The Color of Thought
by Ashlyn Donnchaid

AUTHOR'S NOTE: I don't know where this came from. I was sitting and minding my own business when Duncan stopped by and started talking. I wrote it down and he seemed happy. Timeframe for this story is shortly after the episode Chivalry.

Five days ago Methos killed Kristin. I wanted to be over it, I told him I was over it, but I knew it wasn't yet true. Throwing myself back into the old house renovation had helped, and that Methos had stayed on to work with me had helped even more. Mostly I tried not to think about it, hoping it would just go away.

Today we stopped at the paint store on the way here, arguing a bit, mixing and matching paint chips until we found a scheme we agreed on. I bought one can of each color to test and see if it looked as good as I wanted. While I worked on that, Methos kept working on the body of the house around in back. I finished the window frame and resealed the paint can, then went around to get the second color for the other bits of trim.

Methos was working steadily, brush painting the siding, and for a long moment I merely watched him. His unconscious grace showed even in that simple task, the economy of motion and the almost invisible ripple of muscle under his too-large sweatshirt was intriguing. Even working out, I'd never seen his naked body, and I had to admit to some curiosity. My curiosity could wait, though, and the warm dry day for painting wouldn't, so I picked up the can and went back to work.

Painting is one of those therapeutic activities that takes enough of your attention to keep you from serious brooding, but not so intensive that it prevents a little time for introspection. Between the warm day and quiet company, I found myself doing a little of that and today was the day when I finally understood and accepted, in my heart as well as my mind, what Methos had done.

The moment it came to me, I stood immobile, paint brush still against the woodwork as I berated myself for ever questioning his motives. I was tempted to drop the brush and go talk to him about it, but resisted the impulse, knowing he'd only smile that infuriating little smile that meant 'See, I knew you'd understand eventually.' Laughing softly at my own pride, I went back to the trim, working steadily, but now with a content smile stuck on my face.

When I finished the trim, I stood back to look at the work and nodded. The colors worked well together. I closed the last can of paint and went to see if Methos was done and could come see what it looked like.

As I rounded the back corner of the house, I stopped dead in my tracks. Methos had just finished stripping off his sweatshirt, tossing it aside, and stood facing the sun, arms outspread, palms forward, and his eyes closed. Quite simply, I stared. The angle of the sun meant that he was turned toward me, and I finally had the view of him that had whetted my curiosity for so long. His skin, though pale, glowed from within, both reflecting and absorbing the sunlight. His body was almost hairless, his muscles weren't so much defined as simply strong and smooth. I couldn't keep my eyes off his nipples, large and dark, begging to be touched.

I didn't want to startle him into moving, so I leaned against the house, still staring, wondering a bit at the thoughts that were pricking at the edge of my mind. It's not that I haven't been around men before -- you don't spend time in armies and navies without finding yourself in the lonely and horny position of turning to another man for your release, but this was different. As I watched him enjoying the sunshine, I let my thoughts wander, hoping they would come to some sort of conclusion about what I was really thinking.

I guess I hadn't been quiet enough, for Methos turned and smiled at me. "No, Mac, this isn't some sort of ancient ritual or prayer, if you were wondering." His smile showed in his voice as well. "Sometimes I just can't resist the lure of fresh air and sunshine." My skepticism must have showed on my face, he reached out to me and beckoned with his hand. "Come over here and try it."

There was no reason to refuse, so I moved to stand next to him and spread out my arms, feeling a bit silly.

"Come on, Mac. Do it right. Take off your shirt," Methos admonished me. Heat filled my face as I reached for the buttons on my shirt, but I complied, sliding the shirt off and dropping it to one side. "Good," he continued. "Now, face the sun, hands forward, face up and enjoy. That's all there is to it."

It was simple enough, and I had to admit, the sun felt wonderful. There was only a slight breeze, it was mid-afternoon, and the scent of the earth and trees and warmth of the sun was seductive in its peacefulness. As I let myself fall into a near hypnotic trance, I swayed, nearly falling against Methos.

"Steady, Mac." Methos grabbed my arm, laughing softly. "We can do this sitting down if standing is too much for you."

The heat of my embarrassment returned in full force when he said that. "Yeah, okay," I mumbled as he held on to my hand. We sat on a pile of canvas tarps and once more faced the sun. Strangely, I didn't wonder when he didn't let go of my hand, I merely went back into that enjoyable state I had been in earlier, letting the sun and nature lull me into peace and security.

I don't know how long we'd been sitting when I began to feel an odd sensation, a heat and tingling that started where Methos was holding my hand and worked its way slowly up my arm. At first, I thought my arm was asleep, it was that sort of feeling, but when I shifted minutely, I found that wasn't it.

