by Maygra de Rhema

Violence. Rape-partially described and referred to and M/M sex. If any of this offends you, do not proceed and wait for the Harlequin Romance version to come out. PART ONE takes place after Revelations 6:8, PART TWO after the epilogue

As always, The Highlander characters: Duncan, Methos and Cassandra, et al, are the property of Rysher: Panzer/Davis and I am ruthlessly exploiting their characters for no monetary gain and for my own (and now your) enjoyment but I will return them unharmed and no worse for the wear. This material may not be copied or distributed without my permission--I don't want R:P/D hunting me down--I have enough problems. Do not link, publish or post this material without permission. Input appreciated, despite all commas and comments: send to



Cassandra's steps faded, disappeared as she left them. For a long moment her running feet drowned out the sobbing ringing off the concrete walls but then the sound was back-- cutting through Duncan like a sword thrust. His body ached from the power of Kronos' Quickening, violence wrestling his soul for mastery as three thousand years of power and evil threatened to overwhelm him. Again. He had thought it would when it first came, felt Kronos' evil rising inside him like another Dark Quickening, knowing he couldn't win this time. And then it had been diverted, cast off--part of it surrendered then exchanged with another, similar force, no less violent but less evil . Silas. Violent. Evil. But not power mad and greedy as Kronos and Caspian had been.

Methos had taken it from him, had already known Kronos' evil--been party to it, subdued it two thousand years in the past. Duncan had never heard of a double Quickening--the almost simultaneous burst of power--and wondered how either of them had managed to survive at all. Every muscle burned, every nerve strained so that the touch of the rusted metal under his hands hurt, the touch of his own hair on his face was like a rope burn.

He could only barely see Methos in the shadows below. He could hear him, wondering if the sobs would ever stop. He moved, fighting for the gangplank, pain in every step as he almost fell down the ramp. Here the echoes weren't so pronounced, the sound less overwhelming but harsher for the closeness. He dropped to his knees beside Methos, laying the katana down. He reached a hand out to touch the taut shoulder, wincing in sympathetic agony at the spasms that tore at the tendons. But the sobbing wasn't for physical pain. Duncan could still feel those memories in his brain, fading but haunting him. He knew more about the Horsemen than he wanted to, now. But knowing wasn't living the horror.

Methos had lived it. Put it behind him and now lived it again.

Duncan pulled him back, pulled the shaking body to his as if Methos were Richie--a younger Richie perhaps, but a child in need of comfort. Methos didn't resist but his arms crossed his chest, knees drawn up to close himself off, locking his grief inside.

He hadn't even been aware how close Cassandra had been to taking his head. Or, if he had, he hadn't cared. This was the Methos Cassandra didn't know, probably would never know. A man who used his sorrows like a shield, his compassion like a sword, who angered Duncan and frustrated him and made him see parts of himself he had never wanted to acknowledge.

Duncan stroked the dark, sweat dampened hair, silk under his fingers. His other hand rubbed the taut back trying to ease the tension, feeling his own start to fade. He had touched this body before, but not with gentleness. He closed his eyes against the memories...


"You can fight this, MacLeod," Methos said urgently, keeping a healthy distance. The sword had already been at his throat once. He wasn't going to tempt the Highlander again.

"Don't want to," Duncan said genially and lunged playfully at Methos, blade extended and catching the edge of Methos' coat. "There's a certain freedom in having no conscience. Makes all kinds of things possible. Wouldn't you agree?" he asked and lunged again.

 Methos backed away and found himself against a pillar. He started to slip around it, felt steel against his belly. Duncan had him pinned.

"Holy Ground, MacLeod," he murmured as the sword point pressed deeper drawing blood. He closed his eyes as he felt the ground shudder, glass rattled. "Neither of us will make it out of here alive."

"But it's my death you want, isn't it Methos? If you can't have your MacLeod back, you'll take my head? So what's the difference? Either way one of us is a dead man." The voice was low, dripping with menace and sarcasm, Duncan's mouth an inch from his own. "Or maybe there's something else you want. A little mix of the two? Someone as noble as MacLeod but and willing as me? What about it, Methos? Come on, even your MacLeod has thought about it--wondered what you would feel like, taste like...let's find out for both of us..."

The blade pressed deeper as Duncan kissed him. Not a hesitant first kiss, or the gentle kiss of friends...or even a lover's kiss. It was brutal and savage as Duncan forced his mouth open, free hand catching the hair at the back of Methos' head. Methos caught his shoulders, to press him back and heard the sword fall to the floor as Duncan's hands caught his. Duncan was the stronger in any confrontation of force against force. Had they been fighting, Methos might have used his swift dexterity to out- wrestle the larger man but not now, not trapped against stone with the heavier body pressing his. Duncan's thigh nudged between his legs as the Highlander leaned in, pressing Methos' groin as he forced his arms back behind him, trapping both slender wrists in one hand and using Methos' body to pin them there.

The mouth pulled from his, teeth biting the soft flesh, dark eyes glittering with expectation, passion and lust. Under different circumstances, Methos might have met that gaze with equal force rather than shuttering it away as he had been for months.

"He knows how you feel," Duncan said, licking the blood from Methos' lip, "He's just too much of a coward to admit it...but I'm not. You want this..."

Methos said nothing but he forced himself to accept. Tensing again as he felt Duncan's hands at his jeans, popping the snap, jerking the zipper down and reaching for him...

Methos made no sound as Duncan levered himself off him, jerking the bruised body upward by bound arms. The leather of Duncan's belt had cut into the wrists, the buckle tearing the skin over and over, healing only to have the flesh torn again. Duncan shoved him down on his back, straddling his hips. He grinned at Methos' quick intake of breath, placing his hands on either side of his captive's head and leaning down.

"I know it's trite, but was it as good for you as it was for me?" Duncan asked, settling his weight across Methos' groin and shifting his weight as he felt the flesh firm beneath him. "I guess so."

"Is this what you wanted, MacLeod?" Methos grated out. "All violence, no tenderness, no caring...? You wanted that once, had it with Tessa--" he choked as the hands closed over his throat.

