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And Hades Followed Him

by C.M. Decarnin

Part 6


Dumbfounded, still dazed with bliss, Methos was completely beyond being able to speak, but Duncan needed no words. The half-closed eyes, the beautiful misted wild-rose coloring of love, the limpness of the whole body told their story. MacLeod cooed and murmurred wordlessly to him, sliding his weight off, freeing the tied wrists with a single tug on each binding, and gathering him close. His. His long, heavy, old, old love. Methos's chest panting against his, Methos's hips and legs, and his own around them; his arms around the perfect shoulders and waist, his mouth on the face, neck, shoulder muscles, kissing, tasting, gentling, assuring. Methos reached up and touched him, finally, his first voluntary motion. MacLeod cradled him, the greatcoat cloaking them both. Nothing, he thought fiercely, there was nothing he would not do for this man.

When he realized he had been tonguing the same satin spot in the hollow of Methos's throat like a meditation, he shifted, stroked his lover's hair, and nuzzled his cheek. "Methos."

Methos slid his arms around Mac's neck and held tight.

MacLeod whispered, "Yes, lover. Yes. Forever. Forever."

He whispered more. Words only love could understand. At long last Methos answered back, in terms that made MacLeod his religion, and Duncan answered these absurdities only with kisses.

As he gradually came back to his surroundings, he suddenly remembered the catalyst, and looked over to where his student stood leaning as if paralyzed against the wall, a solemn expression on his face.

MacLeod mouthed, "Good night, Richie." But instead of leaving, the boy levered himself from the wall and slowly approached. Methos felt the slightest tension through MacLeod's touch, and looked up as Richie knelt on one knee beside him. The youngster rested a hand on the old Immortal's sweat-damp flank and breathed, "Oh man, Methos. I am so turned on I can hardly walk." There was a catch in his voice. Methos reached a vague hand toward his jeaned crotch. Richie caught his fingers, laughing breathily. "I think that belongs to Mac. But if he's ever dumb enough to cut you loose, give me a call." Impulsively, he leaned down and laid one wet, gentle, somewhat puppylike kiss on the bruised Immortal mouth. MacLeod felt Methos start in his arms and return many degrees closer to his normal alertness. Richie whispered something in his ear, and got up, with a deep breath, and walked, slightly bent, to the office. He retrieved his coat and sword, and headed, still moving slowly, for the glass-windowed dojo doors. "I'll lock it, Mac," drifted back to them, and he was gone.

Methos saw a bright film in Duncan's eyes. "Sometimes you scare me, MacLeod." The bright eyes turned to him. "Under that hill-country yearling act there's something frighteningly close to being smarter than I am."

Duncan murmurred tenderly, "What are you babbling about," and tried to kiss him. Succeeded. Methos was undistracted.

"I never could understand what you saw in that surly child. But you were right. He has a generous heart."

"That's one name for it."

Methos felt a laugh inside, but only lay and smiled. He felt in charity with all the world, and open to its wonder. "How did you ever get him to agree to it?"

"He wasn't supposed to stay past the beginning. But you were being too compliant. I didn't think it was going to work. You'd said you needed a fight.

"And then you blew up at the idea of him being there -- so it seemed the only way. I told him to stay." Methos remembered the deep balk that had taken him when he realized Duncan intended to do him in front of the help.

"And -- oh my god. All those other people. Will I ever be able to show my face again?" he asked, unworriedly.

"I told them we were playing a joke on Richie. And all they saw was a fight. Everything R-rated was done out of sight, if you remember." He remembered. He got a hard-on.

"But Richie?"

"I told him I needed his help," Duncan said simply. "I told him not to interfere no matter what he saw. I told him I love you more than my life, and this was what you wanted."

"But why have him here to start with?"

"I wasn't sure I could take you. I needed someone there to hold you down if it came to it."

"No. You wouldn't have." His cock tightened.

"I would."


"Aye." His voice roughened with tenderness. "I felt as if it were your wedding night. I wanted it to be perfect for you. I wanted to see you come, dear love."

Methos's body gave a slow, uncontrollable undulation as he drew Mac down; his breath reflected warm off his lover's cheek as his voice sank low:

"Want to see it again?"

"I forgot to tell you," Methos mentioned several hours later, "that once I have come, sometimes I can go more than once before it wears off."

Duncan lay like a rag, unfocussed eyes not seeing the dojo ceiling. "Aye." One hand lifted feebly, then fell back. "You did forget to tell me that detail."

"It's freezing in here."


Neither of them moved.

"I never thought you'd actually try to do it. You never said anything more about it."

"I wanted to surprise you."

Methos laughed, and flinched. "Oh, ow. Inanna. I think you broke a rib collapsing on me."

"Aren't you healing?"

"I'm too cold to heal." The heater automatically shut itself off at ten, and at the time, neither of them had been at leisure to worry about it.

With a groan, Duncan rolled to his feet and pulled his dear love up with him. He spanked a naked round buttock lightly toward the elevator. "You go on and get in the shower and get warm. I'll clean up." Too tired to argue, Methos limped off with one hand on his ribs, and the elevator took him away.

MacLeod picked up their clothes, the jump-ropes and the weights, and ran a quick sponge over the mat that had taken the brunt of their excesses. He looked also at the exercise horse, the punching bag, the tall rack that held the wooden fighting staves, and the bench press apparatus. Nothing untoward showed...and if it did, most likely nobody would notice. He double-checked the street and alley locks, got their swords, put out the lights and rode up after his lover.

Methos had fallen asleep in an armchair, waiting for him. He looked like a strong young angel worn out in the fight for Good. The long cotton bathrobe he'd borrowed had fallen open, baring the inner side of one thigh.

MacLeod, tired and worn too, parked the swords and clothes, and went and knelt and laid his head down on that cool sweet thigh. He could go to sleep right here. Sighing, he made his eyes open. From this angle, more was revealed by the open bathrobe, and near at hand. He reached with his tongue and licked the relaxed scrotum. He liked the taste and feel, clean from the shower, soft, without much hair in the way, textured with a heavy globe in the bottom, that he could sway but not lift from this angle. He felt Methos's hand laid on his head, petting down to his neck, and again. He heard the beloved drowsy voice.

"Are you going to torture me some more, Highlander?"

"Yes, it's called the Scottish Tongue Torture."

"I'll bet no one's ever been known to hold out against it."

"Nay, poor lad."

"Till now. I'm just too tired, my love."

"That's all right. I'll just lie here and have my midnight snack."

"Oh god." And Duncan felt Methos start to erect despite his exhaustion. This might not have been a good idea. But he liked so much the sensation of just licking, tasting, the tightening area, from his vantage point at the left pushing his tongue under the whole width of the scrotum at its root, edging down till he could hold both balls on his tongue, back up -- Methos gasped in and moaned, boneless in the chair but for the one engorged Bone that pulled up the testes tight to it, and as Duncan first glided his tongue over and onto its arched undersurface, laving and tasting, it twitched, jerked, and spurted a bare erupting dribble MacLeod tasted with surprise, and spread around over the convulsing cock as his broad tongue, still from the side, arched up and down it. He finally touched at the tip delicately, but enough to send Methos's shuddering body arching forward, both hands now in MacLeod's hair, and lurching up onto one hip, forcefully into MacLeod's amazed but more than willing mouth. He felt the still-twitching cock and final spill of cum in his mouth and tried sucking gently. Methos cried out, surged, thrust into MacLeod's throat unstoppably, gag reflex useless against his strength. Trapped between the armchair and the iron-muscled loins, MacLeod's breathing was cut off. But he barely had time to realize that he would rather let himself die than spoil Methos's orgasm, when his lover sank back, his cock pulling free and softening, and sliding out of his mouth.

Gasping a little, he slid his free arm around Methos, feeling him through the bathrobe and feeling a slight interest awake in his own dick. He discouraged it, knowing it was just too much. He sat up so he could lean in deep between Methos's knees and put his hands on either side of Methos's face and kiss him. Methos kissed back so sweetly and tentatively that he felt it direct to his heart. And his cock was definitely interested. How had this man got such a hold on both parts of his body?

