"I'm so glad you could come and help me with this."
Duncan smiled warmly at Claire as he set down another box filled to the brim with folders, official documents and mementos amidst the rapidly growing but neatly separated piles on the living room floor.
"I'm glad I'm able to help you with this," he returned, flipping quickly through a sheaf of papers before filing them under "finances". "Besides, it's the least I could do in her memory. Tessa always respected her immensely, even when she came home from a lecture," he smirked a little at the memory, "in a complete huff, because she violently disagreed with her on the interpretation of a particular painting or sculpture..." He trailed off, realising for the first time that the pain had quietly faded away at some point, leaving only a sense of cherished remembrance in its place.
Claire laughed. "God, yes. You should have been there - a more civilised bitchfight I've never seen. And there I was, sitting right next to Tessa, trying desperately to keep my head down, because being taught by your aunt is bad enough in the first place." She paused for a moment, and Duncan could see she was reliving the scene, before she turned back to him with wet eyes and rested her hand against his shoulder.
"I just said it's al-"
"I know, but I did drag you all the way across the Atlantic, so it can't hurt to say it again. I really didn't want to do this on my own, but I just couldn't imagine any of my friends..." She shrugged. "I knew you'd understand, though."
He just nodded and drew her into a quick hug. It felt good being able to do this, even though he hadn't exchanged more than a few letters with Claire since Tessa's funeral. She'd been Tessa's friend, primarily, and by the time the raw edge of the hurt had worn off enough, his life had seemed to be filled by one crisis after the next. But things had finally calmed down recently, and truth be told, it had been ages since he'd felt this at peace.
"Come on," he said, gently releasing Claire. "Papers to go through, knicknacks to sort. Or else we're still going to be here in a week."
She laughed at that. "Tell me about it. I have no idea how someone so meticulous about her photographic filing system could be so utterly disorganised with everything else. Then again, she was always particular about her art." Her shrug was followed immediately by a loud rumbling.
"Sounds like we missed lunch. Why don't you fix us something small," Duncan waved in the vague direction of the kitchen with a folder, "and I'm gonna make a start on this box?"
"Better you than me," she said as she got up. "I already never want to see another bill for stop bath solutions in my life again."
Duncan sighed - she did have a point. It was good being needed, but sorting through documents wasn't exactly a pastime that got more enjoyable with age. He frowned slightly at the folder in his hand - fairly thick, probably another bunch of receipts mixed in with letters and newspaper articles that he had to go through one by one. Resigned to his task, he opened it and flicked through it quickly in the vain hope that it might be organised for once.
To his surprise, it was. It also wasn't another bunch of useless paperwork, but a portfolio of black and white shots, carefully protected in individual plastic envelopes. Curious, he opened the folder fully, and flipped to the first photograph. And stopped dead, his eyes widening in shock.
He'd recognise that nose anywhere. In fact he was pretty certain that even if the nose was missing he'd recognise the man in the picture within a heartbeat. That face had certainly brought him enough annoyance and joy, laughter and heartbreak to be forever stuck in his memory - Methos was not a man you easily forgot once you got to know him. He was also, his brain noted, lying - no, make that sprawling - on what looked to be a very comfortable bed, facing the camera, his right arm tucked comfortably under his head, his hip merging almost seamlessly with the soft sheet draped across it. His expression was neutral, but his look into the camera was intent, focussed.
The sheet was the only thing covering his modesty.
Although really, there was nothing modest about the exposed chest, about the leg thrown across the silky material. The photograph was intensely sensual and the artist had given it the slightest bit of washout that lent it a warm glow despite the monochrome colourscheme. It was, Duncan had to admit to himself, intensely erotic.
What the hell was Methos doing starring in the art world's equivalent of soft core pornography?
He flipped to the next photo. Methos in half profile, drinking from a long-necked bottle, head bent back. The droplets of condensation slipping down his throat and glistening in the hollow of his collarbone were set into sharp relief by the light reflecting off them.
Flick. Methos, turned partway towards a window, deep in thought, one hand pressed against the windowpane so the firm line of the muscles in his back led the eye inexorably downward.
Flick. Methos, leaning against the side of a bed, his head thrown back in laughter, eyes crinkled with amusement. His bent knee and the angle of the shot were the only things that kept... other things out of sight.
Flick. Methos lying on his front, all angles and planes of smooth, naked skin, supporting his head on crossed arms as he gazed back over his shoulder with what could only be termed a come-hither look. I know you want me, that picture spoke, but I really can't be arsed to lie here all day and wait for you to get on with it.
Duncan gulped and turned the page a little too quickly.
This turned out to be a mistake, however. Shot from the waist up, the photo showed Methos standing in an open doorway, both arms holding on to the jambs so the whipcord muscles in his arms were emphasised. If the previous picture had been an invitation to that body, this one was a promise. I'll have you, make no mistake about it. The smirk on his face was predatory and there was a harsh glint in his eyes that settled somewhat uneasily in Duncan's stomach. All of a sudden, it had become difficult to breathe.
"Anything interesting?" Claire's voice piped up over his shoulder. Duncan dropped the folder, startled, and the pages fluttered around wildly, coming to rest on an image of Methos sucking sauce off his fingers with utter devotion to his task. Well, that was mildly better at least.
"Just, uhm..." Duncan gestured helplessly to the ground for a moment. "I thought you said she always kept her work strictly filed and away from everything else?"
"She did." Claire knelt down beside him, flipping through the pictures, clearly fascinated. "And I have no idea why she wouldn't have wanted to publish these. They're amazing! Just look at the lighting... And the way each of them has its own mood and it just strikes you as soon as you look!"
