Nourish the Body
by Rachael Sabotini


CYA: All standard disclaimers apply, whatever they might be. I make no money off this; I mean no harm.This story is rated NC-17 for what might be considered graphic sex between consenting adult males. Deal or Bail; it's your choice.

This story takes place sometime in Season 6.

Mac rested on the floor of the barge, his mat surrounded by pools of moonlight from the skylight overhead, his book a pleasant weight against his chest, and his mind drifting in circuitous thoughts. He felt it before he heard it, and his eyes snapped open, his mind identifying the devastating sensory overload of another immortal's presence. There was a time when he would have met the stranger sword-in-hand, eager for the fight; now Duncan merely put his book aside, carefully marking his place. He pulled himself off the mat and tied his silk robe a little more firmly, the movement his only concession to the caution he felt.

He heard the creak of the decking, and felt the barge shift as someone came on board. He crossed to the door and opened it before the stranger could even knock.

The man standing in the doorway was pale, his clothing -- what there was of it -- soaked from blood and the omnipresent rain. The once-gray sweater hung in tatters around a too-thin form, while tiny holes nicked the jeans open in odd places; the clothes and the man were both frayed from a recent fight. Sunken and hollow cheeks gave his eyes an eerie, luminescent glow, reminding Duncan of an alley cat.

To Mac, the man had never been more beautiful.

"Methos." The breathed word was a whisper, a prayer, and a welcoming song full of joy, yet his body remained open, still and neutral, as if sudden movements would scare the visitor off.

"MacLeod." Methos' response held no antagonism, nor any hint of hope. Memories of recent wars and new-found survivors surrounded the tone, echoing a thousand voices in the gulag, whose owners could feel no more pain. "May I come in?"

Duncan stepped quickly aside, his robe a shield around him. "Mi casa es su casa." There was no irony in his tone, no hatred, no anger, just an obvious statement of fact. That was the way it had always been, wasn't it? Before...

The memory of humor lit Methos' eyes as he passed by MacLeod and stepped into the barge's emptied salon, his hungry gaze too ravenous to settle anywhere for long. Walls, ceiling, floor, all had changed since the last time Methos had paired Duncan's life, and those changes were still raw. Each detail was carefully noted, the facts digested, and the results instantly summed. "Not much here, is there?" He looked up and caught MacLeod's eyes with his own, a tired smile easing its way onto his lips. "Not even your hair..."

Duncan shut the door and followed Methos down the stairs. "I found I don't need a lot."

"I travel light as well." Methos voice trailed off as he shoved his hands in his jeans' pockets, his coat gone missing at some point. He looked out of a porthole into the rain beyond, not meeting Duncan's eyes. "How have you been, Highlander?"

"I survive."

Methos looked away, walking toward the fireplace, and squatted down next to the flame, holding his hands out to its warmth. "As do I."

"So I see." Mac didn't mention what else he saw, how that survival had torn Methos to shreds. They could talk later, when Methos felt more alive, when they were friends again --

When Methos could forgive. "Have you eaten?"

Methos shook himself and glanced over his shoulder at Mac. "Not recently, no."

"I think I'll make something. I picked up some pine nuts and basil yesterday." Duncan crossed quickly to the barge's tiny kitchen, and realized that he wanted to eat. It had been months in the monastery before he'd eaten real food, and only recently had he found the desire to cook.

Mac had loved to watch Tessa and Richie eat, a memory that could never happen again.

"Why don't you take a shower while I cook? You'd be warmer, and maybe a bit more comfortable."

"Yeah, thanks." Methos pulled away from the fire, and turned for the stairs, his movement as lively as a dirge.

Mac waited until he could hear the shower run, then settled into his role. He crushed pesto with what was on hand and threw rigatoni into boiling water. The scent of garlic filled the air, while the steam of the boiling water added its own essence of life.

Obviously lost in thought, a towel hanging around his neck as he finished drying his hair, Methos came down the steps into the salon. He threw the towel aside and retied the waistband of MacLeod's sweatpants, then pulled a dark blue sweatshirt down over the strings. He'd obviously pulled both the sweatshirt and the pants from the laundry hamper, the sharp wrinkles in the cloth betraying their used state; at least the set was cleaner than what he had originally worn. Methos knelt next to the low table Mac had set out, his fingers lightly resting on the dark, oiled wood.

Methos looked odd wearing his clothes; they had never been of a size before Duncan lost weight. This past year had not been kind to either of them.

