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A Simple Question


Title: A Simple Question

Author: chelle

Author's email:

Author's URL:

Fandom: Highlander

Category: Slash

Pairing: Duncan/Methos

Archive: Ask first

Rating: NC-17

"MacLeod, what do you say to a friendly spar?" Methos moved his barstool a quarter turn so that he was facing his friend instead of the bar. It had been nearly a month since what Methos referred to as 'the O'Rourke Incident.' Amanda had lasted a whole week before taking off for parts unknown, leaving Mac and Methos to reconstruct their friendship.

"You want to spar?"

"Obviously." Methos could almost see the wheels turning in the Highlander's head as he tried to discern the older immortal's motive in asking Duncan to join him in an activity he normally avoided.


"I've cleared space in one of my warehouses."

"One? How many do you own?"

"Just two." In Europe, he added silently.

"All right. Let's spar. Tomorrow?"

"Mid-afternoon. Say two?"

"Works for me. Where am I going?"

"I'll pick you up."

"Planning on blindfolding me so I don't learn the location of your secret storehouse?"

"Not at all, Mac. When I blindfold you, it'll be because you asked me to."

"You think I'd do that?"

"Stranger things have happened."

"Maybe." Mac took a drink of his beer, eyed his friend speculatively. "I'd have to trust you implicitly to do that."

"You would," Methos agreed.

"Do you trust me that way, Methos? Completely, without reservation?"

"What do you think?"

"I think you didn't answer my question."

"But I did." Methos lowered the bottle poised at his lips. "It doesn't matter if I trust you unless you trust me. You can't have faith in my trust unless you return it." Methos again raised the beer, taking the delayed drink.

"Like love."

Methos shook his head, "Not at all like love. Love can survive unrequited, trust cannot."

"Do you trust me?" Duncan repeated, suddenly intent, clearly needing the answer.

Unable to deny Duncan in need, Methos answered. "With my life, Highlander, with my life." He drained his beer and slid off of the stool, abandoning the empty bottle. He nodded a farewell to Joe at the end of the bar, before wishing Duncan a good night.

Stepping into the Paris night he pondered his own words, both those he'd said and those he hadn't.

Methos twisted his wrist, catching the katana and sending it flying. Duncan dropped to his knees in capitulation.

The Ivanhoe was scant centimeters from Duncan's neck, held by a man whose entire body was clenched with rage. He kept his head bent, not willing to look at the old man.

"Look at me."

Duncan kept his eyes on the floor.

"Look at me, you bastard."

Hard steel pressed against yielding flesh and Duncan looked up, into eyes which didn't trust, into the face of a man who believed himself betrayed.

"I will not be the means of your suicide."

"I—" Duncan began.

"Either you are more out of practice than you've been in three centuries or you let me win. Which is it?"

"I wasn't trying to get you to kill me."

"Weren't you?"


"Why should I believe you?"

"I've never lied to you."

"Do you want to live, Duncan?" Methos persisted, pressing just a little bit harder with the Ivanhoe.


"Why should I believe you?"

"Because I don't lie, not to you."

"Why not to me?"

"I don't need to," Duncan answered simply.

"Because I matter so little?"

"Because I don't have to hide things from you. You understand."

"I don't understand this. I don't understand your willingness to throw your life away."

"You've risked your life," Duncan pointed out.

"Risking your head is not the same thing as trying to lose it."

"I'm not."

"The evidence says otherwise. Keane, O'Rourke, replacing your sword with a stick." The race track where you begged me to take your head. Those words remained unspoken, but both men knew they were there.

"Move your blade and I'll prove it to you."

"How?" Methos all but snarled, even as he sheathed his sword.

Duncan rose easily to his feet and stepped toward his opponent. "Like this." Taking Methos face in his hands, Duncan brought their mouths together. Methos stiffened. Duncan persisted, tugging gently on the other man's lips with his own.

Methos relented, his hands coming to rest on Duncan's hips. He returned the kiss for only a moment before pulling back. "What was that?" he demanded, stepping out of Duncan's reach.

