When You Need Me by Sylvan
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Author's Notes:
Special thanks to those who betaed for me: Dvorah Simon, Sara Sarasohn, Sharyl Simmons and Creatch@webtv.net for asking all the important questions and catching spelling, grammatical, and other such mistakes.


Warning! Though sex has been mentioned and lightly toyed with in previous tales (and for Not Just Horsemen, the extremely sexy part was an optional read), this tale is FULL of it! I mean, seriously full. You'll find yourselves in bed or in a cold shower frequently.


Highlander is copyright 1997 Davis/Panzer Productions. Methos belongs to them. Grey is my creation, and I love him dearly. Maroofus is Stephen Bettinger's, and we were first introduced to him in Not Just Horsemen Come in Fours. All parts with him are a collaboration between Stephen and I. Jo and the concentration camp Meerschweine were introduced in Rooted in the Past. This is fanfiction, not to be considered canon, nor will it infringe upon the aforementioned copyrights. No money is being made off this story.


Prologue

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"Hot town, summer in the city," Silverman sang half-tunelessly as he strolled towards the bus stop. Arriving at the stop, he swung his pack off his back and settled down on a bench. Whistling an old Great War marching song, he pretended to be rummaging in his pack when what he was really doing was reaching for his sandwich. He did that because the key to getting people to underestimate him had always been in letting them think he did not really know what he was doing. Even when they were complete and total strangers he would probably never see again, he acted under the philosophy 'you never know.' He bit into his sandwich with contented cheer.

To the friends who always said, "Lord, Zeke! Why don't you just rent a car?" he would shrug. He rarely rented a vehicle. For one thing, he had a general policy against leaving a paper trail behind him. For another, he was quite content to use public transport. If needs must, he could always hotwire one.

His eyes drifted up to light admiringly on the graceful arcs of the far-off suspension bridge. Joshua Norton III would have been proud. The Emperor of the United States had written many a letter to the city government suggesting the building of such a bridge in just that location. It was a pity he died long before it was built.

The small man sighed contentedly and let his memories go. The bus was coming and he had a plan for this visit to San Francisco. Jason Wrigley was here. The young Immortal had settled down in the year since Silverman had last intervened in his life. A nudge here, a shove there... Silverman could break this youngster of the nasty habits learned from Carruthers. Recently his sources had shown Wrigley to be hiring hit men. It was time to shove a little bit harder.

The Lovers

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Dolores Park was lovely in spring. Flowers were blooming, the trees had new leaves. The view of downtown was pretty nice, if hazy because of pollution. It was a lovely place for an out of town visitor to relax and wait for a friend.

Grey sat, or rather, draped himself on the park bench. The late-spring breezes slid across his skin, along his throat and what his open-collared shirt bared of his chest. His arms and head he let hang loosely along the upper board, his long legs he stretched out in front of him. He was in a half-doze, breathing steadily as the feeling of his near surroundings murmured through his awareness. The sensations were pleasant and tantalizing. He drew in a deeper breath, deliberately enhancing the feeling of the fabric across his torso. A different sense edged its way into his consciousness. His nipples tightened and he drew a ragged breath. He quickly steadied himself and coiled into a proper sitting position on the bench. Habit reassured him of the heavy presence of his sword in its hidden sheath. The sense of another Immortal had deepened to the level that, annoyingly, masked both numbers and direction.

Methos stepped through the bushes, greeted him with a smile, then strolled gracefully forward and stood against his knees. "I missed you."

Grey grinned and held out his hands. Methos pulled him up. For once, Grey did not bowl his lover over. Instead he wrapped him in his arms and kissed him gently.

More than half a year had passed since Methos' unexpected visit to the farm Grey managed along with Tran and Mariah. The eldest had stayed for a month and the two of them had agreed to meet on this day, Sunday April 5th, 1998, in San Francisco at Dolores Park. Over Methos' token protests, Grey had volunteered to choose a hotel and pay for their lodgings. In the intervening months Grey had dreamed, planned, and occasionally had nightmares about what the two of them would do during this lovers' holiday.

Methos shivered and made a small protesting noise, opening his mouth and leaning into the kiss. Grey let the sharp rising hunger roll through him but did not hurry. He kneaded Methos' back and worked his hands downwards until he had the twin buttocks firmly under his hands. Methos had relaxed against him, enjoying the pampering and, as usual, letting him have his way. Grey distracted his lover, increasing the force of their kiss and running his tongue behind Methos' teeth. He shifted his weight and Methos had to brace his legs to keep from losing his footing. That was what Grey had been waiting for. He slid his fingers between the parted buttocks, applying pressure over the jeans.

He felt it. The bare second of time when Methos stopped responding and collected himself. The instant that he made a conscious choice to feel pleasure from this touch. Grey doubted any other lover had ever perceived it.

He took a moment to consider this. They had done nothing about this fear during the month Methos had been with him. He had begun to hope that the request for Grey to take top had been a passing whim. But to leave such a wound untended simply because of his own fears.... His train of thought was broken as Methos became aware of his inaction and drew back. The Eldest tilted his head in question. Grey grinned at Methos' puzzlement. He slipped his left hand across the his lover's hips to the bulge in front and began stroking with both palms. He kept the fingertips of his right hand pressing over Methos' anus and gently mouthed the sweet lips. The bulge under his left hand hardened dramatically.

Methos caught Grey's head between his palms and kissed him, thrusting his tongue in to stroke in tantalizing, demanding swipes. His tall lover did not allow him to force their bodies together. He moaned in protest until he remembered they were in an out of the way corner of Mission Dolores Park. The fingers pressing over his entry made his head swirl with apprehensive desire, bringing to the fore the memory of his request of Grey, so long ago. He pulled himself away. "You want to..?" he trailed off, caught by Grey's serious gaze.

"Not yet. I'm trying to... I don't want to freeze up if we do this. I don't want to disappoint you."

Methos shivered, feeling a subtle relief. Although he wanted the sliding pressure, the deep sunburst when his prostate was touched, he felt a revulsion he always suppressed to being slammed into and to having his body under the control of another. He also understood Grey's trauma, left over from World War II when Grey was trapped in a concentration camp with his lover, Jo. After years in the camp Jo had contracted pneumonia and, rather than die as a medical guinea pig, had convinced Grey to kill him at the moment of orgasm. Since that incident, Grey had not been able to bring himself to top another man for fear of reliving that moment.

These fears are complementary, Methos thought. Why am I disturbing a system that works so nicely? Perhaps it is like a mortal picking at a scab. Or perhaps it's that I want him....

Grey suddenly stepped away. He caught Methos' shoulders and spun him around, locking his hands on both wrists and pressing against the other man's back.

Methos vision went dark at the edges and turned red. For a moment he was alive with rage and terror, before the habits of several centuries opened a hatch and tossed those emotions down a dark hole. His vision cleared but Grey no longer held his wrists. Instead, his lover had him around the torso, hands kneading his chest. His back was pressed comfortingly against Grey's chest. "It's all right," his partner was saying gently, repeatedly.

"Y--yes," Methos managed to answer, his voice unsteady. He was dizzy, knowing what had happened but still stunned by the force of the emotions it had awakened. I should take back what I asked of him. I can not do this! The thought crossed his mind like a living thing in terror. It crouched finally, small and cold near his heart. Grey's hands closed again about his wrists, this time gentle and slow. Thumbs stroked soothingly. Methos shook his head, trying to clear the numb shock that was settling in to his thoughts. When he had asked this of Grey, he had not known how honest he was being.

"Friday."

Methos tore himself away from his thoughts. "Friday?"

"We'll do it Friday."

Methos felt an indistinct sense of outrage. "But that won't be for six more days!"

Grey did not speak in reply. Instead, he released Methos' wrists and undid the buttons of the older man's jeans with his right hand. Both hands were brought into play to slide the jeans down, freeing the penis. Grey's right hand closed over it and began a seductive stroking. His left hand moved upward under the sweater to circle Methos' nipples and at intervals slide over one or the other, sometimes pausing to pinch and tease.

His penis swelling rapidly, Methos quivered. Friday? he thought in protest. He could feel Grey, hard against his buttocks. Imagined sensation deluged his thoughts. He knew the size and feel of Grey's penis in his mouth and hands. How would it feel pushing into him, bigger than most he had ever taken? Grey was such a sensualist. He was willing to spend so much time tantalizing his lover's body. Methos thought, If he keeps this up, it'll kill me to wait 'till Friday. His head swam with desire.

Grey gave Methos' nipples each a final gentle stroke before reaching down to pull up his lover's jeans. Knowing full well how it felt, he buttoned them back up over Methos' erection, ignoring the choked protest. He kissed the arched neck and stepped back. "Ready to go to lunch?" he asked cheerfully.

Methos turned his head and stared at Grey blankly. At last he asked, "You're hungry?!"

"Certainly. Aren't you?" Grey raised a hand, miming a stroking motion at crotch-level.

Methos visibly trembled. "Lunch. Sure," he said hoarsely.

Grey beckoned him, grinning, and silently led the way out of the park. As they stepped onto the sidewalk, Methos noticed other homosexual couples strolling along. Grey slid his arm over Methos' shoulders. "I did some research. There's a restaurant just a few blocks from here that's reputed to have terrific food and a wonderfully romantic atmosphere."

A few blocks from here, Methos echoed in his thoughts. He was very glad of his long coat. Though he could walk normally, each step rubbed his erection and sent jolts up his body. He could easily take control of himself and banish the erection, but that would spoil Grey's fun. No, he endured the pressure and the rising need, knowing that he could shut it down any time if he had to.

The restaurant clientele was largely homosexual. A few heterosexual pairs were in evidence. Grey had made lunch reservations. As they followed the maitre d' to a private booth, other customers kept taking surreptitious glances at them. Though eyes skimmed Grey, they rested longest on Methos with appreciation. Methos, whose attention was centered on the limber, beautiful Grey, wondered dazedly why they bothered to look at him.

Before they sat down, Grey set his hands on his lover's shoulders and turned Methos toward the wall. There was a full-length mirror. He smiled at the sight of their reflections. Methos' back was warm against Grey's chest as he rubbed his cheek on his partner's hair. "Do you have any idea how sexy you look?" he asked, voice low and smoky. "All flushed, with dark bedroom eyes?" He whispered into Methos' ear, "You look like you've just been made love to."

Methos whispered back, "Are you trying to drive me insane?" He was having difficulty breathing. His cock pressed against the denim of his jeans, tempting him to cool himself down. Then Grey's teeth skimmed his right ear and as his vision darkened, he decided once again not to do so.

Their booth was in a back corner of the restaurant, away from prying eyes. The tablecloth went all the way to the floor. They sat opposite each other to read the menus. Grey suddenly chuckled. "Tran and Mariah said they miss you."

Methos, whose thoughts were still disjointed by his inner debate over whether or not to shut down his libido, took a moment to respond. "I'd be happy to come visit again. Adam Pierson likes the horses."

"They like him, too. He's a good groomer."

"This conversation is ludicrous!" Methos whispered, chuckling. Grey reached out, a graceful, slow movement, and stroked his cheek. The sensation was so acute it almost burned. Then he felt Grey's foot touch his knee under the table. It slid along his leg and eventually settled on his erection. As Grey began kneading with his toes, Methos gripped the edges of the table for dear life. The fingers that stroked his face would probably distract any voyeurs from wondering what they were doing that had his eyes closed, lips parted and trembling. Grey slipped his thumb into Methos' mouth and pressed for a moment on the tongue. Then he slid it slowly out. The world narrowed down to the two of them. Methos managed to say in a low, fiery tone that carried no farther than Grey's ears, "I am going to fuck you blind."

Grey shivered. A flush stole across his cheeks and his eyes went incandescent silver. In a very similar tone he replied, "After lunch, our hotel room."

"I'm not going to make it through lunch at this rate."

Grey chuckled in response. He did, however, change the nature of his actions. He ceased touching Methos' face, and the pressure of his foot became comforting, with just enough titillation to keep the erection.

The appetizers arrived. Raw oysters. It was not possible for Methos to simply enjoy their briny, salty taste. Whenever he took one and swallowed it, Grey's toes outlined his erection and the silky slide of the oysters became the memory of the silky slide of his partner's cock in his mouth. Methos gritted his teeth when Grey reached out and scraped his neck with a fingernail. As his heart slammed in his chest and he almost gave in to an impulse to hurl himself across the table and tear Grey's clothes off, he heard the throaty whisper: "Friday."

I'm going to die of anticipation before Friday, he thought hysterically. Methos had avoided experienced male lovers for, well, quite a long time, preferring the authoritative position of teacher even when his lover wanted to take him. He had never driven a lover insane with desire, electing not to run the risk of having an out-of-control bout of sex. It was a comfort to know that Grey was not afraid of him. Was he? "This could be an interesting event," he whispered warningly.

Grey leaned forward, silver eyes intense. "I want you to let go with me. Today."

"In private, please!" Methos whispered harshly.

Grey's eyes narrowed, and a little smile coiled the edges of his lips. "Oh, yes. In private."

Even as Methos burned with loosely checked hunger, a chill ran through him. This was Grey as he had first met him. A stalking hunter, sheer and fiery. Alive with mischief and risk-taking. Overwhelming. Willing and dominating. Contradictory. That word brought Methos up short, and he remembered how they had first met.

It had been just a few weeks after the deaths of the other Horsemen. The ache of having Duncan MacLeod close him out had sent him to Joe, on the offchance that this other good friend would not reject him and leave him cold and alone. Before he got to the bar he found himself challenged by a spirited Immortal who called himself Grey. The man was seductive and fiery, full of errant good humor that reminded Methos of Silas. He had heard of Grey, heard the man fought but almost never killed, especially an opponent who was less experienced. So Methos had fought as young and frightened Adam Pierson. When he was defeated, Grey had held onto him, reassuring and sharing strength, still with a seductiveness that disoriented Methos. The man was so on fire and so playful.

"Where are you, Methos?"

The whisper was so soft it might not have existed at all. It was the hands on either side of his face that brought him back. They were warm, strong and reassuring. He contemplated the deep eyes, dancing with secret humor, that met his own. "I was remembering how we met."

"Ah." That single word was purred. Grey looked a little embarrassed. "I'm glad I'm confident of my fighting skill, or I would have been humiliated that I never noticed you were letting me win."

"If I hadn't known you only kill when forced to... once the decision was made it was no act. Though I was truly afraid at the end that I was about to lose my head."

No matter what he had known, when he left himself wide open it was a fear impossible to escape. When it proved unfounded, the fear modified itself into burning curiosity about this fighter of whom he knew only the key facts needed to use to defend himself. Over the next few days, until they met again, he drifted increasingly toward desire. As always, the moment he decided to let it show was also the moment he began to pursue it.

