Trial by Fire
by Sandi

 

The following story is rated NC-17, for graphic sexual content. It is a slash tale, so those of you who are offended by male/male sex should hit your delete button quickly!

The characters of Methos, Joe and Duncan belong to Rysher, and not to me, more's the pity. I make no money here, or anywhere else, more's the pity. Feedback is much, much appreciated!!

More thanks than I can convey goes to Methosgrrl for endless hours of beta reading and hand holding. I would not be writing if not for her inspiration. Also, many thanks to Tiff for her encouragement, and for her Samhain info!!


sink like a stone that's been
thrown in the ocean,
my logic has drowned
in a sea of emotion....

--Sting


Joe Dawson tensed at the sound. It was early morning and he was alone at the bar, counting the previous night's take, when the knob on the back door turned slowly, almost silently.

Every club owner's nightmare.

His gut clenched as he faced the realization that his artificial legs would most certainly not allow him to get out of sight before the intruder would see him. Reaching under the bar, his fingers closed around the cold metal of his gun. Cocking it quietly, he aimed for the door.

As the slender young man stepped inside, he froze, realizing that he was staring down the business end of a .38. His hands went up defensively.

"Wait! Joe! I'll pay the damned tab!!"

His heart still racing, the club owner drew a shaky breath and lowered the pistol in relief.

"Adam! What the hell are you doing here?"

With a lopsided grin, the tall, lanky immortal moved across the floor and tossed his door key on the bar in front of his friend.

"Nice to see you, too, Joseph. Missed me, did you?"

Smiling sheepishly, Dawson returned the gun to it's shelf under the bar, using the moment to mask the immense relief he felt, not only that he had not been the target of a junkie in need of a twenty-dollar fix, but that Adam had finally returned.

"Sorry about that. But, hey, I don't get that immortal "buzz", you know!" He cast a reproachful look at the world's oldest man. "Besides, it's been months without a word from you. Where've you been?"

"Long story, and best left for another day." Adam Pierson shrugged out of his overcoat. "Let's just say I had to regroup."

Joe placed two mugs and a pot of coffee on the bar in front of his friend and, with the aid of a cane, slowly maneuvered his way to a nearby table. The immortal followed, noting the man's drawn features. Was he just imagining that his hair was a bit grayer, his movements a bit slower? A sense of frustration passed through him at the thought of Joe getting older, perhaps suffering illness, certainly dying. It reminded him of all the reasons he shied away from mortal relationships. It also reminded him how much Joe's friendship had meant to him, and what he would have missed without it.

Methos filled the mugs and sprawled in a chair, his long legs crossed at the ankles.

"So, how've you been, Joe?"

"Same old same old. Keeping busy."

They spoke of mundane things for a few minutes, just as if they were any old friends who meet after an extended absence. Joe wondered how long Adam would beat around the bush before asking what he really wanted to know.

He watched as the young man fell silent, staring into the depths of his coffee as if he could find the answers he needed there. The thin shoulders slumped, and Joe marveled yet again at the weight they carried, wishing he could help. Sure, he could offer 'advice to the lovelorn' to twenty-something Adam Pierson. But how the hell could he offer that same advice to Methos, a man who had existed for 5000 years? Yet, knowing that Adam hadn't merely dropped by for morning coffee, he decided to broach the subject.

"He's missed you."

Methos winced, as if the words caused him physical pain. Typically, when cornered, he resorted to sarcasm. "I doubt that, Joe. He wasn't exactly blowing kisses my way the last time I saw him."

Joe gave an indelicate snort. "Through no fault of yours, I suppose."

Methos had the grace to drop his eyes at that, knowing that he fully deserved that particular dig.

Refilling the cups, Joe hesitated. Experience had taught him that when dealing with Methos, there was a thin line between getting him to listen to you, and having him dance out of your reach. Joe was one of the very few people the elusive immortal sometimes allowed past his barriers. There were times when he felt immensely fortunate to have been befriended by Methos and Duncan MacLeod. This was not one of those times. He sighed, and decided to forge ahead.

