Sheathing Fate
by Maygra de Rhema

As always, The Highlander characters Duncan and Methos, 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.

Part One

It began with a beer. The last beer actually -- or rather, the last cold beer. Sparring had left both MacLeod and his lover hot, sweaty and tired to the point of lethargy. But it was a good tired. A tired that deserved the reward of an ice cold beer to cool the throat and sedate the flush of endorphins and adrenaline still chasing merrily through their blood streams.

It was a rational explanation for the desire. Mac was inclined to share the last ale, even as he loaded up the refrigerator with more -- albeit warm -- beer. Methos was feeling selfish and evil. Moreso when Mac pointed out that his long-term inhabitation of European climes had left the older Immortal far more used to warm beer than Mac's more Americanized inclinations.

"You've subverted me," Methos accused and dove for the prized bottle, the dark glass already slicked with condensation and likely to be warm as well if the debate were not settled quickly.

Mac was not faster but he was stronger and Methos found his arm trapped against his back by the Highlander's strong hand when the beer was mere inches from being completely his.

"Be nice," Mac warned, pulling the slender body close. The heat between them was uncomfortably intense. Both of them had stripped off shirts upon entering the Loft's air-conditioned coolness but well-worked muscles were still exuding warmth from their strenuous exercise below.

"We are talking about the only cold beer in the place," Methos growled and twisted. Seemingly without effort he had escaped his lover's grip and the beer still stood on the counter equidistant between the two men. Mac was almost ready to acquiesce out of sheer politeness. The beer was his, after all, and Methos was his guest -- sort of. The words were on his lips when he saw the mischievous sparkle in the hazel eyes. Methos was definitely feeling playful -- among other things.

"Wrestle you for it," Mac offered and found himself grinning foolishly at the wide slow smile that spread across his lover's face.

"What style?" Methos asked as if there were any doubt. A chuckle answered him as Mac slipped his hands under the waistband of his sweats and slid the fabric off in a slow, sensuous glide.

"I do love your sense of history, MacLeod," Methos purred back, eyes darkening when the Highland warrior was beautifully, gloriously naked in front of him. There was no hesitation in Methos at all as he slipped out of his own constraining cotton.

Then Mac lunged for the beer. A yelp and a shout of laughter had the participants engaged, both well aware that there were other things that needed to be quenched between them than just thirst. Slick skin made grips chancy things. The increased heat and friction quickly had both men panting for breath.

Still, Mac gave it his best shot. Methos in a playful mood was sheer delight and deviltry -- and rare. The older Immortal, like his lover, was too often given to seriousness that needed a release. Mac was only too willing to provide the stimulation. He was also aware that the contest could not last too long or there would be more than sweat slicking their flesh. Nevertheless, there was nothing quite like the feel of Methos under his hands, nothing quite so erotic as the twist and turn of the slender body, or the deceptive flex of muscles and joints. And he was quick to recognize that the floor, for all its enticing closeness, was not where he wanted that body subdued.

He congratulated himself for being a genius and leaving the loft open, allowing his bed -- their bed -- to be nearly as accessible as the floor. Then congratulated Methos for reading his mind.

Rough and tumble was the word, but there was always a subdued caution between them in such matches. Naked was appealing but vulnerable. A wrong move, a miscalculated thrust or twist could pretty much dampen any further exercise for the rest of the day.

The outcome of the contest was not a sure thing but it was close. Had there been less need for caution Mac might well have found himself the loser. Unable to rely on dirty, vicious tricks, however, Methos would inevitably lose just from sheer strength. Or not, Mac amended as his lover once more left himself open to an easy capture. One of these days Mac was going to convince Methos to fight full out -- with or without blades -- and discover just how much of his lover's skill in attack and defense was carefully checked at the door.

Regardless of motive, Mac soon had Methos pinned to the bed, unwilling to release him as he pressed his lover against the cool sheets, bodies pressed tightly together while Mac waited for Methos to cry "yield."

And the sooner the better, Mac almost groaned. He was hard, as was his partner. Methos still struggled, driving the need in Mac higher with the deliberate intent as his body flexed against the Highlander's. The taut, hard muscles of Methos' buttocks rubbed against Mac's erection enticingly, provocatively.

"Sheath your sword, Highlander," Methos growled as MacLeod's weight pressed him down onto the mattress. The wrestling match had left them both breathless, Methos blissfully aware of the Scot's prominent erection pressed against his back and buttocks and even more aware of his own, trapped against the bed by his body and the weight of MacLeod's.

Teeth latched onto his shoulder gently; a chuckling response to his demand as Mac slid his hand between them to drag his fingers through the natural separation between the mounds of muscle. "And if I refuse?" His other arm was caught against his lover's body, the long limb twisted around it and holding him immobile.

"I'll break your arm," Methos purred and exerted a little pressure.

"Oow!" Mac protested. "All right, let go and I'll get the --"

"Now, MacLeod." Methos grated out. "If you move in any direction but inward, you'll be eating left handed for the rest of the day."

The older Immortal felt the hesitation. Mac was not particularly prone to violent bouts of sex but sometimes he could be coaxed--or coerced.

"Then relax," the bantering tone was gone, moist lips pressed against his shoulder and down his spine as the other hand stroked him between his buttocks, gentling the tight muscles.

"Please, Mac," Methos said, lifting his head, releasing Mac's arm and parting his thighs. The need to feel his lover inside, painful or not, more immediate than the aching throb in his loins.

Cool moisture on fingertips probed for entry and found it and Methos shuddered, forcing himself to relax as something warmer and larger was pressed to the same point as the hands opened him. One warm palm pressed on the base of his spine and he let out the breath he had been holding, the Highlander driving his swollen cock into the tight channel in one strong thrust on the expulsion of air from his partner.

Pain first, then exquisite pain as Methos nearly leapt off the bed, body jerking as it reacted to the invasion. Pain shot through his back and up his spine like wildfire as he ground his fists into the bed cloths, muffling his cry against the bunched sheets. He heard Duncan gasp and pull back but not out as Methos' body closed around him, first rejecting then welcoming him, muscles tightening around the alien flesh.

The pain was not enough to blot out the incredibly erotic sensation of being filled; of being possessed and Methos felt his own erection begin to pulse.