"It hasn't been that long, has it?"

"Obvious answer, Mac. Try again. How is kissing me supposed to prove that you're no longer willing to throw away your life?"

"I'm seeking new experiences. Isn't that indicative of a renewed interest in living?"

"Sex is hardly a new experience for you."

"Sex with you would be."

"Never been with a man, Mac?"

"I've never been with you."

"And precisely why would you believe that to be an experience worth seeking?"

Duncan floundered. He knew what words to use with a woman, how to tell a woman he desired her. He was at a loss as to how to express those emotions to a man, to Methos. The eldest could cut more deeply with words than with a sword. "You're Methos," he said, as though that in itself would explain the attraction.

"I'm Methos," the other man echoed. "And of course Methos would know a trick or two."

Duncan blushed.

"Not good enough. I doubt I know anything you couldn't learn from a good book. And I don't take on students anymore."

"You've been trying to teach me since the day we met."

"I've been trying to keep your head attached."

"Because I'm too important to lose." Duncan replied in Methos' own words.

Methos nodded.

"Why, old man? Why can't you lose me?"

"I've lost enough friends," Methos answered, avoiding Duncan's gaze.

"And you've survived. Not good enough. Try again."

"I want you to win," Methos said quietly.


"You deserve to win."

"I'm a murderer."

"Not your fault. Neither Sean nor Richie was your fault."

"No? There is darkness inside me."

"There is darkness in us all. But you've never been deliberately cruel, never used your power, your charisma to take advantage of others. You have tried to do the right thing, to live honorably, and if you haven't always succeeded, at least you tried. That is more than can be said of most of us."

Duncan's eyes narrowed with suspicion. "You decided I should be the one to win the prize before we even met, didn't you?"

Methos nodded.

"And that you would do whatever it took to ensure my victory. That's the real reason you offered me your head."

Methos nodded, yet again. He was frowning, clearly unhappy at the turn the conversation had taken.

"I'm your redemption aren't I, Methos?" Anger inflected the last two syllables. "Your chance to make amends for your crimes."

Methos looked away.

"Admit it." Duncan clasped Methos' chin and turned his face back to Duncan's.

Long, elegant fingers wrapped around Duncan's wrist, squeezing, forcing him to release the old man. "I can always change my mind," Methos hissed.

"So you do admit it, all of it." Duncan nearly spat out the words. "And to think I once felt honored by your attention, thrilled that the eldest took an interest in me, deemed me worthy of his friendship, his trust."

"You are worthy, Duncan."

"You were only interested in yourself, in your own feeble quest for atonement."

"I searched for you, like Diogenes with his lamp. For millennia I searched for an immortal worthy of the prize."

"What gives you the right to make that choice?"

"As you said earlier, I understand. I know darkness, MacLeod. I am intimately familiar with the seduction of power." He paused for a heartbeat before continuing his recitation. "The thrill of conquest, the obscene pleasure of rape, the joy of slaughter. I've reveled in the pain of others, covered myself with my victims' blood."

He took a step closer to Duncan, deliberately moving into his personal space. "Still want to kiss me?" Duncan's eyes flicked away. "Thought not."

He stepped back, restoring the distance between them. "I know the strength needed to resist the will to destruction. You have that strength."

"So do you."

"I'm damaged, Mac. Beyond repair and beyond redemption. I surrendered too many times."

"And I haven't." His voice was full of contempt and Duncan was unsure whether it was for Methos or himself.

"Two deaths against ten thousand."

"I've killed more than twice."

"But never the innocent or the defenseless."

"I'm not a saint."

"Amanda wouldn't hang around so much if you were."

"I'm not a hero, either."

"There, we disagree."

"I thought you considered me rigid, even narrow."

"I never said you were perfect."

"Do you love me?"


"It's a simple question, Methos. Do you love me?"

"Why on Earth would you ask that?"

"Why won't you answer?"

