"Still Love" is Highlander D/M. It was written for the wonderful Sandy, who first introduced me to slash.
Title: Still Love
Pairing: D/M, Highlander, First Time
Length: 7,000 words
Disclaimer: Duncan and Methos are not mine--they belong to Davis/Panzer. I just like to play with swords.
Summary: Duncan realises that Methos will always come back.
Notes: This story takes place after the episodes "Comes a Horseman", and "Revelations 6:8".
The poetry comes from "Wonder" by Thomas Traherne.
Duncan was sure there was no easy answer to his question - The Horsemen Question, as he'd come to think of it. How could there be an easy answer? Nothing about Methos was ever easy.
Knowing that, he had long ago tried to bury the question deep and forget it. But instead of disappearing, it had haunted his dreams.
Night after night.
So this night, when he once again woke in a cold sweat with the image of the Old Man's blade at his throat, and the name Methos on his lips, he decided it was time to stop sublimating the problem. Time to deal with it. Time to bite the bullet and ask the damned question and be done with it. Not because he really expected Methos to offer an answer, but because the question needed to be asked if he was ever to get past this.
"It's not like it could make things any more tense between us," he muttered. And sometime between three and dawn, while trying to work out the perfect phrasing for his impossible question, he fell into dreamless sleep.
Two days later Duncan got his chance to ask The Question. He'd casually offered Methos dinner at the loft, and just as casually the Old Man had accepted. Surprisingly enough dinner had gone well, especially considering it was the first time they'd eaten alone together since Bordeaux.
Now that the meal was over Duncan was biding his time, waiting for Methos to settle on the couch in his usual beer-swilling sprawl. That's when he'd pop the question. Then Methos would do whatever he was going to do. And then they could do some male bonding in the form of a roaring drunk and pretend in the morning that they'd forgotten the whole thing.
Assuming Methos wasn't so pissed off he went for his sword, of course. Duncan eyed the distance from his chair to the loft's entrance, judging how much time he'd have to get to the rack he kept his sword in if he ended up with a worst-case scenario on his hands.
Yep, he'd probably make it.
It was a perfect plan all around.
Except that Methos seemed to sense that something was up and was pacing around the loft showing no signs of settling anywhere. And even more ominously, since dinner he had helped himself to only two beers from Mac's carefully stocked fridge.
"For God's sake," Duncan finally snapped, "it's wearing me out just watching you. Come and sit down and have a beer."
Methos smirked. "You young'uns have no stamina," he said.
"Stamina isn't normally a prerequisite for sharing an after dinner beer with a friend," Mac replied. "You do realise you're wearing holes in your socks," he added.
Methos cast a glance at his boots, tucked neatly under the couch, and then down at his feet. Sure enough, his big toe was poking through his right sock. His shoulders drooped a little.
"It's not as though I don't have another pair," he said, as he slouched over to the couch and flopped. "OK Macleod. Here I am, all quiet and still like a good boy. So hit me with it."
Mac silently passed him a beer, then fiddled with the label on his own bottle. Now that the moment was here, he wasn't quite sure how to start. All his prepared openings seemed trite and inadequate.
"It's about Kronos. The Horsemen," he began tentatively.
Methos snorted. "There's a surprise."
"I just wanted to know… That is, I know you can never really… but I need to ask…" Mac trailed off helplessly.
"Why," said Methos. "You want to know why."
Methos just stared at him for a long time.
At least the Old Man wasn't going for his sword. Macleod figured that was a good sign. His eyes flicked back over to his katana, and somehow the distance seemed to measure longer now The Question was out there between them. Mac felt distinctly weird. He hadn't blushed in decades, but he had a suspicion that was exactly what was happening to the spots on his body that Methos' gaze was boring into. He rubbed self-consciously at his neck.
Methos finally looked away, and chugged the remains of his beer.
"Why do you want to know, Mac?" he asked tiredly. "Will it really make that much difference to have a reason?"
Mac shook his head.
"Not in itself, Methos. I know there can't be a nice neat answer to this question. But the last time we went by here, you pushed me away. You gave me the worst possible version of your answer, so that I'd walk away from you. And it worked. I couldn't get away fast enough. With some distance, I can see why you did that. I still hate that you did it, but I understand it."
Duncan took a quick sip of beer to ease the sudden dryness in his mouth.
