• Rating: Choose # of Xs, to taste.  
  • Classification: D/M slash. Plus 10% treats and surprises.  
  • Spoilers: Highlander: The Series. Duh.  
  • Keywords: Whales. Crows. Still more Xs.  
  • Warnings: Sax & violins. Nobody dies. At least, not for long. 
  • Disclaimers: I don't own any of these characters and wouldn't infringe on the relevant copyrights for the world. Bat bat.  
  • Dedication: For Olympia, who I hope will keep -- reminding me -- in her sweet way.  
  • Date started: er... before 9/99. Guilty grin. 
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 The Deep

by C.M. Decarnin 

Part 1 (Work in Progress)


The story "Seeds" took place five years after the events of "And Hades Followed Him". "The Deep" takes place ten years after "Seeds". Duncan and Methos are still together, but there have been some changes; and there are about to be a lot more.


"Where are my fucking cufflinks?" It was a cry to the world in general, but MacLeod appeared helpfully in the doorway.

"Right top drawer, in the back, black box." It was where they always were.

"They're not there. There is no black -- oh. How did they get all the way over there?"

"Probably when you were hunting for the studs."

It was the third crise d'ensemble of the past quarter hour, through which MacLeod had maintained a butlerine serenity that Methos was beginning to find more than a little galling. Mac had finished his day's calm project of packing up all the smaller antiques in the place for special cleaning. At least once every month now Methos had to climb into his monkey- suit to attend one of these affairs, and the way Duncan luxuriated in not going with him chafed increasingly.

Methos combed his hair in front of the mirror and studied the result.


It would have to do.

He'd let his hair grow longer as an excuse for the ongoing youthfulness of his face. Luckily if he smiled for a photo it added lines and age, but he couldn't go on like this forever.

But he couldn't stop. He couldn't.

He didn't have time to think about it now.

There was never any time --

He went through into the living room, the old part of the loft.

"How do I look?"

Duncan looked up from where he had reclined on the couch with a book. His eyes moved down Methos slowly, lingering on his face, his black-clad shoulders and white breast, his long hands nervously tugging at his shirtcuffs; the half-closed eyes slid down his fly as if unzipping him. Duncan raised his eyes, half-lidded, to Methos's. His voice was low."Luscious."

He put down his book unnoticed, rose off the couch, slowly, and closed on Methos. His hands went up and adjusted Methos's white bow-tie. "Delectable."

He breathed on Methos as he leaned closer. Beyond his haste Methos felt a little tingle. After he got back, maybe they could --

Duncan's big hands closed around his face and neck, hot, his dark eyes had a look in them -- Oh definitely, as soon as he got back tonight --

But Duncan wasn't letting go. His jeans, his chambray shirt, were brushing against the tuxedo in places. "In fact," he murmured, "you look too good to let go."

Little thrills ran through Methos in every direction. He hadn't seen that look, heard that special tone, in a while. Tonight!

He smiled and stepped back.

Duncan grabbed him, around the waist and around the shoulders, and kissed his mouth, bending him backwards enough that his sense of control over his body began falling away, and the tongue that was opening his mouth felt as if it were invading his entire universe. He felt himself suck on it, and writhe up against Duncan's body.

He freed his mouth.

He gasped, "Let me suck you, Duncan." He would barely have time, he'd left himself only ten minutes leeway for traffic --

Duncan set him back on his feet, and let go of him, his dark eyes smoldering and his reddened mouth gasping. "Take off your clothes."

"No time. Sit down on the couch and I'll --"

Duncan slapped him, sharp and hard.

The pain and the meaning hit Methos the instant after Duncan's hand. Stunned, he staggered back a step, his hand to his face. His eyes went wide, panic starting through him. "Duncan, I can't! This fund-raiser is the biggest of the --" He saw MacLeod coming, felt himself grabbed and thrown. He hit the wall so hard he saw stars.

MacLeod shook back his wild dark hair. His eyes struck into Methos as he said hard, and bitter, "I think you've forgotten what you are."

Methos had managed to stay on his feet, hands flat to the wall behind him. "What?" he said, in real confusion as well as hurt. "What am I?"

Duncan lowered his head, holding Methos with implacable eyes.


"No..." It was a pathetic whimper, not to Duncan but to his own body, that felt as if it were running with liquid fire, pulsing gold and molten in his groin. "I can't. I can't!"

"We can do this two ways." MacLeod seemed to radiate heat, that Methos could feel from paces away. "We can take off those clothes and keep them nice, and maybe you'll have time to catch the end of this dinner, once I'm done with you. If you can still walk. Or I can rip them off you."

Everything in Methos's depths screamed at him to bolt. Run -- knowing he couldn't escape. Knowing... wanting... what would happen when he was caught -- struggling like a wild animal in the claws of the predator, garments torn away uncovering flesh, tender skin bruised against the overmastering strength enveloping him.

Responsibility seeped painfully through desire. He lifted one wrist, and tried to make his trembling fingers open the cufflink.

Duncan stepped close. "Hold still," he said.

He took Methos's stiff-clad wrist in his hands, and slowly slid the link out through the hole. He kissed the mound of the palm. "Don't move." He positioned the long hand on his own shoulder, and picked up the other wrist. Methos could feel Duncan's energy, his every move, through the palm of his hand, the long muscles moving as his lover reached to set the cufflinks on a windowsill, and to his throat to unknot his beautifully white bow tie, the slighttugging encircling his neck making Methos's eyelids slide closed and his lips part.

Bjorn and Suelo would be waiting for him, increasingly anxious as the minutes ticked by, needing his cachet and caustic passion --

Duncan was unfastening the studs that had cost him so much teeth-set self-control to fasten, and Methos felt as if he himself were coming apart along with his outer casing of linen and starch and silk and gold. The big hands pulled the shirt up in front, up from under the cummerbund, and flattened out against his bare skin, making him draw breath. If he let Duncan do this... the attendees might even ask for their hefty per-plate donations back, might cease support, there were hundreds of them, he couldn't possibly visit them all in person to apologize --

The hands against his belly moved a slow inch. Oh Duncan -- The broad sash was undone and pulled away.