"She has nothing to do with this!" Duncan screamed, grabbing Methos' head and slamming it into the stone. The body beneath him went limp and he shoved the unconscious Immortal aside. The blood from his wrists had stained his back and the floor, a red smear against the gray stone, against the pale skin--blood on Tessa's face, on Richie's as they lay still and quiet on the wet pavement, blood staining Sean's headless shoulders....

"No." It was a whimper, not a roar, as Duncan loosened the blood slicked leather and pulled the unmoving, bruised body against his chest. "I can't do this...I won' me..." he murmured to any deity that would listen, rocking the naked body.

"I will..." Methos said quietly, touching his tear streaked face before he hit him, two fingers thrust through the buckle of the belt to add more force to the strike, then struck him again and bound his hands while he was semi-conscious. Dressing him carefully before pulling his own clothes over the healing skin. Duncan let him, afraid to move lest the madness come again...knowing his only hope for salvation lay on the broad, slender shoulders of the man he had just raped....


That need was rising in him again, Duncan realized, and he groaned against it, almost thrusting Methos away rather than force him through another assault. Quickenings left the taker in an appalling state of sexual need, but it passed quickly or so Duncan had always thought. But this need was more than sexual, drove deeper. That dark-souled Duncan had recognized something in Methos that the Highlander had never been willing to acknowledge, not in his right mind anyway, too strapped by convention to examine that facet of his personality. But this encounter with the worst Immortality had to offer made him realize the world was not black and white--good and evil--no matter how much he wanted it to be. The shades of gray were too obvious.

Methos had been a monster and become something more like a myth. Cassandra had been a gentle soul whose hatred and need for revenge had turned her into stranger. And Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod had some growing up to do.

Methos' sobbing had eased to whimpers, his body still trembling. His fists were clenched tightly to his chest rather than reaching for the comfort Duncan offered. That gathering of his loneliness--aloneness--cut as deeply as his crying. Had he felt that way over the past week? Locked in this empty base with Kronos and the other Horsemen--waiting for the apocalypse Kronos promised unless someone stopped him. Unable to know if help was available or have anyone at his back if he made a misstep, said the wrong thing. Not even sure that Duncan would be able to help or want to--knowing that Cassandra had vowed his death given the opportunity. How do you make a plan when you can't tell friends from enemies, when both sides would kill you with only the slightest provocation?

His confession in the church of capturing and raping Cassandra had shaken Duncan, more because he heard what Methos didn't say. Where would Kronos anger have been turned when Cassandra escaped if not on Methos? He had come to care for the girl, refused to kill her not only then but twice since. He had cut himself to the bone to block out her screams--but he hadn't interfered and Duncan could only guess at why.

And he had warned Duncan to get Cassandra away rather than let her be captured. Something still stirred inside Methos for his former slave.

Duncan would have to ask him about that later but right now, he recognized in Methos at least part of what was making himself so tense. He uncurled the fists, catching the long fingers in his hands, letting them curl around his wrists as he caught the pale face in his palms.

"Methos, it's over. It's done," he said softly.

The older Immortal nodded, acknowledging the fact but unable to speak. Duncan's thumb brushed his lips softly and Methos lifted his head to meet the wide earth-brown eyes. He didn't move as Duncan lowered his head, grazing his parted lips gently with his own. A moan Methos didn't recognize as his own escaped him when the Highlander returned to capture his mouth more firmly, telegraphing his own needs with the insistent pressure of his lips and tongue.

For one brief moment Methos let himself be drawn into that need, felt his body and blood respond. Welcoming the union, the physical companionship and comfort he'd missed for so long. Then he drew away, not flinching but realizing fully who was kissing him and why.

"Don't..." he breathed, pulling the hands away from his face.

"We both want this..."

"Because of the Quickening," Methos said, fighting for clarity, for control. The soul wrenching grief was still too close to the surface. He couldn't surrender to this and then walk away again. He wasn't strong enough for that kind of pain. Not now.

"Partly...but not all of it. It's just brought it to the surface," Duncan said, moving closer so he could rest his hands on the broad shoulders, feeling the corded muscle under the worn shirt, the tension making Methos wince at his firm grip.

Methos shrugged him off, getting to his knees to watch Duncan warily, his breathing ragged. "Not for me--it runs deeper than that, MacLeod, and you know it. I didn't intend for you to find out, but it's there. This changes nothing. It can't..." he said the last so softly Duncan almost missed it but he didn't miss the proof of his guess as Methos got to his feet stiffly, jeans tight and binding swollen flesh. His own discomfort was a gnawing ache in his groin; this need ran far deeper than a physical desire--but he had to convince Methos of that first.

"It already has changed. It started changing even before my Dark Quickening."

"Out of your control, MacLeod. That meant nothing," Methos said turning to pick up his sword, his hands resting briefly on the handle of the battle ax before sliding his blade out from underneath it; averting his eyes from the headless body of the man he had once called 'Brother'.

Duncan came up behind him, hands reaching once again for the tight shoulders. Methos flinched, refusing to turn around.

"It meant something. It meant that even in my madness I couldn't kill you. Wouldn't take your head even though I would have taken Richie's."

Methos' breath caught in his throat. He hadn't thought of that--hadn't realized Duncan had put his life above his own student's--above the young man he thought of as his son. He tensed as Duncan's arm slid over his shoulder, trapping his chest and pulling him gently backward against his own. Lips pressed against the back of his neck and he let out the breath he'd been holding slowly, caught between pulling away and leaning against the muscles pressing into his back.

"The Quickening may have given me the courage to do this, but it didn't give me the idea," Duncan murmured against his throat. He slid his other hand down Methos' arm to cover the fingers holding the sword, prying the white fingers away from the hilt until it dropped. "I don't know how this will end, but we'll never find out if we don't start somewhere."

Methos leaned against him, still trying for rational thought. "But to start now--this is need, Mac. Not desire, not caring."

"If I didn't care I would never have followed you here. If I didn't care for you I would have left your head beside Sean's. And right now I do need you--and you need me. There's nothing wrong in that. And maybe that's all there is.... I don't know, Methos. All I know is that you have come to mean more to me that I thought--more than I wanted. Not a debt to pay. No regrets, no promises...just now."

