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, revised version April 2001.



Paris, late December 1999

"No."

Duncan MacLeod spun around and stared at the ancient Immortal. His expression was one of disbelief. Had he heard right? Had Methos just turned him down? No, surely not... Methos wasn't even looking at him, sprawled unconcernedly across the couch and apparently engrossed in his newspaper. Maybe that was the problem. He'd been too busy reading to take proper notice of what Duncan had said. Deciding that had to be the case, Duncan crossed the barge and leaned on the back of the couch. Then he tapped Methos' shoulder, to make sure he had his full attention this time.

"Did you hear what I said?" he asked, looking down at the old Immortal.

"I heard you perfectly, Mac. I may be old, but my hearing's just fine," replied Methos. "And the answer is still no."

Duncan allowed the hurt to show on his expressive face. He knew Methos' susceptibility to what the old Immortal referred to as his 'kicked puppy' look. It had won Duncan many an argument in their time together when all other approaches failed. It was somehow comforting to know that even a five thousand year old man had his weaknesses. And Duncan was ready to play on them without mercy. So the full lower lip pouted and the dark brown eyes stared at Methos pleadingly.

For once, though, the tactic didn't seem to be working. Methos merely shook his head and turned back to his newspaper.

"But why?" Duncan sighed and plucked the paper from Methos' hands. He wanted the old man's full attention - and an explanation. It wasn't as if he'd asked Methos to join him in some dangerous endeavour or anything like that. "I thought you'd want to be with me. It's a special time after all."

In his turn Methos sighed. "I do want to be with you. But I just don't see the point of making a big fuss. I'd rather stay here."

"I thought you were the one who liked to travel," observed Duncan dryly. "Besides, I'm not talking about a 'big fuss'. I'm talking about getting away from all the fuss that's bound to be going on here in Paris for our very own private millennium celebration."

"In Scotland," said Methos sceptically. If Paris tended to be cold and wet this time of year then Scotland was liable to be colder and snow- covered. When he had to travel in winter Methos preferred to follow the migrating birds south to sunnier climes.

"It is ma home, Methos, even now," said Duncan softly, his brogue thickening unconsciously. "And if the Scots know one thing it's how to celebrate the turning of the year. I canna think of a better place to see in a whole new millennium."

"Come on, Mac, what's the big deal?" scoffed Methos. "You've seen one millennium, you've seen 'em all. It's always the same. Predictions of gloom, doom and the end of the world being nigh, then everyone indulges in the wild party to end all wild parties. But once they wake up from the hangover they realise everything is still just the same as it was before, the end wasn't actually nigh after all. Besides which, it won't really be the new millennium. They've monkeyed around with the calendar so much it's years off. No one has a clue when it really is any more." Methos shrugged his shoulders dismissively and glanced up at the sturdy form of the Highlander who was still leaning on the back of the couch watching him.

Duncan smiled at him fondly. "Methos, you may well be a jaded old cynic who's been there and done that," he informed his lover. "But this is new to me. Yes, I've seen centuries come and go, but never a millennium - and I don't care if the calendar is wrong; it's close enough for me. The whole world is going to be celebrating. Isn't that pretty amazing in itself? But when it comes down to it there's only one person I want to see in the year 2000 with - and that's you. And I want to make it special for us. Please..."

"Is it really that important to you?" asked Methos, sensing the inevitability of defeat creeping up on him.

"Yes, it is." Duncan held his lover's hazel eyes, once again using all his persuasive skills.

Methos sighed. "Tell me again exactly what it is you have planned."

Duncan grinned delightedly at Methos' capitulation. "You'll love it; I know you will. It's a small manor house, about an hour's drive from Glenfinnan. The owner has spent a lot of money on doing the place up with all the comforts even the most discerning Immortal could wish for."

"It's quiet, cosy, private - and we have it entirely to ourselves for four days! Oh, and the site it's built on - it was once a church. Although the buildings were lost it was believed that the graves remained undisturbed and the land was never deconsecrated. It's still Holy Ground. So, you can relax completely."

"You seem to have thought of everything, Mac," Methos conceded. An unwilling smile tugged at his lips. The Highlander looked like an overgrown kid waiting for his approval.

"I've tried to," agreed Duncan. "I want this to be perfect."

"All right, I agree that this place sounds wonderful." Methos shook his head as Duncan's face brightened perceptibly. "When do we leave?"

########

Scotland, 31st December 1999

It had been a long, tiring journey to their millennium retreat, but - with the light fading fast - Duncan finally turned the car into the manor's long gravel drive.

If the Highlander had been looking for 'get away from it all' he had certainly found it, Methos decided as he surveyed the rugged stonework of the old house. The one thing he couldn't argue about, though, was the peaceful beauty of the surrounding countryside. It was wild and untamed, but somehow welcoming. Duncan had indeed chosen well.

As Methos stepped out of the car he felt the steady beat of power - common to all areas of Holy Ground - that pervaded the place. Almost unconsciously the old Immortal let himself begin to relax. Nothing could trouble them here; it was just him, Duncan and whatever they cared to make of their time together in this house. It was perfect, and Methos was grateful to Duncan for cajoling him out of his disenchantment with the whole Y2K business. The rest of the world could do whatever it liked to celebrate the so-called millennium; Methos didn't care. He knew exactly what he wanted to do - not that he was necessarily planning on waiting for midnight to do it!

