DISCLAIMER - Highlander and its characters is the copyright of Rysher and Panzer/Davis Productions and no infringement is intended. The story, such as it is, is copyright Karen Colohan March 2000.

It seemed like such a good idea at the time - taking Mac to the holy spring in search of a cure for the Dark Quickening, that is. Actually, it was the only idea I could come up with and leaving him as he is simply isn't an option as far as I'm concerned. Not only because he is a danger to everyone around him, but because I miss the real MacLeod - and I never thought I'd live to hear myself admit something like that! But we were on Holy Ground then and the ingrained taboos Immortals have still seemed to hold - just. Now, as we drive along these narrow country roads with darkness falling rapidly, I find myself having second thoughts.

I risk a quick glance at the silent figure sitting next to me in the passenger seat. It's hard to believe this dark-eyed demon really is Duncan MacLeod, for all that he wears his face. Everything that truly defined Mac is missing from this man. Those irritating boy scout rules and code of honour are gone, and much as I have derided them over the course of my acquaintance with Mac, I miss them. I am, after all, a pragmatist and without them there is nothing to keep me safe from him. This MacLeod has already proved more than once that old friendships mean nothing to him. Sean Burns - who had known him far longer than I have - paid the ultimate price as a result.

The only positive aspect of Sean's death is that his Quickening has given Mac a small measure of stability. Without that I would never have persuaded him to come with me to the spring at all, I'm certain. And I don't want to contemplate the choice that would have faced me in that case. My only comfort is that, in a rare moment of sanity, Mac told me he did not want to kill me. I hold fast to that knowledge. I have to believe it still holds true.

All the same, sitting in the close confines of my car with him, I can admit to being afraid of Duncan MacLeod. His mood is still so unpredictable, the Dark Quickening prompting him to darkness and a casual cruelty. In another lifetime I might have admired what he has become, but now I can only mourn what has been lost. All my thoughts are bent towards restoring the Highlander to his old self.

The light is fading fast, though, and I know I have no hope of finding the spring in the dark. That will have to wait for tomorrow, but this is an out of the way area and places to stop are few and far between. Much as I dislike the idea, it seems we may be forced to sleep in the car overnight. At least I can put the back seat down to give us a little more room, but I still feel as nervous as if I were planning on spending the night in a lion's cage. I find a clear area where I can pull right off the road and stop the car.

"Why have you stopped?" Mac asks, scowling.

"In case you hadn't noticed, it's dark," I reply shortly. It's been a long day; I'm tired and in no mood for arguments. "We'll have to stop overnight and this is as good a place as any. We'll go on to the spring first thing in the morning. I'm sorry the accommodation is somewhat less than 5 star, but we're a little off the beaten track here."

"Methos, are you sure this is a good idea?" His voice has become softer and I realise that, for the moment at least, my MacLeod has surfaced.

"No, I'm not," I answer honestly, "but we don't have a choice. The spring is hidden deep in the woods and I haven't been there for a very long time. We'd get hopelessly lost if we tried for it tonight."

"I don't want to hurt you, Methos. You know that, don't you?" Mac tells me earnestly, and I nod. "I... I still might, though," he admits. "I'm holding on to Sean's Quickening as hard as I can, but it may not be enough."

"I understand that, Mac, but I can take care of myself," I assure him, with rather more confidence than I actually feel. I don't want Mac to think I don't trust him. That will only do more harm than good. I need him to have faith in me and my ability to bring him through this. All the same, I rather doubt that I'll be getting any sleep tonight.

I reach into the back seat to see what I can find in the way of supplies. I come up with a large bottle of mineral water and a couple of packets of crisps. It's not exactly a feast, but I hadn't really been intending to camp out. I offer them to Mac and he takes one of the packets of crisps, opens it and begins to eat them in silence. It's more than a little unnerving to be sitting here with this uncommunicative man - under normal circumstances I'm sure Mac would be chiding me for my lack of foresight, boy scout that he is - but I try not to let it bother me.

I eat my own packet of crisps slowly, but I don't really have any appetite for them. I do wish that I had a six pack of beer instead of the mineral water, though. It's going to be a long, cold night and I don't relish facing it sober.

I glance across at Mac, but there's so little light now that I can't make out his expression. Under other circumstances I might even have welcomed the chance of a night spent at such close quarters with MacLeod. As much as I love Alexa I know that I'm still in lust with the Highlander. But I spent long months trying to elicit a response from him, without success. Still, alone together in the dark, who knows what might have happened. This is not my Highlander, though, and I wouldn't dare try to seduce this dark stranger. He reminds me altogether too much of others in my past - of times I have no wish to revisit.

