Warning! This Story Is Rated NC-17! Contains graphic homoerotic (m/m) sexual content written in loving detail. If you can't handle that, don't read it. If you can't handle that and you read it anyway, don't complain to me. Please do not read this story if you are considered a minor in your locale. Highlander is a trademark of Rysher Entertainment, characters not used by permission. No infringement is intended. This work is not to be marketed for profit.--Kellie Matthews

As Long As You Burn
c. 1996 Kellie Matthews

        Duncan slid a surreptitious glance at Methos, trying to keep the concern he felt from showing on his face. The older immortal looked, to put it mildly, like hell. He had lost weight, giving him a gaunt, hollowed look, and cheekbones that could cut glass. His normally fair skin held a faintly greenish tinge. He was taking Alexa's death harder than Duncan had expected from someone as old as he was. In some ways it was reassuring that even an immortal as old as Methos could still feel to this depth, but he hated seeing his friend suffer.
        If it had been Amanda who had lost someone, Mac would have known what to do. He'd have taken her in his arms and held her while she cried it out. He would have taken her to the circus or a silly movie to cheer her up, maybe taken her to bed to remind her how to feel. Unfortunately, this was Methos, not Amanda. Most of his normal instincts were geared toward comforting women, not men. Besides . . . how the hell did one offer comfort to a man who had seen millennia of life? What could he possibly say that Methos hadn't heard a thousand times before?
        Not wanting to be obvious, he looked away, then back, then away again. Methos sighed heavily.
        "I'm all right, MacLeod."
        Duncan felt himself color. Caught. Still, it was an opening. "I know you are, Methos, and I also know you're not."
        Methos turned to look at him, his hazel eyes shadowed. After a moment he looked away again without replying. Duncan reached over and put a hand on his arm, applying a gentle pressure.
        "Methos, it's all right to grieve. I understand."
        Methos swallowed heavily, and shook his head. "I can't, MacLeod. I. . . it just doesn't want to come. It's just sitting there inside me like a rock. Damn!" his sudden exclamation was punctuated by an explosion of motion as he launched himself off the couch and strode over to look out the small, round window toward the soaring spires of Notre Dame. "She wanted to see that," he said, his voice oddly flat. "There were so many things she wanted to see. And I almost had it, I almost had it!"
        Duncan realized he meant the Methuselah Stone, purported to bestow immortality on mortals. He remembered seeing the pieces of the stone separate as it fell into the Seine, unrecoverable. He got to his feet, walking over to stand next to his friend, laying a hand on his shoulder.
        "Methos, we don't even know that it would have worked."
        "It would have worked, damn it! It had to work!"
        "It just wasn't meant to be." Duncan said, wincing as he realized how stupid that sounded. He expected Methos to round on him with a well-deserved expletive, but he didn't. Instead he braced both hands against the wall and leaned forward until his forehead touched the glass of the port.
        "I hate it when they die. I really hate it," he whispered.
        "I know," Duncan commiserated. "I don't think there's a worse feeling in the world. So helpless, so damned helpless." Clumsily Duncan half-rubbed and half-patted Methos' back. It felt strange to be offering that touch to Methos. It was a gesture he normally reserved for children, and women. The muscles beneath his hand were rock-hard with tension, making his own back ache in sympathy. Well, this he could help. He tugged at Methos' arm, pulling him away from the wall back toward the couch.
        "Come on, your back is like a board. I've been told I'm not bad in the shoulder rub department."
        Methos resisted a moment, shooting him an unfathomable glance, then finally he shrugged, giving in. "I won't turn that down. God knows it feels like I've been sleeping on rocks."
        Duncan sat down on the couch and gestured to the floor in front of him. Methos snagged a cushion off the couch and dropped it onto the floor with an amused look at Duncan.
        "My butt's not as padded as yours," he commented drily. Before Duncan could do more than bridle at the implied insult, Methos hastily added. "Not that that's a bad thing . . . or so Amanda says."
        Duncan realized instantly what Methos meant, and he grinned. "Oh she does, does she? Do you two discuss my butt frequently?"
        One corner of Methos' mouth quirked upward in an odd smile. "You might be surprised."
        Duncan chuckled, shaking his head. "Sit."
        Methos complied, settling cross-legged onto the cushion with a sigh as he shrugged his shoulders exaggeratedly. "Lay on, MacLeod."
        Duncan winced. "Keep mangling the Bard and you'll forfeit the back rub."
