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  • dubiousbystander
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    That was a really good piece she put together. It's an AU of her primary Methos/Joe story, and that one goes on...

    Leave a comment:


  • Nicholas Ward
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    The Island by genteelrebel


    ~MacLeod's Island, Pacific Northwest , 2015~

    Joe Dawson, retired Watcher, not-retired-in-spite-of-his-arthritis blues musician, and ever faithful chronicler of the Immortal Duncan MacLeod, eased his body into the little two-oar boat with great hesitation. Damn it, he'd known there was more than one reason why he'd avoided Mac's cabin all these years. The boat rocked awkwardly under his body, sending a little thrill of nausea through his stomach. "Relax, Joe," MacLeod said as he pulled on the oars, nodding at the place where Joe's knuckles clenched on the boat's edge. "I've haven’t lost one yet."

    "There's always a first time," Joe retorted.

    It really was funny. The lake had looked so...peaceful...when Joe was standing firmly on dry land. Now that the shore was rapidly dwindling behind him, it took on all the terror of an abyss. MacLeod, of course, was annoyingly immune to the effect. He grinned at Joe, the muscles under his sweatshirt bunching as he rowed. "Well, in that case, I'll just get a chance to practice my life guarding skills," Duncan teased. "I am fully qualified, you know."

    "Yeah, but that was several decades before the bikini was invented," Joe said. "Coney Island, wasn't it?" MacLeod smirked and nodded. Joe folded his arms protectively over his chest. "I've seen the pictures in your Chronicle. You were dressed in a long woolen swimsuit, a flapper on each arm. No thanks, Mac. I'd rather stay dry."

    Needing to distract himself from the gentle *slap, slap* sound of the water against the boat's hull, Joe stared at the opposite shore. The cabin grew larger and larger as MacLeod's powerful strokes carried them across the water, and Joe realized that the old house looked better than ever. Duncan had done a lot of renovations over the past few years, in an effort to please his extraordinarily fussy life partner. The cabin was larger now, but only an experienced Watcher like Joe really would have noticed. The remodels blended so seamlessly with the rest of the house that it was difficult to tell where the old cabin ended and the new sections began. "Mac, where's Methos?"

    "Ah, another man who doesn't trust my rowing," MacLeod said mournfully. "You know how he is about water, Joe. He threatened to hire a helicopter to air-lift him in the first time he brought me here. And he *did* make me hire one when we moved in his library." Joe chuckled. "But don't worry. He's at the house, probably pacing back and forth impatiently as he waits for your arrival." Duncan considered. "Unless he's dusting. Again."

    "Dusting?" Joe made a game try at imagining the World's Oldest Slacker with a dust cloth in his hand. He failed miserably. "As in, cleaning?"

    "Exactly." Duncan nodded. "He's been driving me crazy all week, Joe. You know the drill: cleaning behind the stove, dusting behind all the books on the shelves, that sort of thing. Seems he wants everything to be perfect for a certain Watcher's visit."

    "He's afraid I'm going to write up the dust bunnies for your Chronicle?"

    Mac laughed. "Hardly. He just wants you to feel at home. You guys have been e-mail buddies for too long, I think. He can't wait to actually be in the same room with you again."

    "Huh." Joe shook his head wonderingly. "I think you guys have been on Holy Ground for too many years, Mac. If Methos is getting so desperate for a real live human to annoy that he'd actually do housework...well, you both need to get out more."

    "Oh, you'd be surprised, Joe," MacLeod said easily. "It's been good for us, leaving the real world behind. We both needed a vacation from the Game. You know that." Joe nodded soberly--he did, indeed. He just hadn't expected it to last for more than a decade. "Besides," Mac continued. "Technology is truly an amazing thing. With the new satellite up-link, Methos can annoy people on all seven continents face to face. In real time." Duncan gave a final mighty pull on the oars, and the little boat shot over the last few feet of water to the shore. He leaned towards Joe conspiratorially. "You'd be amazed at the number of universities that have banned all transmissions from the Pacific Northwest."

    Joe groaned. "Don't tell me he's trying to correct history *again*."

    "You got it." Duncan jumped out of the boat. He wrapped the boat's anchoring rope several times around a nearby tree, then proceeded to help Joe make the awkward transition back to land, wrapping his arms around the aging Watcher and carrying him bodily to the gravel shore. Joe heaved a hefty sigh of relief as his prostheses once again settled back on dry land. "His latest crusade is to get Academia in general to acknowledge that it wasn't the Chinese who invented stirrups after all,” Duncan said. “Seems the actual invention was made by the Scythians in the third century BC."

    "Well, I guess he ought to know," Joe said under his breath. He turned toward the cabin. The front door was already open. And a very familiar tall, spare form was lounging casually against the frame.

    A heavy weight that Joe hadn't even realized he'd been carrying suddenly lifted. Lord knew, Joe had had his doubts about coming here. In fact, he'd been avoiding this visit for more than ten years. He’d been terrified that seeing Methos and MacLeod together would hurt too much, would cause scabs he'd carefully held in place for years to tear and bleed. But at the sight of Methos, handsome and unchanged and looking ever so slightly anxious, something warm and peaceful flooded Joe’s heart. It *was* good to be here, good to see the old man, even if...well, even if some of the things Joe had once dreamed about could never be. He'd often wondered if he'd die without ever seeing Methos again.

    MacLeod finished tending to the boat. He settled his big hand over Joe's shoulder. "Come on," he said. "Let's go home."

    "Yeah," Joe said, blinking back the sudden mist of tears in his eyes. "Let's do that." Mac picked up his baggage, and Joe started making his slow way up the path.

    ***

    Joe's welcome to the Island was better than he could have hoped for. The hug that Methos gave him as soon as Joe set foot on the porch was warm, familiar, and completely unashamed. Christ, but the old man was actually glad to see him, after all! Joe could almost feel Mac beaming as he stood behind them, Joe's bags dangling from the capable Highland hands. Joe let himself swim in the happy feeling of being wanted. It might not have been perfection, but it sure was damn close…

    At least it was until Methos pulled back out of the embrace and took his first real look at him. Joe could clearly see the shock that came into the oldest Immortal's eyes. "My god, Joe," Methos said. "You look like hell. What's wrong?"

    "Methos!" MacLeod exclaimed. He followed the word with a groan.

    Joe forced a smile. Well, that was the difference between the two Immortals in a nutshell, wasn't it? The Highlander had said nothing about Joe's weight loss and thinning hair. No doubt Duncan had thought it was simply part of the normal mortal aging process, and was much too polite to comment. Methos, on the other hand, had been a doctor, and he had never let mere politeness stop him from saying *anything*. Shit! Joe knew he was going to have to have this conversation sooner or later, but he would be damned if he would let Methos start it now, on the very doorstep! "Not a thing," Joe said, forcibly cheerful. "The years just aren't as kind to me as they are to you, remember? Although--" he swept his eyes over the Immortal form, letting his gaze linger pointedly on Methos's slightly rounded stomach-- "it seems to me that I detect a bit of middle-aged spread on you too, old man. What's the matter? Spent too many years in luxury?"

    Methos had the grace to look slightly embarrassed. "It's Mac's cooking," he said, stepping back. "He can't take my head on holy ground, so he's trying to kill me slowly with eggs and bacon."

    "I thought the Surgeon General announced cholesterol was actually good for you sometime last year."

    "In small amounts, yes. But remember, Mac comes from a culture that thought haggis was the height of culinary subtlety. He's come a long way over the centuries, but he still believes that if you can't drown it in lard, it isn't real food. "

    "Don't believe him, Joe!" MacLeod interrupted. "Methos does most of the cooking around here. His problem is that he spends too much time in front of that damned computer screen instead of chopping wood."

    "It's not like we need that much wood, not anymore," Methos retorted. "The new solar panels keep us quite toasty. We wouldn't need a woodpile at all if you didn't have this fetish about fire gazing."

    "*My* fetish? Seems to me that you are the one who always..."

    The gentle bickering brought a sharp pain to Joe's heart, even as the familiarity of it made him smile. God. It was almost like the last decade had never happened at all. If only... He cleared his throat. "Gentlemen?"

    Methos and Duncan stopped in mid argument. "What is it, Joe?" they chorused.

    "What's a man got to do to get a drink around here?"

    As expected, the question brought both Immortals squarely back to the present. Methos grinned mischievously. "Well, usually I make Mac take off his..."

    "Meth-os!" The word was a warning.

    "But for you, we'll gladly make an exception," Methos finished. He tucked his arm through Joe's. "Come on, Joe. I'll give you the ten-cent tour, and then we'll go see what the wine cellar holds."

    They walked through the doorway together.

    ***

    It didn't take very long for Methos to give the promised tour. Joe dutifully ooed and ahhed over Methos's ultra modern office, the slightly less modern but unbelievably cozy kitchen, Mac's gym, and finally the vast underground wine cellar. There, at least, Joe's enthusiasm didn't have to be feigned. "Holy Cow!" Joe said, when he'd blown enough dust off the bottles to realize just what he was looking at it. "A single bottle of this could pay for a year of college for my oldest grandson. Even allowing for inflation by the time he gets there."

    "Just how is little Joe doing?" Methos asked. He was crouching over a crate of beer in one corner, pulling staples with a crowbar while Joe wandered the shelves. "He's what, six years old now? Seven?"

    "Try thirteen." Methos stared at him, mouth open. Joe smiled. "Yeah, I know. Think how I feel. It seems like just yesterday that Amy was getting married, and now I'm the grandfather of three. Time does have this way of flying by, doesn't it?"

    "Tell me about it," Methos said wryly. Joe went back to inspecting the shelves. He thought about the ten-year-old bottle of Scotch he had safely hidden in the bottom of his bags, brought as a very late housewarming gift. Joe knew that both Mac and Methos would value it, but there was no point in embarrassing himself by bringing it out now. Maybe he'd leave it on his pillow when he left, and the couple could use it to toast his memory 100 years from now. Joe touched the cellar shelves tenderly, comforted by the thought that something of himself would stay here after his death.

    "If you're not in the mood for wine or beer, we do have some harder stuff along the north wall," Methos called. "Scotch, bourbon, gin. Nothing's too good for your first meal on the Island."

    Joe shook his head softly. "Nah, wine will be just fine," he said. "I'm not even supposed to have that. My arthritis pills all have great big yellow labels warning me against drinking alcohol. But I can hardly turn down an opportunity like this, now can I?" He rotated a few bottles so he could read the labels. A soft oath slipped out when he read the date on a dusty bottle of port.

    "Which one are you looking at?" Methos asked. He left the beer crate to peer over Joe's shoulder, than smiled nostalgically. "Ah. Yes. That was one of mine."

    Joe raised his eyebrows. He'd known that the Highlander had been a wine collector for years, but somehow he'd never imagined Methos as being the kind of person who carted bottles from place to place. *Must have had a secret stash when he was living in Paris,* Joe thought to himself. *Starving graduate student Adam Pierson, my…* "Yours?"

    "Ours, now." The nostalgic look deepened. "Mac and I combined collections about five years ago."

    "Wow." Joe whistled under his breath, thinking of the dollar value such a combination could represent. "I never would have thought you'd let a collection like this become community property, Methos. Is that the Immortal equivalent of a formal wedding ceremony?"

    Methos grinned. "Something like that."

    "He's still holding out on me, though," MacLeod called from the kitchen, his voice drifting down the cellar steps. "He's got a first edition 'Huckleberry Finn' stashed in a bank in Munich that he refuses to let me touch."

    "I told you, MacLeod! You don't get your hands on my Twain until you build me a proper library!" Methos shouted back up the stairs, then looked sheepishly at Joe. "Sorry, Joe. Long-standing argument."

    "Good god, man!" MacLeod's voice boomed from above. "I built yew an office with my own two hands, cutting and hewing every board..."

    "Oh, lord. Not the Highland accent." Methos rolled his eyes. "He'll be going on about the running water and the Intranet in a minute."

    "...complete with yer own damn bathroom and a dozen wireless hotspots..."

    "What did I tell you?"

    "...what more can yew possibly *want*, man?" The tirade ended abruptly as both Methos and Joe started laughing. A flushed Highland face appeared at the top of the stairs, spoon in one hand. (Despite his earlier protests to the contrary, Duncan had somehow ended up doing the cooking.) "All right, all right," Mac said, his voice dropping back to its more normal tones as he addressed his lover. "So I'm predictable. It's why you love me, you know. Quit laughing and pick out a wine, all right? Supper's almost ready."

    ***

    In the end, they "liberated" a very fine old cabernet and several bottles of beer. The dinner MacLeod cooked was exquisite, with only Joe's repetitive feelings of deja vu to mar the occasion. It was eerie, and a little bit frightening, how easily Joe could imagine no time had passed at all. The two faces across the table had been unchanging for centuries, after all. Joe didn't even have to close his eyes to imagine they were back in Le Blues or Joe's Bar in Seacouver, sharing a friendly drink after surviving the latest Immortal crisis. Only his body reminded him that more than a decade had passed.

    They retired to the living room after supper. Joe found himself drowsing in his chair as he watched his friends pursue their usual after-dinner pursuits: Mac knelt at the coffee table as he expertly cleaned and cared for his long un-used katana, Methos quietly muttered over some papers on his desk in a corner. Joe wanted to stay awake and talk, but he was very tired after his trip. The Island's quiet combined with the gentle rhythms of his friends' work--oiled cloth slipping over blade, pages crackling as they turned--conspired to lull Joe into drowsiness. He didn't fall asleep, not exactly, but his body grew warm and sluggish while his head grew heavy. He let it drop onto his shoulder while his mind drifted into the past, thinking about how the cozy domestic scene before him had come to be.

    Duncan and Methos. God, there was a time when Joe had never thought he'd see the two of them standing in the same room without swords drawn, much less sharing more than a decade of domestic bliss. After the death of Liam O'Rourke, the two had gone for years without speaking. Joe had never been quite sure what had happened, but MacLeod's affection and patience for the old Immortal, shaky since the Horsemen's death, had suddenly evaporated. Several arguments had resulted in month after month of cold silence. Eventually Methos had given up altogether, killed off Adam Pierson, and moved to London to start a new life. For his part, Duncan had gone back to the States, starting a branch of Connor's antique shop in San Francisco that kept him out of Paris for much of the year. It seemed that the two could easily go through the rest of Joe's life without ever meeting again.

    Oddly, it was during that time that Joe and Methos had become their closest. Joe smiled sleepily as he remembered. Now that he was old, he could afford to be sentimental about it: those years were some of the best of his life. Methos could easily have dropped him completely when he changed identities, but he hadn't. Joe had started teaching at the Paris Academy after the Watchers had formally retired him from the field, and Methos would cross the channel at least twice a month to spend weekends with him. The chess games, the beer binges, and the jokes they shared were all the stuff of very happy memories.

    Then came 2002, and the Challenge to the MacLeods from Jacob Kell. Duncan had been devastated after Connor's death, close to suicidal. Joe and Methos had barely managed to get him away from that Kate woman before she took his head. "It's not good," Methos had told Joe, one long night when a full case of scotch imbibed by the Highlander and the resulting drunken sleep had been the only thing keeping Duncan from cutting off his own head, taking Methos's, or both. "He simply will not see that he has to go on."

    "You've got to get him to holy ground," Joe answered. "He's in no condition to face a Challenge."

    "I'd love to, but where? Running away to a monastery is not exactly an option in his current state, Joe."

    "There's the Island." Even then, Joe had always imagined the word with a capital I. It was that special a place. "Mac's always gone there when he needed to retreat. I think you should take him."

    "I don't know, Joe. He's mourning Connor, and according to his Chronicle Connor visited the Island more than once. There might be memories..."

    "There are going to be memories wherever he looks, Methos. Hell, the sum total of Connor's being is inside him now. He can't get away from it. Let him go someplace safe while he figures out what to do with it."

    "All right." Methos looked grimly determined. "I'll take him, and try to stay with him until he comes to his senses. We may very well kill each other before the first day is out, but..."

    "Just as long as it isn't the permanent sort of killing, Methos. I'm willing to accept anything else."

    So Methos had swept Duncan away to his Island, and the rest was history. Evidently, Duncan wasn't the only one who came to his senses during that retreat. Sometime during the very eventful weeks that followed, Duncan and Methos finally acknowledged the attraction they'd had for years, and figured out what they needed to do to live with it. The next thing Joe knew, Methos had announced that he was moving in with Duncan, permanently.

    Joe had held his breath. It was years before he could open his door without expecting see either Methos, freshly slung out and sarcastic, or Duncan, freshly abandoned and fuming, standing on his front step. But whatever difficulties the two Immortals had, they had worked them out. Time passed...

    And now it was 2015, and Methos and MacLeod fit together like two halves of the same whole. Their love for each other was so obvious, shimmering in every word and deed. It wasn't an easy thing for Joe to see. Every look of affection that passed between them reminded Joe of just how empty of love his own life had been, of how many years he'd lived with no partner of his own. But there was also a kind of comfort in knowing that type of love really did exist, the type that warmed everyone around it like a cozy fire, even if Joe had never been lucky enough to find it for himself. He was glad he'd come, even if....even if...

    Joe relaxed in his chair still further, basking in the feeling of comfort and acceptance that filled the whole house, letting it seep into his muscle and bones. His breathing slowed, and his head slipped forward to his chest.

    He was asleep.

    ***

    Duncan MacLeod finished his work on his katana and carefully, reverently, put it away, hanging it in the place of honor by the front door. It still felt strange, hanging the blade on the wall. For so many years, such a display would have been unthinkable. He'd always had to keep the katana within reach, even when sleeping and showering. Now it was different. Duncan never forgot the sword, never allowed dust to gather on the razor sharp edge, but when the blade was cared for he returned it to its place on the wall, instead of slipping it inside his coat or the special sheath beside his mattress. He gave the sword a little pat as he stepped away from the wall, admiring how it looked, safe and secure. The Island truly was a safe place, a refuge from the Game. It pleased MacLeod that his Japanese companion had found a refuge here as well.

    The katana hung crossed on the wall with Methos's Ivanhoe. It was an odd combination aesthetically, but the sight of it always pleased MacLeod down to the soul. In his youth, his clansmen's arms were always displayed at the door; having his sword crossed with Methos's meant that they really were home, really were a unit. After so many years of watching Methos pick up and leave for Bora Bora at a moment's notice, Duncan still had to marvel that he'd managed to keep him here for so long. If Methos hadn't come to rescue him from the Sanctuary...if he hadn't stayed when Duncan was crippled from Connor's death...they might never have had the chance to discover their true feelings for each other. And Duncan would have missed out on the truest love of his long life.

    Duncan reached for the Ivanhoe and slid it off the wall. Now that the katana was attended to, Methos's blade deserved the same attention. Caring for another Immortal's sword was as intimate an act as making love; it had taken years for Methos to trust him enough to perform this task. Now that Duncan had that trust, he reveled in it, knowing that it meant Methos had truly accepted him as the partner of his life. He sat down by the fire, gently laying the blade across the soft cloths he'd prepared.

    From the corner where he was going over the day's translation work, Methos spoke softly, careful not to wake the slumbering Watcher. "Duncan. Something is badly wrong."

    Duncan nodded as he straightened out his tools, making sure everything was easily within reach. He'd known this was coming. "With Joe?" he asked, just to be sure he was following his lover's train of thought. Methos nodded. Duncan sighed. "Yes. Yes, I know."

    "You *know*?"

    "Well, of course I do." Duncan kept his voice soft, hands busily working over the surface of the blade. "Just because I have the tact not to greet him with 'You look like hell, Joe' doesn't mean I didn't notice."

    "I was just so surprised," Methos admitted. "He's changed so much, lost so much weight since we visited him in Paris. I felt like I was hugging a skeleton. He must have lost at least forty pounds..."

    "Shhh," Duncan warned, seeing Joe twitch in his chair. They both waited until the old Watcher was breathing regularly again. "More like fifty," Duncan said, even more quietly than before. "I could feel all his ribs when I lifted him out of the rowboat. He's pretty weak, too. I know it's hard for him to walk on uneven ground, especially now that the arthritis in his hips has gotten so bad, but he got out of breath after just ten feet. And he didn't even argue when I picked up his luggage. The old Joe would never have let me get away with that."

    "I know. His skin is pale and ashy, too, and his hair..." Methos slammed a hand into his desk, clearly frustrated. "Damn it! Why didn't he tell me when he started the chemotherapy? I could have done something. My clinical training is long out of date, but I could have talked to his doctors. Could have made sure he was getting the best care..."

    "Chemotherapy?" Now it was Duncan’s turn to be shocked. "You think Joe has cancer?"

    "I think there's a good chance. I do know the signs, Duncan."

    Duncan nodded shakily. In addition to his medical training, Methos had watched Alexa die of the disease, and who knew how many other friends and lovers before that. If anyone was capable of a diagnosis on sight, it was Methos. "Tomorrow I'll call Amy, find out who Joe’s primary care physician is," Methos said quietly. "It's possible that 'Doctor Adams' might be able to pull some strings, get more information than a layman could. There might still be something I can do." He took a deep breath. "At the very least, it'll be good to know what the official diagnosis is. Who knows. I might even find out that I'm wrong." He stared into the room's large stone fireplace, watching the flames flicker. "But if I'm not..."

    He didn't have to finish the sentence. Duncan laid the sword down, unable to speak, knowing that his shaking hands would not allow him to continue his painstaking work. Methos got up and walked to his side, gently pulling Duncan's head to his chest. Duncan let his tears well up, comforted by Methos's closeness. "Oh, god, Duncan," Methos murmured into his hair. "I've lost too many like this."

    "Aye, love. I know. I know." Duncan pulled away, wiping at his eyes. They looked at the snoring Watcher, so suddenly, frighteningly frail; he truly was nothing at all like the robust man they both so clearly remembered. "At least...if you're right...then it explains the way he looks. I couldn't believe how much he'd changed when I saw him. It made me think decades had passed instead of just a few years."

    "We’ve both been out of the world a long time, Duncan," Methos reminded him. "It's easy to forget how quickly the years can pass for mortals."

    "Yes." Mac looked up at his lover. "Methos...if it's true...why didn't he say anything to us about it earlier? We would have understood."

    "Does it really matter?" Methos's hands made slow, comforting circles on Duncan's back. "I'm more worried about why he decided to say something now."

    "He already told you then? But I thought..."

    "No. No, my love. Joe hasn't said a word to me that you haven't heard." Methos lifted a hand to gesture helplessly at the room. "But he's *here*, made the trip for the first time in nearly a dozen years, even though we invite him practically every month. Why come now? Today?" He returned his hands to Duncan's shoulders. "There has to be a reason."

    Duncan swallowed hard. "You think he's dying," he said. "That he came to say goodbye."

    "Yes."

    The word seemed so terrible, so final. Duncan's tears started falling freely. Methos held him while they did, silent, comforting. At last Duncan recovered enough to be able to speak. "Methos? What are we going to do?"

    "Well, first we're going to get Joe into a comfortable bed," Methos answered with the smallest trace of humor. "His back will never recover if we let him sleep all night in that chair. Then...we're going to go find a comfortable bed for ourselves." The ancient's voice softened. "I need to feel you hold me."

    Duncan nodded. He needed Methos to hold him as well, give him reassurance while he tried to make peace with this. But something made him ask the next question. "And in the morning?"

    "That can wait until the morning." Methos dropped a kiss on Duncan 's forehead.. "Come, Duncan. Joe needs you...and then I'll need you." He walked to the Watcher's side and spoke loudly. "Joe? Joe? Time to get you to bed, old friend. The pillows are waiting."

    Joe woke up just enough to grumble at them, but he didn't resist. They both put an arm under each of Joe's shoulders and helped him stumble to the guestroom.

    ***

    Methos's early morning call to Amy did not go well.

    This was really only to be expected. Not only had Joe's militantly traditional Watcher daughter never condoned Joe's relationship with the two Immortals, Methos had also called at an ungodly early hour. The last thing Methos wanted was for Joe to wake up early and overhear the conversation. And really, Methos thought wryly after listening to Amy's sharp, clipped voice for several minutes, he honestly wouldn't have minded sleeping through it himself. Amy clearly thought that he and Duncan were going to get Joe's head chopped off, or at the very least let him go out in the cold without a sweater. Well, he could turn that suspicion to his own advantage. "Listen, Amy," he said sorrowfully, knowing perfectly well that she would believe any story that revolved around his and Duncan's incompetence. "I did something incredibly stupid this morning. I knocked Joe's arthritis prescription into the sink..."

    Her "I knew it" sniff was music to Methos's ears. Duncan, who was sitting just out of sight of the video phone's camera, grinned broadly. "Yes, it was very careless of me," Methos said humbly. "The worst part if it was that the lid wasn't quite screwed on. All the pills went down the drain..." This time the sniff was a gasp. "I've called the local pharmacy of course, but they won't refill it without Joe's doctor's authorization. I was wondering if you could get me his doctor's phone number...no, no, there's no need for you to call. I know how hard it is to get hold of medical professionals these days. There's no need to waste your valuable time just because of my mistake...yes, just the number of his primary care physician. Thank you, Amy. Give my best to little Joe and the girls."

    Methos wrote down the number and hung up. Duncan tickled him lightly in the ribs. "You, my love, are devious."

    "Which is why you love *me*," Methos returned. His fingers hesitated over the keypad. "Duncan ? Maybe you could go get us some breakfast. I wasn't lying when I bitched to Amy about how hard it is to contact doctors these days. I'll probably be playing phone tag with nurses and receptionists for the next hour at least."

    "Sounds like a plan." Duncan went down to the kitchen to fix orange juice and eggs, making sure Joe was still soundly asleep as he passed the Watcher's room. When he returned to the office, Methos was frowning, deeply involved in a conversation that involved more medical jargon than Duncan could follow, even with his military medic's training. He set the plate and glass down at his lover's side and gently rubbed one of Methos's tense shoulders. Then he sat down to wait for the conversation to return to English.

    Eventually, it did. "All right, Doctor," Methos said. "It does sound like you've done everything you can. Thank you. Joe's very important to us. We greatly appreciate the care you've taken of him."

    "No thanks is necessary, Doctor," said the light female voice at the other end of the phone. Duncan peeked at the screen to see a handsome young woman with long dark hair. "Joe's a good friend of mine, too. Did you know that right after he was diagnosed, he came by the wards to play his guitar for the other patients? Got everyone singing along, too. It was some of the most amazing music I'd ever heard."

    "That sounds just like him," Methos agreed, and only Duncan heard the slight tremor in the words. Out of sight of the camera, he took his lover's hand. Methos cleared his throat. "Ah. Doctor Robin. Just between you and me...do you have a time span in mind?"

    "Now, now, Doctor," Dr. Robin chided. "You know better than that. AMA guidelines are quite clear these days. We don't give time limits any more. The patients have a tendency to take our guesses for Higher Truth, and that makes them give up when they really should be fighting. But if you promise to keep this just between you and me..." Her voice lowered. "He ought to have four more months. That might stretch to six, and when it comes to Joe Dawson's will to live, I wouldn't have any difficulty in believing in seven or eight. But four is about average for this stage in the disease."