Disturbed by the direction of my thoughts I decide to busy myself with the practicalities of getting the car ready for whatever rest we may be able to get. "I'm going to fold the back seat down," I tell MacLeod.

He doesn't so much as nod in acknowledgement and I wonder if he's fallen asleep. I realise he hasn't as I move and catch the faint glitter of moonlight in his dark eyes. As I get out of the car I'm peripherally aware of Mac's head turning to watch me. It's cold outside, but the chill in the air isn't the only thing that makes me shiver.

It doesn't take me long to clear the back of the car and fold down the seat. It makes a fair sized space. I decide I'll offer Mac the chance to sleep there while I take the front seat. I'll feel a little safer with some kind of barrier between us, but I still don't really plan on sleeping - even assuming that I can.

I realise that I need to relieve myself and head away from the car to the slight privacy of a scrubby, leafless bush. I take care of it, and am just in the process of zipping my trousers back up when I hear the sound of twigs cracking behind me. At the same moment I feel a rush of presence wash over me. Instinct makes me spin round, reaching for my sword as I do. I never manage to get hold of it, though, as a large hand grabs my wrist roughly. I find myself face to face with MacLeod.

"Planning on leaving so soon?" he rasps, and I realise the Dark Quickening has taken the upper hand again.

"Don't be ridiculous," I snap. "I just needed to take a leak."

Mac glances down and notices my zipper - still half open. There is a brief flash of white as he grins, baring his teeth.

I feel suddenly acutely uncomfortable at being exposed to him like this. The feeling is compounded as Mac's hand slips down and finds its way into my open fly. I find myself wishing I had opted for underwear today as Mac's fingers close roughly over my unprotected cock. He jerks at it a few times and I feel the traitorous flesh twitch in response. I suppose it's not really its fault. After all, the look, the feel and the smell of him all equate to the man my cock has - albeit against my better judgement - learnt to respond to. The rational part of my brain may know the difference, but that's not exactly in the driving seat right now. I curse silently. I really don't want to give Mac any encouragement to pursue this, but it's already too late.

Mac leans in close, his lips brushing against my ear. "What a whore you are, Methos," he hisses. "Not gone from Alexa for even 24 hours and here you are offering yourself to me."

I stiffen angrily. "How dare you!" I grate out. "I didn't ask you to start pawing me. You took that upon yourself."

"But your cock's not complaining, old man... is it?" says Mac slyly - and he's right. I can feel my cock getting harder as Mac keeps pumping it roughly with his fist.

"Get off me!" I hiss back, beginning to get seriously angry. I push him away from me. I know I must look a complete mess, my clothes in disarray and my firming cock framed by the open fly of my jeans. I'm tempted to reach for my sword, to hold Mac off, but his sudden laughter pulls me up short.

"Why fight it, Methos," he asks, his voice abruptly seductive. "You know you want me. Alexa can't give you what you really need. I can... if you let me."

"Don't flatter yourself!" I glare at Mac, incensed. I know my words would carry a whole lot more weight, though, if I weren't so obviously aroused.

Mac slowly advances on me again and I back away carefully, my eyes never leaving his face. I'm not careful enough, though, and my foot catches on a tree root. I flail wildly for balance, but it's no good, gravity has the upper hand. I topple over, landing heavily on my back in a pile of dead leaves. As I struggle to prop myself up on my elbows Mac looms over me in the darkness. He's little more than a shadowy outline, but I still feel the aura of danger emanating from him.

"That's how you were meant to be, Methos," Mac informs me cruelly. "On your back with your cock ready for whoever wants to take it. You were born a slut and that's how you'll die..."

"Fuck you!" I spit back at him and he laughs.

"Oh no," he says smoothly, but I don't miss the underlying menace in Mac's words. "It doesn't work like that. I'm the one who gets to fuck you..."

I reach under me and finally manage to free my sword. The blade is a naked threat in my hands as Mac crouches down beside me. It only serves to amuse him more, though. Before I can anticipate his reaction Mac's knee presses down on my unprotected groin. A harsh scream is torn from me at the unexpectedness of the pain. It spreads outward from its point of origin in my balls, which are being expertly crushed by Mac's well-placed knee. I gasp for breath and, involuntarily, my fingers relax their grip on the hilt of the Ivanhoe.

