Tempting Fate
by Suze


This story is rated, surprise, NC-17. Language, implied violence, more language, discussion of m/m sex, even more language, m/m sex. If you're under the 'legal age' for your present location in the space time continuum, go away. If you're old enough to be here, this is SLASH. Deal with it or delete it.

I give up. I can't do angst. Methos won't let me. Like all of my pieces, this is a Duncan/Methos first time story. There's a little romance, a little comedy, and an itsy-bitsy bit of h/c. Methos wouldn't suffer, but he did agree to cry a little. And there's just enough plot to get the boys into bed. I don't know where Richie was at this point in the HL timeline, but I needed him in Paris, so I put him there. Deus ex machina.

Thanks to Pattie, Penny and Bone for reading, and re-reading long after I was sick of the whole thing. And thanks to Zen&nancy for all their enthusiastic support when Bone was chasing me around the Soup Kitchen with the mop, "heartily encouraging" me to finish the damn sex scene! <eg>

This one is for the women of the RSM, who are always there with a cold beer, or a warm towel boy (or both), when needed.

Prologue: Once more with feeling

Fate looked up when she heard her name. What was he up to this time? Oh, dying again. How boring. Why did he bother her with these petty details? It's not like he could honestly expect her to do anything about it, she never had in the past.

She dabbed at her nail polish. Almost dry enough for a second coat.

Methos' eyes locked on the thin trickle of blood running from the corner of the woman's mouth. His aim had always been good. He'd managed to drive the dagger directly into her heart, and just in time too.

<Did you really think it would be easy? If Kronos promised you that, he lied.>

With the last of his strength, he pried the sword out of her hand and pulled the dying woman into his arms, holding her close to his torn and bloody chest.

<Damn you, MacLeod. It didn't have to be like this. You could have spared me this death, and her the only one she's going to get. She's too young for this.>

//It does have a certain bizarre symmetry. Almost elegant, in a sick, twisted sort of way. Just like Kronos, if you think about it.//

<I don't want to die thinking about him. I've done that too many times.>

//You have something more cheerful in mind?//

<MacLeod and that bitch Fate. They both owe me for this one. And he'd better not think I won't collect.>

//Good luck. He told you to disappear, remember?//

<You had to remind me? You couldn't let me die happy?>

//'Die happy' is a contradiction in terms, old man. Don't forget that again.//

<At least she won't die alone.>

//You stupid little shit. You've been spending way too much time with the boy scout. Do you really think it's going to help if you die with her?//

<Well there's nothing I can do about it now....>

Chapter One: Leave the old guy's sword in the trunk


Jumping out of the car, MacLeod dropped to his knees and stared at the two bodies lying entwined on the wet pavement of the alley. How much of the blood washing into the gutter was Methos' and how much had belonged to the woman, Duncan couldn't tell, but even in the dim moonlight he could see that Methos had been  right. She had been young, barely more than a child. And too beautiful to have been so insane.

<My fault. Dear God, forgive me. I could have prevented this. If I had helped him when he asked me, if I had taken it more seriously...>

//Oh, let's not mince words. If you'd been a little less stubborn and self-righteous.//

Gently, he moved the dead woman out of Methos' arms. The sight of the ancient immortal's dagger sticking out of her chest sent a guilty shudder through Duncan's body.

<My fault. More innocent blood on his hands, and this time it's my fault.>

//And if he were alive, he'd cut your throat just to stop this self-serving, melodramatic bullshit. And speaking of cutting throats...?//

Duncan pulled his friend into his arms. Methos' head lifted off the wet ground when MacLeod moved his body.

"Is he all right?" Duncan could see Richie's legs in front of him, but the voice seemed to come from a distance.

<My fault.> Raising a trembling hand to the bloody throat, Duncan ran his fingers up Methos' neck. Until he actually felt the intact skin beneath his fingers, Duncan couldn't let himself believe what his eyes were showing him.

It was real. The slender torso was torn and shattered by a dozen bullet holes, but except for the long, shallow cut along the side, the neck was intact. Skin cooling and muscles slack in death, Methos' graceful neck was still wonderfully, blessedly whole.

"Mac? Is he...?"

"He'll be all right. Thank God, he'll be all right."

Methos' eyes were open, but the normally bright hazel was dull and glazed. There was no spark of life there. The dark blood cast a cruel shadow against the white skin, deepening the hollows beneath the high cheekbones as the cold rain washed it across his face in a red glaze. The smart-ass, sarcastic, cynical Methos was gone. The man in Duncan's arms looked much too young and vulnerable. MacLeod closed Methos' eyes.

"I feel guilty enough without you staring at me, Old Man." MacLeod tried for a light tone but his voice came out low and hoarse.

<Making bad jokes in the middle of worse situations is his speciality, not mine.>

//Maybe if you're very, very lucky, he'll forgive you and stay around to make more bad jokes at your expense.//

"Uh, Mac, I know this is one of those real Scottish moments, broody and emotional and all that shit, but don't you think we should put the old guy in the car and get the hell out of here?"

<My fault. It's all my fault.> Duncan lifted Methos and carried him to the car, placing him carefully in the back. As he arranged the limp body on the seat, Duncan knew that it had been a long time since he had shown this much concern for his friend's well being, physical or emotional.

"Damn Methos, why is it so much easier to be nice to you when you don't know I'm doing it?"

//Interesting question.//

<Shut up.>

Turning back toward the alley, he saw that Richie had already retrieved the swords and was stowing them in the trunk.

<My fault. More innocent blood, and it's my fault.> A shudder passed through MacLeod's body. He told himself it was because he was cold and wet, standing in a dark alley in the middle of a thunderstorm.

//But you don't really believe that, do you?//

"Rich, do me a favor. Clean things up here."

"You mean get rid of the body?" Richie's face looked a little green around the edges. It clashed horribly with his hair.

MacLeod realized that it probably wouldn't help to remind Richie that the beautiful woman lying on the ground with Methos' dagger in her chest had been quite insane.

He almost wished he'd brought Amanda with him instead, but he couldn't have handled her very vocal disapproval on top of the hell he was going to get, deservedly, from Methos. Amanda had made sure he knew her opinion of his and Methos' latest disagreement before she harried him out of the bar, insistent that he follow the ancient immortal.

"Mac? You all right?" MacLeod realized that Richie was still waiting for an answer. What had the question been? Oh, yes, the body.

"Yeah, I'm okay, Rich. Do the clean up, please. Think of it as practice."

"Practice? Mac, this isn't something I'm looking forward to getting good at."

"Do it for me, please Rich." Unprepared for the pleading, almost desperate tone in the Highlander's voice, Ryan quit contemplating his wet feet and looked at his wet friend instead. Duncan looked like shit. On a bad day for shit.

"Hell Mac, I'll do it for the old man. I owe him one."

"Thanks, Rich."

"Do you want me to come by the barge when I finish doing the Mr. Clean gig?"

"No, I can handle him from here."

<And it's best that we be alone. I can't say the things I need to say to him in front of you, Rich. I nearly lost him, and it was my own fault.>

//And if the old man decides to kick your ass around the wheelhouse when he comes to, you really don't need witnesses for that, either.//

"Fine by me. I really don't want to be around for the second act anyway. It's liable to be messy. Mac, you do realize that Methos is probably going to be royally pissed when he comes to...."

"Probably? I'd say definitely. And way beyond 'royally pissed'. He has a right to be."

"Yeah, he does. You were a real shit to Methos tonight, Mac. And as tempting as that can be, it's probably not something you should do very often. That could be a really unhealthy habit. Probably even deserves a warning label from the Surgeon General."

//Hey! The kid's grown a brain! When did that happen?//

Duncan looked at Richie to find that the younger immortal was grinning at him. MacLeod grinned back, weakly.

"Don't look so surprised, Mac. I'm not as young and stupid as I look, remember? The old guy's managed to stay alive for five-thousand years. Even I can figure out there's gotta be a lot more there than meets the eye. Maybe you're just looking for excitement in your old age, but personally, I wouldn't go out of my way to piss him off."

Maybe something good would come out of the unholy mess he'd managed to make of his life. Unquestioning loyalty was nice in puppies, but a Richie who could think for himself was a Richie that might live longer.

