Beautiful Friendship
by elynross

 

Disclaimer: Duncan MacLeod, Methos, Rebecca Lord and associated settings and concepts belong to Rysher/Davis. I am borrowing them without permission, but without malice or the intention of financial profit. Original material is copyright 1998 by elynross.

This story is rated NC-17 for explicit sexual content of the m/m variety.  If such things offend you, please stop now. If you don't, it's not my fault (to borrow a phrase).

Comments should be directed to: eeross@okstate.edu

If this story is any good at all, much of the particular credit goes to Sandi, Naomi and Sherry F. If parts fall apart, they probably told me about them, and I didn't listen.

General all-around blame goes to the folks on various lists who kept making me think. Oh, except Methosgrrl. It's clearly not her fault.


 

Monday

"So, are we going to watch movies Wednesday?" Methos wiped the sweat off his face as he looked at Mac. Having gotten into a theoretical argument about the comparative value of certain defensive moves after dinner, they had taken it down to the dojo to put into practice, each man determined to prove his point. The results had been inconclusive, since neither man was prepared to give up his pet theory, but the resulting workout had been enjoyable. As they learned each other's moves sparring became more interesting and more intense. Both appreciated the opportunity to let loose against a skilled opponent who wasn't after a quickening.

"Yeah, sounds fine." Mac stopped in mid-stretch. "Oh, wait, no..."

Methos shot an enquiring glance at Mac, unconsciously admiring the strength and grace of the figure before him. "You're standing me up," he said in an affronted tone. While they hadn't made firm plans, they had mentioned the possibility.

"Well, it's not standing you up if I tell you about it first, now is it?" the other man mocked. "I'm sorry, Methos, I forgot. I ran into someone today and invited her over for dinner that night."

"Oooooo, a date, is it? Let it not be said that I stood in the way of true love - or a reasonable facsimile. Anybody I know?" Methos' tone was light, in spite of the surprisingly strong feeling of disappointment that accompanied MacLeod's explanation.  God, I've got to get a life of my own.

"Name's Rebecca Lord." Mac threw a teasing glance at the other Immortal. "She tried to kill me a few years ago." He finished his stretches and moved through the empty dojo toward the elevator. "Want a beer?" he asked nonchalantly.

"You are such a tease, MacLeod. And when have I ever turned down a beer?"  Methos threw his towel over his shoulder and picked up his sword. "She's another like Kristin, right? Another woman who takes advantage of your unhealthy admiration of the female sex. Some day I'll beat those chivalrous tendencies out of you, Mac. Some day it will finally sink in that women can be just as treacherous and bloodthirsty as men, and you'll have me to thank for pointing it out.  Not that you'll thank me." He dropped the dramatic tones. "So, is she one of us?"

Mac grinned as he raised the gate. "No, but she was engaged to one of us - he never told her about his Immortality, though. Reinhardt liked to play games." The two men got on the lift and started up. "We'd fought several times, but nothing conclusive - something or other always got in the way. The last time, he decided to use her as a lure to get me out in the open. Guess it made it more fun than a straightforward challenge." His disgust was apparent. "Anyway, he let her think he'd been murdered, and made it look like I'd done it. She was just the type to try and even the score." He shook his head in bemusement. "Do you ever feel like you're living in some sort of movie of the week?"

"No, but then I'm not the one with the villain of the week motif running through my life. Some of us manage to be a bit more discreet. Obviously, the heinous plan didn't succeed. What happened? Did he stop to gloat? That's usually what foils the villains."

"Actually, he did. After I'd managed to convince her he wasn't dead and that he was using her. I lived. He didn't." He paused to lift the gate. "A remarkable woman. Very strong. Tessa didn't care much for her, though."

"I've always thought Tessa must have been a wise and perceptive woman. What didn't she like?" Methos stepped out of the elevator and headed for the fridge.

"Get me one, too? Ah, Tessa knew Rebecca's interest was predatory, but assumed she was after something less...lethal. At least at first." He could hear Tessa's voice in his mind . . .

"Stay away from her, Mac. I have a bad feeling about this."

He took the beer Methos held out, wincing as the other man flipped the bottle cap over his shoulder. "Would you stop that? I stepped on one of those the other day and almost ended up on my ass."

Methos ignored him, sprawling on the couch in typical form. "So, a female immune to your obvious charms? Sounds like a hell of a date."

Mac looked smug. "I didn't say she was immune." His look became distant, remembering Rebecca's words . . .

"...I believed that I'd never meet another man like him again. Until I met you. I almost wish I'd met you first."

"Anyway," he said, "it didn't matter, at that point. Rebecca's a lovely, fascinating woman, but she wasn't Tessa."

Methos saw the sadness in his eyes. "I'm sorry, Mac, I didn't mean..."

Mac smiled, pulled back from his memories. "It's okay. I was the one who mentioned her. So, shall we try Thursday, instead?" he said.

"Yeah, that'd be fine. Unless, of course, you find yourself otherwise occupied..."

Mac shook his head in mock disgust at the insinuation. "If I do, you'll be, oh, third or fourth to find out."

"Always keep a positive attitude, Mac. You might get lucky." He grinned at Mac's sneer. "Okay, I'll be over around eight, then. I might even bring my own beer.  Anything's better than that horse piss you bought." He picked up his things as he headed out the door, dropping his towel on the floor as he went.

"I'll believe that when I see it," Mac retorted. "And since when did you develop taste? First time I met you, you offered me canned beer."

"Sticks and stones, Mac. I was an impoverished grad student," he said loftily.  "See you later."

"An impoverished grad student with no taste, and a fortune in artworks," Mac said snidely after the retreating figure.


 

Mac moved around the loft, picking up empty bottles and the towel Methos had dropped.  Never any doubt about when the old man's been around,  he thought affectionately. As he cleaned, he found his mind wandering back to his first meeting with Rebecca, and Tessa's reactions . . .

"Tessa, I don't think that she's the murderer."

"And what part of your 400-year-old anatomy formed this conclusion? Duncan, it's wonderful the way you love women. But this isn't about women, it's about evil, and that's something men have no monopoly on."

Funny, that's almost the same thing Methos said.  Why did they think he was so blind? It wasn't as if he didn't see the problems. It just went against the grain not to treat women as he did.  When I was young, it was common courtesy, and expected. Now, it just gets me in trouble.

And he had gotten in trouble, no doubt about that. Still, though her antagonism toward Rebecca had been anything but subtle, Tessa and he both had known that she had nothing to worry about.

At least, he didn't think she'd worried . . .

"Be careful you don't make any mistakes tonight."

"Tessa, I'm not gonna..."

"Yeah, not on purpose, but men don't always know what they're doing. Even very old men."

He smiled. He'd found her possessiveness and protective manner more than a little flattering. She'd not been one to make a public scene, but she'd made sure that anyone who expressed an interest was quite clear on How Things Were.  But as quick as she'd been to defend her rights, she'd been equally quick to empathize with a woman who was living a nightmare. Tessa had her own fears . . .

"...I can imagine how she must feel. Her man dead, no body to mourn, no closure, just wounds that never heal. What would living like that do to someone?"

One thing to be thankful for, Tessa had never had to find that out for herself.  Small blessings.

A sense of loss always accompanied memories of Tessa. While he had adjusted to the fact of her death, as well as anyone could, he found himself still adjusting to her absence.  Even after having spent most of his 400-odd years on his own, it hadn't taken long to get accustomed to sharing his life with another person.  Being on his own again still felt empty.

In fact, he hadn't realized how much he missed having someone around, someone who cared enough to make it clear they wouldn't put up with any funny business, but secure enough to know there wouldn't be any. Trust, companionship, but most of all, the freedom of having someone who knew and accepted who he was, what he was.  He hadn't talked to Tessa much about his past, but at least he hadn't had to censor everything he said and did.

He'd thought perhaps to have that again with Anne, after Ceirdwyn persuaded him to tell her about his Immortality. So much for that idea. The fact that he understood her reasons for breaking off their relationship didn't make the rejection any easier.  He'd tried to tell himself she wasn't rejecting him, just the way he had to live. Yet that was part of who he was, wasn't it? He knew why she couldn't deal with it, he even agreed with her choice, but it didn't make it any easier. So few mortals could deal with the knowledge, and so few Immortals made for anything but uneasy and intermittent companions, at best.

That was one reason he enjoyed having Methos around he mused as he headed for the shower, stripping off his sweaty clothes and dropping them by the bed.  While Joe probably knew more about him than anyone else, except maybe Amanda, the Watcher still had a mortal perspective on things. Hard as he tried, he couldn't really understand what it was like to go through the centuries, loving and losing over and over.

