|The Cookie Story
Disclaimer: Not mine. If they were, they'd bake cookies.
Feedback: Always both welcome and appreciated, sometimes even adored.
Notes: This is a WIP, but it's nearly complete. I'll be posting it in chapters, because it is, to date, the longest story I've written.
It takes place almost a year after TB/NTB. Duncan returns to Seacouver to tie up a few loose ends.
As always, I am indebted to Kamil for handholding, criticism, and adding in the commas. If you find one that shouldn't be there, she's the one to whap. She's been very patient for the almost nine months I've been working on this one. At one point she read through four drafts of a scene, only to have me change the plot and toss it out completely. And y'all thought she had no patience.
Thank you, hon, for everything.
I also owe a nod of thanks to Gena, Marguerite, and Olympia, all of whom provided encouragement and criticism at various points.
Lastly, I need to thank the SO. He helped develop the OCs, added bits of dialogue, and made a crucial suggestion, or two. He also listened to me babble on about the damn thing incessantly.
Duncan paused as he raised his hand to knock on the door. Immortal presence sang to him faintly from the other side. Wondering, he knocked.
"Duncan, you came."
He smiled. "Hello, Andrea." He'd encountered Andrea at the farmers' market the day before. Once upon a time, he and Tessa had been close friends with Andrea and her husband, Dan. Duncan hadn't seen them in years. She had invited him to a party, and surprisingly, he had chosen to come.
Andrea led him around the room. He smiled at former acquaintances, graciously, if obliquely, answering their questions about what he had been doing for the last couple of years. He still hadn't found the source of the buzz when a tall man, with short dark hair and jutting ears, entered the room, talking animatedly with a young girl. Duncan smiled.
"Christine. Adam," Andrea called, gesturing to them to join her and Duncan.
"Christine, you remember Mr. MacLeod."
The girl smiled up at him. She had inherited her mother's brown eyes and heart-shaped face, and her cheeks were decidedly less chubby than the last time he'd seen her. He did some quick calculations. She was twelve now, maybe even thirteen.
"Hello, Mr. MacLeod."
He returned her smile. "You used to call me Duncan."
Before she could answer, Andrea continued. "And this is Adam Pier-"
"son. Yes, I know."
Methos grinned. "Surprised?"
The grin broadened. "Liar."
Andrea looked from one to the other.
"We're old friends," Mac explained. "Although I haven't seen Adam for almost a year."
"I assumed you were off to Tibet again, or Bora Bora, or some such place."
"The university here needed a linguist when one of their professors had a family emergency. I took over. That was last term. They asked me to stay on, and I couldn't think of a good reason not to."
"You could have mentioned it."
"Fine, last I heard. She's in Toronto, hanging out with an ex-cop."
"A cop, Amanda?"
"I guess it's true, wonders never do cease."
"Adam mentioned having once had friends in Seacouver. I never imagined it'd be you," Andrea said.
"We met in Paris," Duncan began, noticing a redhead, with too many curls, detaching herself from her companions and walking their way.
"Adam, where have you been hiding?" The woman slipped into the space between Methos and Christine. Christine glared at her.
"Christine and I snuck away for some real fun." Methos winked at Christine, who smiled broadly at him.
"If you'll excuse me, I see some guests I haven't yet greeted," Andrea said, squeezing Duncan's arm briefly, and backing away.
"Lise Blanchard, this is Duncan MacLeod," Methos said. "Duncan, this is Lise."
Duncan extended a hand, forcing her to turn so that her body was no longer angled into Methos'. "Nice to meet you. Do you work at the University, as well?"
She nodded. "I teach Twentieth Century European Literature. How about you?"
"I don't work, at least not at the moment."
"Duncan's a ner-do-well," Methos added, "living off his ill-gotten gains."
Christine laughed. "A bank robber?"
Methos shook his head. "No, a pirate."
"How about a highwayman, robbing from the rich to give to himself?" Christine countered.
"I like that better." Methos looked thoughtful. "He needs help though. I know, a lady who pretends distress, and when passersby come to her aid, he robs them."
"It's not very original," Christine observed.
"Few stories are," Methos pointed out.
"So there you have it," Duncan told Lise. "I'm a highwayman; I rob innocent rich people and keep the money."