"He asked her not to," Duncan returned automatically, still feeling more than a little dazed. There was no way Methos would get his face plastered all over an art gallery; that was, after all, not a very good survival technique.
"You say that as if it were a fact." She paused in her examinations.
"He's, uhm, a friend of mine, actually. Very private guy, wouldn't want something like this seen by the general public. In fact I'd never thought he'd do anything like this in the first place." Duncan passed a hand over his face, then shot Claire what he hoped was a reassuring grin. "Sorry. This is a bit of a surprise."
"No kidding!" Her burst of spontaneous laughter broke through the room and the tension that had started building in him from the moment he realised who the model was. Duncan watched her rifle through the pictures from a bit of a distance. Better to be safe than sorry, really.
"You know, if your friend's that private," Claire commented, "you should probably return these to him. Let me check - ah yes. She always kept the negatives at the back of her files." She closed the folder somewhat reluctantly, and handed it over to Duncan. "And I probably shouldn't be looking at these. They are rather intimate after all."
His immediate instinct was to protest, but then he decided that it would be too difficult to explain that he had no doubts Methos was comfortable with sexuality and it was the fact that his face was on display in every shot he'd seen that was the problem. That would just raise a plethora of questions he didn't want to deal with.
"You're right. I'll give it to him when I get back to the States."
And boy, wasn't that going to be fun?
At first Duncan resolved not to open the folder again and just hand it over to Methos at the next possible opportunity. But there was just something about those pictures that made his fingers itch and had him settling down with them as soon as he found some time alone. It had nothing to do with the blatant sexuality of the images, of course, it was simply that he was an inquisitive person by nature. He would've been just as curious if it had been Amanda - alright, maybe that wasn't the best comparison to draw - he'd be feeling a lot more than curiosity, seeing Amanda pose like this. It was just so incongruous and startling to discover this side of Methos, so who could blame him if he wanted a second look?
Maybe if he repeated it to himself often enough, he'd manage to assure himself that was all there was to it.
By the time he entered Joe's a week later, he was pretty sure those images had burned themselves onto his retinas permanently, and the folder tucked casually under his left arm seemed to be scorching an invisible hole into his heavy winter coat. He almost wished Methos wouldn't be around tonight. Whether that was because of the awkwardness that handing over the damn thing would undoubtedly entail or because on some level, he didn't really want to part with it at all was a matter he chose not to examine too closely.
But of course Methos was here, in fact he was the first thing Duncan's eyes fell upon once they'd adjusted to the changed light levels. He was sprawled across a barstool (and how on earth he managed that particular feat had always been a mystery to Duncan), appearing to all the world deeply absorbed in his conversation with Joe. Yet, Duncan knew without a doubt that his entrance had not gone unnoticed, only the minutest shift in Methos' shoulders giving away that he'd caught his friend from out of the corner of his eye and was reassured no threat was imminent.
When had he learned to read Methos' subtle body language so well?
Then Joe said something Duncan couldn't make out over the background noise of the busy bar, and Methos threw his head back in laughter, exposing the smooth skin of his neck.
Duncan's mind helpfully presented him with a picture-perfect copy of Photograph Number 4. Duncan told it firmly to fuck off, but found himself rooted to the spot for a moment regardless. Really, this was starting to get ridiculous.
"Hey, Mac!" Joe had obviously noticed him now, and waved him towards the bar, beaming. "Thank God you're back. I swear, if I have to listen to another of those half-cocked fairy tales of his," he jabbed a thumb in the vague direction of Methos, "I'm gonna go completely round the bend. Anyway, how was Paris?" He was already pulling down a bottle of Glenfidditch off the shelf behind him, pouring out a generous measure.
Ignoring the quizzical once-over Methos was giving him, Duncan put on his best game face and slid onto the stool beside him. "Paris was, uhm, good." A long sip of whisky cleared his head a little, so he tried again. "I mean, it was good that I could help. Claire seemed to appreciate it."
"I'm sure she did," Joe returned seriously. He'd just opened his mouth again and was about to continue, when the sound of crashing glass, followed by a bout of heavy cursing, echoed across from the other end of the bar.
"Sorry guys." A wry grin accompanied the words. "It's a madhouse in here tonight. I better go help Jodie with that, won't be a minute."
And then he was gone, leaving Duncan to face a conversation he'd really rather have put off for another few hours. He was staring at the plain folder in front of him, wondering how best to phrase things, when Methos' voice cut into the tense silence.
"You alright, MacLeod?" There was genuine concern in those eyes, a slight frown on Methos' face. Really, this was preposterous – it was only a couple of stupid photographs, and now he was worrying his friend because he'd become so wrapped up in them. It was nothing like him, and this foolishness was going to stop right here, right now.
Resolved, he turned around and smiled at Methos – it really was good to be back, even if it had only been a short trip. "Sure, why wouldn't I be?"
"Looked a tad distracted there for a moment." Hazel eyes flickered from Duncan's face to the folder, then back. "What's in Pandora's Box there, then?"
Oh boy. He couldn't possibly have chosen a more incendiary term, could he? Duncan sighed, picked up the folder and dumped it into Methos' arms with a sinking feeling of finality.
"We, uhm, found those during the clean up. Thought you might want them back." His eyes fixed on the glass in front of him, turning it to and fro nervously. "I didn't know you and Noelle were... acquainted."
"Noelle who?" The sound of the cover being flung back. "Oh! Noelle Bertrand? She was your friend's aunt? You never said!"
Duncan chanced a look over. Methos was practically pouring over the volume, eyes lit up, a fond smile curling up the corners of his mouth as he flicked through the pages. "I'd completely forgotten about these!"
"The negatives are in the back I think..." Duncan attempted. It came out sounding rather strangled, much to his annoyance.