Grey made a soft hushing sound, their sensual mood having dissipated in this more serious discussion. He shifted his fingers, stroking under Methos' jaw and along his neck with careful, sure touches. His foot also moved and rather quickly brought Methos hard again, though no longer on the edge of losing control.

Grey stood and leaned across the table, leaving his coat on the bench behind him. It was surprising, Methos thought, how being without a heavy coat made one of their kind seem naked. The coats had replaced the armor of the old days. They were less effective, but made it much easier to move about in the modern world. Grey's lips brushed his open, taking his thoughts in another direction. He leaned into the kiss, aware again of how slowly Grey was inclined to take things. Still, as their tongues touched and twined, slipped past each other into deeper recesses, Methos' arousal became acute. This time it was without the burning edge of anger and he relaxed into the feeling.

"That's better," Grey whispered when he drew back. Once again Methos was trembling perceptibly and looked as though he could barely keep his eyes open. Captivating. Grey sat back down and returned his foot to its earlier duty of pressuring the other man's erection. Methos closed his eyes and bit his lips.

The waiter came with their main course, seafood fettuccine. As he left he glanced back at them with a knowing smile. Grey winked at him and saw him start to laugh.

They had gone to lunch late, and dawdled at the restaurant for an hour and a half. They left in the dimming late afternoon with their arms about each other's waists. Methos leaned close to his lover. "I really hope we don't encounter another Immortal."

"I do, too. That's why we're going to take a taxi."

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Grey liked his luxuries, that was certain. He had taken a suite with a full kitchen. The bed was king-sized. Methos stood in the living room and looked around, amused. Grey stepped close to him, setting both hands firmly on his biceps. "Let go tonight," the tall man said with soft command.

"Just... just let go? I can't," Methos answered quietly.

Grey brushed noses, then kissed him deeply. "Then just don't hold on." He pushed Methos' coat off his shoulders, releasing it slowly to drop to the floor with a rustle and two thumps. "Two?" Grey murmured as he returned to kissing.

"Backup."

"Hmmm." Grey nipped at his lover's lips, then stepped back. He tossed his wavy, silver hair back and turned his head away and down, shyly. Before Methos could ask what was wrong, Grey's right hand drifted, almost as if independent of will, upward to unbutton his own shirt. Methos watched, catching his breath, his blood heating.

With the second button undone, Grey's other hand flashed suddenly up, causing Methos to jump. As Grey's right hand continued gradually unbuttoning his own shirt, his left hand pulled the shirt aside and stroked at his skin. Grey flinched and moaned when that hand found his nipples, patting and unexpectedly twisting them.

Methos shook his head fiercely, getting harder every minute. The way Grey stood and acted, it was as if he was not touching himself, but someone else was. I! snarled a growing, hungry voice in Methos' head. He is mine! Methos simply stared as Grey continued to touch himself.

Grey's hands undid his last button together. His head dropped back, baring his throat, as the right one suddenly closed over the hard bulge in his leather pants. The left one scraped its fingernails across his nipples and then thrust down to undo his pants. Grey tried to defend himself from the torturous hands. He braced his legs apart to keep them from pulling his pants down. They succeeded in revealing the head of his cock, taut and purple, to Methos' eyes. Now the hands wandered almost innocently away, plucking lightly at Grey's shirt until they slipped it off his shoulders to let it fall behind him. They travelled along his bare flesh, only rarely making solid contact, leaving goosebumps Methos could see on the skin. Grey's every breath caught as he struggled to get enough air, his chest heaving. His thighs were trembling madly and his legs suddenly lost strength. He fell to his knees, his head dropping forward. The hands used this opportunity to lunge for the pants, and force them down to his knees. He struggled to his feet trying to escape the hands, but they gripped his inner thighs and forced them apart.

Sharp pain preceded the taste of blood in Methos' mouth when he bit on his lip to keep from lunging at Grey. A six-ring. The fine metal rings bit into the man's cock. The hunger burning through Methos was swiftly getting out of control. With an effort, Methos divided his attention enough to quickly take off the rest of his own clothes. He was enjoying the show immensely, though it was making him feel as hot as Grey was making himself.

And Grey was clearly burning up. He had broken out in a sweat, salty drops trickling down his torso. He flinched as they traversed dry skin. The hands began to wander innocently again, pausing to investigate the newly revealed organ, marveling at the metal rings and caressing the flesh. Grey moaned desperately as the left fingers closed on the head and began to stroke and twist. The right hand moved up to alternately scrape and torture Grey's nipples. It pulled at his chest hairs, caught his chin and forced his head up, then pushed him back. His long legs stepped clear of his pants and he stumbled.

Methos stopped resisting. He threw himself forward and around Grey, catching both hands and twisting them behind his lover's back. He dragged him toward the bed, looking desperately for something to tie them with. Ah! The bathrobe hanging on the bathroom door gave up its belt. Methos thoroughly immobilized Grey's hands, then held him by his shoulders. He pressed his lips to the damp back, inhaling the sweat-scent, enjoying the taste of salt on his lips and tongue.

"You are absolutely crazy," he whispered, sliding his hands around to drag slowly down Grey's chest. A moan was his only answer. Methos followed the path Grey's hands had taken, only with rougher, commanding strokes. Each new touch drew a low cry from his partner, set the strong form under his hands to trembling like a leaf. A heady sense of power increased his own arousal at Grey's helpless response. Methos kicked his lover's legs apart and reached between them to run fingertips along the sensitive skin. Grey shuddered and pushed back against him, moaning.

You want this, Methos thought, brushing his finger over the puckered opening of his lover's body. It spasmed when he touched it. Taking advantage quickly, he slid his finger into the sweat-dampened opening. Grey jerked and cried out, then again as Methos found his prostate and stroked that fragile, spasming interior. He moved his other hand in a slide up Grey's chest, then followed a zigzag path down with his fingernails.

Grey convulsed, a hoarse scream escaping his throat as he doubled over. Methos moved quickly, applying the necessary pressure at the base of his partner's cock to abort the orgasm. He removed his other hand and slid his cock between Grey's desperately parted buttocks, deliberately too low to enter.

A torrent of unintelligible words escaped the silver haired man, the tone unmistakable. "Please, please, I'm going to die," he had said in his birth-language.

He was twisting, trying desperately to somehow angle his body onto Methos' erection. Methos closed his hands again on Grey's shoulders, squeezing his lover's hard muscles. He pulled Grey back to a standing position and wrapped his arms around him. For a long moment he stood like that, feeling the hands trapped between them, fluttering pleadingly at his cock. He listened to Grey's unsteady breathing, felt his shaking need.

At last he decided what he wanted to do. He released Grey's hands, letting the belt fall to the floor. He turned the other man around and backed him to the bed. The urge to violence remained, and he hooked his feet between Grey's and threw him down on the bed. He locked his hands on his lover's wrists and paused to study the eyes that opened to meet his. Methos smiled at the widely dilated pupils.

He took the willing right hand and laid it over Grey's nipples. Grey whimpered and obediently began stimulating himself. Methos took the left hand and laid it on Grey's cock. He fully appreciated the shudder that ran through his lover's body. He stepped back to enjoy the sight. He closed his hand on his erection and gave it a few strokes. I will take him like this, Methos decided as Grey arched his back, moaning. But not dry, no matter how hot he is.

He straddled Grey's trembling form and kissed him, sucking the breath from him. Letting go, he shot off the bed into the bathroom. Sure enough, there was the toiletry bag with the lubricant. Methos came back and knelt between Grey's legs. He flicked his lover's hands aside, stroking lubricant first onto the other man's nipples, then the cock. As Grey groaned and began again to touch himself, Methos worked the slick, oily substance into his entry.

Grey suddenly arched off the bed, frantically twisting his hands in the sheets. Methos quickly knotted his fingers around the base of Grey's cock and cut off the coming orgasm. He closed his lips over the cockhead and flicked his tongue into its opening. Grey gasped and unleashed a brief torrent of words in his birth-tongue, pleading again with Methos.

Methos was not in control. He was riding the high of his own desire, allowing himself to enjoy Grey's responses. Watching his lover drive himself beyond rational thought had enticed Methos to let himself go, and he reveled in the release of his normal restraints.

He slid his knees under Grey's buttocks and forced the legs back and wide. His penis met the entry and he pushed it in just a little. His right thumb applied pressure on the base of his lover's penis, preventing again the all-too-close orgasm, for Grey was well ahead of Methos in the race to completion. Some small, remaining restraint snapped in Methos. He caught Grey's right hand with his left and pulled him the rest of the way onto his erection, guiding with his right. Grey's legs knotted around him, pushing them impossibly closer.

The skin shone, not a centimeter was not flushed. Every muscle stood out, gripped in denied release. The eyes, gone black, opened and looked not at Methos but into him. Grey's soul was bundled into the gaze that touched Methos' soul. It was offered without reservation, without demand.

It suffused Methos with warmth and an absolute promise. He laughed and grinned down at the other man. "You're mine!" he told him ecstatically. I accept you, he thought dizzily. The thought brought his body to the edge of orgasm and he released Grey's erection to catch instead his left hand. He pulled those hands behind him, forcing his lover's body into an arch, and lost himself in the movement of their bodies. Grey's orgasm, so long held in check, whipped forcefully through them both. The flesh that rippled, squeezed and sucked around him was a joy and he let go of his own controls. He went with the explosive feeling. The room whirled around them as they flew madly into each other's bodies.

Grey's lips formed an O, though he made no sound. His eyes rolled upward in his head. When the orgasm ran its course, he went limp. Methos, in his own descending exhaustion, reached out and felt for a pulse in his lover's neck. It was strong and slowing to normal speed. Still giddy, he withdrew gently and gathered a dampened towel from the bathroom to clean Grey. He braced himself on the bed and then laughed. The bedspread was soaked with their sweat. Not really soaked, but quite damp especially around Grey's buttocks, where both men's sweat had run down. He gathered the limp form in his arms and moved him to the dry side of the bed.

He stroked the damp, darkened hair away from the smooth forehead. The long eyelashes lay artistically against the still-flushed skin. Marvelous creature, he thought. He shifted his attention down and slipped the rings off of Grey's softened cock. He held them in his hand and weighed them with a soft laugh. "You wore this all day, didn't you?" he murmured to the sleeping man. He went on inside his skull, All day, hard. Leading by example, are you? Showing me how good it can feel just to let go. The kind of trust it takes to fall senseless in your lover's arms. He kissed the still-swollen lips tenderly. I could fall in love with you so easily. It's too late for you, though. You're in love with me, I know.

The temptation was strong. Friday? Six days--five, now--seemed short against five-thousand years until they were five days ahead of him. Methos shivered again, his mind on Grey's torturous self-titillation. He could not help but marvel at how Grey just threw himself into it and forgot dignity or self-aggrandizement. He shook his head. He had taken so many lovers, both male and female. Never anyone quite like you, he thought.

Monday

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"I think I hated that movie. We should have seen it at night."

Grey burst out laughing. "And why is that, oh aged one?"

Methos looked dignified. "Because then we could have gone back to the hotel and I could weep in private."

His partner cast him a searching look. "Were you there?"

Methos stopped and turned to look upwards at the theater sign, and the word "Titanic" emblazoned thereon. "No." He dug his hands deep into his pockets. "I suppose it's just the pointlessness of it. It wasn't even a war or a plague, just an accident that could so easily have been averted." He chuckled wryly. "At least for once it wasn't history repeating itself."

Grey snorted. "At least. Well, it was carelessness and over-confidence that took that ship down. The movie was well-written and well-acted." He caught the other man around the waist and lifted, twirling him away from the movie theater and out onto the sunlit sidewalk.

When Grey set him down, Methos stretched with all the dignity of a ruffled cat. "Like the legend of David and Goliath."

"Did you know them?"

"No. None of us knew them, we were in the wrong area. I got hold of a copy of the Jewish histories about a century and a half after Cassandra. After I rejoined the others, I used to read to them from the manuscripts. We found the histories hysterical."

"I never studied the Jewish histories. What's hysterical about them?"

Methos shrugged sheepishly. "You'd really have to read them and think about what our lives were like to understand. Kronos liked David's histories." Grey seemed perplexed, so Methos explained, "Long before David became king, he and his army were driven from their homeland by his predecessor. An enemy king believed David an embittered fugitive and hired him. He would tell the king he was going out to attack villages in his native country. Instead he attacked local villages. He killed every man, woman and child to prevent word from getting back to the king." Methos shrugged absently. "The death toll from our attacks took a thousand years to reach the numbers David was said to have slaughtered.

"Silas liked to listen. He said the mortals were all on a mad rush towards death anyway. I would spend hours deciphering Solomon's sayings. Caspian used to make charts on skins trying to keep track of who murdered who. He thought it was all very... reasonless. That is what he would say. Reasonless."

Grey looked askance at Methos. "I thought you hated Caspian?"

"I did. But he did make life interesting. He was one of a kind." We all were, Kronos' voice whispered in Methos' head. He smiled sadly.

Grey slid his arm around Methos' waist. "When was this?"

"About twenty-seven centuries ago."

Grey gave a mild snort of surprise. "About the time Tran took me." He drew his lover in closer, ignoring the glances of passersby. They both automatically kept their voices low. "What did King Solomon say that interested you?"

"I'll get you a copy. He wrote the part of the Old Testament called Ecclesiastes, or so it is said."

Grey nudged him indignantly. "Come on, give me something to whet my appetite!"

Methos uttered a long sigh. "When I first began reading the passage, it made complete sense to me. But as I read further it led me away from... from what I believed justified my life with the Horsemen. The first thing in it that caught my eye was the statement, 'Everything is meaningless!' I thought that was an intriguing beginning and read on. Then there was this passage:

What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
Is there anything of which one can say,
"Look! This is something new"?
It was here already, long ago;
it was here before our time.
There is no remembrance of men of old,
and even those who are yet to come
will not be remembered by those who follow."

There in a mortal's words was what I felt. Everything was meaningless. Nothing I did or wanted could change what was happening in the world. Everything that happened would repeat itself, whether I hated it or loved it. Much later it says, 'This is the evil in everything that happens under the sun: The same destiny overtakes all. The hearts of men, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterward they join the dead. Anyone who is among the living has hope--even a dog is better off than a dead lion!" Methos leaned his head against Grey's, grinning sheepishly. "I felt no hope. Today was a day much like yesterday, tomorrow would be a day just like today. This year like last year, this century like last century. And I began to remember what it meant to be Immortal. I began to remember that there had indeed been changes, that Egypt was much different when I was there years before, from when I had first been there millennia before. And suddenly I understood this passage:

The race is not to the swift
or the battle to the strong,
nor does food come to the wise
or wealth to the brilliant
or favor to the learned;
but time and chance happen to them all."

I almost burned the readings at that point. Suddenly I realized that I was the same as mortals, only longer-lived. I was worse because it took me so long to realize this. Mortal men have limited lives and so they change themselves because they know... they know they do not have long before it will end. I would live until I was killed, which could still happen at any time. I broke away from the Horsemen again and headed back into Egypt. Met a friend there and he invited me to go to Greece with him. We studied under Socrates until he was taken. Incredible man. I'd never met anyone like him. I never have again."

