chelle

Highlander

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Late

chelle

Title: Late

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-13

AN: Kamil encouraged me. The SO contributed a couple of lines. My friend Gena shrieked, "What is wrong with you?" That's all the warning you're getting. /g/

Methos studied Duncan warily. Something was clearly bothering him, but Methos hadn't a clue what it was and he couldn't ask in front of Joe. So he waited. Joe would have to serve someone else eventually. Even with all of the drinking Mac and Methos did the bar couldn't survive on their patronage alone. After all, Mac never paid his tab.

At last Joe moved away.

"What's wrong?" Methos asked softly.

"Nothing," Duncan said, tracing patterns on his glass of soda.

That was the first clue Methos had had that something was wrong. Duncan never drank soda. "Tell me," Methos insisted.

"I…" Duncan swallowed visibly. "I'm late."

"Late? For what?"

"You know, late."

"Obviously, I don't. What are you late for?"

"I'm just late, as in possibly pregnant."

Methos stared at him. Clearly, the Highlander had lost his mind. "Duncan," Methos said as gently as he could manage, "I don't know how to tell you this, but you're male and Immortal; neither males nor Immortals can have children."

"So one would think."

"Okay. Why do you think you're…" Methos let his voice trail off, unable to say the word.

"I told you. I'm late."

"You're a man. Men don't menstruate."

"Actually, I'm not."

"Not what?"

"Not a man."

Methos' patience snapped. "Duncan, in case you've forgotten, I am intimately familiar with every curve and crevice of your oh-so-delectable body and I can say, without doubt, that you are most definitely male."

"No, I'm not."

"What are you then?"

"A hermaphrodite."

"A hermaphrodite," Methos repeated. Any moment he was going to hear Rod Serling's voice. He just knew it.

"Didn't you ever wonder where Immortals come from?"

"Yeah," Methos said slowly.

"We come from hermaphrodites. Every couple of centuries one of us is born who is capable of conceiving."

"I see," Methos said numbly. Except he didn't see, not at all. This had to be a joke, except the Highlander's sense of humor wasn't that highly developed. Methos squared his shoulders. "MacLeod, I've been around for five millennia. How come I've never heard of this before?"

"You're one of the Immortals we were to make sure never found out."

"What? Why? Who?"

Duncan squeezed his hand. "I'm sorry, but I think why is rather obvious. Don't you?"

It wasn't fair. Just because he'd once tried to rule the world, and killed a lot of innocent people, that didn't make him a monster. Kronos, Caspian, he could see not telling them. They were bloodthirsty bastards, but he was just a guy. It's not like he'd have tried to breed his own army or anything, at least not for the last thousand years or so. "Who?" he asked again.

"Darius was the one who figured out I was…"

"How?"

"I think it was the mood swings."

Methos nodded. Now that he thought about it, Duncan's brooding did seem to come in cycles. Methos had had sixty-eight wives; he should have recognized the pattern.

"Darius sent me to Marcus Constantine. He's the one who taught me what I was."

"And taught you to avoid certain Immortals."

Duncan nodded.

"That's how you knew who I was. Here I thought it was some great, romantic insight and you'd been shown a picture and told, 'Don't fuck him; he's a bad guy.'"

"Not exactly," Duncan said quietly, "I could fuck you. I just couldn't…"

Duncan didn't need to finish the sentence. Methos understood. Duncan wasn't supposed to let Methos fuck him. Except he had. Just once. But once was apparently enough. Methos reached blindly for his beer. He drank the remaining liquid in one long swallow. There was no reason he should believe this crazy story, no reason at all. But he did. There was something in Duncan's manner, something in his tone of voice, something that made Methos believe.

A child.

His and Duncan's. Something, someone, that they'd made together. His mind flashed to that night. Duncan naked and beautiful, the fire casting shadows over his skin. Both of them mellow and warm with wine, and desire, and other things Methos tried not to examine too closely.

He needed another drink.

He was going to be a father, and Duncan was going to be a— No. This wasn't possible. It wasn't happening, because it wasn't possible. Methos raised a hand and the bartender came over with a fresh beer. Methos didn't even notice that Joe was no longer behind the bar. "Bourbon, straight," he said.

The bartender started to take the beer away, but Methos put his hand on the bottle. "Leave it."

The bartender shrugged and turned away.

"Maybe we should go back to the barge," Duncan suggested softly.