        "Not another thee or thou shall pass my lips," Methos promised flamboyantly.
        "Good. Now shut up and let me work." He let his hands rest for a moment on the surprisingly narrow shoulders before him. Even in peak form, Methos was lean, but at the moment he was downright thin. Duncan could feel his bones prominently. He started gently but firmly, closing his hands over the taut muscles beneath his fingers, then releasing. Methos groaned softly.
        "God, yes."
        The sheer pleasure expressed in those two words made Duncan grin. So, he hadn't lost his touch. Though usually the figure beneath his ministrations was more curvaceous, the technique was the same. He set to work in earnest, but Methos' sweater hampered him constantly, bunching and sliding so he couldn't get a good feeling for his subject. After a few minutes he sat back, tugging at the heavy knit. "Take this off."
        Methos craned around to look at him, eyebrows lifted.
        "It's in the way," Duncan complained, exasperated. "Take it off."
        Methos shrugged and complied. Muscles rippled as he drew the sweater off over his head. He might be thin, but it was the whipcord leanness of a greyhound. Duncan felt almost pudgy next to him. Maybe he ought to start working out more.
        The skin beneath his fingers took on a faint flush that was a lot healthier than the greenish-white it had been when he started. Duncan found himself grinning as he worked, partly in response to Methos' rather vocal appreciation of his ministrations, and partly out of a sense of accomplishment. It felt good to be doing something, even if it was trivial.
        Sometimes he felt so damned useless around Methos. The idea that he'd survived fifty centuries was kind of intimidating. Sometimes he wondered what it was about him that seemed to pull Methos back into his orbit time and again. What made him offer his friendship? Duncan felt he had done nothing to earn it. Distracted, he dug his fingers into the muscles just below Methos' shoulder blades, causing his friend to arch forward with an exclamation of pain.
        "Sorry," he said, gentling his touch. "Guess I don't know my own strength."
        Methos muttered something in reply.
        "What was that?"
        "Nothing," Methos said. "Keep going, this is great."
        Duncan beamed and continued, working his way downward toward Methos' lower back. Methos' jeans were very loose, probably due to his lost weight. The waistband of his briefs showed at least an inch above it, for all the world like some Midwestern high school boy's. A wicked grin curved Duncan's mouth as his fingers neared the elastic.
        "Don't even think about it," Methos advised in a menacing tone.
        "Think about what?" Duncan asked innocently as he continued with his massage.
        "What you were thinking of."
        "How could you know what I was thinking?"
        "I know you."
        "Ha! You've known me less than two years!"
        "It doesn't take long. You have a very juvenile sense of humor."
        "Juvenile!" Duncan retorted indignantly. "I'll show you juvenile!" His fingers made an unerring grab for the exposed waistband and he yanked upward, hard. Methos yelped and scrambled away, tugging at his clothing in a hurried attempt to regain both his dignity and comfort. Duncan couldn't control his laughter and collapsed sideways, howling.
        Methos stared at him with narrowed eyes. "This means war, MacLeod!" He grabbed the cushion he'd been sitting on and walloped Duncan soundly over the head with it.
        Ears ringing, Duncan scrabbled for a weapon of his own, and had just managed to grasp one of the other couch cushions when Methos came in for a flanking attack, knocking it from his hand. Duncan blocked the blows with his forearm as he tried to gain his feet. Seated, he was at a definite disadvantage. He managed to roll off the couch onto the floor, where he crawled quickly away, still weaponless.
        A grinning Methos followed him as he got to his feet and dashed for the bed where he grabbed a pillow. It didn't have the mass of the couch-cushion, but at least it was a weapon. The fight began in earnest then, each of them getting in some pretty decent blows, though pillows were unwieldy in comparison to swords. Before long they were laughing too hard to continue and they collapsed across the bed trying to catch their breath. After a moment Methos rolled to sit facing away from him on the floor. After a few more moments, Duncan finally realized that there was something wrong.
        Concerned, Duncan moved until he could see his face, and his fears were confirmed as Methos buried his face in his hands in a vain attempt to keep him from seeing that he was crying. Without a second thought, he slid down next to Methos, reaching to hold him, remembering Tessa, and how much he had wished he'd had someone to do this for him when she died. Methos resisted for a moment, then turned his face against Duncan's chest, and slid his arms around him. Duncan held him stroking his hair, surprised that the style which looked harsh and spiky felt like velvet under his hand. It went on for some time, the aching sound of his sobs like knife blades. Thre was nothing he could do except hold him, and rock, and hope it didn't hurt as badly as it sounded like it did.