The trousers were unfastened and left to drop off his slim bare hips. Duncan smiled predatorily and leaned in to breathe, "Barbarian!" at his louche nakedness just under the draping of civilization. For some reason Duncan never failed to find that disdain of underwear arousing, and Methos could no longer pull on a pair of jeans without at least a slight frisson of erotic awareness. Sometimes when Duncan was far away it could almost make him cream with longing for the strong warm hands on the smooth skin of his buttocks--

But Duncan was not far away now. Those hands were sliding down, smoothing his thighs as Duncan knelt and slipped Methos's shoes and socks off, and lifted each bare foot to kiss the instep as he slid the trousers away. He rose and draped the pants over a chair, then eased the jacket off of Methos's shoulders and hung it carefully around the back of the chair. Duncan let the shirt fall gently, slithering down the whole length of Methos's electrically sensitized body, as he caressed his blunt fingertips back across the top of Methos's shoulder, and ...touched the throat...

Methos knew then that he had to fight, hard, immediately, or he was going to succumb.

"Duncan..." MacLeod's dark eyes met his. "I want you. I do. But we can't do this. I'm sorry." He wound his arms around Duncan's neck and kissed under the ear, softly. "I'm grateful to you. And I hope... tonight... after I get home... I can make you grateful too." He kissed again, down the neck, on the shoulder... and with an effort of pure will, he pulled away, every molecule reluctant.

Pulled away an inch, and met the unyielding bars of Duncan's arms still wrapped around his back.

"You've forgotten," Duncan said softly. Methos raised huge eyes to him. "I thought it had been too long since you were schooled... I spoil you. I let you have your little projects. And you're so-o forgetful. Remember last time?"

Methos's knees weakened and his breath quickened. "Yes Duncan. But not now. I..." He found his mouth was dry. "I'll let you do -- anything you want -- tonight." He swallowed."Anything. I promise."

A faint smile touched Duncan's lips. "You promise?" Methos stilled within his arms. "You'll let me? See Methos... that's what I mean by forgetful. You don't remember howthis works. If I want you... I take you. When I want to. Where I want to.


Methos found his eyes had closed again. The feel of Duncan's arms behind him, not pressing against him but immovable, warred with the knowledge of his responsibilities. But what was Duncan doing? He knew all too well Adam Pierson's duties were just not optional--

Was that it? Was his MacLeod finally telling him it had gone too far? With a dark billow of guilt he knew it was true, that as a mate he'd become so remiss. He'd known it must happen and had gone on anyway, pulling support first from wealthy Immortals and then all their combined corporate and private and government contacts, anything to get the backing. The tiny organization he'd named Motherlove had ballooned until in the last five years it had absorbed and was channeling funds to half the small ecology groups on the planet. It sucked his life up remorselessly and left no time for Duncan MacLeod whom he'd promised to love and belong to. It was for Duncan, who loved the trees and the creatures of the wilderness like a part of himself, it was for them all, in the realization that what had first seemed localand sporadic destruction of environments was actually a systematic ruin that could become irreversible. Immortals, who could see the pattern and the change, could no longer stand idly by while mortals spun their home into desolation.

But it meant, as he had known it would, enslavement. Work of an intensity he had not known in centuries, and hard as he had striven to avoid it, he'd even finally been forced intoopen leadership. He came across on t.v. It was a priceless resource: an aura of likable notoriety that had attached itself to him as to no other of the many figureheads he'd tried to erect, an entree to the media they could not afford to leave unexploited. Madness. But what choice was there...

MacLeod had stayed out of it, supportive but never allowing himself to be photographed and never allowing an unknown Immortal near Methos. They had fought bitterly about that, but finally Methos had been forced to admit he could not protect both MacLeod and the planet. He had worked more feverishly than ever, against the day when he would have to leave his identity; Motherlove operations had to be secure in good hands by then.

Duncan hardly ever complained, just every once in a while dragged him out of a meeting and fucked him to sweet sweaty exhaustion. When it happened Methos felt redeemed andforgiven. But maybe now he'd gone too far... Maybe Duncan at last meant to interfere.Meant to stop him.

And Methos knew he could not stop.

They had to save the world.

The alternative was, in sober fact, unthinkable.

"Duncan," Methos said levelly, "I know we've never had a safeword. We never needed one. But I mean this. I have to leave."

"You don't consent?"

Wrong, wrong, wrong response. Something deep in Methos turned over. "No."

"Good." MacLeod's head tilted a little. "'Cause I would really hate for you to miss the point of what I'm going to do to you."

Ancient responses stilled him, root-deep reflexes that hadn't surfaced before in all his fifteen years with Duncan. Keeping still... until a moment came to stab or run --

No, this was Duncan.

Duncan's big hands that had now slid down and held his naked backside hotly so he wanted nothing but to wrap his long legs round the Highlander's waist and let himself be borne down --

It was himself he needed to escape from.

He wrenched right, dropped left, rolled and sprinted.

Wallet, coat, door --

Bloody padlocked!!!


MacLeod hit him like a truckload of stone, slamming the breath out of him against the doorframe and landing on him when he hit the floor. The fight was short, painful, hopeless. Several of his fingers were broken and it would be wrist and/or elbow if he moved. He panted in agony, naked skin creasing painfully against the floor.

"Let me go!" And because it was Duncan he kicked and fought and screamed out his rage and pain and exhausted in the battle lay gasping under the weight of the Highlander, who hadn't, in the end, actually broken his arm after all, it only felt like it. "Let me go!" he whispered.

"You're not going," Duncan said into his ear. "Accept it. The phone is unplugged, the portable's turned off, the doorbell's disconnected, elevator locked." He let it sink in. "You're mine. Now get up."

MacLeod moved off him and after a moment Methos pushed himself to his knees.

Good lord.

All down his front and arms and legs were bruises and scrapes and cuts he'd inflicted on himself in his fight to get free. He could feel a lot more that didn't show, he realized. Ow.

He looked up as pathetically as he knew how.

Duncan grinned.

That was the trouble with marriage. One used up all one's best ploys.

He let his arms hang as he healed. "I won't enjoy this."

Duncan moved up to him and his jeans had been unzipped and there was no underwear under them and crotch hair was curling out under the shirt... Duncan moved closer and the aroma of him engulfed Methos. The down-curved cock touched his mouth.

"No?" Duncan said indifferently and scarlet crept up Methos's neck into his cheeks.

Duncan touched the blushing face.

The dinner would be starting. They'd told him how it was when he was late. The eyes shifting restlessly, the distracted chat. Frowns. He knew the surge when he appeared, the smiles, approaches, gazes -- especially women. As if he were the only one that mattered in the room. Terrifying.



