Disclaimers: Not mine, no money changed hands. I'm a victim in all this!

Classification: NC/17 Slash. Woo-hoo!

Summary: Another Duncan/Methos first time story. All traces of plot have been hunted down and meticulously excised. This is a fluffy and schmoopy thing-- you might as well go read a Hallmark card.

Feedback: You can pass go, you can collect $200.00; and if you feel like it, you can send feedback to mtriste@hotmail.com.

Author's Note: This is a birthday present for JaC, for her unswerving support and dedication; offered with my greatest thanks and admiration. Happy Birthday, my friend!

She asked for 'no blood'. After a concerted effort to wrap my head around that idea (three hours with a dictionary, two hours with a reputable therapist, and fifteen unforgettable minutes with a very puzzled nun on the bus), I came up with this. This is also cruelty-free in the sense that I didn't make anyone beta-read it.


The Declaration

By Aristide


Duncan MacLeod was in the midst of preparing dinner when the hum of Immortal presence washed through him, tingling at the back of his neck like an unwelcome touch.

"Damn," he swore mildly. Probably only Methos, of course, back after a day of dissolute plundering of bookstores, but still…

He sighed. It had to be now, when he was covered with raw chicken, of course. He wiped his hands hurriedly, and grimaced slightly at the image of fighting for his life with one hand while he tried to make sure his rice didn't burn with the other. Sometimes he believed himself an utter fool for thinking he could maintain any semblance of a normal life…

He was halfway across the loft on his way to his coat and the katana therein when a rhythmic series of thumping noises echoed faintly up the elevator shaft.

That was Methos. There was raw chicken mess all over his clean dish towel for nothing. He smiled ruefully.

Duncan knocked twice-- two hard, distinct taps on the wooden grate that barred the front of the elevator shaft: the ‘two bits' response to the ‘shave and a haircut' that Methos had rapped out to inform him of the presence of friend rather than foe.

Duncan returned to his abandoned chicken, riffling idly through a sheaf of memories in an attempt to remember whether he was supposed to rub in marjoram or tarragon. He'd just decided to add a judicious amount of each when the elevator gate rattled up and Methos wandered in, his usual lackadaisical stride unhindered by the bags in his arms.

"Hey," Duncan began amiably enough, "you're just in time-- come peel carrots for me."

Methos froze, his face as vacant as a badly executed Buddha. "I just walked in the door," he observed mildly, as if the logic behind his response should be evident to anyone with more than two brain cells.

Unwilling to start a skirmish within the first thirty seconds of their occupation of the same room, Duncan let his face tighten into one of his best disapproving scowls and left it at that. He vented his frustration on the defenseless flesh of the chicken breasts instead, working the herbs in with such vehemence that the meat was soon coated with an odd-looking, greenish paste.

He refused to look up or pursue further conversation as he put the finishing touches to the chicken and turned with silent surliness to a bunch of new carrots waiting in the sink. Methos didn't seem inclined to talk anyway-- he moved around Duncan without speaking, unpacking some bags into the refrigerator, shifting others out of the kitchen altogether.

The carrots were rinsed, and Duncan had taken the first one in a firm grip when Methos appeared next to him; a tousled apparition with open and expectant hands.

"Don't trouble yourself, Methos," Duncan murmured tightly, firming his grip on the vegetable peeler, "I've got it."

"Don't be an ass, MacLeod," Methos responded impatiently. Duncan allowed himself to be brushed aside like an apprentice cook who'd just soured the soup, and watched for a moment in fascination as Methos whipped the peeler over the carrot with nearly invisible speed.

"I'm not being an ass," Duncan responded automatically, his eyes unable to move away from the carrot-flaying massacre taking place, "I don't think I ask that much of you-- "

The peeler halted in mid-sweep, and Duncan was surprised to find Methos rounding on him, eyes narrow and dark with some unguessed emotion. "Would you like me to go stay somewhere else, Mac?"

The retort issued from his mouth without thought. "Nope. I wouldn't do that to Joe. His poor old heart couldn't take it-- you'd be the death of him."

He saw Methos' eyes squeeze shut, and he felt a sudden flash of shame-- he'd meant the barb to tease, not wound, but his mouth had spoken before his mind could put on the brakes.

Duncan sighed quietly. Their friendship was healing, but not yet healed. There were too many pitfalls still-- too many moments of darkness buried under a dangerously convincing veneer of peaceful days spent together. Before he could say anything to redress his words, Methos spoke.

"I'm impressed, MacLeod. I wasn't expecting conscious, spontaneous cruelty from you for a few years yet. Either I'm rubbing off on you or you're getting awfully comfortable around me."

Duncan looked deep into now-shuttered eyes, searching for some indication of feeling. To his relief, it appeared that Methos was actually pleased-- the smile was faint but there, a smile of gentle indulgence. He found himself smiling back.

"I didn't mean that the way it sounded," he murmured, still a little guilty, but Methos tsked him for it, spattering him with water droplets from a carrot end waved in lazy warning fashion.