"It's lovely, Mac," Methos said with a smile, knowing that the Highlander was waiting anxiously to see if he approved. "Thank you for refusing to let me be an old grouch and dragging me up here."

Duncan's features brightened with pleasure at Methos' genuine approval. He grinned broadly. "You an old grouch? Never! Seriously, though, I'm glad you like it, but you haven't seen the best of it yet. Come with me."

"What about the bags?" asked Methos, looking over his shoulder at the car.

"Leave them for a moment," said Duncan, his eyes sparkling with enthusiasm. "I want to show you something."

Duncan caught hold of Methos' hand and the old Immortal surrendered it to him willingly. For the time being he was more than content to let the Highlander lead. Besides which, the warmth of their intertwined fingers felt good - a promise of more intimate entanglements later. Duncan let go of him just long enough to unlock the heavy wooden front door and push it open. Then Methos found himself pulled inside, out of the damp and the cold.

Light flared as Duncan found the nearest switch and vague shadows resolved themselves into solid pieces of furniture. The interior of the house seemed to be every bit as impressive as the outside, but Methos wasn't given any time to look around. Instead, Duncan tugged at his hand, leading him towards the staircase. Once again - lacking any knowledge of the layout of the house - Methos was content to be led. At the end of the upstairs landing Duncan pushed open a panelled door and urged Methos to go in.

As he stepped through the doorway Methos gaped at what he found inside. It was clearly the master bedroom and it was dominated by a massive four poster bed. The high columns at its four corners were draped with richly tapestried curtains. They would be able to retreat inside, pull the heavy fabric closed and shut themselves away from the rest of the world. What better place for their own very private celebration.

"Do you like it?" Duncan prompted after several minutes had passed and his enigmatic lover had still said nothing, merely looked.

All at once Methos laughed delightedly, brushing away Duncan's uncertainty. "I'm speechless," he declared. "Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod, it's wonderful - and so are you. I cannot imagine anywhere better to welcome in the year 2000."

"Really? There's more..." hinted Duncan.

"More?" Methos raised his eyebrows questioningly.

Duncan nodded and pulled Methos towards a side door that led off the main room. When he opened it and let Methos see inside the old Immortal stood speechless once more.

In contrast to the old-fashioned comfort of the bedroom it was the best equipped bathroom Methos had seen in a very long time. It had everything the discerning Immortal could wish for. As well as all the basic fittings, in the centre of the room was a large, sunken bath. It was clear that the tub was also capable of being used as a jacuzzi. A pair of thick terry robes, stacks of fluffy towels and an astounding array of oils and other bath essentials completed the image of sumptuous luxury.

Methos laughed again. "You think of everything, Mac." His voice dropped, the tone suddenly deep and seductive. "I do believe I'm looking forward to tonight after all."

The promise in the old man's words sent shivers of anticipation running through Duncan and he had to swallow hard before he could speak again.

"Let's go get the bags," he finally managed, hoarsely. "I don't want to have to go outside again once it gets really dark."

"Neither do I..." Methos' voice was like soft velvet draped around Duncan. There was no mistaking his intent. "The sooner we do it the better." Then he turned and was gone, bounding back down the wide stairs and out to the car.

Duncan followed more slowly. The sudden heaviness at his groin had made walking a much trickier proposition. He willed his body back under control. First unpacking, then dinner, but after that... Oh yes, what was to come later promised to be spectacular, thought Duncan happily as he caught up with his lover and helped him retrieve their bags.

########

Methos lounged on the overstuffed couch with his feet stretched out towards the roaring fire in the hearth. He had a nicely chilled bottle of beer clutched in one hand and he looked more than usually content.

"Mac, that meal was absolutely delicious," the old Immortal announced with satisfaction. "Your chef did you proud!"

Duncan - comfortably ensconced in an equally overstuffed armchair beside the fire - raised his glass of scotch in a casual salute. "One of my better ideas," he agreed. "I didn't think either of us would feel much like cooking tonight, so getting the food prepared in advance seemed ideal. I don't know about you, though, but I think I've eaten enough to last me into the next millennium!"

Methos laughed at that. "It's only a few more hours, Mac."

"Even so," Duncan grinned.

A companionable silence fell over the two men as they savoured their drinks and slowly unwound. Only the crackling of the logs on the fire broke the peaceful stillness. Methos stared into the dancing flames, his hazel eyes turned golden by the firelight. Eventually he turned to Duncan, his expression suddenly serious.

"You know," he began thoughtfully, "I keep hearing people refer to this as the start of the third millennium." Methos shook his head and frowned. "But what about all those years before they began numbering them anno domini? Don't they count any more? I was there for three thousand of them - they still feel pretty important to me."

"Think about it from a mortal's perspective, though. Most people have, what - 70, 80 maybe 90 years to look forward to? So when you start talking in millennia I guess it just becomes incomprehensible to them." Duncan glanced across at his young/old lover and smiled fondly. "I've lived for over 400 years, Methos, but when I try to get my head around just how long you've been alive... Well, even I have trouble with the whole concept. But just because the rest of us can't truly understand what it's like to have lived that long it doesn't mean those years aren't significant. They're our history too, after all. More importantly, though, they're what made you who you are - Methos, oldest of Immortals... and the man I love."

Methos looked up. The flickering light cast odd shadows on his face and he looked more elusive than ever. He smiled at Duncan a little sadly. "Trust you to turn sappy on me when I'm trying to be serious, MacLeod. You make me sound like some romantic hero. Hasn't that kind of thinking caused us enough troubles in the past?"