Methos, on the other hand, could understand intimately.  Sixty-eight wives, he thought as he climbed into the shower. So much time, so many people left behind. For somebody who seemingly shunned commitment, he'd tried it enough times.  Of course they were all mortal, limits the time commitment. Think it would be more painful, though, knowing you'd lose them all.  And he still was willing to try again, Mac thought, remembering Alexa.  Good to know he's kept his capacityto love.  He tried not to think about Methos' age too often; the sheer extent of it overwhelmed him, sometimes making it hard to look at the other man with anything but awe. He knew that made Methos uncomfortable.

Of course, then he'd turn around, and the old man would throw a beer cap over his refrigerator, or drop a towel on his floor, and for a while he'd believe that the world's oldest man was "just a guy".  Wonder if he gets as tired of my occasional awe of him as I do when I get it from Joe?  It was an unsettling idea.  He probably needs the same thing; someone to just accept him as he is, to know him.

He wondered what it would be like to have that kind of commitment, the kind he'd had with Tessa, with another Immortal.  He'd known Amanda for centuries, and they enjoyed each other's company off and on.  Nevertheless, both were wise enough to know they'd end up killing each other if they tried anything more permanent.  Both knew that if he had somebody else, Amanda was out of luck.  Even so, she'd been a constant in his life, in and around all the other, mortal loves. Like himself, Amanda had never married, but unlike him, she'd never even gone in for any long-term relationships, as far as he knew. She was passionate, and she could care deeply, but she also got bored easily. She just drifted in and out of people's lives.

He shivered under the cooling water.  Sure sign of enough introspection, Mac. Keep it up, you'll have a full-fledged brood on your hands.  Getting out of the shower, he turned his mind to the more practical concerns of what to serve Rebecca for dinner. Some kind of pasta, he thought.


 

Wednesday

"You are a man of many talents, Duncan. That was amazing." The pesto and salad meal had been simple, but delicious. They sat at adjoining corners of the long wooden table, an intimate mood encouraged by the many candles lighting the loft.  "Good food, a good wine...and excellent company." And just as gorgeous as I remember, she thought. On some men, his modest attire of a white linen shirt, buttoned to the neck, and loose black pants might have seemed casual. On Duncan, the quality of the materials was enhanced by the ease with which he wore them, and the overall package was devastating.

Mac smiled, accepting the compliment silently. "Shall we move to the couch? I'll just clear these." Suiting actions to words, he gathered the dishes and moved to the kitchen island. "So, what brings you back to Seacouver? Tired of the jet set life?" All she'd mentioned at the gallery was that she'd been traveling, and had just recently come back to town. They'd spent their dinner not so much catching up, since they'd never known each other well, as getting to know each other a little better. Well, getting to know Rebecca better, at least. He'd had a long time to learn how to deflect questions about his own past - although Rebecca was a bit harder to put off than most. It seemed like a good time to steer the conversation to less dangerous ground.

Rebecca laughed. "No, not at all. I'm here to finish taking care of Walter's things and maybe sell the house. It took awhile, but I did finally get my life back together again," reminding him of his last words to her after Reinhardt's death. "I've been visiting friends, doing some competitive fencing again. I'm considering taking up coaching." She paused to sip her wine. "I really did love the bastard, you know.  I gave up a lot for him."  Wish it had been you.  Over the past few years, she'd found herself comparing the men she'd met to Duncan MacLeod. Few had measured up to the image of him she'd built in her mind. Meeting him again had started her mind turning on the possibilities. If she had her way, this evening might be just the beginning.

"I know." He smiled gently as he refilled her glass of wine. "He had a way of getting women to do that."

She grimaced, reminded of Reinhardt's callous dismissal of her feelings. "I should have known he didn't mean it when he said he loved me." While she'd gotten over the man, the humiliation still stung. She didn't think of herself as a gullible woman.

 "That isn't what I meant," he protested. "It's no reflection on you that you fell for him. He could seem very sincere when he wanted to, and he'd had a lot of practice."  Kind of an understatement, isn't it? he mused.  "I can't tell you that you were special to him, that you meant any more than anybody else. But I can tell you that you are special, Rebecca."

She smiled and stood up from the table.  Maybe we do get a second chance sometimes, lady. You're free now, and so is he.  She didn't know what Duncan's plans were for the evening, exactly, but she didn't think he'd throw her out if she made it plain that she was interested in getting to know him a lot better.

The loft itself said quite a lot about him. A seemingly simple man, all the aspects of his life housed in one immense room, clearly divided into kitchen, dining, sitting and sleeping spaces. The walls were mostly rough brick showing streaks of plaster here and there, with pipes running along the walls and I-beam supports left bare. It was open and uncluttered, but comfortable.

He was eclectic, as well. The shelves he used for kitchen storage and his books were strictly utilitarian, but the walls held an art collection that included a beautiful tapestry over his bed, an abstract batik print near the kitchen, and a variety of modern, three-dimensional artworks. His taste in furniture ranged from the very modern stools by the steel kitchen island to the eight-foot wardrobe at the other end of the loft. All in all, if his personality was as complex as his home, Rebecca knew she wanted to know this man better.

Mac rinsed the dishes and put away the leftovers as she prowled about the room, picking up various objects and examining them, her heels clicking like claws on the hardwood floor. Occasionally, she smiled in his direction, making a desultory remark about his good taste.  With her sleek leopard print dress and her mane of dark hair, she reminded him of a jungle cat marking its territory.

He'd been pleased when he ran into her in the gallery. He wasn't sure how pleased, but a simple dinner date didn't exactly commit him to picking out china, despite Methos' insinuations. If anything more interesting than just dinner developed, well...he could deal with that if it happened. He wryly acknowledged that he was not averse to the thought of "more". Rebecca was as brazenly flirtatious as she had been three years previously. However, freed of the suspicions and tortured emotions of the circumstances under which they'd first met, it was more playful, and less edged. A beautiful, intelligent woman. She'd been wasted on a man like Reinhardt.

He watched her as she strolled to the couch to sit. She had a feline grace that was extremely attractive.  As opposed to the boneless sprawl of the couch's usual inhabitant.  The intrusive thought surprised him.  Rebecca's on the prowl. Methos is more like a cat who can't be bothered to cater to your whims when there's something more important to do, like sleep. Or drink your beer.  His mind wandered as he finished wiping down the counter.

"Hey! You still here?" Rebecca said. Duncan had completely ignored her last couple of remarks. Granted, it wasn't exactly scintillating conversation, but if she couldn't hold his interest this early in the evening, it didn't bode well for later.

Her amused but offended tones reached Mac and pulled him back from the odd place his mind had strayed. "Hmmmm? Oh, sorry, didn't mean to fade on you."  Realizing how that might sound-  not up to your usual standards of couth and attentiveness tonight, Mac, he hurried to explain himself, mind racing to the last relevant thought he remembered. "Actually, I was thinking that you were wasted on Reinhardt." He conveniently skipped over the intrusive thoughts concerning an entirely different Immortal.

"Oh, well then, fade away. As long as I'm not boring you." She smiled seductively over the edge of her glass, and patted the cushion next to her. "So, what have you been doing with yourself, lately? As flattering as it is to my ego to talk about me, surely something has been going on in your life?" She kicked off her shoes onto the Persian rug and curled up in the corner of the couch.

He'd told her of Tessa's death, and she had been genuinely sympathetic.  Under other circumstances, he thought it possible that she and Tessa might have been friends.  Then again, maybe not, he mused, watching Rebecca's sinuous movements as she settled into the plush leather couch. She obviously felt his bereavement was far enough in the past not to deter anything that might develop.  And how did he feel about that? He wasn't sure.

He sat, trying to figure out what in his life was fair game for small talk, reminded of Methos' comment about the villain of the week. Let's see, since I saw you last I've discovered that an organization of professional voyeurs has been stalking me for centuries, killed more people than I really care to consider, been the target of a group of men who wanted to kill me because I'm Immortal - did I mention that I was Immortal? - turned to the dark side of the force, but found my way back again... and through it all I've kept my secret identity intact! He coughed as he choked on his drink, giddily amused by his own internal monologue. He'd forgotten how messy getting involved with a mortal could be.

"What's so funny?" Rebecca was ready to take offense again if it seemed appropriate. The evening wasn't going badly, just not quite as she had envisioned.  Duncan had alternated between a charming attentiveness, and a less than flattering spaciness. It disconcerted her. She wasn't used to losing a man's attention.