"So. If not to see Mac, why did you come back?"

The soft, cultured voice held a note of frustration. "I did come to see him." Methos sighed and turned the cup in his fingers. "It's just that he has questions I can't answer."

Joe grinned ruefully. "Well, you gotta admit it, Bordeaux wasn't your run-of-the-mill lover's spat, you know."

The immortal actually smiled at that, knowing that his friend wasn't being malicious.

Joe leaned forward, choosing his words carefully.

"Talk to him. You're not the only one who's had time to regroup, you know. Maybe he's found some answers of his own."

Methos drained his glass and stood, unfolding his lanky frame with feline grace. "Stranger things have happened, I suppose."

"Yeah. Speaking of strange happenings, I'd better get this place ready to open in a bit." Joe shook his head. " I hate Halloween. It brings out all the weirdoes."

Methos smiled. It apparently hadn't crossed Dawson's mind that there was anything at all "weird" about his talking to a 5000 year old man.

As he turned to go, Joe snapped his fingers. "Oh, Adam, I almost forgot! You'll have to go looking for Mac. I rented a cabin a couple hours out of town, and he's borrowing it for the weekend. Said he wanted to get away for a few days."

Methos paused, and regarded Joe with amusement. "Cabin? A nice, urban bartender like you?"

"My own place to regroup. It's good for songwriting. Quiet, beautiful surroundings. I'll give you directions."

Joe could almost see the wheels turning in the other man's mind. "Hey, Adam, no. This is not a good enough reason to put this off."

Hazel eyes narrowed as Methos wondered whether he'd grown that transparent. He hoped it was just that Joe had come to know him better than most others.

"It won't get any easier."

"MacLeod doesn't do 'easy', Joe, haven't you learned that by now?" Methos reached the door and turned back for a parting shot. "Hey, lock up behind me. Wouldn't want any weirdos walking in on you!"

"Outta here, smart-ass!" Dawson heard the soft laugh as the door closed behind the ancient man. He hoped he'd still be laughing when he returned.

That afternoon, Methos lay on his couch, wondering if Joe could be right. Had MacLeod found some answers of his own? Had he even thought he needed any?

With his rigid code of right and wrong, legal and illegal, moral and immoral, Duncan MacLeod judged himself and the world around him. Mac's world was black and white, while Methos'entire existence depended on gray areas of compromise, deception, and "survival at all costs".

Yet from their very first encounter, each had sparked a reaction in the other that would not be denied.

Methos had to smile at that thought. Deny it they had, and most vehemently. They'd fought ferociously at times, only to become just as ferocious in defense of each other against outside threats. They'd both run at one time or another, putting distance between them, but it had never lasted for long. They would always return, only to spend endless hours in debate while trying to understand each other.

Sometimes it worked. Sometimes it didn't. But, in the end, it hadn't mattered. Because, despite their many differences, their feelings for each other were greater than those differences. Methos fed off the passion and fire of Duncan MacLeod like an addict. And although he fought it tooth and nail to begin with, and still wouldn't admit it out loud, he knew that the Highlander had dragged him kicking and screaming back to life. Back to living, as opposed to merely existing.

In turn, Methos had called on centuries of experience to try and give MacLeod what he hoped would help keep him alive. "Pick your battles, Mac."......"Fight another day, Mac"..........."You're too important to lose, Mac".......

And Duncan had soaked it up like a sponge, absorbing the experience of ages of existence, and attaching himself to the older immortal in a way that Methos hadn't allowed from anyone else in a long, long time.

When the passion between them had evolved into a physical relationship, it had been a natural statement of their need and love for each other. At the same time, it had been frighteningly complex. Duncan approached lovemaking with the same intensity he displayed in every facet of his life. And while there may have been times when that intensity and possessiveness caused panic in the elusive Immortal, Methos found it easier and easier, as time went by, to allow the younger man inside his emotional safeguards.