He mouthed the side of the heavy cock in front of him and felt the skin stretch under his lips. He pursued the thickness with his tongue as it rose. Grappling onto the back of Duncan's waistband with one hand he rose up and started sucking cock in earnest. He felt Duncan shift his stance and a relaxing and bunching of the muscles at the back told the almost irresistible urge to thrust. He scooped up the balls on the heel of his hand, pushing them gently back and forth against the base of the cock his fingers were toying with as his lips and tongue started a rhythm he knew Duncan loved. The first semi-thrust hit the back of his mouth, as Duncan's jeans started slipping down his hips. Methos pushed them further, clasping his forearm across Duncan's butt. He felt the big hands take his head and the big hot cock took his mouth harder and deeper than he could really handle, blocking his throat. It pulled back over Methos's zigzagging tongue, and surged forward unstoppably through his glottal attempts to protect himself and into his tender throat, lodging deeply, stretching and seeking even more. Methos tried to swallow around it helplessly. The sensation made Duncan crush against him roughly, cock lengthening and pushing and Methos realized Duncan was going to come then and there, giving him no chance to breathe -- he never had been able to around that Highland cock, there was somehow just too much of it. The big muscles arched into him rowdily. Duncan's head went back, far above him, and Methos dropped his gripping arm to around Duncan's thighs, pushing the jeans further down, slid his other hand up under Duncan's sternum, and pushed.

With a cry and a flailing of all four limbs Duncan went over backward and Methos leaped to his coat, his wallet, and fled. The back door had to be openable, out through the den and back bedroom, a cab to a rental place, then hastily tuxedoed to the fundraiser, thank all the gods who had in their great wisdom invented credit cards --

Later later later he could mollify Duncan oh DAMN!

He could feel almost as much as hear the pounding feet charging after him as he'd almost made it to the back door, which led out only to a fire escape, in the dodgy deal they'd made with the city when they'd bought the adjoining building and added the extra rooms onto theloft. He flung the door open, was out --

A huge YANK jerked his flapping trenchcoat out of his hand.

He made it six steps down the fire escape before he froze.

He looked back.

In the doorway, Duncan, jeans snapped but not zipped, leaned, holding up the precious coat on two fingers. Strong fingers that suddenly evoked intimate tactile memory --

Methos looked down. On the street five stories below none of the sprinkling of passersby had yet noticed the naked man on the fire escape.

He still had his wallet.

And of course any cab would immediately stop for a geeky naked git sprinting up Front Street with a huge longhaired Highlander hot behind him.

Methos looked back up.

MacLeod raised his eyebrows.

Scotch prick knew how he hated being uncovered...

If it were life or death his keen-honed priorities would have made nothing of a nude marathon. But life or death of the planet, even for him, was a distant and complex enough urgency that it couldn't quite get his adrenaline that high.

That meant he was going to have to walk up those stairs and into the apartment with his tail between his legs... His lips skinned back over his teeth. Duncan smiled benignly back at him. His bare feet lifted one by one up the metal steps. As he neared, Duncan, no fool, stepped out of his way, keeping the trenchcoat quite out of reach, finally flinging it in onto the bed.

Methos made his steps look careless and irritable but he was aware of where every ounce of his weight was every instant, how that related to MacLeod and to every object around them. He struck within two seconds of crossing the threshold, attacking the Highlander with the ferocity of a wildcat, knocking him on his butt for the second time in as many minutes but this time going for a cripple-grip to end it quick, leave Mac no option of pursuit, and take out indisputable ire in a couple of quick snaps --

Somehow it didn't go quite that way.

A hip gave more, a shoulder less, a wrist not at all, and he was being wrestled vigorously across the very hard floor suddenly soft with the bedside rug, and then being yanked up by main force. Shoulders on the bed, he got his legs wrapped fiercely around Duncan's upper torso, but the Highlander surged through them and pinned his wrists with one forearm, and suddenly Methos felt a click and there was metal encircling one wrist and then -- click -- the other.


MacLeod had put handcuffs on him!

He went completely berserk. He heard screaming and yowling and felt his body thrashing unmercifully in every direction --

It had remarkably little effect with the weight of MacLeod holding him down, and the chain of the handcuffs secured around the thick steel midpost Duncan had installed years earlier behind the headboard of their bed. He realized all the noise in his ears was himself the samemoment he understood he'd got nowhere and his wrists hurt, and he felt himself pantingunder Duncan's broad chest.

"If you kick," Duncan said in his ear, "I have shackles."

He lay heaving for breath, awareness coming back from hysteria, confounded that he had been so unexpectedly defeated, so quickly, furious MacLeod had betrayed their unspoken ban on metal restraints, too panicked still to keep distinct thoughts in the torrent of mentation andimagery. MacLeod wouldn't kill him. Please --

He felt Duncan's warm breath on his neck. Duncan's heavy hips moved, over his own.

He was suddenly completely aware of his nakedness.

As he shivered, Duncan raised up and looked down at him. The long dark hair cascaded down on either side of them, and even in the daylight, shadow seemed to deepen the dark eyes to nearly black, the mouth to darkness...

"I want you," Duncan said.

His eyes seemed to look down into Methos's soul. It didn't occur to Methos to say anything, because Duncan could see him, into his depths, as though all his darkest places were clear water.

Duncan said, "I want control." He slid his fingers down to Methos's pale tit and touched it with a fingertip. Methos wanted to howl again at the exquisite sensitivity there, but made a sound more like a tiny whine. Duncan looked thoughtfully at the edge of his fingernail minutely moving the nipple's tip. "I want complete control. I think I know how to get it."

Duncan moved back from him, half sitting up across Methos's belly. Slowly, he said, "I can just see the wheels turning." Methos lowered his eyes, but could hear the smile, full of menace, in the velvet voice. "You never give up. You never stop. You don't know when to quit."

Methos raised his eyes again. "Duncan... Please... I understand what --"

Duncan's big palm closed over Methos's throat. He leaned on it.

Closely he watched, in hot involvement, as distress began to appear in Methos's features.

Conversationally, he added, "You don't understand nearly as much as you think you do. You never learn."

Need for air made Methos start to writhe involuntarily under Duncan's weight, despite knowing that any struggle would only excite the already aroused Scot further. He's right, he realized dimly. I don't give up... It was why he was still alive... And why he... Consciousness was dispersing blackly.

He realized he was gasping, feeling the blood vessels in his face stop swelling and his whole body try to suck air in down to his ankles. Duncan was off him, somewhere; then he was back astride, setting things Methos couldn't see on the bed beside him. Methos's nudity welcomed the warmth around his thighs and hips. His skin was cold. His neck hurt and Duncan was touching his nipples again, each with one fingertip. Their eyes met.

