Eternal gratitude to Killa for the beta.
MacLeod felt the last jagged thrust of quickening slice through him and he fell to his knees, jarring his spine. Rain began to fall in thundering sheets, dispersing the pool of blood that gathered on the uneven pavement. Electricity roared in his ears, ceasing only to be replaced by the sound of rushing rain. He collapsed and the water soaked him further.
Several moments passed and his body chilled, his muscles becoming stiff and cold. He ached from the long, interrupted night and the crackling drain of another unwanted quickening. He looked up and the sky, in mottled dark gray, showed the passing of the night into dawn. MacLeod stood up, feeling the uncomfortable clinging of wet clothes, their cold weight pulling him down.
He left the body where it lay, in the butt end of a forgotten Parisian alley. Moving out into the street, MacLeod pointed himself in a direction. Still too early for the city to awaken, the streets rang hollow with the sound of running rainwater. He walked with the intent of going home to the barge, wanting to forget and sleep it off. It was just another quickening, after all. Just another Immortal beheading in a long line of Immortal beheadings. Nothing special, nothing different. But he drifted instead, wandering along the empty streets.
After a while, he was outside Methos' apartment building, looking into the darkened windows. Immortal presence flared, chilling him further, and he knocked softly, immediately regretting it. What was he doing here? He turned to leave just as the door opened.
Methos stood in the doorway, sword hanging casually from one hand. He looked awake and already dressed in jeans and a thin gray sweatshirt. MacLeod kept still as Methos took in his sodden state, conscious of the bloodstains and the rents in the fabric of his sweater and pants.
"You must be the rainmaker," Methos said, pushing the door all the way open, inviting MacLeod in. MacLeod hesitated before entering.
In the main room, he shuffled awkwardly, listening to Methos close the door and put his sword away. MacLeod gazed absently at the decor, recalling that moment in Methos' old apartment when they'd first met. This place was similar, but different. Methos was similar, but different, he thought. Their eyes met.
"You've had an interesting morning, I gather."
"Night and morning." MacLeod fidgeted with a letter opener on the desk, his fingers passing over the jewel-encrusted handle. He started when he felt Methos' hands on him.
"Your coat. You're making a puddle." Methos reached for MacLeod's coat a second time.
"I think I should go." MacLeod backed away, feeling foolish.
"Okay." Methos laughed a
it made MacLeod angry. He made his way to the door.
"Sorry. I shouldn't have come.""Mac." He paused and turned. Methos was right behind him, holding out his hand. "You're here already; you may as well stay for a bit."
MacLeod hovered between decisions and then something gave inside him. He tugged his coat off and handed it to Methos, following him back into main room. He didn't sit, but wandered around. He knew Methos watched him from the kitchen and still he jumped when Methos spoke.
"Who was it?" Methos eyed him, handing over a mug of coffee. MacLeod looked at the swirling liquid in his hands.
"I wouldn't go that far."
"At least that's something."
MacLeod nodded. Yes, at least he hadn't had to kill a friend. It was a bitter thought. Friend, foe -- at the moment MacLeod could see little difference between the two. He recalled Methos' face at the Luxembourg Gardens, ready to take Keane's head.
Fine. It's your funeral.
"What is it, Mac?"
"Nothing. I really think I should go. I'm not very good company. "
"If that's what you want." Methos sounded slightly annoyed.
MacLeod set his coffee down as if making for the door, but it wasn't what he wanted to do. "I hate this."
"This." MacLeod made a sweeping gesture. "All of it. When I knew Costas he was a decent man. Not terribly nice, but decent, minding his own business. I had no desire to kill him, or even see him again. Why did he have to find me, fifty years later?" he asked, unable to control the frustration he felt. "I'm tired, Methos. Just, so tired. What was the point of not killing Keane if someone else was right behind him?"
Methos looked at him and MacLeod turned away.
"Do you really need me to tell you?" asked Methos. MacLeod looked back at him. "You know why."
"He left me no choice."
"Ah, there are always choices, MacLeod." Methos' eyes shone brightly with shifting certainty.
"You mean run."
Methos quirked his head. "That's one, for a start."
MacLeod ran his hand over his damp hair. "I can't do that, Methos."
"Can't or won't?"
"What's the difference? What will running solve?"
"At least you wouldn't have to kill. Or be killed."
"So that takes care of one, but what about the next? And the one after that, and the one after that? Do you do that, Methos? Is that what you do, until your hand is forced?" He almost shouted.
"Yes, well we've established that it's not a very good situation from any standpoint, haven't we?" Methos' voice rose to match MacLeod's.
"Does that make it easier, better? They always catch up, Methos. If not one, then another. Now, or later, cause it's going to be either one. Should I do it like you and wait two thousand years?"
Methos' face lost all expression and MacLeod closed his eyes and looked away. He sat heavily on the couch, dropping his head onto his hands, his anger fading. He hadn't meant to say that, and it wasn't really fair. The apartment became very still and he heard a clock ticking and the rain hitting the roof above. MacLeod kept his eyes on the floor. Not for the first time, he missed Darius. The priest hadn't always had answers, but it was times like this when MacLeod truly felt his loss.