I'm not strong enough to walk away, Methos thought as the strong fingers curled around his, guiding both hands to his groin. He felt Duncan behind him, a similar need hard against his buttocks. He had been willing to leave, handle the growing urgency as he had in the past, alone, but the moment Duncan touched him, held him, his resolve faded. The Highlander said no regrets but Methos doubted it would be true come the stark light of morning. One night might be the only chance he had--and suddenly he wasn't willing to lose that chance or lose the opportunity to erase the memory of the cruel and twisted version of his longing.

"No promises." He murmured turning his head, Duncan's mouth a breath away from his. The full, soft lips closed over his, coaxing him, encouraging entry and Methos let his resistance fade, lacing his fingers more tightly with Duncan's as he guided the hand to the snap of his jeans.

The kiss ended as their joined hands slid under the denim, pushing the fabric away, a broad strong hand closing over the rigid flesh of Methos' cock, squeezing it gently. Methos moaned, arching into the pressure, unable to stop the shudders passing through him. He reached his other hand behind him, Duncan shifting as he sought and found the Highlander's straining flesh, hard and warm under the fabric.

He pulled Duncan's hand away and turned, not missing the strained pleasure on the strong face as Methos stroked him through his pants. He caught up the loose hair, satin and sweat dampened, tangling in his fingers, as their mouths sought and found each other. Duncan's hands slid up Methos' sides to pull his shirt off, fingers splayed against the cold flesh, feeling silk and steel as the skin rippled under his hands. Methos was lean and compact, his slenderness a sharp contrast to Duncan's solid bulk, but there was nothing feminine about the taut muscle under the smooth skin. He pulled the shirt off, Methos reaching for his, lifting it to kiss the fading wound over Duncan's right breast, tongue laving the flat hard nipple as Duncan explored the broad shoulders with his hands and mouth, tasting salt and dust, fear and desire.

Methos had no thoughts at all, refusing to acknowledge the voice still screaming protest in his mind as he touched and soothed and caressed the firm muscle, fingers sliding through the matte of dark hair on the Highlander's chest. His partner's skin was so much darker than his own, bronzed by sun and ancestry, color sharply defining the lines and rises of a body like those that had inspired long dead sculptors and artisans.

The sharp drop of Methos' s chest to the spare hips made Duncan ache for the grace and beauty of the man who had haunted his dreams for months. He had been fascinated during their sparing at the flexibility in the wiry form, so quick and agile it made him feel clumsy. He caught the face again lifting it, tracing the sharp lines of his cheeks, the strong nose and equally strong jaw, only barely softened by the curve of his neck as it met his ear and the soft, silken fringe of hair that brushed his forehead and temples. The hazel eyes were open, wide and slightly dilated with desire, lips thin but mobile and sensitive. Those lips parted as he rubbed his thumb across them, tongue moistening them in a manner Duncan couldn't resist and he caught the mouth, chased after the tongue and drew it into his own mouth, groaning as Methos' hands found the button and zipper of his pants, shoving them down with his briefs so he could take the firm length of the Highlander's shaft in his hand. The long fingers closed around the unyielding mass of tissue, his other hand pressing the small of Duncan's back toward him, his own erect flesh pressed against Duncan's belly.

That shared touch sent them both to the edge of release and the gentle explorations were done as Methos shoved his jeans down, then dropped to his knees to finish unclothing his partner. This was no gentle, no hesitant exploration, just a raw, rushed fulfillment made possible by the strained fragile friendship and likely to break under the strain. It flashed through Methos' mind and he shoved it away, answering only to the moment, to the feel of MacLeod, the harsh, hungry desire that might never have the opportunity to surface and be answered again.

Before Duncan could join him on the floor or change his mind, Methos had him in hand again, moist lips closing over the sensitive skin, his thumb scraping the underside of his cock. Heat seared through the younger Immortal's spine and he caught the silken hair, kneading the scalp with his fingers like a cat. The pressure built within him and he felt his body spasm under the coaxing teeth and tongue. Methos' free hand was on his belly, fingers flexing as the muscles rippled and fluttered.

He felt the younger man tremble and withdrew, afraid Duncan would fall. The removal of his mouth summoned a moan of loss but Methos caught his hands, drawing him down and easing him back onto the hastily gathered pile of clothes. A swift, thorough kiss on the mouth was a promise as Methos once more dropped his lips to the straining groin, clasping Duncan's wrists and holding them as he built the rhythm and the pressure, his own erection a distracting need. Then the body under him bucked, arched, hips thrust hard against his mouth and Methos took him deep, swallowing as the first eruption came, biting gently to interrupt the spasms briefly then sucking again, hard,to bring the next wave. He heard the Highlander cry out in release, felt the flesh tremble and go limp. He slid his lips off the now flaccid flesh and sought Duncan's mouth, opening it with his tongue so his partner could taste the last essence of himself in Methos' mouth.

Duncan was moaning still, body trembling in the aftermath of the orgasm and Methos reached for his own groin, to ease the pressure there. Duncan caught his wrists, rising up, face flushed, lower lip swollen where he'd bitten it.

"Not that way," he murmured, kissing Methos before turning his back to him, drawing the hands to his hips, as he rose to his knees. "I need to feel you in me, with me..."

"You're not ready for this..."

"I am ready and willing for anything you have to give..." Duncan said firmly.

"Then wait," Methos said quietly, his control absolute even as his breath quickened. His partner reached back to help him, stroking the rigid flesh until it began to weep and Methos was trembling. The slick fluid coated the hard shaft as Methos rose behind him, pressing against the tight buttocks, parting them gently, forcing his breathing to slow. Duncan arched into him as he found entry and paused, fingers digging into the dark skinned hips, waiting for the body to relax. He felt the muscles ease and slid deeper, groaning as he fought the urge to drive into the exquisitely tight body, heard Duncan moan and relax again.

He was panting harshly as he finished his slow, deliberate entry, Duncan already trying for movement, caught between pleasure and pain. "Relax..." Methos gasped, sliding his hands across the hard , flat hips to take Duncan in his hands again. He stroked the firming flesh, felt the younger man give in to the sensation, gluteal muscles relaxing and Methos began rocking--his groan triggering Duncan who reached behind him to pull Methos' head forward, twisting his neck to catch the open mouth.