"Scholar," Grey said affectionately. "I'm wondering though. Why did you leave the Horsemen and then come back to them?"

Methos was about to answer when a rush of Presence charged the air about them. They both stopped alertly, drawing apart to scan the area independently. A man burst out of a nearby alleyway and nearly collided with them before he locked his legs and stopped. Breathing hard, he lifted his head to stare up at the two much taller men.

He had a lively, mobile face. Swarthy skin, black hair and black eyes. He grinned at Grey. "Hello Master!" Suddenly another Presence hit them. "Goodbye Master!" the man caroled. He was off like a small whirling dervish, vanishing around the corner.

Grey dashed away in pursuit. Methos and other people on the sidewalk stared in confusion after them. An instant later another man shot out of the alleyway. This one skidded to a halt in front of shy, bewildered Adam Pierson. Scowling, the pale-haired stranger shoved his face forward at Adam. "Which way did that little freak go?" Adam blinked at him in confused shock. The man's scowl deepened. "Fuck it!" He leaped away around the same corner the other man and Grey had gone around.

Methos shrugged and hailed a taxi, deciding the best route would be to meet Grey back at their hotel. He sighed to himself. Grey was not the social butterfly MacLeod was, thank God. Methos would not have to deal with strange Immortals on a regular basis because of him. A small, black haired Jewish man who had died in his mid-twenties and who called Grey his master. As far as the Watchers' records mentioned, the small man was Ezekial Silverman. It was very likely Methos would get to know Silverman. Or rather, Maroofus.

Grey rounded a corner to find himself in a dead-end alley. Maroofus was nowhere to be seen. He breathed in hard breaths, his rush after his long-ago student so spur of the moment that he had forgotten to pace his breathing. "Gone," he muttered. He considered briefly going into search-trance. No, that would leave him vulnerable to other Immortals and there was someone....

The Presence touched him, washed through him and turned him around, his sword ready. Pounding feet and a rush of angry breath as the other man came into the alleyway and stopped, swearing. A pale blond man with sharp, hungry features and wild blue eyes. "I'm not here for you," he snapped at Grey. "Did you see which way that bastard went?"

Grey raised his eyebrows and shifted his stance threateningly. "No. Why are you after him?"

The blond's eyes narrowed and he raked Grey suspiciously with his eyes. He still had not drawn his sword. "He killed my teacher. He's a fucking con artist! If you see him, don't trust him!"

Grey stiffened. "He took your teacher's head?"

The blond shook his head, glaring. "Nah, he don't fight worth a damn. He set my teacher up." He suddenly began backing away, his eyes wild on Grey. "Like he's just tried to do me!" He turned to shout up at the sky, "I LEARNED, damn you! You won't get me like you did Frank!" He spun on his heel and fled, leaving a very worried Grey behind him.

Grey waited for a time but felt no other Immortals. He sighed despondently and scooped his cell-phone out of his pocket. Just a few flicks of his fingers and the line rang. A blessed voice spoke in his ear in calm, deep tones. "Adam Pierson."

"Grey," he said.

His unhappiness must have been clear in his tone, for his lover's voice seemed to wrap around him comfortingly. "What happened?"

"Nothing concrete. I lost Maroofus--you know that's who he is, right?" Adam made an affirmative sound and Grey continued. "Confronted his pursuer. The man said Maroofus set his teacher up. I think..." he trailed off, his throat tight.

Adam interrupted, his voice rational and gentle. "It is unlikely that Maroofus even knew you were alive until he saw you today."

Grey sighed into the receiver, feeling his muscles loosen up with relief. "Where are you?"

"In a taxi going to our hotel."

"I'll be there soon," Grey said in his warmest voice. He cut the connection. It was unlikely, yes, but not impossible. Maroofus had always been very crafty. Grey would not be anyone's instrument of destruction, and he prayed his old friend had not attempted to use him as such.

He returned to the hotel and let himself into their suite. "It's me," he called in warning before he opened the door.

"I know," Methos replied.

Oh yummers. A present to make me feel better, Grey thought. It certainly worked. Methos stood in the kitchenette, dressed in black jeans and it seemed naught else. Grey leaned against the door for a moment to savor the view. All length and grace was the eldest. His smoothly muscled pale skin so often hidden under loose clothes made the present sight all the more enjoyable. Methos looked at him under lowered eyelashes, before lifting those eyes to confront his full. That tactic never failed to bring a catch to Grey's breathing. It was so natural, so... offering.

Methos had poured two mugs of beer and, with a nod of his head, indicated that Grey should sit down. He did, opting for the couch to leave room for his lover to join him. The Eldest crossed the room and settled on Grey's thighs. Grey, affecting a wide-eyed stare, murmured, "Why, lover, your jeans are half-undone."

"Are they?" Methos returned with his own innocent gaze, which turned to an injured look as Grey idly buttoned one of the buttons, his thumb pressing on the semi-hard flesh through the denim. Pretending indignation to his lover's inquiring gaze, Methos turned his head away.

Grey grinned and stroked Methos with his thumb. Circling his other arm behind his lover's back, he leaned forward and caught the left nipple between his teeth, nibbling gently. Light touches, tantalizing, ghosted over his torso, strong fingers pushed aside his coat to touch his shirt-covered chest. He felt Methos shift his hips forward until their crotches touched. "Can you tell me anything about him?" he asked idly. He nipped hard and buttoned the next button.

Methos hissed and pressed against him. "Threat or bribery?"

"Always bribery. Threats are for the incompetent."

"Well you certainly aren't incompetent." Methos relaxed, the sudden slumping of his body shifting his crotch in an all-too tantalizing motion against Grey's. With a little murmur of appreciation, the silver-haired man caught his lover's lips and opened them gently. He held them open, making no attempt to enter, flicking his tongue along their edges. Methos groaned and gave in. "Ezekiel Silverman." He punctuated each set of words with a kiss, getting progressively deeper and more sensual. "Israeli intelligence, for the last 75 years." Grey chuckled against his lips. "No record of his ever taking a challenge. If he sets people up, he does not do it often enough for his Watchers to make a note of it."

"Comforting thought."

"Who was the man's teacher?"

"All I know is 'Frank'." Grey undid the buttons of Methos' pants in swift succession, letting his thumb stroke the bared flesh. "Hmm. It's been about eighteen hours since we made love."

"And forty-three minutes," Methos whispered. He tilted Grey's head back and captured his mouth, deepening the kiss and rocking his hips until his lover shuddered and moaned, thrusting up. With a jerk Methos pulled Grey's shirt hard enough to tear the top buttons off and splayed his hands on the bared chest.

Presence rocked through them. Grey shuddered convulsively and pulled Methos tighter against him. "Timing again," he moaned. "Wonder who it is?"

"Someone dead," Methos snapped. He dropped his hand under the couch cushion and brought it out with his short sword. Grey chuckled at the resentful look the older Immortal shot toward the door.

There was an authoritative knock. "Room service!" called a voice.

"Deja-vu," muttered Methos.

Grey sat up straight, however, his eyes bright. "It's Maroofus!" He grinned at Methos' exasperated sigh. For a moment, he pulled his lover even closer against him, savoring the feel of warm skin and the strength that radiated from the long body. "Friday," he promised in Methos' ear.

Methos startled briefly, then smiled. He slid off of Grey's lap and ambled gracefully toward the bedroom. "I shall make myself presentable. You," he shot Grey a meaningful look over his shoulder, "should answer the door. Don't be careless."

As if on cue, from outside came the words, "I haven't got all day, y'know!"

Grey called back, "You do, too!" There was what sounded suspiciously like a snort from the other side of the door. He grinned and dashed to it. Pausing a moment to collect himself and look nonchalant, he then unlocked and opened the door. Maroofus stood there, leaning his weight on one foot, a large paper bag in each hand. Grey affected to wrinkle his nose at the smell of cooked meat that rose from the bags. "Hey, I ordered pheasant."

Maroofus took that as an invitation and walked in, swinging the bags jauntily. "They were out of pheasant. I bought McDonald's instead."

"Oh joy, junk food!" Grey waved his hand magnanimously towards the table and the small, wiry man plopped the bags down on it. "I don't suppose you want a plate?"

"Are you kidding? You don't eat this stuff on a plate. It'd ruin the finish! What are you doing in San Francisco?"

"Having a romantic vacation with my lover in a city that's friendly to us faygeles. What brings you here?"

"Ah, just came to see what an old acquaintance was up to."

Another voice interrupted, it was soft, deep and shy. "You must be Maroofus. I'm Adam Pierson."

With a vengeance, thought Grey when he saw his lover. The black jeans had been replaced by dark blue, soft white socks covered the feet, a light colored bulky sweater obscured the muscles but could not hide Methos' height nor the breadth of his shoulders. His eyes were at half-mast, chin lowered slightly in the attitude of a person unsure of his status with the man he was greeting.

The effect on Maroofus was immediate. His sharp features softened and his bright eyes warmed. He reached out to clasp hands with the gangly, young-seeming Immortal. "A pleasure. I promise, half the things he says about me aren't true."

"You think not?" Grey muttered, chuckling.

But Adam Pierson was off on his own track. Leaning back slightly, his head sideways as if nervous of his right to speak, he asked shyly, "The man who was chasing you said you'd set up his teacher. Did you try to set up Grey?"

Maroofus paled. "By God, no! And before you ask, I wasn't trying to set up the other guy, either. Just getting out of his reach."

Adam shied from the intensity of Maroofus' tone and moved as if unconsciously closer to Grey. "Who was his teacher?"

Maroofus glanced inquiringly toward Grey, who was at that moment marvelling over how Methos had taken control of the situation so smoothly without seeming to have any control at all. Grey shook himself, swinging an arm around Adam's waist. "I'd like to know. If I thought you'd used me…."

The smaller man grinned and shook his head. "I don't know if it'll mean anything to you. I mean, it's been two thousand years and I haven't even heard of you in all that time. You always did keep a low profile." There was a brief, uncomfortable silence before Maroofus continued. "His teacher was Frank Carruthers. A really nasty sort. Tortured and killed some friends of mine. I did set him up to lose his head--"

Adam interrupted softly, "Yes. To Connor MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod." Maroofus lifted his head to gaze in surprise at the young Immortal. Adam was leaning slightly against Grey, staring thoughtfully at the floor. "Carruthers was a bad one," he said absently.

What a bizarre fellow, Maroofus thought. "Ah, yeah. You want a burger?" The boy brightened and lifted his head. Maroofus smiled at the way the boy's brown eyes lit and turned golden. Guess I can see why Grey likes him. He's just shy with strange Immortals, I'd bet.

Adam moved closer to the table, eyeing the bags. He quipped, "You did remember chocolate shakes, did you not?"

Apparently the youngster was only shy of asking questions that might rouse someone's anger. Maroofus dug into one of the bags and pulled out a smaller bag clearly holding drinks. "Of course. Chocolate is one of the great discoveries of mankind!"

Eyeing the boy while they ate, something nagged in Maroofus' memory. There was some sense of the familiar about this Adam Pierson. Somewhere he had seen the youngster before. He glanced at Grey and noted the body language. Body tilted, always with Pierson at the focus of his attention. And the top buttons of his shirt gone. Maroofus had obviously interrupted something. He chuckled. Grey arched a brow enquiringly. "Oh," Maroofus said teasingly, "Just remembering old times. You were always quite the romantic!" He turned to Pierson, his eyes twinkling. "He pined after Flavius Marcus. He had two whores from the Temple of Dionysus, and still he wasn't satisfied!" Maroofus told Adam, his eyes dancing.

Grey protested with mock indignation. "ME?! What about all those young whores from the Temple of Magdalana? You knew every one of them."

Maroofus straightened up and replied with great dignity, "It was Flavius Marcus who decided to cart those temple prostitutes from Rome to Galilee for his men. Besides, none of them were married. And my religion forbids spilling your seed outside a woman."

"Doesn't it forbid spilling inside a man?" Adam inquired mildly.

Ah, feeling me out are you? "To each his own, I always said even then." He shot a leer at Grey. "To tell the truth, I think Flavius knew you lusted after him. He'd show off for you sometimes."

"He certainly was a tease. But you could always drink him under the table."

"And anyone else, too. Except you." Maroofus eyed Grey challengingly. His old teacher smiled but declined with a shake of his head, eyes flickering toward young Adam, his gaze tender. Maroofus sank back in his chair, grinning. "Ah, love."

After they finished eating, he curled into a cross-legged position on his chair. "So, have you gotten any better with a sword?" he asked brightly. He had used to watch Grey practice with utter amazement. Even after Grey admitted to being eight or so centuries old his skill had still confounded Maroofus. In the time since, the small man had seen many fighters. Few were better than Grey.

Pierson spoke softly, "He's fantastic with a sword."

The boy blushed when Maroofus looked at him and ducked his head shyly. Gods, if he were a woman Grey would have to fight for him! "Hmm. I assume you have a sword. Would you two demonstrate for me?" Maroofus asked hopefully.

He watched surprise cross the young face before the boy turned his head to gaze inquiringly at Grey, who raised his brows again and said, "I don't know about that."

Pierson turned his gaze back to Maroofus and asked, "When?"

"Oh, you know, I won't be in town long. How's about now?"

Grey snorted and glared. "For God's sake, Maroofus!"

"Don't speak so of the Lord, you never know if He's listening," the small Immortal shot back.

Pierson interrupted, meeting Maroofus' eyes fully with curiosity. "Why don't you and Grey spar?"

Meeting Grey's dancing eyes, Maroofus thumbed his nose at his old friend. "I don't use a sword. Never have."

"Then how do you...?" Pierson started uncertainly.

"I make friends when I can, and run when I can't. It's a working system."

Grey snorted. "Of course. And from those friends you sometimes get protectors."

"It's against my character to use other people like that," the little man said reprovingly. "You know, if you move all this furniture to the side, there's enough room here for you to spar," he coaxed.

Grey was about to refuse utterly when Adam said, "We could do that. We'd have to keep it light so that no one calls the police."

Grey stared at him in surprise, but Adam was absorbed in being his most shy for their company. He glanced around the room. Well, yes there would be limited space. Keeping it light would not risk revealing Adam's reality. It could be fun. "Um. Alright," he agreed reluctantly.

Maroofus watched with curiosity as the two men fenced. His old teacher had developed more refinement than he had two thousand years before. Strength, speed and skill he had always had, in intimidating quantities. It seemed he was no longer of the "Take 'em down fast" school of thought. Maroofus watched Adam Pierson, too. Tall, dark-haired and pale skinned, he was. Dueling Grey, his gangliness melted into a kind of easy grace. Of course neither man was trying to hurt the other, yet one could see Grey pull his strikes. With Adam, there was no sense of holding back and yet… as if he had decided exactly what level he would fight at and somehow instinctively stayed within those bounds. He would be very dangerous in a real fight.

