For the Love of...
by 'Tilla

This is rated PG13 for sexual situations (mild slash) -- Not to mention the high sugar content.

As always, The Highlander characters Duncan & Methos are the property of Rysher: Panzer/Davis. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. Do not link, publish or post this material without permission.

"Books," Methos breathed, as close to ecstasy as he'd come in the last several decades. "Books," he sighed again as he took in the scent of leather and linen, paper and print, polished wood, and Duncan. "Books," the words were a mantra as his eyes lingered over gold-limned end-papers, brown and mauve, forest-green and midnight-blue bindings, tall glass-fronted cabinets full to bursting with books, and, of course, Duncan. "Books," he nearly wept as his fingers caressed embossings and engravings, brilliant illuminations, graceful script on crisp and weathered parchment and, to the Highlander's mortification, and never-ending embarrassment, Duncan.

"Oh, gods, MacLeod," he whispered, eyes alight as he gently removed several slender volumes from their places on the shelving. "How did you ever find this wonderful, marvelous place?" He turned to his friend, his long face shining, and grinned, the most maddening grin to the Highlander's mind. "When did you come across this enchanting, splendiferous, beautiful, magical . . ." His words were cut off rather abruptly as Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod leaned into him and kissed him full on the mouth.

"Hush, now," the Highlander said when both had regained their equilibrium and their wind somewhat. "You wanted books, you said, well here they are. All the books even a scholar such as yourself could ever want." He smiled gently as Methos folded his long frame into a cozy corner away from pedestrian traffic. Shutting out the sight and sound of the shop's other patrons, Methos began to read, eyes scanning rapidly down the pages, then across and down the next. Occasionally, Duncan would hear the faint whisper, see the fine lips move ever so slightly as the oldest Immortal tasted the words, rolling them about on his tongue, savoring the flavor and texture of the sentences, letting the paragraphs slide down the slender throat and settle into his soul.

Ah, Duncan thought, to be one of those books right now. Feel his hands on me, just so; his mouth breathing my name, swallowing me whole. He collapsed himself next to his friend, his lover, and rested his head on Methos' shoulder.

"Shall I read to you, MacLeod?"

"Yes, please," Duncan replied with a grin and settled in for the long haul. Methos could go on for hours, if the shopkeeper would let him and Duncan rather thought he might. The last time Methos had given one of his impromptu readings, at a tiny shop in Lyons, the store had done more business in that one night than it had in the entire month previous. Something about that fine-timbered voice there was that did magical things to the printed and spoken word. Even the dullest phrases were suddenly less bland when Methos spoke them. The most innocuous phrases took on a deeper meaning with that mobile face behind them, the hazel eyes flashing, the slight baritone deepening to a growl or sliding into a whisper as Methos read and those who listened were swept along as if by a force of nature. A tidal wave could not have borne them along so easily, an earthquake shaken them so thoroughly or a volcano seared them to their souls quite the way Methos could with a look and a word.

Cassandra may have had The Voice, Duncan thought, remembering her Power and Kantos', but Methos had THE VOICE. He felt Methos' breath against his cheek, reading softly, the words for the two of them alone. It was almost too much and he had to move, sliding away from Methos' side and that warm, sweet breath. Methos looked up in surprise and confusion, laying down the book as Mac leaned back against the rolling ladder. "Something wrong, MacLeod," he asked, concern tightening his voice and darkening the eyes.

Mac shook his head. "Naught's wrong, Methos," he replied, slipping one arm around the narrow shoulders and kissing him gently. "Just had to catch my breath a moment."

He moved to press against the older man's back, wrapping his arms around the slender waist, and Methos leaned back against him with a sigh and a smile, the long slender fingers twining briefly through his before picking up the book again and turning another page.

A book of Celtic legends, words he'd heard dozens of times as a child and as a youth but never fully appreciated until Methos showed him the magic they contained. Duncan could almost feel the change in the air, see the mist gathering, hear the baying of the Dark Hunt as they swept along the sky, harrying the lost souls on their way to 'the other place'. His fingers swept up his lover's arms and across the thin shoulders, trailed gently up the long graceful neck and along the jaw. Methos sighed again.