"Now that I'm over the first shock of that little speech, I'd like to see if there's any chance we can be friends again. But that push you gave me was good and hard, Methos. I can't cover the distance between us on my own. So now, I need the other version. The why of it, if there even is one, doesn't matter. I know there must be a hundred different reasons why things were the way they were. I just need you to tell me about it without the posturing bullshit. I want you to tell me the way you would have if Cassandra hadn't been here. One friend to another. Because I want our friendship back Old Man." Mac paused. "Do you?"
By the end of Duncan's speech, Methos was wearing the oddest expression on his face. One Duncan had never seen before, and had no chance of reading. So when Methos got up, for one awful moment Duncan was sure he was heading out the door.
Then he spoke.
"Kronos mainly," he said. Then held up his empty beer bottle. "Want another beer?"
Duncan nodded, while his thoughts did frantic loop-the-loops. What the fuck did that mean? Kronos mainly. Even though Methos' reply had been light, almost flippant, beneath that there was something. Hell, the way Methos said it, it almost sounded like he and Kronos… like the two of them were close. Real close. In a decidedly unbiblical sense. Duncan licked his lips.
"What do you mean, 'Kronos mainly'?" he asked as mildly as he could manage.
Methos was over by the fridge, fishing out the beers, and what Duncan could see of him went still at that question. As he stared at Methos' rigid back Duncan was suddenly sure, really sure, that if Methos answered he was going to say that he and Kronos were lovers.
That he had loved him.
Duncan wished he could take the question back. Because it had been bad enough that he had taken Kronos' head, knowing that it was going to sear both his body and soul to take such a corrupt quickening. And it had hurt, but it had been worth it to save so many lives. To save Methos. He'd told himself that over and over since then.
Duncan hadn't thought that anything could ever be worse than Kronos' quickening. But this pain was worse. He couldn't bear to hear anything tender about Kronos. Not when he still got cramps and the most intense washes of nausea when he even came close to thinking about that quickening. Not when he knew, deep in his soul, that if Methos hadn't been there to share the power, it would have been another dark quickening. One he never would have wakened from. One that would have created a fiercer Horseman than Kronos had ever been.
"Look forget it," he said.
Methos didn't seem to hear. He was handing him a beer, starting to pace again.
"He was ... still, Macleod," Methos said, pacing faster.
"Still what?" asked Mac, his brain not taking in this new direction - almost hearing the word 'love' anyway.
"When all the world changed around him," said Methos, "he stayed still. Time stopped for him. He fitted the world to suit him and kept it that way. Do you know what that meant Macleod?"
Duncan shook his head. This was way out of left field. He had no clue what it meant.
"It meant I could just be with him. No need to adapt. No need to move on. Kronos was an island that the years and centuries washed around without moving," said Methos.
He stopped pacing and made eye contact. Mac could once more feel the whorls of heat creeping over his face.
"And despite it all - all the death, all the blood, all the hate - it was a kind of peace for me, just because it never changed. He was still, Duncan, and that's mainly why I stayed."
Methos slowly moved back to the couch, and flopped again, as though immeasurably weary.
"I had already survived more than 2000 years of life before the Horsemen," he continued, his voice no more than a whisper. "And that survival had eroded my sense of self. I'd changed my name, occupation, language, nationality, wealth, sexual orientation, everything about me more times than I could count in any language I knew. Empires had risen and fallen, seas had come and gone. Even the stars in the night skies had altered their positions since my youth. I could not point to one thing about me and say it was really me." He dropped his head, stared at the toe poking through his sock.
"Then you met Kronos," said Duncan.
"Yes," Methos said. "Then I met Kronos."
Duncan was feeling almost euphoric with relief. He couldn't believe he had been so off target. He would have to have a long think later to try and work out why he had been so ready to assume Methos and Kronos had been lovers. In the mean time the explanation he was being treated to was fascinating. It was also probably only a fraction of the truth. The Old Man's motto was never to tell the whole truth if a half-truth would do. Even so, it had a ring of realism to it. Maybe, if he asked the right questions, he could get a bit more out of Methos before he dried up.
"What was Kronos like then?" Duncan ventured.
"Much the same," said Methos, with a vague ghost of his usual sarcasm. "He was brutal and unappealing in any conventional sense. I wish I could tell you what it was like to suddenly stumble across the stillness of Kronos after so much change. Why I wanted that stillness so badly. But I can't."
"You could try. I'm not that young and naïve, Methos."