He smiled, in his own world of bliss. He finally noticed the peculiar look, like someone stricken dumb, on Methos's face. "What?" he said. When Methos didn't answer, he straightened. He took Methos's hands in his. "What?"

"I --" Methos stuck there. MacLeod smiled encouragingly. "MacLeod, I -- I came. I came, MacLeod."

"I know, love. I was there." He kissed Methos's hands. "You said you could come more than once if you got started.... Wasn't that --?"

"With some -- duress. You saw. Not from just a warm tongue. At least never before." He looked almost scared.

Duncan understood. He put his lips again on the strong hands that were now gripping his. "We're not making it a contest. If it happens, it happens. If not -- I'm Duncan MacLeod of the Papal Inquisition, at your service."

Methos said quietly, "Don't."

MacLeod questioned with his eyes.

"Don't compare yourself to -- the others."

Duncan kissed his hands again. "Let's go to bed."

Methos sat forward from his sprawled position with some of his old unconscious air of autocratic command. "First tell me what happened with Cassandra." Then the long fingers tightened gently on duncan's and embarrassment came into his face. "I mean if --"

Duncan stood up, and drew Methos to his feet, leading him over to the couch. He had spent enough time on floors tonight, his knees had just decided. He sat Methos into his favorite cushions, put a warm throw over him, shrugged into his other robe, the silk one, fetched them both whiskies, and settled down close enough to insinuate his arm behind Methos's waist. Heaven.

"When I got there I was still -- afraid. I didn't know why she had come, knowing you were in Seacouver. But when I saw her..." He had remembered their bond. She had looked at him up and down, as if to assure herself he was all there, and then seemed to drop some of the first nervous tension with which she had opened the door to him. The address she had given him was an apartment rather than a hotel, which he found disturbing. She meant to stay...? He wondered what her dark eyes could see, and what was hidden from her. Were there symbols of love on him? But she seemed to notice nothing out of the ordinary. He saw that she herself was more reserved toward him. She was wearing a long dark dress with dark silk brooched across her shoulders, and looked as witchy as he had ever seen her.

"Are you here for Methos?" he asked abruptly.

She glanced at him. "No. Not in the way you mean." She looked out of the window, over a nightscape of Seacouver lights. Her voice turned more intense, raw. "How can you trust him?"

How much should she be told? It was always a question among Immortals, what piece of information might turn a balance, lead to a hunt, betray a weakness. Normally Duncan rode his own instincts. He trusted Cassandra with his life. But with Methos's?

"I love him, Cassandra."

At his voice more than his words she turned to him, her face filling with horror.

"No, Duncan!"

He stepped back at the force of her cry. Clearly she knew what he meant, no confusion over the possible platonic sense of "love".

"Cassandra --"

"You can't! You can't let him do this! Not you!"

"He's not "doing" anything. I love him. He loves me." Of course it wasn't that simple. It never was. But he would not betray Methos's secrets to her. Though he wondered if she already knew. How long, exactly, had she been a captive of the Horsemen? "Cassandra, destroy him and you destroy me."

She had turned from him with a look of such bitterness and shock that he had not known what else to say. He went to her and put his hands on her arms. He could understand some of her feelings, he thought. He knew he had always been of deep significance to her personally, and as a representative of Good; now to have him mated with her life's epitome of Evil, the cause of so much personal grief and hatred.... He and the sorrowful witch of the woods had never been truly lovers, they both knew that, though they had comforted one another in making love. She had always been a figure of his boyhood awe, and he, a symbol of some greater purpose to her. She would not, he was sure, be suffering jealousy for him. But his turning to Methos as even more than a friend must seem an inconceivable end to her dreams of the triumph of right and justice, an irony of more than usually exquisite torture. Her champion, brought down without striking a blow.

MacLeod returned to the present, to find Methos watching quietly. "We talked," he said. "I told her that the double Quickening had affected me in ways I didn't understand. I asked her to help me find out what had happened to me. She took me back into the Quickening. Through Kronos, into you. Just like when it really happened, I saw you... from the inside. Only this time I understood what you felt when you saw me take the lightning. When it happened, what I felt from you was only a jumble of emotion, triumph, exultation even, that I thought was just the Quickening hitting you, maybe joy that we had prevailed. But with Cassandra guiding me everything was lucid, I could understand the content of the feelings, and the context. The exultation, that your planning had brought me -- not Kronos, but me -- to do exactly as you wanted. The soaring hope. A kind of animal celebration, like something running in circles for joy. A huge sense of possession... as if you'd finally trapped something you'd been trailing, stalking, luring for millennia...

"I saw it all through your eyes, your mind...."

Methos said quietly, "That must have been frightening."

The Highlander didn't pretend not to understand. "I think it was the most terrifying thing I've ever experienced. I don't know how you survive it. Your memory... it's like being on the top of a huge glass pinnacle, looking into a canyon that sinks down forever. And..."

"Yes," Methos said with finality. " "And"." Even he, with his high threshold for shame and humiliation, did not want to hear what the rest of his consciousness looked like to the Highlander's purity. "Did she show you -- the nature of the link between us?"

MacLeod looked puzzled. "We... travelled it. To get to you. The subjective time was so short, even with Cassandra leading me to the things to focus on, to magnify, it still went so fast. A lot of what she does is a matter of intent focusing, it seems. We were so concentrated on you I don't think we noticed much else. I could ask her."

Methos shrugged it away as if it were of small concern. Keep this to one issue.

Mac studied him curiously. "I wondered how you could know Kronos's Quickening would have that effect on me."

Methos almost writhed with shame. MacLeod stroked his back and made little sounds with his tongue. "You don't have to talk about it if --" Methos put a hand on his arm, visibly steadying himself.

With a deep breath he began, "That's what's so terrible about what I did, Duncan. I didn't know what it would do to you. Anything could have happened. I exposed you to untold danger."

"But you had an idea what it would do."

"Yes, I -- There's a legend you've probably heard. Long ago, a young Immortal took a very old Immortal's head. The Quickening went into him, and the young Immortal immediately left all his own life's concerns, rode to a village he had never seen before, to one house among all the others, and found there the old Immortal's wife. He told her her husband had died in battle, and gave her her husband's ring. Then he found he could not leave. He courted and married the woman, and lived with her in complete love and devotion to the end of her life."

"I have heard that story. Something a lot like that happened to Richie, actually. But just on the basis of a legend...?"

Methos turned his whiskey glass in his hands. "Oh, it's a true story, Highlander." The gold-green eyes came up to his. "Even I was a young Immortal once."

Duncan caught his breath. Once more he felt the thrill of discovery at another facet among the unknown vastness of his lover, unveiled before him.

Methos saw the love in his eyes and looked down. "I knew it was wrong. But... Kronos was so old... and obsessed... and... once I'd thought of it -- of you... touching me... I -- I had lost you -- I didn't know if I would ever get you back... and then suddenly the possibility that... you would want me --" He couldn't go on.

"Methos," Duncan said, "I would have killed him anyway."

"I could have done it."

"Could you?"

He said sharply, "I should have."

"And died, or alerted Kronos to the strength of your intention? Once you knew about the virus, there was so infinitely much more at stake than my libido."

Not to me.

"And don't pretend you didn't know that." Duncan cut him off in mid-thought. "I saw other things in your mind. My god, there was so much... It was impossible to even recognize most of it. But one thing I saw was your... vision, of a despairing future, so thrown into chaos by the destruction, that Kronos again could rule it all, or whatever part of it he happened to be in. The emptiness, the waste, the loss, the barbarity. I saw how that looked to you. You could not risk a single false move."

"How noble of me. So you weren't even angry."

"I was," Duncan said readily. "It pissed me off that you'd do such a thing to me, without asking. But at the same time... I was so touched. That you wanted me that much. You risked your life, you let Kronos --" He stopped. His lips were compressing and his eyes were going stormy. Methos looked, fascinated. "I wish I had him back," MacLeod grated.