Soft sounds escaped both of them as Methos began moving in and out of Duncan, slower, with more friction than with a woman, requiring more strength and control. As he moved, Duncan's cock slid into his hands, rising with the touch and feel.

Methos' head was aching and he felt faint as he moved, pleasure firing along his synapses, head tucked against Duncan's shoulder, the Highlander's hand in his hair, his other hand covering those at his groin. Duncan arched away suddenly, body tightening around Methos as he came and the older Immortal followed, unable to resist the pressure.

Duncan slumped forward and Methos pulled away, almost falling back, catching himself on his hands, then giving in to exhaustion and sensation and laying back, cold wet concrete against his skin, blissfully cool. He turned his head and saw Silas' body.

His groan was as much for regret as revulsion and he rolled to his side away from the sight.

"Methos...?" Duncan caught him, trying to ease the heaves that threatened to overwhelm the slim body.

"We had an audience..." Methos said grimly and glanced up, seeing Duncan's face pale. "It can't be just us without something to blemish it..." Methos went on shakily. "Gods.. what was I thinking..." he said, laughing harshly, pulling away from Duncan to find his clothes.

"No!" The Highlander said gripping his arms painfully. "No regrets... I would rather have offered you...wanted to offer you something else. We had now. Don't make it wrong and ugly. The other can come later."

Methos was startled by the vehemence in his voice, the dark eyes blazing in near -anger and absolute conviction. Duncan meant every word of it. Methos lifted a finger to his lips and nodded, smiling faintly. "All right...but make no promises, Highlander. You're a man of your word." Then he kissed him, catching the chin in his hand and offering a wordless promise of his own.

"We're not through, Methos," Duncan said earnestly.

Methos hesitated, caressing the jaw and fingering the dark hair. "Maybe. But we both need time to think and I don't seem to do that very well when you're around. For this...I have neither words nor regrets. I swear." Methos said after a moment and reached for his jeans and his sword.

They dressed silently, not touching, barely looking at each other until Methos was ready to leave. He knelt by Silas' body, the form already stiff, and shoved it toward the water, not speaking when Duncan crouched to help him. The body dropped heavily and Methos found the head, unable to look at the face as he dropped it into the water as well.

"Sleep well, Brother," he murmured and stare at his bloodied hands. Duncan offered him a damp handkerchief but Methos shook his head. "I think I should carry this blood for awhile," he said, closing his fingers over the stains.

"Where will you go? Cassandra..."

"Cassandra will do what she needs to do...I didn't thank you for that, by the way. At the time I wasn't feeling very grateful. I am now."

Methos had known she was there, then, Duncan realized. Had he wanted her to take his head? Remembering the sobs, probably so.

"I'll go back to Elysium for a few days. There are quarters there for guests and I need time to think. I'll take care of Kronos' lab and the virus," Methos said, wondering if any of the infected animals could be saved. Probably not he decided, looking at his sword. Better a quick death than dying from Kronos' virus.

"I'll be at the hotel," Duncan said nodding and retrieving the katana. He stepped in to slide his arms up Methos' back. The older Immortal returned the embrace firmly, touching the face once more before turning away, following Cassandra's path.

Duncan watched him for a moment then closed his eyes. Methos' touch was lingering and warm when all else was still and cold. He left when he could no longer hear the older Immortal's footsteps.


Duncan returned from the church in a somber mood. Methos had made no reference to the encounter at the base, a few words to tie up loose ends. Meeting him at the church as if he still needed the sanctuary, the protection, of Holy Ground.

From Cassandra. Her things had been gone when Duncan returned to the hotel. No note. No message. Just gone. He told Methos so. If the older Immortal was relieved he gave no sign. Or perhaps he still feared MacLeod. Still unsure how the Highlander would react when they'd both had time to think, to review the events. To regret.

But he didn't. Or he did, but not necessarily in the way Methos might think. Regretted the timing, the circumstances. It wasn't that he wanted to offer the older Immortal a lifelong commitment--or the trite solace of romance. What Duncan felt for the enigmatic man went far deeper than friendship or even hate. Some part of him had been reclaimed during the quick, driven sex. He couldn't even call it lovemaking. Love was too shallow a word for what he'd felt--not just the physical sensation of the slim, hard body against his, not the gratifying release of sexual tension and loneliness. It was as if he had reclaimed, with Methos' consent to the act, a part of himself. Something he'd lost when he had taken, in his madness, something not offered freely.

It didn't undo the rape. It simply confirmed what Methos had told him. The older man understood how small a part that creature of violence was of the man, Duncan MacLeod.

And had accepted that darkness without hesitation. Duncan had not been able to do the same.

Until now.

But he'd come to understand it too late. And now the opportunity might be well past. He had gotten the definite impression Methos' didn't intend to remain in Bordeaux. Possibly not even in France. No chance of a resolution then.

He felt frustrated and angry and his thoughts were turning darkly inward. He needed exercise. He stared out the hotel window at the darkening sky. Rain coming--dark clouds skidding across the rapidly graying blue.

He would walk anyway since Mother nature seemed to be doing her best to match his mood.

He'd gotten barely a hundred yards when the skies opened. He let the rain fall on him ignoring the chill, shouldering deeper into his woolen greatcoat before heading back to the hotel. He was damp but not soaked, the heavy wool keeping out the worst of the wetness. The doorman admitted him, meeting him with an umbrella, but Duncan stopped, feeling an, oh, so familiar burn along the sensory inputs of his brain, a murmur of almost voices he immediately recognized as Methos. But it was with such a clarity it took him by surprise. It was a certainty. Not something he had ever been able to do before. Identifying another Immortal was part and parcel of what he was. But to be able to tell exactly who was at the other end of that signature was new.

He turned, dark eyes searching the street until he found his target. Methos stood less than a block away, transfixed by the same strange familiarity of the signal. He stared at Duncan for a long moment, then turned, something passing over the face that seemed akin to despair. It was hard to tell with the distance between them. Then suddenly and resolutely turned away.

The Highlander needed to close that distance. Not just the physical one but all the rest as well. He borrowed the umbrella from the doorman and ran after the rapidly retreating figure. He caught up to him and Methos turned, the face impassive, pale, but cheeks and nose reddened from the cold.

