A Walk in the Park
by Maygra de Rhema


As always, The Highlander characters: Duncan, Methos, Joe, 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. One of these days I'll get this right....

This makes much more sense if you have read Brotherhood, Harm's Way and With My Shield--but you don't have to...

The sculpture series I describe belongs to a friend named Dave Hannacker who told me I could use his names and images... Elementeum (The Elementals) are Sylph (Air), Pyros (Fire), Erda (Earth), Unda (Water) and Fisa (Spirit). They are much smaller than I describe and they are not for sale.....

Nobody beta'd this one: so if you find errors...ah, well...I don't know how to get in touch with my old English professors either.......

Please send all comments, snipes and snails to Maygra at maygra@bellsouth.net

"I have a great respect for the Islamic tenants of justice," Duncan said as he and Methos emerged from the lecture hall of the University.

"And that's why you fell asleep," Methos commented with a wry grin, sliding his sunglasses over his patrician nose as the rest of the attendees filed past them, all in equally intense or silly discussions about the past hour's oration.

"No," MacLeod said softly, stepping in closer to let the crowd pass. "I fell asleep because somebody kept me up way past my bedtime." He punctuated the remark with a rather vicious pinch along his companion's side and Methos jerked away caught between a yelp of pain and laughter.

"I don't recall you complaining last night," Methos said, chuckling but putting a good two feet of space between he and the Highlander as they continued walking toward the parking lot.

"I don't recall you saying anything about attending this lecture last night, either," MacLeod said archly, putting his own sunglasses on. It was a bright and beautiful day. Sunny and dry for a change, warm but with a fresh breeze coming off the bay. He stopped as they reached the parking lot and stared upward.

"What? Rain?" Methos asked, following his gaze.

"No, I was thinking al fresco," Mac said. "Lunch. Brunch. Whatever. No place to be. Nothing to do... Come on, my treat."

"Good Lord!" Methos said in mock amazement. "Duncan MacLeod, are you telling me you are actually going to ...enjoy... a day off?"

MacLeod shot his friend a dirty look, snagging his elbow and propelling him away from the parking lot and toward the park shouldering the bay. "It happens," he said sourly and then relented at the grin on his companion's face. Had he been able to see the hazel eyes, he knew they would be sparkling with mischief and humor. He was getting much better at identifying the combinations of the older Immortal's expressions. "There's a sidewalk cafe near the pavilions," he said letting a smile replace the disgusted expression.

The park was not overly crowded. The lunch hour crowd had not yet shown up and the morning exercise enthusiasts had long since headed for the showers. Most of the people left were mothers and children a few couples sneaking a day off as well or elderly couples walking or reading.

The cafe was nearly empty as well. A dozen umbrella topped tables set off the path. They picked one close to the water, both men content to people watch, foraying again onto the lecture topic while coffee was brought and they waited for their food.

Methos stretched out in the iron chair, eyes on the people walking along the shore, couples, young families. He had chosen a chair in the sun, keeping the dark tinted glasses on but otherwise enjoying the sun's heat against his skin and clothes. Mac had removed his eye wear, the dark eyes people watching as well. A barely noticeable smile, slightly wistful, on his lips as his attention was caught by a man and woman on a bench. She was sitting. He had stretched out with his head in her lap. Their conversation was obviously affectionate; intimate without being embarrassing. Laughter and casual touches exchanged with no mind to observers.

The older Immortal watched his companion, making some effort to be unobtrusive as the expression on the Highlander's face became almost saddened, dark eyes shifting to his hands and then the smile was back as their waiter brought the food.

"You come here a lot?" Methos asked casually, long fingers catching the ends of his sandwich.

"Used to. I still run here sometimes. I like the ponds," Mac said glancing over at one of the shallow enclosures. A slender sculpture rose from the center, twisting metal evocative of sails or lovers or flames depending on how you looked at it, what mood you were in, how the light hit it.

"Nice work," the older Immortal said and Mac tracked his gaze, the wistful smile back again.

"It's one of Tessa's," he said softly. Methos continued the bite he had begun into the sandwich but the food had become suddenly tasteless and dry. He chewed and swallowed it anyway.

"She did beautiful work, Mac," he said after a sip of water. Hard enough for him to walk into Joe's without thinking of Alexa. Harder still for MacLeod to remain in the city where Tessa Noel's work graced a dozen parks and promenades. Her name had been made here--a fame she hadn't lived to see.