"Mom says there are no innocent rich people," Christine said.
Methos grinned at Duncan. "It appears you're vindicated."
"Adam, did you have a chance to look at that paper I gave you?" Lise asked.
"I did. You had some interesting points. I made some notes. I'll leave it for you on Monday."
"Thank you so much for looking at it. I really do value your opinion."
Christine rolled her eyes, and Duncan fought back a chuckle. Lise was clearly not interested in highwaymen, and just as clearly interested in Adam. Duncan studied his friend, watching for signs that her interest was reciprocated.
They were still talking about the paper. The tone of Methos' voice was friendly, but it was 'talking to a colleague' friendly, nothing more. His facial expression mirrored his voice, but his body language said something else altogether. His body language screamed 'not interested.' She had returned to her previous position, with her body angled into Methos', trying to exclude Duncan and Christine. Methos had responded by putting more room between them, and adjusting his position so that he could still see both Duncan and Christine.
Lise lifted a hand and reached toward Methos. He stiffened, but she didn't notice.
Duncan could sympathize; he'd been where Methos was more times than he could remember. Perhaps he should help his friend out. Besides, there was something about the woman he just didn't like.
"Adam," Duncan interrupted. "Do you have any plans for tomorrow?"
Lise glared at him.
"Would you like to come boat shopping with me?"
"Boat shopping? You're buying another boat?"
"I'm selling the dojo. That's why I came to town. And I'm going to replace it with a boat, something I can take out on the ocean this time."
"You know I'm not that fond of boats."
"Could've fooled me, considering all the time you spend on the barge." Duncan smiled softly. "I've missed coming home to find you sprawled on my couch or napping in my bed."
Methos looked startled for a moment, then he returned the smile. "All right," he said slowly, "but you'll owe me one."
"I'll take you to dinner afterwards. I know this terrific seafood place. View of the water, private dining rooms. I'll call and see if I can get us one."
"It's a date."
"Good. I really have missed you. Paris was awfully quiet without you."
Lise was watching them, her expression showing her displeasure. Christine was grinning.
"I find that hard to believe."
"It may not have been quiet, but it was definitely lacking in mystery." Duncan turned toward Lise. "Don't you find Adam to be a bit of a mystery?"
"Perhaps it's just me."
"It is," Methos volunteered. "That's how I kept your interest."
Duncan smiled his best slow, seductive smile. "It worked."
"I'll see you on Monday, Adam," Lise said.
Methos looked at her. "Sure. See you then."
"Nice to meet you," she said to Duncan, her tone of voice indicating otherwise.
Duncan inclined his head. "Same here. Any friend of Adam's."
Lise walked away.
Methos shook his head.
"Surprised?" Duncan asked.
"I never knew you had it in you."
"I spent a lot of time with English aristocrats."
"I admit it. I underestimated you."
"It got rid of her. That's what matters," Christine said.
Methos put an arm around her shoulders.
"What were you two doing earlier?" Duncan asked.
"Playing Mystery Date," Christine answered. "Adam won."
Duncan was grateful no one had given him a drink; he would have spit it out. "Mystery Date?"
"I got to go to the prom, and I got a corsage, with roses," Methos answered proudly.
Duncan chuckled. Methos was the only man he knew who would play Mystery Date to win. Wait a minute. The Andrea he remembered had been rather vocal in her opinions about the toys and games marketed to girls; he turned to Christine, "Your mother let you have Mystery Date?"
Christine shuffled her feet. "No, I borrowed it from a friend. I keep it hidden under a pile of stuffed animals." She looked up at him, wide-eyed, using those brown eyes for everything they were worth. "Please, don't tell."
"I won't tell."
She smiled. "Thanks."
"Just tell me one thing, how in the world did you get Adam to play with you?"
"I asked him to."
Methos smirked. "What can I say? I like playing games."
"I've noticed," Duncan said, glancing from Christine to his friend.
"What's wrong with games?"
"Nothing. Did I say there was anything wrong with games?" Duncan asked Christine.
"See?" Duncan put on his most innocent expression.
Before Methos could answer, Andrea approached. "What did you two do? Lise just left, muttering something about 'all of the good ones.'"