"You came to see me," Duncan said, stepping closer to allow the umbrella to cover both of them. Methos' hands were thrust deep into the pockets of his rain coat, dark hair plastered to his skull.

"I thought about it. But I changed my mind. I don't think there's anything else to say," Methos murmured. "I think we covered it at the church."

"Maybe. But you must have had something else to say. Come on. It's freezing. At least come back to and get dried off?" Duncan offered, letting real human concern guide the way. Despite the steady tone, Methos was shivering.

"I can say it here. I'm sorry, MacLeod. Sorry I dragged you into this and sorry I ever met you."

It wasn't what Duncan expected. An apology? He might have hoped for one once. The regret was there for the Horseman, for the deception.

But the last bit didn't ring quite true.

"Why? Did I rouse your conscience?" He asked, not angry, just confused.

"Among other things," Methos said coldly. "I can't remember the last time I apologized to anyone for anything. But you... somehow I feel I owe you something..."

"You owe me nothing. You were...right. I don't understand it...any of it...but you don't owe me an explanation and I...I of all people have no right to judge you. You tried to tell me that, in Seacouver when I killed...judged...Ingrid." He hesitated, unable to read the expression in the gold-green eyes. "Can we please get out of the rain.?"

"To what end?" Methos asked.

"To no end. I'm cold. You're freezing...To see if there's anything left to salvage..." Duncan said softly.

"And if there's not?"

"Then it won't be from lack of trying," Duncan said and waited. "We owe each other that much."

The eyes closed. "No promises." Methos said finally and took a step forward.

And no regrets, Duncan thought...prayed silently.

The older Immortal wasn't just chilled, he was exhausted. He showered in Duncan's room while the Highlander ordered food, coffee. Duncan stole the other man's sodden clothes and gave them to a maid to have cleaned and dried. When Methos emerged he found a hotel robe. Too big, but warm and dry. Neither man said anything as Duncan went to claim a shower as well. When he came out Methos was on the bed, asleep, food untouched.

A sign of trust, Duncan realized. Or utter exhaustion. He studied the other man, wondering how long it had been since he had slept...well....or at all. He looked absurdly young, vulnerable but not helpless. Just...careworn and fatigued even in sleep. Duncan felt himself growing drowsy as well as he sat in the chair and watched, guarded. Awakening with a jerk when the maid returned.

Methos woke as well, coming to a startled awareness instantly, relaxing when he realized it was just the maid and his clothes were dry.

"Go back to sleep," Duncan prodded, setting the clothes on the end of the bed.

"No. It was enough. I need to get going."

"To where?"

Methos canted him an odd look. "To....I have no idea." he said suddenly, sitting on the end of the bed, fingering the clean, dry clothes. "I hadn't really thought about it," he murmured and fell back on the bed, hands covering his face as if to rub some memory away.

Or all of them.

"Methos, why did you really come here, today?"

The hands fell away to either side of his head, eyes closed. "I have no idea about that either. I wanted..." he didn't finish the thought, rolling instead to his side to gather up his clothes and head for the bathroom.

Duncan was on his feet in an instant, grabbing the other man's arm. "Finish it."

Methos turned on him, the hazel eyes searching the darker face for something and suddenly Duncan wanted very much to be able to give him what he needed.

Forgiveness. Absolution. Understanding.

No. Methos expected none of those things and Duncan's mind went unerringly back to their first encounter at the church.

"What I've done, MacLeod, you can't forgive. It's not in your nature. Well, you accept it!"

Acceptance. The same acceptance Methos had shown him. Shown Cassandra. She'd tried to kill him and he'd saved her life, accepting what she felt as her right--the right to hate him.

And what had she given in return. Not gratitude. She'd tried to kill him again.

And what had he given to the Highlander?

A choice. A chance. He'd tried to keep him out of it by throwing the worst of himself in Duncan's face. Tried to stop the encounter after the Quickening for Duncan's sake when his own needs and desires had been blatant enough for a blind man to see.

And what had Duncan given him in return? Accusations. Questions. Demands. A shower and dry clothes. There was a debt to pay. And it wasn't a debt Methos owed.

Or one Duncan was at all adverse to settling.

"Make no promises, Highlander. You're a man of your word."

Duncan pulled Methos toward him, his hand coming up to catch the older man by the nape of his neck and drawing him close enough to rest his forehead against the broad brow.

"I don't understand I can accept it. What you did. Who you were. And as for wasn't the Quickening, Methos. It was you. It still is," he said it softly, taking the clothes and laying them aside. "Can you accept that, as well?"

There was doubt still in the gold-green eyes, changing to something akin to hope as Duncan pushed him gently back toward the bed, untying the robe and parting the folds. The dark eyes met and held Methos' as he eased the man back and down, hands on the muscled chest.

Methos didn't resist or speak, eyes locked, waiting for any sign of hesitation. There was none as he sat, Duncan sliding the fabric off the muscled shoulders and pressing him back until he lay on the bed. The Highlander untied his own robe and slipped it off, moving deliberately. This was no heated lust but a slow seduction. The bronzed body nude and unafraid or ashamed. The earth-dark eyes moved from Methos' eyes along the length of his bared body, slowly. Taking in every muscle. Every curve of flesh before setting a knee on the bed to lay down beside him on his side. One hand propped under his head as he laid his other hand on Methos' chest.

Methos lay quietly under the Highlander's touch, eyes closing as the broad hand lay against his skin, unmoving. Heat from the other man's skin marked a handprint on his flesh. His heart beat steadily, waiting, ready to increase its rhythm should the hand move.

It was the anticipation of movement that set his blood racing, however. His breath caught by the mere thought of that smooth palm sliding across his skin. When it did, he stopped breathing entirely--for a moment; felt the resistant friction even against the slow silken glide as the hand shifted lower, Duncan's finger closing together in one massed breadth of heat and sensation. Methos felt his breath grow shallow as if breathing too deeply would somehow arrest the movement.

He was all too aware that Duncan lay next to him, the bronzed body not quite touching. He fought the urge to reach out to the younger Immortal, knowing this had nothing to do with sex and everything to do with receiving what the Highlander had to offer. His touch. His friendship. His trust.