"It's all right, Methos," The Highlander said with a small grin. "I won't spiral into a depression at the sight of her work or the sound of her name. She was talented. I like to know that something about her is immortal," he added, the smile reaching the dark eyes. "Eat your food," he said staring at the plate.

"Yes, Mother," Methos said with a chuckle. "Then, if you don't mind, tell me about that piece," he said, pointing at the graceful metallic curves reflecting the water's light. "I like that one a lot."

"It's called 'Sylph'. It was one of her favorites too. She spent nearly a month out here studying the water, how the light would move--she almost blew the commission because she wanted to see the park in all seasons before she started construction," Mac said, a fond smile easing the aging pain of loss.

Methos studied the structure again, pulling his glasses off, hazel eyes narrowed against the sun. Perhaps it was the sculpture or Mac's reminisces about his lost love, but the gently curving shapes brought Alexa to mind. The burnished brass and copper was reminiscent of her hair. The delicate shapes hidden by the long-term strength of the metals. All of it combined in some way to echo his own love's spirit. Alexa had been sylph-like--an air element--drifting into his life like a welcome breeze for a short time only to fade and falter and disappear again.

The sun made his eyes ache and he slipped the sunglasses back on, returning his attention to his food.

MacLeod was not unaware of the emotions chasing themselves through the gold-green eyes. Methos was a master of masking his emotions, and other than his eyes, nothing showed on the clean, sharp lines of his face. When he finally looked away, however, it was decisive a movement, the tinted glasses so quickly hiding the expressive eyes. Mac couldn't be sure, but he thought he saw the echo of longing, a bittersweet pain that mirrored his own.

"So tell me more--when did she get the commission?"

A change of topic when there really hadn't been a topic to begin with, MacLeod noted, studying his companion even as he spoke. Methos had surrendered his usual overly casual look for the lecture. Crisp shirt in brilliant blue tucked into a pair of well-fitting black jeans. The latter choice Mac had emulated without thinking or knowing. Currently the older man's lightweight duster was draped over the back of his chair, one edge dragging with the weight of a hidden weapon. The grace that was so much a part of Methos' every move was as evident sitting as it was when he moved--not quite the artless sprawl Mac associated with his long-limbed friend and furniture--but he seemed to fit his form into the unyielding curves and be comfortable, which Mac couldn't seem to do in the iron chairs.

"There are four other pieces in the park," he said, stopping the waiter before he could refill his coffee cup and asking for the check. "All elementals. One for air, fire, water and earth... all of them set into the ponds or over them"

"And the fifth?" Methos asked wiping his hands on a napkin.

"Spirit," Mac said with a smile. "Want to see them?" He asked, leaving money for the check.

Methos had never known Tessa. He would have liked to--she had been a huge part of MacLeod's life for a relatively long time and recently. Still influenced the brooding Scot on occasion but only to the good Methos had noticed. He grinned and pulled himself out of the chair.

"I'd love to...," he said and almost laughed at the sheer power behind the breathtaking smile Mac gave him.

The tour led them along the bay side of the park, the paths spiraling inward. Placement and impact had as much to do with the artistry in Tessa's work as the work itself. The walk was slow and leisurely, topics skittering back and forth between them as they walked companionably from one sculpture to the next. And Methos honestly found Tessa's work both well-done and inspiring for all its mix of modern and ancient symbolism. The clean, soft lines appealed to him. The path led outward again, back toward a less used entrance to the park, a large reflecting pond backing up to the grass and spanned by a stone bridge leading toward the University.

Spirit had been mounted so close to the bridge it seemed to practically leap from the stone work. Mac picked the best vantage, both of them looking at the twisting span of bronze arching over another pond like a dolphin diving, or a rising wave--Methos amazed at how her simple forms could be so clearly interpreted as a dozen images. He leaned against a tree near the water, pulling his glasses off again so he could study the sculpture and then shifting his gaze to observe the carefully maintained, but not formal, grounds. A broad hedge separated this section of the park from the main walkway and the bridge, an alcove in green and stone as the bridge rose behind them, Tessa's sculpture arching away from the bridge struts over the water.