Turning his innocent look on her, Duncan answered. "She seemed a bit odd to me. Probably too much James Joyce."
Methos grinned. "Or not enough."
"Duncan," a man's voice came from behind him, "I'm sorry it's taken me so long to get free."
Duncan extended a hand to the newcomer. "No apologies necessary. It's good to see you, Dan."
Dan took his hand and shook it. "It's good to have you back. We were beginning to think you weren't ever going to return."
"I'm afraid I don't plan on staying long."
"That's too bad. How's Richie? Is he coming back for a visit, too?"
Out of the corner of his eye, Duncan saw Methos stiffen. Before he could answer, Methos spoke. "He was in an accident." A hand came to rest on the small of Duncan's back. "He died."
"I'm so sorry," Andrea said. "We had no idea."
"Please accept our condolences," Dan added. "We know how much he meant to both you and Tessa."
"Thank you," Duncan answered, grateful for Methos' presence. He hadn't even considered what it would be like to tell people about Richie.
"Did Andrea tell you that Dan made partner a few months ago?" Methos asked.
"She didn't. Congratulations." Duncan's gratitude edged up another notch.
Methos' hand slid gently up and down his back a couple of times before being withdrawn.
"Thank you. I still miss criminal law." Dan shrugged.
"You ought to see him argue with the TV during Law and Order. It's worse than when he watches a Jags game," Christine said.
"The punch bowl is nearly empty. Isn't it your job to keep it filled?" Dan asked.
"Christine," Dan answered, mimicking his daughter's whine.
Christine glared at her father for a moment, and then looked from Duncan to Methos. "Would you like some punch?" She asked, sounding only slightly put upon.
"I would, thank you," Duncan answered.
"I don't know," Methos said carefully. "Are you using a recipe, or just dumping whatever you can find into the bowl?"
"I'm just dumping anything I can find into the bowl."
"In that case, I'll have a cup."
Duncan watched her walk away, and then turned to Dan. "She seems to be doing well."
"She is," Dan's eyes reflected his pride in his daughter, "and she's a lot of fun when we can tear her away from Adam."
Methos smiled. "She is fun, and smart, and she never broods, or tries to convince me to do things against my better judgment."
"You're an adult," Duncan pointed out, "You've no one else to blame when you make poor choices."
"No one but an interfering Scot, who bats his eyelashes at me until I agree to take part in his latest misadventure."
"I never batted my eyelashes at you."
"Tell it to Lise."
"I take it you've finally managed to shake her?" Andrea asked, amusement clear in her tone.
Methos grinned. "It was all Duncan's doing."
"Just remember, you owe me," Duncan replied.
"I'm spending a day looking at boats, that should be payment enough."
"I'm buying you dinner."
"You offered. And I expect the private dining room, MacLeod."
Methos pushed his empty plate forward and leaned back in his chair. "So, now I know your secret."
"What secret?" Duncan asked.
"The secret of your success with women. If this," Methos gestured at the fireplace, large sofa, and balcony with a view of the harbor, "is how you treat all of your first dates."
"Not all of them, just the special ones."
Duncan looked around the private dining room. "I never actually brought a first date here. Tessa and I came here a couple of times."
"For special occasions?"
"How's the view?"
Methos walked out onto the balcony, taking his wine with him. Duncan followed. "It is stunning," Methos said.
"Yeah," Duncan answered, staring out into the night, clearly somewhere else.
Methos covered the large hand resting on the rail with his own. "Are the desserts as good as everything else?"
"Depends on how you feel about chocolate."
Methos released his hand. "How do we get a waiter in here, again?"
"What do you usually do for a second date?" Methos asked from the passenger seat, more to break the silence than because he really wanted to know.
"It varies, but I always thought a movie or a concert made a good second date."
"A movie? How predictable."
"What would you suggest we do?"
"We're going to have a second date?"
"Why not? Didn't you have fun, Methos?" Duncan batted his eyelashes at the other man.
Methos chuckled. "As a matter of fact, I did." His expression turned thoughtful. "A second date. You know Seacouver better than I do, what is there to do?"
Duncan grinned. "I know just the thing. Leave it to me."
Methos' eyes narrowed with suspicion. "I don't like that grin, MacLeod."