Somewhere along the way, the road had gotten smoother. They'd settled into lives that passed for normal, or as normal as possible for Immortals. They'd taught, learned from, fought for, tested, and loved each other.

Until Bordeaux. Until Kronos.


Methos squirmed, settling his body further into the leather of the couch, squelching the panic that thoughts of the Horseman still caused.

Kronos, ever the crazed demon, had ridden back into Methos' life, complete with a macabre memory book of scenes Methos had thought, hoped, buried forever. Physically, Kronos had greeted his Brother with a knife through the heart. Emotionally, he'd grabbed him by the guts and turned him inside out. Mentally, he'd evoked the intoxicating power under which he'd held Methos captive body and soul thousands of years earlier, in a determined effort to renew that domination. Methos went to war with his former lover for his very sanity. And, through it all, he carried the terrifying knowledge that, exposed for what he'd been and done, he would lose the Highlander.

In the end, it had been Duncan who'd stepped in to rid the world of the evil that was Kronos, freeing Methos finally from his tenacious grip, just as the ancient Immortal had known he would. It had also been Duncan who, newly enlightened, had looked at Methos with contempt and loathing and told him, through clenched teeth and threatening tears, "We're through".


True to form, Methos had fled the scene, going away to lick his wounds. The shared Quickening after the final explosive battle at Bordeaux had left both he and MacLeod reeling and exposed. He had to put distance between himself and the Highlander if he ever hoped to make any sense of it all.

He'd spent months which seemed like years wrestling with emotions he'd long avoided. Regret. Need. Guilt, for gods sake! And finally, finally, he'd once again reached acceptance. Acceptance of the things he'd done, of the man he'd been. Acceptance that he would struggle every day for the rest of his immortal life not to become that man again.

Acceptance, because along any other route lay madness.

It took even longer to deal with his feelings for Mac. He knew the Scot would never be able to accept what Methos had been. His first resolution had been to stay completely away from MacLeod. Period. That hadn't lasted long at all. To his utter consternation, he found that he actually missed being a part of MacLeod's world. True, his circle of friends had been small, but tight. They'd gone through quite a few trials together, and Methos now found he wasn't eager anymore to lead the reclusive life he'd enjoyed before becoming entangled with the Clan MacLeod.

He'd wrestled long and hard with the question of whether or not he was ready to co-exist with Duncan on a "we're just friends" basis. He admitted to himself that it would be one of the hardest things he'd ever done. But the stark truth, in the end, was that any relationship with Mac was better than no relationship at all.

So, he'd made up his mind. Yes, he could go back. Yes, he could lead an ordinary, normal existence as Adam Pierson. And yes, yes, he could maintain a comfortable, distant platonic relationship with Duncan MacLeod.

Rising from the sofa with a feeling of fresh resolve, he decided that he would drive out to the cabin. He owed it to Mac not to just show up in the crowd at Joe's. He'd let him know that although he had come back, he expected no concessions from him. That, in fact, he didn't even want any.

Duncan MacLeod sat on a blanket in front of the fire, his back against a tree. Inexplicably restless, he'd felt claustrophobic in the cabin tonight. Although the night air held the cold crispness of autumn, the fire helped to ward off the chill, and it seemed as if he could breathe much better outside. He could think.

Brood, as Methos would say. The Scottish immortal drank deeply from a cup, the heated wassail warming his insides against the night chill.

Well, if he was going to brood, at least he'd picked a good night for it. Samhain. End of the Celtic year. A time of death and endings. Thoughts of endings had made him think of Methos. His mind went relentlessly back to Bordeaux, and the last time he'd seen his lover. It had been months since the older man had left, and Mac was trying to come to grips with the knowledge that he might be gone for good this time.

When, a moment later, he felt Presence, he rose and quickly dived for his sword, inwardly cursing as he realized that the liquor that he'd put in the wassail was sure to slow his reflexes.

"It's only me."