"It's like having a private park," Methos said, looking up at where the trees blocked the view from passersby above and the sculpture from the opposite side of the pond. The open side gave a marvelous view of the walkway and the curved line of the pond as it sloped up a grassy verge.

"I know. I remember bringing Tessa here after she finished it or for walks, to see the sunset. She didn't plan for this to be the best view--and actually, it's equally as impressive as you come across the bridge or from the pavilions," Mac said and closed his eyes. "I have nothing but good memories of this place," he added, dark eyes opening to hazel ones, the sweet smile on the strong face once more. "A good place to make memories."

His gaze shifted over Methos' shoulder to rest briefly on another couple, two young men--very obviously together as they laughed, greeting other friends, including a young family, the whole group moving toward the pavilions, hampers and blankets in hand. But the two men lingered behind their friends, a comfortably intimate kiss exchanged before the father of the children called to them. Laughter greeted them as they hurried to catch up. "I think that's what I miss most about her," he added softly. "Just to be able to walk with her, to touch her and be completely oblivious to anyone else."

"Don't tell me you have a problem with public displays of affection?" Methos said softly. "It's a public park, Mac. And Seacouver is fairly open minded." Not coaxing as he directed MacLeod's gaze to the number of couples walking the secluded paths. Men with women, women with women, men with men, families... all of them exploring the paths in their own worlds, sharing time and space with a chosen few. Some of the walkers observing others as they were. Others, as Mac said, oblivious to anyone's presence other than their immediate partner or companions.

"No. Not at all," MacLeod said, a puzzled expression on his face until he met the gold-green eyes. That faint, mocking smile was on the older man's face again. One dark eyebrow raised and Mac had to chuckle.

Methos was right. Had it been Tessa with him they would have been close and touching, intimate as the couple on the park bench had been--or more. It simply fell out of his realm of experience to kiss or touch another man in public except for the casual touches between friends. But there was absolutely no reason to withhold that pleasure from either himself or Methos. Awkward as his relationship with Methos might be at times, he was not embarrassed by it. Thus far they had kept things physically distant between them in public, more for safety than convention. But Mac distinctly recalled the thrill of pleasure he had gotten kissing Methos in the airport not so many weeks ago--publicly. Not much of an audience but he would have done it had the airport been crowed, he had been that glad to see his lover.

And was gladder still of the quiet time they had found over the past few weeks--investigating their mutual likes and dislikes, testing the limits of their friendship and their relationship--getting to know each other better as individuals without the pressures of the Game; no one dogging their footsteps. The physical side had lost none of its appeal; lovemaking often leading to interesting topics, or no topic at all, just the everyday ramblings of friends who felt comfortable enough together to tease or whine or complain or be obnoxious or listen, encourage...whatever the moment called for.

The moment now called for a response, Mac realized, understanding now Methos' comments and gentle queries about Tessa. Not comparing the relationship between Tessa and MacLeod with he and Methos but examining it nonetheless. Unlikely that he would ever toss his slender companion over his shoulder in a dead-run-threat to toss him in the pond. Not likely to buy Methos roses to tuck behind his ear. The former would probably find Mac ass-deep in pond water and the latter might prompt a worse retaliation.

Methos' gaze had shifted, shoulder still leaning against the tree, arms crossed over his chest as he watched three small children launching paper boats into the pond. He looked relaxed, pale skin starting to show the first pink sheen of too much sun. His stance pulled the blue cotton shirt tight across his shoulders and chest, black jeans cut close to the slender hips.

But he wasn't asking. His whole attitude willing to go along with whatever MacLeod was comfortable with--regardless of what anyone thought, mortal or Immortal. Not that Methos never ventured an opinion. He did and vocally but Mac was finding his lover was actually more forgiving and less opinionated than he had thought. If passionate about a subject, getting the older immortal to shut up was a real challenge. For nearly everything else it was live and let live.

Even for himself. He had no need or desire to try and mark a claim on the Highlander as his by public displays--but he obviously had no objection to it either. And might actually want it--a show of MacLeod's feelings. But he wouldn't ask and he wouldn't try to influence his partner's choice.

And that, as much as anything made the choice easier.