"Trust me. Besides, you don't have anything to worry about." Mac reached over and squeezed his knee. "I don't make a pass until the third date."
They passed several minutes in silence.
"If you don't make a pass until the third date, why is your hand still on my knee?"
To Methos' surprise, Duncan accompanied him to the door. "Planning on coming in?"
"I always escort my dates to the door, don't you?"
Methos didn't answer, just opened the door. "I suppose this is where I tell you that I had a lovely time, and you promise to call."
"I always do."
Methos snorted. "You would."
"No, but I don't promise to, either."
"Instead you just drop by unannounced, months later."
"Something like that." Methos started to grin, but catching sight of the look on MacLeod's face, he stopped. Without even being aware of it, he began to lean forward. Duncan moved as well, and then they were kissing. Only their lips touched, lightly, just a taste, a subtle caress, and then Methos pulled back. "I was born before chivalry," he whispered, before disappearing into his apartment.
Duncan paced the loft. He should call. He'd promised to, hadn't he? No, he hadn't. But he had said he'd take care of arranging their second date. Of course, that had been when the date was simply a running joke.
Methos had kissed him.
No, he'd kissed Methos.
No, thinking back on it, Methos had definitely been the one to initiate the kiss. Hadn't he?
This was ridiculous. He was over four hundred years old. He'd been kissed thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, quite possibly millions of times. Why was he getting so bent out of shape over a simple kiss?
He should call.
No, goddamn it, Methos should call.
He stared at the phone.
He should call. He'd promised to. Hadn't he?
Methos began to re-read the essay on his desk. Maybe MacLeod didn't have his office number, he thought, completely missing the student's topic sentence for the third time.
What had he been thinking, kissing MacLeod like that? The whole date thing had been a joke. 'Remember those, old man?' he scolded himself. But Mac had looked so inviting, the big brown eyes, the full lips...
Millennia of experience, and he couldn't control his libido.
Mac had tasted sweet, a combination of chocolate cake and red wine. Truth was, he'd wanted more of that taste, and a few others. He groaned to himself. He'd always managed to overlook Mac's beauty before, why couldn't he have overlooked it for just one more night?
Because he kept flirting with you.
And you flirted back.
It wasn't flirting. It was teasing, playful, friendly teasing.
He put his hand on your knee. You kissed him.
He was arguing with himself in the second person. This was ridiculous.
Methos stared at the phone. He should call. Apologize. Did he want to apologize?
The phone rang.
It rang again.
He stared at it, completely certain who was on the other end.
It rang again.
He picked it up. "Hello?"
"Adam? It's Andrea."
"You all right?"
"I just wanted to remind you that we have a planning committee meeting tonight."
"Thanks. I'd forgotten all about it."
"Well, don't forget the refreshments."
"Refreshments? Whose idea was that?"
"Mine? Why would I suggest something like that?"
"You didn't exactly. You turned to the Dean in the middle of the last meeting and said 'cookies would be nice about now, don't you think?' She agreed with you. She also volunteered you to make them. Remember?"
Methos groaned quietly. Five thousand years old, and he still couldn't keep those little asides to himself. He glanced at the clock. The meeting was in two and half hours. "Can I borrow Christine?"
"I need help with the refreshments."
"Sure, she should be home from school in a few minutes. While I've got you, I should give you our new number."
"More phone calls?"
"Hopefully, they'll stop now."
Methos picked up his pen. "What's the new number?"
"Got it. I'll pick Christine up in about twenty minutes."
"See you then."
Duncan sat in his car, staring at Methos' door. The old man was home; maybe coming by instead of calling hadn't been such a good idea after all. He could still call. He pulled his cell phone from his pocket. Put it back. Their friendship had survived the Horsemen; it could survive a simple kiss.
Methos ducked, but the only thing it changed was that the flour landed on the back of his head. He started to throw a handful back at his assailant, and then he felt it, presence. He headed for the door, was almost there when he heard the knock.
"Me- Adam? You home?"
He pulled open the door. "MacLeod. Come on in." Taking one look at Mac's face, he laughed. He couldn't help it.
MacLeod's jaw dropped as he took in first the state of his friend, and then Christine, and then the hallway.