Maroofus' train of thought connected with his memories. He knew where he had seen Adam Pierson before. The realization hit with a shock, for the boy had seemed so young. He burst into laughter and the other two men were brought up short, glancing around at him in surprise. He looked up at Adam and shook his head. Still chuckling he said, "I remember you, now. You're not as young as you act. But perhaps I shouldn't say that?"

Brought up short, Methos stared at the wiry Immortal. Despite the chuckle, Maroofus' mouth was set in a straight line. He looked grim. What do you know about me? Methos thought.

Grey laughed and threw his arm over his lover's shoulder. "I know how old he is. I know what he's done."

Maroofus smiled genuinely at his former teacher, and then at Methos. He still looked troubled. "Do you know what's been done to him?"

They looked at him, confused. The question only partly eased Methos' worry. "Give me a hint?"

"Germany, four hundred and thirty-odd years ago." As comprehension dawned in Methos, Maroofus continued. "Someone set off a rockslide that buried your... teacher." The way he said the word was with utter loathing. His normally friendly face twisted itself into angry remembrance.

"Adam?" Grey asked.

But his lover was staring at Maroofus in clear and total amazement. Methos sank into a chair, blinking. "You." His expression was eerie, combining delight, chagrin and astonishment. He lifted his gaze to meet Maroofus' suddenly embarrassed one. "Thank you."

Grey stared back and forth at them. "Just what's the story, here?"

Methos smiled. "Oh, it's not that bad. I wonder what it looked like from HIS side."

Grey turned toward Maroofus. "Tell me."

Maroofus looked guiltily thoughtful for a moment. Finally, he sighed. "I'd been tracking this Immortal on and off for about three centuries. He was an isolate, and so the few times I stumbled upon him was because he'd committed some new atrocity."

Germany, 1567

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Maroofus only glanced at the ruins as he rode past, following the sign left behind. A chance encounter with an old friend and he had discovered that his nemesis was in the area. He had quickly turned his course and gone to find the madman. Nemesis, he thought wryly. If I can truly say that of someone who doesn't even know I exist.

He had heard about the Kurgan throughout his life. Over the centuries, the devastation the evil Immortal left behind him had impressed hatred into Maroofus, the only hatred he had ever felt. If the Kurgan destroyed only other Immortals in the Game, he might not have had to feel it. Mortals were here for a short time and gone, but an Immortal's evil could go on and on if they were not stopped. The Kurgan was one of the older Immortals. He had no fear and was justly said to be the strongest of all of them. He was as subtle as a storm. His Presence washed his surroundings for almost three times the normal distance. Sometimes that was enough to let a wise opponent clear out before the Kurgan got close enough to sense him. Sometimes.

An Immortal who refuses to fight either has to have a protector, or be very good at hiding. Maroofus had never let himself be protected. With cooperative friends he had learned the range of his Presence and various ways to muffle his signal. Unfortunately there was only so close one could get to another Immortal without being sensed, and he knew that distance well, too.

It was mid-afternoon a day later, entering a small valley, when Maroofus began to get that little niggling feeling that he had learned meant he was getting close to someone. He pulled out of range and hid his horse in a grotto. He made his way back, moving carefully into the valley. Every sense was alert to determine exactly where the other Immortal was. In the distance he heard the sound of swords clashing. A fight? The sound was not right for it. Too regular a beat. Maroofus kept low to the ground, knowing the soil diffused his signal, slightly increasing the distance at which he would get a conscious reaction. So much the better if the Kurgan was distracted. The sound of swords was close now, and he could feel the Kurgan. He peeked over a fallen tree.

Well I'll be damned, was his first thought. There towered the Kurgan, ghastly pale, his black hair a-swirl around his head. In front of him, sword in hand and desperately trying to get through his guard, was a young Immortal. Though dwarfed by his teacher, he was a tall, slim man. Dark haired and pale-skinned, but not the moonlight color of the other man. Maroofus watched the training exercise and had to admit the boy had talent. The Kurgan, however, was both strong and skilled. Sometimes he allowed the boy to get in a strike. A lesser Immortal would have much to fear from the youngster. Suddenly the exercise was over. The Kurgan brought his student down. Soon the boy knelt in front of his teacher, gingerly holding a broken arm as it healed.

"You did well," grated the Kurgan.

Maroofus was startled. Something had happened to the man's voice! Only a devastating throat injury could leave such a permanent effect. He peered intently over the log, wishing he could get close enough to see. The Kurgan's voice carried on the breeze. "Give me my reward, pretty."

Maroofus recoiled in revulsion as the student let his breeches down. He closed his eyes and turned away. The wind carried a cry of pain to his ears. Oh, the poor child.

The Kurgan would most likely travel away from the scene of his latest atrocity. Maroofus did not have a lot of time. To his relief, the valley's other end offered just what he needed. With a little judicious moving of smaller boulders, he should have no trouble.

In the morning the two Immortals mounted and rode through the pass, the younger one on the lead horse. As the boy passed under Maroofus' line of sight, the hidden man prayed apologetically for the Kurgan's horse to forgive him. When the time was right, Maroofus raced across the narrow path, knocking down the boulders that would cut off the path behind and the others that would come down in front and on top of the Kurgan.

With a crash and roar, the mountainside fell down on the Kurgan and his horse. Maroofus saw the other horse bolt, its rider clinging to its back.

Present

"I always wondered what had happened to you." He had, in fact, speculated if the boy would turn out like the Kurgan. "I suppose I'll have to stop thinking of you as a boy, you're over four hundred years old."

Grey seemed to find that statement funny and Adam Pierson appeared to be reining in his own amusement. Maroofus watched as Grey's demeanor became serious and his teacher turned to Adam.

"You didn't mention the Kurgan."

"Oh, he wasn't so bad."

They both stared at Adam in surprised disbelief. Grey cocked his head, his tone appalled. "Wasn't so bad?" he echoed.

Adam shifted in his seat, clearly not certain what to say. "He... yes, he was brutal. But he was not sadistic." He bit his lips, fine brows drawn down in thought. "He may have violated my body, but he did not attempt to violate my identity. He didn't try to make me enjoy it." He met Grey's startled eyes and shied away from them nervously. "You can always be forced to enjoy it. Being seduced against your will is worse than simple rape."

Maroofus sucked in a breath as his flesh crawled. Just what had this young fellow been through in his barely more than four centuries?

Not really to his surprise, Grey exploded. "Rape is rape! You can't distinguish between them just because you had to accept violence rather than pleasure! Look what it did to you; you can't relax and enjoy being made love to! You always have that underlying fear that I'm going to hurt you. You're certainly not afraid I'm going to SEDUCE you!"

Maroofus almost interrupted to cut Grey off. Granted, he had almost witnessed the boy being raped by Kurgan, but these were matters of an intimate nature between lovers.

Adam looked startled at the explosion. Grey began to pace swiftly back and forth, muttering words the other two could not make out. Adam met Maroofus' eyes for a moment and the Jewish Immortal noted a bewildering lack of embarrassment combined with honest amusement and some annoyance before the young man turned his gaze back to Grey. He tipped his chin down then up, his eyes luminous with affection. A small smile tilted the corners of his mouth. "I'd wondered if anything ever angered you. It is nice to see it on my behalf."

Maroofus was surprised. "You've never seen him angry? Let me tell you--"

"Maroofus," Grey growled, "shut up. You always bring out the worst in me." Yet he was smiling slightly at the smaller Immortal, before he turned to Adam. "He just has this ability to find the things that will upset me and parade them before my eyes."

Maroofus grinned, remembering all too well his search to find out what it was that would trigger Grey's outrage, hoping he could somehow bring this intelligent man to the Israelite side. The man had seemed so closed off; so unaware of anything outside his own tent. Well, not unaware but convinced that the events of the world did not need him. So Maroofus had tried very hard to get Grey to think that the smaller man needed protection. He had wanted to shout so many times, "Don't you ever want to be part of something greater than yourself?!" He grew fond of the tall man despite himself. Grew to respect him despite the fact that he helped arm the enemy.

When Maroofus learned that they were both Immortal, all his machinations deserted him in confusion. Over time he finally accepted that nothing was going to make Grey involve himself in the Hebrew's never-ending war for freedom. He could not go with Grey to the ends of the Earth and leave his people to fight on their own. God was calling him in the night with visions, and he was touched when his teacher gave him most of the tools that Grey used to earn a livelihood as he travelled. So many things happened and here he was, over two thousand years old. He understood now how easy it was for an Immortal to let the world go by. It was so easy to stop believing that one man could make a difference when the things he did that were so important left no trace within a century or two. When nothing you did could stop the people you cared about from dying. However, at the very least you could help them while they were living.

He was drawn from his thoughts by the sensation of someone watching him. Adam, his eyes gentle, crooked a small smile. As if he read Maroofus' thoughts he said, "Survival is my first priority. Once my life is secure everything else follows."

Grey spoke, his voice entirely too bland. "Do you relive the Kurgan?"

"Strangely enough, no." He did seem puzzled as he said that, head tilted thoughtfully to the side. "I don't even really relive Kronos. Not that time, anyway."

Kronos? thought Maroofus. Who is Kronos?

Adam was continuing. "I relive Shaddam. If my breathing is constricted in any way I relive Akomaru. But my time with the Kurgan, the sex really didn't matter to my sense of self. No." He shrugged lightly and tilted his head to look at Maroofus again. "Just what were you going to do if you ever DID catch up with the Kurgan?"

Maroofus studied his fingers absently. "Well, unfortunately burying him in the rock slide didn't give me the opportunity I was looking for. I intended to wait for him to dig himself out, and take his head."

Grey looked stunned. "Without giving him a chance?!"

Adam started to laugh and Grey looked at him, suddenly blushing furiously. Maroofus grinned. "He was bigger than I am, stronger, better with a blade and certainly more vicious. If I gave him any chance at all I would have lost."

"You could have waited and taken his head," Adam pointed out, gently.

Maroofus shook his head. "I actively avoid taking heads. I was... afraid of what might happen if I took his. He was a thousand years older than I." He sat down opposite Adam. "I've seen good friends of mine get rather... strange... after they've taken a head. Usually they're back to normal within a few days. Sometimes they aren't. I've seen a few good people slowly go mad. It's kind of hard to be an older Immortal. You witness so many things that would otherwise seem impossible. Never saw a Dark Quickening, but I can see where the legend would come from. I have taken a Quickening, but still--"

Grey interrupted, startled. "Maroofus, how did you get someone's Quickening?!"

Maroofus grinned his trademark, ear-splitting grin. "Y'know, that's a rather strange story."

Grey muttered, "With you it would have to be."

Maroofus thumbed his nose at him. "Do you want to know or not?"

"I want to know," Adam said softly.

"Ah." Maroofus had to clear his throat. The way the boy watches you! he thought. Those wide goldish-brown eyes that peer at you through half-lowered eyelashes! It was bizarrely innocent and yet had a weird flavor of seduction. Or was he imagining things? The combination brought out a fiercely protective streak in him. Nothing could stop him from answering the boy.

1215 AD

It would be remembered as "The Children's Crusade." Youngsters from all across Europe journeyed towards the Holy Land on Pilgrimage, only to be sold into slavery by the men who had arranged their passage. Maroofus had done his best to rescue scores of children and return them to their homelands. Yet there were too many children, and not enough good Samaritans (he often laughed at the way that wonderful tale had wended itself deep into modern Western culture) to rescue more than a very few.

Returning to some port from the Greek countryside where he had restored three children to their families, he laid down in a field to rest. He had just settled into a comfortable doze when the ground shuddered beneath him. He opened his eyes in surprise. Earthquake? No, not an earthquake. There was a roar and rush of feet and hooves. They were upon him before he was more than halfway to his feet. A battle raged around him. It looked like one army had driven the other back, and now they were at bay in this field. There were only a few horses. Most of the men in this group were desperate footsoldiers.

Maroofus did not waste his time on sympathy for the half of those men who had probably been pressed into service. He dove and wove making for the edge of the field and felt another Immortal's presence rise within him. Blast and damn it all! A wild man in a haphazard helmet made of bits of wood and metal, no different than the ones the Immortal had seen his ancestors wearing several centuries ago, tried to bring his heavy axe down on Maroofus' head. He caught the man's arm, shifting the trajectory of the strike just enough that the blade missed him and buried itself deep in the soil. He leaped past the swearing man and continued his dash for safety.

He managed no more than a few paces before he was shaken by a dropping sensation in his gut. He kept running. And then, the first burst hit him. It took him in searing pain and screaming anger. Images flashed through his stunned thoughts, only a few clear enough to see but he was in too much pain to pay attention to them as his being swelled. He caught control of it for a moment and all things became preternaturally clear.

The lightning bolts explained it. They danced in bizarre silence across the helmets of the soldiers. The men's eyes were open and they were screaming and running into each other in terror, but in that moment Maroofus could hear nothing but his heartbeat and another voice that rose to overwhelm him, wailing words he could not understand.

And then the lighting stopped. Maroofus lay curled into a ball as the alienness continued to jangle across his nerves and sicken him. He began to pull himself together, knowing he had taken someone's Quickening. He had eaten someone's soul and neither of them were happy about it. That sensation died, the sense of doubleness began to fade. He looked up to see stunned men staring at him, their clothes spattered with blood, all sporting injuries.

The fury twisted his face and he got to his feet. He pulled in the righteousness of his long battles to save the Jewish people and preserve the Holy Land. He pulled in the most recent determined hopelessness of his struggle to rescue the children of Europe. He threw back his head and shouted, "I AM THE WRATH OF GOD!!" There was something to be said for not planning what you were going to say. It let you say the most interesting things.

He glowered around him at the quaking men. "FOOLS! You kill each other when the Holy Land and God's Chosen Children need you!" Oh great, he thought half-lucidly. I'm going to start another wave of crusades. "Go to your homes! Care for your families and pray that you will enter the Kingdom of Heaven when you die!" He drew in a great breath and bellowed, "GO!! GO AND SIN NO MORE!!"

It only took a moment. The men around him shivered and shook, then began to run. They set off the men farther away. Within a short time, Maroofus was alone on the field of death. With an exasperated sigh, he ignored the fallen bodies around him except to avoid them, and continued his journey to the port at which his ship waited.


Present

"Go and sin no more," Grey repeated the words bemusedly, his eyebrows climbing his forehead.

Adam was grinning into a beer. "That's pretty good."

"Well, at least it cleared the field. I believe they declared peace or something after that." He was delighted to have brought a real grin to Adam's face. Grey, however, drew his attention. He could not put his finger on it. He had not seen the man in about two thousand years, but he felt sure there was something wrong.

