Demons at Bay
by Lillian Wolfe


continued from part one...

Venice - 1322

The large man beside Amanda slept soundly, his snores all but rattling the candelabra on the bedside chest. Amanda slipped carefully out of the bed, not wanting to wake him. She slipped on her chemise, then dropped the rose tunic over the top and belted it. Carrying her boots, she crept silently out of the bed chamber and eased the door shut behind her.

Two doors down was the office where Vincenzo kept his valuables and she had one particular valuable in mind. With her many decades of skill, it was not difficult to pop the lock on the massive oak cabinet. Inside were a half-dozen wooden boxes, each one with its own particular lock. These were more difficult as they were puzzle locks, intricate little designs in wood that required a set pattern to unlock the box. Vincenzo was amused by these mind-teasing puzzles and had specially designed the ones for his treasure boxes. There was one box in particular Amanda wanted and she thought she had identified it, but she couldn't figure out the puzzle and she felt time slipping from her. Time to expedite the matter, she thought. She spotted an iron bar near the fireplace, grabbed that and prepared to pry the box open.

"Are you looking for something specific, my dear? A little bauble, perhaps?" a deep voice rumbled behind her.

Amanda spun to face Vincenzo. He had a rapier in his hand "Just a little payment for services rendered. Do you think you can stop me with that toothpick?"

"I think there is a good possibility, you deceiving vixen." With that he lunged toward her.

Amanda brought the fire iron up in defense, deflected the thrust and tried to move in closer. She cursed herself for not bringing her sword with her. Incredibly dumb on her part, but she thought it would be more trouble than it was worth.

The big man was quick-- she had to give him that. And he was skilled. She parried another attack, feinted to the left, but he was waiting for her and the blade got in under her guard, running through her. She gasped in surprise and sank to the floor. "So beautiful for such treachery," he lamented as consciousness faded from the raven-haired Immortal.

When she came to, Vincenzo was bending over the box, insuring that its contents were indeed safe. The huge blue lapis was worth a fortune, the stone a rarity on any market. Amanda's finger found the fire iron, locked around the reassuring metal. With a surge of energy, she flipped to her feet, raised the makeshift weapon and crashed it down on Vincenzo's head just as he started to turn.

A momentary look of shock at seeing the dead woman facing him crossed his face before his skull cracked under the blow and a more grotesque look replaced the expression. Amanda dropped the fire iron and stepped back. She hadn't meant to kill him. Worse, she'd detected a slight tingle of Immortality as she'd hit him. Quickly, she grabbed the lapis, tossed the fire iron in the fire and retreated.

"I knew I should have taken your head," she mumbled, pulled her sword, then charged back up the stairs to Methos' flat. She didn't even pause at the door, shoving it open as she plunged inside nearly knocking Methos down as she came in.

"Amanda! What--?" He picked up the distinct vibration of the other Immortal before he got the question out. Amanda had turned to face the door, making her way toward the fire escape outside the window.

Methos went for his sword, barely getting it in hand before Amanda's pursuer burst into the room. His eyes locked for a moment with the man and a shock shot through him.

Sevilla - 1479

Methos gazed uneasily at Diego Rodrigues, uncertain if he could trust him enough to sheathe his sword. They hadn't been on the best terms when they'd broken company nearly 70 years earlier. The other Immortal was a little taller, broader by far and looked like he wrestled bulls regularly.

Abruptly, the big man rumbled with laughter and slid his sword into his scabbard. "Put your weapon away, Don Miguel. I have no interest in your scrawny neck."

Uneasily, the smaller Immortal put his sword away. "Diego--I thought you might still harbour ill feelings toward me."

A robust bark issued from him. "Nonsense, man. I'm not one to carry a grudge. I'm just surprised a scrawny thing like you has managed to survive another century. And now you're a brave caballero who's been assigned to the Inquisition."

An indulgent smirk crossed Methos' face. "Only a mobile boulder like you would consider me inadequate. The ladies never do."

Diego's eyes narrowed a bit and his balled fist shot out catching Methos with a sharp punch to the jaw. He'd been ready for it, rolling with the punch. He knew Diego well enough to know the big man wouldn't let a little jab go unanswered. Even at that, the blow nearly took him off his feet. As he staggered back, the roar of  laughter reverberated in his head. Diego flung an arm around his shoulder, squeezing him. "Come, amigo! Let's get a drink and recall old times!"

Equally as surprised to see Methos, the man stopped just inside the door, his attention temporarily diverted. Amanda seized the moment, lunged forward with her sword extended and managed to cut his sword arm. The man's attention came back to her instantly and he transferred the sword to his right hand, but Amanda was already out the window and fleeing down the fire escape with the speed and agility that had kept her alive for so many centuries.

Angrily, the man dashed to the window, barely able to fit through it, and climbed out onto the fire escape. But it was too late. Amanda had made her escape. "Damnable woman!" he growled then climbed back into the flat. He turned to face Methos and spread his arms in greeting. "Don Miguel de Avila!"

