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Title: Touching

Author: chelle

Author's email:

Author's URL:

Fandom: Highlander

Category: Slash

Pairing: Duncan/Methos

Series: Touch

Archive: Ask first

Rating: PG

AN: This story is the sequel to "Not Touching," a story I swore I wouldn't write, but there you go. Lyrics are borrowed from Nanci Griffith "It's Too Late," copyright 1991. Used without permission.

The unmistakable feel of Immortal presence caused Methos to turn and look at the door. He was certain it was Mac. Nevertheless, he turned. Or maybe he turned because it was Mac.

It took Mac only a moment to locate Methos. Their eyes met and Methos watched Duncan move through the crowd to join him at the bar. Far fewer heads turned at Mac's passing than once would have. Once, nearly every head in the place had turned when Duncan MacLeod entered a room. He'd exuded a presence that had nothing to do with Immortality and everything to do with looks and power and confidence. Mac would enter and the energy in the room would palpably shift.

Duncan's presence was more subdued now. His confidence had been shaken and the looks, while still appealing, were more conventional with his hair cut short. The power was still there in fact it had grown. But the Champion didn't take the pride in that power that Duncan MacLeod of the clan MacLeod had, and it was tightly shielded, taken out only when necessary, and then with reluctance.

The changes in MacLeod were ones Methos would once have applauded. Lower the profile, draw less attention to yourself, blend in. It was the kind of thing he would once have urged on Duncan, if he had believed there was the slightest chance Duncan would listen.

Now, seeing how Duncan had changed saddened him. Pushing the sadness away, he found a welcoming smile for his friend. "Hello, Mac."

"Adam," Duncan answered, gesturing for the bartender. The warmth in his tone was unmistakable.

The bartender put a bottle of water in front of Mac. Methos shook his head. Four months since O'Rourke, almost two years since Richie's death, and Mac was still a teetotaler.

It was almost time for the band to take the stage, and Methos picked up his beer, cocking his head in the direction of their table.

Duncan nodded, picking up his bottle and following Methos through the crowd to the small table with the Reserved sign. Methos had complained one night about losing their table to musical tourists with no true appreciation for fine blues. The next time Le Blues Bar had had a band his and Mac's table had been reserved.

Methos glanced at the stage. Joe's band wasn't playing tonight. Instead, it was some friends of Joe's from the States. Methos remembered hearing them in Seacouver, and he was looking forward to the show, especially with Joe sitting in.

The waitress came by with a last round before the band started, and Duncan surprised him by asking for a beer. Some of his surprise must have shown on his face, because Mac grinned a little and said, "Have to live a little every now and then."

Methos smiled. "Yeah."

Their eyes locked for a moment, and then a noise from the stage drew Duncan's attention and he looked away.

Methos was suddenly, viscerally reminded of the last night they'd spent here before Richie's death. They'd gazed into one another's eyes a great deal that night, too. Methos had had the feeling that Duncan was searching for something that night, studying Methos for signs of—what? Attraction, perhaps? But Methos had considered that possibility merely wishful thinking. He still did.

And he still wished.

The waitress delivered Mac's beer and he raised it in salute before bringing it to his lips. Methos copied the gesture with his own beer, smiling into warm brown eyes in the instant before glass touched flesh.

The band took the stage, and both men turned their attention toward it. The lead singer was a slender woman with the kind of confidence that only experience could bring. Simple clothing and a lack of cosmetics added to Methos' impression of a woman who knew what was what and was, fortunately for her listeners, willing to share that knowledge.

Methos settled in to listen.


Methos glanced at his companion. Duncan's eyes were on the stage, his expression one of relaxed attention. The band was halfway through their first set, and Methos could feel Mac's knee brush his as he tapped his foot. Mac couldn't carry a tune in a bucket, but he had a dancer's ability to find the beat.

The song ended and Duncan's leg stopped brushing against Methos'.

The music resumed, and Methos started at the sound. He recognized this song. Methos cast a surreptitious glance at his friend, wondering if it would affect Duncan the way it always had him.