The warmth continued to spread from my arm into my chest, and the oddness didn't change. I tried to put a name to it, but couldn't. It was like happiness or comfort, yet it was neither. I looked at his hand, our hands, fingers woven together and suddenly, for no reason I could fathom, I lifted his hand to my lips and kissed the back of it.

I put his hand down quickly and looked away, not wanting to see his eyes, afraid what I might find there. He reached out, touched my cheek, and I yielded to the faint pressure of his fingers, turning to face him. His eyes were bright, amused, and there was a slight smile on his lips, but I got no sense that he was laughing at me. When he leaned in and touched his lips to mine, so softly I couldn't even call it a kiss, I knew he wasn't laughing at me.

Methos had moved back scant inches while he waited for me to respond. Time seemed to slow and stretch to infinity as my thoughts and feelings raced and tumbled. I now recognized the odd sensation, it was a combination of deep friendship and attraction, with a healthy measure of curiosity. While I had touched men before, it was never as I was now contemplating, with the tentative explorations and seduction reserved for potential lovers, lovers you hoped would be around for a long time.

Hesitantly, I closed the distance between us, touching my lips to his, kissing him. His lips were soft against mine, responsive to my pressure, and felt ... like nothing I'd ever felt before. Our lips parted as I tried to catch my breath, seldom did one kiss affect me as much as this. I touched his mouth with my fingers, and felt nothing but normal lips. How could they be, when they did so much to me? When his tongue reached out to my hand, I knew I was lost.

I slid my hand to the back of his head and pulled him to me hard, attacking his mouth, trying to devour him in a single kiss. It wasn't enough. I wanted to feel him against me, the heat of his skin touching mine. I pressed him down onto the tarps, laid my chest over his as I explored his mouth. The combined sensations were overwhelming -- the taste of him, the slick heat of his mouth, the soft warm skin touching mine, the firm body a match to my own. I held him as close as I could, my arms wrapped around him, exploring his back, the hills and valleys of bone and muscle under their smooth cover of flesh.

Methos' hands responded in kind, touching, stroking along my back and arms, trailing fire everywhere they went. I froze as his hands approached the waist of my jeans, and relaxed again as they caressed through the fabric.

It wasn't fear, not exactly, unless it was fear of going too fast, taking chances with our friendship for the sake of quick sex. All I really wanted was to taste and touch, to kiss him all the places he was already bare, to ache with wanting, but to revel in knowing that we could wait, that it would mean something when we finally gave in to the desire.

His whole face was damp from my kisses, I dragged my lips over his cheek, enjoying the slight rasp of his beard. His jaw was next, from the end of his chin, along the well-defined bone to that place just under his ear. I grinned when my attentions there drew a soft moan from him. It was wonderful to find those special spots that could drive a lover to distraction, and I proceeded to see how long he would let me tease him there.

Not long, I found out. With a growl, he pushed me onto my back and nipped at my throat, then held me still as he latched his mouth on my chest. I don't know how he knew how incredibly sensitive my nipples are, but he licked and sucked and nibbled until I was ready to scream and sure I was going to come in my pants.

Methos gave a little yelp as I pulled him off me, and I kissed him to apologize for my grip on his hair and ears. This was too fast, too soon for me. I held him close, not moving, asking without words if he would slow down. His answer was more than I could have wanted; he relaxed into me, his cheek resting against mine, his hands moving slowly over my skin, softly caressing.

"Mac..." His voice was a gentle purr across my ear, and I sighed at the sensation, then reached up to lip his earlobe.

"MacLeod..." His insistent tone forced me to pull myself back, a protest unspoken on my lips as I returned to reality, feeling the corner of the house where I was leaning on it, still staring at him. "Did you want something?"

Shit. He'd picked up his sweatshirt and was holding it in front of his chest, looking at me quizzically. I knew I was blushing furiously, my face felt like it was going to burst into flames. What the hell was I thinking, having that kind of fantasy about him? Did he know? Could he tell?

Hell and damnation! His mouth quirked up into a grin as he stared at me, his eyes travelling the length of my body. He knew. He had to know. I could feel my hardness in my jeans, and there was no way he could miss that.

I must have been crazy. This was Methos. This was my friend. I had no business letting my mind wander into places like that, especially not about him. Such stupid indulgences could destroy the friendship, and that was more important to me than anything.

"I..." My voice was a strangled croak. I cleared my throat and tried again. "The paint." He nodded, encouraging me to continue. I wanted to melt into the deck and pretend this never happened. "I finished the trim. Want to have a look?" It was amazing that I managed to form a coherent sentence.

He was still smiling as he pulled on his sweatshirt, covering the body that had started it all. "Sure. Let's go." He moved past me toward the front of the house, brushing his shoulder against mine as he went.

I turned, following, staring at the deck in front of me as I walked, wondering if I could manage to live long enough to live this down.

The End
May 1999