Sorrow
by JiM

Disclaimer: Rysher, P/D and Gaumont all own these characters, I do not. David Gilmour and Pink Floyd own the lyrics of "Sorrow" and they are used without permission but with much respect. This work is intended only for the enjoyment of HL fans and is not-for-profit -- like so much of my life.

Rating: This work is Adult, non-graphic, say PG with caffeine -- a homosexual relationship is implied. If this disturbs you, please do not read it. Most particularly, please do not email me telling me that I will perish in a lake of fire for writing it. Forewarned is forearmed and I already bought an asbestos bikini.

Author's Note: This vignette is set between "Comes a Horseman" and "Forgive Us Our Trespasses". It grew out of a challenge discussion I had with Tiffany. We both love Pink Floyd, especially the song "Sorrow". Look for her piece on the same theme; it will be terrific. All of her stuff is. :-)

Please do not archive this without permission from the author.

Thanks: Thanks go to Dail, Rae, Sue, Juanita the Awesome Beta Reader and, of course, Tiffany.

Feedback: All constructive criticism will be welcomed at JiMPage363@AOL.Com. Remember, the name of the game is to get better!


The sweet smell of a great sorrow lies over the land,
Plumes of smoke rise and merge into the leaden sky:
A man lies and dreams of green fields and rivers,
But awakes to a morning with no reason for waking.

The man's head twisted from side to side on the pillow; thin lips drew back from clenched teeth, preparing for a shout that never left his throat. He woke suddenly, hands twisted in the sheets, panting breath harsh in the dark room. He sat up and realized that his eyes were streaming, stinging from the sweat dripping into them. He ran his hands over his face and through his hair, trying to dispel the nightmarish images that were more memory than dream.

Once upon a time, when the nightmares had ambushed him, there had been someone there to soothe him, someone to whisper softly, foolishly innocent words of comfort. Now, there was no one and nothing to be said, no way to soothe these terrors. There were only memories, faces, regrets.

In the dark hour before dawn, Methos pulled on clothes without caring what they were. Soon, he was walking through the sleeping city, aimless, yet moving constantly in only one direction.

He's haunted by the memory of a lost paradise,
In his youth or a dream, he can't be precise,
He's chained forever to a world that's departed.
It's not enough, it's not enough.

How long, he wondered, had he been moving in this one direction? When had MacLeod become the center, his only goal? When had he become willing to give up the habits of a hundred lifetimes just to be close to the Highlander? Why had he ever thought that it wouldn't end, that the past wouldn't sink its fangs into him again?

His footsteps echoed through the empty cobblestone streets. The sky was lightening and mist was curling up from the river, making him shiver. He flipped up the collar of his overcoat and hunched his shoulders, hands deep in his pockets.

He hated the cold, craved warmth like an addict. He had loved lounging before the fire, sleeping on deck in the sun, pressing his cool flesh against his lover's body, being enfolded in the heat of desire.

He shivered again, this time lost in memory. MacLeod's large hands on him, warm, gentle, loving. He had had the trick of choosing some heretofore non-erotic part of Methos' body, like the point of his shoulder, and caressing it lightly with a finger. After a time, the constant repetitive stroking became irritating but Mac wouldn't stop, merely grinning at the annoyed looks Methos shot him. After a longer time, Methos would realize that he was slowly being set afire, the heat spreading from that same spot, now the most sensitive point on his body.

Soon he would be gasping, begging MacLeod to touch him anywhere, everywhere, and the Scot would smile, that slow grin of triumph that always made Methos growl and leap upon him. For weeks afterward, MacLeod would amuse himself in public by casually touching whatever hotspot he had created, just to watch his lover flush and go still, drawing breath over suddenly parted lips.

His shoulder, the back of one hand, the point of his jaw -- they were all marked by MacLeod now. Methos knew that he would never again feel that delicious heat flowing from them. There was no fire large enough, no other lover skilled enough, to ever rekindle those flames again.

His blood has frozen & curdled with fright,
His knees have trembled and given way in the night,
His hand has weakened at the moment of truth
His step has faltered
.

It had ended so soon, that timeless loving. He had barely begun to know his lover's desires and dreams, the growing trust that opened the way to darker fantasies and deeper needs. Paradise lost in a chance meeting, knifing through newfound joy, killing hope again and again. Methos had chained his heart and yoked it to the service of survival; his, MacLeod's, the city's. Each word calculated, each movement planned, every situation ruthlessly crafted to his purpose. Not his love, not his desire, only his purpose -- everything fell before keeping MacLeod and himself alive.

And everything had.

When Kronos' twisted Quickening had spiraled into him, connecting him to MacLeod, Methos had known all that MacLeod had felt for him. It was gone in the icy blast of the all the unsuspected truths he had learned. Methos had fallen to his knees, crying for himself as much as for his simple brother, Silas. He could hear the ax in Cassandra's hand whistle gleefully as she raised it above his head but he no longer cared; the Highlander lived. That much he had accomplished -- it would have to be enough.

One world, one soul,
Time pass, the river roll.