Maroofus took his leave at nine o'clock. He and Grey arranged to meet for lunch the next day, but this night and the rest of the next day, it was stated firmly, were all for Adam.

After he felt the faint shift of his senses that marked Maroofus moving out of range, Grey came up behind Methos and put his arms around him. The eldest pulled slightly away and said, "I like him."

Grey hesitated. "I, too. You...?" he trailed off, uncertain at Methos' stiffness. It tasted of anger and since the eldest had never shown anger to him, he felt his heart sink. Don't leave me, came the half-formed thought.

Methos faced him, the suddenly hard eyes boring into his. The voice, usually warm velvet, was icy yet calm. "I like him, but he is a stranger. He does not need to know about my personal problems."

Grey could not identify the feeling that twisted his gut. His own words blared in his head. You can't relax and enjoy being made love to! You always have that underlying fear that I'm going to hurt you. That conversation was one he should never have continued in front of Maroofus. He covered his lips with his fingers, emotions driving his actions, wishing the words unsaid. Don't be angry, don't be angry, I didn't mean to, he thought. He could not move.

Methos' right hand came up suddenly and Grey had no will to make effort to avoid it. It only settled commandingly at the back of his neck. The left hand pulled his fingers from his lips as the darkened eyes bore into his, the fine brows furled.

Grey's vocal chords unlocked. His frozen fear was vanished and forgotten with the softening of his lover's eyes. His immense chagrin was not. "I'm so sorry, please forgive me," he whispered.

Methos' voice, warm and secretive again, surrounded him. The dark eyes were all he could see for a moment. "You're forgiven anything. Just remember to protect my privacy."

Grey nodded, ashamed. His head was fuzzy and he drew a hand up, puzzled. He shook it to clear the fuzziness and thought things became clearer. Everything was all right? Yes, it was. "I didn't mean to hurt you," he said softly, dropping his eyes.

Methos trailed his fingers around to Grey's chin and stroked his thumb across the taller man's lips. "It's easy to get caught up in old relationships. Did I ever tell you about Byron? Lord Byron, I mean? He was my student a long time ago. I met him again before he lost his head, and all I could think of were all the great times we'd had together and the poetry and music he wrote. But he had become... a bitter killer. He knew what he did was wrong but he hated life so much that he destroyed mortals. He wanted to go out in a blaze of glory and he didn't care who he took with him."

"Who took his head?"

"Who do you think?"

Grey thought for a moment, then smiled. In unison they said, "Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod."

Sensing himself forgiven, the tall Immortal leaned his forehead against Methos'. "I did get caught up in how Maroofus and I were together. But you know what?" he asked playfully.

"What?"

"You had him eating out of your hand, and THAT was a refreshing sight!" He shook his head. "Wrapped him around your little finger. I admire that in you."

Methos smiled slightly. "And do I not have you so wrapped?"

Grey's voice went low and rolling. "Not around your little finger, lover. We were going somewhere before he arrived. And now we've had dinner so that won't interrupt us."

Affecting incomprehension, Methos rubbed his cheek against Grey's. "Where were we going?"

"I'll show you."

Grey at his lover's back steered Methos into the bedroom by the shoulders. Once in there, he did not speak but began undressing the man with slow, implacable hands. As he slid the heavy sweater up Methos' torso, he brushed his nose just barely against the exposed skin, letting his breath stroke the fine hairs. The eldest smelled good and tasted better, Grey thought, licking his lover's nipples. Methos sighed and leaned into the caress, even as he raised his arms to let Grey slip the sweater off of him.

That accomplished, Methos reached between them to unbutton the remaining buttons of Grey's shirt. "What is it with you and this kind of shirt?" he murmured softly as he worked.

"They slow things down," Grey whispered in reply. He sank down, out of his shirt and pulling Methos' jeans to the floor. Removing them, he stroked his lover's thighs. He paused to undo his own pants and stood up, stepping out of them. He steered Methos towards the bed, wondering if the eldest had yet placed any significance on the fact that this was a four-poster, rather than the usual style one found in most hotels these days. Grey had paid rather a large deposit to have this bed in their room. "Lover, lie on your back."

Methos rubbed against him then obeyed. The eldest looked up at him, legs slightly spread and fingers toying with his own erection. Grey smiled and took Methos' left wrist in his right hand. Holding it firmly, he brought it up to the left-hand post. Methos followed the movement, his eyes dark, hot and curious. Grey pulled up the ends of the rope he had left tied there down out of sight, and began fixing them firmly around his lover's wrist.

He felt Methos stiffen slightly under him and tilted his head to study the deep, darkened eyes, which were focused on the hand tied to the bedpost. Grey reached for what appeared to be an errant strand of the tie and set it between Methos' fingers. "If you have to, pull this and the tie will come loose. You'll be free," he said softly.

Methos' eyes widened, but he did not speak. His eyes burned into Grey's. Grey smiled wickedly and ran his fingers down the pinned arm to the armpit and felt the eldest shiver, saw him lick his lips. Good, he thought. He straddled the pale form so that their cocks brushed each other. He took Methos' other wrist and tied it to the right-hand post. The body beneath him shivered again. He slid down it slowly, pushing his lover's legs apart until they were spread wide. As he had secured Methos' wrists, so he secured the ankles. He sat up to savor the sight. Methos was watching him, eyes half-shut, lips parted as he breathed shallow breaths.

Grey had considered what he was now doing very carefully before deciding to try it. Over three-thousand years ago, Methos had been restrained standing. He had been starved and tortured until his mind fell apart. He had been taught to fear his own name as a source of pain, and accept a new identity that was allowed to feel pleasure. Grey intended to build and strengthen the association of pleasure in submitting with Methos' real identity. He kept himself alert to any nuance of fear that might flicker through the eldest's body. "How are you doing?" he asked gently.

"Oh, just fine," Methos replied flippantly.

Grey grinned and moved up to Methos' head on his left side. The eldest shifted to meet his eyes. He leaned close and said sternly, "Remember, you can release your hands any time." Methos swallowed and nodded. Grey began at the wrists, his fingers stroking his lover's skin with the lightest of pressure. He held Methos' gaze. "How did you end up with the Kurgan?"

Color flooded the eldest's face. He muttered, "It was just one of those occasions when I let my heart rule my head."

Grey leaned down and licked the soft skin of the inside of Methos' elbow, then blew on it. Methos made a little sound of pleasure and Grey turned a little, flicking that strong tongue at the corner of his mouth. "Details?" He continued moving his fingers down Methos' arm as lightly as he could.

The eldest focused on answering. "He'd killed someone I loved. I was tracking him until bandits set upon me. They killed me, made off with my possessions--" with a note of annoyance he narrowed his eyes and snapped, "--and the sword I was carrying! Kurgan stumbled upon me just as I was recovering. He must have been bored. I pretended to be newborn and he decided to teach me."

"How long did he have you?" Grey inquired softly, his fingers reaching the skin surrounding Methos' armpit.

"Just eight days."

Grey slid one of his hands down and between Methos' thighs until his fingers rested on the small opening. The eldest jerked, the color fleeing his face. "And when he wanted to he took you. And because he didn't care what you felt, he tore you apart to enter you. And it didn't matter." Grey toyed with the opening, feeling it contract shut, knowing Methos was not entirely conscious of how he was clenching up and pulling away from the touch. Being tied had bypassed some of Methos' controls.

Ah, Old Man, Grey thought. He traced his fingers up, not touching cock or nipples or any major erogenous zone and then he had his hands on each of Methos' armpits. He let them rest there for a moment before tracing them down to the hips, then back up. He watched Methos' eyes the whole time; saw the lashes dip and the lips part. A glance down confirmed that the backlash of sensation had tightened the eldest's nipples and was sending blood to his cock. He moved to nibble the skin around the nipples, not touching them despite the way Methos twisted. He ran his fingers up and down the man's ribs again, ever so lightly. Methos gasped and uttered a small moan, his eyes closing involuntarily.

Grey bent to his task with enthusiasm. He kept his hands running lightly over the long form. He never touched Methos' lips, nipples or cock, though he did allow his hair to brush them. Methos would twist desperately, trying to feel more. The sound of his breathing and occasional cry filled the room. Grey finally did touch his lover's nipples with his tongue, raising his head as the eldest arched up into the touch. For a moment only Methos' head, shoulders and heels touched the surface of the bed, then Grey shifted and began tracing his mouth down the ribcage. Methos collapsed back, gasping.

Down the hips, trace the inside of the thighs. Reach for the lubricant hidden at the foot of the bed and grease fingers. Grey moved up slowly until his head was beside Methos' cock. With a slight shift, he began tracing his tongue from the balls up towards the tip. A ragged cry escaped his lover's throat, hips thrust upwards pushing for more contact. As before, Grey drew the searching hips after his tongue. When Methos' body was at the top of its arch, the silver haired man thrust two fingers inside, reaching for the sensitive gland he knew was there. In no other way did he touch his lover.

Methos' hoarse scream filled his ears. Grey shifted his head up to stare at the sweat-dampened face. Methos' eyes were closed tight, his body taut, mouth open and begging. His hips moved frantically down against the stroke of Grey's fingers. His arms jerked, fingers coiling into claws and the orgasm hit. His choked cries decreased in volume with each pulse of his cock. They decreased with the slow descent of his hips until his body shuddered and lay limp on the bed.

"Oh, God," Methos whispered vaguely.

Grey grinned, his own breath burning in his throat. He slid his fingers slowly out, up along Methos' softening cock to brush the head before he stopped touching. He reached down to pull the loose end of the rope and free his lover's left leg. Not touching the other man, he moved up and freed the left arm. He scooped up the damp towel from its bucket he had left beside the bed, and with careful strokes cleaned Methos off. Pushing gently, he silently urged the eldest to lay on his right side.

Methos' flesh still rang with the aftermath of his orgasm. Strengthless he lay, feeling as though he were floating. He felt Grey press against his back; a strong hand lifted his left leg and let it down again. He was conscious of the hard, silken length of Grey's erect cock between his thighs. I feel so good, he thought. He lifted his leg again, shifting his body with an effort, opening his relaxed entry to his lover. He heard Grey chuckle and felt his leg pressed gently down again.

Grey's voice filled his head, breath sending new shivers along his skin. "Feel me, Methos. Can you imagine how I would fill you up?"

The memory of the touch inside his body that took him to orgasm returned in force and his ragged breath caught. The post-orgasm shivers increased. Grey was huge. No, he was just right. There would be no hollow ache, no desperate struggle to feel enough. Methos moaned.

"Friday," Grey whispered against his ear.

Grey's fingers stroked lightly and Methos almost dozed. His mind focused on the hardness between his legs and fear niggled at his sleepy thoughts. Not just right. Huge. Without lubrication there would be mind-rending pain. With lubrication there would be the overwhelming of his self. Grey would be fine, of course, but he himself would be punctured and bleeding. Shaddam would come as he always did and begin to take Methos apart. And then Methos would have to struggle alone to hold himself together even as he orgasmed, for the orgasm would disrupt his concentration.

And Grey... gods, how good it would feel to belong to such a master.

No! Suddenly fully awake, Methos opened his eyes wide and stared at his right wrist, still secured to the bedpost. Trembling, he turned his hand and pulled the rope Grey had said would free him. His bonds came undone immediately. Almost instantly he felt calm sweep through him. He shifted his left leg and caught the end of the rope binding his right foot between his toes. A pull and that leg was free, too. The tenseness left him completely. He could still feel Grey's length against his tender flesh. Maybe it would not be bad. Not bad at all. The adrenaline of earlier left him exhausted again and he fell into true sleep.

Grey sighed softly when he felt Methos finally fall asleep. He had remained carefully still throughout the sudden tenseness and thread of panic wafting off Methos before the eldest began untying himself. His lover was a peculiar creature of courage and yielding. He had wondered many times if he could manage to be the same.

Many a fantasy, sometimes complex and sometimes simple, had spun through him since Methos had made this request. The eldest laying cock up, Grey burying his own deep within that so-tight body. Or with knees bent under his torso and crying out with each of Grey's powerful thrusts. Dying from three quick blows to his head and neck in a split moment. Ouch. That thought took care of Grey's erection.

I hope I don't fail you when the time comes, Grey thought. He snuggled himself tighter against Methos' back. I won't make you crave it in spite of the fear; that won't help you in the long run. Rather I have to convince your animal side that is has nothing to fear. Just as I have to convince mine. I hope I can kill two birds with one stone here.

Tuesday

It was hard to separate in the morning. Methos woke up with Grey's arm curled over his chest, body pressed against his. Slipping out of the bed to go to the toilet meant leaving that warm embrace for the cold air of the hotel room. Afterwards he put on a robe against the chill and sat on the edge of the bed, watching his lover sleep.

Passion. Grey brought out his passion. He rarely felt such for another Immortal. Passion was the province of the young, whose minds were still clinging to a mortal clock. Whose nature was still that of someone expecting to die within a century. Perhaps that was the reason. The Gathering was here, only temporarily in abeyance because of all the Immortals whom Horton had killed, leaving no Quickening. Yet soon, perhaps within a decade, the urges would begin to overpower. The young would burn to fight and refuse to surrender in defeat. The old would hunger for resolutions, feeling the pointlessness of their never-ending lives more than ever. Methos' palms would begin to itch for battle. The information he had gained from the Watcher records would sing in his mind, hatching cunning plans. Grey, Duncan, Amanda, the de Vallincourts, all would be among the first targets his mind would fall upon. He would have to remove himself. He would have to go against his instincts and face more evil Immortals on the likelihood that his friends would die before he had to fight them. Or that he would.

He stroked Grey's sleeping face with his fingertips. Time was rushing by like a mighty river. The Gathering was too close. Methos would not forgo the pleasures of this man's company while they still had time.

Just being together was a pleasure. Methos sighed to himself and demanded that he stop counting the days. Two nights in Seacouver shortly after they first met. The two interesting weeks in Paris after that. A month in Ukraine at the farm, always with that faint undercurrent of danger. If Grey had slipped up and called him by name anywhere Tran or Mariah might hear.... For now he hoarded these stolen days with his lover. This stolen peace.

They met at the Presidio Cemetery, because it was safe ground if another Immortal decided to come after them. In a way, they were pressed for time. Maroofus was leaving town in a few days to return to Israel and Grey had no intention of messing up his timetable with Methos. So the pair caught up, renewing old jokes and talking about their distant past. Maroofus explained that he was a Star Trek fan and put Grey in stitches by demonstrating his Klingonese.

"So, where is Pierson, anyway?" Maroofus eventually asked.

"Most likely delving through the more obscure bookstores in town. The ones that might carry bizarre ancient tomes. He loves that sort of thing."

"Ooh. Must be why he likes you."

Grey snorted and shook his head. "I see time has not dulled that tongue of yours," he said affectionately.

"Tsk. Would you recognize me without it, or think it was someone else wearing my face?"

"The gods take pity on the fetch fool enough to assume YOUR likeness, 'Roo!"