Thankfully Methos didn't appear too focused on him anymore. "Takes me right back, this does," he gushed happily. "As far as I'm concerned, the sixties were the best decade of this century by far. Don't you think?"
There really wasn't much he could say to that, was there? At least nothing he could think of at the moment, so he downed the rest of his whisky in an attempt to regain some coherency. Maybe he was becoming senile. After all, Immortals could suffer from amnesia, so who was to say that dementia wasn't a possibility?
From where he was sitting, he had a perfect view of the picture currently on display: Photograph Number 13, or Methos In A Shower, Eyes Closed In Bliss As Hot Water Poured Down His Body. Duncan quickly returned his attention to his empty glass, rolling it between his hands.
"Were you and her, uhm, you know?" Great, really eloquent Duncan.
"Were you and Noelle lovers?" There, that was a bit better. He just needed his curiosity satisfied, then everything would go back to normal.
His question appeared to snap Methos out of his reverie, as he looked up, laying the folder down on the counter without closing it. "God, no. It's not always about sex, MacLeod, much as that concept might be difficult to grasp for you. We met at this party in New York, got on exceptionally well, became good friends. Took her a while to ask me to pose for these though, I think she said I seemed a bit skittish to her, so she repressed the great creative urge I'd inspired in her. It was quite the experience." He grinned, then paused. "What?"
Duncan didn't know when precisely he'd started staring at Methos again, but it was obviously too late now to pretend he wasn't.
"What do you mean, not about sex?" he hissed quietly. "These," he pointed at the picture, then snapped the file shut for good measure, "are about nothing but sex!"
When he turned back to Methos, the sly smile on his face was instantly recognisable. Uh oh.
"You're embarrassed!" Methos declared gleefully. "And here I thought Duncan MacLeod, the Highland's answer to Casanova was unshockable when it comes to all things sensual."
"I'm not embarrassed." Duncan said, wishing desperately for another drink. "I just don't understand how you could... display yourself like that for anyone but a lover. I certainly wouldn't."
"Oh, so you'd be equally outraged at finding Amanda's portfolio of tasteful but erotic nudes?"
"It just... is." God, no. He'd run straight into it. Hook, line and sinker. How did Methos do this to him?
"I'll tell you why. You'd be nowhere near as embarrassed if this belonged to any of your female friends, not really - just enough to satisfy your sense of honour. Which makes it rather obvious, don't you think? You're embarrassed because I'm a man. Really, MacLeod," Methos shook his head in a sage, wistful way that was obviously put on, "internalised homophobia's not a good thing."
That brought him up short. "I don't have any internalised homophobia!"
"Doesn't look that way from here. You're certainly not embarrassed for my sake, because you're well aware that I'm perfectly happy here. You just pretty much admitted that you wouldn't be if I was Amanda – in fact you'd probably tease her mercilessly about it, and then drag her off to bed. And if you were perfectly comfortable in your sexuality it simply wouldn't be an issue, because I'm sure you've come across much more outrageous things in your time. So that only leaves one thing..." He tilted his head to the side questioningly. "Honestly, you're trying to tell me that in four centuries, you've never even entertained the idea? Never... experimented? Someone as prolific in sexual matters as you? I'm sorry, I'm not buying it."
"No! I mean, yes. I've experimented." Wrong thing to say from the way Methos' eyes narrowed slightly for a flash. "It just didn't work for me, ok? I'm just not attracted to men. And I'm not homophobic." There, that should do it.
Methos eyes flicked downward to his bottle, eyelashes emphasised by the motion before he looked Duncan straight in the eye, his gaze very direct. It was a practised move, obviously perfected over millennia, and Duncan could have sworn his heart missed a beat there. "If you say so."
The nonchalant way in which the words were delivered and the unconcerned manner in which Methos raised his beer to his lips, taking a casual sip, grated on Duncan's nerves like sandpaper on a polished mirror. Like it was any of his business to begin with!
"I do. And how on earth did we move from your erotic photoshoot to my homosexuality anyway?!" His fingers clenched around his glass. "Which is nonexistent," he remembered to add indignantly.
Joe, who had chosen that moment to reappear on the other side of the bar, nearly choked on his whisky before shooting Methos an inquisitive look.
"This where I decide this conversation isn't something I want to witness?" he questioned sardonically.
Duncan resisted the temptation to let his head sink to the bar, whilst Methos shot Joe an amused grin.
"Nah, it's alright. I've got to get going, Adam Pierson's got a stack of term papers to grade." He frowned. "Maybe going back to grad school wasn't such a good idea after all..."
Duncan wasn't quite sure if he was relieved or disappointed, which was a stupid thought to be having. Somewhere, somehow, something had gone terribly wrong, and it had been the moment he'd picked up that stupid folder in the first place.
"Oh and Duncan," Methos' voice was close to his ear, startling him. "If you ever want to reconsider that last statement... mi casa sigue siendo su casa."
And then he was gone and Duncan was faced with Joe's amused smile and a knot in his stomach that had absolutely no right being there. What the hell?
"You want another drink?" Joe was already lifting the bottle from the shelf.
Duncan decided to just nod gratefully.
He told himself that was the end of it – he'd given the damn pictures to Methos after all, so there was no reason for him to keep thinking about them, was there? And there was certainly no reason to think of Methos' parting shot as anything other than one of his usual sly attempts to rile him up. Methos was constantly doing that sort of thing, searching out his weak spots to make fun of them, just like he had this habit of reeling Joe along into the most unbelievable stories, never quite admitting which were true and which were a complete fabrication. It was just one of the more annoying ways that Methos used to keep himself amused.