Methos lowered the bottle. It was already three-quarters empty. "Sure, just let me finish this first."

By the time the bartender returned, Methos had finished the beer. He downed the bourbon in one long swallow and stood. He tossed several francs on the bar and reached for his coat.

"Maybe I should get us a cab," Duncan suggested.

Methos shook his head. The walk would do him good.

Methos wrapped his arms around himself, pulling his coat closer. The night wasn't that cold. This wasn't happening, he reminded himself. It was impossible. Except Duncan wouldn't make up something like this. It wouldn't be honorable, and Methos doubted he had that much imagination.

Duncan was pregnant, knocked up, with child, in the family way. Duncan MacLeod of the clan MacLeod had a bun in the oven, and it was Methos' fault. No, it wasn't. It was Duncan's fault. Methos hadn't even known such a thing was possible. Duncan was the one who'd gotten drunk and let Methos fuck him. Hell, he'd begged Methos to fuck him. "Were you trying to get pregnant?" Methos asked abruptly.

"Why? Do you think I'm trying to trick you into marrying me?"

Ouch. There was no mistaking the outrage in Duncan's voice. "No," Methos said quickly, "no, I just…Why did you, you know, if you knew the risks?"

"I was drunk," Duncan said, his tone vaguely belligerent. "And I've wanted you, like that, for a long time, and…" Duncan looked at the ground. "I guess I wasn't thinking."

Methos nodded, saying nothing.

They walked in silence until Duncan added, "Maybe I…unconsciously…maybe I wanted…"

Methos nodded again, knowing he should saying something, but not knowing what. He and Duncan didn't talk much, at least not about stuff like this. They were guys, after all. They were much more eloquent with their bodies than they were with words.

"It's okay, Duncan," Methos said at last. "I understand."

They were quiet the rest of the way to the barge.

"What do you want to do?" Methos asked, starting into his glass of juice. It seemed unfair to have beer when Duncan couldn't.

"I'm having it," Duncan answered immediately.

"Of course, I didn't mean to suggest—" Besides, who could perform an Immortal abortion anyway?

They fell silent again, and Methos searched for something else to say, something that wouldn't upset Duncan. "Have you…would this be?"

Duncan evidently understood what Methos was trying to say because he answered. "This is my first. I was always careful."

Methos wondered precisely what Duncan had meant by careful, but he didn't ask.

"I didn't want to create another killer. That's what we are, what we have to be."

"Some of us still manage to do some good," Methos answered. "How many lives have you saved, or Grace, or—"

"I know," Duncan said, cutting Methos off and going to stand next to a porthole.

Methos studied his lover's back. Never before had Duncan sounded afraid. Rising, he went to Duncan. Wrapping his arms around Duncan's waist and pressing himself to his lover's back, he said, "I'll stand by you, Duncan. You don't have to do this alone."

"Even if I decide to raise it myself?"

"Yes."

Duncan turned around, and Methos kissed him softly. "I love you. You know that, right?" Duncan's mouth curved a bit, an attempt at a smile, and Methos cursed himself for not having said the words a long time ago. "I know this is scary and intimidating, but it's a good thing, a wonderful thing, a miracle. A child, Duncan, someone that we created together, that came from our caring for one another."

Duncan eyed him critically. "You're not going to start singing 'Having My Baby' are you?"

Methos smiled. "No, no Neil Diamond, I promise."

"It was Paul Anka."

"Who?"

"Paul Anka, a contemporary of Chubby Checker."

"Oh."

"Besides, I'd have to hit you. Hard. With a mallet."

Duncan smiled for the first time that night, and Methos felt some of his own anxiety start to lessen. Taking Duncan's hand, Methos led him back to the couch. When they were settled with Duncan leaning comfortably against him, Methos asked, "How much experience do you have with infants?"

"Not much."

"I can teach you."

"Somehow, I knew you could."

"Our child," Methos said wonderingly. "We'll have to move. Neither your place nor mine is big enough. Maybe we should get a house with a big back yard and a tree for climbing."

"No tree climbing."

"What do you mean no tree climbing?"

"What if he fell? I don't want our child to be another Kenny."

"It could be a girl, you know."

"I know."

"You said he."

"I was using it in the generic sense."

"Don't you want a girl?"

"I'd like a girl."

"You're sure?"

"Of course, I'm sure. But if we have a girl you're the one who's playing Barbie."

"Fine. You get to take her bra shopping."

"I thought I'd get Amanda to do that."