"Diego," Methos acknowledged softly, his eyes carefully watching as the other man put his sword back into safe-keeping. "It's been a long time."

The man grinned. "Indeed it has, old friend. And you're looking much better than the last time I saw you."

Sevilla - 1481

Under a heavy cloak and the robes of a monk, Diego Rodrigues drove a wagon with its load of three kegs of ale out of the town. At the town gate, each keg was checked, a sample of the ale taken from each barrel through the bung hole. The guard who sampled the alcohol was increasingly impressed with each one he tried.

"Extraordinary," he declared the second keg. "They are all good, padre, but this barrel has the best flavor. There is an extra heartiness to it." Pleased, he nodded the good padre on to make his delivery.

An hour later, he pulled the wagon into a small meadow that offered privacy from the road, opened the lid of the favoured barrel and heaved the pale, nearly naked body of a very dead Methos out of the ale. Yes, this barrel did have a little extra "body," he thought with amusement. In fact, he was most pleased with himself as he laid the still form of the other Immortal on the floor of the wagon and rolled him to one side. Examining Methos' back, he found the soft lump of healed flesh over a foreign object, extracted his knife and opened the skin to reveal the metal tip there. Having to dig the flesh away a little more, he finally was able to get a finger hold on the metal and withdrew nearly a foot of long, slender steel from the body. It was obviously long enough to have penetrated to the Immortal's lungs or heart. A small well of blood exited with the metal and pooled at the wound. Quickly drying Methos off, Diego wrapped a woolen blanket around him and waited for him to revive.

Diego had almost finished his second goblet of ale when Methos choked back to life. He coughed, spitting up blood, and, with a groan, rolled to sit up. Cheerfully, Diego poured him an ale. "Welcome back, amigo. I believe you owe me your life." The man looked like hell, eyes red-rimmed and he winced or groaned with every move. Methos took the offered goblet, swallowed a big gulp and managed a painful murmur of thanks.

"I have something for you," the big man said, then produced a bundle of clothes, a small packet of money and, most amazingly, Methos' sword. "I would suggest you go south and cross the waters at Gibraltar. Neither Portugal nor France is safe, Miguel. The money will be enough to get you to safety. I trust you have other resources from there."

Methos nodded and reached for the clothes. "God, I smell like I've been on a fortnight's drunk."

"Comes from traveling inside the ale barrel," Diego said with a laugh, tapping the keg the younger-looking Immortal was leaning against.

Methos paused a moment, wrinkling his nose, then began pulling on the peasant breeches. "Pickled takes on a whole new meaning. Gracias, Diego. I owe you."

Diego looked critically around the flat, his keen eyes taking in every detail. "Living less extravagantly these days, I see. Oddly, it seems to suit you. You haven't changed much, just as scrawny as ever."

Methos gave him a wry smile. "Either you've grown some or you're bigger than I recalled." Even next to MacLeod this man would be big.

Diego chuckled, a boisterous sound. "I've put on a few pounds in the past century. Life has gotten easier, my friend. No one has to work as hard for a meal these days. Being a businessman is far easier...and more rewarding... than being a warrior. But what about hospitality? There was a time I would be handed a drink the moment I stepped across your threshold. Can you not now offer an old friend a drink?"

With a nod, Methos went to the small table that served as a bar and opened a bottle of brandy. As he poured, he asked, "So why is a businessman chasing a friend of mine through my place with his sword drawn? Is she that reluctant to make a deal?"

"Your taste in women was always trouble, Miguel. But that vixen...she is a thief." He accepted the glass, took an appreciative sip and settled on the love seat. "Luckily, your taste in alcohol is superb. But, back to the wench... My complaint with her goes back a long ways to even before I knew you. I once had a very rare stone...a high quality lapis lazuli. It was worth a fortune even then. I caught Amanda stealing it and of course, I killed her. Unfortunately, I was not Immortal yet and I had no idea what she was. She revived, returned the favor and made off with the stone."

"Well, I can see where you might be annoyed," Methos replied agreeably. "But it's hardly worth a vendetta. Let it go, Diego."

"It's a matter of principle," the big man grumbled.

"Believe me, she's not worth the trouble her death would cause."

Diego's eyes narrowed sharply. "Is that a threat, Miguel?"

He shook his head. "Just a warning to an old friend."

"Forget your warnings. That bitch owes me and frankly, my friend, so do you."

The look on Methos' face clearly said he didn't see where this was that important. "It's not like you to court trouble when you don't have to and believe me, she is trouble."

Diego finished the drink with a gulp and got to his feet. "I know she is trouble. Just don't get in the way. I don't want to kill a friend."

"Shit!" Methos muttered as the man left, slamming the door behind him. His life was convoluted enough right now without adding this. He reached for his coat, tucked his sword safely into it and went looking for the cause of this latest complication.

"This isn't your concern," Amanda stated bluntly. "I created the situation. I'll handle it."