"I'm with you because I want to be, Methos." Duncan leaned forward, his dark eyes shining with affection. "I accept you for what you are, for what you have been - all of it. It didn't happen overnight, I know, but I do. I promise you."

"Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod..."

He loved the way Methos said his name. The lilt of his voice and the affectionate look on his face was somehow reassuring to the Highlander. The softly spoken designation contrived to feel like a tangible caress.

"I don't know what I ever did to deserve you," Methos continued. "But whatever it was, I'm damned glad I did it," he concluded quietly.

"So am I," agreed Duncan fervently.

The undeniably lust-fuelled declaration made both of them laugh. The sound of it seemed to release the tension which had, imperceptibly, been building up around them. Methos finished his beer with a final long swallow and looked over at Duncan. There was a clear invitation in his eyes.

"Do you feel like trying out that tub upstairs?" Methos enquired. "I'm sure it's big enough for an entire rugby team!"

"Sorry, I didn't think to invite an entire rugby team so we could find out." Duncan grinned. "Think you can make do with just me?"

"Oh, I'm sure I can find something to do with you in there," agreed Methos lazily.

"Just remember, I hate drowning," growled Duncan. He tossed back the last of his scotch and set the glass down with an audible clink. Climbing out of the clinging embrace of the armchair's upholstery Duncan turned towards the stairs. "Coming?"

"I hope so!" Methos leered at his lover, then dodged the cushion Duncan threw at him, laughing.

########

Half an hour later the lovers were comfortably ensconced in the large tub, up to their necks in hot, bubbling water. They had settled in facing one another, their legs floating out in front of them to tangle together with a pleasing intimacy. As a result, Duncan quickly discovered that Methos had exceptionally nimble feet - a fact that had previously managed to escape his notice. Methos had insinuated one foot between Duncan's thighs and was wreaking havoc on his senses as he gently manipulated the Highlander's balls with his toes. When the clever bastard went delving even deeper, Duncan gasped at the unexpected touch.

Methos grinned smugly. "I thought you didn't like to drown," he observed sagely. "You will if you keep inhaling the water like that."

"Dammit, Methos!" Duncan spluttered indignantly. "That was an underhanded trick."

"Not at all," said Methos as he shot the Highlander a look of injured innocence. "My hands had nothing to do with it - see." Methos held them up to illustrate his point just as his toes caressed Duncan intimately once more.

Moaning loudly, Duncan very nearly came there and then. "Methos!" he protested weakly.

"Don't you like that?" asked Methos, his eyes glittering with green fire.

"Christ, yes!" Duncan assured him. "But it's too much too soon."

"The night is young, Mac," said Methos with a sultry smile. "Let go, relax, come for me... I want to see your face when you do."

Then, Methos moved his other foot, trailing it lightly up the inside of Duncan's thigh. The agile toes already at work behind Duncan's balls wriggled sensually and the Highlander gave up fighting the inevitable.

The bubbling water stimulated Duncan's swollen cock, feeling like dozens of soft, tiny fingers touching him. Duncan relaxed into the steamy heat. He tilted his head back until it rested against the edge of the bath. His dark hair - now grown back to its old length at Methos' insistence - spread out around him, the ends drifting in the warm water. Slowly Duncan let his own fingers trail over his chest, finding his nipples and lightly pinching the hard nubs. It felt good - in fact all of it felt wonderful - and Duncan let his eyelids drift shut as he sank into the enjoyment of the disparate sensations washing over his body.

Sitting opposite the Highlander, Methos watched him as he surrendered to the growing pleasure. A fond smile curved his lips as Duncan began to touch himself, increasing the intensity of the sensations. Methos loved to see Duncan like this, sensual and uninhibited in his pursuit of release. As Methos continued to fondle Duncan's cock and balls he saw the sudden tension in his face and knew Duncan was on the brink. Another delicate nudge with his foot and the Highlander cried out, the handsome features contorting as his orgasm swept over him. Methos watched avidly as Duncan shuddered out his completion, delighting once again in the fact that the Highlander had chosen to gift him with this side of himself.

Slowly Duncan came down from the high of his climax. The currents of water had washed him clean and he felt the touch of the bubbles acutely against his sensitive flesh. Finally he opened his eyes to find Methos watching him with a hungry intensity in his green/gold gaze. The old Immortal looked well- pleased with himself as he stared at the Highlander. Duncan swallowed, taken yet again with the sleek beauty of his ancient lover. Suddenly the width of the tub seemed far too great a distance to be separating them. Duncan pushed up onto his knees, water streaming off his tanned skin. He slid across the space between himself and Methos. Duncan pushed the old Immortal's legs apart and settled back down in the cradle of the leanly muscled thighs, still facing Methos.

"You're beautiful," said Duncan softly, one hand stealing out to caress the line of a sharp cheekbone.

Methos smiled. "You obviously haven't looked in a mirror lately, Mac," he replied. "I'm nothing next to you."

"Oh no, you're wrong," breathed Duncan. His fingers continued their gentle exploration of Methos' face, tracing along the proud nose and up over the smooth brow. "There's no one else like you, Methos."

A sad smile touched Methos' lips for a brief moment and then was gone. "After five thousand years I don't suppose there is," he agreed.

"That wasn't what I meant," said Duncan. He brought his other hand up to join the first, framing Methos' face as he looked deep into the ancient, hazel eyes.