"Its not just because of your youth, Macleod. It's because of the price I was ready to pay to live for a while in a world that never changed. Even if you understood the seductive call of such a thing, you'd never be tempted to pay such a price for it. You're too much of a boyscout," Methos said, with a quick grin. Then he reached for his boots and started to pull them on.
"Don't go," said Duncan. "There's plenty of beer left."
Methos merely shook his head. "I've had about as much navel gazing as I can stand for one night, Mac. I'll see you at Joe's tomorrow."
Swallowing his disappointment, Duncan walked him to the lift.
"Mind your head Methos."
"Don't let the bedbugs bite Highlander," Methos said with a smirk as the lift began its descent.
The next morning, at an hour Methos would undoubtedly have called the middle of the night, Duncan was down in the dojo. He had reached that point in his kata when he felt as though his brain was floating about a foot above his head, and yet at the same time as though he was completely centred within his body. His muscles bore the melting heat of extreme exertion, at the point just before movement turned into pain. He shifted into a new routine.
This was his favourite form of meditation and contemplation. His thoughts were always clearest when his body was caught up in a rhythm. Today he had a lot to contemplate.
Stillness for one thing.
Duncan grinned. He was sure the Old Man would enjoy the irony of the situation if he were privy to Duncan's thoughts - Duncan choosing to sweat through a hard workout so that he could think about stillness. He'd be sure to make some rude remark about it.
Duncan tried to come up with a suitable one.
Maybe… 'You're such a boyscout. In case you hadn't heard, there is no merit badge for Methos analysis.' Nah. Not vitriolic enough.
How about… 'Most people think the word still means that an object is stationary, not moving, at rest. Only you, Macleod, would translate it into meaning perpetual motion, infinite exertion, still going.'
Yeah, better. He wouldn't let it go at that though. The Old Man would probably end up with something pat like, 'you never change Macleod'. Just to drive the point home.
Duncan chuckled fondly. For all Methos' cantankerousness, it was easy to find him fascinating. Just the breadth of his memories and experiences made him an easy obsession to acquire. He was endlessly permutable, never quite the same man twice. It had never before occurred to Duncan that Methos might find that quality a curse. But if what Methos had said about the Horseman was even close to the truth, he found the quicksilver nature of his own personality hard to live with through the centuries. It was difficult to believe that something Duncan treasured so much was such a burden. And he did treasure it - enough to try to salvage the friendship after the events at Bordeaux, and his deep feelings of betrayal. Duncan had long since recognised and accepted his compulsion to understand the old immortal.
What really puzzled Macleod about the friendship though, was why the Old Man found it worth salvaging. What on earth kept him coming back for more? Duncan could understand Methos' urge to run, not to get involved in the passing parade of immortals that sought out the Highlander. It was harder to understand why he kept coming back. So much so, that every time he did return Duncan felt a small jolt of pleased surprise.
After all, mused Duncan, what do I have to offer a man who has seen it all, done it all, been it all? When you come right down to it, I'm just a creature of habit, doing the same old things over and over.
Duncan's muscles locked suddenly. The katana skewed wildly, and took out an impressive chunk of the dojo's wall. Duncan hardly noticed.
It was all so obvious.
He was Duncan Macleod of the Clan Macleod, and he hadn't changed his name once in 400 years. He still lived by the same code of honour his father had taught him in the highlands of Scotland. The outside had become a bit more sophisticated and worldly since then, but the highland child still survived within him. And he worked hard at not growing up. He never changed if he could help it. He hated the way Methos pushed him to think and act in new ways; even when those ways proved to be better.
What it came right down to was that he fitted his world to suit him, not himself to fit the world.
Once you knew what to look for, it was painfully, brutally obvious why Methos kept coming back. And even more obvious why he ran so far and so fast when he started to get involved.
"Jesus," said Macleod, breathing hard.
It was so obvious. He could hardly believe he'd missed it for so long.
Methos kept coming back because Duncan was his ultimate seductive fantasy. When Methos looked at Duncan, he saw stillness.
A hot shower later and Duncan was feeling marginally less shaken by his revelation. He had calmed down enough to start doubting his own conclusions. After all, if Methos was so attracted to immutability, why did he work so hard to change him? It was all too confusing.
Too many theories and not enough coffee, Duncan decided, and moved into the kitchen to rectify the situation. The lift started up just as he took his first sip, but there was no buzz, so he wasn't surprised when Joe appeared a few moments later.