"Oh gods..." he groaned as Mac pressed his palms against his buttocks and began rocking. The Highlander was drawing deep breaths and releasing them slowly before he leaned forward, his cock sliding tightly to press itself against that sensitive gland. He heard his partner moan in pleasure. Methos tried to move, hips flattening to the bed as he pressed upward with his arms, his back tight against his lover's chest. MacLeod's arms came down on either side of him, lean hard body driving him deep into the slender one.

The pain had almost passed as Methos spread his legs wider, back and arms bearing his weight and MacLeod's upward to give his partner better access. Every thrust drove the older Immortal's cock against the bed, the throbbing becoming insistent and undeniable as Mac thrust more quickly. The Highlander's mouth was in his hair, dragging along the back of his neck. Every well-toned and well-known muscle of the Scot's chest imprinted along his spine and back.

Then MacLeod dug his knees into the bed, Methos bearing the weight of both of them for one brief moment while MacLeod caught him under the arms and pulled. A sob of pure ecstasy escaped Methos' throat as the hard flesh was driven impossibly deep and released, Mac's groan as the orgasm came lost against a series of shallow gasps, then choked off as Methos' body spasmed, hips flexing convulsively as his own orgasm came. The slender man fell forward on his hands; the Highlander still sheathed within him for a long glorious moment before Mac pulled free, collapsing onto the bed on his back. A tanned arm snagged Methos' wrist and pulled him over as well, both of them still gasping and trembling in an ungainly sprawl.

MacLeod recovered first and raised himself up on one elbow to bend over his lover, fingers trailing over the broad chest to drift lazily across a dark nipple as he coaxed the older Immortal's mouth open for his kiss. It was as gentle and languid a meshing of mouths as the joining of the bodies had been fast and hard.

"I could do this all day," MacLeod chuckled against his mouth as one of Methos' roving hands began stroking along his hip and flank as if he were petting a cat.

"Feel free," the answer was husky, the green-gold eyes wide and bright.

"Not hurt?"

"Sore...but a good sore...a very good sore," Methos said with a grin. "I heal fast, you know."

"Aye, you do. And recover fast too," the Highlander observed wryly, all thoughts of the original provocation for their match gone as he pursued other pleasures. His hand drifted lower to stroke the thickening length of flesh nestled against the dark curls. With a wicked grin, his broad hand encircled his lover's cock, stroking it slowly, smooth silk gliding along the calluses of his hand. Methos let out a sound suspiciously like a purr and tucked his hand under his head, raising one leg to shift his hips more comfortably into the caress. His other hand continued its stroking before Mac rolled and lifted the hardening length of flesh, bending his head to taste and caress the shaft. Methos stirred, the purr deepening to a growl and Mac chuckled, then slowly began suckling, drawing Methos' cock deeper into his mouth with each breath. He shifted again, kneeling between his lover's legs and pressed the muscled thighs apart, then lifted them, exposing the full sweet expanse of Methos' groin to his exploring hands.

The growl stretched into a moan as Mac sucked harder on the sensitive head of his lover's cock, then bent forward, taking nearly the full length of him into his mouth and throat. When he pulled back his tongue pressed upward on the sensitive ridge of flesh on the underside and Methos arched, a soft gasping cry escaping him. A slickened hand replaced the teasing mouth and MacLeod moved again, up his body to straddle his waist, rising over the straining body in satisfied anticipation and guided the rigid flesh between his own buttocks and then settled his weight. He angled, aware of the glittering gaze in his lover's eyes, moaning softly himself as he began to ride the slender body, feeling the muscles bunch beneath him as Methos thrust into him, meeting his movements.

He stroked himself until Methos reached for him. There was a slightly wild look in the glazed hazel eyes until Mac took over once more. His movements drove the body beneath him into the bed, driving his own pleasure higher until Methos nearly convulsed. Methos' release was sharp, and explosive, the lithe body twisting beneath Mac with an incoherent cry. Mac pulled away and then dropped forward to gather the body into his arms, hips still thrusting against the sweat dampened groin, the furred nest of flesh, until he rolled them both over, kissing Methos desperately until he thought they would both pass out.

It was possessive, domineering and a little frightening, but Methos met the carefully obscured violence willingly and eagerly. The sheer strength of MacLeod's passions driving his own. For Mac to let loose like this was rare and treasured, frightening in odd way but not really threatening. Methos knowing that it could go on until he was exhausted, replete and trembling. Nor did Mac disappoint him, giving him only moments to recover before rolling him onto his back again and caught his thighs. He had not yet recovered from the last penetration but he was moist and loose still and the Highlander drove into him like a ram, bronzed face flushed and sweat dampened.

Pain shifted to pleasure then pain again as Methos rode the thrusts, the sensation settling somewhere in between the two and he twisted trying to both escape and force a closer union until he was panting, fighting for air, fighting for clarity. Mac's last resolving thrust bore in and upward, lifting his partner off the bed with the power of the thrust and the pull of his hands. Sensation shot through Methos like a bolt of electricity, spine cracking as he arched into that driving force, and the spasm came, body tightening around the pumping intruder with enough force to drag a cry of pleasure from Mac as his fingers dug into his partner's thighs.

It faded slowly, both of them breathing harshly, the hands now soothing where they had bruised and Methos heard the soft gasp of dismay when Mac saw the slight blood spotting on the sheets where he had torn the issue in his lover's anus.

Methos did hurt, but it was dull and secondary to the languid and hormone laden after glow. He took the apology quietly and then made sure Mac knew he was forgiven. More than, wrapping his legs and arms around his lover like a limpet and kissing him with slow and deep throated passion until Mac began to gentle him with soft caresses along his sides and flanks.

"I don't know why you let me do that to you," Mac said after they had both calmed and quieted, he lay with his head against Methos' chest, fingers twined as Methos stroked his hair with his free hand.

"Because I love it and so do you," Methos said.

"It feels like you want me to punish you for something."

"Maybe. Some. But mostly it's because it happens so fast and so hard I can't do anything but react." Methos said. "And sometimes it's because I need to know I can control the violence."

"Or I can?"

"That may be your motivation. I have no doubts of it," Methos replied with a smile, kissing him gently. "And because it is so...masculine. There's much to be said for matching strengths, Mac. Just as there are times for tenderness and patience. Both of us are strong at different points in our lives. But there are times when I don't want to be strong...when I want someone to take charge of me, of decisions...just for awhile..." He chuckled. "A little vacation for that masculine resolve."