"I know," Methos admitted with a sigh. "But it's still true. I'm sorry; it must be all this talk of a new millennium. All of a sudden it's making me feel very old and very alone."

"You're not alone, Methos. You have me." Duncan leaned forward, brushing his lips against Methos' in a gentle caress. "I know I can't begin to understand how you must feel - to have lived so long... but I won't let you be alone. I promise."

Methos returned the kiss softly, then reached up to place his lips against Duncan's forehead. "It's not in your power to promise that, Duncan," he said sadly. "The very nature of what we are means either one of us could lose our head at any time."

"Then for as long as I'm alive I'll be here with you," Duncan persisted. "That much at least you can be sure of. But do we have to be so maudlin, tonight of all nights? I wanted this to be a celebration - now look at us!"

"I'm sorry. I guess maudlin comes with the territory," said Methos ruefully. "And you've gone to so much trouble to make this special, haven't you, Highlander."

"I'll make you forget it all," Duncan vowed. "Let me love you, Methos, and the only thing you'll be able to think about is what you're feeling - the way our bodies touch and move together..."

"It sounds perfect, Mac," agreed Methos with a slight smile. He reached out and threaded his fingers into the damp silk of Duncan's hair. Then he pulled him closer until they were just touching from chest to hip.

Curving one hand around the back of Methos' head, Duncan held him still as he leaned in for a deep, exploratory kiss. The old Immortal's warm, moist mouth opened to him willingly and Duncan let his tongue slide over Methos', tasting the earthy flavour of the beer he had been drinking earlier. As Methos' lips seemed to fuse with his own, Duncan explored further, caressing the roof of Methos' mouth with the tip of his tongue. And all the while Methos' lips moved hungrily against Duncan's, freely returning the pleasure the old Immortal was experiencing.

When Methos finally relinquished his mouth to draw breath, Duncan let his lips trail lower. His hands followed suit, one curving around the back of his lover's slender neck, the other dipping down into the gently bubbling water, seeking out Methos' cock. Finding the hard length, Duncan curled his fingers around it. He let the movement of his hand slide the foreskin back, allowing him access to the sensitive head beneath. As Methos gasped in reaction to the touch Duncan nibbled a path along his lover's jaw, stopping to suck on Methos' earlobe. He dipped the tip of his tongue into the whorl of Methos' ear, delicately fucking it until the old Immortal moaned out loud.

"So beautiful..." Duncan whispered, his lips moving against the sensitised flesh. "You are so beautiful."

Methos slid his hands slowly over Duncan's back, tracing the muscles as they tensed and relaxed. Dipping below the waterline his palms glided down to the firm buttocks. The muscular curves felt good under his hands and the old Immortal allowed himself a long moment of appreciation. Then his fingers went in search of a more intimate goal, slipping between the smooth cheeks. Methos brushed one rough fingertip over the tight ring, feeling the muscles quiver slightly at his touch. Slowly he circled the entrance to Duncan's body, teasing it until the Highlander pushed back against his finger in frustration. Methos smiled and withdrew his hand.

"All in good time," he chided gently.

In retaliation Duncan latched onto the sensitive skin of Methos' throat. He nipped at it sharply, but not quite hard enough to draw blood. Methos tilted his head to the side, encouraging Duncan to continue. The Highlander lapped at the warm, damp skin until he could feel the steady beat of Methos' pulse under his tongue and the old Immortal sighed as Duncan lavished that most sensitive spot with all his attention. As he licked and sucked the pale skin Duncan slowly stroked the hard flesh in his hand which jumped and twitched with Methos' growing arousal.

With a sudden fierce growl, Methos tightened his grip on Duncan's buttocks. He pulled the Highlander closer to him, feeling Duncan's reawakened erection slide against the inside of his thigh.

"I want you," Methos murmured. His lips ghosted over Duncan's face and his hair.

"Whatever you need," promised Duncan. He raised his head to meet the old Immortal's hungry gaze.

Using the buoyancy of the water to aid him, Methos flipped them over until Duncan was the one sitting with his back to the side of the tub. Methos knelt beside him, one hand busy encouraging Duncan's cock to full hardness. The other reached out to snag a bottle of scented oil from the edge of the bath. Methos handed it to Duncan with a soft smile.

"Make me ready then," he told the Highlander.

Duncan didn't need to be asked twice. He coated his fingers in the oil and then reached around behind Methos. He probed the ring of muscle, feeling his slick fingertip slide easily into Methos' tight warmth. Carefully he added a second finger, stretching Methos thoroughly.

Bracing himself on the edge of the bath as Duncan gently fucked him with his oiled fingers, Methos sighed. It felt so good, but he knew Duncan's cock sliding into him would feel even better - and the Highlander was hard and ready for him.

"Enough," said Methos softly, pulling away from the probing fingers. "Hold yourself for me, Duncan."

Duncan quickly obeyed, understanding what Methos intended. He watched the expression of focused intent on Methos' face as he moved to straddle Duncan's hips; then Duncan steadied his cock with one hand, while he rested the other at Methos' waist.

With careful determination, the old Immortal began to lower himself onto Duncan's waiting erection. Methos braced his hands on Duncan's shoulders as the tip of the Highlander's cock pressed at his opening. The muscles slowly gave way before the steady pressure and two voices gasped aloud in unison as Methos took the swollen head of Duncan's cock fully inside his body. Methos paused a moment to let them both adjust and then began to lower himself again, his thigh muscles taking the strain of the slow descent. But Duncan had prepared him well and Methos was soon sitting in his lap with the Highlander's thick cock buried in him to the hilt.

