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Later he might think this was a mistake -- it wouldn't be the first time -- but just now, it doesn't matter.

Fighting brings the blood up every time, win or lose, and though this isn't as bad as it would be if he'd taken a head, it's bad enough. An aborted fight against someone five thousand years his senior? It's been a long time since MacLeod's had one of those. More than a hundred years. And we're not going to think about that, are we?

It's better if he doesn't. It's better if he keeps his thoughts on Methos, who surprised him just a little by making the offer, and the way Methos is moving underneath him. Methos is acting tentative, as if he's slightly out of practice, and MacLeod glances up at him, tamping down the urgency as best he can. He smiles, ducking his head down to kiss another spot on Methos's chest. "Don't tell me it's been two hundred years since you did this, too."

Methos's eyes widen, and he chuckles, sliding his hands into MacLeod's hair. It's loose now, falling over his shoulders, and Methos seems to like it well enough. They've managed to get shirts off but nothing more, and somewhere between Methos's shirt hitting the floor and MacLeod's, they got under the messy, rumpled covers on Methos's bed -- as much as bare skin is a priority, Methos's apartment is cold.

"No, it's been rather more recent than that," Methos admits, "but not with one of us."

"Mmm." MacLeod tips his head down again, continuing the path he'd set out on in the first place. He's already licked his way down Methos's throat, pressed a kiss to the hollow there, and now he's working on Methos's chest, one small kiss at a time.

Five thousand years. What does he like?

"Tell me," MacLeod murmurs, licking down further, kissing a path toward Methos's nipple. "How do you want this?"

"This is fine," Methos says, hands stroking MacLeod's hair again. "It's all fine -- you don't need to check in."

"But--"

"Pretend I'm not," he says, and MacLeod blinks up at him. Methos sighs and leans back on the bed, laying himself out flat. "Pretend I'm just a guy who's a little nervous and a lot horny right now. Do that for me?"

It isn't easy -- MacLeod's never been the kind of man who likes pretending anything in bed -- but it works. It quiets his thoughts, keeps him from comparing himself with the hundreds -- thousands -- of other men and women who must have shared a bed with Methos at some time or another. It doesn't matter how many times someone's licked him here and felt him move like that; it doesn't matter if two thousand years have passed since the first person found out Methos goes quiet if you put a hand on his hip to keep him still. MacLeod's the one who's here now.

And Methos likes what he's doing; MacLeod can tell that by his responses. He sucks in a breath when MacLeod's lips trail down his stomach, moans when MacLeod nuzzles the soft skin there. It must be taking some willpower to keep from urging him lower. That or he was telling the truth, and he really is nervous. Two hundred years is a long time to go without feeling that shivering electric tingle under your skin, the buzz-meets-buzz of Immortals in bed together. Maybe it's like discovering that feeling all over again.

Or maybe he's learned how to play the virgin role perfectly over the years.

He presses his face between Methos's legs and breathes in, forcing his thoughts to silence. Methos smells good, damn good, and he's starting to sound more urgent. "MacLeod..."

"I think it's time we get rid of these," MacLeod murmurs, tugging at Methos's waistband. He doesn't have to do much to convince Methos, who lifts his hips up and helps MacLeod get pants and boxers shoved off. MacLeod pauses long enough to get rid of his own as well, and then he leans back up to kiss Methos hard. Methos slips a hand between them and wraps it around MacLeod's cock. It pulls an explosive grunt out of MacLeod, who wasn't expecting to get to that stage for a while yet. "Wait--"

"I just wondered what I was getting into," Methos says, grinning. He looks mischievous now instead of earnest. MacLeod isn't sure whether he likes the expression or not -- it'll probably depend on what Methos does with his hand. MacLeod gives his hips a little thrust, just as a hint, and Methos goes with the motion, stroking, starting off slow. "I think this is going to work out just fine. Would you kiss me again?"

MacLeod does, timing the slow thrusts of his tongue to the steady strokes of Methos's hand. Methos is right -- this is working out very well. It's not the kind of catch-fire instant chemistry he's had with some, but it's warm enough there are sparks. If not visible ones.

"What are you grinning at?" Methos asks, twisting his wrist and making MacLeod groan. "I can feel you, you know, grinning like that... what are you thinking?"