"Uh-uh, Mac, don't weasel. Here's one of those scraps of wisdom you always think I should hand out: when someone tells you they're impressed, don't disillusion them." Methos' features returned to their normal composed state, the carrot returned to its destiny, and Duncan bit his lip while he wondered whether it would bother Methos more if he laughed out loud or if he didn't.

He turned away, denying the laughter, and ducked his heated face conveniently into the fridge as he got each of them a beer.

"So," Duncan began mildly as he wrestled with a particularly obstreperous cap, "what'd you do today?"

"I argued with an old bookstore clerk, I won an utterly stupid and useless prize and I bought some stuff. How do you want these cut?"

Duncan blinked. Methos had moved the denuded carrots to the drainage board, and was now hovering over them with a cleaver and a scowl, looking amusingly like a peculiar and wrathful chef.

"Just rounds will do."

The first chop of the cleaver made him wince a little, but soon he was too absorbed in watching Methos do his Benihana act to worry about it. "You won what?" He placed one bottle silently on the board, and the whack and skitter of metal on wood ceased abruptly as Methos stopped to drink.

"Ah." The gratitude, satisfaction and ardent joy in Methos' post-beer sigh always made him smile.

"At the sporting goods store, when I went to get some new hiking boots. Like I told you yesterday, my old ones have holes in them now…"

Whack-whackwhackwhack…

"Apparently, I was their millionth customer, or some such asinine thing…"

whackwhackwhack! Thwup. Scrape…scrape.

Little carrot circles, all neatly ordered in a tidy pile, tops and tips swept safely to the side.

"I won a week at a cabin on some lake. They gushed over me, and took my picture. It was horrible."

Duncan grinned, and headed for the pile. "I bet you loved every minute of it. Does this mean I get my couch back for a week?"

Methos gave ground easily before him, which should have been sufficient warning; but Duncan was intent on getting the chopped carrots into the pot and didn't even consider the possibility of retribution until his dishtowel caught him on the left buttock with an astonishingly loud noise and a bright spot of pain.

"Hey!" a handful of carrots flew, but by some miracle of providence most of them landed in the pot. Duncan was about to use the fallen ones as projectile missiles when Methos leaned dangerously close, hemming him in against the island.

"Don't antagonize your elders, MacLeod," the growled menace harmonized perfectly with the evident threat on Methos' focused features. Duncan didn't feel particularly intimidated. In fact, his first thought was of tweaking Methos' nose, but he reconsidered at the last moment.

"Why not?" Strident-- no quarter given. Perfect.

"It angers the gods," Methos intoned calmly, "and yea, then the unrighteous shall find their buttocks woefully smitten…"

He couldn't, just couldn't, hold it anymore. Methos looked so bloody serious, calling down hellfire and brimstone on his ass. He sprayed undignified giggles into Methos' grim visage, helpless to stop himself even when Methos went for the towel again.


"So," Duncan managed around a mouthful of poached herbed chicken, "what are you going to do with your prize?" he swallowed, and took a sip of wine. "You're not going to pass up the chance to have ‘Splendid Outdoor Adventures', are you?" he dropped his voice into a sales-spiel drawl, quoting from the brochure that Methos had shown him while dinner was cooking.

"MacLeod, I know it's hard for you to remember this, but I lived for thousands of years when ‘Splendid Outdoor Adventures' were my only option." Methos looked put-upon again, and Duncan suppressed a snort of laughter-- before he'd brought up the subject, Methos' face had been a study in bliss as he methodically ate his way through his second helping.

"It's a good thing you didn't win the lottery, Methos-- you'd probably be suicidal." He got ready to duck, just in case Methos was feeling especially sensitive about his status as the world's oldest self-indulgent pessimist, but Methos only gave him a look that would have curdled fresh cream.

"Ha. Very." Methos helped himself to more saffron rice, and after three bites he gave up on his mock-outrage and general bad temper. "Actually, Mac, it comes in quite handy. I'd no idea what to present you with as a hospitality gift, and this solves that particular difficulty."

Duncan snorted. "Right-- since when do you give hospitality gifts? Or, is this a hint that you want me to go off to the woods so that you can have a week-long party in the loft while I'm away?"

Methos only blinked at him mildly. "I've decided to give hospitality gifts since you've decided that I'm worth this type of cuisine. As for the party, well, I'll be happy to look after the loft while you're gone, and I'll be sure to clear up all the mess and kick out the dancing girls before you get back."

It was a difficult choice, trying to decide whether to be amused or insulted. Of course, there was the third option, disregard, which always seemed to be especially appealing when Methos was around. "You're really giving up your cabin, then? You're serious?"

Methos nodded, chewing with his eyes closed, evident enjoyment warring with concentration. Duncan waited patiently while the other man swallowed and opened his eyes. "Yes. You don't have to use it now-- it's good for a year, or nine months or something. Plenty of time for you to hook up with some city girl who needs to get away from it all-- you can take her with you and overwhelm her with your rugged outdoor savvy. This rice is divine."

"Thanks." He couldn't help smiling. He glanced around the loft, surprised, almost shocked, at how appealing the thought of ‘getting away from it all' was.