Duncan said nothing and Methos knew he was not going to get out of this. A hot hurt and resentment flowed up from deep inside him, that Duncan would do this to him, choose this of all days despite how important it was to him --

No, he realized. Because of how important it was to him. It was not like Duncan to override his needs so heartlessly. It made it all the more frustrating that he couldn'tunderstand how this could be happening. Maybe if --

Duncan shook his head slowly. "Thinking. Scheming. Trying to stay on top. Let's put an end to that, shall we?" Without another word he picked up an object from the bed beside them, some sort of blunt, metal-hooded tool was all Methos saw, pulled his captive's left nipple up strongly and touched the tool to it. Methos screamed. Then he couldn't. His lungs were collapsed with shock, his body radiant with agony, cored on that nipple that swelled and pulsed, seared impossibly in a pain that just stopped him cold, flattened against a wall of anguish.

Finally through the pain he could feel MacLeod's powerful thighs clamping him and hips moving sensuously over his own groin. No! he screamed internally. It was too much, it was more than he could stand, it was past his limits, he managed to gasp air to try to say that but became aware of Duncan's thumb and finger still tight on his nipple just before he tugged on it. Breath keened out of his throat incapable of words. Incapable of thought. He looked down frantically and there was a thick plain ugly steel D-ring pierced through the base of his nipple, blood dripping off both holes, just as Duncan released his grip and agony soared again, higher.

"No!" he managed to shriek at last. "No! -- No! -- No! -- No!" and a rising wordless scream as he felt Duncan grip his other nipple.

"Open your eyes, Methos."

He knew the voice. There was no reprieve. There was no possibility of hiding however he scurried for any shadow of shelter --

"I said open your eyes."

He felt the cold touch of metal against his flesh and his eyes flew open.

"Now. Did I hear you say "No" to me?"

Methos looked into Duncan's eyes and saw no hope there. "It hurts," he managed. "It hurts too much--"

"Too much?" Duncan leaned closer. "You don't decide how much pain you will feel, Methos. I do." He held up the tool, admiring it. "This is an antique, Methos." The soundof his name in Duncan's mouth sent a shiver from throat to groin and he realized with despair he was hard under Duncan's grinding buttocks. He could tell from the wayDuncan's lips stayed slightly open after each sentence that he too had engorged. "The old ways are the best. Direct. Primitive. It was made to ring pigs' noses. Keep them from digging into things."

"Mac --" he pleaded in a tiny voice.

MacLeod touched the uninjured nipple. "Doesn't it look just like a little piglet's snout?" He fitted an open D-ring with needle-sharp points into the implement's jaws and Methos felt his hard-on shrivel and shrink to nothing. How could he tell Duncan that this was too terrible to be erotic, he wasn't listening --

Duncan bent down and licked the ringed nipple, and a sound broke from Methos's throat. The wound was healed, but the touch on the ring seemed to fire every nerve on that side of his body. MacLeod's teeth tugged on the metal, the delicate inner tissue was reinjured andMethos moaned. Oh god --

MacLeod sat up, grasped the other nipple, and punched the new ring through it.

Methos's belly flattened, his lower body shuddered and shuddered under the Highlander. The pain was too hard, too strong, he could neither absorb nor evade it, it swept him with agony and left nothing in its wake, protests and pleas burnt away, nothing upon the face of this sea of pain that flooded with fire the bed of his deepest being, leaving him nothing but itself. Duncan brushed his hand across the new torture and everything went white for a moment. Flames rushed back across awareness as Duncan manipulated the metal in the fresh wound.

"Look at me."

That tone. He struggled to open his eyes and focus, knowing on a level much deeper than thought what awaited disobedience.

"I think I have your attention finally. Now we can get started." And Duncan left him there, abandoned him in his pain. Primordial loneliness welled, pricking his eyes with tears that pain never summoned.

Healing sparkled through the wound. But he could still feel a pregnant sensitivity around each ring, as if the slightest touch would send shocks caroming through him. He became aware again of the steel around his wrists. Metal. If metal had never existed, how different his life might have been. Of course there were still ropes and straps, sharpened wood, and horrific chipped obsidian blades --

Duncan returned holding ropes and black leather straps. He knelt on the bed. "Lift up," he ordered, flicking at Methos's waist. He fastened a broad strap, with buckles and rings attached to it, around the vulnerable waist. Working methodically, handling his skin with ownership, he tightened straps around each upper thigh, then above and below the knees, and above the ankles. Kneeling between the long legs, he caressed Methos's inner thigh, looking at him for a long moment. Then still holding his gaze, he slowly pushed the left foot up the bed, until the ankle snugged tight against Methos's butt. His other hand still rested on theinner thigh. He didn't say anything, just gazed down at him, his eyes dark andunfathomable, a slight stubble of beard darkening his face where he hadn't bothered to shave that morning since he would be working at home.

Oh god, the reception --

Methos gasped. Duncan's hand lay on his belly. The Highlander shook his head slowly, reprovingly.

How did he know what I was --

Duncan's palm slid up, dragging over one tit-ring, and bolt after bolt of electricity speared into his gut. He twisted involuntarily, gasped, clenched his hands and pulled down enough to feel the metal rings stop his wrists. Deadly panic flooded from forgotten cisterns -- agony, terror and despair in the touch of obstinate matter that would not in any way be influenced, not broken, not abated, and no one no one no one to help him -- Black horror engulfed him --

Then he felt Duncan lying atop him, one hand on his wrist, the other at his face, a kiss beside his mouth interrupting the scream gathered in his throat.

"I have you," Duncan murmured. Methos tried to bring down his arms, to cling to MacLeod, and again the handcuffs stopped him.

"I'm too scared, I'm too scared," he heard himself panting in the voice of hysteria, and he felt Duncan's hand slide up his cock, which sprang into an erection so hard it was hurting him -- hurting him -- Duncan's love hurt so --

Stubble scraped over his tender skin and Duncan claimed his mouth, tongue slipping inside as his cock was lovingly massaged in the strong hand. His body warmed inwardly, sexual exquisiteness pulsed along his nerves; Duncan's protectiveness enfolded him, his tongue fed him, fingers slowly stroked his trapped wrists. Duncan's hand came up his side, under his shoulder, Duncan's heavy weight settled on him fully. He was held; safe; defended.

"Now." The voice was silken. "What do you want, Methos?"

His mind was torn immediately. He ought to want to be free, to rush to his reception and perform the duty he had set for himself. But on another level he ought to want only Duncan, who had done everything for him, and whose every wish he had promised to fulfill.

Duncan tsked his tongue against his teeth. "If you have to think about it I haven't done my job." He pushed up to kneel again between Methos's legs. He positioned the left limb as before, knee bent, and buckled the ankle-strap tight to the upper thigh. He pushed the leg up, against Methos's body, and buckled the strap above the knee to the broad one around Methos's waist.

