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Echoes (Voices Linger Remix)

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The world was lightning and white noise, 2500 years of memories slamming themselves into Methos's mind. Some of them he knew from an observer's perspective, things he'd been with Silas for. Others were unfamiliar. Some were ugly, and some he was going to hold onto. It was more painful than he could have imagined. It always was.

God knew what MacLeod was going through. Kronos's memories were twice as long as Silas's, and darker by a broad margin. The things Kronos knew about Methos -- there would be no more doubt about who Death had been, and how much Methos had enjoyed it. No more lies. No more obfuscation.

Methos panted out the last of Silas's Quickening, furious with MacLeod, furious with himself, hating Kronos for forcing all this, damning MacLeod for taking Kronos's head. And Silas. Damn everything.

"I killed Silas. I liked Silas!"

The ring and scrape of metal coming off the ground, footsteps: Cassandra. She'd have a weapon. Silas's axe. It was never fair, taking someone's head when he was weak from a Quickening, but it wasn't against the rules of the game. And she had every reason to want him dead. "And now we're supposed to forgive you?"

Methos gritted his teeth together. She had him. The bitch finally had him, and there was nothing he could do--

"Cassandra!" MacLeod's voice was the last thing Methos expected, but if MacLeod was willing to intervene, he sure as hell wasn't going to stop him.

"You want him to live?"

"Yes, I want him to live." MacLeod sounded exhausted, uncertain, and Methos prepared to drop and roll. MacLeod might have influence, but unless he was sure--

"Cassandra -- I want him to live!" This time the words echoed off the walls, and it was enough to make Cassandra lower the axe. Her footsteps faded as she ran up the stairs to get away from a monster she could have destroyed -- and had chosen not to. She could have had Methos's head, and she'd chosen not to take it.

Will that change anything for you? Methos wondered. He hoped so. He didn't need a three-thousand-year-old witch headhunting him for the rest of his days.

It was a long time before Methos could even consider getting off his knees. He ached all over, and if his life wasn't at stake, maybe he'd just stay here a while. Until MacLeod started moving, and it was time to leave. Methos looked up as MacLeod reached him, stared as MacLeod offered him a hand up. It didn't feel like forgiveness, but it didn't feel like hatred, either. Good enough. He took MacLeod's hand and got to his feet.

"Come on," MacLeod said. "We need to get Kronos's bomb dismantled. How do we disarm it?"

"He had a series of codes. If there's a working phone, I can get it taken care of with one call. What about Cassandra?"

"She's not a threat anymore."

Methos snorted, then wiped at his face with both hands. "It isn't your head she wants," he pointed out. "Go and see if you can find her. There's an emergency phone on the far side of the building. It might still work. I'll head for that."

"I don't want to leave you alone right now," MacLeod said, shaking his head. "I'll go with you."

A dozen sarcastic remarks came and went before Methos could say any of them -- Are you afraid I'm going to disappear? Do you think I can't handle Silas as well as you're handling Kronos? How much more do I have to do to earn your trust again, MacLeod? -- but Methos shoved them aside and nodded instead. "All right. This way."

The emergency phone on the other side of the installation was wired to withstand bombings, fire, earthquakes -- it had survived the dual Quickenings, and Methos was able to make the call that shut the damned bioweapon down. No one was likely to stumble over the bloody thing. They could breathe easy, get to holy ground, spend a few hours recovering before getting the hell away from Bordeaux. Methos wouldn't be in good enough shape to travel for a day or two, but he was going to get out of this country the minute he was. Let the Watchers clean up Kronos's mess. He'd done enough.

He sagged against the wall, head tilting back. "Can you drive?" he asked MacLeod.

"I think so." MacLeod covered his face with his hands, exhaling hard. "Let's--"

"//Let's stay a while.//"

Methos's eyes snapped open. MacLeod turned to face Cassandra, who was walking out of the shadows.

"No--" Methos whispered.

Cassandra didn't bother to look at him. Her focus was MacLeod, and MacLeod dropped his arms to his sides as Cassandra -- Cassandra and her damned Voice -- wrapped herself around him.

"//We're not finished here,//" Cassandra told him. "//One of the Horsemen survives the others.//"

Methos came off the wall, staggering toward them. "MacLeod -- you wanted me to live," he said, and by God, if that didn't work, he'd take Cassandra's head himself.

"I want him to live," MacLeod repeated, and he looked down at Cassandra. He shoved her away. "What are you doing?"

"Giving you what you want," Cassandra spat. "//What you want,//" she said again, this time using the Voice to back it up. "//He lied to you, Duncan. He lied, and you can make him sorry.//"

"I'm already sorry," Methos said quickly. "MacLeod, don't listen to her. We're getting out of here. Back to holy ground until we're strong enough to travel. Now."

"//How many did he kill, MacLeod? Thousands? Tens of thousands? You can punish him for it.//" Cassandra sent a glare at Methos sharp enough to cut glass. "//Kronos would know how to punish him.//"

That was more than enough. Methos raised his sword, intent on silencing Cassandra and her Voice permanently--

--and MacLeod blocked him.

"MacLeod, no--"

It was too late. MacLeod wasn't listening. He might have been every bit as exhausted as Methos, but unfortunately, he was also a better fighter. Methos didn't have a chance. And when MacLeod's katana slammed into him, piercing through skin and gut and shoving out through his back, he wondered what oblivion would feel like.

Everything hurt, but as soon as Methos realized he was still alive, he said a quick thank you in case there were gods out there who might think he was ungrateful. The circumstances weren't good -- being nude and chained down to cold metal was never a pleasant way to wake up -- but he'd healed from the stabbing wound, felt mostly recovered from Silas's Quickening, and his head was still attached to his shoulders. He'd take it.

"Welcome back."

Methos tried to tilt his head up, but could only lift it a few inches. That was just enough to put Cassandra in his field of vision. There were lights on; she or MacLeod must have gotten the generators going while Methos was out. Wonderful. We'll have light and heat while she does... whatever it is she's going to do to me. He flinched away when she sat down next to him, and he shivered when she dragged a fingernail down his chest. Not good.

"Does my master still like that?" Cassandra asked, drawing her hand back up Methos's chest and sinking her nails in again. This time she dragged them down hard enough to draw blood and Methos gasped, trying to struggle away from her.

"I'm no one's master," Methos panted. "You don't have to do this. You spared my life, remember? It was yours to take, and you let me go."

"I won't take your head," Cassandra said. She scratched lines into his chest again. "MacLeod was right. I want you to live, too. I want you to suffer." She brought her hand to her mouth and licked his blood up. There was a time he might have found the sight erotic. Not these days, though. This wasn't going to be pleasant.

Hopeless or not, he still had a voice to speak with. He still had to try. "This isn't going to make up for the past, Cassandra. The past is done. You have to let it go."

"I'll let it go when he's done with you," Cassandra snarled. "The rest of your brothers are dead, and by the time this is over, even you may wish to join them."

Methos doubted that, but he wasn't looking forward to being tortured, either. It would likely last as long as her voice could hold sway over MacLeod, and who knew how long that would be? "What about MacLeod?" he tried. "What if he can't live with what you're about to make him do? Are you willing to destroy Duncan MacLeod for revenge against me?" Methos forced himself to laugh. "I'm not worth it."

"Duncan survived one Dark Quickening. There can't be many darker than Kronos. When he's done with you, that's all he'll think it was."

"Be glad it's not," Methos said. "You might be able to control MacLeod, but you never stood a chance of controlling Kronos. And if you really do tap into Kronos again, what makes you think he won't turn on you?"

"Shut up--"

"One way or the other, this will end badly," Methos murmured. "For me, obviously, but for you, too. Stop it now while you still can. You're making a mistake."

"I don't think so," Cassandra said. She glanced up as the wave of presence hit them both. "There he is."

MacLeod walked into the room, and Methos's hopes plummeted. MacLeod was expressionless, walking directly over to Methos and taking a seat at his side. He looked up at Cassandra and waited.

For orders, Methos realized. "MacLeod..."

"//You've been waiting a long time for this, haven't you?//" Cassandra asked. "//Waiting to have your brother back so you could punish him for leaving.//"

"Yes," MacLeod murmured, kneeling up on the platform and climbing between Methos's legs. "I've been waiting, Methos."

He pulled a knife from his boot. Methos drew a harsh breath. Kronos would have used the knife to kill him, and that would have been just for starters. MacLeod ran the knife down Methos's chest, over his hip, and made a shallow cut down the front of his thigh. Methos barely registered it, which meant it wasn't designed to hurt. It was to draw blood, maybe to test the blade's edge. MacLeod set the knife down and slid his palm over the cut. It only occurred to Methos what MacLeod was planning to do with the blood when he started moving his hand up. "No, don't--"

MacLeod wrapped his hand around Methos's cock, smearing it with his blood even as the cut on Methos's thigh stung, sparked, and healed over. Methos groaned. "MacLeod--"

"You always did want more," MacLeod said, and his grin was all too familiar. He gave Methos's cock a few more bloodstained strokes, until Methos was biting through his lip trying not to respond. And failing.

"Do you want this?" MacLeod asked, twisting his hand with the next stroke up. Methos nearly screamed. "I asked a question, Methos. Do you want this?"

"No," Methos choked out.

"I think you do," MacLeod said. "I think you're ready to come for me. I think you're going to come for me until I feel like letting you stop." He bent down so his face was pressed close to Methos's and licked the blood off his lower lip. "Come."

"Damn you--" Methos groaned as he came, body jerking against the chains. White jets streaked his stomach and MacLeod's hand, and MacLeod didn't stop until Methos was letting out choked, agonized grunts, shrinking back against the metal, eyes squeezed shut tight.

MacLeod dried his hand off on the front of Methos's thigh. "There's so much more to do with you," he murmured. "She's right, Methos. You need to be punished for what you've done."


"Don't argue." MacLeod had the knife in hand again and he trailed the flat of it up Methos's side. It glided over his chest, past his nipple, until it hovered just over the spot Kronos had sunk it into for their reunion. "You're as guilty as the rest of them, Methos. You're one of the four."

"I tried to save lives," Methos whispered. "Do you believe in redemption, MacLeod?"

"You tried to save yourself," MacLeod countered, "and I believe it enough to let you keep your head. But that doesn't mean you don't owe me."

And the knife came down, one hard thrust pushing it in to the hilt.

Not this again, Methos thought, already choking, trying to breathe through the pain. Fuck, I hate dying.

The last thing he heard was Cassandra's laughter. Bitch.

There was something ironic about trying to mark time while chained to something shaped like a sundial. It seemed like about three days here, with Cassandra taking care to feed him, make sure he had enough water, giving him just enough time for recovery that they could kill him again and be sure he'd come back in reasonably good health.

The fourth morning he woke up on a bed, and he took a few minutes to enjoy the softness before he got a sick twist in his stomach and started wondering what was going to happen next. The bedframe was Kronos's, and he was chained face-down. Neither of those facts filled him with confidence. He craned his head around to see if he could figure out where Cassandra and MacLeod were. He could feel the sharp buzz of two distinct sets of presence, and if they'd only been waiting for him to come back to life, the wait was over.

Cassandra was off to his left, seated in one of the ridiculous metal chairs this place afforded. MacLeod wasn't within Methos's line of vision, but Cassandra looked at a spot directly behind Methos and grinned. "I think he's aware enough," she said.

"Do you?" The bed sank between Methos's legs, and Methos shivered. "Aware enough to know what's happening?" MacLeod's hands slid up Methos's thighs, and his fingers sunk into Methos's hips.

"I have a guess," Methos mumbled into the bed. "Get on with it."

"Don't sound so eager," Cassandra snapped. "This isn't up to you."

"It never is," Methos agreed. "MacLeod--"

"//Enough talking//," Cassandra said.

Methos bit his lip again as MacLeod moved forward. MacLeod's cock slid against his cleft and his own cock jerked in response. He had half a second to wonder if MacLeod had bothered with lubricant -- Kronos wouldn't have -- and then MacLeod was shoving into him, impossible friction and incredible heat, growling, forceful thrusts that got him in a fraction of an inch at a time.

That'd be a no to the lube, Methos thought, gasping, jaw dropping open against the pain as he tried to force his body to open. Come on. Open for him. Let him in, and it won't hurt so blasted much--

Easier said than done; the first time Methos felt himself tear, he screamed, entire body going tense as he yanked at the chains. You'll live. You'll live. Just let him take you. Relaxing was impossible; the best he could do was muffle his screams and try to focus on something other than the pain. MacLeod. MacLeod's sounds. This is what he sounds like when he's just using the body underneath him, Methos realized, this is what he sounds like when it's hurting him almost as much as it's hurting me... This was what MacLeod sounded like when the pleasure was brutal and sharp and he could forget anything existed except the need to drive his cock into the body below him, one thrust after another until he was shouting in hoarse, furious groans. Fuck. Not the right thing to focus on. Methos was getting hard again.

MacLeod started moving faster, hips slamming against Methos's ass, and Methos barely had time to brace himself before MacLeod came screaming. Methos hurt far too much to come with him, and he was grateful that, if Kronos was anywhere in MacLeod's head now, he hadn't given MacLeod enough ammunition to teach him how to use pain itself to send Methos over the edge.

Cassandra shifted in her chair; Methos could hear fabric rustling as she stood up and walked over to the bed. He didn't bother looking up at her. If she wanted him to look at her, she'd demand it, and she probably wouldn't be polite enough to do it with words.

"Did you like that?" Cassandra asked. "Duncan, lift up." Her hand went sliding down Methos's side, and when MacLeod obediently shifted his weight off Methos -- oh, God, finally -- she worked her hand underneath him and wrapped it around his cock. And squeezed. "You did like that."

"Go to hell."

"I told you something like that once. Do you remember the first time you made me come while you were raping me?" Her fingers started moving, the angle awkward as Methos tried to force his hips down against the mattress, tried to pin her hand. She glanced over at MacLeod. "Put your hand on his throat."

MacLeod's fingers wrapped around Methos's neck and Methos grunted. Asphyxiation wasn't fast or easy or pleasant. Given the choice between being slowly choked to death and having Cassandra jerk him off... these sorts of choices are never easy. He let MacLeod take his breath for a full minute before giving in and lifting up, earning a breath but quickly expending it in a moan when her fingers slid down his cock again. He cursed softly and tried to focus on MacLeod's fingers, still trailing over his throat. MacLeod must have known how sensitive the skin was there; the few inches of flesh that were an Immortal's one vulnerability tended to be an erogenous zone, especially for older Immortals with a passionate attachment to their heads. Like Methos. He rubbed against MacLeod's fingers like a cat trying to get his human to rub him just the right way. Under proper circumstances, he could probably come from that alone.

And he was sure as hell going to pretend he was doing that now. Cassandra's fingers were fast and nimble and even after three thousand years knew exactly how to touch him. He didn't want her hand anywhere near him, and he had no intention of coming for her. If someone was going to draw that out of him, it was going to be MacLeod. MacLeod with his corrupted boy scout sense of ethics and his warm, hard body and those fingers, fuck me, those fingers that scratched and teased and rubbed against sensitive skin until Methos shouted, pressing his throat down hard against MacLeod's hand, coming and gasping and wondering, ever so briefly, whether MacLeod had ever tried breathplay as a part of sex, and whether he'd be good at it.

Cassandra jerked her hand out from under Methos's body and wiped it against Methos's cheek. "How does it feel to be a whore for someone you hate?" she asked. "How does it feel knowing you can't control what happens to you?"

"In all honesty?" Methos asked, squinting up at her. "I've had worse."

Cassandra gestured at Duncan, who moved back and slid off the bed. She dug a knife out of her pocket and gripped Methos's hair close to the scalp with her other hand, yanking him back. Methos went blind with panic. She's not going to behead you with a knife. She's not going to--

She wasn't, but she did slit his throat, which was one of the least pleasant ways to die Methos knew. The sensitivity that could make the right touch feel so good also made the pain of it that much sharper. He reached for something to override the blind panic, and all he came up with was sarcasm.

I really hope they change the sheets while I'm out, Methos thought, and slipped under all over again.

Waking up stretched out flat on his back with his hands tied above his head wasn't always a bad thing. Waking up with a knife gliding down his chest wasn't necessarily bad, either. But he was having a difficult time focusing on the potential benefits of it.

"You're awake," MacLeod murmured. Methos shifted and blinked until he could keep his eyes open. MacLeod was sitting on top of him, nude and straddling his thighs, and Methos grimaced. His back-to-life erection -- always more irritating than the traditional morning erection -- was caught painfully between his body and MacLeod's thigh. And that was likely to get him some kind of sarcastic comment from MacLeod or Cassandra, wherever she was. He couldn't feel her. Fine by him. He could do without her commentary. Harder, Duncan and faster, Duncan and that's good whenever Methos screamed. She really wasn't very original.

MacLeod trailed his knife up Methos's side, and Methos closed his eyes again and tried to sink into the bed. "Now what?" he murmured. "You're not exactly doing anything I've never lived through before, you know."