If anything, it was a good sign that he'd been doing it more often recently. For a long while there, the friendly teasing had been abandoned, affection replaced by a sharper edge that was meant to cut, words chosen deliberately to hurt where he was most vulnerable. And oh, they had. He'd given back as good as he got, or at least tried to, but that hadn't made the distance between them any less palpable, the easy friendship any less missed.
So the fact that Methos was once again taking the piss out of Duncan as often as the chance presented itself was a good thing, a sign their bridges were starting to mend and he should have been glad about it, not driven up the walls with uncertainty.
The rather blatant invitation that Methos had uttered hadn't been serious.
Or had it?
And even if it had been, why was he getting so worked up about it? No matter how defensive he'd sounded at the time, what he'd told Methos was true: He'd tried sleeping with men, on more than one occasion in fact. But he'd never sought it out and after the fact he'd never really felt... satisfied. There was just something missing, something not quite right about it, and being with a woman had always been infinitely more pleasurable. He wanted women, he desired them, and when he was with someone attractive of the opposite sex – didn't really matter if friend, acquaintance or stranger – his mind would frequently turn to wondering what it would feel like to kiss those lips, touch that skin, palm those breasts in his hands. He'd never wanted a man in the same way.
Duncan shifted under his duvet, uncomfortable. But that wasn't quite true now, was it? He'd done his best to distract himself from those thoughts over the past few days; he'd worked out vigorously until his clothes were soaked with sweat, he'd filed the dojo's tax return months before it was due, he'd even rearranged the furniture in the loft, pretending he just felt like a change of scenery. Yet, when it came down to it, he really couldn't deny it any longer: as soon as the initial shock had worn off, his response to those photographs had been anything but platonic. He'd felt exactly the way he did when he met a beautiful woman – well, except for the bit where Methos obviously didn't have breasts.
Then again, his nipples were equally intriguing to Duncan, if in a slightly different way. He wondered what they would feel like under his fingers, his tongue. Would those few dark hairs circling them tickle his lips as he drew them into his mouth? Just how sensitive were they – would Methos gasp if he flicked his tongue over one of them, reach for his head to pull him closer?
Duncan shot a baleful glare at the tent in his sheets. Alright, no getting around it. His rather insistent erection made it pretty damn obvious that he was lusting after Methos, no matter how unexpected this was. That still didn't mean that Methos hadn't been joking though, and the last thing he needed when he was this off balance was to knock on his friend's door only to have Methos rolling in laughter on the floor as soon as Duncan made his intentions clear.
Besides, this was probably just a phase, some bizarre way of his brain to cope with the still all too recent stresses he'd been put under. Maybe if he just worked it out of his system now, the thoughts would go back to wherever the hell they'd come from and he could go back to everything being normal.
Determined in his course of action, he let his hand trail slowly down his chest, teasing his nipples briefly before stroking a finger slowly down the underside of his cock, shivering at the resulting jolt. He closed his eyes, allowing the images that had haunted him so persistently to filter in and his imagination to expand them beyond still shots, drinking in the grace and strength of Methos' slim body as he gripped himself firmly and set a brisk, firm pace that he knew would bring him to completion quickly.
Methos in the shower, his hands slicking soap all over his chest, leaning back against the wall as his right hand moved downward. Methos, looking up at him from underneath dusky lashes, licking his lips deliberately. Methos on his front, back arching as he ground himself into the covers. Methos in the doorway, lowering his arms casually, stalking towards Duncan, his movements a sinuous flow of motion. Methos, that predatory smirk on his face, placing a hand on Duncan's chest, pushing him onto the bed with a firm, ruthless shove and crawling on top of him, grinding against him as he pulled Duncan's head back by his hair, exposing his throat...
Duncan gasped, part surprise, part ecstasy as he came violently, spurting all over his stomach.
Scowling at his open wardrobe, Duncan wished he hadn't committed to going out tonight months ago. But he knew how important this was to Joe, understood the sentiment fully. He might not have heard of the guy before, but apparently he was a virtuoso on the saxophone and more importantly, one of Joe's ultimate Blues legends, although he was no longer very prolific these days. So when Joe had excitedly told him about the letter he'd received from Rob Wilson, stating that he was visiting Seacouver soon, a friend of his had played him some tracks he'd recorded at Joe's, and would he be interested in a jamming session?, Duncan had been delighted for his friend and eagerly agreed to come.
Of course at the time, he'd never imagined that he would have any reason to avoid the place.
Duncan sighed, brushing his wet hair out of his eyes – it had been growing out somewhat from the rigid short style he'd favoured for a while, although it was nowhere near its previous length yet. It had seemed such a reasonable idea last night, in the dark warmth of his bed, but now, faced with the prospect of seeing Methos in less than an hour and acting like nothing was wrong, like he hadn't experienced one of his most explosive solitary orgasms in recent years to thoughts of his friend, there was no end to the awkwardness he was feeling. Especially given how things had been left between them the last time. One would think that he'd have learnt this lesson in four hundred years, Duncan reflected moodily, but it was the same old story every single time. Except that normally he was in his element in a situation like this and it was not that difficult to decide if it was worth making a pass at a friend, because he'd developed a knack for knowing when a woman found him attractive.
Methos was a whole different matter entirely.
Swearing under his breath, Duncan grasped the nearest shirt he could find and pulled it over his shoulders. He was going to be late at this rate, and Joe would never forgive him for that - with the possible exception of a freak challenge being the cause. He was just going to have to take it as it came.
Anyway, how bad could it possibly get?
Very, very bad, he amended thirty minutes later. He'd managed to get there just in time, thankfully, but of course Joe's had been packed to the hilt already, word having spread quickly amongst dedicated fans. Naturally, Methos was already there and had found them a comfortable table near the back, well enough away from the stage to allow for some legroom, but close enough so they'd be able to appreciate the evening's entertainment fully.