Mac shifted upward to sit next to him, slipping his arm around the slender shoulders and pulling Methos across his lap so he could see his eyes. "I always thought it was because you thought I needed to be in charge."

"You do. And that might be reason enough because it's not important to me to be in the forefront all the time. As they say, been there, done that. I do it as much for myself as you. I have been in enough situations where any vestige of control was taken from me without choice to know the difference. Making the choice to give over that control is a sense of power in itself--my own power."

The dark eyes went soft in understanding. "I don't know that anyone has ever trusted me as you do. I don't think I could learn to trust that much."

"Tessa trusted you, Mac. And you will. It's not something I learned in my first millennia, I promise. And the people I do trust that much have been few and far between. And not a one of them Immortal before you," he said quietly, that trust shining out of his eyes absolutely.

Unspeakably moved, Mac bent his head to take the gift gently, parting the soft lips with a tenderness that made Methos clutch at Mac's arm. Tenderness and patience, the feel of the warm body moving against his, the soft whimper of emotion that escaped his lover. It was a heady responsibility.

And erotic. And arousing as he moved once more, easing Methos back onto the bed and covering him with his body, plotting a slow course of seduction as he was cradled between the muscular thighs. He would not allow Methos to distract him as he tasted and touched, stroked and suckled, nipped and kneaded, alert to every subtle movement, every flutter of muscle.

Methos' body thrust gently against him, hips and abdomen joining in a graceful rhythm as Mac stroked him, firm hand gliding over the silken flesh, feeling it harden and lengthen again. He dropped his mouth to one budding nipple, suckling it, nipping playfully as Methos' fingers threaded through his hair, pulling him closer.

Methos could only ride the waves of sensation Mac's attentions were causing. His lover's body was exerting continual and gentle pressure against all the most sensitive points of flesh and nerves, leaving Methos gasping and moaning as Mac's mouth and hands moved from point to point. His body was straining against Mac's, clutching at the muscular back with bruising force as their groins met in a harsh and demanding rhythm. Mac suddenly rolled them over, ending up in his back, Methos straddling his thighs.

"Your turn," Mac said huskily grinning up at the sweat-slicked face of his lover, before pulling his head down and raising his hips. The kiss was bruising, barely restrained violence once more just beneath the surface as Methos prepared his lover, capturing the moan as his fingers probed the tight opening, relaxing the muscles until Mac was ready for him. He shifted, pressing the firm head of his cock into the circle of muscle slowly. Mac gripped the slats at the head of the bed, body arching into the penetration, chest heaving in response to the slow invasion of his body.

Then Methos was inside him, filling him, stretching him, his senses, the pleasure barely beginning as his lover 's hand circled his cock and began stroking, the rest of Methos' body rigidly still. Mac groaned as he felt the spasms begin, eyes fixed on the taut face, the tense muscles of his lover. The vein in Methos' neck was throbbing visibly in time with Mac's heartbeat, the older Immortal seemingly unbreathing until Mac could stand no more. His body jerked and Methos released the breath he'd been holding, leaning forward with a gasp and then moving. His hips flexed, pumping his cock in smooth strokes into the Highlander's body, his grip on Mac's cock nearly excruciating. Then the slender, limber body bent, suckling the head of the straining shaft of flesh and Mac groaned as the thrusts became short and shallow.

He could no longer think, wave after wave of pleasure washed over him, hot pulsing shocks of ecstasy flowing up his spine and he arched, impaling his body fully onto his lover's cock, his own shaft thrusting harshly into the tight mouth as his orgasm could no longer be denied.

He was only barely aware when Methos let his mouth slip from the pulsing flesh; his lover's moans deep and gasping until Methos surrendered as well, almost choking on the swell of emotion and sensation.

When he could think again he found Methos collapsed against him, body slicked and trembling still. His fingers sought the damp hair and his lover stretched slowly, separating their bodies gently before moving to lie beside Mac, skin just barely brushing skin.

There were no words. Mac was surprised he could put two coherent thoughts together, but language skills were another thing entirely. He rolled to his side, watching Methos recover through heavy eyes. The slender body was still wracked by tremors, one arm drawn up to lie across the older Immortal's eyes. Mac reached out to soothe the still stressed body only to have Methos catch his fingers painfully.

The burning after glow faded as Mac gently pulled his lover's arm down. The hazel eyes were hidden but the dark lashes were damp from something other than sweat. Without a word Mac pulled the slim body into his arms, letting Methos' halting breaths warm his shoulder. Their legs tangled as the older Immortal yielded to the tight embrace.

Mac made no effort to question his lover's response, but he was moved by the rare expression of deep emotion. So much of what Methos felt he kept to himself or released in odd ways. His cynicism never ran so deep as when he cared desperately about something. The sharp tongue was rarely leveled at people of no consequence to his lonely world.

Gentle caresses eased the tightness in the body. The security of being held moderating the harsh breathing. It took long minutes for the tight, fierce embrace to gentle into something less bruising. Attuned now to every nuance of movement, of change in the rhythm of breathing, Mac relaxed as well when it seemed that Methos was falling asleep. The older Immortal snuggled closer as Mac reached for blankets to cover their rapidly cooling skin before gathering the now pliant body in his arms again and seeking the solace of sleep for himself.

Mac woke slowly, only minimally aware of the nominal sounds of life as the city woke up with him. He felt languid and sated and with a gnawing sense of unease as he woke more fully, alone.

It settled over him quickly when he finally identified the uncharacteristic restlessness of his waking. A quick twist of his body confirmed there was no one in the bed with him. A quicker scan of his immediate surroundings revealed no other Immortal presence.

Alarm settled over him as he stretched those senses further. He knew Methos' signature as well as he knew his own face --better since it was as constant a presence in the back of his mind as his own thoughts. Dull pain started as he pressed that ability even harder, gasping when he was forced to acknowledge that his lover was no where in the building. The physical evidence confirmed it. Methos' boots were gone as well as his backpack, his coat, his sword.

But not everything, Mac noted as he forced calm into his brain. There were clean clothes still folded on the dresser although the pile was shorter than he recalled. With swift feet he confirmed that the majority of Methos' things were still present -- his books and journals still in the den. It was Saturday. His lover was not teaching class. He had said nothing about errands or meetings and no food had been prepared. The long forgotten beer still sat in a puddle of tepid water on the counter. There was no note.