Only me. Duncan thought for a crazy moment that his mind had conjured up the ancient immortal out of thin air. He remained rooted on the spot, katana in hand, staring as if he were seeing an apparition.

Methos held still for a long moment, trying to gauge the Highlander's reaction to his appearance. He'd expected hostility, but he really hadn't imagined that Duncan would go for his head. He fervently hoped that this wasn't the answer the Highlander had found! Slowly, as if venturing into uncharted water, he approached the younger man, careful to keep both hands in full view.

"You going to use that thing, MacLeod?"

Duncan gave a slight shake of his head, as if to clear his thoughts and vision. He lowered his arm, hoping that his voice wouldn't betray his whirling emotions. Methos had returned. Appearing out of the blue, like an illusion . And at the very sight of him, every witty, brilliant opening line Mac had rehearsed for this moment vanished into the night air.

"Of course not. I just didn't expect to see you."

A tentative smile flitted across the pale features of the older man. "What did you expect? Trick-or-treaters? Ghosts? Goblins?" Despite his bravado, his insides churned. Would Mac now equate him with spectres and demons?

Duncan turned to lay the katana down near him, using the time to regain his composure. He spoke with as much nonchalance as he could muster. "Traveling the world lose it's appeal for you?"

Distant, Mac? Good. I can do distant. "Somewhat. After so long a time, there aren't many new frontiers out there to explore."

This earned a slight smile from the Highlander, and the ice melted just a bit.

"I assume Joe told you how to find this place?" With a gesture, he indicated the cabin behind him, which appeared to Methos to be an ordinary, run-of-the-mill, cozy, weekend get-away place.

No, Mac. He told me where to find you.

"Yes. He did." Methos looked at the large fire burning brightly in the clearing, at the blanket laid out on the ground, and raised an inquiring eyebrow. "The cabin not to your liking?"

The Scot gave a slight shrug and spoke almost defensively, not quite meeting Methos' eyes. "No, it's fine. I just felt restless, or something. Just needed to be outside for a while."

An awkward silence fell around them, and Methos wondered why coming here had seemed such a good idea. What had happened to all his carefully rehearsed speeches? His resolve to swing by and strike up a casual conversation with his former lover? Hell, he felt like a clumsy adolescent, sure that whatever he said was going to be the wrong thing.

He stammered over his words as he took a step back. "Look, Mac, I should go. I only came to see how you were doing. I'll probably see you around, at Joe's, or--"

"Methos. Stop." The softly spoken command halted the older immortal in his tracks. Duncan watched him for a minute, desperately hoping that he'd find the words that would make him stay. He knew they'd reached a crossroads. Either they could recover from Bordeaux and move on, or they couldn't. But things could not remain as they had been, each one of them in a solitary search for peace. They had to breach this chasm, and they had to do it now. Either that, or let it engulf them. Duncan couldn't bring himself to do that. Not yet.

Methos stood poised for flight, skittish as ever, and it was all Mac could do to keep from reaching for him physically. Being all too familiar with Methos' damnable tendency to elude anything resembling confrontation, he proceeded with caution.

His eyes met the unfathomable gaze of the other man. "You didn't come here to pass the time of day. Stay. Please. Talk to me."

He held his breath until he saw the slender body relax almost imperceptibly. Then, reaching for the large thermos on the ground near him, he poured the cap full of wassail and offered it to Methos. "Here, this will warm you. Or, we can go inside, if you'd rather."

Methos accepted both the drink and the invitation with a nod. Removing his coat, he sat down on a smooth tree stump which Duncan had obviously been using for a chopping block. We've got enough walls around us now, without adding four more. "No, no, it's fine out here."

Mac refilled his own cup and resumed his place on the blanket. Back pressed against a tree, denim-clad legs stretched out in front of him, he ran a hand through his hair and raised his cup towards Methos. "To Samhain."