Hastily Methos redirected. "So you were mad at me."

"Not very." MacLeod's hackles settled. "But when I knew that was what had been scaring you so much, it came to me I could use it. But I didn't think I could make it intense enough. I told Cassandra I was having trouble staying with the anger. She was only too glad to help me focus.

"She hates you, love. You saved her life twice. I don't think it even made a dent. She said I should get away from you while I still could, that you would try to create a perfect sexual partner for yourself. What did she mean by that? I asked her, and she said to ask you."

Methos looked back at him, numbly. His body was so opened to this man, and through it his emotions. Everything MacLeod said to him had the character of touch, this time like the wrenching caress of penetration. He sat dumb, stricken with memories of Cassandra, under him, inner flesh soft, hot and wet around his own heat, the muscles throughout her body fighting him, delighting his dark love of combat, firing his boiling cum into her out of the complete abandonment of his body to the struggle, of his mind to the hot stabbings into her driven by her very resistance. Duncan's eyes were on him, recognizing the signs of a surge of Immortal memory, but waiting for an answer.

"Regrets", he had called them. A tame name for the nodes of shame in his past, unbearable some of them as a physical agony. And this one.... He could not, not even for Duncan, admit what he had done. He only subliminally, looking away quickly, admitted it to himself. Not the worst of innumerable harms he had inflicted, but the first to come back to him personally, to make him see and feel the results of his selfishness, and haunt him with a razor-edged sorrow. No one had known it. Not even Cassandra.

Could she have guessed? Or dissolved the secret somehow with her magic? The thought made his blood run cold. He had not told her, all those millennia ago, at first because it didn't matter, but soon, surprisingly soon, because he would not have her know. He had been still easily monster enough to indulge in the spoils of safe deceit --

-- And that hadn't changed much, had it?

He was on his feet involuntarily. Oh god it was the same, it was exactly the same. How had he not seen it before? What he had done to Duncan --

He shuddered in self-loathing.

"Methos." Duncan's arms were around him. He broke free blindly, stumbling to the other end of the loft, needing to put as much distance between them as he could. He looked back, hand up, palm out.

MacLeod stopped.

Methos stared at him, wide-eyed.

"Oh, Methos." Duncan swallowed. "Look at this." He was trying to keep his voice calm, ordinary, but Methos could hear the tremor under it. "Could -- whatever it is -- be worse than this fear of it?"


"What do you think will happen if you tell me?" He waited. "Do you think I'll abandon you? That I won't love you any more? We've been through that, Methos. I didn't exactly pass with flying colors. I won't make that mistake again."

Methos felt his shoulders unknot. His upheld hand curled into a fist, and his eyes closed.

"Come and sit with me, Methos. If you can't tell me all of it, maybe you can just tell a part of it. Or talk about something else. Please don't run away from me."

Methos heard him sit back down on the couch. He looked. It was just MacLeod. MacLeod with his most grown-up and reassuring expression on.

Trying not to scare me.

Trying to learn how to deal with me when I get... ancient on him.

He dropped his arm to his side.

He said, "Cassandra..."

He stepped toward the couch, but could not make himself quite go over and sit down on it... so close....

He said, "Cassandra died a virgin."

He saw shock slowly fill the Highlander's face, followed by uncertainty. "That's -- Methos - - that can't be true. I mean, I've slept with Cassandra."

"I doubt it." Methos sighed at Duncan's expression. "MacLeod, you remember what she wants you to remember. Please believe that I know what I'm talking about." Duncan was struck dumb, absorbing the idea that his memories of Cassandra could be false ones.

"The stories you've heard are true. It never stops healing. No matter how many men she has, she will be physically "virgin" till someone kills her."

MacLeod looked more and more unhappy. After a moment he said, "And you used that?"

Methos closed his eyes. "Yes." The memories shocked through him one after another, the pain of his self-hatred warring with older, more primal feelings, the tactile images all but sending him to his knees. He could not tell the Highlander, he would not. "I shouldn't have told you this. It should have been hers to decide..." He couldn't tell MacLeod the true horror, the thing that made him try to shudder away from his own soul. The thing that had not changed despite everything he had been and tried to be, over three millennia of love and strife, knowledge and culture.

He was still an animal.

He didn't really have to tell him, though, did he? MacLeod had first-hand experience.

"Oh Methos." MacLeod breathed it almost in his ear. He had come close, his face a mirror of the pain and sadness he was seeing. "Stop. It's over. It was over a long time ago."

"Not for her it isn't. It will never be over." And not for you.

The Highlander touched him, enfolded him. "I love you so dearly, Methos. I want so much to stop this pain."

The words comforted even as they seared along the open wounds. MacLeod forgave him.

"Methos, do you understand what a gift you've given to me? You consider it a violation, but it's also the greatest privilege. To be given the ability to make you truly my lover... to give you ecstasy... If I had missed that one chance, I would have regretted it more than I could ever say. I know that it would never have come again. And if you had explained it to me, I would have refused. I didn't even know then that I loved you. It would have seemed... I wouldn't have wanted to become someone who could hurt you. Do you understand?" Methos nodded against his shoulder. "And then I would have missed... all this." He held Methos tighter; in the prison of his arms Methos felt the lacerating memories begin to release their grip, like whiplashes falling from where they had curled around his body. He burrowed closer into the Highlander's great warmth.

"Oh Methos." MacLeod held him, wanting to surround and protect him, fend away the past's pain and the future's dangers. He felt it as Methos sighed deeply, relaxing against his shoulder.

Then suddenly Methos raised his head.

"You never told me what Cassandra wanted."

MacLeod stroked Methos's silk-soft hair.

"What did she call you for?"

He had hoped to put this off till tomorrow.

"She wants a meeting. With you. Alone."

The Oldest looked stunned for a moment. Then he pulled free, hands raised.

"Ohhh no. Absolutely not."

"A truce, Methos. She says she only wants to talk --"

"No. No." There was complete finality in his voice.

"I told her only if I could vet the place, and her." And you, he thought, but did not say aloud. "No blades. A place of my choosing, where I can control what comes in. Methos, I think it's a chance to settle it between you, stop her hunting you. She knows you, who you are. I don't think it's occurred to her yet what would happen if she let it be known you exist, where you live... what hell she could make of your life.... Or how soon someone might manage to end it. You have to try. Just talk to her."

He was following in his lover's angrily nervous trek around the loft, and caught him. The muscles now were hard, resistant.

"Please, Methos." He kissed along the neck. "Please."

"I can't." His voice was despairing. MacLeod knew he had won.

"You can. I told her -- some of what you had told me. What you had been through. What I knew of you as a friend."

Methos looked stung.

"Not everything. Just -- history. I had to tell her. She knew no more about you than just what she saw in the Bronze Age; no one has ever known much, only the myth of an oldest Immortal, that most people don't even realize is a true story. You need to stop this enmity. For your sake. And for hers."

Methos's look went distant, and miserable.

"You've done what you could about the past, stopping the Horsemen from trying to stage a comeback. This is the only other piece of it you can do anything to change. Cassandra is the only chance you'll ever have for any amends."

Methos's voice held hopeless agony. "What can I possibly do?"

"I don't know. Why don't you let her tell you that?"

He stood, eyes down, for a long time. MacLeod asked softly, "Will you meet with her?"

After a very long wait, Methos said, "All right."

MacLeod touched his face. "Good."

"God MacLeod." He covered his eyes tiredly. "Is there anything you can't make me do?"

MacLeod kissed him, and held him. After a few moments MacLeod slipped the cotton robe back off Methos's shoulders and let it fall to the floor. He said, "Go to bed." Methos's arms came around his waist, possessively. "Go on. I need a shower." Methos didn't move, and after a moment Duncan looked down, smiled, and simply picked him up and carried him.