Duncan had decided on a quick smile and a nod in greeting, not entirely trusting himself to speak, and the start of the session had thankfully rescued him from having to attempt any awkward small talk.
He'd settled in his chair and relaxed for a bit, letting the soft ambience and music wash over him. Joe had been right, the guy really was brilliant. Maybe this evening wasn't going to be as bad as he'd feared after all.
Then he'd reached for his drink without watching, so focussed had he been on the performance, and his hand had brushed the back of Methos' who'd apparently reached for his bottle at exactly the same moment. It should have been nothing, a small touch like that, but the contact had instantly drawn his attention from the stage to the man sitting next to him.
Methos had pulled back his hand slowly, raised his bottle to Duncan with a quirk of his lips, and lifted it to his mouth for a long, drawn out sip. Then he'd turned back to the stage, set his bottle onto the table and slouched a bit further down in his chair, spreading his legs slightly.
And now Duncan couldn't stop staring.
He did his best to be surreptitious at least, flicking glances out of the corner of his eye rather than looking head-on, reminding himself to have the occasional drink of whisky so he wouldn't appear too suspicious.
How could he never have noticed before how blatantly Methos put his crotch on display when he was sitting like that? It was outrageous, really, almost indecent, especially when he shifted now and then, lifting his hips slightly as he got comfortable. The motion accentuated the ripple of muscles underneath tight denim, and Duncan couldn't help but wonder what it would be like to run his hand up the inside of that thigh, to squeeze that crotch firmly, actually feeling Methos...
He noticed too late that he'd forgotten to return his eyes to the stage in far too long, as he became aware of that odd, prickling sensation you sometimes got when you were being watched. His eyes snapped towards its source instinctively.
Methos was gazing at him with an amused smile on his face, watching him intently. Then he raised two long fingers and trailed them slowly up the neck of his bottle before lifting them to his lips and licking the condensation off his fingers. His eyes never lost Duncan's throughout the entire process.
Duncan was instantaneously, achingly hard.
He snapped his eyes back to the stage, but he wasn't really seeing what was in front of him very clearly. The music became an inaudible background over the rushing of his blood in his ears, and he sat through the next few songs in a daze, doing his best not to look to his side whilst he breathed deeply, attempting to get his willful erection under control.
He didn't even notice the music had stopped for the interval until the scrape of a chair next to him made him look up. Methos had risen and was slinging his coat over his shoulders with a casual shrug.
"I'm off," he said, pulling up his collar to shield himself from the biting cold outside. He turned to Duncan and raised an eyebrow in a questioning gesture. "You coming?" The slight roughness in his voice would have made it sound dirty even if the double entendre hadn't been so blatantly obvious, and the quick flick of his eyes down Duncan's body and back up only accentuated that.
Duncan, having lost his voice for a moment, shot a look at the stage. Joe was in deep conversation with his idol, laughing delightedly before he motioned towards the crowd and caught Duncan's gaze with a nod of his head and a smile before turning back. Methos was giving him an easy out, Duncan realised. All he needed to do was say that he wanted to share this with Joe and he could go on pretending that nothing had happened while Methos walked out the door.
He looked up at him. Methos was standing there, hands in his pockets, waiting patiently, and if nothing so far had, that anomaly alone would have convinced him that the offer was genuine.
Duncan got to his feet, grabbing his coat firmly as he pulled it off his chair.
What the hell. He enjoyed taking risks, anyway.
He'd half expected for Methos to push him up against the door as soon as they were inside his flat, and to be perfectly honest he probably would have preferred it – at least that way, he wouldn't have to think. Instead Methos quietly held out his hand for Duncan's coat before taking off his own and draping both of them negligently over the edge of his sofa. Duncan suddenly wasn't so certain anymore that it had been Methos who'd pushed their silent walk from the bar to a speed that had left him warm and somewhat flushed despite the icy wind outside.
"Drink?" Methos questioned as he made his way over to the cabinet to busy himself with one of the labelless bottles of indeterminate origin without so much as a second look at him. Giving him space, Duncan wondered, or stalling for time? Hell if he knew. He might have developed some skill for reading Methos over the past years, but the man could still manage to turn himself into a blank canvas faster than you could blink.
Duncan managed an affirmative sound that didn't sound too strangled to his ears, but he still couldn't seem to move from his spot near the door, no matter how silly it made him feel. It must look hilarious, some detached part of his mind observed wryly, Duncan MacLeod, protector of the innocent, fighter of the good fight, doing his best deer-in-the-headlights expression, ready to bolt out the door at any minute. But he wanted to be here, for Christ's sake, and he knew there was no real threat here. So why was this so damn difficult? Why was he staring at Methos' hardwood floor as if it was the most fascinating thing in the world instead of going over there and wrapping his arms around the man?
Who'd returned with their drinks, offering one to Duncan who grasped the glass without looking up. In a desperate attempt to regain some of the balance he had lost somewhere along the way, he gulped the liquid down straight. It didn't help much, so he strode across to the cabinet to set his tumbler down, putting a bit of distance between himself and the object of his confusion.
The lightest touch on his shoulder made him finally face Methos. He was looking at him with an affectionate but wry smile, removing his hand almost as soon as it had achieved its objective.
"One could think you were facing the guillotine here," Methos commented snarkily, though not unkindly. "You can always back out, you know that, right?"
"Yes, but I... I do want this." The sincerity in Methos' voice seemed to have unlocked something inside him, and he gestured helplessly. "It's just that... I was being serious the other day. I gave it a shot, on more than one occasion, but it was always out of curiosity, or convenience, or as a, uhm, favour to a friend. I've honestly never felt attracted to a man like... like this." He frowned sheepishly, raking a hand through his hair. "It's all rather confusing."
