chelle

Highlander

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All That Holds Us

chelle

Title: All That Holds Us

Author: chelle

Author's email: chelle@chelle.slashcity.org

Author's URL: http://chelle.slashcity.org/

Fandom: Highlander

Category: Slash

Pairing: Duncan/Methos

Archive: Ask first

Rating: PG

Notes: This was originally part of a story that Kamil and I are writing together, but it no longer fits with that story. However, it works on its own as a short piece. As always, I am in Kamil's debt. Some of Methos' observations originated in conversation with the Emu while hanging out on Pumpkin's couch, so I owe a thank you to each of them as well.

"It really is true," Methos said, stopping next to the small table where Duncan was sipping tea and staring out of the window.

Duncan glanced up. "What is?"

The corners of Methos' mouth turned up slightly, and he brushed a thumb between Duncan's furrowed brows. "Wear an expression long enough and your face will freeze that way."

Duncan couldn't help but return the smile. "I'm sorry. I haven't been the best company."

Methos sat in the chair opposite Duncan's. "I didn't ask you here because I thought you'd be a barrel of laughs."

"I know. Thank you."

"You're welcome."

"Maybe it is time I stopped brooding."

"Why?"

Duncan paused, the question bringing him up short. Why, indeed? He shrugged. "Because it's expected, I suppose. Put it behind you. Get on with life. Isn't that the kind of thing you pragmatists usually advise?"

"Depends on the circumstances. In this case I would say that you're entitled to a little brooding."

"I've done a little brooding."

"Okay, maybe more than a little brooding."

"Why?" Duncan asked, puzzled by this change in Methos' attitude.

"Because Connor betrayed you. He was your family, and he betrayed you."

"He didn't, he just…"

"Just what, Duncan?"

"Used me. To end his own life." Duncan looked away, back out at the London street. "He had a choice, and he chose to leave." Duncan looked back at Methos, at the compassion that was becoming as much a part of his expression as Duncan's frown was becoming part of his. "I can't forgive him, Methos. I don't know how to forgive him."

Methos nodded. "Connor couldn't live with it anymore; the pain had become too much for him."

"I know."

"But you feel that he should have loved you enough to stay."

"It sounds so selfish, when you put it like that."

"It is selfish, but it's also human. As I said, he betrayed you."

Duncan nodded.

"Would you like some more tea?"

Duncan shook his head. "You know what I'd really like? A night on the town. What do you say we get out of here for a while?"

"The walls are starting to close in."

***

Methos took Duncan to his favorite pub for pub food. They sat at Methos' favorite table as well. It was squirreled away in the corner, and Duncan could readily imagine Methos sitting here, having a pint, and reading, or scribbling in his journal while surreptitiously people watching. The thought made him smile.

He'd thought about Methos a great deal lately, even before he'd received the invitation to visit. Throughout the mess with Kell, he'd talked to the other man in his head, wanting his advice. None had been forthcoming, of course, and he'd known what he would have gotten had he asked the real Methos. 'Live, Highlander, grow stronger, fight another day.' He hadn't needed to hear it again, so he hadn't asked.

"Nice place," he said, suddenly aware that the silence was dragging on.

"I like it."

"Not quite what I had in mind, though."

"I'll bite. What did you have in mind?"

"Someplace livelier."

"You want lively?"

Duncan smiled. "I want lively, and I know just the place, if you're up to it."

"I'm up for anything you are."

"Good."

***

To his credit, Methos didn't bat an eyelash when Duncan gave the cabby the address for a club in Camden. And he didn't say a word when they entered it, either. In fact, he blended right in, managing to eye the other patrons just enough to look like he belonged.

"Beer?" Duncan asked, leaning close to be heard over the pounding music.

"You're buying."

Duncan nodded, and threaded his way through the press of bodies, almost all male, to the bar. Beers in hand, he turned to look for Methos, and spotted him near the rail, looking out at the dance floor.

He handed over the beer, and Methos smiled. "They're gay men; you'd think they'd dance better than that."

"They may be gay, but they're still English," Duncan answered.