Maroofus threw his head back and laughed. Getting a hold of himself he breathed, "Well that sure takes me back!"

Grey chuckled and asked curiously, "What have you been occupying yourself with the last two thousand years?"

Maroofus shrugged. "Pretty much the same thing as I was doing when you met me."

"Saving helpless women and children and in your spare time spying for the Israelites?"

"Well, not spying that much. Remember, for most of the time there hasn't been any kind of a government to spy FOR. I was pretty busy during the Second World War rescuing people from the death-camps. And these days..." he trailed off, considering. "I may retire and go back to just saving helpless women and children. In Africa, in Russia. Wherever there is injustice, I'll be there!"

"Did you see the movie 'The Three Amigos'?" Grey asked curiously.

"I was a consultant for the fight scenes. Saw it recently, did you?"

Grey waved his hand with mock indifference. "Adam rented it."

"Yup, I noticed the boy has a good sense of humor. So what have YOU been doing? Did you ever get back together with... whazzizname, Tran?"

Grey sat down, sprawling in unconscious imitation of Adam on an iron seat. The smaller man plopped down next to him. He said, "Yeah. We've been together most of the centuries since. We breed horses. Fight other Immortals. I took a student who would have been just a little younger than you."

"Died recently, did he?" Maroofus asked softly.

"Yeah. He chose to. Win or die."

"M'sorry."

"It's alright. It's the Game." He drew a quiet breath, sadness capturing him for a moment. He turned his mind back to the things he had been doing over time. "I studied to be an architect. Wanted to build something like St. Basil's Cathedral, but I'll never be that good." Maroofus snorted adamantly, but Grey only grinned. Then he went still, staring at the Star of David on the monument across from them. After a long moment he said absently, "I was in a concentration camp for about nine years."

The explosion took a moment to begin. "NINE years?! You must be joking! Why didn't you just leave? Get out--" Maroofus cut himself off with a chuckle of realization. "Got picked up with a mortal lover, didn't you? And you wouldn't leave him. I know you. When did it happen?"

"July 1st, 1933."

"It must have been a relief when the two of you escaped." There was a long silence. Maroofus drew a breath. "I see. I'm sorry." He laid his hand on Grey's shoulder and gave it a firm squeeze.

Grey bowed his head and smiled faintly. Then he closed his eyes and said, "He didn't just die. I killed him."

Maroofus felt his throat knot. He increased the pressure of his hand. "It's never easy killing a lover. I'm sure you didn't have a choice."

"That's the problem, you see. I'm not sure. Not at all." He curled forward, hugging his knees. "He'd contracted pneumonia. They were starting to use him for experiments and he chose... he asked me to kill him and I couldn't refuse him." He shuddered and shook his head, hard. "Just like that time with you." He threw his head up and stared, beseeching, into Maroofus' eyes. "Why? Why couldn't I say no to either of you when you asked me for death?"

Maroofus leaned forward, his elbows on his knees. He set his chin in his palm, groping for words. "You... Grey, I don't know. I wasn't your fault. I never was. I wasn't all that stable then. Hell, I'm not all that stable NOW." He grinned broadly and drew a half-hearted response from Grey. He pulled on his chin thoughtfully for a moment. "You know, I didn't let myself like you at first. You were just a means to an end. A way to get from Rome to home. But after a few months in your company..." he grinned again and drew a snort from his old friend. "The first thing I realized I liked about you was that you thought of people on an individual basis. You couldn't be stirred by the plight of the Jewish people or by the plight of any group of strangers. But you worried about ME. You worried about those two boys who Flavius brought for your pleasure. You didn't even use them and they were pretty enough for ME to notice!"

"I don't like pretty. Besides, they were practically children," Grey murmured.

"I know." Maroofus hid his smile behind his cupped hands. "That's when I started to see YOU, and not simply what use you could be to me. My people say 'a person who saves one life, it is as if they've saved the whole world.'"

"But I didn't save his life, 'Roo."

"Oh? How long would he have survived in that concentration camp without you? I'm assuming you got away shortly after he died."

Grey shrugged. "Yeah, essentially."

"There are no guarantees in life. YOU taught me that. Since you couldn't get him away alive you stuck with him. And that's you. That is what makes you great. You don't abandon your friends in... in their hour of darkness."

Grey dipped his head, thinking Maroofus' words over. He supposed they were true. Still, his question remained unanswered. He repeated it, hoping that the small man's bizarre wisdom would help. "Why couldn't I say no?"

He watched as Maroofus furrowed his brows in thought. That was one thing that had remained the same about the man: when asked an important question, he would drop all vestiges of his stupid act and try to answer. The thoughtful black eyes met his and Maroofus said, "I'm only guessing, you know that." Grey nodded confirmation and waited, the taste of ashes in his mouth. "I think there was a time when you wanted death and were kept from it. Probably by the simple fact of what we are. And when someone says to you, 'I'm suffering and cannot bear to live, please release me from this pain,' you cannot find it in your heart to deny them."

Grey stared at him and blinked slowly. "Perhaps," he allowed reluctantly. Maroofus' words rang a bell but brought no memory. It must have happened, only so long ago that the memory had lost form.

Maroofus was digging in his pockets. At last he drew out a carefully folded piece of paper. It was of modern print, though almost worn through at the folds. He held it out to Grey. "Here, I want you to have this. Read it. It helped me recently when I felt too deeply the loss of my loved ones during the war."

Grey took the paper and unfolded it carefully. He glanced at the words written thereon in surprise, skimmed it once and began to read.

"We often debate the differences between individual death and mass death. People say there is more sorrow involved in mourning the end of a loved one's life, than in mourning the tragic annihilation of hundreds or thousands or millions of victims whose identities are unknown to us. I'm not sure that's true. I have viewed the death in action of a son and also been forced to consider individual deaths and mass deaths that were all part of the same insidious event in history. It seems to me all the deaths were intricately connected to my sorrow in ways that I could never explain. The tangled, subdued sorrow over the multiple deaths of some mass disaster is, I believe, no less intense, no less meaningful, no less important, than the more dramatic outward show of grief for a person who has had the considerable misfortune to die alone."
Battlestar Galactica. Larsen, Glen A. and Robert Thurston. MCA Publishing. 1978. P. 31

Maroofus waited for Grey to finish before speaking. "You can flip that around. Change it as you please to fit your needs. The point is it's good to grieve. We can't undo the past. But we can survive it and use it to make us stronger. You cannot gain strength from what you have forgotten."

Grey cradled the paper in his hands. He was suddenly overwhelmed with memory... the night when Jo had first shown him that he was not a rapist anymore, listening to Jo's jokes into the night under the glaring lights of their prisoner block in Meerschweine, the day when suddenly it was no longer him taking care of his lover, but Jo taking care of him. Then the lovemaking that had ended in Grey killing Jo.... It came to him in a flash of absolute sureness, that Jo would have died long before Grey's companions came and took him from Meerschweine. Grey had made it as quick as he could. His long life showed him exactly how to break the young man's neck to kill him. He had not been able to bear staying beside Jo's cooling, empty body.

And if they had never met? Grey knew that Jo would have done the same things: joined the Sturmabteilung, ended up in Meerschweine or dead when the SS cleaned Rohm's men out of the Nazis, died in the camp probably not very long after arriving. At least I was with him, Grey thought.

His heart lurched as if throwing off a great weight. He lifted his eyes from his knees to focus on Maroofus' face. The other man had been waiting patiently while Grey was lost in thought. "You're right, 'Roo. You are right."

Maroofus placed a palm on his own chest in mock dignity, his eyes affectionate. "I know I'm right. Use your life to show the meaning he gave it."

They had just stepped off of Holy Ground when the rifle shots rang out. Maroofus went down like a rock and Grey dropped beside him. Maroofus met his old teacher's startled gaze with pain-filled eyes and a twinkle of humor. "Owwwch," he said in the moment before his eyes blanked out in death. Panicked screams filled the air around them as people dove for cover. A few more shots rang out, then the sound of an ambulance siren filled the air from nearby.

An ambulance burst out of the alley and came toward the two of them. Grey swore to himself as he sensed another Immortal. The ambulance screeched into a turn so the back doors faced Grey and Maroofus. The doors opened and two men stepped out. One leveled a pistol at Grey. He moved, launching himself at the man and falling with him into the ambulance. Pain blossomed in his gut before he even heard the shot. The other man threw Maroofus' body into the ambulance and slammed the door. As the vehicle sped off, Grey continued to fight the man who had shot him until the other one lifted a fire-extinguisher and brained him with it.

By the time Grey came back to his senses, the ambulance had stopped. He lifted his head and winced at the pain in his arms. His hands were handcuffed behind his back. He opened his eyes and found himself looking straight into the blue eyes of the man who had been pursuing Maroofus. With a surge of anger he growled, "You again."

"Thank you. You led me straight to him," the other man said curtly.

Grey glanced around. Maroofus still lay as if dead. He turned his eyes again to glare at the blond and said icily, "If this is what Carruthers taught you, he deserved to die."

The man frowned. He spoke quietly, glancing away. "Maybe. But I don't. What chance does someone like me have against someone like you?" Grey pulled his head up, surprised. Before he could say anything, the man turned away and spoke to someone outside the ambulance. "Put them in the storeroom and lock it. Then you can go."

There were four men. They were street thugs from the look of things, though one of them was obviously a good shot. Maroofus' dead body was also handcuffed, Grey noted. He met the blond Immortal's eyes and saw wry amusement there. Don't imagine I'm a fool, the eyes seemed to say.

Grey dropped his eyes to hide his own amusement. When he had a moment he would slip out of the handcuffs. He had no doubt that Maroofus could do the same just as easily. Hiding his laughter behind an angry expression he growled, "I am Grey. Who are you?"

"Jason Wrigley," was the cool reply.

Grey did not struggle as two of the men pulled him out of the ambulance. He lifted his head high and stared about. The warehouse interior was gray and white. There was a second floor office above the room the men were taking him to. The other two men were dragging Maroofus' limp form. Grey stumbled as the two who had him straight-armed him into the room. Maroofus was dumped unceremoniously inside and they shoved his body away from the door before they closed it.

It was a storeroom lit by halogen bulbs. There were no windows and no visible exit other than the one door. Well, at least getting out would be interesting. Grey leaned against the wall and pressed his left hand until the thumb popped out of joint. Gingerly, for he did not want the healing of broken, fragile bones to impede him if Wrigley came in, he slipped his hand out of the cuff. With a sigh he popped his thumb back into place and took the cuffs the rest of the way off.

"Nice," commented Maroofus.

Grey glanced over at him. The small man lay on his stomach. Under the lights something silver danced between his fingers. Grey heard the click as the handcuffs released and Maroofus sat up, stretching his arms and wiggling his fingers. The pick was already out of sight. "Nice yourself. Where is it?"

Maroofus grinned and tapped the lining of his pants. "Amateurs," he commented, rolling his eyes.

"Indeed. And what, pray tell, have you got planned for getting us out of this?"

"Planned? Me?" Maroofus looked wide-eyed and helpless for a moment. Grey shook his head. The little man shrugged back and grinned again. "Ah am gonna talk him into mendin' his ways." He stretched out on his back, cushioning his head on folded arms. "He's not like Carruthers was. It's been awhile since I had a student. I think I can help him."

Grey sat beside him. "And if he wants to learn sword-combat?"

"I know a few people. I can get him going in the right direction. He just needs to know that he doesn't have to go against his conscience to survive."

"I noticed that. He doesn't like what he's doing, but thinks there's no other way."

"Yep."

"'Roo, what if you fail?"

"Doesn't bear thinking about. I've had a good run. But I won't give up without a fight."

They fell silent after that and waited calmly. They might have had all the time in the world or only a few minutes, it did not matter. They had both settled into light dozes when another presence announced itself in the usual wash of Immortal sensation.

Maroofus opened his eyes. "Now, who could that be?"

With the arrival of an unknown Immortal, the two men could not sit and wait. In unspoken agreement, they moved to the door. Maroofus pulled out the tiny sliver of metal and set to work.

When Grey had to leave to meet Maroofus, Methos left too. He knew a number of Grey's favorite types of foods and intended to go shopping. He had a recipe that was almost two thousand years old. It had been lost to the mortal world when the small Middle Eastern tribe that created it died out. A master of substitution, Methos knew where to buy most of the ingredients, and what to replace certain ones with. Grey would love it.

He got to his Volvo just in time to see his lover drive past towards the exit. They smiled at each other in passing and promise. The nondescript brown car behind Grey's might not have attracted his attention if it were not for the intense expression on the driver's face. Alarm bells went off in his mind. He dove into the Volvo and followed the other car.

They followed Grey to the entrance to the cemetery. While Grey parked in the outside lot, the man in the brown car pulled up along the curb. Methos pulled into the parking lot of a restaurant across the street. He watched the other man while pretending to be searching his front seat. The man lifted a cellphone to his ear and spoke into it for a time. Whatever the response was, he nodded obediently and drove off. Methos waited again. He was hyper-alert. He missed nothing. Not the people strolling in and out of the cemetery, nor the ambulance that pulled into a nearby alley. Methos positioned his car to be able to pull out of the small lot quickly if need be.

Thus he witnessed the shooting, saw the ambulance go to the fallen men and then drive off, leaving no one behind. He pulled out and trailed the vehicle. It was not difficult. The driver was obviously not expecting to be followed. By the time police processed the reports bystanders might give about an ambulance it would be long gone and hidden. They were not expecting immediate pursuit.

He trailed them until they came to the piers where they turned off into a warehouse. It was almost amusing. Warehouses were very convenient Quickening grounds. They contained the damage and light show. He parked his car down the road on the opposite side of the street, and found himself behind another car with a bored-looking man reading a newspaper inside.

Watcher. Probably. That confirmed that it was an Immortal who had arranged this. It was most likely the blond man whose teacher Maroofus had set up. Methos felt a slight pang of regret. He could not openly use their resources anymore. There was probably no time to call Joe in Paris, either. He left his car and ambled towards the warehouse. The men did not expect pursuit and so would not be on their guard. Still, he found his way to an emergency ladder and climbed it to the roof.

There was an entry on the roof. Methos jimmied the lock and crept down the stairs. He moved carefully, his every sense alert for the barely sensible shift that would mark when he was getting close enough to completely feel another Immortal. He reached the bottom of the stairs and listened intently at the door. The darkness around him was like a comforting ally. No sound. Perhaps the kidnappers were not on this level. He very carefully picked the lock, then eased the door open a crack. A silent, dark room waited. The air smelled of dust. Methos crept into the room. Unused it may be, but enough noise would bring unwanted attention.

He moved across the room towards the windows. Was it not dark enough in this building, that the owners had seen fit to buy these annoying, slatted window shades? There was an inkling of Immortal presence. It was very faint, just enough to raise the hairs on the back of his neck. Someone less experienced might have named it simply apprehension, but Methos knew what he was sensing. It was easy to surreptitiously push on one of the lower slats and look out.