As they stopped again to draw breath Duncan leaned forward, placing gentle kisses on Methos' eyelids, his cheeks and finally his lips. The kiss quickly became more intense as Duncan nipped at the old Immortal's questing tongue.

Methos returned the pressure of Duncan's mouth fiercely, hungry for the taste of the Highlander. He dipped one hand down into the water swirling around them and scooped up a handful. Methos raised his palm again and then tilted it to spill the water in a soft cascade over Duncan's chest. He was rewarded with a gentle shiver that moved Duncan's cock inside him subtly. Pleased with the sensations he had generated Methos repeated the process. Then he brought both his hands back to Duncan's head, carding through the dark silk of his hair and enjoying the feel of it as it filled his palms. It was such a familiar gesture, something Methos had always loved to do.

As Methos rode Duncan's cock - rocking slowly in his lap, braced against the broad, calloused palms splayed across his back - a strange feeling of dislocation swept over him, as if his sense of time and place was unravelling around him. Methos' awareness of where he was and who he was with seemed to fade. Only the connection of the thick cock piercing his body remained to anchor him in any kind of reality.

Suddenly, Methos was acutely aware of the concentration of power underlying his present location - wherever that might be. He felt it as a tangible presence singing along his sensitised nerves. Methos was wide open and vulnerable as he gave himself to Duncan, but he quickly realised there was no harm in the power surrounding him. Instinctively Methos recognised it as the aura which clung to all areas of Holy Ground, but here it appeared to be magnified and it resonated with his Quickening in an unexpectedly intimate way. As it coiled inside him it seemed to open pathways to memories long ignored - heated and sensual recollections that fired Methos' desire to even greater heights.

Duncan was unaware of the unusual sensations his lover was experiencing. He only knew that Methos' initially languid movements became steadily more forceful until he was fucking himself on Duncan's cock with a single-minded intensity. Wanting to slow things down a little Duncan gripped Methos' waist, stilling him momentarily. The old Immortal complied without a word, which would have seemed strange, but in the heat of the moment Duncan didn't think to question it.

Then the Highlander took control of their joining. He thrust up into Methos' encompassing heat at a far more leisurely pace than the old Immortal had set. Duncan angled his hips and knew by the sudden gasp that was torn from his lover that he had managed to brush Methos' prostate with the head of his cock. Content with the angle he'd found Duncan braced his feet on the bottom of the tub, knees upraised. Methos immediately leaned back against his thighs and Duncan freed one of his hands to slip below the water in search of Methos' cock.

His fingers encircled the slick shaft, pumping firmly until the old Immortal was writhing from the twin assaults on his body. Duncan looked up into Methos' face then, seeking a further, less tangible connection with his lover. But the green/gold eyes were wide open, unseeing - as if Methos were totally lost in his pleasure. He was far from unresponsive, though, small gasps and whimpers escaped his throat with every lazy thrust of Duncan's cock deep into his body.

More than once Duncan felt Methos tense on the edge of orgasm, but each time he pulled his lover back from the brink with the press of his fingers at the base of Methos' cock. The old Immortal's skin was flushed and the steam from the tub had plastered his dark hair to his scalp. Duncan thought Methos had never looked more beautiful.

As he moved inside the tight clasp of Methos' body Duncan felt his own climax building. He released his grip on Methos' cock, placing his hands back at his lover's waist as he began to thrust more forcefully. Duncan could see Methos' lips moving in silent entreaty as the pleasure finally swept over the old Immortal.

Methos felt the intense sensations of his climax claim him. His hands gripped the broad shoulders of the body before him, seeking an anchor as Methos' thoughts spiralled out of control. Dimly he was aware of heat filling him as his lover also came, thrusting up into him convulsively. Then Methos felt warm, strong hands covering his own, clasping them tightly to stop him flying off into the void.

While he came, Duncan reached up, catching hold of Methos' hands and lacing their fingers together in a firm grasp. He shuddered as the pulses of semen left his body, taking with them the immediacy of his need. Duncan let out a long, slow breath, feeling a warm contentment steal along his nerves as the sensations of his orgasm began to recede.

From the sudden release of tension in the old Immortal's body Duncan could tell that he had come too, but Methos still seemed strangely - absent. His eyes were open, but unfocused as he shivered from the lingering aftershocks of what had clearly been an intense climax.

"Methos?" Duncan called softly, starting to become a little anxious as the old Immortal failed to react to the sound of his voice. "Methos, talk to me! Are you all right?" Duncan gave Methos a gentle shake, but it still didn't bring him out of it.

Carefully Duncan eased himself out of Methos' body. There was no resistance from his lover as he lowered him into the water then gently chafed his hands in an effort to gain his attention. Still uncertain what was wrong Duncan climbed out of the tub and grabbed one of the thick towels warming on the rail. Quickly Duncan spread it on the floor, then he leaned over the edge of the bath and with a little careful manoeuvring managed to pull Methos from the water.

Fortunately Methos was no dead-weight or the task would have been nigh on impossible, but the old Immortal moved as if in a dream as Duncan urged him to lie down and then wrapped the towel around his slender limbs. Duncan caught hold of Methos' hands again, enfolding them in his own broader palms as he bent over the old Immortal, softly calling his name.