"I know." MacLeod twisted the knife and started cutting, a short line just under Methos's left nipple. Methos hissed as the pain hit; sharp and electric, it was never easy to prepare for the brightness of blades on skin, and his cock jerked as the first trickle of blood ran down his chest.

MacLeod shifted and sat down again, this time settling his ass down right on Methos's cock, which wasn't going to help Methos's hard-on and was, more than likely, going to lead to some impressively humiliating instances of begging later on. You had to give MacLeod credit for things. Once he decided to take an interest in torture, he was determined to be good at it.

"When is it going to be enough?" Methos asked, words coming to a halt when the second cut joined the first. He wondered how many lines MacLeod could draw in his flesh before the first ones started healing. Kronos's record was three dozen. MacLeod wasn't going as quickly as Kronos had been that night, and as a result, the pain was more shocking with every stroke of the blade. Methos winced when the third and fourth cuts joined the first two. Another set of sheets gone to ruin. "How much do I have to give, MacLeod? Is it enough when she says it's enough?"

"Stay quiet or I'll gag you." MacLeod wasn't even looking at him. He was focused on those bright red lines, on marking Methos with so many sharp cuts Methos was beginning to grit his teeth down against the pain. Seven. Eight. Nine...

This was like being under Kronos, Methos realized. Kronos rarely had a goal, seldom had a game plan. It was arbitrary, pain following pain until Kronos was satisfied. And while Kronos preferred it when Methos was an active participant, loved it when Methos begged for more, there were times when all the pleas in the world wouldn't have stopped him.

MacLeod ran a hand over Methos's chest, smearing blood across his hand. Methos cringed, and cringed more when MacLeod added his fingernails, raked them down over the cuts to open them further. MacLeod lifted his body up just enough to get his hand around Methos's cock and leave bloodstains on it, and then he reached forward to settle his knife at Methos's throat while he sank down on Methos's cock, breathing hard as his body opened to take Methos in.

"Fuck," Methos whispered, eyes closing. He could feel his pulse whispering against the blade, and he lay perfectly still; he didn't want to die again, not this soon, not like this. Not with his cock aching, friction nearly killing him, MacLeod's body warmer and rougher than he'd ever expected. He'd thought of MacLeod as the type of man who'd want romance, or at least a generous helping of lube. He wondered if this was the first time MacLeod had ever fucked someone while holding a knife to his throat. Probably so. Congratulations, old man; he's four hundred years old, and he's still got little pockets of virginity.

MacLeod groaned and pushed down harder, leaning forward to give himself a better angle, better leverage to lift up and press his body down against Methos's cock. The press forward sank the knife a little deeper into Methos's throat, just piercing the skin; Methos couldn't shrink back any further, couldn't get away. "Mac, please--" Methos swallowed again and tried not to think about the way his larynx was so close to the edge of that blade, the possibility of having MacLeod simply sever his vocal cords if he wanted Methos to stop talking. He hasn't done it yet. Maybe he wants me to beg. "Mac, God, please, not this way--"

"Not this way? Is that what they told you? Any way but this?" MacLeod's hips rocked down harder, faster, and Methos groaned, curling his fingers into fists. "Did you listen?"

"No -- Mac -- it wasn't like that," Methos gasped.



The knife bit in harder, enough to send blood streaming over Methos's neck. "Don't bother begging."

Methos went quiet, and after he'd been silent for a few minutes the sparks finally had time to race across his chest. Methos groaned as the healing left an electric taste in the back of his mouth, one that raced down his spine and sent his hips up in uncontrolled, inelegant thrusts. MacLeod bent down and licked blood off Methos's neck; for a few moments, it didn't hurt, nothing hurt, and Methos was alive and going to stay that way--

--he came screaming against MacLeod's shoulder, gasping for breath as MacLeod's orgasm hit moments after. The warmth streaked up his chest and was quickly smeared across both bodies; Methos didn't want to think about how he was going to look now, blood-smeared and stained with MacLeod's come. How do you look? Like part of you wanted it--

He didn't get more time to think about it than that; Cassandra was back. The buzz of presence hit Methos unexpectedly, but MacLeod didn't seem surprised by it. He didn't even look at her. "Enjoying ourselves?" she asked. She walked over to the bed, perched on the side of it. MacLeod sat up and Cassandra dug her nails into Methos's jaw, turning him to face her. "How does it feel being whore to what's left of Kronos and Caspian?"

Methos bit his tongue against a dozen sarcastic remarks and tried to pull his head away. "If you're here to kill me again, get it over with."

"Is that what you'd like? A bit of death to go with your sex? I do seem to remember you had a fondness for that." Cassandra ran her hand down Methos's chest, nails raking over a nipple as she went. "You've both made quite a mess here."

"That has a tendency to happen," Methos muttered.

"Duncan. Go clean up." Cassandra glanced over her shoulder at him. "I can handle him for a while."

MacLeod swung a leg over Methos's thighs and climbed off the bed without another word. Methos gritted his teeth when Cassandra took the knife he'd left behind and started running it up his thigh.

"Have you ever been a witch, Methos? A fortune teller, perhaps?" The knife twisted in her hand, point grazing over Methos's hipbone and trailing over his body, stopping just under his navel.

The question didn't sound good. "A time or two," he murmured.

"Ever taken an interest in augury?"

Shit. Methos swallowed the panic and tried to keep his voice level. "I think I'm the wrong species for that."

"Oh, you are. But you'll do for now."

If Methos had any hope that Duncan MacLeod still existed under Cassandra's Voice and Kronos's Quickening, it vanished when MacLeod came back into the room. The MacLeod Methos knew would have been appalled at what he was seeing, would have demanded Cassandra back away from Methos, and when she threw a sheet over him so he could start healing, he wouldn't have come back to bed at her quiet request. Methos kept his eyes open, not wanting his mind filled with images of what she'd done to him. Evisceration was a bad way to die partly because of the pain, partly because of the horror, and partly because it was so damnably slow. Now it was a fight between his body's determination to die and his Immortal's healing abilities' determination not to let him, and it was going to be an ugly, uncomfortable fight until someone came out a clear winner.

But keeping his eyes open meant Methos had a clear view of it when Cassandra pulled MacLeod into bed and took her clothes off. Three thousand years hadn't changed her much; she was still beautiful, even when bloodstains were covering both her hands and smeared across her lips.

How many times did you take her that way, smeared with blood, most of it her own? Is it any wonder she's not through with you yet?

It wasn't, really. And it shouldn't have been a shock seeing MacLeod respond to her, either. Her control on him was much deeper than Methos had believed possible; it must have been to get him up on the bed, stretched out flat on his back next to Methos despite what she'd done to him. Cassandra moved from her space between Methos's legs and climbed onto MacLeod, straddling his thighs. But while Methos had been tied down and unable to push MacLeod away, MacLeod was able to move, and he sank his fingers into Cassandra's hips, dragging a sharp cry of pain out of her as he pulled her down on his cock. The grip MacLeod had on her hips looked nearly tight enough to bruise, and Methos wondered if that was normal for them. He didn't think so.

Neither one of them was complaining, though. Cassandra was forcing herself down as hard as she could, even if every thrust made her cry out. MacLeod was rocking up into her every bit as hard, and Methos squeezed his eyes shut as a particularly nasty spark of healing shot through him. Do they have to shake the bed quite so much? he wondered. It certainly wasn't doing him any good.

But in the end watching them was far better than lying there in pain, trying to ignore them. Methos opened his eyes and watched as Cassandra slid her still-bloodstained fingers into MacLeod's mouth. MacLeod sucked the blood from them, groaning around them and shoving his hips up roughly. His hands only tightened on her hips, forcing her down hard with every thrust up. It looked painful, and sounded worse; the cries Cassandra was letting out were anything but pleased. But she wasn't trying to get away. She was fucking MacLeod's mouth with her fingers, fucking herself on his body, letting him move her like so much dead weight when she ran out of energy to move.

Another sharp spark of lightning ran from Methos's sternum to his groin, and he gasped; that was the worst of it, he thought, and the rest was a matter of internal healing and some ugly bouts of nausea. He forced himself to get those urges under control; the last thing this bed needed was his vomit on top of everything else. At least MacLeod and Cassandra gave him something to focus on. Something...

Something wasn't right. The look on MacLeod's face wasn't as blank as it had been all the times he'd tortured Methos, all the times he'd raped him or bruised him or beaten him. There was a real sense of pleasure in the way he moved, a grinning, almost sarcastic-looking sense of enjoyment, and Methos couldn't tell whether it was more reminiscent of MacLeod under the influence of his Dark Quickening or of Kronos on a good day. Either way, it made Methos jerk at the ropes tying him to the bedframe.

Out. Out. I want out of here now.

Cassandra screamed as MacLeod arched up and came; Methos wondered if it had crossed Cassandra's mind to kill him now, kill him in case the hold she had on him wasn't as strong as she thought it was, make absolutely sure she could walk away from this alive. He glanced down the bed to the knife. It was within her reach. Go on. Take it. Kill us both and get out of here, you stupid bitch...

Her fingers curled around the knife, and she looked down at Methos as she caught her breath. "Imagine that. He's still alive." She looked back at MacLeod and pressed the knife into his hand. "//Kill him for me, Duncan.//"

Oh, Goddamnit--

MacLeod took the knife and shoved Cassandra away. He pulled the sheet back; Methos was still bloody, the skin still new and tender where it had healed, and it didn't take much effort to put all that healing to waste.

It was such an ugly way to die. But at least this time Methos passed out from shock before MacLeod could do much to him.

God bless modern invention. Methos would take a dozen gunshot wounds if it meant not having to deal with evisceration again. Not that it was up to him. Not that it was even up to MacLeod... except Cassandra was nowhere to be seen, nowhere to be felt. No great loss. Methos could stand to be away from her for a few more millennia. It had been several hours now, longer than she'd been gone at any point throughout all this; he was torn between hoping she wasn't coming back and wondering if she'd simply left to get some particular implement of torture that wasn't already available here.

And then there was the part of him that wondered whether the Voice would wear off if she didn't come back. If she wasn't there, could he talk MacLeod into letting him go? Could he beg MacLeod to let him take a more active role in his own torment? That had gotten him out of chains with Kronos more than once, and from there it wasn't too difficult to wait him out, wait until he was asleep and then run like hell. But the thought of MacLeod staying this way -- staying cold and merciless and ugly, with no goal but tormenting Methos for the rest of his Immortal lifespan...

Better to focus on the moment, Methos decided, which was easy enough when MacLeod brought the gun up and aimed for the center of his chest. Methos was handcuffed, and his knees were spread wide apart, and for once, thank God, he wasn't hard. It was bloody cold here on the cement floor. Cold and uncomfortable, and Methos had no memories of Kronos and guns to distract him and make his cock take an interest in what was happening.

"You carry quite the arsenal."

"It's kept me alive."

"Not this time."

Methos barely had time to wince as MacLeod fired. He didn't even try to keep himself upright. By the time the third round hit, he'd collapsed onto his back, pinning his arms underneath him. I'm going to owe him for this was his last coherent thought, followed by a sense of gratitude that at least this was going to be a quick death, a quick recovery.

And it was; the blood was still warm on his chest when he came to, and MacLeod helped him back up to a kneeling position, even holding him steady as he coughed. Methos rested his head against MacLeod's shoulder. God, but he was getting tired of hurting.

MacLeod got him up on his feet and shoved him over a table, landing Methos squarely on his cheek -- fuck, that hurt -- and kicking his legs apart. Methos closed his eyes and braced himself for the first press in. It still made him scream. You would have to be hung like a mule, wouldn't you, Highlander? Methos grinned -- an ugly, twisted grin, but a grin all the same -- before he could stop himself.

"What's that look for?" MacLeod growled, and the look dropped off Methos's face immediately. Fuck. He hadn't realized MacLeod could see him. "Enjoying yourself?"

Methos didn't answer, and MacLeod seemed inclined to let the question drop for a while, fucking him hard, rough, fast and ugly. It hurt -- every stroke seemed designed to hurt -- and Methos was getting hard anyway. Damn it. I don't want to like this... "Mac--"

"You are enjoying yourself."

"Mac, please--"

"You love it this way, don't you? You love hurting for it, dying for it, getting everything you gave all your victims all those years ago. You want it this way. You want to be punished for everything you've done wrong."

But you don't. You never wanted it this way. Methos held still, stayed quiet and let MacLeod talk to him. How much of this was going to be left when Cassandra's hold on MacLeod was finally gone? How much was MacLeod going to remember?

"Come on, Methos. Stop pretending. You're not fooling anybody anymore." MacLeod wrapped his fingers around Methos's throat again, squeezed hard enough to cut off Methos's air. Methos shoved back against him, gave in and gave MacLeod everything his body demanded: answering shoves back every time MacLeod thrust in, moans every time MacLeod gave him enough air to make them.

MacLeod's fingers dug in hard as he slammed in again. "Come," he growled, and Methos was close enough to do it, cock jerking hard against the table, body tensing around MacLeod's cock. MacLeod gave him a few more thrusts and then followed him over. Methos couldn't scream -- didn't have enough breath to scream -- but his mouth was open wide, eyes shut tight, and his cock ached from coming.

MacLeod let him go all at once and stepped back, letting Methos choke and cough until his throat finished healing. He stayed collapsed on the table, trying to breathe, trying to come back up, trying to stay awake.

"Don't pass out," MacLeod warned him, running a hand down over his ass. "I'm not through with you yet."

"No?" Methos asked, coughing. "What else do you want?" What else is there?

MacLeod unfastened Methos's handcuffs, but the relief from having his hands free was short-lived. He wrapped chains around Methos's hands, locking them to the table's legs, and did a slow circuit around the table while Methos took a precious few moments to rest. Moments stretched into minutes; MacLeod gave Methos enough time to heal completely, nearly half an hour. Either he wants to kill me again or he wants me to come again. Which would hurt more?

"Look up." MacLeod had settled in front of Methos; Methos could see his boots from his limited vantage point on the table. Looking up meant tilting his head up and causing an uncomfortable stretch in his shoulders; Methos was tempted to refuse. Still, it could only be so bad--

--or not. He was staring straight into the barrel of his own gun.

"Going to shoot me again?" Methos asked. Not the head. Causes the worst hangovers...

"No." MacLeod ran the barrel of Methos's gun over Methos's cheek. The metal was still warm, though Methos suspected it was more from being held against MacLeod's body than from the shots he'd fired. The scent of gunpowder was still strong, though, gunpowder and oil and metal. MacLeod brushed the muzzle over Methos's lips. "Open."

Kronos would have done this, Methos thought, even as he opened his mouth and let MacLeod press the gun between his lips. The gunpowder had a salty, acidic taste that somehow matched the metallic tang of the oil and the barrel itself. Methos had a moment of gratitude that he didn't have to worry about lead poisoning, especially when MacLeod drove the gun deeper into his mouth and started fucking his mouth with it in earnest. This was different from years of practice having knives slid between his teeth; the shape was easier, the edges blunt, and yes, Methos could easily imagine Kronos doing this to him. Kronos would have made him love it. Kronos would have had him sucking the gun like it was his cock, free hand fisted in Methos's hair, dragging him forward, choking him with metal and gunpowder residue.

MacLeod pulled the gun free and walked around to the other side of the table. It didn't take much to guess what was coming, and Methos was glad his mouth had left the barrel at least a little warm, a little wet. It still wasn't warm enough, and when MacLeod shoved the first inch of the barrel into Methos's ass, Methos jumped and shoved himself forward against the table.

"Don't move," MacLeod warned, "you're not going anywhere," and he shoved the gun forward harder. Methos cringed; if MacLeod's finger was still on the trigger, if he just pulled the trigger now, here, like this...

MacLeod chuckled as he drew the gun back and pushed it forward again. "Wouldn't this be an interesting way to die?" he asked, twisting the barrel once it was in all the way to the trigger guard. Methos had to grit his teeth to keep from screaming. "How many shots would it take, do you think? One? Two?" He pulled the gun back again, slammed it forward hard. "How does it feel? Does it feel good? Do you like it?"

There was no good answer for that. Methos was hard again and praying MacLeod wouldn't notice. Like was the wrong word. He'd liked very little of what MacLeod had done to him. Response was something else, something his body couldn't help. It was nothing to be ashamed of, nothing he'd hate himself for later. It was simple fact. Just as it was fact that every time MacLeod twisted the damned gun, Methos's cock jerked and he found himself that much closer to coming all over the table. This was nothing. It was violent, and it hurt, but it was something Methos could survive. MacLeod could hurt him, kill him, break him, but as long as he was still alive, damage could be repaired. And if the easiest way to survive this was to participate, then fuck it. Methos shoved back against the gun, pushing against MacLeod's knuckles.

"More?" MacLeod asked, twisting, shoving, jerking the gun nearly all the way out before slamming it back in. "Are you such a whore you could come from this?"

Methos curled his fingers around the table's edge and pressed his face against the metal. "Just fuck me," he muttered. "Just take whatever you want. Take it."