Mac plucks the sword from my unresisting grasp and eases up the pressure on my balls just a little. I know a moment of real fear as he turns the blade and places the edge against my throat. Again I see the flash of Mac's smile as he enjoys my discomfort.

"I thought you liked the kiss of steel on your neck," he says, his voice slyly insinuating. "You've conspired to put yourself at the wrong end of my sword often enough - and loved every second of it."

Damn, I curse silently. I hadn't thought he'd ever noticed my reaction on those occasions. Or maybe it took the influence of the Dark Quickening to bring it into focus for him. My MacLeod can be charmingly naive about certain things. I say nothing, though, neither confirming or denying. While I might have chosen to indulge my little fetish for danger with a sane MacLeod, this unpredictable version of him is another matter entirely.

"Why so shy all of a sudden, Methos?" he breathes, his lips moving against my ear. "I thought you liked me. I like you..."

As if to emphasise the point the tip of Mac's tongue steals out and lazily traces the outline of my ear. I don't want to respond to the deliberately sensual caress, but my cock has other ideas. It only gets worse when Mac begins to slowly fuck my ear with wet stabs of his tongue. Unthinkingly I arch up and the sharp edge of my blade slices delicately into my throat. Abruptly conscious of my danger once more I freeze, and Mac chuckles softly. I am acutely aware of the warm blood trickling down my neck and the tingling sensation of my Quickening as it heals the wound.

Mac moves, bending his head to nuzzle at my throat. I feel the rough strokes of his tongue and realise he is licking away the blood from my skin. The realisation both terrifies and arouses me. And Mac knows it. His hand moves down, wrapping around my cock and gripping hard.

"Such a slut - such a beautiful slut, Methos," he murmurs against my now healed neck. "You love the pain, don't you. You want me to hurt you."

"No, you're wrong!" I protest, but he only laughs again and grasps my cock harder. Ignoring my objections it swells to fill his palm.

"Am I?" he asks slyly. "I don't think so. If this is anything to go by I think I can make you come from the pleasure of your pain alone."

"No!" I struggle, trying to get free of him, but the sword menaces me again and I quickly still. If I ever had any virtue to defend it was a very long time ago and, much as I hate this, it's not worth losing my head over.

"Better," says MacLeod and I can hear the smugness in his voice.

"What do you think this proves?" I ask, my anger starting to reassert itself.

Unexpectedly, Mac lets go of me. "You're still so sure you can save me, aren't you, Methos?"

There is a sudden sharp note in MacLeod's voice and I tense. I'm not sure what this change of tack means and I don't want to react until I have a better idea of what's going on in Mac's head now.

"You're still so certain I want to be saved," he continues. "What this proves is that you're wrong. I don't want your interference, old man. I like what I've become. And when I fuck you, you'll just love the new, improved Duncan MacLeod."

"No." I shake my head vehemently. "It's you that's wrong. Even if you do fuck me I won't love this... thing that you've become. I loved - love Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod." The words spill out of me unexpectedly, but it's too late to call them back, so I simply forge on. "And I will save him - because I know that he would hate this, hate what you're doing."

I stare up into the Highlander's dark eyes defiantly. I won't let myself be intimidated by him. That way I give him power over me and I refuse to put myself in that position ever again. I spent a thousand years being intimidated by a master and I have no desire to repeat the experience. Yes, I can enjoy pain in a sexual context; I admit that, but these days I only want it in a consensual encounter. And I very definitely do not give my consent here.

Mac must have seen the change in my expression because his own alters too - becomes harder. Suddenly he tosses my sword aside and grabs my shoulders. Roughly he manhandles me until he gets me onto my stomach. He keeps me in place with a knee pressed down into the small of my back. The ground is cold and damp under me and the rough surface of twigs and dead leaves digs into my unprotected cock and balls painfully.

"This is going to happen, Methos. Whether you enjoy it or not is entirely up to you," Mac hisses, bending low over me.

Mac begins to pull at my clothing. I relax as much as I can in the circumstances, becoming a dead weight. Anything to make his job harder. I hear him curse as he realises what I'm doing. Then a vicious punch lands in the middle of my back. I tense instinctively, gasping for breath. Mac lands several more blows in quick succession, knocking the rest of the air out of my lungs. Evidently he finds me pliant enough for his purposes then, and he quickly and efficiently finishes stripping me naked.

I shiver in the chill night air. Then MacLeod's hands are on me - probing roughly between my buttocks - and I shudder even more at the inevitability of what is to follow. Only the knowledge that my MacLeod would hate what is happening as much as I do keeps me silent, when all I want to do is scream aloud at this betrayal. I have to convince myself that it isn't Mac doing this - merely a stranger wearing his body. It's the only way I'll be able to face him again once this is all over and he is restored to his true nature by the spring. And I don't want this to come between us - that way the evil now resident in MacLeod still wins.