Methos sipped the expresso, grateful for the warmth, if not the bitter strength, of the beverage. He'd caught up with Amanda in the Parc des Buttes Chaumont and he'd guided her to this little cafe out of the cold and damp to talk. It was quiet at this time of day, only one other patron in the room, and large enough to give them privacy.

"Look, Amanda, I'm just saying maybe you should disappear for a while. You were going to New York anyway--"

"That won't stop him. He could follow me there just as easily as he followed me here."

"Not if he got delayed."

Her eyes glittered with annoyance. "Stay out of this, Methos. I'll handle it."

"All right. If you won't listen to reason..." His voice trailed off as his gaze dropped to his cup.

Amanda reached across to touch his arm. "I will not let this big oaf continue to stalk me. I want to settle it. Running away is not the solution." She leaned forward and planted a friendly kiss on his lips. "Thank you for worrying about me, but I can take care of myself."

Even though he managed an amused smile, he didn't feel all that confident about it. He knew Diego too well.

A cold, misty rain coated the windshield of the Volvo and the drone of the wipers had an oddly calming effect on Methos. He let his mind drift away from the various worries of the past few weeks and found himself looking forward to this evening with Montgomery. Where extreme youth in Immortals sometimes annoyed him, he found Miles both educated and interesting although a bit naïve. He'd also found that "Adam Pierson" wasn't quite as dead as he'd originally believed. That persona still seemed to respond to the name, although not with the gentle nature he'd once had. He definitely couldn't afford to go there anymore.

As he pulled the car to the curb in front of the renaissance building, he noted it was a well-to-do neighborhood. The look of it was clean and neat, with fresh paint on the trim. The building was divided into four town houses, each with a separate interior landing. Miles greeted Methos with a warm smile as he took his coat and ushered him into the spacious entry of the two story house. It had been many years since Methos had lived in such luxury.

Sevilla, Spain - 1478

Spanish tile felt cool against his bare feet as Methos hurried through the open foyer off the courtyard. The reception hall beyond was bathed in morning light as spots of colors cast from the stained glass windows danced across the pale floors. Villa Morenga was an elegant townhouse filled with Moorish design and Spanish comfort. The sweet smell of honeysuckle slipped in with the breeze, teasing his senses with memories of the night. His wedding night--And this magnificent villa was his now, the dowry of his beautiful wife.

Not that he'd needed...or wanted...such a dowry when all he lived and breathed was Gaviota. But since it was his now, he'd spent the morning exploring the thirty or so rooms that formed the two-storied square around the central courtyard. He leaned back against an archway that opened onto the patio and gazed contentedly at the magnificence before him--the gold and blue tiles of the pathway and fountain, the round bushes of pomegranate trees and the exotic roses that formed a pattern of color with velvet reds and yellows. Amid them all was the most beautiful treasure of all--his bride. She stood by the fountain, clad only in her chemise, thick flame-colored hair draping loosely over her shoulder, falling like a veil almost to her slender waist. Saucy lips pouted at him, silently accusing him of being late for this rendezvous.

He didn't hurry, defying the demanding look of his lady, his joy. Gaviota--gull, in the Spanish tongue--and she was so like her name, pale-skinned, alert-eyed and demanding. As he slowly approached her, she dropped her eyes coyly to the ground, an innocent maiden in the morning light. "Caballero," she purred in a soft, sweet voice, "do you desire me?" She brought her eyes up to meet his. "Mi amor, mi corazon,"

With a surge of passion, Methos pulled the slim young woman into his arms, crushing her to him tightly and stealing her breath with the passionate fire of his kiss. She was barely fifteen, a delicate flower in the spring of Sevilla.

Gaviota--he hadn't thought of her in decades, but the recent events had stirred up old memories. He shook the images off. This was not a path he wanted to wander down at the present.

Within moments, Miles placed a tumbler of Glenfiddich scotch, neat, into his hand and lead him into the huge, elegant living room. Methos took a sip, felt the warmth roll down his throat and loosen the tightness in his chest. His alert, hazel eyes scanned the room, noting the big comfortable sofas with thick cushions, the deep rugs, and the quality art. Outside the large bay window was a picture perfect view of the Arc de Triomphe. He picked up an oddly sexual sculpture and studied it a few moments--a replica of a Vigeland.

Miles settled on one of the facing sofas and watched while the older Immortal explored to his heart's content. He turned his glass slowly as Methos carefully made his way around the walls, gazing thoughtfully at each painting. The tall, dark-haired man paused, took another sip of the scotch and pivoted to gaze at the psychologist. "Either your practice is very profitable or you've made good investments."

Miles chuckled softly, "Both, actually. I'm glad you decided to come tonight, Adam. I haven't seen much of you since you returned to Paris."

"I've had a few things to settle." Methos sank into the sofa opposite Miles.


The question was innocent enough but Methos shot a probing glance his direction. No, there didn't seem to be a challenge of any sort lingering there. He knew how Miles felt about the Highlander, but the last thing he wanted to see was Mac take his head and he knew with a certainty that would happen. The kid just wasn't a good enough fighter.