Methos silently acknowledged the toast, and took a cautious sip of the steaming liquid. He closed his eyes and sighed as fiery tendrils snaked down his throat, warming him all the way to his toes. He shot Mac an amused glance. "Well, at least your wassail has improved since the last batch I tasted."

Duncan took the dig gracefully. "Yeah, well, go easy on it. I think I may have gotten carried away a bit with the rum."

"There's no such thing as too much rum, MacLeod." Methos stretched his long legs out towards the fire and drank again. "So. What are you doing out here in the wild, Highlander?"

Duncan shrugged his shoulders, staring into the fire. "I'm not sure. I guess I just wasn't up to all the Halloween parties."

Methos watched as Mac stared into the fire. The Scot had a major brood going, no doubt about it. He knew he'd better get him talking, or he could go on like this all night.

Draining his cup, he reached for the thermos and refilled it, hoping there was more in the cabin. This might prove to be a long therapy session.

"MacLeod, you spoke of Samhain. That's a far cry from the Halloween parties of today. Been thinking about old times?"

Duncan picked up a long branch from the ground beside him and prodded at the fire, causing the flames to leap higher. Fragrant wood-smoke rose and hovered about the clearing, as if to shield the two immortals from the rest of the world. The only sounds were the hiss and crackle of the fire and the occasional call of a night bird.

He glanced at Methos and, as always, was struck by a feeling of awe as he thought of the ages carried in his lean, almost frail-looking body.

"Yeah, maybe I have. I guess they wouldn't seem very old to you, though, would they?"

The ancient man smiled. "Well, there's old, and then there's old, Mac."

Duncan reached a hand under the corner of the blanket and brought out another thermos, ending a questioning glance in Methos' direction. "More? Or, we can still go inside if you're cold."

Methos held his cup out as Mac poured. "No, I'm fine. Planned on doing some heavy drinking, did you?"

"Wasn't sure." He didn't tell the other man that he'd been doing a lot of heavy drinking in the past few months. "Methos, you know about Samhain. The Celts believed it marked summer's end. That's when the sun's power waned, and the strength of the gods of darkness and the underworld took over. It's a time of endings."

Methos listened, hearing the desolation in the brogue which was always indicative of emotional stress in Duncan. He felt his insides clench at the finality in his voice. Well, he hadn't expected Mac to greet him with open arms. Still, hearing the words hurt more than he could have imagined.

Fine. So Mac had no desire to renew their relationship. He could deal with that, had dealt with it, with others, more times than he could count. Yet he found he was powerless to get up and walk away. The hopelessness that Mac was apparently feeling sounded like it encompassed more than just the two of them. And, gods help him, if MacLeod felt that way, he knew he had to shoulder some of the blame. Mac had lived 400 years, true, but Bordeaux was evidently more than he could comprehend or accept. Methos understood that only too well.

"Everything comes to an end eventually, Mac. I know that sounds trite, but it's true." He decided to stop dancing around it. "You put an end to a hell of a lot of things at Bordeaux, MacLeod."

He was rewarded with a sharp glare. "Did I?"

Methos sighed. It was going to be a long night. "Yes. You did. We did. Caspian will never return. Silas will never return. Kronos will never return. The Horsemen are now a thing of the past." He took a deep breath. "Except for me."

Duncan closed his eyes and Methos spoke sharply. "No! Face this, MacLeod. Face it now and get rid of it!" He leaned forward, willing the other man to hear him. "Listen to me, Mac. You know that if I could go back and change things, I would never have brought Kronos to your door. Never. But, Duncan, it happened! Put it behind you."

He looked at the man before him. Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod. For all his faults, he was perhaps the finest man Methos had ever known. His voice dropped to a ragged whisper, raw with emotion. "Mac, if you let Bordeaux kill the hope and the fire inside you, then Kronos will have won. Don't let the evil that he represented win out over what you know and believe in."

He wasn't surprised at the tears which swam in Duncan's eyes. He couldn't remember when he'd wanted anything as much as he wanted to touch him now. He clenched his fists tightly.