Methos laughed.

"Finish your beer, and then we'll show them how it's done."

"What makes you think I can dance?" Methos asked.

"You can fight; you can dance."

Methos shook his head. "They're not remotely the same. In a fight someone is trying to kill you."

"Dance with me, or I'll take your head."

"Since you put it like that, I'd love to dance with you."

Duncan smiled at him, and warmed as the smile was returned.

***

They danced until the club closed. Duncan had been right. Methos was a good dancer. The long limbs that could so easily have been awkward, he made graceful. Duncan wasn't the only one who noticed, he knew, but no one approached either of them. It was good to know he could still send out a "hands off" message when he needed to.

And it was good to dance. Good to let the pounding beat drive out everything else, and just lose himself in the rhythm. He hadn't done this in years. It was exactly what he'd needed.

They walked past a group of men, and someone whistled.

"Was that for you or me, do you suppose?" Methos asked.

"You."

"You think? I haven't been whistled at in a long time."

"You've been hanging out in the wrong places."

"Apparently. You want to get a cab or walk?"

"Walk, if that's okay with you."

"Fine with me."

They fell into a companionable silence as they went. It never failed to amaze Duncan, how easily they fit together. For all their bickering, being with Methos often just felt right. Duncan couldn't stop himself from remembering the one time when it had felt better. "Methos." He stopped walking.

Methos stopped as well, turning back toward him and taking a step. "Yeah?"

Duncan swallowed. He couldn't ask, not tonight, and he shook his head. "Nothing." He resumed walking, and Methos fell into step beside him.

"You sure?"

"Yeah."

***

Duncan lifted the egg over the filling. It would have looked better if Methos had had an omelet pan. Turning, he pulled the juice out of the refrigerator, and filled the glasses he had already placed on the table. Coffee, juice, omelet—the toaster dinged—toast. Now all he needed was Methos.

Going to the base of the stairs, he opened his mouth to call his host, but changed his mind. He climbed them instead, knocking lightly on Methos' door when he reached the top. No answer. "Methos," he said softly, opening it.

Methos was lying on his side, in a fetal position, still asleep.

Our bonds to each other are all that hold us in this world. He had tried to remind Connor of that.

Duncan stood in the doorway, pondering this bond, and what it meant, or could mean, if he was willing to ask. Not that this was the time to ask. He was still a mess, and to ask Methos when he wasn't sure he could handle rejection, and Methos would know that, was awfully close to manipulation. Not asking would be easier than asking. But they'd done that too many times, taken the easy way out, not talked about the things that needed talking about.

Our bonds to each other are all that hold us in this world.

"Duncan?" Methos asked sleepily, sitting up.

"I…uh…I made breakfast. I should go check, make sure it hasn't burned."

He fled down the stairs.

***

Duncan watched as Methos ate. Methos had given him a look that was both quizzical and amused, then he had taken a seat and set about systematically cleaning his plate.

Duncan picked at his own food, thinking about Methos, and how differently the two of them grieved. Methos bottled everything inside, refusing to acknowledge that anything was wrong, at least that's how he'd been after Alexa. It had been hard to see him like that, to know he was hurting and be unable to do anything about it. At least Duncan wore his pain on his sleeve, where his friends could see it, and try to help.

Except Methos had reached a breaking point, a time when even he couldn't hold it in any longer. They'd been spending the evening on the barge, talking. Duncan didn't remember what it was he'd said, but he'd looked up to see tears making their way slowly down both of Methos' cheeks. Duncan had gone to him, and Methos had cried in his arms.

Duncan had held him even after the tears ended, had held him until Methos lifted his head from Duncan's shoulder and pressed their lips together. The kiss had asked, and Duncan couldn't say 'no.' He'd let Methos lead, answering the unspoken pleas to be held, touched, and, finally, entered, with all the gentleness he could muster.

He had been falling slowly, but unstoppably, in love with Methos since the moment they'd met, and that night he'd fallen a great deal farther.

Methos had been gone when Duncan awoke, taking one of Duncan's favorite sweaters with him.