"He's part of it," Methos answered carefully.

"I see." He glanced down. "Look, Adam. It's none of my business and I won't press you about it. But, as a friend, just be careful, okay?"

Methos had bitten off the sharp reply that had sprung to his tongue and waited for Miles to finish. Now he was glad of that as he found himself strangely touched by the concern in the younger man's voice. "Absolutely."

The smile was back on Miles' face. "I hope you like curry. I make a fabulous shrimp curry."

Methos grinned. "Love it."

Dinner was superb, Methos decided as he helped himself to the last piece of nan -- a delicious Indian flat bread -- scooped up the remaining bits of the curry and happily stuffed them into his mouth. Not to mention the company. Miles had been charming and funny and Methos laughed as the blonde finished an anecdote from his stint in the first world war.

"So the only way we could get Ingrid out was to disguise her as a British infantryman and carry her out on a stretcher. I was really sure we'd never get her past the sergeant. I can tell you, I was glad she wasn't exceptionally well endowed." He reached across to refill Methos' wine glass. "Let's move to the living room."

As they settled across from each other, Methos started to set his glass on the doily on the coffee table, then paused and picked it up. He fingered it, noting the quality of the threads . "Real lace," he commented. "You don't see that much any more."

Miles spoke casually. "I remember when I was a child, my mother would make Irish lace doilies for the coffee table and we didn't dare set anything on top of them. I always used to ask, 'Mum, why do you put them there if we can't use them?' And she'd say, 'To make it look pretty, buchaill. To make it look pretty.'"

Methos smiled. "It sounds like you had great parents."

"Yeah. They were terrific. They'd had trouble having children so I was a blessing to them. Of course, shortly after they adopted me, Mum got pregnant and my sister came along. But they were good people and I was really fortunate. What about you? What were your parents like?"

The smile vanished slowly and Methos twisted his wine glass thoughtfully. "Good question. But I don't have an answer. I don't remember anything about my childhood or any of my pre-Immortal life." For just a moment, the bulky shadow of a large man flashed through his mind. He refused to let it stay any longer. That man was nothing more than a nightmare to him.

"I'm sorry, Adam. I just assumed you would..." His voice trailed off.

Methos shook his head. "It's all right. It was a long time ago."

"I guess parents from distant lifetimes begin to seem meaningless anyway. I mean, we're Immortal, but they weren't and we really lost them with our first deaths, right? When I discovered what I was, there was no way I could go home again."

The ancient man didn't say anything but his thoughts touched his face with a trace of sadness. Yes, they do matter. They're the first guide line in your life. They shape who you will become. And I don't remember ever having parents. There are too many of us who don't.

A little nervous at the silence, Miles reached across to pour more wine. A finger caught the chain around his neck and sent a gold Celtic cross flying into a bounce off the table to somewhere in the rug. "Damn! I knew I should have fixed that chain."

Miles got to his knees to search for the missing cross. As he searched, muttering that it was a gift from his mother, Methos caught a glimpse of something shiny. He rose to investigate, kneeling to reach for it at the same moment Miles spotted it. Their heads collided as Methos' hand closed over the cross. Both of them pulled backwards, rubbing at their heads and laughing at the somewhat comic moment, and their eyes, now only a few inches apart, met and held.

Methos stared into the sea blue depths, seeing something more than just a friendly interest in the gaze. There was affection there... and desire. He caught his breath, waiting for Miles to make the next move. The blonde's eyes searched the hazel ones for a few heartbeats, then he offered his hand for Methos to return the cross.

"Celtic," Methos noted opening his hand and dropping the item into the waiting palm.

Miles laced his fingers through the long, slender ones and pressed gently, capturing the gold between them. "My parents were Irish immigrants. The cross was my mother's. She gave it to me when I left to join the Confederacy."

Methos took a shallow breath, almost afraid the spoil the moment, and was mildly surprised by the distinctly sexual tingle of the touch. Close to two centuries had passed since he'd last been intimately involved with a man and that relationship had bordered on the edge of bizarre. But this moment was different. Slowly his eyes rose to meet Miles' openly appealing gaze and he felt a wave of desire course through him.

Miles released his hand as his fingers moved up to lightly touch the side of Methos' face, sliding gently down to his jaw. Methos closed his eyes, tilting his head back so that his neck offered a long, slim arch that the feathery touch inched down slowly. Then there was the soft feel of gentle, moist lips at the hollow of his throat--a kiss followed by another and yet another.

Methos swallowed, emotions conflicting at the sudden turn. Did he dare pursue this with Miles? He enjoyed his company, liked to talk to him, but should he risk this still tenuous friendship for a sexual romp? What if the man wanted more? He didn't love him. At least, not the way he thought of love. But physical attraction? Yes, definitely that. And lust. But Miles wasn't Byron or Kronos. Did Montgomery know what he was doing? Methos was a bit astonished, expecting that the psychologist would have been more conservative, more like the Highlander in this aspect.