My earlier erection has withered completely now. Taking pleasure in pain is one thing, but I have never found anything remotely arousing or pleasurable in rape - and that's what this has become. I hear the faint sound as Mac unzips his own trousers and I try to make myself relax. If I tense up this will only be more painful for me. At this stage I'm no longer thinking of trying to stop it happening. I know Mac simply isn't prepared to be thwarted.

With little finesse Mac hauls my hips up as he kneels between my thighs. He presses a thumb insistently against my entrance, forcing the muscles until they give way to him. The dry digit chafes the tender tissues as Mac stretches the opening to my body perfunctorily, but he is hardly concerned for my comfort.

I rest my forearms on the ground, bracing myself for the more forceful intrusion to come. I pillow my forehead against them, cushioning it from the rough surface beneath me. The pressure inside me finally withdraws and I take the opportunity to breathe in deeply while I can. I hear Mac spit into his palm. I suppose I should be grateful for even that much lubrication, given the circumstances.

I feel the head of Mac's thick cock, slick with his pre-come, slide between my cheeks. Clearly he is finding pleasure in this situation, even if I am not. His hands grip my hips roughly, holding me in place, but I no longer feel the urge to struggle. I only want to get this over with as soon as possible. Mac pushes hard against my opening until the muscles give up their resistance and he is able to force his way into my body. With the minimal lubrication and the roughness of Mac's thrusts the pain is intense, but I have no intention of giving him the satisfaction of knowing just how much he's hurting me. I sink my teeth into my lip, using the new site of pain as a distraction. I have endured in silence in the past and I can do so again now.

Mac continues to push himself deeper inside me and I'm surprised that he's not causing himself pain in the process. My body is tight, unaccustomed to this penetration in recent times, and I hear him grunt with the effort required. If he is hurt, though, Mac doesn't seem to care. He merely thrusts and withdraws relentlessly, sinking a little further into me with each push. I breathe as steadily as I can, trying to minimise my discomfort as much as possible. Finally Mac is sheathed entirely in my body and he stretches himself over my back, a threatening weight.

"You're mine now, Methos," he gloats, his voice sounding loud in my ears. "Who else could possess you this way?"

"You think you own me, MacLeod? You may use my body, but you'll never do that," I inform him defiantly. "I belong to no one but myself."

Mac merely laughs, then leans further forward. He nips at my earlobe and the side of my neck, then reaches beneath me to test the reaction of my cock. It remains stubbornly limp. What excited me before fails to move me now. I want nothing this MacLeod can give me.

"Why must you defy me, Methos?" he growls, plainly displeased.

"Because I don't want this, don't want you," I spit back angrily.

"So be it," he hisses. "I could have made this a pleasant experience for both of us, you know - if you weren't such a hypocrite. I know your desires; I understand them... But even if you persist in denying them I will still have my pleasure of you."

There is nothing I can say. It's too unnerving to realise this dark, unprincipled creature knows me so well. They say like calls to like... My MacLeod has never been able to see beyond Adam Pierson. With a shiver that owes nothing to the chill in the air I wonder if this insight will remain once the evil is driven out. It's a disquieting thought.

Meanwhile, Mac pulls almost all the way out of me and then shoves his cock back in to the hilt. I can feel tissue tearing inside me and have to bite down hard on my already sore lip to keep the cry of pain from escaping. It sets the pattern for what follows. Mac continues to fuck me with mindless ferocity, totally without consideration for my distress. His hand keeps jerking spasmodically at my cock, as if he believes I will start to enjoy his actions if he persists long enough. Whatever Mac's expectations may be, it fails to respond. His calloused palm simply rubs the sensitive flesh raw. As he fucks me, Mac bites the back of my neck and my shoulders. His teeth are sharp and I can feel him draw blood. When he does his tongue roughly laps it up and I find myself shuddering in disgust.

It seems as if the torment will go on forever, but when my ass is burning from the roughness of Mac's penetration and my cock can barely withstand his harsh grasp any more, he finally tenses. He is sunk deep inside me, and a moment later warmth floods into me as Mac comes violently. It doesn't seem to be an especially pleasurable experience for him. He thrusts his hips a few more times, just for good measure, and then pulls out. His withdrawal is equally rough. He lets go of me and then pushes me so that I collapse onto my stomach on the cold ground once more. Apparently Mac has no more use for me; I've served my purpose.