"Joe, good to see you. Coffee?"
Joe accepted a mug. "So Mac, how're things?"
Mac smiled. "No fights, no unexpected visitors. In short, no juicy tidbits for the chronicle."
"Darn it Mac, how am I supposed to live vicariously through your exploits if you don't have any?" Joe demanded.
"Terribly inconsiderate of me, I know," Mac deadpanned. "Don't worry. It won't last. There's bound to be a crisis any moment now."
"I think we may already have one brewing, Macleod. That's kinda why I came around," Joe said.
Mac groaned. "I knew it was too good to be true."
"Maybe its nothing. I could be wrong."
"That'll be the day, Dawson. Don't keep me in suspense."
"I'm worried about Adam," said Joe.
Duncan remembered his earlier musings and worked hard not to blush. Which was just ridiculous. The way he was acting, anyone would think he was fourteen, not four hundred.
"Are you worrying about anything in particular, or just his bar tab in general?" asked Mac.
"Yeah," Joe snorted. "I bet the phrase 'drinks like a fish' was coined just for him."
They shared a smile for a moment.
"No, it's more than that," said Joe. "I think he's getting ready to disappear again."
"Why? What happened?" Mac asked, feeling like he'd asked this question a hundred times before when it came to Methos. Amanda too, now he thought about it. He seemed to have a weakness for people who thought nothing of dropping in and out of his life like yo-yos.
"Nothing in particular. It's just a feeling. His face is always so damn bland, it's hard to tell what's up with him. But he came in this morning, and my bartender instincts tell me he's unhappy. Real unhappy. If I didn't know better I'd think he was unhappy in love."
For an awful moment Duncan felt like Joe had read his mind. Every embarrassing supposition. But Joe's weathered face was as guiless as ever.
"He hasn't been seeing anyone, as far as I know," said Mac. After all, his ideas about the Old Man were just conjecture. Not a solid fact anywhere in sight. "What makes you think that anyway?"
"I don't really know," Joe said. "He was fine yesterday. Today, something's wrong. He's not being hunted. No problems at work. So I thought maybe he'd had a falling out with whoever he saw last night."
"Actually, he had dinner with me last night," Duncan said.
Joe gave him a sharp look. "What did you do?"
"What do you think!" Duncan just knew he had a guilty look on his face. "Fed him dinner. Talked. Drank beer. The usual."
"You've been pestering him, haven't you? About the bloody Horsemen," accused Joe. "You couldn't just ask him over for dinner and have dinner."
Mac shook his head. "It's not the way you think, Joe." But he wondered suddenly if maybe it was like that. "There were no harsh words, no reproaches, no drawn swords. It was all completely amicable."
Except, after he'd done what I asked, he practically ran out the door, Mac thought, seeing things with a new slant.
Joe didn't look convinced. "So you didn't talk about the Horsemen?"
"We talked about Kronos," said Duncan. "And I think I must be going insane, because for a couple of seconds I could have sworn he was going to tell me that he and Kronos were lovers."
Joe looked away quickly.
"What gave you that idea, Mac?" he asked, sounding innocent enough.
But there was something about the way he was holding his head, and Duncan had that churning feeling back in his stomach.
"Shit Joe, he told you, didn't he?"
Joe shrugged his shoulders.
"What do you want me to say, Mac? Yes. No. Does it really make that much difference who he slept with 2000 years ago?"
Duncan didn't reply.
"Why does it have to matter?" Joe demanded. "What's wrong with you that it has to matter! When did you become so damn judgemental?"
Duncan couldn't seem to make his mouth connect with his brain long enough to say something soothing. Because it did matter. It mattered so much, he could hardly see straight. Not because of the reasons Joe was envisioning. Not because he was condemning Methos. Oh no.
He recognised this feeling now. It wasn't residual nausea from Kronos' quickening as he'd thought. He'd felt this before, when he'd stumbled upon one of Amanda's toy boys in the early days of their friendship.
It was jealousy.
Jealousy implied a whole heap of things Mac had been much more comfortable not having to admit to... like the fact that Methos lit up his life every time he walked through the door... or the fact that he wanted to rip the Old Man's clothes off and fuck until they were both raw... or the way he loved watching him move during sword practice... loved watching him do pretty much anything, actually... loved...
Mac abruptly sat down and put his head in his hands.
...he loved Methos...