"Nothing, nothing at all. Just one of those strange moments when your life races by at the speed of light, and you end up feeling like one of the Three Stooges."  Mac grinned as he turned toward her and rested his arm along the back of the couch behind her.

"I was always more of a Laurel and Hardy fan, myself." She knelt forward to put her drink on the table, shifting as she sat back so that her leg was against his, and placed her hand on his thigh.  This should get his attention, she thought as she deliberately leaned toward him.

Round one to Rebecca.  The words echoed oddly in his mind, bringing up a similar phrase in Methos' tones.

"Round one to Kristin."

At least Rebecca isn't after my head. Exactly.  He mentally shook himself, turning his attention back to the beautiful woman next to him, meeting her halfway.  After a brief caress, her lips parted to allow her tongue to tease against his mouth, her free hand gliding up his arm. Mac moved to slide his arms around her, pulling her more tightly against him. He could taste the sweetness of the wine on her tongue as he opened his mouth to deepen the kiss. Pressing her backward, he slid his hands over her back, stroking along her side and up under the curve of one breast - and froze as he felt a familiar sensation at the base of his skull.

He started to disentangle himself, to Rebecca's confusion. A knock came on the door, but before he could stand up, it opened, and a lean, lanky figure strolled in, clutching a paper bag to his stomach with one hand, and holding a couple of videotapes in the other.

The man stopped and blinked in surprise, looking back and forth from Mac to the woman. "Sorry, am I interrupting?"


 

"So," Rebecca said to Duncan, "mixing up your dates?" Her tone was arch.

"I wouldn't exactly call watching a movie with Adam a date," said Mac. He'd taken the sack of beer from Methos, and moved to put it in the refrigerator, snagging a cold one and holding it up. "Cold horse piss, or warm whatever this stuff is?" He saw Rebecca's raised eyebrow. "He's been insulting my taste in beverages," he explained. He felt oddly embarrassed, even shy about the scene Methos had disturbed. It wasn't as if he hadn't been enjoying it, it was just...some part of him wished it hadn't happened.  Why? he asked himself.  After all, we're both adults. It isn't like I wasn't expecting it.

"Ah, I shouldn't stay," said Methos, as he moved toward Mac and took the bottle.  "But if you insist...whatever this is, is fine." He looked disparagingly at the label, then turned and smiled winningly at Rebecca. "I won't stay long."  Then you can get on with whatever it was that you were getting on with, he grumped silently.  For some reason MacLeod's crack about the date had rubbed him the wrong way.  So much for a quiet evening with Mac. He obviously needed a wider circle of friends.

"Any friend of Duncan's," said Rebecca, trying to conceal her irritation. What the hell is Duncan thinking?  She didn't want to be rude to his friend - yet.  He deserved it, considering what he'd interrupted, but going by Duncan's response to her, she could afford to be generous for a while.

Mac handed the opener to Methos with a mock-stern look. "I don't think I was the one who got my dates mixed up?" He looked questioningly at Methos, the gaze turning threatening as he realized that the other man was getting ready to pitch the bottle cap behind the refrigerator.

"Sorry," said Methos, in response to both the issue of the bottle cap, and his unexpected appearance. "I could have sworn we said tonight. I guess I forgot  your...other plans. I'll just finish this and be on my way." He dropped the cap on the counter.  Mac sighed pointedly, and swept it into the trash can.

Watching the mocking grin that broke out on Methos' face, Mac realized that he was unreasonably glad to see him.  I'm getting very used to having him around.

Methos plopped himself into a chair, and leaned forward to extend his hand "Hi. I'm Adam Pierson, Mac's resident pain in the ass. You must be...Rebecca?"

Mac's eyes narrowed behind him. How had Methos forgotten Mac's dinner plans, but still managed to remember Rebecca's name? If he'd not gotten the day wrong, what was he doing here? Surely he didn't think Mac needed protecting?  For somebody who doesn't care about anybody but himself, he sure pokes his nose in a lot. Of course, with that kind of equipment.... His mind tried to relate a joke correlating the sizes of different types of equipment, but he was quite sure he didn't want to go there. He didn't know whether to be amused or annoyed by Methos' presence. For some reason, annoyance seemed a safer course.

Rebecca was also of two minds, unsure whether to let herself be charmed, or to remain reserved. After all, this man was putting quite a crimp in her evening's entertainment, and she was more than a little put-out that Duncan didn't seem to mind. He looked mildly irritated, but his actual manner showed more amusement than anything else. On the other hand, showing open annoyance wouldn't be very attractive on her part. So, she'd just follow Duncan's lead.  It's not as if there isn't plenty of time,  she reflected.  If he doesn't get a clue soon, I'll just give him one.


 

"Plenty of time" dwindled rapidly, and Rebecca was losing her cool. She and Methos had been having quite the conversation. She had to admit that he was a very charming and interesting man, but not the one with whom she'd planned to spend the evening. She had tried to draw Duncan into their exchange, but he seemed completely bemused. He added little, spending his time glancing back and forth between the other two, getting up occasionally to refill drinks. Her replies to Adam were getting shorter and less civil, of which both men seemed completely oblivious.

From his vantage point in the kitchen, Mac studied the figure in the chair, splayed back as it was with one leg hooked over the arm, and one foot up on the table.  He has such interesting body language. He took in the expansive position that bared Methos' belly and groin to attack.  He's either totally comfortable, or he's lulling any potential predator into thinking him an easy kill.  For some reason, he didn't think that Methos was feeling particularly comfortable, in spite of his relaxed words and manner.

But if he wasn't, why did he stay? For that matter, why was he letting Methos stay? Accepting this kind of interruption unchallenged just wasn't normal. Methos had barged in on a romantic evening, a night full of potential, and he was letting him. The appropriate thing to do would be to make it quite clear to a certain bloody-minded immortal that he had overstayed his welcome. The evening was still salvageable; in fact, Rebecca was behaving much more graciously than one might expect. There even seemed to be a bit of arch flirtation in her exchanges with Methos. At least, he thought it was flirtation. A bit caustic, but . . .

"So, Mac, Rebecca says she hasn't seen that weapons' exhibit we went to last week. You should take her."

"To make up for having this evening disrupted?" he asked, pushing the other man's foot off onto the floor none too gently, even as he handed Methos another beer.  Coward, he thought.

Methos sneered at him. "I already said I was sorry. What do you want, blood?"

What do I want? Mac asked himself, caught by the candlelight flickering over Methos' face. I'm starting to wonder if I know.  Just then, Methos looked at him, and their eyes locked. The air seemed to thicken, and Mac found himself having trouble catching his breath. Whatever was going on, Methos' presence was far more distracting than he was sure he was prepared to deal with.  Or do without.  With that thought, a preposterous idea began to take shape.

Rebecca waited with growing impatience. With Adam's arrival, the tension that had been slowly and pleasurably building between herself and Duncan had vanished, though the actual tension level in the room had increased.  She wasn't at all sure what was going on, but she knew she didn't like it.  Observing the look exchanged between the two men, she liked it even less. She'd spent all evening with Duncan, and hadn't achieved that level of intensity, even in the midst of a passionate kiss.

After all, any normal man, given the way the evening had been progressing, would have immediately tossed Adam out on his ear. Mixed up the nights? Fine, no problem, leave. Bundled him and his movies out the door. But no, here Duncan sat, staring at Adam as if he was his date. She knew she hadn't misread his interest. So, what was going on with these two?

Particularly, what was with this guy, Adam? If he'd been a woman, she would have thought that he was warning her off. His conversation was full of "Mac and I" this, and "we" that.  Hell, so what if he's a guy? Maybe he is warning me off. And Duncan doesn't seem very interested in proving him wrong.  Methos was on his third beer, and Rebecca had had just about enough. It was either him or her; Duncan had better decide.

With conscious effort, Mac tore his gaze away from Methos, and turned back to Rebecca, wondering if he was imagining things. He caught at the threads of the conversation. "It really was an excellent exhibit. With your inclinations and knowledge, you should find it very interesting." He found himself stopping short of issuing an actual invitation. After all, he'd already seen it with Methos.  Perhaps they could do something else.   But is she the one I want to do something else with?  his mind betrayed him.

Rebecca, too, was very aware that even given the prompt from his friend, Duncan had failed to extend an invitation, which was galling. This is not the evening I had planned, she thought angrily. She was starting to wonder if she wasn't just a pawn in some intricate maneuver between the two men. If that turned out to be the case, somebody was going to be very unhappy, and it wasn't going to be her.

