Something was wrong. Methos could feel it coming as if was a gathering storm, and he was standing in an open field as the wind picked up and the clouds grew darker. It wasn't anything so clear cut as a difference of opinion. No, it was subtler, a gradual closing of Duncan's heart as he shut the door on this chapter of their tangled relationship. There was nothing Methos could do to prevent it, nothing he could say to stop the change, except silently grieve for the love he'd held.
He knew he could demand an explanation, but he'd loved enough to know that love wasn't an immovable object: it flowed through valleys and peaks and sometimes crashed against the rocks before making a new path. Holding Duncan close in the dark, he could almost see the distance between them even though their bodies rested side by side. Duncan's face was turned to the wall, away from Methos in what Methos interpreted as a very telling gesture. In the morning, Methos promised himself, he'd book the first flight to anywhere but here.
He sighed tiredly. He was all too aware that although Duncan gave freely of himself, there would always be a part of him that saw Methos as a potential enemy. There would never be complete trust between them; even if the whole Horsemen fiasco hadn't happened, the very nature of who they were placed an artificial barrier between them. Methos knew he could create oases of peace with other Immortals, but he'd generally avoided becoming as deeply involved as he was now with someone like Duncan, someone with true potential at winning the Game. The realist in Methos knew that it had only been a matter of time before their relationship had deepened. They were both too fascinated with each other, their lives too intertwined for the attraction that had been there from the beginning to not reach its inevitable conclusion.
Methos closed his eyes, remembering the first time they'd kissed, hesitant and unsure in the shadows of the loft at midnight. He'd rarely felt like his heart would break with a single kiss; one touch of Duncan's lips, and Methos had heard his heart crack open. He hadn't realized then to what lengths he'd go in order to keep his love safe, hadn't realized just how magnetic Duncan was... and then his dream had come true.
No, I'd better go tonight, Methos decided. I can't stay here, wanting him, knowing he'll turn away as he has the past few nights. Better to make a clean break.
Still, he couldn't help remembering...
— the sheer weight of Duncan as he tripped over the couch, taking them both down sooner than either had expected, Methos laughing first through his annoyance, then Duncan...
— the look on Duncan's face as he took the opportunity to trap Methos beneath him, teasing ever so slowly until Methos thought he was going to burst with the anticipation....
and almost convulsively, Methos's loose grasp on Duncan tightened.
Duncan feigned sleep. He could almost hear Methos plotting his escape, and longed for the words to make him stay. How can I make him see I'm not the enemy? Duncan wondered.
It frustrated him that he couldn't break through the wall that Methos had put up, couldn't reach him. If it had been anyone other than Methos, Duncan could've used his not-inconsiderable-charm to sway his lover into confessing their troubles... but it wasn't. Methos had his own mind, and Duncan had never been able to predict just what Methos would do; he'd surprised him on many occasions.
It still seemed incredible to Duncan that they'd come to this point. Duncan knew there were moments in life where the door of opportunity opens wide, and deciding to walk through or to not walk through would be a life-altering event. He could hear it swinging in the breeze now, and all he could see through the door was heartache. So he kept silent, choosing to stay right where he was, and hoping that Methos wouldn't run.
He just wished he knew why Methos felt compelled to leave. Unconsciously, his hands traveled down his to grasp Methos's where they curled around his stomach. He felt a reassuring squeeze in return, and yet... he knew when he woke, Methos would still be gone.
He lay in the dark, remembering...
— the feel of Methos's hands on his head, drawing him closer, deepening the kiss; the low rumble of shared laughter as Duncan stubbed his toe on the couch in the process, tumbling Methos onto the furniture and him with it...
He moaned, trying desperately to catch the sound before it escaped his throat, and found Methos's hand around his cock, rubbing just enough to turn him on.
Methos's breath caught in his throat the moment Duncan grasped his hands. He'd been careful not to reach lower than Duncan's stomach, but then temptation loomed...
And he knew he'd never had much self-control when it came to Duncan. Methos grasped Duncan's cock with his hand, just sliding it up and down the shaft, relishing the rapidly hardening feel of it. He heard Duncan's soft moan, and then Duncan shifted position, allowing him freer access.
Were tears glittering in Duncan's eyes? Methos wondered, but before he could be sure, Duncan closed them. Methos blinked, not wanting to reveal how he felt, and decided to concentrate on what he was doing. Duncan's head fell back as Methos leaned down to taste Duncan's cock.
Sweet, Methos nearly moaned in his head. He breathed carefully around Duncan's shaft, then took him deeper into his throat before flicking gently with his tongue, as much as he was able. Methos felt Duncan jerk with surprised pleasure at the sudden motion. Methos smiled; he had only started. Slowly, maddeningly, Methos sucked Duncan, fighting the tremors that shook his body, the sharp bite of arousal.
Oh, this felt like good-bye, this sweet, breathless lovemaking, but Methos couldn't deny the thoughts that tumbled through his mind only moments ago. He didn't want it to be good-bye, not when Duncan smiled wickedly at him and his eyes promised pleasures only he could bring. No matter how many times Duncan touched him, Methos feared it would be the last, and that fear lent a desperate edge to his caresses. He kissed every inch of him as if he could memorize it with his lips and tongue. Relentless in his assault, Methos didn't stop until he heard Duncan gasping incoherently, felt him go soft in his mouth, forgetting that old line about payback...
And abruptly found himself on his back, the favor being returned in kind. He was drowning in the heat of Duncan's mouth, helpless to do anything but feel, and rock his hips against Duncan's knowing mouth. Passion flooded his veins, weighing him down with pleasure until Duncan brought him up past all coherent thought. Words tumbled out of his mouth with no recognition of what they were. Methos gasped, needing air, and clutched at the edges of the bed as if they would ground him, but the pleasure was too intense, too white-hot for anything but an explosion. With a hard tremor that shook his entire body, Methos came.
He was still shaking when Duncan moved upwards to hold him close through the final tremors of his orgasm.
"It's okay," Duncan whispered soothingly, "I'm here. I'll always be here."
Methos heard the love wrapped around those words, and his breath caught in his throat. He opened his eyes to see the faint trail of tears on Duncan's cheeks, and swallowed convulsively.
Duncan reached up and pressed a finger against Methos's lips. "It's okay," he repeated. With that simple gesture, Duncan let Methos go.
In that instant, Methos knew he could run forever, but he would never be able to hide, not from Duncan. How could he have been so blind not to see that? Methos wondered. Some part of Methos would always remain here, in the dark, needing Duncan's strength as a complement to his own. The wall that Methos had built so carefully on the impression that it was Duncan who was turning away cracked, and it was all Methos could do to withdraw slowly, masking his emotions as Duncan smiled his understanding.
It was a long time before Methos fell asleep.