He'd only been back in Seacouver for three months-- Paris had been too much after the O'Rourke debacle, after every other damn thing that had happened; seemingly a fresh pain around almost every corner. Of course, the last few years altogether had been…difficult. Hellishly so. It occurred to him suddenly that one reason he'd looked so hard for proof of healing in his friendship with Methos was because he'd somehow gotten the idea that it paralleled his own healing, his own wholeness after a disturbing period of darkness. He sighed.

"I think I'd like to go-- if you're sure you want to give up your prize. Or…" he paused, considering, chewing over sudden inspiration as if it were an extra and unexpected course of the meal, "why don't we both go-- you and I? I'll fish, and you can read, and if we're lucky neither one of us will have to worry about fighting Immortals for a week."

Even as he said it the appeal of the idea grew, but growing interest was accompanied by a sharp twinge of anticipated disappointment-- Methos had made it very clear when they'd discussed the brochure that a lakefront cabin vacation was pretty far down on his list of preferred ways to spend his time.

Methos frowned horribly, squinting at him as if he'd just proposed something diabolical. Duncan's shoulders hunched with chagrin, and he quickly tried to decide whether it would be better to backpedal, or to try to talk Methos into it.

"Mac, you're not going to try to overwhelm me with your rugged outdoor savvy, are you? Trying to impress me is just going to shatter your ego-- life has left me terribly jaded, you know, and no matter how close we've gotten I can assure you that I'm not going to enthuse over the size of your trout."

Unfortunately, Duncan had frozen with a mouthful of wine at the first moment of stunned realization that Methos might just go along with him, as easy as that. Methos' last words (delivered in that dry, no-nonsense tone that was usually reserved for matters of life and death) induced such a preposterous mental image that Duncan choked badly on wine and laughter, and only barely managed to get his napkin to his mouth in time.


"Do you think that would do it?"

The hour was late, the mellowness of food and alcohol had created a lush and drowsy atmosphere, and Duncan found the words spilling from him before he even knew that he meant to speak.

Methos regarded him through a sleepy blink, almost nodding over his bottle in the corner of the couch. "Do I think what would do what?"

There were moments; often, Duncan had found to his chagrin, fueled by good wine; when the time and the circumstances and the situation all slipped into an indefinable and yet somehow perfect moment of rightness; everything in balance, and nothing to do but open your heart up and share whatever warmth there was to be had with those around you. These moments always remained with him, separate and distinct in his memory, unfaded by time. He was having one now. He spoke from there.

"It's been a long, long time since things have been really right between us." He thought it might sting to say it, but the only thing he felt was a soft heat blooming in his chest, and a little heady buzz of relief.

He looked at Methos, and for once it seemed as if he could see behind the calm eyes to where the inner workings of so many years labored onward, all things drawing together to render any given situation survivable. The hair on the back of Duncan's neck stood up, electrified with this depth of knowledge; a cool and cutting comment was on the way, probably something to do with the level of his perceptiveness, and right now there was no disappointment associated with it-- he saw, he saw the process behind the words thrown up like small, individual barriers-- how could he resent, when he understood so well?

But no. A small struggle went on, brief as a flash of lightning and just as illuminating; and then there was simply Methos, facing what was with composure. "Yes."

For some reason, that particular victory cut straight to Duncan's heart. Methos had proved over and over again that he valued their friendship, but nothing had ever had the impact of that one simple word; that plain and unadorned choice to put the defense aside for a moment, and speak the truth. It rocked him, drew something out of him, recognizable only as a silent and fervent internal pledge to treasure this friend, to keep a warm spot in his heart and home and life for this weary traveler.

"So, do you think that this week away, this... time together, will change that?"

Methos looked very focused, brows drawn down and intent as if he were considering a deeply philosophical question. "Change..." he shifted subtly, one finger at the tip of his beer bottle tilting the weight of it slowly back and forth where it rested on his knee. "By 'change', I assume you mean 'fix'. You know we can't go back, we can't undo, we can't obliterate..."

Duncan had the strangest sensation of wanting to nod and shake his head at the same time. Yes, he knew it. No, they couldn't. But there was... what was that word? The wine and food and thoughts and blended emotions obscured it, but that word was out there somewhere, what he meant--

"But I'd imagine that, in this universe of infinite alternatives, it might conceivably be possible that we could... transcend it."

Transcend. That was the word. It had the right feel to it, the concept of acknowledgement combined with acceptance combined with a decision to move on. How had he forgotten that? It felt almost like an entirely new concept to him, like a revelation. Just the thought of it warmed and relaxed his limbs; carried a soothing picture of Methos dropping solidly and comfortably into his life at regular intervals, the two of them well-worn against each other's edges, stronger for what had gone before. Tempered. Tempered by transcendence...

He was so lost in his thoughts that he failed to notice when Methos moved, and only the low voice murmuring close to him brought him to awareness.

"Is that what you want, Mac?"

Methos' features had lightened, eased away from that focused, careful look into one much more casual; but Duncan sensed a contradictory truth in the tone of voice-- serious, so low and serious it made his heart pound.

