And Hades Followed Him
by C.M. Decarnin
It was either turn off the water or end up with a penis at the other extreme of stiffness: frozen. Reluctantly, Methos shut the faucet off.
Duncan's hands were on him immediately, assisting, applying towels. He called a halt. "I can walk, I'm a grown man." And if you lift me again I'll go all toasted-marshmallow texture. Nothing but hot, sweet goo inside.
Duncan offered him a bathrobe, but he wanted his clothes back. Retreats were always so much easier with one's jeans on. He found the things where Duncan had flung them, and donned them one by one, even the shoes. He finished by going to the counter and heating up the two mugs of coffee in the microwave. Stronger and sweeter would have made it a more civilized drink, but he knew from experience Duncan never thought to buy sugar. He carried his cup to the couch.
"Have you ever noticed, Highlander, it's always me having to answer to you, never the other way round?"
"Why do you suppose that is," MacLeod said, without a question mark, completely unfazed.
"I've never lied to you."
"Let's leave it that you just have a lot more history and I'm the curious type." He hitched a little closer. "Start with, what am I doing wrong?"
Methos dropped his eyes immediately. Embarrassment crawled over him.
"It's not you," he said finally. "It's me." He swallowed. "It always has been." I hate this. "I can't come. I should have told you. I -- I love seeing you. I love touching you. I want to make love with you, I love it when you come, but...I can't." He knew he should look up. See in Mac's gaze the effect. He couldn't. "It doesn't matter to me but... I know it might matter... too much... to you."
No breath of empathy, no special touch -- just a dead silence from MacLeod. Methos opened his eyes, met MacLeod's and saw the last thing he expected to see in their dark depths.
Doubt. Cool and distant. Speculating.
And his response escaped into his own eyes before he could control it.
He covered his face reflexively. He felt Duncan's hands take his almost immediately, and gently peel them away from his face.
"Methos, what are ye doin'?" Tones soft as chenille, unyielding as death. The warm hands gentled the cold and trembling in his own.
"I just -- can't."
"You could three thousand years ago."
"Oh god --" He tried to cover his face again but was prevented. Lips touched his eyelids.
"You were...on Kronos's mind. Before the Quickening became double...I saw you. A dozen -- a hundred times -- In Cinemascope and Technicolor. Coming like the angels of the Apocalypse." He couldn't answer. "Kronos thought it was the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen." The warm lips touched his cheek. "So did I."
"You knew? Before I told you, you knew Kronos and I..."
Duncan hesitated. "I knew he had seen it. I wasn't sure of the exact circumstances -- if you were all into orgies, or what. I knew -- I mean, I knew you were -- that you could love a man. But I didn't want to believe you had had that with him." He let his hand play through the exquisite softness of Methos's hair. "So why don't you come with me?"
Methos shut his eyes. He had dared so much this day. Revealed so much. Was this last shelter to be torn from him? One thing he thought he could keep secret, a thing he'd known he'd rather die than say. That Mac was asking of him now.
MacLeod...to whom he could deny nothing....
"Tell me, Methos."
He felt his heart dissolve in pain.
"I only come...if it's like rape."
He'd said it. If he could keep his voice steady, Mac need never know what this cost him. The only shred of dignity he had left.
"Like rape?" MacLeod repeated. "Like rape? How much more like rape does it have to be than what I just did to you?"
Methos stared uncomprehendingly. Mac stared uncomprehendingly back. "MacLeod... I initiated that. I practically got on my knees and begged you."
"But I was so...uncaring. And later when you said "No", I ignored you. That's the definition of rape." He was silent a moment. "Methos, why am I doing this? I agree with you, it's not a Dark Quickening. Tell me what you know."
The oldest man drew a very deep breath. "I think that the double Quickening created a link between us. And through that link...I am controlling your behavior. Not consciously," he added quickly, seeing Duncan's brown eyes go wide. "My desires ...may be felt by you, and you respond to them. Not consciously on your part, either."
"Methos -- I don't even know how to do the things I'm doing."
"Well," Methos said simply, "I do."
"How is it possible I could take that from you and not know it? And if I'm doing what you want, then... why don't you come?"