"I am," MacLeod snarled, and the motions picked up speed, turned cruel and felt more like being fucked than they had any right to. Methos groaned, knuckles going white, and he wondered if this would stop if he came. If MacLeod might do what he'd threatened and shoot him, kill him in the most demeaning way he'd found yet. Methos didn't care anymore. MacLeod wasn't going to take his head; he'd have done it by now if he ever intended to. It didn't matter. None of it mattered. He could come this way. Like this, from a gun shoved up his ass and tearing him apart. He'd done worse. He'd probably do worse before MacLeod was done with him. His head went back, and he was screaming before the orgasm hit, breath emptying out of his chest as the gun slammed home and his cock jerked underneath him.

His head hit the table hard when he was finished, and he wondered if MacLeod was going to be kind enough to let him pass out for once.

Kindness or not, the world went black around him.

"Oh, Jesus H. Christ. Dawson! Fuck. Dawson! There's someone alive in here!"

Methos jerked awake, hands tugging against the chains. Alive. Dawson. He coughed a few times, trying to figure out where he was and what kind of bondage he was dealing with. He was still in chains, and -- oh, God, that hurt -- still had his gun shoved up his ass. Wonderful. This isn't going to score me any points in Watcher HQ.

"It's going to be all right. We'll get you out of here. Fuck, fuck -- Dawson, goddamnit! Get in--"

"I'm here, for Christ's sake, stop yelling already, I -- oh, Jesus. Adam?" The shuffling gait that marked Joe's footsteps was as fast as Methos had ever heard it, and a few seconds later he had Joe's hand on his shoulder. Methos shivered; the warmth from Joe's hand made the rest of the room seem that much colder. "Adam, hang on. We'll get you out of there. Bolt cutters -- get the bolt cutters, there's no point in looking around for the keys to those padlocks." Joe squeezed Methos's shoulder and let out a rough breath. "Kronos? Did Kronos do this? Where is he?"

"He's dead," Methos mumbled. He could hear the other man running off; he hoped it wouldn't take long to get the chains off, and more to the point... "Joe, if you wouldn't mind terribly, that gun is a real pain in the ass right now."

"Is it loaded?" Joe asked, moving around to the other side of the table.

"Yeah. Careful."

"Heh. Apologies in advance, man; this isn't gonna feel too great coming out..."

"Better than it felt going in. Just do it."

Joe got a grip on the gun and pulled it out, slowly but all in one motion, and Methos groaned out loud. "Bloody hell. That's much better."

Footsteps marked the return of a man bearing bolt cutters, and better yet, a blanket which he threw over Methos's back before taking care of the chains. Methos pushed himself up to standing and clutched the blanket around his shoulders. "Where's MacLeod?" he asked.

"We found him down the hall, asleep. Confused. He didn't know where anyone was, didn't even know you were still here."

Methos frowned. "Cassandra?"

"Nobody's seen her since Kronos brought her here."

"Great." Methos rubbed at his temples. "Much as I've enjoyed the accommodations, perhaps we could get me somewhere a little more comfortable? Sooner rather than later."

"Yeah." Joe nodded at the other guy. "I'll take care of him. You go let the others know I'm getting out of here. And get someone to keep an eye on MacLeod tonight." Methos winced, and Joe glanced at him, double-taking at the expression. "Out of here. Now."

If the other Watcher recognized Methos as Adam Pierson or had any questions about where Joe was taking them, he kept it to himself. Methos was grateful for the lack of questions, wondering whether the kid was a friend of Joe's or just someone who wasn't smart enough to wonder how a man who'd been found naked, bloody, chained and filthy with a gun up his ass could get up and walk without needing an ambulance. When everything was settled, his cushy little alter ego was going to be gone; he needed to get out of Bordeaux as fast as humanly possible.

Joe got Methos out of the compound, avoiding the other Watchers and shoving him into the car. "Where am I taking you?" he asked.

"Anywhere I can get a shower and some clothes and no questions asked."

"Two out of three work for you?"

"As long as you're asking questions off the record."

"Yeah." Joe glanced over. "The place blew up a week ago. It took a lot of strings to get into the compound, but I was sure we were going to find a lot of headless bodies--"

"Headless Horsemen?" Methos asked, grinning, humorless.

"Very funny. We know MacLeod got Caspian..."


"But Kronos? Silas?"

Methos let his head fall back against the headrest. "Maybe you could give me a little more time before you start on the questions, Joe. Even off the record."

Joe winced. "Sorry. I'm just trying to avoid the obvious one--"

"--are you all right?" Methos asked, voice coming out in unison with Joe's. "I'll be fine, Joe. That's the advantage of being an Immortal. No real damage done."

Joe didn't press him on it, for which Methos was grateful. Within an hour, they were in a hotel room, and Joe managed to find Methos a sweater and a pair of jeans, both of which hung far too loosely on him but were good enough for now. It must have been killing Joe not to ask questions, not to start with how the hell did you end up like that? and end with what happens next?, but more than being a Watcher, Joe was a friend, and the questions stayed unasked.

A full day's rest was more welcome than Methos had anticipated. Better yet, Joe left him alone, either gambling on the hope that Methos wouldn't take off for parts unknown or willing to let him go if he needed to. The gamble was a good one -- Methos was staying put at least long enough to say goodbye. He wasn't sure how much time he'd have before he needed to get rid of his Pierson persona, but it was probably enough to get him away from Bordeaux. And he'd had enough practice being a Watcher that he was confident he could dodge one. When they finally got around to assigning him one, at least -- bureaucratic red tape could get him a significant head start. God bless administrators.

Methos went to sleep early, before Joe came back. It crossed his mind as he was drifting off that Joe might have been gone not just to give Methos time and space but because there were messes to clean up with the Watchers, but he'd ask about it in the morning.

In the morning, Methos went out to get himself some new clothes, enough to travel in, and by the time he returned, Joe was up and around and ready to have lunch. They had room service sent up and Methos suspected that was a sign the grace period was over. Questions like the ones Joe wanted to ask were the sort one avoided asking in public, after all. And Methos's instincts were dead-on; Joe only hesitated over his plate for a second before asking, "How did it happen?"

"What do you know so far?"

Joe glanced down at the table and stabbed at a bite of veal with his fork. "Adam, there are videotapes."

"Christ." Methos pushed back from the table, dropping his head into his hand. "Does MacLeod know?"

"He doesn't remember anything, as far as I can tell, and I don't know what he's gonna do when he finds out what he did. It's all in bits and pieces, but there's hours of it, hours and hours between the time Kronos first took over the place and the time the power went out, and then more hours once they got the power running again. And lucky me, I get to sit down and watch it all. Well, me and Cassandra's Watcher, and neither one of us are looking forward to it, I can tell you that much. We're still trying to get everything in order."

"In order." Methos shook his head. "In order: Kronos sent Silas and Caspian after MacLeod, MacLeod took Caspian's head, MacLeod came after Kronos, I fought Silas, MacLeod fought Kronos, we had a double-whammy Quickening that probably would've shorted out half the city if it hadn't happened in a reinforced submarine base, and then Cassandra used her Voice on MacLeod and had him torture me for -- how long was it between Caspian's death and when you found me?"

Joe twisted his napkin up in his hands and finally threw it onto the table. "Nine days," he said, looking away.

"Yeah, so about a week. There's the executive summary. Where do I sign off on it so I can get back to my life? Or someone's life, anyway; I presume Cassandra's Watcher put everything together and is planning on announcing that Adam Pierson is really Methos, the world's oldest man?"

"Yeah." Joe rubbed at his forehead, shook his head again. "Yeah, she's got you pegged, Adam -- Methos. She just needs to write up her report."

"How long do you think I have?"

"Two more days."

"That long?"

"Hey, you're a great find and all, but we still have procedures." Joe managed a grin. "Are you going to miss it? Being Pierson, I mean."

Methos shrugged. "Nah. I'll find someone else to be. It's not that hard, Joe. You get used to it. Mortals reinvent themselves, too, and they don't have to do it every fifty years."

"Any idea where you're going?"

"I'll probably stay in Paris. They'll be watching the airports looking for me, expecting me to get as far away as I can as quickly as humanly possible. I'll be better off if I don't play to expectations."

"You never do."

Methos picked up his beer and tipped it to Joe. "I never do."

"Oh, for God's sake, Adam--!" Joe slammed a hand against the table and shook his head, rubbing his hand against his beard. "You don't have to be so goddamned Zen about this. You want to pretend it didn't happen, you go right ahead. I can't. That was MacLeod in those tapes. Mac. How do you just explain that away? How do you ignore that?"

Methos stood up and leaned over the table, putting both hands on Joe's shoulders. "You... just... do." He squeezed hard, then sat back down, leaning forward on the table and looking Joe in the eye. "How is he?"

"How is he? He's fine, and he'll probably be fine until he finds out what he did." Methos went quiet, finally looking down at the bottle in his hands and picking at the label. "You don't want to tell him, do you?"

"Not really."

"Why the hell not? Aren't you the least bit angry for--"

"For what, Joe? Angry with him for being every bit as much a victim as I was for a week? For being used by a woman who had every reason in the world to want revenge? You don't get to be this old by holding grudges."

"Is that what you told Cassandra?"

"I tried." Methos shoved back from the table and stood up. "I tried telling that to Kronos, too, but he never listened to me in his life and there was no reason for him to start in Bordeaux. But I'm here. Kronos is dead, God knows where Cassandra is. I'm here. You want me to waste time being angry at MacLeod for what happened, you just keep waiting. I survived. I'll live through worse if I have anything to say about it."

"So it's just that easy for you. You've just forgiven him and that's all you have to say about it?"

"I forgave him before he got started. I doubt I'll be so lucky when it's the other way around, but I need to see him before I leave for Paris." Methos paced a few steps. "Can you have him meet me?"

"I can try." Joe sighed. "When?"

It wasn't when so much as where that concerned Methos. Holy ground seemed appropriate; it was an offering of truce, a way to hedge his bets, and a way to let MacLeod do the same. There were the inevitable questions about Kronos and the Horsemen, the inevitable questions about Cassandra. Methos didn't expect MacLeod to be satisfied with one of a thousand regrets; he supposed MacLeod wanted answers, apologies, something that sounded like repentance. If Methos had had it to offer, he would have.

"We are not the sum total of our experiences, MacLeod. Or our actions." Methos shivered, wishing he'd thought to arrange a meeting indoors. The graveyard fit the holy ground bill well enough, but it didn't do much for Methos's ears or the tip of his nose. "The world changes whether we want it to or not. We always have the opportunity to change with it. Kronos didn't. I suppose the jury's still out on me. But Cassandra was wrong. We are not our pasts. If we're lucky, we live long enough to grow past our worst moments." He narrowed his eyes, glanced off into the distance. "Maybe I haven't lived long enough yet, as far as she's concerned. Have I lived long enough for you?"

MacLeod struggled for an answer. "You make it sound so simple..."

"Isn't it?" Methos shrugged. "It feels that way."

MacLeod sighed and dug his hands deeper into his pockets. "Joe still hasn't told me about the end of Bordeaux. There are things I remember, but the images are jagged -- it seems like it's all happening to someone else. But--" MacLeod paused. "I know there are things I did -- or things I allowed to happen -- that I owe apologies for."

"Then it's accepted. Gladly. And you're forgiven."

"But I don't know what I--"

"It wasn't your fault. And I don't hold anything against you. I'd just..." Methos sighed. "I'd rather not dwell on it. It's like I said. You can't judge people by their worst moments." He caught MacLeod wincing and wondered how much MacLeod was starting to remember. "And we can't judge ourselves that way, either," he murmured.

"Will you promise me something?" Methos gave MacLeod a look, and MacLeod's expression came very close to a smile in response. "Hear me out on it, anyway. If you ever need to talk about it--"

"I won't."

"If you did. If you do..." MacLeod took a hand out of his pocket but stopped short of offering it to Methos. Maybe he wasn't ready to go that far; maybe he was afraid Methos wouldn't want him making the offer at all. Maybe it was a nervous affectation the way tucking his hands into his pockets had been in the first place. Better not to read too much into it, really. "I'll be somewhere you can find me."

"I wish I could say the same, but you know me better than that." Methos did smile then, rocking back on his heels; for a moment, it felt like Bordeaux was forgotten already. "But you're a smart boy, MacLeod; apply that knowledge in the right places and you'll have a good shot at tracking me down." He hesitated, then said it anyway: "I'll keep in touch if I can."

"I'd like that." MacLeod exhaled, long and solid, like the weight of the world was coming off his shoulders. "I want that."

"You have a soft heart. It keeps getting you in trouble." Methos came forward and put a hand on MacLeod's shoulder, squeezing. "It rubs off on the people around you, too. It's damned annoying."

MacLeod reached out and wrapped an arm around Methos's shoulders. "Take care of yourself, old man."

"I always do. You do the same."

Paris was quiet without MacLeod; Methos had complained of that before. He disappeared into crowds, made a quiet life for himself, debated the next career move and the next identity while idling away hours at different jobs. For a while he worked as a pastry chef; then there was a job as an assistant tailor, a volunteer tour guide. The idea that he'd miss the Watchers surprised him -- ten years of hiding hadn't exactly been easy -- but he couldn't go back to archaeology and classical studies for a while yet, and if nothing else, the Watchers had given him a whole environment full of people who understood the importance of history. It was lonely, sometimes, existing without that.

Then again, loneliness was underrated. As Methos reminded himself when he felt the buzz of presence and heard an insistent pounding on the door of his flat. He was up and ready to fight before he heard Amanda's voice, and having a crisis dropped in his lap in the middle of the night was not on his list of favorite pastimes. At least Amanda calmed down once she'd explained the Keane situation, or calmed down somewhat. Enough that she gave him a hopeful look and asked for another cup of coffee. "I'm wired. How much sleep do you really think you're going to get after all this, anyway?"

"Not much." Methos sighed and climbed back out of bed. "Come on. I'll get a fresh pot started."

It didn't take long to get the coffee going; Methos leaned against the kitchen counter and rubbed sleep out of his eyes while Amanda took a seat at his kitchen table and finished giving him the few details she knew about Keane. Age, size, her guesses about his skill with a sword, the kind of match she thought he'd make against MacLeod. With nothing to go on from the Watchers, it wasn't much, but it was better than nothing. Methos nodded, taking everything in, and got two mugs out of the cabinet so he could pour the coffee.

"You really do make better coffee than I'd expected." She took a longer drink and purred this time. "Does Mac know you make coffee this good?"

Methos snorted. "No, I'm afraid MacLeod's never woken me up in the middle of the night and demanded it."

"Hmm. His loss." Amanda arched an eyebrow. "You know, that does surprise me."

"Oh, don't start--"

"I'm not!" Amanda grinned. "I just wondered if you were avoiding Mac for any particular reason. I mean, he's been in Paris the last few weeks, and I know he hasn't seen you. He'd have said so. I think he misses you."

Methos winced. "Yeah, well, we didn't exactly part on perfect terms."

"After Bordeaux?"


"He never actually told me what happened in that week you were missing. Joe wouldn't say a word about it, either."

"Good for Joe," Methos mumbled. "It really isn't something I want to talk about," he said, a little louder. "Bordeaux wasn't pleasant for any of us."

"I guess it wasn't." Amanda drank more coffee, drummed her fingertips on the side of the mug. It looked like she was stalling and trying to figure out what to say next; Methos was surprised she wasn't just blurting it out, blunt as she usually was. "He's way too good at blaming himself for things. I don't know why Keane's hitting him as hard as he is, but he's acting like -- like he deserves it. Like he needs someone to punish him for something. I hate it when he gets like that."

"Me, too," Methos murmured. And that was nice and subtle of you, Amanda, but I'm not biting. "Look... I can't make any promises. I don't know if he'd listen to me any more than he listened to you. But I'll talk to him."

"Thank you." Amanda grinned and put her coffee down so she could stand up and fling her arms around Methos's shoulders. "I knew you would."

Methos grunted as coffee splashed over his hand. "Am I getting that predictable?"

"Only when it comes to our boy scout." Amanda pulled back and ran a fingertip down Methos's cheek. "You'd better hop in the shower," she said. "MacLeod's meeting him at six at the Luxembourg Gardens."

"Six? Shit." Methos glared at her and set his mug down on the counter. "You really do believe in cutting things close, don't you?" He glanced at the clock. "Six. You know, it's barbaric having these things so early. No one should ever have a duel of honor before breakfast."

"Tell you what. You go take a shower and I'll find you something to eat. That way you won't have to talk MacLeod out of this stupid duel of his on an empty stomach."

"Good plan. You never know. A muffin might make all the difference."

Amanda smacked Methos on the arm. "Very funny. Get going."

"Oh, this doesn't look good. What happened?"

"It didn't work." Methos put his hands on his hips and paced a few steps. "That idiot wasn't listening to a word I said."

"Well, I guess I'm glad it's not just me. What did you say?"

"A lot of things that didn't make a damned bit of difference." Methos sighed. "And I shouldn't have expected them to. What was I thinking?" We are all both. Good and evil. We have rage and compassion. We have love and hate. Murder and forgiveness. "I sounded like a bloody Hallmark card. Easy to ignore."

"All right, give me a minute." Amanda pulled her cell phone out of her handbag and dialed a number. Methos went back to pacing.