        Methos quieted eventually, and pulled away, sitting up as he took a long, ragged breath. "Sorry," he began.
        Duncan cut him off. "No, don't be. If it were me, I'd want someone I could cry with."
        "I'm just so tired of death. Gods, everyone dies! Everyone I care about, everyone I love, gone."
        "I know," Duncan said, at a loss. What could he say besides that? It was the truth.
        Methos turned suddenly, grabbing Duncan's shoulders almost painfully, his expression urgent. "Don't die, Duncan. I couldn't take that. Promise me you won't die!"
        "Methos, you know I can't promise something like that!"
        Methos shook him. "Promise me!" he snarled, almost feral in his distress.
        Stunned, Duncan stammered a reply. "I promise . . . if I have any say in it."
        Methos leaned in and kissed him full on the mouth, then abruptly let him go and lunged to his feet, stumbling away to stand by the port hole again. Duncan sat there, stunned silent, the implications of the last few moments beginning to sink in. Duncan studied Methos' back, eyes wide with amazed comprehension. He felt very odd; embarrassed, flattered, even slightly aroused. He should be used to this by now, but it seemed that after four hundred years of declarations of love, he could still be taken completely by surprise.
        Certain things suddenly became very clear, things he'd just been wondering about, not ten minutes earlier. Thinking back, he felt rather stupid to have missed it for so long. It was as plain as the nose on Methos' face. He wondered if everyone else had seen it but him. Amanda? Quite possibly. Methos' comment about a conversation with Amanda about Duncan's physiology definitely hinted at it. A wave of relief went through him. He'd had certain rather unusual (for him anyway) thoughts about Methos since they'd first met. Now he could acknowledge that for the first time. He knew he had a silly grin on his face, but couldn't seem to school it to another expression.
        He could tell from his stiff posture, though, that Methos thought he'd just committed an unpardonable sin, and he couldn't let him continue to think that. He levered himself to his feet, crossed the floor to where his friend stood, and placed a hand on his shoulder. All the tension he'd worked so hard to erase was back. Methos jerked a little under his touch, and looked around, his gaze wary.
        "Methos, it's okay. But damn it, now I have to start all over again. I had all this tension taken care of!"
        The older Immortal's expression went from wariness to disbelief, he opened and closed his mouth, reminding Duncan of a fish. Duncan somehow managed not to laugh.
        "MacLeod . . . "
        "You're not angry?"
        "Is there some reason why I should be?"
        "Uh . . . no, but I thought you would be, after what I did."
        Duncan steered him over toward the bed. "Why should I get mad when someone I care about expresses caring in return?" he asked gently. "If anything, I'm touched, very much so."
        He saw Methos' throat work as he swallowed heavily, and the eyes that lifted to his were full of tears. He felt a sting in his nose and eyes himself, and pushed playfully at his friend's shoulder. "Hey, I thought we fixed that too. Are you going to undo all my hard work?"
        Methos was staring at him, looking more than a little bewildered. "This isn't the reaction I expected!"
        "What, was I supposed to toss you out on your butt in defense of my honor or something? Give me a little credit, Methos. I may have been born in the sixteenth century, but I live in the twentieth, you know."
        That got a reaction, but not the one he'd wanted. Methos' gaze narrowed almost suspiciously, and suddenly he frowned. "You're humoring the queer, aren't you?"
        Duncan scowled. "No, I'm not, and thanks for letting me know you think I'm that shallow!"
        Methos backpedalled frantically, waving his hands in the air like a symphony conductor. "No! I didn't mean that! I just meant . . . oh hell, I don't know what I meant. I just didn't expect you to take it so well! I'm having a hard time with this . . . I've read your chronicles, you know. You're a ladies' man, and always have been."
        Duncan shook his head, chuckling. Methos, for all his experience, clearly had a few blind spots. "I'll not deny that. I love women, all shapes and sizes of them. However, you know as well as I do that those damned chronicles are as full of holes as a Swiss cheese! There's a lot the Watchers wouldn't know about." He shrugged diffidently. "Let's just say you don't get to be my age without trying a few things."
        He could tell by the stunned look on Methos' face that he'd just dropped a bombshell. He decided to press his advantage.
        "Now, shut up and lie down so I can undo all the damage you just did."
        Methos obeyed, moving like an automaton, but as soon as he touched the mattress he pushed up on his elbows and peered back over his shoulder at Duncan.