The touch of warm, strong hands was the first thing Methos was conscious of as he slowly came back to himself. He let the contact anchor him, only peripherally aware that he had been adrift in his memories. Confused, trying to ground himself as vague impressions washed over him, Methos closed his eyes and let his other senses take precedence.

The low background sound of water lapping against something solid provided a counterpoint to the steady rhythm of breathing Methos could hear close by his ear. Drawing in a deep breath of his own brought Methos' sense of smell into play. The sharp scent of sweat - his own or another's - was overlaid by the heavier musk of sex and a fainter, almost herbal smell.

Frowning as he tried to fit all the pieces of this puzzle together Methos registered another sensation - the firm, unwavering grasp of warm fingers interlaced with his own. Duncan, his mind whispered, as Methos' brain at last succeeded in processing all the sensory input. The mingled scents and sounds all equated with Duncan and his millennium retreat. Finally Methos was able to place himself in space and time. Slowly he opened his eyes and found himself caught in Duncan's dark, concerned gaze.

"Methos?"

"I'm - all right."

An understatement, Methos realised, as full awareness of his body returned. A pleasant feeling of warmth and satiation tingled along every nerve. He remembered now. They had been bound together in the hot, bubbling tub, making love. It had seemed as if Duncan were bent on teasing him beyond endurance - claiming his body with unhurried ease - until finally he had set him free. Evidently the resulting orgasm had been more than intense, thought Methos ruefully. He must have passed out for a few moments; which was why he had no recollection of Duncan getting him out of the bath. Gods, he hadn't done that in years!

"Where did you go?" Duncan asked anxiously. His grip on Methos' hands remained unyielding. "I was calling you, but you didn't seem to hear. And I got the impression you weren't really here even before that."

"Truthfully? I have no idea, Duncan. I can tell you it felt amazing, though." Methos admitted, laughing in sudden delight. "That could be described, with perfect accuracy, as the most mind-blowing sex I've had in millennia!"

"Really?" Curiosity and a certain pride were evident in Duncan's tone.

"Really. All my senses just seemed to overload and for a moment I had no idea when or where I was." Methos shook his head as he tried to recall exactly what he had felt. "I was aware of you holding onto my hands, though. Through it all I could feel you there and I followed that touch to come back. Wow, we have to try this again sometime!"

"Yeah, maybe, but next time give me some warning, okay? I was worried when you didn't react." Duncan still seemed caught between pride at having brought his lover such intense pleasure and concern.

"You telling me that in four centuries you've never had a lover pass out on you before, Mac?" Methos teased in an attempt to lighten the mood. "I find that hard to believe."

"Yes, I have," admitted Duncan sheepishly. "But when it happened they really fainted. You didn't. Your eyes were still open - you just weren't seeing me."

Methos thought back once more to the moment his orgasm had finally claimed him. No, he hadn't passed out. He'd been aware throughout, he was sure, but for a long moment he had been somewhere - somewhen - else. Methos couldn't quite chase down the memory, though. The sense of the feelings he'd experienced was intense, but the specifics eluded him. He shivered as something just out of reach of his consciousness tried to wrap around him again. It was insistent, though not inherently threatening. Through the insubstantial caress Methos felt Duncan squeeze his hands, once more grounding him in the here and now.

"You were fading out on me again," said Duncan uneasily, his dark gaze locking with Methos' hazel eyes. "Talk to me, Methos!"

"It was a memory, I think," said Methos softly. His voice was strangely distant. "It must have been from a long time ago... It felt good, though - something pleasant, not painful... I - I don't know any more than that, Duncan."

Carefully Duncan drew Methos up from the floor. Then the Highlander released his hands and pulled the old Immortal into a warm hug. Duncan slid a hand under the enveloping towel to slowly stroke the long planes of Methos' back. He felt Methos shiver at the touch and then sigh softly with pleasure.

Such a complex creature, his lover, thought Duncan. For all that, he never wanted to be without Methos in his life again. The times they had been estranged had weighed heavily on Duncan and he didn't care to repeat the experience. Then again, who knew what other surprises - good or bad - lurked in the depths of Methos' memories, waiting their moment to be awakened. But why now, Duncan wondered. Had all this talk of a new millennium somehow set Methos thinking about his past, in spite of his sceptical reaction to the fuss over the dawning of the year 2000?

Perhaps he had somehow reminded Methos of an old lover tonight, thought Duncan. The other Immortal had said it felt like a good memory and it had come to him as they made love. It wasn't something they'd ever really talked about, though - beyond Methos' off-handed comment about having had 68 wives. But Methos had clearly had male lovers before - Duncan held the memories of one, no, two of them, bound up in his own Quickening now. Well, Duncan was certain he held no resemblance to Byron, which left...

A brief image of Kronos, sword in hand and long, dark hair flying lodged itself disconcertingly in Duncan's brain. The old man had seemed certain the fragment of memory was a good one, though... Duncan chided himself silently for his unwillingness to accept that Methos could ever have known good times with Kronos during their long acquaintance. It wasn't something he cared to dwell on all the same.

Veering away from that train of thought Duncan wondered how much of his five thousand year existence Methos could truly remember. Just how many memories was an Immortal's brain capable of holding? Did the number of Quickenings he took affect that? Then again, was this flash of recall perhaps something from before Methos' first death - that elusive era which he had believed lost to the passage of time.

All in all, Duncan didn't know. He wasn't sure if he wanted to, either. His first few glimpses into Methos' history had been less than comfortable - for both of them.