"Yes. Definitely. That's what I want."

No room for error there. Each word felt weighted as it slipped from his mouth, heavy and infinitely powerful.

Methos smiled, almost a sad smile. "Then that's what will be. The path doesn't matter."

Some wire-thin thread of tension between them snapped, manifest only after the fact. With a new lightness upon him Duncan reclined back into the welcoming embrace of the couch, free and floating, and willing to ask the questions he might have shied away from before. "The path?"

A shrug, slightly rueful; and then soft glints of light sparked at him from Methos' half-lidded eyes. "Through no specific design of my own, I've made rather a lifelong study of strong and intense individuals, MacLeod." A wry twist of lips, chased away with a sip of beer. "I think I was born with the ability to manifest them at will. And one thing that I've learned from all this observation is that when someone like you decides irrevocably what they want, well; most of the time that's what's going to happen."

The sense of drifting free spiraled down quickly into hard reality, a reality which pulled two ways towards both dismay and illumination. Methos, in a rare display of tact, had refrained from naming names; but the corollary was inescapable, and for a moment Duncan was so deeply appalled at being likened to Kronos that he had to struggle just to stay still, to not turn away. The only thing that made it bearable was the startling rush of comprehension as his mind made one gigantic leap after another, his thoughts racing as a new picture, a pure new idea, clarified itself.

His skin tingled and goosebumps formed as he considered that, for him, comparing Kronos to himself would always and forever be defined by differences, whereas Methos would see... would see... similarities. What drew him. Correspondences and parallels of strength, of-- what had he said? Intensity.

"You must think an awful lot of me..." The words spun out unthinkingly from between cold lips. Could he live with this? After four hundred years, was it still possible to find something this shockingly new? Perhaps he should kick Methos out right now, or maybe hug him-- or maybe wait until this dreadful cacophony of contrariness burned itself out in his mind.

Methos' smile deepened, and Duncan knew, no matter what, that kicking Methos out wasn't on the program. "I'm practically entranced, MacLeod."

Sarcasm was nice. Known. Customary. Enough to ease him, enough to soothe away the worst of the alarm. A focus, guiding him back to his waiting words. "So when you say the path doesn't matter, you mean..."

"I mean that you've stated your intention, stated your desire; and the nature of who you are will guide you where you want to go, no matter what you do." Methos looked very scholarly-- there was no lecturing tone to the words, but nonetheless Duncan couldn't escape the notion of a very young Professor, boozing it up with tousled hair in a dark corner of some faculty party. It made him smile. "You want us to move on, transcend that which sundered us. Just saying it, just speaking the words is a big step; a declaration is an incredibly powerful thing. I'm sure you know that. Now you've said it, any number of paths or possibilities will get you there. You could test your newfound tolerance by dragging me off to the wilderness to see if you can stand the whining-- that would work. You could do your very best to get me drunk and maudlin and then pump me for intimate details of my life-- that would work, or at least it would be fun trying--"

Methos seemed to have left Duncan far behind, and was now addressing his speech to the ceiling, waving his bottle around in a way that might have been alarming if it had possessed more than an ounce or so of liquid. "We could spend a couple months teaching each other every swordfighting technique we've ever learned. You could come with me the next time I take off-- pull a Kerouac with me and run off to discover something we'll never find. You could sleep with me-- I believe that also has the dual benefit of fun if not effectiveness. Most likely, you could do nothing, just cook me saffron rice a couple times a week, and make sure the beer supply doesn't run low..."

Duncan wasn't aware that he'd made any noise at all, but he must have, because Methos broke off and the next thing he saw, as if at the opposite end of a very long tunnel, was Methos' eyes on him, amazingly distant yet intensely clear, sharp and concerned. "Hey Mac-- are you alright? Hello? Earth to MacLeod..."

"Here..." he never should have opened that second bottle of wine. Not on a night like this. "I'm here, Methos, I'm fine. Just fine. What was that you said again?"

The eyes that constituted the whole of his vision narrowed. "What, the whole speech? MacLeod, did it ever occur to you that one reason I don't care to offer up my profound wisdom is because you children never listen? What's the point in sharing the depth and breadth of my boundless experience if--"

"I could sleep with you..."

"Aha." The room had swum back into focus, but there seemed to be very little air in it as Duncan watched Methos drain the last of his beer and set the bottle carefully on the floor. "Snagged on that, did you? Well honestly, Mac; you can't say that it's never occurred to you--"

Methos' tranquility in the moment had a sobering effect on him; whether it was intended that way or not Duncan couldn't say. He couldn't say... he couldn't say much, actually. Just the truth. "No, I guess I can't."

Did he just say that?

Um... yes; apparently, he did.

And the walls were still standing.

Imagine that.

"Why can't I?"

Methos burst out laughing, a loud, gleeful, joyful noise that bounced off the walls and the ceiling and Duncan's eardrums like a wild ricocheting projectile, and Duncan heard an accompanying background snicker that could only be his own.

Jesus.