"You have an interest in weapons?" Methos was watching Mac, even though his comment was addressed to Rebecca. "Any particular types?"

Mac stepped in before Rebecca could reply, anxious to keep things going. "When we met, she was wanting to look at a French Cavalry lance we had in the old store.  She has quite a collection of various dangerous objects."  He grinned at Rebecca, reminding her of her own flirtatious words at the time.  Her smile in return was wintry.  He realized then that she was much more perturbed than she'd let on.

"Then you really should see this exhibit. I think it runs through the end of the week.  How long are you in town?" The look on Adam's face was completely innocent and unconcerned when Rebecca turned to look at him.

"Exactly what business is it of yours?" she snapped. "And haven't you finished your beer yet? Or rather, your three beers?"

Both men looked surprised, having lost track of the time. Methos placed his nearly full beer on the table, and stood. "I guess I have overstayed my welcome. Sorry, Mac, I got a bit carried away."

Rebecca turned to Duncan, looking for support, but saw only discomfort.

"Rebecca, I...Methos! " It was a sign of his disorientation that his friend's true name came from his lips. He darted a quick look at Rebecca to see if she had noticed, but she had finally had it, too angry to have caught the slip.

"That's it! Maybe you should have stuck with your date with him!" She leapt off the couch, scooped up her shoes and coat, and headed out the door in her stocking feet.

Methos had the grace to look somewhat apologetic as Mac followed her, pausing only long enough to push Methos back in his chair. "You stay here. I want to talk to you."


 

"Rebecca, wait!" In her fury, she had almost reached her car, and he hurried to stop her, although he had no idea what he was going to say.

"What! So you can humiliate me some more? What's your game, Duncan? What the hell was going on up there?" She leaned against the red coupe to slip on her shoes.

"What do you mean?" he stalled.

She looked at him mockingly. "Oh, come on now, don't tell me you didn't notice.  That was quite a contest going on up there. If I'd known I was expected to fight for your favors, I would have been a lot less eager to show up. And then, you had the gall to look as if I were the one at fault, being rude to your guest. I was your guest first! What about his behavior toward me?"

"Rebecca, please! I didn't intend..."

"What did you intend? You let him sit there, mocking me, playing with me, and you said nothing!"

Mac slumped against her car. "I don't think he meant anything like that. I know I should have done something, I just didn't know what. And I thought you were enjoying yourself," he added lamely.

"Enjoying myself?! Before he showed up, then I was enjoying myself. I thought you were too!" She paced up and down. "You could have told him to leave."

"I...I didn't want him to leave," he admitted. "I'm sorry, Rebecca, but...you don't understand. I've never seen him like he was tonight, I couldn't...."

"I don't understand? Get a clue, MacLeod!  You say you weren't using me, but he was obviously jealous.  How long has this been going on?  Was I just some diversion from a lover's spat?  Were you just using me to make him jealous?"

"It's not like that! Believe me, Rebecca, he and I, we've...we're just friends." He said this last halfheartedly. Her words were too close to his own unspoken thoughts.

Rebecca laughed. "If all he wants to be is your friend, then I'm a Norwegian blond,"  she said bitingly. "That man was staking a claim, MacLeod. You may not have known it, but it was there. Trust me.  I've been there before, on both sides.  So what the hell was I doing there now? I've been used before, and I don't like it. I thought better of you."

"I'm sorry. I didn't know, Rebecca, truly. There isn't anything between Adam and me but friendship. At least, I didn't know there was." He looked up and saw the angry, skeptical look on her face. "It's the truth! Well, it was until tonight." He rubbed his hand over his face.  All I do know is I've been turned on all evening, and just lately, I don't think it's been because of you.

Duncan looked so genuinely miserable that she had trouble sustaining her anger.  "I promised myself after Walter that I wouldn't let myself be used again. Well, I sure felt used tonight."

He reached out and pulled her into his arms, trying to comfort her with his body in a way he couldn't with his words. Everything he said seemed to make things worse. She resisted briefly, then allowed herself to be pulled against him. "I am truly sorry. I didn't know, Rebecca. That doesn't excuse my behavior, and I'm not trying to. But I just couldn't, I couldn't seem to get myself to tell him to leave." His penchant for honesty forced him to add, "And even if I had I don't know if it would have made any difference."

He bent toward her, aiming for a kiss on her cheek. Turning her head, she captured it with her own, taking advantage of his surprise to make it deep and intimate.  One last hurrah,  she thought. Or a consolation prize.  One arm slid around his neck to hold him close, while the other hand slid down, feeling the power of his chest, trailing further to squeeze between his legs.

Caught off-guard, and still confused about both Rebecca and Methos, Mac instinctively tightened his arms around her, enjoying the feel of her body against his. Briefly he thought of Methos and took hold of her arms to push her away.  But the insistent movements of her hand and body, and the taste of her mouth acted on his own over-stimulated senses and confused mind to bring the responses she'd awoken earlier to the fore.  All thoughts of the man waiting upstairs were temporarily driven from his mind by the more immediate proximity of the woman in his arms. His hands slid down to cup her buttocks, pulling her tightly against him.

Reveling in the strength of his arms, Rebecca started to wonder if maybe the night wasn't lost after all. Duncan was damn close to taking her right here in the street.

As if in response to her thoughts, Mac turned them, pressing her up against the car as his hands slid to cup and fondle her breasts. She bit his mouth, then began licking and biting down his throat, groaning as his leg pressed and rubbed between her thighs, one of his hands moving to pull up her skirt.

They jumped apart when the dojo door slammed behind them. Mac turned in time to see Methos heading down the street, obviously intent on being someplace else, and suddenly things seemed a bit clearer. "Meth... Adam, wait!  Please!" He threw an agonized look at Rebecca, and ran after the other man.

Rebecca stood there, folding her arms about a body that felt suddenly bereft.

When Mac caught him by the shoulder, Methos whirled so abruptly that he almost knocked Mac over. His tones were completely neutral. "I think that you should continue upstairs. It would be a hell of a lot more comfortable - and I won't be interrupting you anymore."

When Mac looked in his eyes, he couldn't tell what the other man was thinking.  "Methos, please. I want you to go back upstairs and wait for me. We need to talk."

"I don't see that there's anything to talk about. I've been a complete imbecile, and I've ruined your evening. I'll try and find some way to make it up to you, but right now you'd better see to your date." He looked pointedly over Mac's shoulder to where Rebecca was leaning against the vehicle, her clothing still disheveled.

"We're finished..." Mac realized how ludicrous that sounded when Methos cocked an eyebrow at him.

"So soon? But you'd just gotten started," he said silkily. "The impatience of the young."

Mac felt his own anger building, fueled by his lingering confusion and Methos' attitude. "Go upstairs, Methos. If you don't, it will be very unpleasant for one of us."  He stared into Methos' eyes meaningfully.

For the first time, Methos looked a little uncertain. "Why should I?"

"Just do it. You owe me."

"Are you sure that's what you want? I mean, you seem to have some unfinished business...." He raked his gaze up and down the Highlander's still aroused body meaningfully, then looked back up into his eyes, carefully ignoring the fact that his own pulse had picked up speed.

"Oh," said Mac in a tone just as silky as Methos', "I'm planning on finishing it.  Upstairs. Now."

Methos' eyes widened at the tone, and the words, and looked uncertainly at the other man. Deciding that discretion was indeed the better part of valor, he turned to go back upstairs, avoiding Rebecca's gaze as he did so.  So, was that a command, or a promise?  He wasn't sure which answer he wanted.

Mac walked back to where Rebecca stood, her arms wrapped around herself, looking vulnerable. He grasped her shoulders as she looked up. "I'm sorry, Rebecca," he said again. "I can't do this. It wouldn't be fair to either of us. It shouldn't have happened at all."

She leaned her head on his chest, acknowledging just how disappointed she was at the end to the evening.  The problem was she still trusted the idiot holding her, had, even before he'd convinced her that Walter was using her.  She honestly didn't think he'd used her to get to Adam.  And after all, it was her pride that was injured, more than her heart. She hadn't had time enough for her heart to get tangled up. Much. Her aggressive actions had been driven more by anger than desire.

"Can't blame a girl for trying, can you?" Her voice wavered. "I've got to work on my timing." He smiled bleakly. "I'm sorry, Duncan, that was unfair, but I had to try. You're pretty irresistible - and I was still angry. He must have seen us from the window."