    "Thank you, Doctor Robin," Methos said gratefully. "That's all I needed to know."

    "As I said, it's no problem," the woman answered. "Feel free to call me anytime you have any more questions. And..." she hesitated. "Take good care of Joe, all right? He's special."

    "I know. We will."

    They exchanged good-byes, and Methos ended the call. He leaned back wearily in his chair, folding his arms behind his head. "Well," he said. "You heard."

    "Four months." Duncan shook his head softly. "My, god, Methos. That's no time at all!"

    "It's actually a fairly optimistic prognosis," Methos said sourly. "Dr. Robin told me that Joe's been in treatment off and on for the last three years. He's already done several rounds of chemo and radiation therapy. He could have done one more, but everyone pretty much agreed it was pointless."

    "I'll go wake him up," Duncan said, starting to rise.

    Methos frowned. "Why on earth would you want to do that?"

    "To talk to him," Duncan said, startled that Methos would even have to ask. "We've got to tell him that we know."

    Methos grabbed his arm. "Don't you dare," he said.

    And the argument began.

    Methos's position was simple. If Joe hadn't told them about his illness so far, it must be because he had a good reason not to tell them. Forcing the issue would only cause him more pain. Duncan's position was also simple: he thought Methos's argument was the most ridiculous thing he'd ever heard. Friends told each other the truth, didn’t they? If Joe wouldn't bring it up, then they had to. Besides, what reason could Joe possibly have for keeping them in the dark?

    "I don't know, but he's been doing it for more than three years now," Methos retorted. "Whatever his reasons are, they've been strong enough to keep him silent all this time. Duncan, rushing in and demanding the exposure of a secret this powerful NEVER works out. Haven't you learned *anything* from me?"

    Duncan flinched. Methos had scored a direct hit. "Maybe I haven't learned enough," he admitted. "But Methos...what do we *do*?"

    "See to it that Joe has the best vacation he's ever had," Methos answered. "Just like we originally planned. Feed him, sing with him, talk to him. Just keep your big fat Highland mouth shut about this one little detail, all right? When Joe's ready to talk, he'll talk."

    Duncan didn't like it. Keeping silent about something as important as this was against his entire nature. But...his irritating, annoying, and sometimes surprisingly wise lover did have a point. Duncan's habit of rushing in where angels feared to tread *did* sometimes cause more pain than it relieved. He bit his lip for a moment, then let it go. "All right," he said. "I'll keep quiet. But I still don't understand. If Joe doesn't want us to know about the cancer, why did he even come?

    "He's looking for something," Methos said matter-of-factly. "That's why he came to us."

    "Looking for something?" Duncan thought hard, then looked horrified. "Not...you don't think...Immortality?

    "Of course not! Duncan, how could that thought even cross your mind? Joe's been a Watcher a long time. He knows that's impossible. And even if it wasn't--" Methos paused, and Duncan knew he was thinking of the Methuselah stone, and his abortive attempt to save Alexa-- "he'd turn it down." A sigh. "He's a very wise man, our Joseph."

    "Yes. He is," Duncan agreed. "All right. So he doesn't want to be Immortal. What could he possibly be looking for, then?"

    "If I knew that, don't you think I'd have already given it to him by now?" Methos snapped, his patience at an end. Duncan flushed, instantly ashamed of himself. Methos rested his forehead in his palm for a tired instant, then looked at Duncan with an apology in his eyes. "Don't worry, Mac," he said. "We'll figure it out. Or else Joe will tell us, as soon as he knows what it is himself." Methos’s jaw hardened. "I won't let him leave without it."

    His lover's expression of determination touched Duncan greatly. Methos, unlike Duncan, only rarely adopted another as his own. But when he did, his need to protect and provide was just as great as the Highlander's. "*We* won't let him leave without it," he said quietly, reminding, and Methos bent his head in acknowledgement. "But Methos, we don't have much time to figure it out. We only have another week before he's supposed to go home to Amy and the grandkids."

    "I'll hide the boat."

    ***

    Duncan did his best. Over the next several days he became a dedicated disciple of the ancient and sadly under-appreciated art of Keeping One's Mouth Shut and One's Thoughts To One's Self. The Highlander said nothing when Joe repeatedly fell asleep right after dinner, and retired to his room for a nap after each lunch. He said nothing when, after the first night's celebratory meal, Joe hardly ate enough to sustain a bird. He said nothing when he walked into the guest room and accidentally saw Joe sorting through a truly staggering collection of vitamins and pills. It was difficult, far more difficult than he'd ever imagined, but Duncan kept quiet. And in return, Joe stayed quiet, too.

    As the week wore on, Duncan began to believe Methos might just have to hide the boat after all. Joe, despite his unusual fatigue, seemed to be doing his best to appear unchanged. He laughed and joked just as he had in the old days and entertained them with his guitar, even sang horrible duets with Methos. Duncan often had to shake his head at this last, which usually involved "creative" renditions of Monty Python songs. "All right," he said one afternoon when the "wit" had been flowing rather freely. "I can just barely appreciate the fact that an allegedly human mind came up with "Every Sperm is Sacred." What I can't understand is why both of you would have memorized all the words--and felt it necessary to create new verses."

    "Why, Mac, 'Every Sperm is Sacred' is one of the world's great protest songs," Methos answered, wounded. "It's an incredibly brave, albeit satirical, statement against Western culture's reproductive double standards. Future generations will place it right up there with 'Where Have all the Flowers Gone'."

    "It's a regular 'We Shall Overcome,'" Joe contributed.

    "Exactly." Methos nodded. "Your problem, Duncan MacLeod, is that you don't appreciate true culture."

    "Fine, fine." Duncan was not about to get drawn into yet another 'opera versus Queen' debate. He never, ever won. "I'm an uncultured barbarian child. I know. You've told me. But would you please have mercy on my ear drums and sing something else?"

    Methos sighed theatrically. "I guess that means "The Spam Song" is out of the question, Joe."

    "Awwww." Joe feigned disappointment, then grinned wolfishly. "All right. We'll just have to pick another classic. Do you know anything by the Beejees?"

    "No, no, no!" Duncan waved his arms so hard that his own seat was seriously threatened. "Absolutely not. No disco. Do that, and I'll cut off Methos's beer supply."

    Two pairs of eyes consulted each other in the firelight. "Oh dear," Methos said in a low tone. "I think he means it."

    "Yeah." Joe nodded. "I think he does."

    "We'd better stick to a true classic, then. From a group even Mac can agree contained some of the finest songwriters of the twentieth century." He stood up. "Beatles, Joe. Key of A flat."

    Joe obligingly struck the chord. It hummed in the room for a moment, and then Methos began to sing. "When I get older, losing my hair...*many* years from now...

    Both Duncan and Joe laughed aloud at the wry twist Methos gave to the word "many". Joe picked up the tune. Appeased, Duncan relaxed into his chair, listening as Methos's light clear tenor filled the room:

    "Will you still be sending me a Valentine?

    Birthday greetings, bottle of wine?

    If I'd been out 'til quarter to three,

    Would you lock the door?

    Will you still need me, will you still feed me,

    When I'm sixty-four?"

    Methos had a startlingly good singing voice, one Duncan heard all too rarely. He listened as Methos sang of the idyllic Lonely Hearts Club retirement: "Doing the garden, digging the weeds--who could ask for more?" and chuckled softly when Methos winked at him. The old Immortal much preferred reading to gardening, and getting Methos to pull weeds was even harder than getting him to chop wood. When the song ended, Duncan applauded loudly. So did Joe.

    Methos bowed modestly. "Thank you, thank you. You're much too kind," he said. "Well, Highlander? Will you?"

    "Will I what?"

    "Need me? Feed me? Other verbs that end in 'eed', even if I can't think of any at this moment?"

    "You know I will," Duncan answered. "Although, the song says 'sixty four', not 'five thousand and sixty-four', old man."

    "What about six thousand and sixty-four?"

    "The answer will still be yes."

    "You know, when I first heard Sergeant Pepper's in 1967, sixty-four seemed like an impossible old age," Joe said suddenly. His voice was surprisingly husky. Duncan frowned. After the humor that had been flowing through the room, Joe's sober tone came like a dash of cold water. "Now that I'm on the other side of it, it feels like sixty-four was just the beginning of things." He cleared his throat. "Methos?"

    Methos hadn't missed the Watcher's change of mood, either. He looked worried. "Yes, Joe?"

    "Let me have a solo."

    Duncan and Methos exchanged glances. Methos shook his head ever so slightly, and Duncan pressed his lips firmly closed. "Sure thing, Joe," Methos said agreeably, but Duncan knew he was just as apprehensive as he was. "What are you going to sing?"

    "Another classic. You'll recognize it in a single bar." Joe laboriously wrestled his guitar back into position, grunting as he lifted the instrument onto his lap. Duncan almost stood up to help, but a look from Methos stopped him. Joe played a few notes of introduction. Methos stiffened. Duncan frowned--he thought he recognized the light, simple melody, but he wasn't sure. Then Joe began to sing:

    "Yesterday

    All my troubles seemed so far away.

    Now--I need a place to hide away.

    Oh, I believe in Yesterday."

    Duncan froze. He looked over at Methos. The old Immortal was sitting on the edge of his chair, his face a mask of shock. Duncan could sympathize. The song had always touched him deeply--it touched every Immortal whose heart was still capable of feeling--but tonight, knowing what he and Methos did, it was almost too much. The Highlander's breath actually got caught in his chest; it seemed he might never get it to move freely again. He stared, and listened, too shaken even to cry.

    "Suddenly

    I'm not half the man I used to be.

    There's a shadow hanging over me.

    Oh, yesterday came suddenly."

    Strangely, Joe didn't sound particularly sad. Instead his voice was peaceful, calm, simply telling it the way it was. And maybe there was something else. The small part of Duncan MacLeod's mind that was still capable of thought noticed how often Joe's eyes flickered to Methos, and how the timber of Joe’s voice changed whenever he came to the chorus: "Why she had to go--I don't know, she wouldn't say. I said something wrong--now I long for yesterday." The words seemed to mean something more to Joe than the rest of the song, something Duncan didn't understand. Could Joe have a lost love he was remembering, now that his own life was so close to an end? Then the Highlander saw the old mortal's eyes tear, and suddenly he understood after all.

    It was love written on Joe's face.

    For Methos.

    Joe was in love with Methos.

    ***

    Methos had once told Duncan that some songs were always too short. It didn't matter who was doing the singing, or how many reprises the musicians stuck in. Some things just never lasted long enough. Joe played the final notes, letting them hum away into silence, and Duncan finally understood what his lover had meant. The sudden quiet was almost as harsh as a sword blow. It was terrible, because it was the second such blow Duncan had suffered in the last few minutes: Joe loved Methos. When did he start? How long had this been going on? Mind still reeling from the force of his revelation, Duncan sat in a trance, not really hearing or seeing anything in the room. He didn't hear the way the poignant silence stretched on and on, until Methos suddenly cleared his throat and began a spirited rendition of "Yellow Submarine"; he even missed the way Joe's voice leapt to join Methos in the song, two male voices working hard to sooth away the awkwardness. Duncan had no idea how many songs the pair sang after that or even what their titles were. It was only when the music finally ceased altogether that he came back to himself enough to realize that Joe was speaking. "I think that about does me in for the night, gents," Joe said. "Thanks for a great sing along, Methos, MacLeod. I'm off to bed."

    "Bed?" Duncan stared at the clock gently ticking away on the mantel. "But it's only..."

    A gentle touch on his arm silenced him. "It *is* getting late," Methos said, and Duncan realized with a pang of shame that Joe's face was gray and exhausted, his hands trembling with fatigue. "Have a good sleep, Joe." Joe nodded. He got to his feet and slowly hobbled from the room. Methos watched him go, then turned to Duncan. "Come, Duncan. I'll help you clean up. Then we'll go to bed too. All right?"

    “All right.”

    After the music and the laughter, the Immortals' bedroom seemed ridiculously quiet. Duncan undressed quickly, stripping off his clothes and changing into sweats. Methos was standing in front of their bedroom mirror, the strangely preoccupied expression on his face reflected clearly in the glass. Duncan regarded him thoughtfully... then he went over to him, placed broad hands on the pale shoulders, and kissed the elegant, arching neck. Methos leaned back gratefully into the embrace, and Duncan took a moment to breath in the unique scent of his lover's skin. "Thank you, Duncan."

    "For what?"

    "For not arguing with me about coming to bed early. I know you aren't really tired yet. It's just that when Joe's asleep, the house gets so..."

    "Quiet." Duncan finished for him. "I know. It's like that for me, as well."

    "Strange that it should be that way when we lived more than a decade on this Island without him," Methos said, irony giving his voice an extra edge. "But now when he's alone in his room the rest of the house gets too quiet to bear." He looked at Duncan sadly. "I keep thinking about the music, Duncan, what a loss it will be to the world when Joe dies. *Why* on earth didn't we ever see to it that the man got a major recording contract before it was too late?"

    Duncan smiled. "Did we ever have that kind of power?"

    Methos blinked. "No, I guess not. Not really. But back in the 'nineties I still knew some people, from my time with the Stones. I could have tried." The ancient shook his head wearily. "It's such a shame, Duncan. His music ought to be out there for millions to enjoy."

    "Joe didn't want that," Duncan answered. "For him it's always been about the songs, not his personality or looks. Turning him into a pop star would have ruined everything he worked for." Methos nodded unhappily and began folding the shirt he'd just taken off. Duncan stroked his shoulder. "I think I finally figured out what he came here for, though."

    Methos twisted around to face him, looked up at him eagerly. "What? Does it have something to do with the music? You know, when he was playing tonight, I had this thought..."

    "No, Methos. It was nothing to do with the music, the bar or anything else.” Duncan took a deep breath. It had to be said, and now was as good a time as any. “It's you, Methos. He came for you."

    Methos gave him a perplexed frown. "Come again?"

    "Joe's in love with you. That's why he's here."

    The old Immortal did not react to this news as Duncan had anticipated. A spark of anger flared in the beautiful hazel eyes. For a moment Duncan thought Methos was actually going to push him away. Then the old Immortal simply slid out of his arms and walked toward their big antique dresser, fussing with the discarded shirt. "Not funny, MacLeod," he said. "You have no idea what you're talking about."

    "Yes, I do. I saw the way he was looking at you tonight, Methos. It was written so clearly on his face. He loves you."

    The bare, muscled shoulders shrugged. "Yes, all right. He loves both of us. As old friends. Maybe even as brothers. *Nothing* more."

    "No. Oh, no, my love. There's a whole lot more to it than that.” Duncan took a few steps forward, needing to be close to him, needing to make him understand. “Joe doesn't look at you the way a man looks at a beloved friend. He looks at you the way a man looks at a lover. And not just any lover. He looks at you the way a man looks at the greatest love of his life." Duncan reached out and touched Methos on the elbow, feeling the oddest combination of love and pain. "It really doesn't surprise me," he said softly. "After all, I look at you the same way."

    "Duncan..." Methos held the shirt to his chest for second, as if futilely trying to cover up his nakedness, and then dropped it to the floor. He couldn't seem to come up with anything more to say.

    Duncan gently pulled him into his arms. After a moment of stiffness, Methos dropped his head to his shoulder. "I suppose I really should have figured it out sooner," Duncan said conversationally, stroking the smooth dark hair under his fingertips. "When I think back on it, it’s easy to see that Joe has always had a special place in his heart for you. The only really startling thing is that I never noticed how deep those feelings went. I guess I was just so in love with you myself, I never even thought..." He realized that the body in his arms was shaking ever so slightly, and he reached out to tilt Methos's face up with his hand. The pain he saw there shocked him senseless. "Methos?"

    "Duncan." Despite his obvious distress, Methos's voice was measured, carefully striving for calm. "I am only going to tell you this one more time. I don't care what you saw, or what you think you know. Joe is not in love with me. And you are never going to mention this subject again. All right?"

    "All right?" Duncan was confused. "No, Methos, it is *not* all right. I’ve let you keep me quiet about Joe’s illness, but this is different. We have to talk about it, have to figure out a way to help Joe get through it. It’s going to hurt him a lot when he realizes you don’t feel the same way, but maybe together we can...” Methos's eyes shifted guiltily away, and suddenly Duncan knew everything he needed to. "Oh my god," he said, not quite able to comprehend the meaning of the words but knowing they were true, told by the anguish on Methos's face as clearly as Joe's singing had told him the Watcher's secret earlier. "You do feel the same. You're in love with him, too."

    For a moment Methos just looked at him, pain so eloquent Duncan felt his chest ache in sympathy. Then the old Immortal looked down at the old pine floor boards, worn smooth with age and traffic. A single tear rolled down his nose and splashed on the wood by his feet. It was followed by a sob.

    Duncan stared. Then he gathered his lover firmly into his arms.

    Methos cried with more freedom than any man Duncan had ever known. Duncan sometimes wondered why this was. Could his beloved have grown up in some unthinkably wise culture where male tears were actually honored, instead of forbidden as they had been to a Highland chieftain's son? Or had Methos simply decided to undo his childhood conditioning at some point, knowing that the ability to cry with his whole body and soul would serve him well if he wanted to survive the centuries with his heart intact? He didn't do it often, but when he did the power of his sobs and tremors always left Duncan startled, shaken, and awed by the strength it took to experience such intense emotions so bravely. It also left him wistful. *Maybe, if I don't mess this up and I get to live with you for another few hundred years, you'll teach me how to cry, my love* he thought, using all the formidable strength in his chest and arms to keep Methos upright as he sobbed. *I think it would be a useful thing to know. *

    Somehow or other, Duncan managed to get Methos to the bed. He held the shaking body close, not trying to speak or interrupt the storm, just making gentle soothing sounds into Methos’s hair. When the sobs at last started to subside and Methos sat up on his own, Duncan wiped a stray tear from the other man's cheek and looked deeply into his eyes. Part of him didn't want to ask any more questions; part of him just wanted to let the whole issue lie, let Methos gather his grief back into his body and mourn silently, without another word needing to be said. But the other part knew he had to get Methos to talk about it in order to heal, and anyway he couldn't allow his earlier evasions to stand. If their history had taught Duncan anything, it was this: there could be no secrets between them. Not if they wanted their relationship to last. "How long, beloved?" he asked gently. "How long?"

    "A long time, Highlander. Since about a decade before you first arrived to complicate my life. Since Adam Pierson's first week at the Watcher Academy, to be exact." The words were shaky, but easy and unrestrained. Duncan felt a tension he hadn't known he was holding suddenly dissipate as he realized Methos wasn't trying to lie. *Thank god*, he thought. *I finally learned how to do the right thing. We're going to be all right after all. God, but that was close.* The dark head swung to face him. "Duncan, you must know this, must believe it in your heart. I swear to you it's true. The moment you appeared to warn me about Kalas, I loved you with all my being. Even during those years when we weren't talking to each other. You were always on my mind..."

    "I know, beloved. I know. It was the same for me." Duncan answered. "But that didn't mean I stopped loving Tessa, lost to me as she was...and I know it didn't stop you from loving Alexa. It was only my own blindness that kept me from realizing that you hadn't stopped loving Joe, as well."

    "How could you have? I never said a thing to you about it. Not one single thing."

    "You shouldn't have had to. Methos, words don't matter, not where you're considered. You're much too good at twisting them. But you can't hide the way you act." Methos opened his mouth, looking like he was about to argue. Duncan stopped him. "I know you, beloved,” he said. “You never lift a finger to help anyone who doesn't matter deeply to you. But you've been helping Joe for as long as I've known you. You looked after him when Richie died, took a head to protect his daughter, kept in touch even after you started your new life in London... and you're still taking care of him, interrogating his doctors even as you fight me to protect his privacy. Methos, it's *obvious*. The only amazing thing is that I didn't see it sooner." Slowly, carefully, Methos nodded his head, teeth gently piercing his bottom lip. Duncan gave Methos's hand a reassuring squeeze. "How did the two of you meet, anyway? Neither of you ever told me."

    "Didn’t we?” Duncan shook his head. “I suppose that's because it's really not that exciting a story. Certainly it was nowhere near as dramatic as the events that brought you to my door. It was all absurdly, ridiculously ordinary." Methos wiped at his eyes, flinching as his fingers touched the sensitive, reddened tissue around his nose. In a few moments it would heal, but for now it was still sore, and Duncan winced in mute sympathy. "I was attending my first year Academy orientation. Joe came by to lecture all us new recruits about the joys and perils of field work.” A faint smile touched the old Immortal’s lips. “By the time he left the stage, I was smitten."

    "Smitten?"

    "Smitten. Intrigued. Captivated. Charmed. Pick any word you like. It will probably apply." Methos sniffled and looked out across the room, brilliant hazel eyes focusing on something Duncan couldn't see. "He was so beautiful, Duncan, so very beautiful. You have no idea."

    *No,* Duncan thought. *I don't think I do.* Gently he reached into the bedside table for a handkerchief; Methos jumped when the drawer closed with a bit too loud a noise, but he took the cloth gratefully. "Tell me."

    "I'm not sure I can," Methos said honestly. "Joe had a strength, a...a grace that was obvious to everyone who met him, but was almost impossible to describe. He was certainly handsome physically, but there was so much more to it than that. I mean, all you had to do was look at him to realize he'd been terribly hurt by Vietnam, both inside and out… but by the time I met him something had clicked in his head and he'd come to terms with it, in a way very few veterans ever do. He'd made a conscious decision to trade pain for hope, and the results of that decision shone through everything he did. Then there was his passion for the Watchers, his love of books and Immortal history, and finally there was his music..." Methos trailed off, gave Duncan a little apologetic shrug. "I'm sorry. I'm not explaining very well."

    "No," Duncan said thoughtfully. "I think you're doing great." He cleared his throat. "Were you ever lovers?”

    “Good god, no!”

    The vehemence of Methos’s answer startled Duncan. “Why not?” he asked, hardly believing he was really asking the question, but knowing that he had to just the same. “If you felt that way about him…and he felt that way about you…”

    “Ah, how quickly they forget,” Methos said wryly. “Duncan, it was the 80’s. The 1980’s.” Duncan frowned, not understanding. Methos rolled his eyes. “You really don’t remember what it was like, do you. Or maybe you just never noticed, still being a card carrying member of Clan Heterosexual. Duncan, in 1984 there was no such thing as a legal civil union between members of the same gender, no openly gay characters on television. The whole damn western world was involved in a backlash against the progress the homosexual community had made during the seventies. Joe may be missing his legs, but he's always had one hell of a right hook...which is exactly what I would have gotten if I'd been idiot enough to make a pass at him. The Watchers were not a particularly gay-friendly organization in those days. Joe would not have thanked me for casting any doubt on his straight and narrow credentials." Methos slumped. "Besides. Joe *didn’t* feel the same way about me, no matter how smitten I was with him. I was firmly ensconced in the role of Adam Pierson, wet-behind-the-ears Academy student, and I’m more than smart enough to spot a hopeless cause when I see one. There was no way Joe would ever have been interested even if he *had* been willing to take the risk…"

    "Methos!"

    "Duncan, it's true. Adam Pierson was nothing special. Joe and I became friends, yes, but only because we liked the same beer and the same music. He invited me to a few poker parties; I helped him out with a few research projects. That was all there was to it." Methos shrugged bleakly. "We never would have become anything more than co-workers if you hadn't told him my secret, thereby stimulating his protective instincts and adding me to his Pet Immortal list. Even then, it took him years to trust me again after he learned the truth."

    "You're wrong, Methos," Duncan said positively. "I think Joe Dawson thought Adam Pierson was something very special indeed. What’s more, I think you knew that. Even way back then.” Methos’s mouth dropped open. Duncan held up his hands to stop him speaking. “The only reason you convinced yourself he didn't was because you were an Immortal and he was a Watcher, and you were terrified of what would happen to both of you if you let him get too close. And you're still lying to yourself about it today. Still denying what we both know is true."

    For a moment Methos looked furious. Duncan almost expected him to take a swing at him. Then Methos's anger suddenly dissipated, leaving only an intense, weary sadness in its wake. "Maybe I am," he admitted hollowly. "Joe's death is going to be...very difficult for me, Duncan. He’s the only mortal in centuries to have known exactly who and what I was and to still have wanted to be my friend. It's going to be hard enough to loose that friendship, without wondering what could have been."

    Methos looked so forlorn, so woebegone, that Duncan felt his heart twist. The Highlander felt that they were being drawn rapidly to a cusp…and he wondered, just for a moment, if he was going to be strong enough to make the right decision. Then he took one look at his partner and knew that there was only one decision to be made. He took a deep breath and balled his hands into fists, hiding them behind his back so Methos couldn’t see. "You don't have to wonder, Methos."

    Methos’s head snapped around so quickly Duncan was afraid he’d get whiplash. "Excuse me?"

    "I said, you don't have to wonder what might have been. There's still time. Not a lot, I grant you, but some. Enough." Duncan felt his fists relax. Now that he had started, it all seemed so much easier. He knew he had made the right choice. "Go to him. Tell him what you've told me. Now. Tonight.” He took another deep breath. “And find out what you could have had, if you hadn't been so afraid."

    If it hadn't been such a serious moment, Duncan would have run for the camera. It was rare that he got the chance to see his normally calm and composed partner look so utterly astounded. "Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod," Methos said slowly. "Are you really suggesting what I think you're suggesting?"

    "Of course I am. I’m suggesting that you go to Joe’s room, say everything to him that you just said to me. And then do whatever it takes to see that he believes you." Methos stared at him. "Methos, there's a man lying in our guest bedroom who loves you. He has for a very long time. And now he's dangerously close to dying without knowing that you return his feelings. Are you going to pay him back for all his loyalty by staying silent?"

    "No, but... Duncan, I don't think you understand. These...feelings...I have for our friend Joe. They aren't the chaste, brotherly sorts of things I think you're envisioning. There's also a hell of a lot of physical attraction, even now." He swallowed. "And I am not a saint."

    "You think I didn't know that?"

    "Well..."

    "I *do* know, Methos. I know you, and you've never been able to completely separate your body from your heart. It's part of why you've lived so long, and part of why you're so damn attractive to everyone." The Highlander sighed. "Methos, why do you think he *came* here?"

    "Not for this! Duncan MacLeod, if you think Joe left his family and doctors just to have one last tumble with my five-thousand-year-old carcass, you are sadly mistaken!"

    "Am I? It's a very fine carcass," Duncan returned. Methos glared at him. "All right, no, I don't think that's the whole reason," he admitted. "Joe also came to say goodbye, to share some last drinks and songs with old friends. But *mostly* he came to see you. To have one more chance to show you how he feels." Duncan took a deep breath. "If those feelings take a physical form, then... good. That's the way it should be. It's all right, Methos. Go to him, do whatever the two of you decide you need to do. I'll stay here. I won't mind a bit."

    Methos was quiet for a long moment. Then, almost pleadingly: "You really don't mind?"