"I never thought you'd be such a homophobe, Macleod," said Joe.
Duncan looked up at that.
"Jesus Mac, its not like he's gonna make a pass at you."
Who knew words could still hurt so much after 400 years, mused Duncan. It felt as though Joe had just inserted a knife into his belly and sliced right up into his heart.
"Dawson, my supposed homophobia is so completely not the issue here, it isn't even funny."
"Yeah right Mac. That's why you just about fainted at the thought of Methos with a guy."
"Not a guy, Joe. Kronos. The thought of Methos and Kronos makes me sick. I took his quickening remember. I've got a pretty good idea what that pervert did to his lovers."
Joe's stance softened a little.
"I can understand that Mac. But it isn't important. It's never mattered before. That's never been what your friendship was about."
There was that pain again, as Joe's words seemed to twist the knife of jealousy in Duncan's gut.
"And there I was thinking Methos had been pining away in your bar this morning from his unrequited love of me," snapped Duncan, and could have kicked himself. Those were not the words to sooth a protective and angry Joe Dawson. Suave, real suave. Four hundred going on fourteen may have been too optimistic an estimate. More like four hundred going on four.
"I'll see myself out, Mac," said Joe, turning stiffly to go.
Duncan grabbed his arm.
"Shit Joe, what do you think I am? If I took the head of every guy that ever made a pass at me I'd be a one man holocaust. I learnt to deal with it ages ago. Hell, I probably get more offers from men than I get from women."
Joe looked at him disbelievingly.
"Well, maybe not more, but it's not an uncommon thing. That really, really isn't the problem here," Duncan said.
Joe stepped away from him, still angry.
"Then perhaps you'd better tell me what the problem really, really is."
"Ah," said Macleod. "That's easy. It's like this Joe - I'm so jealous I can't see straight."
And then he went to get Joe a double brandy.
"So when did this happen?" demanded Joe, once the brandy had kicked in.
"About half an hour ago."
"Mac, be serious."
"I am being serious. I didn't have anything to be jealous of until you confirmed the Kronos thing."
"But how long have you felt this way? And why didn't you tell me?" Joe asked.
"I didn't tell you because I didn't figure it out until today. But looking back, I must have felt this way for a long time, or I wouldn't have been so torn up over the whole Horsemen thing."
Joe nodded at that. "So what are you going to do about this, Mac?"
"Well, that depends," said Duncan.
"Don't get cryptic on me now, you mad Scot," said Joe. "What does it depend on?"
"On whether he loves me," said Duncan, and got up to pour more brandy.
"Of course he does. It's as plain as the nose on his face."
Duncan paused, consideringly. "Nothing could be that obvious, Joe!"
Dawson looked at him pityingly.
"OK, so it's that obvious. So that means I go with Plan A," said Duncan.
"Do I even want to know what Plan A is?" asked Dawson.
Duncan grinned. "Sure you do Joe. How else can you get those vicarious thrills you're so keen on?"
"Don't joke, Mac. If you don't take this seriously you could really screw things up."
"Things are already screwed up, Joe. This is my last chance to unscrew them. You could say that screwing and unscrewing are what Plan A is all about."
"I knew I didn't want to know about Plan A," muttered Joe.
"Don't give me the prudish act - you haven't got a shockable bone in your body," Duncan said. "Just tell me if you think it will work."
"Yeah, it'll work alright," said Joe. "But if you hurt him, I swear to God, I'll stab you in the heart myself."
"If I hurt him, I'll stand still and let you," said Duncan.
Joe drained his brandy and stood. "Then I take it I'll see you at the bar tonight."
Duncan nodded. Joe limped over to the lift.
"This Plan A of yours better be damn good, Mac. I wasn't joking when I said he looked like he was getting ready to leave."
"I know Joe. I know."
When it came to inter-personal relationships, Mac knew his weaknesses. He'd been born in an era when the word inter-personal wasn't even in the vocab. Even if he lived to be as old as Methos, he would never be a sensitive new-age guy. Sensitive bygone-age maybe. But the whole sensitivity thing just wasn't a strong suit.
Seduction, on the other hand, he could do with both hands tied behind his back; in fact, he had actually done so once, during the French Revolution.
Tonight was definitely a night to play to his strengths. With someone like Methos, however, it wouldn't do to be too blatant. In fact, Duncan suspected that his only true hope of success was absolute subtlety. So he reluctantly gave up the idea of dressing to kill. This would be a seduction of words.