"Thanks, Rich. I'll deal with it. He won't try to take my head, and short of that, anything he does to me I deserve."

"Yeah. Just don't start feeling so noble and guilty that you go and do something really stupid. Leave the old guy's sword in the  trunk."

Chapter Two: A real bitch of an epiphany

<I nearly lost him.> Carrying the still, lifeless body on to the barge, Duncan braced himself against the wall and opened the door. Finally, he could allow himself the time to be grateful for the storm, and the nearly empty streets that allowed him to get Methos back to the safety of the barge unobserved.

<I nearly lost him.> He placed his limp burden in the tub,  stripped off the wet, blood covered clothing and turned on the shower, watching through tear-dimmed eyes as the red-tinged water ran down the slender body and into the drain. Duncan was grateful the wounds were gone now. At least he didn't have that reminder in front of him too.

<I nearly lost him.> Holding Methos up with one arm, Duncan reached for a towel and dried him, then he lifted the lighter man and carried him to the bed. He pulled the sheet over him, then began peeling off his own wet clothes. Dropping them in a pile on the floor, he pulled on a pair of sweats and returned to Methos. MacLeod lay down on the bed, propped himself up with one arm and gazed at his friend. Skin slightly damp, cold and pale against the dark green sheets, the ancient immortal looked disconcertingly young and fragile.

<I nearly lost him.>

//You nearly killed him.//

The long, dark lashes lay unmoving against the ivory skin. Methos' lips were parted, but no breath stirred through them. Duncan was vaguely aware there were things he should be doing; he needed to let Amanda and Joe know that Methos was all right, but he couldn't convince himself to abandon his unnecessary vigil. He didn't even want to try. Hopefully Richie would think to do it. If not, he'd take care of it tomorrow.

<I nearly lost him.> The thought hurt more than Duncan had suspected it could. MacLeod knew tonight wasn't the first time in his life he had let pride and anger cloud his thinking, but he had hoped that he had finished making this particular mistake.

//Four hundred years old and you still won't listen to me. Thank God the old man's so paranoid. Exactly how many weapons does he carry these days?//

<One more than not enough.>

Despite his assurances to Richie, Duncan wasn't at all sure Methos wouldn't try to kill him when he revived. Duncan wondered if he would let him, not just because he felt he deserved it, but because he couldn't see himself fighting back. He couldn't see himself hurting Methos more than he already had.

"God, Methos, I was such a shit. Those things I said to you in the bar...How could I do that? It hasn't been a week since you took Keane's challenge for me, and I treated you like shit then too, dismissing you from the barge like that. I knew I hurt you, Methos. I was going to apologize the next time I saw you, but then you came in and said 'Kronos' and I lost it."

//Because all you could think of was that scar-faced bastard the way he was in Bordeaux, laughing at you, taunting you. That was quite a vivid mental picture you conjured of Kronos stroking him, kissing him, touching him....//

<Touching Methos.>

//Holding him. Making love to him...//

<Making love to Methos. My Methos!>

The realization stunned MacLeod. Not just anger, not just hurt pride, he'd treated Methos so badly because he was jealous of Kronos. Jealous of Methos' old lover.

<Dear God, when did this happen? How long have I been in love with Methos?>

//Since about three-seconds after you painted his nose. Before that you would have settled for throwing him to the floor and fucking him senseless.//

The events of the last year shifted and realigned themselves in Duncan's memory. Some that he had thought paramount faded into inconsequence as other, smaller moments took on a whole new significance. Every decision he had made, every conclusion he had reached, every judgement he had rushed to form about this man came into question.

The Horsemen had had to die, he was still convinced of that. There was no other possible solution to that nightmare, but the fracture it put in his and Methos' relationship hadn't had to be so deep.

<Damn. I really screwed that up, didn't I? I should have talked to him before I sided so completely with Cassandra. The old man reads me so well. He knew I'd already made up my mind, didn't he? And so he pushed me away, left me there to take care of Cassandra while he went to Kronos.>

//'To' Kronos, not 'with' Kronos. Interesting distinction. Why couldn't you have made it when it would have mattered? He shouldn't have had to face that alone, not knowing if you were going to give him the help he needed. You could have spared him that uncertainty, at least. And you reallydidn't need to be such an ass about Keane.//

<Maybe he got a good laugh out of that one. He finds so much of what I do amusing. Pushing him out, pulling Amanda in front of me like a shield. I've spent enough time in the Orient to understand about saving face. Why didn't I recognize it in myself?>

//Do you think he found tonight amusing, shit-for-brains? There's no excuse for what you put him through tonight. You should have been there. You should have realized that after Keane he wouldn't have come to you if he hadn't been desperate.//

<And I blew it off. God, I can be such a blind, self-righteous shit when I put my mind to it.>

//Do you hear anybody disagreeing?//

Under the illumination of his new, uncomfortable piece of self-knowledge, MacLeod reviewed his recent encounters with the ancient immortal. How much of his recent anger with the ancient immortal had been caused, or made hotter, by his unacknowledged desire for his friend, and desire's companion, jealousy? Why hadn't he seen what he was doing? Why hadn't he understood?

//I knew, but you wouldn't listen to me. Again. You never listen to me until after the fact.//

<Oh God, I knew. I couldn't admit it mattered, but I knew. Every time we spoke, outside his apartment, at the church, I could barely hear what he was saying to me. I knew they had been lovers and might be again, and I lied and told myself that it made no difference. Even before we shared Kronos' Quickening, I knew.>

//And it did make a difference, didn't it? You couldn't stand it, MacLeod.//

During the weeks since Bordeaux, Duncan's dreams had been his punishment for his exercise in self-deception. Night after night MacLeod had woken sweating from the nightmares, Methos' name swallowed unspoken in his throat. Nightmares his conscious mind wouldn't accept until now. Dark, sensual images of Kronos and Methos, together. Nightmares in which he found himself in Kronos' place. In his nightmares he could feel Methos' smooth, passion-slicked skin pressed against him, that soft, vulnerable mouth open to his, the ancient immortal's tight, hot body closing around his prick as Duncan pushed inside him and started to move.

//Nightmares that were starting to feel a lot like wet-dreams.//

<He must have realized how I felt. I wasn't subtle, was I? Just blind. And he must have felt something for me, too, something more than friendship. I've known he was attracted to me since the first look he gave me the day we met.>

//God, that look! Talk about unsubtle. If you'd done what I suggested and thrown him on the bed right then, you could have avoided all the rest of this shit. And the last few years would have been a lot more fun.//

<He had to feel more than just lust. Didn't he?>

//Why else would he have put up with you? Why else would he have tried to save you from yourself when Keane came along? Or from Kristin? Or any of the times he tried to spare you pain, or stop you from making an ass of yourself?//

<Is it too late? Have I pushed him away too often, hurt him one time too many? Have I finally killed any chance there was for us to be together?>

<I nearly lost him.> Watching over him wasn't enough. Just as he had needed to touch Methos' uninjured throat in the alley to confirm what his eyes had shown him then, he needed to hold him now. He needed to feel the life return to Methos' body. He needed to hold Methos because it might be the last chance he got to touch him with gentleness.

//This is not a good idea, MacLeod.//

Duncan's breath caught in his throat as he gathered the limp body against his own. Running his hands down Methos' back, he caressed the smooth, cold skin, trying futilely to warm it. He knew it wouldn't bring Methos back any sooner, but he found a strange comfort in offering his friend the warmth and protection of his body.

"I'm sorry, Methos," he whispered into the unhearing ear beneath his lips. "Better late than never isn't always enough, but I'm here now."

<I nearly lost you.> Wrapping his arms around his friend, as if he feared that even in death the motionless body would rise and flee from him, Duncan slipped, unknowingly and unwillingly, into sleep.

Chapter Three: When life gives you lemons, punt

Methos knew he wasn't in his own bed the moment he regained consciousness. The bed he was in smelled of heather rather than the spices he favored, and the pillows were too soft. Most tellingly, his bed wouldn't be this crowded. He opened his eyes to the dark beauty of the Highlander's face. Duncan's arms were wrapped tightly around him, cradling him against the warm, muscular chest.