His instinct was to move, make the experience less than what it could be--let lust and passion supplant all else. Full contact with that body would be less overpowering than this slow, deliberate caress. But he couldn't move, his only action an involuntary shudder that took him as the touch glazed over his abdomen.

Duncan paused his slow progress at the dimpled connection of birth, testing the edges of the indentation before moving to stroke the fine, dark hairs that began below the depression and traveled lower. The fingers spread again and Methos' stomach muscles tightened as the heat fanned wider, traveling under his skin in all direction, his lips parting as he tried to cool that growing fever before it could reach his groin: a race between his lungs and his desire.

But his breath was stopped gently by a pair of full, soft lips covering his own as the fingers inched their way from the silken line of hairs to the fuller, more tangled curls below. The strong digits parting the curls as a tongue pressed his lips farther apart to touch the interior of his mouth with aching slowness.

Breathing became irrelevant, superfluous until Methos realized he'd stopped and inhaled sharply. The sudden filling of his lungs raising his flesh against Duncan's hand where it rested just at the edge of his groin; lifting his chin just enough to increase the firm pressure against his mouth.

The increased oxygen made the sensations that more acute. His brain adding details and commanding counter measures to compensate for the increased awareness.

Duncan's tongue stopped its exploration of the warm interior of his mouth to touch Methos' tongue, to caress, to invite, and Methos took the invitation, body once more shifting as his tongue was drawn past the soft lips to be sucked, coaxed and taunted. That suction seemingly drawing Duncan's fingers inward as well. They pressed and curled against his flesh, tangling the coarse hairs. The mass of curls cushioned the creeping pressure, slowed the gentle exploration until one errant finger found the waiting rise of flesh.

The gasp was unbidden as his tongue withdrew, all sensations waiting abatedly to give way to the new feeling; the increased heat and swell of blood as it was infused almost totally into the anticipative length of flesh.

His eyes opened as Duncan's lips left his, meeting the half-open dark brown depths. He noted the set features, his own sensations blatantly translated through that now still hand onto the Highlander's strong features. Duncan's mouth was open slightly as if tasting what his hand was feeling, moisture beading the strong brow, dampening the fine soft hairs. His eyes met Methos', a burning exchange of dilated pupils, both all too aware that the next moment, the next movement or sound could shatter either of them into fragments.

The decision was made as the finger slid across the silken shaft to make room for a second, blood now being given a direction as the hazel eyes closed. Methos' spine arched inexorably toward that caress without any other movement, his hips pressing against the heat as the slender throat extended. Air escaped slowly from the throat with no force, only a soft sound, a sheen of perspiration appearing to glisten on the pale skin.

Duncan kept his eyes on the face below his own, letting his hand provide the stimulus and his eyes read the results. His own breathing was shallow, easing the taut reaction he saw mirrored in the fine boned features, the satiny lay of lashes upon flushed cheeks. The other man's lips moved slightly as if to speak but all that emerged was the soft hiss of air and a low sound of all vowels and whispers. The tongue emerged briefly to moisten the lower lip before the tender flesh was caught against white teeth, the breath harsher but not hard; a counterpoint to the flesh firming under his hand.

Methos' chin rose as the flesh did, pressing the dark head back against the bed as if height; the subtle lifting of the flat planed hips, must be counteracted somehow. Nostrils quivered, anticipating the slide of his hand along the thickening shaft and went still as Duncan raked his thumbnail against the now accessible underside of Methos' cock. The lower lip was flushing from the pressure of teeth and Duncan could not help but ease the swelling, gentling the assault with a milder one and he felt Methos' body tremble under that touch of teeth to flesh. The sound deepened--a groan. The body moved, one leg rising, knee flexed as the hips twisted to grant better access to the smooth stroke of heated fingers, sweat pooling at the base of the throat to cool the pulse there.

And no move by either of them to add to the twin touch of mouth and hand. Duncan's fingers were tense against his own hair, Methos' hands at his side, slender fingers digging into the bedspread to give leverage to the staid lifting of his body.

Duncan's eyes raked the straining form, seeing the taut curve of muscle under flesh at Methos' chest, silken skin ignored and wanting; the pressure building as the tight stomach fluttered when his hand moved downward again.

The sharp intakes of breath were physicallized in the rise of the broad chest, the softer mounds of Methos' breasts curved to just flatten under the dark flat disks of skin. Those disks darkened further as the skin flushed, the slow caress having found the soft twin sacs, their weight increasing with each turgid heart beat. The silken tower trembled as it was filled to overflowing, the tip glistening as the body fought motion with stillness, a breath away from surrender.

His gaze shifted again to find the surrender in the glazed hazel eyes, Methos waiting for that second decision to be made.

Duncan bent his head then. Not to the mouth but to the throat, to taste the salty sweat slickened skin, hand once more encircling the none-too-steady tower to press and slide from base to tip. He felt the tremors begin with another sound, harder, caught between a moan and a choke as the muscles flexed, forcing the thrust of flesh to fingers in a movement both of grace and need. Duncan suckled the hollowed throat, clearing the pool before moving back to mouth, capturing it as firmly as his hand captured the shifting cock. He felt Methos' body begin to spasm, a mix of pleasure and pain suffusing his own body as he rode the motion with hand and mouth until he felt the warm slide of fluid across the back of his hand. He pressed his thumb against the font to slow and guide the flood as he suckled Methos' tongue again. Swallowed the elongated moan that accompanied the release. Then he gentled the near sob as the body gave one last powerful surge against his palm before the shaft went limp, held now only by the broadened palm. And he still kneaded the silky skin.

Hand and groin were a warm, slick, trembling mess and he slid his fingers through the mix, spreading the fluid like a balm across the tight, damp curls and flaccid flesh. He felt the muscles relax under the cooling massage as the mouth sighed against his and went passive.

He lifted his head to watch the still flushed but silent face, hand moving up once more to trail that silky fluid across the stomach to the chest to rest there once more, briefly. Then he moved it to press his lips against the silken trail and taste the culmination of all that had been felt.

