Disclaimer: Zen and nancy don't own Duncan, Methos, Joe, or anyone else from the Highlander Universe. No money made here, no malicious intent. Characters, concept etc. owned by 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. The character Kyven, for what he's worth, is our own creation. Story title borrowed from the Tori Amos album and song of the same name, without permission. Song lyrics from Social Distortion ( I Was Wrong, Through These Eyes) also used without permission. Please, Mike, don't sue us.

Rated NC-17 for violence, homoerotic content

Warning : M/M sex, violence, rape, and other nastiness, not for the weak of heart. (Sorry about the feet) If you are underage or if this is not your cup of tea, turn back now.

This is our first attempt at slash, or any fanfic for that matter. We would like to thank Maygra, for all of her kindness and help, she is truly our Goddess of slash. Any spelling, punctuation or grammatical errors are all our own. We would greatly appreciate comments, feedback etc. Thanks, also to our kitty, Duncan, for all his love, companionship and occasional two cents.

This story is set following the episode "Forgive Us Our Trespasses".

LITTLE EARTHQUAKES

By Zen&nancy

Duncan wasn't aware of the smile spread across his face as he peeked at the roast in the oven, or when he carefully stirred his sauce. It wasn't until he caught a glimpse of himself in the back of a pot hanging over the stove that Duncan realized how much he was enjoying cooking for someone. He'd been lonely lately, missing the creature comforts that come with sharing your life with someone. Maybe the barge just reminded him of Tessa too much. Whatever the case, he was very happy to be cooking this fancy dinner for Methos as an apology for being such a stubborn ass about the whole Steven Keane incident. Everything was just about done, and if Methos didn't show up soon, dinner could be well past done.

A quick knock, and the front door opened as the world's oldest Immortal strolled in. He paused for a moment at the top of the steps as the image of a grinning Duncan in the kitchen overwhelmed him. Methos swallowed around the sudden lump in his throat. He knew this elaborate feast was the Highlander's attempt to apologize for being such an idiot when Methos had gotten dragged into that whole Steven Keane mess, but the welcome in his smile made Methos ache with a sharp pang of longing. Taking a deep breath to still the shaking inside him, he tossed his jacket onto a chair and called an answer to Mac's greeting. They soon sat down to Duncan's carefully prepared feast.

"This is amazing Duncan," Methos surveyed his plate of venison roast and new potatoes. There was a beautiful baked brie with blackberry preserves on the table. The table was covered with a white linen cloth and set with silver. Tall silver candlesticks, that Methos noticed were worth more than the barge and older than Duncan, shone between them.

Duncan leaned back in his chair, sipping his wine, "I'm glad, it's nice to have someone to cook for."

The Scot's voice was light and his features relaxed, but Methos suddenly thought of Tessa, and Richie. Duncan's lost family, and of his own much more recent loss of his love, who had so very little time, and his heart ached with loneliness.

"Well then, perhaps I should let you be short sighted and stubborn more often. Then you'll have cause to beg your way back into my good graces with fancy dinners."

Duncan knew he could be as immovable as the rock of Gibraltar, but he hated Methos knowing he was right. The old man was almost always right anyway. "I haven't been right about much lately."

Methos looked up sharply at the serious tone in Mac's voice, "MacLeod, I was wrong about everything for the first 2000 years. We learn from our mistakes."

"It's not that simple. There are lives in the balance. I have judged so many deserving to die. I have spent my whole life seeing everything as black and white, good and evil. Keane judged me in exactly the same way Methos, by my own morals. How can I argue with his judgment? I killed a friend! A good man who made a greater contribution to this world than I ever will."

"I don't know how you've survived your Scottish guilt this long MacLeod, but your not all wrong, or all evil. You are only growing up. Nothing is black and white in this world Duncan."

"I'm realizing that now, and it's making me question everything I am," Duncan said quietly, eyes cast down. "Sean told me once that my Scottish guilt is a part of who I am, but now I don't know who I am. Duncan MacLeod of the clan MacLeod was wrong about everything! and I can't live with the mistakes I've made because of that."

Duncan was taking this a lot worse than Methos had realized, he had never heard such self doubt from the man who lived by an iron code of honor. Now that it was all breaking down, Duncan was beginning to see how much there was to life that his morals and basic goodness couldn't carry him through. He was still such a child, in so many ways. Sometimes it still surprised him, how much he loved this man, who was so far away from him in time, in everything.

"No one can remain the same person inside themselves for hundreds of years Duncan, you're just more resistant to change than most. It's not a bad thing. You grow, you learn, you change. Who you were 300 years ago cannot be who you are today. You are not a monster, in fact you may be the best of us. Your choices are always made for the sake of good... however convoluted your reasoning."

Duncan's smile covered his embarrassment. Methos always made him feel like an adolescent, "I didn't mean to turn this into a therapy session, I just wanted to thank you."

"Your welcome. You'll always be Duncan MacLeod of the clan MacLeod. You're just redefining yourself. The clarity you're searching for will only come when you've accepted the things you've done."

Duncan was sure that was impossible, but he wanted to believe. His voice held no censure when he asked softly, "Have you? "

Methos knew he spoke of the time when he was Death, and hundreds more horrors that Duncan could not begin to comprehend flashed through his mind. "No, not all, but I've learned to live with them."

"How?"

"Time had a lot to do with it. You live it one moment to the next, and when you see it as a whole, you learn to see it within the context of who you were at the time. And you do your best to believe your friends when they try to convince you you're not a bad guy."

Duncan sat back in his chair, draining his wine glass. What Methos was saying made sense, but putting words to action was never that easy. Still, it helped to know Methos cared. Just having the old man around made him feel better.

"Thanks, I guess I'm working on it," Duncan rose to pour Methos a snifter of brandy. "How about a game of chess, or Go?" he refilled his own glass, then reached for Methos' plate.

“Chess," Methos watched Duncan cleaning up in the kitchen, stacking plates in the sink and wrapping up leftovers. The man moved with a fluid grace, an economy of motion that took your breath away. He went to fetch the chess board, but found it already set up at a small table against the wall. He smiled, cynically.

"You know me too well, MacLeod," he said as he took his customary seat at the backside of the board. He always let Duncan go first, that way it was even more fun when he beat him.

The CD player switched to a soft blues guitar. Methos recognized Joe's music and thought briefly of his watcher friend. For the first time in a very long time he had friends that were worth the risks of the game.

Being Duncan MacLeod's friend was a dangerous practice indeed. There seemed to be very few moments when the Boy Scout didn't have some blackguard lunatic chasing after his head. Yet, for the quiet moments like these, sitting companionably across the chessboard, Methos thought it likely he would willingly give up a few hundred years.

The air in the barge was scented with the rich aroma of the dinner Mac had cooked, the light scent of the candles burning low and the familiar sharpness of the river in autumn. Barely perceptible, was the smell of Duncan's after shave and the dark red wine on his breath when he exhaled sharply, annoyed by his opponent's most recent move. They traded their opening moves quickly, remembering each other's styles and loosing an equal number of pawns. Duncan was the more aggressive of the two, but the older Immortal's guile usually won the game.

Methos sipped his brandy, studying the man he desired more openly now that his blood was warmed by the alcohol. Duncan's long hair was tied back at the nape of his neck, but its luster gleamed in the soft light. Methos imagined it flowing freely through his fingers. Duncan's lips were parted and the very tip of his tongue touched his upper lip in concentration as he puzzled his next move. Methos felt a quick involuntary shiver go through him at the sight, watching mesmerized as it flicked out to moisten the full lips. Methos' gaze returned to the chess board and he realized with a little shock that he was beaten.

"Checkmate," Duncan murmured with an evil little smile of satisfaction. "Methos?"

His name sounded so nice with that hint of a burr which always marked Duncan's speech after his third drink, but it was a question, with a bit of concern at the end. Methos blushed, damning himself for letting his thoughts run away with him.

"You're usually not so quickly beaten, is something wrong? You seem distracted," Duncan sounded concerned.

//More than you will ever know beautiful boy// Methos thought to himself. He had to say something, and as much as it went against the grain to stroke the Highlander's inflated ego, it was definitely the safer course of action.

"Your getting better Highlander, that's all. Again?"

"Are you sure? We could talk about it," for just a moment Duncan's palm rested over the back of his hand.

It sent an electric shock though the older Immortal, and for a second Duncan's quickening raged in his head, drowning out sound. His voice had an edge to it when he replied, "I'm fine MacLeod, don't project your turmoil onto me."

As soon as Methos heard the tone of his voice he realized it sounded much harsher than he had intended. "Would you like to talk some more? We can, it's fine," he added, and the tension was gone from his voice.

Duncan smiled, "No. I'm sorry, let's play again."

They played a second game, and then a third, Duncan loosing his rematch but winning the tie-breaker by a small advantage.

"That was great! I haven't had an equal opponent in a long time. I taught Richie to play but he never took much interest in the game."

"My pleasure, any time," Methos answered, stretching like a lazy cat in his chair.

Watching Methos stretch, Duncan marveled at his friend's feline grace. It was getting late, but he didn't want to let the old man leave just yet. Methos was a reassuring presence in the emptiness of the barge. The nightmares from the days after Methos had brought him back from the holy spring had returned to haunt him. Since Keane had come with his recriminations and memories of Sean, his nights had been filled with demons. So he refilled the brandy snifter in his friend's hand, offering him his usual place on the couch with a gesture of his hand. Methos flopped in a contented sprawl, kicking off his shoes and settling back against the leather upholstery.

"I'll give you one thing MacLeod, you know how to enjoy your creature comforts," Methos settled further into couch, appreciating the coziness of the barge. Mac picked up a book and sat in his favorite chair, pleased to have Methos so relaxed and at home with himself .

They stayed that way... Methos content to sip his brandy and watch the fire Mac had built, the Highlander engrossed in his book. The CD player shuffled and played two more selections and the clock on the mantle chimed once and was silent. Methos was startled out of his reverie. He had been watching the play of the firelight across his friend's features, marveling at the smooth, golden beauty of Duncan's skin. How his sharp features softened in the firelight.

"It's late, why don't you stay?" the Highlander looked up at him. "You don't look up to the drive home."

"Suits me," Methos mumbled, the rich food and fine brandy had made him very sleepy.

"I'll get you a blanket," Duncan rose from his chair, setting his book down on the coffee table. Methos' eyes were barely open as he watched Duncan move around the barge, extinguishing candles and stoking the fire. By the time he returned the older Immortal's eyes were closed, his breathing light and even. Methos looked so impossibly young when he was asleep. His pale skin smooth and free of the signs of tension that usually clouded the old man's face. Unfolding the thick comforter he spread it out across his friend, who only sighed and squirmed deeper into the comfort of the couch. Abiding a fleeting urge, Duncan leaned down and pressed his lips to Methos' brow.

"Sleep in peace my friend", he whispered. Rising slowly he took himself to his own bed, a bit unsteady after the brandy.

Methos held his breath, his eyes closed, until he heard the soft sounds of Mac crawling into bed. Then his eyes flew open and he exhaled in a rush, raising his fingertips to the spot near his temple where Duncan had pressed his lips. // Did that really happen?// Methos thought to himself. Taking a deep breath, he called on thousands of years of discipline to master his rebellious body, which had become instantly hard at the light touch of Mac's lips. He had smelled like brandy and clover... Counting slowly to ten , and then twenty, he was able to still both the shaking of his body and the thoughts running rampant in his brain. Duncan was straight, had been for the last four hundred years and showed no signs of changing. Surely it was no more than an affectionate gesture of kinship that had gone unchecked due to alcohol and the late hour. Sighing in frustration, more at himself than at Duncan, Methos turned on his side, determined to banish the dangerous thoughts of Duncan's near (and naked ) proximity and get some sleep.

Duncan took a couple of steps towards bed , then glanced back once at the peaceful picture of the sleeping Immortal, wishing it could be so easy for him. Sleep was far from peaceful lately. He was haunted by images of the terrible things he had done while under the effects of the dark quickening. Sean's trusting hand reaching out to him, the hurt and confusion in Richie's eyes... night after night these faces haunted his sleep. Duncan climbed the few stairs to his bed and quietly stripped in the darkness. Resignedly, he crawled under the covers. He could feel the quiet buzz of Methos in the back of his head. It was strange how the feel of Methos' presence was different than any other Immortal's. From the first he was able to recognize the "sound", distinguishing it from other Immortals. Concentrating on that sound, trying to hold it close in the forefront of his brain, he lay back on the pillows and closed his eyes. Methos was here. Methos, who had risked his own five thousand year old head to save him, who had left the deathbed of the woman he loved to help him, with no guarantee of the outcome. Slowly Mac drifted off to sleep, Methos' presence still a comfort in the darkness.

Methos jumped to his feet, his hand reaching for his weapon before he was really awake. At first he was unable to identify his surroundings or whatever had pulled him from so deep a slumber. Slowly, he gained consciousness of his surroundings. He was on the barge, and it felt very late. The clock said ten after three and the darkness was a thick blanket that lay across the barge's interior. There it was again, the noise that had jerked him so abruptly from sleep. It was Duncan's voice coming from across the room, a raw hoarse voice calling his name. Methos bounded from the couch to the bed in only a couple of steps. He didn't think anyone could have boarded the barge while he slept, but a healthy case of paranoia had helped to keep him alive this long. There was no intruder, just Duncan sprawled on the bed, the covers impossibly twisted around his long limbs. Then it came again, that bone chilling moan, so full of pain.

"Methos!"

Methos moved quickly to the side of the bed, reaching for Duncan's hand as he thrashed in the throes of the dream.

"Duncan," squeezing his hand gently at first, then harder, Methos repeated his friend's name. "Duncan, wake. Duncan, it's a nightmare," his voice sounded harsh in the quiet room.

Duncan gasped, coming up for air like a man saved from drowning, "Dinna' leave me, dinna' leave me," he cried, somewhere between wake and sleep, struggling to come back from the horror of the dream.

Hanging on to the trembling hand, Methos sat at the edge of the bed, "I won't leave you Duncan, it's okay."

"Methos?" His name was a jagged sound, but some of the panic had left Duncan's voice as his eyes focused on his friend.

"I'm here Duncan, it was a nightmare, everything's all right."

"Stay here with me for a minute, will you?"

Settling crossed legged on the bed, Methos squeezed his hand, "I'm not going anywhere."

Duncan rubbed his face violently, trying to wipe away the faces in the dream. He took a deep shuddering breath, "Thanks." Duncan looked around the room. Re-orienting himself, he switched on the bedside lamp.