"I'll answer when you tell me why you want to know."

"I want to know if I'm just a project to you, an abstraction, or…" Duncan halted, his earlier rashness suddenly gone.

"If I genuinely care for you," Methos finished. "Christ, Highlander, haven't we met your daily angst quotient yet?"

"Forget it." Duncan strode away, retrieved his fallen sword. "Let's go."

He started for the door. He reached it before Methos finally spoke. "You're not an experiment, or a project, or an abstraction, Duncan." Duncan stopped. "I know you're real, flesh and blood, sinew and muscle, heat and…" Duncan turned around and flow of words ended.

"Can't you ever answer a simple yes or no question?"

"I thought I was."

"With a simple yes or no."


"Yes what?"

"That's it. Just yes. It's what you wanted, isn't it? A single syllable, a simple yes or no."

"Did it take you five thousand years to become this exasperating or were you born that way?"

"It's a gift."

"That's debatable."

"I answered your question. Why are we still bickering?"

"We're in the middle of a warehouse. What else would you suggest we do?"

"Go someplace more comfortable?"

Duncan smiled, closed his eyes for a moment. "Come on. I'll make dinner."

Methos leaned against the counter, beer in hand, watching oil splatter as Mac poured shrimp into a wok. It felt remarkably normal. He'd admitted loving Mac and Mac had offered to make dinner. Nothing odd in that, probably happened to the Highlander on a daily basis. Methos was honest enough with himself to admit he hoped it didn't.

Silence had settled between them as soon as they left the warehouse. Neither comfortable, nor awkward, it was, Methos had decided, anticipatory. Or perhaps that was just his own wishful thinking.


The old man roused himself from his thoughts.

"Dinner's ready."

As always the food was good, better than good. Methos focused on it, trying to keep his wayward mind from wandering down potentially embarrassing paths. Besides, if he kept his mind on the food he didn't have to think about the way Duncan was watching him. Intent, speculative. His mind supplied the adjectives before he could stop it.

"I was just thinking…"

Duncan began.

"You really are seeking out new experiences," Methos cut in.

Duncan smiled. "About new experiences and staying alive."

"What did you conclude?"

"That I need something to look forward to, a reason to get out of bed in the morning."

He paused. "Or perhaps to stay in it." Duncan took a drink of his wine, letting his fingers stroke the stem of the glass after he returned it to the table. "And it occurred to me that as my self-appointed protector it is your job to supply that reason."

"You think so." Methos leaned back in his chair, food forgotten.

"I do."

"And what, precisely, would you find sufficient motivation for getting up in the morning?"


"You want me to come by and wake you every morning? I can do that, but there is the problem of you actually liking mornings and me preferring not to face the day before noon."

"It'd be less of a problem if you were already here."

"I don't make the best houseguest, remember?"

"I thought you might do better if you slept somewhere other than the couch."

"Such as?"

"My bed."

"You'd offer me your bed? How generous."

"I had thought we might share."

"I don't know."

Methos appeared to consider the suggestion. "Which side do you sleep on?"

Duncan shook his head. "We're going to talk this to death, aren't we?"

"No, Highlander, we're not." Methos stood, extended a hand. "You want me."

It wasn't a question but Duncan answered as if it were. "I do."

"Then take me."

Duncan clasped the offered hand, rose to stand next to him. "Can it really be that easy?"

"It can."

"Four years and all I had to do was say, 'I want you.'"

"And stop talking."

"And stop talking," Duncan repeated as he moved his mouth to Methos'. The old man didn't stiffen this time. He leaned into it, answering Duncan's eagerness with his own.

Hands proved to be every bit as eager as mouths, moving restlessly over and under clothing, anxious to know, to feel. Methos soon found himself breaking the kiss to pull Duncan's shirt over his head. His own quickly joined it. Bare skin connected with bare skin, easing some of the anxiety. The pace slowed; tongues savored and fingers traced in a quiet exploration, broken only when Duncan's name escaped Methos' lips.