Methos flushed uncomfortably. "I don't know. I don't know any of this for sure. But when you tied me up, and I -- I suspected what was happening, I didn't think you were going to like what you were about to do -- I mean afterward, remembering. So I -- retreated, I calmed my mind, and you immediately lost your desire." He shrugged. "That seemed to prove I was right."
"Why did tying you up make you guess what was happening?"
"I -- recognized the style."
Methos turned his face away.
"Mine, Highlander! A little something of my own!"
MacLeod looked confused. "But if you like -- I mean, if you're...."
"A masochist? Is that the word you're groping for?"
MacLeod flushed a little.
"Don't forget what I am, MacLeod. What I was for a thousand years. Would you call that masochism? I haven't indulged that part of my sexuality for almost three millenia, but that doesn't mean it never existed. It's still there. It will always be there. They're not opposites, MacLeod, they're two sides of one coin. It may not show, but if you understand one side, you understand them both. Did you ever wonder why I remembered Cassandra so well, why I chose her, out of all those women -- why she hunts me, why she remembers me to this day, after three thousand years? Do you have any idea how long that is?"
MacLeod had gone white. "What did you do to her?"
Methos's knees were drawn up, his face hidden against them. He shook his head.
"What, Methos? What did you do?"
He felt MacLeod's hands on his shoulders, but rather than the rough shake he expected, he felt gentle caresses.
"You need to tell me, Methos. Otherwise you wouldn't have brought it up."
"Yes. Tell me."
Methos raised his head. "It isn't mine to tell."
The hands were still, on his shoulders. At length MacLeod said, "All right. Then tell me something else. Tell me what you were thinking, what you were doing, during the whole Kronos thing."
"I want to understand it from your point of view. I need to know what was going on in your mind."
"What difference does it make?"
"If it doesn't make any difference, why not tell me? The truth, that is."
"I have never lied to you."
"You told me you didn't know Cassandra."
"I wasn't lying to you, I was lying to her. You just happened to be there."
"Right. What were you planning to tell me before she showed up?"
"I was going to tell you I was leaving, and warn you not to let Kronos challenge you. But with Cassandra there I knew you'd go after him. So I went back to the power station and tried to kill him. When that didn't work, I tried telling him the truth, that I'd changed, I was useless to him. He didn't want to hear it. He told me he was going to kill Cassandra for me, since I couldn't do it myself, and in return I was to kill you. I decided again to clear out."
"Why?" Methos made an impatient face. "Because I knew he'd follow me."
"Leading him away from the nest. Then what?"
"You and I had our conversation by the getaway car."
"Why did you say those things to me?"
"You asked. I told you the truth."
Methos muttered, "I wanted to keep you out of my way for a while."
"I'd asked Joe to let me know if Cassandra made a move. He did. He also told me you were on your way after her. I went to the power station, cold-cocked her and dumped her off the bridge."
"And you didn't take her head because --?"
Methos looked at him sideways. "I have never wanted her death."
"She wanted yours. It would have been safer."
"She wanted Kronos's head too. She might have been useful."
Methos stared at him, between annoyance and perturbation at his perceptiveness. "I thought you loved her. I knew you didn't want her dead."
"All right. You burned the power station. Then you went back to Kronos. Why?"
"You'd fought him. You'd caught his attention. So had Cassandra. I couldn't be sure any more he'd leave you alive and follow me. So I offered him something, the only thing I knew would make him forget you in a flash. I told him I could get him Silas and Caspian."
"And do the Watchers proud."
He thought MacLeod could probably see how that rankled. "It was an emergency.
"On the flight to France I finally had some time to really think. I was pretty
sure I couldn't take Kronos. I was pretty sure you could. I realized you'd find
him sooner or later. I decided it had better be sooner, and preferrably while
I was still alive to help."
"So you left the matchbook."
"Oh, I left several, here and there."
"The rest I think I know."
"Do you?" He had meant it to be dismissive, final, but it hadn't come out quite right. He felt MacLeod beside him go completely still. With his best expression of unconcern, he picked up his coffee mug and stood up.
MacLeod caught him by the wrist and turned him back, looking up into his eyes.
It was MacLeod's voice, though it echoed his own thought exactly. He tried to pry MacLeod's fingers off, but holding the mug hindered him. He looked distractedly for a place to set it down and MacLeod snatched it out of his hand, surged to his feet, and with a loud Gaelic oath hurled it smashing into the brick wall, where it shattered into a thousand pieces.