        "Are you sure you don't want me to leave?"
        Duncan rolled his eyes. "Methos, I may be a nice guy, but I'm not that nice. I wouldn't tell you to stay unless I wanted you to."
        "I. . . ."
        "Down." Duncan ordered firmly, then grinned as Methos complied. He could get used to this. Usually Methos wasn't nearly so acquiescent.
        It wasn't until his hands touched Methos' bare back that he realized something had changed. He sat for a moment, fingers resting against resilient and unexpectedly fine-textured flesh, and found that his hands were trembling. He took a deep breath and closed his eyes, working by feel alone. Sight was somehow too much. After a few moments he stopped to shake his hands out as if they were cramping, hoping it would still the tremors.
        When he reached to resume, he found his hands caught in Methos'. He had big hands, long fingers, warm. A sudden and unexpectedly erotic image of those hands on his body flooded him, and he opened his eyes trying to stop it. Methos let go, and turned over, looking up at him with a very solemn expression.
        "Duncan, what do you want?"
        It took him a moment to reply. When he finally did, it was as much to himself as to his friend. "I-- don't know," he admitted.
        "If I leave, things can stay pretty much the same," Methos said, offering alternatives.
        "No, they can't," Duncan said quietly.
        Methos swore, shaking his head. "I'm sorry. I should never have done that. It was stupid."
        "No, actually, I think I'm glad you did."
        Duncan took a deep breath before answering, but he was honest. "Because I've been wondering about it, or really, about you, for quite awhile now. To be honest, it's kind of a relief to know how you feel, because that means I don't have to feel strange about what I've been thinking."
        Methos chuckled. "Well, that's convoluted logic if ever I heard it."
        Duncan made a face. "You know what I meant, right?"
        Methos' smile went gentle, and he nodded. "I did, I was just teasing you."
        "As usual." Duncan grinned, then after a pause his gaze turned serious. "What about you?"
        "What about me?" Methos echoed, puzzled. What did he mean?
        "I figure that if I've experimented some after four hundred years, after five thousand you might have a bit-- broader experience."
        Methos laughed aloud, and fell back on the bed, stretching like a cat. "A bit broader? I'd say so. Male, female. . . after this long, it doesn't matter any more what's on the outside, though your outside is rather more spectacular than most." He grinned, and reached up to touch Duncan's forehead with the tip of his index finger. "What really matters is what's in here. That's what drew me to you long before we ever met. You're unique in your capacity to love, and I envied you that." It's what made me take the chance with Alexa, he thought to himself.
        "You envy me? God, you're crazier than I thought!"
        Methos shook his head, unaccustomedly solemn. "No, Duncan. It's that capacity that will carry you through to the end, and may just give you the victory."
        Duncan stiffened, pushing away Methos' hand where it had dropped to rest on his shoulder. "Don't bring up the Game, damn it! I don't even want to think about it any more. I've lost too many friends to it, and thinking about it only reminds me that winning the game just means all my friends have to lose first."


        'Uh oh, sore spot,' Methos realized. He had long ago come to terms with the fact that he probably would not win the Prize. Death was a kind of prize in itself, and he no longer feared it as he once had, though he wasn't quite ready to give up just yet. There was still too much to do, too much to explore. Duncan, so much younger, hadn't yet found peace with the idea. Methos had to agree with him about losing friends, though. That never got any easier. He smoothed his fingers through the other Immortal's sleek, dark hair. "I'm sorry, let me make it up to you?"
        Duncan's gaze went sleepy, and Methos nearly drooled. God, that look! How long had he wanted to have that look aimed at him instead of at the current 'flavor of the week?' No, that wasn't fair. Since they'd met, Duncan had been with only three women he knew of. He was just jealous of all of them.
        "What did you have in mind?" Duncan asked in a tone Methos had never heard before.
        It made him think of red wine, and dark chocolate, and the taste of sex. It sent shivers down his spine, and echoes elsewhere. The sound made him ache, stirring up all the loneliness and frustrated desire built up inside of him. He found the clasp that held Duncan's hair and released it. As he slid his fingers through the loosened strands he wondered exactly what 'things' Duncan had meant when he said "You don't get to be my age without trying a few things."
        "Anything you like," Methos said, finally. "Anything you're comfortable with."
        "To be honest, I think I'm going to have to let you take the lead here."