He moved then unnoticed, needing distance between he and the quiet body, wondering how long it had been since Methos had let anyone this close, physically or emotionally. Close enough to be able to receive something for himself alone and not because something was needed from him. Methos' response to his touch had thrilled and aroused him but the older Immortal had demanded nothing, had allowed Duncan to set the pace and extent. He ran warm water into the sink, wetting towels and wrapping them to maintain their heat as he carried them back to the bed.

He sought to clean the glistening skin, applying it to the still damp groin, lips curving as the touch alone brought a sharp gasp to Methos' lips, the gold-green eyes opening quickly, all unaware he had been left alone for a moment. His eyes closed again as the flush faded from his skin and the last of the tension eased under the gentle, non-arousing, touch, his skin cooling and his brain clearing.

"Mac," he said quietly, opening his eyes again as the towels were laid aside. No promises. No regrets and he reached up to touch the Highlander's face where he knelt beside him, levering himself up on one elbow to study the dark face, seeking for some way to return at least part of the gift he'd been given. His thumb trailed across the full mouth, his own lips parting as Duncan caught the hand, tongue reaching out to dampen the pads as he leaned down, fingers curling into Methos' as the mouth sought his once more.

"I think we've said more than enough...probably more than we should have," Duncan said quietly. "This isn't about words anymore, Methos. It's not about the past or the future."

"There isn't any future in this, Mac." Methos said regretfully. "This isn't the kind of life either of us wants to lead."

"I know that...." Duncan said. "But it is a part of our lives that shouldn't be denied, or forgotten. Anymore than your past or mine should be forgotten....but we can set them aside for a bit. Right now. Right here. What do you want, Methos? Tell me how to chase away the shadows...."

"You already have," Methos said and slid his hand along the muscled thigh, a faint smile on his lips. "Just by showing me that what I was afraid I was losing was far more than friendship. That there a kinship....a ...brotherhood...." His voice broke on the word and Duncan reached for him, feeling the muscled arms embrace him fiercely.

Duncan knew that sense of dispossession. He'd felt it when he'd been denied his place in the Clan. Cast out as something unholy. Methos had been part of something unholy and had walked away. But he had been part of something once, however twisted. In the Highlands, in any clan structure, killing another member of the clan was second to no other offense. Methos had not only killed a 'brother', he had engineered the destruction of the entire group.

And he had done it because he had thought he'd found a new clan. One with Joe and MacLeod. But there was more to Methos than veiled maneuverings. That dark, uncontrolled, almost alien nature rode close to the surface masked by ennui, by indifference, by cruelty and revealed in a tender love for a dying mortal woman. He had sought to reclaim that sense of unity with his fellows.

And been cast out, again, for his past.

And what had he said in the church? Unable to judge Kronos unless he judged himself. Not willing to die for, what at the time, had been less than madness, more than a simple gathering of power. Those four, and Methos and Silas in particular, Methos and Kronos especially had been Brothers--shield-mates in a more barbaric world. MacLeod knew the implication of the term, a step to the side of clansman. The begining of a practice the Greeks had put into action, almost law, hundreds of years later. Warriors partnered in all things, bound beyond the warfare or the comfort of homes and wives and families. Men whose lives were pledged to one another in whatever need arose, be it battle or bedroom. Not love alone. Nor friendship but an attempt to breech that overwhelming sense of solitude every man faced--be he mortal or more.

"I need you..." Methos murmured, his hand stroking along Duncan's thigh, reawakening the response the Highlander had begun to build watching the slender form move under his touch. "I need all the passion and fire you bring to living, Highlander. I need that before my own fades completely..."

His words chilled Duncan, the tone so bereft of artifice or manipulation. His hands caught the sides of Methos' face, holding him as his mouth sought a deeper merger, his body responding to the coaxing hand as they both rose to their knees, bodies pressed firmly together, strength to strength not in a show of force but of union.

Duncan gave way first, twisting to reach beside the bed for the small bottle of oil he used to whet his sword, surrendering it to Methos' hand as the older Immortal continued his assault on his groin, the dark head dropping to his throat and chest until Duncan was shaking with need and the gentle hands smoothed the oil across the rigid flesh before twisting himself, shifting position until his back was to Duncan's chest, guiding Duncan's hands to his hips as he eased them both down.

Duncan oiled his hands, spreading the slick stuff across the firm buttocks., the oil making the pale skin glisten more darkly as Methos lay on his stomach, head turned to the side Duncan slid his thumbs between the muscled mounds to part them, pressing downward to coax the thighs apart, and Methos moved, stretching as the Highlander knelt between his legs and caught his hips again. The older Immortal lifting himself as he was pulled back and up and over the hard thighs. Methos' cock rested softly in the crevice between Duncan's legs, the Highlander's swollen shaft steadied across his buttocks.

That sense of anticipation pervaded Methos again, forcing him to draw a breath as the fingers began probing for the tight entrance and finding it. He heard the catch in his breathing, his partner echoing him with an outrush of air as he pressed and oil slickened finger against the aperture, his other hand resting on the small of Methos' back. Subtle movements gauging his progress. Methos could not control his resistance nor the hiss that escaped him as entry was pressed. It was not of pain but of sensation, as if the entry point had been created by the touch rather than surrendered to it. Nor could he stop himself from tucking his chin as his body closed over the small, welcome intruder, fingers curling once more into the sheet.

The hand at his back moved to stroke, to ease, and his spine arched in response, drawing his head back again, coaxing a soft voweled expression of pleasure as hand and finger moved in the same direction. Duncan leaned into the upward stroke, his cock sliding along Methos' buttocks in a silken glide, Methos' own swelling shaft rasping against the younger Immortal's thighs and responding strongly to the stimulation. Duncan shifted, parting his legs slightly to allow the softened flesh to fall between his thighs and be held there, pressed on either side by heat and muscle.

The finger slid out and Methos stretched with the pull, knees flexing as he sought to follow the path, then stopping as he was nearly left bereft. His breath caught again as a second finger joined the first, pressed to the trembling sphincter, his gasp sharpening as he held still against that entry. Nerves fired signals along his spine and the vowels gave way to a rounder sound, almost a moan as the upward slide began again.

