• Disclaimer: None of these characters are mine
  • Fandom: Highlander
  • Pairing: Duncan/Methos
  • Rating: PG-13ish
  • Feedback: carene@pacific.net
  • Thanks to Mog Decarnin & Tehomet for beta-reading
  • Written for the Highlander Lyric Wheel, January 2004: The theme was "The end is the beginning," and the lyric I was assigned was "Flowers Never Bend With the Rainfall," by Paul Simon

Writing From Life

by Carene

Methos sat at his small desk, bowed over a large book, writing steadily and quickly. He paused, staring at the page before him, or through it, gathering his thoughts, until with a small sigh he again moved his pen across the page. Finished at last, he closed the book without rereading, and stood up to stretch. The room was dark outside the pool of light at his desk, and he shivered in the gloom.

A thousands words on a page, a few moments of his life caught and pinned down on paper in black ink, too neat and stark to really capture the shadows of his thoughts. Between the lines, oh yes, there was much more between the lines. If Methos looked at the pages too long he could almost see it; filling the white spaces, the margins, in crabbed cross-writing, a palimpsest of his own story written and written over.

Of course, if he looked at it too long it also began to look like the world's longest and most elaborate laundry list. He had once told MacLeod, under an odd impulse to impress the man, that his purpose in life was to write his journal, to pass on what he knew. That it was important to keep a record of all the things he had seen, and done, and lived through. Fatuous nonsense. He could write about the kings and courtesans he'd known, brag about famous poets and philosophers and cooks, but the truth was, his journal -- like every true diary -- was stuffed with the most mundane sort of everyday trivia. Went to the market. Bought eggs, soap and coffee. Met MacLeod for dinner at the Golden Lotus. Started A Brief History of Time, gave up and watched a late movie. And so to bed.

Methos shook himself and ran his fingers though his hair, gathered up his coat and keys, and headed for the door. At the last minute, he turned back and picked up a small electronic personal notebook from the desk and shoved it in his pocket.

Duncan was waiting in a small booth when Methos arrived. He looked up and smiled. Methos caught his breath, imagining Duncan's eyes had brightened, just a little, just then.

"I almost froze to death on the way over here," Methos complained, sliding into the booth. He rubbed his nose, red from the cold, with exaggerated gusto, both to amuse Duncan and to hide his momentary awkwardness.

Duncan poured him tea. "I've already ordered," he said. "Kung Pao chicken guaranteed hot enough to unthaw your frozen nose."

"Good," Methos said, looking away from Duncan's eyes and taking a sip of tea that scalded his tongue.

It was a companionable meal, Methos composed mentally. We ate considerable amounts of very spicy food, drank even more considerable amounts of good beer, and talked about nothing in particular. Again.

Duncan picked up the check. Methos picked up a fortune cookie. "The end is the beginning," he read, around a mouthful of sweet, dry cookie. "That's either nonsensical or very profound, I'm not sure which." He craned his neck. "What does yours say?"

"I'm going to be successful in business," Duncan smiled and tossed the slip of paper on the table. Methos tucked his in his wallet, adding it to a small collection.

"Come up to the loft?" Duncan said casually as they left the warmth of the restaurant.

"Sure," Methos said, matching Duncan's nonchalance.

It wasn't far to the loft. They walked. But it was cold. They walked close together. Maybe things would change tonight, Methos thought, his skin alive to the warmth coming from Duncan's body. Methos's hand curled around the notepad in his pocket, itching to write down events even before they happened.



He knew he shouldn't have brought the thing. It was too easy to pull it out of his pocket, click it on, jot something down. He had a hundred small notes on it, journal fragments written down almost as they were happening, like a reporter covering his own life. When he read them later, they seemed to be reflect an image of himself he didn't recognize. Smaller, darker. Shattered and directionless. Still he wrote.

MacLeod disapproved.

"At it again?" He frowned at Methos as they sat side by side on a park bench. "What are you writing?" he said in exasperation. "All we've done is jog around the lake -- you complaining the whole time -- and now we're sitting in the park. What's in that to write about?"

"You," Methos said, and knew immediately it was the wrong thing to say. Duncan's brows lowered in that way he had that made him look like a bull about to charge.

"Just be sure to write down that it's starting to get on my nerves." Duncan said irritably, watching Methos poke at the notebook with his stylus. He reached over suddenly. "Give me that."

Methos turned, blocking his grasp. "All right, all right," he grumbled. "Just let me get one more--"

But Duncan reached over and deftly slipped the stylus out of his hand. Methos sighed, and shoved the notebook in his pocket.

Duncan sat turning the stylus in his hand. "You've been writing a lot lately," he said softly.

Methos heard the question in MacLeod's voice, but he didn't answer. He couldn't explain that he needed to write it down, everything, all of it. So that he could know what was real. So that he could know he was real, to create for himself proof that he existed at all.



Methos leaned against the door to his flat, his forehead resting on the rough wood as he fumbled for his keys. He got the door open and almost fell inside, steadying himself against a wall until the electrical tremor passed. Gasping, almost crying, he sank to his knees, and slowly curled up on the bare floor, his body still jerking against the shattering current and his heart clenched against a different pain.

Much later, he dragged himself, still bloody and aching, to his desk. He automatically reached for his journal, then drew his hand back, looking at the book with loathing.

He reached for it again, flipped it open. But his hands were shaking too much to hold a pen. He switched on the computer.