        Methos looked his friend over, and understood. "Ah. When you said 'a few' you meant a few, didn't you?"
        Duncan nodded, looking embarrassed.
        "There's nothing wrong with that, you know." Methos reassured him. "It's perfectly all right." He reached to run his fingers along the faint line of beard-shadow that seemed to draw the eye directly to Duncan's incredibly sensual mouth. Methos had known sculptors who would have killed for a model of this perfection. A warrior-sensualist. A barbarian chieftain with the mind of a general and the heart of a poet. A contradiction embodied in flesh and mind.
        He let his fingers stray onto the smooth curve of lower lip, and unconsciously licked his own lips in anticipation. He felt Duncan's mouth curve in a smile, and realized he'd closed his eyes, just absorbing the feel of him. He opened them again and found Duncan watching him, his coffee-dark gaze holding a peculiar mixture of pleasure and trepidation.
        "I only want to please you," Methos whispered. "There's no cause for fear."
        "I'm not afraid of you," Duncan said quietly.
        Methos heard what was unsaid. He might not be afraid of Methos, but he did, a little, fear the experience. That clarified a little what those few things had not included. "Don't worry, we'll go slow, and I won't do anything you don't want me to."
        Duncan laughed ruefully. "I'm afraid I don't quite know what that might be."
        "Then we'll have to find out, won't we? Just relax, and tell me if you don't like something. Unless you say something, I'll just assume you do." Methos slid his hands beneath the ratty old sweater Duncan was wearing, and began to slowly push it upward, wondering why Duncan habitually dressed so casually. His own wardrobe reflected his ostensible status as a poor graduate student, but Duncan didn't need that camouflage.
        Encountering no resistance he went ahead and pushed the sweater over Duncan's head and peeled it the rest of the way off. Indulging in a moment of appreciation for the expanse of smooth, olive skin over hard muscle thus exposed, he reached for the waistband of his jeans. He'd already opened the first button when he sensed the tension in his subject, and stopped. Beneath his hand he could feel the unmistakable ridge of male arousal, a very good sign. Gently, almost as if by accident, he let his hand close a bit more firmly over that prominence. He heard breath hiss over teeth, and he smiled as he lifted his hand.
        "Very nice, but we'll get back to that later." Duncan shot him a dark glance from under his eyebrows, and Methos lifted his eyebrows. "Unless, of course, you'd rather I take care of it now."
        He reached down, but Duncan caught his arm before he found his goal. Even such an innocuous touch seemed arousing. He could feel every separate finger where they circled his forearm, the broad warmth of Duncan's palm against his inner arm.
        "Has anyone ever told you you're a tease?"
        "Actually, yes." Methos said, flashing him a grin. "Several someones."
        Duncan shook his head and pulled Methos toward him, reaching up with his free hand to turn his face to a better angle. Their lips met, and Methos moaned low in his throat. The kiss he'd given Duncan before had been brief and almost harsh; this one was anything but. Lips, tongue, teeth, touching, drowning. It was too much. He pulled away, gasping for air, explosively aroused and defenseless against his own desire. A wave of guilt swept him. How could he be considering this now? Only weeks after Alexa's death? It wasn't right, it wasn't right for him to feel this need!
        Duncan slid his hand behind his neck and pulled him firmly back. He yielded to another onslaught to his senses, feeling the silky warmth of Duncan's skin against his chest, arching against the hard, broad thigh that slid between his own, flooded with sensation, nearly losing control over just a kiss. . . just a kiss. Panicked, he fought and Duncan let him go this time, looking puzzled and a little hurt.
        "What's wrong? I thought you wanted. . . ."
        Methos put his hand over Duncan's mouth to quiet him while he got himself under control. "I'm sorry," he said when he was finally able to speak. "It was just too much. It's been-- well, it's been a tough few months and I guess I didn't realize how. . . ." he paused, searching for the right word, ". . . brittle I am. It feels wrong, somehow, like a betrayal."
        Duncan nodded, his own memories etching understanding on his face. "I should have guessed. I remember after Tessa-- well, let's just say I've been there. But I also know that it's perfectly natural to need that contact. As Sean once told me, 'the need for contact, whether sexual or not, is the reaffirmation of life in the face of death.' I'm sorry if I rushed things."
        "No, don't be sorry, you didn't do anything wrong." Methos gave a rueful laugh, shaking his head. "In fact, it was too right. I almost embarrassed myself."
        Duncan's eyebrows shot up. "Just from that?" he asked incredulously.