Methos laughed softly.
"It really isn't an either or thing, you know?" He grasped Duncan's hand in his, brushing his thumb across his palm in a circular motion that was equally soothing and electrifying. "I've always thought of sexuality as something fluid, but society just keeps insisting on labelling things, storing them in tidy little boxes. Maybe," and there was a definite hint of smugness in his grin now, "maybe you just hadn't come across the right man yet."
Duncan processed this for a moment until he hit on what didn't gel with that statement.
"But I've never felt attracted to you before! That just doesn't make any sense!"
"Oh, I don't know. I think you just needed to... see me from a different angle. Happens all the time that; don't know why they persist in calling it a ‘revelation' as if it's some huge, momentous occasion."
That rang true, and Duncan found himself reaching out, brushing his knuckles over Methos' cheekbones ever so briefly. The smile he got in return was dazzling, lighting up Methos face, and Duncan decided the whys didn't matter – he was here now, after all, and this was good.
"Come here." Methos murmured, and Duncan let himself be drawn forward, Methos' hand on the back of his neck as their lips brushed. It wasn't explosive or rough, or any of the things he had imagined on their way over here. Instead it was hesitant, almost chaste, really, but that didn't make it any less sweet or intense for that matter. Duncan melted into the kiss, shifting towards Methos, but before he could get much closer Methos finished the contact between them with a brief flick of his tongue into Duncan's mouth that shot a sharp jolt through him.
"Still confused?" he asked, and Duncan shook his head slowly, missing the touch of that hand the moment it slid away as Methos quirked an eyebrow at him.
"And here I was despairing that we were never going to get this thing between us out of the way."
It was obviously a light-hearted quip, but there was something in his voice that Duncan couldn't quite put his finger on, something that made him wonder whether he wasn't the only one slightly off balance here. He pulled Methos close on impulse, kissing him fiercely, allowing himself to really taste that mouth for the first time before he pulled back.
"What do you want?" he murmured against Methos' lips, rather flushed now.
It didn't exactly produce the reaction he'd expected.
"Oh no, you're not pulling that on me." That all too familiar smirk accompanied a vigorous shake of Methos' head. "If I've learnt anything in 5000 years it's that you don't just blunder into virgin territory without consequences." He chuckled lightly, and Duncan crossed his arms in front of his chest.
"I'm not a vir-" he began indignantly, but Methos broke him off by leaning in quickly and pressing his lips to Duncan's ever so lightly, finishing with a slow lick to his upper lip that robbed him of his capacity to communicate most effectively.
"Figure of speech, Duncan, figure of speech."
He did his best to keep scowling at Methos anyway, but it felt a bit ridiculous given that he was already half-hard and his slacks did little to hide that fact. And then Methos rested his hand against Duncan's chest, walking around him slowly until he came to a stop half behind him, leaning in so his lips almost touched his ear.
"The real question is, what do you want?"
Alright, make that fully hard. Duncan shifted a little, uncomfortable. Accepting that he wanted was one thing, but actually articulating those desires suddenly seemed impossibly difficult.
"Which of those photographs did you find most... intriguing, hmm?" A sharp nip to his neck, immediately followed by a soothing tongue. "That should give me a pretty good idea of the mood you're in, don't you think?"
It would have been so easy to lie, to just say that there wasn't a particular one, that he'd liked all of them, and in a sense that was even true. But that wasn't what Methos was asking right now, and there had been something so honest about those pictures, so open – how could he answer that with anything but the same, especially when deceit was the one thing he'd always criticised Methos for?
"Doorframe," he somehow managed to bring past his lips. "The one where you're all..." he trailed off, uncertain how to continue. His legs felt distinctly wobbly, which was ridiculous, really, they'd barely even touched...
Methos voice, when he spoke again, was low and husky, his brief hesitation the only sign that he was genuinely surprised.
"I see." His hand slid down Duncan's chest, and then his cock was pressed firmly underneath it, massaged just the right way for a tantalising second before it stilled. Duncan groaned at the loss of sensation, closing his eyes.
"You want me to fuck you?"
"God yes," he heard himself say, whilst his body was still trying to decide whether it wanted to lean back against the warmth behind him or push up against the hand resting so placidly where he needed it most.
His dilemma was solved by the loss of contact that ensued and when he remembered to open his eyes, Methos had already rid himself of his boots, strolling across the room on bare feet that looked lovely and pale against the dark wood.
"Then we had better move this to the bed, don't you think?" And in a quick blur of motion, Methos' jumper and T-shirt were pulled over his head and flung haphazardly to the side.
Duncan followed as if drawn, kicking off his shoes along the way before toeing off his socks awkwardly as his hands reached for the buttons on his shirt. The fact that he couldn't seem to keep his eyes on them did nothing to help him undo them, and for a moment he fumbled, getting increasingly annoyed before a set of pale long fingers joined his.
"Let me do that."
So he did, feeling an edge of resentment bubble up inside him at the fact that Methos remained so calm, but the hand tracing down his chest made him forget all about that.
He pulled Methos close, not letting him go this time until his shirt had been pushed off his shoulders, until their chests were touching, until his knees were threatening to give out from the pressure of Methos' cock pushing against his rhythmically.
"You want me to take the edge off?" Methos asked softly, a single finger dipping below his waistband, teasing his hip. "Or would you prefer to," a sharp nip to his earlobe, and Duncan was momentarily fighting not to come in his trousers, "wait?"
"Wait." He said roughly, grasping the hand that was now hovering just over his crotch, although it took some willpower.
"Not too young to not appreciate the value of anticipation then."
"You make it sound as if you're robbing my cradle," he frowned, not really liking the idea.