Duncan released the nipple he held in his mouth. "Bed?"

"Yes." Methos stepped past his kneeling lover and Duncan rose to follow him.

They stood next to the bed, neither moving. "How can things go from easy to awkward so quickly?" Duncan asked. "I never understood that."

Methos smiled. "Me neither."

"Then it can't be understood."

"Probably not." Methos' head was bent slightly forward and he was looking at Duncan from under his lashes. "But I have learned how to get past it."

Duncan was concentrating so thoroughly on the look that he didn't really register the words. "Did you ever meet Lauren Bacall?"


"I was just wondering if she learned that look from you or you learned it from her."

Methos began to laugh. He dropped onto the bed on his back. "My most seductive look and it reminds you of Lauren Bacall. You really are the poster boy for rampant heterosexuality."

Duncan moved to straddle his thighs. He reached for the other man's belt, undoing it easily and moving on to the top button on Methos' jeans.

"I think I may be out of a job after this. Somehow I doubt that the rampant heterosexuals will approve."

"And what do you intend on doing to earn their disapproval?"

Duncan paused on button number three, causing the jeans' wearer to squirm slightly. "I had thought of asking you to fuck me." Methos jaw dropped and Duncan silently congratulated himself. He'd succeeded in surprising the old man. He finished with the third button. Keeping his tone casual, he continued, "What do you think your answer to such a question might be?"


"You say that like it's a question."

"But I did answer with a yes or no."

"So you did." Duncan undid the last of the buttons. "Such behavior should be met with positive reinforcement, don't you think?"

"Oh, definitely."

Smirking, Duncan reached into the opened jeans, withdrawing a long, slender cock. Stroking lightly, he caught Methos' eyes with his. "The only question is what kind of reward would be most appropriate."

"Your decision. I'm just the recipient."

"So you are." Duncan looked downward once again, watching his own hand as it stroked. Decision made he leaned forward, circled the head with his tongue, felt Methos' entire body jerk beneath him. He repeated the action two, three times before taking the head into his mouth and sucking, hard. This brought forth a sound which could only be called a whimper.

Duncan quickly concluded that Methos' remaining clothing needed to go. Keeping his mouth in the same location, he moved to kneel next to his lover, reaching with his hands to tug the jeans off. He managed to get them below Methos' knees without releasing his prize. Stymied, he stood and moved to the bottom of the bed. He pulled impatiently at Methos pants, growling when he realized he couldn't get them over the other man's sneakers.

"Problem, Mac?" Methos had raised himself up on his elbows. He was clearly amused by the Highlander's difficulties.

"No." Duncan grabbed first one foot and then the other, pulling the offending shoes off without even bothering to untie them.

"Glad to hear it." The old man lay back as Duncan finally stripped him of the last of his clothing.

Methos was only vaguely disappointed when instead of resuming his earlier activity, Duncan stretched out fully above him. "Something I can do for you?"

"As a matter of fact…"

"What do you want, Duncan?" Methos tone went from playful to beguiling. As he asked he ran his hands up Duncan's sides, sliding smoothly over his ribs.

"I believe I already mentioned that."

"So you did." Methos rolled them both so that he was the one on top. This time he initiated the kiss, wordlessly claiming control of their encounter.

He temporarily abandoned the kiss, dragging his lips along the other man's neck before once again taking his mouth. He pushed relentlessly. Every contact was a demand and for the second time that day, Duncan capitulated.

He arched into the other man's touch, presenting more of himself. Held still when constrained. It took no more than a fingertip placed just so to constrain him. He had been searching for a way to bring an end to Duncan MacLeod for more than a year. In Methos' arms he found it. Duncan MacLeod need not exist any longer. He could be remade, all he had to do was allow Methos to reshape him.

His remaining clothing was not the trial for Methos that the old man's had been for him. It disappeared, almost before Duncan was aware of it. Then Methos was between his legs, fingers skimming over his cock, his testicles, moving lower. Without thought he responded, spreading his legs, opening himself to that knowing touch.