The angle was wrong. He could not see what was below him but he could see the ambulance. It was empty, the doors all left open. Uneasy, he waited. After a few minutes four men moved into view, walking towards the ambulance. They were flipping through wads of money, their steps jaunty. Street toughs, Methos thought. They did indeed look tough in the rough jeans and leather jackets. They took the ambulance and drove out the exit. Methos dismissed them from his mind.

The pattern of dust on the floor had been disturbed around the door. Someone had opened it some time ago and probably decided the room was unimportant. Methos considered the door. If that blond Immortal was going to take heads, it would probably be soon. There would be no time to find a better entrance than this already unexpected one.

The door had been left unlocked and he opened it centimeter by centimeter. Carefully, he stepped out onto the metal landing. He instinctively distributed his weight and his movement was almost soundless. He felt a faint deja vu as he looked down through the mesh at a man seated below him. He ignored it and moved down the stairs, slipping his silencer out of the hidden, padded pocket in his coat. It would be tricky to fire a good disabling shot from the stairs, but he could severely slow the other man down. Their presences touched and murmured.

The man jerked to his feet and looked frantically around. Methos fired, the bullet catching his target between the shoulders and knocking the man down. In the instant he was hurtling down the stairs he felt another impact of Immortality. It was sudden and he could not tell how many. He decided as he rounded the bottom of the stairs that it was safe to assume it to be Maroofus and Grey.

Pleased with the success of his stratagem, he strolled over to the man who was just beginning to get to his feet. He felt no surprise as the other tried to draw a pistol from its holster. Methos simply set the muzzle of his silencer against his target's temple and the blade of his sword against the man's neck.

The blond froze and looked up at Methos, his eyes wide and frightened. It was tempting to just take his head. Methos considered that idea for a long moment before letting it go without regret. He said calmly, "Toss that away."

Moving slowly, the other man obeyed. His gun clattered across the cement floor. The sound was loud in the emptiness of the warehouse. Sounding as if he were choking, the man said hopelessly, "Just kill me and be done with it, will you?"

"I could," Methos replied. They waited. He did nothing but hold the man there with his sword and silencer. He was composed, ready to act but needing a trigger or he would be content to just stand there.

Finally the man broke the silence, his voice shaking. "I'm Jason Wrigley."

Methos cocked his head. "Wrigley," he repeated the name calmly, "do you have a sword?"

The man flinched, his eyes going wider. "Yes...."

"Then get it out. Fight for your life."

Methos pocketed his silencer and followed the shocked Wrigley to a Porche. The blue car had been out of the eldest's range of sight before. Wrigley drew forth an old Spanish sword and held it comfortably enough, though without the ease of long familiarity. He stared dumbly at Methos, as if he did not have the slightest clue what he should do.

Methos cocked his head again. "Fight," he commanded, and waited.

Wrigley worked his jaw. "Who ARE you?!"

"Just someone you've personally offended," Methos replied. He waited, watching for the first move.

"How? What did I do to you?"

Methos did not respond. His silence and stillness was meant to be unnerving. It worked, too. Wrigley stopped asking questions and moved forward nervously. He had some grace, could perhaps have trained and become a formidable foe. As it was, removed from thugs and guns he was harmless to someone like Methos. When Wrigley attacked, Methos simply moved aside. He struck the other man's sword a blow that he knew would send numbing shudders up the arms. He heard the gasp that resulted. But he felt fury and was in no mood for games. He hooked his foot through Wrigley's and sent the man tumbling. Kicking aside the old Spanish blade, Methos caught Wrigley by the collar and pinned him up against the wall, his sword across the man's throat.

Ice sluiced through his veins. Where others would feel their hearts hammering, Methos only felt the sheer winter cold that would permit him to kill without compunction. He stared into the other man's terrified blue eyes. His prisoner was paralyzed with terror. The ice soared upwards from his veins and out his vocal chords in a low hiss.

"I could care less about your little vendetta against Silverman, but you used my lover to get to him."

Wrigley was trying to grow into the wall. "It was an accident!" he panted.

Methos growled and moved his sword to draw blood. "Oh, yes. Having a mortal follow him was an accident." Visions of Grey lying in a pool of blood, his head just inches from his neck, momentarily slipped across his vision, and he tightened his grip on the other man's body. He brought his face close to Wrigley's. This man had disrupted the rare peace the lovers had snatched for themselves. Executable offense. Let him know terror, Methos thought. "Did you ever see the movie 'Impulse'?"

Wrigley shook his head dumbly, unable to break their locked gaze.

"Terrible writing. Awful acting. But it had a great premise. A small town is infected with a virus that makes its victims lose all of their inhibitions! The death toll mounted quickly." He took a step back, his blood beginning to burn. You deserve to die, he thought. Too damn foolish to let live. "Now, what you have to wonder is this: is my impulse to let you live, or is it to take your head as you run?" Methos rested his weight on the balls of his feet. As soon as he moves, he thought, poised and ready to strike. "Run," he hissed.

"Lover," a voice intruded. It curled intimately into his rage; caressed and eased him with familiarity and affection. Eased him onto his heels before Grey's hand touched him. Sliding under his sweater the hand splayed across his stomach before moving up to his chest and gently pulling him back. The desire to kill, so immediate the moment before, began to fade as he let himself lean back against Grey's body. His lover's breath was warm against his cheek. The tenseness began to bleed out of him.

Another voice, slightly gravelly, sounded beside him. "What are you waiting for, boy? Run!"

When Wrigley bolted, the part of Methos that still instinctively watched him jolted. Grey moved with him, gently deflecting his charge. The urge faded as Wrigley vanished through the door, leaving behind his Porche and all the things within. Deprived of his prey, Methos needed another target for his hyperactive senses. The hand on his chest, the body pressed against his, took all his attention in a flash. He turned around and pulled Grey tight against his body, one hand trapping the man at the waist, the right arm, with the sword angled away so as not to injure his lover, at the back of the neck. As ever, Grey simply responded, opening himself to whatever Methos needed of him.

Yet there was something hesitant in Grey's attitude. Methos growled in protest and savagely kissed his lover. He thrust his tongue inside the wet, open mouth and squeezed Grey's bum with strong demand. He felt the man begin to tremble, legs parting to the hand slipping between them.

Of a sudden, something very cold pressed against Methos' neck. Freezing drops trailed down his skin and he was wrenched back to earth with a shudder. He pulled away, easing his grip on Grey. A laugh sounded nearby. Methos' head cleared immediately. Maroofus was standing there with a can of beer. For a brief moment he felt Grey sag under his hands and turned, worried.

Grey was only catching his breath, his face flushed. He ran a hand through his hair and then reached out to stroke Methos' face, smiling. "Glad you could make it."

"Oh, well I just... you're welcome."

Maroofus grinned and clapped a hand on Methos' shoulder. "Well done, friend. I knew you would be dangerous."

Methos raised his head, the anger of earlier returning. "I could have taken his head. You wouldn't have to worry about him anymore."

Maroofus waved his arm dismissively. "He's not a problem."

Methos hissed. "He took Grey to get to you!"

The little man's eyebrows shot up, and he gazed gravely at Methos. "I know what he did. Don't worry, it won't happen again."

Methos thought, Don't try enigmatic all-knowing elder on me, boy. He grasped at Adam Pierson, trying to calm his rage and keep it something a young Immortal would behave like. "You can't be sure of that!"

Grey circled an arm soothingly around Methos' waist. Maroofus laid his hand firmly on the man he thought was so young and gazed deep into his eyes. "He needs a chance to be something else, boy."

Methos bared his teeth. "He's a killer like Carruthers was!"

"Oh? Are you telling me you've never done things you regret?"

Methos was brought up short. He pressed back against Grey's chest. The silver-haired Immortal was staying out of this argument. Whether it was because he thought Methos could handle it on his own, or because he did not know what to say, the eldest could not guess. He dropped his eyes to the floor, willing the memories of helpless victims to stay dormant. Finally, he met Maroofus' eyes again. "Yes. I don't want to die, but I've often wished someone had stopped me back then."

Maroofus grinned and chucked his chin. Methos choked on the urge to strangle the little man and instead blinked indignantly at him from the shelter of Grey's arms. Grey was laughing softly, with clear amusement. Oh, I'll get you for that later, Methos thought bemusedly.

Maroofus said, "That's what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna get me a student." He put the beer in Methos' hand. "It's from Wrigley's car," he added by way of explanation. He walked over to the vehicle and slipped into the driver's seat. In a moment, he had hotwired it and the engine rumbled. Maroofus looked back at them before he put the car in gear. He sang, "Im tirtzu, ain zo agada."

Grey frowned. "If you want it, it's not a folk tale? Fairy tale?" he tried gingerly.

Methos smiled slightly. "If you will it, it is no dream. No mere dream, that is. It's real." He twisted his head back to skim Grey's lips with his. "So said Theodore Hertzl, the father of modern Zionism," he amended.

Maroofus cut in smoothly, "Who do you think told it to him?" Methos shook his head. The small man grinned back at him and waved. "Have fun, you two! See you when I see you!"

Methos uttered the traditional answer, "Not if I see you first."

Grey laughed aloud and raised a hand to wave to Maroofus. "Have fun, old friend." They saluted each other with almost serious respect, and Maroofus drove out of the warehouse.

Methos dropped Grey off at the cemetery parking lot before going shopping. There were a few police cars and some curious people still about, but other than that it seemed quiet. Arriving back at their hotel suite he was greeted by an extremely curious Grey. Methos prepared the basting sauce and the herbs, Grey cleaned and prepared the chicken. When they had the chicken marinating, Grey dipped his fingers in the sauce and tasted it curiously.

He cocked his head, then swiped his sauce-covered fingers along his companion's neck. "Marinated Methos," he said cheerfully. Stepping around behind the eldest, Grey pulled him back against his torso. He stroked the fine chin. He tilted his head and began licking the sauce off of Methos' neck, pausing only to suck on the flesh. "Aged to perfection," he added.

Methos laughed softly. He stayed in the circle of Grey's arms, even as he gathered the chicken and put it in the refrigerator. Before he could close the door, Grey reached in with his left hand and drew out a can of Coors. Holding a willing Methos just in the door, he used his right hand to pull up the eldest's sweater. So slowly, he brought the beer can towards his captive's right nipple. Methos watched it, knowing what was coming and holding his breath. The anticipation, along with the cool air from the fridge, tightened his nipples and raised goosebumps on his flesh. Grey's head was tilted over his shoulder. The cold beer can was coming closer, and closer. Bare millimeters away and Methos could not breathe at all.

When it touched, his nipple seemed to twist itself. He let out an explosive gasp as the cold raced through his nervous system. The beer can moved away but not the effects of the contact. Methos was shaking, his cock throbbing and his nipples hard as stones. Grey maneuvered with his right hand to pull the sweater off Methos, who helped as best he could while trying to make Grey his jacket.

The beer was transferred from the left hand to the right. Chill fingers closed on his right nipple even as he was pulled away from the refrigerator. Methos was vaguely aware that the appliance's door closed as the fingers pinched and flicked at his nipple. The beer can approached the other nipple. The throbbing in his body increased and he gave a whimper of anticipation. His legs shook as he pulled back into the heat of Grey's body.

The beer can touched, again very light, upon his flesh which seemed to howl for it. He pulled back convulsively and felt the body behind him yield, leading him backwards as he fled the cold, enticing contact of the can. At some point he realized that Grey had managed to slip out of his clothes, for suddenly the chest he kept backing against was bare. Springy curls tickled his skin. He felt Grey's cock brush his clothed thighs. He closed his eyes.

Cool air circulating. Strong fingers touching him. The feel of the other man's muscles and hair against his back. Hands slipping down and taking away the sheltering lower clothing. Yearning at the touch of the thick flesh that slipped between his thighs. That voice, low and carressing in his ear.

"Do you want me, Methos?"

"Yes, Sanchez," he breathed.

A soft laugh, and lips teased his left ear. He shook his head to clear it, his cheeks hot. He opened his eyes to the dim hotel suite. Grey's hands were slowly stroking his sides. Then they circled around him to hold him strong and tight. "Sorry," he whispered.

Grey chuckled. "You loved him very much. You went after the Kurgan to avenge his death. I'd much rather this reminded you of him than of, say, Silas. Or Shaddam."

Methos grinned and closed his hands over Grey's still-cool fingers. He glanced down and saw that the beer had been abandoned on the coffee table. "No, in lovemaking you definitely do not remind me of either of them."

Grey tightened his grip briefly. "Of course, if you'd said a name I don't know, then you'd have to tell me a story!" he said with enthusiasm.

"I'll keep that in mind," Methos responded wryly. He caught his breath as, again, Grey pulled him back.

Grey briefly thanked Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez. At least Methos had once enjoyed one male lover freely enough to give them something to build on. He sank onto the couch, bringing Methos down onto his lap. Chest to back, he spread Methos' thighs so that his knees were between the other man's knees. Not a bad position. He could easily touch and stroke both their cocks and feel exactly how his lover's body was reacting. Good also for nibbling on the reachable back and shoulders. He felt Methos' thighs clench slightly. The proud cock was hard under his hand and he wanted... oh, but that could wait. Perhaps later tonight Methos would take him. His own cock tightened almost painfully at the thought. He added slow thrustings of his hips and closed his eyes to concentrate on the feeling and his lover's reactions. He felt the shiver and the older man's legs fell farther apart.

Methos folded forward with a moan, his head dropping toward his knees. The movement of his lover's hips beneath him kept their cocks brushing together. It also focused his attention absolutely on how close to entering his body that thick length of flesh was. Desire sent a bolt of need through him. It was followed by an uneasiness which he was long accustomed to feeling at times like this, but that he generally ignored. He ignored it this time as Grey's hands roamed his torso and finally stroked his cock. The touch seemed to blow through him and he thrust his hips back, needing more. Needing suddenly for those long arms to grip him and hold him together, needing that thickness to force itself inside him and lay to rest that burning fear.

"Please, Grey," he managed to bite out.

One of Grey's hands stole over his nipple and pinched it quickly. Methos convulsed in the sudden shock of feeling. Before he could recover, Grey's hands had caught his shoulders and twisted his torso right, pushing down. His knees were still splayed on either side of Grey's. His buttocks, however, were spread wide by the position. He felt his lover's fingers stroking between them. One finger slowly forced entry. He flinched from it only to find the underside of his cock and balls rubbing against Grey's. He moaned into the cushions. Grey made little thrusting movements with the finger and each thrust seemed to cause his cock to swell. Needing much more, Methos rubbed his face against the rough cushions to soothe the tingling of his lips.

Not enough. Not enough! He wriggled and pushed against the finger inside him, reaching desperately for the orgasm he could feel building slowly in his body and groaned, biting into the cushions.