There were times when he was afraid of what else he might find out if he dug too deep. Still, Duncan couldn't deny the fascination Methos' long life held for him. Methos was unique - a living, breathing piece of history in his own right. Then again, as he was so fond of saying, he was also just a guy - and Duncan's lover.

And said guy was, at that moment, held fast in Duncan's arms, his continued physical proximity rapidly rekindling Duncan's desire for him.

"Methos," he whispered. Duncan's lips ghosted over Methos' skin, his breath stirring the fine hairs at the old man's nape. It was a sure sign that Methos' hair was starting to grow out of its latest severe cut. It made Duncan smile. He'd tried so often to persuade Methos to let his hair grow a little again.

I kind of liked Adam Pierson with his innocent face and floppy hair, he had wheedled. But Methos always laughed at the suggestion and immediately booked himself in for a haircut. Personally, Duncan thought it was a great shame. He loved the occasions when he would sit at Methos' feet while the old Immortal petted his own dark mane, now restored to its former glory. Duncan would have liked the opportunity to return the favour.

Methos' hair had proved to be silky soft on the rare occasions it escaped the twin assaults of scissors and hair gel and Duncan liked it that way. He reached up a hand to stroke the dark spikes, still wet from the bath. Nuzzling the strands plastered damply to Methos' scalp Duncan drew in a deep breath. The warm, clean smell flooded his senses and Duncan sighed contentedly.

"You getting off on playing with my hair?" Methos asked, his tone faintly amused. He could feel Duncan's fingers gently carding through the wayward strands and it was a soothing sensation. "This could be viewed as bordering on a fetish you know."

"You have such beautiful hair, Methos," said Duncan wistfully. "I wish you'd let it grow - even just a little."

"I don't exactly have good memories of the long-haired look." Methos' voice was abruptly cool, detached.

And suddenly Duncan flashed on another image - this time of Methos. His dark hair was indeed long and flew free about his shoulders as he rode a fine horse - its coat and mane as white as the robes Methos was wearing - across rolling dunes of shifting sand.

With a shock Duncan identified that this wasn't his memory, or even Methos'... it was Kronos, he realised with a sense of foreboding. This memory had been called up from Kronos' Quickening. But what had led it to surface now? Caught by the vivid imagery in his mind's eye Duncan let his awareness drift back to the sight of Death on a Horse. Death with Methos' face and long, flowing hair...

Appalled by his fascination with an aspect of Methos' personality he really had no wish to become better acquainted with, Duncan pulled back sharply. What was happening to them tonight? This had been intended to be a peaceful retreat and a celebration of the new year - a time to simply be together without any interruptions or troubles. But things weren't going to plan at all. They both seemed to be in the grip of ancient memories - but at least Methos' were his own.

"What's wrong?" Methos asked, startled by Duncan's abrupt withdrawal. He touched his palm lightly to the Highlander's cheek and felt him shiver.

"Mac?"

"I..." Duncan looked deep into Methos' clear eyes and tried to find any trace of the cold, ruthless warrior from his vision. He couldn't. There was only warm concern in the hazel depths. He tried again. "I saw Death, Methos. I saw you..."

Shock and a sharp flash of pain crossed the old Immortal's pale features at Duncan's words. Methos pulled his knees up to his chest and wrapped his arms tightly around them. It looked as if he were trying to barricade himself against the unpleasant connotations of what Duncan had said.

"I don't understand," Methos said at last, clearly distressed. "How could you?"

Chilled, Duncan reached for another towel and wrapped himself in it before replying. He avoided Methos' eyes as he did. "Kronos," he said, simply and succinctly.

"That's impossible," protested Methos.

"No, it was a memory pulled from his Quickening," insisted Duncan. Slowly he looked up at Methos. The other Immortal was watching him warily. "You said you remembered something when we were making love - a memory from your past. You and Kronos were lovers once - I know you were - and he had long dark hair then... It is possible, isn't it? And what if that in turn somehow called up an echo of something from the part of Kronos' Quickening inside me?"

Shaking his head, Methos sought to deny the possibility, but he knew that ever since Bordeaux he and Duncan had been linked in some way - and Kronos' Quickening had certainly forged that link in the first place. It was an uncomfortable thought - and it became even more so when Methos recalled the sense of power he had felt wrapping itself around his own Quickening earlier. Now feeling thoroughly chilled and unsettled Methos climbed to his feet, pulling the damp towel closer around him. Aimlessly he wandered out into the bedroom.

After a moment, Duncan clambered up and followed the old Immortal. Methos was standing by the bed, head bowed. He looked very lost and uncertain. Duncan walked up behind him and put his palms firmly on Methos' shoulders, squeezing them reassuringly.

"It's all right, Methos," he said softly. "I'm not going to turn you away just because of a memory. I'm sorry; it just... unnerved me. I realised it couldn't be any recollection of mine. I'd never seen you like that. But you were still beautiful, you know, in a strange, wild way."

"No." Methos' voice was flat. "Don't even think about romanticising what I was. I was a killer. I was Death. There's no beauty in that."

"And now you're Methos, the oldest Immortal - and you're not a killer any more... unless your survival depends on it." Duncan gently kissed the nape of Methos' long, pale neck. "It's cold out here, come to bed with me."

"How can you still want me, Mac?" asked Methos uncertainly.