Methos came awake with a splutter, but Duncan slid him into the sheets and it felt so good he moaned and closed his eyes again. He was asleep in seconds. Duncan looked down at him and considered just crawling in beside him. But he really was uncomfortably sticky. He dragged himself to the shower and just let it pour over him, hardly having the strength for soaping. He felt infinitely better when he got out but no more awake, and plodded naked straight to the bed and rolled under the covers. It had been a long time, very long, since he had felt so drained by a night of sex. This sadistic torture business really took it out of you.

Against the red of the east window he stood looking out, very still, silhouetted with his black hair to his shoulders, his long black battle-dress to his knees. There was a sense of sadness, not something the figure itself felt, but something that surrounded him, the very fact of his existence, his place in the world. But then he turned, brightly lit, his ice-colored eyes fastened with a dangerous near-jauntiness on MacLeod.

"You've taken my lover, Highlander. Did you like him?"

MacLeod said nothing.

Kronos shrugged away. "Of course," he said carelessly over his shoulder, "you know who it is who really had him. You know that wasn't you."

Duncan said quietly, "It was me. No one else."

The Horseman turned back to him with a focussed lethality. But after a moment he looked over to the couch, where Methos sat reading. He looked at him for a long time.

"Ironic, isn't it. That I should raise an aesthete. You should have seen him when I found him, MacLeod. Naked, filthy, hair matted -- it had to all be cut off, and when it grew back I used to comb it for him. He would tremble the whole time, under my hand, like a terrified colt. He doesn't like it long now, because he knows it makes him look like a child. Attracts the wrong sort of interest.

"He needs a strong hand. You'll feel him -- balking; thinking of running. All sorts of bad tricks, but a sweet ride if you remind him who's master."

"He's a man, Kronos. He needs no one's hand."

"Oh? Is that what you found? I don't know where I got the impression you used a whip and ropes."

There was no point in bandying words with a dream. When he made no answer Kronos spread his arms.

"You are a playground for me, MacLeod! No longer so virginal? Starting to understand? To know what it's like to love inflicting pain? What was it you said about our friend there? The thing you couldn't forgive, and couldn't forget, that you thought of day in day out ever since and just couldn't seem to get off your mind -- "He had pleasure in it." You don't know the half of it Highlander. You never saw him on a raid. But you're getting a feel for it, aren't you? Maybe it's even ringing a little bell. A little sense of deja vu?

"Oh you should see yourself in battle, MacLeod! The smile on your mouth -- the light in your eyes! You love it! You love it, and you know as well as I do how much you have to love it to be as good at it as you are! You love seeing them start to crack, you mock them, joke about their death to them, and then you kill them, in the most aesthetic stroke of all, and then -- oh-ho-ho, then. What happens then MacLeod?" Kronos was near. His voice seemed to physically touch MacLeod.

"The mist rises... The first sense of electricity touches you, like light... Your body fills with it. All that was dark and forgotten illuminates, every hidden internal organ shimmering with life --

"The first tentacle of the lightning takes you, wraps you, and the current starts its run through you, bending you to it, and the extra bolts hitting, jerking you --

"Tell me, MacLeod, tell me -- when you kill --

"The pleasure you have in it --

"Is that -- is that the greatest pleasure you've ever known in life?"

MacLeod found himself retreating from the sheer power. Suddenly Methos was standing, palm raised to Kronos, and spoke commandingly in a language MacLeod did not understand. The figure in black looked at Methos with steady, deadly eyes. He reached behind MacLeod's neck and, still looking at Methos, wound his hand in the long hair, pulled him forward, and kissed MacLeod on the mouth. MacLeod felt a hand on his stirring genitals, a tongue flattening against his lips, and succumbed, drowning in eroticism. There was a sense of a flash, and the word "Begone!" like a clap of sound -- and MacLeod woke jerking back, as from a fall, or fire. He sat up and whipped his eyes around the loft.

It was filled with dawn light.

Beside him Methos was moving, speaking -- he looked down. The Oldest was fast asleep, making short, convulsive movements and small sounds. MacLeod lay back down and took him into his arms, whispering, "Methos. I'm here. It's all right." Gradually Methos quieted, then turned and nestled against MacLeod's breast softly, without ever waking. MacLeod held his breath. Oh my god. Oh my god. He even trusts me in his dreams....

He held him a long time, vowing vow upon vow of love and protection, never thinking till much later how amused onlooking gods might be to see his little four centuries fling up bastions in defense of the five thousand years within his arms.

He fell back to sleep and next woke to the sensation of a tongue licking his left nipple. He closed his arms around Methos and slowly rolled on top of him, the Oldest opening his legs to encompass him.

Waking more fully, Duncan raised some of his weight up off of Methos, and kissed him. "Good morning."

"Oh, yes," breathed Methos. "Very good."

Smiling into his resumed kiss, Duncan became aware of inch after inch of his lover's body under him, realized they were going to make love, and felt a little shy. "Last night..." he murmurred.

"Last night was the happiest night of my life. I love you."

"It makes it a little hard to know what to do for an encore." He felt a jerking under him and realized Methos was laughing.

"Don't worry. My Highlander. My love." MacLeod shivered at the beautiful, long- fingered hands stroking his back. "I like it your way too, you know. Just lovemaking. Coming isn't everything to me. Far from it. I've had a long time to learn to like -- all the rest of it. And... um... once you've -- established -- dominance --" Just saying the word seemed to leave Methos with little breath. "...it gets easier."

MacLeod met Methos's eyes and gazed into their depths, like looking into the leafy sunlit canopy of a forest reflected in quiet deep pools. So many colors....

"Did I establish some dominance last night?" He felt his own muscles tighten the least bit as he thought of it. Methos felt it too.

"Oh yes. Oh...yes. I would say so."

"I want you to come."

"I know." He pulled Duncan down till their mouths touched in the gentlest of kisses. "I love you." He put the tip of his strong tongue between Mac's lips. MacLeod shuddered. "You're an angel, I love you, I love to see you with your eyes half closed and glazed with passion." His hand had gone down between them, and found what it sought. Duncan breathed in. "Like that...." Duncan's forehead fell to Methos's neck and he breathed out on a little moan. Every breath became a plea as Methos gently stroked up the underside of his lover's soft, then thickening, genitalia. He let the soft sacs rest gently on the warmth of his palm, then drew his open hand up again under the shaft, letting the testicles, first one and then the other, slip off the tips of his fingers. Duncan nestled his erection hard down into Methos's pelvic cradle, and Methos lifted to meet him, breathing on a deep gasp.

Duncan felt embarrassed at his rising lust. He could not possibly, in a little morning fuck....

"Ye don't have to say yes just because I'm a randy chiel."

"I'll lie back and think of England." Methos's thigh slid over Duncan's hip as he arched and presented. His eyes were heavily and darkly lit with something that went almost beyond passion. Duncan tried to pull back but Methos's arms locked like iron around him.

Duncan protested gently. "I'm not ready for ye. I'll hurt ye."

Methos's voice shook deeply. "Shut up. Shut up." His tone sank down and dragged through the lowest gutter of lust. "Fuck me so I know you own me."

The voice wrapped around Duncan's cock and pulled its thick head tight to the portal of Methos's body. Without lubricant it felt as if there were no opening there for him. Suddenly, desperately, he wanted one. Methos shuddered in his arms. MacLeod grabbed a pillow, doubled it, and pushed it under Methos's ass so Methos ended up with hips raised, vulnerable to him. Now he could use his weight. He positioned perfectly, and pressed.

As his tough cock forced the opening he felt Methos shrink from him involuntarily. Instead of damping and slowing him the slight movement away only stoked his focal lust, and he thrust hard in, taking Methos deep. He heard Methos's sharp, cut-off cry, felt him stretch under him with the pain. Instead of the slick glide lubricant had given them, progress was difficult and halting, each entry rough, and only getting a little deeper than the last before it stuck, and the short cries muffled against his biceps and chest were clearly of pain. But he was implacably committed to the fuck, no struggle would keep him from the ecstatic solace buried deep in Methos's body, and the little pathetic sounds from Methos's throat only spurred his broad hip muscles to clench harder, powering in his ruthless incursions. The sobbing cries came into a rhythm with his own shuddering and plunging, he drew a deep gasp and stilled, raising up to fasten his storm-filled eyes on his lover.