Methos stiffened in surprise, a small movement, but the sleeping man felt it. MacLeod growled and nuzzled his face into Methos' shoulder, his soft, dark hair brushing sensuous patterns against the older immortal's neck.

Methos didn't want to move. It was tempting to stay here, safe and warm, held in the comfort of the Highlander's strong arms. He'd wanted this for so long, dreamt of it for so long. Unfortunately, the little voice of reason that had kept him alive for five thousand years was very well trained. It wouldn't shut up long enough to let him enjoy a really good wallow in denial.

//How the hell did we end up here, old man?//

<Did MacLeod and I finally...? And I missed it? Surely not. I haven't been that drunk in centuries.>

//Well, decades anyway.//

<I don't feel hung-over. I feel as if I'd been run over by a truck. A very big truck. Or as if I just came back from the dead. Oh, fuck.>

The memories arrived in a painful cascade, one ugly, insane image on top of the next, without the kindness of elapsing time to soften them. The woman confronting him on the street outside his apartment, and his surprise when she called him by name. The humiliating scene in the bar when he went to MacLeod for help. The crazy woman following him when he left, drawing the gun on him in the alley. The fear when she pulled out the sword after shooting him, and the futile anger of the moment in which he realized he had no more choices. The disbelief on her face as his dagger entered her heart, then holding her in his arms as they began the slow, painful fade to darkness that he recognized as death.

//You two had a lot in common. Dwellers in the crucible and all that shit.//

<That poor, deluded bitch. Where did Kronos find her? And was she insane before he became her lover?>

//Probably not. He could be very charming when he chose to be, and he always did prefer strong, intelligent lovers. He said they were more amusing to break. The asshole had a really delightful sense of humor. Had you forgotten?//

Methos hadn't wanted to kill her; he'd done everything he could think of to avoid killing her. Including one thing he had promised himself just three days ago he would never do: he had begged Duncan MacLeod for help. Begged. With the Highlander's aide he might have been able to stop the crazy bitch without killing her, but once MacLeod heard the name "Kronos," he didn't want to hear any more.


"No? Weren't you listening to me MacLeod?"

"I was listening. Which part is supposed to get to me? The fact that she's mortal, or that she's insane? Or am I supposed to believe you can't bring yourself to hurt a woman?"

"Believe it or not, I would prefer it not come to that, yes."

"Then don't let it. You've been married sixty-eight times, surely you've dealt with insane women before. There are half a hundred ways to handle this situation, pick one and deal with it."

"You've acquired an interesting definition of 'friendship' lately, MacLeod."

"I've had some interesting lessons lately, Methos. We can't fight each other's battles. You stay out of my past and I'll stay out of yours. And maybe we'll be able to stay friends."

"So that's your advice? Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod, chivalrous bastard, defender of undeserving women, boy scout, says 'deal with it?'"

"That's it. Or you could always just disappear. She's not like Kronos, she'll be dead in sixty or seventy years. You're good at running, aren't you Methos? Well, this time it might work."

MacLeod turned his back on Methos and went to rejoin Amanda at their table. Methos set his beer on the bar and headed for the door. The Highlander could talk about 'staying friends,' but the old man knew 'get the hell out of my life' when he heard it. It had been a long time since he'd had to be told that twice.

But it still hurt like hell.

<How did we get from that moment to this, Highlander?> How had he passed through this nightmare and ended up in Duncan's bed, in Duncan's arms?

Methos' little voice of reason considered and discarded several possible scenarios before it settled on one.

//Obviously, our current situation can only be the end result of one of those dizzying logic-spirals of which Duncan is capable while in the throes of a truly monumental Scottish guilt trip.//

<That's a non-explanation explanation if ever I've heard one.>

//Give me a break. I'm theorizing without data here. But given your positions and respective states of undress, it seems likely that MacLeod has finally realized that he's hot for your skinny bod.//

<I don't fucking believe this. The man treats me like shit, kicks me out of his life, then I wake up in his arms. They're nice arms, and if this had happened six months ago I would have screwed him till he couldn't walk straight. But this isn't six months ago. How much of a whore does he think I am?>

<If we're playing 'how much will Methos take,' you lose, MacLeod.>

//What are you planning, old man?//

<I'm borrowing a great American tradition. I'm going to drop back and punt.>

Gently maneuvering himself out of the Highlander's arms, Methos braced his back against the headboard. Summoning every bit of strength in his deceptively slim body, the oldest immortal kicked Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod right in the Clan Jewels.

The results were immediate and gratifying. Duncan's eyes opened. They closed. They reopened, wider. His mouth opened wide as if to scream, but all that came out was a soft wheezing sound. Then his body curled into itself, protecting, too late, it's most vulnerable asset.

Methos waited patiently as Duncan's incoherent wheezing evolved into a softly repetitive 'shit shit shit'.

"Now that I'm sure I have your attention, I'm going to share something with you, Highlander, those words from the old wise man that you were so eager to hear when we met. You might want to write this down so you don't forget it. Never reward anyone for being an asshole."

Chapter Four: A short journey from Bad to Worse

Duncan remained curled in a fetal position, hands cupped over his throbbing groin, while Methos went into the bathroom and shut the door. After a few moments, MacLeod heard the shower start.

//All things considered, MacLeod, you got off pretty lightly.//

A kick in the groin was no Highland fling, but he supposed it could have been worse.

//Hey, this is Methos you're dealing with. It definitely could have been a lot worse.//

<At least he's still speaking to me, and more significantly, he's still here.>

//Yeah, I was sure that when you woke up he would be gone. No note, no cursing, just gone. Forever.//

<Wake up? Oh, shit. I wasn't going to be in the bed when Methos came to. I was just going to hold him until he started to revive, then be sitting on the edge of the bed, apologizing profusely, before Methos even knew where he was.>

//And instead, Methos regained consciousness in your bed, nude, with you draped over him like a hairy, Scottish blanket. Smooth, MacLeod. I'm so impressed. I'm sure Methos was, too.//

<Fuck. As if things weren't bad enough, now he must think I'm some kind of pervert. I couldn't even wait till he was alive again.>

//A real shame that. It would have been so much more fun if he'd been conscious, wouldn't it?//

<I have to talk to him. I have to explain.>

//Yeah, right. How do you explain letting your best friend get killed by a crazy woman, then fondling his nude body while he's dead?//

<I'll apologize. I'll make it up to him.>

//Find a way to take your own head, it'll be easier.//

If Duncan had been more awake or less worried, he never would have done what he did next. Four hundred years of the Game should teach someone better survival techniques, but driven by guilt, and still stooped over in pain, MacLeod wasn't thinking very clearly. Duncan's little voice of reason, having forty-five hundred years less training than Methos', couldn't manage to get the Highlander's attention.

Jumping up and down screaming //this is definitely not a good idea, shit-for-brains,// never worked.

//You're fucked, MacLeod. Completely and totally fucked. Maybe, just maybe, if you manage to survive another four-hundred years, you'll learn to listen to me.//

Placing Methos on the bed, Duncan pulled the sheet over the limp body and headed for the kitchen. He needed a drink. If his luck was holding, he was probably out of beer, too. No, someone up there liked him. There was beer. Good, he really wanted to be able to give Methos a beer as soon as he woke up.

//The correct phrase is 'comes back to life.' You're fucked, MacLeod. Completely and totally fucked.//

<Maybe it won't be that bad. After all, even though Methos was pissed, he stayed to take a shower. He gave me time to recover and get up and around. He didn't get dressed and leave. He didn't even lock the bathroom door.>

//How could he know you were going to kill him again? Not one of your better moments, MacLeod. You're fucked. Completely and totally fucked.//

The memory made Duncan cringe. When he'd entered the bathroom to apologize //barged in, uninvited, without knocking// he hadn't considered how Methos might react.

//He was surprised, MacLeod. What did you expect? Water plus soap equals slippery. Add surprise and it all equals 'oh shit.' You're fucked. Completely and totally fucked.//

Duncan knew he'd never forget the moment when Methos had spun to face the opening door, turning so quickly his feet went out from under him. Then came the sickening crack as he hit the wall of the shower, landing in what had to be a very uncomfortable position. Nature had never intended Methos' long, graceful neck to bend at that angle.