"I didn't--don't--always do as Darius taught, but in my heart I know he was right. That killing isn't the answer. I tried to talk Costas out of it, but he wouldn't listen," MacLeod said to the floor.
"They never do." MacLeod lifted his head and it seemed to MacLeod that Methos stood very far away, but he looked at Mac with warm eyes. Methos tilted his head to one side. "I can't help you, Mac. You want answers to questions that have no answers. I only know one way to do things, and that's my way. My way cannot be your way. Darius' way, while a good example to us all, was his. You can take what you need, but in the end, you have to figure it out on your own."
MacLeod felt Methos' words press against his heart and he closed his eyes. "I know that."
"I know you do."
Again, silence. MacLeod felt Methos come close, standing over him, and it seemed as if Methos might touch him, lay hands on his head, shoulders, neck. He almost felt the heat of Methos' hand just near his face. But then it was gone.
"You're tired, Mac." MacLeod looked up at Methos. "Everything is worse when you're tired. Stay here until the rain passes. Take a shower, get some sleep. The world is much easier to handle on the other side of sleep."
The rain could fall for days, thought MacLeod, but he said nothing. Methos left him then, banging around in the kitchen and by the door. MacLeod sat for several minutes, rising eventually. He didn't think he could sleep, although he would have liked nothing better, but a shower was possible and it had been offered. He entered Methos' bathroom, started the water, and stripped. Steam billowed around him and clouded his reflection in the mirror. He stepped into the shower.
It felt like a cocoon, warm and close. Water pounded down his back, washing away most of the cold that lay in his bones. He knew he was taking a long time, but he didn't think Methos would mind. He stayed until the water began to cool, stepping out into the damp warmth of the bathroom. MacLeod dried himself and then wrapped the damp towel around, holding it close with one hand as he scooped up his still-wet clothing with the other. Beginning to feel overheated he opened the door, and cool air greeted him from an empty apartment.
Momentarily confused, he quickly realized that Methos had stepped out. It was an invitation to leave, quietly, with no judgments laid, and he almost took it. But the rain hadn't stopped and his clothes were wet. He gave in.
Not knowing where Methos dried his clothes, MacLeod set his own clothes aside, found a pair of sweat shorts, and then tumbled onto Methos' bed. It felt a little odd and he realized that while Methos slept over at his place often, he'd never stayed at Methos' before.
Too aware of his environment, he crept in and out of sleep, not able to drop off completely, staying just under the surface of consciousness. He wasn't sure how much time had passed when the flare of Immortal presence awoke him fully. His heart raced and then calmed. The door opened.
"Yes, it's me." MacLeod heard the deadbolt sliding into the place. He flipped over onto one side, his back facing the rest of the room. Through the blinds on the windows, he saw the gray morning light and the rain falling.
Methos made the little noises of someone trying to be quiet: the slow rattle of a plastic bag, the clink of silverware, a dull, nameless thud. MacLeod shifted in the bed. Despite the silence, he could feel Methos behind him, feel his presence pressing in on him as his words had earlier.
"Methos?" he called again. He waited for a response, but there was only the noise of the rain. Then he heard stockinged feet approach. He turned over just as Methos sat on the bed. Methos was dusted with raindrops.
"Is the emotional crisis over, then?" he asked, an amused half-smile on his lips.
Wiseass, thought MacLeod, but he grinned a little, saying nothing. He idly fingered a bit of the sheet that bunched where Methos sat. Their eyes met and MacLeod found he couldn't hold Methos' hazel-eyed gaze and looked away. He felt rather then saw Methos hesitate before reaching and gently caressing Mac's hair away from his face. It made MacLeod close his eyes against the sweetness of the gesture.
MacLeod couldn't answer, could only lie there, still, almost holding his breath. And then he felt Methos lean over and kiss him softly, on the forehead, before rising to leave. He caught Methos' hand. Again, their eyes met.
MacLeod found his voice. "Don't go."
Methos stared down at him, completely unreadable, and MacLeod felt caught between two worlds. He wasn't sure of what he wanted; he wasn't sure of anything. He thought Methos would certainly pull away. The moment teetered, balancing between two different possibilities. It pulsed through their linked hands.
With a quiet exhale, Methos slide down beside him, under the sheet and blanket, his body aligning along MacLeod's. MacLeod buried his face into the cool hollow of Methos' neck and immediately felt previously unrealized tension ease and he truly relaxed for the first time that morning. Warm hands rested on the bare skin of his back, passing through his damp hair. Methos smelled of fresh rain and thunderstorms.