Methos was gone.

The thought settled into Mac's brain like unconsciousness, dulling all else. This may well be a temporary condition but the implications were devastating. That Methos could have slipped away from him without him noticing was like the worst failure he had ever known.

Gone, but not forever. He had left too much of himself behind. Or had he? Another frenzied search revealed the journals remaining were mostly those Methos had falsified for the Watchers over the years. The true one, the latest in many, Methos had told him, that one was gone. There was nothing of true worth to the oldest Immortal left in their living space.

Fear and loss quickly transmuted to anger. That Methos had left without a word cut harshly, deeply. He owed Mac that much. Mac had trusted him and he...

He trusted Mac. That had not been an aberration last night. Mac calmed himself, remembering the intensity, the desperation in his lover's embrace and the last expression of passion, of love -- that shattering union that had left his lover shaken and so overwrought with emotion he could not speak. Had overwhelmed him.

Mac had not understood it. He still did not but he had accepted it -- allowing Methos to explain it if he could, when he could. He obviously felt unable to. Methos was not leaving Mac, he was running away from himself. Mac had seen it coming but thought he had thwarted it. Thought they had overcome it together.

Experience should have taught him that Methos rarely reacted the way Mac expected. Adam Pierson, now he was predictable, but Methos had not been that single-minded scholar for months now. The persona had faded gradually revealing a very different man than Mac had expected. Adam was reserved, Methos was downright shy and skittish. Adam avoided conflict like the plague, Methos was all conflict and little resolution. All fire and passion and wildness whereas his alter-ego was staid, quiet and innocuous.

Mac had identified the wounded animal in Methos for what it was, for who he was. Haunted, hunted by his own doubts. Gentling him like a wild animal had seemed the right approach: never a sharp movement, never a hint of possession or domination, Mac believing his lover had seen too much of that in his long life.

Yet Methos had admitted to wanting it on occasion. Had goaded and cajoled Mac into demonstrating he was capable of it just the night before. The incredible joy Mac found in the surrender of the slender body to his passions, he had denied to his lover's spirit.

"...there are times when I don't want to be strong...when I want someone to take charge of me, of decisions...just for awhile..."

Methos could not have been more obvious about what he wanted and needed from Mac if he had plastered it on a billboard.

How many times had Methos blatantly offered himself to Mac, wanting Mac to take charge and shed the reserve they both knew lurked just below the surface of Mac's mind. Five thousand years still awed Mac -- the sheer weight of the ages bearing down on him when he thought about it.

How much more of a burden could that be for his lover?

Methos who had borne and bred and honed and fired in an age where people often took what they wanted. When his worth had been measured by those that saw possession of another person as a mark of their wealth and their own worth. Not in the abhorrent viciousness of simple slavery but in the reality that what you had defined who you were. Intellectually, Methos knew that the equation was not a necessarily valid one, but if MacLeod could still cling to the ideals of a clan now near vanished, it was not unreasonable for Methos to believe that his worth might be measured in terms of how much of himself was claimed by another.

He couldn't be owned but he could be given and he had offered himself to his lover but Mac had not claimed him. He loved him, he treated him with the same gentleness and consideration he did any other lover, with the same freedom of choice he had given Tessa or Amanda or Richie. But Methos was none of those people. His values had been forged in different fires. It was an alien and barbaric idea to Mac in practical terms but not in philosophical ones.

With unwavering certainty Mac knew his lover would return. He would work through whatever was bothering him until he ferreted out the problem himself and then come back. Contrite or defiant, it mattered little; and he would accept whatever Mac offered and it would be enough until his demons rose again to send him scampering back into the shadows until reason overtook him.

But it was not enough and it wasn't fair that Methos should ever be denied his own worth, however convoluted the validation of that worth might be. So it was up to Mac, because he loved him, to offer the proof.

But first he had to find him.

Loathe to drag anyone else into what was an incredibly private war. Mac curbed the initial instinct to call Joe. It was entirely possible the Watcher might have more insight into where Methos was likely to go than Mac -- A thought that did not sit entirely comfortably on the broad shoulders of the Scot. A little hard thought and Mac made a call, his own cunning somewhat foolishly reassured when the rental company revealed that Mr. Pierson had not yet turned in the sport utility he had rented. Not that Methos was incapable of abandoning the truck, but Mac doubted he would do so unless there were a threat to his person or his cover -- which there wasn't at this point.

So Methos was likely still close by. Not close enough for Mac to run into him on the street but close enough that the older Immortal would not be entirely out of touch -- or out of reach.

The likeliest place of all came to Mac rather sluggishly. His own mind was a jumble of thoughts and questions and not all about Methos, although the nagging one remained: Given that he would eventually find his lover, what the hell would he do then? Coffee made his head ache worse and he sent up a silent prayer for a few minutes cessation to the mental mind-chatter.

Only to have both prayers answered in the same heartbeat as he suddenly worked out the most likely of all places for Methos to have gone and it wasn't even the last place Mac might of looked -- it was most likely and calculatedly the first he would seek were his own thoughts and emotions as tangled as he believed his lover's to be.

Packing was more an exercise in ordering his thoughts than because there was anything truly necessary to his little excursion. A few phone calls had the dojo's opening and closing managers set up and he was off.

It reassured him no end to find Methos' truck parked well off the dirt road that provided access to Mac's retreat. Less reassuring was the discovery that the small motor boat Mac used to ferry himself back and forth was still in its berth. He loaded the supplies and started off, senses attuned to any hint of his lover's presence. He found none, even when he secured the boat to the small dock and approached the cabin.

The structure was undisturbed and still locked. The island was not so large, but it was large enough that Mac would not immediately sense Methos' presence if the older Immortal were elsewhere on its wild shores. Leaving his gear on the porch, Mac started his patrol along the shore. He made no effort to be quiet. A startled Methos could likely prove dangerous, holy ground or not.

As it turned out, he need not have bothered. That presence, that so unique marker of Methos' personality, sang through him like a symphony in a storm, and he hesitated for a moment, well aware that if he could feel Methos, his lover, no doubt, could sense him as well.