Mac looked away, arranged the hot pasta on a plate with some bread, then squatted to set it down on the small table in front of Methos.

Startled out of his thoughts, Methos grabbed Mac's wrist as the plate landed in front of him, and Duncan instantly looked up into Methos' eyes.

Words swam in their tormented depths, words of pain, and fear, and need -- but not one of them crossed the ocean to pass Methos' lips. Instead the two men sat across the table from one another, one kneeling in supplication, the other perched to flee, their breath holding a steady rhythm, the only sign of their lost connection.

Mac reached up and stroked Methos' cheek, and the other immortal closed his eyes. "I'll get some wine."

Methos nodded silently, and released Mac's wrist, his hand straying over the pulse-point as if craving the touch.

How long had he been running, Mac wondered. Had Methos even rested since the day Richie died? He cleared his throat and looked at the wine rack. "French, Italian or Californian?"

Methos' voice seemed unfamiliar, almost unused. "French would be fine."

Duncan opened the wine, grabbed two goblets and brought his own plate over to the low table. He set down his dish, and poured them each a glass of the white Bordeaux, before settling himself and the bottle on the floor.

Methos pushed the food around on his plate for a bit, then visibly braced himself and took a bite. He chewed slowly and carefully while Duncan watched, occasionally sipping his wine. Methos caught him staring and actually smiled, wiping his mouth with a cloth napkin. "I'd forgotten how good a cook you were."

"It's one of the things we had in common."


Duncan grabbed his own fork and scooped up the pasta, the taste of it dry as dirt now. Methos reached across the table and tilted his chin up, until they met each other's eyes. "I needed to survive, Highlander."

Duncan nodded as Methos dropped his hand, their gazes still fused together. "And now you need to live." Truth passed between them in that moment, and words that could never be spoken were written in touch. "Come on." He stood and extended his hand, helping Methos to rise. Then he moved the table out of the way and opened his arms wide.

Hesitantly, as if unsure of his welcome, Methos stepped close to Duncan, and Mac gathered him in, pressing the man fiercely against his chest.

One heartbeat, then two, and Methos sighed, relaxing at last. He wrapped his arms firmly around Duncan's back, letting his cheek brush easily against MacLeod's as his head nestled on Duncan's shoulder. Mac closed his eyes, enjoying the moment, brittle joy filling him at what Methos was willing to give. If this was all, this moment, this embrace, it was enough. At least there was no anger now.

He reached up to stroke Methos' hair, and felt the other jerk away. He stilled his hand and whispered, "How about a game of chess?"

Methos pulled back, leaving a forgotten hand resting on Duncan's arm. Wry humor transformed his face, bringing warmth into his eyes for the first time tonight as he looked into MacLeod's eyes. "If I remember correctly, last time I didn't even break a sweat before I beat you. You still want to play?"

The memories of those last days didn't seem to hurt as much now, and Duncan smiled as well. "Yeah, I do. Let me clear the table, and you can get the set out." He picked the plates up, and pointed at the banded wooden chest with his elbow. "It's in there."

Methos moved the table back to the center of the room, then opened the chest. Duncan watched briefly as he gingerly -- and reverently -- lifted the katana aside, and picked up the oaken box beneath it.

When Duncan looked up from the dishes again, Methos was sitting on the floor, the pieces only half-way removed from the box. He was staring at the white queen, his mind lost in other times. Duncan put away the last of the dishes and knelt beside him, gently taking the piece from his hands and setting it down on the board.

Methos shivered, eyes returning to the room. "This was Darius' set."

"It was the only one I wanted to keep."

Silence ate through the room before Methos breathed again. "I'll still whip your ass."

Mac poured more wine and helped finish setting up the game, letting the rhythm of move and countermove provide an easy pattern to their talk. The warmth of the barge, the good food and the wine worked miracles on them, wrapping them in reminders of an earlier time, a shattered dream thought lost. Their banter increased, moving from fear to play as their mood lightened, and for a moment, it was as if they were back in time, to the days when they shared the barge before Roger and Gina's last wedding.

And if hands occasionally strayed from the table, if fingers occasionally stroked another's skin, if eyes caressed each other's flesh -- it felt like home.

Methos did "whip his ass" at chess, and Mac couldn't have been happier.

The fire was out, but the air still warm. Methos sprawled upon the floor, taking up more room than any ten men, his cheeks flushed with wine and pleasure, the sweet decadence of youth momentarily gracing his often-furrowed brow.

Duncan put the chess men back into their box, a tight lump once again in his throat. "You're welcome to stay, if you want."

