The characters in this story are not mine. I am only borrowing them, and, contrary to all appearances, I mean no harm. No money changed hands, although I did have to turn down a juicy offer from my husband, who tried to bribe me to stop writing this stuff.

This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. Please do not link, publish or post this material without permission.

Any comments, questions, etc. can be sent to me at mtriste@hotmail.com.

Rating: NC-17

Characters: DM, M, Kronos, Cassandra

Comments: Extreme violence. Graphic nonconsensual hetero and homosexual adult content.

Summary: Post CAH/Rev, first time Duncan/Methos, flashback Methos/Kronos/Cassandra, pretty twisted, dark stuff, but not utterly hopeless.

Disclaimer: THIS IS NC-17 FOR GRAPHIC SEXUAL CONTENT, RAPE AND VIOLENCE: IF YOU DON'T LIKE THE DARKSIDE, GO NOW!

Additional disclaimer: This story contains scenes which depict violence against women. As a rabid, left-wing, bra-burning feminist, I want to make it perfectly clear that I do not at all condone real violence against real women in any form, ever, at all, period. There is a line between fantasy and reality, folks, and therefore I find it hot stuff to read about certain things that I would slaughter strangers for doing in real life.

Shades of Grey

By Mairead Triste

Duncan MacLeod hunched his shoulders more firmly into the enveloping warmth of his trenchcoat as he shuffled through the mist. Tonight the fog had come in thick, fuzzing the outlines of everything which normally stood out so clearly, and Duncan experienced a moment of bitter amusement. His head might as well have been filled with mist, for all he could make sense of the outlines of his thoughts.

The need to be moving drove him, avenue following avenue as he stared unseeing at the pavement beneath his feet. He walked automatically through the increasingly dim streets of Paris, moving generally back toward the heart of the city. The movement soothed him as he tried to sort through the confused mess of his feelings, his thoughts.

When he had parted with Methos in the churchyard an hour ago, he hadn’t felt confused at all. It was only now, away from the other man’s presence, that he struggled to comprehend why he’d done the things he’d done. He fought down an urge to seek Methos out, impatient with his own weakness. If he wanted answers that was the last place he should go; Methos would either evade his questions entirely or give him unsatisfying, cryptic asides designed to make Duncan feel like an untutored child. Right now he already felt petulant and almost juvenile, walking moodily through the semidarkness, trying to understand the world around him.

He felt a brief surge of impotent anger; as far as he knew he had been played like a trump card in a game with only one possible winner. The anger felt good, clear at least. It was something to hold on to where everything else was so insubstantial, but he doubted that getting pissed off was going to help anything.

The fog pressed closer, enveloping him. After the past few weeks of hell, it was a relief to feel himself locked away, distant from the cares and needs of others, only himself to answer to. In this state, just himself was more than enough.

The questions in his mind circled endlessly, intruding on him without respite. Why had he behaved the way that he had? It wasn’t like him to be so confused about his own actions, but since Ingrid it seemed that nothing was black and white anymore; there were only maddeningly uncertain shades of grey. He had become accustomed to confusion; it was the descent into chaos that was bothering him.

Ingrid. He had killed Ingrid, although it had caused him terrible pain to do so. Methos’ words about judgment came to mind, and he struggled to push them away. The idea that life and death hung from such a subjective thread was deeply frightening, not to mention depressing; but Duncan had to admit that the idea had the ring of truth.

He’d had no logical reason to insist that Methos be spared, and yet he had insisted. Even if he accepted Methos’ evaluation of him as judge, jury and executioner, then from his own code of ethics Cassandra had been justified, and Methos should have died.

He remembered watching Cassandra threatening Methos’ collapsed body, sure in that moment that if she went through with it he would take her head. But why? The question haunted him, returning again and again.

The core of his struggle seemed to be locked in paradox: he wanted to reject Methos’ assessment of him as an arbitrary judge who determined life or death; but he would have killed Cassandra if she hadn’t let him make that decision. He wanted Methos to live; it was the intensity and insistence of that desire which puzzled him.

The streetlamps were ghostly halos, glowing brightly in the enshrouding mist. Duncan felt clammy with moisture and chilled to the bone; he supposed he should get himself home soon, perhaps open a good bottle of wine to ward off the damp and cold.

He slowed his steps and looked for a landmark, wondering where he could have gotten himself to. He moved toward the building on his left, and saw with almost a shock of surprise that it was completely familiar to him; he was half a block away from Shakespeare and Company. Methos’ safe haven, where he ran when he needed to hide himself away.

His questions loomed even larger now, spurred by the fact that his feet had managed to take him here without his consent.

Well, he pondered briefly, nothing says I have to go there. I could go to the cafe on the next street over and call for a taxi.

Right.

He paused a moment in indecision, knowing that seeing Methos right now was definitely a bad idea for both of them; but something, perhaps knowing that the other man was so close, made his previous urge to see Methos into an imperative.

Duncan sighed, resigned, and turned his steps toward the place he knew so well.

Now he stood quietly in the concealing shadows of the doorway, hands in his pockets as he watched Methos. Sword drawn, Methos faced him warily, obviously unsure who was approaching him. There was something strange about watching Methos without being recognized; the other man looked old, almost haggard. Methos was eerily silent.

Duncan had intended to walk in, but he was surprised into stillness. He could see pain on Methos’ face, pain that looked soul-deep. Fascinated, Duncan wondered for the first time what these past weeks must have been like for Methos, playing both sides against each other with survival on the line; not to mention getting a daily dose of dementia from Kronos. He wondered how seeing Methos being so guarded could make him appear so vulnerable.

Suddenly Duncan realized that there was a certain voyeuristic edge to this moment, and at once he stepped forward, moving out of the shadows. As he came into the light it occurred to him that this was the first time since their confrontation that he’d seen Methos anywhere but on holy ground.

When Methos recognized him, Duncan was surprised to see a brief but palpable look of relief cross the other man’s face, immediately followed by an equally transparent look of annoyance.

“MacLeod.” Methos acknowledged tersely, waiting.

“Methos.”

Duncan watched the other man put the sword down on the table by his hip in an apparently casual movement, the blade still within reach but far enough away to pose no obvious threat. A nicely calculated distance, Duncan thought.

Methos simply stood and stared at him, leaning back against the table with crossed arms, exasperation plain on his face. Duncan found a certain perverse pleasure in saying nothing, wondering how long Methos would stand there before he spoke. Methos’ subtle shift from one hip to the other as he leaned against the table was almost too minor to register, but Duncan knew a fidget when he saw one.

“What is it, MacLeod?” Methos finally sneered, “Are you here for a detailed description of the other nine hundred and ninety-nine regrets so that you can walk away more easily? Are you expecting me to beat my breast with self-recrimination and do some bloody act of contrition so that you can feel okay about me again?”

It occurred to Duncan that for some reason his presence was making Methos uncomfortable; probably being caught unawares without his usual guise of complaisance. Still saying nothing, he went to an overstuffed chair behind Methos, obliging the other man to turn around, and sat.

“Okay, then,” Methos said with barely concealed annoyance, “twenty questions it is. Why are you here, MacLeod?”

Duncan couldn’t repress a bit of a grin when Methos asked him the question. “I’m trying to figure that out myself, Methos,” he answered.

“You shouldn’t be here. There’s nothing we need to say to each other right now.” Methos passed his hand over his eyes briefly, then turned and walked away from Duncan into the more open spaces of the room. After a moment or two, Duncan followed.

This was very weird. Duncan had felt differently toward Methos since he’d learned of his past, a combination of disappointment and bitter anger that made him wonder how much of a pedestal he’d had Methos on in the first place. Now, however, seeing Methos as… well, human for the first time—not Methos the legendary Immortal, or Methos the master manipulator and topmost survivalist—made Duncan feel strange. He wondered how it made Methos feel.

Suddenly Methos stopped in his tracks, and Duncan stood still, waiting. When Methos turned to him, Duncan could see the effort the other man was making to remain calm.

“Get out,” Methos said quietly, “you should have left it alone. You should have left me alone. We’ve already said our good-byes.”

Duncan decided to push it. He stood his ground, ignoring Methos’ overt dismissal. After a brief time of staring at him and scowling, Methos threw up his hands in an extravagant gesture of exasperation. Duncan forced himself not to grin.

“Okay, MacLeod,” Methos said abruptly, “what do you want?” His impatience was palpable. “Why are you here? I obviously can’t get you to leave, so you might as well enlighten me about why you’re so determined to stay.”

Abruptly Duncan was less comfortable. “I don’t want anything from you, Methos,” he said, “and I told you before, I don’t know why I’m here. I had questions… I realized I had a lot of questions,” he finished lamely. Methos was looking at him curiously, and Duncan took refuge in sarcasm; “I knew you wouldn’t give me any answers, but I came here anyway. If I figure out why, I’ll be sure to let you know.”

Now Methos was studying him, and Duncan felt very conscious of the dampness that still clung to his hair and clothes, wishing he’d taken a moment to dry himself off a bit before coming down the stairs. Methos smiled, his customary self-assured demeanor back in place for the moment.

“Gee, Mac,” he inquired dryly, “while you were asking yourself all these questions why didn’t you ask yourself why you were staggering around in the rain?”

Duncan had a truly horrible moment, a moment when he began to respond to Methos’ banter in the old comfortable way before he realized with a shock that those days were over. In that instant he realized the depth of the loss he felt, how much he wished he could return to a time of trust.

He opened his mouth, not quite sure what he was going to say. “She kept telling me you had to die.” Well, that was unexpected. He felt a need to explain, and a greater need to be understood; “I was with Cassandra for weeks, Methos, and in almost every moment she was demanding, insisting that you had to die.”

Methos stared at him uncomprehendingly. “Is that what you’re here for, MacLeod? Wouldn’t it have been easier for you to let her kill me and spare yourself the guilt?”

“No! I mean yes!” Duncan was frustrated. “I’m not here to kill you, Methos; I’m here to try to figure out why I need you to live!”

Duncan saw the light go on above Methos’ head, and he had a brief instant of relief at being understood. Methos looked at him speculatively. “I’m having a hard time believing that you could be quite this oblivious, MacLeod.”

Duncan was frustrated all over again. “It doesn’t make sense, Methos. I judged Ingrid, even though I loved her. What you did was worse than anything Ingrid ever dreamed, not to mention the fact that you were pulling my strings the whole time; and I did nothing except insist that you had to live. I don’t understand it.” He chuckled briefly. “If you were a woman, I’d think I had fallen for you.”

Methos was regarding him amusedly, arms crossed, head tilted to one side. “Yes, MacLeod. Well, that’s not the case though, is it?” Eyebrows raised. “I’m not a woman.”

Duncan stared back at him. “And I haven’t. And I can’t make sense of so many things, Methos; most of all, why I’m here when I know you’ll never answer my questions in the first place.”

“You and I both know you don’t like the answers I have to give, MacLeod, and if you can’t handle the answer it is wiser just to not ask the question.”

God, Methos could be so annoying. “So I suppose you know why I’m here?”

Methos was smug. “I do now.”

Duncan stared at Methos with narrowed eyes. “Okay then,” he said incredulously, “why don’t you enlighten me?”

Methos shook his head. “You wouldn’t like it.”

Duncan was aggravated now. “Dammit, Methos,” he snapped, “will you stop playing these stupid games?”

Duncan saw his anger mirrored on the other man’s face. “This is no game, MacLeod,” he said harshly. “I’m telling you; you don’t want to know what I have to say.”

Exasperated, Duncan fought off an urge to reach out and shake the other man. “I have to try to understand, Methos,” he said as patiently as he could, “I— I’m not myself lately, and I feel like I have to know.” Suddenly he looked at Methos warily. “Does this have something to do with the dark Quickening?”

Methos’ eyes rolled. “Oh please, MacLeod, don’t be an idiot.”

Duncan hated it when he could feel himself blush. “Well, what then?” he demanded.

Methos smiled a little. “Oh MacLeod,” he began, shaking his head, “it’s all so very simple, after all. Things have always been so very easy for you. You want to know why you’re here? You’re getting older, that’s all. You’re outgrowing your simplistic worldview. You, with your reverence for all life and your faith that the fight was just. Every single event, person, and circumstance in your life has been viewed and judged according to the blacks and whites of the sacrosanct MacLeod code of good and evil. Well,” he continued, “I put an end to all that, didn’t I? When you look at me you see the shades of grey. Your easy moral choice is gone.”

Duncan was perplexed. This was definitely not what he’d expected. For a moment he wondered if Methos was right, but then his grave disappointment in the other man recurred to him and he frowned. “I’m not going for this, Methos. Good and evil aren’t that hard to understand, and you were the one who made me believe that you were a decent man, that you valued human life.”

Suddenly, Methos was in his face, obviously frustrated. “MacLeod, will you please get your ticket punched on the Reality Express? I have never claimed to be other than what I am—a survivor. You have never known the full depth of what I am, but not because I thought you wouldn’t understand. I knew you couldn’t understand.” He backed away a little, and Duncan relaxed.

“You and I are products of two very different eras, MacLeod,” he continued more quietly. “The concepts of good and evil just don’t mean the same thing to me that they do to you. I came to life in a time when the cycle of existence was understood and balanced. People respected and worshipped the power of creation, the ability to heal and nurture, yes; but they also honored the destructive and chaotic forces, the power of death, the darkness.” Looking into Methos’ dilated, serious eyes, Duncan had to suppress a shiver as he realized again how ancient the other man was. Suddenly Methos seemed alien, nearly repulsive, but Duncan couldn’t stop staring at him, listening intently to every word.

“Everything goes round, MacLeod; everything cycles in life and death except for a few freaks like us. Your determination of good and evil is pitiably simplistic. You will never be able to understand that light and darkness exist outside the judgment of good and bad; you will only know the futility of your struggle, penalizing those around you who see more than you do.”

Duncan felt the impact of the words, but forced himself to wave them away brusquely. “Thanks for the psychoanalysis, Doctor,” he quipped.

“Maybe you should try it sometime, MacLeod,” Methos said, smiling dryly, “mi sofa es su sofa.”

Duncan’s nerves were on edge, and he bit back an acid rebuttal. “Okay then,” he said grudgingly, “if I’m here because of some weird kind of Immortal growing pains, why do I need you to live? Have I somehow decided that I need you to be my nursemaid through my awkward adolescence?”

Methos smiled again, although Duncan could see him struggling with it. “Oh no, MacLeod,” he said wryly, “not your nursemaid.”

Duncan was frustrated again. “What the hell, Methos?” he demanded, “will you please get over yourself and stop speaking as if you were the Oracle at Delphi? Just tell me!”

Duncan didn’t much care for the way Methos was staring at him. There was a moment of unease as the other man looked him up and down, deepening when Methos licked his lower lip.

“Okay, MacLeod. Have it your way.” Methos’ voice was silky, sinuous. “You don’t want me dead because you want to fuck me, first.”

Duncan went cold.

“I what?” he stammered. He seemed to have gone numb everywhere. Almost everywhere.

“You heard me.”

“Oh, I heard you, Methos, I just don’t believe you said what you said.”

“Don’t you?” Smug again.

Duncan turned and walked away then, not knowing how to deal with the sudden, overwhelming feeling of being threatened without drawing his sword. He’d only taken three steps when a strong hand gripped his arm and he was whirled around to find Methos almost close enough to press up against him.

The feeling of danger crested, and Duncan’s hand went automatically to the hilt of his katana. When he realized what he was doing, he froze.

Methos stood his ground. “Go ahead,” Methos said calmly, “I won’t fight you.”

Duncan’s nerveless fingers were clenched fiercely on his sword as he remained still, pinned down by an unnamable threat. Methos stepped even closer.

“Tell me, MacLeod,” he said softly, “is it easier to take the head of a friend than it is to brave this?” Methos leaned toward him, placing gentle hands on either side of his head. Before Duncan could protest his mouth had been captured in a warm, pressing kiss, a tender and sensual caress that he felt through his entire body. The immediacy of his response terrified him, and abruptly he shoved Methos away.

Methos let him go, and Duncan began to back away, wanting desperately to get out of the room and wishing he’d never come. To his dismay Methos was following him, advancing step by step as he retreated. Duncan wiped his mouth on the back of his hand, taking refuge in the anger that surfaced.

“Stay away from me, Methos!”

“But I know how you feel, MacLeod.” Duncan had never noticed how sensual Methos’ voice was.

“You’re wrong this time, Methos. Very wrong.”

“I’ve known for a long time.” Duncan felt as if he were being expertly wheedled. “Trust me, I know. I know what you need.”

Anger was ebbing away, slowly being replaced by panic. “I wouldn’t trust you if you said my fly was open, so what makes you think I’d trust you enough to… to…”

Duncan stopped retreating, fiercely fighting his own sense of panic in an effort to be perfectly rational when he explained to Methos why he was mistaken.

Methos stood about three feet from him, staring at him with a hungry, knowing look that made him want to squirm.

“Now listen, Methos—”

“Give me your hand.” Methos’ voice was both soft and insistent.

Duncan was bewildered “What? I—”

“Your hand, MacLeod.”

Confused, Duncan released his sword hilt and put out his hand, which was taken gently in a grip that was surprisingly warm. Duncan’s panic rose up, but when he looked at Methos he was caught, held immobile in the depths of the other man’s eyes. He didn’t resist as Methos pulled his hand up, gently opening his fingers.