There was only one problem with that, as far as Mac could see: he'd never felt more tongue-tied in his life.
Oh yeah. He had it real bad.
He just hoped this would all work out, so that he and Methos would get the chance to laugh themselves sick over it. Together. In bed. Preferably after several sessions of mind-blowing sex.
Macleod broke out in a light sweat. That was something he wasn't going to think about right now. He and Methos. Having wild, sticky, heaving, life-altering sex. He just wasn't. He couldn't afford to. Maybe later, after he'd seen Methos, maybe then he'd think about it. But not right now.
Except that he was, wasn't he. He catalogued the signs. Trousers too tight - yep. Breathing like he'd run a marathon - yep. Visions of pale limbs, a hot tongue, being able to run his hands over... well over every-damn-thing. Yep, yep, yep.
Considering he'd never noticed noticing the Old Man before, the x-rated porno show in his mind was certainly very detailed. Considering he'd never consciously thought of fucking the Old Man senseless before, he was really finding it very hard to stop now he'd begun.
Duncan sighed. It was going to be a long, hard, frustrating night.
Joe's bar was dark and smoky, which was usual. But the live band were playing something with a lot of bass, which wasn't. Duncan wandered over to the bar, and caught Joe's eye.
"Hey Joe. What's with the band?"
"Lead singer's a friend of mine. What do you think?" asked Joe, while pushing Mac's drink across the bar top.
Duncan slid onto a stool. "I think their backbeat is doing strange things to my blood pressure."
"Nah," said Joe. "That's just nerves."
"I feel ridiculous," said Mac. "Like a horny teenager in one of those awful teen movies."
"I could always pass him a note for you," said Joe, grinning.
Mac groaned. "You're not helping, Joe. What the hell was I thinking? This is never going to work."
"Look Mac, you may feel ridiculous," Joe said, "but you sure as hell don't look like a horny teenager. Just give him that smouldering look you give Amanda and he'll be putty in your hands."
Duncan was marshalling a withering retort when he felt Methos' buzz. It started as a tingle at the back of his skull, then bolted down his spine, spreading gooseflesh in its wake, until it hit his groin. Where his pants suddenly became way too tight. Again. Duncan cursed his libido, and took a big mouthful of beer.
Which was unfortunate, as Methos chose that moment to put his hand on Duncan's shoulder.
"Hello Highlander. Joe. I'll have a beer."
Duncan tried to cough up his lung as sexily as possible. "Hi Adam," he finally wheezed.
"Smooth technique," Joe muttered to Duncan, before moving down the bar to serve another customer.
"You're meant to swallow your beer Macleod, not inhale it," said Methos, with a smirk that would normally have set Duncan's teeth on edge.
Macleod wasn't quite so far gone he thought the smirk was endearing, but he was pleased to have started the evening by getting the Old Man in a good mood - no matter how inadvertently.
"Yeah, well, I haven't had as much practice as you," said Duncan, and gave himself two points. One for the dig about the Old Man's age, and another for the reference to his drinking habits.
Methos just grinned wider.
"Don't worry child. I can give you a few tips if you like."
"Oh, I thought you were just a guy. I didn't realise you had any wisdom to dispense. By all means, tip me," Duncan replied, wondering if his double entendres could get any more puerile before the night was over.
"I only tip those who've done me a service, Macleod," said Methos, lifting an eyebrow. "What have you done for me lately?"
Duncan almost choked on his beer again. If he didn't know better he would have sworn Methos was flirting with him. But the Old Man was still wearing his most irritatingly superior expression. Duncan suppressed a sigh. He couldn't really expect it to be that easy.
"Cooked you dinner," Duncan said.
Methos' expression lost its belligerence.
"Yeah, you're a pretty decent cook, Macleod."
When Duncan had envisioned playing to his strengths, it had not occurred to him that culinary skills would be his salvation. But he sensed victory in the air as he leant towards Methos.
"Actually, I've got left-overs. Have you eaten?" Duncan was rather pleased with the casualness of his question.
"No. I thought I'd just get something here," Methos replied.
"Why don't you come home with me instead," said Duncan. And felt like sticking his fist in his mouth before he could say anything more blatant. Had he really just said the words "home", "you", "come" and "me" in the same sentence? He looked firmly down into his beer, so that he couldn't see the smirk return to Methos' face.