MacLeod filled a large bowl with ice, then added a half-dozen bottles of beer. Going back to the bed, he set the bowl on the nightstand and pulled up a chair, positioning it a good four feet from the bed. This time he wasn't taking any chances.

//You haven't heard I word I've said, have you shit-for-brains? If you had you'd be half-way to Tibet before he comes to. You're fucked. Totally and completely fucked.//

A broken neck wasn't half the challenge of a dozen bullet holes, Methos wouldn't be out long at all. Duncan leaned back and began considering what he was going to say to his very pissed off friend. Only one thing came immediately to mind.

<I'm fucked. Totally and completely fucked.>

<Not my bed. Heather. I smell heather.>

//Who do we know that smells like heather?//

<MacLeod. I'm in MacLeod's bed. I'm nude in MacLeod's bed.>

//Why do I think this isn't a good thing? Why do I have this awful feeling of deja vu?//

<Oh, fuck.>

The images of the day went by in fast forward behind his closed eyelids.

//It hasn't been one of our better days, old man.//

<On the other hand, it wasn't a complete loss. Letting the Highlander have it in the nuts was a uniquely soul-satisfying moment. I've been wanting to do that for months.>

It wasn't enough, though. Methos could feel the anger tightening his gut.

//That's never a good sign, old man. Some of the most stupid decisions you've ever made were made in anger. Of course, the really stupid ones were the decisions you made with your dick. Let's not do either tonight, okay?//

<I have to get out of here. I have to get as far away from MacLeod as I can. If I can just have time to cool off, maybe neither one of us will say anything irrevocable. Please, Fate, you irredeemable, worthless bitch. Just this once...>

Methos heard movement nearby and opened his eyes. MacLeod was leaning forward from his seat beside the bed, offering Methos a beer and his very best sad-puppy look.

<Well, at least the beer was a good choice, MacLeod. You're getting smarter. Maybe I'll get really lucky and you'll be smart enough not to speak. Fate, you must owe me one by now.>

"Methos, I'm sorry. I was a real jerk. Have a beer."

<Thanks a lot, Fate. Still a promiscuous, old whore, aren't you?>

Somewhere Fate was having a belly laugh at Methos' expense, he knew it. He reached out and took the beer from MacLeod, noticing the tension in Duncan's face ease a bit as he did.

<Have a beer? God, do you really think I'm that easy, Mac? We're going to have to have a long talk someday. But not tonight. Just ease up on the guilt trip long enough for me to get out of here without killing you. I really can not handle pulling you out of a Scottish wallow right now. Be smart Highlander, don't push.>

"Clothes. I assume mine were ruined."

"Yeah, I'll get you some sweats."

MacLeod came back to the bed with the sweats as Methos drained the last of his beer. The ancient immortal accepted the pants and lifted another beer from the bowl on the nightstand. Ignoring his nudity, he rose from the bed. As he moved toward the bathroom, a thought occurred to him. He turned back and pinned MacLeod with a cold glare.

"I'm going to finish my shower now. Alone. Can you wrap your tiny mind around the concept 'alone', Highlander?"

Duncan flushed, but didn't look away. Methos decided that the bizarre expression on MacLeod's face was an attempt at a grin. It looked more like 'sad-puppy-anticipating-becoming-roadkill'.

"I understand. No company, no interruptions, no unexpected visitors. Alone. I think I can handle it."

"Good." Methos stepped into the bathroom and shut the door. After a moment he reached down and locked it behind him. Fate had had enough fun at his expense today, there was no sense in giving the fickle bitch more ammunition.

Chapter Five: A little voice of reason is a dangerous thing

Duncan exhaled in relief when he heard the click as the lock engaged. He had no intention of following Methos into the bathroom again, but it was nice to have the temptation removed. And it was a sizeable temptation. Methos-sized.

<God, he's gorgeous. How does he move like that? Those long, sleek muscles don't move, they float. Every thing he does looks like it's happening in slow motion. And that skin! I'm surprised the man doesn't glow in the dark.>

Duncan MacLeod had never been a man to do anything half way. He had finally admitted to himself that he desired the ancient immortal and he was going to revel in the giddy feeling of new love as long as he could.

//Which is probably going to be only as long as it takes Methos to finish his shower and come out and rip you a new asshole.//

<Shut up. Damn, I definitely need something stronger than beer.>

Retrieving a bottle of scotch and a glass from the kitchen, Duncan collapsed on the couch and considered the situation.

//You're so gullible, shit-for-brains. Do you think he's forgiven you, just because he took the beer?//

<Giving the old man alcohol is always a good choice. Mellow him out a little bit and he's easier to deal with. Still sarcastic as hell, but at least after three or four beers the smart-ass remarks go from 'immediately lethal' to 'just a flesh wound'.>

//Unfortunately, I doubt that getting Methos drunk is going to be the answer tonight. I wouldn't have been surprised if the old man had come off the bed swinging.//

<Personally, I'm prepared for months of listening to short, pithy comments on my morals, ethics and the probable mating habits of my unknown ancestors.>

//That's the Methos we know and love, even if his kicks to the groin are usually more figurative. But this Methos...shit. I'll bet you could have frozen party ice on his ass.//

<And it looks like such a nice ass to party with. Tight, slightly rounded. Almost pert.>

//Don't get giddy, Highlander. You do really stupid things when you get giddy. Just because he accepted your beer and stayed to shower again doesn't mean he's going to forgive you.//

<It's a good sign, though. He'll forgive me. I wonder if his ass could possibly be as firm as it looks?>

//Wake up and smell the haggis, MacLeod! Do you really want to bet on what Methos will do? Fine. I'll bet that if he walks off the barge before you settle this, you'll never see him again.//

<He won't do that. I made the fuck-up to end all fuck-ups tonight. He won't be able to resist staying around to rub my nose in it. Firm and tight. Did you notice that cute little wiggle? I think he did that on purpose.>

//Give me control of the body, MacLeod. Just for a minute. I want to slam your head against the wall a few times.//

<No wonder I never listen to you. Trust me, once he has a few beers Methos will see how funny this whole thing was. He always gets a good laugh out of my fuck-ups. I'm sure he did it on purpose. He knew I was watching.>

//Stop thinking with your prick for a minute and think about this: your fuck-ups don't normally involve telling him to disappear then getting that gorgeous ass killed twice in one night.//

<Oh. I forgot about that.>

//Yeah, I thought that had slipped your mind. I told you, 'giddy' is dangerous. 'You're good at disappearing, aren't you, Methos? Why don't you run, Methos?' Sound familiar, shit-for-brains?//

<He's going to leave, isn't he?>

//He's going to leave.//

<And he's not going to come back.>

//He's not going to come back.//

<Shit. What do I do?>

//Now you're asking? Why don't you listen to me before you do these things?//

<I'm listening now. Stop bitching and help me out here.>

//Okay, you do two things. First, you grovel.//

<Grovel? I tried apologizing. You saw what an impact that had.>

//Grovel. Completely and whole heartedly. Go down on your knees. Plead. Kiss his feet if you have to.//

<He does have great feet, doesn't he? Beautiful arches, long toes....>

//Stop that. This is a delicate situation. You're not dealing with Amanda now. Avoid 'giddy' at all costs.//

<No 'giddy'. Got it. What do I do after I grovel?>

//Well, since you'll be on your knees anyway, give him a blow job.//

<A blow job? That's your original, 'listen to me, I am the voice of reason' advice?>

//It always works for Amanda.//

<Very funny.>

//I'm serious, MacLeod. Seduce him.//

<I think I could have come up with that one on my own. In fact I'm sure I would have. Any minute now.>

//Probably. But you would have skipped the groveling part, and it's essential. 'I'm sorry, have a beer.' Real effective, wasn't it?//

<You forgot the 'I'm a jerk' part.>

//I didn't forget it. I just didn't see any need to restate the obvious.//

<You've been taking smart-ass lessons from Methos, haven't you?>

//Hey, I bow to the master.//

<Great. So, do you have any advice on how I go about this seduction?>

//I'm 'reason,' MacLeod, I don't do seductions. Talk to 'lust'.//

<'Lust' never talks to me. It just pounces.>

//Bright boy. You're learning.//

<I can't just pounce on Methos! Not after what I've put him through tonight. Before the Horsemen I might have been able to get away with it, but it's out of the question now. We don't have that kind of relationship anymore.>