Even in the dim glow of the small light Methos could see the tracks of tears on Duncan's cheeks. Duncan had not pulled back his hand from Methos' strong grip, and Methos made no move to release him. Instead he gave the hand another gentle squeeze.

The concern showed in his voice when he broke the silence, "Every night like this lately?"

"Most," came the shaky reply.

"What do you dream of ?"

Duncan opened his mouth to reply, but no words came, instead a sob broke from his chest, which heaved with the effort to contain it.

"I'm sorry," he managed as hot tears leaked from his eyes. The intensity of the pain in Duncan's eyes broke Methos' heart.

"No, don't be sorry, come here," he whispered and Duncan threw himself headfirst into the waiting arms of his friend. He sobbed violently, the heart wrenching sound Methos remembered from when he had found Duncan in Darius' church during his dark quickening. Methos pulled the sobbing man almost into his lap, trying to get his arms around as much of Duncan as possible. He rocked him gently, pain tearing at his own insides as he helplessly watched Duncan's magnificent body shake from the force of the pain coming out of him. He said nothing, just concentrated on spreading his warmth and his love to the sobbing man in his arms. He didn't trust himself to speak, not sure that in comforting Duncan he could prevent the endearments that might come too easily to his lips. //Hush, my love// he thought over and over. Instead, he pressed his lips together tightly, leaning into the embrace to rest his forehead on Duncan's furrowed one. Silently he offered his friend his strength. Slowly, Duncan's sobs quieted to harsh breathing, and finally, silence.

His head still buried in Methos shoulder he whispered, "Thank you."

Methos stroked the long hair. "Shh, all is well," he murmured, knowing what it cost Duncan to offer thanks for Methos' witness to his tears. Several minutes passed, Duncan began to relax at last, listening to the steady heartbeat beneath his cheek. Methos lay utterly still, his arm curled around Duncan's shoulders, his hand stroking the back of his head hypnotically.

Methos was sure Duncan had drifted back to sleep, but was unwilling to move the exhausted man from his arms. Then he felt a whisper against the damp fabric of his sweatshirt.

"Sometimes I don't think I can forgive myself, it's so horrible, and I'm afraid someday it will return and I won't be able to fight it."

"You can, Duncan, you will. You have a strength of heart no quickening can corrupt, you have time, and you have friends that care for you."

For the first time since he had collapsed in the older Immortal's arms Duncan raised his eyes to meet his intense gaze. "I have you," he whispered, raising his arm to cup Methos' face in his palm, lightly dragging his fingertips across the sharp cheekbone.

Their eyes were locked together, and Methos knew a moment of panic as he saw comprehension flash in Duncan's eyes. He could feel the moment when recognition broke through the cloud of Duncan's turmoil.

Before Methos could form a word of reassurance, or exhale for that matter, Duncan's warm lips covered his and everything inside him melted.

Duncan's kiss was hesitant at first , but Methos' mouth was warm and tasted wonderful. Kissing Methos was terribly exciting and deeply satisfying at the same time. He repeated the same soft pattern of pressure until Methos sighed and opened to his kiss. Duncan's tongue gradually became demanding, hungry to explore every corner of the inviting mouth.

Eventually Methos was forced by the black fuzziness at the corners of his brain to gasp for air. It felt as though all the oxygen went straight down his throat and directly to his groin. He was suddenly, painfully hard, and he knew that if Duncan kissed him like that again he would come. He was trembling when Duncan reached up to capture his lips again. Methos' palm in the center of his chest stopped him.

"Duncan, don't."

Confusion, anger and fear flashed across the Highlander's face, "Why? Do you not want me? I had thought... I felt... an attraction between us..." His face was hot, probably bright red, but he met Methos' panicked eyes and slowly, deliberately, ground his hips against the erection pressed into his side.

Methos' gasp ended in a groan as Duncan thrust himself against him. They were both hard, Methos could feel the heat radiating off Duncan's body. Gods help him, whatever the morning brought, he was not strong enough to stop this, not when Duncan's eyes reflected all the hunger Methos felt inside himself.

"Since the moment I met you," Methos whispered, "Never doubt it."

Words, coherent thought, became impossible and desire took control. Duncan's mouth tasted of salty tears. Methos free hand splayed into the long hair , the other trapped beneath the naked body pressed against him. He couldn't get enough of that mouth, so open to him, slack with passion, but still a bit hesitant. He nipped at the full lower lip with his teeth, his tongue darting in to taste again the man he had loved for years.

Duncan responded to the kisses, gathering Methos even closer in his arms until they were pressed tightly together from shoulder to knee. " Mmm..." Duncan sighed into the older Immortal's mouth; feeling as if he wanted to crawl inside Methos' skin. Unable to get any closer, his hand slid under the back of Methos' sweatshirt to trail up and down his spine. He could feel the play of each muscle as his hand slid slowly down Methos' back. It was all muscle and sharp bones. Far from skinny, each individual muscle was acutely defined on the light frame. Duncan marveled at the way they responded, moving under his palm. Tilting his head back, Duncan's lips opened Methos' mouth wider, his tongue thrusting past open lips, demanding access to the wet heat. Duncan thrust his hips once, twice against the straining hardness pressed into the hollow of his hip.

Methos moaned a strangled cry into Duncan's mouth ---- and came. He was helpless in the grip of the waves of pure pleasure that flowed over him, helpless to stop the spark of quickening that passed between their bodies. Duncan swallowed his cry, refusing to be parted from the heat of that mouth. Finally Methos pulled back, struggling for air. Duncan was shocked, flattered, and very, very excited by the surrender of the man in his arms. "Just from that ?" he whispered, kissing Methos' damp cheeks, nose, eyelids, and temple.

Methos took a deep shuddering breath and opened his eyes to meet liquid brown ones, so close and dark with desire. Shifting his weight to free his trapped arm, he placed his open palm on Duncan's bare chest, directly over his heart.

"Just from that," he answered gently, leaning down to trap his lips again before Duncan could ask him any more questions.

Duncan was moved beyond words by the older Immortal's helpless reaction to his kiss. It was an amazing feeling to have the man he so admired writhing in his arms, but the few drunken fumblings in his past gave him little experience to draw on, and he really wasn't sure what to do next. So he did exactly what he wanted, pulling Methos against him, tucking the older Immortal's head beneath his chin. Methos' breath was warm on his skin, and the fingertips that grazed his chest lightly were tremendously arousing.

They lay against each other in silence for a moment, Methos stroking the smooth, hard muscles he had so often watched with desire. He turned his head into the Highlander's throat, kissing and biting his way up to his ear. His tongue was quick to soothe the teeth marked flesh, and it drew a moan from his lover's throat.

"You're being very bold. You haven't been in this situation very many times before have you ?" he whispered into Duncan's ear.

The feeling was ticklish and exciting at the same time. His tongue darted in to quickly trace the whorls of the younger man's ear, then sharp teeth captured the lobe, nipping hard, then soft.

"No, I've not," Duncan growled, his groin straining from the teasing touch of Methos' mouth and teeth. Duncan's body began to twist restlessly under knowing hands; hands that caressed him relentlessly, moving more and more slowly towards the aching hardness of his groin. Methos paused, and lifted his hands from the Scot's heated body, just so they were no longer touching.

"Duncan," his voice was soft as he waited. Duncan's eyes fluttered open, full of wonder to meet the older Immortal's gaze. His voice was very gentle when he spoke, "Anything you're uncomfortable with, anything you don't like, tell me to stop, I will."

Duncan's voice was low, his pulse hammered in his throat , "I want this. You'll be the first to know if I don't... I may have denied this between us in the past, but I want this to happen now."

Methos recognized the raw need in Duncan's eyes and knew that there was no turning back. Slowly, letting Duncan watch him, he pulled off his sweatshirt and let it fall next to the bed. Duncan was spellbound as he watched Methos remove the gray sweat pants he had loaned him earlier, that were now rather sticky. He admired the pale, smooth skin and noticed it had a luster, like ivory. Methos reached for him, turning Duncan on his side so that they faced each other once more. He kissed him, lips melting together in a slow exploration. Duncan responded passionately to the probing tongue in his mouth, writhing against his partner.

Methos felt himself stiffen at the contact of Duncan's flesh against him and his fingers strayed to tease a dark flat nipple. Duncan gasped against Methos' throat. The pressure increased until a hoarse, raspy sound came from deep in Duncan's chest. Reminding himself to go slowly, Methos kissed his way down the strong neck to taste the hollow of his collar bone. Pressing small, wet kisses into that vulnerable spot again and again. His palm slid lower to stroke the sharp definition of Duncan's hip.

"You are magnificent," Methos told him as he slid his lips down the sculpted chest. Duncan's breath was coming faster as he anticipated his lover's touch. Methos took his time, delicately licking around one hard nipple, while his fingernails lightly scraped the other.

"Please," Duncan moaned, his eyes gone dark and wild with desire. He wasn't accustomed to being passive and tried to push the velvety soft head lower towards his aching erection. Methos promptly bit the nipple which had hardened under his attention. Duncan gasped, then chuckled deep in his throat as he got the message. His hands returned to play restlessly across his lover's back and shoulders.

Methos sucked softly, his tongue flicking back and forth over the abused flesh turning pain into blinding pleasure. Duncan groaned, his grip on Methos tightening. Methos felt Duncan's mouth on the sensitive spot below his ear, wreaking havoc on the old man's control. Determined to keep the upper hand, he gently pulled away, sliding his lips down Duncan's hard abdomen. When his tongue flicked the hollow of his navel Duncan's hips came off the bed, thrusting desperately into unsatisfying air.

"Please," he heard the strained moans, "Please."

Methos continued to tease, repeating the quick movements, his clever tongue circling the navel before thrusting once more. Duncan lifted his head to meet hazel eyes bright with passion, "Please, I canno' take no more."

"Oh, but there is so much more," Methos murmured, his voice silky with promise. He wrapped his fist lightly around Duncan's straining erection as knowing fingers slowly pulled down the foreskin. Tucking his chin, he took the head into his mouth. He heard a guttural sound and looked up to see dark, stormy eyes riveted on him. He broke the gaze as his hungry mouth began to suck with a gentle teasing pressure.

"Aye, oh, aye," Duncan breathed, as a tongue flicked lightning fast across the tip of his cock, then teased tiny figure eight's down his length. Methos was in heaven as he nipped and kissed his way around the thick base and then back up to the head.

"You taste so good," he mumbled before he unexpectedly swallowed the entire length of the Highlander's engorged flesh, until his lips brushed the mat of dark curls.

"Oh, god," he heard Mac moan and he stayed very still, not sucking, just holding him in the slick heat of his throat. He could feel Duncan's cock pulsing and shuddering, and he knew the younger man was very close to losing control. He stroked his balls and the sensitive spot behind them with a feather light touch until Methos heard Duncan's ragged breathing slow just a little.

When it was safe to continue, Methos wrapped his fingers in a firm grip around the base and applied a steadily increasing suction. Drawing Duncan deep into his throat before sliding up with exquisite slowness, letting his teeth drag lightly across the hard flesh. When his lips held only the very tip, he began his equally leisurely descent.

Duncan was covered in a fine sheen of sweat. Every muscle in his body was tense in response to the incredible pleasure Methos' mouth was giving him. Methos steadily increased the speed and pressure, still firmly gripping the base to hold back the release Duncan sought so fervently. Each time he drew his mouth up Duncan's length the suction was stronger, and each time he flicked his tongue across the little hole. Very soon Duncan was thrashing and moaning beneath him, and although his Gaelic was rusty, he knew a man begging in desperation for release when he heard one.

His hand released the base of Duncan's cock and moved to cup his balls, which were rock hard and high in their sac. He cupped them gently, stroking first one and then the other lightly with his fingertips. His mouth moved faster and faster on Duncan's filled-to-bursting erection. He heard Duncan shout his name, felt him lose all control and thrust deeply down his throat. Methos curled his arms around Duncan's jerking hips, relaxing his throat muscles he allowed Duncan to thrust wildly. Strong hands gripped at Methos' short hair. With a last shout of triumph Duncan thrust deeply into the incredible mouth that tormented him so sweetly, and came long and hard. The pleasure washed over him in waves so intense he thought he might drown.

Methos greedily sucked the hot semen as it shot down his throat. He held Duncan in his mouth until he had softened, giving him time to assimilate this new experience. Suddenly, strong arms gripped his shoulders and he was dragged back up to lips that kissed him passionately.

Duncan was stunned, the pleasure of the older Immortal's mouth was like no other. Not that Methos had done anything particularly unusual... Duncan loved oral sex and most of his female lovers were quite good at it. But the incredible warmth of Methos' mouth, and the heat that radiated from of his fingertips when he touched him. Somehow just knowing it was Methos touching him, watching himself devoured by that hungry mouth was more exciting than anything. Idly, MacLeod wondered how long he had been denying himself this pleasure. He tasted himself on his lover's lips and ran his tongue seductively around the inside of the mouth that had held him captive.

"Mmm," Methos melted against him and Mac could feel him hot and hard against his hip. Duncan's eyes roamed his lover's face, unable to express the sudden rush of intense emotion he felt for the other man. He could only say his name, reverently.

"Methos," he murmured . The older Immortal's only response was a brilliant smile as he relaxed against Duncan's broad chest.

//I love you, Duncan MacLeod of the clan MacLeod// Methos thought to himself blissfully, but he said nothing, only stroked Duncan's long hair. Duncan's hands moved lazily over his lover's chest, wrapped up in the warm, satiated feeling after orgasm. Methos lay quietly in Duncan's arms, totally content. Duncan smelled wonderful, he nuzzled the taught flesh where Duncan's neck met shoulder, unable to stop touching and tasting the man he had secretly desired for so long. He willed the distraction of his aching erection to cease. He was so happy in Duncan's arms, basking in the younger man's obvious satisfaction. There was a warmth, a kinship here, a rare safety he hadn't found in a very long time. Briefly, he wondered if they would be able to hold on to this, but he didn't want to think about tomorrow, or the world. Here in Duncan's arms was refuge from the terrible loneliness, and perhaps from himself.

Duncan didn't speak, and just as Methos began to be concerned he felt he felt a warm hand cover his half- hard cock. Methos felt the softness of Duncan's lips, raining kisses across his sharp cheekbones, down to the corner of his mouth. Methos smiled, turning in his lover's embrace to catch his lips. He thought hazily that Duncan MacLeod had the most sensual, beguiling lips the Gods had ever made. Duncan's hand still covered him, not moving, with a warm, almost protective pressure.