He let his breath out, willing the tight muscles to relax, speeding the probe. His cock firming more as it was stimulated from behind and within, those fragile walls of flesh sensitized to every rough callous, every lined knuckle. Swelling against the captive thighs, he heard Duncan moan, the sensation driving Methos' pleasure as his thighs trembled both in strain and anticipation.

He was sweat slicked again, moisture between his shoulder blades as the slow removal began once more, trembling as the fingers were withdrawn. The coolness was almost immediately covered with the heat of a softer firmness, the hands and fingers once more seeking the opening. Duncan pulled his buttocks wider as the oil coated invader pressed, the younger Immortal rising for leverage and Methos choking in tremulous pleasure as the pressure built. He raised his hips, adding his own strength to the battle as he pushed backwards, inviting, demanding entry.

Duncan groaned as the battle was won, the shaky hiss of pleasure marking Methos' surrender as the muscles gave way then closed tightly around him so the invasion would be slowed. He watched the slender body writhe, moving to aid the slow progress, the back and shoulders tight. Those movements making his blood race and chest ache from the sensuous grace. The hazel eyes were closed as the head came back again, that fulsome arch pulled from the base of Methos' spine. The older Immortal' lips were parted as he drew in a gasp, as if the entry were being made there and not further down.

The soft mouth was too much of a temptation though and Duncan leaned in, driving deeper into the tight channel and reached forward with one hand to slide a finger into the moist, hot mouth, then a second, shaking as the soft lips closed over them, tongue laving them to slickness before they were suckled.

His groin was firmly pressed against the tight buttocks and he pressed deeper then pulled back, that friction grabbing at the base of his own spine. His head dropped back with a groan, tremors already beginning and Methos rose, arms thrust down, knees bending as he sought to reclaim the full hard length of Duncan's erection. Duncan moved his arm under the tight shoulder, lifting and pulling, feeling Methos' now erect cock escape his thighs as his brother came up, his back against Duncan's chest, shoulders just within reach of Duncan's mouth. The long strong hands gripped the outside of his thighs, giving the supple body leverage to pull upward. Both men groaned against the pull, two magnets being forced apart. Duncan still had his arm hooked under Methos' shoulder and he reached for the silken hair, Methos turning into the caress, his twisting body adding to the heat between them.

Duncan's thighs burned and he moved, heard the pleasure choked gasp as his other hand once more encircled that glorious rise of flesh and stroked it, timing it to the rise and fall of Methos' body against his own turgid shaft. Fingers were once more caught by the seeking mouth, the strength demanding urgency. The burn in Duncan's thighs demanded compensation and his teeth gripped the ready shoulder.

Methos started at the minor pain, arching against the Highlander, straining body a signal as Duncan felt the blood rush from his body to the one point of sensation. His moan turned to a cry as sensation superseded reflex, unable to stop the flex and flood that followed. He drove Methos against his hand , echoing that convulsive display, the thick expulsion slicking them as Duncan's fill eased the friction between his cock and its tight prison.

The Highlander felt that force build, and Methos anticipated, falling forward, taking his partner with him, his arms catching them, bearing the weight of both their bodies as the frenzied thrusting was arrested, caught and then resurged as Duncan drove into him, hard and deep, body catching the flood of heat, of fluid, back straining to bear the weight of the larger man without protest. Duncan was pressed against his back, his own arms trembling as he sought to keep Methos from taking his full weight, lips pressed to the taut shoulder as his spasms eased, flesh softening and spent.

He moved, Methos twisting from underneath him to hold him, giving Duncan room to stretch the tight, aching muscles of his thighs. Duncan's arms were stilled braced on either side of Methos' panting, shaking body, barely noticing when the slender strength was added to his own, easing him down and onto his side again.

His eyes opened to the sharp planes of Methos' face, the hazel eyes regarding him anxiously, his arm under Duncan's shoulder to bear him up. The Highlander pulled him close, feeling and hearing the soft, warm release of air against his shoulder, flexing his legs as the older man moved in, knee sliding between the parted legs as his hand stroked downward to ease and massage the strained muscles.

Methos arched slightly as Duncan nuzzled his throat, the curve bringing their groins in contact. The Highlander's broad palm slid through his thick, damp hair, lifting his eyes to meet the gold-green ones searching his for recovery...or regret. There was none. Earth brown eyes held his as the hand moved across his jaw, thumb once more carressing the parted lips, waiting for their breathing to ease before offering that closure.

Methos took the offer, words and thoughts lost to the curve of the full lips against his, Duncan's hand skating across his throat to grasp his hair once more, to postion his mouth for a thorough locking of lips and teeth and tongues, heat building there as their bodies cooled and quieted. Methos pulled back and down, back and shoulders once more taking the Highlander's weight willingly, drawing the larger man down with him so Duncan lay against him, legs crossed casually across Methos' groin and thigh. Head resting close to his, the broad dark hand once more resting on the pale flesh, over the heart, sheilding it, guarding it while they both fell into Orpheus' realm, each ready to watch the other's back against the demons that might yet come.

Methos sat silently in the pre-dawn darkness, watching the Highlander as he slept. The younger man had barely noticed when his brother left the bed, whispered reassurances falling on soporific ears until Duncan fell asleep again. Methos had dressed quickly and silently, not even bothering to wash the feel and smell of the other man from his skin. And then he sat, watching the man sleep, not quite guarding but not exclusively for the simple pleasure of observation either.

He had thought to stay, wanted to stay, body already yearning for the hard muscled body and strong caresses. There was no oath between them yet, just the promise of one and Methos would not take advantage of that promise. Not yet. His own oath to the Highlander already branded his blood. Duncan would never be without a brother at his back as long as Methos lived. But the offer had to be made freely, not as a part of some debt...real or imagined ...and he wasn't sure Duncan understood that yet.

Duncan stirred and Methos rose, slipping toward the door. Glancing once at the note he'd left wrapped around the Katana's hilt...not many words. A number where he could be reached in Paris and a single quote... something a friend had once told him. He only hoped MacLeod would understand what Methos offered and understand there were no demands and no expectations. Duncan turned, preperatory to waking up as Methos slipped out the door.


"The love of man to a woman is a thing common and of course, and at first partakes more of instinct and passion than of choice; but true friendship between man and man is infinite and immortal" --Plato