Jacob had been killed not long after that, and Methos had left Paris, again. They'd never spoken of that night, not even when Methos returned the sweater.

"Duncan."

The sound of Methos' voice pulled him from his memories. "Hmmm?"

"You're a million miles away."

"Not really, just across the Channel." He took a drink of his juice, not because he was thirsty, but because he needed something to do while he decided whether or not to ask. "Do you ever think about the old days?"

"Which old days? I have a lot of those, you know."

"When we lived in Paris."

"That's what has you so far away?"

Duncan rose, began clearing the dishes. He scraped his plate into the disposal, and turned it on. He should let this go. It wasn't the right time. But even for Immortals life could be too short. He'd just been reminded of that, yet again. He turned off the disposal. "Do you ever think about it?" he asked, not turning around. "That night, on the barge."

"Yes." He felt Methos approach, felt a hand squeeze his shoulder. "Yes, I think about it. You gave me something special that night, and I never did thank you for it."

"I don't need thanks."

Methos pulled gently on his shoulder, turning him around. "Is that what you need, Duncan? For me to be there like that for you?"

Duncan shook his head. "Not because I need it. Only…only if it's what you want."

"I want to be what you need."

That wasn't the answer he'd hoped for, and Duncan pulled away, putting some space between them. "Why?"

"Because you're my friend."

Duncan looked toward the window, wanting to hide his loss and disappointment. "That's what I thought."

"Duncan?"

"I love you. Don't you know that? Couldn't you feel it? I thought I must be glowing with it, I felt it so strongly."

"I felt it," Methos said quietly.

"And you ran way."

"Yes."

Suddenly Duncan needed to be out, out of this room, this house, this city, maybe even this continent. He hadn't been to South America in a long time. "I should go."

"Why?"

"I don't want to wear out my welcome."

"You're always welcome here, always."

Duncan started toward the door, intending to go upstairs and pack.

"Duncan."

"I have to go." But he stopped moving.

"Can we finish this first? Please."

Swallowing, Duncan nodded once, but he didn't turn to face Methos.

"I don't know if I can give you what you want."

"All I want is for you to tell me how you feel."

"You make it sound so simple."

"It is."

"Not if there aren't words." Methos took a step toward him, then faltered. "I could tell you I loved you, and it would be the truth, but it wouldn't be the whole truth. It's so much more complicated than that." Methos inhaled so deeply Duncan could hear it. "You're my hope, Duncan, for the world, and for myself."

His hope? No. Duncan didn't want to be anyone's hope. "Don't put me on a pedestal. I've fallen off too many of those."

"Never." There was a surprising warmth in Methos' voice, and Duncan turned to look at him. Methos was smiling. "I'm well aware of your faults, MacLeod. You needn't worry about that."

"What faults?" Duncan asked, suspicious.

"Your fashion sense, for one thing."

"At least I never wore rust colored jeans."

"That was Adam, not me."

"Nice excuse."

"And you flirt badly."

"I flirt badly," Duncan repeated.

"You do. Painting my nose, what kind of flirting was that?"

"You spread your legs every time I enter a room."

"I do not."

Duncan snorted. "I should have known this was how it would go."

"What else did you expect? We've been dancing around this for how many years now?"

"I don't want to dance anymore."

"What do you want, aside from the obvious?"

"I don't know. What do you want?"

"I asked you first."

"That's a grown-up answer."

Methos' grin turned victorious.

Duncan sighed to himself. "I don't want anything, particularly. If you want to live together, I can do that. If you want me to stay across town and come over every other Thursday for sex, I can do that, too. I just wanted to get it out, to tell you how I felt, and then maybe hold you for a moment or two. That's all."

Methos took a step toward him. "Just hold me?" His voice was low, and suggestive.

"And touch you," Duncan conceded.

"Just touching?"

"And maybe kiss you."

"Maybe?"

Methos was directly in front of now, and Duncan felt his heart begin to pound. Methos reached for him, and Duncan held his breath. Their lips met, and Duncan groaned as the fear he'd been gripping so tightly dissolved. This bond would hold.