Methos turned away from the sight, leaning his forearms on the balcony railing. Duncan tucked one end of the sheet in his waist and joined him at the railing, mimicking his pose.

They stood like that for several minutes, watching the city sleep, then Duncan finally broke the silence.

"Are you ... you?" he asked quietly.

Methos turned his head sharply toward MacLeod. What a strange question.

"What do you mean?" Methos asked, wondering what the Highlander was getting at.

"After... Kronos and Silas... you weren't yourself," Duncan stumbled over the words.

"Mac, I think you'd have to agree neither of us has been behaving in his usual fashion," Methos said dryly.

MacLeod nodded slowly. "No, I don't suppose we have." He moved his arm to rest against Methos' on the railing. The hot touch seared through Methos' defenses, leaving him aching again. None of his arguments, none of his reservations mattered a damn when Duncan touched him.

"I'm ... more me," Methos said, answering Mac's original question, hearing how ridiculous it sounded, but knowing it was no less than the truth.

"Good." Satisfaction threaded through the Highlander's reply. "Then can we try it again? Maybe with just us this time?"

Methos ducked his head, certain that if he looked at MacLeod, or tried to speak, he'd make an utter ass of himself. His throat tightened. He felt startlingly vulnerable. There had been a sort of weird comfort in knowing they were both in the grip of a post-Quickening fever, with the power of the brutal Immortals simmering just beneath their surfaces. Mac fucking him senseless up against the wall of the shower because it was what Kronos would have done was one thing. Mac making love to him because of his own desire was something else entirely. But wasn't that what he wanted? Didn't he *want* to fill the empty places? And couldn't Duncan do it better than anyone? The Highlander was a long way from acceptance, but there must be something to Methos that still drew Duncan. Otherwise, he'd already have pitched him off the balcony.

Not daring to look at him, Methos nodded. "Yeah, we can try it again." One soul, given over without a fight.

Part 4

The mask Methos wore cracked when he finally turned to face Duncan on the balcony. He was still nodding, as if the decision, once made, had to be continually reinforced. Methos reached a hand out, running a tentative finger across Duncan's full bottom lip before letting it drop back to the railing. Duncan watched as the strain left the Old Man's face, retreating to some dark corner to abide, leaving an almost boyish eagerness on the sharp features.

Duncan knew letting people in was hard for Methos. Letting in a man who constantly challenged him, who abraded and tested him, must be two more degrees toward impossible. But Methos was nothing if not resilient, and Duncan sensed in him a sincere desire to make this right. And if not right, at least more than the mindless fucking it had already been.

Duncan didn't know how to tell Methos of the see-sawing forces within him. How whatever anger he'd felt was so tied up in jealousy and hurt that he couldn't separate them. How betrayed he'd felt, how left behind. Methos had gone places where MacLeod could never follow. Didn't *want* to follow. But as he'd lain in bed beside Methos' tense body, unable to reach him with touch or word, Duncan had realized that all the anger in the world, all the distrust and misunderstanding, couldn't change a hard, sure fact: He loved Methos. Could he accept him? All the parts, good and bad, past and present? He was willing to try, or die in the attempt.

Copying Methos' gesture, Duncan reached out a blunt finger to trace the fine line of the oldest Immortal's lower lip. It opened for him, and he dipped inside, feeling the edges of Methos' teeth, then the silky heat of his tongue as it came to meet the intruder. Slipping the finger from Methos' mouth, Duncan moved his hand to his friend's cheek, the contrast of dark and light holding unending fascination for him. Methos' eyes took on a warmth Duncan had never seen at the casual caress and Duncan leaned forward, bringing his mouth to Methos' in a kiss wholly unlike the rapacious, voracious kisses they'd exchanged in the vestibule and elevator.