It might have gone better if he'd been better about keeping in touch since Bordeaux. Maybe it wouldn't have read like another it doesn't matter speech, the sort of thing MacLeod never accepted, never believed in. He'd probably say I forgive too easily. And he might be right. But it's better than not forgiving at all. "The idiot's going to have his head knocked off his shoulders," Methos muttered. "After all the--"

"Shhh!" Amanda held a hand up and finished her phone call, hanging up and putting the phone away. "All right, that's taken care of."

"What did you do?"

Amanda shrugged and gave him a cheeky grin. "I framed him for jewel theft. Nothing serious."

Methos stared at her for a few seconds and then laughed. "Good to know you had a backup plan."

"I always have a backup plan. Didn't you?"

"Yeah." Methos rolled his eyes. "I shot him in the back."

"You what?"

Methos threw his hands in the air. "Well, I thought it'd leave him out cold long enough for me to fight Keane and take his head! My estimates were off by a few minutes."

"You shot him? That was your backup plan?"

"Hey, it was his turn--" Methos stopped and rubbed at his cheek. "I didn't figure he'd mind much."

"His turn." Amanda frowned. "What does that mean?"

"Nothing. Nothing. It means he'll probably be more pissed off with you for the arrest than with me for shooting him."

"Uh-huh." Amanda crossed her arms over her chest. "This is about Bordeaux, isn't it? What happened? What did he do there?"

"Something he's having trouble living with," Methos murmured. "And the details aren't important. Do you know he actually said he'd fight me if I took Keane's head?"

"He said--" Amanda shook her head. "He didn't mean it."

"Oh, he meant it. I'm not sure he could have gone through with taking my head, but he certainly meant to challenge me."

"What is the matter with him? Is Keane really that important?"

"Justice is that important to MacLeod. No one's punished him for some of the things he's done wrong. I think he expected Keane to give him that."

"Well, I think that's stupid."

Methos laughed. "I happen to agree with you. But clearly he's not going to listen to either of us."

"Maybe he'll listen better in prison. I figure he'll call one or the other of us once they get him to the station and let him have his phone call. Joe's still in Seacouver, and he knows we're both here."

"It'll probably be you. He doesn't have my number." Methos frowned. "At least, I think he doesn't. Anyway. He'll figure out you set him up when he finds out what he's been framed for, so he'll probably want to call you. So you might want to think about what you'll have to say for yourself. He won't be happy about the arrest. How long do you think they'll keep him?"

Amanda shrugged. "Hard to say. Hopefully long enough for him to forget all about Keane." She gave him a hopeful look. "I don't suppose you'd be willing to go after Keane again...?"

"No." Methos snorted. "Not a chance."

"It was worth a shot. All right. Go ahead home and get some sleep. I'll let you know how he's doing when I've seen him."

Furious, as expected, and still determined to take on Keane. Methos couldn't say he was surprised, and he bit at his nails along with Amanda when the fight finally happened. That MacLeod won wasn't a shock, and that he sent Keane off without taking his head even less so.

But it was more than good seeing him again when the fight was over, knowing his head was still attached to his shoulders. Methos let Amanda drape herself all over him and took his cue to leave when the time came; there was more to say, but they had time enough for it.

And so when MacLeod called him two days later, Methos was ready for the call. Even ready for the dinner invitation, when it came, and he brought a bottle of wine to the barge and played a game of chess with himself while MacLeod cooked dinner.

"Amanda's gone to Italy," MacLeod said. "I took her to the airport yesterday."

"On the run again? Tsk." Methos captured a pawn for white and considered black's next move. "Is she still glad enough you're not dead to forgive you for having her jewels confiscated?"

"Lucky for me. She'll be back when things calm down, or I'll go and visit her sometime." MacLeod came to the table with dinner and took a seat; Methos joined him after having black advance a bishop. "She wanted me to go with her. I thought it was more important to stay here for a while."

"Really?" Methos waited while MacLeod poured a glass of wine for each of them. Please, don't let him get too serious on me. Or too maudlin. A tight ball of anxiety started forming in the pit of Methos's stomach, one that should have had him getting up and walking out the door. Guess he's not the only one who thinks it's important to stay put. But him first. "And why was that?" he asked.

MacLeod put the wine down and looked across the table. "I understood what you were trying to tell me when you stopped me from fighting Keane the first time. I just didn't want to let it in."


"I know you don't want to talk about Bordeaux," MacLeod said, putting a hand up to stop Methos from saying anything else. "We don't have to talk about Bordeaux. I just want you to know that -- I remember, most of it, now, and I understand why you forgave me. And I'm grateful."

The knot in Methos's stomach loosened and he sat back in his chair, looking MacLeod over. "Have you managed to forgive yourself?"

MacLeod grinned and shook his head, reaching for his napkin and unfolding it, draping it across his lap. "I'm still working on that part," he said softly.

"Well, then..." Methos reached for his wineglass and lifted it. "To making progress."

MacLeod mirrored the move and clinked the rim of his glass against Methos's. "To making progress, and friends with patience."

Dinner invitations came more frequently after that. When it became clear that MacLeod was going to be in Paris for a while, Joe got someone to take over his bar for a while so he could do his Watching from closer up. It was convenient for Methos that Joe was a friend and he wasn't reporting his presence in his updates to MacLeod's chronicle; anyone else would have let on that Methos was still in Paris after his fight against Keane, still in close contact with MacLeod. Methos wondered how that looked to Joe, whether Joe had made any progress in forgiving MacLeod for what he'd done in Bordeaux. It seemed that way, or close enough to it that Joe was willing to take MacLeod up on his dinner invitations, sometimes invitations that included all three of them.

MacLeod was a good cook and a better host; evenings where it was all three of them together tended to end with Joe dozing on the couch, or pretending to doze so Methos and MacLeod could talk in relative peace. Methos suspected Joe always had one eye open and one ear at the ready, but it didn't matter; he trusted Joe as much as he trusted anyone, and it could be a lot of fun saying things with a straight face and seeing how much he could get Joe to believe.

Tonight, though, Joe was out cold. No faking. Methos was nearly out cold himself, sated and relaxed on the armchair beside him. MacLeod was somehow full of enough energy to clean up the night's dishes -- Methos could hear them rattling from off in the galley -- but Methos imagined he'd collapse once he was done. And Joe would curse at both of them for letting him sleep on the sofa all night instead of getting him back home where the bed wouldn't wreck his back. You two probably don't even remember what it's like having your back ache for two straight days. Damn Immortal healing times.

Methos could hear MacLeod's footsteps as he made his way back to the living room. He tried to blink his eyes open, but it wasn't until he heard the whisper of fabric in front of him and felt MacLeod's hand on his knee that he made a serious effort. He opened his eyes and sat up. MacLeod was crouched in front of him, one hand rubbing Methos's knee and starting to slide higher.

"Mac...?" Methos looked over to Joe; still out cold. That much was a relief.

"I've been meaning to tell you... talk to you." MacLeod's other hand came up, resting on Methos's other knee, and Methos shifted in the chair, cock getting uncomfortably hard in his jeans. "I want you."


"I know you've said you forgive me for Bordeaux. But there's a difference between forgiving, between being able to live with something, and being able to pursue more. I want more than your friendship, Methos." His thumbs ran up Methos's inseams, and Methos spread his legs wider without even thinking about it. "Do you want me?"

It was a question Methos had never expected to hear, and one he had no answer ready for. But his body was one hell of a lot more certain than the rest of him, and when MacLeod's thumbs reached the creases of Methos's thighs, Methos reached down and slid one of MacLeod's hands over his cock, rocking his hips up to brush against MacLeod's palm.

"Is that enough of an answer?" he breathed.

"More than." MacLeod squeezed gently and grinned when Methos had to bite down on a whimper. "I think I'd better get Joe into a cab."

"I think you're right. Unless watching really is a synonym for voyeurism--"

"--and even if it is, I don't think I'm ready to let Joe have that much of an inside view." MacLeod grinned and stood up. "Or maybe I just don't want to share you."

Methos adjusted himself as MacLeod headed for the sofa and gently prodded Joe awake. It took no time at all to get him into a cab, and if Joe noticed anything different about the mood in the room, he was delicate enough not to say so. Methos waved from his spot in the armchair, only standing when Joe and MacLeod were out the door. The sense of MacLeod's presence faded for a bit as MacLeod walked Joe out to the cab, and when it returned a few seconds later, Methos grinned. It wasn't just the usual rush of awareness this time; it was a warm buzz all over his body. Mac. Here. Tonight.

MacLeod let himself back in, locking the door behind him, and Methos met him halfway, wondering how it was that something as familiar as sex could be so awkward and nervous every time one tried it with someone new. But then maybe that wasn't a downside; maybe it was a bonus. There might be nervousness and awkwardness, but there was also a rush of excitement, a feeling of novelty that was worth one hell of a lot.

First things first: Methos reached out and put a hand on MacLeod's waist, stepping in close and then closer, until their bodies were touching and MacLeod was near enough Methos could feel his breath, almost hear his heartbeat. MacLeod was grinning, and Methos found himself returning the expression. "You make me feel like a teenager," he said. "Like I've never done this before."

"I want it to feel new for you," MacLeod said, bringing his hands up and settling them on Methos's hips. "I like the idea of this as our first time."

"It is our first time." Methos was serious now, the grin vanishing. His arms came up, and he settled them on MacLeod's shoulders, lacing his fingers behind MacLeod's neck. "Bordeaux wasn't sex. Wasn't intimacy." Wasn't even you. "This is."

MacLeod squeezed Methos's hips and nodded. "That's what I want," he murmured. "What do you want?"

"Slow. Easy." Methos leaned forward, brushed his lips against MacLeod's. "There's no rush. I don't want it to feel like we're in a hurry."

"No hurry," MacLeod agreed, and kissed Methos back, just the barest trace of lips against lips. "God, Methos, I've wanted you for so long..."

Methos moaned and let his lips part, pressing them against MacLeod's, pulling MacLeod closer and groaning his approval when MacLeod's arms went around his waist and tightened. MacLeod slid his tongue forward, almost asking permission with a slow lick, and Methos met him on equal footing for it, licking into MacLeod's mouth and pressing his hips forward so he could rub his cock against MacLeod's. Oh, that's good... MacLeod could kiss. It wasn't a surprise, but it was so good getting to feel it that it left Methos almost giddy. He could easily imagine standing here like this for hours, just getting to know the feel of MacLeod's body against his, the warmth of his lips, tracing the contours of each other's mouths with their tongues. No hurry. Oh, yes. He'd have fantasized about this if he'd known it was here for the asking.

Neither one of them pushed for more than the kiss, to start with; they stayed like that, kissing, nuzzling, hot breath ghosting across each other's cheeks, until MacLeod started rubbing Methos's back in slow circles. Methos groaned and rubbed up against MacLeod, purring like a cat, and MacLeod began kissing his face, small kisses across his cheek until he got to a spot below Methos's ear. He licked there, hands still moving in circles, and Methos tilted his head back, offering MacLeod the side of his neck, his throat.

MacLeod chuckled and nuzzled Methos's neck, licking slowly up and down, nibbling softly. Methos felt his cock jerk in his jeans and drew his hands back so he could steady himself on MacLeod's shoulders. "Feels good," he breathed, "damn good..."

"Yes." MacLeod breathed out against Methos's skin, then bit a little harder.

Methos groaned. "Mac -- I want -- let's do this in bed." He laughed softly, nervousness showing in the tone. "I don't think I'll be able to stay on my feet much longer."

"Bed sounds perfect." MacLeod pulled away, hands going back to Methos's hips, and he tucked his fingers into Methos's belt loops and tugged him over to the bed. Methos grinned and followed, not minding the guidance a bit. They tumbled into bed, and MacLeod rolled Methos onto his back, lying half-atop him with one leg over Methos's thigh and his hand moving up from knee to hip, fingertips teasing just under the hem of Methos's sweater.

Methos reached up, got his hands on MacLeod's shoulders again and squeezed. MacLeod's mouth came down on Methos's, but this time there was no hesitation to it; his tongue slid forward hard, and Methos kissed back with equal enthusiasm. He slid his legs apart and rocked his hips up, wanting -- needing -- more contact.

MacLeod was there to provide it; as soon as Methos shifted, MacLeod rolled on top of him, climbing between his legs and settling down on him. He kept kissing Methos, thrusting his tongue into Methos's mouth, and as the steady thrusts of his tongue continued, he started pressing his hips down, rubbing his cock against Methos's in time with every warm lick. Methos shivered and ran his hands down MacLeod's back, squeezing MacLeod's buttocks and pulling him down as he pressed up. "Yes -- God, oh, feels good," Methos whispered, barely getting the words out before MacLeod was on him all over again.

They could have done nothing but kiss and Methos would have been happy. But MacLeod was after more than that, and as soon as the next kiss broke for air, he pushed far enough back to slide a hand under Methos's sweater. Methos had a moment to wish he weren't wearing so many blasted layers before MacLeod sat up and began tugging at the sweater in earnest. "I want this off you," he murmured. "Sit up a minute."

Methos sat up and raised his hands over his head so MacLeod could strip the sweater off him and toss it aside. Next the undershirt; God, why was he in so many clothes? He started with the buttons, pausing long enough to raise both eyebrows and make certain MacLeod didn't want to be in charge of taking his shirt off as well. "This too?" he asked, grinning.

"That too." MacLeod settled more firmly on his knees and began unbuttoning his own shirt, starting with the sleeves and then moving to his collar. Methos was faster; his shirt was unbuttoned and on the floor in time for him to reach out and push MacLeod's shirt off his shoulders. Skin against skin. MacLeod's body felt warm and silk-smooth against Methos's palms, good enough to have Methos licking his lips and wanting a taste of it. He leaned forward and flicked his tongue across MacLeod's shoulder, moving towards his neck. MacLeod tilted his head back and stopped with his shirt still tangled around his arms, and Methos growled softly under his breath and came up on his knees, pushing MacLeod onto his back.

MacLeod hit the mattress with a slight oof, and then he laughed, arms pinned at his sides by his own shirt. "Want it to be you on top this time?" he asked, working to get his arms out of their sleeves.

"I don't care," Methos answered, but he wasn't giving MacLeod a chance to get untangled. He was stretching out across MacLeod's body, legs tangling together, head down so he could keep kissing MacLeod's chest. One kiss after another, until the kisses became licks and he was nuzzling into MacLeod's chest hair as he moved to flick his tongue over a nipple.

Fabric tore at that, and Methos found his head cupped in one of MacLeod's hands, held there with his teeth and tongue on MacLeod's nipple. "More?" MacLeod asked, and Methos groaned his agreement. MacLeod could have all the more he wanted: Methos's mouth, hot and wet and tongue rubbing in slow circles; Methos's teeth, a light scrape accompanied by a glance up MacLeod's body to gauge his reaction. MacLeod growled and his fingertips dug into the back of Methos's neck. Methos grinned and bit down harder. Everything they did led them to another need for more, and Methos was rock-hard and breathing heavily by the time he'd finished teasing one nipple into a tight, hardened nub and was nuzzling and licking his way across MacLeod's chest to get at the other one.

"God, you feel good," MacLeod groaned. "But you're still overdressed. We're both overdressed."

"Patience," Methos said, grinning, biting his tongue to keep from adding young one. "We said we weren't going to rush, remember?" He brought a hand up so he could run a thumb in slow circles over one nipple while licking the other one with similar motions. No rushing. All the time in the world.

Not rushing sounded like it was going to kill MacLeod, though; he groaned again and dragged his fingernails down Methos's shoulder. "Methos -- want -- need you," he panted. "More than this. Please."

"Oh, all right." Methos grinned again and came up to his knees, finally letting MacLeod jerk his way out of what was left of his shirt. "Do you want to--"

That was all he had the chance to say; MacLeod tackled him onto his back, shoving a thigh between Methos's legs and dropping his head to Methos's shoulder so he could lick and suck and bite in a line from shoulder to throat. Methos gasped, arched, moaned and squirmed; he spread his legs as much as he could, drawing one up and laughing as he realized he hadn't managed to get his shoes off. "Mac--"

"Nnn." MacLeod wasn't moving off Methos for anything; he sank his teeth into the sensitive spot just below Methos's jaw and sucked hard. Methos's eyes nearly rolled back in his head as he gasped; he forgot about shoes, about clothes, just shoved up and rubbed his cock against MacLeod's thigh, panting.

"More, please, again--"

MacLeod bit down harder, and Methos got both hands on MacLeod's hips and started rocking up in earnest. Short, sharp thrusts, insistent ones, and even Methos didn't realize how close he was until MacLeod bit him again and he nearly screamed as he came, wet and sticky and not caring a bit about any of that. He gasped and held MacLeod tight, shivering out the last of the orgasm.

"God," Methos whispered, "I haven't done that in years."

MacLeod chuckled. "Just as long as it doesn't mean you're done for the night..."

"Are you joking? Give me five minutes to recover and I'm all yours again."

"Five minutes? Now you're going to make me feel old. It takes me closer to ten."

