Duncan looked out the window, taking in the familiar sight of the Seacouver skyline as the plane began its approach to the airport. He couldn’t say this was exactly a joyous homecoming, something he had been looking forward to. Was he going to see Richie’s ghost on every corner? Probably, right along with Tessa’s and so many others he had held dear, only to lose them one by one. But - he couldn’t avoid this forever, not and be true to himself.
Besides, this seemed the season for closing doors, he mused, thinking back to his encounter with Amanda in Paris. It still stung, the memory of her telling him things were different now, that she had found someone to love, someone who needed her and wanted her in his life. Like he didn’t? Duncan had wanted to demand. How many times, though, had she asked him to run away with her, spend sixty years or so keeping house together? And how many times had he turned her down - because of Tessa or his responsibilities; or because he didn’t think what they had, wonderful as it was, could withstand the rigors of daily life?
Duncan wasn’t so disappointed he couldn’t appreciate the irony, however, of that particular shoe being on the other foot: him wanting to be with Amanda, and her telling him, “Sorry, darling, I’ve got someone else.” Besides, he couldn’t say he had been wrong all those times he’d turned away from Amanda’s siren call. What they had together was magical, sizzling with excitement, but almost too ephemeral to ever catch and hold for long.
They would always be best friends, nothing could change that. One day they would be lovers again, but for now that part of their lives was done. He couldn’t help grieving that a little, already missing the light she brought into his life. He wished Amanda nothing but happiness, of course, but a small and lonely part of him couldn’t help wanting to snatch just a little bit for himself.
With a major brood impending because of those feelings - the kind that could lead to an orgiastic wallow of self-castigation for all his misdeeds, real or imagined, illustrating how much he didn’t deserve to be happy - he had gone along to Le Blues Bar to see Joe. Only Joe hadn’t had a lot of time for him, either. He was on his way to Geneva, to take over some classes at the Watcher’s Academy there. No, he wasn’t sure when he’d be back, everything was kind of up in the air that way. If it was something really important, though, Joe guessed he could always catch a later flight. Duncan appreciated the gesture but didn’t have the heart to detain him, especially as he suspected what Joe most wanted to do was get to Geneva to see his daughter.
Besides, it wasn’t like there had been anything the matter with him that a good bottle of Scotch wouldn’t chase away. That, and maybe a warm and willing body. He had given that some serious thought, gaze wandering over the other patrons of the bar, seeing plenty of interest in some of the faces he lingered on. In the end, though, his desire for anonymous sex hadn’t been that great; it might satisfy the body’s momentary urges - but he needed something more than that now. So he had settled for walking the long way home, finding another postcard from Methos waiting for him when he reached the barge.
The older Immortal had blown town shortly after that spectacle with O’Rourke, and aside from these occasional postcards with their cryptic messages - ‘You know what? The rain in Spain doesn’t fall mainly on the plain.’ ‘The girl from Ipanema isn’t what she used to be.’ - Duncan hadn’t heard a peep from him since.
That last postcard had been of a tropical paradise, the message reading, ‘Bora- Bora’s only kind of so-so this time of year, actually.’ Well, Duncan had thought, tucking the card away with the others in his nighstand drawer, at least he knew Methos was alive and well somewhere, and doing fine without him. Somehow that hadn’t really cheered him up a lot.
So he had concluded, a few fingers of Scotch later, that since everyone else was off living their lives maybe it was high time he did the same. Coming back to Seacouver was the first step. He would wrap up any loose ends here, put his ghosts to rest, and truly be free at last to move on and make a new start somewhere. Maybe he’d even try changing his name for once.
Duncan parked the T-bird and got out, standing at the water’s edge and looking out toward the island. Pulling his coat collar up against the chill and hefting his bag and a box of groceries into the canoe, he cast a look at the sky - heavy with clouds, the scent of snow mixing with that of wood-smoke in the chilly, late autumn air. He wasn’t worried about getting snowed in, though. There would be plenty of wood at the cabin and he always kept a supply of non-perishable food and other supplies. The promise of a few days on the island was much too appealing to let a little snow keep him away.
It was good to just concentrate on paddling the canoe through the water. So quiet, too, after the sounds of the city. Not silent, though, not with the exuberant honking of an inverted V-formation of geese flying overheard, on their way to a warmer clime. Or the splash of something as it dove in the water - a beaver, maybe, or an otter. Out of the corner of his eye he caught a glimpse of a fat and fuzzy grizzly on the shore, making a last forage for food before settling in for its long winter’s nap. Mostly it was just the water, though, deep and dark, tendrils of misting weaving above it, a few lazy flakes of snow drifting down, and the rhythmic swoosh-swish as the oar dipped in and out of the water.
The peaceful solitude already felt good, soothing. Not thinking was nice, too, if more difficult to achieve.