The laughter washed something out of him, spread through him like balm, soothing everything it touched. When it dwindled away to a not unpleasant silence Duncan turned the thought over, took advantage of renewed steadiness to hold the idea up to the light and consider its facets.

"The reason would be wrong." Oh, he might be calm, he might be enshrined in a temporary envelope of rationality, but he sure wasn't making much sense. His cheeks burned.

Methos tracked him, however; assessing him with a look of sober compassion while he chewed reflectively on one thumbnail. "You mean it would be wrong to have sex with me just to heal the past?"

Suddenly that thought, which only a moment ago had stood forth clear and irrefutable and absolute, seemed indistinct and somehow muddled; a path of logic he could no longer follow. "Yes," he replied anyway, trusting his previous convictions even if his mind was cutting out on him in the crunch. "That's not... it wouldn't be right."

Methos shrugged, and Duncan marveled at his equanimity. "We could have a fine semantic argument about that, MacLeod; except I don't think I have the energy." As if in evidence of this he yawned cavernously, shaking himself briskly afterwards in a way that was so purely Methos that Duncan found himself smiling again. "It's called 'make-up sex';" he continued evenly, "you know-- you have a fight, then there's distance, then you have a spine-melting encounter and then you're fine."

Duncan didn't need utter clarity to seek out the flaw in that. "But you and I, we've never... I mean, we don't--"

Methos smiled indulgently. "You're bound and determined to have this argument, aren't you, Mac? Listen-- relationship is relationship, and the rules are pretty much the same whether the relationship is romantic in nature or not. Now, that's not something that I caught on to until I was... oh, about twice your age. So if it rings false to you, let's leave it there, and then maybe you can get off the couch so that I can get some sleep-- you've got to learn, Mac; if you insist on waking me in the mornings I'm not going to be much company for you on these late-night rambles--"

"No, wait--" Duncan had no idea what the hell to say next, but he knew that he just couldn't let the subject be buried under a stream of Methospatter. Bury something like that, and you might never see it again... "Would you want that? Is that something you'd... would want?"

Methos seemed unperturbed by the question; the only thing Duncan could see for sure in those eyes was vague surprise. "You have to ask?"

How could something be simultaneously so easy and so frustrating? "I just... you seem so... detached, I guess. Clinical."

Methos smiled again. "Well, it does seem appropriate, since we're dealing with a theoretical hypothesis here, perched on opposite ends of the couch and carrying on a debate. Would you be more comfortable if I either flung myself at you or demanded that you get away from me?"

He couldn't not answer that smile. He remembered Methos' speech about the power of declaration, and his own subsequent realization about the lure of strength, what drew Methos, what compelled him... and before he knew it he'd traversed the distance of couch between them and Methos' arms were warm under his hands, close under bulky wool while he looked deep into wide-pupiled mystery, deep into a place he never thought to see.

"Yes. Definitely. That's what I want."

He was close enough that he caught it; a flash of something --delight?-- before lids shuttered down to something that looked incredibly like actual bashfulness above a demure smile. "Okay then-- get away from me." The smile widened, a quick shift from shy to playful. It did something to him, that smile; something that made him want to jump off cliffs and come charging to the rescue and howl at the moon and maybe quite possibly rip his clothes off so he could start getting sticky.

"No," words were balloons, each slipping up out of reach with such lightness, such unbelievable lightness... "I don't think I will..."

A brief tussle ensued-- nothing evident, nothing to mar the perfection of the moment, of resting easy and absorbing the feel of Methos through his palms; just a little mind-melt while part of him protested that this was way, way too fast, and another part suggested that it was about damn time. He might have sat like that for a long while, locked in debate, if a third part hadn't whispered that this was, after all, supposed to be about he and Methos, and transcendence; and how very nice it might be to transcend all that other bullshit and just... reach out.

//Oh, that. I can do that.//

He found that he could.


Kisses. Kisses like individual syllables of tongue-slippery Braille, disclosing, telling, wrapping him in secrets. In all the length of his long, long years somehow Duncan had missed out on the full weight and portent, the full potential of everything that could be communicated in deep, wet kisses.

The very simplicity of the act engendered a bizarre sense of doubling in his mind, a sweet bifurcation-- half of him was shaken to his very foundations by the lush, stunning impact of diving into Methos' yielding mouth, as if his own soul had decided to claw its way up his throat and now risked spilling out and away if he were careless; the rest of him brimmed with amusement at the adolescent innocence of getting really worked up and hot over necking with Methos on the couch, swapping spit and petting hesitantly as if they didn't have five and a half millennia of experience between them. Amazing that he should have this sense that somehow they were children together, children maturing at a very rapid rate as warmth became heat became hunger, sinking slowly into a base yet exalted place, a dark and brilliant hollow of angelic lust.

"I wish I'd... I should have done this before--" murmured against eager lips, half-incomprehensible due to the suction around his tongue.

Methos drew back from him; eyes wide, lips wet, all of him inviting. "Kissing? My God, Mac, you've got a lot of catching up to do--"

"Wiseass."