"I guess so. And don't blame yourself too much. I didn't resist as hard as I could have. I guess I just didn't want to think about anything right at that moment. I wasn't very fair to you, either."

"And it obviously bothered him. The question now is," she said, "Do you  want to be just friends? It's pretty clear to me that he's interested in more." She didn't know why she cared after the disruption of her own plans - but she did.

"Before tonight I would have thought yes. I mean, I, I don't know what I mean."  Mac stopped and stood there, looking at Rebecca helplessly. "I don't know what I want." His mind was still adjusting to this new perception of Methos.

"Why don't you start by finding out what he wants? Maybe he has a better idea than you do. He seems like a pretty clever guy.  Obnoxious, but clever."  Her anger had mostly evaporated.  Hell, start the day planning to get this man into bed, and end it as his matchmaker.  Somebody might as well get something out of the ruined evening. But first, she still had a question that had been nagging at her.   "You know, this may be kind of personal, but I wouldn't have taken you for someone who, well, went for guys." It was indelicate, but she was curious, and figured she deserved a little compensation.

"I don't, really," he admitted. "I "go" for people. Sometimes, though rarely, those people happen to be men." He smiled indulgently at the look on her face. "Men and women are both beautiful, both have their own particular physical charms, but it's the spirit that draws me. Like yours does, Rebecca." He reached out and stroked her cheek. "You're right.  It's lousy timing. And lack of self-awareness on my part. I just hadn't looked for it from this  particular guy.  I am sorry.  It seems I have a prior commitment. Look, are you going to be okay?"

"Oh, eventually. Too many feelings stirred up in too short a time." She smiled wanly at him. "I'll be fine. Go talk to your friend." She reached up and kissed him chastely on the cheek, then got into her car and drove off.


When he got back upstairs, Methos was wandering around the loft, much as Rebecca had earlier, a new, but already almost empty beer in his hand. Mac darted a suspicious look at the fridge as he moved to lean near the window. As he watched Methos, he let himself openly admire him, finally admitting his attraction.  He hoped that Rebecca was right, and that Methos felt something too. The other man was moving restlessly, like a cat in a thunderstorm. After the silence had grown to epic proportions, he finally spoke. "So, why are you here, Methos?"

"Look, Mac, I'm sorry if I ruined some great seduction scene or something..."  His voice was taunting. He had obviously decided that the best defense was a good offense.

"Shut up, Methos." Mac's voice was amused, and gentle.

Methos looked offended. "You asked!" he said peevishly.

"But you're not really answering, are you?" MacLeod shrugged, as if the answer didn't really matter. "You want another beer?" he asked, heading for the fridge. He had no intention of letting Methos off the hook, and he was going to enjoy this. He just wasn't sure where to start.

Methos felt confused, and it wasn't a feeling he liked. What game was Mac playing at? Why wasn't he yelling? And why was he here, instead of Rebecca? That clinch down at the car had been hot enough to set off several fire alarms. If he'd known they were going to be generating that kind of heat, he never would have stayed for the first beer. Really, he wouldn't. He had some discretion, after all.  A very little.  When he wanted.  He just wouldn't think about how he'd felt when he'd watched MacLeod pulled in like a dog in heat.  It was jealousy, that's it.  It had been a long time, after all. He was just jealous of Mac.

"Yeah, okay." He sprawled at the end of the couch. "You're not holding a grudge or anything, are you? All you had to do was say so, and I would have taken off." The tone of voice and his body language implied that he could really care less whether Mac was upset or not, but the glint in his eyes betrayed his wariness.  The apparently loose-limbed figure was very carefully not letting his tension show.

What am I doing here? he wondered.  I'm not exactly infallible, or the epitome of tact, but I don't usually get dates wrong, and I usually have enough courtesy to leave when I'm intruding.  He mentally shrugged.  Ah, well, you get bored enough, anything will do to entertain you. It's not as if they were doing anything much when I got here, and Mac's quite capable of kicking me out. It's his own fault he didn't.   Having salved the conscience he claimed not to have, he relaxed back into the couch, sliding down even further to find just the right spot.

Five thousand years of paranoia.  Mac grinned to himself at the picture presented to him when he turned around. Somehow, Methos always managed to find a position somewhere between horizontal and vertical that made it look as if he had no bones at all. Mac had tried the position once, out of curiosity, and it still amazed him that Methos could be comfortable like that. "Shouldn't I be upset?  We'd had a very enjoyable dinner, and were having a very pleasant...conversation, and then you show up and plop yourself down to stay. Here," he said as he handed Methos the bottle. "Sorry, I already took the cap off."

Methos looked briefly puzzled, then grinned. "He only does it to annoy...."

"...because he knows it teases. Yeah, I know," Mac said indulgently, his voice gentle and strangely husky. Mac's fingers lingered briefly on Methos' as he took the bottle, but a glance at Mac's face showed nothing out of the ordinary.  Must have imagined it, he thought, unconsciously flexing his hand.

He shifted slightly as Mac sat next to him on the couch. The Highlander was obviously in a strange mood, and it made Methos more than a little uncomfortable.  Mac was usually so easy to read, but the cues were all off tonight, and he couldn't figure out why.  He didn't seem nearly upset enough that Methos had effectively, if unintentionally torpedoed his evening with Rebecca.   Of course it was unintentional. And, it's not like that's a permanent thing. All he'd probably have to do is call her up, ask her back and smile at her once or twice.  She'd melt all over him.  He blinked slightly at the caustic edge to his thoughts. What was it to him if Mac got lucky? After all, it wasn't like...Methos almost hurt himself changing mental gears so fast.

"Something wrong?"

He jumped slightly at the velvet tones. Glancing over his shoulder, he saw that Mac's eyes were intent on him. "No, nothing at all, why do you ask?"

"You looked uncomfortable." Mac sounded amused, which didn't do anything to make Methos feel any less unsettled.

"Well, you would be too in my place!" he snapped.

"Why?"

"Because you're staring at me!"

"I am?"

"Yes, and I wish you'd quit. What, have I got something on my face?" Methos was starting to feel quite peevish.  Make one stupid mistake. The feelings that accompanied this thought felt unhappily like guilt, one emotion he tried to do without.  Not like I have anything to feel guilty about. He could have sent me on my way quite handily,  he reminded himself.  And when's the yelling going to start? He's the one who wanted to talk. If he doesn't start soon, I'm gone.

His nervousness increased and he felt his face flushing as Mac took his chin in his hand. After quite seriously and thoroughly scrutinizing Methos' face, turning it from side to side, he ended up staring into his eyes.  No man should have eyes like that, he thought breathlessly.

"No, not that I can see. Nothing that shouldn't be there." Mac dropped his hand, and took a long drink of his beer, keeping his eyes on Methos as he drank.

Methos found himself holding his breath, watching the Highlander's throat as he swallowed, the dusky skin rippling with each sensuous swallow. His gaze wandered to that beautiful mouth, closed around the lip of the bottle like... I'm outta here.  He exploded out of the couch, looking around wildly for his coat.

"Going somewhere?" asked that deep, rich voice quietly from behind him.  Against his own better judgment, he turned to look. His eyes widened as he took in the sight of Mac leaning forward on his knees, lips looking lush and full, fingers toying with his beer, a knowing, infuriating look in his eyes.

"What kind of game are you playing, MacLeod?"

"No game, Methos. Or maybe I am playing a game, but I doubt it's the one you think I'm playing." He paused while he locked eyes with Methos. "Why are you here, Methos?"

"Because I got the bloody damn day wrong, okay? We've been through this already!"

"No, that's not it." Mac's imperturbable calm heightened Methos' anxiety. He felt frozen in place by Mac's gaze, yet bursting with uncontrollable energy.

"Okay, then if you're so all-knowing, why don't you tell me why I'm here?"  Turning again to leave, he told himself that the Highlander was just getting back at him for ruining his evening.  He turned back abruptly, thinking he heard Mac getting to his feet. Mac hadn't moved, but Methos watched him nervously and glanced toward where he'd thrown his coat over the chair.

"I didn't know why at first, and now I just suspect." Mac seemed fascinated by Methos' futile attempts to wet his dry lips. "It didn't seem like you to mistake the days like that. So, I asked myself, what if it wasn't a mistake?"

Methos looked at him incredulously. "Why on earth would I do that? All I did was screw up your date! What purpose would that serve?"