When both legs were trussed MacLeod moved off the bed and pulled out the two-by-fours they kept stored underneath. Their tenoned ends fit into slots in the bedposts; they were set with useful ringbolts. Closing them both inside, Duncan laced ropes between the side rails and the metal fittings of Methos's bonds, and pulled it all tight, so the folded legs were held parted, opened, a helpless cradle for the Highlander's lust. A hand settled gently on Methos's painful erection. The touches of the fingertips sent thrills vibrating to Methos's gut, upper arms, hands...

"Watch," Duncan instructed. He knelt up tall so that Methos could see, and took his own swollen cock and balls in one hand while with the other he draped around their root a soft, heavy leather band, its outer layer decorated with small D-rings. He fastened the cock-ring tight on himself, his eyes closing and mouth opening a moment at the sensation. Leaning over he held the aroused organ together with Methos's in one large hand. The tips of his long hair trailed his captive's skin as he leaned further and frenched each steel-pierced nipple. The rings flipped up and down under his strong tongue, or were sucked hard into his hot mouth, while Methos could only gasp helplessly. "Oh Duncan, stop -- stop --" His cock pulsed against the hot shaft of the beloved invader, the organ of love that Duncan had used so long on him to bring him to bliss and oblivion. His trapped arms were desperate to hold, or to push away the tormenter, but could do neither.

Duncan raised up, and stroked upward on Methos's released cock thoughtfully. "This is a bit of a problem," he said. "I need you limp for a bit. You see.." He reached down beside them and lifted up the ringing-tool into Methos's line of sight. "I'm going to pierce you there, too."

With understanding came the jolt of horror as he felt his cock start to shrink at the threat, as if to hide inside his body, and he realized this was just what had been planned. "Duncan, no," he said strongly. "Don't. MacLeod!" He felt fingers grip the foreskin as the erection shriveled away from inside it, felt cold pinpoints at the left side of it, then pain opened him. He had no defenses that could stand in this tsunami of agony, it split and paralyzed, a huge white glare in all his senses. He couldn't move, or make a sound. Then Duncan stroked a fingertip down over his shrunken cock, and every part of him shuddered instantly, as if the touch were direct on his brainstem.

He still couldn't move. Suddenly the white throbbed red, he could feel in a way that included response, but he didn't cry out. He had been laid open, to the depths, here there was only one truth, known in silence, awaiting.

The voice of its master came, like a hand supporting it in the void.

Duncan asked, close, "What are you?"

A breath that seemed to come from only blackness and light answered. "Yours."

Healing tingled around steel.

Duncan bent and laid his lips on the wounded organ. Pain and love coiled in Methos's stomach, a single entity.

The bonds were so secure and tight his muscles could relax completely within them. He could fight them or lie effortlessly in them, and neither would interfere with Duncan's intention or access, neither could change his fate. He was free to do whatever he wished, without affecting anyone around him, or even himself. Free to rage, to cry, to scream, to plead, to weep his hopelessness and sob his need. To feel. To let go.

To trust.

Duncan would hurt him exactly as he needed to be hurt; he would force him to that place he could not go by himself, and call for his surrender, unconditional. Would demand of him his fear and pride like a victor wrenching sword and dagger from the hands of the vanquished.

"One more," Duncan said, and Methos felt himself still rebel, still shrink from what would be, and give a tiny cry of protest. Big fingers grasped his foreskin, metal touched him, agony fastened its fangs into him, paralyzing with its venom. Duncan, Duncan, Duncan, help me, help me... His head turned to one side, his cheek meeting the cool skin of his own upper arm. His eyes were closed, but he felt Duncan lean in over him, heard the soft rush of his breath, smelled his proximity in scents of ancient Scotland, and American prairies, the undertones of threshed grain warm in the sun, fertile earth, bee-swarmed heather and rising bread that clung around MacLeod and filled Methos, longing that tainted his pain with sweetness, leaving him completely undermined, to a tenderness that could only totally receive. Warm breath on his cheek and throat, followed by lips grazing the soft skin, and Methos's sexual organs swelled, into renewed anguish, wounds split open by his helpless erecting, sensitive inner flesh hurt by the steel. Duncan's swollen leather-wrapped cock rubbed across, new realms of maximized sensation streaming beneath the arrogant loins through his helpless captive, making him start to writhe minutely, as Duncan's tongue touched him under the jaw, along the line of the pulse down and back, onto his face. The Scot's full weight crushed down on his groin.

"I love to take you when your pain is most beautiful," his lover breathed, and Methos anticipated a cruel thrust immediately into him. But Duncan knelt back and he feltsomething slender trail across his belly. Duncan lifted it so he could see, a length of thin silk cord, scarlet; and threaded it through the rings in Methos's cock, then up on either side and through the tit-rings. Methos struggled, every slightest touch at the steel rings an electrocution spasming him. He could not hold still. The delicate lines pulled mercilesslytight, Methos's breath turned to whines and cries as tugs and still tighter stretches of the cordtold him Duncan was fastening the ends -- to his leather cock-ring.

"Now." Duncan hauled back and Methos felt the blunt end of the long thick cock positioned to enter him. He felt a slight slide of oil, but could not concentrate on it through the points of torture skewering him. "Methos!" His eyes opened at the sharp word, and through thepain he saw Duncan's eyes, black with passion, burning into him. "Open." Obedient, a thousand past commands triggering him without his will, Methos pushed out, allowing thecockhead to slide into him, and without pause the Highlander continued to possess him in one slow, endless, aching invasion that held him stretched and pinioned. Release throbbed through his four piercings, until Duncan began to pull back.

He could never remember Duncan's cock so unendurable, this huge, this long, as the scarlet thong dragged with it, back, agonizing his nipple wounds and making him howl at what his meatus endured. And Duncan stopped, at peak of torment, and handled him, stroking up his cock with a forefinger, pushing at the steel rings of pain, finally, terribly, grasping around his shaft, pulling upward, then down, and again, masturbating his cock unbearably. He triedto thrash but his hips and legs were immobile in their bonds. And when Duncan stopped, he felt himself try to thrust, into the big beloved fist, but couldn't move of his own will. He felt Duncan's thumb rub over the tip of his cock, and then roll the cord, stretched between its two rings, across it, and he wailed, pierced by eight wounds through the very nerves of his sex and by steely shaft that then started again to sink into him, showing possession of hisinner being as his outer skin drove him insane. He wriggled on the penetration of his depths, not knowing what cries escaped him, repeatedly struck through with sex and painfrom Duncan's hot grip on his hugely stretching erection.