This wasn't going to work. There was no way he could work his way around to satisfying the growing demands of his body when he couldn't stop kissing Methos long enough to undress him. Something would have to give, he'd have to just stop--

He didn't want to stop. Not right now. Maybe not at all.

That thought alone, heavy and razor-sharp in his mind, was sufficiently alarming to allow him to pull away. Too much. Too much of a good thing. That was a bad thing, wasn't it?

Good God, he was shaking.

Shaken.

"This isn't going to work, Mac."

"What?" He shook his head, an attempt to dispel the sense of pleasant drowning along with the surprise of hearing Methos speak what had been his own thought.

Warmth descended as Methos cupped his face, drew him up until their eyes met. "As amusing as it is to watch you struggle through attacks of moral conflict, it's playing hell with my baser instincts. Just take what you want."

Whether Methos had intended it that way or not, the last few words, whispered soft and low like some erotic lullabye, ripped through him with silent and terrible precision; opening something up inside him that had no patience for any careful self-reflection, no tolerance at all for anything other than the most direct route to satisfaction. There was a vicious, keening imperative to determine exactly how much it would take to make a five-thousand-year-old-man pass out from pleasure; something that spread through him like the extremity of thirst. What the hell had he just been given permission to do-- and why was he so desperate for it?

"What... what are you doing to me, Methos?"

"Mmm. Not nearly enough, if you're still talking--"

"No. Not enough." It was terrifying, really-- he would move mountains, he would go to war, he would face down the Kurgan himself before he would let this stop... "Get out of these damn clothes and get on the bed."

"Oh yes..."

Methos slipped away like a Chimaera whose job of deception is done; and Duncan waited with closed eyes and short breath through the silent, burning pain of having him out of arm's reach. He needed... he needed a moment, just a moment; a brief pause to breathe, to steady himself, to lick the sweet flavor of Methos from his lips and close his eyes on hot flashes of memory that made him ache and try to forgive himself in advance for what he was about to do.

//No guilt,// he lectured sternly, //and no apologies, and no backing down. You don't get to indulge yourself that way. Go indulge yourself with something else...//

Once again there was a dizzying sensation of newness-- and newness was certainly surreal in its own right after four hundred years.

//Just sex, remember? That's not new...//

Yeah, yeah, but... women he'd had, hundreds of them, and each one unique and lovely; but none of them had ever made him feel quite... like... this. Men-- another animal entirely. Men were for mutual hand-jobs between brothers, friendly drunken little half-embarrassed pleasures forgotten as soon as women were once again available. He was the soul of consideration with women, and he would never, ever consider claiming another man...

The way he was about to go claim Methos.

Oh.

//No guilt. Now go.//

He went.


He was baffled by the restlessness, abashed and disconcerted by the need that wouldn't leave him alone, even though he ostensibly had everything he could have asked for. Methos' hair was fine and silken but still grabbable, and Duncan had a fairly good grip on it as he arched up and offered his aching, needful shaft while Methos swallowed him with such erotic enthusiasm that it actually brought tears to his eyes. He had to keep pushing his own head deeper into the pillow just to make sure it hadn't fractured yet under the pressure-- Methos' mouth was hot and devoted and skilled and worshipful; and felt so good that Duncan wouldn't have known he was still breathing if it weren't for the unceasing sound of his own ecstatic groans.

So why wasn't it enough? Why did each thrust and shiver carry with it a prod of denied instinct, telling him to... to what?

An experiment, born out of desperation: he let go, let that imperative rise up and have its way with him; put himself in its hands. Immediately, he felt as if he'd been freed from some unseen bonds, abruptly loosed from an invisible webbing that had kept him locked down. One fierce surge and a good leg-lock brought him over, face-down on the bed with Methos trapped underneath him down below-- the muscles in his spread thighs pinned quivering shoulders, and that felt... very right.

Awesomely right.

Duncan spread his arms flat and turned his face to the side to gasp for what air there was. He wondered briefly whether his eyes were open or closed before he dismissed it as irrelevant-- there was nothing for him to see anyway, nothing to do except keep driving into that hot wet place where lips and tongue and-- oh Jesus-- the constriction of throat muscles worked at him, opened to him, offered a passive and luxuriant haven where he could just fuck himself stupid.

Instinct. Instinct-- the word chased its way around the part of his mind that was still coherent; the part of him frozen in awed fascination at his own inarticulate need, and equally incomprehensible behavior. This was frighteningly similar to jerking off, except that jerking off was a common and fairly dull experience; whereas using Methos' mouth to do it in was suddenly the single most diabolically arousing thing he'd ever imagined. He bucked sharply, crying out in an extremity of passion and shock at his own lack of shame; and then some strange and unused perception, some blend of receptivity and hyper-intuition he couldn't quite sort out informed him unmistakably that Methos was coming underneath him. The backs of Duncan's knees glowed hot where Methos' hands tightened on him, and when the facts of the situation finally penetrated-- Methos wasn't the one jerking off here; which meant that he'd just driven Methos to orgasm simply by rolling on top of him and fucking his mouth mercilessly -- Duncan came so hard that he shrieked ecstasy into a crumpled mouthful of sheet, his body rigid as he pressed in and in and in, looking for a boundary, a limit that-- thank God-- never materialized.