It was Swanson, Methos typed. He came out of the alley and challenged me. Methos put his head in his hands and took a ragged breath. He had to be honest, or not write it at all.

He began again. I knew he was here. I knew he was coming for me. A hunter, after me for no reason but the hunt. I told Joe to keep it quiet, that I would deal with it. I let him think I would duck out, as usual. I let him assume I had a plan. Well, I did, but it wasn’t the kind of plan he thought it was.

"I heard that you run," Swanson had sneered at him.

Methos heard the bloodlust in the other man's voice, the hunting fever, and he felt his own blood rise in answer. "Guess you heard wrong, then," he said, and raised his sword.

The fight was brutal, intense, savage, and Methos loved it from the first clash of steel on steel. The other man was good, matching Methos in skill, but in the end he lacked the terrible frenzy that drove Methos, who came at him like a demon, even after his sword arm had been slashed clear to the bone. Methos just grinned and caught up his sword with his other hand and plunged on.

And when the quickening took him, he had exulted. One for the chronicle.

Now he felt nothing but cold dread as words followed words on the screen in front of him. He clenched his teeth and typed.

And so I continue to pretend, he wrote, his lips twisting in sardonic humor, my life will never end. Or was the pretense wearing thin? Bah, he typed wearily, I've lived too long to believe in immortality. Even in the immortality of words.

He stared at the last sentence for a long time. Then he saved the file and sent it to MacLeod.



Methos was still in his chair when he felt the presence. Duncan. He raised his head, but was unable to speak. He put his head back in the cradle of his arms.

He heard the key scratch in the lock. Light flooded the room. "Methos?"

"Yeah," Methos said, not raising his head.

"Methos, what the hell's going on with you? That file you sent me--" He stopped. "How long have you been sitting there like that?"

"Don't know," Methos mumbled. "Hours."

Duncan reached over him to touch the keyboard. The screen lit up, filled with the words Methos had sent him. Duncan touched another key and they disappeared. "Why did you meet him? Just so could write it in your chronicle after? Why are you doing this?"

"Shut up, MacLeod," Methos said tiredly. "I don't want a lecture."

"What do you want, then?"

Methos was suddenly paralyzed -- desire, fear, need -- a hundred feelings pressed Methos's tongue to the roof of his mouth. He had no words. Do I live to write in my journal? Do I write to live my own chronicle?

"Come on, old man." Duncan's voice was suddenly soft. He half lifted Methos from his chair and steered him into the bathroom. He turned on the water, and as the room filled with steam, he stripped Methos of his torn and bloody clothing. Methos let him, offering neither help nor hindrance, but leaning against Duncan as if his sole support lie in his friend's strong back, hands, and heart. He let Duncan help him into the bathtub, let Duncan clean away the blood, let Duncan smooth his hair with a tenderness that undid him completely. Duncan talked to him in a voice he had never used with Methos before, gentle and soothing, yet somehow bracing, pulling him back to life, not with words, but with the feeling under the words, pulling Methos free of words and into feeling again. He let Duncan kiss him softly on his forehead, his cheek.

Duncan drew back then, took a breath. "I don't want to be a just a chapter in your book."

Methos reached out convulsively and pulled Duncan close. "No," he said, panic rising in him. He kissed Duncan, hard, on the mouth. "No," he said again, fiercely, and Duncan wrapped his arms around him, his hands sliding down Methos's wet back. They kissed until Duncan trembled on his knees and Methos shivered in the cool water.

He let Duncan wrap him in towels and take him to bed.



"One year," Duncan said.

"One year," Methos agreed.

They sat side by side on Duncan's couch. Methos still called it Duncan's loft, but one of the nightstands beside the big bed was piled high with his own books.

"Your word."

"My word on it, Mac. I can't make it sound as dramatic as 'my word as Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod,' but I swear" -- he put his hand over his heart -- "I will write nothing in any kind of journal -- no notebook, no diary, or computer daybook -- for one year. My solemn vow, Scout's honor, in the name of King Gambrinus."

Duncan gave him a look. "This is serious, Methos."

Methos sighed. "I know. It's why I'm joking about it." His smile was tight.

Duncan hesitated for a moment, then nodded, satisfied.

Methos thought a moment. "It just needs one last thing."

Duncan narrowed his eyes. Methos rummaged around in his wallet until he found the tiny slip of paper he'd saved. He held it up.

Duncan smiled. "Okay," he said, "Just that one last thing."

Methos opened his big journal to the last page of writing, and tucked in the fortune.

The end is the beginning. Methos closed the book.

This is the lyric I was assigned:

Flowers Never Bend With The Rainfall
P. Simon, 1965
Performed by Simon and Garfunkel

Through the corridors of sleep
Past shadows dark and deep
My mind dances and leaps in confusion
I don't know what is real
I can't touch what I feel
And I hide behind the shield of my illusion
So I'll continue to continue to pretend
My life will never end
And flowers never bend
With the rainfall
The mirror on my wall
Casts an image dark and small
But I'm not sure at all it's my reflection
I am blinded by the light
Of God and truth and right
And I wander in the night without direction
So I'll continue to continue to pretend
My life will never end
And flowers never bend
With the rainfall
No matter if you're born
To play the King or pawn
For the line is thinly drawn 'tween joy and sorrow
So my fantasy
Becomes reality
And I must be what I must be and face tomorrow
So I'll continue to continue to pretend
My life will never end
And flowers never bend
With the rainfall

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