"You are damnably distracting, MacLeod," the old man remarked in mock irritation, closing the book and doing a bit of 'exploring' of his own, the elegant head tilting back for a better view of his tormentor. Duncan grinned down at him, wickedly and Methos chuckled. "Do you practice at it or does it come naturally?"

Duncan said nothing, thinking only how natural it seemed to be doing this with Methos, and the distraction became less subtle and more direct as MacLeod tilted his own head forward and placed another kiss on the waiting mouth. Not enough, he thought, nibbling at one earlobe, then nipping gently along that sweet throat. He ran his fingers down the broad chest, around the narrow waist and up again, pressing his slender friend even closer to him.

He wanted to bury himself in the other man, lose himself in the scent and feel and sight of Methos. Methos wanted it too; MacLeod could feel the heat, hear the rapid beating of his lover's heart. He kissed him again and Methos returned the kiss, softly, gently, his tongue dancing briefly against the Highlander's mouth, savoring the warmth and moistness therein. His eyes closed and he forgot where he was for just the briefest of moments.

A sudden gasp and they both looked up in shock to see three women of late-middle-age staring down at them, eyes alight, and lips slightly parted. "Whatever it is you're reading young man," one of them – a wraith with blue-tinted hair and horn-rimmed glasses – said shakily, "we'll each take a copy." Methos blushed, a sight Duncan had never before had the pleasure of seeing. The old man had always been so cool and unflappable 'til now. The ladies appeared like to stand there all night unless something was done about it and Mac could see his companion was in no shape to be helpful. So, he took it upon himself to assist these women and hurry them along to the counter where the books might be paid for and the voyeuristic crones ushered out into the evening.

He returned to find Methos crouched in the corner, tears streaming from the gold-green eyes, shoulders heaving. The soft gasps emanating from the thin frame startled MacLeod and worried him even more. Perhaps, he thought, the Old Man was having a seizure, though what might have caused it the Highlander could not begin to guess. He laid his hands gently on the narrow shoulders, squeezing and easing the tight muscles. Methos looked up, a wild light in his eyes, face flushed with laughter.

"Oh, gods, MacLeod," he choked. "Whatever must they have thought?" He slipped his fingers through Mac's and eased slowly to his feet. "Shall we try this again?" Duncan nodded and Methos led the way slipping quietly between the rows of books, pausing now and again to inhale the scent of the shop and its contents. "Books," the Old Man murmured, trapped a hands-breadth away from rapture on the one side; an arms-length on the other and him caught in the middle and not knowing which way to turn first. His hands ached with the need to touch every binding, every page and every inch of his Highland warrior; his fingers trembled with the longing to trace every word on those pages and every feature on the strong, dark face of his friend.

At last, he found the title he was searching for and pulled the heavy volume from its niche. "Sit down, MacLeod," the Eldest said, following his own advice and sounding rather like one of Mac's least favorite fellow instructors at the university. Mac stretched out behind him, leaning against the narrow wall, nestled between the tall shelves. His arms caught Methos under his shoulders and drew him back onto his lap, cradling the lean body against his chest. The Old Man grinned. "Damn, MacLeod," he groaned. "This is a public place."

Mac snorted indelicately. "We could always go someplace private," he murmured against the other man's hair.

Methos coughed. "But, Mac," he whispered, fingers sliding along his partner's leg even as his voice slid into his brain, "I have not yet begun to read." Duncan groaned and buried his face in Methos' shoulder.

It was a history of the Saxon invasions of Roman Britain the Old Man had found, a bit of his own history he did not mind sharing. Though MacLeod could understand, at best, maybe half that ancient tongue, the inflections in the Old Man's voice conveyed all the meaning easily enough.

MacLeod closed his eyes and let that voice carry him into the past. He saw the long ships of the invaders and the bodies of the wounded scattered on the battlefield. He heard the clanging of sword and battle-axe, the screaming of the horses and the cries of the seabirds skimming over the waves. He felt the wind freshening the sails of the ships and the heat of the funeral pyres. He smelled the coppery scent of blood, the sweat of the soldiers as they fought, and the tar that sealed the joins of the ships. He tasted the salt spray of the waves and the dust of the parched earth where they fought. He shivered in the corner and clutched Methos tighter, his hands trailing under the sweater and tracing the muscles beneath the silken skin.