He took Methos's face roughly in his hand, making him open his gold eyes. Holding Methos's shaken gaze, not letting him look away, he slowly withdrew most of his penetration, waited, watching what happened in his lover's eyes as he rocked and prepared his thrust, saw Methos's lips open and rammed all the way into him.

The cry was deeper, diaphragmatic. Methos's beautiful long eyelids closed a moment. Duncan kissed him, unable to resist the tender mouth, tongue deep as his cock, and Methos, under his weight, convulsed once. He felt the new cry against his own mouth, stopped it with his tongue. Methos writhed.

Lifting up again MacLeod commanded his lover's gaze as he withdrew, pulled back to the tip of his thickened shaft, this time slowly deepening and renewing his possession as his look forced entry into Methos's soul. There was no sound. When he had sunk to full length he only showed Methos his tongue, and felt a low moan start under his chest, and began his third withdrawal, fast, rough, and slammed back into Methos, pounding his spread hips wider apart, pulled out and slammed him again, and again, throwing all his weight behind it, feeling deep untouched hot silkenness part before his questing length, and stopped, there. Methos's eyes were focussed in another world. MacLeod drew his fingernails in a single line around the column of the long, exposed throat, and Methos looked back at him, shivering, his every secret opened: bleeding, broken, in extremis.

"Do I own you now?"

The dark hard breath of the question struck Methos's face and set him shuddering. MacLeod's mouth and tongue were gentle as the rest of him was not, invading him, till Methos sobbed around the impeding flesh, "Yes --" MacLeod found and pinned his wrists to the bed, his tongue and cock deep, working. "Yes!" And MacLeod claimed his ownership as Methos, under him, felt sweetest fire take him, thrashed, crying out as Duncan rode him hard -- and came, like all the angels of the Apocalypse, descending in flame on the end of the universe.

The guilt hit him as Methos tried not to show the pain that tightened his whole body under MacLeod, as Mac withdrew his expended cock from him; then the inward-focussed silence and tension until the healing finally came to help him. As Methos breathed out slowly, at last, Duncan felt wretchedly that any attempt to touch or comfort would be, to say the least, hypocrisy. It came to him too late he should have simply carried on the domination into this after-stage -- though would using his dominance to eroticize Methos's pain only have started them off again? Besides, making it easier wasn't the point. The point was that it had happened at all.

Methos had made him do it, came a treacherous little excuse. He hadn't wanted to.

Oh, very convincing.

When Methos finally opened his eyes and looked at him, he averted his own eyes.

Methos touched his cheek gently. "I'm sorry, Duncan."

So many different kinds of guilt flamed instantly through Duncan's whole body that he had to sit up quickly, to get distance from its source, and to breathe. He converted it into a move to get out of bed, fetching Methos his robe, from where it had been left on the floor the night before, and laying it across the foot of the bed. Next he could say something about making breakfast. But he couldn't speak.

Methos sat up and caught his hand. He drew him back down onto the bed.

Duncan felt a misery of despair settle into him. How could he ever explain --

"I know, Duncan. I know." Methos held Duncan's hand between both his own. "This is not what you were meant to be. For that, I am so sorry."

Mortally shamed, Duncan kept his eyes down. "Maybe it is. Maybe I just never let myself know that before. Kronos thinks it's exactly what I am."

"Kronos?" Methos looked startled.

"I dreamed of him. It's the second time. The dreams are so real. He said that I like killing -- inflicting pain."

"He is the father of lies, Duncan."

"Well it certainly is true! That I --" He flicked a look at Methos, there naked in his bed, beautiful rising out of the creamy swirl of sheets, hips, waist, arms reaching to hold his hand, perfect chest, shoulders, throat -- when he met that clear green gaze on him he had to look away again. "I liked hurting you."

"I liked having you hurt me. You are doing nothing but what I want you to do."

Duncan was shaking his head. "No. I liked it. I liked it. It's nothing to do with you, Methos, it's coming from inside me."

"It might not be you, Duncan." Methos's voice was quiet, centered, in a way Duncan had rarely heard it. He looked up. "There is something I haven't told you."

Duncan smiled slightly.

Methos smiled back. "I know, not exactly a first.

"You said, just now, "Kronos thinks", as if he were still alive." He hesitated. "The night of the Quickening... You touched me and I felt..." He stopped. "I've never felt anything like it. I felt you, your Presence, but I also felt -- another. A second presence. Kronos. He hadn't -- assimilated. What I mean isn't that he had gone into you and taken you over, like in the Dark Quickening. It was as if he hadn't gone into you at all, as if he was still a separate entity. In you but not of you, I guess you could say. And he --"

Duncan's somberness was not clearing. "And you think it's him, not me, doing this? He claimed that, in the dream. It isn't so, Methos. I am the one who hurts you. I am the one who enjoys it."

"But have you ever enjoyed such a thing before? Ever? In four hundred years?"

Duncan searched his memory more thoroughly than anyone else would have considered necessary, before admitting, grudgingly, "No."

"Something is there, Duncan, I don't know exactly what, or how, but... obviously something is different --"

"You said you felt a second Presence that night. But you don't feel it now, do you? You haven't felt it since?"

"No. But --"

"And I haven't felt it at all." What MacLeod did feel was a stubborn resistance to the idea of Kronos anywhere within or touching him. He felt Methos back off from the topic, inclining his head a little in acquiescence before he reached for the robe Duncan had brought, and, draping it on his shoulders, got up and walked into the bathroom. Duncan noticed again the inclination Methos had to cover himself when not actually making love. At least this time he was reasonably sure it wasn't to conceal any painful evidence of incompletion. How he had failed to notice Methos's raging hard-on that first time -- he'd lost it completely, there at the end, then rolled off Methos somehow before coming to himself again; then focussed on his lover's beautiful face while trying to revive him -- they'd been still half- under the covers, and -- he'd been rather preening himself, he suddenly remembered with a blush, on having caused Methos to lose consciousness from passion twice in one day, until it had occurred to him this one was likely from having the breath squashed out of him. Then Methos had taken care to keep covered --

What was he covering now?

He felt an immediate antagonism arise in him at the thought. How long would Methos keep lying to him?

But Methos had tried to tell him something. And he had cut him off. Because he didn't want to consider that what Kronos had said might be true, could not tolerate the thought of another's hands on his lover, another's body and mind witness to the glory that was Methos in his ecstasy --

Duncan sat very still.

...where had that thought come from?

When Methos came out of the bathroom he saw MacLeod still sitting on the bed. He went to him quickly. "Duncan...?" He sat down facing him, and took his hand.

MacLeod's face was full of unhappiness, but he did not look up. "If it is Kronos... if he is in me..." Methos waited. "Is it him doing this? Or is it me?"

Methos put his arms around Duncan gently. "I don't know, Duncan. I really don't."

"What if he never assimilates and disappears? What if this is permanent? Can you accept that?"

"Me?" Methos sat back, momentarily thrown, then said dryly, "Oh, somehow I'll manage to struggle bravely on." Duncan smiled but unconvincingly, and Methos added, "Forced to have orgasm after earthshaking orgasm, coming till I can't breathe, screaming in ecstasy -- I don't know how I'll endure it, but for you, love, anything."

Duncan's smile was only faint, and he wouldn't meet Methos's eyes for several moments. Then he looked up. His velvet voice was sad.

"And if he does assimilate?"

Too late Methos saw the trap. "Oh Highlander," he said softly. He stroked down MacLeod's arm. "Can you be jealous of a Quickening?" And even more softly, "He's showing you how, Duncan."

MacLeod's eyes blazed. "I don't want anything Kronos could show me! Least of all how to make love to you!"

"I phrased it badly. Listen... I believe that certain aspects of his knowledge and power... are... available to you, and you're using them." He could see by Duncan's glowering down at his own hands that this wasn't helping. "But I don't believe that you have changed, love -- I'm calling this up in you. Maybe because of sharing Quickenings with you, or maybe just because of who I am, who he was. I don't think you'd be using this -- power, if you were making love with anyone else."