Methos gave little sign of it as Mac settled himself on a boulder near the shore to watch his lover approach land with long, sure strokes. Given Methos' vocal dislike for water, it still did not surprise Mac that the slender body would be so graceful a swimmer. Fanciful thoughts of watching his lover emerge from the water like some elemental spirit were not completely dashed as Methos did rise, feet firmly on the lake's sandy bottom. A blush nearly overcame Mac as his own thoughts of seeing that body rise, naked and wild, were somewhat tempered by the denim cut-offs Methos wore in place of a swimsuit.

Practical. For all that the island was private property the land surrounding the lake was not and hikers frequented the area in good weather.

"I thought you hated the water," Mac commented in an even tone, still unsure of how their meeting would unfold and tensely playing out his role moment to moment.

"Only in great quantities," Methos returned wiping face and chest with a flannel shirt before slipping it on, leaving it unbuttoned. While not cold the air was decidedly chilly. And not just from a drop in the air temperature.

"Did you swim over? You left the boat," Mac said.

"I came for privacy, Mac. To think. I had no intention of using what is yours as if it were my own. But I didn't think you would begrudge me the use of the land," Methos said coolly; striking a shot without even trying. Mac still held to the belief burned into him during his life with the Lakota that the land could belong to no one man. It stung a little, that Methos thought he would begrudge him anything, but it confirmed Mac's suspicions that at the root of all of this lay Methos' desperate need to belong to someone, somewhere.

It was on the tip of Mac's tongue to offer to leave, but the lack of apology on Methos' part for leaving him so abruptly set off warning flares in Mac's mind. However irrational, Methos was determined to show this outward independence to mask his own inner conflicts. To leave now would only confirm his fears that Mac did not want him save on his own terms, without any acknowledgment or thought for what the older Immortal needed.

"It's yours to use. But you could use the cabin as well. Likely to get rain," Mac commented then rose. "I'll be there when you get finished with whatever the hell you are doing," he added, rising to his feet and transmuting some of his distress into the barest edge of anger. Methos needed to know Mac expected an explanation, demanded one below the veneer of civility. The comment made the appropriate impact, Mac noted with some small sense of victory at being on the right track. Those mood transmitting gold-green eyes had narrowed.

"You're staying?" Methos challenged.

"It's been a awhile. There are things that need to be done. Since you have managed to drag me out here, I may as well see about doing them," Mac said. "And since you're here, you may as well help."

"Enforced labor?"

"Not enforced. I'll take it as an apology for leaving without a word and scaring me half to death," Mac shot back and turned away to pick his path back to the cabin. He dared not look over his shoulder for the reaction of his lover, but it warmed his heart to hear the soft muttered curse that escaped Methos.

It took the older Immortal longer than Mac expected -- enough to start the fine burn of worry once more for fear Methos might seek some other place for his contemplations. He busied himself with those tasks he had not lied about. Windows were thrown open and the inevitable layer of dust swept away. He started a list of what repairs were needed as well as one for supplies not readily on hand but it was well into the afternoon before he felt the approach of his lover.

The flannel shirt was still in place but cut-offs had been exchanged for jeans, the worn denim clinging to the muscles of Methos' hips and legs like a second skin. Used to quelling such obviously carnal appreciations, Mac had to struggle a moment before he let them have their way with his mind and body. If possession was what Methos desired, it was not at all unreasonable for Mac to allow to be seen just how much of his own heart, body and soul Methos had laid claim to without trying.

"I should have left a note," the older Immortal murmured, standing uncertainly at the base of the porch steps. Mac kept his expression placid and nodded.

"Good manners at the very least," he assented then studied his hands as he sat on the top of the steps to watch Methos. The slender man seemed reluctant to come any closer, not out of fear but out of a certain uneasiness of spirit. "It bothers me that you could disappear and not wake me -- that I didn't know you had gone..." Mac added softly.

"I've had centuries of practice at slipping away unnoticed, Mac. It has kept me alive on more than one occasion. And you were...tired," Methos offered, a balm to his lover's own doubts.

"Exhausted, more like," Mac agreed, letting a smile show. "Having trouble sleeping does not seem to be a problem when you are on hand -- beats a cup of cocoa any day."

That same startling shyness seemed to overcome the older Immortal as his gaze shifted from his lover to the lake, eyes distant as he tried to separate himself from the faint blush in his cheeks, the conversation -- his doubts. That profile caught Mac as it always did, revealing, without the intensity of the eyes to mask it, just how very young Methos had been at his first death. Younger than Mac, not so young as Richie although sometimes Mac wondered. The vague intimations of Methos' early life had been lost over the millennia, but life had been harder, people reached "old age" much younger -- aging faster under a life that demanded all effort be geared toward survival. It twisted at his heart to think his lover might have barely known any life as a child, as a youth. The weight of his true age had advanced the appearance of maturity exponentially. That Methos might have been Richie's age or even younger was a real possibility. The truth was unlikely ever to be known, though. Too much of his early past had been lost to Methos long before he ever met MacLeod. For all his jesting, Mac was not even sure Methos knew what land or people he had been born to any longer. He seemed to tease about it, but the jokes might actually hide an appalling lack of identity.

"Yes, well, it's nice to know I'm good for something," Methos said casually, a comment, off hand -- automatic response and Mac was off the porch in a flash, hands reaching for the slender shoulders roughly as he jerked his lover around to face him. Only part of Mac's reaction was feigned anger. Some part of him knew that Methos had meant nothing by the comment -- not consciously anyway.

"You are worth far more than a convenient fuck," Mac snapped out, the anger in his eyes obvious and real.

"I know that...," Methos said, startled, possibly realizing for the first time just how much of a scare he had given the Highlander. Hands moved automatically to soothe and comfort.

Mac caught his wrists. "Do you? I don't think so!" he said and without conscious thought or plan, captured his lover's mouth with a brutality and savagery that startled him. Methos made one startled try for escape as Mac's tongue forced his lips and teeth apart, sweeping the warm interior of his mouth fiercely before biting on his lower lip, causing it to swell. The abortive attempt to pull away was met by an equally fierce grip on Methos' arms, jerking the slighter man forward.

Mac felt the surrender in Methos' body before he was even fully cognizant of how very closely the line between domination and rape could be. But it wasn't rape or even close to it, he thought a second later and could not deny himself the very real thrill of knowing that Methos' reaction to him was as erotic and heady when he initiated it as when Methos asked it of him.