    "I would have, a dozen years or so ago," Duncan answered honestly. "Back then I was so afraid of losing you, it seemed like an absolute miracle every time you were still beside me when I woke up in the morning. I would have gone crazy if I thought anyone else had a piece of your heart. But now? We belong to each other, Methos, no matter who else comes into our lives. Nothing can change that." He stepped forward and gently touched the other Immortal's cheek. "Go to Joe. He needs you."

    Methos leaned into the touch for a moment, then kissed Duncan lightly and solemnly on the lips. Duncan patted his back reassuringly. Methos slipped on a robe and fled down the hall.

    ***

    Joseph Dawson lay awake in the cabin's comfortable ground floor spare room, pondering the great fallibility of modern prescription drugs.

    He'd taken the sleeping pill the moment he'd reached his bedroom, knowing that tonight's little sing-along had been a big mistake, knowing he'd given away too much. The faces of his Immortal audience when they recognized the first few bars of "Yesterday" had told him that. Ah, hell. Joe knew he was going to have to break the news about the cancer sometime…but damn it all, he certainly didn't want to do it tonight. As for the rest, namely his ridiculous, near-childish unrequited love for Methos...Joe didn't EVER want to bring that up, and if he let the Immortals corner him yet that night he might not be able to stop himself. So he had taken the sleeping pill, hoping it would quickly carry him into a sleep not even the most determined, sword-wielding Immortal could disturb. If Methos and Duncan couldn't wake him, they couldn't pin him down, and he would never have to say the things he didn’t want to say. It seemed like the perfect plan.

    The trouble was, sometimes prescription sleeping pills just don't work. Or else they only work for an hour or so, after which a man can be wide awake until dawn…

    Joe sighed, groping for the switch on the bedside lamp. He stared at the old-fashioned wind-up clock MacLeod insisted on having on the night table and groaned. Crap. It wasn't even ten thirty yet! Joe looked at his valise, wondering how much damage it would do if he took just one more pill. After all, it wasn't as if it mattered anymore if he got addicted. But then, he didn't want to be groggy in the morning, either. It would be nice, for once, to wake up in time to hear the birds on the Island greet the sunrise. His fatigue was already making him miss too much of this visit as it was...

    "I was hoping you would still be awake."

    Joe nearly jumped out of his skin. He snapped his head around to see Methos lounging in the doorway, looking greatly amused. Well, that was Methos all over for you, entertained by the simplest things. Joe could have sworn he hadn't even heard the door open. "Jesus Christ on a bicycle, old man!" he exclaimed. "Are you trying to give me heart failure?"

    "No. Heart failure is the last thing I want to give you, Joseph." The amusement vanished, replaced by an eerie solemnity. "In fact, I would strongly prefer it if you never died at all."

    Ancient green-gold eyes met Joe's, knowing, unflinching. Joe felt a shiver go down his back. So here it was, at last. "You know, then," he said. "About the cancer."

    "Yes.” Methos nodded. “Yes, I know."

    "I thought you might.” Joe sighed. “Who did you call? Amy? Or the doc?"

    A soft smile. "Both."

    "Meddling SOB." Joe said the words without a hint of rancor. In fact, they might have been an endearment. "Aren't you going to ask me why I didn't tell you sooner?"

    "No." Methos closed the door gently behind him and stepped softly across the room. The green-gold gaze was even more unsettling up close. "I think I know...and if I'm wrong, it doesn't matter. I'm not here to talk about your illness, Joe."

    Joe looked at the Immortal, confused. Something wasn't right here. There was something in the way Methos moved, the way he spoke... "So what are you here for, then?"

    "Can't you guess?"

    "I really haven't the faintest idea." Joe was getting more and more confused by the minute. "Methos, what's going on?"

    “Let me give you a hint.” Methos sat down on the bed. Joe had the oddest impression that Methos was trying to memorize him, fix his features in his mind as clearly as a photograph. Then he bent forward and, ever so gently, kissed Joe on the lips.

    It was, more or less, just as perfect as Joe had always thought it would be. Methos was one damned hell of a good kisser. *Don't want to give me heart failure, Methos?* he thought ruefully. *Good thing the doc has me on a few things for the old ticker as well as the arthritis and the pain, or you'd have a corpse on your hands pretty quick...* For a long moment Joe allowed himself to swim in the pleasure of it, the kiss awakening senses and desires he hadn't felt in much too long. Then common sense intruded. He put a hand between them and gently pushed Methos away. "Methos," he said huskily. "I think you'd better explain yourself, my friend."

    "Oh, Joe. That's just the problem. I'm your *friend*--when I should have been much more than that." He gave Joe a soft, gentle smile. "I love you, Joe."

    Joe's heart skipped a beat. Almost, almost he could believe...but no. It was impossible. "Don't play games with me, old man," he said. "Not now. It's too serious."

    "I know it is," Methos answered. He moved a little closer, reaching out to touch Joe's cheek with the tips of his fingers. Joe shivered, suddenly able to feel the Immortal's body heat through the blanket covering his thighs. "It's much, much too serious, thanks to me. I've wasted so much time...and not just my time, Joe. I could forgive myself if I’d just done that. But no, I’ve wasted *your* time, which is infinitely more precious. Joe, I'm not playing any games. When I said I loved you, I meant I *loved* you. The way I loved Alexa. The way I love MacLeod. No, don't shake your head. It's the truth." Joe froze, stopping his head in mid-denial. Methos's voice took on a deeply tender tone. "Don't look so surprised. Don't you have any idea how beautiful you are to me?"

    *Beautiful.* The word rang through Joe's brain like a grand piano striking one magnificent chord in an empty concert hall. Very few people in Joe's life had ever even called him "handsome"; beauty was something he'd never dared hope for. That gift was the exclusive property of men like Methos and MacLeod, not him...especially not now, when age and illness had practically made him into a walking corpse. "You're insane," he said quietly. "You can't possibly..."

    "But I do." Gentle, tender hands wrapped around Joe’s neck, urging his face forward. Joe resisted, but not for long. He couldn't, all the muscles in his back and neck having suddenly turned into inconvenient mush. Joe leaned toward the Immortal, slowly, yearning, somehow knowing that he was at last going to touch something he'd been reaching for his entire life. And Methos kissed him again.

    It was a different kiss, this time. Gentler, softer, the Immortal hands lightly cradling his skull as if he were something incredibly precious. Methos somehow managed to put all his love and sorrow and genuine appreciation for Joe into that kiss, and Joe understood. When he pulled away, the tears were running freely. "I was never going to tell you," he said brokenly. "I was going to go to my grave just being your friend…"

    "And I was going to let you." Methos’s voice was full of vulnerability, and honest regret. Gentle thumbs reached up to brush the saltwater from Joe's cheeks. "Good thing MacLeod's smarter than both of us."

    "MacLeod." Joe repeated the name without comprehension, drawing a deep shaky breath. Fuck, but having Methos run the ball of his thumb over Joe’s cheekbone was erotic. The simple touch seemed to have fire hidden behind it, making Joe's whole skin tingle and his entire body fill with need. It had been so long... Then he suddenly realized what Methos had just said, and bolted upright. "MacLeod. Oh, my god. MacLeod. Methos, Duncan is your world. Don't lie to me, we both know it's true. You have to get out of here before he finds us. Before this breaks his heart…"

    "Shhh. It's all right. He knows. Duncan knows." The finger Methos briefly pressed to Joe’s lip was a pleasure even greater than the brushing away of his tears. Joe had to fight hard to keep his breath under control, keep his tongue from licking out to taste. "Who do you think sent me?"

    "Duncan?" Methos nodded. Joe tried to wrap his head around this, failed utterly. "But... Duncan *loves* you. You're everything to him."

    "I know. He loves you too."

    A sound, halfway between a laugh and sob, came out of Joe's throat. "Just not in the same way you do. Right?"

    "No. Not exactly." Methos kissed his shoulder, sending rare trills of pleasure through Joe's body. The soft warmth of his breath tickled Joe's neck. "But he wants you to be happy. Me, as well."

    *Happy*. It was an important word, an important concept. An important question to ask. "And are you, old man? Happy?"

    "No. Not completely." The sea of sensation that was Methos's body pressed against him shifted slightly as Methos shook his head. "I'm going to lose you in a few short months. I *can't* be happy, knowing that. But since there's nothing I can do to change it, I am *very* glad I get this chance to be with you." Gentle fingers ghosted over Joe's chest. Joe suppressed a moan. "What about you, Joe? Are you happy?"

    "Once I recover from the shock, I think I'll be happier than I've ever been in my life." Joe said honestly. "Methos, I can't tell you how much I...you are so..."

    Once again, the single finger pressed to his lips. "Don't try, Joe. Some things just won't fit into words," he said, and Joe had to bend his head to the simple truth of that. "Can I join you in the bed now?"

    "Please." Joe moved over, making space. Methos stood, stripping off his boxers and robe; Joe watched him intently, feeling his throat go dry with an anticipation so fierce it hurt. "Methos?"

    "Yes, Joe?"

    "I'm not...you won’t like...oh, hell." Embarrassment choked him. Methos just waited patiently, one hand on the bedclothes, so beautiful in his nudity Joe thought his heart would stop. "I...my body isn't a particularly pretty sight, old man. It never was, but at least when you first met me, I was young and strong. That's not true anymore. The chemo has taken a toll..."

    "Am I supposed to be surprised?" Methos asked sharply. "Joe, do you honestly think you are the first mortal I've ever loved into his age?"

    Joe looked down, suddenly ashamed he’d even brought the matter up. No, he couldn't accuse Methos of that. There must have been other, perhaps countless other, men and women that Methos had loved until they died, and at least a handful of them must have reached an age equivalent to his. He just hadn't thought about it before now. "Have you ever wondered why so many Immortals stay with their mortal wives or husbands, even when the mortals look like the Immortal's grandparents to the outside world?" Methos asked. "It isn't out of some twisted sense of charity, you know. Nor is it a noble sacrifice made to the memory of youthful companionship and love." His voice softened. "We genuinely think you mortals get more beautiful as time goes by."

    Joe's restless fingers plucked at the quilt top. His head couldn't quite believe Methos was telling the truth, but his heart couldn't believe it was a complete lie, either. *At least*, he thought, *at least if it’s a lie, it's a kind one. He wouldn't bother to say such things if he didn't really care.* "You do?"

    "We do," Methos answered. "How can we not? You are the embodiment of everything we can never have." Joe felt a brief chill as the quilt was pulled back, then sudden warmth as Methos slipped under. Acres of warm smooth skin flowed up against him, not shying away from his amputated legs, and Joe dropped his head to the pillow in pure pleasure. "Please don't try to hide from me, Joe," Methos said. "I've waited too long for this."

    "So have I, old man. So have I." Oh god. It had been so long since Joe had shared a bed with a lover...so long since anyone but a doctor or nurse had touched his body, so long since he'd known anything besides detached professional hands. Even the grandkids had stopped hugging him long ago, frightened by his illness and his pain. Joe knew he'd have to change that as soon as he got home, but for now...for now, his entire skin was aching, and when Methos's hand brushed his forearm he responded with a hungry moan that made the old Immortal chuckle. "Touch me, Methos," Joe pleaded. "I won't hide from you, but you have to touch me. I'm so hungry for your hands."

    "My hands are hungry for you, Joe. You don't know..." Methos's voice broke, and Joe was startled to see a tear rolling down his cheek. He pulled Joe's face to his and kissed him thoroughly. Then he reached for the lamp on the bureau and turned out the light.

    Some things are too perfect for words.

    ***

    Duncan knew he shouldn't peek. Nevertheless, when he woke around midnight and heard the sounds coming from Joe's slightly open bedroom door on his way to the kitchen, he couldn't help himself. Methos was making sounds Duncan had never heard before: great, half choking sobs of pleasure that almost sounded as if they would break him in two, they were so strong. Joe's gentle murmurs of "Yes, yes, just like that. You're so wonderful...oh, god, I never dreamed..." were nearly drowned out. Duncan tiptoed to the door and looked in.

    The moonshine coming in through the window both illuminated and hid the lovers. Duncan could just make out Methos's long, shadowy form lying on his back with Joe's hand between his legs, head tossed back against the pillows in ecstatic pain as Joe continued to croon. "Yes, that's it. Let it go now. Let me hear you..."

    The cries ended in a roar as Methos climaxed, and then degenerated into a more regular series of sobs as the ancient Immortal once again allowed himself to fully cry out his grief. Joe took Methos in his arms and started whispering in his ears. Duncan couldn't hear what he said, but he was sure that whatever it was, it was exactly what Methos needed to hear. Duncan gently pulled the door closed and tiptoed away.

    When morning came, Duncan heard more tears--but this time it was Joe who was crying and Methos who was comforting, not the other way around. He knocked gently on the door, and when Methos called out "Come in, Duncan," he pushed his way inside. "Not the sounds I was expecting to hear this morning," he said wryly, looking down at where the two men were sitting, both dressed in fresh t-shirts and shorts. Joe was propped up against the middle of the headboard. Methos was lounging at his side. "Here, Joe. I brought you a stack of fresh handkerchiefs. Methos, is there anything else I can do?"

    "I don't think so, Duncan. We were just talking, that's all."

    "Yeah." Joe nodded, wiping his eyes. "We were just...ah, hell." He took a handkerchief and blew his nose noisily. "It's stupid. I know it's going to happen, and I know there's nothing I can do to stop it, but I just...Christ, I don't want to die. I really don't."

    Duncan sat on the foot of the bed. "None of us do."

    "No," Methos agreed. "I personally hate the thought of dying so much that I've stayed alive for five thousand years--and believe me, living was NOT always the soft option. You haven't gotten anywhere near that point, Joe. Of course you don't want to die."

    "I know, but...oh, god. Look at me." Joe twisted the handkerchief agitatedly in his hands. "Crying like a baby. I meant to be stronger. I'm sorry."

    "Don't be, Joe," Duncan said earnestly. He looked at Methos, saw the old Immortal nod slightly. "You don't have to hide anything with us. We want to help, in any way we can. If that means holding you while you cry for a day or a week... that's fine. Both of us are waterproof."

    "I guess you are. There's not even a chance I might drown you, is there. At least not permanently." Duncan and Methos both shook their heads, tiny smiles on their faces. Joe smiled too. "It's funny, but I guess crying is the only thing I have left to do," he said. "Everything else has been arranged for months. The casket's picked out, the funeral's all planned, the will's been signed and sealed. Little Joe and the rest of the grandkids will be provided for. I've even got my hospice picked out for the last few weeks--the doc says I'm going to have some bad times, near the end--"

    "Hospice?" Methos looked outraged. "Joe, don't be ridiculous. You can't be amongst strangers at a time like this. You must stay here. Duncan and I will care for you."

    "No, Methos," Joe answered gently. "I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the asking, but no. Amy's offered me pretty much the same thing--her spare bedroom, and time off from work to take care of me--but I won't do that to her and the kids, and I won't do that to you. Your last memories of me are not going to involve changing bedpans or administering pain medication. It's better to let the professionals cope with that."

    "But--" Duncan protested.

    "No," Joe said more firmly. "It's the way I want it, Duncan. Maybe if things were different, and I didn't have anybody else, I'd take you up on it. This Island would be a lovely place to die." He looked out the window wistfully for a moment. "But no. I've got to stay in the city, near Amy and the kids. I've already taught them what I could about living a good life. All of them love the blues, and they know a lot about how to treat each other with kindness. Now I need to show them how to have a good death as well."

    Duncan nodded, his heart full. Methos said hesitantly--"What *can* we do, then?"

    "Not much," Joe said honestly. "Be good to each other. Try to keep your silly heads on your shoulders for a few more millennia. Look after my descendants if they ever need an Immortal helping hand. There isn't anything more I can ask." He coughed gently. "Except..."

    "What?"

    Joe flushed uncomfortably. "Could you tell me what it's like? Dying, I mean."

    The two Immortals got very still. "Damn,” Joe said. “It’s all right; you don't have to answer that if you don't want to. I told myself I wouldn't ask you--but you two ARE the only ones I've ever known who have taken that trip and lived to tell the tale, so to speak. I know it's probably not the same as what I'm going to do, but there might be some similarities. You might be able to tell me what to expect."

    Duncan and Methos looked at each other for a moment. It was very easy for Duncan to read Methos's mind--the same thoughts were buzzing in his. *Should we tell him? Would it do any good?* Finally, Methos sighed. "It hurts," he said.

    Joe looked apprehensive. "Yeah?"

    "Like hell," Duncan agreed. Instinctively, he moved closer, stretching out along Joe's other side. He felt the same need Methos did, to comfort and protect Joe from the truth. Joe seemed grateful for the touch; he settled into Duncan's embrace easily. "The circulatory system shuts down before the nervous system does, and that's--well, imagine the worst case of pins and needles you've ever had and multiply it by a thousand," Duncan said. "It doesn't last long, but while it does...there's pain filling every muscle, searing along every inch of your skin. You even hurt in places where Grey's Anatomy claims there aren't nerves. It isn't a lot of fun."

    Joe shuddered. "Maybe I shouldn't have asked."

    "No, Joe, you should have," Methos said. "You'll be able to stand it better if you're not taken by surprise. And you have to understand that, when Duncan and I die, it's usually quite sudden, due to a violent cause. It won't be like that for you. The doctors will have you on lots of pain medication. It does make a difference."

    "Gee. Something to look forward to." Joe swallowed. "You said the pain part didn't last long. What happens then?"

    Again, Duncan and Methos exchanged lengthy glances. "Well," Duncan said, "that part's different for every Immortal. It's even different between deaths."

    "The world starts going away," Methos explained. "One by one, the senses give up. Vision usually cuts out first; it just takes so much damn brain power to support. Then--well, it's different for everyone. Duncan loses his sense of touch..."

    "It's like getting very, very cold," Duncan said. "Except that there's no cold like it anywhere on earth. Not even in the Antarctic."

    "I sometimes think Duncan 's got the better deal," Methos said. "I almost always lose my sense of hearing next. It’s like somebody hit the "mute" button on the world. Then smell goes, which usually means I'm acutely aware of the pain and just how badly my mouth tastes. Finally taste fades, too, and then--well, as Duncan says, it's like getting very, very cold. And after that there's just...nothing."

    "God." Joe stared at them. "Methos--Duncan--both of you have voluntarily taken bullets to save my life. You mean you put yourself through that kind of pain on purpose? For *me*?"

    Duncan smiled. "You were worth it."

    “Absolutely,” Methos agreed.

    "Wow. I guess I must have been." Joe looked thoughtful. "Methos…when do I stop being me? You know, stop remembering that I was once a person named Joe Dawson?"

    "Oh, Joe. I wish I could tell you." Methos said sadly. "All I can say is that for me--after all the rest of this happens, and I know there's no time left--there is still a little spark of me that hangs around, a spark that knows what's happening. Sometimes I "see" things that I know can't possibly be there, places that haven't existed for millennia, faces that have been dust for twice as long. But even that fades in time. Eventually, there really is...nothing. Until that next horrible breath fills my lungs, and everything starts over."

    "Which won't happen for me."

    "No. It won't."

    "Do you..." Joe's eyes were glistening. "Do you *remember* anything, when you come back? Anything about where you were?"

    "I--" Methos looked at Duncan, words failing him. Duncan sent him a look of loving sympathy and took over. "Sometimes, there are faint memories," the Highlander said. "Odd music that we can't quite recall, scents, sensations. But we've sort of decided that's just our subconscious minds trying to make sense of the feelings of healing before we're truly awake, not anything paranormal. I'm sorry, Joe. If there's an afterlife, Methos and I haven't been there."

    "Ah, well. I sort of figured that. One of you would have mentioned it long before now if you had."

    "Don't think about it too much," Methos advised. "Just make up your mind that you're going to meet it bravely, the same way you would any other new experience, and then stop worrying about it. Concentrate on *living* instead. It's the only way."

    "I know." Joe smiled. "You've taught me a lot about that in the time I've known you, old man.”

    Methos looked deeply pleased. “Have I?”

    “You have. Especially last night." Joe reached for him, and they kissed.

    Duncan watched as the kiss stretched on, seeing the beauty in it, feeling a deep peace in his heart. He had done the right thing, forcing Methos to face the truth. Both Joe and his beloved had needed this. Duncan heard Methos make a soft sound of pleasure as Joe’s lips hit a particularly sensitive spot, making Duncan strongly suspect the conversation was over. *I think that's my cue to leave* the Highlander thought, and started to make a graceful withdrawal.

    Joe's hand on his thigh stopped him. "No. Please don't go, Duncan," he said. "I don't want to lose a moment. I mean, I need...."

    "You want me to stay?" Duncan frowned, but he saw the sudden look of hope on Methos's face, quickly covered by a mask of patient waiting. *Methos wants me to stay, wants me to share this,* he realized. *But he won't say anything to influence me. I wonder...* "Want me to stay while Methos makes love to you?"

    Joe shook his head. "Not just Methos," he said. "It's been so long since anybody really touched me, I think I got drunk just feeling Methos's hands against my skin. Two pairs could push me over the edge altogether. Besides, it's about grabbing life while you can, isn't it? Somehow I doubt there's going to be a lot of handsome Immortal men hanging around where I'm going. It would be nice to have a good look at both of you before I..." A pause. "Leave."

    "Methos?"

    "It's up to you, beloved," Methos said quietly. "But I think this could be a memory both of us would appreciate having." He grinned suddenly, breaking the tension. "After all, it's not like Joe and I are corrupting you. You're hardly a virgin when it comes to threesomes."

    "Even if they do usually involve two women, instead of two men," Joe contributed.

    "And just how would the two of you know that?" Both men merely smirked. Duncan sighed. "One of these days I'm going to have to burn that Chronicle of mine."

    "Can't," Joe said smugly. "The Chronicles are all electronic now, with four sets of decentralized backups. It would take one hell of a disaster to cover up your sinful past, my friend."

    "Hmmm. I may have to see what I can do about arranging one." Duncan smiled and got to his feet. "But I think I'd better take some of these clothes off first."

    "Oh, yes, do," Methos replied. "Slippers and a heavy robe are *so* pass� for an orgy, after all. I'm afraid it's hopeless, Duncan. There's no way you can salvage that outfit. You'll simply have to chuck it all together." He raised both arms over his head and stretched languidly on the bed, eyes raking over Duncan 's body in a way that never failed to stir the Highlander's lust. "Slowly, please. One piece at a time."

    "It's not enough that you're asking me to participate in my first all-male threesome?" Duncan teased. "You want me to further compromise my virtue by making me perform a strip show as well?"

    Methos's eyes twinkled. "If you would."

    "I'd certainly appreciate it," Joe chimed in.

    Duncan just grinned widely and slipped the robe off his shoulders. He was keenly aware of Methos watching him, lust and humor covering a deeper gratitude that made Duncan's heart sing. He nodded at him, saying "you're welcome" in that wordless way only long term-lovers know, and saw Methos gracefully incline his head in response. Duncan was a little apprehensive about what was to come, but not overly so; he trusted Methos to see that this would, indeed, turn into a deeply happy memory, healing more than it hurt. In the meantime, Joe was staring at him openly, devouring him with his eyes. When Duncan removed his sweatshirt and paused to shake out his hair, the old Watcher gasped. "Good god," he said. "I'd forgotten."

    "He is something, isn't he?" Methos said.

    "More than something," Joe said admiringly. "I know I used to Watch you training in the dojo sometimes, Duncan, and it was always a pleasant bonus when you chose to work out without a shirt, but...well. Like I said, I'd forgotten." The old mortal's gaze traced slowly over the lines of Duncan's shoulders, then down over his arms to the place where Duncan 's long mane of loose hair brushed his elbows. He smiled impishly. "Thank heavens you talked him into growing his hair back, Methos."

    "One of my prouder accomplishments," Methos replied. "It took me a while to convince him, but it was certainly worth the effort. He just didn't look right without that damn ponytail."

    "I know exactly you mean. It wasn't like he wasn't handsome with short hair, but he just didn't look like Duncan MacLeod..."

    "I *am* still in the room, you know," Duncan said mildly, folding the shirt and dropping it on the chair by Joe's bed. His hair now reached nearly two thirds of the way down his back, longer than he'd worn it since his time with Little Deer. Duncan looked at a lock softly tickling his elbow and felt a sudden melancholy sadness. "And there were reasons I decided to cut it when I did."

    "We know, love," Methos answered meekly. "We didn't mean to tease." He held out his hands. "Come to bed."

    Duncan quickly dropped his sweat pants to the ground and did as Methos asked, placing himself so Joe would be in the middle. As he slid under the covers, Duncan suddenly realized that when Joe died, fully one third of the people who had witnessed Richie's death would be gone. *And fully half of the people who eventually forgave me for it. Oh, Richie...* It was an overwhelming thought, realizing that he was about to lose the only mortal in the world to have known that Richard Ryan was Immortal and loved him for what he was. Methos had once told him that Joe had mourned Richie as deeply as if Richie been a son of his own, during that year Duncan had been away. *That's what Joe has always done*, Duncan thought. *He Watches us, and then he loves us for exactly what we are. I'm more than 400 years old and I still haven't learned how to do that, although Methos teaches me more every day. No wonder Methos fell in love...* "Your night, Joe," he said huskily. "Or morning, as the case may be. Methos and I are here for you. Tell us what you'd like."

    "Umm..." Joe sounded embarrassed. "I hadn't really thought that far." He looked, almost worshipfully, from Methos's leanly chiseled chest to MacLeod's more overtly muscular one, and then laughed shakily. "Being the filling in an Immortal sandwich is a pretty new experience. I don't think even my wildest fantasies ever got this far."

    "I know mine didn't," Methos said wryly. "But I wouldn't worry about it too much, if I were you. After all, there's almost five and half millennia worth of sexual experience here in this bed. I'm pretty sure we can come up with something that will make you melt into a mindless pile of slush. Right, Duncan?" Duncan nodded, placing his hand on Joe's chest, just above his left nipple. Joe jumped at the touch, but then relaxed into it, sighing softly. "Sound good, Joe?" Methos asked.

    "Oh, yeah." The answer was heartfelt. "Melt away."

    Duncan smiled and followed his hands with his lips, letting his hair brush over Joe's chest. Joe closed his eyes. "That's it, Joe," Methos whispered. "Just relax. Duncan and I will take care of everything." The ancient's pale fingers gently traced the line of Joe's lips. Duncan looked from Joe's blissful face to Methos; Methos wore a look of almost unbearable tenderness, coupled with a sadness that went straight to Duncan 's heart. He knew exactly what Methos was thinking. *Not enough time. There never is, where mortals are concerned. But this time, at least, there will be two of us to remember. It won't be another lost love for Methos to carry on his own.* He pulled away from his gentle teasing of Joe's chest to give Methos a quick kiss on the forehead, reminding him he wasn't alone; Methos gave him a heartfelt smile. Duncan smiled back and returned to the work of making Joe melt.