"Oh, that's right, it's your fault that I'm brutalizing you. God, listen to yourself, Methos! The ultimate masochism."

Methos's temper flamed like the sun in a spire of ice. He drew back and it was as if cold breath wafted off him. "Don't patronize me, hill-boy!"

It was an unknown voice, a leopard-voice, predatory. Duncan looked into his lover's face and saw a tall and still-eyed stranger there: a prince of the lineage of Death. And knew, with gut immediacy, that for far too many mortals, that voice had been the last sound heard on this earth.

He kept very still.

Then the apparition faded out of the lines of face and body, and it was Methos looking back at him. Shaken, still angry, but Methos. "Don't ever do that again! That wasn't fair and you know it!" He was more upset with every word.

"I know. I'm sorry." Petty ego had been swept aside by the vision vouchsafed to him. At last, at last he understood -- the appalling temptation Methos had defeated, and defeated daily still, this royal antithesis to powerlessness, to fear. To degradation.

He knew he had betrayed Methos by trying, even for an instant, to reduce Methos's role in their profoundly emotional sex together to cheap psychopathology. How deep that betrayal stabbed he could know by the result, the rising up of the ultimate Protector. How much he was loved, by the fact that he still lived.

"I trusted you --"

Are you afraid I'll misunderstand?

I know you will.

"Methos, I didn't mean it. I just can't stand the thought of him in me, of him --" His throat locked up.

"Having me?" Methos's composure had completely crumbled. He started to shake. "How do you think I feel?" Kronos in MacLeod. Kronos, touching him, through Duncan's hands --

"Maybe this isn't such a good idea." Methos flung up off the bed. He started erratically searching for something. Finally he came to a stop in the middle of the floor. "Where are my pants?"

"They're over here." But when Methos came near the bed Duncan reached out and captured him softly around one thigh. "I lied."

Methos just stood looking down at him. When Duncan caressed the perfect round soft derriere Methos put his hands on Duncan's shoulders. Duncan kissed his belly, licking it a little. Then he blew gently over the wet streak, making it chill. Methos slowly folded forward until his cheek rested on Duncan's shoulder-blade. Duncan pulled both the thighs toward him till Methos had to shift and kneel on the bed, over his lap.

"You know what I want."

Methos did nothing.

Duncan stroked his thumbs down the turned-up soles of Methos's bare feet. His palms moved up the backs of Methos's calves, then down again, over the heels and on, over the ends of the toes; and back up, keeping up the steady stroking until he felt Methos, as if inadvertently, pressing an erection against his lower ribs. His own cock was standing up where Methos must feel it. His hands moved up the backs of Methos's thighs, and Methos's hands slid down MacLeod's back, his head on Duncan's shoulder, his back convex, then suddenly concave under Duncan's big, carefully supporting hands.

"I'm waiting," he reminded him.

Methos turned his head right, then left. His lips were bitten shut, then gaspy breath left him, the memory of pain too recent. Slowly Duncan picked up the bathrobe belt and caught Methos's wrists behind his back. Tied, he had to depend on leaning toward Duncan for balance. It pushed his hips down slightly. Duncan pulled back and put his arms through Methos's, up to and past the elbows, and got threatening leverage.

"Go on."

Methos's panic breath came faster. Duncan's fingers moved up into the delicate cleft, with both hands he parted Methos to make access to the entry that would be torn and bloodied when Methos obeyed him. But Methos pleaded with his own erection against Duncan.

"Not till you do it."

Methos's thigh muscles flexed, but then straightened again in fear. He begged gently by moving his cheek against Duncan's.

"All right, enough nonsense." With no preliminary Duncan thrust one middle finger against the tight ring of flesh, and through it. He quickly followed with the index. Methos was pasted against him, breathing on a high sob. Before he could move again Duncan forced in the middle and index fingers of the other hand. Allowing no time for reaction, he pulled, stretching the little hole wide.

"Get down on it." But Methos could only writhe up and against him to escape. Immediately Duncan stretched the hole wider with easy strength and felt hot blood slick his fingers. Inexorably he pressed down through Methos's bound arms until, all balance broken, Methos had to relax his thighs and sink down around MacLeod's waiting girth and length, swiftly without any restraint of resistant muscle ring, the internal shock dreadful at the sudden intrusion and displacement. Duncan slid his fingers out and the Immortal began to heal around him, muscle tightening again, stretched, but whole. Methos tremored, any movement painful. Duncan took advantage of his immobility to start easing him backward, one strong arm behind his hips to keep him in place, the other forcing his chest back, until he had to give way and let himself arch back, down over the edge of the bed. Duncan felt the hard limb of his cock forced up against Methos's belly-muscle. He stroked the hard arch from ribs to groin, and felt the outline of himself there. Then his hand found and surrounded Methos's cock.

Methos reared up, long enough to meet Duncan's eyes, but had to sink back again helplessly. He could hardly move while Duncan toyed with his cock delicately, exploring the rim around its tip with his fingers, rolling the length gently between both hands in an upward stroking motion that made him almost crazy, running his fingertips around and around the base, over and along the rims of his sensitive spermaries, around again and then up in a spiraling climb to the top of his need, never stopping, never enough. It was difficult for Methos just to keep breathing, and the one "Please!" he managed had no effect. Duncan was enjoying the textures under his fingertips, the quivering of the tormented organ, its darkened coloring, its length that echoed his awareness of the depth to which he was penetrating Methos. He started using his nails to create rows of tiny white crescents on the wine-red flesh. They disappeared quickly even when he sank his nails more deeply, but he kept experimenting with different patterns. He found himself wanting to hurt. With both hands he dug his fingernails hard in and held them there, feeling the jerk and tremor of the anguished penis, the slight movement in the overstretched groin musculature, and hearing Methos's shallow panting take on little cries. He clenched the fists tighter. The sound from Methos's throat deepened. Keeping the nails sunk deep, Duncan moved his fists up and down. Methos cried aloud and kept on as the pain rippled deep through him, increasing as Duncan's lust for it increased. He had no breath and gasped desperately. Suddenly Duncan released him and the agony that arrowed down his cock to his testes paralyzed him. He could only make short falling cries as the pain rolled on. Then Duncan grasped him tight over the deep-bruised injuries and pumped his flesh. Methos screamed with no sound. All his stretched muscles clenched around Duncan's impalement, and again. Duncan rolled his other palm hard on the tip of the cock as he gripped still harder with his hammering fist and forced Methos's pain. He could feel Methos contract like a death-grip around his own thick flesh, and then with incredible force spurt hot against his palm, again and again. He kept the pressure of his grip tight with hard jerks until he was sure Methos was spent. The exhausted cock at last began to acquiesce in his hand, and he slowly eased, and finally released, his hold, with a last caress of the testicles that brought a last slight spasm of his lover's loins.

But Methos was having to fight fearfully to breathe, after that profligate expense of his oxygen. Carefully Duncan worked his big hands under the heaving waist and slowly lifted. At one point it made the suffocation worse, and he paused there to enjoy the sensations transmitted straight to his buried cock by Methos's internal struggle. Tempting to see how that would feel played out to its violent end. But Methos's head was fallen helplessly back, and he longed to see those wide-open eyes. And Methos hated so to die. He resumed the slow lift till Methos collapsed forward against him, his cooling body molding gratefully to Duncan's broad heat.

Duncan let him tremble and shake for minute after minute as his body recovered. He pulled a soft flannel sheet out of the bedclothes and draped it over him from head to toe, rocking and shushing him.

He was taking longer to heal from his overstimulated shock-like state than he should, probably because of the foreign body still lodged so deeply and firmly in him. But at last the shaking and gasping stopped, the skin warmed, tone returned to his muscles, and he sighed deeply against Duncan's chest.

Duncan gave his shoulders and back a final soft rub through the flannel, then lifted an edge of the sheet and stroked the sole of his foot, to remind him that though he might rest, it was not over. The breath stopped for a moment. Then Methos whispered against MacLeod's lips, "I love you, Duncan."