"OK," said Methos. "I'd love to come home with you."
Duncan looked up in time to catch the twinkle in the Old Man's eyes.
"Anything to get out of here. This backbeat is driving me crazy," Methos added.
And then Methos was chugging the rest of his beer, and Duncan could see every tendon in his neck as he tilted his head. It was all he could do not to lift up his hand and touch.
That's when Duncan realised... Methos really was flirting with him.
Then Methos was sliding off his barstool, waving to Joe. "Coming Macleod?" he asked, impatiently.
And that's when Duncan realised that Methos hadn't noticed that Duncan had noticed the flirting. Which implied it had been going on a long time... which implied that Joe was right... which meant that there was a pretty good chance that...
... that Methos would end up spending the night in his bed.
Duncan knew he was about to get a big, stupid grin all over his face, and hid the worst of it by fumbling for his keys.
"Come on, Macleod. I can hear the beer in your fridge calling me," Methos said.
"Calling you what?" Duncan asked.
"Thirsty," said Methos, but this time with a low-key smirk.
Twenty minutes later they were back at the loft. Duncan was contemplating his next move, while reheating the food. The trouble was, now that he had the Old Man where he wanted him, he wasn't quite sure what to do with him.
Actually he knew what he wanted to do with him; just not how to get him naked and on the bed. What was the etiquette for seducing a 5000 year old man anyhow? Did one lay hands on him, despite the risk of provoking an armed response? Or did one ask? And if so, how?
The simple "Let's fuck" had some appeal, but as Duncan had experienced limited success with it in the past, he tended to avoid it on principle. There was always the old 'hypothetical question' routine, but frankly Duncan doubted his capacity for careful metaphor and linguistic footsy games right now. And admitting he was hopelessly in love seemed too sappy to even deserve serious contemplation. It would have its place afterwards. If there was ever going to be an afterwards.
OK, so words were out.
Duncan decanted the food onto two plates, and set them on the table.
"Mmmm," breathed Methos, sniffing the food. "You certainly have the knack, Highlander."
Duncan picked up his own fork, and took a bite of the chicken, surprised to find he was actually hungry. He looked over at Methos, who was happily stuffing himself.
"You're meant to eat it Methos, not inhale it," he said.
Methos looked up, a little startled. Then he smiled; a true smile that lit up his whole face. A smile that set Duncan's heart racing.
If not words, then action. It definitely had to be action; and soon!
"The difference is, Mac, that I can do it without choking," Methos said, and resumed his high-speed dredging operation.
"All that sarcasm; the millennia must seem too short to do it justice," said Duncan. "It must be useful having such a talented mouth."
"You have no idea," said Methos, between swallows, and licked his lips.
Yep, he was definitely flirting.
If he was ever going to get a better cue than that, Duncan wasn't going to wait around for it.
"Why? What else can it do?" he asked, with as much heat in his voice as he could manage without reaching over the table and kissing Methos senseless.
When Methos looked up, Duncan took Joe's advice, and smouldered for all he was worth. He'd known erupting volcanoes to smoulder less than the look he was using on the Old Man. Methos suddenly looked like someone had kicked his chair out from under him. But despite the fact that Joe was so often right about everything, it still took Duncan by surprise when Methos shoved his plate aside, grabbed Duncan's ears, and pulled him into a liplock so tight and hot and wet and good it made the whole room spin.
And then he was kissing back. Kissing Methos back. And it was good, as good as any kiss he'd ever kissed. Then it was better than that. Better than good. It was great. It was wonderful. It felt like it was the whole world; that it would go on forever. That it would never be over.
And then it was.
Methos was pulling back. Duncan took one look at his face, and knew that he was about to say something sarcastic. Something to make the kiss a prank, to put the distance back between them.
"Don't," Duncan said. "Don't say anything."
"I don't know what you think..." Methos got out, before Duncan pressed a finger to his lips.
"I think that I want to do that again," said Duncan, and pulled Methos towards him. Methos was wearing that stunned expression again, as though someone had changed the script when he wasn't looking. But he wasn't resisting, so Duncan closed the distance between them.
This time it started soft and sweet, while Methos was making up his mind. Duncan could tell the moment Methos decided to go with it, because suddenly he had no breath. He could smell Methos anyway, like cinnamon and sex.