Duncan gathered Methos to him, enfolding him in his arms. After a fleeting instant of resistance, Methos melted to him, returning the embrace. Their mouths merged for endless minutes as they tried new angles, licked and bit at each other, then laved sore spots with healing tongues. Duncan wondered, a little giddily, whether they could just kiss until daylight arrived, but Methos' hand slipped under the sheet and smoothed over Duncan's left buttock, and then just kissing just wasn't enough.

What a difference it made to be face to face.... and horizontal. They'd wrestled like kids for who got to be on bottom and who got to be on top. And after all that, they'd ended up side by side. MacLeod wouldn't stop kissing him, long, drugging, heartfelt kisses so sensual Methos lost all sense of time and space, responding in kind because it was all Duncan would allow. Being on the receiving end of Duncan MacLeod's passion was a little like drowning. The first few minutes you struggled, trying to draw in air, then realized that breathing water wasn't so bad. If you submitted, a wonderful feeling of peace descended and suddenly it didn't matter any more whether you lived or died. Being stroked by Duncan, being kissed and caressed by him, was like that. Methos let go, relaxing into Duncan, letting the unaccustomed feeling of peace wash through him.

Methos luxuriated in the freedom to touch what he'd only been able to look at before. He let his fingertips trace hollows and curves his eyes had memorized long ago. That spot at Duncan's temple where the softest hair grew, the sweet groove between his mouth and chin, the arching tendons connecting his neck to his shoulder, the hollow where his collarbones met, the taut abdominal muscles. Methos rubbed his face into Duncan's chest, where black hairs tickled his nose and the heart under the heated surface began to beat visibly when Methos lapped at an erect nipple like a cat at a saucer of milk. Duncan encouraged him with murmurs of approval and sweeping touches of his own, letting his hot hands roam over Methos' back, bottom and thighs.

Easy, easy, it was so easy to lift one thigh and move Duncan onto his back, to move over him, to bring his hand to Duncan's heavy cock and balls, to nudge his own swollen appendage to the portal of Duncan's body. Methos looked down at MacLeod, at the unruly curls spread on the pillow, the hectic flush in the tawny cheeks, the plump bottom lip held by his teeth. When Duncan surrendered, he did so with his whole self -- body, heart and soul. He withheld nothing. He gave of himself in ways Methos couldn't comprehend. Methos envied him that ability. Even now, with their bodies so attuned that when he squeezed the Highlander's cock his own quivered in reaction, Methos couldn't submerge himself completely. He couldn't tell Duncan he'd abandoned heart and soul to him, couldn't reveal those sheltered parts. So he settled for showing him with his body, and hoped it would suffice.

"Slow," Duncan whispered into his neck, flinching unconsciously as the big head started to push inside. Methos paused, willing his limbs to stop their trembling, his overzealous penis to still for a minute.

"First time?" Methos murmured softly, and Duncan actually blushed as he nodded. Methos pulled out, but the Highlander clutched at his back, saying "No, I want you to."

"It's ok, Mac, I'm not going anywhere," Methos assured him. "But let me get the lube. It'll be easier." He went to the shower and plucked the forgotten bottle from the floor. Methos brought it back and handed it to Duncan, saying, "Here, you do it" while he straddled the Highlander on the bed. Duncan tipped some of the slippery stuff into his palm and applied it slowly and thoroughly to Methos' weeping erection. Long after the task was done, Duncan lingered, strong fingers pleasing Methos.

Methos put his hand on top of Duncan's, then slipped underneath, coating his fingers. Then he slid the hand over Duncan's balls, and the sensitive ridge underneath, until he stood at the portal again. Very slowly, very carefully, Methos prepared the big Scot, using his slender fingers, one, two, then three at a time, until Duncan writhed beneath him, making pleading noises in his throat, his eyes closed tight, neck arched. And still Methos played, feeling that tight little hole ease up, feeling it start to clench around his fingers.