        Methos felt his face get hot as he nodded. "Just from that."
        Duncan stared at him for a minute, then slowly an incredibly smug smile curved his mouth. "Well, now isn't that interesting?"
        Methos was torn between laughing and hiding. "Not another word, MacLeod."
        "I'd say Sean was right, if you react that way to just a kiss. . . ." Duncan let the sentence trail off suggestively, and suddenly Methos found himself being dragged forward by his belt loops.
        "Hey. . . what. . . wait!" he gasped as Duncan flipped him onto his back and started tugging downward. He was surprised when his jeans slid right off. He hadn't realized they were quite that loose. Duncan left them around his knees, effectively hobbling him, and his fingers slid up the long expanse of bare thigh, tickling unmercifully. Methos bit his lip to keep from screaming. Propping himself on his elbows, he tried begging.
        "Duncan, don't! You know I can't take it."
        Duncan looked up at him, eyes smoky. "Don't worry, I'm just going to take the edge off."
        Methos closed his eyes and collapsed back onto the bed with a moan as his briefs went the way of his jeans. Take the edge off? Impossible! He felt the hot trail of tears down his temples as Duncan's touch suddenly became intimate, fingers wrapping around the straining length of his cock. He bucked into the hand that surrounded him, completely out of control.
        This must have been one of the things Duncan had tried before. . . he knew exactly what to do. His grip was strong, yet gentle, and the rhythm he set was perfect. A thumb occasionally glided over the tip of his glans, making him shudder with the intensity of his response. Duncan's other hand slid low, cupping the rising weight of his sac, fingers sliding down to find the most sensitive spots. If he'd thought he was drowning in sensation before, what metaphor could he use now? All it lacked was . . . .
        Moisture touched him, warm, no hot, though not as hot as his aching flesh, a thousand tiny points of sensation swept across his groin. He opened his eyes and saw the dark head bent over him, hair falling in a curtain that prevented him from seeing what his other senses told him. Again, again, surrounded, engulfed. He called on a deity three thousand years forgotten, and yielded to the tender demon that drove him.


        Coherent thought returned when Methos felt the bed give beneath additional weight. Duncan was back. He hadn't even realized he had gone anywhere. How long had he been lying there feeling like he'd been struck by lightning? He couldn't bring himself to open his eyes, afraid he would find that he'd just passed out and dreamed the whole thing. He felt his shoes being untied, then removed, and his jeans and briefs were tugged the rest of the way off. That was a good sign. At least he hadn't imagined someone taking his clothes half off.
        A hand urged him onto his side, a warm, naked body curled up against him, and a thick softness cocooned around him. He opened his eyes finally. A muscular arm rested on the comforter across his chest, and the broad, square hand that held the quilt in place was as familiar as his own. He hadn't imagined anything. He grinned, feeling the hard contours against his back, one particular hard contour a bit more noticeable than others. Time to reciprocate.
        "Duncan, that was. . . ."
        "Don't say it, I'll just get a swelled head," Duncan said in his ear, sounding amused.
        "That's not what seems to be swelled at the moment," Methos commented drily, amazed at how normal he sounded. He didn't feel normal. He felt like singing, or maybe screaming, either of which would certainly drive MacLeod from the bed so he managed to control himself.
        Duncan chuckled, and shifted slightly away. "Don't worry about me, I'm fine. But, are you okay? I think you passed out. Are you coming down with something?"
        Methos shook his head. "No, I'm not sick, just so, so tired. It drains you, trying to keep up appearances, trying to pretend everything is going to be all right when you know damned well it isn't, losing the one thing that might make a difference, and in the middle of it all, having to hare off to rescue. . . ." he broke off, suddenly realizing that Duncan might not want to be reminded of the Dark Quickening.
        "Rescue me, right?" Duncan sighed. "You shouldn't have had to face that too. That was the last thing you needed. But I won't say I'm not glad you did."
        "I didn't mind, really. I knew I couldn't stop what was happening to Alexa, but I did have a chance to stop what was happening to you. I couldn't have lived with myself if I hadn't at least tried."
        "And you might not have lived at all, for the trying," Duncan said solemnly. "Not many men would offer their life for a friend. You weren't by any chance hanging around in the Middle East a couple thousand years ago, were you?"
        Methos didn't miss the reference, and laughed aloud. "Hardly, Highlander. Playing god isn't my style."
        "No, but playing sacrificial lamb seems to be." Duncan said shrewdly.