"And I'm not?"
Oh no, he definitely didn't like that idea. He wasn't some sort of sacrificial virgin in this, and he'd be damned if he let himself be treated as one. He pulled Methos onto the bed with him, unbuttoning his fly and pulling the zipper down slowly as he took in his dilated pupils, his accelerated breathing. This he knew how to do, and he was pleased when a light, teasing brush along the length of Methos' cock made him gasp. He'd brought a man off like this often enough to know what to look for, how to angle his wrist best; the firm up and down motion a familiar strength to rely on.
But he hadn't been prepared for how this would make him feel. It had never been a stimulation in itself to touch another man like this, more of a removed task with a set goal. Now the warmth of the flesh in his hand made him flush in sympathy, every stroke made his own cock twitch and every bump of the ridge at the top left his hand a bit less steady. He couldn't stop looking at the way Methos' hips rose to meet him, even as his grip grew tighter and he heard Methos moan, distantly. He bent down to taste the sweat appearing on the smooth skin of his hip, managing just a brief lick before he was grabbed and bodily thrown on his back.
Well. He had asked for dominant after all, hadn't he?
"I should have known you'd play dirty." Methos was saying as he stripped off his trousers with a dark look in his eyes. "In fact, it's probably the only area where you let yourself, isn't it?" Duncan shuddered at the fingernails raking his sides and Methos moved on top of him, staring at him intently, his lips quirked.
"I'm going to enjoy this so very much," he hissed, hands all over Duncan's body. One of his nipples was pinched gently, and oh, maybe there was a grain of truth in that sacrificial virgin thing. He certainly felt out of control right now, his cock a solid brand against his fly, and then Methos was pulling his slacks and underwear off and he lifted his hips, thankful.
Methos' mouth on him was delicious and wet, and he couldn't help but strain into it, thrusting up instinctively, and fuck, Methos was letting him, and his throat felt so good, was so tight every time it closed around him and the pleasure built sharply within him with every motion, and then he was right there on the edge, just a little more...
He choked at the sudden loss of sensation and cursed himself for deciding to wait. Methos was staring down at him, and he looked ravenous. Duncan's stomach lurched in a not entirely unpleasant way.
"Turn over," Methos was saying, moving away to rummage around in a drawer.
He obeyed, remembering that this was why he was waiting. This would be a lot easier if he was aroused, because as much as the concept appealed he couldn't help but recall the previous occasions that he'd done this. Maybe asking for this hadn't been such a good idea after all - he didn't want to spoil something this good by being unable to enjoy it.
A warm hand fell on his suddenly tense shoulder. "Alright there?"
Trust Methos to choose this moment to be honourable. He shrugged. "I just... It's just not been exactly pleasurable, uhm, before." And wasn't that a way to kill the mood?
But Methos appeared unfazed. Duncan could feel him smile against the back of his neck as he drew his hand down Duncan's spine, making him shiver.
"Don't worry. You'll enjoy it this time." The hand moved to his buttock, kneading it gently. "I'll make sure of it."
And then his warm, wet tongue was retracing the path of that hand, and Duncan buried his head in his hands, suddenly mortified. He'd heard of this, of course, and Amanda had even tried to do it to him once, but there was something that had always made him incredibly uncomfortable about it, although he knew that wasn't entirely rational.
Then again, Methos' tongue did feel wonderful as it pressed firmly up against his scrotum, and the way his somewhat flagged erection returned full force was an undeniable sign that his body enjoyed this. Methos just seemed determined to throw him off balance tonight, so he should probably just accept it, he figured, and spread his legs just a little more.
The initial touch of slick muscle against him there still made him jerk away before he willed his muscles to relax consciously. It just felt a bit strange at first, utterly alien if not unpleasant, but the way that tongue retreated and returned without any discernable pattern was a maddening stimulation, and when it suddenly pierced into him without warning he choked down a sob that was all from pleasure. And then he was opened up more thoroughly than he could ever remember being, slowly, oh so slowly until his hips were pushing into the linen beneath him and back up against Methos' mouth and he thought he was going to come all over the sheets if this continued much longer. He'd never felt this exposed before in his life, and it was that feeling of utter vulnerability that turned him on more than anything else, the way Methos could reduce him to this. He suddenly wanted more in a way that was no longer abstract at all, because if being rimmed felt this good, what would it be like to have Methos actually fucking him, touching him so much deeper, taking his pleasure in Duncan's body at the same time?
Yet he still mourned the loss of touch as the tongue retreated as abruptly as it had first stabbed into him.
"You see," Methos' nose brushed the side of his neck and why was he still talking instead of fucking? "It's just so much better if you're relaxed." He slid a long, wet finger into Duncan smoothly. "And if you're with a partner who knows what he's doing, for that matter." A firm but gentle rub to his prostate that had nerves sparking inside him and left him breathless.
"Arrogant bastard," he somehow still managed to grind out. Methos was chuckling delightedly behind him, and then he was empty until two fingers returned, practically dripping with whatever Methos was using.
He just let it happen, let Methos finger-fuck him deeply and roughly, meeting him halfway on each stroke, fucking himself on Methos' fingers until it wasn't enough, because he needed to feel Methos with him, feel him let go like he had done.
"Please," he whispered desperately and hoped he wouldn't have to beg properly; it would be too humiliating.
Thankfully that seemed to be enough as Methos pulled out his fingers so sharply that Duncan lost his orientation briefly whilst he was being flipped over onto his back.
When he found his bearings again, Methos was kneeling between his thighs, slicking his cock hastily so it gleamed in the dim light, one hand grabbing himself firmly as the other lifted Duncan's leg onto his shoulder.