The desire to take his lover right then and there, to strip off Methos' clothes as well as his own was almost overwhelming as he heard his lover gasp and moan. The dark head dropped back as Mac moved his mouth from lips to throat, biting with enough force to draw a hiss of pain and to mark the pale skin. His own brain was becoming fogged by heat and sensation, by need and desire, and a certain desperation in him to have Methos in his life that seemed to be able to find no other so forceful expression than in sex. Methos' hands had moved to grip his shoulders painfully, that strength dragging Mac in closer, almost necessary to keep the Scot upright as Methos' acknowledgment of the power Mac had over the ancient Immortal was forcefully revealed.

Mac had never expected the idea of possessing someone could be so terrifying, but it was. What his lover had said about surrendering wholly being a kind of power in its own right was driven home over and over as Mac continued his assault on the willing flesh of his lover. He was also close to losing control, of losing himself in this dangerous game they played. With effort and pain he pulled away, gasping for breath and shaken, then appalled at what his own lack of control had rendered.

Methos was pale and trembling, the hazel eyes glazed and nearly all pupil. The thin lips were swollen, and his throat....

Had Mac been less horrified by his own actions he might have found the mark funny, a joke between lovers as hickey's had always been. Save this was no love bite marking Methos' skin. It was a wound, the impression of Mac's teeth easily visible amid the tiny blood-filled indentations. A small trickle of blood ran down the slender throat, the skin bruised and angry looking. Healing would banish it within minutes but the idea that he could inflict such a wound sickened Mac, moreso because he was also fully aroused. The ache in his groin could only find a counterpart in the obvious bulge in Methos' jeans and the fact that his lover could not seem to draw a deep enough breath to clear the dazed look from his face.

Mac pulled away, only to have Methos reach for him, not to pull him back by force but with entreaty. "Gods...finish it, Mac..." he breathed. "Don't leave this between us undone..."

"I could lose myself in you..." Mac said, unwilling to sink into that need so completely again, not sure he would ever find his way out again.

"I know...whichever of the Fates has brought us to this...I know that, too..."

Unable to meet that longing in the hazel eyes, Mac closed his own, but he could not deny Methos this or himself. It was not about possession or domination, not at this moment in time. It was about surrender. The tears of the night before had been not about Methos but about Mac -- the fact that he so rarely surrendered all he was to his partner. Methos did so regularly, losing himself in Mac's life, in his embraces, in his needs. There was no doubt in his lover's mind that he belonged entirely to the Highlander. But how much of the Highlander belonged to Methos?

Mac had been blindingly, stupidly wrong in his analysis. Not entirely, but very near to mishandling the situation badly. With so much between them, good and bad, evil in its most human form on both sides, Mac resisted any part of himself that might be misconstrued as being base or ignoble. Except that it was as much a part of his nature as any man's.

"I hate this part of myself...." Mac said even as he reached for his lover again.

"There is no part of you that is not you, Duncan," Methos said, leaning in as Mac's hands sought the smooth skin under the open collar of his shirt. " And what darkness there is I can love as easily as the other..."

"Why? How?" Mac moaned, pulse quickening at the feel of heated skin under his fingers. He was losing himself under Methos' show of acceptance. He was a heartbeat away from taking his lover more savagely than he had ever contemplated and knew that inevitably, he would be asked to surrender as willingly. He wanted that, almost as much as he wanted Methos here and now. It was basic, primal, further away from humanity than Mac had ever been since his Dark Quickening and possibly even farther. There would be no excuses this time, no salvation or explanation except this aching need.

And the trust of a man so familiar with his own dark side that Mac's must seem like the veriest shade of gray.

"Stop this..." Mac whispered, mouth already seeking the tender flesh he had so ravaged before.

"Stop this or stop you?" Methos asked, voice breaking as teeth nipped at the healing wound. "I can only stop myself and I don't want to..." The last was but a breath in Mac's ear and then there was no hope at all as those steel hands closed over the back of his neck and over his groin.

God help us both... Mac prayed, Methos' failure to be the voice of reason or sanity the last hope he could cling to. With a groan of part pleasure and part pain, his teeth settled over the wound, hands tearing at the flannel with a violent need to see and feel his lover's chest, bared, unmarked -- but not for long. Methos hissed at the pain at his throat but pressed into the spread fingers skating along his chest. Mac's erection was a throbbing mass of heat under his touch and he ripped at the snap and zipper to free the trapped flesh, almost crying out when his touch drove Mac to the very edge again.

The Highlander's fingers closed over his nipples, pulling them, pinching them -- sharp lances of pain and pleasure mingling to settle in Methos' groin. He was taking a possibly fatal chance with his lover's trust but he needed this demonstration of Mac's nature, of his masculinity -- possibly more than Mac needed to show it. Since their first joining Mac had treated him with the same cautious care he no doubt exhibited his other lovers -- his female lovers. Methos was as susceptible to romance and tenderness as anyone, needs changed from lover to lover, friend to friend.

But loving a man like Mac was different from loving a man like Byron, whose effeminacy had disappeared in the bedroom. Mac's masculinity was blatant in everything he did -- but his nature was to be all consideration for his lovers. Methos didn't want his consideration, he wanted his passion, his power and his trust -- his willingness to surrender the careful external to the flames that burned deep within his spirit.

Possession. Domination. They were labels used for discussion -- not for emotion, not for the depth of feeling Methos knew Mac had but rarely shown to anyone.

He wanted that depth, needed it like he needed to breathe. The risk that once this was done, Mac might once more retreat behind the horror of what he was capable of was one Methos was willing to take. Only then could Mac even begin to understand the man he called friend and lover and after five thousand years of searching for someone who might really accept him for all that he was, Methos was unwilling to settle for anything less.

Mac's cock was throbbing in his hand, his own blood was leaving a scarlet trail across his flesh and his body was shaking under the combination of both the physical and emotional onslaughts he had brought on himself.