As natural as breathing, MacLeod's hands slipped under Methos' sweatshirt, finding warm skin. His hands traveled, brushing along the skin of Methos' sides. Then he was kissing, little kisses along Methos' jaw and neck, answered by little kisses from Methos, on his nose and across his cheek. His fingers felt and found nipples hardened to points, and MacLeod cock lengthened in reaction and Methos hardened a split second later. MacLeod pull away, moving to lie on top. He stared at Methos, feeling their chests expand and contract from breathing, pressing against each other. The truth of their arousal lay heavy between them, like an impending storm, their cocks hot and hard next to each other. Heartbeat against heartbeat, their gazes locked, and they were kissing, MacLeod rumbling as Methos' hands clasped him close, their groins crushing together.
Methos rolled on top and MacLeod's hands went up and over, tossing Methos' sweatshirt across the room. He grabbed at Methos' waist and snap, snap, snap went the button fly jeans. Mac's hands dove inside and roughly shoved the jeans down. MacLeod flipped Methos underneath again, settling between his legs, feverishly pulling Methos' jeans, underwear, and socks off and they met the same fate as the sweatshirt. Methos sat up and they were kissing again, tongues deep, wet and sloppy, their hands grabbing at bare skin. MacLeod couldn't see his way past kissing Methos, lost in the honeyed desire that made his cock leak. He found Methos' erection and he held the hot length in his hand, sliding down to cup Methos' balls, listening to Methos whimper. He needed more and pushed at Methos with his kisses, pushing him back down onto the bed. Methos spread his legs and thrust into Mac's hand, grunting softly into Mac's mouth.
Hands tugged at his sweat shorts. "Off." Methos' voice rasped against his sensitive skin, and warm hands cupped his ass, circling around to roughly fondle his straining erection. The sweat shorts flew across the room, knocking something over with a muffled crash.
"Methos." MacLeod needed to push his cock into Methos, now, but the remnants of common sense stopped him. He began to helplessly buck against Methos, unable to hold back.
"Oh God, just do it." Methos pulled his legs up.
MacLeod stilled for a second. Lightning flashed across the room. Mac aligned himself face to face with Methos, leaned on one elbow, and with the other hand, took hold of his own erection. He kissed Methos and worked his cock, the pre-come spreading around the head of his erection. Guiding it, holding back by sheer will, his fingers found the entrance into Methos' body. They stopped kissing. His cock passed through his fingers and into Methos, slowly.
Methos panted, hot little puffs of air. Their foreheads pressed together and Methos dug his fingers into MacLeod's shoulders. "Breathe," whispered Mac, reminding them both, and his cock slipped in further, enveloped in a tight, hot heat. Another flash of lightning, and MacLeod felt the head push against Methos' prostate and Methos groaned, his head falling back. MacLeod began to thrust, in and out, slowly, watching Methos' eyes darken.
They clasped hands and MacLeod raised them over their heads, against the pillows. MacLeod leaned all his weight onto his elbows and captured Methos in another kiss, thrusting with his tongue and cock in an uneven rhythm, too close to the edge to synchronize. In and out, and faster and faster. He guided one of Methos' hands and together they wrapped their hands around Methos' erection, fingers sliding into place.
He needed to see Methos come, needed to feel him pulse around his cock and in his hand. He slowed down, angling upwards, and Methos gasped and spurted semen on to their joined fingers.
"Duncan." Methos' voice was low and rough and desperate. It pulled at Mac, at his heart and his cock. Mac quickened his thrusts.
"Now, Methos," he said with a labored breath. Methos let go of his cock and his hands and arms wrapped around Mac, gripping tightly, near bruising, and he grunted as each wave pulsed around Mac and he came onto Mac's hand, as wished.
One thrust, two, and MacLeod followed him, burrowing deep with his cock, his orgasm ripping out of him in jagged shudders and spasms.
"Oh, God," he croaked, like oak breaking, unable to stop pounding into Methos who held on, his grip fierce until the last shudder spilled out of Mac, almost painfully.
Shattering silence. Even the sound of the rain receded. MacLeod's muscles quivered from exertion and his heart pounded next to Methos' heart. He had to look at Methos -- it was unavoidable -- and he saw his own shock reflected back at him. Methos stared at him, his chest rising and falling, beads of sweat glistening in the meager light. They shared uneven breaths.
He shivered, sweat cooling against his skin, and the moment passed, slipping into something more accessible and comfortable. The rain fell, chattering in the background. He disentangled from Methos, pulling the covers over them, too tired to clean up. He lay there, his nose nesting comfortably in the nook of Methos' neck, arms loosely draped. Methos shifted a little underneath him, quickly falling still as his breath evened out.
Methos moved and MacLeod turned over with Methos spooning up behind, an arm thrown across Mac's middle. Sleep called.
Nothing had been resolved.
He still had no answers. Tomorrow, or the next day, or the day after
he would have to kill again. He knew that. That would always be so,
the day it ended. As always, it would tear a little of his heart away.
But just then, he could let it all fade away. He was comfortable and
and somewhat dry. He was safe and the gentle heat of someone he...
for pressed against him from behind. He sighed softly, and slipped into