        Methos turned so he could see Duncan's face, and tried to think of a snappy comeback. He didn't manage it, so instead he just shrugged. "It's a life thing."
        Duncan rolled his eyes in disgust. "A life thing? What the hell does that mean? Are you going to be throwing yourself between me and every idiot who wants to take my head from here on out?"
        He started to lie, but couldn't, not to Duncan. He'd discovered a need in himself too deep to deny. The need to help someone. The need to be needed. He could no more keep himself from trying to help than he could just stop breathing. So instead he didn't say anything, and finally Duncan sighed.
        "Methos, I can't stop you, I can only ask you not to."
        "And I can't promise that."
        "Which leaves us right back where we started."
        "Not quite." Methos said.
        Duncan smiled. "Not quite," he echoed. "I wonder what Amanda would say?"
        "She'd say it was about time," Methos said with a grin.
        Duncan pursed his lips and rubbed his chin thoughtfully, then nodded. "I think you're right."
        "I know I am. She gave me her blessing."
        "She what?" Duncan demanded indignantly.
        "She figured out that I was attracted to you months ago, before I met Alexa, and told me you were worth the effort."
        "Why that little. . . ." Duncan broke off, and shook his head, laughing. "I'm not sure if I'm pissed or flattered." He paused a moment, then shot a significant look at Methos. "So, was she right?"
        "Me being worth it."
        Methos pretended to think about it before giving an on-the-fence opinion. "The jury's still out."
        Duncan snorted inelegantly. "Right. And just how many times in your life have you passed out from a blow job?"
        "Okay, okay, I'll give you that," Methos conceded, trying not to smile. "But I have to see it from both sides to make a real judgment. . . giving as well as receiving."
        "So, what are you waiting for?"
        What was he waiting for? Permission from a dead woman. He closed his eyes for a moment, picturing Alexa's face, her smile, and her generosity. She wouldn't grudge him this. In fact, she would probably be encouraging him. He opened his eyes and studied the serious face across from his
        "Not a thing," Methos said, reaching to tug the comforter from Duncan's hand, baring him.
        Nude, he was impossibly perfect. Heavy, round-muscled shoulders and a broad, hard chest tapered down to a narrow waist and hips, then flared into strongly muscled thighs and calves. His golden-skinned body was lightly dusted with dark hair which thickened to surround his half-erect penis in a nest of dark curls. His beauty made Methos ache, despite having just come. He wanted him, he craved the contact of flesh on flesh, the delicious agony of penetration. He hadn't realized just how starved for contact he was until this moment. From the shadowed depths of his oldest memories, words spilled, and with them a startling revelation. He spoke them aloud, wanting to share his realization.
        "'Then, from the shadows, a creature emerged. A creature such as I had never seen before, he was a most spectacular beast. Lithe and lean of body, silken hair lay on his shoulders, his torso was strong, hair covered his body. I knew this was the one shaped from clay, sculpted by Aruru, fashioned out of dust. This was Enkidu.'"
        Comprehension filled the Highlander's gaze. "The epic of Gilgamesh," he said. "I've read it, along with all the other tales that seemed to tell of Immortals, back when I was still obsessed with trying to find out what we are. But Gilgamesh was mortal."
        Methos knew that Duncan was thinking of the fate of Gilgamesh, who had 'possessed beauty and courage, but everlasting life was not his destiny.' Methos knew that despite the seeming inconsistency, he was Gilgamesh to Duncan's Enkidu, and he knew that Duncan knew it too. Closer than brothers, meant to be companions, meant to be lovers. He moved closer, stroking a hand down the expanse of his chest as he whispered another passage.
        "'Enkidu's smell, too, was of the wild. It made me dizzy with longing. The smell of must and earth on his body, leaves and cloves on his breath, the smell of sweat on his skin, the taste of saliva on his tongue.'"
        He leaned down and made the words truth, in control this time, no longer a slave to his own need. He brushed his lips across Duncan's fuller, softer ones. He parted them with his tongue, and tasted the cloves the poem spoke of, felt the silken glide of saliva as their tongues touched. He lifted his head, and moved lower, catching one of Duncan's hands in his and extending it so he could place a kiss in the shadowed well where his scent was strongest. He moved his mouth across to the flat, copper rise of a nipple and lightly scraped his teeth across it, reveling in the arching response it drew.
        He traced his tongue down the line of darkness that bisected his lover's body, stopping to circle his navel before travelling on to where his fully-roused sex rose and pulsed. "'First there was hunger, then fulfillment. Hunger again, and then new pleasures.'"