The coming storm of violence was only an expression and Methos braced himself for it, sob and gasp mingling when it arrived as Mac ripped open his jeans and propelled them both backwards. The cliché of bad romance novel cover art slipped across his mind as they both stumbled. There was nothing but the ground and the woodpile close by but the ground had the appeal of proximity and Methos found himself flat on his back, Mac struggling with his lover's boots and jeans before moving in again, breath ragged and dark hair undone. Without hesitation, Methos reached for his lover's shirt only to find his wrists captured once more and thrust harshly into the dirt above his head. Mac's jeans had slipped dangerously low on his hips, his erection rigid and trembling. There was little restraint in the Highlander at all and Methos surrendered any right to demand or consideration. He was about to be taken as violently and as willingly as he ever had been in his life.

"This is what you wanted...isn't it?" Mac demanded, his own voice breaking.

"Yes," Methos said putting as much conviction and permission and desire as he could in that one syllable.

It was enough. The pain was expected and inescapable for either of them, cries erupting from both throats as Mac took only enough time to coat his cock with saliva and lifting his lover's hips before driving his shaft into the small opening. It could rightly be called closer to fisting than fucking and Methos could not stop the tears that escaped his eyes from falling. Unprepared physically, however mentally he welcomed this, Mac felt enormous, large enough to tear him apart. Yet his muscles closed around the invader like a vise, his body shaking and taut. There was pain for Mac as well and the Highlander remained motionless inside him, gasping with what sounded like sobs, his head bent over his lover's body, face obscured by his hair and the angle of his head.

The shock gave them both necessary breathing space and Mac leaned forward further, the slight movement sending a flood of sensation through Methos' body. Ecstasy was so close he could taste it, pain but a hairs-breadth to the side. Blood pounded in his ears, blotting out all other sounds until he was certain he would hear his own heartbeat and Mac's intermingling forever.

I am dying, Mac thought as the sensations swelled through every cell. He had barely recognized his own will in the sudden and savage invasion of his lover's body. It was as if something had taken over his entire existence and that existence had telescoped into this one moment, this one set of feelings and emotions and sensation. It could either be soul-killing or soul-freeing and he had no care for which any longer. Methos' body was clamped tightly around him, the slender figure completely trapped beneath his own, and it felt right that it should be so. Two bodies joined as one in passion and pain and the slowly creeping pleasure that was sweeping over him. His cock throbbed, he could feel the pulse of Methos' heart in the wrists he held. When he finally opened his eyes he almost wept at the face a few inches from his own. His lover's lips were parted, moist, the color in the high cheeks the flush of pleasure, and the hazel eyes had gone soft and deep until Mac felt he would drown. A tiny move and he almost passed out as Methos responded. Savagery and tenderness warred in his soul and he moved again, every increment blatantly revealed in his lover's face.

His own pleasure was increasing as well once the pain began its dizzying descent. It mattered not that spit and blood were the only lubricants as he felt his flesh slid along the interior silk of his lover's body. Warmth ran over him, his skin responding in a release of sweat, Methos' skin as slicked as his own and just as suddenly. His mark was still livid on the pale throat but it had lost its horror. It became what it was, his mark, his brand -- Methos was his, body and heart and soul and nothing else mattered. The only thing that could have brought him more joy was to have Methos' mark upon his own flesh.

And he would have it, he realized as he began moving more steadily, oblivious to his own moans as he began thrusting into the incredibly tight sheath of hot flesh. Fate had brought them together and this was where they belonged, in one another, with one another. A swivel of his hips sent the body beneath him arching in pleasure, the breathing ragged and shallow. Bending his head Mac could capture one brown nipple, biting it until his lover whimpered in pain and ecstasy. Mac released the slender wrists, bracing his hands on either side of the broad chest. Methos let one leg slip from his shoulders, resting it on Mac's upper arm, thighs spreading wider as the angle changed and his thrusts became harder, more insistent. His lover pulled the knee tight to his chest then slipped the leg under Mac's arm, hooking it around his back, support and pressure, the muscles taut. The slender hands began stroking his own cock, the flesh swelling, flushing.

"Leave it for me..." Mac begged and hazel eyes met dark before the hand moved haltingly away to rest on Mac's arms. Their eyes remained locked until Mac felt the throb change to a pulse, felt the pressure in his chest and groin and back. He went short and shallow and fast, each pump of his body dragging a moan from the body he pummeled until he could no longer notice. A different warmth enveloped him and he groaned as he slipped more easily in the living sheath. Methos clutched at him gasping and hard still but the shudders had begun.

Then his strength gave out and he collapsed. Methos cried out as his own erection was pressed between them and he jerked, fingernails digging into Mac's skin and drawing blood as he twisted and writhed on the edge of an orgasm. A hand was all he needed and Mac supplied it, trembling though his grip was and then gave into the urge and covered the pulsing organ with his mouth. A sweet bitterness filled him and he swallowed then suckled, feeling bereft as if he had been offered a taste of ambrosia only to have it whisked away again. The taste came again and he could hear his lover gasping for air, his moans like the sweetest music Mac had ever heard. He had done this. He had driven this beloved spirit beyond the edge of desire into a time and place that lingered no matter how fleeting the moment.

There was no more of Methos' surrender to be nursed from the warm flesh and Mac relaxed, content to listen to the pounding heart beneath his ear calm, to welcome the return of other sounds -- birds, the wind, the lap of waves against the shore. His weight still crushed his lover but Methos seemed content to have it so, the only movement he made was to lift a hand and thread his fingers through Mac's hair gently.

The shift of Methos' leg roused Mac from the lethargy and he levered himself upward, eyes raking across the slender body and noting the bruises and scratches with a curious detachment. His mark was fading, as was the faint blood-spotting around the dark nipple. Bending his head, Mac licked delicately at the drying blood, smiling at Methos' soft chuckle before reaching up to finger the bite mark on his throat.

"I'd keep that if I could..." Methos said softly and Mac pulled him upward. capturing his mouth as gently as he had savaged it before, then moved his lips to gentle the mark, tongue soothing the flesh with the delicacy of a kitten's tongue. Methos stretched, letting his head fall back again and Mac growled playfully, nipping once more but only as a reminder, not to re-inflict the wound.

"Somewhat less subtle than carving my initials into your skin," Mac agreed and then shifted, broad hands sweeping along his lover's back to brush off the dirt and dried bits of debris clinging to his skin where his shirt had been pushed upward. There were scratches there as well, from the rough ground and a glance told him he had torn his own jeans, dirty skin showing through the ripped fabric. He got to his feet and stripped off the denim, not unaware that Methos was watching him hungrily.