Methos fled back the length of his arm, panicked, wide-eyed. If this was MacLeod's jealousy he vowed never to rouse it again. If it was anything else, he probably wouldn't get the chance. MacLeod yanked him back and crushed him in his arms. Still cursing a blue streak but now in English, at least English enough that Methos, resigned to postponing breathing, was able to gather that had it even occurred to MacLeod that Kronos might have laid a polluting hand on him, he would have made sure the toad had died a death a thousand times more lingering and hideous than any he had dealt out himself in his worthless life, and that the Horseman would have gone screeching into Hell with the MacLeod motto slashed on his tiny dick.
Methos could have corrected Duncan there, but did not. MacLeod was trembling, with blazing eyes, barbaric, dangerous, magnificent. Then the fiery eyes turned down to look at him, and Methos would have settled for much less splendor. But MacLeod did not ask the question Methos knew was burning in his mind. Instead he eased his grip so Methos could breathe again, and stroked his face gently, and touched his lips.
It took Duncan a long time to settle down, and longer for him to allow Methos out of his arms. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry," he said. "But when I think of you there all alone with them, at his mercy--"
"Remember I was playing a game with him. And I won."
Duncan didn't answer, just held him close. Moments passed, and suddenly Duncan asked, "Methos...are you ashamed of what you are?"
It was spoken quietly. Methos was silent before answering. "No..."
"But you're ashamed of me knowing it?"
The heat that coursed through his soul made the truth naked.
"Yes," he whispered.
"Are you afraid I'll misunderstand?"
"I know you will." He looked up. "It's what people do. Misunderstand. Each other, the world, life."
"If I do, Methos... please don't run. Don't hide. Tell me. Show me. Let me know you. Let me be worthy to love you."
Astonished, touched, Methos could not help but let his reaction show on his face.
"Oh Methos." Duncan smiled with heartbreaking sweetness. "However did you come to love me?" He kissed him, tender, gentle. "Tell me. When did you first love me?"
Every muscle, every protective nerve in Methos rebelled. It was Duncan's turn to look in astonishment. "Have I said the wrong thing already?" he murmurred. "Or... am I presuming...?"
And Methos realized he had never yet said the words Duncan had already repeated half a dozen times to him, in this endless single day. He hung his head against Duncan's chest, shamed for the thousandth time at his own cowardice before MacLeod.
"Methos?" The arms were around him protectively.
"Oh Duncan." He could do this. The breath went out of him. "Oh Duncan. I loved you from the first moment I saw you. The first moment I felt your Presence. The first moment I heard your voice." He breathed against MacLeod's neck. He kissed the skin nearest to his lips. He looked up hesitantly. "Does that make it seem foolish? Like a schoolgirl crush?"
"Mm. Yes, I can just picture you in a pleated skirt and Mary-Janes." But MacLeod's voice betrayed his emotion. He held him a little closer. "Methos." He kissed his hair, kissed down along the inner curves of his ear. "No. No. Your love is such an honor." He pulled back, touched Methos's face and looked into his eyes. "You loved Alexa the same way, didn't you? At first sight."
"Yes... I expect I did. I'd been killing myself wanting you and then suddenly--there she was-- and I was so glad you and I weren't lovers, because--she had no time to wait."
"And for love you simply dropped everything and went."
"Always. You learn proportion in five thousand years, if nothing else. Priorities are not a problem."
"You'd put so much effort into trying to convince everyone you had no heart. Poof, all that cynical act, gone like a stemful of dandelion fluff." MacLeod was smiling.
"I don't see the conflict. A love comes along, you go for it. Pure self-interest."
"Uh-huh." MacLeod's mouth captured his, the soft tongue touching against his own, and Methos immediately pressed his groin to him, hardening, yearning.
He peeled himself away with difficulty, backing, trying to laugh. "Oh god. I'm such a nympho..." His face was half-hidden by his hand pressed against his mouth. "I'm sorry, Duncan. It's classic, you see, insatiable because unsatisfied --"
"There must be something we can do." Duncan looked at him helplessly. "Listen... Tell me... Tell me what you were doing the last time you came. If I could get an idea of it... What brought you off...."