//You didn't have 'that kind' of relationship then, either.//

<No, but we were more...playful with each other then. I could have pulled it off. I don't know how to do it now. With this Methos.>

//The Methos that you've created, you mean.//

<I created? What the hell does that mean?>

//You created him. He's just a guy, MacLeod, but in your romance addled Scottish brain, you've cast him as a dark, dramatic hero with a tragic flaw.//

<I don't think the fact that he finds it easy to lie is a tragic flaw.>

//No, MacLeod. His flaw is that he's less than perfect. Awesome, isn't it? How dare a five-thousand year old man be less than perfect?//

<Did you say 'awesome?'>

//Blame it on Richie. I refuse to be responsible for your failure to educate the boy.//

<Well, I guess I'll just have to settle for Richie being less than perfect, too. It's actually not that bad a goal, is it? 'Less than perfect,' I like the sound of it.>

//Congratulations. You've achieved it.//

<You're sounding more like Methos every minute.>

//Shocks you, does it? Get used to it MacLeod, this is what the voice of reason sounds like. That's why Methos is good for you. He makes you question your assumptions. He makes you think. That's not easy, I know. I've been trying to do it for four-hundred years. It's nice to have help.//

<I'm excited for you. Can we get back to my problem? You know, the one where I end up in bed with this paragon of reason you admire so much?>

//That's an easy one, shit-for-brains. Always play to your strengths.//

<Somehow I think it's going to take more than making lost puppy eyes and wearing my hair down and my shirt open. Besides, my tight, black jeans are in the laundry.>

//Hopeless. Not those strengths, MacLeod. You have a gift for honesty and truth. You've learned some uncomfortable truths about yourself today. Tell him about them.//

//So, what happens now, old man?//

<Now I finish my shower, get dressed, and get the hell out of here.>

//And what will that solve?//

<I'm not trying to solve anything tonight, I just want to get out without doing MacLeod bodily harm. I do not believe what that judgmental, self-righteous, son-of-an-unknown-bitch put me through today!>

//And you think he's just going to let you walk out? No long, agonizing apologies exchanged, no soul-barring discussions, no apportioning of blame, no comparing regrets? No, you'll forgive the indelicacy, post-mortem? Are we talking about the same Duncan MacLeod? //

<Shit. I'll tell him we'll get together tomorrow. Maybe he'll let me go without an argument.>

//Why do I bother? Why do I go to all this effort if you're not going to listen?//

<I'm listening, you're simply wrong this time. I can't do this tonight. I need some breathing space.>

//I've kept your skinny butt alive for five-thousand years! How often have I been wrong?//

<It's happened.>

//Uh-huh. About anything important? Was I wrong about Kronos? What did I say when you met that little psychopath?//

<Run. As fast and as far as you can. Okay, you were right about Kronos.>

//And Byron?//

<Fine, you were right about Byron, too. So, if I'm not going to be able to leave without an argument that will totally screw up what's left of the friendship, what do you suggest?>

//I suggest you prepare to be fucked.//

<Are you out of your bloody mind?>

//Would you care to rephrase that?//

<Sorry, I forgot who I was talking to.>

//Obviously. Pay attention here, Methos. Judging by the way we woke up the first time, not to mention the tent pole in MacLeod's sweats just now, the man obviously wants you. You've got three options. One, you try to reach a meeting of the minds with a horny MacLeod, without having sex with him. Not gonna happen. You're too pissed. You'll end up saying things he'll never forgive. End of friendship. Two, you try to leave without having the post mortem. MacLeod's not going to want you to leave. Same argument, different subject. You can't control the mouth, MacLeod gets pissed, end of friendship.//

<You're right, I've already thought of at least five or six things I wouldn't be able to resist saying.>

//Three, you go out there and let him seduce you. Use the sex to sublimate the anger, you know how to do that. You don't have to talk to him with his dick in your mouth. Then you can just turn over and go to sleep. Unless you can make him pass out; if you manage that you can leave. Either one lets you delay the post-mortem until you can do it without wanting to kick him in the nuts again.//

<In case you hadn't noticed, I died twice today. I'm really not in the mood.>

//Grow up. Sometimes you don't get the choices you're 'in the mood' for, you know that. This isn't like you, Methos. Why are you so resistant to having sex with MacLeod? You're attracted to the man, and it won't be the first time you've paid your way with your body. What are you so scared of?//

<I'm not scared.>

//Please. I've known you for five thousand years. You think you can lie to me? I know when you're frightened, I just don't understand why you're frightened of this.//

<I don't want...>

//Don't want MacLeod? Who are you kidding? You've been having wet dreams about Duncan MacLeod since before you met him. Well, tonight's the night. The Highlander is really ready to fuck you. I've seen that look before, and I remember what it means even if you don't. All you have to do is get him to touch you once, and you'll be too busy getting fucked to worry about how pissed you are. You'll spend the rest of the night on the floor or the couch, or bent across the kitchen counter. Then tomorrow you can work on saving the friendship.//

<I didn't want it to be like this! I wanted it to be different.>

//Different? You've done it every way it can be done, old man, and enjoyed it. Slot A, tab B. How different can it get?//

<I didn't want it to be fast and angry and manipulative. I wanted it to be slow, an exploration of each other. Not just two guys fucking their brains out.>

//Oh my God. You're in love with Duncan MacLeod!//

<No, I'm not. Not yet. But the danger is certainly there.>

//You stupid little shit.//

<It isn't necessarily a bad thing. Duncan has been good for me. He's made me be alive in my life again.>

//Yes, he's been good for you. In the short term. But being around MacLeod for too long will get your head taken! The man attracts immortals like camel dung draws flies.//

<My, what an attractive image. You really are upset about this aren't you?>

//Yes! What are you thinking? Or more precisely, what are you thinking with. You certainly haven't been running these insane ideas past me.//

<Don't worry about it. I did learn something from Kronos and Byron, you know. I have no intention of falling in love with Duncan MacLeod. I may be a fool, but I'm not a suicidal fool.>

//So, that leaves us with too angry to risk arguing with him, and too much danger of falling in love to fuck him. You may have to write this friendship off after all.//

<No, I can't do that. I can deal with the sex tonight if I have to. I'll just open my legs and close my heart. You're right, it's not like I haven't done it before. I'll close my eyes and think of England. And tomorrow Duncan and I can work on saving the friendship.>

//You really should stick to mortals, you know, or at least women. They've never given you the kind of shit you've had to deal with from the immortal men in your life.//

<Do we have to have that discussion again? Now?>

//No discussion. I'm simply admiring how eclectic your tastes are. A psychopath, an emotional cripple, and a boy scout. I guess I should be grateful you don't make a habit of repeating your mistakes more often.//

<New ones being so much more entertaining for you?>

//Oh, this one isn't new, it's just a variation on a familiar theme. You have lousy taste in male immortals. You're guaranteed to be drawn to the ones that are going to break your heart.//

<You're such a comfort at times like this.>

//What? You want me to pat you on the head and say everything's going to be all right? I haven't kept you alive this long by lying to you. Living with a piece of immortal fly-paper isn't even the worst part. Happily ever after doesn't span an immortal life, you know that. If you screw up and fall in love with Duncan MacLeod, someday you'll have to leave him. Or he'll leave you. Either way, it's going to hurt like hell.//

<I know.>

//Are you sure staying MacLeod's friend is worth the risk?//


//What are you going to do?//

<I'm going to let Duncan MacLeod fuck my brains out. And I am not going to fall in love with him.>

Chapter Six: The old man takes a dive

Methos came out of the bathroom wearing Duncan's sweats, barely, and a towel draped around his neck. Even drawn as tightly as he could cinch them, which they weren't, the soft pants would have hung loosely at his waist. As it was the waistband flirted with his pubic hair when he moved. It would be a minor miracle if they stayed up until he joined Duncan on the couch.

Disregarding the danger to his non-existent modesty, Methos abandoned sartorial safety for comfort and detoured by the nightstand to grab another beer. He considered bringing the entire bowl with him but decided to leave it where it was. If Duncan was as good as Methos thought he was, the pre-sex seduction scene wouldn't take longer than one beer, then they could get the sex part over with.