Mac studied his partner's profile for a long moment before gently sliding his fingers along the side of Methos' neck. The light touch brought the older Immortal's head around, same smile twitching at the corner of his lips but the hazel eyes went soft as Mac caught his chin and leaned in. Lips brushed lightly once, then twice. The second followed by the gentle pressure of MacLeod's thumb on his lover's lower lip. Other than to turn his head, Methos had not moved, long body still casually propped against the tree as the Highlander invited him to open his mouth to a more thorough exploration.

There was no protest, only a slow, deep inhalation of breath as MacLeod's lips warmed over his, tongue probing gently then more boldly until Methos did move. Stepping forward as Mac stepped back, the Highlander putting his back to the tree as Methos uncrossed his arms and lowered his hands to the younger man's hips. Mac's hands slid to either side of the slender throat to knead the muscles at the base of his partner's neck as the kiss was prolonged, deepened, surrendered to by both of them. MacLeod's thumbs pressed comfortably along the joint behind and below Methos' ears to position his mouth, strong fingers sliding through his hair to massage the base of his skull.

The Highlander tasted of coffee and the slight spices used in his meal, smelled of soap and leather from his jacket and the sharp-sweet scent that was either aftershave or MacLeod's own unique scent--something Methos had come to associate with heather and rose gold sunsets. His hands were strong and firm as they slid off his neck and down his back, pulling him closer--and then again, Methos breaking the kiss with a little laugh of surprise when Mac chuckled against his mouth.

"Open-minded, Mac--but Seacouver does have decency laws," Methos cautioned, hazel eyes glittering with amusement as the Highlander shifted slightly, drawing him more tightly against the well toned muscles of his body. He was not really surprised by the Scot's amorous advances. A little mental adjustment and Mac really had no serious inhibitions. He just didn't often seek for alternatives in tried and true patterns of behavior.

"So they do, but you have to be directly across from the sculpture to see anything, " MacLeod said huskily. "Believe me, Tessa and I tested the placement on more than one occasion," he promised with another low laugh, tilting his head to begin a line of kisses along the older Immortal's throat and letting a hand drift across Methos' groin, smiling again against his partner's skin as he felt the slender body tense on a sharp intake of breath.

"You are an evil, wicked man, Duncan MacLeod," Methos hissed and tried to pull back, but Mac caught the waistband of his jeans. Gold green eyes darkened on meeting the laughter in the earth brown ones, the challenge obvious, the invitation blatant. Tried and true but still unpredictable--if only because half measures were completely inapplicable to the Highlander. When he loved, he loved completely. Conflicts, disagreements, differences of opinion, betrayal--even death--wasn't enough to sunder that love. It only made it harder to let go. Cast out of his Clan and he loved that clan fiercely. Betrayed by a friend and he worked ten times as hard to right it or find out why. Lose a lover....

And that lover would be mourned for the rest of his life.

No. There was nothing in halves if you tangled your life with that of Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod. All or nothing.... he gave it. He demanded it. And Methos found that the most attractive thing about his lover.

"Don't tell me you have a problem with public displays of affection?" Mac said teasingly. Methos glared at him good-naturedly, moving a hand to brace himself against the trunk of the tree over his companion's shoulder.

"Affection, no. But public displays that can get me arrested? I don't know why that bothers me but it does," Methos said wryly, then closed his eyes as he tried to catch his breath again--MacLeod's hand resuming its slow deliberate caress. All or nothing.

"You could walk away," MacLeod suggested helpfully, the rumble of laughter already building in his chest.

"If I could walk," Methos grated out. This was foolish and juvenile and dangerous and he couldn't have moved if he wanted to--which he didn't--he just thought he ought to want to. But he wanted all of it. He was quite willing to allow Mac to take him then and there--the Highlander could have stripped him naked and Methos would have complained about nothing except the damp ground.

But there was no way he was going to let an infant Scotsman play this game alone. Ducking his head, his mouth sought the sensitive spots along MacLeod's neck, behind his ears and slowly slid his knee between the younger man's thighs and pressed upwards. "What do we do if some five year old pops in here and asks what we're doing?" He asked softly against Mac's ear, biting back a moan as the broad hand closed over his groin once more.

"Tell them you have a muscle cramp," Mac said roughly then gasped himself as Methos rubbed his knee firmly against the Highlander's denim covered groin.