"We were..." Methos began, but a timer interrupted him. He left MacLeod in the doorway and returned to the kitchen. Pulling a tray from the oven, he held it out for Christine to see. "What do you think?"
"They look done to me."
Methos looked up at MacLeod, who had followed him as far as the entrance to the kitchen. Mac shrugged. "They look done from here." He walked closer. "I didn't know you baked."
"I have a planning committee meeting tonight," Methos answered, as though that explained everything.
"He has to bring the refreshments," Christine explained, "and I was drafted into helping."
"I didn't draft you. You volunteered."
Christine leaned toward Duncan. "He agreed to chaperone our school dance, in exchange for me helping with the cookies."
"Oh, really?" Duncan turned toward Methos, the corners of his mouth twitching with amusement.
"The chaperones are allowed to bring guests," Methos said.
"Uh-huh. Not on your life."
"But you like children, MacLeod. It'll be fun."
"You think supervising a couple of hundred pre-adolescents will be fun?"
"It won't be just us." Adam looked at Christine. "There'll be other adults, won't there?"
"Sure there will," Christine answered, somewhat unconvincingly.
"Why didn't Andrea and Dan volunteer?" Duncan asked.
"They'll be out of town that weekend. Christine'll be staying with me." Methos smiled seductively. "Come on, MacLeod. Dancing, moonlight..."
"You chasing after rambunctious pre-teens." Duncan grinned. "It is beginning to sound appealing."
"Good. October 18th. 7:00pm. Christine and I'll pick you up."
"While we're on the subject of picking people up, what time does your last class get out tomorrow?"
"You free afterwards?"
"Yeah," Methos answered slowly.
"Good. I'll pick you up at the University."
"Where are we going?"
"It's a surprise."
"I don't like surprises. You should know that by now."
"What time is your meeting?"
Methos glanced at the clock. "Forty-five minutes."
"And it'll take you at least twenty-five to get to the University from here." Duncan smiled victoriously. "You should get going, unless you plan on attending the meeting with flour on the end of your nose."
Methos brushed at his nose.
"And in your hair."
Methos ran a hand through his hair.
"You go shower. I'll clean up and take Christine home."
"Thanks." Methos began walking toward the stairs.
"That's two you owe me," Duncan called after him.
"You can get it back in kisses," Methos called over his shoulder, the words slipping out before he could stop them.
"I just might do that." Duncan said more to himself than to Methos; he turned back to Christine.
She handed him a cookie. "If you're gonna help clean up, you should at least get to eat." She looked around the room. "Where do you want to start?"
"I'll get the vacuum."
"You know where it is?"
"I'll find it."
They were just finishing the vacuuming when Methos returned, damp, but flour free.
"What, did I miss a spot?" Methos asked.
"No, I'm just still getting used to the sight of you in something other than jeans."
Christine handed him a plastic container, saving Methos from having to answer. He placed a hand on the back of her neck and pulled her closer. Leaning down, he kissed the top of her head. "Thanks for helping me."
"Thanks again, MacLeod."
"Don't worry. You'll be paying me back."
"In kisses, I know." He tossed a key ring in Mac's direction. "Spare key. Don't forget to lock up when you leave."
"One date, and you're asking me to move in?"
"I expect it back."
"Sure, right after I make a copy."
Methos opened his mouth to answer.
"You're going to be late."
"Bye, Adam," Christine said.
"Bye." He opened the door.
"I'll pick you up at four," Duncan called after him.
Methos didn't answer.
"Did you and Adam really go on a date?" Christine asked from the passenger seat of Mac's car.
"Not really. We were just teasing."
"So you won't be getting payment in kisses?"
To Mac's shock, he found himself blushing. "Well, uh, no, probably not."
Christine's eyes narrowed. "You like him, don't you?"
"Of course I like him, he's my friend."
"You really like him."
"He's a very good friend."
"You think he's cute."
"So do you," Duncan countered.
Christine blushed, but came back fighting. "He's my friend."
"And mine," Duncan added.
The issue evidently settled, they passed a few minutes in silence.
"He thinks you're cute, too," Christine offered.
"How do you know that?" Duncan heard himself ask. He couldn't believe this. He was looking to a twelve year old for reassurance that Methos was attracted to him.