And if he rejected the offer? Would that be any less destructive to the friendship? Above it all, Methos wanted him. Wanted...

"Adam?" The low voice intruded into his thoughts. "Open your eyes."

Reluctant and uncertain if he wanted to look into Miles' face just then, he forced himself to comply. Miles had gotten to his feet and stood a few feet from Methos and now gazed steadily at the still kneeling man, his eyes probing mercilessly. With controlled deliberation, Miles extended his hand, an obvious offer.

In the long moments that he waited for the older Immortal to move, Miles barely breathed. He felt like his stomach was pressing against his heart. This was an incredible risk if Adam didn't accept... maybe even risky if he did. He valued this friendship highly and he knew that it could end abruptly if Adam took it the wrong way. He hadn't expected the surge of emotion he'd experienced when they'd come face to face. Even though it was an infrequent occurrence, this wasn't the first time he'd wanted another man. But act on that urge? No, this was a rare moment.

He wasn't sure how Adam would react when he'd chosen to kiss his throat. He hadn't sensed rejection or revulsion there, but perhaps the same confused feelings he was experiencing. But it had given him the courage to make this offer--and if Adam didn't make a move soon, then he was afraid he wouldn't be able to face him again.

Moving slightly hesitantly, Adam got to his feet, stepped forward and slid his hand into the waiting one. "No promises."

Miles' mouth felt dry and his voice seemed a bit shaky to himself. "None expected."

Miles smiled slightly, then led the way upstairs to his bedroom. His hand still clung to Adam's as he turned to face him, moving cautiously into his space. He didn't want to rush this, to make him too nervous. For a moment, the thought flashed that perhaps Adam had never done this before, but that quickly vanished as the dark-haired man took control.

Adam slid a hand behind Miles' neck and pulled him into an intense kiss, his mouth pressing hard against the younger man's, tongue teasing for entry at the firm, sensuous lips. The surprise of the moment quickly passed and Miles responded by placing his hands at Adam's hips and pulling him closer as his own lips pushed hungrily against the soft, insistent mouth.

How long had it been? Miles asked himself. Two decades? Three? The last time had been in San Francisco in 1964--over thirty years ago! He'd forgotten what it was like to want someone this way. He felt Adam's fingers working at the buttons on his shirt, the long slender digits sliding against his fair, sensitive skin as each button slid easily through its securing hole allowing the warm flesh to touch his. His eyes never leaving Miles' face, Adam pushed the shirt back, ran his fingers against Miles' bared chest, savoring the touch. His stomach tightened with the light caress, a reflexive action causing him to bite down on Adam's lower lip. The metallic taste of blood told him he'd bitten too hard. Anxious, he pulled away slightly, a hoarse "sorry" spilling out quickly.

Adam shook his head slightly, pulling Miles back toward him. "It's all right." The green amber eyes flashed with desire. Captivated, Miles gazed into that young face, a face that looked no older than his own. This was something he still had trouble with as an Immortal, the realization that you couldn't judge anything about age or background based on appearance. For a moment, he wondered, Who are you, really? But that wasn't important. Now was all that mattered.

He pushed Adam's dark Henley up, letting his fingers explore tentatively against the smooth, surprisingly soft skin. A few moments later, he lifted the shirt over the taller man's head as his lips hungrily caught a nipple and held it captive. As Miles heard the sharp intake of breath from Methos, he grew even more exited. Casting the shirt aside, his hands went back to the narrow hips, pulling Adam against him. Then he worked a hand between them to the button on the older man's slacks, released it, eased the zipper down and let his hand explore the growing bulge within the under shorts. He brought his gaze back to Adam's face, studying the sharp, angular features of this extremely attractive man. He noted the dark lashes against his fair skin as his eyes closed and the neatly-shaped lips that were slightly parted, begging to be kissed. Miles leaned in and captured his mouth, following it with his body pressing tightly against him so that their chests touched.

Somehow Adam wedged his hands between them to work deftly at Miles' slacks as the younger man urged him toward the queen-sized bed and pressed him back on it. His eyes reflected a touch of surprise, then amusement as the bed shifted under them--a water bed, but the floatation type with padded sides and a mattress cover. And it was warm. Adam laughed, "Water--this should be fun."

Miles flashed an engaging grin, "I'm counting on it."

They separated long enough to finish shedding clothes, then eased into the contouring comfort of the bed. "It's been years," Adam breathed, a pleased expression on his face as the welcoming warmth embraced his naked body.

"Since you've done this?"

"Since I was last on a waterbed. They've improved a lot." He sighed.

"Just don't get too comfortable," Miles teased and his hand slipped down to stroke between Adam's thighs.