"No. Amanda is not taking our daughter clothes shopping."

"Why not?"

"Have you seen the way she dresses?"

"It's very stylish."

"For a prostitute."

"Methos!"

"Her skirts are non-existent, and where does she keep her sword, anyway?"

"I don't know. I was never able to figure it out." Duncan paused. "It could be a boy."

"You're taking him shopping for a jock strap."

"Why do I get all of the fun jobs? What are you going to do?"

"Build model rockets."

"What?"

"I always wanted to build a model rocket. Now, I have an excuse."

Duncan chuckled.

"How are we going to hide this?" Methos asked, suddenly serious.

"You're a doctor. I figured we'd go to the island and you could deliver the baby. Then we'd fake adoption papers."

"Oh." It sounded like a good plan, and Methos was a bit nonplussed that Duncan had come up with it on his own. Inhaling slowly, he considered what he was about to say. Duncan could so easily take it wrong. "Duncan?"

"Hmmm?"

"Do you want to get married?"

"We can't, remember?"

"Well, we could go to the Netherlands or Vermont. Or we could just have a ceremony."

"You wouldn't be asking this if I wasn't pregnant, would you?"

"No, but not because the feelings aren't there. I just didn't think of it before."

"You didn't think of it?"

Methos winced. That might not have been the best thing to say. "You're a guy, Duncan."

Duncan turned and gazed steadily at him. Methos didn't squirm, but it was a near thing. "Or at least I thought you were." Duncan's eyes narrowed even further. "And, well, a guy doesn't actually think of proposing marriage to another guy."

"I see."

"But I do care about you," Methos added hastily. "In fact, I love you, very much. I'm just not very good at saying it."

"'Cause you're just a guy?"

Methos chose to ignore the sarcasm. "Exactly. So, will you?"

"Okay."

"Okay?"

"Okay."

"Whatever happened to 'yes, Methos, I'd love to marry you?'"

"Considering the proposal, I don't think you have any right to quibble about the answer."

"Okay, fine."

"Good."

Duncan resumed leaning against Methos' shoulder.

"So," Methos asked casually, "who gets the bachelor party?"

"We're not telling anyone about this, right?" Methos asked as they prepared for bed.

"The pregnancy? No. No one, not Amanda and especially not Joe."

Methos slid into the bed and turned out the light before taking Duncan into his arms. "What do you want to tell him?"

"Same thing we tell everyone else, we adopted."

"What about us?"

"What do you want to tell him?" Duncan answered.

"I don't know." Once again, it was the wrong thing to say.

"You don't want to tell him we're getting married? What's the point of getting married if you don't tell anyone?" Duncan looked up at him. To Methos' horror he had begun to pout. "Besides, I wanted him to give me away, and he has great taste in gravy boats."

It took Methos a moment to process that last comment. "You want a bridal shower? Is your trousseau lacking an important piece or something?"

"People give gravy boats as wedding gifts, you know. And my trousseau is just fine, thank you."

Judging by the tone of Duncan's voice, diversionary tactics were clearly required. "Where do you want to get married?"

"Vermont. Lakes, mountains…"

"Sheep."

Duncan ignored him. "We can stay at a bed and breakfast, maybe do some hiking."

"In your condition?"

Duncan snorted.

"Okay," Methos agreed, "Vermont it is. And then we take an extended honeymoon and return with our adopted child."

"I think you were right. We'll have to move somewhere quieter."

"We have time to think about it." Placing two fingers under Duncan's chin, Methos tilted his head for a kiss. "Good night."

"Good night, Methos."

Duncan began to drift off, but Methos lay awake too excited to sleep. Unconsciously, he began to hum, wondering what Duncan would think of the name Catherine. His fiftieth wife had been named Catherine. He hadn't much cared for her, but he'd always liked the name.

Suddenly, he was shoved, hard, and landed on the floor with a thud. "Hey!" Sitting up, Methos rubbed at his shoulder.

"I told you not to sing that song," Duncan growled.

"I was humming."

"That's why I didn't use the mallet."

Methos looked up from the morning paper as Duncan exited the bathroom. Duncan was nude except for the towel wrapped around his head. Normally, Methos would have had a visceral reaction to the sight, but not today. "You're going to have to shave," he said.

Duncan rubbed at his freshly shaven cheek. "I did."

"Your chest."

"What?"

"When the baby comes, you can't nurse with all of that hair. It'll get in the baby's mouth."