"Fuck... Yes..."

Choked and garbled, but the best he could do in the moment. It was almost too much work to roll over, but even if he was setting new precedents for his own sexual greed he wasn't about to top it off by smothering Methos to death with his cock.

Which was, incredibly; still hard.

Which was, even as he sucked in huge lungfuls of air and wondered if his heart was going to just go ahead and rupture on him; already suggesting the next course in this debauched banquet.

"Methos..." It was too much, too much appetite when he'd just had the most staggering orgasm of his life; too much desire, too much want, too much bare need to even begin to consider. This was going to eat him alive.

Fortunately, without any more than that one word Methos seemed to know what he lacked. Before Duncan could even blink the other man was right there, warm and close and glowing with more happiness than he'd ever seen before on that lovely, ascetic face. He didn't understand it, he couldn't explain it-- Methos was, after all, the one who'd just been rather reprehensibly used, and yet here he was-- offering comfort, offering solace, invoking peace.

"Oh, Highlander..."

Such gracious, immutable peace...

Duncan let Methos kiss and caress him until the monster of gluttony burning in his blood and body could stand no more-- an alarmingly brief time, in his opinion. He bid a resigned farewell to peace as he pushed Methos back hard into the pillows, holding the other man immobile while he shifted gears from kissing to devouring, and simultaneously used his free hand to gather up barely-cooled semen from the satin skin of Methos' stomach and chest.

"Roll over, Methos," He barely recognized his own voice, but the deep, urgent tone shivered through the hot body that shifted quickly in his arms, so he could handle it. "Open up..."

God-- he wanted to say 'please' and couldn't-- it was what his mind wanted, not his body, and he'd already made the decision about which one he'd listen to. In that moment of struggle other words offered, however; and he let them flow with relief, uncensored.

"You're so beautiful-- I felt you, I felt you come, Methos, and I liked it-- and now I want to feel it again, yes, but inside... So open up for me-- now, now; let me give this to you..."

Methos moaned sweetly and spread wide, fists clenched tight into the pillow. A thought occurred to Duncan-- hot, lecherous; almost wickedly edged. Before his rational mind could commence any form of protest he gave in to it-- stroked once, smooth and slow between Methos' silken buttocks, then twice, quickly, over his own turgid flesh, spreading ejaculate haphazardly-- and without any further preparation he rolled onto heated, sweat-slick skin and guided the tip of his erection right where it wanted to go.

"Oh..." Methos didn't sound terribly concerned. In fact, he sounded downright enthusiastic about it.

Duncan found that he could be quiet, could actually assert a shocking amount of control as long as he had Methos' small noises and movements to focus on. The pain also helped-- Methos' ass gripped him like a clamp of flesh, and every modest thrust burned him as he made his way in; relinquishing only to reclaim, deeper and deeper without granting either of them any clemency from the insistent lunges of his hips.

"Oh God, Duncan-- you feel-- you... feel... ohhh..."

Inside. So deep inside that hot tight velvet place-- not fully slippery, either, with the come he'd used to smooth the way; not slick but wet with a shuddery kind of friction that sent unpredictable shocks of almost painful delight through him. One more push and he slid home with an audible slish, and there was something about being buried all the way in Methos' ass that made him feel unconquerable, heavy and fixed in dreamy, indomitable potency.

His legs, his arms, his cock were all iron; all lazily demanding and wonderfully resolute as he reared back, eased back onto his knees and took Methos with him, tilting that closed-eyed face to him and breathing deep of Methos' groan. The skin under his hands felt welt-hot, fever-hot, Methos' body a damp, precious, boneless weight he bore easily. His arms moved reflexively to pull them tight together, and then he had to gasp as he slid in even deeper and Methos arched, shivered to sudden life in his arms. He whispered words in the closest ear; soothing words at first, afraid of hurting Methos but not afraid enough to stop; but then he found his splintered awareness overwhelmed and seduced by Methos' uncontrolled shudders, and then he was saying darker things, wilder things.

"You're so-- fucking-- beautiful when you're like this, Methos; and it's so good inside you-- I just want to stay here, want to keep on fucking you..."

Methos' heavy head nodded against his shoulder, and an especially violent tremor wracked the slender body. Methos' hands rested lightly over his own and now Duncan took control of them, placed them gently on the other man's spread, straining thighs and then glided away softly.

"Don't touch yourself... just move, let it take you-- I want to watch..."

And watch he did. He leaned back and held himself as still as possible, his hands clenched fiercely on his own legs to stop himself from reaching out. It was heaven and hell as Methos sighed and sobbed and sank faster and faster onto his throbbing erection, and Duncan's own bottom lip got the worst of it since that was the nearest and easiest item to chew on when things started to slide away from him. He rode it out, didn't notice as his hands slipped up to touch Methos' quivering, beautifully wet shoulders but as soon as they did Methos lunged back against him and screwed down brutally hard on him and came, calling his name, writhing on him like a man possessed by devils.