Methos held himself in the restraints of the "Adam" mode he'd adopted with Miles, careful not to venture too far away from the expected -- allowing that the "Adam" he'd created for Miles wouldn't be as diversely experienced in same gender sex as Methos was. And in an odd way, it gave a certain "newness" and "innocence" to their exploration. Miles' light strokes on his body indicated an insecurity, an uncertainty of what he was doing. Yet those strokes sent tingles of pleasure through the older man's nerves making Methos tremble with the sensations.

Miles shifted his slim, strong body, sliding half across the equally as muscular chest and hips, and easing an insistent knee between the long, pale legs. In the dim lighting of the bedroom, they resembled a Grecian sculpture, the smaller young man's golden skinned body pressed lovingly against the alabaster long planes of the muscled torso of a man who'd known that diverse era. As Methos gazed at the half-hidden profile that teased him with delicate licks at his nipples, he could envision how they looked and recalled there would have been no censure in that place, that time. He caught his breath, slid his hands over Miles' back, pressing his fingertips into the muscles. Miles shifted a hand down to stroke just below his belly. Methos groaned and drew his fingers up the slim neck and wrapped them through the mass of golden hair, gently lifting the psychologist's head up as he slid down the cooperative bed to meet the open lips.

With a quickly dominant move, the more experienced Immortal reversed their positions and he caught Miles' hands, his long, slim fingers lacing through the shorter ones. He pushed them to one side as he used his tongue to trace a path from the tanned throat to his belly button. While his lingua circled the dimpled depression, he felt the insistent rise and pressure against his thighs and rode the shudder that went through the slim body under him. A deep moan escaped from the blonde's lips. Methos unlaced a hand, slid it between their bodies to stroke the firm flesh that grew hot against his touch. He moved his mouth to the dimple at the golden hip, bit gently at the flesh and sucked it into his mouth. Miles wriggled at the touch, groaned again, a deep animal sound, and his hips shoved at Methos, demanding more.

Methos eased off, drawing the pleasure out, his twinkling hazel eyes studying the almost glazed expression on Miles' face--the open lips, the dark brown lashes against the creamy smooth skin. It was rare that Methos would term a man beautiful, but the psychologist was that. In another era, Miles would have been a prize, very valuable and most likely misused-- his slim, muscular body and exquisite face a desirable commodity to both women and men. This, too, Methos knew first hand.

He shook the unwanted thoughts off and lowered his head to tease the roused flesh between the firm thighs. Miles pressed deeper into the bed, the mattress yielding then rebounding to add to the desired torture. Skillfully, Methos pulled him over the carnal edge, his own need pressing against the insistent body as Miles' breathing grew faster and the soft moans reached new depths.

The golden body undulated against the longer one, seeming at once to attempt escape from the torturer's touch, then rushing urgently back to seek more. Miles thrust his hips tightly against Methos' body, using a leg to hold his tormentor captive as his free hand buried itself in the dark brown hair, grasped a handful and pulled.

Miles felt like he was in an inferno, his whole body burning with need, doing its best to merge with the hot flesh pressed so tightly against him. His loins throbbed as he tried to pull Adam closer, wanting to lift his face next to his own and gaze into the sparkling lights of his eyes as they merged.

He groaned, unable to hold the eruption any longer against the insistent stroking. He soared, burning and light against a brilliant star, the deep rise and fall of his body enhanced by the yielding surface of the bed. He exploded, a skyrocket emptying its brilliance in a midnight sky. Incandescent bursts of color filled his mind... Fourth of July in a St. Louis park, two teen-aged boys playing with fire of a different sort... Then he felt long, strong arms wrap around him, pulling him into a gentle embrace, cooling him down.

"Miles," a warm, deep voice whispered at his ear.

Adam, his mind supplied, bringing him back from the brink of memory in the ecstasy of the climax. Adam, whom he'd found a growing desire to know better ever since that mountain top in Mongolia. He'd never anticipated this, never even thought about a sexual relationship with him, but now it seemed right. He caught his breath with a shudder. "It's Rory," he said hoarsely, wanting to give Adam that much and wanting to hear his own name again.

"What?" Adam asked softly, puzzlement clearly in his voice.

"My name's Rory. My real name--Rory Myles."

"Rory," Methos repeated, aware of the gift offered to him. It was something he understood but could not reciprocate. He could tell him any of a hundred names he'd used as some point or another and the young Immortal would be content in the belief that he'd shared that piece of him. But Methos would know it was a lie and he didn't need any more of those clinging to him. Better to leave it as it was.

Miles rolled toward him, shifting his arms to return the embrace. His eyes met Methos' for a few heartbeats, searching for the emotions there. "This is not the norm for me," he said in a low, tense voice, sounding fearful that he might have made a mistake.

Methos brought a hand up to stroke the slightly damp hair away from the blonde's face. "It's not a frequent occurrence for me either. I usually prefer women. But it's all right, Rory."

Miles nodded, seeming to relaxing somewhat with the understanding. "I see. So are you and Amanda an item?"

"No. Not really. It's a complicated situation. Do I like her? Oh, yes. But it's not going to happen. You?"