Methos knew he would want a beer when they finished, and he would not be in the living area of the barge when that happened. The ancient immortal had no intention of having cramped, uncomfortable sex when there was a perfectly good bed available.

<I will not fall in love with Duncan MacLeod. I can't.>

Methos had not actually looked at MacLeod yet, but he was aware that the Highlander had turned to watch him. He had no illusions about his appearance. The bare feet and still damp skin were as much conscious choices as the low-slung pants had been. Tonight he was pulling out all the stops. If this was going to happen, he didn't want to drag it out. The quicker they got it over with, the quicker he could get home and have a good cry. It had been a long time since he'd bothered to do that. He was overdue.

When he reached the bed, he dropped the towel over the back of MacLeod's 'safe distance' chair and stretched, oh so slowly, before he retrieved a beer and turned, looking toward the Highlander.

Duncan was watching him the way a child eyed a cat they wanted to pet but had been scratched by in the past. The fur was soft and the temptation was there, but would the claws appear if he reached out to touch? The soft, chocolate eyes followed him warily, Duncan's confusion easily read in the slight lines that formed between his brows.

By the time Methos reached the couch MacLeod's eyes looked more hopeful than confused, and a small smile was flirting with the corners of his delicious mouth. It faltered slightly when instead of falling into his normal, loose-limbed sprawl, Methos curled tightly into his corner of the couch, one knee drawn up against his bare chest, the other long leg tucked underneath him, tailor fashion. Resting his chin on the upraised knee, he wrapped his arms around the leg and let his hands rest around his ankle, the long, dexterous fingers adjusted and readjusted the elastic hem of the sweats.

<You did expect me to bolt, didn't you? How far would you have gone to stop me, MacLeod? We won't have to test that limit now. I'm here, get on with it.>

"Thank you, Methos. For not running away from me. It's what I deserved."

"No, it's what you expected, Mac. I don't make any effort to live down to other people's expectations. It's boring."

"You considered it though, didn't you?" MacLeod managed a better smile. This one actually had some amusement in it.

Methos responded with a small, tight grin of his own.

"I always consider running if it's one of the available options, MacLeod. I don't always choose it."

"Even when it would be easier than staying?" MacLeod's smile had disappeared.

"Even then. Besides, would you have let me run?" Methos peered up at MacLeod from under his lashes.

"Not far."

"So, you knew I would want to run, and I knew you wouldn't let me. We know each other too well, Mac. All the surprise is gone from this relationship. We'll get bored with each other soon."

"Oh, I'll bet you still have plenty of ways to surprise me, old man."

That devastating smile was back. Methos' breath caught in his throat. The old immortal grabbed his anger with both hands and held on for dear life.

<I will not fall in love with Duncan MacLeod. I can't.>

"Methos, I'm sorry."

"That's nice. For anything in particular?" He didn't have to make this part any easier on the Highlander. Besides, he knew Duncan wouldn't be happy until he got to do the guilt thing, and Methos needed to hear the words.

"For everything. Kronos, Keane, today, tonight. For every time I didn't listen. For the things I said in anger. For everything I should have said and didn't. For not being there when you needed me, the way you were for me."

"That's very touching. A blanket apology. And all I had to do to earn it was die. Tell me, MacLeod, was the second death really necessary, or couldn't you resist watching me die again? I didn't realize you and Kronos had that much in common."

Duncan's skin flushed. He took a deep breath and looked squarely at Methos. The ancient immortal recognized the look, he'd seen Mac give it to Amanda. It was the warm, sensual look that promised 'when I get you to bed, you'll forgive me for anything.'

<He's working his way through his entire repertoire. Well, at least he's an equal opportunity seducer. I knew he had it in him.>

//That's it, old man. Keep up the sarcasm. Maybe you'll be able to get through this with your heart in one piece. What's happened to all that anger you were so worried about?//

<I can't help it. Those eyes, that mouth. That body. Don't worry, I can handle this. I am not going to fall in love with Duncan MacLeod.>

//You stupid little shit.//

"I thought I was making the right decisions, Methos. But you can't do that if you're missing important information."

"Is this going to be another one of those things I should have remembered to tell you about my dark and mysterious past?"

<Hurry up and seduce me, Mac. I'm starting to lose it here.>

"No. It's something I should have told myself." Duncan stopped and grinned that heartbreaking grin. "Because I wouldn't have believed it from anybody else."

MacLeod reached over and took Methos' hand. He raised it to his lips and pressed a soft, lingering kiss to the inside of Methos' wrist.

"I'm in love with you. I was so jealous of Kronos I couldn't see straight. And I told myself it was anger. I hid from my feelings, Methos, and I've been sitting here trying to figure out why."

//Oops. You're in deep shit here, old man.//

<I will not fall in love with Duncan MacLeod. I can't.>

"And have you come up with an answer, Highlander?"

<Duncan, don't do this. Just fuck me and get it out of your system. I'll do anything you want me to, anything, just don't do this to us, Highlander.>

"Not one I'm proud of, no. I was in love with you, and I didn't want to be. I was afraid of you. And even more afraid of loving you."

"That may be the smartest thing I've ever heard you say, MacLeod."

Duncan laughed. The relief he felt at having completed his speech was evident in the relaxed line of his shoulders. MacLeod moved away from his end of the couch, leaning forward until Methos could feel the warm breath stirring the hair above his ears. The hand that wasn't busy playing with Methos' fingers was curving around his shoulder, pausing before it trailed down the bare arm, leaving goosebumps in it's wake.

<Forgive me for this, Highlander. I don't want to hurt you, but I'm not strong enough to break it off completely. I need you in my life. Anyway I can have you.>

"There's nothing like a healthy ego, is there? 'I love Methos ' is the smartest thing you've ever heard me say? Is that your version of flattery?"

"No. I mean, it's smart to be afraid of me, of loving me. The people that love me die, Duncan."

"Christ, Methos. That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard a smart man say. Who the hell do you think you are, Death?"


"Oh, sorry, I forgot. Didn't you ever have a normal job, old man?"

It took a lot to strike the ancient immortal speechless, but a grinning Duncan MacLeod actually teasing him about the Horsemen did it. Only for a moment, but that moment was all the time the Highlander needed to pull an unresisting Methos into his arms.

Then he lost the option of speech entirely as Duncan's soft lips pressed against his, and a hot, insistent tongue began teasing its way into Methos' mouth. Passing between his lips, it flickered briefly over his teeth before it moved to joust with his tongue, then moved on again to gather and savor all the nuances of Methos' ancient mouth.

<God damn you, Fate. Isn't punishing me enough? Are you going to keep twisting the knife?>

//I don't think you can blame this one on her, old man. Lust we could handle, but he thinks he's in love with you. If you stay, you'll get your heart broken.//

<And if I leave now I'll break Duncan's. I can't do that.>

//Protecting MacLeod is a very dangerous habit to get into, old man. What the fuck are you doing? You can't handle this.//

<I will not fall in love with Duncan MacLeod. I can't.>

Chapter Seven: The sex scene, finally

<Dear God, Methos. You taste like fire, and music, and all the passion in my life. And beer.>

Duncan pulled Methos warm, pliant body across his lap. Wrapping his arms tightly around the slender frame, he moved his lips from Methos' and pressed them to the side of that lovely throat. That lovely intact throat.

"Methos, when I found you lying in that alley, there was blood everywhere and I couldn't tell...I couldn't see...I was afraid I'd lost you. And I got that woman killed. I was such a fool. Forgive me, love. Please."

"MacLeod, it's all right. Everything's all right now. It's over."

Methos voice was soft and even, but Duncan could feel the small tremors running through the lithe body in his arms. Damn. He'd done it again. Methos was the one who'd had the really bad day, and yet here he was, ignoring his own pain, trying to comfort MacLeod. Again.

<That's what you always do, isn't it Methos? Take care of me, put my welfare first. You talk like a cynic, but you care about a lot more than just surviving. You care about me. I should have seen it months ago. I should have seen it when you left Alexa's deathbed to come to me. I should have felt it when you took Kristin's head. I should have known it when you offered me your head the night we met.>

Duncan pulled back and cupped Methos' face between his hands. That lovely, ancient face. He looked so damn young. Except for the eyes. He hid it well, but those lambent, gold-green eyes had seen more pain than any soul should have to endure. Tonight, every moment of that pain was alive again in Methos' beautiful eyes, visible behind the thin curtain of tears.