"End it, Mac. Lay it down. Learn from it, and go on." Methos rose to leave. He'd said all he could. The rest was up to the Highlander. Except for one more thing.

"Duncan, I wish I had answers for you. I don't. I don't even have all the answers I need." He gave a frustrated sigh. "I will fight what I've been every day for the rest of my life. But I promise you this. I will never again make you a part of it."

Before he could pick his coat up from the ground, Mac was standing next to him. Too close. Methos took a step back and MacLeod laid a hand on his arm to stop him. "Don't you see? That's what I'm most afraid of."

Methos stilled and listened as Duncan cleared his throat and began to speak. "I don't understand Bordeaux. Maybe in a few centuries, if I live that long, I will. And I know that I don't have all the answers either. But, if I can't understand it, I want to accept it. I want to deal with it. Help me do that!"

Mac tightened his grip on Methos' arm, seeing him wince, but couldn't let go. "If you run again--if you keep running, Methos--then I don't think either one of us will be able to work it out."

Ahh, youngling, you're wiser than you know.

Methos watched as Duncan's eyes lit with the passion of his words and feelings. His chest rose and fell with rapid breath. Firelight cast shadows on his bronze features, and lights in the long, dark hair which fell about his shoulders. The listless, apathetic attitude had disappeared. His fierce Highlander had returned.

But the hurt of the past months hung over them much like the smoke from the fire. The last thing Methos wanted was to have Duncan succumb to a belly full of rum and the primal influence of the night around them, only to be filled with regrets later.

"Careful, Mac. You spoke of endings, remember?"

Duncan closed his eyes briefly and prayed for patience. "Methos, is that what you thought I meant? "

He released the other man's arm, but didn't back down. "You know, I've ended a lot of things since you've been gone. Or, at least, adjusted them. Attitudes. Habits. Schools of thought. Things that needed to change. And there's probably a lot more that I still need help with. But what I feel for you is not one of those things.

"I was trying to come to terms with the fact that either you weren't coming back, or, if you did, you wouldn't be coming back to me."

He didn't plead. He didn't demand. It seemed to Methos that the dignity and strength of his warrior's heart and soul had never been more apparent than when Duncan held out his hand to him.

The older man didn't stop to try and assimilate the emotions churning inside him. Sometimes, he'd learned, you trust your instincts. Go with your gut. Follow your heart. He found it a simple thing to close his fingers around those of the Highlander. As they came together, the fears and uncertainties of the past months, while not banished, seemed at least relegated to manageable.

Something seemed to settle inside Duncan when Methos pulled him close and covered his mouth with his own. The familiar scent and feel of his lover washed over him like a baptism, flooding his senses. He was aware of the bittersweet taste of apples and rum as Methos slid his tongue into his mouth, covering the contours inside as if to reassert his claim on them, kissing him deeply, thoroughly, masterfully, until they were forced to break for air.

Duncan felt agile fingers working the buttons of his shirt loose as he bent his head to taste the pale skin of Methos' throat. Encouraged by a raw moan, he drew his teeth lightly along the sensitive spots he knew so well. Slipping his hands under the hem of his partner's sweater, he felt a tremor run through the slight frame, and he pulled back a little.

"Come inside. You're cold."

Amusement mingled with the passion in Methos' eyes. "So, warm me, Highlander." His hands fell to Duncan's belt buckle. "Besides, I kind of like you out here in the wilderness. Brings out the cave-man in you."

The Scot looked suitably horrified. "I was never a cave man!"

"Hey, don't knock it, Mac. I've got some stories I can tell you later."