Only then did he mount Duncan again, keeping one fingertip in him as he entered, holding open his place. Their groans echoed in chorus as Methos filled Duncan, filled him as much as he could, all the way until his pubic bone hit the Highlander's muscular cheeks. With all the leverage he needed, and a wholly responsive Duncan beneath him, the rhythm Methos set was as gentle as it could be, his cock sliding easily to and fro, heat building slowly and surely between them. Duncan clutched at Methos' ass, pulling him in further, and Methos let him, delighted at Duncan's uninhibited response. They rode the pleasure in soft undulating waves, building, then pausing and letting it settle before starting the climb again. In this way, they managed to delay the inevitable firestorm until both were panting for it.

Methos reached for Duncan's hands, spreading them wide apart on the bed, laying his whole length on the brawny body below him, trapping Duncan's cock beneath his torso. Each thrust he now made had the added torture of feeling that swollen penis beneath his belly and he moved harder and faster until he felt it erupt under him, heard Mac bellow in his ear, then he released his own restraint and came into Duncan.

Before he could move away, or even just withdraw, Duncan had wrapped his arms around him again, pushing Methos' head to his chest, his ear against the Highlander's thumping heart. "Stay put," Duncan rumbled, and Methos complied. Remembering the last episode of stickiness and discontent, Methos smiled. This was *much* better. When the little voice abiding in the darker corners started muttering about unresolved issues and the imminent light of day, Methos turned his face into Duncan's neck and shut the voice out, drifting off to sleep with Duncan's hand still resting in his hair.

Two men on holy ground. Two swords carefully sheathed. Garbed like warriors in the same army, they stood abreast, making it easy to look away and hard to make eye contact. They maintained a careful distance between them as they spoke, both with their hands tucked into their coat pockets.

The morning after a soul-changing night before. The fractious dead Immortals wreaking havoc in their bodies had finally subsided into their rightful homes, buried deep with the other dead Immortals MacLeod and Methos carried around with them. "Maybe with just us this time," Duncan had said, and they'd managed to do that. Managed to link, to regain a more sure footing, to find each other in pleasure and comfort. All of it so much easier naked in the dark than clothed in the light of day.

Duncan had awakened wanting to talk, as usual. As usual, Methos had awakened wanting to get away. They'd compromised, packing Methos' things while Duncan tried to get him to talk about what had happened. Duncan continued those attempts all the way down in the elevator, out the front door of the hotel and on toward the train station, finally rerouting the focused older Immortal to the churchyard when he realized Methos would be on his way to Anywhere Else before he could get him to answer any of his questions.

"But you had to know Kronos would come for you one day," Duncan said, rephrasing an inquiry he'd already made about a dozen different ways. Methos stood balanced in careful casualness. "I tried not to think about it," he finally replied flatly.

Duncan didn't get it, didn't get it at all. "You could have killed him, why didn't you?"

That got a rise out of Methos. "I *wanted* to." He paused. "But we were brothers, in arms, in blood, in everything except birth. And if I judged him worthy to die, then I judged myself the same way."

Methos looked at the stern face of the Highlander. "And I wanted to live. I still do." He turned to walk away. Duncan's voice stopped him.

"Kronos was right, you set the whole thing up, didn't you?" Righteous indignation was starting to color Duncan's tone as the indolent responses came one after another from Methos. As if he really didn't care.

"What do you mean?" Methos asked, the nonchalant question a blatant stall.

"You knew he'd come after Cassandra," Duncan said forcefully. "You couldn't kill him, but you hoped I could."

Methos waited a heartbeat too long to answer. "Maybe."

Duncan looked at the cautious, evasive old man before him. "Maybe." That made Methos hesitate on his way down the steps, but it didn't make him turn around.

Duncan followed him down the steps. "Methos, what about Cassandra."

At the sound of his name, the oldest Immortal did stop, did turn, and waited for the Highlander to join him on the green grass. "One of a thousand regrets, MacLeod," he said wearily. "One of a thousand regrets."

Two men on holy ground. Standing close enough now that they could have touched each other, had either reached out a hand. But Methos walked away. And Duncan let him go.

The End.