Grinning, Methos stretched his arms out above his head. "Well, I may be exaggerating a bit for dramatic effect..."

MacLeod bent down and kissed the tip of Methos's nose. "Which one of us gets to say it?"

"Say what?"

"Well..." MacLeod pressed his thigh against Methos's cock, getting a wince and a groan out of him. "We really ought to get you out of those wet clothes..."

Methos gaped at MacLeod for a second and then reached up to whack him on the shoulder. "Oh, that's awful. Terrible. And if it weren't for the fact that you're right, I'd have more to say on the matter. But please, yes, this is terribly uncomfortable..."

"Poor you." MacLeod climbed off him and let Methos kick his shoes off and then wriggle out of his jeans and his damp boxers. Given the opportunity to finish undressing himself, MacLeod took it, sending his own pants and the rest of his clothes to the floor.

And then they were both naked and it was like neither one of them could get back to the other's arms fast enough; it was one giant tangle of limbs and a few laughing rolls for position, and finally MacLeod was back on top, fingers laced through Methos's, with Methos's legs wrapped around MacLeod's body, calves resting against MacLeod's thighs. Methos grinned and tried leaning up to bite at MacLeod's lower lip, and when he couldn't quite reach, settled for nibbling and licking a line down his throat instead. MacLeod responded with a hard thrust and a soft growl, and he pinned Methos's hands down. "Feels good," he whispered.

"Here, too," Methos responded, sounding vaguely surprised. His hands went limp in MacLeod's grasp, tension leaving them completely. Maybe it should have bothered him having MacLeod pinning him that way; it didn't.

MacLeod glanced down at him, frowning as he realized what he'd been doing. "I didn't mean to -- I'm sorry," he said, loosening his grip on Methos's hands.

Methos shook his head hard and tightened his own grip, not letting MacLeod move away. "It's all right," he murmured. "Don't apologize. If I need you to stop, I'll stop you. This feels natural, what's happening here. I don't want that feeling to stop. We can play it by ear."

MacLeod nodded and lowered himself down again, rubbing his cheek against Methos's. "Feels more than natural," he whispered. "It feels right."

It did, and Methos squirmed underneath MacLeod as he nodded, rubbing up against him. "Feels perfect," he whispered. "Fuck me?"

"God, yes. Yes." MacLeod let Methos go, and this time Methos let him; he was headed for a nightstand and groping through the drawer, which could only mean the standard search for lube. Methos was barely surprised at all to see lube in MacLeod's barge -- he supposed MacLeod probably had some of everything the same way he did -- and he stretched again, lacing his fingers together above his head and drawing his knees up, doing his best to look fuckable.

An effort which clearly succeeded, because MacLeod came back and halted mid-motion for a moment, long enough to watch as Methos squirmed and spread his legs even wider. "God. You look incredible," MacLeod murmured, kneeling between Methos's legs. He grinned and flipped the cap off the lube. "Want it?"

"As if you need to ask," Methos grumbled, tilting his hips up as MacLeod brought two fingers to his asshole and worked the tips just inside. "Don't tease. More. Harder. Come on, Mac, I don't want to wait all night for this."

"Maybe I do." MacLeod withdrew his fingers, slid them in a little deeper. "Maybe I think we deserve to draw this out."

"Or maybe Duncan MacLeod of the clan MacLeod is a godawful tease," Methos muttered. "Mac, please. Please. Want this so badly... want you so much..."

"You sound so good when you're begging," MacLeod murmured. "You realize we're only getting started?"

"We're not getting started, we're talking about getting started, you... ohhhh." Methos's eyes closed as MacLeod's fingers slid into him, a long slow push that had Methos squirming down against MacLeod's hand and panting softly. "Oh, that's good. That's so good. More? Please?"

"Who was it saying patience just a little while ago?" MacLeod asked, curling his fingers up, stroking. Methos gasped and nearly came off the bed, and MacLeod laughed. "I think it was you..."

"That was different," Methos panted. "Please -- need -- need you, please."

MacLeod twisted his fingers, scissored them as he drew them out, then slid them in again, harder, deeper. Methos squeezed his hands together, knuckles going white, but didn't let himself ease his grip or reach for MacLeod. MacLeod wanted him begging, writhing; Methos was inclined to give him that.

A bit more lube and three fingers, and MacLeod had Methos stretched enough. Methos was barely coherent by now, needing MacLeod more than ever, and when MacLeod climbed onto him, Methos finally unclasped his hands and sank his fingernails into MacLeod's shoulders. "About bloody time," he groaned. "Need you. Come on."

MacLeod hissed at the nails in his shoulders, but didn't let it stop him. He pushed Methos's legs up a little higher and started sinking in, eyes closing as he felt the first incredible clench all around his cock. "So good," he breathed, "so good, yes..."

"Yesssss..." Methos lost his grip on MacLeod's shoulders, arms falling back to the bed as MacLeod sank in. The stretch of it, burn of it, was intense, but it was a welcome intensity, something that just made Methos want more, harder, faster, don't ever stop. He rocked his hips up as much as he could, grinning when it made MacLeod shove down hard against him. "God, that's incredible."

"It is..." MacLeod slid his hands up Methos's arms and pinned his wrists down again. "You're incredible. You feel so good." Another long, slow thrust, and both men groaned over it. Methos gave a small tug against MacLeod's grip, nothing meant to break MacLeod's hold on him, and MacLeod tightened his hands, bending his head down to kiss Methos's throat. "Want me to keep holding you?" he murmured.

"Yes. Please..." Methos squirmed again, rocking his hips up harder. "Please, Mac. Hold me down. Don't let go."

"I won't," MacLeod promised, hips starting to move in a steady rhythm now, speeding up as the rhythm settled in. Methos whimpered, gasped with every fast thrust in. It was good -- almost impossibly good -- and MacLeod brought his mouth to Methos's, slid his tongue over Methos's lips and nearly laughed when Methos kissed him hard, frantic, a strong push of tongue against tongue.

Every time Methos pulled at one of his wrists, MacLeod tightened his grip; by the time Methos felt himself getting close, he was sure he had bruises. They wouldn't last -- they never seemed to last long enough -- but right now he was being fucked, fucked hard, and it was incredible, exactly what they'd both needed for longer than either one of them would have wanted to admit. Methos moaned as one thrust hit him just the right way, pulling his lips away from MacLeod's so he could pant the words out: "Close, any time now, so close--"

"Oh, God--" MacLeod shoved down harder, crushing Methos's mouth with his own and fucking him even harder, hips snapping against Methos's ass. No more words; the best Methos got out of MacLeod was a hard, strong, almost-animal grunt, several grunts in fact, and then a harsh, low shout, his name, Methos. Methos licked the sound of his name off MacLeod's lips, then closed his eyes and came, too, body shivering all over.

And then he went boneless in MacLeod's grip, grinning ear-to-ear.

"Incredible," Methos said softly, licking his lips. "Feel good to you, too?"

"Oh, yes." MacLeod grinned and rolled to the side, if only to give Methos a chance to stretch his legs out. He wrapped an arm around Methos's chest. "Felt perfect."

Methos nodded and rolled halfway over so he could kiss MacLeod's forehead. "I'm glad," he murmured. "Do you want me to stay here tonight?"

"Yes." MacLeod nodded, then grinned. "You never know when someone's going to want to roll you over and have you again."

"Someone, hm?" Methos didn't even try to hide the smug look. Instead, he burrowed into the covers, tugging them up to his chin. "Let me know when the wait's over," he teased, smiling as he drifted off to sleep.

The wait lasted long enough for both of them to get a few hours' rest. But then MacLeod was awake, and he started nibbling Methos's shoulder. Methos came awake fast, struggling away at first before realizing what he'd done and relaxing again.

"Sorry," he murmured, "just not used to biting as a wake-up call."

"Oh, God. I'm sorry--"

"No, it's all right..." Methos pushed himself up on his elbows and stretched his legs out. "I'm not used to waking up next to someone at all these days. I'll know better next time." Next time. Methos didn't know what made him think there was going to be a next time; all talk of wanting each other aside, one tumble or even one weekend in a bed didn't mean they were seeing each other or whatever term people were using for it these days.

But forget the future; MacLeod was rolling Methos over, nudging him until Methos was on his stomach and propped up on his forearms, and MacLeod licked the base of his neck and left a small, cautious bite there before starting to lick down Methos's spine.

"Where are you going this early in the morning?" Methos murmured.

"You'll see." MacLeod chuckled. "Well, maybe not see. More like feel..." He settled down between Methos's legs, sliding lower and lower on the bed, lips and tongue trailing down the center of Methos's back, until his lips were at the small curve just above Methos's ass, and Methos was rocking his hips back and trying to get MacLeod to go lower still. "Want something?" MacLeod asked, nipping the top of one buttock and grinning against Methos's body.

"Umm, yes. Please?" Methos wiggled his ass and tilted his hips back again.

"What are you asking for?" MacLeod bit the other cheek in the same place.

"You do know what rimming is?"

"Oh, I'm not sure. Maybe you'd better explain it to me." MacLeod left a kiss at the top of Methos's cleft.

"Tease," Methos muttered.

"What was that?"

Methos cleared his throat. "For the young and uninitiated, or for those trying to tease an old man off the bed, rimming is an ancient Sumerian practice designed to open the body to the rites of masculine worship..."

MacLeod snorted with laughter and slapped Methos's ass with the flat of his hand. "I can't believe I actually listen to you when you say things like that. An ancient Sumerian practice?"

"Do you want the dirty talk version?" Methos asked, looking back over his shoulder and smirking. "I'd have figured the world's foremost boy scout would be shocked by such a thing."

"You'd be surprised." MacLeod slid his fingertips down Methos's cleft, fingertips teasing at his hole. "What's the dirty talk version?"

"Mmm. Not fair. You're distracting me." Methos dropped his head again, spread his legs wider. "Was I supposed to be saying something?"

"You were going to explain rimming..."

"Oh, yes." Methos wiggled his ass and grinned down at the pillows. "First you'd need to open me up. Spread my ass open so you can get at my asshole."

"God," MacLeod whispered, quickly getting comfortable so he could use both hands to spread Methos's buttocks. "Like that?"

"Yeah," Methos whispered, "just like that. And you could start with a lick that goes from my balls all the way up to the top of my crack..."

MacLeod leaned forward and did exactly that, lingering for a second at Methos's hole but not long enough for Methos to push back against his tongue. "And?" he asked.

"And do that again a few more times," Methos murmured. "Please."

One lick after another, long slow ones that had Methos panting and rubbing his cock against the blankets, until Methos finally groaned and looked over his shoulder again. "Need more instructions?" he asked.

"I think I'm pretty much driving you crazy as is. But I won't argue with more instructions..." MacLeod grinned.

"Get your tongue up my ass. Now," Methos growled. MacLeod's eyes widened, but then he moved in and stopped teasing, tongue flicking against the tight ring of muscle, working inside, finally sliding in -- just barely -- and then a series of small wiggling thrusts had Methos nearly screaming and coming off the bed. "Oh, fuck. Oh, God, don't ever stop..."

MacLeod could only groan in response, but his tongue drove deeper, and deeper still, hands tightening their grip on Methos's ass as he kept up a pace that was far less licking and far more fucking Methos with his tongue. Methos shoved a hand under his body and wrapped his fingers around his cock, stroking off in time with MacLeod's thrusts, and he didn't stop to warn MacLeod he was close; he could owe MacLeod one later. One more stroke down his cock and he was coming, head thrown back as he coated his fingers with white streaks and MacLeod pressed his tongue in as far as he could.

"Ohh..." Methos got his hand out from under his body and collapsed into the bed. "I think you've done that a time or two."

MacLeod crawled up Methos's body, settling down on top of him and nuzzling between his shoulderblades. "Think so, hm?" he murmured.

"Mm-hm. I don't think I'll be moving again for a few days."

"That's all right." MacLeod shifted his hips, cock sliding against Methos's ass, slipping into his cleft and rubbing. "I can come up with a few things to do that don't require your moving."

"Can you? How inventive." Methos reached back clumsily and squeezed MacLeod's hip. "Want to fuck me again?"

"Oh, yes." MacLeod nipped Methos's shoulder and reached for the lube. "Do you really need to ask?"

Methos smiled and crossed his arms, resting his head on them. "I'll owe you one," he said, trying not to yawn. "You're being very good about doing all the work so far."

"You make it sound like I should mind." MacLeod had the lube now and slid two fingers into Methos's ass; it was easy after the stretch from last night and this morning. "Like it isn't amazing for me getting to have you like this. Lazy and sated and purring..."

"Am I purring?" Methos probably was. He gave a small catlike arch of his back as he pushed back against MacLeod's fingers. "Meow."

MacLeod was done with prep for now; he slid his fingers back and pressed his cock in, steady, one inch after another until Methos had all of him and both men were groaning. MacLeod wrapped an arm around Methos's chest to pull him close, and Methos went willingly, wanting to get every inch of skin he could pressed against MacLeod. It was slow and easy, everything Methos thought sex with MacLeod should have been from the beginning, and every thrust drew a soft growl out of MacLeod's throat. Those sounds were going to drive Methos out of his mind.

"What are you thinking?" MacLeod whispered. "Tell me what you're thinking."

"I -- ohhh -- that you feel so good, your cock feels so hot in me, I feel so full -- that you're really quite good at this -- that if you keep growling at me like that, your sheets are going to be filthy before lunch..."

MacLeod laughed and gave Methos another thrust, growling into the side of his neck. Methos gasped, whole body tingling, and he relaxed into the motions, letting MacLeod set the pace and purring louder every time MacLeod drove into him. Methos couldn't remember the last time he'd felt so in sync with a bedmate, and he gasped when the pace suddenly sped up and MacLeod started making louder, rougher noises. "Please -- want to -- with you," Methos blurted out, trying to free up an arm so he could get his hand around his cock.

"Like this?" MacLeod asked, his own hand moving between Methos's legs, and he squeezed Methos's cock before starting to stroke. Methos groaned -- oh, God, this is going to hurt -- but he was far from protesting, instead thrusting into MacLeod's hand, trying to get himself as close as MacLeod was as fast as he could.

"Slow down." MacLeod bit Methos's shoulder gently and held still, hand loosening around Methos's cock. Methos whimpered and tried to thrust forward anyway; MacLeod stopped him, holding them both steady. "Is it too much?"

"Only a little." Methos squirmed in MacLeod's arms. "Only in the good way. It'd be easier if we were up on all fours..." and you could pound the hell out of me so I could get off from having it hurt some, he thought. If we keep fucking this much, he's going to figure out how much I like it rough. Hope it doesn't scare him off.

Thoughts of the future got neatly set aside as MacLeod eased his weight off Methos so Methos could push himself up on all fours. "Like that?" MacLeod asked.

"That's perfect," Methos answered, shoving back and getting MacLeod's cock deep inside him again. "Oh. Perfect..."

"...Yes," MacLeod groaned, and he started thrusting again, rocking in as Methos shoved back, picking up the intensity when the hard shoves of Methos's body demanded it. "This hard?" MacLeod gasped, fingernails sinking into Methos's skin. "This much?"

"More," Methos groaned, "come on, come on, Mac, more..."

MacLeod tightened his grip and started up a rough, pounding series of thrusts that snapped Methos's head back and had him twisting his hands hard in the sheets. "Like that?" MacLeod asked, but Methos had nothing coherent left to say. It was all harsh, groaning gasps and fragments of words, and when MacLeod reached around and got his hand on Methos's cock again, Methos almost screamed, shoving back and hoping MacLeod was close, because he wasn't going to be able to hold anything back. He came first, but MacLeod followed him over, both of them crying out as the pleasure hit and then collapsing together when it was through.

Methos was the first one to come back to himself, mostly because MacLeod was crushing him. He elbowed MacLeod in the ribs and got a grunted "stop that" in reply.

"I'll stop when I can breathe. I promise."

"It's not as though you need to breathe..."

"Off, Highlander."

"Complain, complain, complain..." MacLeod rolled over and flung an arm over his eyes. "Good, though," he mumbled.

Methos laughed, soft at first and then louder as the absurdity of the understatement struck him. "Good?" he repeated, shoving at MacLeod with an elbow. "What does it take to be great, then? Sex after a Quickening?"

"That's not a bad idea. Know anyone who needs a good beheading?"

It was such an unexpected joke from MacLeod that Methos rolled onto his side to make sure that was still Mac next to him. Not much of MacLeod's face was visible from under the crook of his arm, but there was just enough of a grin showing that Methos dropped back to the bed and shook his head, chuckling. "I can't think of anyone offhand," he admitted. "I'll let you know if I do."

And if the sense of humor was a little darker than Methos had heard from MacLeod before, he was more than willing to admit that there were a few things about MacLeod he was very glad to have underestimated.

Which was easy enough to think in the afterglow of sex with someone new, but much harder to hold on to when Byron arrived in town. Jokes about people who needed beheading were a lot less funny when MacLeod had that crusader look in his eyes and the libertine Immortal in town was one of Methos's former lovers. MacLeod and Byron were oil and water, and the only good thing to come out of their meeting was MacLeod pushing Methos into the elevator wall as soon as they got home and pressing up hard against him.