"That this isn't going to be enough for much longer," MacLeod says, kissing Methos again.

"Doesn't have to be," Methos says when they come up for air. "Under the bed -- should have some lube stashed--"

More recent indeed, MacLeod thinks, smirking as he dives for the lube. It takes a little bit of searching, but he comes up with the bottle and grins at Methos. "Got it."

"I can see that." Methos stretches out and licks his lips. "You're topping?"

"Unless you'd rather--"

"No--" Methos reaches out and grabs MacLeod's shoulder, squeezing hard enough it makes Mac draw in a breath. "Stop thinking so much; I'm nervous enough already. And I want this. I really do. Please."

MacLeod's tempted to protest that he isn't overthinking, he's just trying to be considerate, but maybe Methos is right and the time for talking is done. But am I really making you nervous? How nervous can you be?

One way or the other, he's about to find out. He gets the lube open and settles himself between Methos's legs, opening him up with as much gentleness as he can manage, given how much he wants Methos right now. The urgency ticks up a notch when MacLeod feels Methos's body tighten up hard around his fingers, and from the way Methos's breath catches, MacLeod can guess it's the same for him. Methos's buzz is so loud now it's drowning out everything else; the building could catch fire around them and MacLeod might not even notice.

"Enough -- enough, I'm ready, come on--!"

MacLeod doesn't wait. He braces himself and pushes in, and Methos's head tilts back as MacLeod drives forward. They're both panting by the time MacLeod's fully inside him, and MacLeod suspects he's not going to last very long. First times are always short, rarely live up to the anticipation. And with this first time he really doesn't give a damn; he just needs this, needs the rough, sweaty, pounding pleasure of shoving into Methos over and over, the way Methos groans underneath him, the sting of his fingernails when he clutches at Mac's arms, all of it, need, it hasn't been like this for him in years--

The world practically blows apart at the edges when he comes, and if it weren't for the hot, sticky dampness against his stomach, he'd have no idea whether Methos joined him for it. As it is, he's a little relieved; there's no way he could move, not even to finish off the man who's just given him the best fuck he's had since -- he honestly can't remember when.

He grins against Methos's shoulder.

"I can still feel that," Methos mumbles. He wraps an arm around MacLeod's back. "At least this time I don't have to ask what it's about."

"I should hope not," MacLeod snorts.

"Mmmm." Methos lets him stay collapsed for a few minutes, but after a while he starts squirming, and MacLeod climbs off. "I need a shower," Methos tells him. "Sticky."

"Ahh, that's part of the fun--"

"I waited nearly five thousand years for them to invent the massage showerhead; I might as well get my money's worth out of it." Methos laughs softly as he heads for the bathroom.

MacLeod stays on the bed, fuzzy-headed and content. A few jumbled thoughts cross his mind: He doesn't want to be close after sex; that's not too surprising, I guess. I wonder if he'll ask me to go. I wonder if I could move even if I wanted to. He tries that last one out; he doesn't get very far.

Methos comes back in a pair of sweatpants and a t-shirt, still toweling off his hair. "I'm about to say something incredibly rude," he says, wincing just a little with the words. "But I don't sleep very well when someone else is around, and..."

"And you'd like me to go." MacLeod fights off a pang of disappointment. He grunts and somehow convinces his body to sit up. "It's all right."

"I don't want you thinking I didn't like this--"

"You don't have to explain." MacLeod grabs his clothes and dresses as quickly as he can; there's nothing quite as awkward as being kicked out of someone's house just after sex.

"No, I don't, but I'm trying." Methos finishes toweling off his hair and bunches up the terrycloth in his hands. "Part of me really does want you to stay. It's just... old habits die hard."

"Especially if you don't want them -- or yourself -- to die at all?" MacLeod fills in. "Like I said, you don't have to explain."

Methos gives him half a grin and shifts his weight from one foot to the other as MacLeod slips back into his trenchcoat. He stiffens when MacLeod reaches out, and MacLeod thinks better of whatever it was he meant to offer -- a kiss goodbye, a handshake, something. "I'll be in town the next few days..." He's not sure where he's going with that, what he's expecting in response, but he gets a nod and not much more. "I'll see you."