Mac looked at him steadily. "You tell me." His eyes danced with merriment and something else that Methos chose to ignore as Mac stood up and walked toward the other man, who was feeling like a cornered animal.

"Why are you here, Methos?"

"Stop asking me that!" Methos said as he backed toward his coat, his mind racing yet going nowhere.

"I don't think I've ever seen you this off-balance before, Methos. I kind of like it."  Mac's amusement was obvious in the deep, rich tones of his voice, bubbling up and around the laughter Methos could hear caught in his throat.

"I'm not off-balance, Highlander, just...." Methos started to deny the obvious, not realizing that he'd reached the chair, and the sword, concealed by his coat, that was protruding just enough to catch against his ankle. Pinwheeling his arms, he went down in a heap on the hardwood floor.

Mac chuckled, immediately struck by the apropos meeting of words and actions.  As he watched Methos flail, his amusement bubbled out of control, and he had to brace his hands on his knees to stay on his feet as he roared with laughter.

Methos raised himself on his elbows, glaring indignantly at Mac, preparing a withering retort. As he watched the other man wipe tears of laughter from his eyes, his indignation faded, replaced by a different tension, one no less disconcerting.   God, he thought, I don't think I've ever seen him let go like this. He's beautiful when he's dour, but when he laughs...of course, he's being hysterical at my expense, which isn't terribly attractive.  Distracted as he was by the Highlander's mirth, he couldn't fail to notice the direction his thoughts had taken, despite his pitiful attempt to deflect it with pique. His mind worked overtime trying to regain the balance he'd lost somewhere between Rebecca's departure and his own pratfall.

What am I doing here? he asked himself, since Mac was obviously in no condition to do so again. More than that, why do I keep coming back here? It's not as if I wouldn't be safer anywhere this Immortal magnet wasn't.

Yes, he answered himself, but you'd be alone. He makes you feel like you're not alone, any more. That thought was enough to paralyze him again.

Mac finally managed to pull himself together, chuckling slightly. He looked down at Methos who was still sprawled on the floor and showed no signs of moving, staring up at Mac in horrified fascination.  In fact, he realized upon closer examination,  he looks like an animal trapped in the headlights.  "What's the matter?" Mac asked, "never seen anyone have a good laugh before?" When Methos didn't respond, Mac crouched down next to him. "Hey, are you all right?" he asked softly, concern in his voice.

Methos shook his head slightly, whether in negation or bemusement, he wasn't sure. He reached his hand out and stroked his fingers lightly down Mac's cheek, not meeting his eyes as he stared at the place where their flesh touched.

"What am I doing here, Mac?"

His voice was husky, and Mac sensed a slight edge of something that might have been panic lurking in its depths.  He's so close to bolting.  "Anything you want," he said, moving his hand to press Methos' fingers against his cheek.

Methos looked up, startled, his breath catching at what he saw in Mac's eyes. The amusement was still present, if dimmed, but the desire in them was plain to see.  His thumb traced lightly over Mac's lips, his eyes closing as teeth caught lightly at the pad of his thumb, the moist heat of Mac's tongue stroking and swirling small patterns against his skin. How did you know I wanted this, when I'd managed to hide it from myself? And what do I do now?

"You were really "on" tonight, you know that?" Mac said roughly, taking Methos' hand in his and holding it between them, starting to stroke and knead the fingers softly, moving to the palm. "It was riveting. So much charm, and you use it so seldom." He paused to nibble again on the pad of the thumb, biting along the fleshy base, and suckling briefly on the web of flesh between the thumb and fingers. "I haven't seen you like that very often. I liked it a lot." He pressed a kiss on the center of Methos' palm, then let his tongue swirl in an outward spiral that had Methos swallowing hard.

He stayed still as Mac pulled his head back, tracing the fingertips of his other hand along the pattern burned into Methos' palm by his tongue. "I liked it so much, I let you chase off my date, and I did nothing." His mouth quirked with amusement. "It was like watching a verbal tennis match, words flying between you and Rebecca.  You seemed to be having the time of your life, and I couldn't bear to stop it. I knew I should, but I couldn't." He slowly slipped Methos' middle finger into his mouth, his lips tight around it, his eyes fixed on the hazel gaze in front of him.

Mesmerized by the warmth of Mac's mouth, Methos made a small sound of disappointment as Mac slowly pulled back. He jumped at the sudden nip inside his wrist, then closed his eyes briefly as Mac followed this up by a brief suckling and stroking of his tongue along the abused flesh.  "I just sat there, watching you two discuss Seacouver, the weather, the latest films, the art shows and symphonies - and everything you said was all about me - or rather, us.  A movie we'd seen, somewhere we'd eaten dinner, a show we'd gone to." He smiled again.  "I guess I hadn't realized exactly how much time we've been spending together."

He took Methos' hand and held it to his face, rubbing his cheek into the palm.  Holding it lightly, he used it to stroke down his throat to the opening of his shirt, partially unbuttoning it with his free hand. Methos' eyes followed the trail their joined hands made as they slid down further. As Mac let go to pull the other man up into a sitting position, Methos continued stroking Mac's chest lightly, long elegant fingers sliding through the dark curls. His mouth quirked smugly as Mac's breathing shifted unevenly.

Mac's hands moved to curve around Methos' face, one thumb sliding to caress seductively over his lips, around and around, softening and parting them to rub against the soft interior. "I guess that being with you just seemed natural." Mac's voice caught roughly on the words. He took a deep breath. "Rebecca had to point out the obvious, though. It wasn't something I looked for from you, that possessiveness, that marking of territory."

Mac's words fascinated Methos, as did the feel of the thumb stroking along his lips and teeth. The other hand moved to caress the back of his neck, that thumb swirling gently around the whorls of his ear. His breath came fitfully as he waited  for what would come next. The feel of Mac's skin and hair under his palm was breathtakingly erotic, the small nub of a nipple rising under his stroking fingers as they sought and found it. Mac moaned softly, his teeth closing over that luscious lower lip, drawing Methos' attention back to Mac's face.

"That's why she left, you know. She was so angry. I couldn't blame her, she had every right to be. And when she kissed me again...I was so confused, Methos."

Methos arched his neck back into the cradling hands, as far as he could, looking into the other man's eyes. It made him feel terribly vulnerable, but anything else seemed unimaginable. His body was oh, so hard, just at the unspoken promise of something he hadn't even known he wanted - or hadn't been willing to admit. His hands continued their explorations, pushing Mac's shirt slightly off his shoulders, straying along the waistband of his pants, down to stroke lightly over hips and thighs. He glanced down, gratified to see that the Highlander was as aroused as he was.

Methos' tongue darted out to wet his again dry lips, and Mac's thumb moved to follow in pursuit. "But when I saw you leaving, I realized something. I didn't want to seduce Rebecca, Methos." Mac's voice was barely a whisper, but rich and dark, sounding to Methos like honey and red wine. "I want to seduce you." His thumb continued its exploration of Methos' mouth, gently pressing the lips apart to stroke the soft inner lip to the corner. "Think I have a chance?"

"Oh, I think you might," Methos whispered unsteadily, briefly tightening his grip on Mac's thighs. As simply as that, he decided to stop worrying and just act. "After all, to the victor go the spoils." Mac took a deep shuddering breath and closed his eyes as the fingers brushing lightly across his thighs made contact with the swollen flesh between them. Methos closed his lips around Mac's thumb, sucking hard as one hand closed around Mac's aching cock and began squeezing rhythmically. The double stimulation was too much, and the Highlander lost his own balance and almost fell forward. He barely managed to catch himself on one outstretched hand, but he exerted more effort to keep the connection with Methos' unbelievably soft mouth.

Methos smiled as the eyes staring into his glazed over, and Mac fought to remember how to breathe. Mac closed his eyes, trying to find his voice again. He was finding it nearly impossible to focus on anything but the heat that seemed to wash over him in waves as Methos' continued suckling. "What do you think I'd have to do?" he said hoarsely, gasping when Methos bit down sharply, feeling bereft when the warmth that had surrounded him was removed.

"Well," Methos said nonchalantly, "you could start by helping me off the floor." He removed his hand from between Mac's legs, smiling wickedly at the disappointed groan the movement occasioned, and looked expectant.

"Oh, I don't know," Mac murmured, trying to regain some control and leaning farther over the prone form of the other man. "Maybe I like having you on the floor."