"It's probably going to hurt more," Duncan said, "because you've already come. You're not excited any more. Are you."

Methos didn't answer. The smell of his cum was still yeasty between them.

"You were afraid to do it even before when you were turned on. You knew how much it was going to hurt you." He was gliding his hands along Methos's thighs, up his hips to his waist, and back. He kissed his way along Methos's jawline to his mouth. He inserted the end of his tongue and withdrew it. Against the open mouth he breathed for a moment. His voice was low. "Are you scared?" His tongue stopped the answer. He pushed Methos's hips back, then forward. "Here, I'll help you." He slid his fingers under.

"No Duncan --"

He lifted, hard. Methos's gasping protest turned to pain as dried blood unstuck and he was jerked up Duncan's flagrantly rampant manhood. "There." Duncan caught Methos's face between his hands. "Shh, shh, shh." He kissed him, with some tongue. "Come on now. Come on. Kiss me, Methos. Give it to me." His lips gently accepted the touch of Methos's tongue. He slid his hands down Methos's arms, to the wrists in back, and pulled the release end of the knot, which felt softly apart. "Touch me."

Methos's arms moved stiffly, shoulders painfully loosening, up over Duncan's forearms and biceps to rest on his shoulders. Again Duncan pushed Methos's hips forward, then back, and kept repeating it, setting up a suggestive slow rhythm. When he felt the first independent arching forward of Methos's own muscles, he set his broad hands on Methos's hips at the waist. "Now down," he said. Methos whimpered against his mouth. He pushed. Methos's arms had crept around his neck. He felt them tighten spasmodically. He could feel the sounds of Methos's pain, moving against belly, chest and face as Methos sought refuge in the arms that were torturing him, pressing himself to Duncan's body as Duncan forced impalement into him. With every thick inch repenetrating came memory, memory of just how deep the completed insertion would feel, how violated his body would be racked by Duncan's hard girth, spasming on the hurt helplessly, unable even to tighten, he was kept at such full stretch. This couldn't work. But having reached the remembered limit, Duncan's organ suddenly thrust up, and Methos felt deep internal pain, as if another barrier had been breached inside him. Duncan too could feel the hot ring at the tip of his penis, and Methos's curl in on himself. Methos's pain had gone to another level, the pain of injury. He remembered this, from so many times when men were cruel and he was so small, agonies he couldn't understand from giant members and gargantuan hands.

Duncan's hands were on his shoulders, holding him down full on the rod of pain. Any movement, anyway, sent deep torment soaking through him. He felt a wail, from far, far down emerging in sound, like something lost finding its way into the light. Duncan moaned to it, pulling him closer, tight against him, and rocking, arousal pushing past control. Sheets of anguish spread through Methos's lower body, the wail breaking on syllables that had meant "no" millennia before Duncan was born.

"Yes," Duncan whispered. "Let me have this." He rocked Methos more. "I want this. Give me this, Methos. Give this to me." On "this" he thrust himself. "This is mine. This in you. Hard in you." His vicious whisper steamed against Methos's ear, as he held him so tightly he could not move. "So what are you going to do to make me come? Don't you want to get it over with? Or are you scared of that too? Are you imagining what it's going to feel like when I start ramming this in harder, and harder, and deeper and rougher, till I shove right to your heart and come?

"'Cause it hurts, doesn't it? If I just push you like this, back and forth, it hurts so bad. So what are you going to do, huh? Lift up? I think that's what you're going to have to do Methos. 'Cause otherwise you can't move at all, and if you can't move, that means I have to do it myself, and I like it this deep. I think I could just roll over onto you on the edge of the bed here, with your legs up maybe I could even get in a couple more inches, what do you think? I'll count to five, and if you're not riding up and down on my cock by then, I'll do it my way. But first give me a kiss. No no no no no, don't turn your head away, come on now. That's right. Open. Open. Unclench your teeth. Yes you can. Okay. Mmm. Mmm.

"Oh yeah. That's what I want. I want my tongue in your mouth. And I want you kissing me back, I want you kissing me very, very lovingly, while you fuck yourself on my dick. Don't be afraid to ride up off me. I can always open you again. I'm going to slap your ass five times, and if you're not sliding on me by then, or if you stop kissing, I'm going to throw you on your back and fuck right into that pain. Okay, open it. Yeah..."

Duncan's importunate tongue filled Methos's mouth, even as he swatted Methos's tensed butt. A cry was choked by Duncan's tongue. The second smack landed immediately, and the third was swift to follow. Despairingly, Methos gathered his thigh muscles under him and rose, pulling Duncan's cock-head back through the internal narrowing in a heavy pang of agony. He cried out in Duncan's mouth. Another smack landed and Methos reopened his lips. He touched the big soft tongue timidly with his own, and pressed gently with his lips. At Duncan's urging hands he forced himself down again, with a moan, then up, obedient to Duncan's slightest signals, and kept the rhythm when the hands let go. Blood slicking the punishingly thick organ made the slide easier even as the pain of little slits and cuts increased. As his tongue ventured slightly into Duncan's mouth, he felt Duncan's hand take hold of his sensitive, erected cock and squeeze it like a milkmaid. A guttural cry broke from him. He thrust forward, breaking the rhythm, and felt Duncan laugh into his mouth. Duncan's hands went back to his hips and set him a faster pace, and his cock was enveloped again and milked in the new rhythm. Methos invaded Duncan's mouth. He felt it when Duncan's breathing went harsh and out of control, his body thrust and tensed uncontrollably, and his hand abandoned Methos's sex. He clasped Methos, surged up and threw him onto his back on the bed, rutting with animal cries. Methos came instantly from the huge overthrow and weight on him, throwing his strained legs around the shaking, shuddering, thrusting Highlander, who raised up, jerking and stretching as if in the throes of a Quickening. Methos felt the long hot spill within him, echoing his own cock's ecstasy, and moaned aloud in love and anguish, struggling hard, throwing the Highlander into last spasms of hot fulfillment. His great arms went around Methos and cradled him, as final lingering shudders of felicity shook through him, into Methos, and back.

They lay clasped together, breathing hard onto one another's bodies; Methos clutching tight as Duncan pulled out of him painfully; pressing to him as the little lightnings of the healing began.

Softly he kissed Duncan's lips. Overwhelming gratitude filled him, that he did not know how to express, except by clinging. But when Duncan kissed him in return, he sensed the same emotion overflowing the Highlander. Blind, newborn, they continued to lie entwined, until gradually sleep came, and relaxed their hold.

Methos was dying of starvation, and just out of his reach a sumptuous banquet was spread, with luscious carved fruits all the colors of the rainbow, meat and bread and new and ancient cooked grains, sauces, sparkling drinks --

It was one of his least favorite recurring dreams, the more so as when he woke, it too often turned out to be true -- the starvation part, at least.

If he reached for the food, some horrific punishment would befall him. He crouched curled in on himself, dying....

Something with dark and light feathers put its wings lovingly around him... touched his lips...


He woke folded in Duncan's arms, Duncan's kiss on his mouth... starving.

Something wet and sweet pushed between his lips -- a bite of heartbreakingly ripe cool honeydew melon. Methos moaned. Next was a bite of casaba, then pear, a succulent strawberry bleeding its own red sugar, ripe fig --

He opened his eyes at last, to see MacLeod laughing at the sounds and movements he made.

"How did you know?" he asked, halfway to orgasm with gluttony.

Duncan pushed a smiling segment of sweet tangerine into his lips. "Because that's how I felt half an hour ago. It's eighteen hours and a lot of expended calories since dinner yesterday."

Methos closed his eyelids over sudden stinging. How long had it been since someone had taken care of him...? Though he seemed to demand it when he walked in and usurped whatever he found, in truth he wasn't good at accepting care. He so took for granted that anything he had he got through his own jealous self-preservation, even selfishness.... He so fundamentally assumed that nothing would be given him....