Duncan lie still beneath him, offering himself. Take, give, whatever Methos wanted he could have. Unsurprisingly, considering the identity of his partner, he found himself wanting to give. He moved with care, his eyes locked on Duncan's face. He used his cock to caress, his movements painstakingly gentle. Duncan's body responded in kind, clasping every millimeter of his flesh as he pushed inward, releasing him with reluctance when he withdrew.

He was sliding across Duncan's prostate with every stroke, pulling sounds of pleasure from deep within his lover. Duncan's face was, he knew, a reflection of his own. Pleasure, desire, a narrowing of focus until all awareness centered on the object of that desire, the source of the pleasure. Methos was lost in him.

His movements slowed even further, everything in him seeking to prolong the moment. Knowing it was futile, he reached for Duncan's cock, wanting Duncan with him when the end arrived. Callused fingers closed over his own, holding his hand still. This last connection between them sent him into sensory overload and Methos pushed more deeply than he had before, his back arching, his lower lip caught between his teeth.

He let go.

Love and fear, tenderness and longing, need and hope, all poured from him along with the fluid he left deep in Duncan MacLeod's body.

Trembling, he collapsed. Arms encircled him, solid and reassuring. Methos clung to that strength, using it to keep himself whole when the pleasure threatened to shake him apart. It was some time before his breath evened out and his heart stopped racing.


The voice was low and so full of affection that for an instant he feared the trembling might begin again. "Hmm," he answered.


"Hmmm. You?"

"Hmmm," Duncan replied, receiving an affectionate nuzzle from the man lying atop him in response.

Methos groaned. He could sense the light on the other side of his eyelids. Damn, the barge was bright in the morning. Barge? Morning? He was wide awake now. Keeping his eyes closed, he quickly catalogued his surroundings. The room reeked of sex; there was an arm over his chest and a body pressed against his back.

He let his mind replay the previous night. He'd fucked the Highlander. He, Methos, had been inside the very tight and very welcoming ass of Duncan MacLeod of the clan MacLeod. He started to laugh, clamped a hand over his mouth.


He fought to stifle the laugh, succeeded in choking out a single word. "Yes?"

"Is something wrong?"

Methos shook his head, keeping his lips pressed tightly together. A hand on his shoulder rolled him onto his back.

Duncan was leaning over him, his face full of concern. "Are you sure?"

Methos nodded, still not trusting his voice.

"Is there something about sex which leaves you speechless? Because I'd have done this a long time ago if I'd known."

The very normalcy of the barb pierced the threatening hysteria, and Methos responded automatically. "I see sex does nothing for your wit."

"Sorry if my repartee isn't up to your high standards. My brain's still addled."

"That shocking?"

"That incredible."

"So why aren't we doing it again?"

Duncan laughed quietly, leaning forward to rest his head in the center of the other man's chest.

Methos began to stroke his hair. "Are you okay, Duncan?"

A nod. "It just wasn't what I expected."

"What did you expect?"

"A contest. Everything else between us is a struggle. I thought this would be, too."

"Two alpha males butting heads."

"Instead…" he paused.

Methos waited.

Duncan inhaled deeply, began again. "Instead it was tender. Too tender, almost more than I could bear."

The hands on Duncan's hair stilled. "I'm sorry."

Duncan lifted his head. "For giving me one of the most moving experiences of my life? Are you daft?"

The familiar pejorative, thrown so frequently in the other direction, made Methos smile. "Apology withdrawn."

"Thank you." Duncan shifted, moving to lie alongside his lover. He rested his head on one hand, reaching out to touch Methos with the other. "I feel like a fool for not realizing how great your capacity to love is." He traced the other immortal's lips with his finger. "Do you ever do anything half way?"

"No. It's why I prefer to do nothing whenever possible."

"So I guess you wouldn't want to join me in the shower."

"Depends on what we'll be doing there."

"Butting heads."

"What are we waiting for?"