"Cold, MacLeod?" Methos' voice was a silky purr, as he reached back to pull Mac to him for a kiss that stole his breath and nearly left him senseless. The Highlander shook his head and the ancient smiled and continued to read, drawing both of them into another place and time. He paused for a moment only to glance up startled as a round of applause broke over their corner. He looked toward his friend, his lover, partner, brother – he hardly knew for sure what they were to one another. Mac was blushing furiously, fingers tangled in the soft wool of Methos' sweater, face buried in the join of shoulder and throat.

Methos stood, drawing Duncan up beside him, then bent once more and gathered up the books. "Time for us to go, I think," he sighed, easing the heavy volume back into its niche on the shelf. His fingers stroked the smooth leather lovingly, then he turned to return the others to their places.

MacLeod leaned close, the strong dark hands closing gently over the slender fingers. "Methos," he urged softly. "It was books you said you wanted, and they want you." He stopped for a moment, not sure how his friend would take the offer. It was not a monetary one; the other man had enough to buy any books he wanted desperately enough. "The ones that speak to you the most, why not give them a home, with us?"

Methos stared, long body going stiff and still as though afraid to move, afraid to shatter the moment and wake from what must surely be a dream. He looked down at the books still in his hands, caught between a laugh and a sob, then gave in to the laughter. His eyes sparkled and he leaned into MacLeod, promising without words a proper 'thank you' when they got home.

With such a promise spurring him on, MacLeod could hardly move fast enough – gathering up his friend, his friend's new books and a journal or two as a surprise for the ancient scholar. He thought about that 'thank you' all the while the clerk rang up Methos' purchases, shifting from one foot to the other and glancing anxiously out toward the darkening sky.

"In a hurry, are we?" MacLeod had the grace to blush at the gentle teasing as he grabbed Methos' elbow and hurried him out of the store, practically shoving him into the car. He climbed into the driver's seat and slammed the door, turning the key in the ignition and pressing hard on the accelerator; too hard and the car stalled. Mac swore as Methos slumped into his seat, shoulders shaking with laughter. The older man glanced quickly at his friend only to see his 'friend' looking murderously back at him. "I'm sorry, Mac," he choked, chest heaving as he fought for breath, "but it is funny. Want me to try?"

Mac shook his head, calming his own breathing, and trying not to stare at the long lean figure slouched there so invitingly. Lord above, he thought dizzily. Slouched or sprawled, sauntering or stalking, a whirlwind of motion or eerily still, Methos was beautiful. He felt his chest tighten and he reached out to touch Methos' face, tracing along the jaw, cupping the chin in his hand, brushing his thumb over the slightly parted lips. "I love you," he said softly and Methos looked up, startled at the intensity in the words.

"Drive," he said quickly and Duncan turned the key once more, easing down on the gas this time and the car thrummed into life. MacLeod drove, wondering if he'd said the wrong thing again; worried so much about it in fact he was near panic when they reached the loft. He felt cold and sick; his hands shaking so badly he could barely fit the key in the lock when they arrived.

Methos chuckled and eased his length past the Highlander's bulk, giving him a gentle squeeze as he slipped through the door and brushing against him so slightly it might have been accidental. Might have been but for the sly smile MacLeod saw in his eyes and on his lips as he caught the reaction to that brief contact in his lover's body. Duncan knew he was no adept at ignoring the temptation Methos presented, nor did he want to be; surrendering was so much more pleasant.

Laying down the bags of books, the Ancient sauntered into the kitchen and leaned into the refrigerator. "What was it you said at the Fair, MacLeod," he said, twisting his head back over his shoulder as he pulled two cold lagers from the interior and looked coyly at the man still standing in the doorway. MacLeod could hardly take his eyes off the enticing figure before him, his eyes trailing up the long legs and lingering on the tight rounded ass, then across the slender back and shoulders until his glance and Methos' locked.