Then they were away from the table, and pressed against each other. Tight. So that he could feel the muscles under Methos' skin press against him as they moved. He'd forgotten that it felt so different with a man. Strangeness and similarity mixed in equal parts. He could kiss like this all night, in the circle of Methos' arms.
Methos was trailing his lips along Duncan's jaw, down his neck, along his collarbone.
"Duncan," Methos growled.
And bit him.
Duncan could actually feel himself loose IQ points as every beat of his heart redirected blood from his brain to his groin.
"For God's sake Methos, get your clothes off now, before I rip them off," said Duncan.
"Good idea, Macleod," said Methos. Then wrapped both hands in Duncan's shirt, and pulled. The ricochet of the buttons hadn't even died down before his mouth latched onto Duncan's chest.
Duncan's body felt like it was melting from the middle, out.
"Bed," he muttered, dragging Methos bodily in the right direction.
They made it just before his knees gave out. Methos, displaying all the cunning of his five millennia, took advantage of their new position to work his hand into Duncan's jeans.
"Fuck," yelled Duncan, bouncing off the bed as though he was jet propelled.
"Exactly," purred Methos.
"You stay away from me," said Duncan, holding up a shaky hand, "until you've got your gear off. I refuse to come in my pants like a teenager."
"Compared to me you are a teenager, Macleod," said Methos, sliding closer.
"Oh my God, I'm Lolita," muttered Duncan, while frantically wrenching off the last of his clothes.
"No," said Methos, and pounced.
Within three moves, he had Duncan pinned to the bed.
"You're even better than that. You're an immortal with incredibly efficient recuperative powers. As you will shortly demonstrate."
Then he had Duncan in his mouth, and it was too hot, too good, too much. Duncan was seeing flashing lights before his eyes before he even knew he was coming.
After a while Duncan felt reality begin to firm up around him again. Methos was still in his arms, and was gently stroking him.
"What did you do that for?" asked Duncan, weakly.
"Because I want you," said Methos. "And I want it to last."
"Oh," said Duncan. And began to demonstrate his efficient recuperative powers. Which were only speeded on by his discovery that Methos was now completely naked.
"Pretty smart moves for an old guy," said Duncan, before rolling over and licking Methos' nipple.
"Age and experience have some advantages," said Methos breathily, his skin beginning to flush.
"Undeniable," said Duncan. "But now let's give youth and enthusiasm a try." And bit down hard.
Sometimes payback was a sweet, sweet thing.
Methos went rigid beneath him, and started to breath like there wasn't anywhere near enough air in the air. "That sounds like a good plan," he finally managed.
Which was the last coherent sentence he formed for quite a while.
Duncan took his time exploring, licking, loving the body before him, until Methos was writhing. A view that undid a lot of his own self-control.
"How do you want to do this, Methos?" he asked.
"Fuck me," Methos responded. "Fuck me now."
Duncan could do that. He had before, with other men. But it wasn't what he wanted this time. He wanted to feel close to Methos, not just hot and sweaty with him.
"Let me love you," he whispered.
Methos shivered at the touch of Duncan's breath in his ear.
"Yes," he said. "Anything. Just do it now."
So Duncan did. And it wasn't like he'd expected, somehow. It was better than he remembered. Stronger. The only words that came into his head while he touched Methos, smelt him, became part of him, were lyrics. And that seemed right, somehow. Not twee, or maudlin, or trite. Just strong and fine.
Oh, how divine, how soft, how sweet, how fair!
Duncan thought for a while that he was the only one to feel like this, but then Methos started to cry. The tears running silent silver tracks down the sides of his face.
Then it was more. More than he could bear.
So much love for this man.
It spilled out of him, overflowed, mingled with Methos.
And Methos' face was in his hair, his voice in his ear.
"I love you. I love you."
"An' I you," said Duncan, holding on tight, as he fell into sleep. Holding on tight, to keep the feeling close. To keep Methos close.
Duncan woke, as he always did, with the first grey light of dawn. His first impulse was to reach out for Methos. But the bed beside him was cold and empty. To his surprise, Duncan found he was not surprised by this; that he had, in fact, expected to wake alone. Hoped to be wrong, but not really expected it.
It hurt his heart to think of Methos out there. Solitary. Running away from him.
But Methos would be back; as inevitably as the world would turn. Once he had described his arc, he would return to Duncan. His anchor. His still, reliable centre. Unavoidably drawn, undeniably needed.
"And still loved," said Duncan, and got up to start his day.