Duncan glanced down at this chest, and then moved to the armoire and began to dress.

"You are going to breastfeed aren't you?"

"I hadn't really thought about it."

"It's much better for the baby." Methos wrinkled his nose. "Formula. Huge corporations making money by convincing mothers that something made in a factory is better for their children than what their own bodies produce."

Dressed, Duncan entered the small kitchen area. "You're not going to lecture me all through breakfast, are you?" He started to pour himself a cup of coffee.

Methos leapt from his chair to Duncan's side. "What are you doing?"

"Having coffee."

"It's not decaf."

"So?"

Methos took the cup and emptied it into the sink. "Caffeine is bad for the baby. We'll get you some decaf, and some prenatal vitamins, this afternoon. Have you been eating much spinach lately?"

"Why?"

"Folic acid, it prevents birth defects."

"Yes, I've been eating spinach."

"You're not just saying that to appease me, are you?"

"No."

"Good." Methos opened the refrigerator and poured a glass of orange juice. He handed it to Duncan. "Drink this."

Duncan sipped obediently, but he didn't look happy about it.

Duncan sighed as he settled onto a bar stool at Le Blues Bar. Methos looked closely at him, maybe he shouldn't have taken Duncan to those last two stores. He couldn't believe how much a decent sling cost. In the old days they'd just used a big piece of cloth, none of these fancy buckles. It had taken some fast-talking to convince Duncan that they really did need a breast pump. Duncan might not believe it now, but he'd thank Methos for it later. No one knew the true meaning of dependence until they'd cared for an infant. It didn't matter how adorable the kid was or how much you loved it, that much dependence had a way of wearing at you.

There was obvious tension in the set of Duncan's shoulders. Perhaps Methos shouldn't have insisted on that last helping of spinach at dinner.

"What's new with you two?" Joe asked, placing a beer in front both of them.

Methos resisted the urge to tell Joe to take Duncan's away, but he watched Duncan carefully, relaxing somewhat when he didn't pick up the drink.

"We're going on vacation," Duncan answered when it became clear that Methos wasn't going to.

"Where?" Joe asked casually, as though keeping track of Duncan wasn't his job.

"Vermont," Methos answered.

Joe grinned. "You guys gonna take one of those vacations for gay couples? You know, stay at a romantic B and B, tour Ben and Jerry's, get married."

"Actually, we are," Methos said, hoping telling Joe would go a little way toward making up for last night.

Joe blinked, clearly surprised. Then he smiled. "Congratulations, Mac, I never thought you'd get the old scoundrel here to commit."

"Thanks, Joe."

Duncan didn't sound quite as pleased with himself as Methos had expected, and he resumed studying his lover. Maybe the first trimester exhaustion was starting to set in. It had been a long time since Methos had cared for a pregnant wo—man. Hell, he'd never cared for a pregnant man. The exhaustion was probably the same, though. He should get Mac home early and tucked into bed.

Methos glanced at the clock. He didn't remember Duncan's bedtime preparations taking quite this long before, maybe he should check on him. Before he could decide what to do Duncan came out of the bathroom. The look on his face had Methos out of his slouch and sitting bolt upright in an instant. "Duncan? What's wrong?"

Duncan sank onto the couch beside him. "I…I was wrong. It was a false alarm."

"False—"

"I'm not pregnant."

"Oh." Methos closed his eyes, willing the sudden sense of loss away. He had to think of Duncan now. He could sort out his own feelings later. "It's all right," he said.

Duncan nodded; his lower lip was starting to tremble.

Methos pulled him into his arms. "It's all right, Duncan. We can still get married."

"I'm sorry," Duncan murmured.

Methos stroked his back. "Nothing to be sorry for," he said soothingly. "Nothing at all."

Duncan lay awake staring at the ceiling. He couldn't look at the man sleeping beside him.

He'd expected the proposal; he'd been counting on it, in fact. It was the reason for the whole charade. He had what he wanted, a commitment from Methos, and even a declaration of love. That had been an unexpected bonus.

He hadn't expected Methos to want the child, at least not quite so badly. The look on his face when Duncan told him it was a false alarm—

If Methos ever found out, ever learned how Duncan had tricked him, it would be over. It might even come to swords.

He should have tried something else, but it had seemed like such a good idea at the time. He glanced at the clock. It was getting late; he should at least try to sleep. He could brood tomorrow.

After all, it was that time of the month.