The singer's voice rang out clear and true, weaving images that drew the audience into her story:

You pace the pool and talk about it
I read my book and think about it

You've walked on water
As I'm turning the page
You say, "What's the intrigue here
In reading when the sky is clear?"
You are in the sun

And I am always in the shade

Methos had always pictured the characters as himself and Duncan. Duncan acting, talking, walking on water, while Methos observed from the shade. It had long seemed that the sun belonged to Duncan while the shade was Methos', but now…Now, Duncan knew more of the shade than Methos had ever wanted him to.

The singer moved into the chorus, and it hit Methos as hard as it had the first time he'd heard it.

It's too late to leave you
You know that I will never leave you

Except he had. He'd left Duncan to face the greatest fight of his life alone. He closed his eyes at the familiar rush of shame. It didn't matter how much he rationalized the choice. In the end, he'd still left Duncan alone.

Methos opened his eyes to find Duncan studying him. His friend smiled gently, quizzically at him, and Methos forced himself to return the smile. Duncan didn't need his guilt; he had enough of his own.

The chorus was over, and Methos listened to the second verse, wondering what Duncan would make of it, if anything.

I can feel the weather changing
The leaves are tired and turned with anger
They fall around us like a veil

Of golden tears
You have never needed me
And I'm not good at being needed
The season will be leaving us
But we will still be here

Mac was still looking at him, and as the last words of the verse died away he reached across the table, stopping before his hand connected with Methos' own. Methos stared at Duncan's hand as the chorus resumed.

It's too late to leave you
You know that I will never leave you
It's too late to know you
You don't like to be known

You would never hold me
I don't like to be held
I will always love you
In spite of myself

To many, Methos had no doubt, he was the mystery, the one who didn't like to be known, but Mac had layers hidden beneath his apparent openness.

And Methos did like to be held.

None of which had stopped the chorus from reverberating through his head for days after he'd first heard it.

Do you miss me when I'm far away?
Do you save me for your rainy days?
Is my picture on the mantle

Or is it in the fire?

Methos smiled ruefully. All the questions he'd never had the courage to ask.

It's odd the way the years fly by
They leave us standing side by side
You have been my mystery

And I've been your desire

Methos lifted his eyes from Duncan's outstretched hand to his face. He'd never found it easy to read Duncan's expression; always afraid he'd see what he wanted to instead of what was really there.

The chorus started for the third and final time. This time Methos joined in, his eyes on Duncan's face as he sang.

It's too late to leave you
You know that I will never leave you

Duncan's eyes were locked on Methos' face, and Methos' heart beat faster as he sang.

I will always love you
In spite of myself
Yes, I will always love you
In spite of myself

The song ended and they were still for a moment before raising their hands to join in the applause. Duncan's eyes left him to return to the stage, and Methos let out the breath he hadn't known he was holding.

A new song began. Relieved when it turned out to be an innocuous tune about a daredevil, Methos slid down in his chair, resting a hand on the edge of the table.

Duncan leaned close. "It was like us, that song," he said quietly.

Methos' eyes went wide. "How?" he whispered.

"The years do seem to leave us standing side by side."

Methos smiled. "Yeah, they do."

"I'm glad of that," Duncan confided.

For once not restraining the impulse, Methos reached for Duncan's hand and covered it with his own. He squeezed quickly. Before he could let go, Duncan turned his own hand, bringing their palms together and returning the squeeze.

They sat like that, hands linked, until the set ended.


Methos was reluctant for the night to end. He and Duncan had exchanged a bare handful of words over the course of the entire evening, but Methos didn't want to give up the companionship they'd somehow managed to find at that small table. Unfortunately, he couldn't think of a way to justify remaining at the table when the bar's other patrons were mostly gone.

They left together, stepping out into the wet Paris night.

"Night, Methos," Duncan said softly, turning in the direction of the barge, but not taking any actual steps.

"Night, Mac," Methos answered, but he didn't take a step either. A heartbeat passed, then another. Finally, Duncan took a step.

Methos did as well, but only one. "Mac?"

Mac stopped, turning back to look at Methos. Was he imagining the hope on Duncan's face? Only one way to find out. "Come home with me?"

Mac smiled, the broadest smile Methos had seen on his face in years. "Okay."

Methos laughed.

Duncan fell into step beside him. "Lovely night."

Methos looked around him. Clouds were blotting out the moon and cold rain was drizzling down on them. "Yes, it is."