"I've been dating a model off and on. She's in New York right now. A mortal. These relationships never last. Can't last, can they?"

"No." The short answer seemed to hide a deep pain within the older man. Miles studied him, noting a tension that still tightened his long, lean body. He could do something about that.

"Just relax, Adam," Miles whispered at his ear. "Let me do it now."

Methos shifted on the bed, letting Miles' arm slide under him and ease him into a close embrace as the younger man's lips worked up his throat to find his mouth again, forming a meld of warm flesh. It had been so long since he'd let himself yield to another man's touch this way--to allow someone else to control the encounter and to respond to pure desire. He forced himself to relax, to let this happen.

It wasn't easy. Methos didn't willingly allow control these days. There were too many instances in his past where he didn't have it, where everything he did was dictated by the desires of another person and he'd been forced to acquiesce or face the consequences. He'd spent a lot of energy in maintaining the upper hand in situations so he wouldn't find himself in that position again, so letting Rory dominate now wasn't simple. He closed his eyes, took a few deep breaths and tried to let go.

"This is supposed to be fun, Adam," Rory said softly, his lips pressed close to Methos' ear. "Relax." He closed his mouth over the smooth flesh, biting gently and tasting with sensual circles of his tongue.

Methos caught his breath, a shiver of sensation running down his spine. He felt Rory shift, moving to one side as the bed rocked slightly. For a few moments, there was nothing, then Rory's hands caught his arm, urging him to roll to his side. Warm legs pushed against his until he'd moved, then gentle fingers began rubbing against his neck, his back...working their way down his spine. A warm slick feel and a light scent suggested an oil and the massage was undeniable sexual. The old Immortal reacted to the stimulus, his breath catching as nerve endings tingled to the light dance of fingertips on his body.

As Rory's tongue followed his fingers down his back, Methos groaned and made a grab for the hand that inched toward his hip. To stop it-- to guide it--he didn't know exactly which. Or maybe just to control it. Fingers laced in his a moment, then pushed his hand aside and resumed their course across his hip.

Strong, rough hands stroked his hip, his thighs-- not gently but with urgent need as the hot, sweaty body pressed against him tightly. Eager fingers dug into his buttocks, spreading them in preparation...

Unconsciously, Methos tensed and jerked as a forefinger ventured inside him. It withdrew instantly at the sharp reaction. "Sorry," the warm voice murmured and Rory's arms slid to embrace the suddenly tense body, pulling Methos against him.

"No, it's okay," he managed to say calmly. "I just wasn't expecting it."

Rory somehow pulled him closer, melting his warm body against him, his own growing erection resting against the older man's buttocks. Rory planted his mouth at the base of his neck and bit carefully as his hand slid across to catch the flat bud of his nipple and tease it between his fingers.

A low moan escaped from deep in Methos' throat. Gods, he hadn't felt quite like this in centuries. A man's touch was definitely different than a woman's--not superior or inferior--just different. Rory's arm slid over his hip to cup Methos' erection in the hollow of his hand. Then it seemed like his fingers were everywhere and the old Immortal's body quivered with every touch. At moments it felt like hundreds of tiny needles pricking a him, then it was tiny sparks of electricity. Any lingering memories of past bad experiences vanished in the loving touch of this partner. Methos twisted to catch Rory's face and pull his mouth to him, no longer able to stay passive.

He hadn't come looking for this. His life was complicated enough with Amanda and MacLeod. He'd shut one out and had been kept at arm's length by the other. But right now... Right now, it was what he wanted. He'd not given himself to another person's attentions this way since Byron, not allowed another person to guide the excursion. "Do it, Rory," he gasped between shivers. He felt the momentary hesitation, a slight tensing in the younger man's body.

"You're sure?"

"Yes... I want it." His voice was rough with desire.

The hand holding him slipped away, retreating back across his hip, then moist fingers returned to his buttocks, pressing insistently into the tight opening. His breath seemed to tremble in his chest as the fingers wriggled within him, exciting nerves and teasing unmercifully. Rory's other hand ventured back, this time sliding possessively between his legs to wrap the tight erection in the cup of his hand. The smooth flesh of his inner arm pressed against the sensitive organs the older man's legs, eliciting a deep groan of need.

Methos was already adrift in intense sensation before his partner entered him. He tensed, then relaxed as his body adjusted. So long--so many years... Pain--pleasure--they're one and the same, his mind said as Rory pushed deeper and the hand that held him rolled a thumb across the tip of his swollen organ. His body responded, spasming with the stimulation and he plunged into the depths, his mind a helpless passenger on this physical journey of burning need, Every thrust, every shift took him deeper, caused more nerves to dance and twitch in delightful agony.

He wanted to turn, to hold Rory, to take his face into his hands and bite hungrily at the lips, but he wasn't in control. The blonde melted into him, his body pressed tightly to him and Methos pushed against him, forcing him deeper. A withdrawal arched his back in protest, then Rory returned and the shifting bed heightened the movement. Strokes on the tight flesh of his erection extended to the massage against the full, sensitive sacs that Rory's arm caressed.