Duncan gasped as Methos pressed a kiss into the center of his palm, feeling an erotic shock jolt through him. He stared into Methos’ captivating, sensual eyes and felt himself hardening.

Duncan couldn’t pull his hand away, not even when Methos covered it with his own and placed both their hands gently over Duncan’s erection.

“Now, MacLeod,” Methos said rationally, “what were you about to say?”

Duncan said nothing. He realized that his mouth was hanging open in shock, which Methos must have taken for an invitation.

Duncan saw Methos leaning toward him, feeling a soft touch on the back of his head as Methos used his free hand to support him. Inside he was yelling at himself to get away, to not let this happen, but he couldn’t break through the strange paralysis as Methos came toward his mouth.

Just before Methos closed on him, Duncan shuddered and pulled himself back. He stepped away, wishing he wasn’t trembling so noticeably.

“This isn’t a good idea, Methos.”

Methos flanked him, getting between him and the doorway.

“Why not?” he asked seductively, “are you telling me it’s not what you want?”

Duncan was frustrated, angry that Methos was blocking his escape. “No,” he said curtly, “I’m telling you that it’s a bad idea. I’m telling you that I’m leaving, and you’re in my way.”

Methos grasped his shoulders, holding him firmly. “Why is this a bad idea, MacLeod? Why run away?”

Duncan couldn’t maintain his anger. His body was still shaking with desire, desire he didn’t understand. “I’m afraid,” he said simply.

Methos seemed confused. “Yes? And?”

Duncan was irritated. “Don’t pretend you don’t understand me, Methos. I told you—I’m afraid.”

Methos eyed him dubiously. “Are you telling me that in four hundred years you’ve never once tried it with another man?”

He was blushing again, self-conscious and feeling absurdly childlike. “No,” he admitted quietly. “But I… I didn’t like it.”

To his amazement Methos smiled, his eyes captivating. “That’s okay, MacLeod,” the other man murmured, starting towards him, “you’ll like this.”

Duncan was too stunned to move. Methos grasped his head once more, and then Duncan’s blood was surging, pounding in his own ears as Methos kissed him, a hard, hot, wet kiss that made his knees weak.

He had to force himself not to respond, his body confused under the equal pressures of desire and fear. He wanted to grab Methos and grind into him as hard as he could, he wanted to sink his teeth into the other man’s flesh, he wanted to run screaming. He was familiar with arousal, but this was more like a craving that was going to kill him if it went unsatisfied. Why now, he wondered, and why Methos?

Suddenly he experienced a sharp pang of fear as it occurred to him that he could be playing right into Methos’ hands in the first step of some new dance of manipulation. The fear didn’t eradicate the desire, but it did give him the strength to push Methos away, looking into the other man’s eyes with demanding intent.

“I have to know one thing, Methos,” he said, struggling to control his voice, “have you been using me all this time? Are you using me now?”

“It doesn’t matter, MacLeod,” Methos said calmly.

Duncan felt completely adrift; his body was on fire with need but his brain kept insisting that he had to know. “What do you mean, it doesn’t matter?” he asked incredulously, “This is my life, okay? You can’t ask me to trust you and tell me that it doesn’t matter whether or not I should!”

Momentarily he wondered if Methos was simply too ancient, too alien to understand. “Don’t you know that trust matters, Methos? Don’t you know that honesty matters? What in God’s name is wrong with you, anyway?”

Methos didn’t take the bait, he just advanced on Duncan again, speaking softly. “I’m telling you, MacLeod, it doesn’t matter. Maybe I arranged things so that you would fight Kronos and I wouldn’t, or maybe it just bloody happened that way. Either way, it’s over, and you and I are alive, and the rest just doesn’t matter.”

Methos was very close to him now, and Duncan started edging back. Looking into Methos’ eyes was turning him on, making him want… everything.

“Maybe,” Methos continued softly, “I’m being honest with you right now; or maybe I’m just setting you up for a fall. Either way, this is not about the future, this is about here and now, and it doesn’t matter.” Abruptly Duncan felt the backs of his knees hit the side of Methos’ bed. With a casual but terrifyingly deliberate gesture, Methos leaned toward him until Duncan had to either sit down or fall over. He sat down.

Methos knelt before him with unconscious grace, and Duncan felt arousal whip through his body. Then there was a warm, strong hand just resting on his thigh, and he gasped.

“Maybe,” the silky voice continued, “I could seduce you because I know that it would destroy any defenses you have against me; or maybe I do this only because I want you so badly, because I have spent long enough burning with a constant desire to touch you. It doesn’t matter.”

Abruptly Duncan felt a solid grip on his hair as Methos stared deeply into his eyes, now only centimeters away. “This is what matters,” Methos whispered. “What matters is that you and I are bound together. There is unfinished business between us, MacLeod. I have always known that.”

Duncan’s heart was thundering in his chest, and he wondered for a moment if Methos could hear it. He needed to close his eyes, to get some semblance of control, but he couldn’t look away.

Duncan felt Methos release his hair and start to pull away. As Methos sank back onto his knees, each of his hands ran slowly down Duncan’s thighs, making him jump.

“Unfinished business, MacLeod,” Methos said softly, “can’t you feel that?”

Duncan couldn’t take it; his tenuous grip on the last shreds of restraint had finally snapped. Helpless to stop himself he reached out and grabbed the other man roughly by the front of his sweater, dragging him onto the bed and pinning him down. “I hope you really want this, Methos,” he growled, “because you’re going to get it.”

Now that Duncan had let himself go, he found that he knew exactly what he wanted. He held Methos’ head still and kissed him, plundering his mouth without consideration, enjoying the feeling of having Methos gasp and shiver underneath him.

Now Methos’ hands were stroking everywhere, trying to feel all of him at once. Duncan’s senses were being flooded; the crushing silky kisses with the scratchiness of stubble, an intoxicating smell of rising male arousal, and most of all the palpable waves of need which radiated from Methos each increased the ache of desire.

Beneath him Methos was making incredibly sexy muffled sounds of assent and tugging roughly at his shirt.

Duncan backed away a little without breaking the kiss, and managed to take his own shirt off. Methos moaned in mid-kiss, and Duncan shivered as strong hands caressed his shoulders, his back, tickling delightfully over his sides.

Desperate for the touch of bare skin, Duncan reached out, momentarily puzzled when he encountered a sweater. Knowing that it was too late to care, Duncan grabbed it by the collar, feeling Methos heave under him as he tore it asunder.

Duncan’s arousal was increasing as his hands roamed over silky flesh, stroking Methos’ chest, cupping his face. Duncan needed more and he wiggled his hands under Methos, holding him firmly and grinding against him in tight, circular motions. Methos arched against him, open, accepting, letting Duncan ravish him. Duncan dimly heard his own muffled voice speaking, passionate endearments and curses and instructions, rendered unintelligible by their united mouths.

At last Duncan ended the kiss and buried his head in the hollow of Methos’ shoulder, panting and gasping for air. When Methos shivered and arched his neck to Duncan’s mouth, his cock leaped in response.

“MacLeod, please…” Methos groaned, clutching at him, “I’m going to explode if I don’t get you inside me—”

Duncan’s body stiffened with desire, and for a moment he thought he might come in his pants. Then he thought of how much more he wanted, and somehow he was able to leave Methos lying abandoned on the bed while he stood up and began wrestling with the rest of his clothes. Fortunately, Methos took the hint and quickly removed the rest of his own. Duncan saw that Methos didn’t wear underwear, so before he could struggle out of his briefs the other man was just lying there, watching him hungrily.

Methos was beautiful naked, his body lean and graceful, his pale skin delicately flushed with a rosy glow of desire, his erection proud, curving, and much bigger than Duncan expected.

Duncan was surprised. Staring at another man’s erection was not normally what he would expect to get off on, but there it was, and he wanted it. He walked towards the bed, one hand negligently soothing his rampant cock.

Before he could do anything Methos had tumbled out of the bed and was kneeling at his feet, pulling his hands away, taking control. When Methos stroked the length of his cock and then squeezed firmly around the base Duncan gasped, involuntarily reaching out and clamping onto Methos’ shoulders. He watched Methos lean forward and delicately lick the drop of moisture which had gathered at the tip. A shock went through him at the brief flare of warmth, and he groaned helplessly.

Still with one hand firmly wrapped around the base, Methos rubbed against his throbbing shaft, nuzzling it against his cheeks, his lips, his throat. Duncan realized that Methos was as driven by arousal as he was himself, and suddenly his body was demanding, crying out for more. Duncan dug his hands viciously into the other man’s shoulders.

“Dammit, Methos, stop all the fucking around and suck me!” he growled menacingly. Methos just smiled at him, a teasing, voluptuous smile that offered everything and promised nothing.

“Oh, MacLeod,” Methos said, his voice husky, “the fucking around hasn’t even started yet.”

Despite his words Methos acquiesced, welcoming Duncan’s shaft into his throat in one long endless swallow. Every nerve in Duncan’s body kindled when he felt that hot, wet mouth close around him, and he couldn’t stop himself from straining forward, gasping with pleasure.

With deliberate slowness Methos moved up and down on his cock, expertly using his tongue, lips and teeth so that every moment brought some new tantalizing variation. Duncan groped frantically for the back of Methos’ head, his hands trying unsuccessfully to tangle in the other man’s hair.

Duncan couldn’t control his rising excitement or his increasing frustration with the unhurried pace of the caresses, but Methos refused to be rushed. Each stroke was devastatingly thorough and exquisitely slow, burning through him until he was moaning at each touch, his torment perpetually increasing.

Finally in desperation Duncan grabbed Methos’ head firmly and speeded up the pace, sobbing with desire as he tried desperately to push himself into the back of Methos’ throat. Duncan shook with relief when Methos allowed this, taking his engorged cock without restraint, moving him closer to orgasm with each thrust. Duncan’s muscles fluttered as he hovered on the brink, knowing that one more stroke, one more penetration into that hot and wickedly talented mouth would release him.

Suddenly Methos was clamping down with the hand that still held the base of his cock, pulling his mouth away at the same time.

Duncan was numb, shocked, only dimly hearing his own staggered gasps. He felt a wave of guilt as he realized that he’d probably hurt Methos, fucking into his mouth as if it were his to use. He didn’t even protest when Methos pulled away, he only stood and looked at him wide-eyed, chest heaving, feeling droplets of sweat run down his body. “I’m sorry,” he panted, “I didn’t mean to hurt you. I just—”

“I really think it would be better if I were in charge of this, don’t you?” Methos teased, relaxing his grip and giving Duncan’s cock a gentle, sinuous stroke. Duncan hissed at the nearly painful sensation on his oversensitized erection, and his eyes squeezed shut.

“Methos….” he breathed, reaching out with one trembling hand, “My God, please… Just touch me!”

“As you wish.” Methos shoved him down onto the bed and lay on top of him. Duncan arched helplessly up against the other man’s erection when he felt the sinuous length of Methos’ body pressed against his own.

With a gentle undulation Methos moved against him, claiming his lips in a kiss. Before Duncan had had anywhere near enough, Methos pulled away and crawled up to the small bookshelf next to the head of the bed, knocking books aside. When he turned back, there was a small plastic bottle of massage oil in his hand. Duncan felt a leap of fear, and a concomitant rush of need.

Moving much too slowly to suit Duncan, Methos straddled his thighs and brought their cocks together, holding them firmly against each other with one large hand and pumping in counterpoint as he slowly thrust with his hips. It was incredible. Methos’ shaft rubbed against his own, Methos’ hand stroked him slowly, endlessly.

With his free hand Methos flipped the top of the bottle open with a practiced flick. He liberally drizzled oil over both of their cocks, and Duncan nearly lost control as the friction eased, producing a delirious sliding sensation that made him weak. Duncan saw that Methos was panting, shuddering with arousal, his head arching back in ecstasy.

Now Methos began in earnest, moving fluidly over Duncan’s aching body, speeding up until Duncan was on the verge of orgasm and then stopping, holding them pressed tightly together until he came back from the edge, and then speeding up again; over and over until Duncan had tears in his eyes and Methos could have made him beg for it if he had wanted to.

Just when Duncan felt like he couldn’t stand another moment of anguish, Methos released his grip on both of them. Duncan gasped, shivered, and collapsed, closing his eyes as the room spun around him and his body pulsed with unfulfilled need. He could feel Methos shifting above him, and then a mouth pressed against his in a soft and tender kiss. Duncan moaned quietly.

There was a firm hand on his shaft, a sensation of increasing closeness, and then an excruciating wave of pleasure as his cock was engulfed in intense heat and tightness with one slow, deliberate movement. Duncan cried out and opened his eyes, shocked to find Methos impaled on him. Methos’ brows were drawn together and his teeth were clenched as he held himself motionless, and Duncan stared at him in wonder, all urgency forgotten in this one almost frightening moment of connection, awed by an intimacy he’d never imagined.

“Oh my God, Methos,” Duncan breathed, unable to stop himself, “this is you.” Slowly he raised both hands to Methos’ face, tenderly brushing across his brow, his cheeks, loving the erotic shivers that went through Methos when Duncan glided sensually over his lips, over and over again, knowing he would never have the words to say what this meant to him.

Methos stroked him gently, trailing from his throat to his chest to the place where they were joined. Moving his hands slowly back up, Methos stopped to softly tweak each nipple between his thumb and forefinger, gradually increasing the pressure. Shocks of pleasure overwhelmed Duncan and he panted, arching his head back as he resisted the urge to move. The almost painful tightness which had first surrounded him was easing now, he could feel rippling, hot flutters of muscle, even with Methos completely still. That was too much and he sobbed, curling himself forward almost to a sitting position as he grabbed Methos by the hips. Methos cried out sharply, and immediately Duncan tried to be still, cursing himself for his impatience, his entire body twisting with the effort.

He looked apprehensively into Methos’ eyes, ready to do anything to make it up to him, but the gaze that met his own was unfocused, hazy with desire and sexual need.

“No, Highlander,” Methos gasped, “I want to feel you. Fuck me—Now!”

Duncan groaned and lost control of himself; he held Methos’ hips without mercy as he thrust desperately into him. The tightness and the warmth were overwhelming, and Duncan couldn’t stop himself from taking, taking everything that had been offered to him. With a surge of lust Duncan realized that the man above him was as desperate as he was; Methos was shuddering helplessly in ecstasy as Duncan fucked him with increasing abandon.

“Oh yes,” Methos moaned, “Just like that. Don’t stop, MacLeod, oh please… yes… don’t stop!”

It was almost too much. Duncan was trying desperately to hold back, needing this incredible experience to go on as long as he could possibly make it. Just looking at Methos right now was about to make him come. That pale skin was flushed with sensual heat and his face was suffused with passion, passion that Duncan had made him feel. The spare and elegant contours of his body were all right there, naked and waiting to be touched, stroked, kissed… and Duncan was terrified by how very much he wanted to oblige. He closed his eyes.

Even with his eyes closed, he was still being overwhelmed. Duncan panted, trying not to feel quite so much of this exquisite sensation of being inside Methos, of thrusting deliriously into this tight and welcoming body. He gritted his teeth with effort and decided that if he couldn’t take much more he should try to make sure that Methos couldn’t either, releasing the other man’s hips and reaching for his cock, still slippery with oil and throbbing with arousal.

Methos cried out with a wordless exclamation of pleasure and Duncan opened his eyes. Above him Methos rocked himself back and forth between his fist and cock, moving even more frantically under the double stimulation. As Duncan watched he froze, head thrown wildly back, chest heaving.

“Yes!” Methos wailed, “Duncan! Fuck me! Harder—YES!”

Duncan let go then, thrusting into Methos’ rigid body as hard as he possibly could. A few brutal strokes later, he was coming in incredibly powerful waves, pulling Methos onto his throbbing cock without regard for what damage he might be doing. He felt a warm splash of semen against his chest, and with a guttural cry he curled himself up and against Methos, grinding out the last shreds of his ecstatic passion while he was circled in the other man’s strong arms.

Some unknown time later Duncan found himself easing back down onto the bed, taking Methos with him. He was still panting, his entire body shaking with release. He felt overwhelmingly aware of what had just happened, and dangerously exposed as if he had somehow stumbled into a trap that had just sprung shut behind him.

As his erection waned he felt the moment that their bodies separated, and an inexplicable wave of sadness washed over him. He couldn’t think of a time that he had felt more vulnerable, or more like he had suffered some great loss. Repressing the grief, he sighed deeply, not knowing quite what to do next.

The feelings of confusion, shame and discomfort increased. He’d done it; he’d had sex with a man, with Methos, and it had been incredible. He had expected to be slightly revolted and emotionally uninvolved, as he had been in past experiences. Instead, Duncan was craving Methos as much as he had before they’d begun.

Not wanting to think about what any of this meant, Duncan tried gently to extricate himself from Methos’ embrace, but the other man refused to let him go. Arms still firmly around him, Methos kissed him tenderly and lovingly on the mouth. This gesture of affection completely undid Duncan’s resolve, and suddenly he was crying quietly, hating his own weakness and shaking in Methos’ arms.

Methos rolled them both onto their sides, still holding Duncan firmly to him.

“Shh… MacLeod,” he murmured softly, placing a gentle kiss on the other man’s forehead, “easy now—just relax and trust me, everything will be okay.”

Incredibly, Duncan felt himself responding to the soothing words, and his tears stopped. For some reason which he couldn’t even begin to comprehend, all he wanted to do was let Methos comfort him, and never mind all his unanswered questions, his fears, his recriminations. Methos released him momentarily to pull a quilt from the bottom of the bed over them both, immediately wrapping him once again in the circle of his arms. Wondering if he had possibly been hypnotized somehow, Duncan felt himself begin to drift, amazed that it could be this easy.