Methos glanced around the room. "There's no couch."

Mac shrugged. "I usually sleep on the floor."

Methos stood and stretched, shooting him a look out of the corner of his eyes.

"I slept on a mat in the monastery. I'm not used to sleeping on a bed."

"Ah." Methos' fingers dragged across the edge of Mac's robe as he passed, then bit like steel into his neck. Duncan could feel the breath pooling around his shoulders, and desire made him shudder at the quickly gentled touch. "If I were to stay, I'd want you to share the bed with me, Mac." The hands dropped, leaving Duncan suddenly alone. "I want to feel your life touch mine."

Methos' fingers crept back along Duncan's neck, and Mac reached up to cover them with his own, giving them a momentary squeeze. He turned and looked up at Methos. "Yes."

Methos held out his hand and Duncan took it, letting himself be drawn to the bed. His robe was pushed open and Methos nuzzled his chest, licking nipples and creases like a starving man. Kisses and bites rained down on his neck and cheeks, covered every available section of skin.

Mac tried to give only the most tender of caresses, showing with care and concern what could be had, but Methos wanted none of it. He shook away the gentle, sheltering touches, demanding stronger and more fiercely possessive needs out of MacLeod's soul. The pieces had been missing for over a year; it was time to make the picture whole.

He stripped Duncan and pressed him down onto the bed, his eyes glittering in the moonlight. He leaned forward and drew off his own clothes, ignoring the rest of the world as if nothing existed other than themselves. The candle light sheltered them from the darkness inside the barge, and their own warmth shielded them from the now-chilled night air. He ran his hands intimately over Duncan's body, feather-light caresses that teased and taunted Mac's body, demanding a response.

Mac ran a hand across Methos' sharp collarbone, fingers playing against the hollow of his neck. A sharp gasp rewarded his attention, and MacLeod smiled. He leaned forward and pulled Methos down on top of him, opening his thighs wide as he offered up the first kiss.

Their lips knew the truth, setting all tentativeness aside, eagerly drinking from one another as if they had found an oasis in the desert. Hands joined the music, roaming everywhere and nowhere, as if they could fuse their bodies together through force of will alone.

Then the moment was gone. The two men stared at each other as Methos sat back on his heels, a wicked light shinning in his eyes. "That was nice, wasn't it?"

Nice was an understatement.

Duncan moaned as Methos wrapped his hands around Duncan's weeping cock, smoothing the moisture over the tip and down to his balls. Then the bed shifted, and Methos swallowed him, licking the shaft with his tongue, his small noises sending a vibration deep into MacLeod's spine. Mac gasped and closed his eyes, instantly re-opening them the moment the warmth was gone.

Methos carefully straddled MacLeod's thighs, and pushed his hips up, tilting his pelvis to better accommodate Duncan's length. "I'm not the only one who needs to live, Mac." With a shaking, shuddering breath, he impaled himself, enveloping Duncan's cock.

Warmth centered him and called to him, the tiny thrusts and shoves not nearly enough as desire re-awakened. Forgotten passion drew Duncan forward, nails biting and scratching at Methos' arms. "Yes!" He thrust up, trying to reach Methos' center, and was met by the crash and shock as Methos pounded back.

Mac rolled them over, somehow settling Methos beneath him while maintaining the connection. Methos' eyes were wide and open, small groans of passion escaped from trembling lips. He slid his legs from around MacLeod's waist and wrapped them around Mac's neck, welcoming Duncan more deeply into him.

Unable to stop himself, needing as much as Methos could give and maybe even more, Mac thrust hard into Methos' ass, pounding into him, chanting his hopes and his fears in a thousand nearly-vocal words.

Their passion crested, breaking over them like a wave of sunlight on a mid-winter day, shoving everything into sharp relief in the moment of its passing.

Duncan's arms betrayed him and he collapsed, panting, onto Methos' chest.

Methos moaned as he unlocked his legs from around Duncan's neck, and slid them into a more comfortable position on the bed. He threw his arm across his forehead, not looking at anything.

"Methos," Duncan whispered.

"MacLeod," came the gentle response. The words no longer merely names, but titles, rights and promises between them, illuminating the power of trust.

They leaned into each other, their bodies like vines around a tree, though which the tree and which the vine was impossible to say. Methos shivered and Duncan pulled the duvet over them, keeping out the midnight chill. He squeezed Methos' shoulder one last time before giving himself over to the night. "Tomorrow, we'll talk."

In the morning, Methos was gone.