Duncan watched his friend's face carefully, kissing him with a controlled, deliberate passion. He so very much wanted to give pleasure to this man who had saved him, who had accepted him when no one else could. Methos liked him for the person he was, not the one he tried to be. Trying to express his emotions without words, he stroked the warm flesh in his hand, petting him like a cat.

"Ahh," the sound that Methos exhaled told Duncan he was on the right track.

Touching Methos was entirely different from jacking himself off in the shower. He felt as though he were encountering an entirely knew creature as he contemplated the extremely responsive flesh cupped in his palm. Methos was longer and not as wide as he was, the flesh much darker than the rest of him. Duncan dragged an exploratory finger across his foreskin, pulling it back to touch the glistening, sensitive head. Methos shuddered, moaning into Duncan's shoulder. Duncan watched the effect his light touch had on the man beneath him with awe. He repeated the caress, this time trailing his finger down the length of the older Immortal's cock to cup his balls. He felt Methos tremble and go totally ridged in his hand and experienced a very satisfactory rush of power. Touching Methos and watching the reaction on his expressive features was addictive, Duncan thought he could do this forever.

Methos held his lower lip between his teeth, inhaling great gasps of air, forcing himself to breath slowly. Ordinarily he had far greater control, preferring to draw passion out as long as possible. But it had been a very long time, and the sight of Duncan touching him was the most erotic thing he had ever seen.

Methos looked more as though he were in pain rather than ecstasy, Duncan thought, but he guessed he probably looked that way too. No wonder Amanda teased him.

Methos opened his eyes to see Duncan sliding down his body to lie with his cheek pressed into the hollow of his lover's hip.

Duncan found he fit perfectly there, nuzzling softly into the hollowed flesh.. Methos' hip bones made sharp angles that tapered his waist. It took his breath away, the spare, lean beauty of this man.. Pressing into him with soft, warm little kisses, Duncan moved a little lower, until his lips found the crease where Methos' hip met his thigh. Raising his head to search his lover's face Duncan's long hair brushed his erection and Methos moaned. Duncan's hand caressed his cheek and Methos turned his head to press a kiss into Duncan's palm. Still watching him Duncan lowered his head to place a kiss at the junction where head met shaft. Methos groaned, burying his hands in Duncan's long hair. Duncan drew the tip of his tongue along the vein that pulsed there.

"Methos?"

"Hmm?"

"Am I doing this right?"

"Oh yes," his voice was an octave lower than normal.

Duncan grinned wolfishly and captured the swollen head in his mouth. Methos let out a groan that Duncan thought might have been his name.

His hands clenched in Duncan's hair, Methos concentrated on not forcibly thrusting himself down the Highlander's throat.

Duncan seemed a bit unsure about what to do with the hard cock he held carefully between his lips. He tried to swallow it, and succeeded in scraping the back of the shaft against his lower teeth quite hard.

"Owww!" Methos' cry of pain was short but loud as his hands flew to pull the source of pain off his dick.

"Oh my God! I'm sorry! I'm so sorry!" Duncan fervently kissed the flesh all around the injured member. "I'm so sorry Methos, did I hurt you badly?"

His fist was still wrapped protectively around himself, but Methos smiled shakily. "No, hush, it's okay," he smoothed the long hair reassuringly.

Duncan started to apologize again, his face burning.

Methos placed a finger over his lips, "It's okay Duncan, really, I'm fine." A gentle hand at the nape of his neck guided Duncan down to rest against his hip as he had before.

Duncan ducked his head, kissing the place where he had gotten stuck, causing the older man pain. The scrapped skin had already healed and began to swell once more under his gentle kisses.

Methos sighed, running the pad of his thumb over the full lips, "Try again?"

"Are you sure?" Duncan sounded more unsure of himself than of his partner's desire.

"Please," Methos whispered , guiding Duncan's mouth back to his erection.

In spite of his uncertainty, Duncan found himself unable to deny Methos anything. Duncan hesitantly took the older Immortal into his mouth once more.

"There," Methos encouraged, "now relax." Methos found the spot on Duncan's cheek and pressed gently with his thumb until he felt the muscle of Duncan's jaw relax. "That's it," Methos coaxed quietly, "Now hold your mouth like your saying the letter A."

Duncan hummed the vowel sound and found that it pulled his teeth back in his mouth, away from the hot flesh he was trying to consume. The vibration in Duncan's throat caused Methos to exhale, the air hissing through his clenched teeth. Encouraged by the older Immortal's audible enthusiasm, Duncan took a little more of him into his mouth. Slender fingers trailed through the Scot's hair, gently guiding him down. When Methos thought that Duncan had about as much of his length as he could comfortably handle he stopped the progress with a gentle hand under his chin. "Now suck," he whispered, his voice hoarse with desire.

Duncan complied, closing his throat carefully around Methos' cock, he heard a strangled moan come from the older man. Duncan soon mastered the trick of inhaling through his nostrils as he drew up, exhaling as his mouth slid down the hard length. That way he could breath without releasing the tight suction of his mouth. He found that if he got the right angle he could swallow all but an inch of Methos' shaft.

"Oh, Duncan," Methos breathed, trying desperately to stay perfectly still in that moist, hot mouth. Trying not to buck his hips, not to thrust up to meet the mouth moving down him so slowly.

Somewhere along the way Duncan remembered he had a tongue, and how to use it. The next time he drew up Methos length he flicked his tongue over the sensitive tip. Methos jumped in his mouth. Duncan chuckled, the sound/feeling driving Methos crazy.

"Oh, I like that," Duncan whispered. Taking Methos' cock in his hand, he drew back the foreskin, exposing glands slick with precum. He kissed there, over and over again, using his tongue to reduce Methos to a writhing, whimpering mess.

Methos was trying hard to hold on, to delay this pleasure. He didn't want to come, not yet, not when Duncan was just getting the hang of this. That was the problem, the man was too quick to learn how to send Methos right over the edge. He felt Duncan go down just a little further than he had before and that was it. Explosions of color and light went off in Methos' head as he released over a years worth of frustration down Duncan's sucking throat. Shuddering again and again as waves of his orgasm rolled through his body and mind.

Duncan swallowed and swallowed for what seemed forever. Pleased that he could satisfy his friend so completely, but suddenly uncomfortable in this new position. Just then he felt Methos pull him up into grateful arms. He sighed against the warm, strong body, as Methos murmured soothing words against the crown of his head. They lay like that for a while, Methos stroking Duncan's hair and back until his hand lay still across a strong shoulder, when sleep fell over them both.

Methos came awake slowly, stretching under the weight of Duncan's arm. The Highlander's breathing was deep and regular, he opened his eyes to stare at the man wrapped around him. Duncan's hair was plastered against his brow, his arm flung out across the older Immortal's back, their legs tangled together beneath the sheets.

He slid carefully from the younger man's embrace, unwilling to wake him. Methos hated mornings, one of the very few things that hadn't improved a bit in 5,000 years... at least the coffee brewed faster, but he was far from willing to leave the warmth of the bed. His eyes roamed Duncan's naked body, visions of the night floated in his blurry consciousness. Had Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod really surrendered in his arms? The lassitude in his limbs and the sheen of sweat glistening on the muscular body beside him confirmed his memory. //My God, it's really happened.// He was overcome by joy and fear. There was an unwelcome feeling of vulnerability creeping over him, now that he had acted out the fantasy that had tortured his nights.

His hand reached out to cover his lover's heart, consumed by the depth of his love for this man. How had Duncan MacLeod become so terribly essential to his existence? After all this time, to be lost to another Immortal like this...

Duncan's eyes fluttered open to focus on the person next to him.

"Morning, love," Methos leaned close to press his lips to Duncan's. Duncan's lips were still and unresponsive beneath his for a moment, then he pulled back, shock and a flash of anger registering in the dark eyes. Methos felt a black yawning pit opening up inside him.

"Regrets Highlander?" his voice held a hard edge of sarcasm. Duncan remained silent and motionless beside him, his face expressionless, his eyes locked on Methos. The silence drew out between them, taut with tension.

Finally Duncan moved, sitting up with his knees drawn close to his chest. Burying his face in his hands he drew a deep breath, " I don't know, will you let me wake up first?" His voice conveyed uncertainty, fear and anger.

"Certainly," the reply was curt as Methos quickly disentangled himself from the warm body, springing off the bed. "Take all the time you like," he stormed to the bathroom, just barely managing not to slam the door.

Duncan remained motionless on the bed , his arms wrapped around himself, his head resting on his knees. A sharp memory of the comfort in Methos' arms last night when he had given in to the pain flashed across his minds eye. What had come out of that comfort... How had it happened? Duncan wasn't really sure. He felt very strange, scared silly two different ways: Methos was as complex as the universe, containing many dark truths MacLeod was sure he was not ready to face. He still had trouble reconciling the dark past, so full of blood and death and terror, To the friend who had saved him, and lightened his life with his easy company and his dry humor. Methos attracted Duncan like a magnet, for years he had felt the cord of power that intertwined their destinies. Methos, by his very existence, shattered everything Duncan had been sure about for the last 400 years, questioned everything he was. He was not certain he could bear to be any closer to this man and his power, and he was equally unsure he could bear to live without him.

Then there was the more immediate and awkward uncertainty of how to handle this little explosion that had erupted between them before they were even awake. Methos could be utterly cruel with words, he was sarcastic, critical, snide and condescending when he was angry. Mac felt totally incapable of dealing with a confrontation with the older Immortal, he feared his criticism and his contempt. He had no idea what sort of demands Methos would make on him, and hated feeling like a nervous eighteen year old after four hundred years of great sex.

Methos leaned his forehead against the tile, letting the steaming water hit the crown of his head. He drew long deep breaths, his whole body shaking with anger, and something else, something that felt very much like fear. A picture played across his mind, the soft light in Duncan's eyes, the emotion in his voice, whispering 'I have you', reaching for Methos like a lifeline. Just because he was a masochist, he replayed the scene in his mind a half dozen times before burying it safely away in his memory, to keep forever.

//Stupid old man, what the bloody hell did you expect? Breakfast in bed?// Methos reached blindly for the soap, his eyes shut tightly and his jaw clenched. //You knew this would happen, exactly why you've avoided the possibility of winding up in bed with him for the past two years! Now what are you going to do? I'd like to stalk back in there and take his silly head.// Unfortunately, that just wasn't an option.

That left the standard Immortal response perfected over centuries of bad morning-afters... go get plowed. The hot water streaming over his body was soothing and he started to relax a little. What a way to wake up; from nirvana to the hell of Scottish guilt in three seconds. Yes, a nice creamy belgian ale sounded much better than coffee and recriminations with MacLeod.

Leaning back against the tiled wall of the shower, he took several deep shuddering breaths. He stood there for a long time, trying to convince himself that his world hadn't shattered, that everything would be okay. First he would go get drunk. Very, very drunk, until the sound off a Scottish burr and the scent of Highland heather had absolutely no effect on him at all. That might very well take a few month's worth of ale, but it didn't matter. Nothing did. Maybe he should go to India, sit in a monastery and smoke hashish and chant Sutras until the memory of Duncan MacLeod burned itself off his soul. Methos sighed, realizing just how unlikely that possibility was... When the time finally came for his head to part with his body he was certain his last thought would be of the Highlander.

The water was turning cool and he shut it off, reaching for a towel. He dried himself quickly, desperate to be far away from the accusations of the only man he had called ‘friend' in many years. Struggling into the jeans and T-shirt he had left there last night, he cracked the door, letting out some of the steam. He opened the door a little farther, until he could see Duncan's hunched form, still sitting on the bed, head on his knees.

Burning physical pain surged through him, it felt like being run through with a sword. Methos stood frozen in the doorway, forcing himself to feel the pain, to face Duncan's regrets. Everything that he would lose when he walked out that door crowded tight inside his chest. The companionship, the laughter they shared, all the nights spent together across the chessboard, the incredible luxury of having someplace to run to. This was more than he could bear to lose, he knew it would kill him.

Methos held his breath for a moment, offering a silent prayer to a dead God he hadn't believed in two thousand years ago, and stepped into the room.

"Duncan," his voice sounded much too calm to be his. He waited for Duncan to look at him, without the slightest idea of what he would say to him when he did.

Duncan sighed and raised his head. He felt like an idiot. At least Methos didn't sound angry, there was no trace of the sarcasm in his voice that had been there earlier, but Duncan had seen the hurt flash across his eyes before he had sprung from the bed.

"Methos, I'm sorry I-"

"Good bye," Methos turned on his heel and was heading for the door.

"Methos! at least let me explain, I-"

Methos cut him off again, "I haven't the stamina to listen to your Scottish guilt and regrets so early in the morning."

Duncan was panicking, he scrambled to his feet. "Methos! Please, fight me if you are angry, but dinna' leave." He stood frozen next to his bed, his brain trying desperately to catch up with the adrenaline flowing in his blood.

Methos stood at the door for just a moment, not hesitating, only drinking in the sight of Duncan MacLeod standing naked next to his bed like a man dying of thirst. Imprinting it forever on his mind.

For one moment his icy control slipped, and Duncan caught a glimpse of the pain in the older Immortal's eyes. Then Methos pulled himself together, mastering the emotions that threatened to bring him to his knees.

"I will not fight you Duncan. There can be only one, live long Highlander," he sighed, and then he was gone.

"But I have no regrets," Duncan told the door in a small voice, feeling as though his world had collapsed on top of him.

Methos knew he should leave Paris, go somewhere else, anywhere that Duncan MacLeod was not. The difficulty was staying sober long enough to make the necessary arrangements. He had been drunk for a solid week, and showed no sign of slowing down. The better part of that week had been spent in this shitty bar, stumbling distance from his flat. Their scotch selection sucked, but he had been taking very little interest in the alcohol he had consumed, so long as it brought him to oblivion.

A thousand times he had regretted his angry flight from Duncan's bed, a thousand times he had asked himself what Mac had been trying to apologize for when he had interrupted him with his curt farewell. A thousand times he had almost begun the walk down the Seine to ask, then stopped himself, afraid he already knew the answer.