    It wasn't a very difficult job. Joe was a very sensual man, which Duncan supposed he would have guessed if he'd ever taken the time to think about it. It was very sweet, having the chance to discover it now. The body underneath him felt almost tragically fragile, much too light and much too pale. But there could be no question that the Joe Duncan knew was still in there, responding with all the passion of a man forty years younger. Every touch from Duncan's or Methos's skillful hands brought another sigh or moan of pleasure, until at last Joe's sense of embarrassment faded and he started giving back as good as he got. One by one Joe reached for them, treating each Immortal to an incredibly sensual kiss, while his strong broad hands played over both muscular Immortal bodies. "I thought...we told you... to relax," Methos panted after his third or fourth turn at Joe's mouth, his lips lusciously swollen and his breath coming in gasps. When Duncan saw where Joe's hand was resting, he immediately understood why. "This...was supposed...to be about *you*..."

    "It is, old man. It is." Joe continued to stroke Methos's erection lovingly. Methos groaned and reached for the headboard, fingers clenching around it as pleasure threatened to overwhelm him. With the exception of his shadowy glimpses of last night, Duncan had never seen his beloved being pleasured by another. He found the sight intensely erotic, especially when Methos let out a helpless moan. "Come up here where I can reach you, Methos,” Joe said. “I want to taste you."

    "Yesss." The word was breathed in ecstasy, and Duncan moved hastily aside so Methos could straddle Joe's chest. Methos piled a couple of pillows under Joe's head so the mortal could reach him comfortably, then leaned back and tried to hold still while Joe made love to his cock, licking and kissing before he finally took the head in his mouth and suckled luxuriantly. It was all so incredibly sexy Duncan could hardly stand it. His own cock felt as rigid as a bar of iron as he watched his beautiful lover almost-climax, be teased back from the edge, then brought right back to it, keening wildly. *Where on earth did Joe learn how to make another man make sounds like that?* the Highlander wondered. *Could there be some secret Watcher sex training neither of them bothered to tell me about? It's probably part of the first year Academy curriculum: 'How To Make an Immortal Moan 101'. Could be very useful in the field...* Duncan's own hips were pumping wildly, fucking the air; he desperately wanted to touch himself, but knew the slightest contact would send him over. He met Joe's gaze. Joe's eyes sparkled in amusement, and he reached out his hand. Gratefully Duncan rubbed up against Joe’s palm as Joe closed his fingers around him, and it turned out Duncan had been right. All it took was one touch…

    The climax was about four times as intense as Duncan had expected it to be, and by the time the Highlander's spasms had subsided Methos was coming too. Duncan watched as Methos collapsed bonelessly backwards, too exhausted to keep his weight from falling on the Watcher's lower body. Joe didn't seem to mind. He just wiped his mouth and grinned like a Cheshire cat. "Well. That was...historic. I can't wait to write it up for your Chronicles."

    There was a lengthy silence...then Methos, still exhausted, reached out a lazy arm to snatch one of the misplaced pillows and throw it at Joe. Joe ducked, but not quickly enough. The pillow landed squarely over his face. "I WAS kidding," the pillow said, gently quivering with every word.

    "I should hope so," Duncan said, groaning softly as he convinced his own sated body to sit up. He pulled the pillow off Joe's face. "Isn't Amy the Chief Administrator of Northwest Operations now? Doesn't that mean she has to read every report filed by a field agent in the area?"

    "Umm...yeah. Yeah, she does." Joe considered this for a second. He shuddered. "Never mind. The Chronicles will just have to remain incomplete. Some things are too special too share."

    "Too special to share with strangers, Joe," Methos admonished, struggling to sit up himself. "Not too special to share amongst friends."

    Joe's smile was tender. "More than friends now, old man."

    "Yes." Methos made it upright, caressed Joe's face with back of his hand. "More than friends. As we always should have been." He looked at Duncan. "Duncan?"

    "Yes, beloved?"

    "Joe doesn't look anywhere near 'melted' enough for me. We still have some work to do. Help me roll him over onto his side."

    "I don't need..." Joe protested, but Methos silenced him with a kiss, and he stopped resisting. Just what had he been protesting, anyway? His need for fulfillment? His loss of independence? He could have rolled over on his own, but he’d lost a lot of his upper body strength during the cancer treatment, and the truth of the matter was he was tired enough to make it a struggle. Taking advantage of the Immortals' combined strength seemed only reasonable, and feeling the Highlander shift his weight so easily was a thrill all on its own. Joe ended up facing Methos, with Duncan spooned up against him from behind; Duncan treated him to a glorious back and neck massage while Methos kissed his way down Joe's body from chest to waist, each man working with such sensual slowness that Joe truly did feel himself begin to melt. *Another moment and I'll be floating,* he thought, closing his eyes to savor the sensations. *Better than my wildest fantasy, indeed...*

    "Joe?" It was Methos's voice, coming from a place tantalizingly near Joe's groin. The ancient's warm breath caressed Joe’s thigh, sending a shiver up his spine. "Would you like me to tell you a story?"

    "Hmmm?" Managing even that much of a word was very hard. Joe was rapidly leaving the realm of coherent speech behind. "Shtory?"

    "Well, it's more of a fantasy, really," Methos admitted. "But I'd like to tell it you about it anyway. It's a fantasy I had shortly after we first met." He closed his hand over Joe's penis, petting gently. Joe moaned. "It started the night you first invited me to your weekly Watcher's poker party, despite the fact that I was just a kid, not even finished with my first year at the Academy yet. Do you remember?"

    "I sure do." Joe smiled, an expression that had nothing to do with Methos's hand on his cock, or Duncan 's lips on his shoulder. "I remember how that 'kid' beat all of us, and drank his way through nearly the entire case of beer I'd laid in to boot. Jack Davis never did forgive me for inviting you."

    "I know." Methos laughed. "I really should have been more subtle. Taking a bunch of senior Watcher's salaries for the week was hardly a smart career move. But I wanted to impress you. And you have to admit that the party ended early...so early, in fact, that I think you felt a little guilty about it. You didn't ask me to leave when everyone else did, remember? I helped you clean up, and then you asked me if I liked music..."

    "That's right. I did." A late night, a dark apartment, a "kid" apparently made terribly embarrassed and bashful by his surprise winnings, much too bashful to crush by throwing out. Joe had put him to work instead, figuring it might as well be the kid's strong young legs that carried the post-party detritus of beer cans and dirty plates into the kitchen. It had been one of Joe’s life’s more rewarding surprises to discover that the quiet conversation they shared while Joe washed the dishes and "Adam" dried them was about 1,000 times more entertaining than the party itself. When everything had been put away--and both kitchen and living room were much tidier than they had been since before Joe had moved in--he'd asked the kid if he liked the blues, got out his guitar, and started to play. He could still remember the feel of the strings under his fingers and the way the kid had watched him from the shadows, mouth slightly open, hazel eyes brilliant. "You looked at me like I was some kind of god," Joe said now. "Like you'd never heard music before."

    "I hadn't. Not like that," Methos answered. He kept up his gentle stroking. "You were so beautiful. The music was incredible, but it was *you* I wanted to remember. The way you looked. The way you sounded. That's why I stared at you, Joe. I never wanted to forget."

    *Beautiful.* Funny, there was that word again, spoken once again about Joe’s own ordinary self. It was a bit easier to accept now, in a shared memory about the past. Joe could almost actually believe that he had been beautiful when he played, back when he really hadn't been all that much older than the "kid" he thought he serenaded. "Anyway, that's where the fantasy starts out," Methos continued. "I loved having you play for me, Joe. I wanted to do a whole lot more than stare."

    Joe nodded. "I wanted to do more than stare myself." What had actually happened was that he'd sung a song or three, and then Adam had gotten his coat and slipped out the front door....but even so it had been one of those nights that linger in the memory for the rest of a person's life, a night of rare discovery. Somehow, in the time between the end of the poker party and Adam Pierson's departure, the first flair of friendship Joe had felt for the gangly Academy student had changed into something more, become recognition of a kinship so deep it would haunt him for the rest of his days. *It was Methos I met that night, not just Adam Pierson,* Joe thought now. *And we are family, no matter how different we may seem. We're both members of the Great Brotherhood of Survivors, the ones who somehow managed to keep their hearts open enough to love. That's what I learned that night, and that's what I've known ever since. Even when I didn't want to admit it…* Shaky, but feeling MacLeod's arms encircling his waist, the Highlander's comforting strength a palpable force lending him energy, Joe touched a hand to Methos's hair. "What did you want to do, old man?"

    Methos's hand, which had been consistently stroking him through the entire conversation, stopped. "You'll laugh."

    "Maybe. I can't promise I won't. But it won't be the hurting kind of laughter, Methos."

    "No. I guess it wouldn't be." Methos looked thoughtful for a moment, than smiled dazzlingly. "I *wanted* to kiss your guitar," he confessed.

    Joe tried not to let it out--but the laugh escaped him anyway, starting with a great snort that seemed to split the room. Fortunately, Methos was laughing, too. Even MacLeod chuckled. Joe could feel him shaking against his back. "Well, that can still be arranged," Joe said finally when the hilarity had subsided. "Was that *all* you wanted to do?"

    "No. Shall I tell you how I pictured it?" Joe nodded. "You played," Methos said. "You played, dazzling me with every note--and while you played I left my chair and knelt at your feet, looking up at you. You had your eyes closed, because you were lost in the music, but you knew I was there. The rest of the song flowed by with the most beautiful tension, both of us knowing that something very important was about to happen, but knowing it could wait until the right time. Finally, finally, you played the last chord; the notes faded away into silence, and that's when I bent forward and pressed my lips to the guitar, right below where your fingers were resting on the strings. I could feel the last of the vibration in my mouth; I could hear you shifting in the chair, stretching, resettling yourself. Then you looked down..." Methos swallowed. "And saw me. Not Adam Pierson. Not the Horseman named Death. Not even Methos, the World's Oldest Immortal. Me. Just me..."

    "I always have seen you," Joe answered, feeling a mist of tears start in his eyes. "Even when I was too dumb to realize what it was I saw."

    "I know, Joe." Methos's voice was melodic and soft. "That why it's going to be so hard to lose you." He cleared his throat and went on with the story, picking up Joe's hands. "You put the guitar aside. I stayed kneeling, but I took your hands in mine and kissed them, as well. And you let me. I knew you weren’t used to this; I know you weren’t used to sitting and simply letting yourself be adored, especially not by a man, and especially not by one who you thought was so much younger. But that part of you that saw me knew you weren’t taking advantage; that part of you knew I never give what I don't want to give. And this was something I wanted to give you very much...so you just sat, letting me worship your hands with my mouth." Joe groaned. Methos was suiting deed to words, nibbling along each of his fingers in a way that was almost unbearably erotic. The second Joe thought he couldn't stand the nibbles another moment Methos switched to caressing him with his tongue, gently rubbing and sucking each joint the arthritis had thickened. "I love your hands, Joe," Methos said quietly in between kisses and licks. "I love *you*."

    "I love you, too." It came out more as a whisper than the declaration it should have been, but Methos heard. He lifted Joe's hands up to Joe's shoulders, and after a moment the Highlander engulfed them in his own, brushing a kiss over the knuckles of one and rubbing the other wrist with his thumb. For a moment Joe was confused and disappointed--why had Methos stopped? Then he understood. Methos was sliding down his body to his cock, and if he hadn't let MacLeod take over after all that stimulation, Joe's hands would have felt utterly naked and bereft. "I wanted to do this then," Methos whispered. "And I wanted to do it every time I saw you since then. More than thirty years, Joe. More than thirty years." And he took the Watcher gently in his mouth.

    Hot wet softness surrounded Joe. His whole body trembled, both with emotion and the sweet feelings that traveled along his nerves like fire. If he hadn't felt the gentle pressure of Mac holding his hands, he might very well have passed out. But Mac *was* holding him, providing a firm anchor into the world of the bed and his body, keeping him from flying apart while excitement changed into need which changed into nothing but dazzling pleasure. Joe grabbed the Immortal hands and howled, pulsing his seed into Methos' eager mouth. The world went away...

    ...but promptly reassembled itself, filled with pleasures last catastrophic but no less sweet: the sensation of a body pushed to its limits and now beautifully sated, the feeling of two Immortals lovingly sponging him off and straightening out the disheveled bedclothes. Joe was too exhausted to help, but his lovers didn't seem to mind. They just snuggled into bed at his sides, two sets of arms holding him close. The last thing Joe heard was Methos whispering the word "Beautiful" into his ear. He took the sound with him into his sleep.

    ***

    Joe called Amy the next morning, arranging to stay another two weeks. It went by much too fast.

    The two Immortals gave up sleeping in their own room, gave up doing all but the most necessary tasks required to keep the house running. One or the other was always cuddled in the guestroom with Joe. The Watcher was simply too exhausted to move around the house, even as much as he had previously, and as the week went on both Duncan and Methos realized they'd been pushing him much too hard. Joe was a very sick man; what he really needed was a warm place to rest and meals served in bed, not the pressures of being a polite guest. But even with Joe's limitations, the rest of the visit was hardly wasted time. Sometimes they had sex; more often they simply held each other and talked, sharing stories and jokes. Methos in particular opened up about his past in a way Duncan had never heard him do before, and never expected him to do again. The Highlander sometimes had to sit back and marvel, because he learned more about his partner’s history in that week than he had in the decade they'd lived side by side. He should have been jealous that Joe was the one to bring this about, but he couldn't be. All he could feel was gratitude.

    Then came the day that Joe asked to spend some time alone in Methos's office. The Immortals were wildly curious, but they didn't ask questions. Duncan just carried Joe up the stairs and made him comfortable in Methos's big leather office chair, then he and Methos made themselves scarce until the door cracked open later that evening and Joe asked to be taken for a walk. They helped him strap on his prosthetics for the first time in a week and slowly walked up the hill beside the house, both Duncan and Methos hovering like anxious mother hens, ready to jump in if Joe so much as stumbled. Joe didn't stumble. He made it to the top, looked at the beautiful spread of trees and lake beneath him for several long moments, then finally spoke. "I have to go back tomorrow," he said. "You understand?"

    Duncan nodded. So did Methos. "Only part of your life is here with us," the old Immortal said. "You have to go back to the rest of it."

    "Exactly," Joe said. "I wish I could ask you to come with me. Be with me at the end. But I have to share that with the kids. And Amy would never understand asking two Immortals to be part of such an intense family moment."

    "Amy is an idiot, Joe." Methos said matter-of-factly. "You do know that, right?"

    Joe laughed. "Yeah, I know. She suffers from the greatest delusion to poison our times: the idea that love has to look a certain way to be real. She'll learn, eventually, that 'family' is something you make for yourself, not something you're born into. But she's not going to learn it in time, and I'm not going to throw it in her face. It would hurt her too much." He sighed. "Instead I'm hurting you, because I know you're strong enough to stand it. I'm sorry. I wish it could be otherwise."

    "It's all right, Joe," Duncan said. "Nobody gets exactly the death he wants."

    "No. And nobody get to say goodbye exactly the way he wants to, either." Joe answered. "But we've come pretty close. Haven't we?"

    "We have."

    ***

    By the time morning came, there was nothing left to be said. Joe kissed Methos goodbye on the shore before stepping into the rowboat and having the Highlander carry him back across the water. Methos watched the boat disappear into the distance, feeling a hollowness that sapped every emotion. Later, he knew, there would be tears: lots of tears while the Highlander held him and rocked the pain out of his body, then still more when they traded places and he did the same for Duncan. There would even be a time when pain faded altogether and there was nothing left but joy, the unshakeable joy brought by a set of truly happy memories. But for now, all he could feel was numb. And restless.

    Methos went back inside and started wandering aimlessly around the house, tidying, dusting, looking for anything he could to keep his mind occupied, and realized that he hadn't made Joe's bed. Methos stepped into the guestroom intent on stripping the dirty sheets...only to discover that the room was already as neat as it could possibly be, bed made and closet empty. For a moment Methos felt an irrational anger that Joe had tied up all the loose ends so neatly, left him with absolutely nothing to do to carry him through his current bleakness. Then Methos saw the two objects resting on the pillows. He approached them carefully, heart beating wildly.

    The first object was a bottle of Scotch. It had a slip of paper tied around its neck, bearing the legend: "MacLeod: Open twenty years from now, or whenever you think best. You're a much better judge of the way time mellows fine liquor than I am. Joe." The second object was smaller, squarer, wrapped in tissue. Its tag said "For Methos, because you loved the music. Play this whenever you want, but at least wait until Mac comes back. Joe." Methos tore off the tissue. The package held a single CD.

    When Duncan returned to the Island, his muscles heavy and his heart heavier, he was astounded to find Methos waiting on the porch. The old Immortal was jumping up and down like a young boy on Christmas morning. "He left us something!" Methos shouted by way of explanation. "He must have recorded it on my computer that day he disappeared into the office...what the hell are you still standing there for? Come on!" He grabbed Duncan 's hand and dragged him up the stairs, not even giving the Highlander time to take off his coat. When they reached the office Methos turned his speakers up full blast and popped the disk in the drive, bouncing on the balls of his feet expectantly.

    It took less than a heartbeat for the disc to load. Duncan sat on the floor, feeling eerily displaced, as Joe's gravelly voice filled the small, sound-proofed room. The musician sang every song he'd played for them during the weeks he'd been on the Island, including the Monty Python adaptations that had made Duncan wince. Methos sat staring at the speakers like a man who'd had a holy vision, and Duncan silently blessed Joe for his thoughtfulness. No doubt the mourning would start again soon, but at least Methos had this CD to hang onto, and for now it seemed to have short-circuited the grieving enough to give the old Immortal a much needed dose of joy. Duncan reached out and took his lover's hand, massaging gently, silently telling him he understood. Then there was a pause, and Joe began to play a song he hadn't played on the Island at all, at least not while the Immortals were present:

    "There are places I remember

    All my life, though some have changed,

    Some forever, not for better...

    Some have gone, and some remain.

    All these places had their moments,

    With lovers and friends I still can recall;

    Some are dead, and some are living...

    In my life, I've loved them all.

    "But of all these friends and lovers

    There is no one compares with you,

    And these mem'ries lose their meaning,

    When I think of love as something new.

    Though I know I'll never lose affection,

    For people and things that went before

    I know I'll often stop and think about them,

    But in my life, I'll love you more."

    There were tears in Methos's eyes as the song ended. The CD spun down its drive, leaving the office cloaked in eerie silence. Duncan gave the slender fingers in his hand a gentle squeeze. "You gave him what he needed," he said.

    "Thanks to you," Methos answered. "And he gave me what I needed, too. It is easier, saying goodbye, when you have memories to share instead of regrets."

    "Yes." Duncan reached for the keyboard. "Shall we play it again?"

    Methos stopped him. "No. Not yet. Later, when we get word he's really gone, we'll play it again. Right now it's just too soon." Duncan nodded. Methos looked at him. "Duncan?"

    "Yes?"

    "Thank you."

    Duncan gently kissed Methos's forehead. "You’re welcome."

    He helped Methos off the floor. They walked out of the office together.
    End

    Leave a comment:


  • dubiousbystander
    replied
    She always writes well.
    Author's Notes:
    THIS IS R RATED: For Sex. This is a simple SWP piece written by request: It has nothing to do with anything else I have written and came as sort of a challenge to: A Prove I do straight sex as well as slash. B Give Duncan a little equal time C My personal tribute to Dr. Anne...whom I adore. (Just not more than Methos *grin*)
    SO JUDI, WHEREVER YOU ARE--THIS ONE’S FOR YOU!!

    Leave a comment:


  • Nicholas Ward
    replied
    BLOWN AWAY
    by Maygra de Rhema




    "I can’t live with this," the apology was heavy in Anne’s voice. Duncan heard it more than the words. He could hear her fighting for words, trying to give her decision some weight so it would make sense; something to make this pain have some meaning.

    There weren’t enough words. Duncan understood far better than Anne ever could and it cut even deeper to watch her struggle with this.

    "I understand," he said it simply. He said it with a smile. He said it with all the conviction four hundred very long, lonely years could muster.

    She stopped her desperate narrative and looked at him. There was far too much pain in her wide, dark eyes for one as mortal as she was to have to survive.

    "I love you--I do. But I can’t live like this...I can’t live with this kind of...of ..."

    "Dying. Death?"

    "No." An absolute. "With this kind of hatred. I wanted you to kill him. I’m a *doctor*. I am supposed to save lives...to value them."

    "And I don’t," he said. He did understand. It didn’t make the sense of loss any less acute.

    "Oh, no. No," she said softly and then she was in his arms. "I know how much you value life. I believe that with everything I am. But not all Immortals do, do they? And because they don’t, I will hate. Again and again until I don’t even know why anymore," she said softly.

    "You know I love you?" he asked. He needed to make sure. Too many times he’d let the words go unsaid.

    "Yes. And I love you--so much it hurts," she whispered and he smiled, folding her into a tight embrace, lips pressed against the rich, thick satin of her hair.

    "Then it’s all right," he said. "I do understand, Anne. It’s as much a part of why I love you as anything else. I don’t want love to cost you the very thing that makes you so special."

    She buried her face against his chest. "Ooooh! You can’t just get pissed off, can you? Be really angry? Fight with me so I can say good-bye because you’re an unreasonable, childish boor?" She lifted her head just to see the smile she knew was lurking around his lips.

    "I could. Would it make it easier?"

    "No. No, not at all...," she murmured. "My flight leaves tomorrow at five a.m."

    The invitation was obvious, the desire equally obvious. "This will make things harder," he said against her forehead.

    "Nothing could make this harder," she corrected. "I already regret this, Duncan. Please, please let me treasure *all* my regrets?" Her voice was almost a whisper, the dark eyes shining with a mix of pleading and love.

    "You will never be one of my regrets," he said huskily and bent his head to capture her mouth gently. Her lips parted under his and she pressed closer, body yielding against him as she welcomed his touch, his taste, the sweet glide of his tongue against hers.

    Never a regret. She liked that...and she was glad. He had already had so much pain in his long life--joys too, but it was the pain, quickly masked, she had seen shadowing the earth-brown eyes, tightening the line of his jaw. Her fingertips traced that line, easing the tension there as he pulled her closer, settling her between his thighs where he sat on the desk.

    His mouth left hers to drop kisses along her throat and she stretched in to his caresses. She would miss this as much as anything--but she would trade it in a heartbeat if she could find any other solution. Her fingers crept along his throat to graze upward along his neck, to release the heavy clasp so she could bury her fingers in the thick silk of his hair.

    His mouth slipped lower, along her neck, to where her throat and shoulder joined, nuzzling the neckline of her shirt aside so he could nip the soft ridge of muscle there. He was already tensing. Their groins pressed tightly together so she could feel the heat, the hardening rise of flesh.

    She wanted to see him, to view the now familiar body. Impatiently she pulled at the buttons of his shirt, managing the first and then the second, fingers spreading through the silken mat of dark hair across his chest. She pressed her cheek against it, feeling and hearing his heart thud against her face He caught her hair, pulling her head back and up gently, dark eyes searching hers.

    "Please...," she murmured and saw the slight nod, his mouth curving slightly as his lips once more captured hers. His hands slipped lower and he slid off the desk, stooping down and caught her, her slight weight barely making him strain as he lifted her.

    The bed was cool and dark, linens fresh and sweet smelling as he placed one knee on the bed and lowered her, following her down to cover her body with his. A broad dark hand slid up her thigh, riding under her skirt as she pushed again at his shirt.

    "So fast?" he asked softly.

    "I have an early flight. You don’t think once will be enough, do you?" she asked, dark eyes dancing. The humor was bittersweet, but it was easy to fall into the ready companionship, the laughter, the sharing. She wanted, needed this to be as joyous as possible.

    It was on the tip of his tongue to say forever would not be enough but he kissed her instead. He slid his hands along her sides to loosen her blouse then pulled away to discard his shirt. Anne started to undo her buttons, but he stopped her and set another moist kiss against her throat, fingers undoing the button and following the exposed flesh with his lips. A button and a kiss, a button and a kiss, the pattern repeating until he could push the blouse off her shoulders. Then he went over every exposed inch of skin again. Anne desperately tried to get in her own explorations, but Duncan seemed determined to bring her blood to the boiling point as quickly as possible. His hands slid under her skirt again as he pressed against her. His chest was separated from her skin only by the thin lace of her brassiere and that was quickly dampened by his mouth as he teased and suckled her nipples through the fabric. His fingers slid across her thighs under her skirt, pressing downward against the satin panties and she gasped at the new sensation curling through her groin.

    She caught his face and pulled him upward to capture his mouth, hands fumbling at his slacks and freeing the zipper. "Please....," she said again without begging, a polite request. He saw it in her eyes. He chuckled as he realized her ‘please’ meant they should get their clothes off fast or she couldn’t guarantee their usability after tonight.

    He rose up and finished pulling his slacks off, sitting on the bed as she struggled to her knees, taking off her bra and her skirt. Duncan’s clothes slid to the floor and he stood.

    Anne closed her eyes briefly. He was so...so beautiful. Golden skin accentuated the sculpted muscles, the slender waist and hips. The dark mat of hair across his chest begged for her fingers and she gave in, pressing her lips against the cushioning silk. His hand cupped her head as her mouth found a hidden nipple and tongued it. She heard him gasp softly. She smiled as her chin was lifted, her lips captured once more.

    The broad hands pulled at her panties and she shifted as he pressed her back down, her hips lifting upward, encouraging him to slid them over her buttocks and hips. Then his mouth was on hers again, arms encircling her waist as she gripped his shoulders. He twisted, pulling her down on top of him as they rolled over on the bed. His thigh rose between hers, pressing against flesh already made sensitive by sheer anticipation.

    Anne’s kisses became desperate and Mac met them, matching her ardor and soothing her at the same time. He had gotten far too used to the feel of her slender, compact body, the way she fit against him by simple virtue of her size. She was such a tiny woman to contain a spirit and heart so large. She smelled of orange blossoms and rain and he buried his face in her hair, pulling the soft short waves between his fingers and letting them fall. She made a small sound, urgency and desire making her reckless as she sought to hurry his arousal. Her small hands closed around him, stroking and teasing and he groaned, shifting her upward to catch the small, heavy breasts against his mouth.

    He was hard and ready for her but she was not, not yet, for all her impassioned struggles to press him between her parted thighs. He rolled them again and caught her hips, pressing them against the mattress as his mouth trailed over her abdomen, licking and suckling a moist path across her skin until he reached her navel. His tongue darted in, pressing and she gasped, hands catching his hair.

    Her soft cry urged him onward and he kissed lower, tracing the hollows of her hips before tracking more kisses along her pelvic line.

    "Duncan... please...," Now she was begging and he looked up to see the taut strain in her face, breasts straining upward. Her emotions and nerves were ready but he touched her, the moistness between her thighs barely there. Even the feel of that faint silken fluid brought an ache to his groin. Suddenly, he wanted to feel her wrapped around him and his mouth slipped lower, tongue tasting the first presence of femininity. Anne gasped, thighs spreading wider and her knees bending. He rose up to capture her exhale with his mouth, fingers probing, shifting, teasing. Stroking upward between the soft cleft and feeling her shudder in response. She reached for him, eyes dilated and shining, pressing against the coaxing fingers. He pulled her up--and himself--until she straddled his bent knees, tight fanny resting firmly on his thighs.