"It's the way he looks at you. And the way he says your name. MacLeod," she sighed in imitation.
Duncan chuckled. "I'm not so sure about that."
"I am. I, uhh. never mind."
"Watch him pretty closely?" Duncan suggested quietly.
"Me, too," Duncan conceded, getting a smile from his companion in return. Duncan decided it might be a good opportunity to change the subject, or at least the focus of it. "You spend a lot of time with Adam."
"We hang out, go to movies, fight about books."
"Don't tell me Adam reads Nancy Drew."
"I don't read Nancy Drew, but Adam probably has."
"Yeah, he probably has," Duncan agreed. "What books do you argue about?"
"The biggest argument we ever had was about The Giver. He actually thinks the boy lives in the end."
"You think he doesn't?"
"He doesn't. He's dead, but Adam just can't accept it, keeps insisting there's a happy ending."
"Sometimes we all want to believe in happy endings."
"If you say so."
"What else do you and Adam do?"
"He took me to a concert a few weeks ago."
"Who'd you see?"
"Back Street Boys."
"Adam took you to a Back Street Boys concert?" Duncan asked, incredulous.
"Yeah," Christine answered, her tone indicating she didn't think it the least bit odd that Adam would do such a thing.
"How did you get him to do that?"
"I asked him."
She asked him, Duncan thought. Apparently that was all that was required. Ask, and Methos would play Mystery Date. Ask, and Methos would take you to see the Back Street Boys. What would he do if Duncan asked? He squelched the thought before it could go any further. "Were they any good?"
"I thought so, but Adam made fun of them."
That sounded more like the Methos he knew. "He did that when I took him to the opera, too."
"The opera? You like the opera?"
"What's wrong with the opera?"
"They sing really loud and it goes on and on and you can't even tell what they're saying. It's worse than musicals."
"You don't like musicals?"
"They're silly. Real people don't go around bursting into song at the drop of a hat."
"Of course not, they're entertainment. Real people don't fly spaceships, either."
"But we might someday. I don't think anyone will ever go around singing '76 Trombones' for no real reason."
"It's a good song. Isn't that reason enough?"
"You think it's a good song?"
"What's wrong with it?"
"It's about trombones."
"It's about a parade."
"Adam doesn't like musicals either, you know. So I hope you aren't planning on taking him to one tomorrow night."
"Where are you gonna take him?"
"You won't tell?"
"I won't even see him before tomorrow." Duncan gave her a steady look. She sighed. "I won't tell. Promise."
"Adam doesn't like bugs."
"There are always bugs at picnics, and Adam doesn't like them very much."
"I'll keep that in mind."
Christine was watching him carefully. "How long have you known him?"
"A few years."
"How'd you meet?"
Duncan glanced at her, inquisitive kid. "It was in Paris. I was having trouble with some research I was doing, and a friend suggested I talk to Adam. Why do you want to know?"
"You just don't seem to know him that well, that's all. Taking him to the opera, and a picnic. He doesn't like those things."
"Picnics can be very romantic."
"So you do like him."
"Yeah, I suppose I do." Duncan turned to look at her. "But don't you dare tell him."
"I won't, but you can't tell him I like him either."
Christine looked thoughtful. "You could always send him a note. 'I like you. Do you like me? Circle yes or no.'"
"I don't think so."
"It worked for me. But I was only in the third grade."
"Have you tried any other approaches?"
"You could have a friend ask for you. My friend Allison is always having me do that, but she likes a different guy every week." Christine eyed him suspiciously. "You don't like a different guy every week, do you?"
"No, I don't."
"Good." She looked thoughtful. "I could ask him for you."
"I could ask him-"
"No," Duncan said hastily. "No. Thanks for the offer, but I think I'd rather do it myself."
"Okay, but if you change your mind, I have lots of practice."
"I thought you liked him yourself," Duncan said quickly, trying to divert her.
"Duncan," she stated in that 'how could you miss something so obvious' tone that all girls seem to have, "I'm twelve."
"Here," Duncan said, stopping. It had been nearly an hour hike, but well worth it, in his opinion.
Methos stepped up beside him, surveying the area. Mountains rose in front of him, reds, yellows, and oranges blending with brown, all of it set off by the occasional lingering spot of green. "It's gorgeous."