Duncan sat at the chessboard, starring off into space. His supper sat neglected before him, getting cold. He wasn't really hungry, but cooking had been something to do. For a solid week now he'd done very little. He slept late, worked out for 3 or 4 hours, made himself some food, and often as not crawled back into bed. It wasn't like him to be so inactive, but there really just wasn't much he felt like doing. So he ran through three katas a day without putting much effort into it, and ate and slept and slept some more. He was sure his form sucked, every time he picked up the katana it felt heavier. Still, some kind of self preservation instinct hauled him out of bed every morning to bow to his blade.

Mostly though, he thought about Methos. The first two days, he had searched all over Paris, certain he would find him. Certain because he needed to be, that Methos would listen to him, that everything would be okay. But it wasn't, because Duncan didn't find him. He called his apartment at regular intervals, the phone rang a dozen times and then he would give up. He walked to his door, which was locked, with no sign of the old man or his Volvo about. He left a note, which went unanswered. His heart jumped into his throat when he felt a 'presence', but it wasn't the one he sought, and he turned away, disappointed, not even sticking around to fight when the kid taunted him.

A weekend turned into a week, and Duncan was sure the ancient Immortal had left the city. He was too confused to be angry, and too hurt to sort out his confusion. For a few precious hours, Methos had made everything so much better, and then he was gone, perhaps forever, and MacLeod was alone again.

He had replayed the scene of that morning over and over in his head, desperately trying to find answers in a few brief words. He had been trying to tell the older Immortal that he was sorry for his confused reaction, that he needed a few minutes to assimilate the situation and all the emotions that had collided with Methos' kiss. He had been granted that time, and more.

Time to remember every detail of what it felt like to have Methos in his arms. Time to realize how long they had been moving towards just such a possibility. Time to remember the oldest living Immortal's incredible response to him, and realize that perhaps there had been a great deal more than just lust and loneliness going on inside that complicated head. Time to realize just how badly he needed this man in his life, and how very badly he wanted him in his bed.

The last had taken some soul searching to really understand and be comfortable with. It had been such a long time since Duncan had felt naive or innocent about anything, that the feelings of nervousness and insecurity had been unexpected and overwhelming. His ego had almost managed to convince him that he didn't want this.

Until Methos had left with such finality, and the day had passed and the night came again. Then the nightmares returned, more real than ever in the empty barge. He woke up alone, covered in a cold sweat, longing for the physical closeness and the comfort of the man who had the power to chase away his demons. That was when he began to force himself to really think about Methos and his feelings for him. It had been a very long night.

Methos had reacted with something like fear when Duncan had kissed him the first time. As if he had been dreading it, as if it was not a surprise, but rather something he had been contemplating for a long time.

Duncan felt more like a fool than ever. He prided himself on his ability to read people and their body language. It had saved his life more than once, so how had he managed to miss something as significant as Methos wanting him? Well, maybe his sub-conscious wouldn't allow him to, afraid of his own response to such knowledge. The longer he thought about it (and it was nearly all he thought about) the more he realized just how desperately Methos had wanted what had happened between them, and his actions the next morning started to make a little more sense.

Now a week had gone by and all Duncan wanted to do was find Methos. Find him, wrap his arms around him, and not let go for anything. Yes, he was still rather uncomfortable with the idea of being in a 'relationship' with another man. He didn't have much of an idea what that really meant. //Can I buy him flowers?// But about Methos he was certain. Certain that he needed the older man, certain that nothing could change that. Certain that he was never going to find with anyone else what he had discovered in Methos' arms.

It was Wednesday, or possibly Thursday, Methos wasn't sure, and decided that it really didn't matter. He was starting to like this dive, it really wasn't such a bad place. So the bartender had enough metal hanging off his face to melt down and make into a broadsword.... nothing Methos hadn't seen before, and he was nice enough to stop counting pints of ale and shots of cheep whiskey when Methos asked him to. And he was catching up on his knowledge of popular music....

The blue haired freak girl in the corner had played the same Social Distortion song SEVEN times in a row. Methos wouldn't have minded, he liked the music a lot, and by the third time through he could even make out the words, but the song was called "I Was Wrong" and it was getting to him...

When I was young/I was so full of fear/I hid behind anger/held back the tears/ It was me against the world/I was sure that I'd win/ But the world fought back/punished me for my sins/ I was wrong/self destruction grabbed me again...

The pierced guy behind the counter was trying to get his attention, wait, it would come to him... ah yes, bartender, that's what you called them. What a great guy, he still had 1/2 a pint in front of him... Now what was that object being shoved in his face?

"Hey, you Methos?" he pronounced it funny. "It's for you man. Don't take forever," the guy shouted over the music, stretching the phone cord across the bar. He must have been a half-way decent sort, because he exhaled his exasperation and took the time to put the phone to the trashed Immortal's ear. He had it backwards and was singing along with the music into the earpiece.

"You should abstain from alcohol , it can't be good for your delicate constitution. Might bring on senility prematurely, and we wouldn't want that would we?"

Methos was shocked into sudden sobriety. His knuckles turned white where they curled around the phone. Alarms long silent went off in his head.

"Have you no greeting for an old friend? I have missed you ancient, It's been far too long. Did I not swear I would find you? You should not have run away from me, we had only just begun."

Methos was shaking violently, unable to control his bodies memories of the compelling voice.

"Fuck you, Kyven," his voice betrayed his fear and he cursed himself, knowing it was the very thing the evil one desired. His fear, his submission. Memories long buried overwhelmed him. The pain, the horrible, unbearable pain, and the promise of more to come. Anthony's screams, and Kyven's sick laughter...

"I think I had best leave that up to your boyfriend. Tell me ancient, will he betray you as quickly as the mortal one did?"

Bile rose in his throat, "Leave him alone Kyven! He will not forsake his honor! I mean nothing to him." Methos prayed to every God and Goddess ever worshiped that it was true.

"Well, that can be determined very quickly, you do remember, don't you Adam?"

Methos refused to let himself think too long on the choice he made then, "He is nothing, a distraction. Where and when Kyven? I will come willingly, there is no need to involve the Highlander. This is between you and I, leave it that way."

//Please Gods, let Duncan have run off to solve another crisis somewhere far, far away.//

"Can you say please little one ?"

He never even thought to argue, "Please. Please, Kyven, anything."

"Very good , you have not forgotten, I shall make every attempt to live up to your expectations. Go home ancient, I will come for you tomorrow, and I expect to find you sober. Don't think to run this time my pet, I am much to close. I will follow you to any refuge you seek."

"I won't."

"Very well, until tomorrow then."

The line went dead.

Duncan lunged for the phone, grabbing it halfway through the first ring.

"MacLeod," he tried to keep his voice neutral.

"Expecting someone?"

"Hi Joe. Not really, what's up?"

"I'm sorry Mac, it's bad news," in spite of the scratchy transatlantic connection, Duncan could hear the warning in the watcher's voice, it didn't sound good.

"What's wrong?"

"I need to get a hold of Adam, he's not answering his phone. Is he staying with you?"

Duncan tensed at the mention of the oldest Immortal's name, "No, he's not. What's wrong Joe, what's going on?"

"You need to find him Mac. Have you ever heard of a guy named Kyven?"

"No, should I ?"

"Naw, he's not your kind of people, but he is very bad news and he's hunting our aged friend."

Duncan's pulse was racing, "Is this line secure?"

"Hell no, I'm on a pay phone, but this is an emergency. Look, just get Adam out of town, fast, this bastard doesn't mess around. And Mac, he knows..."

Duncan's brain was working triple time, "Tell me everything you know about him and the last place he was spotted."

"You don't want to go after this one Mac, trust me. He's evil. Besides, Adam would be incredibly pissed off. You can't fight his battles Mac, and this guy is not somebody you can walk away from," the watcher's voice sounded as dead serious as Mac had ever heard him.

"Look Dawson, I can't find him! I've been looking for him for a week, and he doesn't want to be found. If you want him to live, tell me what you know!"

"Great! That's just great Mac," Joe's voice exploded , the anger no less palpable for the distance between them. "I ask you to keep an eye on him for a couple of month's, just a couple of months, and you lose him! Just what am I supposed to do, put a watcher on him?"

"I'm sorry Joe, we had a disagreement. I'll find him, I promise. But please, tell me everything you can about this Kyven guy. If he's that old, how come I've never heard of him?"

"Like I said, you move in different circles. We don't have a full history on the guy, in fact we've only had a watcher on him twice in the last 300 years. He killed them both, very slowly. He's evil Mac, and he takes a strong interest in the art of torture. He's been in the Middle East lately, puts himself in the middle of every nasty conflict he can find. He worked with Castro in the sixties, and it's rumored he was pretty high up in the SS in Germany. Please, Mac, stay out of this one. Just get Adam out of town. Holy ground would be a real good choice Mac."

"What would we do without you Joe?"

Joe didn't like to think about it, how many times he had forsworn his oath for the sake of his friend. "Don't worry about it Mac, just get Adam out of there."

"I will Joe, I promise," lying to Dawson didn't feel very good, especially after all he'd done for him, but it was necessary. Duncan had no intention of leaving the oldest living Immortal's survival to chance, rules or no, and Joe didn't need any more guilt weighing on his honor.

He hung up, reaching for the katana in the same motion. There were no alternatives, and Duncan refused to waste time searching for solutions that weren't there.

Duncan was cold and stiff and fighting off sleepiness. He had been standing in this alley for twelve hours, staking out the entrance to the George Cinq Hotel. It was the last known location of his prey, finally obtained from Joe, along with a last warning to stay far out of Kyven's way. That, he simply could not do.

Methos might not want anything to do with him, but Mac was determined to make sure he kept the head that made that decision for a long time to come. He had made one last attempt to warn Methos, going back to the older Immortal's dark apartment. He didn't know if he should be terrified, or grateful, when he didn't find him there. If Methos had left the city to get away from Duncan, then he was safe. If not, it was possible that he was already dead. The thought turned Duncan's blood to ice, but it only strengthened his resolve.

Duncan leaned back against the cold brick wall, trying to be patient. At least there was no watcher to fight for spying space. After twelve hours on his feet in an alley that stank of rotting food, Duncan was coming to a new appreciation of Joe's dedication to his calling.

His eyes focused intently on the hotel entrance. Duncan consciously slowed his breathing. Emptying his mind of all thought, focusing only on his purpose... the battle ahead. It took all the control and strength he had to push the thoughts of Methos from his mind. The account from Joe had not left him overly confident. His intent was certainly to win this battle, but at worst he could slow the enemy down a little and buy the man he loved some time. Soon Duncan had reached the pre battle meditation state of no-mind learned centuries ago from Koto. Waiting was no longer something to fret over as time and place faded away, his deadly purpose his only point of reference.

The early morning business rush of Paris was unaware of Duncan's dark figure in the shadows of the alley. His eyes had been fixed to the revolving glass doors of the hotel since the first stir of the city's waking. He didn't want his prey to sense his presence before he had a chance to get a good look at him. Finally, the Immortal emerged from the hotel, as the man crossed the street towards him Duncan took advantage of the seconds to study him carefully.

Kyven was a large man, at least two inches taller and a bit broader in the shoulders than Duncan, with a slightly longer reach. Duncan fought few Immortals with a longer sword arm than his own. //Have to watch it with this one, be sure to stay on the outside. No taking chances. // His enemy's hair was very long and black--perhaps it had never been cut--it hung in a thick braid passed his hip. His stride was stiff and aggressive, and he looked neither left or right as he walked.

The first Kyven saw of him was the edge of Duncan's blade, blocking his path. Duncan's voice was deadly calm, "Draw your weapon, step into the alley, prepare to die."

The other man did not do as instructed, instead he nodded politely, "I'm afraid I have a previous engagement, perhaps some other time."

"Oh, but I'm afraid that engagement has been broken. The one you seek is gone. If you want his power you will have to get it from me. I hope your not too disappointed, it was an easy kill, but I will be happy to provide you with a challenge worth fighting," Duncan lied well, he had been telling himself this non truth for hours. Saying it over and over again in his mind, until he could have passed any lie detector test. He hoped to surprise and intimidate his opponent, or at worst, draw out the battle as long as possible, and buy Methos a little more time.

For a moment there was silence, not even the traffic sounds could be heard, Duncan took several steps back into the alley, beckoning the other Immortal to follow. Blade still extended before him, only a few inches out of striking distance. Kyven was dressed entirely in black, his skin was pale and his blue eyes were very cold. Their gaze was piercing.

Kyven couldn't resist the bloodlust in the child's eyes, such innocent rage was priceless. Taking in the katana, Duncan's warrior stance and the enclosed space he had chosen. For a tense moment their eyes locked, and Kyven's quickening raged in Duncan's head. The evil one threw back his head and laughed, a dark vengeful sound.

"You lie, the ancient lives," he took a step into the alley, his ice blue eyes never leaving Duncan's, wild with fury. "You are the boyfriend, no?"

"I am your death. Meet this challenge now, or walk away and be cut down from behind. It's your choice," Duncan didn't recognize his voice when he spoke. Did this Immortal have the power to read his mind, like Cassandra? Duncan told himself not to give in to cheap intimidation tactics, it was probably just a lucky guess.

"If you insist," Kyven murmured. He made no move to close the space between them, however, or draw his sword. "Are you sure you want to do that to your friend? He would die much more peacefully knowing you survive him. It would be wiser to beg for his life. I might be persuaded to postpone his destiny."

"You have nothing to do with his destiny!" Duncan shouted lunging for the stranger.

Kyven side-stepped the furious attack gracefully. His voice was perfectly calm, "Oh, but I do. The one you call ‘Methos' and I go back a very long way. Would you like to hear about the last time we met, Scotsman? His pleas for mercy were eloquent. Will you speak as passionately when it is your turn? There are many things worse for a man to bear than death. Think well before you challenge me to a battle you cannot possibly win."

Duncan knew that Methos had experienced torture, knew without being told that the elongated fingers and limbs which looked so graceful were a testament to survival. He knew that Methos had been much younger than his features suggested when he died the first time. Only agony put lines in a face like that. He also knew Methos had been a slave, but he had always assumed the bad things happened before his first death. Now he began to question that assumption.

The hatred for this monster came unbidden, filling his ears with a sound like rushing water. He could feel his body temperature rising as Kyven continued his dialogue.

"I have not yet found his equal. He proved remarkable in his ability to submit to the unavoidable. Do you want to know how many times I killed him before he broke? He was quite strong on the rack, it wasn't until I killed his lover that he begged me to take his head. Will you offer me such an opportunity again Highlander?"

"You dinna' take him then, you canno' have him now. Fight me!"