Returning to Seacouver had been about as difficult as Duncan had anticipated, but also more rewarding than he could have hoped for. If memories of Richie had a bittersweet taint to them it was still so much better to have them and hold them dear, than not to have known the young man at all. With that perfect clarity of hindsight, of course, he couldn’t help but see all the things he might have done differently with Richie, things he should have taught him, words he should have said - somehow never finding time enough for any of it, always supposing there would be time later. Wasn’t that always the way of it with fathers and sons, though? Maybe there had been no blood ties between them, but deep down it was how their relationship had always felt to him, as close to being a father as he - any of them - was likely to get. Duncan could see now that he had so often echoed his own father’s pattern, a little too stern, perhaps, maybe demanding too much of someone so young. Even that realization came as a kind of gift, helping to heal an ancient wound he hadn’t had even known was there. Had Ian MacLeod sometimes regretted his words, his actions? Had he grieved the loss of his son more than anyone had known? Duncan thought he knew the answers now, and that was something else he could be at peace with.
There would always be regrets, that was one of life’s inevitables, but he could with that - and he would, for a long time.
But he wanted some peace, too, and this was always the surest place to find it. In a few days, a couple of weeks, he would figure out where he wanted to go next, what he wanted to do with the rest of his life. For now he just wanted - To know who the hell was at the cabin.
Shielding his eyes from the drifting snow, Duncan looked again to make sure. Yes, smoke was drifting from the cabin’s chimney, the windows glowing with warmth and light in the approaching dusk. Duncan moored the canoe and left his bag and the groceries there for the moment as he started up the path to the cabin. Within a few feet of the porch the buzz of Immortal presence washed over him - but he didn’t reach for his katana. He just opened the door to be greeted by Celtic music, a woman singing about four stone walls, and to find a very familiar form lounging with languid ease before the fire.
“Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod,” the other said, looking him over with warmth and welcome.
“Mi casa es su casa?” Duncan said, a little wry note in his voice, getting a strange sense of déjà vu.
“That was a rhetorical question, right?” Methos returned.
Duncan supposed it was. “Thought you were in Bora-Bora.”
“Yeah,” Methos got to his feet, stretching his long and lanky frame, “tropical sunsets sort of lose their allure when you’re the only one watching them.” He came closer, expression bland except for something dancing in those forest-colored eyes. “You bring anything with you besides your sword?”
“Uh, yeah, I’ll get it.” Did that expression really say, ‘Gotcha!’, Duncan wondered - and wondered what it meant if it did.
“I’ll come with you,” Methos offered, shrugging into his coat and falling in step with him.
Duncan wanted to ask how long Methos had been here, had he been waiting for him? How could he have known to wait? “You talk to Joe lately?” was the question he posed instead as he grabbed his bag out of the canoe and let Methos take the box of groceries.
“Yeah.” Methos lifted the box, peering at the contents in the snowy gloom. “Ooh, Mac, you bought brownies.”
Well - so what if he had? He’d just felt like…brownies.
“So I guess you’ve done with rice cakes and tofu, huh?” the older Immortal commented as they started back to the cabin. His voice was as neutral as his expression had been, but Duncan would bet anything that look of gotcha was still in his eyes.
“Guess I have,” Duncan said after a moment, hearing and answering the unspoken question behind Methos’ words. Yes, he was done with fasting. He wanted to savor all the flavors and textures life had to offer, drink of its pleasures again. Funny how much significance could be found in a batch of brownies.
Giving into Methos’ prod to live dangerously and let the dirty dishes wait until morning, Duncan left them in the sink and returned to the main room, hesitating a moment before settling on the couch beside Methos. He looked at the other man, complexion warmed by the fire, seemingly in rapt contemplation of the brownie in his hand. “Why did you go?”
Methos shrugged. “Thought you needed some more time to yourself.”
Methos turned to him, one corner of his mouth turned up. “Thought maybe you’d like some company.”
Duncan swallowed, turning his gaze on the fire, watching the flames dance and flicker there. “You can stay awhile, then?”
“Do you want me to?”
Duncan closed his eyes, images of what could be playing through his mind. “Yes,” he looked back at Methos, “I’d like that. I - I’ve had enough of what might have been.”
A solemn look in his eyes, Methos nodded. “Me, too.” Tentative, he reached for Duncan’s hand - Duncan met him halfway, twining their fingers together and didn’t balk as Methos leaned in to press a kiss to his lips.
He slipped a hand around the back of Methos’ head, fingers buried in the soft, dark hair, holding him there for a moment, deepening the kiss enough to taste chocolate and coffee on Methos’ tongue. When they parted, he scooted closer, resting his head on Methos’ shoulder with a sigh, closing his eyes again and savoring the sensation as those long, elegant fingers combed through his hair, the strong arm cradling him close.
They stayed like that for awhile, quiet, listening to the music, watching the fire as the snow blanketed the world outside. Later, snuggled together under the covers in the big bed upstairs, Duncan remembered the rest of that saying about doors closing. How another one always opened up. This one had been there all along, he saw, just waiting for him to find the key.