Like Chocolate for Strawberries
by Rachael Sabotini


CYA: All standard disclaimers apply: I don't own these guys, though I do like to boss them around occasionally. I make no money; I mean no harm. This story carries an "PG-13" rating on my somewhat random scale.

Twilight drew its tattered curtain over the windows of Methos' apartment. Winter brought an unwelcome early night and all too soon Duncan MacLeod would arrive. There was no point in talking; the Highlander couldn't speak about such things as love or even friendship, but it was something Methos knew he needed to try.

He ignored the growing darkness, his mind set upon the cook book in front of him. He picked it up and sighed, pressing its pages to his chest like a long-time lover. There was a point in his life, years ago now, when he'd hoped to make MacLeod breakfast. Instead, tonight, he made dinner in a last ditch attempt to salvage their friendship.

Damn Kronos.

Damn Bryon.

And damn Amanda as well.

He put the book down, not needing its pages to know the recipe. He took down the mortar and pestle, grinding hazelnuts into a fine powder. Many modern cooks would have relied on a food processor, but for Methos, cooking was more than just the assemblage of ingredients. It involved time, and love, and the desire to create; to make something that would tempt another beyond reason. Part of his heart and soul went into cooking, and right now, Methos thought it might be their last meal together.

He turned to the stove and put in the pieces of chocolate, butter, and sugar to make the shell. As he watched it melt, it reminded him of his relationship to MacLeod, and how that had melted as well. Never again would he be able to show up at Mac's home and be sure of his welcome; never again would he know the Highlander's trust.

He had been born in a time when men still cried; when mourning was an accepted part of life. Tonight, he mourned the stillborn death of his relationship with MacLeod. A single tear slipped down his cheek and landed in the double boiler, then another and two more. Methos stirred furiously, mixing the tears into the dark chocolate, using the work to stem their tide. He slowly added the Frangelico, folding it in to the rich, sweet liquid. The scent of the liqueur mingled with the scent of chocolate, comforting in its way. When it was done, he dipped a dozen of the largest strawberries he could find in the mixture, then rolled them in nuts and placed them on a platter in the refrigerator. They would be ready in three hours. MacLeod would be there by then, and the wake would begin.

Duncan knew he should say something, but he felt at such a loss. Their conversation buzzed from formal pleasantries to small talk, recent hobbies and sports scores, nothing of any importance. MacLeod knew he was ham-handed about such matters; he had grown up in a time when men kept quiet about such things. There was a place for everything, and everything had its place.

Only he wasn't sure what it was, or how Methos fit into it at all. So, for tonight, he'd decided not to say anything, not to take a risk. If they acted like nothing was wrong, then nothing would be wrong.

Would it?

The conversation stagnated and died, until at last, each man sipped his wine, lost in their own separate thoughts. Before the silence could grow ugly, Methos brought out the food: fresh steamed asparagus, seared tuna with peppercorns and garlic, home-baked bread, fresh butter, and the plate of strawberries dipped in chocolate, the green tops still on, accenting the fullness of their flesh.

As they ate, the need for conversation lessened, and the strain of their relationship gave way to something else. The fluidity of Methos' body as he served the meal combined with the tastes and textures of the dishes, making the food itself act as an aphrodisiac. An intense fire burned and pulsed its way through Duncan's body; his skin tingled, like an electric charge just under the skin, making it difficult for him to remain seated. He began to sweat as he tried to stay composed, watching as Methos opened his lips and bit the tip from the strawberry. Mac could savor the press of lips as if they pressed against his own, feel the hard shell cracking under Methos teeth and the chocolate coat his mouth; taste the sweet, firm pulp dribble down the back of his own throat.

He experienced the meal as if Methos had somehow dissolved himself in the food, coating and covering every element of their dinner. He could taste Methos' age in the vintage port, his wisdom in the bread, and his love in the flavor of the chocolate.The aromas of the foods blended with each other, and as Duncan breathed, he found his body penetrated by Methos' presence: deep, rich, taut, sweet and sensuous. The meal joined them as one, feeling everything the other felt, even though they sat across the table for one another.

In the candlelight, Duncan could see the tell-tale flush along Methos' neck and cheeks, feel the pounding in his fingers and in his groin as if they were his own. He watched greedily as Methos reached for another strawberry, pulling it deep into his mouth, letting the juice drip out of one corner as the flesh was crushed by his teeth and his tongue.

Desperate, MacLeod reached for another strawberry, and found Methos' hand there as well. With that touch, their eyes met and fused. There was but a single breath, a single look, a single desire between them. The food no longer mattered, and with a groan, they shoved everything from the table to the floor and savored the taste of each other instead.

Dawn pulled back the night, revealing two lovers, sprawled across a down comforter, limbs intertwined in the aftermath of passion. Instinctively, they turned to each other, their combined warmth a shelter against the chill Parisian air. A breath shared between them, and then, by near mutual consent, they pulled the comforter over themselves, shutting out the day.

There would be time enough for breakfast later.

The End