        Methos held Duncan's cock in his hand, and grazed the erect shaft with his teeth, then soothed it with his tongue. Duncan moaned. Methos gave fleeting caresses, bare touches, subtle licks and breaths until Duncan's own breath came in ragged gasps. Sweat pooled on his skin as Methos tormented him with delight.
        A whisper, "'Roughness. . . .'" then a touch. A whisper, "'Tenderness. . . .'" then another caress. "'Memories. Visions, dreams and images. More memories. Pain. . . .'" the sharp edge of teeth. "'. . . .and compassion.'" The solace of gentle lips. "'Move from innocence to knowledge.'"
        Duncan moaned. "Methos, please!"
        Methos lifted his head from his playground and looked up at Duncan, at his clenched fists and clenched teeth, at the pleasure that showed nearly as pain on his face. "Do you burn, Highlander?" he asked in a savage hiss.
        "I burn," his prey admitted.
        Methos moved upward to take his mouth again, the kiss dark and nearly savage at first, then gradually gentling, melting into sensuality as he continued to caress the rigid shaft between Duncan's thighs with his hands. When he finally lifted his head, he was smiling, the hunter's wildness was gone. "'Brother, as long as you burn, you belong to life!' Come to me."
        He turned onto his belly, offering himself. He felt the bed shift as Duncan moved to claim his offering. He felt the touch of a hand as it skimmed down his back to rest on the curve of his buttock. Heavy thighs parting his. Hot skin against his own. Hands stroking, arousing, opening him. He let himself relax, waiting, and moaned as a finger tested him, then another, wet with saliva to ease the way. He shuddered with desire, waiting for the consummation, dying for it as Duncan drove him ever higher. Now, please, now, he thought, urging haste with his mind because his mouth could not form words. Finally, the fingers slid from him, to be replaced by velvet-steel and a gentle but irresistible pressure. With a sob of delight he yielded to that insistence, and took him deep.
        He heard his would-be conqueror moan, felt him shudder, and knew the conquest was mutual. An eternity of burning stillness passed, eased, and Duncan began to rock gently above him, instinctively letting Methos set the pace by responding to every subtle shift and sigh. Somehow Duncan worked a hand beneath him and curled his fingers around the hard upthrust of Methos' rigid cock, squeezing with each thrust. The ride quickly became less tender, more urgent, as Methos dug his knees, elbows and toes into the mattress and pushed first into Duncan's hand, then back onto his shaft, his body fluid and flushed, repeating the patterns of desire in a dance older than either of them.
        Nothing existed except the two of them, and the tightening spiral of desire. Methos sobbed, and spilled his release over the hand that held and tormented him, gasping as the waves of pleasure surged over and through him. A moment later Duncan released his softening penis and gripped his hips in both hands, driving deep; howling like a wolf, like Enkidu on the plains, shuddering again and again as his own pleasure peaked.


        An almost-empty snifter of hundred-year-old Armangac sat next to the bed, two distinct sets of lip-marks on its rim. Though the stall had been crowded with both of them in it, the heat of their shared shower had drained away the last of their energy leaving them quiet and contemplative for the moment, with the undercurrent of mutual desire pulsing just beneath the surface. Later perhaps, or in the morning.
        Duncan's book fell from his fingers and Methos studied his sleeping lover for a moment with fond amusement. Lover. Finally. Carefully he picked up the book and set it next to the snifter. He turned out the light, and as the filament dimmed and died he felt a momentary pang of sorrow and looked toward the north.
        She slept there, the sleep of the just, as mortals put it, though he saw nothing of justice in it. His gaze moved to the form next to him, the bluish light from the port limning the sensual curves of mouth and cheek and throat. Tears came to his eyes and he blinked them away, reaching to pull the cover up over his shoulders.
        "Sleep well, both of you," he whispered as he tucked the pillow into a more comfortable position, and closed his eyes.

The End


The Gilgamesh quotations are from The Initiation of the Sacred Prostitute by Bevya Rosten, an original Performance-Poem drawn from the motifs of the Epic of Gilgamesh. c. 1993 in The Union of Sex and Spirit published by Cauldron Productions.

The quotation "Brother, as long as you burn, you belong to life" used both in the title and body of this work is from The Soul to the Body in the Berlin Papyrus, an Egyptian Middle-Period manuscript.

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