    His mouth fastened on the tender skin of her throat as he continued to stroke and was rewarded by the wash of warmth, liquid heat soothing his fingers and slicking them. He caught her hips again, and held her eyes as he lifted her slightly, her hands moving to help guide him. Her dark eyes almost closed as he pressed against her. The throbbing pulse of blood in his cock made more pronounced by her trembling hand.

    Anne was mesmerized by the dark eyes as she felt Duncan ease within her. She was desperate to look away from the intensity in his gaze but she could not. Her breath caught as the first ache of penetration began. Then groaned aloud when he held her, forcing their joining to be slow, allowing her time to adjust to his size, to the stretch his entry caused. It was a slow exquisite torture and her breath began coming in short harsh pants. Nor was his breathing any steadier. Her body began trembling as she clung to him, unable to overcome the gentle strength with which he guided her hips. She could feel his pulse racing under the lips she pressed to his throat, her own barely outpacing his. Then he was inside her and she moaned again, squirming a little, her breath catching in a series of short, vocal gasps. The shock and sense of pressure eased and she moved, saw the wash of emotion cross his features and was torn between watching him and giving into her feelings.

    Then Duncan rose and her vision went dim, deciding the argument for her. Her legs locked around him as he eased her back onto the bed. His weight pressed her down, warmed her, held her still as his hips flexed, his pelvis grinding into her as he pressed inward. He filled her more, stretched her, lifted himself to catch the sensitive nub of flesh between his body and her own.

    There was nothing left in the world but the feel of him inside her, around her and on her. Her blood burned, her flesh felt seared and there was not a nerve ending in her body that wasn’t screaming with sensation. His head dropped to her shoulder as the thrusts became stronger and faster, pressing deeper. She felt the surge build. His name was on her lips and she moaned, turning her face to his hair and holding on because she had strength for nothing else. Her body tightened and she cried out again, curling around him.

    Hot silk and stormy seas. The imagery was in his brain, in every cell of his body where Anne’s skin pressed to his. She was open to him, body welcoming him without reserve. Her body had softened and relaxed to accommodate him and he slipped easily into the warm channel. He felt her muscles clench around him and release, a caress as sweet as that of her mouth against his throat. He groaned against her shoulder, wanting to hold back, to take his time. His body and hers had other ideas and he found himself quickening his strokes as her legs flexed to drive him inside her, harder and deeper.

    He felt her spasm and clutch at him tightly. A small choked gasp escaped her as her orgasm began. He willed himself to slow down, body and mind straining against the control, but the control brought him with her as she spasmed again, each ripple of response accompanied by a soft cry. Her fingers dug into his shoulders and he felt himself slip over the edge and into the warm sea. Her orgasm washed over him, met his own as he lost restraint, body pumping into her, pulsing his fill into the deepest reaches of her body. He held her tightly, eyes shut tightly as the waves continued until he drew a shuddering breath, and felt dizzy from the sudden onset of oxygen into his brain.

    Anne still held him but not as tightly. He eased his weight back, body still flushed and trembling and she clutched at him, legs locking once more to keep him inside her. <> She had neither breath or strength for the words, nor the coherency to make any sense. He held her and gently rolled to the side, taking her with him and settled her more comfortably against him as his breathing evened, warming her forehead, fluttering her hair.

    Slowly she let her grip ease but not vanish. She shifted and felt him swell within her ever so slightly, the soft moan bringing a smile to her lips.

    "That’s nice...," she murmured against his throat and felt him chuckle softly.

    "So it is. This is nicer," he added softly, nuzzling her hairline and pressing kisses along the damp skin.

    It was. Anne knew it and was already missing it. She hadn’t had so generous a lover in ...well...ever. Her brain went flying again as she thought about her decision, squirming closer to Duncan to absorb his heat and his scent. She wanted to memorize his body and the feel of his skin, the scent of his hair. His taste. The comforting and devastating feel of his strength and masculinity sheathed deep within her. Almost...

    Almost enough.

    But it wasn’t. Her feelings for Duncan echoed through her in a sense of protectiveness. It was one thing to fight for a life because you were trained and skilled enough to be a doctor. It was another to be forced to kill for the same reasons.

    Life and Death. Love and Hatred. She had already tossed her coin in the air--the moment she picked up her diploma. She couldn’t hate and fight for lives at the same time. Without arrogance she knew the lives she could save were worth as much or if not more than the love she was losing.

    "I will always love you," she said softly and heard his breath catch just before he kissed her again, saying the same thing without words. He held her tightly and then, before she could ask began moving within her again.

    There would be no regrets. Only joy for this one night before all their dreams and hopes were blown away with the winds of fate.

    -end-

    Leave a comment:


  • dubiousbystander
    commented on 's reply
    Oh, I have read this one before, but its been so long, it was practically new! Love it!

  • Nicholas Ward
    replied
    A Good Thing--By Aristide


    //Lifetimes upon lifetimes of privation and want can embed some strange habits into a person.//

    Methos smiled at the thought, acknowledging the wry truth of it even as his hand slipped surreptitiously into the warm paper bag and fetched out another morsel of superb bread.

    Two streets down from his new apartment there was a tiny bakery run by a huge and indistinguishable family of Italians, and Methos often succumbed to the lure of their golden, crusty loaves when he passed that way. To his amusement, he found that he was never able to make it home with an intact loaf--he had to nibble.

    It was one thing to give in to temptation-- a familiar dynamic, the very one that led him to buy the bread in the first place. This other compulsion was different, older; something implacable and insistent that demanded that the good opportunities, the good things, be enjoyed before some unknown calamity happened along and took it all away from him.

    It was, he considered, a similar principle to that which dictated that a camel will drink whenever water was offered, regardless of thirst; an evolutionary imperative-- and what was he, after all, but the cumulative manifestation of five thousand years’ worth of evolving durability? Yes, true, he currently lived in a world of relative peace and absolute plenty, but still… the bread was an excellent thing, a sustaining thing, the staff of life… and so, he nibbled. Every time.

    Which was why, when the buzz hit him in the exact same moment that he heard a familiar voice singing from behind the closed door to his apartment; when the singing stopped and his door flew open and a tidy shape hurtled into his arms; he was unable to offer or return any immediate greeting-- his mouth was full of very good bread.

    “Methos!” Amanda hugged him and his bag of purchases so fiercely that the delicate loaf was squashed flat between them. “You must have missed me terribly-- I bet you did-- Oh, it’s so good to see you…”

    Somehow, Methos forced the mechanics of peristalsis, swallowed his mouthful despite the fact that Amanda squeezed him so hard that there wasn’t much option about where it could go.

    “ ‘Manda,” he managed dryly, “good to see you too. Get off me-- you’ve squished my bread.”

    Her face turned up from his chest and she blinked incredulously. “Your …bread.”

    He nodded.

    She blinked again. “I haven’t seen you for three months, and all you can think about is your bread?”

    Methos scowled, and kissed her nose with mock-disapproval. “You shouldn’t thwart my bread instincts-- it interrupts my evolutionary process.”

    Her eyes narrowed warily, and he saw her nostrils flare a bit-- no doubt olfactory research into the state of his sobriety. He smiled.

    “Right,” she said slowly. “Well, Methos, you don’t smell drunk--”

    “Never mind,” he interrupted mellowly, holding her close, resigning his bread to its pulped fate, “a baguette and a bagatelle, and the value of both sacrificed to this momentous occasion. It is good to see you.”

    Her lips opened warm beneath his, her body folded to him easily-- a compact bundle of accommodating welcome in his arms; sweet. He tasted wine-- his best wine… He growled, a low sound of contradictory but inextricable aggravation and delight. Amanda. Beautiful, passionate, infuriating Amanda; profligate vixen, maddening Goddess…

    When his bakery bag slipped from beneath his arm and thudded unceremoniously to the dusty floor of the hallway, he didn’t even notice.



    “So,” he began, now warm and fed and comfortable in the familiar embrace of his favorite chair, “what brings you here? Are you in trouble?”

    Amanda rolled her eyes, scoffing. “Oh yes, Methos-- I’m pregnant and Duncan refuses to do the honorable-- I want you to force him at sword-point to make an honest woman of me.”

    Methos choked, suffering and sputtering under the uneasy combination of a mouthful of beer and a bellyful of laughter. “You got me,” he gasped out when he could. “Oh, that hurts…” Eventually he swallowed, composing himself. “Amanda, Mac’s a wonderfully skilled man, and I’ve seen him do some incredible things, but there’s a world of difference between the incredible and the impossible.”

    “Bastard,” Amanda replied mildly, smiling at him over the top of her wine glass, “if I didn’t need your help I’d make you pay for that.”

    “Ah-- now it all comes out. You break into my new apartment, wreck my bread, guzzle my good wine, and then have the temerity to ask for my help. I suppose I’m lucky you didn’t pop by to give me a piece of your mind-- you’d probably have burned the bloody place to the ground.”

    Amanda delved into her purse, pawing, muttering. “I know I have that guy’s gold lighter in here somewhere…”

    Methos waved her off. “Okay, Amanda, enough. Out with it. You want my help…”

    “I do.” Bright, brilliant smile; charming smile, fetching smile. Methos braced himself.

    “It’s Duncan’s birthday next week,” she chirped briskly, setting her wine firmly on the low table next to her chair, “and I want to give him something truly spectacular. Something staggering--”

    “Mm-hmm. And this priceless item which you can’t obtain without my help-- the Hope diamond?-- no, too gauche-- how about the Kashmirine Garnet? Perhaps the entire Picasso exhibit at--”

    Now Amanda waved *him* off, tossing her head impatiently. “Wrong, wrong and wrong, Methos. I said spectacular, not felonious. I want to give him us.”

    Methos waited patiently, sure that there must be more to that statement. He maintained calm, he breathed, he blinked; and in his mind he flashed back to 1929, to the first time he ever rode a roller coaster. The serene, dizzying drop in his stomach was the same, exactly the same…

    Apparently, there was no more to that statement. He blinked again. “Us?”

    Amanda nodded happily. “Yes, my darling idiot, us. You’ve got to admit, Methos, it’s the very last thing he’d expect--”

    Methos shifted slightly in his chair, stomach still fluttering madly. “Oh, I admit that Amanda-- although now that I think about it, finding out that you’ve lost your mind is probably going to be a bigger surprise. He’s always thought you to be pretty solidly nailed together--”

    “Don’t make me hurt you, Methos.” He prickled at the sight of her flashing eyes-- he’d always found that to be her most appealing look: DeathThreat Amanda. “I haven’t lost my mind. It’s a perfect gift-- he loved it last time--”

    Methos cleared his throat loudly, cutting her off. “Come on, Amanda-- yes, okay, he got through it last time, until he woke up naked with me in his arms. After which, if you’ll recall, he got very quiet. After which, I’m sure you remember, he successfully resisted both of our attempts to jolly him along, to talk about it, to get him to do anything other than stare at the floor and brood. And after that, in case you’ve forgotten, I stayed away while he gave you the cool shoulder for an entire week-- a week during which you plagued me continually, whingeing on about it.”

    Amanda favored him with a lofty, disdainful sniff. “I do not whinge on about things. You’re the one who was so morose that you couldn’t find your way out of a bottle for a week…”

    Methos nodded firmly, staring hard and resolute into her eyes. “Yes, and I’ve no desire to do it again. So go steal him something breathtaking, Amanda, and leave me out of it.”

    Her lips pursed. He knew that she hated it whenever she talked herself into a corner-- he had to struggle not to grin, despite the small silver blossoms of pain that threatened behind his temples. Maybe now she’d give up and go away so that he could take his nascent headache, his incipient erection, and his bittersweet memories off to the warm solitude of the shower.

    No such luck. Amanda never admitted defeat easily-- it was one of her most endearing (and most frustrating) traits.

    “Meee-thos…” she murmured, amazing him with the new-found knowledge that there was such a thing as a silky whine, “don’t be so cross.”

    She slithered from her prim position on the couch down to her knees in one sinuous, boneless slide, and crept leisurely towards him. “You know he loved it, Methos. We all did. He was just scared, that’s all--”

    “And now you want to scare him again, is that it?”

    His voice stopped her approach, but she only smiled at him, smiled as graciously as if he’d paid her a lavish compliment.

    “You let me worry about that.”



    Amanda imparted her plan in a warm, glowy whisper, looking the whole time as if she was utterly unaware of the picture she made curled so innocently at his feet with her hands and chin propped on his knee-- an ingenuous schoolgirl in her off hours, narrating dirty stories without a single blush.

    Amazing, really; that he could actually get hooked by something like that. Amazing. He didn’t know whether to order her out of his house or fall on her like the dirty old man that she seemed to want him to be.

    “You’re mad, Amanda. He’s not going to go along with it.”

    Amanda rolled her eyes, as world-weary as all of her young years could make her. “You men-- none of you have any faith. It’s terribly sad, Methos-- without me around to inspire you, none of you would ever get anything accomplished.”

    Methos regarded her testily. “I believe the word you meant to use was ‘incite’, Amanda, not ‘inspire’. The only thing you ‘inspire’ me to do, is to paddle your deserving bottom.”

    Amanda smiled, unperturbed, and leaned against him so that the swell of her breasts under the silky material of her blouse grazed innocently against the knees of his jeans. “I think the word you’re looking for is ‘squeeze’, Methos. Not ‘paddle’.”

    Methos tried to hold on to his irascible expression, but it was damn difficult when she knew that he loved that perfume… “Paddle,” he insisted, drawing his brows together with effort.

    Still smiling, Amanda swarmed into his lap, captured his hands, and pulled them behind her to rest upon the part in question. “I still think it’s ‘squeeze’.” She encouraged him with a demonstration. “Or maybe ‘stroke’…”

    Methos teetered, losing the thread of significance, of why it was so very important that he not give in to this. “Stroke,” he echoed mindlessly, suiting the action to the word.

    “Or maybe-- ah!--not ‘paddle’, but another ‘P’ word altogether, Methos…”

    “ ‘P’ words are good,” he murmured against the hollow of her throat, “I like ‘P’ words…”

    “Like pull--ohgod--or maybe-- plunder--”

    “Pants!” Methos growled. “Why are you wearing these damn pants?”

    “Pants isn’t the ‘P’ word I had in mind…”

    “Uh-uh. Better get ‘em off you, then-- Mmm…”

    “Mmm-- ‘M’ word, Methos; quick!”

    “Mmmfuckingmarvelous…”

    “Good choice-- Oh, that’s better… A general embargo on pants altogether--”

    “Leave the pants out of it, Amanda… Christ, you’re lovely--”

    “Eee!--not the ear, I’m ticklish. Methos!…”

    “Mmm.”

    Things got a little vague at that point, what with the moaning and rough demands for words of one kind or another. Methos attempted to keep himself under sufficient control, knowing his tendency to be slightly more vulnerable to fervent and foolish promises under certain circumstances; but in the lost, dazzled moments when he dripped with sweat and trembled with strain, working her hard against a wall with her legs a vise around him, he may have slipped.

    She said he did, afterwards; when she’d stopped shrieking and had removed her fingernails from the tender flesh of his shoulderblades. And who was he, anyway, to doubt the word of a lady?

    Or even Amanda, for that matter.



    As Methos drove through the dark Paris streets towards the barge, he marveled over the fact that even after five thousand years of life he could still be led around by his ‘P’ word. He’d left behind his perfectly toasty and comfortable apartment, his plentiful beer supply and an intriguingly trashy novel about space aliens and ancient civilizations--guaranteed snicker material--to pile out into the bitter, gnawing cold towards an assignation that would probably turn out to be an exercise in futility.

    Amanda’s scheme was simple enough--she’d told Methos that she planned to ask Duncan to turn himself over to her for one night, to let her use the inventive stretch of her imagination to provide him with an evening of rare sensual delights, a birthday present no other could give him.

    “You will, of course, remind him that you’re significantly older than he is.”

    It had been his only comment. Her smiled response was delightfully wicked. “Of course. You know he always falls for that age and experience line.”

    Methos smiled in subtle agreement. Indeed.

    Amanda did not plan to inform Duncan of Methos’ involvement. “If I tell him I’ve invited you, he’ll balk. If you just show up and join in, he’ll have to say no to your face.” Her sharp, lacquered fingernail absently traced a Shakti pattern on the knee of his jeans. “I’m betting he won’t.”

    Methos wasn’t so sure. Last time, Mac’s wary nervousness had given way only under the extreme duress of denied satisfaction--a bloody inferno of passion when loosed, yes; but damn hard to get to. And the quiet, the coolness afterwards… he must be mad, for going along with this…

    And yet--how could he not? Methos tingled with anticipation as he drove, vacillating dizzily between a biting dread that Mac might repudiate him on sight, and a memory-fed blaze of desire--Duncan moving over him, inside him, dark with pleasure and an unsuspected need for closeness… his mouth, that feeding, open, full-lipped mouth… Methos shivered. How could he not, indeed?

    He surfaced dreamily into dual realizations: first of all, that his penis was so hard that it hurt; and second, that he was here, at the barge, only minutes away from the answer to the question that had him strung on opposite poles of intensity. Immediately there were two distinct options before him, provided with near-molecular clarity by the ruthless part of his mind whose job it was to offer him alternatives: he could take his duffel-bag and destiny in hand, walk down there and risk what there was to be risked; or he could take himself in hand, and jerk off while imagining what Duncan and Amanda must be up to by now, and then drive himself home.

    There was an interval of wry amusement, almost humility, as he looked back and forth from his duffel bag in the passenger seat to the hard tent in his jeans, chewing his lip speculatively; and wondered what in the hell five thousand years of experience was worth when he still had to undergo moments like this.

    He took the duffel/destiny option. After all, nothing ventured…



    The ambiance of the room enveloped him intimately as soon as Amanda let him inside. She offered only a softly worded ‘welcome’, accompanied by a finger to his lips to caution him to silence.

    Soft music, soft light, deep warmth emanating from the fire that crackled with lively coziness in the depths of the stove--an immediate impression of comfort and indulgence. His cheeks and ears tingled pleasantly, and he almost expected to see himself steam from the change away from the frigid air outside. As his eyes adjusted he began to pick out details; candles and incense burners; Amanda closing the door behind him, lovely in a short, open robe of midnight blue silk and nothing else; and, of course, the piece de resistance, the lucky birthday boy; Duncan MacLeod.

    Looking fairly concerned about all this. But still, Methos had to admit, looking quite devastating anyway.

    Methos didn’t blame him for the apparent wariness--Duncan was, after all, blinded and gagged with two lengths of some silver-grey fabric, stripped naked, dewed with sweat, and tied to a sturdy wooden chair; each ankle secured to one of the front legs, hands bound behind the chair-back. Mac would know that another Immortal had entered the room and that Amanda had issued a welcome, but nothing more--plenty of uncertainty to justify those tight, rigid muscles and that knotted brow.

    Methos smiled. He turned to Amanda, who was watching him eagerly, waiting for his response.

    //Well I’ll be damned// he mouthed at her silently.

    //But of course// she smiled back, obviously pleased.

    “Duncan,” Amanda began soothingly while she waved at Methos to unburden himself, “I’ve invited a friend to help me tonight--we won’t hurt you, and we won’t do anything you don’t want. Do you accept? Nod yes, or shake your head no.”

    Methos paused in the act of twisting out of his coat, watching, his breath held unconsciously. Duncan hesitated; his head turned to the side as if listening intently. Methos felt his heart pound, agitation that didn’t die away when Duncan shrugged and uttered a few muffled syllables.

    He was about to speak, would have spoken if Amanda’s hand hadn’t covered his mouth. She pulled restlessly at his sweater, telling him without words to take it off; then walked away towards the small, cleared area where Mac was sweating out the unexpected risks associated with his birthday present. Methos watched, mesmerized, his hands lazy with the slow removal of his own clothing while Amanda slipped silently out of her robe, straddled Duncan’s corded thighs and settled her bare bottom onto his lap.

    “I’ve been warming him up, so to speak,” she murmured proudly, running her hands slowly through his hair, down to his barely shivering shoulders, “and he’s been very, very good so far, haven’t you, love?”

    Methos flushed hot with response as he watched Amanda wrap around Mac and bend down to his face, tracing sundered lips with the tip of her tongue. Duncan strained towards her, a liquid, uncertain, but undoubtedly desperate noise filtering past the gag. Methos’ hands paused on the button of his jeans, wracked with a shudder of arousal so profound that he forced himself to be still for a moment, lest he give in to the overwhelming urge to rush over there and just…

    “My friend is watching us now, Duncan,” Amanda purred, “looking at how beautiful you are like this, wanting you. You like to be looked at, don’t you?”

    Apparently Duncan did, but was none too comfortable with it. His normally olive skin bloomed crimson, but his shifting, restless, straining limbs told a different story. Lovely.

    Methos stripped off his boxers and stood, naked and painfully erect, his nipples tight despite the heat of the room. Amanda waved him towards them and he obeyed automatically--his body moved towards the promise of fulfillment, even as his mind cautioned that he might be putting his clothes on and fleeing in one hell of a hurry in just a few moments.

    Amanda rose from Duncan’s lap and circled around to the back of the chair as her hands fluttered over the bared, damp muscles of Duncan’s chest, at once soothing and tantalizing without gratification. The Highlander shivered, tilted his head once more in that listening attitude, evidently aware of Methos’ approach even though his steps were as silent as he could make them.

    Methos stopped in front of the bound man, glad to look his fill without fear of what Duncan might read in his eyes. This vulnerable, aroused, unsure picture before him rocked him with lust so severe that he swayed where he stood; it was all he could do to keep from sinking to his knees and taking Duncan’s swollen, leaking erection as deep into his throat as he could get it. He could almost taste the slick salt fluid, memory and desire fused to a perfect tonal hum of want.

    Amanda’s hands were busy, and then she slipped the fabric muffle teasingly from between Duncan’s lips. The resulting gasps for air and halting words thrilled Methos--Mac was beautiful gagged, true enough; but who could resist the pleasure of that dark, emotional voice?

    “Amanda,” --gasp-- “I’m not sure about this--why don’t you--”

    Instinct and need led him down, brought him against those suddenly available lips without another thought. His head swam. It had been too long--too long just thinking about what it had been like to kiss and bite those soft lips, a memory hoarded and brought out only during moments of grave necessity… So now Methos licked and nuzzled, kissed and devoured and fed. His hands came to cup smooth, new-shaven cheeks; the better to tilt this captive, this utterly desirable Highlander into a position where his mouth might be accessed fully… such a warm, soft tongue…

    Duncan froze under his touch, rigid and gasping and startled; silent until a tremor broke through the lock on his limbs, and then only giving voice to a shocked moan.

    This might be it--this could very well be all he was going to get. The moment of determination was too close for Methos to pull away lightly, so he sucked hungrily on Duncan’s tongue until his own body quivered, until he knew that one more second of this crazy indulgence was going to make him come. His chest heaved when he pulled away, but he forced himself to breathe quietly.

    “Methos…”

    Duncan spoke the word with absolute certainty, but there was no certainty echoed in his posture--he shrank away, back into Amanda’s calming hands. Methos saw her about to speak, shook his head silently. He wanted Duncan to take or leave him on his own merits this time, not because of any of Amanda’s cajoling promises.

    “Happy birthday, Mac.” Methos gave in and went to his knees, limiting himself strictly to only one soft touch of either hand on Duncan’s tense thighs. “You know why I’m here.”

    He didn’t expect to say that. Apparently, Mac didn’t expect to hear it--he tensed further. Methos took a breath, and resumed. “I want to be here, Duncan; but I’ll go if you want me to. I’m not going to give you any present you don’t feel like taking.”

    He watched Duncan swallow, traced out the visible flutter of a speeding pulse under increasingly damp skin.

    “I… I don’t…” The Highlander’s voice was hoarse and full of tension, Methos could almost hear Duncan talking himself out of it.

    “Wait,” he interjected, his own voice as calm as he could make it. “Let me refresh your memory, Mac--this one thing, and then you can decide.”

    He didn’t wait for a response--to wait was to risk the possibility of thought for both of them. Instead he slid forward, relished the touch of flesh under his hands that was bound and stripped for the purposes of pleasure--heady stuff, indeed--and slid his open, eager mouth around Duncan’s erection.

    “Oh my…” Amanda’s soft words penetrated through even past the noise of his own thundering heartbeat pounding in his ears. Methos opened and sank down, catching the slippery evidence of arousal with his tongue as he plunged lower, feeding that place in himself that hungered. His own moan was stifled, but Duncan’s ripped through him like fire; so deep that it vibrated through the flesh stretching him. Oh--this was consuming him, sure enough; slow, languid strokes in and out of his practiced throat, sucking and swallowing and all the time wanting more--if Duncan sent him away after this, he’d have to toss off for a solid week before he’d be able to walk

    Duncan’s hips lifted towards him in wonderful, greedy rhythm, punctuated by grunts and sighs from above that seemed the fulfillment of every heated fantasy he’d ever had. Methos breathed in the taste/scent of musk and hot desire, liquefying slowly into a boneless, mindless mass devoted only to the pleasure of the beautiful man twisting beneath him.

    “Give it up, Duncan.” Amanda’s voice floated distantly to his ears, hazily demanding. “Don’t try to pretend you don’t love fucking his mouth. Is he hot, when he takes you deep like that?”

    Duncan shuddered fiercely, flamed Methos’ nerves again with another staggering groan. The thrusts into his mouth speeded slightly.

    “Too bad you can’t see this, love; too bad you can’t watch him take you in. You could make him come, you know--if I gave you your hands you’d grab for him, wouldn’t you? You’d grab him and hold his head and get as deep inside as you possibly could, right? That would do it, Duncan, that would just make him explode…”

    Duncan came in his mouth with a choked, pleasured howl, his body bucking so hard that for a moment Methos thought the chair would splinter and break. He held on, his hands tight on the Highlander’s thighs while he drank deep of the salt-bitter essence of ecstasy, feeling his own body tremble on the edge. His cock throbbed hard, sympathetic to the one that pulsed out pleasure into his mouth in measured doses, liquid heat that burned through his system like individual electric shocks.

    In the end, however, he kept himself from erupting through force of will--even now he was uncertain, even now he didn’t know which way Duncan would go. He locked down on his body’s incessant demands, sucked his slow and gentle way off of the half-erect shaft in his mouth, and finally looked up.

    Duncan’s chest heaved, now flushed a deep and dusky rose, and the grey blindfold had been sweated dark with free-flowing perspiration. Methos heated with equal, sudden measures of pride and dread--he’d done that, brought Mac to that lovely place of carnal satiation; now if only he could be sure that he’d be staying…

    “Okay, Duncan?” His lips moved before the thought was even fully expressed, a compound question asked in the simplest terms. He found himself holding his breath again.

    “Jesus,” Duncan’s voice was low, faint and breathless. “Methos, that was… Okay?” A throaty half-groan blew warm air over Methos’ forehead, followed by a dark chuckle, “I dunno, maybe if you… convinced me, somehow…”

    The words were lost, buried under further chuckling and Amanda’s loud but somehow dainty snort of incredulity--Methos didn’t, couldn’t join in the laughter, however, but limited himself to a sigh of debilitated relief as he lowered his hot face onto Duncan’s relaxed thigh.