He snuggled up to the silky angularity of lean muscle that was Methos, and let his eyes slip closed. Methos was slowly stroking his hair back from his forehead, over and over, hypnotically. Duncan unconsciously began breathing in sync with him, following each breath a little further down into darkness and quiet, loving the warm smell of sex and sweat which emanated from both of them.

Just before Duncan passed over the line and into sleep, a question occurred to him, nagging vaguely at his mind and not letting go.

“Methos?” he asked quietly.

“What is it, MacLeod?” Gently.

“Am I going to be regret number one thousand and one?” Sadly.

Methos’ arms tightened around him momentarily, and Duncan felt a soft kiss press on each of his closed eyelids. Then his mouth was slowly taken, gently and with such love that he almost started crying again. He felt blessed, redeemed, and gradually he slid back down to darkness under the irrefutable and terrible persuasion of that kiss.

“You are mine, Highlander.” Methos said tenderly, and before Duncan even registered that he had not been answered, he had surrendered to the exquisite comfort around him, and drifted off to sleep.

Methos looked quietly at the man asleep in his arms, marveling at how innocent he looked, how vulnerable. Slowly he eased away, settling onto his back with his hands laced behind his head.

Methos sighed. Of all the possible outcomes for this day, this was not one he had anticipated. He felt unprepared, as if somehow he should have known that this would happen. Of course, he thought, it worked out all right, at least for tonight. I’ll probably wake up with Duncan trying to attack me with either one weapon or the other…

He pondered Duncan’s last question briefly, and felt a pang of sadness. He supposed the best thing he could do for both of them was just to get up and go, get himself lost in some remote part of the world where there was no beautiful and dangerously naïve Duncan MacLeod to resist.

He just couldn’t do it. There were too many things about Duncan that Methos hadn’t had enough of yet; Duncan had such fire, and Methos had been cold for a very long time.

Resigned to what would probably be an ultimately messy and painful situation, Methos turned back to Duncan and gathered him into his arms. Duncan murmured gently and pressed himself happily against Methos, immediately sinking back into deep sleep.

Duncan looked so beautiful, so trusting in his arms. Methos held him tenderly, trying not to remember, not to acknowledge the smell of innocent blood.

Of course, he could have told Duncan the truth. That would have been enough to send him screaming into the night. Methos had a moment of intense gratitude that Cassandra was so worried about her image. It had made the lies he’d told Duncan much more plausible.

He remembered a time when Cassandra had been an innocent, before time and untended wounds had turned her into the avenging bitch she’d become.

Suddenly he felt old, too old to be playing these kinds of games. What had been amusing in his youth lost its appeal after a few thousand years. Especially, he thought, when it seems that every regret gets a chance to come back and bite you on the arse.

Cassandra. If he were lucky, he would never have to see her again. Too bad he couldn’t do much about the memories. Duncan stirred in his arms, bringing his attention back for a moment.

If Duncan survived another three thousand years, how might the memory of this day be? Methos didn’t plan to give Duncan a reason to come after his head. Of course, no plan is ever really perfect…

He could smell her fear as soon as he entered the tent. He let the flap fall closed behind him, relying on his hearing and sense of smell to help him locate her before his eyes adjusted to the dimness. There, off to his left—stealthy breathing and a whiff of panicked sweat from the dark corner near his pallet.

Quicker than thought, Methos leapt. He managed to knock the clumsy weapon out of her hand: a rude stake used for fastening hides. She fought and screamed like a wildcat, and for a few moments he had his arms full just trying to remain unscathed while he drew his knife. She froze immediately when she felt the familiar point of cold metal at her throat, her rapid breathing the only thing that animated her as she stiffened against him, the muscles in her back trembling against his chest. He pressed the edge of the knife firmly against her skin, not cutting yet but quite close, and shifted her body more firmly against his rapidly hardening cock. She cried out at once, trying ineffectually to squirm away from both his knife and his erection.

Methos leaned down into the hollow of her arched neck and inhaled deeply, enjoying the shudders of her response and the smell of innocent blood. Fear was coming from her in waves now, nearly as palpable as the tide of her breath or the rush of her heart. He gripped the front of her throat, squeezing a gentle threat with one hand while the other used the knife to trace idle patterns on the soft skin of her chest. She cried out again, and started to struggle.

“Let’s have a little more willingness here, if you please,” he growled. “I appreciate your desire to welcome me home, but a cool drink and a sponge bath seems a more appropriate greeting. Now,” he snarled, tightening his grip on her throat while bringing the knife hard against her, “Are you going to stop fighting me, or am I going to have to kill you again? I really don’t mind having to kill you,” he added in his silkiest voice, grinding his now-rampant erection against the top of her buttocks. “In fact, I rather enjoy the idea, as I’m sure you can tell. So, my dear, the decision is all yours.”

Abruptly all the fight went out of her. She went limp in his arms, her face obscured by her cloud of hair, her hands hanging passive and open. Methos chuckled, and used his free arm to bring his knife down in a wicked arc, burying the blade into the soft wood of his travelling trunk. She flinched, but made no sound. Methos bent a little and cupped one of his hands between her legs.

He stood, lifting her off the ground and gliding her buttocks over his straining cock in a way that was almost painfully erotic. His indrawn breath hissed with pleasure, echoed by her hiss of trepidation. Her head now lay across his shoulder, and he turned his face once more into her neck, inhaling the almost electric smell of her passion, anger, and fear.

He knew she was a virgin. Her status as a mystic and healer had told him that, even before his initial rough explorations of her body had confirmed it. She was not ignorant, not after her life among the nomads, but she was completely inexperienced, expected to maintain her maiden status for at least the duration of her apprenticeship.

She was utterly perfect. She had witnessed the slaughter of her people by his hand, and had fallen victim to his knife herself on several occasions. He had violated her in every conceivable way except sexually, and he knew that the greatest part of her constant fear resulted from wondering exactly when he would go past the point of words and threats to actual rape. She hated him with all the passion in her fervent heart, she wanted him dead, she was in constant terror of him, and she was perfect, perfectly suited to fill his particular needs.

Methos wanted her to fall in love with him.

Passionately in love with him. He wanted his slightest inclination to be her urgent imperative. He wanted her to burn with desire for him, to crave him as she craved air and light and food to survive.

Most of all, he wanted to see if he could pull it off.

Boredom had taken its toll on him over the ages. He grew and changed and learned and dropped little bits of his humanity as he went along, until now he almost frightened himself, this fearsomely old and alien thing, crouching in the middle of the river of life and swallowing time in greedy walloping chunks.

He had to do something to fill in the time, to stop himself from going mad just from the sheer weight of all the years that lay behind him and all the possible years that lay before.

And so, Methos had begun his little Experiments: how far would any given person really go? How much could be manipulated, controlled, exploited; and what would the consequences be?

As soon as he had realized that she was Immortal, his racing mind had provided him with all the possibilities inherent in the situation. How this could be a delightful test of his powers of manipulation, the perfect way to gauge his skill.

And now, she was ready for him. He had killed her until she stopped fighting him, sullied and degraded her when he’d had the time, and now she was at the peak of both hatred and fear, with this limp and abject submission the result. Just the thought of it excited him almost to the point of spilling into his breeches with no further stimulation.

Methos used the hand that wasn’t supporting her between the legs to roam over the rest of her body, relishing the wet feel of tears on her face and neck, silent tears which seemed almost to pulse with hot recrimination. Her breasts were small and firm, and her breath caught roughly in her throat when he touched her there, but she did not resist. She was small and lithe and blessedly warm, and he allowed the palms of both of his hands to absorb her warmth for a long moment before he slowly lowered her to the floor. She stumbled as she tried to take a step, and he caught her and steadied her.

He turned her around to face him, realizing only then that she was on the verge of fainting, whether from an excess of outrage or terror he couldn’t tell. He scooped her up into his arms, and for the first time he looked into her face with tenderness. Her eyes were brilliant but unfocused, and her cheeks and forehead were flushed. Still cradling her, he went to his pallet and laid her gently down. At once she began to tremble, looking silently at him for a brief moment before turning her face away.

“Shh, now…” he soothed, speaking gently for the first time. She stiffened at the sound of his voice, but did not look at him again. He rose, and went to his rough wooden trestle table and poured clean water from a stone ewer into a hollowed wooden bowl, and gathered a piece of clean fabric.

He went to her, kneeling on the hide-covered floor next to the pallet. Wetting the piece of fabric, he touched it gently to the side of her neck closest to him. Immediately, she turned her head to see him, her eyes wide open in shock.

“Quiet!” he commanded, not wanting to risk another incident of panic. “Stay still, please, and don’t listen to any ideas you may have about getting away. My knife is only just over there, and I think you have some idea of how fast I can move. Don’t you, now?” She swallowed and nodded. Methos resumed bathing her neck, and when that was finished, he began on her face, wiping tear-streaked dirt from her cheeks with the gentlest of touches.

She seemed to grow more agitated as he continued; he could perceive the struggle she was making to force herself to lie still. Choosing his moment carefully, Methos turned her face towards his own with both hands and kissed her lingeringly on the mouth. Immediately she stiffened and tried to pull away, but he held her resolutely until he had fully explored her. When he was finished, as she gasped for breath and began to buck and struggle on the pallet, Methos anchored her head by tangling one hand in her incredible hair, and slapped her across the face as hard as he could.

“You are going to trust me, damn you, or you are going to die!” He captured both of her flailing hands in one of his own and pinned them above her head. With his free hand he gripped her throat again, applying enough force to allow her only the slightest sips of air. When she was finally still he relaxed the pressure, admiring the fresh tears that sparkled in her eyes, and the bloom of her skin where he had wiped her free of dirt.

“I don’t want to hurt you any more today,” he told her sternly. Her eyes looked deeply into his, wide with fear and vulnerability. For the first time she whimpered, a soft and helpless noise that seemed to lance him to his erotic core. Methos clenched his teeth and forced himself to disregard his more immediate needs, resisting the overwhelming urge to strip her shift off and fuck her right then and there. His testicles felt heavy and tight, and his cock felt like it was going to burst out of his breeches and leap at her of its own volition. Ignoring his furiously clamoring body, he held her face still so that she could not look away.

“You are mine,” he growled at her. “You live because I want you to live. You will die when I want you to die. You are here to please me, and that is exactly what you will do. Do you understand?” she nodded, and her wrists relaxed slightly under his hand.

Methos leaned over and kissed her again, and although he felt her go tense with fear, this time she didn’t resist. He plundered her mouth slowly but roughly, his free hand gathering warmth through her shift as it rested on her narrow waist. She did not return his kiss, but her breathing suddenly caught as if on a thorn, and he could feel her confusion as part of her responded against her will. Continuing the kiss, Methos began a slow exploration of her body, gently this time, light and tender caresses calculated to vanquish her reserve.

Methos had centuries of practice in the arts of seduction, and he brought this experience to bear now, drawing on his considerable talents to weigh against her fear and loathing. He patiently sought her desire, looking for the key which would unlock her heart and give him access to all that passion and fire she possessed in such abundance.

He could sense her growing confusion, and he made sure to stop before confusion could become outright panic. He released her mouth and hands and pulled back from her a little. She was trembling again, but she did not move or look away; she only lay there looking at him with those amazing eyes of hers.

“There’s my good girl,” he said, touching her face gently, “you are learning quickly, and that pleases me. Now, if you would continue to please me, I want you to get up and pour me some wine from the vessel near the table. Quickly now, you never know when my good mood will come to an untimely end.”

She stood, a little shaky on her feet, and went to the table to collect his cup before moving to the vessel of wine. Methos sat himself on his pallet, leaned back, and just enjoyed watching her move. Wine now in hand and with eyes downcast, she approached him warily, stopping to offer the cup when she was still at least three feet away. Moving like a striking snake, Methos grabbed the cup in one hand and her wrist in the other, pulling her onto his knee. Although at first she recoiled, she quickly remembered and sat docilely on his lap, her trembling hands folded demurely on her thighs. Methos laughed, and took a deep draught from his cup.

“Such a fast learner! I knew when I saw you that you were worth saving. Now, I want you to take a sip of this wine, and then I want you to tell me what your name is. I can’t very well go about calling you ‘slave’, unless, of course, you insist. Here.”

Methos offered her the cup. With both hands she accepted it, and managed despite her trembling to swallow some without spilling it all over herself. Methos took the cup from her gently, and brushed her hair away from her face so that she was open to him. “Now, your name?”

She replied so softly that even in the quiet of the tent it was difficult to hear her.

“My name is Cassandra,” she whispered. Then, meeting his eyes, she asked in a much louder voice, “What are you going to do with me?” Immediately she looked away, as if she expected to be punished.

Methos only stroked her soft hair back from her smooth forehead, and took another sip of his wine. “Well, Cassandra,” he said, toying idly with one of her curls, appreciating its texture and heaviness, “you’ll just have to wait and see, won’t you?”

It took him a week longer than he’d thought it would.

It was time. He had been endlessly patient, purposefully stretching her boundaries by only the smallest degrees, making her depend on him for more and more. Now it was time for him to begin reaping the rewards of what he’d sown; if all went as he planned, by morning Cassandra’s body, will, and soul would be his.

He entered his tent quietly. She was standing near his small table, and for the first time he saw that his unexpected arrival made her smile spontaneously. Good.

He came to her and took her in his arms. Her smile flickered out and faded, becoming the serious, wary look she wore whenever he touched her sexually. Noting this, he made himself wait, for a long moment simply holding her to him and stroking her hair. Quickly she relaxed against him, letting herself be held.

Slowly Methos tilted her head back, capturing her eyes. She was nervous, that was obvious, but the accepting feel of her body against him told a different story. In the time that she’d been with him he had taught her what desire was, and she’d learned quickly.

He bent forward and kissed her, and was immediately rewarded with a gentle sigh. Oh, this was almost too easy. He kissed her deeply, increasing the intensity and passion little by little until he could feel her trembling. When he pulled away her mouth remained open, gasping for breath, and she would have slumped to the floor if he hadn’t been supporting her.

“I feel… so strange,” she said softly.

“You feel me.” Let her figure that one out.

For the first time she looked at him with something like awe, and he saw her desire increase. Oh yes, everybody wants to fuck a god.

He stepped away from her, first making sure that she was steady on her feet.

“Take your robe off,” he commanded.

An immediate blush spread over her cheeks, and her eyes left his and looked demurely to the ground. When her brow furrowed in momentary indecision Methos felt a rush of arousal; she would be caught now, between her fear and her newly learned imperative to obey.

Eyes still downcast, Cassandra put her hands to the tie of her robe and began to unfasten it. She didn’t look at him as she stripped, and when she was done she made an unsuccessful attempt to cover herself with her hands.

Shame and desire. What a powerful combination. Methos felt himself hardening.

“Drop your hands.” She obeyed.

“Look at me.” She did, although it obviously cost her some effort. Her face was flaming, embarrassment flushing her upper body all the way to the rise of her breasts.

As she watched he slowly began to remove his own clothing. He saw her start to tremble, but he didn’t rescue her from her fear. As he bared his own body he was gratified to see reluctant fascination dawning in her eyes.

He focused on her closely as he lowered his breeches. As he’d expected, her eyes were riveted on his erection, and her face displayed a moment of near panic. He simply stood there, letting her decide if she would run or not. If she did he was going to throw her to the ground and rape her; it had been too long since he’d had any release, and despite his enthusiasm for this experiment he was getting frustrated.

She didn’t run, but the panic remained, etched plainly on her face.

“Lie down on the pallet,” he told her.

Her breathing stuttered, her eyes widening. He watched her struggle with herself, feeling a small triumph when she docilely turned and went, stretching out gracefully.

He approached and stood over her, withstanding an urge to touch himself. He would have liked to ease the ache, but he wanted her attention on him right now, not just on his cock.

From under the folded fur that served him as a pillow he drew four long, soft strips of leather, remnants from a hide he’d cut apart long ago for just this purpose. Cassandra saw them, and he saw her eyes widen with understanding even as she tensed with fear. Her hands gripped the edges of his bed in panic, and he knew she was about to bolt. He knelt and brought his face close to her own.

“Be still, Cassandra,” he told her firmly. “I don’t want to hurt you.” She froze.

He put three of the strips next to his knee, keeping the last one and running it slowly through his fingers. Cassandra watched this, terrified.

“Be still,” he repeated, reaching for her hand.

Her small and delicate wrist was thrumming with energy, but she didn’t resist him as he quickly secured her to one of the pallet’s supports. As he picked up another strip he heard her breathing start to escalate; by the time he’d secured her other hand she was nearly panting, almost hysterical.

Methos leaned over her and stroked her face, bending slowly to her mouth. As soon as he kissed her she began to quiet, and he moved his mouth from hers and down to her neck. He found a throbbing vein there, and slowly he smoothed his tongue across it, again and again until he heard her utter a startled noise of astonishment. When he backed away her eyes were hot, dilated with surprise and desire. He smiled kindly at her.

“That’s right, Cassandra. I just want to make you feel good.” She shivered.

He touched her body tenderly, watching her resist her own responses. He shifted himself lower and began stroking her legs, feeling the taut muscles gradually relax. When all trembling had ceased, he went and stood at the foot of the pallet. He leaned over and gently grasped her ankles, pulling softly to try to open her legs. Abruptly she froze again.