MacLeod withdrew again hurting exquisitely. He thrust in so slowly that Methos wanted -- wanted to --

Duncan's fist squeezed, pulled up --

Methos screamed his heart out.

Unable to prevent any of it he suffered again and again and again the withdrawals that flamed his torn nerve-ends, the slow re-entries berserking him with words he didn't know he uttered, pleas, screams as the tension shattered him, ripped him away from all restraints as the need of his organ for release flooded him with blackness.

It went on so long he had lost all sense of himself. All there was was pleasure -- pain -- darkness.

And Duncan MacLeod. Controlling them. Opening and penetrating him, hurting, touching, hurting, now, suddenly --

Still. His hand gone, from aching cock, and Methos felt him moving, over him, lying now full on him, breath harsh, aroused now beyond all small delight in torment, to fuck, to own, to ram with the heat of his lust and fill with the liquid fire of his pleasure. Methos felt thefinal hot thrust take him, so hard it strained at the bonds holding him, so rough his steel-torn wounds bled open, as the hot heavy body rode over them. His cock was crushed upwardwith agonizing sweetness. Continual tingling started in his torn places, wringing a long whimper from him. A hot palm slid under his butt and the whimper fell to a grinding moan, jarred by MacLeod's slamming into him. By the deep, guttural breathing, the total mastery over his body, he knew Duncan was readying, going to come, and, he suddenly realized, he wasn't. He was being left behind. The spirit that possessed Duncan in these moments rode over him, normally swept him up in its whirlwind and carried him spinning like a leaf in a gale into its ecstasy. But he somehow had emerged again, separate, for an instant, enough for him to become aware and be left in this lonely, lonely place, grief-filled, out of the reach of grace. He wasn't supposed to be here and now he was all alone, desolate, abandoned --

Duncan raised up a bit and he felt a huge hot paw close around his bulging priapic cock. The breath went out of him. He could feel the thumb-tip smoothing up and down the undersurface. He hissed and his muscles jerked to the side. The touch went on, exquisite, intimate, bringing gasps and moans. Duncan's whole body trembled with his leashed passion and he couldn't hold back one slow push. Suddenly the thumb's touch moved up to the embedded ring. Pain shivered through Methos in ice crystals, thin fiery tides, and he knew Duncan was going to hurt him, ride him away on overmastering waves of suffering, he cried out open-throated in panic and protest but could do nothing to stop him as his love-master pulled the scarlet cord down, grip tight again on the hard cock. The thumb slid, gliding exquisiteness between two realms of pain, touched the tip of his cock and then back down. Up, then down, till Methos was jerking in his bonds spasmodically. The thumb touched his balls. The fist closed again, completely, and began a slide down, pulling the cord. It reached the base of his cock as his body shook and entered silent panting at amazing pain. He felt Duncan move, and every touch transmitted to his body hurt, hurt -- part of Duncan's weight off him, shifting, moving, until he felt, with astonishment and a terrible cry, the tip of his cock laved by hot, wet tongue, engulfed by Duncan's mouth. The tongue slipped over him, the fist pulled up, Methos's voice came again, "No! No! No! No! No!" cried from him but stopped nothing, pumping fist rending and quick tongue rousing till Methos fell apart, the "No! No! No!" softer and higher, then Duncan's thumb slid up the cock into the devouring mouth, touched the wet cock-tip, pressed in, pressed in, till the slit there was opened and what was inside touched with terrible pain. Methos's hips jerked up to Duncan, again, again, and he cracked like a lava-bed, glowing and flowing up through the stony crusts Duncan's thumb slid on him, turning him inside out with the sex-pain, breaking him again and again, till his soft, molten core was entirely open, all of him, quivering, coming, in every atom of his being. His muscles stretched and shook, jerked, stretched again, riding him along the crest of his mindlessness, empty sensation like the wave he rode, born of a storm far out at sea, now rushing under and absorbing his entire consciousness in its enormity. It was not even pleasure so much as pure being.

At last he returned into his physical body. Battered, bruised, torn. Still rammed full of long, thick Highlander cock. Duncan let go of the ancient's now flaccid organ and rolled full onto him. "Now... I like you open and tender and feeling it."

Feel it he did, every move, each touch, his oversensitive cock shrinking from the contact, pulled up by its rings, as Duncan took his pleasure roughly. Methos made sacrifice on the altar of his heart, the flickering pains flames that lit the incense of desire. Sweetness suffused him. It is my own, my own, he felt; my own offering. No one else's. Theoffering and sacrifice he had never been able to make in his first life, because it had always been taken from him; that later, he had not known how to give. Reverential, he felt Duncan cover him, immerse him, consume him into his passion, and as his lover burned, making a paean of his name, he felt himself join, one flame with him.

They came in a mutual hosannah, in the hymn of sex that makes of every human voice an angel song, the word that was in the beginning, the one and only voice of truth.

MacLeod was far from through with him however. Methos spent the next hour begging Duncan to stop, begging him not to stop, climaxing, and being given no chance whatever to recover. When it was over he lay sprawled, all his bonds undone, under Duncan's warmth and remnant kisses. The Highlander kissed his way back along the damp neck and nibbled his earlobe minutely. And then murmured, "Happy anniversary."

A ripple of hurt and sadness. "Oh! Duncan. I forgot."

"I thought I'd give you a little reminder."

For the first time in fifteen years he had forgotten the date of their marriage, forgotten Duncan in all the things he had to do. Grief hurt through him. "Oh Duncan --"

MacLeod's mouth muted him. When he let Methos breathe again, the Highlander mused, "I think I'll survive. Now that I've had my fix." Then he put his hands under the utterly limp torso and tugged. "Shower," he said. Methos whimpered and made snuggling movements down into the disarray of bedding.

Duncan pulled him up and dragged him forth, sliding out one of the two-by-fours that caged them and letting it clunk to the floor. "MacLeod. Why do I have to get clean. I hate water. I'm tired. What is this obsession with getting wet the last hundred years? When I was growing up we never heard of such a thing. Why don't we just go back to bed and --" He gasped incredibly as the jet of water hit him before it had quite warmed up, and moved lively as it suddenly did warm up, until Duncan got it balanced. In the course of presenting his anniversary gift, MacLeod too had lost bits of his clothing, especially as he'd gradually freed his lover from all his bondage, and he was naked as Methos when they hit the shower. Craftily Methos pulled him close. MacLeod only laughed and moved out of the path of the water, smiling as his tall lover instantly assumed the pathos and hairstyle of a drowned rat. He took a huge chunk of warm wet soapy sponge and began soaping Methos slowly all over. Aggrieved angles slowly relaxed. Little moans and sighs accompanied the trails of exquisite soapy slick sponge and blessed force of hot water beating on him as Duncan moved him and moved all around him making him feel pristine and clean and new. He only pulled back ticklishly whenever the sponge touched one of the steel pieces still embedded in his flesh. Duncan turned him through a last rinse and shut off the water.