<Never again, my love. Never again tears of pain because of me. I swear it.>

"No, it's not all right. But it will be. I'm going to make it up to you, love, I promise. Starting now. Anything you want, anything I've got, is yours, just ask. I'll never deny you anything again."

"Can I have another beer?"

MacLeod's heart jumped in his chest. God, how he loved this man, this man who was almost his height, yet still felt like a small, lost child in his arms. This man, the one that he wanted to hold in his arms forever.

//This man who has not said he loves you back.//

<I don't know why he can't say it, I know he feels it. And I'm not going to press. Not tonight. He's here, in my arms, and that's all that matters. Just like he's always been here for me. It's all that every mattered, if I had been smart enough to see it.>

He pulled Methos close again and pressed a line of soft, wet kisses down the side of his face. Masking his own tears with laughter, he set the older immortal back on the couch and rose.

"Your wish is my command, old man. One fresh beer, coming up."

MacLeod moved toward the bowl of beer on the nightstand, and Methos followed.

When Duncan turned from opening Methos' beer his eyes went wide. Somewhere between the couch and the bed, the old man had discarded the sweats. Methos was stretched naked as an offering across the center of the bed, lying on his side and reaching toward Duncan for his beer.



"My beer?"

"Oh, here." MacLeod managed to move enough to lean over the bed and hand the old man the bottle.

"Methos, what are you doing?"

"Having a beer."

"Naked. On my bed."

"We both know this is where we were headed, MacLeod. We might as well cut to the chase." Methos looked up at Duncan and ran his tongue around the mouth of the bottle. Duncan appeared to be frozen in place, a perfect statue poised over the bed. Except statues didn't sweat. Or have trouble breathing.

<Oh my, MacLeod. I think I've shocked you. Maybe this will work after all.>

Methos rose to his knees and set the bottle on the nightstand.

"Come here." He held out one long arm to the Highlander, catching the strong hand and pulling Duncan onto the bed. MacLeod came willingly enough to belie his status as statue, moving to the center of the bed and wrapping his muscular arms around Methos' waist.

Methos lifted his face and pressed his lips to the hollow at the base of MacLeod's throat. His tongue darted out and ran lightly across the golden skin, pausing to savor the pulse beating strongly just under the surface.

<I knew this is what you would taste like, Highlander. Sex, pure and simple. I can do this. I can. Without falling in love with you, Duncan MacLeod. I have to.>

Methos fell backward to the bed, pulling MacLeod down with him. His hands felt so cool against the larger man's hot, flushed skin. He ran his fingers firmly over Duncan's chest, teasing the nipples into small, hard peaks before moving down to his groin.

Duncan caught Methos' hands and pulled them down to the bed.

"Methos, love, slow down. We have all the time we need. I don't want this to be over too soon. Let's take our time and enjoy it."

"I intend to enjoy it, Highlander. Every sweaty, sticky moment of it. Were you planning to get started anytime soon?"

Duncan lowered his head until his lips brushed against Methos' when he spoke, their breaths mingling on each word.

"Is now soon enough for you?"

Duncan tasted Methos' mouth again before moving his lips down to the throat that had been tempting him all evening. The ivory column was warm and smooth, just as it looked like it would be. How did a five thousand year old man get skin like that? MacLeod had known young, beautiful women whose skin didn't feel this soft and tender.

<How old were you when you died, love? The closer I get, the younger you look. From here, you look barely older than Richie. My poor, ancient child. What would you say if you knew I thought of you that way? But you are child like in so many ways.>

//Thankfully, not this one.//

MacLeod continued to hold Methos' hands while he explored his lover's body for the first time. His tongue and lips licked and smoothed while his teeth nipped delicate little tastes and nibbles across Methos neck and shoulders, down to his nipples. He paused there to savor the feeling of Methos' flesh firming and straining, as if it were in competition with the even hotter flesh below.

"Methos, I think you're what they call in the vernacular, a hot dish."

"MacLeod, you've got to get out more."

"What, am I out of date again?" MacLeod let Methos talk while he pulled a nipple into his mouth to suckle, then moved his mouth to the other, leaving the first wet and sensitized to the colder air around it.

"Only by about four or five decades. How do you manage not to date yourself every time you open your mouth?"

MacLeod looked up at his lover and grinned.

<What are you up to, Highlander? I recognize that wicked little grin. That's Cheshire Cat Grin number 7, and..."

"Oh, shit! Jesus, MacLeod!"

<Duncan, this is definitely not the first time you've sucked a cock! Dear Lord, what a mouth. Where did you learn this, Mac. Who taught you to touch like that? Tell me so I can hunt them down and kill them. Slowly.>

Duncan's lips were closed tightly around Methos' aroused cock, his tongue dancing lightly over the sensitive flesh. Methos' cock jerked as he felt Duncan's teeth graze lightly over the tip, then the hot mouth plunged back down the length. He could feel his cock nudging the back of the Highlander's throat.

<I will not fall in love with Duncan MacLeod. I don't care how well he sucks cock!>

Methos twined his fingers into Duncan's soft, long hair and tugged. His reward was the Highlander's hot mouth moving back up his body, over his abdomen and past his still tender nipples, up the long line of his throat to capture his mouth again.

<Oh yes, MacLeod. I love the weight of you on top of me like this, pressing me down into the bed. Are you getting off on this? Do you need to dominate me, Mac? Is that what you're waiting for?>

Methos slid a hand down between their bodies, reaching for the large, stiff prick that was rubbing against his. Just as his fingers closed around it, his wrist was captured and pulled back.

"No, Methos. Not this time. This time is for you. Just let me do this, love."

"MacLeod, I promise you, it will be a lot more fun if you let me help."

"Next time. For now, just lay back. I want to get to know your body. I want to learn what you like, what makes you tremble. What pushes you to the edge, what pulls you back. I want to learn to pleasure you, love."

//Oh, man. You are in really deep shit! How are you going to walk away from this, old man?//

<I am not going to fall in love with Duncan MacLeod. Not in this lifetime.>

<Damn, Methos. There's an expression I've not seen on your face before. What were you expecting? What sort of treatment are you used to that you're so shocked by a little tenderness, love?>

"Duncan, I...."

"Duncan. I like that. You never call me that. Say it again."

"Duncan." Methos grin didn't look forced, but it was quick, and disappeared immediately.

MacLeod pressed a soft kiss to the tip of the strong nose.

"You know, Methos, I've wondered sometimes if there was anything I could teach you, and now I think I've found it. I'm going to teach you what 'cherished' and 'treasured' feel like, love."

<And I'm going to start right here. Open your mouth, love. Oh yes, you taste delicious. Kiss me back, Methos. Yes, like that. Just like that. So soft, so warm.>

//Don't you think it's time to move on, MacLeod?//

<Shut up. Lust isn't your department, remember?>

//No, but I do have a certain academic interest. Do you think if you...//

<Go away. Now.>

Duncan moved his heavier body against his lovers'. He could feel Methos starting to twist underneath him, the slender hips pressing up against his, rubbing their cocks together. Duncan let him, enjoying the feeling of his lovers' hot, stiff cock stirring against him, the silky skin searing a path across his stomach.

<Let me help, love. Oh yes, wonderful neck, wonderful whole neck. I love your nipples, so dark and unexpected against that pale skin, and so responsive. I love the way you shiver when I bite them. Do you want me to bite you here, love? And here? And now I get to kiss and make it better.>

"Duncan, please...oh God."

<I love the taste of your cock, Methos. I love the way it fits so perfectly in my mouth, the way it feels against my tongue. I love that you shiver when I do this. You liked that, didn't you? Shall I do it again?>

<I am not going to fall in love with Duncan MacLeod. Oh God, ohgodohgodohgod.>

"Oh shit, Duncan! Don't stop. Don't ever stop."