Methos grinned at his friend and stood up, slowly, keeping his eyes on Mac's. Laying one long finger alongside his patrician nose, he slid his tongue along his lips and sighed, cocking his head to one side as though in deep thought. "Was it not," he purred, stalking toward the other man like a panther on the prowl. "Books," he plucked one slender volume from the table in front of the sofa, caressing the leather until Duncan nearly groaned. "Beer," the silky voice continued as Methos hoisted a brew, running the chilled bottle along his throat before setting both it and the book back down and flinging his long frame onto the couch. Duncan did groan then as Methos cocked his head and pursed his lips. "There was something else, wasn't there MacLeod?" The lips quirked up in a grin; the hazel eyes twinkled, crinkling up at the corners and the Highlander threw himself atop that most irritating of Immortals.

His hands grasped the thin shoulders. "Aye, there was something else," he growled, licking gently at the sensitive spot under his lover's ear, tongue moving down to the hollow of his throat until Methos squirmed beneath him.

The Eldest reached blindly toward the table and made a grab for the bottles. "Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod," he intoned seriously. "Have a beer and cool off." He tried to lever up, but the Scot was pinning him too tightly and he was not really that eager for his freedom.

"Not on your life," Duncan groaned, sliding his hands under the sweater and rubbing his partner's nipples until they tightened into hard nubs. "Nor on mine either." He slipped the sweater up, pulling the soft wool over Methos' head and flinging it onto the floor. His tongue swirled across Methos' throat and along his collarbone, down his sternum and flicked gently across his stomach until the muscles fluttered, the long hands clenched at his sides.

Their pulses raced madly as they pressed together, both of them trying desperately to merge with the other. Methos' skin was flushed, his breath ragged as soft moans escaped the slender throat and slipped past the parted lips. Mac kissed him, deeply, searchingly, tongue probing and Methos answered the kiss. His arms slipped around Mac's waist; his hands trailed down to capture the firm cheeks as he pressed up into his partner. MacLeod gasped and rolled off his friend, jerking at the snap and zipper of his jeans as he moved.

"Damn it, Mac," Methos hissed in frustration, his own hands busy with the buttons of his jeans. "You could have been doing that while you were standing there watching me get those beers." The slim body arched as he slid the denim down, dropping it casually in a heap on the floor where it joined one pale woolen sweater and a thin cotton tee shirt. MacLeod had slipped out of his jeans but was having difficulty with the cotton shirt he wore. He swore, fumbling with the buttons until Methos reached up to lend a hand, the graceful fingers managing easily what Mac's could not.

"I could have," MacLeod said sliding down onto the sofa once more, "had not a certain impossible old man been intent on showing me just how nice his ass looked in those tight jeans."

Methos grinned. "Can I help it if you're a lecherous bugger, MacLeod? It's certainly not something I taught you." He slid his hands along Mac's sides and up the broad dark chest, letting his fingers trace the matting of hair before bringing his arms around his lover's neck and raising himself to press close to the larger man.

Their hands and mouths skimmed over one another, legs tangled together, hearts pounding in rhythm and the blood roaring in their ears. Soft moans, wordless cries, and sharp gasps as they pleasured one another, both of them finding release at the same moment. Still, the searching hands refused to slow their explorations until both of them were sweat-drenched and trembling.

Somehow, they made it to the shower and then to the bed, Methos curling up beside MacLeod and laying his head on the bronzed chest. "Read to me, Methos," Duncan said sleepily, sliding his fingers through his love's silken hair. "I love it when you read."

"I am not getting out of this bed, Highlander," Methos sighed, wrapping his arms more tightly about his friend. "You shall just have to endure a recitation instead." He smiled up at his partner, then began to murmur softly. The words were ancient, perhaps older than the man by his side, but Duncan knew they spoke of love. The love of friends, brothers, partners for life, lovers through whatever the world or fate might cast in their way. Methos might never say it in so many words, but Duncan drifted off to sleep with that gentle voice in his ear and knowing he was loved.

The End