"I hoped you'd like it."
"I do," Methos smiled at him and they held still for a moment, gazing at one another.
Duncan turned away. "Are you ready to eat?"
Duncan removed his pack, pulled out a blanket, and spread it on the ground. Kneeling, he held out a bottle of water.
Methos accepted the water and knelt as well. "Thanks." He took a drink, watching Duncan remove a bottle of wine, cheese, fruit, and a loaf of fresh bread from his pack. "Nice spread."
"I considered bringing fried chicken and potato salad-"
"And decided this was more appropriate," Methos finished.
Duncan smiled quickly, and then handed the wine and a corkscrew to Methos.
"This is familiar," Methos observed as he opened the bottle.
Duncan handed him a glass and Methos filled it. Handing it back, he accepted another glass. He raised the filled glass to his lips, tasting lightly. "It's good."
"Thanks." Duncan shifted from his knees to recline back on one elbow, his legs stretched out in front of him. "So, I hear you've acquired a fondness for the Back Street Boys."
Methos grinned. "You know me and pop culture, always having to keep up with the latest trends."
Duncan restrained himself when the words 'Chubby Checker' came instantly to mind. "I just never imagined you spending so much time with a child."
"Death kills children, he doesn't befriend them, is that it?" Methos said quietly, looking out at the mountains.
"No. No, that's not it." Duncan sat up, moving closer to his friend. "Look at me, Methos." Methos slowly turned his head in Duncan's direction. "That is not it. I just never imagined you having the patience to deal with children. That's all."
Methos nodded slightly, evidently accepting the explanation. "I probably wouldn't have the patience to deal with most children, but Christine."
"Is like you."
Methos met Duncan's gaze, surprise in his face, but he covered quickly, his response a teasing one. "She is a bit more perceptive, a bit more intelligent than most kids."
"I noticed," Duncan answered. "And those things isolate her," he added softly.
That Methos knew all about isolation was something neither of them mentioned, choosing instead to let silence settle between them.
Methos spoke first. "You're awfully quiet."
"Been a while since I went on a second date."
"Me, too. I was never much good at the whole dating thing."
"People don't get together that way in real life, at least in my experience."
"And there's quite a bit of that."
"Speak for yourself."
Methos grinned. "So, are there knives, or are we just going to gnaw on the bread from opposite ends?"
Duncan shook his head. "That is an image I did not need."
They stayed to watch the sunset. Methos explained how he and Andrea had become friends while working on the committee planning a new graduate program in Ancient Civilizations.
"She's a good scholar. It's rare to find a historian who can acknowledge their own cultural baggage enough to be able to see how it impacts their work."
"Still, it must be tough for you to discuss things with her and not say 'but I was there.'"
Methos smiled. "It is. I'm sure you've encountered that a time or two."
Duncan returned the smile. "You seem to like it here."
"I've always liked teaching. So many minds just waiting to be corrupted."
"Can I sit in on one of your classes sometime?"
"I'd like to see you teach."
"Sure, just try to sit somewhere where you won't be too much of a distraction."
"I'd distract you?"
"You'd distract the students."
Duncan's smile broadened. "I'll try not to distract your students."
Methos looked up and Duncan followed his gaze. The upper edge of the sun was just visible over the top of the mountains. He turned his attention from the view to his companion, watching Methos' profile. Methos turned to look at him, opening his mouth to speak, only to close it again. Duncan rose from his elbow to lean on his hand; with his other hand he touched Methos' lips, just for a second, before replacing his fingertips with his mouth.
The kiss was hesitant, both of them uncertain. Duncan tugged lightly on Methos' lower lip, felt Methos respond. His own upper lip was delicately tasted and then Methos' lips parted. Duncan's tongue slipped inside, connecting with Methos' own.
Desire washed through Duncan. The intensity of it took him by surprise and he pulled back.
"We should go," Methos said softly.
Duncan glanced in the direction of the mountains. The sun was gone, only a slight glow remaining. Rising, he began to pack up the remains of their picnic.
"You did bring flashlights, I hope," Methos said, standing to help Duncan fold up the blanket.
"Scared of the dark?"
"Scared of falling and breaking my neck."
"I'll catch you."