"That's because you're on top," said Methos in dangerous tones, "and you haven't had me anywhere...yet." Taking advantage of Mac's shifting weight he surged up, grabbing his wrists and twisting their bodies so they ended with positions reversed. "Yeah, I can see how this could be appealing," he purred, pressing Mac's arms up and over his head. His eyes gleamed at the startled look on Mac's face. He swiftly lowered his body, pressing his thigh between the other man's legs and moving his mouth to within a single breath of Mac's ear. "If I'm going to get fucked, Mac, I don't want to be distracted by a hard floor," he murmured silkily.

Mac arched involuntarily, pressing tightly against the other man's body, excited by the words and the vulnerable position in which he unexpectedly found himself. He licked his lips, moaning as Methos' teeth closed gently around his ear lobe, pulling it into his mouth. It vividly reminded Mac of the feel of his thumb in Methos' mouth, that hot, wet, tight...suddenly, he forgot his appetite for games as a greater hunger demanded to be sated.

"You win," he rasped. "The bed it is." He felt Methos' lips curve briefly in a smile against his ear, then moaned again as that mouth was pressed briefly and tantalizingly against his lips. A tongue slipped in to caress his own so quickly that he would have thought it a dream but for the taste, reminiscent of the beer so recently consumed.

Methos released his arms as he rolled to his feet, heading across the room without a backward glance. Mac lay there for a moment, eyes closed, catching his breath and idly trying to figure out exactly when he'd become the one who was off-balance.  Figures. He's had a hell of a lot longer to practice the balancing act, he thought, as he got to his feet a bit unsteadily.

Methos sprawled against the head of the bed, one knee cocked and his hands  behind his head as he gazed with heated amusement at Mac's progress toward him. He'd divested himself of his shoes and socks, but otherwise remained fully dressed.  I haven't seen anyone so beautiful in centuries thought Methos.   D'you suppose he has any idea what he's doing to me? God, I hope not. He's devastating enough without insider information.

In spite of his seeming control, Methos' pulse was racing. It was all he could do to keep still and not let his impatience become embarrassingly vocal when Mac detoured into the bathroom. It appeased his frustration slightly when he saw what Mac brought out with him. The reality of what was going to happen hit him even harder as he eyed the highly practical items, and his arousal turned up a notch, impossible as that seemed. "Ever the Boy Scout, MacLeod." The words were teasing, but the tones unsteady.

"Oh, I doubt they covered this in the Boy Scout Handbook," said Mac as he set the towels and the small tube down by the bed, "but it is good to be prepared." The smoky look he turned on Methos caused a twinge of pleasure that raced straight to his groin. Standing by the bed, Mac's gaze traveled over the lean body, his deep brown eyes darkening further as Methos squirmed under the hot look.

When he reached Methos' face, their eyes locked together again, Mac's weight shifting as he removed his shoes. Still watching Methos, Mac reached back to free his hair from its confinement.

Methos' tongue slipped out to trace his lips nervously, his legs shifting uncomfortably as his jeans became noticeably tighter.  Wonder how long we can tease each other before one of us explodes, he thought fuzzily.  Of course,  he finally acknowledged,  we've been teasing each other for weeks.  He sat up, and in one smooth movement, stripped off his sweater, sliding to his knees and moving to slide his cupped hands over Mac's shoulders and down his arms to his thighs.  His thumbs caressed the juncture of torso and thighs, eyes never leaving Mac's face.

Mac shrugged out of his shirt, his breathing steady and strong, deep breath trying to supply a body that felt like it was drowning.  His eyes stared into Methos', mesmerized by the shifting patterns of color and light. The depths seemed to draw him in and surround him. His hands curved over the pale shoulders in front of him, squeezing and feeling the wiry strength concealed there.

Methos knelt in front of him, equally transfixed. Now that they were so close, he found himself afraid.  I could lose myself entirely in you, Duncan. That truly frightens me.

"I know," whispered Mac. "Me, too."

Methos flushed as he realized that he'd spoken aloud. He tore his eyes from Mac's, the intimacy too intense, sinking back on his legs and looking straight ahead instead, where his fingers were sliding and petting over the broad chest.  "So, why are we here?" he said, in unconscious imitation of Mac's earlier question.

Mac caught Methos' hands in his own, and held them until Methos looked up at him again. "Because, as frightening as this is, I can't imagine being anywhere else at this point," Mac said quietly. "Why are you here, Methos?" he asked, for the last time.

"Because right now, this is where I want to be," Methos whispered, knowing as he said it that it concealed a truth deeper than he was quite ready to deal with. "I want this, Highlander. I want you." His own voice sounded strange to his ears, making its way out of a throat tight with need.  "I don't know about anything else, Duncan, and I'm not ready to talk about it right now."

"Right now is all we have to worry about. And right now, I want you." Mac slid one hand behind Methos' neck to pull him forward, claiming that clever mouth with his own. Methos ceased to be aware of anything but that mouth on his, even as his hands deftly encouraged Mac out of his remaining clothing, his hands sliding over shoulders and broad back.

The taste of the Highlander filled his mouth, Mac's tongue stroking possessively over the same path his thumb had caressed earlier. Mac's hands roamed over his back, kneading his shoulders, his mouth probing deeply. Methos shuddered when a knee pressed between his, Mac pulling him more firmly against himself. Methos' own hands clung to Mac's shoulders. He felt surrounded, desired, overwhelmed, the heat of Mac's body searing into his.

Mac eased Methos backwards, the bed catching him as Mac moved over him. He moaned as Mac released his mouth, only to gasp as that hot mouth kissed and nibbled its way along his jawline to his ear, lips and tongue again following the path created by Mac's thumb earlier. "You taste so good." The Highlander's voice breathed the words into his ear, causing tremors throughout his body, pressing it more tightly to Mac's. In response, Mac thrust his tongue deeply into Methos' ear, then whispered, "You're wearing too many clothes."

Only then did Methos realize that he still wore his jeans. Mac kneeled back, baring his body to Methos' hungry gaze as he moved to remove the last remaining obstacle. He kept himself under tight control as Mac carefully and slowly opened the zipper and slid his hands down the sides of Methos' hips, stroking down his legs and pulling the jeans down with them. The only sign of Methos' distress was the hands clenched in the blankets at his sides.

Mac dropped the pants on the floor and knelt between Methos' legs, letting his hands wander over those long limbs even as his eyes wandered over the spare form. Methos returned the favor, drinking in the sight of Mac's glorious, golden body. "I can fully understand Rebecca's interest," he remarked with assumed casualness.

Mac's lips twisted. "Are you saying that you only want me for my body?" His hands slid up to cover Methos' wrists where they gripped the bed.

"Oh," said Methos, staring down at the obvious evidence of Mac's arousal, "it's a good place to start." Catching the Highlander off guard again, he wrenched his wrists up and off the bed, pulling Mac's body down onto his own. "Speaking of getting started..." He slid one leg around Mac's hips, shifting carefully until he could feel Mac's erection against his own, drawing small breathless sounds from each of them. Mac nestled into the cradle of Methos' hips, pinning the still imprisoned wrists back to the bed by the pillow before capturing Methos' mouth again.

The kiss went on endlessly, hips thrusting and sliding together until both were trembling and needy. Methos shuddered as Mac licked and nipped his way down his jaw to his throat, then proceeded to explore every inch of that swanlike expanse with hot, open-mouthed kisses, leaving Methos writhing and moaning under him. The feel of Mac's teeth on that sensitive skin, the faint, rough brushes of his stubbled cheek had Methos squirming helplessly against the other man. "God, Mac, what are you trying to do to me?"

Mac chuckled. "Five thousand years, and you haven't figured that out?" Keeping Methos' wrists imprisoned, he began nibbling his way down the smooth, silky skin of Methos' chest, learning that this spot produced an aroused gasp, while this spot, an erotic movement of the body under his mouth. He caressed his tongue around the small point of a nipple, grazing it lightly with his teeth. Obtaining both an arching of the body and a slight moan at this maneuver, he tried it on the other side, a bit more sharply, following it up with a deep suckling, holding the nub in his teeth. Methos futilely strained against Mac's grasp, then bent his head to nip and suck at one of the wrists holding his own.

"Want something?" Mac asked slyly, tightening his hold.

"Ohhhh, lots of things." He pressed his hips up into Mac's abdomen, rubbing his thigh between the muscled legs pinning him down.

"Aaaah...." Mac punished the distraction with another sharp bite just below Methos' nipple, but gentled his grip on the other man's wrists. He then released them entirely, trailing his fingers lightly and teasingly down the sensitive inner arms. His fingers stroked and tugged gently through the hair under Methos' arms, then curved around his sides to pull the slighter body upwards. His lips traced a curving line down Methos' side, around to the navel, leisurely stroking his tongue along the expanse of skin and deeply into the hollow of his abdomen.