    Amanda had brought plenty of the long, soft strips of grey fabric--a rather dismaying amount, actually; enough to tie up a whole battalion of Highlanders. Methos wondered idly what exactly she’d had in mind as he selected two at random, then turned to where Amanda was ruining her silk robe by using it to wipe the sweat from Duncan’s face.

    “Put the gag back, Amanda.” His stern tone reverberated through the room, and both Duncan and Amanda tensed--Amanda with evident excitement, Duncan with something that looked a lot more like uneasiness. Amanda did as he’d asked quickly, looking toward him with wicked curiosity when she wasn’t busy checking the knot to make sure that it didn’t catch Mac’s hair. Methos noticed the quick, expert way she fulfilled his request, and made a mental note to get her tipsy on good wine at some point in the future and pump her for all her tales of experience--that touch was just too practiced…

    And then there was only focus, only the free flood of creative urges that no longer had to be held back, now that he was here for the duration. He snatched up a pillow from the bed and then approached the other two quickly. He kissed Amanda hard and demandingly, waiting until she whimpered into his open mouth before he released her; almost cold with the level of control he’d required of himself.

    “You’ll like this,” he promised softly, guiding her to kneel on the pillow he placed on the floor between Duncan’s feet. He bound her eyes tenderly while she shivered, heard two gasps echo each other as she leaned forward and her head came to rest against Duncan’s stomach. Before she could move away he’d circled to the back of the chair and found her hands. He pulled them through and secured them together quickly with the second piece of fabric, wrist crossing wrist over Mac’s bound hands so that her upper body was pulled tight against Duncan’s groin, without much room to move.

    “Oh…” A soft, plaintive sound from her: essential, distilled Amanda… when she wasn’t being demanding, that is. He hushed her absently.

    Methos circled around to the other side of the chair, greedily absorbing the picture of what only he could see. Amanda’s skin glowed against Duncan’s dark complexion, her narrow back framed by strong, corded thighs a contrast that was almost dangerously tempting. Both bodies trembled slightly, and despite her bonds Amanda seemed to be doing her level best to slide her bare breasts over Duncan’s groin. Mac looked nearly pained.

    “Amanda--stop that,” Methos snapped. At once both of them froze into stillness.

    Methos reached out casually, ran one hand from Duncan’s temple down over the tense throat, between the hardened buds of nipples and softly onto Amanda’s neck, finally down her spine to trail away gently just as he reached the crack of her curved ass. A tremor ran from one body smoothly into the other, as if they were actually one flesh.

    “Beautiful,” he murmured. It was the only word he could come up with.

    Amanda interrupted his contemplation. “Methos,” she gasped, arching back toward him, her eager, urgent voice muffled against Duncan’s sternum.

    Methos spanked her right buttock; only lightly, but the sound was like a whipcrack in the close quiet of the room. Both she and Mac jumped, and two sharp inhalations echoed.

    “Patience, Amanda,” he said soothingly. He polished the blushing flesh he’d abused, teasing a little at the way she arched into it, admiring how quickly a plain handprint rose on her white skin. “My turn now.”

    He stepped astride her kneeling body, and leaned forward to brush Duncan’s cheek softly with his fingers. “I think you probably know what I have in mind, Mac. Would you like to watch?”

    The Highlander tensed a little, and his brows drew together again.

    “You don’t have to,” Methos continued calmly, “if you’d rather keep the blindfold.”

    Uncertainty and hesitation, alarm and desire--he watched them all flicker over Duncan’s face with eerie speed. He bent closer, until their lips almost touched.

    “Do you want to watch me fuck Amanda?”

    Duncan turned crimson beneath his blindfold, and drew in a massive breath through his nose. Between his knees, Methos felt Amanda shiver. He waited.

    Duncan nodded, faintly.

    Methos pushed the blindfold off, drew the movement out into a lingering caress through long, silky strands of hair.

    Duncan met his eyes, and Methos felt the weight of that hot, intense look almost like a blow; right here and right now, there was nothing in the world except that passionate, liquid gaze.

    “Hello there,” Methos whispered, careful to let slip only the safe words, only the faintest acknowledgement of what it meant for them to face each other in this moment. Duncan nodded again, more firmly this time. Methos brought his fingers around slowly, traced back and forth over rosy, parted lips and the material between them.

    “Do you want me to take this off?” He bit his own lip to stop himself there--abruptly he knew that he would do anything, anything those speaking eyes asked of him.

    Duncan blinked and swallowed, paused, and then shook his head slowly. Methos smiled.

    He pulled his hand away from Duncan’s face, relishing the tingle that lingered at the tips of his fingers. Methos felt almost disconnected from his body as he sank to his knees between Amanda’s spread calves--Duncan’s dark gaze buoyed him, held him floating in a honey-slow tide of want.

    He reached forward, and dragged his hands from Duncan’s thighs over Amanda’s shoulders to her hips, marveling again at that dual, shared shudder. When he reached his destination he circled downwards underneath her, dove with both hands into the liquid heat of her body. She gasped and bucked beneath him, but Methos never let his eyes move away from the Highlander’s.

    “Wet,” he murmured, and pulled in a hungry breath. God--the smell of Amanda in heat--“So wet…” He used one hand to spread her delicately open, and the other full palm, flat against her, slipping delightfully. “So much, Amanda--why don’t we share?”

    He pulled his drenched hand from her shivering warmth, smiling and kissing her shoulder in apology when she whined softly in protest. He leaned forward a little and reached up beneath her chest; deep into the hot, magical crevice where her smooth breasts pressed hard against Duncan’s renewed erection. He rubbed slick moisture over her pointed, swollen mounds, his other hand tight on her hip to keep her still. Not quite wet enough. Patiently, he pulled his hand free, traced down her torso with his fingernails--

    “Methos please!” Amanda’s voice was plaintive and desperate, and her struggles against him escalated into frantic bucking. Methos watched Duncan’s pupils dilate as her chest slid over his groin wildly, and for a moment he thought a descent into orgasmic chaos was pretty much inevitable. However, when he tightened down on her hip hard enough to bruise she squeaked and went still, narrowly averting premature capitulation.

    Methos sighed. “Now you’ve done it, Amanda. I’m going to have to come up with something deeply terrible to make you pay for that.”

    He felt his words shiver through her frame, saw them strike home in MacLeod’s eyes. His hand slipped back between her thighs; petting, gathering, then up again between their two bodies to slick and stroke Duncan’s rigid cock. Mac went with him--taking, thrusting; moaning rough lust into his gag without ever breaking the lock they had on each other’s vision. Methos felt his control teeter precariously, a dangerous and nearly overwhelming compulsion to just shove himself into Amanda and put the three of them out of them out of their collective misery; but… no. There was more that he wanted. He gave one last, lingering squeeze, and backed off, finally breaking that devastating eye contact that was doing such delightful things to him.

    “Now, Amanda,” he said softly, touching her back as if he were gentling a restive horse, “you can have three words--‘yes’, ‘please’ and ‘stop’. Every other word is off-limits to you.” He smiled at her sigh of response. “Of course, noises are fair game and don’t count. Do you understand?”

    “Yes--Ahh…”

    Evidently, she’d understood perfectly. Oh--Amanda could be so good when she tried… Methos reached around and down again, offered a little reward of tender, circling touches while his other hand directed the tip of his burning erection to the cleft between her thighs. He only teased, only slipped up and down in slow, lazy rhythm; refusing penetration until he had her in a fine, trembling state.

    “Please--pleaseplease-oh-please…” The frantic note was gone from Amanda’s voice, replaced by a rough whisper that sounded almost reverent. The rush of power, the rush of control was dizzying. Methos looked up.

    If ever a look whispered ‘please’, MacLeod’s did. Methos held that dark-brown gaze while he sank deep into Amanda’s hot wetness--the collective, gusty sigh would have filled the sails on a clipper ship. He thrust twice, lazily; his spine arched reflexively at the deliciously snug fit--Amanda was nearly quivering within, a hunger that would seduce him out of his nicely gauged control if he wasn’t careful.

    When Mac’s eyes dropped from his own they went straight to where Methos plunged deep between Amanda’s thighs--it seemed to Methos that he could feel the weight and warmth of that look, a burning consumption that almost outdid the heat inside. For a few moments Methos concentrated only on his own pleasure and Duncan’s visceral response to it; watching Mac watch him moving within Amanda was a feedback loop of sensation that threatened to suffocate him with voluptuous indulgence. His fingers never left off stroking her, but every time he felt a pulse begin under his touch he stilled and pressed the palm of his hand hard against her, denying release while relishing her helpless whimper of disappointment.

    All too soon it was too much, and Methos knew that one or two more full strokes into her welcoming body would end it for him. “Okay, Amanda,” he panted, “remember that you can say ‘stop’, if this hurts.” He pulled his drenched fingers away, his grip slick and wet on her thighs as he nudged her to open further. When she was as spread and vulnerable as she could get he crowded close to her, deep in to his full length and his body hard, hard against her while he reached forward. Her moan was dark and halting, a perfectly balanced sound of pain and pleasure, and it buzzed down his spine as if it carried an actual electric charge.

    His hands shook as he found the outer curve of her breasts, a tremor that radiated out to the other two bodies as he gathered her close and pushed the slick mounds together; tight together to squeeze fiercely on Duncan’s erection. Now two moans echoed blissfully in his ears; one muffled, one lush and unrestrained. In this position he couldn’t pull back much, but their three bodies were connected so closely that every faint rocking motion of his hips reverberated through Amanda and over Duncan--every move that he made brought some quiver or sound of response.

    He had to look up now to see MacLeod’s face, but the tension in his neck was well worth it. Duncan’s nostrils flared with the labor of taking in enough air; corded muscles strained in his neck and shoulders while he arched up against Amanda’s chest. Methos shivered.

    “Is this good, Highlander?” he asked with breath he didn’t know he had. “Hot, and--wet, and--tight enough for you?”

    Duncan’s eyes blazed, a fury of earthy passion. He nodded, grunted, and strained forwards so hard that it made the chair creak alarmingly.

    Methos groaned. His body trembled and his senses threatened to overwhelm him, but somehow he found the strength to hold off while he settled his knees a bit more firmly between Amanda’s and started fucking her as hard as restricted movement would allow. Amanda arched beneath him, her sobs of pleasure delighted his ears while he watched the heat in Duncan’s eyes purify, intensify; spiral down to the simple response of raw erotic appetite.

    Amanda’s body clenched around him, not coming but damned close. Methos thrust harder, battering against her, force that rippled through her body to echo in quick tight slides around Duncan’s cock. His head swam, suffused and pounding with each beat of his heart--everything trembled, everything melded into an indefinite pleasure-haze as barriers fell away between them, leaving them shifting together as one extended, gasping, eager being.

    “I want to watch you come, Duncan,” he couldn’t hear his own words above the thudding rush in his ears and the low-frequency vibration of Amanda’s moans, but he felt his lips move and he saw Mac’s leap of response, so he supposed he must have really said it. Beneath him Amanda uttered a high, piercing cry and went completely rigid; a locking of muscles that made it very easy to shuttle her stiff body back and forth between them, deliriously fast. Methos pounded into her ruthlessly, his hands rough and demanding on her breasts, almost brutal. When she came she seemed almost to shatter around him, a tight-furled creature breaking apart under heavy treatment into shivering joy. He rocked her through it, eased and cradled her body with rough tenderness as he felt her crest again and again; those indescribably wonderful orgasms that women could have, one peak to another with barely a valley between.

    Above her writhing form Duncan strained towards him, curled around Amanda’s shoulders as if tortured. Methos watched every stroke, every shiver spark in his eyes; he moved and shifted and squeezed automatically as his own body sought release only through MacLeod’s.

    “Please,” he managed with numb lips, “do it.”

    Duncan’s low, muffled wail and abruptly dilated pupils threw Methos back into raw physical awareness with savage force--he’d fended it off for the sake of the control he needed, but now, watching Duncan heave, shudder and come; the grip and swell of pleasure refused to be denied. Methos’ hips twisted fiercely as he came, groaning, falling into the brown depths of Duncan’s eyes even as he throbbed violently into Amanda’s sweet wetness. He watched Mac greedily, absorbing every flutter of pulse and drip of perspiration, drinking him in, complete.

    Before he could stop himself he collapsed forward onto Amanda’s damp shoulders, shaking, eyes finally closed as twitches chased through the three of them, one response setting off another.

    “Christ--I think that almost killed me,” he gasped dimly, his hands roving sluggishly over random flesh.

    “Yes,” Amanda whispered beneath him, breathless. “But it’s a good thing you’ll come back, ‘cause I think I know what I want for my birthday.”

    Methos and Duncan uttered simultaneous snorts of dismay, eerily harmonic.



    Amanda had offered the opinion that chairs were good enough for a change of pace, but that beds had them beat as far as comfort and latitude of options. Methos was happy enough to agree with her--he was happy enough to agree to almost anything during the silly, tipsy period of lassitude that followed while both of them took turns feeding Duncan tidbits of cake and increasingly erotic sips of wine.

    Apparently Mac had finally reached a new maturity on this his four-hundred-and-third-birthday--enough maturity not to be put off by the fact that one of the naked people rubbing and feeding and teasing him was a man. No small triumph, in Methos’ opinion; and no small cause for celebration, either.

    Every time Amanda suggested that they move towards the shower, Methos put her off. “I don’t want you to bathe, Amanda,” he replied reasonably, scenting towards her like an animal; “I like it when you smell like an unwashed trollop--very nostalgic, you know? Anyway, it suits you.”

    Duncan hadn’t joined in the pillow-fight that ensued from that particular remark, but he hadn’t appeared unduly disturbed by it, either. Methos caught glimpses of the Highlander placidly regarding the pair of them, nibbling bemusedly on a piece of cake while Methos got clobbered.

    “Besides,” Methos panted finally, holding Amanda and her death-dealing pillow off with the last of his strength, “I like the idea of all the work we’re going to have to do to lick that frosting off of Mac’s body hair--it must be dried to a nice glaze by now…”

    Her Achilles’ heel, and not an uncommon one--she couldn’t fight while she was laughing. Methos used the advantage to disarm her; and was about to execute a combined attack strategy of tickling and bad jokes when her little body was whipped out of his clutches as quickly as if she’d been sucked into a vortex.

    No vortex here--only Duncan MacLeod; apparently sufficiently refreshed with cake and wine to be ready for another go. The Highlander had pinned Amanda flat to the bed, and now he kneeled over her menacingly, a dark, barbarian god come to exact retribution.

    “Methos,” Duncan’s voice shivered down his spine, cut cleanly through Amanda’s gasps of surprise, “go and get some of those ties, will you?”

    Amanda’s scandalized squeal was so convincing that Methos almost laughed out loud, but he subdued himself as he selected a handful of fabric strips, and returned quickly to stand beside the bed. The picture they made both touched and amused him--the two of them struggled languidly amidst a battlefield of crumbs; nude and painted sticky with streaks of white frosting and other equally enticing (albeit less dessert-oriented) substances. He snorted.

    MacLeod looked at him composedly. “Something funny, Methos?”

    “You two. You look like an X-rated Sara Lee commercial.”

    Duncan burst out laughing--that deep, intense, wine-enhanced laugh Methos didn’t get to hear often enough. Mac looked like he would have lost control of Amanda if she hadn’t been weak with giggling, if she hadn’t been occupied with breathless suggestions that ‘sex sells’ and ‘wouldn’t Duncan Hines be more appropriate?’ Methos did his best to help, and eventually the two of them sobered enough to get her hands bound to either side of the bed. Methos had taken another strip and was angling for one of her flailing legs when Mac stopped him.

    “That’s enough--I think we can handle the rest.” MacLeod’s eyes were suddenly very serious; serious and warm, and urgent enough to create a small, internal explosion of heat that had Methos hard and aching in about three seconds. Next to them, Amanda became abruptly still.

    Methos felt almost as if he were suspended in some strange, trancelike state when Duncan reached for him; he floated free, his mind shockingly silent as the Highlander guided him up off the bed, pulled him close and descended on him. It took two whole heartbeats for it to get through to him that Mac evidently meant business; there was a strong, warm hand on either side of his face, and that soft, questing tongue was in his mouth, opening him, looking for something…

    “Oh…” Methos shuddered violently, galvanized. “Mac…” That luscious mouth pulled away, but hovered close, waiting. “I’m going to come if you do that…”

    Damn. He hadn’t meant to say that out loud, but, heaven help him, it was true. Those lips on his, hungry, claiming him; had pushed him from hot to boiling with lightning speed--his body cried out, so desperate, wanting so much…

    Duncan smiled at him, warm and kind. “Not yet, Methos.” Methos closed his eyes as Duncan fluttered a gentle kiss against each eyelid, a touch so pure that he seemed to hear distant singing, sweet and redeeming.

    The only thing that pulled them apart was Amanda’s low groan. Methos looked at her, saw her staring at Duncan with wide, hot, disbelieving eyes. Her voice shook a little.

    “Who are you, and what have you done with Duncan?”

    Methos ached as Duncan moved away from him. “I gave him the night off.”

    Still burning, still shaking with his lips tender and wet where Duncan had licked them, Methos watched Mac advance on Amanda’s bound body. “I thought you might have more fun with me.”

    Methos remembered that tone, that threatening, velvet tone of voice that brought back crystal-shard memories of getting fucked through the mattress by a gorgeous Scottish brute. He crept towards the bed, knowing that if he didn’t sit down he was going to go straight to the floor pretty soon, dizzy and spinning and lost.

    He watched, entranced, as Duncan manipulated Amanda’s limbs with irresistible, inexorable precision. The Highlander knelt between her open legs, took her bottom in both hands and lifted her lower body straight off the bed as he crept forward. Amanda’s soft, high-pitched sighs of excitement seemed to exert actual pressure on Methos’ ears--each one dug into him while his vision faded to black at the edges around the one thing he focused on, the place where Duncan dragged Amanda up his thighs and onto his cock with one casual, relentless pull.

    “Oh…” Methos and Amanda in stereo this time. Duncan was quiet, but Methos could see a fine sheen of perspiration starting to glow over his skin. Mac barely moved his hips at all--but his hands lifted Amanda effortlessly up and down the full length of his shaft with slow, deep strokes; patient but unrelenting. When her head tossed ecstatically on the pillow, Methos sympathized down to the smallest quiver.

    “Methos,” the passion hidden in Duncan’s voice, a backdrop of passion with his name on those lips, made his cock twitch. “Come here--you can help me with this.”

    Oh my--could he ever. Methos obeyed, crept slowly closer until he felt waves of heat that poured off of their shifting bodies. He forced his eyes away from the place where Mac drove into her; a pointless exercise, as it turned out, because as soon as he got close enough Duncan reached for his head and pushed him downwards.

    Whatever it was that had gotten into MacLeod, Methos sincerely hoped that it never got out of him. Mac’s hand was on the nape of his neck for only a brief moment before shifting back underneath Amanda, but that one, demanding touch was sufficient to blister Methos with desire. He used one hand to spread Amanda tenderly, saw from the edge of his vision how his touch shivered the muscles of her inner thighs, and then engulfed her slick clitoris with his open mouth.

    Duncan, ever courteous, had switched tactics--now he held Amanda still for Methos’ flickering tongue while he did all the thrusting--a change that seemed to work well for her, given the suddenly increased fervor of her moans. Once again Methos felt a flash of intimate, piercing envy--Duncan rode her hard; strokes that Methos remembered well. He shuddered.

    “You… oh yes--both of you--more…” Amanda’s broken words burned within him, and Methos sighed as he nibbled her softly. One flash of his tongue snaked down lower, tingled with salt and musk against Duncan’s shaft, sliding in, out, and in again while Amanda writhed.

    “Amanda--open your eyes,” Duncan’s voice was a growl, a low fury of intensity. Methos heard her gasp, echoed by his own as Mac reached for him and pulled him up. “Methos…”

    “Mmm…” Methos blinked, admiring. The Highlander was flushed and damp, his hair wild, utterly beautiful.

    “I missed your mouth.” Duncan kissed him hard, sucking Amanda’s moisture off his tongue while she wailed like a woman possessed. Methos barely had the presence of mind to slip his thumb between her legs while Mac kissed him breathless; the tremors of her cresting pleasure throbbed against his hand with exquisite perfection.

    Methos moaned when Duncan pulled away; his stomach curled in on itself with want. Mac gasped against his lips, his eyes hot and demanding. “Don’t let her stop, Methos. Just… help me do this.”

    Okay. Damn. His bones had obviously melted. He’d have to do without. Methos slid from Duncan’s grasp and obeyed, ranging the length of her body with hands and tongue, drawing out Amanda’s passion until her cries were almost shrieks, until her restrained limbs quivered with helpless struggle. When he bit her nipples she almost threw herself off the bed, but Methos used one hand clenched tight in her short, silky hair and the other hard between her legs to keep her immobile.

    And through the whole time, while Amanda came again and again and Methos ached with unfulfilled need, Duncan never missed a stroke. Methos heard the Highlander’s breath gradually shorten, felt his own body tense abruptly when Mac uttered a soft, pained groan, and wondered disconsolately whether it would be taken amiss if he suggested that Duncan should perhaps pull his cock out right now and push it straight into his throat.

    “Methos--fuck--get down here…”

    Methos went. Duncan’s hand clenched fiercely on the back of his neck, pushing his open mouth hard between Amanda’s legs. Methos drifted, rolling and lost in sensation while Amanda surged against his tongue and screamed; screams that couldn’t obscure Duncan’s earthy, satisfied grunts. He abruptly forgot that he needed to breathe.

    He felt it when Amanda passed out, her tight, spasming muscles relaxed into limp passivity between the space of one heartbeat and the next. Her voice slurred off into incomprehensible, rhythmic sighing; and Methos wasn’t at all surprised when he pulled away and looked at her to see that she was solidly out, lax in her bonds. What did surprise him, however, was the fact that black clouds seemed to be obtruding on his vision--it wasn’t until he pulled in too-long-delayed air that it occurred to him that he was about to pass out himself.

    He put his head down on her drenched midriff and gasped, locked in his own world where he seemed to be able to feel each individual molecule of air that brushed against his overheated skin. //Shower// he thought dimly. //Very soon. Jerking off soon would be good.// His mind quieted, satisfied with a temporary and ardent promise.

    Vague motion blurred at the edge of his field of vision--Duncan, reaching gingerly for one of Amanda’s wrists. As soon as he felt like he could move Methos bestirred himself and pitched in. He worked slowly to free her other wrist from the broad wrap of fabric; which, despite its softness, had tightened cruelly on her delicate skin. As he rubbed at the red mark, Methos warmed in familiar gratitude to the fortuitous alliance of Immortal healing and rough sex.

    “Christ…” Duncan sounded totally out of breath. Methos didn’t blame him--he had, after all, just pumped Amanda into unconsciousness--not an easy task.

    He turned to watch Mac settle Amanda tenderly beneath the covers. As usual, she curled quickly into a satisfied, snuggling ball. Methos smiled. “Everything okay?” he whispered.

    Duncan grinned at him shakily. “Oh yeah--I just realized that I lost count of her orgasms… too bad--I was going for a record…”

    Methos had to bite his lips to keep from laughing. For a moment it was a losing battle, but the urge to snicker departed abruptly as Duncan leaned towards him over Amanda’s slumbering form and stabbed that wicked tongue between his lips. Methos got out one interrogatory gasp of surprised pleasure before the world washed away to nothing more than deepening waves of heat.

    Oh god… Duncan…” He pulled away, shaking, ready to bolt for the shower to save himself the ignominy of a public wank. He looked down, shocked to see that Mac’s cock was already fully erect, slick and so engorged it was almost purple. “Already?” he asked shakily, “are you sure it was Amanda’s record you were trying for, Mac?”

    Duncan smiled into his eyes for a moment, full and warm, but then his eyelids fluttered down and he looked away. “Well, I… I didn’t--I didn’t finish. With Amanda, I mean.”

    Methos stared at him, disbelieving. “Why? I mean--why not?”

    Duncan’s voice was quiet, Methos had to strain to hear it over the sound of his own rushing heart. “I thought… maybe you might not want me to. Maybe you might want… something else.”

    Methos drew in a slow breath, something to focus on and use as an excuse to cover the fact that his heart had just broken open and was bleeding something sweet and terrible deep in his chest. “Oh…”

    The word hung between them, resonant of all the unspoken things. Methos clenched his hands into fists; grasping at anything--anything that would stop him from just reaching out and scaring the hell out of that gorgeous, wary Scot… “Anything,” he whispered, unknowing until it reached his ears. He cleared his throat. “Anything you want, Mac.”

    Duncan didn’t look at him, but his cheeks were almost brilliantly red, his forehead knotted. “Help me move Amanda over,” he murmured, barely audible.

    Methos obliged, and soon they had her settled peacefully to one side of the big bed, after which Methos was presented with the terrifying and extraordinary reality of Duncan MacLeod, staring at him as if mesmerized, fluctuations from reticence to outright fear to melting lust plain on his face.

    Methos reached out slowly, schooling his hand not to tremble as he brushed gently over Duncan’s cheek. Mac’s eyes closed and then it was easier, the easiest thing in the world to seek out those silken, mind-blowing lips, lips that opened under his own as if they’d been waiting for him. Oh yes…

    Methos abandoned himself to the slow tides washing through him, to the feel of the vibrant man in his arms; all live passion and sugar-wet kisses. Frenzy and need seemed to have retreated far over some interior horizon, left him stranded with only an endless, oceanic patience; unsuspected fortitude and the urge to give this man every single pleasure that might be given. When Duncan dragged him down, locked him tight under a blissful, heavy weight, Methos went with a swooning willingness and joy that threatened to blind him.

    “Methos,” Duncan murmured the word close behind his ear; soft and astonished. “Methos… Methos… God--I could kiss you forever…”

    //Okay. Yes, please.// Only his thoughts could reply--his mouth was incapacitated, able to do no more than pull in air and bloom warm with Duncan’s heady kisses. Arms tightened around him, and Methos lost a breathless moan between Mac’s lips as Duncan moved over him sinuously, rocking them together. Without warning Methos found himself trembling on the keen, aching edge of orgasm, suddenly all too aware of how their cocks pressed and rubbed against each other with maddening slowness.

    “Duncan--please…” He gasped it out, “I’m shaking myself apart, here. Will you… I want to feel you in me--”

    Duncan’s only response was a swift, thorough kiss that left Methos dizzy, left him pawing blindly at the bedside table in search of something slippery. Mac reached over to his hand, twined with his fingers, and guided him unerringly to a flip-top bottle of oil. Methos seized it fiercely, but before he could open it Duncan stayed him, brought their eyes together through the simple expedient of cupping his face.

    “I think I’ve done enough of the hard work for one night,” Duncan whispered hoarsely, looking deep into his eyes. “Your turn, Methos.”