"If you insist, youngling."

Steel was drawn and singing through the air faster than the eye could see. Duncan lunged low, jumping to the side to thrust and parry in a quick dance which spun his opponent in a tight circle, their steps confined in this close space.

Kyven's eyes stayed locked on those of the child that attacked him with the passion of righteous rage. He was good, but he was very young. Kyven allowed himself to be drawn father back into the narrow space, the honed metal singing through the air. They met in a series of quick clashes, Duncan dancing around the blade that toyed with him at an unfathomable speed. He was disarmed in a matter of three minutes. Shock flashed across his face and Kyven almost laughed. The absolute confidence and the incredible power of the man who held a sword to his throat flowed over him.

Duncan's glazed eyes met his killers, "Do it!"

Kyven's gaze stayed fixed to Duncan's throat, trembling against his blade. A fine red line appeared where metal held against gasping flesh.

"Will you beg to die so quickly Highlander? We must ensure you have a witness to your sacrifice. That is why you stand here with a blade to your neck, is it not? To offer your life for the ancient's ?"

Duncan had no concept of the enormity of his mistake, his misjudgment of his opponent. His eyes shone wide and bright with fear and the shock at how quickly death had come to claim him. "Let him live," was all he could force from his chest. A dagger stabbed him straight through the heart before he ever saw it.

"Oh, I will not give up such a prize so easily, we will see how long you are willing to suffer in his place," Kyven spoke as he watched the light fade from the Scott's eyes.

MacLeod's bulk fell against him in a dead weight and Kyven caught the still body under the arms. He dragged the Highlander to the mouth of the alley, leaning his lifeless body against the wall. Thirty seconds later he had the sedan parked at the alley. Kyven stuffed the lifeless body into the trunk, with the six inch boot knife embedded in the heart to prevent problems on the long drive.

The sun had been slowly creeping across Methos' apartment since dawn. When the bright patches of light reached the inert form he let out a groan, pulling himself from sleep in increments. He gave in to consciousness slowly. He stretched each limb individually, letting the rush of blood clear the fog from his brain. Memory came back sharp and quick. Paralyzing fear struck every nerve. Kyven had found him.

Methos lay still, trying to keep his mind clear and free of the memories that, if he let them, would reduce him to a shaking wreck. The presence, when it came, was as familiar as his fear. He looked to his sword beside him, he could not go through this again, he didn't have the strength. Could he sever his own head before Kyven had him? Methos reached for his sword, and felt the signature screaming along his nerves begin to fade. He froze, listening intently as it slowly passed out of range. Adrenaline was surging through his veins. He jumped from the low bed, going to the window to scan the Paris street below. Methos stood there for some time, taking long deep breaths to steady his panic.

It was a bright morning and the busy scene below him seemed incongruous with the terror of the night before. Methos decided quickly that he couldn't face this day without coffee, danger or no and grabbed his coat to walk to the cafe at the corner. As he turned to lock the door behind him he saw the blood stained note, affixed to his door by a boot knife. The twin to the one embedded in Duncan's heart. He knew, without even reading it, his eyes fixed to the dagger in a terror that paralyzed him. Kyven had Duncan. //Please gods no, not again// Methos' mind reeled, desperately trying to deny the truth of that black polished steel embedded in his door. //Duncan, I'm so sorry// He knew it was hopeless, that he went to face a nightmare worse than death, but he never hesitated. Ripping the note from the wood viciously, he ran to the Volvo, wishing Pierson could afford a decent fucking car. The note directed him to a cottage far outside the city. It was both a challenge and a threat, and Methos tried desperately not to think of what he would find when he got there. The thought of Duncan broken by a monster like Kyven left his mind black and blank, rage consumed him, a violent madness washing over him like an old friend.

The blue Mercedes turned down the long dirt road, skidding on the gravel and throwing Duncan into the rear quarter panel. His head exploded and he came awake to searing pain for the third time. His hands were bound behind his back and there was almost no space to move in the dark confine of the trunk. He gasped for breath, fighting unconsciousness as it rushed up to claim him. The knife in his chest had pierced his heart expertly and he knew he had only a moment before death came again. He thought of Methos, and for the first time hoped he wasn't far away. The car came to a stop behind the barn. Kyven unlocked the trunk, a heavy leaded blackjack in his hand. Wrenching the dagger from Duncan's chest he surveyed his captive.

"The other was far prettier, and lighter," he growled, struggling the Scott's bound body onto the ground.

"He won't come," Duncan gasped, "He will do nothing. You should know that. He will disappear, and you will lose."

Duncan was not trying to conceal his struggle against the bonds now, kicking in the dirt at Kyven's feet. Kyven kicked him, hard, pain exploded along his spine. He laughed at the brave child curled up in pain on the ground before him.

"You are a fool, you have no concept of his devotion to you. His heart and soul are yours....and now they are mine. He will come Highlander. Now we must prepare you to greet him." The blackjack hit him above the left temple and darkness enveloped him.

Duncan woke to darkness. He was blindfolded and his limbs were stretched tightly, bound by metal. He strained with all his strength against the bonds that cut into his wrists, pulled high above his head. The iron held fast, attached to the heavy ring imbedded in the crossbeam of the barn's roof. It had been well designed for just such a purpose, the huge beams braced at every angle, but Duncan could see nothing of his surroundings. His feet just barely brushed the floor and a burn ran up and down his arms as he went slack in his bonds, his weight ripping at his wrists.

Kyven's voice was compelling, the deep vibration echoing in his mind, "Loyalty is such a precious commodity these days, everyone has their price. I have found the price of friendship to be depressingly small of late. Tell me, Highlander, will you still offer yourself so gallantly in his place? Will you suffer for him?"

"It makes no matter, he willno' come. What makes you so sure he will find me? Or even try?"

"We left him a calling card, be assured youngling, he will come. He loves you, perhaps that will be a consolation in your trials."

The beveled dagger that had stabbed his heart appeared, Duncan felt it against his abdomen. There was a pause as Kyven allowed himself the pleasure of anticipation, breathing the Highlander's fear. The edge of the blade separated his flesh in a slow sweep across his belly and Duncan's grunt of pain echoed in the high open space of the barns rafters. The steel dragged across soft flesh and hard muscle and Duncan felt the wet, warm flow of his blood over his groin and realized, for the first time, that he had been stripped of his clothing.

"Fuck You, Kyven," Duncan hissed as the blade slashed across his pecs, the wet trickle of his blood down his chest more frightening than the unseen knife.

"Looking for other options child?" The blade expressed the venom in Kyven's voice, drawing lines of crimson down the inside of his arms where they burned from the strain of his weight. Duncan gasped, wild fury still dominant over the pain in his body. He kicked viciously, the blackness of the blindfold infuriating as he tracked Kyven's voice moving around him.

The sounds of a car approaching, and then a door slamming cut off Duncan's angry reply in his throat. The familiar presence washed over him. //Methos// Duncan's heart soared and fell in rapid succession as he listened to the ancient Immortal's approaching steps. Duncan realized in horror that Methos was running to the barn, probably in open sight, like a sacrifice. //Fight him Methos, don't let him use me against you! don't do this.// Duncan's thoughts were a panicked rush of fear for the man approaching with none of the stealth or guile he was known for.

"KYVEN!" Duncan felt the rage in Methos' shout and knew he was very close.

"Methos! Leave, don't do this! It's not worth it," Duncan pleaded, wishing more than anything that he could see the man who stood in the doorway, his eyes filled with horror and rage.

Methos' hand moved to his sword, still in its scabbard down his back as the imposing figure stepped from behind Duncan's bound form. Cold steel pressed against MacLeod's neck, hovering just below his chin. Duncan's head came up, thrashing from side to side in panic.

"Drop your weapon ancient, or he dies now."

"Perhaps I would be doing him a favor, and then you and I could get down to business," Methos called, taking several steps across the wood floor towards the prisoner and his enemy.

"Very well, as you like it," Kyven's long blade came up in an arc above Duncan's head.

"NO!" Methos shouted, his sword coming up out of the scabbard and clattering to skid across the floor between them in a desperate move to save Duncan's head.

Methos stood frozen in horror. Mac's magnificent body was bleeding from more wounds than he could count. He was covered in sweat and dirt and blood.

"Release him! You want me in his place, here I am," his voice shook with fury.

"All in good time my pet, don't you want to know how long his loyalty to you will last? We have just begun..."

"NO!" Methos' shout was a desperate cry of denial as the sword came up between Duncan's legs to slice his thighs. Duncan screamed in spite of himself, the pain burning like fire. Methos took a step towards him and hit the floor, narrowly avoiding the blade flying through the air towards his throat. Kyven stood over him, and Methos felt his own blade at the back of his neck.

"I'm getting too old for this," he moaned as the larger man pounced on him. Kyven's weight on top of him brought terrible memories rushing back and he gasped as his arms were pinned behind him.

"Your manners are lacking ancient. Have you no appreciation for your lover's sacrifice?" Kyven whispered in his ear, sending fear racing up and down his shattered nerves. Methos felt the iron lock around his wrists and a second later he was pulled roughly to his feet. Kyven's ice blue eyes were cold and sane and oh so frightening.

"You have a debt to pay. We had only just begun in Naples, it has taken me a very long time to find you ancient. You got careless. Because of this one, no? He was worth the risk? Well then perhaps he is willing to pay the price, shall we see?"

Methos was slammed to the floorboards, his struggle of legs and teeth helping him not at all. His bound wrists were clasped to the iron ring set in the floor and his ankles fettered and drawn up behind him until his body arched backwards, his hands and feet locked to the same ring.

Kyven walked slowly back to where Duncan hung limply in his chains. Gathering Duncan's long hair in his fist Kyven jerked his head up, ripping the black cloth from his eyes.

"Look, Highlander, see how right I was. Can you not see the pain in his eyes, how it destroys him to see you bound and bleeding? Which is worse, for him to suffer for his mistake, or to let you do it for him? How long will you hold back his fate? How much are you willing to bear before you beg me to let him take your place? I know your honor is precious to you, the loyalty of the clansmen is well known. How long will your friendship hold back my sword at his throat?

Methos' wild eyes met Duncan's. Methos looked stricken, the horror of Duncan's presence before him bright in his light eyes, "Say it Duncan! Now, please! Don't make me watch him torture you."

Duncan groaned, shaking his head in denial, "He canno' have you."

Kyven's laughter was an evil that reverberated through Duncan like a shaft of fear, "How heartening, to know that there are still men of honor in these dark days. You are a rare find Duncan MacLeod of the clan MacLeod."

Kyven strolled to the corner where a brass brazier held red coals. Several pieces of metal lay imbedded there, he chose one, approaching the Highlander from behind, "We shall see if your will is as strong as your honor."

Methos watched in horror as the white-hot metal rod brushed against Duncan's flesh. Duncan's roar of pain was torn from his throat as his body convulsed to the limits of his restraints. The backs of his thighs were blistered badly, he could feel the seared flesh rising and smell the scorched hair. He panted, his eyes wide open in pain and locked on the crumpled form chained to the floor before him. Kyven's smile was eloquent as he watched the man at his mercy writhe in pain. He returned to the brazier, selecting two very long steel needles, red hot from their place in the fire.

"This is just like old times my pet. Do you remember how the other one begged for me to kill you when he couldn't stand the pain? He was weak, a mortal. He died without even knowing you would survive him by hundreds of years. You made a great mistake in withholding him from me. Now I will seek my revenge on this Scott you hold so dear." Kyven approached Duncan, standing only inches from his victim.

Duncan's teeth gnashed at the powerful man who stood before him, struggling still in his chains. The needle was large, like the kind used to sew saddle leather, it ripped through his nipple and white blinding pain seared through him.

Duncan's screams tore through his brain and Methos sobbed, unable to take his eyes from Duncan's writhing form. When a second red hot needle was driven slowly through his other nipple Methos screamed in panic and pain with Duncan, the anguish unbearable.

"Kyven, stop, take me, I will do anything, just stop this now!" Methos' earlier rage had long since disappeared and the terror of his memories of Antony's slow, agonizing death came back, flashing across his mind in vivid detail. His only thought was to get Duncan out of here alive, no matter the cost, "Take me! take my head. You can have it all, but let him go!"

Duncan's sobs echoed in the rafters. Kyven walked in a slow circle around his victim, assessing his shaking body's response to the needles. Taking up the dagger he swept a long , shallow cut slowly down from Duncan's throat to his navel, the blade hovering against his groin.

"Are you frightened yet Highlander? You should be, the old one is, he knows we have only just scratched the surface of my knowledge. Are you ready for more?"

Duncan's eyes showed his pain, shining brightly in the sunlight streaming through the rafters, but he said nothing. His breathing was shallow, his eyes still trained on the shaking form of Methos in front of him. The cuts inflicted earlier had begun to heal and the pain that blossomed fresh as his flesh was torn consumed him. A whip appeared in Kyven's hand, a heavy flogger, sharp bits of mettle sewn into the lashes. The crash of the heavy whip in Kyven's powerful arm rocked Duncan back in his bonds, the agony unbearable. His groin was torn and bleeding, the pain a living thing eating his insides, Duncan howled and Methos begged incoherently as Kyven's arm came up again.

"Gods! Stop, don't! Please Duncan, tell him to stop!"

The agony exploded in his brain as Kyven whipped him, the lashes cutting cruelly into the soft flesh of his groin and thighs. Duncan held on to the picture of Methos before him, his thoughts shredding with the pain ripping through him.

Duncan had rarely been a prisoner of war, and his tolerance for pain had seldom been tested to this extent. He hung on desperately, trying not to even think the words that would bring an end to the torture.

Methos sobbed hysterically on the floor, unable to watch the man he loved any longer.

Duncan's weak voice came to him, "Dunna' cry Methos. My fault, I chased him, challenged him, stupid, all my fault."

"No!" Methos shouted, unable to bear the apology in Duncan's voice. He could not take this, he would go mad....

Kyven's voice interrupted them, "You show promise, Highlander. Your bravery is not matched in your lover. Does he cry for you or for the moment he knows must inevitably come, when you break?"

Duncan had no anger, no strength left to respond to Kyven's cruel words, and his gaze stayed on the man he loved, sobbing incoherently at his feet.

Kyven approached him, a lit taper in his hand, "I have found fire to be a most delicate means of torture, sometimes it's the simple things...."

The flame licked at his bleeding groin and Duncan screamed in pure terror, his mind denying the reality as he felt his foreskin blister. The explosion of agony was unbearable and he welcomed dark unconsciousness when it rushed up to greet him.