He didn’t say a thing. He simply looked at her, his calm and commanding eyes staring into her panicked ones. Her entire body wrenched with a deep shudder, but then her resistance slowly faded and he was able to spread her open so that each ankle hung off either side of the pallet. He held her there firmly for a moment, letting her feel his strength.

“I’m going to tie your legs now,” he said softly, “and you will not move. Do you understand?”

She nodded, but he saw tears beginning to well in her eyes. His cock pulsed. He released her ankles slowly but didn’t move away, simply standing at the bottom of the bed while she was naked and opened beneath him. He watched her, saw her wrestling with panic as she struggled not to close her legs. Abruptly the tears which were threatening spilled over and began running down her cheeks, and then Methos was the one struggling, forcing himself to disregard his own ferocious desire. If he wanted to, he could be buried in her waiting body with two quick movements and one hard push.

Resisting the urge to leap at her, he went to her face and knelt, wiping her tears away and smoothing her forehead.

Before he could rise she looked piteously into his eyes. “Methos,” she sighed, “I’m so afraid…”

He leaned forward, staring into her eyes with determined intent.

“Cassandra,” he said sternly, “I’ve taken your life, and I’ve given back your life. Tonight I make you a woman.” That should do it.

It did. Her eyes went thoughtful and far away, and he saw her desire rise again.

He picked up the remaining strips and went to her ankles, quickly fastening each one. She didn’t move.

He turned to his low table and picked up a small earthenware cup containing some sandalwood oil. She watched him, her eyes wary but curious.

He returned to the pallet and knelt, placing the cup by his knee. He leaned down and began to kiss her demandingly, cupping her breasts and running teasing fingers over her rapidly hardening nipples. He could feel her twisting in her restraints, fighting her body which was trying to arch into his touch.

Without releasing her mouth he put one hand down into the cup of oil, finding it unerringly. When his fingers were dripping, he moved his hand directly between her legs.

There was a startled yelp which was muffled by his mouth on hers, and he felt her body palpitate with combined fear and want. His cock ached terribly as he felt her trying to push towards him and shrink away at the same time.

He slid his oiled fingers deeper into her cleft, anticipation clenching in his balls as he felt how incredibly tight and hot she was. More oil. Definitely.

When he pulled his hand away she made a subtle sound of disappointment, followed by a slightly louder sound of desire when his drenched hand slipped back against her.

He finally ended the kiss, watching fascinated as her head tossed and she pulled delicately against her restraints. He massaged her deftly, increasing the intensity of the stimulation until her nipples were erect and her whole little body was shaking, his own need cresting as she moaned quietly.

As her hips twisted and rose off the bed, indicating that she was about to come, he stopped rubbing her, pressing his whole hand closely over her crotch. Cassandra gasped, thrashing momentarily against the leather which bound her, and he guessed that if she hadn’t been tied she would have grabbed his hand and forced him back onto herself. Lovely.

Abruptly he stood up and carefully moved between her open legs, unable to wait any longer. The fear and desire in her eyes was now flickering back and forth very rapidly, and Methos watched her face carefully as he took hold of his suffering, neglected cock and positioned himself.

Heat. Incredible, searing heat just touching her with the tip. His whole body was shaking, and he thought perhaps that he had waited too long; he wasn’t going to be very patient, not when his body was craving like this.

Cassandra’s eyes were wide, desire and fear both fled in momentary shock. Methos moved forward, lodging himself firmly and beginning a slow push into her. Suddenly she stiffened in pain, and a little cry escaped her.

He was so desperate; the sensation of forcing himself into her, the squeezing, tormenting tightness only made bearable by the frictionless oil, and Methos knew that as much as he would have liked to prolong her defloration he had to get inside her. Now.

Gathering himself, he shoved hard. For a moment he thought it wasn’t going to work, that she was just too small, but then he leaned forward and reached underneath her shoulders, using this handhold as leverage to pull her down onto himself. Cassandra shrieked with pain, twisting in his grip, but finally he felt something give, and then he was buried deeply inside her, all the way to his balls.

Blood, he could feel blood flowing between them as he tried to stay still. He covered Cassandra’s mouth with one hand, watching tears squeeze out of her eyes and run down the sides of her face.

Her body was rigid with pain, but he couldn’t wait for her to adjust. He pulled back a little and then drove into her again, panting hard at the ecstasy of the silky sheath that clenched around him.

He had to let himself go then, had to fuck her. His hips moved with desperate urgency; his hand fell away from Cassandra’s mouth and gripped fiercely onto her hair. He moved over her again and again, almost regretting how quickly he was approaching orgasm.

To his surprise Cassandra began moving against him, her head arched back and her body shaking. Methos leaned down to her offered neck, biting softly, and she groaned, hips bucking seductively beneath him.

Suddenly she cried out, and he felt her body clamp down on him almost painfully. She was pushing herself against him so hard that it lifted both of them up.

Methos grabbed her shoulders again and finished the way he’d started, pulling her viciously onto his rigid cock, gushing out inside her in what felt like a torrent. He groaned and Cassandra screamed, in pleasure, pain, or both, he didn’t care, it was all exquisite. As she quieted he felt the pulses contracting around him slowly come to a stop. She was panting now, her head still thrown back. He shifted slightly inside her and she winced, but even so he felt her push back toward him, already responding to continued desire.

Methos pulled out of her slowly, moving back until he was kneeling between her feet. She looked at him curiously, still shaking, curiosity changing to disbelief as he bent down and put his open mouth between her bloody thighs. When she felt his tongue she cried out again, he felt her legs pushing against her restraints as she tried to spread them wider. He licked her slowly, a brief tease before he plunged in and began arousing her in earnest. Within moments she was coming against his mouth, moaning and shivering as her legs strove to close around him. When she was still again he pulled himself away, moving over her and kissing her deeply. Her mouth was stained red, and he put out one finger to rub blood slowly back and forth over her lips.

“Now you’re a woman,” he said calmly. She stared at him as if she were seeing him for the first time, and he knew that no-one would ever look to her quite the way he did in this moment.

“Tell me, Cassandra,” he asked quietly, “whose woman are you?”

Her eyes were huge and dark. “Yours, Methos,” she panted, “I’m yours.”

Methos accepted the cup she offered him as he entered the tent, grateful for the shade and for the cold wetness in his dry and dusty throat.

“It’s good,” he told her as he sat on his pallet.

“I cooled it in the river for you,” she replied, coming to him with a damp cloth and sitting next to him. Methos allowed her to bathe his hands, responding automatically to her chatter. She brought the cloth to his face and gently began to remove his warpaint.

Through the cloth, Methos felt her hand begin to tremble. His eyes locked with hers, and suddenly he was excruciatingly aware of her, that she was so close, that she smelled good, and that she wanted him. He could feel the intensity of her longing, and it ignited his own arousal to know that she had been brought to this state of desire and need in such a brief time.

Despite all her pride, despite her defiance and the purity of her hatred, she sat there wanting him. He could feel the conflict inside her, as she was so neatly caught between the well-known yet fading promptings of her innocence, and the powerful new urges which he had forced to awaken.

They had been lovers for four days. He had lavished Cassandra with centuries of experience, and inevitably, perhaps helplessly, she had responded. All of a sudden he found himself recalling the sounds she’d made, that first time, and he reached to cup her face. Cassandra arched under his hand, rubbing against him almost like a cat.

It was at that moment that Kronos entered the tent. Methos drew away from Cassandra as the other man walked in, feeling he should have known better. He remembered the number of excuses he’d made lately, the times he hadn’t joined in with Kronos’ little entertainments. Of course, he thought, putting the whore above their games would attract Kronos’ attention. How had he let himself forget that? Well, now that he had, he was sure that Kronos would do his best to ensure that Methos never forgot again.

“My compliments brother,” Kronos said with mock admiration, “you’ve taught her well at everything, I see.” Despite his practiced casual tone, there was a nearly palpable sense of menace in his approach. He plucked a fruit from the bowl on Methos’ small table, and admired it for a moment.

“And,” he continued, “it seems she keeps the best fruit for you.”

Methos carefully kept his face neutral, not wanting Kronos to construe anything into a challenge. “It’s no different from the rest,” he said carelessly.

Kronos waved that away, keeping his attention riveted on Methos. “Maybe it just tastes better in here.” He eyed Cassandra coldly. “You’ve made quite a prize of her, haven’t you?”

Methos met Kronos’ ice with ice. “She’s no different from the others.”

“Except you seem to prefer her to all others.” Kronos pointed out lightly. “Why is that? Have you grown attached?”

Methos rose to his full height. “No.”

“Good!” Suddenly Kronos’ bantering manner was replaced with the unmistakable tones of confrontation. “I didn’t think you’d make a mistake like that, brother, because now it’s time to share the spoils of war!”

Methos briefly considered his options, and decided that it was probably in his best interest to let Kronos have his own way. He held the other man’s gaze a moment longer, then stepped quickly around him toward the tent flap. Conflict avoided, Kronos’ whim satisfied, and probably only a minor setback in his Cassandra experiment. He didn’t like it, but he could accept it. He almost felt he was getting off too easily.

He braced himself for the screams he knew would happen when Kronos, in his usual charming style of foreplay, dragged her across the encampment— but they didn’t come. Instead a remorseless grip on his forearm arrested his progress, and abruptly he was whirled around to stare straight into the cruel light of Kronos’ mad, dancing eyes. His stomach dropped, and he realized that he probably hadn’t gotten off so lightly after all.

“Methos,” Kronos began, now grinning with high good humor, “you are quite sure, aren’t you, that you haven’t grown attached to her?”

Methos tried to wrench his arm out of Kronos’ brutal grip, but the other man held on tightly. “I told you, brother,” he said, coldly meeting Kronos’ gaze, “she means nothing to me.”

“Ah, excellent!” Kronos said happily, leaning closer until they were almost nose to nose, until Methos could smell the other man’s leather and sweat. “Then you won’t mind… assisting me with this little endeavor.”

Methos felt his stomach drop alarmingly: the beginning of a panic response which he ruthlessly suppressed. He was fairly sure that Kronos didn’t have a simple double teaming rape on his mind, but something with a power game to it, something that would make him lose face, and right now he couldn’t afford that. He stepped as far back as the grip on his arm would allow and looked over Kronos’ shoulder to Cassandra. Her eyes were wide with horror, her head shaking from side to side in endless negation.

“She’s just a child,” Methos said calmly, “I hardly think you’ll need my assistance.”

“Yes, brother,” Kronos replied agreeably, “but it should make no difference to you, since you are so blissfully unattached.” The last two words hissed with bitter sarcasm, and suddenly Kronos was stepping close to him again, a direct and irrefutable challenge blazing in his eyes. “I’m going to have this little prize of yours; and you, my brother, are going to hold her down for me.”

Methos wondered if Kronos really thought he was attached, and had designed a punishment to fit. Methos couldn’t be sure. Knowing Kronos, this was probably a trap, and he could already sense the other man’s anger.

That decided him. Let Kronos take it out on Cassandra— he supposed he’d find another like her someday.

Kronos’ hand clenched harder on his arm, and Methos knew that the other man had seen his unwillingness even before he spoke.

“Think of it, brother,” Kronos murmured to him, “this little slut heaving in your lap while I fuck her.”

Methos swallowed reflexively, dismayed to find himself responding to the pictures his rebellious brain furnished him with, despite the fear twisting in his gut. His cock began to harden in his breeches even as he thought of every conceivable reason that this was a bad idea. Automatically he put on his most placating and reasonable behavior.

“Now listen, Kronos,” he began, pulling gently but ineffectually away from the hand which held him, “I promise you, I am not attached to her! I’ve just been playing a foolish game with her, that’s all. Just to see if I could—”

“If you could make her fall in love with you, yes— I know.” Kronos interrupted, nodding wisely. “Did you really think I wouldn’t figure out your little travesty of manipulation, Methos? Did you honestly imagine that I would not see what was directly before my eyes?” Kronos laughed heartily. “Oh, my most valued brother,” he continued, “you know I won’t believe that! This is all part of your plan, is it not? Part of your scheme to prove that I need you! Really Methos,” he chided, “I’m almost ashamed of you—stripped to the bone it’s simplicity itself! Of all of us, it is you who understands the true nature of what we are. It is your mind that makes you so necessary a part of the Horsemen, but it is that same mind that undermines your belief that you are vital. You decide, therefore, to slip away bit by bit, all the time leaving me careful hints so that I can more easily gather you back into the fold, more irreplaceable than ever.” Kronos finally released his hold on the other man’s forearm, shifting slightly to put one brotherly hand on each of Methos’ shoulders instead.

Methos was just a little bit self-conscious as he smiled at Kronos. “Well, Kronos,” he said, “how wonderful it is to be understood so clearly! I’m glad you put it all together so well. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to see about—”

Suddenly Kronos was in front of him, blocking his exit. Methos met his eyes and immediately felt himself mesmerized by their deadly joviality.

“Oh—but you can’t walk out now,” Kronos said reprovingly. “How would I ever be sure that you understood how much I count on you? You see, I have decided to give you what you really want: incontrovertible proof that I need you, that I just couldn’t do it without you.” Kronos took a step closer, suddenly menacing once more. “Never again will you have occasion to doubt my absolute control, Methos.”

Methos forcefully drew his eyes away from Kronos, focusing instead on Cassandra’s frightened face over the other man’s shoulder. The feeling of drowning abated at once, although the uncomfortable arousal continued, even increased. He took a deep breath and faced Kronos squarely.

“I am glad, brother,” Methos began defiantly, “that you find her appealing. I hope she pleases you. However, it is not a part of any plan of mine to help you to her, and I won’t do it.”

He expected some sort of explosion, but Kronos only smiled and moved close enough so that Methos could feel the reflected desert heat baking from him. “But it is part of my plan, brother,” Kronos insisted, “otherwise the lesson will be but half learnt.” Suddenly, shockingly, Kronos’ hand was between Methos’ legs, cupping his erection. Methos gasped in disbelief, but was powerless to move away from the heavy grip of that hand or the attentive look in those mad eyes. “I know you, Methos,” he said confidently, “I know what you need. If you’re quite sure that you’re not ready to join in,” here Kronos gave him a slight squeeze, “then you can simply stay and watch. But don’t think you can fool me, Methos. I can see that spark deep in your eyes. You will ultimately be betrayed by your own appetites, brother— I am simply giving you that which I know you desire.”

Methos finally wrenched himself away from the other man, and turned his back on them both. “Do whatever you need to!” he said coldly. “Just don’t expect my help.”

Kronos chuckled behind him, and patted him gently on the shoulder. “As you wish, brother.” Methos felt him go, sighing quietly in relief. He closed his eyes tightly and willed his erection to go away. It didn’t.

“Now, you little slut—” Kronos said harshly. Methos heard a brief scuffle, and a hiss from Cassandra. “I see you’ve left some spirit in her, brother! Excellent!” There was a sound of a slap, and then she was crying out to him, desperation plain in her voice.

“Methos, please!” she cried, “don’t do this! Don’t let him do this, please— don’t let him touch me — I’d rather die first!”

“That can be arranged,” Kronos said, his voice as cold and sharp as a blade, “or, had you forgotten?” There was a sudden and surprisingly loud sound of cloth being torn.

Methos curled his hands into fists and tried to stop shaking. Why couldn’t Kronos have just dragged her away? Why hadn’t he let Methos just walk out? The sounds assaulted him, tearing at his resolve. He wanted desperately to storm out of the tent and towards the first available captive, but he didn’t quite dare. He just stood where he was, fending off the waves of desire caused by this auditory voyeurism. There was no way of hearing what was going on without being swamped with images of Kronos taking his pleasure with Cassandra. Knowing Kronos, he’d be tearing into her within seconds. He took a deep breath and spoke.

“Kronos—wait!”

Abruptly he turned to them. Cassandra was naked, her shift lying in rags at her feet. Kronos was clad only in his long shirt, and had both of her arms secured in his hands. Both of them were looking at him, Cassandra with barely flickering hope, Kronos smugly. Keeping his eyes averted from Kronos’ direct gaze, Methos took a small earthen cup from his low table, still half-full of the scented oil he’d used when he took Cassandra’s virginity. Her breath caught at the sight of it.

“Here,” he said, offering the cup to Kronos, “you might want this. She’s sort of … small.”

Kronos laughed derisively, but he took the cup. “Why, brother,” he said, “how very like you to be so considerate of my well-being.” Kronos smiled. Cassandra closed her eyes. Methos turned away again.

More noises. Mostly Cassandra, those helpless frightened groans that made him feel like he was going to explode. Then Kronos’ voice, barely more than conversational in tone: “Shut up.” That made his cock throb madly. Now he could smell them, the sandalwood scent of the oil heavy and combining perfectly with sexual musk. His trembling increased, and he briefly considered putting his hand in his breech and hoping that no-one would notice. Then Cassandra cried out sharply, and Kronos sighed with pleasure.

Methos couldn’t stand it anymore. He turned towards his pallet, where Cassandra had been laid across its width, her lower body hanging off the edge. Kronos was on his knees between her open thighs, completely naked, the muscles in his powerful back and ass moving rhythmically, hypnotically. Methos was mesmerized. He felt very strange, completely numb except for the aching need in his groin. Swallowing convulsively, he approached them.

Kronos stilled at once, turning to look at him. A victorious smile lit his face radiantly, but the warmth never reached his eyes.