"You'll get your chance, but we need to clean up some," he said with a grin and offered a hand, pulling his lover to his feet.

"The lake is awfully cold," Methos observed but shed his shirt and moved closer with a challenging smile on his face. Boldly, he slipped his hand across Mac's buttocks, fingers sliding between the muscled mounds with provocative intent. Mouths sought and found as that exploration continued, Mac unconsciously parting his thighs to force a deeper investigation.

"Cold might be a really good idea about now," Mac breathed. Much more of his lover's attention and he would not be able to walk. Already he felt the warmth spreading, his earlier desire to have Methos take him as thoroughly as the older Immortal had allowed himself to be loved resurgent in a wash of confusion and simple lust.

Methos said nothing, but slipped to the side and then with a laugh, ran, hitting the dock quickly and entering the water in a long low dive that sent him deep into the lake's inviting depths. Mac followed him, the cold water providing just the shock and grounding he needed even if he did yell bloody murder when he surfaced. Then yelped again in a different surprise when he felt the slide of a body around his legs and Methos surfaced in front of him and demanded a kiss that dragged both of them back under the surface.

They became like two seals at play, selkies that taunted and teased each other, bathing dirt and sweat and blood from one another. Water slicked skin glided easily against each other's flesh, the chill of the water keeping some desires quiescent but not others and Mac once more found himself overwhelmed by sensation as his lover moved in close behind him. They were touching bottom, chests and shoulders easily clearing the water, when Methos pulled Mac against him, one arm encircling his waist, the other hand seeking pleasures with exquisite skill.

Mac reached behind him to clutch at his lover's neck as the gentle fingers probed and pressed, parting flesh, coaxing entry, torturing responses from the Highlander's tight body with slow strokes and pressures against the sensitive gland within the tight passage.

Cold water proved not enough of a deterrent at Mac surrendered to his lover's relentless caresses, irrationally glad they were in shallower water or he might have drowned as his body began to pulse with the steady strokes. Then they were moving backward, a few steps at time, the rhythm unceasing until Methos could kneel, until Mac could find some kind of support against the edge of the dock.

Place and reason became superficial concerns, as did any chance voyeurs as the shadows deepened around them.

"I won't let you drown," Methos said softly, still preparing his lover, his lips dragging across Mac's shoulders slowly. "And when you forget who you are, I will remember," he promised and Mac had no reason or will to disbelieve him. Unlike his own savagery, Methos' plan was slow and steady, his hands and mouth seemed everywhere. Touches alternately brought great pleasure and near blinding pain, Mac gasping when his erection was caught and held tightly as Methos eased his way into his lover's body. Those deep strokes ripped a cry from Mac as he gripped the wood, fearing he would snap the weathered boards. And right at the edge of release Methos stopped, holding back the tide of his own completion as well as Mac's until the Scot was trembling and near begging.

The peak passed and began to slope downward again and then Methos began his slow possession once more. Again and again until all Mac could do was moan, body writhing under the strong, patient hands that alternately set his passions free and stilled him with expert touches and slow caresses. The next peak came and he did beg, exhaustion the closest thing he could ascribe the lethargy in his limbs. Except he was not lethargic. Every nerve and muscle was afire and he could feel the tremors in Methos' body as easily as his own.

He was never sure later when his pleas became sobs or when he surrendered to tears that could have been of grief or ecstasy or both. Or exactly how or when they found themselves on the shore with the cold water lapping at their calves. He was on his back when Methos rose above him, Moonlight bathing the pale skin in silver, making his eyes luminous and other worldly like some mythic water god. Mac was ready to believe in the selkies of childhood legend as his lover moved over him and into him once more. Hands met and clasped and yet Methos remained still, body shaking as Mac tried to force this joining, wanting his lover to take him, to help him find that place he knew Methos found in his arms so often. Beyond control, beyond his own identity.

It took Mac a moment to realize he was being taken, but the movements were so slight, so utterly controlled he had missed them. Feeling them now his breath caught, each shallow gasp beginning to match pace with the small upward thrusts of his lover's body. Then Methos bent over as he had the night before and Mac, for one moment, realized this was what that lovemaking had been meant to be -- what Methos had tried to show him. The tears had been as much for failure as emotion. This was not about Methos' pleasure but Mac's; but in order to receive what his lover offered he had to surrender control, all of it and thought as well.

"Sheathe your sword, love," Methos murmured, not a command to consummate any physical act but to put aside his warrior's heart, set aside the title of son of a chieftain, to become not Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod but simply Mac, Methos' lover.

"...and when you forget who you are, I will remember..."

A promise. Methos didn't want to lose the Highland Warrior he loved, but to set him aside for a moment. Was it too much too ask? Mac's decision was as swift as his surrender. And he did forget who he was, what he was -- knowing only the sensation of Methos within him, surrounding him, touching him in places he had never known had such an ability to feel before.

He was not alive except where Methos touched him. There was no sound save those soft moans and sighs and moist noises his lover made. As his lover's pulse throbbed, so did Mac's, muscles that tensed and released found their echo in the body Methos re-created with every breath.

Then it came. His own glazed eyes uncertain, Mac could not identify the rising mist for what it was, did not understand the silver glow he thought moonlight when it changed to blue white. He felt Methos' body arch as his own did, as that gossamer light gathered around them. There was no force, no pain behind it, only that release of energy, that invasive, undeniable sense of presence that Mac had become familiar with over the years, but always before it had been met with violence with denial. This was none of those.

The moan he heard was not his own, nor was the feeling behind it. Imagery flashed in the mind's eye of Mac's brain. Not pictures, not events, just impressions but he knew they were not his own. Near unbearable ecstasy ripped through him at the point of orgasm, his own and his lover's but it went on and on, until there was pain as well but once more not his own, and not always Methos' either. There was a savagery present in his slender lover even the horror of the Horsemen had not revealed. There was also more compassionate and heartfelt love than anyone less than a saint should have been capable of. Methos had been both. Had received both. Gave all of that and more to Mac without hesitation.

It was too much. The Quickening that was not a quickening overwhelmed the brain and senses, robbed the recipient of identity, of any sense of self and was lost to a spirit bound in the body and mind and soul of a man who had been bearing five thousand years of experience alone for too long.

Whose sanity was shattered first was question only God could answer.

continued in chapter one, part two...