Freed from their confinement, Methos' hands moved to caress through the hair splayed out over his belly. He moved it away from Mac's face so he could watch that beautiful mouth move slowly, teasingly downwards, dumbfounded by the effect this man had on him.

"You are so beautiful," he breathed. Mac lifted his head to look at him and smiled, and Methos felt something inside him give. He stroked his hand over Mac's cheek and lips, quivering slightly as Mac pressed his mouth to the palm, nibbling and sucking, before turning to look at him again, still smiling. Methos' head fell back on the pillow, overwhelmed by the promise in those dark eyes. He looked up again when he felt Mac leaning over him, closing his eyes as Mac picked up the small tube from the night stand, only to open them wide when Mac's mouth descended on his, plundering its warmth and pulling his tongue in to be tasted and teased.

Mac pulled back to kneel between Methos' thighs, hands moving to grasp the slim hips and pull them up onto his own thighs, and toward his descending mouth. Methos shifted to help, his breath coming in a strangled gasp as Mac's lips closed around his aching cock. The stimulation was so overwhelming that he almost came at the first contact with that volcanic heat, his hand moving to hold Mac's head still until the moment passed.

When Methos released his head, Mac began moving slowly, his tongue stroking over and around the foreskin to tease the head of Methos' cock. He used his lips and tongue to expose the sensitive glans, one hand reaching to cup and caress the velvet pouch beneath the hard shaft. The incoherent sounds coming from the other man rewarded him as Methos tried to express the depth of his pleasure. His hips made small, involuntary thrusts as he tried to press deeper into Mac's warm mouth. Guided by Methos' reactions, Mac continued his ministrations, pausing whenever the motions of the body under his hands became too wild, drawing out the pleasure. He would take Methos' cock in deeper, only to pull back and return to teasing the head. His own arousal was almost overwhelming, each cry from Methos' lips, each taste of his skin intensifying Mac's hunger.

As he carefully squeezed and fondled the sac, he slid his other hand beneath Methos'  thighs, his thumb moving to stroke the exquisitely sensitive skin of the perineum. Feeling the impending climax, translated through the almost frantic movements of the man beneath him, he began suckling harder, increasing the friction of his lips and tongue. At the same time, he slipped one slickened finger against the puckered opening beneath, running the fingertip in circles around the muscled ring.

Flooded with sensation, Methos tightened his legs, thrusting upwards into the engulfing heat of the mouth surrounding his cock. Mac took advantage of the shifting of Methos' hips to press his finger in deeply, finding and pressing on the sensitive gland within, maintaining his suction as Methos climaxed violently.  He savored the intimate flavor of the other man, and the incoherent sounds of pleasure issuing from Methos' lips.

Small, aching moans came from the spent man as Mac continued stimulating oversensitive flesh, his mouth gentle around the softening cock.  Pressing a final kiss on the drooping shaft, he slid up beside Methos, a small gasp accompanying the cessation of the most intimate caress. He lay beside him, watching the other man's face, fascinated by the play of expressions as Methos worked to catch his breath. Mac pressed his own neglected flesh tightly against Methos' hip, satisfied for the moment with the reactions of his lover.

Methos took deep breaths, saturating lungs that felt deprived of air. He opened his eyes to look at the man next to him, immediately drowning again in the intense brown eyes. "Aren't we forgetting something?", he asked dazedly, slipping half onto his side and reaching down to stroke the hard cock pressed against him.

"Oh, I'm not forgetting," said Mac tightly. "I'm practicing patience. I'm told that it's a virtue."

"Bit late for virtue, isn't it?" Methos said, his mind clearing somewhat. "Someone has clearly already denuded you of yours. That was not the work of a beginner."

"Maybe I'm just extraordinarily talented and exceptionally inspired." Mac thrust lazily into Methos' hand and began nuzzling his throat again, tasting the salty skin and stroking his hand over the lean body.

"Talented, I'll give you."

"What else will you give me?" Mac's movements became more urgent, and Methos found his own libido stirring again.

"Anything you want," he whispered, echoing Mac's earlier words and reaching for the discarded tube of lubricant. Mac held himself perfectly still as Methos took great delight in coating his cock with torturous, teasing caresses. He then moved again to kneel between Methos' legs, stopping him as he would have turned on his stomach.

Holding Methos' gaze with his own, Mac stroked his cock slowly, smiling at the widening hazel eyes, then moving to stroke a newly slickened finger against theopening so recently abandoned. Pulling Methos' hips up onto his knees again, he slowly and carefully pressed his finger inward, watching Methos' reactions until he had adjusted to the small intruder. Moving and caressing inward, a second finger joined the first, stroking and stretching the opening until Methos was again breathless and squirming.

Slowly, Mac removed his hand and pressed his cock against the tight opening, pushing steadily until the head slid inside the tight ring, bringing a breathless gasp to each man's lips. Still pressing inward, he moved to pull Methos up into his lap, causing a deeper penetration that had Methos curling forward and moaning.  Wrapping his arms around the slender figure, Mac rested his head on Methos' shoulder, shuddering with the force of his pleasure, his tongue slipping out to taste the other man's skin.

Eventually, Methos shifted his legs to gain leverage, and began rhythmically squeezing and tightening around Mac's cock, arching his back as his movements stimulated his prostate. Grinding his hips downward, he pulled back to look deeply into Mac's eyes, resisting the temptation to avoid that intimacy, submerging himself in the passion he saw reflected there.

Mac shifted his hands to Methos' hips, helping him to find a rhythm that had both men panting. Methos dropped a hand between them to stroke and caress his hardening flesh, something Mac found unbearably erotic. He pulled Methos to him, pressing deep, biting kisses on the other man's mouth. Rocking against each other, feeling Methos' hand moving between them, Mac found himself on the edge of oblivion.

Too soon, he found himself falling. Surging forward, he pressed Methos onto his back, and with long, quick strokes, brought them both to explosive release.

Uncounted minutes later, he came to himself, his mind still heavy with pleasure, Methos' hand softly stroking through his hair. While he didn't think he'd lost consciousness, it felt as if he had fried every connection in his brain. He found that he had no sense of time having passed. Slowly pulling back, a movement accompanied by a voluptuous sound from the satisfied looking man beneath him, he again laid down at Methos' side, rubbing his cheek against the satiny shoulder and closing his eyes.

Methos continued to stroke his fingers through Mac's unkempt hair, looking down at the man beside him. He reached and tilted up Mac's face, and scrutinized him carefully.

"What's wrong, something on my face?" Mac said wickedly. In answer, Methos swooped down and pressed a soft, deep kiss on those tantalizing lips. It was erotic, but not arousing, and they indulged themselves for several minutes, each reconfirming the taste of the other.

"Mmmmmm." Mac moved to rest his head against Methos' shoulder again, curling his body around that of the other man. "Are you staying?"

"I don't think I can move, at this point."

"Good." Mac's tone was self-satisfied. Methos felt lips curve against his shoulder at the resounding "thwack!" of a palm against Mac's buttocks. "Oooh, play rough with me," Mac teased.

"Careful, MacLeod, I just might take you up on that - and you have no idea what you'd be getting yourself into." He kept his hand on the muscled cheek, squeezing and caressing it lightly, unable to get enough of the satiny skin.

Mac leaned back to look up at him. "You're probably right. I have no idea what I'm getting myself into."

"That's it. Enough talking. I refuse to continue in this direction."

"Why?" Mac's tone was simply curious.

"You know, we never used to even have relationships, you know that?" Methos voice was vaguely petulant. "You screwed somebody, or you got married and then you screwed somebody, but you didn't have Relationships. And you certainly didn't have to talk about them." He tucked his errant hand under his head and looked sulky.

Mac grinned. "You win. Right now it is."  For now.  He leaned up to kiss Methos again. "Just then was pretty damn good, too."

Methos smiled. "It was, wasn't it? Pretty damned spectacular, actually."

"I'll take that as a compliment, coming from a man with such wide and varied experience."

"You really are quite talented for such a youngster. More so than I would have expected."

"I'm full of surprises. Stick around. You might learn something." Mac spoke lightly, and deliberately occupied himself with running his hand over Methos' chest.

"I might, at that." Methos' tone was equally light. He captured Mac's hand and pressed a kiss on the palm, then held it lightly to his chest. "I might, at that."


The End