Say it, Methos thought, expecting to hear mine or something equally possessive. But MacLeod was quiet as he bit the back of Methos's neck, still quiet while he worked Methos's jeans down to his thighs. Methos flattened his hands against the wall and spread his legs as much as he could. Go on, MacLeod -- say it.

Still nothing. The elevator stopped, all the mechanical sounds coming to a halt, and there was nothing but MacLeod's harsh breathing and the rasp of brass as he got his fly open. MacLeod paused long enough to get a lube packet out and slick his cock with it, and Methos found himself almost disappointed. You disliked him so much. You don't want to punish me even a little for having been with him?

And then, Oh. Methos glanced back over his shoulder and caught MacLeod's expression. It was dark and frustrated, but still Mac for all that. Methos turned back to the wall and dropped his head between his shoulders, eyes closing as MacLeod started pressing in. Methos didn't believe in guilt, considered himself immune to the feeling, but shame was harder to put aside. How could you want that -- how could you even think about that after--

MacLeod reached up and slid his hand around Methos's neck. "Stay with me," he whispered. "Stay here."

Methos groaned and shoved his hips back, nodding, pressing his throat harder into MacLeod's hand. "With you," he whispered. "Sorry--"

"Shhh. Don't." MacLeod pushed forward, pace slowing. His fingers rubbed against Methos's throat, and Methos stifled a moan. It was so difficult taking it this way, the slightest hint of pressure away from what he wanted, pace slow enough to be frustrating -- was it punishment he was after or just something rougher? Something harder, bruising, even violent, the kinds of things he and MacLeod had only been scratching at these last few weeks. MacLeod was angry over Byron, frustrated at Methos's willingness to give the man so much moral leeway, and Methos wanted the anger. Maybe it was selfish, but for God's sake, he could take it, he could take anything if MacLeod would just give it to him--

MacLeod's hand dropped from Methos's throat. Methos growled with disappointment and shoved back hard, but MacLeod held him in place, pinned him to the wall and gave him exactly the kind of fuck he wanted -- slow, solid, and so fucking far away from the rough claiming Methos wanted to beg for. Methos rested his head against his forearm and gasped out his breath with every stroke, held himself still, until it was too much and too frustrating and he bit his arm to keep from growling out demands. I'm yours, damn it. Yours, so fucking take me.

MacLeod nearly flattened him against the wall as he came, hand slamming down against the wall next to Methos's shoulder. A few breaths later, he started reaching down to work a hand between Methos's body and the wall, and Methos stopped him.

"Enough," he muttered. "Stop."

MacLeod stopped cold, not even breathing. "What's the matter...?"

"Just stop. Now." Methos struggled, trying to push back from the wall, but there was nowhere to go unless MacLeod let him up. Another shove, but MacLeod didn't go anywhere, and if he was still trying to catch his breath, that didn't matter much to Methos. Methos wanted out. "Duncan. Let me go."

He couldn't have gotten MacLeod's attention faster if he'd prodded him with jumper cables. MacLeod jerked back, and Methos pulled his jeans up again, avoiding so much as looking at MacLeod until the grate was up and he'd managed to disappear into the bathroom.

Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. Methos jerked his sweater off and kicked his shoes across the room, stripping down as fast as he could. He got the shower running and stepped in without waiting for it to warm up, bracing himself with one arm against the tiles while his other hand went to his cock and started jerking off. The strokes were too fast, the motions too rough, and every time his fingers dragged his foreskin back it was almost too much, more painful than pleasant. But that was what he needed; the kind of rough, solid fuck that didn't give a damn if he was enjoying it or not, the kind of feeling he'd have killed for from MacLeod--

--fuck, and just the thought of MacLeod giving him that was enough to have him coming, biting off as much of the noise as he could as the water finally got all the way up to scalding and started burning into his skin. Methos cursed, reached for the taps and got the water shut off. He rested against the tiles again, catching his breath and panting as the water dripped off his body.

Stupid. Fucking stupid.

He half-expected MacLeod to come into the bathroom, and was surprised when MacLeod stayed outside the door long enough for Methos to get dried off and dressed again. He would have liked to stall, try to figure out something to say, an explanation, an excuse, but MacLeod was probably out there pacing, and Methos didn't have the heart to keep him waiting.

MacLeod was pacing. Methos winced when he opened the door and saw it. MacLeod was nearly at the window, and when he heard the door open, he turned around, concern and confusion written all over his face. "Methos--"

Methos raised a hand, shook his head as he made his way to the door. "I'm all right. Don't ask. Just let it--"

"No, don't tell me to let it be, Methos. Not after that." MacLeod closed the distance before Methos could make it to the door, which said something about how fast MacLeod was moving and how much Methos really wanted to leave. MacLeod reached out, but stopped before he actually made contact. Methos winced again and turned to face him; he owed MacLeod something. "What happened?"

"Nothing happened--"

"Bordeaux." MacLeod crossed his arms over his waist and hugged his sides. It was such an odd move for him, such an uncertain one, and Methos reached out only to have MacLeod take a step back. "Something about that reminded you of Bordeaux?"

"No." Methos stepped forward again and put both hands on MacLeod's shoulders, shaking him. "No. I just wanted something I shouldn't even have been asking for."

"I couldn't tell what you were asking for," MacLeod said, uncurling his arms and wrapping them around Methos's waist, pulling him close, but tentatively. "I thought -- Byron -- I thought you were remembering Byron, at first, and I wanted you to stay with me..."

Stay with me. Methos leaned in and nodded against MacLeod's shoulder. "I wasn't thinking about Byron," he murmured. "I was thinking that I wanted you to claim me." He grinned. "Not very evolved of me, is it? Wanting to hear mine, wanting to be shoved into the wall..." Wanting you to cut off my breath and hurt me for even smiling at him. Right. Run him out of the room right when he's calming down, while you're at it.

MacLeod was just starting to relax, and Methos could feel the smallest hint of a grin against the side of his neck. "I have my possessive moments," he murmured. "More of them than I want to admit, particularly when it comes to you and your unexpected past." He pushed Methos back a bit, gently, looking him in the eye. "But I never want you to think you can't choose what's happening to you."

"I do know that." Methos squeezed MacLeod's shoulders, ran his hands down MacLeod's back. "Believe me, Highlander, if I thought you were putting my life in jeopardy, I'd have snuck out in the middle of the night long ago--"

"Don't even joke about that." MacLeod frowned. "Not funny."

"And not a joke," Methos said. "I trust you. I want you to trust yourself. I want..." He put his teeth together and exhaled softly. "I want to play rougher than we have been."

"Play." MacLeod pulled back completely, and Methos grimaced. You were expecting that. "What do you mean by play rougher?"

"What, do you want a list?" Methos headed for the couch and sprawled out on it, one leg out on the opposite arm, the other hanging off the side. "Kinks picked up in the last five thousand years...?"

"No, not a list, just..." MacLeod sat down on the armchair and leaned forward, running his hands through his hair. "I didn't realize anything was missing."

"I wouldn't say anything's missing," Methos said. "But I get the impression you go easy on me sometimes -- like tonight -- and I don't want that."

"But if I--"

"Especially if it's because of Bordeaux, I don't want that," Methos said, sitting up. "You can't live your life trying to make up for your mistakes. Take it from me. Mistakes happen. You survive them, if you're lucky. And you get another chance, live another day, start over from square one every time."

"I don't live like that." MacLeod glared, glanced off toward the street, and Methos could just imagine a line of sight being traced from MacLeod's eyes to Joe's bar, where they'd parted ways with Byron. "I don't just forget about mistakes, and I don't just write things off when I've hurt someone. That's not me."

"With all due respect to your sense of right and wrong, Bordeaux wasn't exactly you, either." That was slippery territory, and Methos knew it, but it had to be said. "Without Cassandra, without Kronos, without the days and weeks that had gone before, it never would have happened. And there's no reason to think any of that will ever -- could ever -- happen again."

MacLeod winced and looked away. Methos expected him to look back, but after more than a few seconds had gone by and MacLeod was still staring at the floorboards, Methos frowned and reached out for him. He got a hand on MacLeod's knee, and MacLeod covered it with his own.

"You give me too much credit," MacLeod murmured. "You're talking to a man who's killed, taken head after head, not to save his own life but because he thought he knew the difference between right and wrong. And I've killed for pleasure. And for grief. I learned to live with it when I killed Sean Burns, and I've never tried to pretend Bordeaux didn't happen, but..." MacLeod looked up. "But there's something in me that allowed those things to happen. The Dark Quickening. Cassandra and Kronos. What if I stop going easy on you and I like it?"

"I don't think I want to get into the philosophy of what happens versus what we allow to happen, but..." Methos slid off the couch, took to his knees in front of MacLeod and tilted his head up. "For the rest of it? I think we can both handle your learning to like it."

"I never wanted to hurt you." MacLeod reached down and cupped Methos's face in his hands. "I'm afraid of going too far."

"Trust me--" The involuntary skeptical look from MacLeod came and went so fast that it was gone before Methos could laugh at it, and then MacLeod had the decency to look embarrassed. "Well, not about everything. But trust me on this: I'll tell you if you ever go too far. I promise you that."

"It's enough to start with." MacLeod sighed and rested his forehead against Methos's. "You know how much I--"

"Sshh." Methos tilted his face up, brushed a kiss over MacLeod's lips. "I know."

For all his flaws, Byron was a friend. Defending him came naturally to Methos, or maybe it was an urge to play devil's advocate where MacLeod was concerned. MacLeod saw everything in black and white; Methos saw everything in shades of grey. Sometimes that was an oil-and-water mix, too, but neither one of them had found it an unacceptable combination just yet.

But things went so quickly the next night -- God, Byron was more persuasive than Methos had ever given him credit for, and how a promising young man like Mike had let himself be drawn in, let himself do the things that had killed him, out of hero worship, or out of sheer stupidity -- MacLeod might be asking why, but Methos was more inclined to shake his head, give a moment's reflection to the stupidity of those who lacked a sense of self-preservation, and move on.

MacLeod, though. MacLeod and his damned need to right the wrongs in the universe. Methos wondered why Byron deserved to die for what he'd done to Mike while Methos, formerly known as Death, was safely installed in MacLeod's loft, but he wasn't going to ask. Personal bias was as good a reason to stay alive as any, so far as he was concerned. He'd traded on it plenty over the centuries.

Still, something hurt about losing Byron. Methos had lost so many friends, mortal and Immortal, people who had lived long and fulfilling lives, people whose lives had eventually brought them nothing but misery. There was a piece of wisdom floating around that said no one was ever truly dead until there was no one left to remember them. Methos didn't want to think about how many people he was keeping alive. He didn't want the burden.

MacLeod looked exhausted more than anything when he walked into Joe's bar. Not every Quickening was pleasant; Methos knew that from experience. Part of him was sympathetic. Part of him didn't give a damn. So there was a price for MacLeod's self-appointed position as moral center of his small part of the universe. Maybe he deserved it. The world might not know where Byron had gone, but Methos knew, and the Watchers knew: Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod was the man who took Lord Byron's head. On balance, MacLeod thought it was worth the loss. Methos cared less about the balance than about knowing Byron was gone.

You'll get over it, he thought. Voice of experience talking. Methos understood the power of forgiveness and the reasons not to hold grudges. But the sting was still new. He could indulge in a bit of wallowing for the rest of the night, especially if MacLeod was going to look that melancholy.

MacLeod finished his drink and pushed away from the table. "I'm ready to go home," he murmured. "Get your coat."

Methos nodded and put the bottle away, clearing the glasses and rinsing them out as MacLeod said goodbye to Joe. He shrugged his coat on and waved, and MacLeod caught up with him by the time he made it to the door.

"How are you feeling?" Methos asked. He climbed into MacLeod's car and looked him over. This wasn't the first Quickening MacLeod had taken since Bordeaux, but it was the first in a while. The first one Amanda wasn't there to blunt, Methos thought, and the sudden realization went straight to his cock and had him looking out the window to get his eyes off MacLeod and, more to the point, MacLeod's trousers. This was something he could handle. Just please, please, don't let him bring poetry into it, Methos thought. Or any of the other things Byron had a fondness for. He could handle post-Quickening sex, even if MacLeod looked to be in a quiet mood. But existential angst went so badly with sex, in Methos's experience, and he'd been living happily without it for centuries now.

On the bright side, he thought, as MacLeod parked the car and they headed into the dojo, it won't last long. He couldn't guess at how much energy was left from Byron's Quickening, but he imagined it wasn't much. Byron simply hadn't been that old. He was a pleasure-seeker, not a headhunter, and not a particularly good fighter, either. Maybe one slow fuck in bed and MacLeod would sleep the rest of it off...

"What are you thinking about?" MacLeod asked, running his hand up Methos's back as they headed for the elevator. He got his fingers on bare skin, and Methos shivered -- MacLeod's buzz on its own was enough to have Methos's skin sensitive to his touch, but MacLeod after a Quickening -- his fingers nearly left sparks as they moved across the back of Methos's neck.

Methos glanced over at MacLeod, looked down the length of his body. "Wasn't really thinking anything," he murmured. "Just wondering how you're doing. How Byron fits in up there."

MacLeod took his hand off Methos's neck so he could push the grate up and head into the elevator; Methos took his trenchcoat off and backed up against the wall, tucking two fingers into the coat's collar so he could hold it over his shoulder. He'd have put it over his arm if it weren't for the sword -- among other things -- in the inner pockets. MacLeod turned around and slid out of his own jacket, setting it aside so he could close distance between them and push Methos up against the wall.

Methos dropped his coat, which fell with a heavy thud to the floor. He didn't give a damn. MacLeod's thigh was pressing between his legs, rubbing against his cock, and Methos was already starting to breathe hard. The buzz was more intense than it looked; it was getting louder, electrifying every nerve in Methos's body, and if it was like this for him, then MacLeod--

"Knees," MacLeod growled, grabbing Methos's wrists and tugging. He gave Methos just enough room to drop to his knees, but didn't let go of his wrists. He pinned them above Methos's head while pushing him back against the wall, cock at mouth level, and oh yes, he was hard under those trousers. Methos opened his mouth, licking at MacLeod's cock through the fabric, groaning at his inability to get any closer, the way he was caught, trapped by the position and Mac's body and his hands pinning Methos's wrists to the wall.

"Please," Methos moaned. He closed his eyes; he'd just gone from frustrated with MacLeod's sense of boy scout ethics to wanting nothing more than to have MacLeod fucking his throat in less than five seconds. Not his proudest moment. But he was still willing to beg for it: "Please -- Mac, please, need you," he said, loud enough to be heard over the grinding roar of the elevator. Go on, old man, shout it from the bloody rooftop. "You've killed a former lover, again, and all I want is to suck your cock down my throat while you work off his Quickening." What's not to be proud of?

"You need this?" MacLeod asked, crossing Methos's wrists over each other so he could pin them with one hand. The grip was tight, the stretch in his shoulders felt fantastic, and Methos couldn't help wondering if yesterday's talk had ended up earning him this. Is this what he's like when he isn't going easy?

"I need this -- Mac, please, do you want me to beg? I'd beg for it. Please. Let me..." He tried to move forward, to get his mouth against MacLeod's cock again, but couldn't reach far enough. "Please!"

MacLeod unzipped his fly and pulled his cock out, wrapping his fingers around it and stroking, keeping it just out of Methos's reach. Methos struggled against MacLeod's grip, squirmed and struggled and tried to push forward, but all it took was MacLeod shoving his knee against Methos's chest and pinning him to the wall, and Methos went still, breathing heavily, tongue sliding across his lips. Nowhere to go. Nothing to do. And MacLeod's hand and body, blocking him in.

"Please," Methos whispered. "Anything you want, Mac."

"I want..." MacLeod took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "I want it like this," he said softly, "here, against the wall, like this. Is that all right?"

"Get your cock down my throat and I'll show you how bloody 'all right' it is," Methos growled, trying to look up. MacLeod's eyes went wide, and he moved his knee, free hand coming down to grip Methos by the hair -- not that there was enough to get a decent grip on, but even the rough, awkward grip gave him another way of controlling Methos's body, his position -- and when he pushed his hips forward and his cock started sliding into Methos's mouth, Methos could only swallow and choke and hope like hell MacLeod wasn't going to stop anytime soon.

MacLeod gave up on the grip in Methos's hair; he shifted his hands back to Methos's wrists, pinning them above his head while he started pumping in, fucking Methos's throat, gasping when Methos shoved his head forward and sucked harder, wanting more, demanding more with every slick glide of his mouth and every sharp scrape of his teeth. More. More. The thoughts were loud enough they must have been audible; every time he had enough air to moan, his mouth buzzed with the sound of it and dragged gasp after gasp from MacLeod as he kept pounding in. Methos couldn't move enough to take even a hint of control, couldn't do anything but kneel there and be the hole MacLeod was fucking, the body he was taking, using, and he struggled harder, trying to free one of his wrists, needing a hand around his cock so he could come when MacLeod did.