"Hey, I'm not done yet. There's still soap in my hair. I didn't get to soak my feet. In Rome it wasn't considered a bath if it took under two hours in different temperatures and --" Duncan stood up from drying Methos with a fluffy towel and raised one finger warningly. Methos shut up. Duncan finished drying and led him out into the loft.

"I have something for you. Another reminder."

He took out a small box and from its velvet-lined interior lifted out a very long, long, very delicate golden chain.

With careful hands he threaded it through the foreskin rings, then fastened each end to a nipple ring. Methos could feel it tickling coolly across his skin with every slightest move.

Duncan's eye fell on the carefully discarded formal wear. He looked at Methos speculatively. "You looked really good in that."

Methos skidded his mind away from what he had failed to do because of that.

"Put it on."

He looked up at Duncan, really, really not wanting to remember it. But he knew that quiet tone of voice and that look.

"May I have some pants?"

Methos's British was a lot more recent than Duncan's, but they'd come to know each other's usage perfectly. Duncan went and got a pair of the silk boxers he bought for Methos as sleep wear.

Methos put them gingerly on, then carefully, wincing at a couple of stages, donned the dinner clothes.

"All of it."

Methos looked around. The cufflinks were on the windowsill. He reached.

And stopped.

The cufflinks were gold, square, set with black opals, Duncan's gift the first time he'd had to put on a tuxedo and frills. Instead of skulking in corners he'd found himself flashing his wrists at people -- cameras! -- showing them off not exactly subtly for who they meant his lover was.

They lay now in a ray of sun from the corner of the blind, their inner planes of blue and darkness glimmering.

The sun.

He yanked out the shade and let it go, whap-whap-whapping as it rolled too fast up around its cylinder.

Full sun flared in out of a blue afternoon sky.

He whirled.

The look on Duncan's face was smug, coy, and guilty.

"Lunatic!" Methos howled. "Crazy person!"

He heaved a breath in.

"You set back the CLOCKS!"

Duncan smiled modestly. "Two hours."

"You -- I -- They --" He looked at the clock. Two hours. That meant -- "I'm not late!" -- it was nearly -- "Oh my god, I'm going to be late!" He scurried in a circle, back to the window, grabbed his cufflinks and couldn't get them in instantly. "They're starting infifteen minutes! I'll never make it, where are my keys --?"

He heard a car horn, and a tiny high voice crying mockingly, "I'm going to miss the Sacrifice! I'm going to miss the Sacrifice!"

He whirled on Duncan with blood in his eye.

Duncan took the cufflinks from him, saying calmly, "That will be your cab downstairs."

"I'm driving --"

"You're not," said Duncan, inserting a cufflink into the first sleeve. Methos opened his mouth. Duncan raised a finger. End of discussion, and Methos realized how limp yet crazed he still felt and how bad an idea it would be to try to drive. Duncan fitted the other cufflink neatly. Methos looked at it.

"Thanks," he said humbly. Duncan pulled him close one-handed, and released him. Methos looked up. He said softly, "And thank you. It was a wonderful anniversary present."

"I haven't heard you scream like that for years. You must have been wound up tight."

Methos realized Duncan was standing in front of him naked and beautiful.



"I'm the luckiest man on earth." He kissed MacLeod's incredible mouth, and started backing away, torn.

Duncan half-smiled, and shooed him. "Go on." He let his eyes half close, and said, "I'll see you later."

Methos moaned, closed his mouth, and dashed out.


The dinner and reception were like a hundred others. Except he kept feeling little golden chains, touching him, like Duncan's thoughts trailing across him at odd moments, like his lover's fingertips lightly drawn up his skin, his lover's eyes caressing, summoning him... He spoke, and as usual went a bit out of control on the subject of survival, the unfathomable imbecility of believing that the deaths of thousands of species would not one day inevitablyinclude their own. He felt more than one Immortal buzz in the banquet hall, but they were all known supporters, not on Suelo's list of fresh meat to greet as she shepherded him through the intricate battle-plan at the reception. They stood in no formal line. Bjorn had tagged them all with special support ribbons and Suelo muttered a word or two of background on each one as she steered him relentlessly toward each in turn. His whole life was like that now, he never had to know where he would be on any given day; someone would tell him, he would go. He would look, listen, note, assembling it all in his head till he knew what needed to be done, and get somebody to do it. If they didn't, they were gone. He'd never had much time for sentiment and now he had none. There was too much to do.

But tonight thoughts of MacLeod kept glimmering through his contacts and movements, links of a delicate golden chain that reminded him in things people said or didn't say, the way they moved or dressed or laughed, like or unlike Mac, his Duncan, his dark MacLeod, his Highlander. He loved all the names his lover had ever been known by, and sometimes chanted them as a gasping litany one after the other when -- well, when -- He'd better not think about when. Not here. He was having enough trouble trying not to feel those hands where he shouldn't, on his bum for example --

He swung into a spirited harangue for expansion of the massive birth control arm of the organization, breeding programs for endangered raptors, and the perilously slow reproductive cycle of the blue whale.

Oh god, couldn't he stop thinking about sex for one fucking minute?

He got his hardest gold-chain hit when he looked up from Suelo's rundown on the scientist- poet who had made biodynamics a household word, stuck out his paw for the two hundred thirty-seventh time and caught a first sight of the woman -- and her escort.

"Dr. More." But his eyes were double-taking the other. She was thirtyish, he --

-- looked younger --

The long black hair, thin legs, built torso, white-gold skin, Buddha eyes -- really he looked nothing like Duncan, it must have been the first glimpse of the hair, long and dark among all the rich, groomed business heads and glamor-dos swimming around them --

He looked young --

That black outfit, black boots, trousers and T-shirt, black knee-length coat falling somewhere between Lincoln (Abe) and Keaton (Buster), yet the humor it conveyed was very, very...


Rock star?

None he knew of, though god knew he'd gotten out of touch --

Name didn't ring a bell.


Eric Draven.

Eyes when he turned to him friendly enough but -- bored?





The boy took his offered hand --

Froze --

Staring --

Into eternity --

-- jolted like about twenty thousand volts whipping through him --

-- started to go down --

They all dived for him before he quite hit the parquet, but he jerked back from Methos, staring. Straight at him.