I simply lie there, breathing harshly and grateful that it's over at last.

Mac says nothing to me as he climbs to his feet. I hear the rustle of fabric as he adjusts his clothing and then his steps as he walks away.

I wait a few more moments and then risk pushing up onto my hands and knees. I gasp as pain shoots from my ass throughout my body, the nerves seeming to fire randomly. I'm glad Mac has his back to me as he wanders slowly towards the car. I don't want him to have the satisfaction of seeing how much he's hurt me - it will heal soon enough - and then I can face him with my head held high. He hasn't broken me. I won't let him think, even for a moment, that he has.

I feel the residue of Mac's climax begin to trickle out of me and down the backs of my thighs. I grimace at the sensation, but aside from my clothes I have nothing to clean myself with. In all honesty, after what I've been through, it's a minor irritation.

As I begin to recover from the deeper hurts Mac inflicted on me I get to my feet and begin to dress myself. It's almost like pulling on armour, a protection of sorts against the reality of what was done to me. I can't pretend, at least to myself, that this hasn't affected me. It has, but I've survived far worse than this in the past. I'll get over it. I can't help but feel that this will hurt Mac far more, once the effects of the Dark Quickening are washed from his soul. I can only hope that it doesn't put a wall between us. I need this man's friendship too much, I've discovered.

I finish dressing as the last aches leave my body. As I look down I realise my sword is still lying on the ground where Mac tossed it. Somehow I'd thought he would take it. After all, he'd given the katana into my care and was otherwise weaponless. I decide to take it as a positive sign. Perhaps the true MacLeod is surfacing again, the evil side of his nature appeased for the time being by this rape. I pick up the sword and tuck it back into place inside my coat. I take a deep breath - mentally preparing myself to face whichever facet of Mac's personality awaits me - and start back towards the car.

Mac is sitting inside with his head bowed. It's too dark for me to see his face clearly like this. For a moment, with a sense of deja vu, I wonder if he's fallen asleep. I open the door as quietly as possible and climb into the driver's seat. At once Mac looks up and turns to face me. I'm startled by what I am now able to see. I realise after only a moment that this is not the same MacLeod who raped me. Clearly, though, he remembers what he has done. The revulsion in his expression testifies to that, as do the twin tracks of moisture silvering his cheeks.

"I'm sorry, Methos," he says softly, before I can open my own mouth to speak. Mac's voice is low and husky and his eyes dart away from mine, dark and troubled.

A part of me wants to hate MacLeod for what he's done to me, but I can't. In every sense that matters he wasn't responsible for this. Besides, it's evident that he's already punishing himself enough for the both of us.

"It doesn't matter," I tell him gently. I don't want to give this part of Mac a reason to retreat. "It wasn't you - I know that."

"The way it wasn't me who killed Sean?" he asks bitterly.

There is no real answer to that, but I shake my head anyway. "No," I reply firmly, "not in any way that matters."

"I can't do this, Methos," Mac tells me, his voice pleading.

"Yes you can - you have to," I insist. I won't give up now, not when I've managed to bring him this far. "Just one more night, Mac, and then this will all be over."

"You make it sound so simple... but how can you sit here with me - after what I've done?" he asks incredulously. "What guarantee do you have that I won't hurt you again, maybe worse?"

"I trust you," I reply simply, "Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod. No matter what the Dark Quickening has done to you, in your heart you're still a man of honour and strength. You can fight this."

"I'm not strong enough, Methos. Haven't I already proved that too many times?" he sighs. "I only wish I had your faith."

"Then I will have to have enough faith for both of us," I say gently. "I'm not going to give up on you. You are still too important to lose. But now you should rest. Tomorrow won't be easy, Mac."

"I can't sleep..." he protests automatically.

"Yes you can," I insist again. "Take the back seat, you'll be able to stretch out there."

He sighs and I expect him to refuse again, but eventually he nods his agreement. Mac clambers into the back of the car and I hear the rustle of his clothing as he tries to make himself comfortable.

"Methos..." Mac's voice floats out of the darkness.

"Yes?" I don't turn around.

"Can you ever forgive me for what I did?" he asks, and I hear the pain in his tone. "Your friendship means a great deal to me. I... I don't want to lose that."

"Hush, it's already forgotten," I say softly. "It changes nothing between us, Mac, nothing."

"I - thank you, Methos... for everything," Mac replies brokenly.

And I cannot, even for one moment, regret my lie.

The End

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