Duncan waited for the sarcastic retort, but none came. Methos was regarding him thoughtfully. "You do that," he said at last.
Duncan pulled into the space beside Methos' car. The faculty parking lot was nearly empty, and a streetlight glowed above them.
Methos turned toward him. "Thanks for dinner, MacLeod."
"Next time, it's my treat."
"Sure, you owe me, after all."
The remark reminded both men of exactly how Duncan was supposed to collect.
"I." Methos pointed a thumb over his shoulder, "should go. I'll call you."
"Promise?" Duncan teased.
"Promise." Methos opened the door, started to get out, but then he turned back. Leaning across the seat, he kissed Duncan quickly. "Good-night."
He was gone before Duncan could answer.
Duncan turned over again, the kisses he and Methos had shared replaying themselves in his mind, one after the other, creating a predictable response.
He desired Methos. The thought was both exhilarating and terrifying. He let his mind wander, considering what it might be like to hold Methos in his arms and really, thoroughly kiss him. Touching followed closely after kissing, and he imagined smooth skin and firm muscle. Methos' hands were on him as well, warm and strong, caressing his chest, brushing a nipple, curling around his cock.
Methos' cock. He'd never explored another man's body, but it couldn't be that different from touching himself. He'd simply have to learn how Methos liked to be touched. Short firm strokes, or longer, lighter ones? Unconsciously, his hand found his own penis. Would Methos' preference change as he neared orgasm? Would his hips move in rhythm with Duncan's touch? He tried to imagine how Methos' expressive face would look during orgasm. Would he cry out, or be completely silent, centuries of tents and thin walls having conditioned him to swallow his cries?
The images began flowing faster. Methos touching him, Methos between his legs, Methos' mouth descending toward his cock.
Rolling to his side, he grabbed tissues from on top of the nightstand and quickly cleaned himself. He certainly hoped he'd last longer when the real thing occurred.
Duncan stirred his coffee, not noticing that it was almost cold and mostly untouched. He desired another man, had fantasized about another man. The thought was mind-boggling.
He'd grown up in a time when the only acceptable sexual activities were ones which led to children, anything else was a sin. He had managed to set aside those prohibitions even before learning that by that definition all sex would be sinful for him.
All prohibitions except one. He had continued to look askance at men who were sexually involved with other men.
Amanda had argued with him about it more than once, stating quite clearly that there was nothing wrong with two consenting adults sharing pleasure regardless of their sex, and how could he be so provincial.
Eventually, he'd conceded that she was right. Intellectually, he'd conceded; emotionally, there was still a hint of revulsion. The more effeminate the man, the stronger the revulsion. Now, he couldn't remember clearly the last time he'd reacted that way. Could prejudice fade when one wasn't looking? Apparently so.
Now, he wasn't only not repulsed. Now, he wanted another man. Methos. The world's oldest living pain in the ass.
Methos' ass would fit perfectly into his hand, he was certain.
Duncan shook his head at the thought. His prejudices were definitely gone. The only problem was that he had no idea what he was doing. He knew the mechanics, but he'd never actually given a blowjob, and he certainly hadn't been penetrated. The thought sent a shiver through him, part desire and part fear. Methos would undoubtedly know what to do, but Duncan wanted to be his lover, not his student.
Duncan rose and grabbed his coat. One of those large, chain bookstores had gone up near the mall. He was pretty sure they'd have what he was looking for.
Methos sat staring at his phone. It was becoming far too frequent a pastime. He'd promised to call. There really wasn't a good reason not to call. Of course, he'd only made the promise last night, no reason to rush it. Except the concert tickets he'd purchased were for tomorrow night. He reached for the receiver.
"Mac. It's me."
"Yeah, listen, I have concert tickets for tomorrow night, the Baltimore Consort. Would you like to accompany me?"
"Accompany you?" Duncan echoed. "Yes, I suppose I would like to accompany you."
"The concert starts at eight. Why don't I pick you up at six, and we can have dinner first?"
"Great. I'll see you then."
"Good night, Methos."
Methos put down the phone and immediately resumed staring at it. He had just asked Duncan MacLeod out on a date. He, Methos, was dating Duncan MacLeod of the clan MacLeod. All was definitely not right with the world.