Duncan's retort was lost in a sharp gasp as his talented lover dropped to his knees, bringing Mac's jeans down in a single, smooth movement. Seconds later, his briefs followed the same path, freeing his straining erection for Methos' capable fingers. A muffled groan escaped him as the ancient leaned forward, taking Duncan's cock into his warm mouth. It was now Mac who shivered as Methos applied centuries of experience towards driving his lover crazy. It seemed to Duncan that every sense he possessed had been heightened to it's peak. Fragrant wood smoke teased at his nostrils. Dimly, he heard the hiss and pop of the fire mixed with the sound of owls off in the trees. The cool night air kissed the backs of his thighs. And, above it all, the feel of Methos' mouth as he brought Mac closer and closer to the release he craved. Duncan reached down to thread trembling fingers through the silk of his lover's dark hair, holding his head in place as he thrust forward mindlessly.

"God...Methos....please...." His voice was a ragged moan.

With consummate skill and care, Methos ran a hand up Duncan's inner thigh to grip his balls in a firm massage, at the same time taking his cock deeply into his throat. In seconds, he was rewarded as Mac came with a hoarse cry, shuddering helplessly, hands buried tightly in Methos' hair.

When Duncan was able to lower himself to the blanket, Methos reached to help his partner off with the rest of his clothes, giving him a shaky grin. "Learned that in my cave man days, MacLeod."

Partly just to shut his smart-assed lover up, Mac pulled Methos down to lie under him, covering his mouth with his own for a long, deep kiss. He slid one hand under the older man's heavy sweater, reveling in the feel of the smooth, finely muscled chest, smiling a little as Methos caught his breath sharply when Mac's fingernails grazed his nipples.

"You've got on too many clothes, old man."

He winced as Methos nipped his throat sharply, his breath warm against his ear, cultured voice wrapping around him like a glove. "So, divest me of them, Highlander."

Duncan proceeded to do just that, until he was finally skin to skin with the magical, mystical man he loved so much. Settling himself between Methos' thighs, he lowered his head to suck lightly on nipples that were already hardened with desire.

Methos knew he couldn't retain his control much longer. He ached to have Duncan inside him. Reaching for Mac's hand, he drew his fingers into his mouth and sucked on them, wetting them liberally.

He held his breath as Mac pulled his fingers free slowly and rose to his knees, positioning Methos with care. Dark eyes held his in a hypnotic gaze as Duncan slowly prepared him.

Methos watched his lover with awe. Never had he seen such a beautiful, majestic man. He looked every inch the medieval warrior, bronze skin shining in the red-orange glow of the firelight. Hair so black it mixed with the night fell around his shoulders in wild disarray. Muscles tensed, strength warring with restraint as he readied himself to enter Methos' body.

The slender immortal stifled a moan of pain as Duncan breached his passage. Mac stilled instantly, holding Methos tightly and gentling him with soft Gaelic phrases, until he felt the spare body stir against him. Slowly, easily, they began to move as one, renewing passion they both had feared lost forever. Mac's strokes were deep, burying himself in Methos as much as possible, as if to become one with him. Methos, in turn, rose to meet each thrust, taking Mac in deeper and deeper as he felt the heat begin to build inside him. Duncan reached between their bodies to wrap strong, warm fingers around Methos' cock, moving his hand in perfect rhythm with the thrust of his hips.

Deeper, harder, faster, they stroked, as the sound of their labored breathing, and strangled groans filled the night air. Until finally, finally, they reached the edge of control. Methos closed his own fingers around Mac's, and came with a ragged cry, spilling warmth on their joined hands. Seconds later, pushing deep one last time, Duncan reached his release, filling Methos, shaking with exertion, until he slowly withdrew and collapsed onto the blanket beside his lover.

As they lay there, trying to regain their breath, Methos looked up at the midnight sky, which shone with a million stars. He wondered if Duncan's dark gods of Samhain would exact a reckoning from them for this night of love. Maybe. Then again, maybe not He had a feeling that Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod might just prove to be a match for them.

He stirred, beginning to feel the chill. "Hey, Mac?"

Duncan stirred, and mumbled sleepily.

"Mac, you know I love you, but there's a rock under my ass and I need a beer. Can we go inside now?"

The Highlander shook with laughter. "Welcome home, Methos."


Finis