The smelling salts were sharp and bitter beneath his nose, Kyven's voice grated in his ear, "I lost you for a moment there Highlander, it is hard to bear the pain there. So intimate, the flesh so sensitive... Just a few words will set you free....tell me to hurt him instead."

Duncan's voice was barely audible, "No, never."

"Duncan!" Methos' scream was high and hysterical, "I can take it, trust me, I have before. You don't have to do this for me!"

"I love you." Duncan groaned helplessly, unable to hold back his only point of focus in his pain.

Kyven stood silent behind him, reading the signs of his victims failing strength carefully. Soon, he would break. Kyven returned to the brazier, taking up the remaining piece of metal lying in the hot coals. It was a cylindrical piece of iron, eight inches long and two inches in diameter. Kyven walked slowly to face his prey, savoring the wild terror reflected in his eyes.

"There is something so wonderfully demoralizing about sodomy, takes all the fight out of a man, to be conquered from within."

Duncan's eyes moved to Methos who was contorted and retching in his chains. He focused on Methos, he had survived this. Not once, but many times, Duncan knew. His breath came in ragged gasps and his muscles went rigid. His hands and arms were numb, the pain in his groin throbbing intensely. Panic welled up in his chest, his thoughts spinning out on the edge of hysteria.

The first tearing of tissue wrenched a scream from his lungs, the pain was ten times greater than he had expected. The burning metal cauterizing the flesh, and tearing it again in never ending agony. Blood filled the passage of his anus. Duncan's mind was a haze of red pain, no thought could hold in the torrent of suffering engulfing him. It went on and on, time an unrecognizable element in his world of horror and madness.

His voice was unrecognizable when he finally screamed for mercy, "No more! I canno' stand it!" He head dropped forward, pain wracking his body. He shook violently in his bonds, no longer able to think or care about what would happen next.

Methos stirred where he lay prostate on the floorboards. "Thank God," he moaned, raising his red swollen face from the floor. "It's my turn Kyven."

This he could take, watching Duncan suffer had almost killed him. He twisted in his shackles to face the monster drinking in Duncan's surrender with satisfaction.

Kyven strolled slowly around the Scot's body, admiring the bloody, broken form. Finally, he stopped in front and jerked the needles from Duncan's nipples. More spasms of pain shook his body, and Duncan fought passing out with all he had left in him.

"Unchain him you bastard. Let's see what you've learned in the last 300 years."

Adrenaline rushed through his veins, endorphins soaring. Methos could feel his resolve and strength returning with the knowledge that Duncan would suffer no more.

"I'm sorry Methos," Duncan moaned, falling face first when released from his chains, his strength spent.

"No my love, I'm sorry, so very sorry. Get out of here."

Kyven strode to the Highlander's inert form, tying his hands behind his back as a quick precaution, assured that he would stay that way for some time to come. It would take time for the considerable damage he'd done to heal.

Methos did not resist when he was dragged to his feet and his shackled wrists were hung from the same ring Duncan had been suspended from moments before. Kyven's eyes held cold hunger for the moments to come, he loved to torture Methos. This man had a greater tolerance for pain than any he had seen in the last 300 years, and torture was his business. His business, but also his pleasure. Methos' body screams to be marked, twisted, and contorted. The man held such grace in the grips of agony. His silent resistance an aphrodisiac Kyven longed to drink. He stood before the ancient for several minutes, the silence between them spoke volumes. He could feel Methos' strength, and his resignation to the pain to come. Quickly slicing away the clothing from the ancient's body, he was ready to begin this magnificent dance.

The whip cut the pale flesh of his back, memories of a thousand other times he had endured this in his head as he twisted beneath the lash. Methos forced himself to breath slowly, inhaling as the leather cut into his flesh, exhaling the pain carefully. He remembered this, could stand it, the tear and the sting, then the burn as the welt rose red and angry. He counted patiently, trying to push thoughts of Duncan's pain from his mind. The blows increased in strength, falling in heavy succession to leave bloody welts across his shoulders back and buttocks.

Kyven stepped back, surveying his handiwork and admiring the slow even breaths of the man whose body trembled before him. He was good, so good to hurt. The hammers weight was glorious in his hand as he pulled the boots from his victim's feet. Such long slender toes, the curve of the high arches begging to be broken.

"So many little bones in the feet, each one an opportunity," Kyven told him.

Methos forced himself to relax, waiting as the hammer crushed the last two toes of his left foot. No sound escaped his white lips, but his body shook where it hung limply from the wrists. The hammer came up again and Kyven's hungry eyes on his face gave him the strength to contain the cry of pain that welled up in his throat. His left foot was ruined, and Kyven was laughing. His mind was getting foggy, blocking out the pain, draining his consciousness and drawing himself into a kind of trance where the pain was something he watched happen to someone else.

Duncan lay still on the floor, willing his body to heal. He was healing, but not fast enough. Methos was white and silent, enduring the torture in a kind of glazed resignation that Duncan liked not at all. How could he hold himself so still? Except for the sheen of sweat covering his body he seemed unaware of the horrible things being done to him. The ropes that held Duncan's wrists were tight, but he forced himself to be patient, working at the knots diligently.

"You are an inspiration, my pet. Kudos to the ones who taught you so well to accept the inevitable. Such grace in submission is rarely seen in these modern times. Magnificent, the way you rise to meet the whip. I cannot wait to hear you sing for me."

Reaching for the needle nose pliers on the floor he returned to the oldest Immortal's broken feet. The blood spurted from the big toe as Kyven ripped the nail from it's bed with one quick jerk.

"Ahhh," the soft groan of pain reached Duncan on the floor. He raised his head to watch, horrified, as Kyven tore out the toenails of Methos left foot. When he continued, taking the big toe of the right foot the cries rose sharply in volume. Blood ran down to stain the floorboards.

Methos regained his composure by bits, waiting for the pain to lesson. Past experience had taught him how to deal with this. Waiting for the pain to pass, telling himself over and over again to be still, that it would ease. He listened to his breathing, all his concentration focused on letting the pain flow out of him. He didn't see Duncan rising slowly to his knees on the floor.

Kyven stood before the shaking Immortal, his pleasure in the grace of suffering before him was overwhelming. Such strength, and such total acceptance, it was beautiful.

Duncan saw Kyven's sick fascination with the mastery of the man he tortured, he stood enthralled before his victim. Duncan knew it was his chance, and dragged himself to his feet as quietly as he could. Staggering, he reached Methos' sword, still lying in the center of the floor where it had been cast down to save him.

Methos shut his eyes tightly as his face was covered in the blood spurting from the head as it was severed, inches in front of his face. It was hot, and a wave of nausea swept over him as Kyven's head landed with a thunk at his feet. The body swayed to the left with the power of the blow and fell in a lifeless heap to the floor. With the last of his strength Duncan managed to get Methos unhooked from the iron ring, unable to break his fall on his ruined feet, before the power of the quickening overtook him. The fire split his chest, a thousand horrifying images played across his vision. More horror, blood and pain than Duncan could have possibly imagined raged like a storm in his mind. He wondered if he would go insane with the horror of the memories, the hunger for suffering that was Kyven's obsession. And among all these distorted images he saw the man he loved, saw him begging for the life of a young mortal man bloodied beyond recognition. The pain Methos had withstood came to haunt him as the white lightning played across his raw nerves. He screamed, unable to contain the horror.

Methos stumbled on broken bones, collapsing on the hard floor, eyes searching the barn for remnants of clothing. Duncan's body was still shaking, but the lightning had dissipated. Methos crawled to him, his eyes full of concern and shock, still not quite able to believe they had survived. He fell against Duncan, his emotions a jumbled mess.

"Thank you. I'm so sorry."

"I failed you...." Duncan's body shook with sobs, the taught nerves breaking with relief at the realization that the ordeal was over, they had both come out of this alive.

"Hush, talk later," Methos' voice was gentle as he put a finger over Duncan's mouth. "We need to get the hell out of here. A very long hot bath, and some rest, then we can talk."

Duncan helped Methos to his feet, supporting as much of his weight as the other man would allow.

"Duncan?"

"What?" Duncan was trying to get torn jeans on Methos without touching his feet.

"I love you, too."

They staggered back to Methos' Volvo together, not talking, but walking very close, their arms wrapped around each other for support.

Later, Duncan could not remember how he had managed to get them back to the barge alive. Methos had made it as far as the car before collapsing, the broken bones in his feet not yet mended. He passed out cold as soon as he had struggled into the car. The strength that had held back the pain finally deserting him. Somehow, Duncan had managed to drive them back safely. The energy of the quickening kept his adrenaline flowing. He kept one hand on the unconscious Immortal's wrist, checking him at every traffic light.

The drive seemed to take much less time than it had in the trunk of the Mercedes. Duncan pulled up next to the barge, ready to argue if Methos said one word about his own apartment. The older Immortal offered no resistance, though. Perhaps he was just too exhausted. He threw one arm over Duncan's shoulder and let the younger man drag him down the gangplank and into the warmth of the barge's interior. Duncan guided Methos to the couch and went straight to the bath, turning on the water to fill the tub. He averted his eyes when he passed the mirror, unwilling to face his own reflection. As long as he didn't have to see the proof of Kyven's terror written on his face he was able to tell himself that he was all right. Methos was alive, and that was what mattered.

Methos was awake when he returned to the living room. He was curled up on the couch, huddled under Duncan's coat for warmth, or possibly security.

"Are you cold? I'll build a fire," Duncan's voice was all calm concern.

Methos looked up sharply at him, scanning Duncan's face intently. Methos realized Duncan's mind would do everything it could to bury this awful day deep in his subconscious. No doubt his instinct would be to block out all the horrific things that had been done to him. Methos wouldn't let Duncan do that to himself, but if he wanted to prevent more damage he would have to go slowly. His Immortal heart broke for the hundredth time that day as he watched the Scot move restlessly around the barge. Building a fire in the fireplace, and then over to the sideboard to pour them both a generous three fingers of scotch. He moved quickly, straightening the curtains and then disappearing into the bathroom to check on the water in the tub. Methos knew this was going to be almost as hard as watching Duncan suffer under Kyven's hand, but if he didn't deal with it the scars would last forever...his past had taught him this all too well.

As he pulled himself from the couch he was grateful that the small bones in his feet had begun to mend. He could feel bone and muscle tissue knitting itself back together, purple bruises now throbbed where the skin had been broken. It would take a day or so before all signs of the ordeal would disappear from his body, but at least he could walk again. Going to the sideboard he picked up the drinks Duncan had poured them. He followed Duncan to the bathroom, determined to conquer the Scottish guilt at it's source. Methos stopped behind him, placing a hand gently on Duncan's shoulder. The muscles were taught and tense beneath the skin, still marked with the traces of the damage Kyven's dagger had done. Duncan flinched when Methos touched him, then turned, an apology on his lips.

Methos stopped him, the reassurance in the tired eyes cutting the words off.

"It's okay Duncan," his voice was calm and low, as if he were trying to soothe a hurt animal, and in a way he was. Methos handed the darker man his drink, which was swallowed in two big gulps.

"Take a bath, then sleep. Then we can talk, all right? I promise you'll feel better if you lie down and rest, let your body heal."

"Okay," Duncan was exhausted.

Methos returned to huddle by the fire, sipping the scotch slowly, letting the fiery liquid slide down his throat to warm him. He listened to the sounds of Duncan bathing, still needing to reassure himself that they had both come out of this nightmare alive, if not intact. He remembered Duncan's eyes on him, determined to somehow withstand the agony in his place. Methos ground his fists into his eyes, trying to dispel the picture of Duncan's suffering from his mind.

Finally, he heard Mac rise from his bath. A few minute later a much cleaner and nicer smelling Highlander emerged from the bathroom and headed straight for the bed. Methos poured himself a second drink at the sideboard and found some quiet music on the stereo to help Duncan sleep. He took his drink into the bath with him, determined to scrub every trace of blood and dirt and Kyven from his body.

When Methos rose from his bath he was clean and healing and felt almost human (well, relatively speaking). He found Duncan sound asleep in the big bed. Deciding there was plenty of room, Methos crawled in next to him, burrowing close to Mac's warm, solid body before following him to the healing respite of sleep.

Mac woke to the dim light of the barge at dusk, his arm automatically wrapping around the curled figure snuggled tight against him. //Methos// Duncan smiled, pulling the older Immortal closer, so very glad to find the body next to him in the warm bed....then memory came flooding back. Kyven. The pain. Methos' white face, his glazed eyes so far away from the horrors being inflicted on him. The flame of the candle and the choking terror, turning his stomach. The smell of his own flesh burning. Duncan rolled from the bed, moving as quietly as possible he made it to the sink in the bathroom before losing the scotch and whatever else remained in his stomach. After brushing his teeth to get the wretched taste out of his mouth, he went back to the bed.

He crawled under the covers and Methos made room for him, sharing both the blankets and his body heat. Methos realized that Duncan was completely unaware that his body was trembling violently. Duncan's mind was going to continue to tell itself the ‘everything thing will be okay' lie until his body would actually believe it. Methos was all too familiar with the kind of shock that came after violent rape. He laced his fingers through Duncan's lightly, and was immediately caught in a steel grip. He returned the pressure less violently and Duncan's hand relaxed a little.

"How did you come to meet Kyven?" Methos asked delicately, hoping he had found a neutral opening to the conversation he was determined to have.

Duncan flinched visibly at the mention of the dead man's name. He was silent for a long time, just as Methos was about to try a different angle, Duncan answered, but still refused to meet the older Immortal's gaze.

"I stalked him."

"You did what?" Methos did his best to retain his neutral tone in spite of his shock.

"I'm sorry," Mac blurted out. "Joe called. I'd been searching for you all week. Everywhere. He told me about," Duncan hesitated and Methos supplied the name Duncan couldn't say.

"He told you Kyven was looking for me?"

"Yes, and that I should get you out of the city right away, no questions asked."

Methos took a deep breath to make sure his voice would remain calm when he spoke next, "And did he tell you what he was?"

Duncan hung his head in utter dejection. "Yes," he whispered, and then even more quietly, "I'm so sorry Methos."

There was a moment of resistance before Duncan allowed the hand cupping his chin to raise his head. The coffee brown eyes were filled with failure, defeat, and self-loathing.