<I am not going to fall in love with Duncan MacLeod. Oh yes. Like that. Oh. OH. Right there. Right there.>

//Don't do this. You're angry, remember? Fall in love with this man and it's serious pain time! You don't handle pain well, old man.//

<I can do this. I can do this. I'm still in control. I...Bloody hell! Oh shit, Duncan why did you have to be so fucking good at this?>

"Just fuck me, Highlander. Now. Please." Methos was frightened when his voice came out as sob. He had to control this. If he could just get Duncan to hurry. He couldn't take this much longer.

"Soon, Methos." Duncan's voice was a warm, wet purr from the vicinity of Methos' inner thigh. The Highlander had temporarily abandoned his lovers' cock and was kissing and licking his way down the sinewy leg.

"Now, MacLeod. Fuck me now. Hard." Methos' hips arched off the bed as Duncan's teeth gently closed on the soft flesh behind his knee, then released it to nibble down to his feet.

<No! Oh, bloody hell, Mac. Not that, I can't take it! It's too much. It's not fair! Fate, you lousy excuse for a three-part goddess, don't do this to me. It's....>

//Too late.//

"You have such beautiful feet. Have I ever told you that? So long and strong. And such sexy toes. I want to kiss every one of them. I want each one of these delicious little toes to know how much it's appreciated."

<And such sensitive feet. Who ever would have guessed you'd react like that to a little toe sucking. I'll remember to put that one at the top of my list.>

"MacLeod," Methos voice was strained. "Please, fuck me. Don't make me beg, Duncan."

Duncan looked up from Methos' toes and admired the view. Perched on the end of the bed with Methos' foot raised to his mouth, he had a perfect angle for 'Methos appreciation'. The long, lithe body stretched out before him, trembling and ready. Methos' cock was leaking fluid from the reddened tip, dripping onto his flat, hard stomach.

"Never, my love. But I'm not going to fuck you. I'm going to make love to you. Tonight and every chance I get. For as long as you'll let me. For the rest of my life."

Tears filled his lovers' gold-green eyes, and Duncan moved back up his body to comfort him.

"I told you, love. Cherished and treasured. Always."

Duncan reached toward the nightstand, glad that Amanda was occasionally willing to indulge him with anal sex. It would be so unlike him to be unprepared.

<I will not fall in love with Duncan MacLeod. I won't.>

Finally. He felt the warm, oily finger push gently into his body.

"Oh, yes Duncan. Like that. Oh....harder, Duncan. Don't be so fucking kind! Just take what you want, Highlander."

"What I want, is for you to enjoy this enough to do it for the rest of our lives. I can't take that love. I have to give it."

<I will not fall in love with Duncan MacLeod. Bloody fucking boy scout. Hurt me, Duncan, please. Give me something to hold on to. Pain will work nicely.>

<Duncan, it feels too good. Oh my God. Please. So slow, Highlander. Who taught you that? Who taught you how to drive me crazy? Oh, yes, another finger, Duncan. That feels so good, love.>

<It's never going to end, is it? Are you ever going to let me come, Highlander? Can you pull me back forever? Hold on to me Duncan. Don't let go.>

//Stop that!//

<Right. Thanks. I will not fall in love with Duncan MacLeod. I will not fall in love with Duncan MacLeod. I will not fall in love with Duncan MacLeod. I won't.>

Duncan turned his moaning, trembling lover on to his side and moved up behind him. Methos shifted his position to give MacLeod better access.

<Oh, yes, love. This is an even better view than the one from your feet. You have such a surprising body, Methos. So strong. So graceful. Why do you hide it?>

"Duncan, please," the ancient immortal sobbed. His breath was coming in gasps, and Duncan could feel Methos' pressing back against his hips, desperately begging Duncan to continue.

"Shh. It's all right love."

<Damn, Methos. You're so tight, love. So hot. No, no faster. Stop here love. I'm not going to let this hurt you. No pain, love. Not from me. Slowly, slowly. Let me in, love. Just a little more. Oh yes. I could stay like this forever. Just stay still.>

"Breathe, love. Gently, slowly."

After a long moment, Duncan began to rock back and forth, barely moving. Holding Methos close to him, he let the gentle movement travel through their joined bodies.

<I will not fall in love with Duncan MacLeod. I can't.>

Methos was shaking. Trembling. Duncan's arms were locked around him, one hot, oiled hand locked firmly around his cock, echoing the gentle movements of the cock in his ass. The much too gentle movements.

Methos bucked his hips backward, trying to quicken the pace, but MacLeod's arms had his locked in place. He couldn't get any leverage.

"God damn it, MacLeod. Fuck me! Let me come, Duncan."

Duncan's hand moved a little faster. His strong hips pushed a little more firmly against Methos' warm, willing ass. Methos felt the Highlander's mouth against his neck, the breath hot, and moist, and rapid.

<Yes! Oh God, Methos. Yes. So tight. So hot. Come for me love, I won't last much longer. I want you to come for me.>

"Come for me, Methos. Now, love."

"Oh. God, Duncan."

MacLeod felt his lover shudder. Methos' whole body began to jerk in Duncan's arms, and hot, wet fluid spilled over his pumping hand.

"MacLeod! Oh yes, Duncan!"

MacLeod pushed forward one more time, and joined his lover. Pumping his seed deep into Methos' heaving body, he wrapped his arms around the smaller man and held on tight. His heart forgot how to beat, and his vision dimmed.

"I love you, Methos."

"I know, Duncan."

<No, Methos, I don't think you do. But you will, love. And when I can breathe again, I'm going to enjoy proving it to you. As many times as it takes.>

"Methos, what are you doing for the rest of your life?"

<I will not fall in love with Duncan MacLeod. I can't. Fate, you bloody, freckled pig, just this once, can't things go my way? Does everything have to be so bloody hard? Does it always have to hurt this much?>

Epilogue: Be careful what you ask for

Fate looked up from polishing her nails. She still didn't understand why she always chose to hear this voice.

Maybe it was simply because he continued to invoke her name two millennia after he had ceased believing in her existence. It had been three since he had lost faith in her benevolence, or even hoped for her dispassion.

The silly little twit had actually believed she interfered in his life, and took pleasure in ruining it. As if she didn't have anything better to do than watch him every second of every day. At least he didn't think she was three people anymore. Her sisters had gotten bored and retired millennia ago.

She only paid attention when he invoked her name, and only then because his invective was so deliciously colorful. 'Bloody freckled pig' was one of his standbys. He must be preoccupied. She remembered once during the middle ages when he'd gotten really pissed and started with 'Fate you miserable, flea bitten, piss-soaked' ending three minutes later with 'pox-ridden canker on a cheap whores' butt' without repeating himself once. That one had been almost awe inspiring.

Actually, if it hadn't been for him, she might have retired and joined her sisters ages ago. But he had been amusing her for a long time, and Miami was such a cliche.

Maybe, just this once, she would do something for him. Something nice. Something he really needed. Just to keep her hand in, so to speak. Just this once, she would twist the threads in his favor. Just this once wouldn't hurt anything. Fate nodded, smiled, and went back to polishing her nails.

<I will not fall in love with Duncan MacLeod. I can't.>

"Did you say something?" Duncan was beginning to be aware of the world around him again, and the most important thing in that world was the man in his arms.

"No. I don't have the strength to talk. I may never talk again. This is a recording." The words were a joke, but the voice didn't sound right. Duncan turned Methos to face him, leaving one hand behind his neck to angle the beautiful face into the moonlight.

"Tears? What's wrong, Methos?" Duncan leaned closer and began to kiss the hot, silvery drops from his lover's pale skin.

"Nothing's wrong, Duncan. I'm just happy. It happens, even to me."

<I will not fall in love with Duncan MacLeod. I won't do it!>

Duncan pulled Methos closer to him. Melding their bodies together, he guided his lovers' head to rest in the hollow between his shoulder and his neck. Gently, he stroked the soft, velvety hair. Only briefly did he wish it were long enough to allow a good, pulling-style grip.

"Methos? Love?"


"You know, and I know, and you know that I know, and I know that you know that I know, that that's bullshit." With his eyes tightly closed Methos couldn't see his lover, but the grin was evident in the rich voice.

<I will not fall in love with Duncan MacLeod. I won't. I won't! I won't!>

"But I love you anyway." The Highlander was still grinning. The ancient immortal could hear it, but he wanted to see it.

Methos opened his eyes to the dark beauty leaning over him in the moonlight, and fell.


 The End