“Ah! Brother!” he said mockingly, “I wondered what was taking so long. Please,” he gestured with one of Cassandra’s hands to the pallet next to them, “won’t you join us?”

Methos sat beside them, and felt the strange numbness which had gripped him erode away under the influence of what was in front of him. Cassandra’s eyes were firmly closed, her pain apparent. She was still so very tight, and Kronos wouldn’t have been gentle forcing himself in— Methos guessed that she had fled as deeply into her mind as she could. Kronos was buried in her up to the hilt, and both of them were sheened with a light sweat. Methos forced his eyes away from the place where their bodies joined, but he found them immediately drawn back, fascinated. As he watched Kronos thrust into Cassandra’s forcefully opened center, and he stifled a gasp as heat raced through him, leaving him weak with erotic need.

Kronos leaned farther back to give Methos greater access, shifting his hold to Cassandra’s hips and freeing her arms. Methos took control of those, holding both slender wrists above her head with one large hand. He leaned over her, his free hand moving over her body as he dropped his head forward, gently squeezing one of her breasts just as his lips closed softly on hers. Cassandra’s eyes opened and he felt her go rigid. Quickly he moved his hand from her breast to her throat, pressing with an unmistakable threat until she relaxed.

When he felt her surrender, he began to stroke her body, deepening the kiss. Under his hand and mouth he could feel a subtle rocking movement each time Kronos thrust into her, and that alone was driving him crazy. Above him Kronos was breathing in deep but measured breaths, forcefully controlled exhalations which blew across the back of his neck, causing his nipples to harden almost painfully.

Methos poured all his frustrated and aching lust into his attention to Cassandra, flooding her with a skilled assortment of passionate caresses. Kronos made a wordless sound of enjoyment, and thrust harder, and Methos had to force himself not to groan out loud.

Under his lips Cassandra was shaking her head back and forth repeatedly, begging without speaking for him to stop. Ignoring her, Methos once again stroked down her body, finally letting his hand go between her legs.

She was amazingly hot, and drenched with oil. Methos tried to focus on her, trying not to be aware of the shaft which penetrated her only millimeters from his fingers. Resisting an urge to grind himself into the nearest available surface, Methos’ fingers began a sensuous interplay of friction and pressure. Cassandra froze, and then turned her face away from him, breaking their kiss.

“Please, Methos,” she sobbed, “don’t do this to me — not this!”

“What?” Kronos asked incredulously, coming abruptly to a stop, “Do you think he’s the only one who can make you come, you little slut? Well, we’ll just have to see about that!”

Kronos shifted his grip lower on Cassandra’s body, his hands tilting her hips until he had her at the perfect angle. Methos’ fingers brushed against Kronos’ shaft, even hotter than the flesh he was caressing, and before he could stop himself he groaned. He didn’t look at Kronos’ face, but he could swear he heard the bastard smiling. Methos had to look, he couldn’t deny himself that, but he hoped that if he kept his head down and his eyelids lowered, Kronos wouldn’t notice.

Methos watched as Kronos pumped slowly, ending with a leisurely circular motion as he sheathed himself fully inside her. She gasped, and her hips bucked sharply in his hands. Again, Methos was too close; he had to shut his eyes for a moment while he struggled not to pant. He wanted to stop, to give himself a chance to regain control, but his eyes opened again of their own volition. Kronos continued the same slow thrusts, holding Cassandra utterly still for each stroke. She began to whimper, and Methos heard Kronos hiss with amusement.

As Kronos slowed down so did Methos, sliding his fingers slowly over her center again and again, loving each flutter and pulse as she unwillingly responded to their joint seduction. He felt like he was melting.

Suddenly Kronos thrust hard, one ruthless shove which slammed against Cassandra, rocking all three of them. She lost control of herself then, sobbing and shaking as her body arched against them both. Methos bit his own lower lip hard and kept rubbing in firm little circles between her legs, fascinated by this desperate struggle.

Kronos kept driving himself into her, panting and dripping with sweat. He held on grimly as her hips bucked furiously and she tried to twist herself away, somehow keeping his place despite all the frenzy. Now he held her thighs, pushing them even more open for his assault. Cassandra’s sobs were becoming involuntary groans. Her head whipped back and forth, and Methos had to draw back a little to keep from getting lashed by her hair.

Kronos was relentless, now fucking her hard enough to lift her entirely off the pallet with each stroke. Suddenly Cassandra cried out sharply as she arched into him, turning her face away at the same time. Methos could feel her sex throbbing with each sound she made, each vibration of her body. He groaned with desire, burying his head against her chest and panting for breath as he waited for the agonizing torture in his balls to go away.

Gradually he felt her pleasure ebb, and he rested quietly against her as she calmed little by little. He became aware that she was crying, softly. Methos raised his head and realized that Kronos had already pulled away from her, leaving them both half-supported by the pallet. Kronos had his shirt on, sitting in one of Methos’ chairs and looking at them both with amusement. Methos got his own breathing under control, then addressed Kronos with barely concealed ill-temper, wiping sweat from his brow.

“Well, brother? Haven’t you had your fill yet?”

Kronos gestured at both of them dismissively, chuckling. “I’ll be out of the game for a while now, brother, but I don’t think she’s quite done yet, and frankly,” he confided, “neither are you. I think I’ll just sit here and enjoy the show.”

Methos laughed, trying not to sound like someone who was desperately aroused. “I don’t think so, Kronos,” he muttered, “I’m afraid I’m not really in the mood to exhibit my prowess.”

Kronos smiled at him, and then shrugged. “As you wish, brother.” He stood, snagging a piece of fruit from the bowl on the table as he did so. Methos closed his eyes and put his head back on Cassandra’s chest, silently sighing with relief. There were various clanking noises as Kronos gathered up his armor and weapons, and then silence. When Methos looked up, Kronos was gone.

Methos knew he hadn’t gone far; the tingling awareness of his presence was still there. Kronos would be back, probably as soon as he could get himself hard again.

He released Cassandra’s arms and she immediately curled herself up into a ball, hands over her face muffling her sobs. Ignoring her, he stood and began loosening the thongs which held his leather armor in place. He stripped quickly, relishing the feel of the cooler air against his burning body. He turned to Cassandra, one hand briefly massaging his aching erection, already anticipating the feel of her. Moving close he bent over her, gently pulling her hands away from her face. She looked at him with mute accusation, tears brightening in her eyes. She opened her mouth to speak, but Methos laid his hand softly across it, forbidding.

“Now is not the time,” he said, moving to kneel before her and trying to pull her legs open. She shook her head briefly in refusal, but Methos grabbed her firmly by the hair and brought their faces close.

“Listen, you little whore,” he hissed, “I’m going to do everything to you that he just did. Everything, down to the last detail. Now, I happened to notice that you got through it fine last time, so I suggest that you just lie back and enjoy yourself, unless you prefer the other way?” Cassandra shook her head softly, and Methos eased her back onto the pallet before grasping her hips and pulling them over the edge. He would have liked to prepare her, to tease her a little first since he was sure that he’d have some time before Kronos recuperated and came back for another go, but he simply couldn’t. His body was screaming with repressed sexual tension and residual fear that cried for immediate release.

As he positioned himself Cassandra closed her eyes, but Methos paid no heed. As he sank into her accommodating body she sighed gently, and he had to stop himself from collapsing at the sensation of being buried in her tight heat. Beneath him Cassandra shuddered, delighting him with rippling waves of pleasure. Closing his own eyes, he called up the vision of Kronos doing this very thing, feeling these same shocks of pleasure with each thrust. Behind his closed eyes Kronos’ muscles flexed and bunched, highlighted with sweat and trembling with exertion and arousal. Methos negligently used Cassandra’s body, fantasies spooling out for his private and solitary pleasure.

Methos couldn’t stand it for long; he felt like he had been waiting forever to come. He pumped harder into Cassandra’s delicious tightness and relaxed, letting his pleasure build toward completion.

Suddenly there was a fierce grip on his hair, and something cold and sharp pricked at his throat. Methos flinched away, his eyes flying open to discover Kronos smiling over him, knife in hand. At once he was numb and frozen. Fear cramped distantly through his body, but it felt very far away, certainly much too far away for him to do anything about it. Methos had heard nothing, sensed nothing. He realized with a sick lurch that Kronos must not have left at all, but concealed himself somehow in the shadows of the tent.

“Well, my brother,” Kronos said cheerfully, “I see you admire my technique. Perhaps it’s time you got to experience it for yourself! I’m not quite as out of the game as I thought I was; not surprising, considering that I never came inside your little whore’s cunt— I’m saving that for you.” Kronos’ mouth was suddenly right behind his ear, making him shiver, “A detail I can’t quite believe you missed, given the way you were watching, or, shall I say, squinting?” Methos was cold with shame, hot with desire, and utterly caught.

“Kronos,” Methos began, unable to disguise the trembling in his voice, “what are you doing? Is this another part of your plan?”

“Oh no, brother,” Kronos demurred, “this is a part of your plan. Or aren’t you willing to admit it yet?”

“Now look, Kronos, I—” he stopped at once as the grip on his hair tightened brutally and the knife at his throat pressed harder.

“Enough of these pleasantries,” Kronos said roughly, “now, are you ready for me, or would you prefer to fight me?” Suddenly Kronos was on his knees behind him, a rock hard and massive cock pressing through rough cloth against the cleft of Methos’ buttocks. Methos had made a mistake when he had believed Kronos’ claim to be wiped out for the moment. A big mistake. Now a rough hand lightly circled Methos’ throat, sliding up in a caress before tightening briefly across his windpipe. He gasped sharply, and Kronos chuckled.

Cassandra’s body convulsed in fear, squeezing his still-sheathed cock, making him groan. He was amazed that his erection remained undiminished in spite of his terror, but he actually seemed to be harder than he had been before Kronos had put in an appearance.

Methos was trapped. His body demanded that he come soon or he’d explode; his mind insisted that he keep his status with Kronos and maintain their ever-fragile balance of control and power. He wanted to think, a chance to examine the angles and determine the best way out of this; but he could feel the throbbing of the rigid shaft which pressed him forcefully into the silky warmth around his erection, and thinking just wasn’t going to happen.

He hoped vaguely that Kronos wouldn’t kill him. The last time Kronos had killed him, Caspian had strung him upside down on a stake in the middle of camp, and ridiculed him for hours before Kronos cut him loose. Of course, Caspian had paid, but that wasn’t the point.

Now Kronos was grinding against him, pushing him into Cassandra as her sex contracted around him like a beating heart. His muscles strained with the effort not to thrust, not to push back against the hardness behind him.

He’d waited too long. The knife was back at his throat, and there was a sudden slicing pain as the tip penetrated him. “What’s it going to be, Methos?” Kronos asked sweetly. “What’s your pleasure?” Methos made a faint wordless noise of objection. “Don’t think too long, brother,” Kronos threatened, “sometimes your mind gets in your way.”

Methos licked his lips and tried to swallow although his throat was bone dry. It seemed to be an endless time before he was able to force himself to respond, with the only words that were really available. “I don’t want to fight you, Kronos.”

Immediately the pressure against his neck eased, only the faintest cold tickle reminding him of the weapon which remained poised there. “Good. I don’t really want to kill you.” Abruptly, Kronos was gone.

There was sudden coolness behind him where Kronos had been, but Methos didn’t turn around. He heard a brief soft rustle of fabric and then the other man was there again, only this time Methos could feel naked flesh against his back. He shivered helplessly at this erotic sensation, and below him Cassandra quivered in response. Kronos made a wordless noise of approval and leaned away again.

Suddenly Methos could smell sandalwood, and he knew what was coming only a moment before Kronos’ slick fingers were between his legs. His testicles were caught in a warm, slippery grasp, kneaded gently for a moment and then released. Now there was pressure, and now sudden pain as Kronos’ fingers invaded him. His breath caught, and he had to force himself to stay still.

Before he could even begin to adjust to the sensation the fingers were gone. Methos tried to force himself to relax, to remember how he’d done this in the past and liked it. Of course, in the past he hadn’t been raped at knife-point by a maniac, but he hoped the difference would be mere semantics.

A hand on his lower back pushed him all the way forward, burying him deeply into Cassandra. Silently she throbbed around him as Kronos leaned closer, breathing harshly in his ear.

Once again he felt the cold shiver of blade against his neck, and then Kronos put his oiled cock against him and shoved. The pain was both immediate and immense, tearing through him as if he were being skewered by a huge shaft of fire. He screamed, helpless to stop himself, but Kronos had anticipated him once again and brutally clamped a hand over his mouth, effectively stifling him.

Methos lost control of himself and began to struggle, desperate to get away from the burning cock which was tearing him to pieces. But the struggle shoved him into Cassandra’s tight wet heat, making him gasp, and abruptly the knife was pressed hard against him, the sharp tip again puncturing the skin of his throat. Methos froze, panting heavily against the hand which muffled him.

“I see you’re not quite sure yet, my brother,” Kronos said slyly. “Let me see if I can help you decide what you want.”

Suddenly he was bent forwards, forced down onto Cassandra’s warm moist body. The shaft inside him eased even deeper, and dimly he felt something tear open. He sobbed, his sounds unfettered now as Kronos released his mouth only to take both his arms in a viselike grip. His wrists were pulled roughly behind him, and he felt them being secured firmly with some sort of leather strap. Soon he was completely immobilized, tied forearm to forearm across his own back. Cassandra was staring at him as if mesmerized.

“There now,” Kronos muttered soothingly, “now maybe we can complete this little travesty of enforcement. Or— are you ready to tell me how much you’ve wanted this?”

“No!” he cried in a voice he barely recognized as his own, “Kronos, let me go! I never wanted… I don’t want this, curse you!” Kronos’ hips swiveled, tearing him even further, and Methos felt tears springing to his eyes. “Kronos, please! I’ll be-”

Kronos tsked, the disappointed sound of a teacher let down by a star pupil, and suddenly his hands were around Methos’ throat, choking brutally. “You’ll be my hole and like it, Methos, that’s what you’ll do. You’ll take what I give you to take, and you’ll swallow what I give you to swallow.” Suddenly the strangling pressure eased, and Methos whooped for breath. “Now, I don’t really want to gag you, since I am looking forward so very much to hearing all your touching little expressions, but I’ll stretch a point if you insist, just to spare you Caspian’s good humor. So, then, what’s it going to be? Will you shut the fuck up, or would a gag help you feel a little more like I’m doing this against your will?”

Methos was silent. He closed his eyes, and hot tears of pain and terror began to flow. Behind him Kronos chuckled.

His hair was being gathered up, held away from his face in the other man’s fist. Then his head was pulled back at an excruciating angle as Kronos used his hair to yank him backwards onto that tormenting lance which was splitting him. He heard Kronos grunt roughly and bit his tongue hard in an effort not to scream. The pull on his hair stayed taut, his neck arched painfully as Kronos thrust inside him again and again. Kronos was pushing harder now, trying with each stroke to shove into him as far as possible.

Methos realized that he was screaming anyway, but the angle of his neck turned his screams to harsh cawing sounds. Tears ran freely down his face, and dimly he began to pray that he would pass out, die, anything to be free of this invading agony. For a few moments the thrusts escalated to a savage intensity, the pain flaring, and then Kronos was still, buried as deeply inside him as possible, and his hair was abruptly released. He sagged forward onto Cassandra’s drenched body, helpless to stop the sobbing and trembling which wracked him. Dimly he heard her frightened gasps, then he realized that despite the pain his erection remained undiminished, and that her noises probably had more to do with the way Kronos was shoving him into her than anything else.

Now the hands on him were gentle, tender stroking movements which moved from his wet face to his cramped shoulders, over his bound arms and down to his buttocks. Gradually his breathing eased, the flow of his tears tapering off. His body had finally begun to adjust, and the presence inside him was almost tolerable. Kronos shifted his hips a little, and even through the pain something flared inside him like a small conflagration of nerves. He hissed in surprise.

“Ah, my brother,” Kronos said, “you’d like that, wouldn’t you? Oh yes.” Gentle hands caressed his buttocks, tenderly easing him open, and Methos couldn’t repress a sigh.

Suddenly the hands on him cinched cruelly tight, bruising. “Well I wouldn’t,” Kronos snarled. Methos’ breath stopped dead in his throat. “D’you know what you are, Methos? You are a slave to cock, that’s what.” Rough hands held him wide open, and Kronos slammed into him, hard. “I bet I could make you come just by looking at you, that’s how badly you want it. Well, I’m not going to do that, Methos.” Another brutal stroke, this one hard enough to make both him and Cassandra cry out. “I’m not going to seduce you with some well-placed flattery and a few minutes of heavy petting. I’m simply going to fuck… your… ass…” each word was now grunted out as Kronos rammed him, “and you… are going… to love it… you little… cock-slave… oh fuck!”

Kronos’ hands shoved him back and forth, seeking only his own pleasure as he brutally invaded him over and over. Suddenly Methos wished that the overwhelming pain would come back, that something, anything would distract him from the response his outraged body made to being so ruthlessly used. Beneath him Cassandra was climaxing, shivering and moaning as she clenched and pulsed around his unyielding erection. He realized with a shock that she had been doing this for a while, coming helplessly again and again as the assault behind him drove him repeatedly into her.

Methos found himself in a strange place where the pain simply drove the pleasure higher, and he bit his own lower lip in frustration. This added pain only increased his erotic sensation, so he stopped. I will not come, he thought desperately, I can’t come. He can’t make me. At least I can’t let him know that he did.