"Duncan, you knew what he was and that I could not beat him, and you went after him anyway?" Methos' voice couldn't have been more gentle, but he did not release Duncan's tense jaw from his palm, forcing Mac to look at him when he answered.

"Yes."

"Duncan, why?"

Duncan looked into ageless hazel eyes and saw only regret, compassion, and bewilderment. No recriminations, only shock.

"Because you are too important to lose."

A hundred emotions flickered in rapid succession across Methos' face. Duncan pulled the older Immortal tightly against his chest.

"I could not lose you," he mumbled brokenly against the short dark hair. "I couldn't find you, and I meant to kill him. I was so wrong," the last was hardest to hear.

"Hush. Duncan, Kyven was a master, I'm not surprised he disarmed you. He did the same to me three hundred years ago in the space of three steps, and I was better then."

"You're better now," Duncan replied, and Methos thought he saw a ghost of a smile on Duncan's lips. Methos drew back enough to meet brown eyes that still held so much pain.

"Duncan, I'm sorry. I have apologized to very few people and meant it, but for what he did to you I am sorrier than you can ever imagine. I love you Duncan, not just for myself, but because you are the best of us. There are more demons in my past than hell has room for. After Kronos I swore I would never let my history touch you again. Now, you must swear to me, Duncan, you must swear to me that you will never again fight for me. Watching him hurt you...I was losing my mind. Promise me Duncan."

What Methos asked, was terrifying, yet he could never lie to this man.

"I swear to never fight a battle for you, without your knowledge. I cannot swear that I will never help you win."

Methos nodded solemnly, placing his hand over Duncan's heart. There were no more words, but they lay together, their finger's interlaced. For a long time their eyes were fixed on one another, sharing the pain. Eventually Duncan drifted back to sleep. Methos watched him, guarding his exhausted body with a fierce, joyous love he remembered only with Alexa. The barge slowly grew dark, the water a soothing sound as the street noise faded.

Methos woke a few hours later. Duncan was thrashing next to him, moaning in the grips of his dream. For a moment the older Immortal was filled with self-recrimination. He had been trying to ease Duncan's night fears the last time he found himself in the Highlander's bed. Now he had given Duncan a whole new wealth of horrors to draw on. The irony wasn't lost on him as he began to speak the same words.

"Duncan. Duncan wake, it's a dream. Wake up love, it's only a nightmare."

The twitching body started, eyes flying open. The look on Duncan's face told Methos that the irony of the situation was not lost on the younger man, either.

"I'm sorry I woke you," Duncan whispered, not at all sorry to have Methos there to stop the terror in his mind.

"It's okay, I wasn't really asleep. He's dead Duncan, you killed him and he can never hurt you again."

"Or you," Mac whispered, finding Methos' hand under the covers and interlacing their fingers, needing the reassurance that he really was awake. That Methos and himself in bed together, safe on the barge, was reality, and not the images of Kyven's torture in his mind.

Methos understood immediately, rolling onto his side to pull Duncan closer.

"We're here, together and alive, everything's all right. He's gone."

"Methos?"

"Yes Duncan?"

"How did you stand it, when he raped you, before?"

The last was whispered so quietly that Methos had almost missed it. Not an easy question.

"I had no choice. There was no one there to save me," he answered, stroking the beloved face. It wasn't going to be enough.

"But in the barn, I watched you, it was as if you weren't even there."

Methos drew a deep breath, trying to find a way to say this that wouldn't shock Duncan, or anger him.

"Duncan, what Kyven did to me yesterday was minor, a prelude. Foreplay."

Duncan's eyes went dark and Methos bit his lip. //Bad choice//

"I have been...taught...to accept far worse than that. Kyven treasured me for that very reason, because after a certain point pain becomes acceptable."

"Who?" Duncan whispered.

"Kronos, among others. I have blocked out a great deal of my first life, before...but Kronos recognized the signs, and knew how to exploit them."

"Did he...?"

"Yes, he raped me. Not once, but many times."

"And you still...?" Duncan blushed and Methos wondered if it wouldn't be easier if he had this conversation all by himself.

"Yes, I still enjoy sex with men, including penetration. It's not the same thing, Duncan."

"How can you let someone..after...?"

Methos was losing his patience, but no trace of his growing exasperation could be heard in his gentle reply.

"Duncan, thousands of women are raped every day, and yes it's horrible. However, the large majority do go on to lead normal lives, including sex. It's the intent to harm, not the act that is horrific. Do you understand what I'm trying to say? Don't let Kyven win, and don't be ashamed. If you let this nightmare shut the door that you so recently opened, you forfeit your victory. You won Duncan, you destroyed an evil that tormented the world for centuries. You also saved my life. He would have taken my head, after he had taken everything else. Don't let what he did to you kill what could be....For us."

That put an end to Duncan's question, Methos read intense love, curiosity, and fear in the expressive brown eyes. He wrapped his arms around Duncan, as if he could erase every bad thing that had happened to him with the strength of his love. At that moment in time Duncan believed he could.

"I looked for you, but I guess you didn't want to be found," Duncan began tentatively, "I wanted to tell you, I have no regrets. None then, and none now."

"I..." Methos was overwhelmed by the courage in Duncan's heart, "I meant it when I said I love you, MacLeod, I always have."

Duncan pulled the old man close for a gentle, lingering kiss. He felt something tight and choking inside him begin to unwind. He captured his lips softly, again and again, reaching for something elusive and undefinable that Methos had to give him. Something like pure light, something that would make him whole again.

Methos stroked the long silky hair, "We can take this very slowly, ease into it. What we have found in each other is very rare." The corners of his mouth turned up a little as he said, "And I don't want to screw it up. I don't know how long the world and fate are going to let us have this, but I want you more than I have ever wanted anything."

Duncan was humbled, as though he had been given a precious gift. He felt Methos' signature in his head, enveloping him like a blanket, familiar and comforting. He laid his head on the older man's chest, relaxing as the long fingers ran through his hair hypnotically.

"I am so very glad we got out of there alive. I was so afraid he would kill me and we would never have this chance," Duncan's voice was steady and low against Methos' chest.

Methos pressed his lips to the crown of Mac's head, inhaling the Highlander's scent.

"The sun isn't even up yet, and we need more sleep," Methos told him softly.

Duncan raised his head, his warm mouth capturing the welcoming lips above him. He settled more comfortably into the sharp lines of Methos body, pulling the covers up around them.

Methos slowly relaxed under the warm bulk of Duncan's body. He was relieved that Duncan had let himself begin to heal, and he still couldn't believe he was in Duncan's bed, the man asleep in his arms. He drifted off to sleep...happy, safe and warm.

Duncan walked briskly along the Seine in the early evening chill. Methos had invited him for dinner at his apartment, for a change. They had been spending almost all their time together over the last few days, Duncan gradually adjusting to this new, indefinable relationship.

It had been a week since Duncan had hung from his wrists at Kyven's mercy, his strength held hostage to his honor. All signs of the brutal torture had long since disappeared from his body. Not so his mind, but the horribly vivid memories were fading. The nights they spent together had gradually passed from companionship and comfort to the hesitant explorations of desire. His attraction to Methos was quickly turning into unabated lust. He found himself constantly seeking physical contact, the feel of Methos close against him becoming a necessity.

He heard the music, if that's what it was, when he was still a half block away. By the time he was walking up the stairs, it was so loud he could feel the vibration of the bass in the banister under his hand. Maybe asking Methos to move in with him wouldn't be so hard after all, with neighbors like these... It was quite a shock to realize the blaring punk rock music was coming from the residence of a man many times older than the building.

THROUGH THESE EYES I'VE SEEN LOVE AND I'VE SEEN HATE

I'VE SEEN THE VIOLENCE AND THE TEARS

THROUGH THESE EYES I GOT MY SCHOOLING ON THE STREET

I'VE SEEN THE THINGS IN LIFE

YOU DON'T WANNA SEE

THROUGH THESE EYES I'VE SEEN THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME

AND I'VE WATCHED THEM ALL FALL APART

THROUGH THESE EYES I'VE SEEN THE BROKEN HEARTED CRY

I'VE SEEN THE POOR MAN'S FACE

AS HE STANDS IN LINE

THROUGH THESE EYES I'VE LOOKED THE DEVIL IN THE FACE

AND I'VE SEEN GOD'S HOLY GRACE

THROUGH THESE EYES I'VE TRIED TO WALK THE STRAIGHTER LINE

I FOUND MYSELF AGAIN, BUT NEARLY LOST MY MIND

The relevance of the lyrics were lost on MacLeod as he climbed the stairs. Sure that Methos would sense him by now, and that he would never hear him knock, Duncan walked in.

"Hi," Methos looked up from the sink where he appeared to be cleaning something. Whether or not it was alive Duncan wasn't sure.

"Hi yourself," Duncan shouted over the music.

"Sorry," Methos went to the CD player, turning it off, "Great stuff."

"Un-huh," Duncan was dubious. //Is that really what music sounds like these days//

"Don't be such a snob MacLeod."

"I'm not a snob. My best friend is a lowly grad student."

Methos grinned, his eyes crinkling, and Duncan felt all the hell of the last two weeks slip a little further into the past. Methos' smile lit up his face, and it was a beautiful, welcome sight. He looked good, healthy and strong. Duncan went to the fridge and helped himself to a beer, flipping the cap behind the fridge, just to see that smile again.

"When do we eat? I'm hungry."

"Soon, now get out of the kitchen," Methos swatted Duncan's behind with a towel. Duncan spun around and grabbed him by the belt loops, pulling him in for a brief, intense kiss.

"Now I'll get out of your kitchen."

"Okay," Methos told him, still a little dazed. Duncan thought about how much he liked that happy, bemused expression. He held to his word though, wandering into the living room.

Methos stood at the stove, dinner was ready, but he needed a moment to breath. Duncan's affect on him was overpowering. In the last few days he had used up all of his self-control, taking the physical aspects of their relationship very slowly at first. As Duncan became more sure of himself, his kisses and embraces became more demanding. Methos found it harder and harder to stop when Duncan pulled away with that hesitant, heartbreaking smile. Regaining his composure, he took their dinner from the stove, serving the thick seafood gumbo with sticky white rice into large bowls that he carried to the living room. Dinner was a relaxed affair. Methos' meal was eclectic, but delicious. They talked about their friends, politics, and a melee of the usual Immortal gossip.

"I'm going to have to take a trip back to Seacouver next week, the lease is up on the dojo. Want to come with me? Joe would really love to see you."

"Sure, no plans. I think I can go, as long as your willing to buy my plane fare. Adam Pierson is a poor grad student, remember. He wouldn't be able to come up with transatlantic airfare within a week's notice. But, if you don't mind, I'd love to see Joe."

"I'm sure you'll find a way to compensate me," Duncan murmured with a leer that made Methos week in the knees.

"Sure, I'll help you settle your business affairs," the old man quipped. "What are you going to do with the dojo? You own the whole damn building, don't you?"

Duncan's pout turned into a shrug, "For now at least. To tell you the truth, I haven't the vaguest idea what to do with it. Kinda' hard to sell, it's more than a business to me. Actually, I'd lose a lot of money if tried to get rid of it now."

"Then wait. You have plenty of time. Besides, I know you're fond of the place. Just find some decent tenants."

"Easier said than done, in that neighborhood."

"You'll figure it out when you get there. Don't worry, I'll make sure you have some fun."

"Promise?" Duncan's warm brown eyes met his, full of invitation.

"Oh yes," Methos promised with a smile that was more than half wicked.

Duncan helped him stack the dishes in the sink, stealing kisses every time he got close enough.

"You are incorrigible," Methos gasped, almost losing his grip on the glass in his hand, under the spell of Duncan's soft lips.

"Can't help it," Duncan murmured , rescuing the glassware and putting it in the sink behind him. Methos let himself be led back to the couch, Duncan's lips never more than a breath away. Duncan pulled the older Immortal down beside him for a long, slow exploration of his mouth.

"Mmm, I could kiss you for the next hundred years, at least," Duncan smiled wickedly.

Methos sighed into his mouth, melting against the strong shoulder, "Is that an offer?"

"Oh yes," Duncan whispered against his lips.

"Then I accept."

"Good, move in with me."

Methos pulled back, realizing MacLeod was entirely serious. Spending the rest of his life with Duncan MacLeod of the clan MacLeod would be the easiest, and the most difficult thing to do.

"Duncan, you can't protect me from harm by keeping me in your house, if that's what this is about."

"It's about me wanting you in my bed every night. Besides, you make better coffee."

"Duncan! be serious," Methos was trying hard not to smile.

"I am. I want us to be together....always."

"Always is a very long time Duncan."

"For us it is."

"I know, that's what I mean," Methos needed to be sure he understood what the Highlander was offering.

"Are you afraid of commitment?" Duncan teased, but it was a serious question.

"To you? No. The point I'm trying to make here is that this is a little more complicated than sharing a bed."

"I'll share the rest of the barge, too," Duncan's mouth was beguiling, and convincing."Or the loft, wherever you want."

"You don't know how to do anything halfway, do you, Mac?" Methos asked helplessly, trying to buy himself enough time to sort out the rush of emotions overwhelming him.

Duncan's eyes roamed the older Immortal's face for a moment, "Okay, tell you what. Come to Seacouver with me, and if you have any valid arguments after that, I'll listen. I'll still try to talk you out of them, but I'll listen."

"Okay," Methos murmured, leaning in to Duncan's embrace. This was more than he had ever dreamed of, and after all the hell they'd been through, he was more than willing to postpone dealing with reality for a little while. If Duncan really wanted to believe it would be that simple, he would let him. Besides, it was impossible to think when Duncan kissed him like that.

His lips warm and gentle, Duncan's hands began an languid perusal of the body he found so irresistible. His palms sought the sharp shoulder blades and he could feel Methos tense, then relax under his hands. This became a pattern as his fingers roamed across the strong, angular back.

Methos' tongue grew demanding, as his hand on the back of Mac's neck angled his mouth for a delicate assault, his tongue flicking inside Duncan's mouth too fast to be caught. His small, sharp teeth nipped at the sensuous lower lip.

Methos' lips trailed across his jaw line to find the spot just below the ear he liked so much. Mac's eyes were closed, his body taut. Small low sounds of pleasure came from deep in his throat as the sharp teeth made small red marks along his hairline, nipping and licking like a cat at the back of his neck. Methos squirmed in his arms, refusing to be caught, his hands slipping beneath Mac's shirt to feel the pounding of his heart.