The hand that wasn't feeding him lay flat on his chest, and happened to move, then, finger by finger, across his right nipple. He drew breath.

The feelings of food and sex and hunger together cause a great sadness to rise up in him.

Duncan, looking at his face, could only see the small change in the line of his mouth, the slowing of his breath, but he could feel a hurt, and sensed that it went deep. Deeper than he knew how to comfort.

Methos was looking down himself, the long aloneness that seemed to have been impenetrable, him nothing but a hollow shield. He had given himself in love; many times; but always with the knowledge of his own great strength, that would be there when love was taken away, unbreakable, empty. Nothing could change that. Never had he let himself love another Immortal, since the days of Kronos. Now... he had killed Kronos.

And Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod, only four hundred years old, wanted him.

Had him.

The cover of recent memory and present senses slid back over the deep, dry, hidden well.

He turned his cheek in against Duncan's arm for a moment, then opened his eyes and said briskly, "That would be bacon and eggs I smell. Where are mine?"

Duncan's dark eyes smiled deeply. "Awaiting your royal command."

Methos's gaze moved into the distance. "You may bring them."

MacLeod dived under his armpit, goosing simultaneously beneath his hindquarters, and had him out of the bed in three seconds flat, considerably ruffling his dignity in the process. Methos whisked into the bathroom, dripping imprecations in his wake, but between his hunger and his pride there never had been any real contest; and then, MacLeod cut and buttered his toast for him, to go with a beautifully folded omelette, strong coffee, unlimited bacon, more cut fruit, hand fed.... Methos's teeth closed gently on the tips of MacLeod's fingers. He reached into Duncan's hair, stroked across the back of his neck, and pulled him forward to a kiss that forged deep into the realm of foreplay before it ended.

"Perhaps I'll feed you more often," Duncan murmurred.

"You might find it worth your while," Methos said in his ear, fingers seducing Duncan's buttons out of their buttonholes.

"I think we did this part already."

"No, not this part." He was half in MacLeod's lap.

"I have to arrange the meeting with Cassandra."

Methos's singlemindedness faltered. Duncan looked up at him from under his hair. "It will be all right, Methos." He laid his hand on Methos's thigh.

Methos moved it to his crotch, over his erection. "Morituri te salutant," he said gloomily, and Duncan laughed, and kept on laughing, though there was nothing of humor in Methos's voice. He pulled him close.

"Nemo me impune lacessit." He gnawed Methos's earlobe meaningfully. Then he tried breathing, "I love you." But Methos had been stricken with reality, and the starch was going out of him. Duncan stroked his hair. "I wish I could do this for you, but I canna."

"You use that accent to bend your lovers to your will," Methos said bitterly.

"Ye canna resist mah Scots?" Duncan smiled, tilting his head to look into Methos's face.

"No woman born could, as you've had four hundred years to learn. You assume it will work on me."

"An' does ut?" Methos sighed pointedly and Duncan decided he wasn't getting any at present. He could be philosophical about it, considering. "You don't have any native accent, do you? You adapt completely."

"Want to live to be five thousand years old? Talk like the locals."

"How many languages have you learned? And you can read in all of them?"

"Not all of them had writing. Even recently.... Now so many of them are dying or dead. This century has been a linguistic slaughtering ground. Imagine all the treasures of an entire language ceasing to exist -- and multiply it by hundreds."

"I know. My grandparents still knew some Gaelic, but my parents mostly spoke English." He smiled. "Except a few choice words."

"God I used to hate learning a new language. You have no idea how pissed off I was when Akkadian died out. Just as I'd finally learned to speak well."

"But now you love learning them?"

"Well when you know all the roots. Eventually they all just come to seem like dialects of the same giant language."

"Yeah, I felt that, with the Romance and Germanic lines. I know what you mean."

"You've been busy. I coasted the first fifteen hundred years. But then you were expected to be Chief of the Clan MacLeod and I was expected to be a garbage-haulers' whore."

Duncan drew back with a slight startled laugh. "Chief of the Clan MacLeod? Where did you get that idea?"

Methos raised his eyebrows.

"My father was Chief -- of three hamlets and a couple of mountains of sheep pasture. The Chiefs of the Clan MacLeod of Skye and Harris have lived in Dunvegan Castle for seven hundred years, and I doubt they'd be flattered by the comparison."

"My mistake," Methos said drily. "I'll have to make a note in the Chronicles. Here I thought I was hobnobbing with nobility."

"Hobnobbing. That the Akkadian word for it?" Methos did not dignify this with a reply. "You have no accent, you listen to rock and roll, and you collect contemporary art."

"While you sound like a bonnie Hielan' laddie when you forget not to, and surround yourself with antiques." He had pushed away from the table, leaned far back and managed to achieve a creditable sprawl on the unpromising armature of the upright wooden dining chair. Duncan followed the lines of his thighs, waist and shoulders with devout eyes. Methos had donned jeans and one of MacLeod's big pullovers, and he looked... too good to be true.

"I thought of something else you said that wasn't the truth, when you told me about yourself." Methos's forest eyes looked at him. "You said you weren't beautiful. You are more beautiful than the new moon and the stars on the last colors of the evening. You're a work of such beauty that I canna believe you are real." Methos made no move to hide himself from MacLeod's gaze by hauling in the mainsheets of his sprawl under full sail. He suddenly knew how he had survived the chill and murk of Seacouver for so long, with the warmth and light of MacLeod's eyes feeding his sunstarved body. He wanted to lie open and bake in it. He slowly smiled.

MacLeod stood up. "But you've heard that before." He didn't move closer, just looked. Methos lowered his eyes in acknowledgment, and looked up again, and MacLeod suddenly wondered, for the thousandth time, what it could be like to have so many memories, so many experiences; and -- so many lovers... others had found him beautiful; enemies... not every admirer had been kind; homes... till nowhere -- or perhaps everywhere? -- felt like home... So many words, touches, kisses, looks -- what could any one person still mean, to five thousand years of love?

Methos sat forward. "Come here Duncan."

His voice was very quiet, but Duncan stepped forward and knelt without thinking. Methos looked into his eyes.

"You mean everything to me."

After a silence, Duncan whispered, "How did you know what I was thinking?" Methos looked back without answering. Duncan persisted, "You're not "just a guy". Are you."

Methos turned his face away and looked into a far distance. At last he said, "What I am... doesn't exist. I'm the only one. I can't know what I am, because I have nothing to compare myself to. The Horsemen... were three of the last who even came close." He looked back to MacLeod. "I can't read your mind. I can read your face." He smiled faintly. "But that's not very hard."

Duncan's eyes searched his. "Why should you care about me?"

Methos immediately put his hands into Duncan's hair. His voice was steady, deep, saturated with truth. "You enthrall me. You humble me. You fill me with hope, beauty, love -- everything that makes life worth living. You are my happiness." He smiled. "You make me young." MacLeod's face was blushed over slightly, but he wasn't looking away. He rested one hand on Methos's waist. With a faint shadow grieving in his eyes, Methos said, "And now you even give me the great gift... You make all the thoughts, all the memories, stop, for a while. You let me just exist, in you. And you bring my body and my soul into ecstasy. And into peace." The grief came forward softly. "But that isn't why I love you, and if it does you harm, I... I will find some way to undo what I have done."

Duncan laid his palm along Methos's cheek. "You do me no harm," he said quietly, surely. Methos shivered barely perceptibly, and the deep age fell away from him as his face went slightly pink, his lips curved, and his eyes lowered in shy confusion. Duncan simultaneously felt his callow unworthiness subsumed, in four long, educational centuries and the protectiveness of a leader of his people. A part of him marvelled at this exquisite exchange of balance, even as he gathered Methos into his arms and held him sheltered. He murmurred, "Do what tha wilt." Methos turned a smile against his face. Their kiss opened immediate gates to paradise.

Morituri te salutant: Those who are about to die salute you.

Nemo me impune lacessit: No one provokes me with impunity. (Motto of the
Crown of Scotland and of all Scottish regiments.)

End of Part 6

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