He realized that he was in imminent danger of not caring what Kronos did or said or thought, and he tried grimly to stop the flood of pleasure which swamped him, increasing with each frenzied moment. He failed. Every one of his senses was deluged with arousal. Struggling against his restraints only urged his body on. Kronos’ grunts of pleasure and the terrible thoroughness of the rape reduced his world to the space between the next thrust and the next constriction of Cassandra’s body on him. Helplessly Methos felt himself struggling against the onslaught of ecstasy.

Kronos’ cruel hands maneuvered his hips, seeking the best angle. Finally Kronos found it, a torturous position which made Methos feel like his spine would snap and sent him sliding rapidly back and forth between the ferocious assault behind him and the wet suction below. Methos surrendered. He began to funnel all the tension in his body into his approaching orgasm, finally allowing himself to cry out, not restraining the shudders which convulsed him as he spread his legs wide for Kronos’ brutal thrusts. Now he felt each one pushing him closer to coming, and he sobbed with the pain and the bliss of being right there, after so very, very long.

Suddenly the shaft which drove him was gone. His hips were still held firmly in place, but the burning cock which fueled his desire had left him empty, aching, trembling on the edge of an orgasm which remained out of reach. He cried out in shock and despair.

“I didn’t say you could come, Methos,” Kronos panted, “and you certainly didn’t ask me.”

Methos gritted his teeth with shame and tried to stop the words which poured from him. “Kronos, please… oh—anything you want, just… please…” Dimly he wondered who he would hate more after it was all over: Kronos or himself.

“I want you to come when I do. Do you understand me?” Kronos demanded.

Methos nodded in helpless assent. Kronos gripped his hair again, and Methos felt the head of Kronos’ cock at the entrance to his body.

“Alright then,” Kronos said, “make me come if you can.”

Methos sobbed, shivering as he pushed himself back onto the other man’s shaft. Again there was pain, but nevertheless the response in his own body was immediate, burning waves of pleasure that filled some huge and barely understood need. Slowly his control eroded as he fucked himself on Kronos’ cock, moaning endlessly as he rocked back and forth, lost in desire. Behind him Kronos was panting hoarsely, and Methos grew more frenzied with each moment as his need to push the other man over the edge increased.

Suddenly the grip on his hair tightened, and then his head was pulled agonizingly back as Kronos slammed into him, thrusting furiously.

“That’s it, Methos,” he growled. “There… Take it…” Kronos groaned, and Methos felt the cock buried inside him pulse with release. Suddenly he was coming, completely paralyzed with wave after wave of pleasure as he spilled himself into Cassandra’s throbbing body. He felt like his soul was pouring out, like he was giving everything he had with his essence. Sweat, tears and semen flowed from him, and he was slowly becoming empty—a hollow vessel. There was one last bright pain, one throb of agony as Kronos gave him a final ruthless shove, and then there was only cold air behind him.

He laid his head on Cassandra’s damp shoulder and wept, with release, with horror, shame and even more shameful awakening of desire.

He felt the parting of the strap which bound his arms, and he gritted his teeth as sensation tingled back into his bloodless and aching hands. He couldn’t move. He couldn’t say anything. He wanted to cover himself, to turn over and begin the horrendous task of putting himself back together, at least to not be so very exposed, but he simply couldn’t make himself do it. He heard Kronos leave the tent. Whistling.

There were warm and gentle arms around him, soothing hands stroked everywhere, slowly easing the pain from his brutalized body. He tried to stop crying but was unable, the sobs and tears came fast and hard and there was no holding them back. Cassandra was telling him how sorry she was, placing soft kisses on his forehead. Somehow she had maneuvered herself out from underneath him, and he didn’t resist as she rolled him fully onto the pallet and stretched out by his side. Against his better judgement Methos curled himself into her, taking the comfort she offered. He knew he should talk to her, start trying to repair all the damage that had been done, but his reserves of energy were tapped out, empty. Before he knew what was happening he was actually drifting off to sleep, tears drying on his still-painted cheeks as he gave himself up to darkness and the eradication of memory.

The sun was blazing down on desert hardpan as Methos strode purposefully across the encampment and ducked into his tent. Cassandra whirled toward him as he entered, her eyes momentarily wide with fear which diminished when she recognized him.

“He’s coming,” he said, and watched as the fear immediately sprang back into her eyes. She began to disrobe, watching him intently.

Methos began removing his own clothing, undressing quickly and piling his garments on top of his trunk. Although he felt like he was moving too slowly, it seemed to be only a moment before he was naked. Despite the heat of the day, he shivered.

Then Cassandra was there, as naked as he, bowl of water and cloth in hand. Quickly she sponged him clean of dust and grime, and he had a moment of revelation when he realized how expert her touch had become. He closed his eyes and tried not to think.

It wasn’t long before Cassandra had finished with him, and then she was pressing something into his hand. He opened his eyes, and saw that it was the oil. Of course. He turned to her, dipping his fingers into the cup, and at once the smell of sandalwood evoked an instant visceral response of fear, shame and lust which made him simultaneously nauseated and eager. Cassandra stood beside him, her feet straddled far apart and her eyes downcast. He reached between her legs, gently preparing both of her passages for easy access. She shivered, and he kissed her tenderly on the forehead.

When he finished he handed the cup to her, turning his back. His breath caught as he felt the now familiar internal pressure, even though she was gentle and there was no pain. When he was slick and ready for use Cassandra put the oil on the table, then came up behind him to run her hands down his back, gently trying to dissipate the tension that already thrummed in his muscles.

Abruptly he turned to her and held her tightly. She folded trustingly against him and a fierce wave of protectiveness burned through his heart. Once again he found himself wondering, pondering on the circumstances that had landed him here in this impossible situation, and nibbling ferret-like at the meager loop of possibilities for escape.

When Methos had woken after that first time, the first thing he did was push Cassandra away from him. Without even bothering to wash he pulled his breeches and boots on, ignoring the horrible stiffness in his limbs, and took his sword in one hand, heading for the flap of the tent. Cassandra tried to stop him but Methos simply shoved her one-handed into a corner, striding out into the fiery heat of mid-morning.

He caught up to Kronos on the far side of the encampment, tying fresh hides to stretch and toughen in the sun. Methos drew his blade from its scabbard as he approached, not stopping until he was directly in front of Kronos with the edge pressed against his throat.

Kronos didn’t make a single move to defend himself. He simply smiled, looking particularly full of good cheer.

“Good morning, brother!” he exclaimed amicably. He extended a looped roll of fiber he was using to tie hides to the stretching stakes. “Care to give me a hand?”

“Commend yourself to your gods, Kronos,” Methos hissed, “and prepare to make their acquaintance.”

Kronos’ smile never faltered. He dropped the roll of fiber and put one finger to the tip of the blade which lay against him, moving it away effortlessly. “I think not, Methos.”

Methos moved the blade back, relishing the feeling of his hands controlling a sword which rested threateningly against Kronos’ neck. “I think so, you raping, murdering bastard.”

Methos was not prepared to have Kronos casually reach out and grasp his cock through his breeches. He gasped.

“Now now, brother,” Kronos chided playfully, “if we start by calling names who knows where we’ll stop?” Kronos fondled him tenderly through the soft cloth of his breeches while his other hand stroked firmly from his jaw past his throat and down his bare chest.

Methos couldn’t believe how quickly he was hardening to a full-blown erection, and he suddenly felt like his best bet would be to throw the sword, and run.

“Get your vile hands off me,” Methos warned, pressing harder with his blade.

“You don’t want to kill me, Methos,” Kronos purred, still massaging.

“Let go of me right now, Kronos, if you want to live,” Methos said malevolently.

Suddenly one of Kronos’ hands covered his own on the hilt of the sword, and before he knew quite how the blade had been flung away. Kronos twisted his hand to a painful angle, tightening the grip on his cock at the same time. Methos winced and cried out.

“I’m no use to you dead, Methos,” Kronos chuckled, “you know that as well as I.”

Methos was infuriated. “Will you stop acting like I wanted it, Kronos? You raped me, and I don’t stand for that any more than you would. I’m going to kill you for it. I’ve never —”

“You’ve never come so hard in your whole bloody life, Methos,” Kronos interjected, tipping him a lascivious wink as he gave his cock an affectionate squeeze. “Can you truly tell me that you still don’t understand that this is what you’ve wanted? Oh really? Of course, I’d be happy to prove it to you, if you insist.”

Suddenly, the clarity of Methos’ anger was dimmed and he was abruptly unsure, wondering stupidly why he was standing here protesting his unwillingness while he was throbbing passionately under Kronos’ hand. Somehow the sun was too bright, burning across his bare shoulders and swamping him with heat, muddling his thoughts.

“What is this now?” Methos asked defensively, passing one shaky hand over his eyes, “you’re not satisfied with my body, so you have to fuck my mind too? Is that what you want, Kronos?”

Kronos grinned his most jovial and predatory grin, reaching up to take the other man’s chin firmly in his hand.

“Don’t try to act like an idiot, Methos, it’s the one part you can’t convincingly play. This is about what you want, of course, about your brilliance… and your dark side.” Methos was forced to stare directly into Kronos’ compelling, manic eyes. He was fascinated, intrigued by the simple conviction and depraved glee he saw. Abruptly he realized his danger and began to struggle, only to find that it was too late and he couldn’t drag his eyes away. He wondered exactly when he had become so susceptible.

“I can make you do whatever I want, Methos,” Kronos murmured, beginning a leisurely sliding motion along Methos’ cock which made him gasp, “you know it as well as I. I can make you want… I can make you beg… I can make you come. If you fight me, I’ll stab you and you’ll come back to life with my cock buried in your body. Would you like that? Shall I do that for you?”

Methos shuddered convulsively, still unable to look away from the other man’s penetrating gaze.

“You are mine, Methos,” Kronos said softly. “You wanted to be certain, and now you are. Don’t ever doubt it again.”

Suddenly Kronos pulled away from him, and Methos felt both frustration and relief as the other man let go, the uneasy combination momentarily making him nauseous. Kronos turned and walked over to where Methos’ sword had landed.

Methos’ stomach muscles cramped in panic as he envisioned Kronos fucking his dead and pliant body; panic which transformed to wary disbelief as Kronos offered him the sword hilt-first. Reflexively, his numb fingers accepted it. Kronos laughed heartily and slapped him solidly on the back, and Methos had to catch himself from stumbling. Kronos only laughed harder.

“Very well, my brother,” he said happily, “hasn’t there been enough of this palaver? Soon we ride, and something tells me you aren’t ready, eh?” He poked Methos’ bare chest, raising his eyebrows with a jolly, knowing expression. “Now go and use your precious whore, and think of me.”

Methos backed slowly away, churning with confusion. He stopped and stood for a long moment, assessing the other man, but Kronos simply turned away with a grin and went back to fastening hides, humming a little under his breath. Methos took one step forward, then another. On his third step he faltered. His whole body was shaking. Abruptly he turned away, and walked with a heavy, measured tread back to his tent.

Cassandra watched him as he came in and sat on his pallet, her eyes huge and frightened. “Is he dead?” she asked in a small voice.

Methos covered his face with his grimy hands, rubbing hard until his eyes burned.

“No,” he replied, his voice muffled, “but I’ll probably wish I was before long.”

She didn’t ask him for an explanation.

Methos didn’t quite wish he were dead, but he did feel like he had been irrevocably split, and not only because of Kronos’ unnecessarily large appendage, either. He lived two lives, a dual existence of night and day where the two different people that he was had nothing to do with each other.

Most of the time life was normal; he raided, he hunted, he killed. Only now, this life which had previously been so thrilling had lost its luster; his actions were the same as ever, yet somehow the heady rush of exaltation was gone.

Now it seemed that exaltation was exclusively in the domain of his other self, his other life, power games aplenty and an endless, burning rush as Kronos methodically, brutally, inexorably made him a slave.

In public Kronos treated him just the same as always—like a brother, an equal: someone to mastermind and sculpt the chaos of the Horsemen into a coherent framework of terror. Kronos simply smiled and laughed and enthusiastically carried out Methos’ carefully planned directions, absolutely the happiest and most serenely evil man Methos had ever known.

This was the same man who, when he felt like it, mastered every aspect of Methos’ body and mind. Kronos was careful to draw a line between his public and private revels; Silas and Caspian had no place in it, and Kronos had promised either of them death if they intruded.

Caspian had laughed aloud, encouraging Methos to stop by his tent later. Before Methos could even react, Kronos was on his feet and across the fire, a blade pressed an inch into Caspian’s throat. “This is for Methos and me only, Caspian. Your jealousy is unbecoming.” Caspian jerked away, mumbling about certain people’s sensitivity. Kronos casually walked back toward his place, pausing next to Methos and placing a firm and brotherly hand on his shoulder. “Methos and I are equals, Caspian. You have no place our games. You’ll be told when to stay away; and I swear both Methos and I will find a way to enjoy your quickening if you don’t.” Methos smiled up at Kronos, glared across at Caspian, and felt sick to his stomach at his own pride in being the privileged sacrifice on this perverse altar.

Although at first every incident began with some level of defiance from Methos, he soon became docile, if not resigned. Though the start of every event was different, the end result was always the same. Methos would beg, plead, crawl, follow every direction the other man gave him no matter how obscene; and then, whenever and however Kronos told him to, Methos would come.

He often thought that he would have gone mad long ago if it hadn’t been for Cassandra. Kronos used her various orifices as inert receptacles for Methos, placing her wherever he wanted to in their little dramas, but Kronos never touched her himself. Consequently, she was always there after Kronos whistled off into the night; she bathed him, dressed his residual wounds, and more than once mingled her tears with his as he cried himself to sleep on her breast. He wondered at times why Kronos was content to have her only on the sidelines of the entertainment, why he would have more solicitude toward a captured slave than toward one who was supposed to be his brother; but he thought it would be best if he didn’t question the other man’s motivation for leaving her alone.

At night he slept with her wrapped in his arms, and although he knew it was probably a bad idea he found himself beginning to care for her. There was strength behind her initially fragile femininity, and he thought she would probably grow into quite a powerful Immortal, if she managed to survive.

The irony of his dependence on her didn’t escape him. They never spoke about the initial phase of their lives together, in fact they never spoke about any of it. He knew she cared deeply for him, it was there in her every touch, her every look. He had begun by using her feelings for him as bait for a trap, only to find that he was the one who was shackled by his increasing tenderness.

Now he held her tightly, standing with her in this solitary moment of comfort before Kronos’ arrival. Her head lay trustingly on his shoulder, and he marveled at how much solace there could be in this time of grace; they were, after all, two slaves, and she had just prepared him for a very demanding master, a man whose presence he craved and dreaded simultaneously.

As if Methos’ thought had summoned him, he suddenly felt the approaching Immortal rush. Moments later, Kronos entered the tent. Methos and Cassandra immediately drew away from each other, but not before they both saw amusement flare in the light eyes.

“Oh, I beg your pardon,” Kronos said mockingly, “I hope I’m not intruding.” He chuckled, leaning against the main post support of the tent. He crossed his arms, eyeing them both speculatively. “Come here and take my clothes off,” he demanded. Methos started towards him, but abruptly Kronos stopped him dead with an angry look. “Not you,” he snapped, “I was talking to her.”

Methos saw a startled, puzzled look briefly surface on Cassandra’s face as she obediently stepped to Kronos and began to remove his heavy armor. Kronos rarely spoke to her at all: he’d simply tell Methos which hole to use and wait bemusedly for Methos to enter her before the violence began. Methos wondered what Kronos could be up to now.

In a few minutes she had finished, and Kronos was naked. He straightened up from his slouch, and before Methos had any idea of what was coming Kronos had knocked Cassandra to the floor with one vicious backhanded blow. She cried out, and Methos found himself abruptly tense with rage, although he didn’t move a muscle.

Kronos reached down and hauled Cassandra up by the hair, causing her to squeal. He trapped her body against his own, laughing at her ineffectual struggles. He grabbed her hair to hold her, kissed her harshly, his free hand roaming her body, squeezing bruises in its wake.

“Well, brother,” he said, “what do you think of this? Are you ready to hold her down for me?”

Methos was numb again, lost in confusion and rage as he tried desperately to figure out why Kronos would take this particular step now. Kronos didn’t give him time to think; abruptly he leaned against the post again and forced Cassandra to her knees before him. He was smiling gently and staring almost dreamily into Methos’ eyes as he pulled her head onto his erect shaft and began brutally fucking her mouth. Methos heard Cassandra sobbing and gagging, and his rage increased. He took a step towards them and then froze, still gazing into the other man’s eyes.

He realized with a shock that his rage was absolutely no detriment to his lust; his cock was fully, achingly erect. He tried to think of his feelings for her, but all he could think of was how Kronos looked as he shoved into Cassandra’s unwilling mouth, his brows drawn together in pleasure and his skin flushed and starting to sweat.

Methos was dumb with shock. He felt immobilized with the combination of fury and arousal, able to obey the dictates of neither. As he watched Kronos sighed and arched against the post, and Methos felt desire burn through him in a ruthless wave. He could see Kronos trembling, almost imperceptibly, a tremor which increased to shuddering spasms as Kronos improved his grip on Cassandra’s head and began to pull her even harder and faster onto himself. Faintly Methos heard Cassandra’s whimpers of fear and pain, shocked to realize that they seemed somehow distant and unimportant, certainly not as imperative as the fact that Kronos was making those earthy grunting noises he always made before he came.