Electricity, lightening--a feeling of soaring. So like a Quickening, yet not the same. This was pleasure, a sharing of another person, not an invasion. Blood pounded, his heartbeat racing with climax--the sound doubled by the almost matching rhythm from Rory as he melded as tightly as he could, taut body pulsing with his orgasm. Methos gave a final shudder as his own eruption spilled over the cradling hand.

He came down slowly, gasping for air and through the pounding in his head, he heard the deep breaths Rory was grabbing. The younger man moved first, withdrawing his hand and arm from between Methos' legs. A gentle, affectionate nuzzle against Methos' neck preceded the moist touch of Rory's lips against his shoulder, Methos started to bring his hand to stroke the other man's face, but Rory slipped out of bed.

As he heard the water running in the bathroom, Methos let out a deep sigh. His heartbeat was almost back to normal. That had been a hell of an explosion. Talk about tingling in places he'd forgotten you could tingle! Languidly, he reflected on the unexpected turns in his life, Just when you've become comfortable with the idea of not needing or caring, someone alters it-- MacLeod making him care about another Immortal again. Alexa making him feel deep love and deeper anguish. Amanda stoking the fires of desire for someone not his. And now Rory, reminding him what pure sexual pleasure was like. He didn't know whether to be glad or angry for the day Duncan MacLeod stepped into his life.

A subtle move of the bed told him Rory was back and a moment later the warm body stretched alongside him. Rory caught his shoulders, turning him on his back and his head rested against the blonde's arm. Methos opened his eyes as he felt the warm, damp towel stroking his stomach, wiping at the residue of his orgasm.

Rory leaned forward, kissed him soundly, "That was one to remember," he murmured at Methos' ear. Then he tossed the towel on the floor and reached to pull the blanket over both of them.

"Rory, I --" Methos hesitated, not sure what he wanted to say. "Thank you." It sounded so inadequate, so little to express the emotions he felt.

Rory slid a hand down his cheek. "That goes for me, too. You're quite a guy, Adam."

Content, Methos straightened and pulled Rory into his embrace, once again asserting control of the situation. Rory let him, yielding easily to the strong arms that held him.

A gentle shifting of the semi-liquid bed under him brought Methos to a gradual awareness of his surroundings... and an instant recall of the several hours of sexual exploration during the night. Miles -- no, Rory -- had depths Methos hadn't expected and yes, he had been pleasantly surprised. Not the bright flame, like Kronos or Byron or MacLeod, but far gentler on his soul than those brilliant spirits. Yet, Rory had passion and commitment of a different sort, so maybe he was not so different.

Perhaps Rory had hit the nail on the head back in Mongolia when he'd asked if Amanda was a substitute for someone else. Even if Methos wanted to deny that fact, it didn't change the desire. He wanted Duncan MacLeod, needed to somehow take that relationship with the Highlander to the deepest level possible. He sighed. Not only did it not seem likely that MacLeod would ever share a bed with him, but he would be lucky if he could even manage a conversation without it turning to bitter words. Dammit! He didn't know exactly what he wanted from MacLeod. Maybe not this intimacy, but something almost as close -- his trust and friendship back as it was before Kronos. They'd been best friends, something Methos had known rarely in his long life. Mac teased him, confided in him and trusted him. And he'd used that friendship in the only way he knew.

Manipulation? Deception? They were tools of his trade -- how he'd survived so long. They were rudimentary instincts, as natural to him as migration was to a mallard. He'd maneuvered his way out of more jams with his brain power than with physical strength.

He knew MacLeod would never accept his past. Why did he ever think he might come around? All he'd gotten so far was that studied refusal, as if discussing it might make it impossible for him to even tolerate Methos. Maybe he should let it go; just let the matter rest and accept that the damage was done and that they would never be as close as they once were.

And maybe he deserved it. In spite of all that had changed in the past couple of centuries, he still had a past that might be best described as "checkered." Good moments, bad moments. Times when he was the worst he could be and times when he actually did manage to shine. He knew he loved the Highlander-- had put his life on the line more than once to help MacLeod. It was enough. Would have to be enough.

He felt the gentle touch on his shoulder as Rory eased his hand down and around his chest, then snuggled closer to him. "Go back to sleep, Adam," he murmured softly, a warm sound just below his ear.

"Rory... I can't make a commitment," Methos said lowly, not wanting to mislead the other man. "I don't--"

"Shhh," Rory interrupted. "It's all right. I know that... and it's not necessary. We have now. Life could end for either one of us tomorrow, so we take the moments where we can. I'm not expecting you to be in my bed."

It was like a gift. No commitments, no worries, just companionship when he needed it, no strings attached. Methos twisted in Rory's embrace until he faced him. He searched the bottomless pools of his eyes for any sign of a lie, found sincerity there, and responded with a deep kiss before he dropped his head against the willing shoulder and closed his eyes again.

continued in part three...