    For one horrible moment Methos suffered an almost insurmountable urge to throw Duncan off him and run. He knew exactly what Mac meant--oh yes; his mind provided him immediately with a full-color, three-dimensional illustration, complete with soundtrack, but…

    But, he couldn’t possibly. Not that kind of intimacy; that kind of deepening of what was already between them; that kind of risk when he knew full well that Mac had never… his mind babbled, tripped over itself in a confused rush, assuring him that either he’d end up in love, or Duncan would never speak to him again, or possibly both.

    Methos closed his eyes quickly, waged a brief but bitter war between his common sense and something that went deeper than temptation, deeper than desire… and sighed. This staggering and unexpected trust, this surprise gift… it was a good thing.

    That is, he amended, he could make it a good thing, if he could keep himself from spurting all over Duncan’s stomach while thinking about it. Methos sighed again; eyes still closed, and rubbed Duncan’s smooth cheek with his own in acquiescence and ardor--surrendering, even as he drew inward to gather his strength.



    As it turned out, he needed every bit of it. Mac seemed determined to do everything in his power to drive Methos insane--he rewarded Methos’ unspoken compliance with a rash of deep-throated kisses that reminded Methos of the quick flash of pain that happened if he drank something hot too quickly and scalded his tongue--only, too-hot coffee didn’t usually make him moan and shudder and writhe… although it might from now on. He didn’t doubt the abilities of an association this powerful.

    Apparently, Duncan had decided that it was time for the gloves to come off--he clung to Methos fiercely, grappled with him, rolled him over and back in what space was available just to make sure that there was no neglected part of either of their bodies that had somehow missed rubbing against each other. Methos, with both fists dug deep into that marvelous, wild hair, Duncan’s soft groans whispering over the skin of his neck, and the glorious sensation of being slowly crushed to death under the Highlander’s full weight; almost felt, cynic though he was, that life had nothing more perfect to offer him.

    Good thing he didn’t take bets. “Methos… please,” the whisper breezing just below his ear jolted him as much as if it had been a full-out shriek. It also brought back a measure of control, an awesome awareness of what he’d been entrusted with. His hands did not tremble as he took the bottle of oil, as he gentled Duncan onto his side and settled close, as he cupped that beautiful face and pulled it around to him for one more unalloyed, glowing, never-to-be-forgotten kiss.

    The oil was already warm from being gripped in Duncan’s hot hands. Methos poured some of it into his palm, then leaned as close as he could so Mac would have something to feel besides the… intrusion. He felt a strong, almost overwhelming urge to ask Duncan if he was sure, if this was really what he wanted, but he refused to give in to it. It seemed, somehow, almost a lack of respect to do so, and he wasn’t going to cheat this experience of any mark of respect or veneration he could bring to it. There was a clear path before him. He would take it. His own craven need for reassurance be damned.

    Methos slid one arm underneath Duncan’s neck, pressed with his forearm and hand on the sweat-moist but calmly breathing chest, and pulled Duncan firmly back against himself. He cradled Mac, soothing him, tracing gentle patterns with his tongue over Mac’s throat and ear. When he slipped his oiled hand between the Highlander’s buttocks, the man barely sighed.

    Methos found a pulse there, at Duncan’s center; like breathing or heartbeat or cresting pleasure--flex and relax, open and contract. Methos waited through patient breaths, absorbed the rhythm… and entered on the open beat; the right moment, the same moment he thrust his tongue deep into Duncan’s ear.

    “Oh…”

    Methos held tight as Mac rocked in his arms; another gentle wave of a body surging through some unknown--and closed his eyes on something too bright to look at that surfaced for a moment in his interior landscape.

    Now two fingers, as easy as one--Duncan breathed with him, alive inside and out; live hot rippling response and instinctual motion, rocking again. Methos dragged his lips from ear to throat, to another pulse; a strong, wild heartbeat that sank into his very bones--tongue and fingers moved in tempo, the cadence of life.

    At three fingers, something shifted indescribably. The change eluded him until he realized his own stillness--he held, he clasped and offered; but mostly he stood guard over the marvel in his arms while Duncan slowly, sweetly fucked himself on Methos’ hand.

    “Duncan…” it broke from him before he could stop it, stretched his throat with unspoken words. Mac arched into him, turned his head and pressed blindly closer, shivering.

    “More, Methos.” Just a whisper, warm on his lips. Methos took Duncan’s mouth and held it, painting soft tongue-patterns within. Two gentle movements, and Mac’s undulations finally stopped while Methos slipped out, and slipped in.

    Methos moved slowly, anticipating resistance. There was none. All he felt was a hot, welcoming channel; flexing muscles that drew him right in, further in, slow sliding richness that snugged down around him like satin. Duncan heaved in his arms, panting--it wasn’t until Methos heard a breathless ‘oh Christ’ and felt the sheath around him ripple along his length that he realized that Mac had just come, just from one stroke. He gasped, and held on.

    “Mac… are you okay? Just hold still, I’ll pull out--”

    “No--” Duncan interrupted him, holding tight to Methos’ arms. “Yes, I mean, but--” a whoop of breath, “on my back--I want… I want more. To see you.”

    “Okay, okay--shhh. Easy… Easy.”

    The Highlander seemed utterly boneless; weighty and damp. Methos rolled him easily, lifted heavy legs up to his shoulders as if they’d break from rough usage. “You have to tell me, Duncan,” he murmured, “I don’t want to hurt you, and this way can be… deep.”

    Duncan’s eyes were only half-open, but brilliance shone out beneath lowered lashes. “Deep is good--Methos, please--”

    Such a plea, from those lips, vibrated through Methos so profoundly that he felt it in his toes. “Yes--yes, okay, Duncan. Here--kiss me.”

    Methos closed on Duncan’s mouth just as his cock pushed inside. Once again, there was no resistance, nothing to struggle against--he sucked hungrily on the silky tongue in his mouth while he slid deep, deeper, all the way in until his balls were cradled hard against warm skin, and there was nowhere left to go. Burning--his mouth and his cock and his eyes were all burning, all drowning in sudden and unanticipated wetness--his wetness, Duncan’s; his heat, Duncan’s… it was all one.

    Methos allowed his weight to push Mac hard into the bed, pinned him to rumpled sheets while his hips moved, circled, plunged and circled again. Duncan was slippery--soaked with sweat and semen, moving below at every stroke to meet him, lift up to him, take what Methos wanted so desperately to give. Methos pulled away from Mac’s lips--he needed to look, needed to see that he wasn’t alone in this soul-searing, terrifying place.

    “Methos…” Duncan’s eyes were closed, his brow tense. “Help me, I… I can’t bear it…”

    Methos froze. “Hurts?” he panted, blinking sweat and dangerous tears from his eyes. “I didn’t mean to hurt you--”

    “No!” Mac’s voice was a low rasp. “Not--God, not hurting me. For God’s sake--don’t stop…”

    Obedient, Methos thrust and thrust again, one hand cupping Duncan’s firm ass, the other brushing away moisture from that heartbreaking face. “I won’t stop, Duncan. Not unless you want me to.” Methos brushed a soft kiss on the Highlander’s cheek, wincing under the terrible burn of tenderness. “What’s wrong? Why can’t you bear it?”

    Duncan shuddered beneath him. “I didn’t know… I--I think I’m going to come again, Methos…”

    The words seemed to pierce him, shine a devastating light upon him--Methos left off petting and let his arms wrap greedily around as much of the Highlander as he could possibly reach, locking them together. “Oh Mac,” he whispered close against Duncan’s ear. “Then just let go--do you have any idea how fucking *beautiful* you are when you come?”

    He felt Duncan’s erection now, hard and throbbing against his belly as he took this last chance, this last moment to give everything over. His hips worked hard; plunging fast and deep while everything went dim and his heart tried to pound its way out of his body. He only managed five ruthless strokes before Mac arched beneath him and cried out his name, a sound which exploded through him with exquisitely sharp pleasure and let his body take over; writhing, bucking as deep into that silken, welcoming ass as he could get.

    “Oh my God--”

    “Please--”

    “That’s… Oh, that’s so…”

    “Yes--oh fuck--”

    “Come…like that, yes…”

    And then they were gasping; cheek to cheek--and shaking; body to body--and Methos knew that he should let go… it was time for him to let go… he had to let go now--but, Christ--even the thought of it was a knife in him, a wounding; he couldn’t even--

    “Don’t. Don’t let me go.” Mac’s voice, barely audible, steadied him.

    “No.” His own words were breathless, strengthless… but sure. “Not until you want me to.”

    It was a very, very long time before they moved apart.



    [Four months later]

    “Oui.” Clipped. Terse. That don’t-fuck-with-me tone. He’d like to finish this damn book before he died, which wouldn’t happen unless the damn phone stopped ringing…

    A pause. Then: “Methos?”

    Instantaneous, immediate rush--hot cheeks, shaking hands, the works. Methos put down the book, forgotten. “MacLeod. Hello. Sorry, I thought it was another annoying researcher.”

    “Ah. No, just me.” Methos heard Duncan clear his throat, which for some strange reason brought back a complete tactile and auditory surge of perfect memory. He gripped the phone tighter, and watched absently as the front of his jeans underwent a spontaneous geological shift.

    “Well, Highlander,” he said into the silence, “what can I do for you?”

    Duncan cleared his throat again briefly, paused, and then sighed so deeply that Methos expected to feel the breath of it caressing his ear. He clamped down hard on that particular thought.

    “You remember, Methos--the last time you were here?”

    Well, perhaps Methos wouldn’t remember it, if he didn’t bloody think about it one or two hundred times a bloody day… “Yes--yes, of course.”

    “Are you… okay with it?”

    Okay? Okay as in ‘tolerant’; or okay as in ‘obsessed’? Methos floundered for a moment, unsure. “Oh yes. Quite okay.” He was inordinately proud of the steadiness in his voice, the calm. “Why, are you having a problem?” That was less steady. Damn!

    Thankfully, Mac rushed right in. “No--oh, it’s not that. I just wondered--there’s something that’s come up, and I need your help.”

    Methos’ stomach sank. Another crusade. He could have cursed Duncan quite creatively for getting his hopes up like that. “I see.” Hopefully he sounded enlightened rather than disappointed.

    “Are you available on Friday?”

    Curious--Duncan’s crusades didn’t usually require a datebook. “Friday? Yes, I could arrange--what’s Friday?”

    More throat-clearing. More sighing. Damn that man!

    “Well, I don’t know if you remember or not, but… see, Friday is… well, Friday is Amanda’s birthday, and…”

    Methos listened; unspoken curses evaporating, blessing the voice that tingled against his ear while a slow, expectant smile stretched the corners of his mouth.


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  • Nicholas Ward
    replied
    A Fashionable Love Affair by Angelise

    [ 852 AD ]


    “Amanda?”

    “Yes, Rebecca?”

    “What are you doing?”

    “Practicing my swordsmanship.”

    “Amanda?”

    “Yes, Rebecca?”

    “I do not believe what you’re doing qualifies as practicing.”

    Amanda rolled over and smiled at her mentor and first female lover. “Are you sure, ’Becca?” she asked. Her grin widened at the slight pursing of lips that greeted the shortened form of her guardian’s name. “Would you not consider this a test of my skills?”

    Rebecca fixed her student with a mock frown. “I do not believe so, my dear. Cutting the tie that holds a neckline together is not a skill most immortals will need to survive a challenge.”

    “I beg to differ.” Amanda used the tip of her sword to pull free the ribbon on her lover’s chemise. “I believe this is a most useful skill.” She caught her breath when the garment slid off a shoulder and revealed the alabaster skin of one breast. “Just think of the distraction it would cause.” Amanda licked her lips in anticipation. “I know I’m distracted.”

    Ignoring the naughty raven-haired nymph stretched out on the bed beside her, Rebecca lowered the manuscript she was studying and carefully placed it under the pillows behind her back. Once her beloved treasure was out of harm’s way she stretched her arms over her head, fully aware the movement showcased her slender beauty to its best advantage. “Are you truly distracted, my dear? If so, I will concede this is, indeed, a useful skill and will include it in future practices.”

    Scrambling to her hands and feet, Amanda crawled across the bed to sit beside Rebecca, her gaze never wandering from the breast that had slipped free of the simple linen chemise. Despite her bravado, she was still somewhat timid about the ways of loving a woman. She sat as still as a doe, her hands slightly shaking where they lay in her lap. There was nothing more she wanted than to pleasure her mentor, to touch her soft warm skin and taste the pale pink nipples that stood proudly erect. Her lover was very sensitive there, and Amanda thrilled to hear the gasps of delight that escaped Rebecca’s control each time she nursed hungrily upon them.

    “’Becca?”

    Even though her body was trembling with a need that grew stronger with each passing minute, Amanda waited for her teacher to initiate their lovemaking. Playful teasing was one thing; intimacy with the woman who had rescued her from the streets was entirely something else. Amanda had vowed she would do nothing to jeopardize their relationship. She loved the beautiful immortal above all others and could only hope that she would, over time, earn the privilege of spending the rest of her life safely sheltered within the walls of Rebecca’s castle.

    “Why so shy, my love?” Rebecca asked upon noticing her pupil’s hesitant manner. “Do you not know I love your teasing? That I crave the way you worship my body with your lips? That my breasts actually ache for your sweet kisses?” She reached out and tugged on a strand of Amanda’s long hair. “Come ease their pain, my child. Please.”

    The soft-spoken plea was Amanda’s undoing, and she flowed forward, carefully pushing the chemise off and baring Rebecca’s upper body to her hungry gaze. “You are so beautiful, ’Becca, like an angel. Why would you, a true lady of nobility, a lady who deserves to be loved by one who shares the same refined blood, why would you allow someone like me---” A look of revulsion crossed her face as she glanced down at her hands, which were, once again, clasped tightly together in her lap. “Why would you allow a poor street urchin, a thief, a mere peasant to sully your exquisite beauty?”

    Rebecca smoothed her hand over her student’s bent head and guided her to her bosom, sighing softly at the moist heat enveloping her nipple. “I have not always been a lady, young one. There was a time when I was just like you, a clever vagabond prowling the shadows for food and shelter.” She tilted her head and arched her back when sharp teeth lovingly tortured the sensitive bud. “I will never hold your past against you,” she promised before curling forward and burying her lips in the ebony strands that fell across Amanda’s thin shoulders.

    Feeling suddenly overheated, Rebecca threw off the covers and gathered the skirt of her nightshift, leaving it bunched around her waist. Inquisitive fingers tickled their way inside her womanhood and collected the honeyed moisture that spilled forth the moment her bashful charge touched her with her mouth. Helplessly a moan broke free.

    “You are very special to me, Amanda.” Rebecca struggled to catch her breath. “I will treasure our love for as long as I live.”

    Hearing the simple declaration, Amanda felt a strange warmth invade her heart. No one had ever said such things during her young life, and immediately her starved soul latched onto the promise, tucking it away for safe keeping.

    “Oh, ’Becca.”

    Amanda intensified her lovemaking, quickly pushing her mentor in a shattering climax. “I love you, my angel,” she whispered to the breast sheltering Rebecca's generous heart. Her admission was uttered so quietly it barely breached the silence of the room. Nevertheless, it was heard, and an echo of her vow caressed her lips a heartbeat later, carried upon the wings of a tender kiss. Tears quickly spilled down her cheeks and caught in the curve of her tentative smile.

    “Hold me. Love me,” she pleaded, stripping off her nightgown and tossing it to the floor. “Make me tremble as only you can.”

    Dawn was slipping over the horizon by the time Amanda discovered the tie she had cut earlier with her sword. With a mischievous glint in her eyes, she dangled the bright blue ribbon in the air, using its end to tease rose-tipped nipples.

    “’Becca?” she softly called to lips that were still moist from shared morning kisses. “That skill I demonstrated last evening, the one with the sword?” A wicked smile spread across her waif-like face. “Could we practice it again tonight? Maybe even make it a nightly pursuit? You know, practice makes perfect. Isn’t that what you’re always telling me?”

    Amanda found herself pulled down on the bed and kissed senseless.

    “You are incorrigible, my dear.”

    “Yes, indeed, ’Becca. That’s me. Very, very incorrigible.”


    [ 1585 ]


    “’Becca, I swear I will stop visiting you if you don’t move back to the country. The stench of this city is bad enough but to have a whole bucket of swill dumped on top of my head is entirely more than I can tolerate!”

    Amanda wrinkled her nose at the scattered refuse littering her new gown. The smell was simply awful. “If that old woman has ruined my---” She pulled free a rotten cabbage leaf caught on the crystal pendant hanging from a thin gold chain circling her neck. The crystal was a gift from Rebecca, given to her when she finished her training. “I’ve got a good mind to go back out there and lop off her head with my sword.” With a disgruntled snort, she tossed the cabbage leaf out the nearest open window.

    Removing her fur-lined cape, she shook it fiercely before looking around the room. “’Becca?” Finding only servants, Amanda tucked the cape over her arm and ascended the main staircase in search of her longtime lover. “’Becca? Are you up here?” A muted voice answered, summoning her to the spacious bedchamber at the top of the stairs. “’Becca. Can you believe that woman next door had the audacity to--- what in heaven’s name are you wearing?”

    Excusing the servant assisting her, Rebecca turned around and smiled lovingly at her former pupil. “I see you’ve made the acquaintance of old lady Clayderman next door.”

    Raising an eyebrow in question, Amanda glanced down at her stained outfit. “Such an acquaintance I could have done without.”

    Rebecca indicated the short sword Amanda had tucked in the folds of her gown. “Is that new, my dear?”

    “Not really. I acquired it a few years ago.” Tossing her cape on the bed, Amanda approached her lover. “’Becca? Why are you wearing a man’s suit of clothing?”

    Fingering the hilt of the sword, Rebecca ignored the question posed to her. “This sword has a very unique hilt. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen one quite like it.”

    “My opponent was exceedingly impressed with his manhood. Boasted the hilt was an exact replica.” Amanda unsheathed her sword and rapped it against the gold-embroidered brocade vest Rebecca was wearing. “As you well know, the male form holds no interest for me; therefore I did not waste my time verifying his claim.”

    Kissing the older woman on the cheek, she demanded in a soft voice, “Now, ’Becca, would you please tell me why you’re attired in such a manner? Have you suddenly become overwhelmed with the need to be a man?”

    “No, my love,” Rebecca answered with a chuckle. “I am quite happy being a woman. It’s the fashion I abhor.” She twirled around. “Is it not a grand suit to be wearing out on the streets of our fair city?”

    Rebecca ran her hands down the sleeves of the red silk doublet she wore beneath her vest, pausing to trace the detailed beading on the wide cuffs that enclosed her slender wrists. “What do you think?”

    “I think . . . .” Amanda took a moment to look at the beautifully crafted outfit. With a contemplative air, she walked a complete circle around Rebecca before stopping and leering at her suggestively. “I think your codpiece is quite impressive.”

    Rebecca glanced down. “Oh my!” she exclaimed when she found a phallic-shaped sword hilt suggestively stroking the edges of her codpiece. “I do believe you are correct.” She raised her gaze and offered her own wicked smile. “Are you not curious as to what lies beneath? What makes it so impressive?”

    “As curious as a cat.” Amanda stepped closer, forcing Rebecca to retreat. She laughed when her lover hit the wall behind her and let out a hushed gasp of surprise. “Maybe I should investigate?” Using the hilt of her sword, she lifted the padded covering and nudged the feminine territory it protected.

    The blush of passion heightened the color in Rebecca’s cheeks as she struggled to gather her thoughts. “Curiosity has led . . . oh my . . . ummm . . . led to many great discoveries.” With teeth tugging relentlessly on her bottom lip, she shifted forward and moaned softly when a column of carved ivory brushed apart the folds that guarded the core of her femininity.

    Amanda moved closer and nuzzled Rebecca’s neck while lazily stroking the hilt of her sword in and out of her lover’s body. “My curiosity knows no bounds. It may take me hours upon hours to satisfy it.”

    “Never let it be said I denied you such satisfaction.” Rebecca thrust her hips forward and pleaded breathlessly. “Amanda, please. Oh, my love, please touch me, touch my breasts.”

    Amanda lowered her head and unfastened Rebecca's vest using her teeth. She grinned when she saw how her lover’s nipples had drawn tight and were pushing against the silk fabric of her doublet. Moving the hilt of her sword deeper and faster, she captured one nipple with her mouth and began to torment it. Hearing the murmurs of broken phrases, of such that would make a priest blush, Amanda recognized Rebecca was close to climaxing. The need to tumble her noble lover over the edge, to make her surrender the nectar of her passion, overwhelmed her, and she sucked hard on Rebecca's breast, knowing full well this would be the one thing the woman could not resist.

    “Amanda! Oh gods, yes!”

    Tenderly laving the bud now covered with damp silk, Amanda lifted her head and made eye contact with the gasping immortal braced against the wall. “My heart is yours, ’Becca. Always,” she whispered huskily.

    Her heartfelt promise triggered Rebecca's release, and a flood of liquid heat spilled forth. Amanda quickly removed her sword and replaced it with her hand. The cry of her name shattered the stillness but was quickly silenced when she claimed Rebecca's lips in a passionate kiss. The two of them then moved with practiced ease into an embrace that bespoke of their eternal love for each other.

    Brushing away the damp strands of hair that obscured her mentor’s expressive eyes, Amanda smiled at Rebecca. “I do believe I like your new outfit. Maybe I should get one of my own.”

    Trembling legs refused to hold her upright for one more second, and Rebecca slid down the wall behind her, landing on the floor in a most inelegant fashion. Laughing at her sudden weakness, she encouraged Amanda to join her by lightly smacking her on her bottom. “That’s an excellent idea, my love. We could both dress as men and travel around the continent for the next decade or so. See what mischief we can stir up.”

    “Speaking of mischief . . . .” Amanda knelt beside Rebecca and tugged on the piece of clothing that had caught her attention upon first entering the room. “I believe my curiosity is about to get the best of me again, ’Becca. What should I do about that?”

    Welcoming the fingers that petted her secret spot, Rebecca chuckled. “Here kitty, kitty."


    [ 1840 ]


    “Ow!”

    “Hold still.”

    “I said . . . Ow!”

    “Quit being such a ninny, and suck it in.”

    Looking over her shoulder, Amanda pinned her immortal companion with an indignant glare. “If I suck it in anymore, ’Becca, my lungs will be kissing my spine.”

    Showing no pity, Rebecca simply smiled as she repeated her command, “Suck. It. In.”

    Amanda reluctantly obeyed and took another deep breath. “Tell me again why I’m wearing this damn corset?”

    “To make your waist smaller, my dear.”

    Amanda pouted. “My waist is small enough, thank you.”

    Rebecca began to tug in earnest on the ties that bound the corset tighter, forcing Amanda to grab for the bedpost she was standing next to. “Dammit, ’Becca!” she exclaimed. “Leave me a little room to breathe.”

    “Breathing is rather overrated, my dear, don’t you think?” Rebecca spanned her companion’s waist with her hands. “There. Perfect.” She slowly walked around to face Amanda and traced the seams that ran up and down the whalebone corset. “Duncan will most certainly fall at your feet when he sees you at the ball tonight,” she declared while tucking inside the corset the crystal she’d given to her young student.

    Amanda snorted in a most unladylike fashion. “That’s if I don’t fall down first from lack of air.” She slapped at the wandering hands that molded themselves to her bosom. “Why must I go to the ball with that boorish Scot? He’s such a do-gooder.” Amanda lifted her hand and gently caressed Rebecca's cheek. “Why don’t you come with me, instead? I’m sure your current companion can find something to do for a few hours.” She caught the older woman by the waist and pulled her into a tight embrace. “I’m only here for a few short days, ’Becca. Come with me to the ball. We’ll have such fun.”

    Rebecca gave into the teeth nibbling their way up her neck and tilted back her head, a sigh of longing escaping her lips just before they were claimed in a bruising kiss of hunger. “I wish I could go with you, my love. You have no idea how much I’ve missed you these past few years.” Rebecca slid her hands down Amanda’s back and cupped her bottom. “The Duke is a most passionate lover, but sometimes I cannot but wish it was your mouth driving me insane, shattering me into a million pieces that only you know how to put back together.”

    “I have missed you, too, ’Becca.” Amanda gripped Rebecca’s arms and prevented her from moving away. “Come to me tomorrow. We’ll spend the entire day together, doing whatever pleases you. We can go shopping, sightseeing or better yet, spend all day in bed loving each other until we drop from pure exhaustion.” The last suggestion was accompanied by a wicked smile and a naughty nudge of a knee between legs that parted without hesitation.

    “Oh, my sweet child, you do so tempt me.” Rebecca pressed her forehead against Amanda’s. “Yes. Yes, I will join you tomorrow,” she whispered before pressing her mouth to the eyes that haunted her dreams on those nights when her body craved the soft touches that only a certain immortal could torture her with.

    Pulling slightly away, her breath still mingling with that of her lover’s, Amanda grinned, “And what about the Duke? What will he think?”

    Rebecca ran her fingers slowly down Amanda’s neck and along her bare, milky-white shoulders. “Henri will find some way to amuse himself. Maybe we should introduce him to Duncan?”

    The name of her escort caused Amanda to look with distress at the nearest clock. “Oh damn! MacLeod will be here within the hour, and I’m still not dressed.”

    Taking Rebecca's hand, she led her across the room to the rosewood armoire that stood with its doors flung wide open. “Here.” Amanda handed over a jewelry case before taking a seat at her dressing table. “There should be a garnet necklace and pair of earrings inside.”

    Rebecca collected the desired pieces and admired the diamond and gemstone settings. “These are quite lovely. A gift from a new beau?”

    A secret smile quickly appeared then disappeared from Amanda’s face. “You could say they were a gift.”

    Knowing her lover’s penchant for thievery, Rebecca met Amanda’s eyes in the mirror. “Please tell me you didn’t---”

    “’Becca, if you don’t want to know, don’t ask.”

    Clamping down on the words of disapproval that quickly rose to her lips, Rebecca slipped the necklace around Amanda’s neck. “Garnets are the ideal gemstone for you, my love.” She picked up one of the earrings and held it against her lover’s cheek. “They go perfectly with your dark coloring.”

    Amanda turned to kiss the fingers caressing her cheek. The sudden movement jostled Rebecca’s hand, causing her to drop the earring.

    Rebecca watched the piece of jewelry disappear into the confines of the cream-colored corset. “Oops!”

    Amanda looked up at her mentor and grinned. “You dropped it. You get it out.”

    “If you insist.” Rebecca kissed the top of Amanda’s head as she slid two fingers between the younger woman’s breasts. “I can’t seem to reach it.”

    “Dig deeper.” Amanda leaned back in her chair and pushed her chest out. “If you hadn’t tied this damn corset so tight.”

    “Oh hush!” Gripping Amanda’s shoulder for leverage, Rebecca forced her fingers deeper inside. “Stop breathing. You’re crushing my fingers.”

    “Your fingers? You’re smooshing my bosom! Rebecca!” Amanda’s eyes went wide when her breasts popped out of her corset.

    “Got it!” Rebecca dangled the lost earring in front of Amanda’s face but her moment of triumph was cut short when she caught sight of her lover’s freed breasts. “Oh my!”

    “Indeed.” Amanda couldn’t help rubbing the tender flesh beneath each breast. “God, ’Becca, you have no idea how good this feels.”