Nothing of the sort was going to happen; MacLeod's grip was tight and unbreakable, and every twist of Methos's wrist in his hand had him shoving in deeper, harder, until Methos's throat closed around the head of MacLeod's cock and Methos's breath was gone completely. And that was enough, the too-tight, impossible feel of it was enough, sending MacLeod over and making him jerk and shout and gasp as the orgasm hit and the Quickening had him screaming Methos's name.

There was no panic, no struggle on Methos's end; he'd get his next breath when MacLeod was through, and not before. There was something perfect about this, something so warm, and when MacLeod finally pulled back and Methos got his first breath, he could only moan, far beyond words.

MacLeod dropped to his knees, letting Methos's wrists go, and Methos's hands dropped slowly and limply to his sides. MacLeod pulled him forward, tucking his head into Methos's shoulder, and wrapped his arms around Methos's back. Methos hugged MacLeod in return, collapsing against him, breathing heavily now as he realized how close he was, how much he needed to come and how good MacLeod felt, sharp and electric against him, and that was through layers and layers of fabric. Methos nuzzled MacLeod's shoulder. "More?" he murmured.

MacLeod's grip on him tightened, and MacLeod laughed softly. "Not enough for you?" he asked.

"No such thing," Methos answered, grinning. "But God, the floor here's murder on my knees. Can we at least get to the couch?"

"How about the bed?" MacLeod grunted as he pulled away and fumbled for the elevator door. He pushed the grating up and got his coat along with Methos's, and headed into the loft. Methos made a beeline for the bed and stripped off as he went; he was naked by the time he made it to the mattress, and he glanced over his shoulder to see if MacLeod was following.

Which he was. Rapidly.

Methos found himself tackled into the sheets with a loud oof and a very heavy Scotsman on his back, and he laughed as MacLeod pushed him into the center of the bed and started licking -- no, nibbling -- no, biting -- his shoulders. "Oh, God. Are you going to be like this all night?"

"All night?" MacLeod straddled Methos's thighs and sat up so he could unbutton his shirt. "Right now it feels like I'm going to be like this all week."

"Mmmm." Methos grinned and grabbed for a pillow, wrapping his arms around it and sinking in. "Well, my ass is at your disposal, then." He'd have wiggled it if MacLeod hadn't been pinning him down. "Anything you need."

Maybe it wasn't the healthiest way to have the dam burst, but after Byron's Quickening, there was a hell of a lot less in the way of holding back from both of them. Methos was hungry for everything and not afraid to show it; MacLeod was starting to understand that Methos wanted to be held down, wanted to be bitten and fucked hard, would have liked bruises to show for it if he could have kept them. And when MacLeod got a look on his face that screamed of unasked questions, Methos learned to wait until they were someplace private to ask what was going through MacLeod's mind.

MacLeod woke up first one Tuesday and ran a fingertip down Methos's cheek. Methos groaned as he came awake, rolling over into MacLeod's chest. "What now?" Methos mumbled.

"Roll back over," MacLeod murmured, pushing Methos onto his back and following him. Methos went willingly, hoping MacLeod didn't expect him to move very much; it was far too early for that.

It didn't seem like MacLeod expected Methos to do anything except lie there, which suited Methos fine. MacLeod pressed Methos's legs apart and slid into him -- just slick enough to do the job, rough enough that Methos grinned through a pained whimper -- and reached up to pin his arms down while he did it.

"Nice," Methos murmured, closing his eyes again and letting MacLeod take him. "Feels good."

"Does it?" MacLeod bent his head down and bit gently at Methos's chest. "Does it hurt the way you want it to hurt?"

"God. Yes." Methos rocked his hips up as much as he could. "Hurts perfect. I could take more..."

"For me?" MacLeod bit Methos's nipple, less than gentle this time. "You'd take more for me?"

"Yes!" Methos gasped. "Yes, God, yes, please, harder...!"

MacLeod obliged, biting down harder and licking Methos's nipple afterwards. "You like hurting for me," he whispered. "Like this?" Another bite came along with a sharp, almost-too-deep thrust, and Methos wondered how fair it could possibly be that one man could be so bloody coordinated. "Or this?" The thrust was worse than the bite this time, making Methos arch and pull hard against the grip on his wrists.


"How much more do you want?" MacLeod asked. "More until you're screaming?"

He was nearly there. Nothing was enough. It was never going to be enough. Methos was so close he was climbing the metaphorical walls from it. "Mac, damn it, yes, just please, something, anything, more--!"

MacLeod let one of Methos's hands go so he could twist the nipple he'd been biting. The twist was perfect -- more intense than the bite -- and Methos reached out and wrapped his fingers around the back of MacLeod's neck. "Fuck--"

"Come for me," MacLeod growled. "Come on. Scream for me--"

It didn't take more than that. Methos was ready, and he came screaming with his fingernails digging into the back of MacLeod's neck. There'd be marks from that, at least for a few minutes. And MacLeod was right there behind him, coming so hard he shook the bed with his last few thrusts, collapsing on Methos's chest afterwards.

Methos panted for breath and kissed MacLeod's throat. "Good morning," he whispered.

MacLeod chuckled. "It is, isn't it?"

"Mmhmm." Methos squirmed. "That was wonderful."

"Sounded that way." MacLeod still wasn't moving. "I need more hands."

"You did fine with the two you've got," Methos laughed. "What would you do with a third?"

It was apparently the wrong question, because MacLeod rolled off him and didn't answer. Methos frowned and turned over on his side. "Now what?" he asked. "What did I say?"

"Nothing," MacLeod said. He glanced up, then away again. "I just thought... it would have been nice if I could have kept you pinned down."

Methos tried to speak, but nothing came out at first. "Oh," he said, finally. "Well, then, maybe you'd let me get a set of cuffs for the bedroom?"

"Cuffs." MacLeod sounded skeptical. "Do you really think we should--"

"Hell, yes, I think we should." Methos squeezed MacLeod's shoulders. "Do you want to tie me up?"

"If you trust me enough to let me," MacLeod answered.

"I trust you." Too easy, too glib, and Methos knew full well his cock was leading that assurance, but he said it anyway. "And I want it. Soon?"

"Soon," MacLeod agreed, turning toward Methos and wrapping his arm around him.

"Adam, it's Joe. Give me a call when you get this. Got something I need to talk to you about."

Methos grinned. It had been a while since he and MacLeod had come up for air, and Joe's voice was welcome. He picked up the phone and checked the time before dialing. It was early enough to catch him before lunch; maybe this could be talked about over a sandwich.

"Joe here."

"Joe, it's Adam. Just got your message. What's going on?"

"There you are. It's about damned time. Can you meet me at my apartment? It's important."

Methos frowned. Something I need to talk to you about could have been a lot of things, but from the tone of Joe's voice, it was something bad. "Oh, this does not sound good," he muttered. "Just tell me what's going on." If it was life and death, he wanted to know sooner rather than later.

"I can't," Joe said. "You gotta see it. Come by now."

"I hate this sort of vagueness," Methos mumbled. "It's the kind of thing that gets people in red shirts killed on Star Trek." But a half-hour later, he was standing on Joe's doorstep, wondering what in hell this was all about.

Joe opened the door and beckoned Methos in. "It's good to see you. C'mon in."

"You've got about thirty seconds to give me the executive summary of what's going on and then I'm out of here," Methos said, stepping inside and letting Joe close the door behind him. "I hate it when people are vague over the phone."

"Sorry about that," Joe said, leading the way into the living room, "but how secure do you think MacLeod's phone line is, huh? Did you want me to say 'by the way, I just found out Cassandra's dead' over the wires?"

Methos stopped midway through getting his coat off. "Cassandra's dead?" he repeated, arms still stuck halfway into his sleeves.

"Yeah. Get your coat off and sit down, because I want to show you something."

Too stunned to do anything but go along with it, Methos draped his coat over the back of Joe's couch and sat down, rubbing at his face with his hands. Joe took a seat on the couch across from him. "How long?" Methos asked.

"Since Bordeaux." Joe glanced to Methos as Methos's head came up. "We haven't found a body. It took us this long to get through all those fucking tapes--"

Methos winced and pinched the bridge of his nose. "Are there that many?"

"Kronos had the whole place wired. There are tapes from before MacLeod even got there--"

"Terrific." Methos didn't even try to look up. "Did he ever touch her?"

"Did who ever touch who?"

"Kronos. Cassandra. Did he--"

"You really want to know?"

Methos laughed softly, shook his head. "No. But I thought I had her protected. I thought she was safe."

"She wasn't." Joe didn't go into details; Methos didn't need them. "Not any more than you were."

"That was different." Methos shook his head. "I know what it looked like. Things were different for me."

"Yeah -- among other things, they lasted longer."

"And I suppose it's all going into the Methos chronicle." The one he'd spent so many years compiling as Adam Pierson, with just enough misinformation to keep people off the track. "Who's handling that nowadays, by the way?"

"Amy Zoll in research. And she's already on my ass to give her the inside stuff on you."

"Amy Zoll..." Methos thought it over. "Bad poker player, hates guacamole... am I thinking of the right one?"

"That's her."

"God. She must be half ready to kill me for being Adam Pierson all those years."

"She's a little more pissed off at me for knowing and never telling her," Joe said, grinning. "But she's also not getting anywhere near you right now, so calm down. I brought you over here to talk about Cassandra."

"And she's dead. Well, I guess that's one fewer person who wants my head." Methos's attempt to look on the bright side fell flat; he could keep a small, humorless grin on his face, but that was the best he could do. "MacLeod, I assume?"

"Yeah, MacLeod, and from the timestamp on the tape, not more than a couple of hours before we found you. Which might explain his memory loss, the way he was so screwed up when we first got in. It doesn't explain where her body went, or why he didn't tell anyone about killing her -- do you think he knows?"

"If he does know, he certainly hasn't mentioned it to me." Methos shrugged. "He might have taken care of her body and then come back and passed out."

"Maybe. That's what Melanie -- Cassandra's Watcher -- thinks. But he remembered everything else about Bordeaux, didn't he? Everything but this?"

"As far as I know. We don't exactly talk about it much," Methos pointed out. "And I was there to forgive him for the rest of it. Maybe he blocked out Cassandra's death because his mind couldn't reconcile it. Maybe three old Quickenings in a week was enough to--" Methos threw his hands up. "Short-circuit him or something. Maybe he couldn't take it."

"Have you ever taken three heads in a week?"

"Not from Immortals who were well over three thousand years old each."

"Point taken," Joe said. "Look -- there's more..."

"There's more. How can there possibly be more?"

"It's the way her death went down. There's something about it that didn't feel right to me. I mean, if you had a guess about it, you'd think all right, he finally figured out she was controlling him, he plugged his ears, went after her to stop her, they fought, he won. Right?"

That was exactly how Methos had been picturing it, and the implication that the assumption was wrong made him frown. "And instead what?" he asked.

"I'd rather just show you. I don't know what the hell to make of it." Joe grabbed the remote off the coffee table and turned the television on, started the tape going. "You tell me what you see here."

The tape started in an empty bedroom, the one Silas had been using. The covers on the bed were rumpled; maybe this was where Cassandra had ended up when she wasn't directing MacLeod's torture sessions. The room didn't stay empty for long; Cassandra stormed in, followed closely by MacLeod, and she whirled on her heel and made a few angry gestures at him. He caught her hand and held it, and when she tried to jerk away, he kept his grip on her. She paused, said a few more words, then tried to pull away again. And she was still caught. MacLeod wasn't letting her go anywhere.

MacLeod's back was to the camera; there was no possibility of reading his lips. The camera angle was too far above their heads to read Cassandra's either, at least not with Methos's skills in that department. He looked at Joe. "Don't suppose you or Melanie figured out what she was saying?" he asked.

"No, not yet. Do you read lips?"

"Yeah, but the angle's terrible. You'd need an expert and days of work at it."

"Somehow I don't think the Watchers are going to consider this that high a priority. It's pretty straightforward. They're fighting, her Voice isn't working," and Joe narrated with perfect timing as MacLeod finally let Cassandra go and she drew her sword on him, "they fight," MacLeod's katana came out as well, "and she loses."

But the fight itself wasn't as straightforward as the summary made it sound. MacLeod's fighting style was odd somehow, all hard slashing cuts, neither as artistic nor as fluid as Methos was used to seeing him. Methos tried to count back, figure out what had been going on that day -- maybe he'd been tired, maybe he simply wasn't at his best. But no, that wasn't the right explanation. He wasn't fighting badly. He just wasn't fighting the way Methos expected him to fight.

"Yeah, you're seeing it, too," Joe murmured. "That's not Mac."

"It never was. Not that last week." Methos laced his fingers together and rested his chin on his hands. "The fighting style's all wrong for him. It's like he's got a sword twice as big as he actually does, and--"

"C'mon, old man, you're faster on the uptake than this." Joe pointed at the screen as Cassandra hit the floor, sword knocked away, on her hands and knees. "He's not fighting like MacLeod. He's fighting like Kronos."

And MacLeod, on the tape, brought his sword down and took Cassandra's head. The tape lasted a few seconds before going to white noise, and Joe switched it off.


"'Well' -- what?" Methos asked. "She'd been leaning on Kronos all week long. You think it's a surprise that MacLeod had Kronos's influence on him longer than usual? Believe me -- after the things he did to me, I could feel Kronos all over him." He wiped his palms against his jeans, shaking his head. Cassandra was dead. MacLeod might not even realize he'd killed her. Joe obviously thought it was a lot to take in, but Methos wasn't so sure. "What's the worry here, Joe?"

"'What's the worry'? You're kidding, right?"

Methos shot Joe a look. "It's been months since Bordeaux. Do you really think I wouldn't have noticed if there were shades of Kronos under the surface waiting to be let out?"

"I don't know." Joe shook his head. "I don't know. I just know what's on that tape worried me. And I thought if anyone would know what to do about it..."

"I don't think there's anything to do." Methos stood up and grabbed for his coat. "MacLeod's back now. Bordeaux is over. I don't really want to go back to it, so if that's all you had to show me, then I think we're done here."

"Adam -- Methos." Joe pushed himself to his feet, gripping his cane and balancing himself carefully until he could get over to Methos. "I know love is blind and all that happy Hallmark shit, but you've spent five thousand years protecting your head. Don't let how you feel about MacLeod trip you up here. You might be right; it might all be over by now. But don't tell me that tape didn't set off the red alerts for you. You're smarter than that."

Methos held up a hand, turning away. "I don't want to talk about it."

"Look, do this for me. As a favor." Joe went to the VCR and popped the tape out. He held it out to Methos, who jammed both his hands in his pockets and stared down at the floor. "Take it with you. Watch it again. See if there's anything else you can make out of it, because it's got me scared, and I can't put a finger on why."

"Joe, I don't want--"

"When was the last time you let what you wanted to believe get between you and your sense of self-preservation? What happened to surviving? Putting that first?" Joe shoved the tape into Methos's stomach, and Methos put a hand out to grab it before it jabbed him any more painfully than it already was. It left the tape in his hand when Joe stepped back, and Methos sighed. "Watch it again. If you're still sure there's nothing funny about it, then I'll listen, but I want you to really think about it. If there's something wrong with Mac after all this time..." Joe shrugged. "Maybe he needs another dunk in a healing spring, maybe he just needs to see a good shrink. I don't know. But I don't like unexplained mysteries. Hell, that's part of why I'm a Watcher in the first place."

Methos sighed. "All right. I'll take the tape home. And -- if the opportunity comes up -- I'll ask MacLeod if he remembers anything about Cassandra. Good enough?"

"Yeah." Joe sighed and rocked back a little. "You know..." He brushed a thumb over his beard, clearly struggling for the right words. "I was worried about you. Not just Mac. You, too. When you disappeared that week." He paused. "And all those goddamned tapes -- it's been killing me thinking about what happened to you..."

"Don't let it." Methos slid the tape into his coat pocket and reached out to squeeze Joe's arm. "I survived it. It wasn't as bad for me as it looked. And I've got my life back, or someone's life, anyway. I might not be Adam Pierson, but I'm still here to figure out what I want to do next. It's more than good enough for me. Forget Bordeaux. Finish with the tapes and forget it ever happened. It wasn't the end of the world. Don't give it more weight than it deserves."

"Yeah." Joe sighed. "I'll try."

The tape got put away as soon as Methos got home, thrown into the box with another dozen or so videotapes that neither MacLeod nor Methos ever bothered looking through. It could wait. MacLeod was fine. Bordeaux was over, and MacLeod wasn't carrying it around. Hell, MacLeod had been more concerned about that than Methos had.

When was the last time you let what you wanted to believe get between you and your sense of self-preservation?

Not fair, Joe. Not fair at all.

The buzz hit before the elevator even started, and Methos's sword was within arm's reach if it turned out to be anyone but MacLeod. But it was only him, and Methos came to his feet and tackled MacLeod as soon as the grate was up.

They ended up back in the elevator, against the wall, and MacLeod grinned as Methos pressed his body full-length to his. "What brought that on?" he asked.

"You're back. I'm happy to see you."

"Mmm. Can you be happy to see me in bed?"

"Oh, yes."