"I love you," he whispered fiercely, his lips claiming Duncan's once more for a searing kiss that left them both gasping and shaken.

Mac pulled the lean body against him hard, wanting to feel every sharp angle and long line. Methos was fully aroused, and he could feel the bulge of his erection pressing against his own through their jeans.

Methos tensed, expecting Duncan to pull away gasping and flushed and a little embarrassed at the proof of their restrained desire. This was where he had stopped it the night before. Methos had returned to his apartment very late, and not even the icy shower he took before collapsing into bed kept the images of Duncan's naked body from his dreams.

But Duncan didn't pull away, instead he ground his hips into the hard groin pressed against him, his hungry mouth seeking the hollow of the other man's shoulder, his teeth pulling at the collar of the T-shirt Methos wore when it got in his way. The pale skin marked easily as he ravaged his throat, his tongue flicking along the line of the older Immortal's collarbone as his hand slipped between them to brush against the straining erection. Brushing the hard bulge with his fingers in the briefest of light caresses.

"Duncan," Methos was having trouble getting enough air into his lungs.

"Hmm?" Duncan was pulling the T-shirt from the waistband of his jeans, impatient of the barriers between his lips and the heated skin.

"Duncan," Methos tried to steady his voice into some semblance of calm and found it impossible. "If you are going to stop this, you should do it now." His words were not a threat, but a plea. His lips sought Mac's again, unable to accept his own gentle command.

Duncan wrapped his arms around him, the crushing embrace full of lust and sweet reassurance. "I won't. I want you. Take this off," Mac didn't give him time to follow his command, pulling the cotton over the older Immortal's head.

"I want to look at you," he whispered, his palms moving slowly over his lover's chest. There was not an extra ounce of flesh on him anywhere, the muscles sharply defined on the long bones. Duncan was still surprised to find himself so powerfully affected by the sight of Methos' strong, graceful body. To have such strength and beauty surrendering beneath him like this made Duncan lightheaded.

Methos twisted restlessly under his weight, they were sprawled across the couch. Mac was almost on top of him now, his hands everywhere at once. Duncan couldn't get enough of his taste, his scent. His mouth returning again and again to the hollow of his throat, to trail lingering kisses down to the center of his chest. Methos smelled like the ocean. When Duncan's warm lips closed over a nipple to tease with tongue and teeth Methos arched against him. A breath the old man hadn't been aware he was holding hissing through his teeth.

Strong fingers dug into the muscles of Duncan's back, then moved to kneed his buttocks, guiding his hips in a slow grind against the straining denim beneath him. Duncan's thumb toyed with metal button. "I think these should come off," his voice was rough with passion.

Methos lifted his hips up off the couch and his blue jeans were quickly pulled down and off.

Duncan half stood to wrestle with his own clothing. Methos sat up, watching as Mac pulled his shirt over his head, yanking out the tie that held back the long hair.

Their eyes met for a moment and a predatory grin spread across the older man's face. Reaching for Duncan's hands he stopped them before they could get to the zipper of his jeans. Interlocking their fingers for balance, Methos leaned forward catching the tab of the zipper with his teeth. Still watching Duncan's face he drew it down slowly, the small sound of the metal teeth parting was loud in the charged silence. His mouth worked at the frayed buttonhole, finally freeing the silver button. His teeth found the edge of the waistband to peel the cloth down Duncan's hips.

Duncan watched spellbound as the clever mouth undressed him without any assistance. Blood rushed to his groin as his cock sprang free of it's confinement, swelling to brush against his belly, trembling slightly in the cool air. His gaze remained fixed on the mouth that held him spellbound. His breath caught in the back of his throat as he watched Methos' tongue dart between his lips to touch the drop of moisture gathering at the head of his cock. Duncan jumped in his mouth, groaning his pleasure when Methos' lips closed around him unexpectedly. Methos was swallowing him, oh so slowly. He drew Duncan down his throat with a wet suction that drove the younger Immortal to the edge of pleasure. Duncan watched helplessly as he was devoured in tiny increments.

Methos sighed against the hard flesh as the head of Duncan's cock pressed against the muscles at the back of his throat, relaxing against the slow pressure of his decent to bury his face in the soft curls. His lips stretched around the width of the Highlander's cock, he stayed still, drawing a slow breath through his nostrils, he relaxed completely against the hard unyielding flesh that invaded him, cutting off oxygen and sending blood rushing to his head.

"You're going to kill me," Duncan groaned, swaying slightly on his feet. The muscles standing out on his thighs, his fists clenched at his sides. He trembled with the strain, fighting to remain still in the soft wet heat of his lover's throat. Strong hands on his hips guided him with short, deep thrusts, slowing him down with a cautionary growl when he gave in to the incredible pleasure of the hot, wet friction against him. Duncan's hand moved to the back of Methos' neck, asking permission for control, and receiving it, as Methos' hands dropped to his sides to let Duncan guide him against the cock thrusting deep in his throat. Methos held still, letting Duncan fuck his mouth in state of perfect oblivion. The whole world was reduced to the blood pounding in his ears and Duncan's scent in his nostrils and the sharp thrusts that threatened to choke him if he didn't submit. Which he did, the feelings so powerful he came, feeling Duncan's semen sliding down his throat as he did. Methos sucked softly, swallowing around the pulsing flesh as Duncan groaned, the sound hissing through his clenched teeth. Duncan swayed on his feet, as Methos licked his way up the softening cock.He released Duncan slowly from his mouth to kiss the head once more before lifting his face to meet the liquid brown eyes smiling down at him.

Methos guided him to fall next to him on the couch, an arm around his waist. Duncan leaned in close to taste the swollen lips, his tongue seeking the heat that had given him so much pleasure.

"You're very good at that," he mumbled against the responsive lips, chuckling when Methos responded.

"I know. Let's go to bed."

"Okay," Duncan grinned, pulling him off the couch and into his arms for one more kiss before following the older man to the bed. They knelt on the bed facing each other, exchanging hot kisses. Duncan's palms moved slowly over the sleek chest, his touch light as he followed the lines of muscle, learning Methos' body. He bent his head and thick brown locks fell forward to obscure his face as his mouth closed over a taut nipple.

Methos moaned, his hands going to Duncan's wide shoulders for balance. Duncan's lips were so soft, brushing over his sensitized skin. His tongue licking delicately until the nipple was a hard little pebble in his mouth, his teeth nipping playfully at the tight wrinkled bit of flesh. Mac licked his way across the creamy skin, pausing to kiss the hollow at the center of his lover's chest with lips and teeth and tongue until he had left a dark red mark and the man above him was gasping at the pleasure on the edge of pain. His other nipple was tormented languidly, Mac's tongue slow and lazy, flicking back and forth across the hard point until Methos whimpered, begging softly for more.

Mac's mouth was on him almost immediately, responding to his request as it was spoken. Telling him with his mouth, but without words, that he would never have to ask, or wait, or doubt, again. A soft cry escaped the older Immortal's parted lips as Duncan's mouth closed warm around him. Duncan's lips held back the foreskin, his tongue flicking over the seeping hole, before sliding over him in a slow, careful thrust, only to draw up again to return his attention to the head. He concentrated on the drag of smooth hard flesh in his throat, the give and the pull. He heard Methos' soft sighs as he moved slowly up and down, giving in to the pleasure of the warm moist slide of Methos in his mouth.

Mac shifted onto his stomach, lying down between the parted knees still supporting the older Immortal. Methos opened his eyes, his hands caressing the naked back, his eyes drawn to the narrow hips that had wriggled their way between his legs until his throbbing erection nestled in the small of Duncan's back, his balls brushing the round cheeks.

"Duncan?" his voice held a question that didn't need to be asked.

"Please, show me the pleasure, give me something to replace the memories," His whisper trailed off as he twisted beneath the man who straddled him to meet the hazel eyes.

"Are you sure? You know you don't have to," Methos' eyes held love and reassurance. No demands, only controlled passion.

"Yes, I'm sure, I want to know...what it feels like to have you inside me. I want you to be a part of me."

Methos drew in a long breath, leaning down to nuzzle the back of Duncan's neck.

"I love you, Duncan. I promise I will not hurt you...you only have to tell me to stop, or to slow down, and I will. You are in control, remember that, love," Methos stroked his back, kneading the muscles at the base of his spine when he discovered tension there. His palms moved slowly over the naked cheeks, letting Duncan relax and enjoy the fondling before going any further.

Duncan sighed, squirming a little against the long fingers kneading his back, wanting Methos to hurry, and wanting him to stop, and not wanting to speak and break the quiet between them. He moved restlessly, his cock gradually stiffening as he moved against the sheets in a slow rocking motion. The long fingers came up to his lips and he covered them with kisses before letting Methos' slide two between his lips to thrust slowly in and out, his tongue chasing them. Methos leaned forward to replace his fingers with coaxing lips that followed Duncan's tongue in a flurry of quick movement until he allowed himself to be caught and suckled. Methos' touch was firm and gentle as he slid his wet fingers down the cleft of Duncan's ass. Duncan was so beautiful, it took his breath away, the trust in the relaxed, aroused body beneath him.

Methos' tongue in his mouth was wonderful, soothing and exciting, skimming across the back of his teeth and playing with his tongue. Duncan closed his eyes, melting into the older man's hypnotic kiss. He sighed into his lover's mouth as a gentle finger probed and entered him.

Methos moved very slowly, his mouth holding Duncan's as he stroked his balls and the sensitive, silky skin behind them. His finger pressed slowly inside, until he felt the ring of muscle close over his knuckle. Mac exhaled against Methos' lips in a quiet groan, responding to the stimulation. There was no pain, just pressure and friction and an unfamiliar feeling of fullness as Methos finger pressed into him.

"I like that," he whispered, raising his hips slightly as the finger withdrew.

Methos leaned forward over him, searching in the bedside drawer for lubricant, exhaling in relief when he found a bottle of massage oil. The air was scented with ancient herbs as he drizzled the oil across Duncan's cheeks, kneading the muscles and hearing Duncan purr, twisting between his thighs.

Two slick fingers pressed into him, ignoring him when Duncan tried to push back, gentling him with a hand closing lightly around his swollen cock to soothe and stroke.

"Shh, just relax, let me. This is much nicer when you take it slow."

Duncan relaxed, his hard cock pushing into his lover's hand. Methos fondled him, letting Duncan thrust against his curled palm for a moment before shifting to press deeper into the tight channel, all the while murmuring softly into Duncan's ear. Thrusting slowly, he pressed against the tight ring of muscle until the tension eased, and Duncan groaned softly. He felt Duncan's body responding, trust and calm turning to restless need beneath him.

Methos shifted above him, parting his thighs a little wider and slipping between them. Slowly, his fingers withdrew, drawing a whimper from Duncan, his face pressed into the sheets. Methos stretched out on Mac's long form, the warm contact of their skin pressed against each other reassuring them both. Methos' weight came down on him, and Mac sighed, not tensing when the hard cock nestled between his cheeks. The head of Methos' cock against him felt enormous, and Mac drew a shaky breath, feeling warm lips nibbling at the back of his neck.

Methos felt Duncan tense involuntarily as he pressed into him, the tight muscle trying to block the invasion of his careful pressure. "Easy," he whispered, stroking Duncan's cock in a steady rhythm until he had pressed the head inside, feeling the tight ring of muscle close around him. Methos ground his teeth, groaning as Duncan panted beneath him, trying to relax and enjoy this.

Warm lips and teeth at the back of his neck distracted him, biting and sucking as Methos pushed a little farther inside him, whispering reassurance in his ear as his hand closed again around his cock. Duncan was overwhelmed by sensation as his body stretched and shifted to accommodate his lover, the feeling of being penetrated was frightening until Methos strong hand closed around him. Duncan lay still, absorbing the feeling of Methos inside him, the older Immortal's breath warm in his ear.

Methos' felt the muscles in the backs of his legs begin to tremble, his restrained thrust opening Duncan up oh so slowly until he was buried deep within him.

"Mmmm," Duncan's breath was coming in little pants, his teeth tearing his lower lip. Heat and pleasure blossoming in his belly and flowing to his groin. It felt so good, every nerve in his body attuned to the touch of the man inside him. Mind-shattering pleasure exploded in him as Methos thrust slowly, pulling out only a little before rocking back deeply, until Duncan thought the old man could touch his very soul. Gradually, his hips began to move, pushing back tentatively as Methos sank within him.

Methos' hand on Mac's trembling erection eased to pet him lightly as he moved in slow, restrained thrusts. Methos wanted to make this last as long as possible, forever if he could. Duncan was meeting his deep rocking motion, his hips coming up off the bed in an instinctive motion that was pure poetry. Methos closed his eyes, blocking out the erotic picture and holding on to his control with deep even breaths.

Duncan ground his hips against him, and Methos responded, angling up to rub against his prostate, his breath quickening at Mac's cries of pleasure. His thrusts came faster now, careful not to drive in too deeply as his restraint began to shred.

Methos' steady thrusts drove Duncan's cock into his hand , warm fluid spilling over his fingers as Duncan clenched tight around him, and he came, spilling into his lover with a long moan. His climax sent blood rushing to his brain until he thought he might lose consciousness. He fell forward, collapsing on top of the younger man's broad, sweat slicked back.

Duncan cried out softly in protest as Methos withdrew himself from his lover's body, the sudden feeling of emptiness frightening after his explosive climax. Methos rolled him over to pull Duncan tightly against his chest, his breathing still ragged as he stretched his aching thighs. Long, graceful fingers smoothed the tangles from Duncan's long hair, feeling the younger man's lips move against his chest.

"Thank you, that was incredible, something I will never forget," Duncan pressed his cheek to the older Immortal's heart, listening to the reassuring, steady beat.

"You are beautiful," Methos murmured, his lips pressing the crown of Duncan's head. "I love you."

"And I you," was the sleepy reply as Duncan nuzzled his way to the juncture of neck and collarbone, finding a perfect spot to fit his cheek at the hollow of his lovers shoulder. Methos raised his chin for one more long, sweet kiss before wrapping his arm around the Highlander's shoulder, his cheek resting on the top of his head.

"Goodnight Methos," Duncan whispered, already half asleep, tucked into the older Immortal's shoulder.

Methos kissed his hair once more, "Sweet dreams my love."

Duncan sighed happily, sure that they would be.

Finis

give me life

give me pain

give me myself again

oh, these little earthquakes

here we go again

these little earthquakes

doesn't take much to rip us into pieces

Lyrics borrowed without permission from Tori Amos

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