"So good--" It was a stretch, but he managed to bring Methos' lips to his own, sucked greedily on the sharp, nearly electric taste of pleasure. As soon as he felt the other man's movements slowing he reached around to cradle the spent, sticky, rapidly softening penis, ignoring the almost inaudible whimper.

"Don't stop, Methos."

The resulting complaint was much louder, but Duncan still ignored it. He stroked slowly with one hand while the other guided the rhythm at Methos' hip, keeping a gentle and steady pace no matter what kinds of noise Methos came up with. Duncan fell into an almost trancelike state of concentration, observing from what seemed to be a great distance as Methos' restless squirming settled down to a lax, drifting surrender; his spiky, shorn head bowed as if in prayer while he rocked back and forth, surging up and down. Every time Duncan flicked a brief touch over the head of Methos' cock the other man gasped and pressed back hard, the only sign of arousal except for the slow renewal of his erection.

Duncan found matters gradually being taken out of his hands as his body decided that enough was enough already, and the illusion of distance crumbled all too easily when his own hips twisted forward fiercely, pulling a groan from him and an almost delirious cry from Methos at the same moment. With one arm wrapped around Methos' chest and the other hand busy at a lower location, all Duncan really had to do was rest his forehead on the damp hair at the back of Methos' neck and let his body get down to serious business. Every inch of him had broken out in a fine sweat within thirty seconds, and while there was a brief flash of fear that he was going to hurt somebody if he kept thrusting this hard it seemed to be a moot point-- stopping would kill him, therefore he would continue.

Methos was once again stiff as stone under his touch. Duncan closed his eyes and *felt* him, felt every muscle quivering, listened to some sort of half-gasped litany until he couldn't take it anymore and he had to push Methos forward and down, head in the pillows and firm on his knees so that Duncan could take proper hold of his hips and drive into him hard. One thrust, and his eyes flew open helplessly, only to see Methos stretched around him, accepting and pushing back to take him in and have more more more...

It felt almost as if he'd somehow numbed himself, and now returned to sensation with a jolting shock. Methos' wail of response electrified every hair on his body, and he found himself offering up prayers he hadn't uttered since his twenties as his beautiful lover bucked and howled underneath him. Duncan took, and took, and lost himself in tight, muscular spasms that he hadn't let himself feel last time but now were his, all his to revel in as he pounded solidly into Methos' searing, twitching heat and let it all come pouring out of him with one drawn-out, breathless groan-- easily lost under Methos' continuing racket, but it was intensely, ardently heartfelt, all the same.

As soon as the last exquisite shiver died away Duncan heard a soft, almost surprised sigh, and at the same moment cold air rushed in and attacked the places where Methos had previously been warming him. Duncan blinked.

Well, he'd finally found out exactly how much it took to make a five-thousand-year-old-man pass out from pleasure. Another of the world's great mysteries solved.

As it turned out, the exact amount required was only a teensy, tiny, little bit less than it took to overcome a Scotsman.

//Pun definitely intended// he thought as he collapsed.


Duncan woke to blackness-- Methos must have gotten up at some point and turned off the lights and then come back to bed.

Methos... coming back to bed; his bed.

At least, that had better be Methos next to him-- yes, unmistakably Methos; nobody else smelled like that.

Especially right at this moment... actually, if anyone else did smell like that, he felt very sorry for them. He snickered.

"And here I was, worrying myself sick that you were going to wake up racked with guilt, and you're laughing at me. I don't know whether to hug you or go get the dishtowel and swat you a good one." Methos' voice was surprised and mellow, happiness in a minor key.

"You're awake."

"No, I talk in my sleep. I tell horrible secrets. I used to be a Horseman of the Apocalypse and my friend Duncan MacLeod sounds like an asthmatic buffalo on steroids when he comes..."

No pain-- amazing, no pain at all. No recriminations, no regrets, no uneasiness. Duncan drew in a deep breath, already sleepy once again, and pulled Methos' warm body a little closer. "I'm glad the path didn't matter, Methos. I like this path."

A soft kiss dropped on his brow. "Does that mean I'm off the hook for the Highlander Outward Bound experience?"

Duncan nuzzled Methos' cheek, burrowing in until he felt satisfied. "By no means. But don't worry, Methos-- I'm planning on giving you lots to enthuse over besides the trout."

"That's it, MacLeod. From now on I'm keeping a dishtowel within easy reach of the bed."

And, since that particular declaration was perfectly Methos and therefore quite satisfactory, Duncan closed his eyes and let himself drift back to sleep.


feedback to: mtriste@hotmail.com

Author's endnote: JaC also asked for 'no Duncan bottoming', and let me tell you, this story tried to disobey so many times that I got tired of beating it. This led to a little Cimmerian uprising-- Aristide is weary but mostly satisfied, STF thinks it wasn't funny and therefore has no redeeming value, and Madam Mairead has thrown up her hands in disgust and gone off to read 'Sarcophagus' again, just to get the taste out of her mouth ;-) Thanks go out to all of you who have written with support and enthusiasm-- these little voyages wouldn't happen without you!