"Methos, all I saw was an image of you on horseback. You were riding at a gallop across some sand dunes and your hair was streaming out in the breeze behind you. It was no more than that; nothing to give anyone night terrors," said Duncan reassuringly.

Turning Methos around to face him, Duncan leaned in to kiss the soft mouth tenderly. The old Immortal's lips parted hesitantly at first, but then he clung to Duncan, responding to the kiss fiercely. With Methos otherwise engaged Duncan was able to manoeuvre him backwards until he fetched up against the edge of the mattress. Another step and Methos was forced to sit down on it with Duncan standing over him, still probing his mouth with a darting tongue.

Duncan urged Methos to move back on the bed, crawling up onto the mattress after him. Quickly he pulled away the towels they were both wrapped in, leaving them naked once more. Then Duncan stretched himself out on top of his lover, skin to skin. A little more deft wriggling allowed Duncan to nestle his reawakened cock against the equally hard length of Methos' erection. Pushing up onto his elbows Duncan locked eyes with Methos.

"Death almost came between us once," said Duncan slowly, "but that was my doing, not yours. I have no intention of losing you to him again. D'you hear me, Methos?"

"Duncan..." Methos began helplessly, but then the Highlander began to thrust his hips against his lover's. Almost at once Methos lost the ability for rational thought as all the blood deserted his brain in favour of more southerly regions.

It was a hard, fast and ultimately explosive encounter this time. There was no teasing, only the giving and receiving of a fierce, deep pleasure. Duncan brought them both to a release mercifully free of any stray memories. Their seed spilled out over their bellies, a sticky wetness spreading between them as they collapsed into a sweaty, panting tangle of limbs.

Duncan nestled his face into the curve of Methos' neck contentedly, the tip of his tongue tracing small circles on the soft, damp skin. A sigh of equal satisfaction greeted his actions.

"That was... precipitate," said Methos lazily, when he was capable of speech once more. "Were you trying to prove something?"

"Only that you're an idiot if you think someone else's memories can change what I feel for you," replied Duncan sleepily.

"Okay, maybe I did overreact," admitted Methos. "I just - well, it never occurred to me that you might get flashes of memory from Kronos' Quickening. He was old and powerful, though, so I suppose I shouldn't be surprised." He sighed heavily. "Sometimes I wonder if I'll ever really be free of him."

Reaching out, Duncan snagged one of the towels, using it to mop them both up. Then he crawled up beside Methos, sitting back against the ornate headboard.

"It's been a strange evening all round," said Duncan ruefully. "And after all that we managed to miss midnight, too," he added as he glanced across at the clock.

"No matter," said Methos, "we can still break open the champagne. I'm sure we can find something to celebrate." He smiled at the Highlander, his eyes glittering in the near dark of the bedroom.

Seeing the look Methos was giving him Duncan wasn't inclined to disagree. He reached out to the ice bucket sitting on the bedside table and fished out the bottle, which had been chilling in it. He handed it across to Methos while he stretched out again to retrieve two glasses.

Methos made short work of the cork, keeping the spill of bubbles to a minimum. He filled the glasses Duncan held out to him and then exchanged one of them for the bottle. Duncan returned it to the ice bucket to keep cool. As he turned back, Methos reached out and wordlessly clinked the rim of his glass to Duncan's. They drank a silent toast and then settled back under the big bed's heavy quilt, comfortably propped up on the down-filled pillows.

After a long, companionable silence Duncan was the first to speak. "Do you suppose there might be more to this turn of the millennium stuff than we thought? There has to be some explanation for what happened."

Methos laughed softly. "I told you, the date really is way off, Mac. Still, if it makes you happy to think that's what it was..."

"It's not about making me happy, Methos." Duncan frowned. "This whole thing has just given me the creeps! I'd like to know what caused it so I have an idea if we need to worry about it happening again."

"I don't think we do." Methos' expression was thoughtful as he continued. "I have a feeling it's this place, Mac. The more I think about it the more sure I am. It's Holy Ground certainly, but there's more to it than that. An even older power's at work here. I remember now, that's what I felt earlier - when I faded out on you. It almost seemed to interact with my Quickening, bringing things to the surface I hadn't thought about in centuries.

"If you checked it out you'd probably find this is a focal point for ley lines, or something like that. Clearly it's been doing strange things to both our Quickenings tonight. It may be because of the link we have courtesy of Kronos, or maybe not. The experience I had... it could have been an early memory of being with Kronos; I don't know. It wasn't clear, just impressions really. But hard as it may be for you to believe, we were happy together - once." Methos' voice trailed off.

"I know, Methos," Duncan admitted. "I can feel it in his memories, too. They're coming through strongly tonight."

"Don't go there, Mac." Methos' tone was troubled. "Let the past lie... it's for the best. Suffice to say he and I never had anything like we do. I love you, Duncan. I might not find it easy to say, but I do. Kronos and I may have been brothers and lovers, but we were never in love."

"I understand," said Duncan, smiling.

"And I love you, Methos. Tonight feels like a good time to tell you again."

"Any time is fine with me." Methos answered Duncan's smile with one of his own.

As one, the two Immortals moved closer together, lips meeting in a long, sweet kiss. Their movements were languid, their bodies too sated for real desire.

"Happy new millennium, Methos."

"Happy year 2000, Mac."

"Let's hope we're both around to see the next millennium in, too," Duncan added. "If we start planning now maybe we won't miss it!"

"I'll drink to that," agreed Methos.

And both Immortals raised their glasses again in a toast to their future.


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