For once it wasn't about rushing; Methos even waited until he was at the bedside before throwing his clothes off. MacLeod started slipping out of his clothes himself, and he glanced across the bed to the other nightstand. "Do you want to get the cuffs out?" he asked.

Methos smirked. Cuffs had been a fantastic idea on his part, if he had to say so himself. "Wrist and ankle or just wrist?" he asked, crawling across the bed to get the cuffs.

"Both," MacLeod answered, and when Methos handed over the ankle cuffs, he clipped them to the bedframe and knelt down, waiting for Methos to get the wrist cuffs attached and lay down spread-eagled. As soon as Methos's ankles were in reach, MacLeod cuffed him down and crawled up the bed to get his wrists cuffed, too.

Methos went boneless and grinned up at MacLeod. "Feels good," he murmured. "Have anything in mind?"

"I might. If you're willing." MacLeod stretched himself out over Methos's body and slid his hands up and down Methos's arms. "Want me to tell you, or want me to surprise you?"

The idea that MacLeod was ready to surprise Methos instead of walking on eggshells was a hell of a step. Methos nodded. "Surprise me. I can take it."

"I know you can." MacLeod bent down and nuzzled Methos's neck, licking across it, biting gently. "You can take anything. Anything I ask for. And you love it. Don't you?"

"Mmm -- yes..." Methos squirmed, hands clenching and unclenching, cock rubbing against MacLeod's stomach. "Love being your slut."

"My slut." MacLeod chuckled. "My whore." He reached to the nightstand for lube and got his fingers slick, then drove three at once into Methos's ass, watching as Methos jerked against his cuffs and moaned. "How does it feel? Does it hurt?"

It was uncomfortable, but in all the right ways. It didn't start to hurt until MacLeod twisted his fingers and dragged a shout out of Methos's throat. "Yes -- Mac -- God, hurts, more, please..."

"Slut," MacLeod murmured. "Want me to make it hurt for you?" He twisted his fingers again, and the pain shot up Methos's spine and nearly took his breath away. "Like this?"

"God, yes, please, just like that..."

"You like hurting for me, don't you? You love it. You need it." MacLeod drew his fingers back, and before Methos could respond, had his cock lined up and was slamming in hard. Methos screamed, and MacLeod settled down on him, hips moving fast, cock driving in over and over. "Need me to take you, use you, like the slut you are for me."

"Mac, please, yes, God, hurts so good, please..." Methos didn't know where MacLeod's words were coming from. Was this what he'd wanted to try? Dirty talk and mild humiliation? If so, it was working brilliantly. Methos was hurting and loving it and so aroused he thought he was going to lose his mind. He was already babbling, begging and spouting out word after word, your slut, your whore, things that he never would have expected MacLeod to want to hear. "Mac, please, please--"

MacLeod's hand came up and settled down on Methos's throat. Methos's eyes snapped open, and he stared hard at MacLeod, breathing in shallow, harsh gasps. MacLeod's hips were still pumping, and the pain from every thrust made Methos's eyes narrow.

"Trust me?" MacLeod whispered. Methos nodded. The pace sped up, and MacLeod's hand closed off Methos's breath.

There was nothing at first, no change, and then the pressure started to build in Methos's chest and the urge to struggle intensified, and Methos slammed his hips up as hard as he could, body needing more, the need for air growing more and more desperate, and God, MacLeod's cock was still going, still driving into him over and over, and the world went fuzzy around the edges--

--and MacLeod gave Methos a breath, let him suck in air and savor it as his thrusts slowed down.

"Good?" MacLeod asked. Methos nodded, lifted his head so he could press his throat against MacLeod's palm. "More?" Methos nodded again.

And MacLeod took his breath a second time, speeding up, eyes focused on Methos's face as the seconds dragged by. Ten seconds. Twenty. Thirty. A minute. The world was going grey again--

--and Methos got another breath, this one even more appreciated than the last. He moaned, unable to form words, and his cock was so hard; God, he needed to come. Another trapped breath and he'd be too close to hold back.


Methos nodded. MacLeod took his breath a third time, and Methos squeezed his eyes shut, hands clenching into fists, rocking his hips up, squeezing his muscles around MacLeod's cock. It was every trick he knew, everything he could do while he was cuffed down this way, and MacLeod's fingers tightened in an uncontrolled squeeze as he gave those last few strokes, the ones Methos knew so well, the ones that said he was coming and nothing in the world could stop him, God, yes, oh God, please, yes, yes, yes, the world was dark around the edges and the edges were creeping in, and Methos didn't care -- so close -- fuck -- his cock jerked, chest tightened as he came, and it was like the feeling was going to last forever...

He came back to himself with MacLeod over him, looking concerned. "Methos...? Methos, are you all right?"

Methos coughed a few times to get the air going, and nodded. "I'm fine," he whispered, voice raspy. "Fuck, Mac, that was incredible."

"You're incredible." Mac reached up to get Methos's cuffs undone and slid his hands under Methos's shoulders so he could hug him hard. Methos wrapped his arms around MacLeod's back and hugged back. "You're so amazing for me. Trusting me that much -- giving me your breath -- I don't know how to thank you for that..."

Methos laughed softly; it still hurt to make any sound, but it was getting better rapidly. "I've got one idea."

"Anything." MacLeod levered himself up and looked down at him. "Name it."

Methos stretched as much as he could and then hugged MacLeod again. He squirmed underneath him and tilted his head back, exposing his throat. If there were bruises from that last grip, they had to be healing by now.

"Do it again?"

Methos put the tape out of his mind. Joe would have torn him a new one if he'd known. The tape stayed in the box and Methos wrapped himself up in MacLeod, their explorations, and the rest of the world could go to hell for all he cared. If it wasn't MacLeod's hand on his throat, it was his voice whispering in Methos's ear: my slut, my whore, everything I want, forever. It was MacLeod's boots, and Methos's tongue dragging across leather; it was MacLeod's fist and Methos driven to tears taking it, it was blindfolds and the scent of leather, whips and knives, a masochist's wet dream coming from a man Methos trusted with his life. He'd have trusted MacLeod with his death if MacLeod had ever asked for it, but those days seemed gone. If MacLeod had had even the slightest interest in deathsex, Methos would have heard of it by now; they were far beyond the point where they were hiding any desires from each other.

Tonight he was restrained with more than the usual wrist and ankle cuffs. He was essentially on all fours, and his wrists were shackled together with a spreader bar, the shackles chained to the bedframe. Thigh cuffs pinned his thighs to his ankles, putting him in a modified kneel, and another spreader bar kept his legs apart just the right distance. He had a leather collar wrapped around his neck, one with a chain trailing off the back D-ring, and the thought of having MacLeod wrap that chain around his hand and tug him back while fucking him was enough to make Methos whimper. He was already prepped; he'd prepped himself while MacLeod watched, then bit his lower lip as MacLeod got him into all the different restraints.

That alone had been an experience worth devoting an evening to, but there was more. Methos tilted his head up to look at MacLeod; MacLeod was undressed already, and he was sliding a videotape into the VCR. The television was set up where they could both see it, and MacLeod pressed the "play" button on the VCR before climbing up to join Methos on the bed. There was a certain amount of white noise, and Methos wondered what was on the tape. They'd fucked to porn before, and they'd taped themselves and fucked watching that. Methos grinned. Anticipation was still one of life's greatest pleasures.

"Comfortable?" MacLeod asked, smoothing his hands over Methos's sides, running his hands over every inch of Methos's body he could reach.

"Very," Methos purred. "What's on tonight's menu?"

"You'll see." MacLeod slid his cock up and down against Methos's cleft, teasing the hole with the head of his cock. "Should I start before the tape does? You might find it distracting..."

"What? Being fucked or what's on the tape?" Methos tried to squirm back onto MacLeod's cock but couldn't reach. "Let me have it," he murmured. "Please, Mac..."

"Mmm. You sound so good saying please..." MacLeod put one hand on the small of Methos's back and slid in, one long stroke that made Methos tilt his head back and moan. "Does that feel good?" MacLeod whispered, reaching up and gliding his fingers across Methos's neck. "Can you feel every inch of my cock inside you?"

"Yes," Methos whispered, "oh, fuck, yes, every inch of you..." The image on the television flickered, and Methos looked up, sliding his tongue over his lips.

And stopped breathing.

It was Silas's room in the Bordeaux compound, empty except for a bed with rumpled covers. Methos tried to turn around to look at MacLeod, but MacLeod put both hands on Methos's hips, slid back, and slammed in hard. Methos cried out; his head dropped between his shoulders.

"Keep watching," MacLeod murmured, "it gets better," and he gave Methos another thrust that had Methos nearly screaming, his cock aching between his legs.

Keep watching. Methos looked up and stared at the screen, watching as Cassandra walked in, followed by MacLeod. This tape, the tape, the one Joe had told him to watch and he'd thrown in the damned box and done his best to forget about. Onscreen, Cassandra and MacLeod were fighting. Behind him, MacLeod had started up a hard, steady rhythm, one that would have moved Methos forward if he hadn't been tied down so well.

"Mac -- please -- I don't -- I don't understand," Methos panted. "Mac, why--?"

MacLeod wrapped the chain of Methos's collar around his hand, tugging Methos's head back. "Do you see what's happening? Do you see it?"

"I've seen it before," Methos whispered, wincing with the next thrust.

"Of course you have. And you knew, didn't you? You knew all along."


"You knew it wasn't her Voice. Didn't you?"

Methos went absolutely quiet, closing his eyes. Joe was right. Joe was right, there'd been something wrong since Bordeaux, and Methos hadn't wanted to see it--

MacLeod tugged back hard on the collar, choking Methos until Methos started struggling and opened his eyes. As soon as Methos's eyes were open, MacLeod gave him enough room to breathe again.

"Her Voice might have taken me when I was younger. It might even have taken me at Bordeaux. But it couldn't take Kronos, could it? You knew that." MacLeod cut off Methos's breath and pounded into him as the fight started, sword against sword, sparks flying when blade clashed against blade. "You knew it couldn't touch me the minute he became a part of me. You knew. You knew that all along."

"No," Methos whispered, shaking his head as much as he could against the collar. "It wasn't you -- Bordeaux, it wasn't you, you couldn't have--"

"Don't be a fool," MacLeod said, pulling tight against the collar again, shoving in with fast, shallow strokes. "You wanted me this way. You've always wanted me this way. Dark. Violent. Brutal. You loved being a whore for Kronos. And you love being a whore for me."

The thrusts of MacLeod's cock were impossibly good, Methos's whole body flushed with shame, air gone, lungs burning, and damn him, MacLeod was right. Methos had never wanted the Highlander this much before, had never wanted MacLeod the way he did after Bordeaux ended. And how the fuck do you justify that? he asked himself. The answer was simple. He hadn't.

MacLeod gave Methos another breath. "Don't stop watching now," he murmured. "This is the best part." His voice altered, tones growing lighter, more clear, and the timbre was almost familiar when he continued, Cassandra on her hands and knees on the tape, Methos chained and kneeling for MacLeod now. "Do you know how many centuries I waited to take her head?"

"Nnnnnn--" But the word was cut off along with Methos's breath, and the stroke of MacLeod's sword took Cassandra's head from her shoulders. The tape cut out, and MacLeod's body shoved hard against Methos's, the fucking brutal, savage, so intense Methos would have screamed with every thrust if he'd been allowed to.

"She wanted me to kill you. It was you or her. I chose you. You were mine. You're mine. You always were. And you always will be."

MacLeod allowed Methos another gasp of air, maybe to hear him scream. The word coming from the center of Methos's chest was a harsh, guttural growl, and as involuntary as the tightening of his balls, the pulsing of his cock as he started coming--


And MacLeod came with him, hips slamming into Methos's ass, cock jerking hard inside him as Methos left white jets all over his thighs, all over the bed. Methos was blinded, chest tight from the stolen breaths, and when MacLeod collapsed against him, he tilted his head back looking for more contact. Yours. Yours. Always yours.

MacLeod came back to himself first, stroking his hands over Methos's arms. He reached down and unbuckled Methos's wrists, getting them out of the cuffs; his hands went up to Methos's thighs, and he sat up as he reached down to Methos's ankles to get those unbuckled as well and the thigh and ankle cuffs thrown aside. Methos was a shivering, aching wreck, and MacLeod helped him stretch out, pulling Methos into his arms. Methos buried his head in MacLeod's chest.

Don't think. Don't think. Don't think.

"Mine," MacLeod whispered, hand rubbing across the back of Methos's neck. The collar was still there, chain still hanging down between Methos's shoulderblades. "Always."

Methos swallowed and nodded.

Don't think.


Methos tugged the collar of his turtleneck sweater up a little higher, hoping the leather underneath it wasn't visible. It was locked on. It was staying. There was nothing he could do about it, and nothing he wanted to do except keep it hidden from anyone who might ask.

He walked into Joe's bar and took a seat, wincing. MacLeod couldn't leave him with bruises, but he could lock Methos's cock into a cage and send him out with a heavy granite plug. Modern times were a wonderful thing.

Joe headed over as soon as he spotted Methos, pulling a draft beer and sliding it over as he said hello. "Where the hell have you been? Haven't seen you or MacLeod in almost two weeks."

"We've been busy," Methos said, grinning slightly. "Listen... we're about to disappear for a while. Go under the radar. Even yours, Joe."

Joe frowned. "Something wrong?"

"No, nothing's wrong. We just want a little time to ourselves."

"Honeymoon period?"

Methos grinned all over again and took a long drink of his beer. "Something like that," he answered, licking his lips. "I'd promise we're not going to get ourselves into trouble, but I don't think you'd believe me."

"Probably not," Joe admitted. He took a hard look at Methos. Methos recognized the look -- Joe was trying to figure out what was wrong. Something was different. Methos had wondered how he'd look; he had his answer. Joe was frowning. "Something's not right here," he said softly. "What's going on?"

Methos shook his head. "Don't ask. This one time, Joe... don't ask."


"I looked at the tape again."

Joe paused. Methos knew it was a hell of a change in subject, but the gamble worked. Joe was more curious about that than about a vague intuition that something was off. "And?"

"And it's all right. I've talked to him about it. He remembers what happened. He says he'd finally gotten free of the Voice, and she was trying to talk him into killing me. That it was me or her, and..." Methos shook his head. "It wasn't a decision he wanted to make."

"But he didn't hesitate on it, did he?" Joe let out a low whistle. "You all right?"

"Me? I'm fine," Methos said, nodding. "It brought out a few things between us. Things maybe he should have said a long time ago. Things I should have admitted to before. And it's got me thinking that maybe for once... maybe it's going to be forever this time."

"Aw, Adam..." Joe grinned, shaking his head. "Thought you didn't do forever with other Immortals."

"I didn't. This is different." Methos ran his fingertip around the rim of his glass. "This time I'm not going to fuck it up."

"You -- what have you done to fuck things up before?" Joe asked.

Methos smiled down at the bar. "You would be amazed," he murmured. He glanced back up. "Try not to worry about us too much, Joe. If we can... we'll keep in touch."

"Yeah. Send me a postcard," Joe said. He grinned. "So where's Mac? Am I gonna get to say goodbye to him, too?"

"I don't think he wanted anything as final as 'goodbye' with you," Methos said softly. "We are planning to be back."

"In my lifetime?"

"In your lifetime," Methos said, smiling. "I haven't felt like this in a long time, Joe. A very, very long time."

"MacLeod brings that out in people," Joe said, grinning again. "I'm happy for you, man. I really am. For both of you."

"Thanks." Methos shifted in his seat and took another drink of his beer. "Will you do something for me?"


"Wish me luck." Methos climbed off the bar stool. "We may need it."

"Oh, hell, I was gonna do that anyway." Joe walked around the bar, and Methos waited until Joe was close enough to hug. Joe wrapped an arm around Methos's shoulders, and Methos grinned and hugged him tight. "You take care of each other," Joe whispered. "'Cause God knows you both deserve it."

"This is me, Joe. I'm not so sure God knows anything of the kind." Methos shook his head as he pulled back. "But if you think so, that's even better. It means a lot to me."

"No problem, old man." Joe clapped Methos on the shoulder. "Go on, get out of here. Tell Mac I said hello."

"I'll do that. Oh--" Methos dug his wallet out of his pocket. "I keep meaning to do this." He pulled a stack of bills out, folded them over, and handed them to Joe. "It's my bar tab," he explained. "I think that'll call us even."

Joe held up a hand, shaking his head. "Oh, hell no," he said, backing up a step. "You kidding me? Paying your bar tab off before you go on a vacation? That's bad luck. It screams never coming back, and I'd just as soon have you owe me some cash and know you're coming back to pay up than take the money. If it's all the same to you."

Methos laughed. "Up to you, Joe. If that's the way you want it..."

"Yeah. Besides, you'll be better off blowing it on... whatever, ale and whores and fruity pineapple drinks than leaving it here."

"You may be right. Take care, Joe."

"You do the same."

Methos tucked the money away and headed back outside. He tugged the collar of his coat up as he headed for his car and climbed inside.

"Next stop," Methos murmured as he gunned the engine, "time to see a man about a horse."