Methos chuckled and smiled in triumph as the hand faltered--the loss of that caress starting a different ache. But MacLeod's breathing was none to steady now, either. Methos shifted, resting equal amounts of weight on his arm and his leg, allowing his other hand free rein across his partner's pelvis even as he kept up the steady upward press and relief of his knee against the joint of the Highlander's thighs.

"Not fair. You have all the leverage," MacLeod growled.

"Tough. You started this...," Methos retorted with a wicked smile then had no breath to speak as he felt the snap on his jeans pulled open slowly, the zipper released. He leaned forward, lower lip caught between his teeth, body shaking as flesh came in contact with flesh. He dropped his head toward Mac's shoulder, caught between laughter and outrage and exhilaration, almost giving in to the urge to thrust himself into that warm steady hand. What was left of the rational part of his brain admitting that even if someone came up behind them, there would be little to see except a perhaps more intimate than normal kiss and embrace between two men. His duster and Mac's coat hiding the details and the landscaping obscured the rest.

"Just how thoroughly did you and Tessa check this spot out and was it in broad daylight?" Methos murmured against his lover's hair, his hand mimicking MacLeod's, the snap giving way more loudly than he expected and he jerked, sudden movement giving the Highlander a rather more firm stimulation than Methos had intended. Mac's eyes slid closed with a pleasured cry which Methos quickly muffled with his mouth, a fit of nervous laughter overtaking both of them as Methos leaned in, frame shaking.

MacLeod buried his face in Methos' shoulder still laughing as he tried to get his breathing to even out, one arm pulling Methos more securely against him. "Getting arrested did cross our minds," he finally managed to get out, then pulled back to stare into the slightly glazed eyes of his lover. "Joe would bail us out if..."

"Wicked, evil and dangerous," Methos said huskily, glaze replaced by the glittering gold-green spark of desire and challenge. "Yes..." The last was a breath, his fingers finally closing over the hard length of flesh gently, beginning a slow, controlled stroking. "I can't believe a man of my age let himself be talked into giving a hand job in the middle of a public park..."

"There wasn't much talking involved, as I recall," Mac said softly and silenced his lover until the only sounds were the voices around them, the water in the fountains and the soft murmurs and whispers they shared to encourage and coax until words failed them.

Shudders wracked through MacLeod, a soft moan escaping him as he tightened his grip around Methos' waist--glad for the tree at his back as he leaned back--watching his lover through half-closed eyes. It wasn't an earth shattering culmination, but gentle and slow, sweeter for the lazy duration of it, intimate from the need to not show the rest of the world how affected they both were. His lover's mouth closed over his again to silence that moan, the soft probe and touch of his tongue enough to complete his release. Despite the familiarity of the situation and circumstance, no images of Tessa intruded on the interlude, MacLeod too intent on his partner's unique scent and feel and taste. Grateful for Methos' strength when his knees threatened to give way and completely enthralled by the voluminous expanse of emotion showing in the green-goldeyes.

Mac deepened the kiss, his hand continued to stroke his partner until he could feel the tremors begin. Then it was his turn to provide strength and stability as the long body stretched tautly, pressing against him. Mac brushed his lips across the slender throat, fingers pressed gently against the parted lips as Methos also surrendered, slight movement in the long frame, as his pelvis pressed into Mac's until the spasms passed.

It took long moments for both of them to recover, to find handkerchiefs less than adequate for clean up and to laugh in a certain edgy relief at the fact they had both worn dark jeans. They shed their coats to allow overheated senses and skin to cool. More or less presentable Mac settled back again the tree again, arms wrapped comfortably around his lover's waist.

"It's nearly lunch time. Park will be getting crowded soon," he commented as Methos relaxed against him. A faint breeze stirring through the air to caress hot skin. Methos let his long fingers drift over the Highlander's cheek, wry grin on his face as Mac turned into the touch to capture one of the fingers in his mouth, dark eyes dancing again.

"Are you waiting for me to compliment you on your impeccable timing?" The older Immortal asked.

"No. Just in knowing how to take advantage of taking a day off," Mac chuckled and bit down on the finger teasingly.

Methos returned the smile, hazel eyes narrowing slightly. "Yeah, but now we have the rest of the day to kill."

"Any ideas....?" MacLeod asked him, releasing the finger to try for something more active, sweeter and in close proximity.

"Just how many parks are there in Seacouver...?" Methos asked and let his mouth be captured again as he contemplated another long, leisurely stroll.