Whispering, as in shock: "What -- are you?"

And then: "Old..."

Dr. More said, "Eric?" distress somehow sandwiched in layers of -- scientific? -- calm. Or like it was nothing new. Suelo asking if she should call an ambulance, Bjorn bulleting through the crowd toward them with a pasted smile holding him together -- he was the one who read all the hate mail -- and Methos staring straight back into the wide weird weird eyes --


Oh shit.

Oh, what the fuck are you?

"He couldn't have known." Duncan handed him his whisky and sank down on the couch beside him.

"He knew. It knocked him off his feet."

"Hysteria. You're a little famous, from the way you describe him he was more than a little weird..." He shrugged.

"He wasn't even interested. He looked like you."


"Like you looked, last time I dragged you to one of these things. Wishing a heavenly choir would part the throng and carry you home."

Duncan's knuckles brushed his cheek, and he smiled reflexively.

But Draven had not made him smile. They had helped Sarah More take him to a little room, Methos not touching him but determined he wouldn't lose sight of him without knowing more. By this time the black-clad boy was quietly insisting he was fine, nothing was wrong with him -- and still keeping a weather eye on the Immortal, seeming very aware that Methos had carefully not touched him again since that first handshake. "Please, I'm fine. Sarah, go on and enjoy your party. Go on. You know I'm all right. I'll hang out here a minute and catch up with you later. I'll be fine." The biodynamicist left, but not before giving famous Adam Pierson a look from under her perfect coif that redefined her social origins and personal philosophy on violence for him. It took only a glance from Methos to send Bjorn and Suelo with her.

The Eric Draven person looked up at him from the armchair they'd put him in. He made no attempt to stand up and get on an even footing with the other; Methos had a distinct sense that despite the fey, costume-like appearance, the boy had no doubts whatever on the score of winning in combat.


But the eyes were a different matter.

Desperate. Despairing. As if the answer could condemn him to a hell he had not till then ever imagined, he asked, "Are you a crow?"

Fragmented among various trains of thought -- Crow? Methos couldn't possibly be taken for, and the kid didn't look -- definitely wasn't -- Native American; bird? some kind of gang? a kung-fu sect? -- Methos backtracked through confusion.


"No..." The eyes closed a moment, with relief. "You aren't." He opened his eyes again, and Methos was very startled. Not alarmed, he felt no threat, but it struck him that this youth, this stripling sprawled there in the armchair with steady dark eyes on him, was utterlyfearless, looked upon him like a lord of the earth, from days when princes knew themselves divine. Draven said bluntly, "You've been killed, but you were never dead."

Methos, on the other hand, was finding himself more and more and more perilously poised, senses hyperalert. God I hate novelty...

Knowing what to do in any situation was his favorite part of being five thousand years old. Fresh and challenging experiences were the pits.

The air around them had taken on sacredness.

Oh shit. "What are you?" Methos made it a noncommittal enough phrasing, but he knew it meant butt-kicking truths about to emerge. This boy would say anything.

"I was murdered. A year later I came back. I was supposed to set things right. I made mistakes. I can't get back. I've been here fifteen years. I don't want to be here as long as you."

"You came back to life." Flat. Expressionless.

"I didn't say that."

Oh good. Fine distinctions in Wackawackaland. "So... you're not alive... you're just back. And you're telling me this because...?"

"You asked."

Oh. Right. Other parts of his mind were racing in all directions, one specially to Duncan, what he would say, what he would think they should do, such as shut up --

Draven prompted, "And you are --?"

"Me? Oh yes, we were just being introduced. Adam Pierson. Eco-activist."

Draven waited.

"Never, as you point out, dead."

Draven stood up. He looked like some kind of black-draped angel about to separate a few goats from the lambs. But all he said was, "It's your business." He headed for the door.As he opened it, he turned back. From his flat-planed, calmly beautiful face, the eyes met Methos's darkly. "Sarah More is my friend. No one messes with her. No one hurts her."

Methos smiled slightly. "We're only interested in her money and prestige."

Eric faced him fully then. "Trust me: I can be your worst nightmare. If it means cutting off your head, I have no problem with that."

Chills rippled through Methos's vitals. He was sincere, but his eyes were wider than normal as he replied, "Mr. Draven, Dr. More and I are on the same side. It would never even occur to me to mean her any harm."

Draven gazed at him very levelly. After a moment he said softly, but with unmistakable emphasis, "Good."

And walked out.

Methos felt anticlimactic. And a sense of relief that he had not the slightest of designs on Sarah More.

"You can't possibly believe him." Duncan had listened intently. Bristling at the threat to Adam Pierson; but brushing aside the claims of revenance. He was worried. "It's obvious someone's told him about Immortals. Someone who knows about you."

"If an Immortal knew about me as anything other than a newcomer, why give me any warning? You'd have to be crazy."

"This Draven is clearly crazy. Birds of a feather."

"And that's another thing. What did he mean when he asked me if I was a crow? It seemed as if that was what he thought of himself -- a name for people who come back from the dead. Like he wasn't the only one. Have you ever heard "crow" used like that?"

Duncan was silent a moment, looking lost in memory. Then he looked at Methos. "Actually... I have. Not first-hand. But I heard a story, that there were people whobelieved a spirit could return to a body, that it was carried back by a crow. A crow-spirit also entered the body, and it became an invincible warrior. It couldn't be killed. Except by another crow-spirit." He added, "I assumed it was a legend about Immortals, at the time. No mention of swords, but then, Native Americans mostly didn't have swords."

Methos thought about it.

Duncan said persuasively, "Look, Draven obviously heard the same story, and obsessed on it. Now someone's using him to get at you."

"You weren't there." Methos gazed pensively into the memory. "He had his own fish to fry. He didn't care about me. And I surprised him." He shifted around to put his back against the couch arm, so he could face MacLeod. The move reminded him again of his little golden chain, and he smiled unexpectedly as he said, "I have good instincts when it comes to my own neck. He wasn't hunting me. And I don't think we need to be hunting him. Live and let -- well. Whatever."

Duncan grunted noncommittally.

"That doesn't mean I'm not curious as hell." He changed gears. "I wanted to tell you. I'm so sorry I forgot our anniversary."

Duncan smiled over at him mischievously. "My present wouldn't have worked nearly as well if you'd remembered."

"I'm trying to be penitent here."

"How penitent?"

Methos started slowly unbuttoning his dress shirt. "I spent the whole day in chains. I think I'm prepared to be very... very... very penitent."

Duncan smiled again, his eyes lazy and warm and inviting.

End of "The Deep", Part One

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