"Or the other way around," Methos says, giving MacLeod the rest of that grin. "I'm the Watcher, remember?"

MacLeod can't think of a response to that, so he lets himself out, wondering what in hell makes people so awkward after sex in the first place. Five thousand years and he hasn't figured that part out? God, it's going to be a long life, isn't it...

He doesn't get much sleep that night, not that it surprises him. Around five a.m., his thoughts turn from Methos to Kalas and what they're going to have to do to outsmart him. He knows who Methos is here; he'll come after him again. If Methos isn't there... that's my chance. Have Methos take off while I fight Kalas.

But he doesn't have to have Methos go anywhere; when he gets to Methos's door, there's no one home. There's no buzz. MacLeod frowns -- for a moment, he's afraid Kalas beat him there -- but when he slips a credit card into the doorframe to let himself in (Amanda would be proud), there's simply no one home at all.

MacLeod's disappointed, but it doesn't change his plan. Stay here, wait for Kalas, make the fight as fast as possible. And try not to wonder where Methos disappeared to. You don't need the distraction right now.

Kalas is predictable. He shows up looking for Methos; he's not pleased to find MacLeod instead. The fight's short, but not because MacLeod's winning; it gets cut off by the untimely arrival of the police. MacLeod ducks into the alley to avoid being brought up on charges for public dueling (you'd think they'd have gotten rid of laws against that) and carrying a deadly weapon. It's humiliating, listening to Methos take on his Pierson guise again and tell the police to haul Kalas off to prison, that he'll testify against Kalas on the charge of Donald Salzer's murder; this was his fight, win or lose, and for the second time in as many days it's been interrupted.

Methos's advice feels empty this time -- live, Highlander, grow stronger, fight another day -- and when Methos walks off, he doesn't follow.

His blood's burning by the time he climbs into bed alone. It would have been easy enough to find someone to take his passion out on -- he's never had trouble finding people to go to bed with -- but that isn't what he wants tonight. He's not like Methos, not the kind of Immortal who avoids his own kind. He's been a mentor, a lover, a friend to more Immortals than he can name. Right now he wants the rush of feeling someone else's Quickening all around him; he wants to bury himself in the almost-metallic taste of someone else's buzz.

No, be honest, he thinks, reaching between his legs and wrapping his hand around his cock, what you want is Methos. True as it might be, it doesn't matter; Methos doesn't want him.

He strokes off thinking of last night, the way Methos felt, the way he smelled, tasted, the arch of his body, the way MacLeod tingled all over when he was finished. He can imagine having him again -- maybe this time he'd pin the bastard down so he could be sure Methos wouldn't go anywhere. Or maybe he'd just follow him into the shower, not letting him walk away. Up against the shower wall, with Methos's body pressed between his own and the cold tiles; that's an image that MacLeod can settle on, and his strokes get harder as he reaches his climax, head tilting back with it, groaning softly as the pulses die down.

"Sticky."

"Ahh, that's part of the fun--"

He'll shower off in the morning, he decides; at least now he'll be able to sleep.

Except he doesn't, much. Mostly he thinks about Methos, wondering what it must be like to have lived so many years avoiding his own kind. Maybe he shouldn't blame Methos for wanting his space; how many times would friends have betrayed Methos, looking for his head?

He's awake to see sunrise, and he promises himself that if he can stay in bed until a reasonable hour, he'll let himself drop in on Methos one last time before he leaves. Just to let him know that MacLeod doesn't want anything from him, and certainly not his head. He'll explain that there doesn't have to be anything more if Methos isn't looking for it. He should know he's got a friend. How long has it been since he could say that?

When noon rolls around, he's at Methos's door, and it's yesterday all over again. No buzz; no one home. This time, at least, he's fairly certain it's not because of Kalas, but he lets himself in anyway, just in case...

For a moment he's not sure he has the right apartment. He glances up at the number on the doorframe, double-checking. No, this is Adam Pierson's apartment; it's just empty. Completely empty. No books, no possessions, no furniture. When you disappear, you don't play it by halves, do you?

He turns around in a circle, looking at the walls.

Well, MacLeod thinks, at least I've got one hell of a story to tell.

He considers giving Methos another hour's head start, but in the end he shakes his head and dials Dawson.

-end-