Suddenly his paralysis was broken. Before he knew what he was doing Methos had sprung at them, using all his strength to pull Cassandra away. He was on his knees between them, holding them apart at arm’s length, and all three of them were gasping heavily. Methos was tormented with confusion, not understanding which of them he was jealous of. Then he was pulled up to his feet in Kronos’ powerful grip, and the other man’s flushed face filled his vision.

“So then, my brother,” Kronos panted, “shall I bring her here for you? Are you ready now?”

Methos cringed with shame. “I can’t, Kronos,” he said softly.

Kronos only smiled serenely into his eyes. “Why not? Because you love her?” he asked derisively. “That doesn’t matter!”

Methos wondered for a moment if he had heard the other man correctly. “What do you mean, it doesn’t matter?”

Kronos shook his head at him chidingly. “It doesn’t matter who you love, Methos. The ones you love aren’t immune to your destructive force, any more than anyone else is. Your love won’t keep them safe from being your victims, in fact it makes them better targets. Don’t you understand yet? You are a ruthless, murdering bastard, Methos. No-one, absolutely no-one, can crawl into your heart and survive there. You might as well try to snuggle up to death, because death is what you are.”

Methos felt a distant, swimming sensation of being untethered from himself. There was a momentary burst of terrified confusion as he tried to remember exactly who he was, and then the other man claimed his attention again. Kronos had scooped a knife from his pile of things and was pursuing him, backing him slowly across the floor.

“I know you feel this, Methos,” he continued menacingly, “you’ve tasted the absolute freedom of absolute power; you know what it is to claim that which you desire, to simply put out your hand and take it.”

Kronos reached out and took Methos’ erection in a firm grip.

“Feel that desire, brother,” he continued seductively, “be the scourge of humanity that you were always meant to be. Know what you are, Methos, and let yourself feel the ecstasy of being a bringer of despair.”

Kronos’ voice went on, whispering to him, murmuring his hypnotic tale of devastation. Methos couldn’t retreat any further; his back was pressed against the soft side of the tent.

For a moment he closed his eyes and shuddered in torment. He was a slave, he was a killer; he was desperately aroused, he was ferociously angry.

Methos surrendered to the emotions which overwhelmed him, and suddenly his arousal and fury combined in a subsuming torrent. The emotions birthed a flood of memory, and he stood transfixed at the power of his own revelation. He remembered now, who and what he was. He understood exactly where everything had gone wrong even as he despised himself for his own weakness. There was a feeling in his head like lightning about to strike as he became free from uncertainty, a clear path charted before him.

He breathed deeply and his eyes flew open. Kronos abruptly backed away from him, his confident grin faltering momentarily.

“Knife,” Methos snapped, extending his hand. Kronos’ smile was renewed as he slapped the knife hilt-first into Methos’ outstretched palm.

Together they turned towards Cassandra where she still knelt on the floor, wide-eyed with horror.

“Methos, no!” she cried, “don’t let him do this to you! Please—Methos; I love you!”

“Then you’re a fool!” Methos hissed, and took a step towards her.

Methos glanced sideways and met Kronos’ eyes. In unspoken agreement they flanked her on both sides and began to advance.

With a sudden spring Methos darted in and got his arm around her waist, dragging her upright. Immediately she started to struggle furiously, flailing and clawing at him until she felt the knife at her throat. The threat of the blade made her freeze, an unyielding statue in his arms. Methos couldn’t stop smiling.

Now Kronos was in front of her, and Methos lifted Cassandra smoothly off the ground, leaning back against the support post, offering her rigid body to his brother.

Kronos stepped forward to accept, his hands moving down as he tried to pry Cassandra’s resisting legs open. Kronos glanced at Methos, who immediately pressed the blade harder against her throat, puncturing the rosy skin. Cassandra yelped and twitched, but her thighs parted at once. Kronos pressed himself against her, and Methos seemed to feel the other man’s heat even through the body which separated them.

Methos was staring fixedly into Kronos’ eyes as the other man slid into Cassandra’s body with a shiver of pleasure. Methos was rigid against her buttocks.

“Wait,” he insisted. He clamped the knife between his teeth and used his free hand to direct his burning erection into Cassandra’s other passage. She had never been doubly penetrated before and he had to shove to force himself inside her. Cassandra shrieked in his arms, writhing in an attempt to get free. Methos only pushed harder.

Suddenly Kronos was helping him, grabbing Cassandra’s ass and pulling her open, shoving her hips downward until Methos was buried completely in her painfully tight body. Methos could feel the other man’s cock throbbing against his own through the thin membrane that separated them, and he had to lean against the post for support under the influence of the exquisite pressure.

Cassandra was still screaming, piercing shrieks which cut off abruptly as Kronos covered her mouth and Methos replaced the blade against her throat. The ensuing quiet was filled with Cassandra’s harsh, tortured breathing and the pounding rush of heartbeats.

Firming his grip around her waist Methos lifted Cassandra a little higher, sliding her up on the two shafts which pierced her. In response Kronos gripped her thighs intently, using them to lever her back down onto both of them. Slowly they established a shared rhythm, thrusting forcefully against each other within the confines of her body, their gazes still locked together.

Methos felt echoes of every shock of Kronos’ pleasure. He watched, fascinated, as the other man’s eyes dilated and lost their sharpness of focus, as a droplet of sweat found its way down his stubbled cheek, as his breath came faster. He stared into Kronos’ eyes until he seemed to slip the boundaries of himself, sharing everything in one erotic moment of awareness.

Methos soon found himself caught in a struggle to see if he could outlast Kronos. His cock was being squeezed almost unbearably, and each liquid slide of ecstasy pushed him closer to release. He clenched his teeth and tried to force himself back from the edge, but it was terribly difficult when Cassandra was crying in pain and Kronos was biting his lower lip in an extremity of pleasure. Methos tried desperately to move against the other man’s shaft, trying to increase the amount of stimulation Kronos would have to withstand. Suddenly Kronos tossed his head and groaned, a sound which tore through Methos, echoing in his own body and almost making him lose control.

“Ah, my brother,” Kronos gasped, “you’re going to make me come if you keep that up.”

Methos thrust harder, and spoke over Cassandra’s escalating moans of pain. “You like this?” he panted, “let’s have it then, Kronos. Let me feel you come.”

Suddenly he was being crushed brutally against the post as Kronos leaned forward, increasing the pressure against his shaft with desperate, bludgeoning thrusts. He felt the other man’s muscles lock, and every nerve in his cock felt Kronos’ initial pulses heralding release.

As his body arched in the last possible moment before orgasm, Methos raised his arm and drove the blade of the knife deep into Cassandra’s beating heart. Kronos’ eyes widened and he gasped in shock, and there was an endless frozen moment of tableau. The only thing Methos could feel in that moment was the excited throbbing, over and over, of Kronos’ cock against his own.

Then Kronos leaned toward him over Cassandra’s dying shoulder, and Methos felt a profound shock as his mouth was taken in a passionate and breathless kiss. For the first time he felt the slick and electric probe of the other man’s tongue; Kronos was feeding on his open mouth, frantic with need. Then they were coming together, both of them grinding and moaning into each other’s mouths as Cassandra choked out the last of her life suspended between their two heaving bodies. Her heartbeats slowed, lessening as the waves of pleasure that surged over them diminished.

As the last throbs died away, Methos pulled away from Kronos’ mouth and released his hold on Cassandra’s body, which flopped solidly to the floor with a grisly whapping noise. They faced each other across her lifeless form, still heaving for breath. Methos saw with a powerfully erotic aftershock that both he and Kronos were dark with shed blood.

Methos stepped over Cassandra’s body and took Kronos in his arms. Their sticky bodies met and meshed, sweat-diluted blood smearing across both of them. He leaned the other man back, bending over his exposed throat. Kronos didn’t resist him, but his hands found Methos’ shoulders and squeezed. Slowly Methos placed biting kisses on Kronos’ chest, moving uphis throat and finally to his mouth, relishing the other man’s shiver at the coppery taste of blood.

Methos poured years of frustrated desire for Kronos into the kiss, plundering him and demanding a response. Kronos shivered and pulled Methos closer, offering his mouth with abandon, dissolving under the passionate assault.

Methos reflected that the other man now had what he’d said he wanted—Methos knew exactly who and what he was. He had a brief moment of regret, a brief desire that it didn’t have to be this way, but his resolution held firm; his choices, his path was clear before him. He strengthened his resolve to begin and released the other man’s mouth.

Kronos was panting in his arms, looking at Methos with eyes that were feverish with arousal. When Methos was sure he had Kronos’ undivided attention he took the other man’s hair in an uncompromising grip, holding him immobile as he brought the knife up and buried the blade hilt-deep into Kronos’ heart.

Kronos’ eyes widened in shock, he sucked in air in a desperate gasp as his hands tightened frantically on Methos’ shoulders. Methos didn’t pull away, but slowly lowered Kronos’ dying body onto the floor.

“Listen to me, Kronos,” he breathed, holding the other man’s head and forcing Kronos’ dimming eyes to focus on his own, “you are never, not ever, going to touch me again. You were right, my brother; I am a murdering bastard. What I am no longer, is your slave. That part of my life is over, Kronos. Now, nod if you understand me!”

Amazingly, Kronos was bringing his hands to Methos’ throat, trying even as he died to threaten and assert control. Methos grabbed the other man’s arms in his own and bent close to his face.

“You know, Kronos,” he hissed, “I can make you just as much a slave as you made me. How would you like to spend the next few years begging me to make you come with my cock buried in your ass? Would you like that?”

Kronos was fading away, growing weaker in every moment. Methos grabbed his face and forced the other man to look into his eyes.

“Kronos, if you die without giving me what I want, you’ll never come back. I’ll take your head while you’re down. Now, do we have an understanding?”

Kronos nodded faintly, and Methos smiled. Abruptly he leaned forward and covered Kronos’ mouth with his own, tasting blood on his lips in a lingering and almost tender kiss as he stole the other man’s final breath.

He sat quietly for a while; thinking, evaluating, one hand casually playing with a lock of Kronos’ hair. Finally he pulled himself upright and stretched, moving over to the vessel of water near his trunk. He poured some into a bowl, using Cassandra’s cloth to sponge himself free of blood, and then moved to his clothes. He dressed quickly.

As he finished Cassandra began to stir, rubbing her chest and coughing. He went to a pile near his table and found her shift, throwing it at her as she sat up. She looked down at herself, puzzled, and then at Kronos’ corpse before turning to him with flat hatred.

“Why did you do that to me?” she hissed venomously.

Methos looked at her coldly. “You were never a part of this,” he said, “this was about me, and about him.” He gestured to Kronos’ body.

He could see her fury, her sense of betrayal. “You loved me!” she shouted.

He smiled. “I never loved you.”

Now she was hurt, tears standing in her large eyes. “You thought you did,” she said uncertainly.

Methos took his bloody knife and began to wipe it clean, threatening and dismissing her at the same time. “Get away from here, and don’t ever let me catch you again.”

Struggling into her shift, Cassandra backed away from him and out of the tent. He heard her running steps pounding away on the sand, finally left alone with the quiet of his satisfied thoughts and Kronos’ dead body.

He went to his trunk and got out the stones and oil he used to sharpen his blades, then settled himself on his pallet and began to work. He wondered idly which way it would go when Kronos woke up.

He didn’t have to wonder long. Kronos sat up with one convulsive wrench, covering his heart with one hand while he looked wildly around. He saw Methos and sprang to his feet, snarling in anger. Methos paused in the act of wiping his knife.

“Don’t do it, Kronos,” he warned, “don’t think I can’t make you hurt badly enough to wish you’d never tried it.”

Kronos was staring furiously at him, still swaying a little on his feet. “This isn’t over, Methos,” he said, his voice hoarse. “You might think it is, but you’re wrong. I’ll decide when to stop, not you.”

Methos sighed. “You leave me no choice then,” he said, coming to his feet, “I’m leaving, Kronos. I suggest you don’t try to find me for a while, because I don’t know what I’d do to you if you tried to fuck up my life again.”

Kronos was incredulous. “You’re not leaving, Methos,” he insisted, “I’ll eat your murdering cock before I’ll let you run away from me.” Suddenly Kronos leaped to the side and reached into his pile, coming up with his shortsword. Slowly he began to advance on the other man, smiling and passing the blade from hand to hand, his movements fully graceful now.

Methos was suddenly very tired. “Stay away from me, Kronos,” he warned quietly. Kronos only grinned and came on, a bloody spectre with mad, dancing eyes.

With one practiced, lightning-quick wrist motion Methos hurled his knife into Kronos’ chest again. Kronos uttered a puzzled ‘oof’ of surprise, looking down at the handle emerging from his chest as if it had suddenly grown there. He was still studying the handle intently as he slipped to his knees. Methos stood and walked toward him.

“This isn’t over…” Kronos whispered, slowly collapsing, “you’ll see me again, Methos, don’t ever doubt it.”

Methos stood over him for a moment, and then reached down to grasp the handle of the knife.

“Let’s just both hope that I don’t,” he said brusquely. Abruptly he turned the knife inside the wound, causing freshets of blood to pulse from the other man’s chest. Kronos gasped in agony and turned away from him, and Methos retrieved his knife and stood. Momentarily he wondered what would be coming next, but by that time Kronos was dead.

Methos sighed in relief. Quickly he fetched his horse and methodically began to load him, pondering on where to go and what to do. He took only his most essential belongings and an allotment of provisions. Soon he was mounted, turning his horse’s head away from the lowering sun, choosing the opposite direction from the one Cassandra had taken.

He’d had to leave. He could face off against Kronos for a day, a week, perhaps even a month, but Kronos’ drive for vengeance was highly advanced, and Methos didn’t want to test it against his own drive for survival.

Staying meant fighting Kronos, and Methos knew that if he lost Kronos wouldn’t kill him. Kronos couldn’t have any fun with him if he were dead, and he couldn’t trust himself to fight off enslavement. There were so many choices in life, so many responsibilities, it was so much easier when all you had to do was worry about keeping your ass lubricated and letting the rest take care of itself.

When he finally went to ground that night he was far, far away. He was enjoying the romance of sleeping under the open stars more than he would have believed possible, and he knew now that he had made the right decision. It felt good to be alone, amazingly good; as he fell into sleep he found himself considering that alone was simply how he was meant to be.

The light of his dying fire played fitfully over his face, alternating patterns of light and darkness creating the illusion of a living man.

Duncan opened his eyes, and the first thing that registered was that the ceiling was unfamiliar to him, and that the bed was strange. He lay puzzled for a moment, trying to prod memories out of his sluggish brain; but then he breathed deeply, and went cold.

The smell brought it all back. Methos. This bed belonged to Methos. Last night… Oh my God.

Duncan found himself wondering exactly how it had all happened. He could remember the confusion that had brought him to the bookstore, he remembered burning with righteous indignation at the other man’s betrayal of their friendship, he remembered the argument. How in the world had he gotten from arguing to… to what they’d done?

He turned to his left and saw Methos, sprawled sideways in an overstuffed armchair with a dusty tome propped open on his knee. A brown bottle beaded with icy droplets rested on the floor next to the chair, and as Duncan watched Methos found it unerringly with one questing hand, never taking his eyes from the page he studied.

Duncan saw the other man hesitate in the act of raising the bottle to his lips, and then Methos’ head turned toward him as if sensing his attention. Duncan’s stomach fluttered with momentary panic under the other man’s frank, assessing gaze. Then Methos smiled at him, and Duncan’s panic receded.

“Good morning, MacLeod,” he said companionably, “did you sleep well?”

Duncan didn’t know what to say. This episode between them loomed in his consciousness, and internally he writhed under the scathing memory of the intimacy, the intensity.

“Fine, thank you,” he managed in a voice that sounded steady.

He took refuge in pretending that everything was normal, that he often woke up in Methos’ bed with his nerve endings still sizzling from passion. He rubbed his face to try to establish some equilibrium, but then he realized that he could smell Methos in the hollow of each hand, that his entire body was ringed and haloed with the aroma of sweat and masculine sex.

His senses were overwhelmed, and Duncan was appalled to realize that he was becoming aroused.

“So which is it, then?” Methos asked him suddenly, startling him, “which part are you having a problem with— the fact that you managed to successfully have sex with a man, or the fact that the man was me?”

Duncan was surprised into an honest answer. “Both,” he replied. He fought down an urge to cover his bare upper body, pulling the bedquilt securely around his lap.

“I see,” Methos said dryly. Duncan heard a soft rustling noise, and forced himself to look at Methos. His stomach fluttered again when he saw that the other man was on his feet, methodically removing his clothes.

“Oh, hey… Methos,” he stammered, feeling panic descend, “what are you—oh no.”

“Oh yes, MacLeod,” Methos said matter-of-factly as he began to unbutton his jeans, “otherwise it’ll probably be four hundred years before you get up the nerve to try it again, and I don’t have that kind of patience.”

Duncan swallowed convulsively. “What are you trying to do, Methos? Change my orientation?”

Methos laughed, a lighthearted and truly amused sound that seemed incongruous with Duncan’s feelings of alarm.

“Change?” Methos asked archly; “No, I like your orientation just the way it is. Actually, you should be very supportive of what I’m trying to do, MacLeod. I’m trying to increase the level of honesty between us.”

Methos was naked, and Duncan couldn’t look away. The man could have been an erotic sculpture in marble, he was that white and that defined, the only touch of color the rosy blush of his erection.