But the blow had never fallen. MacLeod's voice had stopped her, turned Cassandra away. She had gone, taking her crackling rage with her, leaving them both shivering and weak, Kronos' Quickening still howling through them. MacLeod had stumbled over to him, pulling him to his feet, soaked in blood and seawater and sweat. The Scot's large hand was still wrapped around Methos' upper arm, fingers digging into the soft flesh he had once caressed. His mouth had opened, then closed.

Methos had said nothing -- what was there to say? MacLeod had let him go, then spun on his heel and walked off.

And he talks to the river of lost love and dedication
And silent replies that swirl invitation,
Flow dark and troubled to an oily sea.
A grim intimation of what is to be.

Methos had reached the footbridge over the Seine. His boot heels sounded flat and unreal as he strode to the middle. He stopped and stared down into the water. The sun had crept over the horizon, turning the morning fog into a bloody mist. It was so close to what he saw in his dreams that he shivered again.

He had dreamed of MacLeod's sword sweeping down, the last thing he saw. In his nightmare, the last sound he heard was MacLeod's laughter, cold and mocking and so unlike the living man.

MacLeod had had the gift of laughter as he loved. Desire would bubble up into uproarious laughter then burst again into hotter passion. His pranks and jokes in bed had delighted the older man, even as he had complained about them. The difference between Duncan's eyes narrowed in laughter and those same dark eyes slitted by passion had been so slight that Methos had sometimes been jolted by heat at the mere sound of the younger man's laughter.

MacLeod's barge lay moored below, perhaps a hundred yards away. No one moved on deck or behind the portholes. It was too far for either Immortal to sense the other.

Just as well, really. He and MacLeod had nothing to say to one another now. He was who he had been, MacLeod was who he was, unable to accept the truth. Unable to accept that the truth is never what we wish it to be, only what we make of it.

Methos' glance flicked down to the oily swirls of the river as it flowed beneath the bridge. Darius had taken his last long journey down this river; MacLeod had told him the story one late night. Methos missed Darius; he and the old priest had known each other a long time. Darius had known what Methos had done, who he had been. He had understood; Darius, too, had been a very different kind of man, once.

MacLeod had loved the priest as a father-figure, drinking in his wisdom and peace as if from a fountain. Methos had loved the priest as a comrade, one who had stared into the flames but not been consumed. The oldest Immortal smiled a little at the irony -- the two men MacLeod had loved the most had both been the most brutal kind of killers, had both been the opposite of all that the Scot revered. How unfair, Methos thought. Then his expression darkened.

MacLeod had accepted all that Darius had been and had loved the priest anyway. He had believed that Darius had changed, was no longer the man who had struck down an unarmed elder before the gates of Paris. Why was he unable to forgive, unable to love Methos still? All Methos had done, all he had ever done since they had met, was to protect Duncan, protect the one man he loved.

There's an unceasing wind that blows through this night,
And there's dust in my eyes that blinds my sight,
And silence that speaks so much louder than words,
Of promises broken.

Something stirred on the the barge. MacLeod was moving purposefully around the deck, coiling lines and stowing loose gear. The mist had lifted now, burned away by the rising sun, blown away by the rising wind.

Methos simply stood and watched MacLeod, cataloging the familiar, graceful movements of his hands, his stride. Committing them to memory, hoarding them as a poor man gathers crusts against famine. The breeze blew some grit into his eyes and tears ran down his cheeks as he blinked, trying to clear his vision. He wiped them away, not liking the cold tracks the wind cut into his face.

When his sight was clear again, he looked toward the barge and froze. MacLeod was standing and staring at him. Although they were too far to see one another's eyes, Methos felt the Highlander's gaze touch him.

He wondered who MacLeod saw standing here. His lover? His friend? Someone who had saved him, fought for him, died for him? Or just the black figure from Cassandra's memories, the killer who had terrorized entire centuries, outlined in the morning sun?

Did he even remember the man who had let the Scot's dark hair flow over his hands like a sacrament? The lover who had spent an entire night kissing him, taking MacLeod over the edge of pleasure again and again with the merest brush of his lips?

"I only swore to keep you alive, MacLeod. I never made you any other promises," Methos said aloud.

There was no sound; even the wind on the river seemed to still for a moment. Then MacLeod turned away. Methos stood a moment longer on the bridge, then he, too, turned and walked away, disappearing into the traffic of a Paris morning.

One world, one soul,
Time pass, the river roll.


 The End

The entire text of the song that started it...

SORROW

The sweet smell of a great sorrow lies over the land,
Plumes of smoke rise and merge into the leaden sky:
A man lies and dreams of green fields and rivers,
But awakes to a morning with no reason for waking.

He's haunted by the memory of a lost paradise,
In his youth or a dream, he can't be precise,
He's chained forever to a world that's departed.
It's not enough, it's not enough.

His blood has frozen & curdled with fright,
His knees have trembled and given way in the night,
His hand has weakened at the moment of truth
His step has faltered.

One world, one soul,
Time pass, the river roll.

And he talks to the river of lost love and dedication
And silent replies that swirl invitation,
Flow dark and troubled to an oily sea.
A grim intimation of what is to be

There's an unceasing wind that blows through this night,
And there's dust in my eyes that blinds my sight,
And silence that speaks so much louder than words,
Of promises broken.

(David Gilmour, Pink Floyd)