    Rebecca cupped the nearest mound and gently massaged its supple fullness. “I guess we’ll have to start all over again with the corset. Lean forward and let me get at those ties in the back.” A small blade appeared out of nowhere and tapped her on the chin.

    “Touch those ties and you die,” Amanda warned.

    “But, sweetheart, we have to . . . .” Rebecca indicated the unfettered breasts.

    Amanda lowered the blade she held in her hand. “Stuff ‘em, shove ‘em, push ‘em in. I don’t care how you do it, but you are NOT untying this damn corset. I’ve endured enough torture for one day.”

    “Amanda.”

    “’Becca.”

    Rebecca recognized the stubborn tilt to Amanda’s chin and surrendered graciously. “I have no idea why I put up with you.”

    Amanda did nothing to hide the huge grin of victory on her face nor the groan of appreciation that slipped past her lips when Rebecca began to play with her breasts. “You love me, pure and simple. That’s the only reason you put up with all my shenanigans.”

    “That I do.” Rebecca slipped her arms around Amanda’s shoulders and kissed her on the cheek. “That I most certainly do.”


    [ 1994 ]


    “Hello?”

    “’Becca?”

    “Amanda? Amanda, is that you?”

    “Who else would call you in the middle of the night just to hear your sexy voice?”

    Rebecca tucked the cordless phone under her chin and slipped from beneath the covers, shivering slightly when the night’s cold air touched her naked body. Glancing over her shoulder at her softly snoring husband, she reached for her robe and slipped it on. “No one but you, my dear. Where are you, Amanda? Are you coming for a visit?” Rebecca crossed the room silently, carefully closing the bedroom door before moving down the hall and into the library.

    “I’m in Italy at the moment. There’s an exhibit at the Vatican I just *have* to see.”

    “Amanda.”

    “’Becca.”

    “You will never change, my clever thief, will you?” Rebecca took a seat on the expensive leather couch John insisted on buying last fall. She could refuse that man nothing, just like a raven-haired nymph she knew.

    “Where are you, ’Becca?”

    “I’m in the library.” Tucking her legs beneath her, she tugged on the knitted afghan that rested on the back of the couch and wrapped it around her shoulders. “Any chance you’ll be coming to Paris soon? It’s been way too long since I last saw you and . . . .” Rebecca touched the crystal pendant that nestled between her breasts. It’s companion piece rested over the heart of the only woman she’d ever loved. “I miss you, Amanda.” Closing her eyes, she slid her hand inside her robe and tugged on her left nipple. “I truly miss you.”

    “Same here. More than you know.” Amanda’s sigh of longing whispered over the phone line. “I wish I was there with you now, holding you, kissing you, making love to you. God, I miss you, ’Becca.” A burst of bawdy laughter nearly drowned out Amanda’s last words. “Hold on. Let me move somewhere quiet.”

    A sudden hunger took hold of Rebecca, and she stretched out on the couch, pulling open her robe and exposing her nakedness to the shadows. “Amanda,” she whispered huskily as she moved her hands lower, smoothing them over her flat stomach. “I wish . . . .”

    “Tell me. Tell me what you wish, ’Becca.”

    Rebecca felt the heat of embarrassment rush to her cheeks. “I, I . . . .”

    “Who’s the shy one now?” Amanda lowered her voice. “Where was that shyness when I saw you last? When I fucked you in the back of your Mercedes, wearing nothing but my leather bustier and strap-on?”

    “Amanda! Your language!”

    The younger immortal laughed wickedly. “Admit it, ’Becca. You love hearing me talk dirty. Just as much as you love seeing me in that leather outfit you bought me on our anniversary last year. It makes you hot, gets your cunt all wet.”

    Rebecca bit down hard on her bottom lip in an attempt to strangle the moan that rose in the back of her throat. Her hands, on their own accord, crept down her sides and gripped her hips, digging in so hard as to leave bruises on her pale flesh.

    “Your cunt’s wet right now, isn’t ’Becca? Wet because you’re remembering how good it felt in the back seat of that car. How good it felt to have your legs flung over my shoulders while I fucked you through the floor?”

    “Amanda, please!”

    “Ah, come on, babe. You loved that leather outfit, liked the way it hugged my body, you said. The skirt was so short my buttcheeks showed, and someone, I won’t name names, but a certain someone couldn’t resist grabbing me whenever I walked past.” Amanda laughed, her next words slightly breathless. “And what about those stiletto pumps of mine? Remember how you kissed and licked them as you begged me to take you again?

    Rebecca finally surrendered to the power of her lover’s voice and moaned softly. “Amanda.”

    “Touch yourself, ’Becca. Tease your clit with your fingernail, and pretend it’s my dick. Remember how I let it tickle your clit? Made you scream, if I remember right.”

    Rebecca couldn’t resist lifting her hips in the air, trying to capture the sensation of a past memory. “I screamed. I couldn’t help it.”

    Loving laughter greeted her admission. “Don’t be embarrassed, ’Becca. In fact, you should scream more often. Helps relieve stress.”

    “Maybe I should scream for you tonight?”

    “Oh, you’ll scream, ’Becca. You’ll definitely scream. Now, rub your clit with your finger. Pretend it’s my tongue. You know how I love licking your sweet spot.”

    “Oh God!” Rebecca let one leg drop to the floor as she pushed a cushion beneath her bottom. “Your mouth,” she replied breathlessly, her fingers seeking out the place that ached for her lover’s unique touch. “When you, when you kiss me there, it . . . yes, yes, it . . . it drives me insane.”

    “I know. And I love it when you get wild. Love it when I have to hold you down as I eat you. It turns me on to watch you lose control, the way you thrash your head back and forth, the way you pinch your tits and scream my name at the top of your lungs.”

    Rebecca heard the rustle of clothing, the sound it makes when someone is in a hurry to get naked. “Yes, my love. Bare that beautiful body of yours.” The thought of Amanda nude, seeking her own pleasure caused the inferno in her loins to escalate even higher, and she pleaded, “Make yourself come, my love. Let me hear you as you climax.”

    “Only--- dammit, I can’t breathe,” Amanda panted. “Only if you do it with me, ’Becca. I won’t do this alone.”

    Rebecca slipped two fingers inside her vagina and began to stroke them in and out, making sure she brushed the heel of her palm against her clit with each pass. “Hurry, Amanda. I’m close, so close.”

    “I’m right with you, ’Becca. Feel me kissing you, sucking your nipples, my fingers riding deep inside your cunt. So deep and so fast. Can you feel it, ’Becca? Tell me.”

    Rebecca thrust her hips in the air, her fingers almost a blur as they moved in and out, their rhythm becoming erratic as her control began to unravel. “Yes. Your fingers. I feel them. Amanda, please.”

    Amanda’s guttural moan welcomed her entreaty.

    “’Becca,” Amanda whispered. “My mouth is on your clit. I’m licking it, sucking it, teasing it with my teeth. I can’t help it; your taste is so addictive.” The younger immortal’s breathing grew harsh. “You’re coming, ’Becca. Your hips are bucking in the air, and it’s all I can do to keep my mouth on your clit. My whole hand nearly slips inside you, and this makes you scream. Makes you spill your honey, and the taste of it pushes me over the edge. I mount you; shove our cunts against each other. We come together, our arms wrapped around each other, our mouths devouring our cries. Damn it, ’Becca, I’m coming!”

    Shoving a pillow in her mouth, Rebecca screamed Amanda’s name over and over while writhing helplessly on the couch. An explosive orgasm ripped through her body, and it was all she could do to hold the phone to her ear so that she could listen as the love of her life surrendered to the passion of her own climax.

    Moments later, exhausted beyond belief, Rebecca rolled free of the sweaty confines of the leather couch and slipped to the floor, sinking into the plushness of the rug that cushioned her trembling body. Fighting for breath, she fumbled for the phone that had fallen from her hand and pressed it to her ear. “Amanda? Amanda?”

    “’Becca,” her former pupil whispered hoarsely. “’Becca, that was… oh, ’Becca.”

    The sound of hushed crying could be heard. Concerned, Rebecca pulled her robe closed and sat up. “Amanda? What’s wrong?”

    “I need you, my angel. Need you so much. Can I, can I come see you?”

    Time flew backwards, and Rebecca saw the waif-like face that would forever call to her soul. “Yes, Amanda. Come home.” She grasped the crystal that hung from her neck and looked out the library’s darkened windows at the ancient ruins of her castle. “I love you, Amanda.”

    “As I love you, noble lady.”

    A silence that spoke of centuries-old familiarity settled between the two women. Finally Amanda’s voice whispered over the phone.

    “’Becca?”

    “Yes, my love?”

    “Just to let you know, I’m bringing that leather outfit with me when I come to visit.”

    Rebecca smiled. “I’ll clean out the backseat of the Mercedes. Hurry home, my child.”

    Leave a comment:


  • Nicholas Ward
    replied
    Another: Hay fever
    Hay fever

    A hot tub. Cory was talking about a hot tub. That he was probably going to try to get Amanda into as soon as possible, damn his eyes.

    "There's room for two more." Waggle of eyebrows, and Duncan tried not to choke at the invitation. Only Cory. The memory leaped up in him despite his best efforts to suppress it. * * *

    Sun slanted in through the wide cracks in the barn wall, striping floor and hay and blankets, gilding every floating mote of dust. It was a sweet, warm, lazy summer afternoon, perfect, beautiful, and Duncan MacLeod wished he could just relax and enjoy it. Unfortunately, circumstances were conspiring against him; he was spending this perfect and beautiful afternoon cooped up in a rickety barn with a machine gun-wielding lunatic. The fact that the lunatic in question was not currently wielding anything more dangerous than a stalk of hay made no difference.

    Duncan paced. It was a large barn, plenty of room for long strides. Amanda was bound to be back soon, and they could get out of here. He paced some more, grinding clods of dry earth under his heels. Amanda had gone shopping. Back soon was not a concept that applied here. He reached the wall and turned around. Amanda might be back in a few hours, or she might get herself arrested, or she might take up with the next featherbrained criminal who batted his lashes at her... no, one was enough. Had to be enough.

    Coming to a stop, Duncan put all the frustration he felt into a single glare. "I'm not doing this again," he said firmly. "I'm not digging you up again."

    Cory Raines lay draped gracefully over a striped blanket, straw between his teeth, hat down over his eyes, shirt-sleeves rolled up. In response to Duncan's glare, he shifted a little, shrugged a languid shoulder. "Oh, come on, Mackie boy! Would you leave Amanda and me in our coffins?"

    "Amanda, no. You, in a heartbeat." And the sooner the better.

    Cory pouted. Beautifully. Then he laughed and tilted his head back, losing his hat in the process, to drink from the ever-present silver flask before saying, "Aw, Mac. And here I thought you liked me." Cory got to his feet and brushed ineffectually at the hay clinging to his pants and shirt, then sauntered over to Duncan and held the flask out. "Come on. You need to relax."

    "I need to have my head examined," Duncan muttered, but after a moment's hesitation he took the flask and drank. And spluttered. "Jesus, Cory!"

    Cory grabbed his flask back before Duncan could drop it. "I guess it's an acquired taste."

    Cheap moonshine. Duncan shook his head. "It's just right for you," he said and spat to one side. Not only did the man have no morals and no common sense, he had no taste in liquor.

    Cory just laughed. "Hey, I didn't force you to drink it. Lemme help you get the taste out of your mouth."

    "Don't tell me you've got Altoids," Duncan muttered.

    "No," Cory said, leaning up against him, and kissed him. And that line about helping Duncan get the taste out of his mouth was a lie because Cory tasted of moonshine himself, sharp bite of alcohol and a strange underlying sweetness, something Duncan couldn't quite place and—

    He gripped Cory by the shoulders and pushed him away into a stripe of sunshine. "What the hell are you doing?" Cory just cocked an eyebrow at him, and the sun raised reddish gleams in his dark hair, and Duncan had to admit it was a stupid question. "I don't even like you."

    "But you think I'm attractive," Cory said matter-of-factly. "Anyway, we have to do something to pass the time till Amanda gets back."

    "Yeah, well, it's not going to be that." The moment he let go of Cory's shoulders, the other immortal stepped in close again, with a glint in his eyes that said he had his own ideas about that. "No, Cory."

    Of course, Duncan reflected, he'd been saying no, Cory at regular intervals since the moment they'd met, and it hadn't had any discernible effect. It didn't work this time either. It was like trying to talk to a cat. Or Amanda.

    Cory just looked amused. "Has anyone ever told you you're kind of sexy when you do that?"

    "When I do what?"

    Cory kissed him again. Duncan spluttered. "That." Cory ran his hands over Duncan's shoulders and down his chest. Duncan growled. Was this what it meant to be an immortal and a warrior? Cooped up in a barn, fondled by a lunatic, a grinning half-drunk lunatic with sparkling eyes and a remarkably — pretty — mouth...

    Oh, hell. What with one thing and another, he'd actually spent quite a lot of time hiding out in barns, and you had to make the time pass somehow. He grabbed Cory and kissed him back.

    Long moments later, Cory looked at him with wide-eyed delight. "I still don't like you," Duncan said.

    "Whatever you say, Mac," Cory agreed a little breathlessly. "In fact, why don't you show me again how much you don't like me?"

    Two long steps for Duncan, with Cory moving backwards light on his feet like a drunk dancer, and they were tumbling onto straw and blanket, landing twisted closely together, chest to chest, mouth to mouth, and moonshine-flavored Cory actually tasted a lot better than just plain moonshine. Duncan curved a hand around the side of Cory's head, thumb brushing up against the ear and that raised a shiver. He rubbed his cheek against Cory's, feeling stubble catch and snag, both uncomfortable and erotic, then caught the lobe of Cory's ear between his teeth. Bit. Licked. Cory moaned and broke against Duncan like a wave, his whole body a caress.

    Duncan pulled back. "You really want me to show you? I'm thinking I could do that by just getting up and walking away."

    Cory's eyes, already darkened with excitement, turned almost pure black, with just the thinnest rim of green fire showing around the pupil. And still he smiled, not quite as insouciantly as before, but close enough, reached and grasped Duncan's cock in a grip almost more shocking for being so easily firm, his hand warm and promising even through cloth. "You'll have a better time if you stay here," he said huskily.

    At first it was just that hand, stroking and petting and holding him captive, getting to him in such a simple and obvious way that he almost felt stupid. Then Cory rolled on top of him, and turned subtle. Hot breath against Duncan's neck, Cory's tongue exploring the hollow of his throat. Cory had the hands of a thief, skimming swiftly over Duncan's body and getting clothes out of the way with unnatural ease. In a very short time Duncan found himself naked under Cory's still-clothed weight, and Cory kept licking at him, seemingly at random, clavicle and breastbone, biceps, chin, the edge of a nipple, the tip of a finger when Duncan reached up to capture Cory's head.

    Cory's hair was long enough to provide a good grip, and Duncan tugged him down into a kiss, held him close and rolled them over. He didn't have Cory's facility with buttons and fastenings, but then, he was in no hurry. Slow was good, one button at a time and careful attention paid to what was revealed. Duncan liked to taste his partners, to use his mouth at least as much as his hands. Cory tasted of moonshine and sweat and it should have been disgusting, but it wasn't. Cory gasped and moaned and cried out at every touch, the sounds running into each other while Duncan learned the details of the smooth chest, the ticklish navel, the soft hollow by the hipbone.

    Out of his shirt and trousers, Cory was surprisingly well-muscled for all his lazy airs. Duncan had never seen him with a sword, didn't know if Cory even owned a sword, but the potential was there. Duncan ran a finger down the length of Cory's erection and got a whimper in response. Then they shifted and rolled, mock-wrestling, kissing, full-body kisses with tongues and cocks rubbing together. The sunstripes moved slowly over their skin as they moved in and out of each other's grip, a leisurely roll of muscle and touch, driven by Duncan's tongue and Cory's wickedly agile fingers.

    Duncan had the sun in his eyes when Cory pushed him down on his back, held down his hips and began to lick his cock. Just plain licking, up and down and around, short firm swipes like a cat washing a kitten. It was good, and strangely relaxing; Duncan sank into an erotic haze, drifting like the dust motes, every swipe of Cory's tongue pushing him a tiny fraction higher.

    Then he was abruptly jolted to a new level of awareness as Cory's mouth closed around him, took him in, completely, expertly, so that the hairs on the back of his neck stood up and his breathing grew short and labored. Duncan reached out and grabbed blindly, felt his palm and fingers sting as crushed straws dug into the skin, not offering him anything to hold on to. His hips pushed against the grip of Cory's hands.

    For a moment he fought against it, trying to prolong the moment, to have more of this perfect wet heat, but tensing against became tensing towards and he surrendered to the feeling, arms flung wide, head back, mouth open. Sunlight was a blinding orange behind his closed lids as he came.

    Trying to catch his breath again, Duncan breathed in dust and essence of hay and went into a coughing fit. When he stopped choking and opened his eyes, Cory was looking rather smugly at him. Duncan cleared his throat of the last hay with a cough that bordered on growl and pounced on the other man, slamming Cory down flat on his back, pinning Cory's nearest leg and arm. He rubbed a fingertip over the hollow of Cory's throat, raised a sound that was mostly pleasure.

    Duncan trailed his hand along Cory's chest and stomach, touching lightly on nipples, along ribs, going slow now that he had Cory where he wanted him. He slid his hand down to the inside of Cory's thighs, stroked up and then drew his nails along the same path, over and over while Cory bucked under Duncan's weight, trying to move enough to get that hand where he wanted it. Satisfying, this; Duncan smiled to himself, watching the pretty, mobile face as Cory twisted under his touch.

    When he finally ran his fingers along Cory's erection, that drew a cry so startlingly loud that Duncan had to swallow it, take it into his own mouth. Cory latched on to him, claiming with lips and teeth and tongue, breathing and moaning into that kiss as Duncan began to stroke him. Fast, pushing the pace the way Cory had pushed him and Cory didn't even try to fight it, just flowed with it, arching up to fuck Duncan's hand shamelessly. Tongue fucking Duncan's mouth.

    It was easy to feel the increase in tension, coil of steel springs under the skin, the hitched breathing, the frantic push and push and push again. Duncan could sense how it built, and he worked to help it, short quick strokes driving up, up, Cory shaking and wild-eyed, and Duncan sped up the motion of his hand and drew back just far enough to let Cory scream out his pleasure, coming hard and fast.

    After that, it was very quiet in the barn. Cory's breathing slowed down. The drowsy buzzing of insects was muted and distant. Duncan rolled back a little, no longer pressing the other man down into blanket and hay.

    "As long as we're clear on one thing," he said and rubbed his fingers over Cory's mouth.

    "You don't like me?" Cory asked with a wide grin, licking his own come from Duncan's fingers.

    "I don't like you," Duncan confirmed, and they kissed again, and lay silent together, drowsing. * * *

    For one brief moment he regretted Richie's presence. Then he collected himself, forced a laugh. "You know what they say, two's company, and four is..." Cory's eyes gleamed, and there was that damn smile. Think before you speak, MacLeod, it saves trouble in the long run. "...not sanitary."

    And then the moment was past.

    Leave a comment:


  • Nicholas Ward
    replied
    Originally posted by Haplo View Post
    I would think any quickening would be Not Safe For Water....oops nevermind.
    I disagree.

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  • Haplo
    replied
    I would think any quickening would be Not Safe For Water....oops nevermind.

    Leave a comment:


  • Nicholas Ward
    started a topic [NSFW] Adult stories !

    [NSFW] Adult stories !


    Since there isn't a [NSFW] thread yet: this is the place to post Highlander stories of an adult nature with or between your favourite characters.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    As a start: Your lips say yes by Keerawa


    Tessa was startled by the sound of someone knocking on the barge door. She'd been lying in bed, trying to read, waiting for Duncan to return from a Challenge. The lamp was still on. The fire she'd lit, more for comfort than warmth, had burned down low. She must have dozed off.

    Duncan wouldn't knock. For a moment she feared it was someone bringing news. But, no - she wasn't the wife of a policeman or soldier, to be brought bad news by kind strangers. If he were ever to lose a Challenge, he just wouldn't come home. The conclusion would be drawn over hours and days of waiting. The fear built up until she could barely breathe.

    A voice called from outside. It was female, melodious, and quite, quite drunk. "Duncan. Oh, Duncaaaaan! Open up."

    Tessa was suddenly furious. She threw aside the covers and strode to the entryway, pulling Duncan's silk robe tight around herself. She threw open the door and stared up the stairs at the intruder.

    As Tessa's eyes adjusted to the darkness outside, she saw Amanda leaning against the door frame. She was wearing a tight-fitting black dress, with a slit cut up the side. Amanda had a tiny black Fendi purse clutched in her hands. Her hair was mussed, and her dark red lipstick smeared, as if she'd been kissing. She looked debauched.

    "You." Tessa folded her arms across her chest.

    "Tessa!" Amanda exclaimed. "Where's Duncan? I can't sense him. Am I that drunk?"

    Tessa shook her head. This was the last thing she needed right now. "You may be that drunk, but Duncan isn't here right now."

    Amanda blinked a few times. "Oh. Well, not to worry, dear, I can wait." She straightened up off the door frame and took the first step down.

    Tessa stretched her arm across the stairway and braced it, blocking Amanda's path. "If you think I am inviting you into our home, you are mistaken."

    Amanda peered down at her. "Why not? Darius told me that you let Grace stay over."

    "You're no Grace."

    Amanda took a graceful, sliding step down that was meant to duck her under Tessa's arm. Tessa was having none of it. She moved to stop Amanda and ended up having to catch the woman before she fell down the stairs.

    Amanda gave a little gasp. "Well of course not." Amanda nuzzled into the fabric of Duncan's robe. The robe gaped open, baring Tessa's collarbone. Amanda flicked her tongue along the exposed skin. "I'm much more fun."

    Tessa dropped her. Amanda slid to a boneless pile at the bottom of the stairs and laid there, shoulders shaking. Tessa cautiously walked down the handful of stairs and knelt to check on her.

    Amanda lifted her head. She was laughing. "Feisty! No wonder Duncan likes you!" Amanda flipped over and stretched out on the floor. Her laughter gradually faded into a gentle chuckle. She seemed almost sober now.

    "So, Duncan's out." Tessa nodded. "I can only think of two reasons that might be, and I don't think you'd put up with the first." Tessa sat back on her heels, face stiff.

    Amanda reached a hand out to push back the hair that had fallen into Tessa's face. Her long fingers felt cool against Tessa's heated skin. "Waiting's not easy, I know. If you want me to leave, I will. But do you really want to be alone right now?"

    "Yes," Tessa said fiercely.

    Amanda smiled a secretive little smile. "Your lips say yes," she crooned, fingers gently tracing the edges of Tessa's mouth. "But the rest of you..." Her hand drifted along Tessa's cheekbone and down a tendon in her neck. Tessa found her breath catching as she stretched towards fingers that pulled away from her.

    Amanda sat up against the bulkhead. She ran her hands through her hair. "I enjoy a good seduction," she said in a husky, intimate voice, "but I prefer a willing victim." Amanda cocked her head at Tessa. "So ... are you willing?"

    Tessa closed her eyes, blocking out temptation. Her heart was pounding — part fear for Duncan, part lust. Her skin was so sensitive; she could almost feel the flicking firelight. She was wet, and the scent of the damp silk clamped between her thighs reminded her of Duncan. What if he never came home? God, she needed ...

    Tessa looked up into Amanda's eager brown eyes. "I love Duncan," she said.

    Amanda sighed happily, as if that were a sinful suggestion. "Of course we do," she replied, taking off her shoes and moving them to the side. Amanda held out a hand to Tessa. Tessa took it, and found herself pulled into Amanda's lap. Amanda's mouth was warm, and tasted of tequila and lipstick. Her tongue was never still. It teased Tessa's lips, dueled with her tongue, brushed along the sensitive skin below her ear.

    Tessa was grasping Amanda's shoulders, holding them together, rocking against Amanda's hip. Amanda's hands reached down between them, skimmed along and around Tessa's breasts, everywhere but her nipples.

    "Please," Tessa gasped.

    "I thought you'd never ask," Amanda purred into her ear.

    Tessa was pushed down onto the floor, robe open. A small, hot mouth was showering kisses over her skin, blazing a trail down her throat towards her right breast. Her skin was marked by traces of red from Amanda's lips. Amanda licked a tight circle around Tessa's nipple, and then retreated a few inches to blow gently over it. The sudden cold made her nipple even harder, and Tessa moaned.

    Amanda jerked at the sound. She looked wildly up at Tessa's face for a moment, eyes dark, and then dived down to take Tessa's nipple in her mouth. Sucking, nibbling, gentle bites designed to drive Tessa out of her mind. Tessa's head knocked back against the floor as her hand found Amanda's hair. Her hips arched up into the empty air, needing more.

    "Touchez-moi," Tessa begged.

    "You want me to touch you? Where?" Amanda teased, nails scratching down Tessa's belly towards the damp curls below, almost hard enough to hurt. "Here?" She braced a hand between Tessa's thighs. Tessa rubbed frantically against Amanda's bare forearm.

    "Mmmm, very nice," said Amanda. She bit her lip and bent down for a deep, wet kiss.

    Then she sat back up, eyes roving over Tessa's naked body. Tessa, watching, felt every glance as a potential touch. She shuddered. Amanda moved the hand Tessa had pressed between her legs. Up over Tessa's clitoris. Down, two fingers pushing gently into her wet, open pussy. Up, caressing. Down, plunging in. Her other hand crept over to Tessa's untouched nipple. Just as Amanda's right hand rubbed hard across Tessa's clitoris, she began flicking that nipple. Then she was down, reaching deep inside. The twin sensations built, stronger and faster, sweet and, god, overwhelming. Tessa felt pinned between Amanda's moving hands, whirled through the steps of a wild dance to music only Amanda could hear. Too much, too much, she would fly apart. Amanda's fingers rippled deep inside her, and that was just like ... just exactly like …

    "Duncan!" Tessa cried out, gasping, writhing, riding the rhythm of her body through her orgasm.

    Amanda lifted her sopping wet hand to her lips and delicately licked her fingers. She shivered. "You are so beautiful when you come," Amanda whispered. One hand resting gently on Tessa's breast, she slid the other through the slit length of her dress into her lap. One strong hand motion. Another. One more and Amanda groaned, eyes closed, and then sagged down to the floor to snuggle up to Tessa.

    They lay there quietly for a few minutes.

    "Feeling better?" Amanda asked quietly.

    Tessa nodded.

    "I'm sure he'll be home soon." Amanda turned onto her back and stretched. "I should be going." She put on her shoes, stood up, and retrieved her purse from the corner where it had fallen. Amanda was at the top of the stairs when Tessa's voice reached out to her.

    "Amanda … why?"

    Amanda turned, tossed her head. He lips were pinched as she replied, "Maybe I just wanted a taste of what Duncan finds so irresistible." She laughed gaily, with a sound like breaking glass. "Don't worry, I won't be back in your lifetime."

    Then she was gone into the night. Tessa stood up slowly, and went to take a shower.
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