“Honesty…” Duncan croaked. Methos was pale, so pale, but Duncan knew that his pallor would give way to a ruddy flushed tone when he became aroused. He remembered… he remembered.

Methos approached him and sat on the bed, and Duncan looked nervously into his own lap, feeling the proximity of the other man burning against his skin, much like sensing sunshine on his flesh when his eyes were closed.

“Yes, MacLeod, honesty,” Methos said softly. “You want me again, don’t you?”

Duncan cleared his throat and forced a rational tone. “Well, no. I don’t. But its nothing-”

“Liar,” Methos interjected amicably.

One finger under his chin pulled his head up, and Duncan was lost in the sensual promise flickering in the depths of the other man’s eyes.

“Tell me, MacLeod,” Methos inquired, “what is it that scares you the most? The thought of getting fucked, or the thought that you might enjoy it?”

Duncan was speechless. Suddenly his spine felt as if it had been plunged in ice, all zero at the bone. He tried to pull himself away from Methos, but the other man calmly restrained him with a strength that was surprising.

“Alright then,” Duncan heard him say in a casual, conversational tone, “then that’s what we’ll do.”

Now approaching a state of terror, Duncan tried desperately to get away. He couldn’t understand quite what happened next, but suddenly he was lying flat on his back with both arms pinned above his head in a steel grip.

Methos was pressed full-length along his body, and Duncan was less concerned with the fact that he was being held down than that he couldn’t hide his aroused state any longer. Methos didn’t seem surprised.

“Don’t freak out on me, MacLeod,” he said warningly. “I don’t want to hurt you, I just want you to tell me the truth—tell me how much you want me.”

Duncan couldn’t say a damn thing. He wanted to reason, to deny, blame—anything to change the focus of this conversation, but no matter what he thought of he simply couldn’t push the words past his frozen voicebox. When he finally broke through the block in his throat, he was unsure of what was going to come out.

“Why ask me, if you know already?”

Well, he thought, could have been better, could have been worse. Methos favored him with a wry grin, and his fingers around Duncan’s wrists squeezed playfully.

“Because it turns me on to hear you say it, MacLeod,” Methos said, lowering his head as he spoke, and Duncan’s lips tingled with anticipation, “and I love it when you make me hot.”

Duncan braced himself for a ravenous kiss full of demands, shutting his eyes tightly. His breathing was quick and light as he tensed in preparation, only to find himself waiting, waiting…. Waiting.

Duncan opened his eyes to find Methos about an inch away from him, a teasing smile on his face. The flutters in Duncan’s stomach were back with reinforcements as Methos moved toward his lips with endless, glacial slowness. The first touch on his mouth was terrifyingly gentle.

Methos was breaking through his myriad layers of resistance one by one. Somehow Methos knew about the need inside him, and was skillfully, insidiously pulling it to the surface, Duncan’s efforts to keep it suppressed notwithstanding.

The very gentleness and passion in the kiss were an undeniable insistence on his capitulation, beguiling his desire in spite of his fear.

Duncan couldn’t tell if the quilt which separated their naked bodies was a comfort or an irritant. When Methos finally released his mouth Duncan was breathless.

“Dammit, Methos,” he gasped, petulant, “you could seduce a thirty-year nun.”

Methos smiled. “Well, MacLeod, everyone’s got to have a hobby.”

Abruptly Methos was rolling away, pulling the quilt from between them. Before he could pull it completely away Duncan had clamped onto it, holding it against his nakedness as he looked intently into the other man’s eyes.

“Methos,” he insisted, “last night… I asked you a question, remember? I asked you… but you never answered me.”

“Right, MacLeod,” Methos replied, yanking the quilt from Duncan’s fingers and rolling on top of him, “I didn’t.”

Duncan was ready to protest, warning flags waving a fusillade inside his head, but before he could martial his arguments he was swept away from everything in the world except for the feel of the man in his arms.

For a long time they wrestled against each other, rolling over and over as their mouths and bodies moved together in ecstatic struggle. When the dust settled Duncan found himself sweating freely and panting, flat on his back under Methos and painfully aroused.

Methos held each of his hands immobile at his sides, and Duncan tugged experimentally. Methos simply clamped down on him, which he had expected, but the surge of his own desire took him entirely by surprise.

There was a sudden feeling of some overwhelming threat, some complex and sophisticated level of need that walked in boots and could possibly be deadly.

He repressed a sudden urge to groan, not wanting Methos to have even the slightest idea of what he was going through. When the other man pulled back from him and gave him a measuring, speculative look, Duncan knew that it was too late.

“Indeed?” Methos asked in a surprised tone, and Duncan felt himself blushing furiously.

Methos commanded his mouth again with gentle thoroughness, and Duncan blissfully slipped into the haze of erotic unconcern that offered itself in the other man’s actions.

Duncan was being slowly drawn out of his consciousness, almost as if under the influence of some drug; his mind drifted off somewhere and all that was left was a craving, driven, physical animal who didn’t understand anything except that he wanted more.

Duncan sobbed in ecstasy as he thrust his aching shaft deep into Methos’ throat, reveling. Methos ruthlessly prevented orgasm by the narrowest of margins; brought him to the edge again and again, but never let him release. Soon Duncan heard his own voice as if over a great distance, crying out in debased need as he pleaded for Methos to let him come.

Methos rolled away from him and Duncan followed, but suddenly both his mind and the real world returned in a cold slap as he saw Methos pull the bottle of oil from under his pillow. Duncan was excruciatingly present, conscious of everything apparent and implied: conscious of too much. His body was still heaving and shaking from the deluge of stimulation, but his mind felt clear all the way down to millimeters.

Methos regarded him with curiosity. “Good,” he said warmly, moving back to Duncan’s side, “welcome back.”

“You—” Duncan stopped to swallow, an effort to still his trembling voice; “I suppose you had that right there because you knew that all this would happen, didn’t you Methos? Is everything so far according to plan? I’m following the script, aren’t I?”

Methos smiled benignly. “Turn the record over, MacLeod, that side’s getting old. I told you before; it doesn’t matter.”

Duncan shook his head in mute disagreement.

Methos softly touched his face, warm fingers leaving tingling trails of awareness. “Let me show you what matters,” he murmured seductively, pulling Duncan to him for a kiss.

Duncan couldn’t understand it. Four hundred years of life, four hundred years of fairly spicy sexual experience, and never, not once, had anybody made him feel like this. Was it Methos? Was it just time? Duncan didn’t know.

Methos had rolled him onto his back again, and Duncan once again found himself engulfed in that expert and wickedly teasing mouth. Everything in the world funneled down to the point of awareness where Methos was swallowing him; and when a strong, oiled hand caressed his testicles he felt it down to his toes. The scent of the oil drifted to him. Sandalwood. Nice.

There was gentle pressure against him now, almost obscured by the wet heat that enveloped his cock. He felt himself entered, the sensation much clearer than he had expected, and then everything inside him went still while the stimulation to his shaft increased. When Duncan was on the edge of coming he was entered again, for the first time feeling a sensation of stretching.

Duncan suddenly locked up, teetering between fear and desire. Immediately Methos was above him, fingers still in place and motionless.

“All right now, it’s okay,” Methos soothed, “let me in, love—let me make you feel good.” Methos kissed him deeply until the world started to go away again, and little by little he relaxed.

Methos prepared him slowly, keeping him suspended on an exquisite wave of pleasure until his entire body sang with intense, throbbing joy.

Duncan found himself with his thighs spread open on Methos’ lap, sudden fear warring with an equally sudden urge to get it over with. Methos placed a pillow underneath him, and shifted forward, leaning over him. Duncan felt a touch at the opening to his body, and then pressure.

There was a bright, flaring pain, and Duncan hissed in surprise. Immediately Methos was still, but Duncan felt more and more uncomfortable with each moment. He felt like an idiot for getting into this in the first place.

Now the agonizing presence moved even further inside him, and suddenly Duncan was trying to push Methos away, his desire flown and his only thoughts those of escape.

“Don’t, Methos,” he said through teeth clenched in pain, “this won’t work. Let me up.”

Methos’ hands were on his face, forcing him to look into the other man’s aroused, dilated eyes.

“Shh… okay, MacLeod,” he whispered, his hands trailing a gentle path down to Duncan’s wrists.

Duncan felt Methos begin to pull away, but then his arms were brought above his head, and pinned. Duncan stared disbelievingly into Methos’ eyes.

“I’m not going to stop, MacLeod,” Methos said quietly, “you’re going to trust me, and that’s that. Don’t make this bad for yourself—just relax. I’m not going to do anything that you don’t want.”

Duncan was horrified. He wanted to throw the other man off of him, at least expostulate, but fear had claimed him and taken both his strength and his words. In the end he just lay there inert, watching as if from outside himself as Methos’ knees forced his thighs even wider. Then the lancing agony returned, and Duncan was back in his body and crying out in pain.

Methos was motionless above him, buried deeply in his unwilling body. Duncan felt himself filled and stretched to the bursting point, still unable to believe that this was actually happening. He tensed his muscles for a struggle, but movement caused the pain inside him to flare higher. Slowly the pain died away, and Duncan realized that the man above and inside him was making a tremendous effort to give him time. “What are you waiting for, Methos?” he cried, “Go ahead—rape me and get it over with, for God’s sake!”

Methos pulled his head back, and Duncan saw with shock that silent tears were rolling down his cheeks. A subtle, shifting movement inside, and suddenly intense pleasure flooded through him, hardening his cock in seconds. Duncan’s breath caught.

Methos lowered onto his mouth. Duncan tasted the salt of his tears, and he became aware of something inside him like hunger, wanting and unfulfilled. Another shift, and the residual pain was a gracenote to the intense, swooning pleasure. Methos had obviously perfected his talents over the eons. Something was happening inside him, stripping him of his fear, leaving only need. He arched with want, feeling his legs open even wider of their own volition.

It wasn’t enough. He flexed his hips in an effort to have more, and Methos groaned into his mouth. Abruptly Methos pulled back above him, causing the pressure on his wrists to become intense. At the same time he froze, becoming completely still inside Duncan’s body. All Duncan could feel was throbbing heat.

Duncan stared at the man above him. He had never seen so much raw passion; Methos was tense with restraint, beaded with sweat, obviously sacrificing every muscle to pay the cost of control.

“Tell me, Duncan,” Methos moaned, “am I? Am I raping you? Tell me if I am, and I’ll let you go right now.”

Duncan was caught, trapped between the vestiges of his outrage and fear and the craving which coursed through his blood with every beat of his heart. For a moment he wondered how he would feel if Methos didn’t stop. Then he wondered how he would feel if he did, and he had his answer.

“No, Methos,” he whispered, “you aren’t raping me.”

Methos squeezed Duncan’s wrists and moved inside him. Duncan’s head arched back helplessly as his desire leaped to a higher plateau.

“Tell me then,” Methos demanded softly, “tell me what I’m doing.” helplessly Duncan hesitated, amazed at his ability to be embarrassed under these circumstances, until Methos began to pull away from him, slowly leaving his burning body.

“You’re… fucking me, Methos,” he gasped quickly, and groaned as Methos eased back into him, striking those bright sparks of pleasure again.

“Am I doing something you don’t want?” Methos asked, releasing Duncan’s wrists. Duncan had to stop himself from grabbing the other man’s hands and clamping them onto himself.

“No…” he murmured, “you’re not doing anything I don’t want.” At once his wrists were taken in a fierce grip while his body was teased with gentle thrusts.

“Tell me, Highlander,” Methos insisted, “tell me what you want.”

“I want… I want you,” he whispered, surging against the other man in desperate need.

Above him Methos frowned. “Not good enough.” He began to pull away. Duncan felt the pleasure inside him subside into an unfulfilled ache.

Duncan surrendered. “I want you to fuck me, Methos!” he cried frantically, “I want to feel you inside me, take me—oh please—Methos—fuck me!”

Methos thrust into him hard for the first time, and Duncan cried out in ecstasy as that needy place in him was filled for a brief moment.

“Do you want me to make you come, Duncan?” Methos panted, shivering.

Duncan writhed against the other man’s restraining hands. “Yes!”

Another firm thrust, another ecstatic moment of too-brief fulfillment.

“Do you want me to come inside you?”

“Yes!”

“All right then.” Methos heaved inside him and Duncan moaned. “I want you to come when I do. Understand?”

“Yes—Yes—Yes!”

Then Methos was moving, thrusting, forcing Duncan’s body to overflow with desire. Methos’ smooth hard stomach rubbed firmly against his erection, easing the ache of need there. His arms were held in an uncompromising grip as his body was ravaged, penetrated, transfixed with delight.

The urgency and intensity increased in measure, and Duncan felt his body absorb Methos’ most brutal, ramming thrusts with an endless appetite. Methos was talking to him, telling him how phenomenal, how incomparable it was to be in him, how it felt to be buried inside him.

Suddenly Methos was kissing him, biting his lower lip hard and licking the blood from the wound, and Duncan could barely understand his words as the other man cried out into his mouth, telling him to come, come now, over and over and over.

One last slide of Methos’ perspiring stomach over his cock and Duncan obeyed, pulses counterpointed almost painfully by the throbbing of the shaft inside him. Methos rocked over him, shuddering, thrusts becoming less urgent as the spasms of pleasure slowly died away.

Then it was all over. Methos was cradling him, kissing him, gently rubbing sensation back into his tingling hands, stroking every part of his body lovingly and with incredible reverence.

Duncan felt the same insidious siren call of Methos’ comforting, but this time he was determined to resist. He lay unmoving under the other man’s caresses, forcing himself not to respond. He felt hollow inside, a great, whistling emptiness desolated under a shadow of fear. Abruptly he rolled on top of Methos and pinned him, using all his strength to press the other man into the bed.

Not caring that his tears were starting to flow, he leaned down to Methos’ face, commanding his gaze.

“You’re going to hurt me, aren’t you Methos?” he said, his voice shaking, “sooner or later you’re going to make me hate myself for ever caring about you— sooner or later you’re going to make me wish I were dead. Isn’t that right?”

Methos was looking at him with such sorrow, such pity. “I don’t want to,” he said softly, his brows drawn together.

Duncan felt anger rise up in him, the helpless anger of the impotent, and his hands squeezed tightly on Methos’ arms. “Why, dammit? Methos,” his voice broke and then he was crying, powerless to stop, “why can’t you just love me?”

Methos had closed his eyes, and Duncan suddenly felt shut out, abandoned. Duncan let go of him and rolled away, sitting up on the bed and crying into his cupped hands. Methos didn’t try to comfort him, which Duncan had expected, but simply lay there passively as Duncan moved through his sadness.

When Duncan was quiet, his tears finished for the moment, Methos spoke; his voice was tight with some unknown emotion. “What makes you think my love for you would keep me from hurting you, MacLeod?”

Methos sighed, and when he spoke again his voice was cold. “I’ve hurt people just like you before, people I’ve loved.” Suddenly his eyes were open, and Duncan felt a cramp of fear as he looked into that ancient, alien gaze. “I’ve already hurt you. Look at what I just did.”

“What did you just do, Methos?” Duncan demanded, angry in the grip of his own uncertainty. “What did you do to me? Did you rape me? Did you teach me something I needed to know? Did you free me from my own fears? Which was it? Which one are you going to claim it is?”

The face beneath his was unreadable. “Come back to me after a thousand years and tell me the answer.”

Duncan studied him, trying to see through all the meticulously constructed barriers to what was inside, knowing that was impossible.

“Who are you, Methos? I feel like I deserve to know. Are you still death on horseback? Are you even human anymore? Where are the dividing lines between light and dark here? Which side are you on?”

Abruptly Methos was pulling away from him, and Duncan let him go. Methos sat up, regarding him calmly and steadily.

“I’m on my own side,” he said simply. “As I told you before, light and dark have different meanings for both of us. They are absolutes, extremes; and extremes should be avoided if you want to survive.”

“Then why do this with me, Methos? Why put me through this?”

Methos turned from him, lying down on his side and hunched away. Duncan was determined to have an answer, and he reached for Methos, trying to pull him onto his back. When Duncan finally rolled him over Methos had his hands pressed to his face, and he was shaking. Duncan struggled with the other man’s hands, and Methos resisted for a moment before he let Duncan pull them away.

Methos’ face was streaked with tears, his features twisted with pain. He looked at Duncan, a study in misery, and then he looked away. Duncan waited, wanting to give Methos time.

“Just because I’ve made these choices in my life doesn’t mean I don’t feel,” he murmured. “I stand outside humanity looking in, MacLeod, I stand alone in time, and time is cold.” Suddenly Duncan could see both the alien and the man, each one helping the other to live, to grow stronger. “You are all so warm, you all burn with such fire and passion. I can stand outside for centuries, but sometimes I need… I need to come inside and get warm.”

Duncan felt a wave of compassion crest around his heart, and something inside him broke open, flooding over his anger and his fears. He gathered Methos gently into his arms, lying back with him and pressing their bodies together. He tried to kiss the pain away, kissing the furrows in the other man’s brow, tasting his tears and finding them sweet.

Methos relaxed against him, and Duncan was overpowered with a need to protect, to keep him safe, to give him peace. He lowered himself to Methos’ mouth, stroking slowly over his face as he tried to communicate without words that Methos could trust him, that he loved him, that he would keep him warm. The kiss lasted a long time, and when Duncan finally pulled back Methos was asleep in his arms.

Duncan held Methos quietly, a bulwark against the cold.