Methos's frustrated lust frothed over. "Oh, let's see. The last time. Oh yes. That would have been while I was dating a torturer from the Papal Inquisition." Seeing the horror widen Duncan's eyes, he corrected nastily. "Actually "dating" is not exactly the right term, let's say he was a man who brought a lot of his work home with him. Including me."
MacLeod came to touch him gently on the shoulder. "He -- tortured you? And you came?
"Methos... are you saying... it isn't that it has to be like rape... it has to be rape?"
"No! No. I -- It can't be rape if I love it!" Half-hysterical with need, memory, and fear, he wiped his hands across the air as if clearing a slate. "I don't know! I don't know what makes the difference, why I can come with one and not another! I only know that -- sometimes I recognize it in people. I see it."
MacLeod's hand did not stop its gentle stroking across his shoulders.
"And me?" he asked gently. "Did you see it in me?"
The panic hit him full force, and all his strength could do to fight it was keep him from running. From a great distance he heard MacLeod's voice of reason and quietness, asking him for the truth. "Don't be afraid, Methos. Is that why you fell in love with me? That day in your apartment, the day we met. Did you see it in me?"
He could answer this. This, at least, he could answer, if he tried. It would hurt MacLeod, this truth; but perhaps no more than a lie to the contrary. A silent roaring seemed to clear from his mind. He could hear himself breathing. See MacLeod's eyes, with the heartbreaking little droop along the outside slope of the eyelids. MacLeod waiting with parted lips for his answer.
"No," he said, and caught MacLeod's hand in a hard grip, unawares. "No. I didn't see it. It wasn't there." He kissed Duncan's hand and held it to his cheek. "It couldn't be. You're a good man." He closed his eyes. "Believe me, if it had been there, no power on earth could have kept me from dragging you into my bed that day." He smiled a bit, and let MacLeod see his eyes. "I had a hard enough time resisting as it was."
"So then... this link between us is our only hope."
"I don't know." Nervously, Methos backed off. "I exaggerated -- I have had a few orgasms here and there since the sixteenth century. Just nothing steady."
"I wondered. I mean I know it's none of my business, but there are people... I mean, you can hire people, to, um..."
"Beat me, whip me, make me write bad checks? Yes. Well. Not quite as easy as it sounds. It hasn't even been very available till the last hundred years or so. And then -- well... You see, MacLeod, a lot of people talk a good game, but very few are really into anything physically heavy. Very few. I need at least a real fight, not Yes-thank-you-master and massage oil. And as an Immortal... I may be a bit rusty, but I do know how to fight. There's not many of them can handle me."
"That I can well believe." MacLeod smiled with sexy eyes.
"Oh god, don't do that."
"You know very well what. I don't want to end up in your tub again. In fact I'm so tired I'm probably not making sense any more. I need to go home and go to bed."
Methos eyed the bed, and eyed MacLeod, with the tiny gleam deep in the innocent brown eyes.
"I think not," he said distinctly.
"All right. I'll drive you."
"I can walk."
MacLeod ignored him, getting his keys and jacket. He picked up the trenchcoat and draped it over Methos's shoulders. "Come on."
Methos stood still. "How very masterful," he said quietly.
"Thought that's how you liked it?" MacLeod said cockily, taking a hip-shot stance by the door.
"In sex, Duncan. Not in anything else. There's a line you don't cross."
MacLeod tilted his head, bedroom-eyed and saucy. "Oh a line? And where's that line? Is it here?" He took a step forward. "Or here?" He took another step. "Or maybe it's right here." A last step put him right up against Methos, a pelvic bone pushed into his crotch. "Yeah, I think it's right about...here. In fact I think I can feel it."
Methos averted his face. "Bastard," he muttered; but the corners of his mouth turned up irresistably.
"You're exhausted, you're distracted, you've had a hell of a day and I didn't like to mention it," looking down at the tell-tale jeans, "but I don't think you're going to be walking too gracefully for a bit there, and I don't want you on the street in your condition. Now will you get in the car, please, sir?"
Methos sighed, and relented. It was either that or start ripping MacLeod's clothes from his body. "We'll talk. Tomorrow."
MacLeod locked the door behind them and tossed and caught the keys. "Interesting, using sex to get my own way. It's kind of a heady feeling."
"We'll talk," Methos repeated.
End of Part 3
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