The burning, stretching sensation when Methos pushed into him slowly was exactly like he remembered, but the insistent arousal coursing through him made all the difference, transmuting what had previously been mild pain and discomfort into a sharp edge that only heightened his overall sensitivity.
"Fuck, you're tight," Methos was hissing, and damnit, he should've known Methos would talk during sex, but he hadn't been prepared for how hot that would make him, and then the head of Methos' cock just barely brushed his prostate, and he honestly didn't whimper...
He nearly cursed when Methos stilled, halfway into Duncan. Dismayed, he raised his head slightly to glare at him - enough was enough, goddamnit, but Methos' next words took the wind out of his sails completely, quiet though they were.
"Just give me a minute..." he rasped, his voice wobbling a little on the last syllable. He didn't sound smug in the least.
Duncan actually looked at him properly for the first time since they'd fallen onto the bed. He was still kneeling with his palms flat against Duncan's hipbones, but it was the sheen of sweat covering his body which trembled ever so slightly, the way his head was bent forward, eyes closed tightly, his teeth digging firmly into his bottom lip that made Duncan's pulse race that bit faster.
He'd honestly meant to accede to the request, but he just couldn't help himself in the face of the intensity written in every line of Methos' face. He gripped Methos' shoulders, drawing him down on top of him whilst tilting his hips up at the same time, and with a surprised moan, Methos thrust into him deeply, roughly for one blissful moment, burying his head in Duncan's neck as he clung to Methos' shoulders.
Then his wrists were suddenly grasped firmly and pushed to the bed above his head, the stretch in his muscles effectively immobilising him.
"Pushy, are you," Methos gasped against his neck, then bit him sharply, the pinprick of sensation almost as stimulating as the way his hard cock pushed against Methos' flat stomach. It was not a question.
"In which case," Methos raised himself up slightly, his hands still holding Duncan's wrists captive, "you obviously do deserve to be tortured a bit more, wouldn't you agree?"
Duncan groaned in defeat, closing his eyes. He didn't, actually, but there was something intoxicating in just giving over his pleasure to Methos, in letting Methos set the pace as much as it went against his usual tendencies. He melted into the sensation of being filled, floating on it while Methos did his best to drive his body to distraction, interspersing long, slow strokes into him with the odd burst of fast, deep thrusts that hit his prostate just so. It was like every nerve in his body was being slowly ignited and he became acutely aware of everything around him – the moist warmth of Methos' breaths against his throat, the maddening touch of Methos' skin against his cock on each downstroke, the pungent scent of sex and fresh sweat that surrounded them, the quiet sounds he was making that were becoming increasingly desperate... He couldn't have said for how long it went on, just that it was glorious, and the shift in Methos' movements was so subtle he just slid right along with it when his thrusts became increasingly rhythmic and gained speed.
"You want this," Methos hissed against his ear. "You enjoy this."
Duncan nodded, breathless.
"Yes... I want this. I love this. I –"
"Look at me!"
Methos' voice had a sharp edge to it, like glass about to shatter under your hand, and Duncan opened his eyes, staring up at him. Methos was bracing himself on his underarms on either side of Duncan's head, his thrusts almost frantic now. His face was flushed, his eyes dark and penetrating as he looked down at Duncan, his mouth slightly opened as he panted heavily.
He was beautiful, the very picture of debauchery and Duncan reached out, resting a hand against the side of Methos' face, feeling curiously tender amidst the bliss that gripped him. Methos' eyes widened fractionally, then closed on a deep groan and Duncan felt him convulse against him, felt his cock pulsing fiercely inside him in a way that was far more intimate than it had ever been before.
"I love you," burst out of him, and before he could even process the words he was coming, every nerve in his body seemingly exploding at once, and it went on and on until he thought he'd actually blacked out for a moment there.
When his senses returned to him, Methos was draped half across him, nuzzling his neck whilst his hand languidly traced patterns into the mess covering Duncan's stomach. He felt exhilarated and satisfied for a moment before he recalled his last words, his body's attempt at a fight-or-flight reaction somewhat unsuccessful in his current state.
What the hell? Where on earth had that come from?
"Methos," he began haltingly, once he'd assured himself he'd was capable of speech again, "what I just said –"
That was Methos' response? Surely he couldn't just ignore this, not when Duncan needed to explain...
"But I didn't –" he tried again, but was interrupted by a short but firm kiss.
"Just let it be for once, won't you?" Methos said, sounding somewhat annoyed now. "Que sera, sera, Duncan."
He let that sink in for a moment, before gazing at the dark head resting on his shoulder out of the corner of his eye.
"Do you have a single original phrase in that head of yours?" he asked, amused.
Methos grinned and flipped onto his back, stretching luxuriously. "You'll just have to stick around long enough to find out, won't you?" That familiar glint was back in his eyes, and the tension he'd felt a second ago seemed to vanish into nothingness. "Why don't you go and get me a washcloth, hmm? I honestly cannot be arsed to move right now," another stretch accompanied the statement, "and after all, I had to do all the hard work."
Duncan scowled, but the need to smile won out as he crawled out of the bed on distinctly unsteady legs.
"You're an aggravating son of a bitch, you know that?" he shot over his shoulder.
Methos' laughter followed him to the bathroom, the melodic timbre of it sending a soft spark of delight through him at being the cause of it.
He was relaxing into the sensation of pleasant warm water running over his skin when he caught his eyes in the mirror. He didn't look any different of course – nobody ever did, and Duncan had always scoffed at that notion being perpetuated so wildly in literature. He did look happy though, he mused, so maybe Methos' approach was the right one this time. After all, what good would fretting and overthinking things do him? Besides, he hadn't seen Methos on his back yet in anything but the pictures, and there was no way he was going to let that chance pass him by now.