Grey leaned down, reaching an arm under Methos and holding their bodies together. He could feel the older Immortal's desperation ease at the reassuring contact. "Not TO you, lover. With you, always with you," he whispered. He was dizzy himself. It would be so easy, with Methos' hips spread wide like this, to enter him. He bit his lips as sheer hunger rolled through him. Their sweat had slickened their bodies so that each motion was a glide against terribly sensitized flesh. He felt a huge burst of sympathy as Methos' body went taut in orgasm, and he withdrew his finger.

Methos cried out in the sudden emptiness. It did not stop his orgasm, but left him with nothing inside to hold onto. His head was whirling. His body felt as if it would fall apart if there weren't powerful arms surrounding him. Lips pressed against his neck and soothed the painful emptiness. The orgasm eased off. He went limp. He was conscious of Grey's hand moving down. He opened his eyes and saw Grey's fingers stroking through his cum. Then the hand moved and the fingers brushed him and entered his body. He needed them there. Something there. He needed to feel that emptiness filled. They stroked gently inside, not trying to arouse but to reassure, he understood.

For all the loss he had felt, he was steady. Surprise coursed through him. Consciously he had been nervous and afraid at first. As he completely surrendered control of his body to Grey, those feelings had vanished. Need reigned. Could it be that subconsciously he trusted this man that much?

"Grey," he whispered.

His lover's lips caressed his ear. "No need for fear. I am with you."

Methos found himself laughing. "Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me."

"Indeed," Grey chuckled back as he slid his fingers out of his lover's body.

The night before, Methos knew, Grey had been awake when Methos had untied himself. Awake, but leaving him on his own to discover that he was free. It occurred to him that Grey had not orgasmed that night. And as he shifted, he realized that Grey was still hard. He lifted his head and rubbed his buttocks against his lover's erection. "Are you saving that for Friday?"

He felt Grey kiss his shoulder, heard a smile in the breathless, hopeful answer. "No, I was rather hoping you'd take me tonight."

"Oh, yes," Methos said firmly. "I certainly will."

It was still only late afternoon, though. The two men fell asleep, wrapped together on the couch.

Methos came fully awake first. His dreams had been rather erotic and sometimes startling. He had a vague memory of Shaddam in one dream about to take him, then Grey was there and killed the other man. They had huddled together afterwards until Methos had taken his lover to enthusiastic response. Gods, I love him. At the sudden pang though his heart, Methos realized he was serious.

He wrapped his hands around Grey's, feeling the other man shift in sleep. Love was not the same as simple infatuation. Love was something easy to feel for mortals because of their short clock, or for half-crazed young Immortals. It was not something he was accustomed to feeling for old, strong Immortals. But then, the Gathering was coming. Though Grey was one of the better fighters, he was not one of the best. For that matter neither was MacLeod, nor himself. His tricks and craft might hold him up and, the gods forbid, he just might make it to the end and be the last. Then what? What would the world be like with only him and the mortals? Without Grey, or MacLeod, or Amanda....

Would the legend prove true, that he would have their memories and power at his beck and call? Would he be able to feel everyone within him, or would it just be as it almost always had been; that there would be nothing but an enhanced sense of himself?

Methos shifted around so that he could look at Grey's face. I need to mark him as mine, he thought. I need him to know that I consider him mine. This is no passing fancy. The need shook him, and he breathed deeply to calm his surging emotions. Words could always be said, but there was something for a more physical token. He caressed Grey's neck, remembering about the chain that his lover had told him of.

"Grey?" he called softly.

Grey's eyes opened sleepily and he blinked at Methos. He shook his head slightly to clear the sleep from his eyes. "What is it?" he murmured.

"What was it like, wearing that chain under your skin?"

Surprise crossed Grey's features. His eyes cleared but he made no move to raise his head. He considered the question for a long moment before answering. "I could never forget it was there. At first it was horrible. Like there was always a blade at my throat."

"It was always a source of fear for you?"

Grey moved, shifting to lift his head, pull at his chin with a thoughtful hand. "I know I said it kept me in constant terror for the first year I wore it. But... I'm not sure. The terror was not so much of the chain as of... Tran. That year is very muzzy. I know I changed a great deal during it." He paused, his gaze turned inward.

After a time Methos asked, "And after the first year?"

Grey let out a long sigh. "Confusing. Ever present. I was so completely owned I couldn't think of escaping. I used to be afraid he'd tire of me and abandon me."

Methos felt his throat tighten despite himself. He twined his fingers through Grey's and they stared each other in the eye for a time. "Fear and ownership."

Suddenly Grey blushed furiously, but he did not drop his eyes from Methos'. "And something else." Methos raised his brows and waited. "He... he didn't like me to touch him. But there were times when he was tired, that he would lean on me, and stroke my neck with his fingers...." Grey stopped speaking again and looked away, his expression both sad and embarrassed. At last he said, "And I would suddenly feel that he wanted me. Loved me and I would in those moments have done anything for him. I don't know why."

"Perhaps in self-defense. If you hated him, you would have eventually provoked him into killing you."

"I don't know." Grey's voice was soft and distracted, his brows furled, eyes focused on distant memories. Methos waited patiently until the focus came back to him, deep with thought. "Methos, when you rode with Silas and the others, did you think of yourself as evil?"

That was a surprising question. After a moment's hesitation, Methos decided to answer simply. "Not once."

"Not even after Cassandra?"

Methos stared into Grey's eyes and considered the sadness he saw there. "Not even after Cassandra."

"And now... you do think what you did during those times was evil?"

"Yes," Methos answered softly.

Grey let his head fall down on the cushions and put his arms around Methos' waist. He closed his eyes and said softly, "I didn't realize I was evil until after my first year as Tran's slave. I thought being his slave was my punishment for abusing my power."

"That was what your people expected of you, what you were raised to be and do under the circumstances. You had no reason to be any different. And because you were a god, you believed you had the right to do what you did."

"Yes...."

"So did we. But I have changed, and so have you. We are not what we were. We are not evil."

Grey pulled him down and snuggled close, holding on tight. Methos wrapped his arms around the taller man. He thought, Nothing is evil about you, lover. The past is the past. And you and I, we have a future.


Grey was in Jo's flat, but the rooms were empty. They smelled of fresh paint. He knew there must be something there, so he looked again and found the bed in their room. It warmed him to see it there. But where was Jo? Then Jo called him, and he turned to find the slim young man leaning against the windowsill, looking at him. They smiled at each other. Grey went to see what was out there.

Meerschweine's parade-ground. Grey flinched when he saw it. He knew if they left the flat they would be stuck in the camp forever. Jo leaned against him and they clung to each other's hands for a long moment.

When he looked at Jo again he saw to his horror his lover was half-starved and ill. His heart hurt and he reached out. Jo smiled and clasped his hand, shaking his head. "This isn't true, you know," the sweet voice said. "This is the truth."

And Jo stood before him healthy and glowing, full lips rosy and warm-looking. His eyes were bright and lively, his skin flushed and smooth. "You always made me feel like this, you know," he said to Grey.

Grey could not say anything. He had not spoken that he could remember. He stared at Jo and felt the tears fade from his face.

Jo shook his head, then tilted it to look towards the bed. "I'm jealous. After all I went through to get you to let me be top, he has it easy."

Grey turned, confused. The bed from the hotel had replaced their bed and Methos, clad only in white boxers, lay on his stomach with his arms wrapped around one of the pillows, fast asleep. Jo stepped closer to the bed and considered Methos' body critically. He turned a mischievous smile to Grey. "Nice. But his nose is WAY too big!" He turned back and reached down, running both hands slowly up the insides of Methos' thighs.

Methos stirred in his sleep and moaned, spreading his legs slightly farther apart. Then his eyes opened, confused and frightened looking. Chains leaped from the bedposts and caught his arms and legs, spreading him wide. Grey and Methos screamed at the same moment, and Grey leaped forward. There was a hard impact of flesh on his face. Weak and sick he dropped to his knees and looked up at the man who stood above him.

The Commandant!! He towered, his presence seeping sickeningly into Grey's. "You will make this boy beg you to fuck him, or you will watch your fuck-toy serve as a guinea pig for the Master Race."

No. No! NO! How could he choose between Jo and Methos? How.... It hit him suddenly what he was thinking and the realization sent a shudder of amusement through him. The weakness dropped away and he laughed into the startled Commandant's face. "JO IS DEAD!" he shouted. "He's free! You can't hold him over me anymore!"

The Commandant howled with fury as he disintegrated, and the room was as before. Jo was at the foot of the bed, his fingertips just under the sleeping Methos' boxers and he rubbed, eliciting another moan from the world's oldest man.

"He wants you to take him, Grey." Methos' boxers vanished and Jo began to knead the buttocks under his hands, pulling the cheeks apart, tongue flickering along his upper lip. "God, I'd love to take this challenge. I could do it, don't you think? Disintegrate his fear as I did your resistance?" He looked quizzically up.

Grey's body burned, his thoughts befuddled by the strange happenings. He had defeated the Commandant at last, but only because he remembered that Jo was dead. And he remembered why. He forced himself to meet Jo's gaze. "I murdered you," he said softly.

Jo straightened up and came to Grey. They clasped hands and the beautiful young man kissed both of Grey's palms. "You did what I asked of you. I died in ecstasy. Just like Maroofus, I was not your fault. I made the choice and used you.... Let go of your guilt, and help Methos heal his wounds. I think he loves you. In three-thousand years he hasn't asked such a thing of anyone."

"Jo...."

Jo was gone from his arms. The flat, everything in it, fell away into silvery blackness and Grey realized he was waking up from a dream. Methos loves me? he thought. He snorted to himself. Don't be ridiculous. But he could not deny the hope he felt, nor the sense of release the dream had left him with.

Wednesday

They raced each other along the jogging path of Golden Gate Park. Despite Grey's strength, Methos had the longer stride and kept pulling ahead. By the time they reached the end of the path, both men were sweating and laughing. They stretched after the run to keep their muscles from balling up. The healing power of their Immortality would fix scrapes, breaks and other such traumas, but pulled muscles were too passive an injury to trigger it. Grey finished stretching and looped his arm around Methos' waist, pulling him close for a devastating kiss. By the time he let go, the other man's face had regained the flush from their run and they were both trembling.

Raising his head, Grey noticed a young man he had seen a couple of times before gazing raptly at him. The stranger's expression seemed both impressed and perplexed. Cocking his head, Grey called, "Evening! How's it going?"

Caught staring at them, the young man turned crimson. He was a trim fellow. His skin was that middle-shade of light chocolate. He had rounded features that bespoke African ancestry, and greenish eyes. He came hesitantly close to them. "Hi," he offered. "My name's Stace. Ah, I was your waiter Sunday night."

That sounded like as good an explanation as any, thought Grey amusedly. But why have you been watching us? With a tip of his head, he said, "Grey."

"Adam," added Methos, not to be outdone.

Stace glanced back and forth between them, his troubled look growing more evident as Grey snaked both arms around Methos' waist. Finally, he said, "I realize you're from France or someplace like that, but have you no sense of propriety?!" As he spoke, his tones shifted and swirled. This automatic assumption of Hollywood's traditional gay accent marked him out to any listener. The two men blinked at him, looked at each other and then back at him in innocent confusion.

"What do you mean?" Adam asked.

"You can't act like that in public, even if this is 'Frisco!"

Grey looked amused. "It's not like we're running through the streets naked or waving from a float wearing Carmen Sandiego outfits."

Adam looked puzzled and asked, "Don't you mean Carmen Miranda?"

The silver-haired man shook his head gravely. "No, I mean Carmen--the gypsy--" he broke off and began to hum a tune which seemed suspiciously operatic.

Stace was caught by surprise and laughed. Gorgeous, gorgeous, he thought. Man, how I'd love to jump your bones. Good thing you're doing this here, and not in my hometown. Thinking of his hometown only reminded him of what struck him every time he had seen this couple jogging in the park over the last few days. Maybe he could get them to come to one of the nightclubs he worked at.... An idea occurred to him and he went with it. "You can't act that natural in front of breeders," he said in exasperation. Again they gave him that 'huh?' look. "Flamboyance doesn't bother them, they're used to that. It's when you look and act like one of them that they freak when they find out you're gay."

"I'm not gay," said Adam.

The other man nodded and pointed at his lover, "It's true. He's bisexual."

It was Stace's turn to blink at them. "Do you two do stand up comedy to make extra money?" He shook his head as they again looked quite innocent. He pulled his card out of his pocket. "Say, if you guys want to know some good nightclubs to go dancing, call me. I know all the best ones."

Adam took the card while Grey seemed to find it an alien thing. "Okay, thank you."

Stace left at a jog, trying not to look as though he were fleeing. Stupid, stupid, stupid! he thought. Well, it was common practice NOT to attempt to pick up a man in front of that man's lover. But man, he thought, I'd LOVE to see that Grey guy on the dance floor! Maybe they'll call. That Adam guy is too bony. Too SKINNY, like he might be sick. I hope not.

In the meantime, Methos put Stace's card in his wallet. "Nice kid," he commented. "A bit weird, though."

Grey grinned at him. "Nice, all right. Good looking too. I've seen him a few times, eyeing us. Is he a Watcher?"

Methos shook his head. "You would never have noticed him if he was."

"How do YOU notice a Watcher?" Grey asked curiously.

With a chuckle, Methos said, "You take the stranger you are absolutely sure is not interested in you, and that one will be the Watcher." He grabbed Grey's hands and pulled him away toward the parking lot. "Of course, that may not be him or her, either."

That night, Methos breathed slowly and steadily with little difficulty. It was their third night together that Grey had curled up, spooning his body around Methos'. The first night it had taken Methos over an hour to fall asleep. The second night his heart had calmed down more quickly. This time he was feeling better. He had not thought this would be so difficult. This problem had never arisen before, probably because previous lovers were not remotely as tactile as Grey. Methos had always been able to keep his emotions separate from the act. Grey had a way of drawing Methos' emotions out, and that was unnerving, to say the least.

I can not wait until Friday to finish this, he thought suddenly. I won't have any control left by then. He turned on the dimmest lamp and squirmed around in Grey's arms to meet the sleepy eyes. He whispered, "I want you in me tonight."

Grey's eyes opened wide, blinking. Methos quickly touched the pressure points at the back of his lover's neck and heard a startled gasp. Without pausing to think about why he was going so fast, he ran his hands along Grey's body. At each trigger point he knew, he hit quickly until he cupped the erection through Grey's boxers. Grey was gulping in great breaths of air, not resisting, pushing himself into Methos' touch.

Methos rolled them off the bed and onto the floor, dragging Grey's boxers off. He dropped down and sucked until the other man thrust feverishly in response. Sliding out of his boxers, he turned his back.

Grey's right arm closed across Methos' chest. He guided his rock-hard penis against the other man's entry and breached it. Then he slipped his left hand around and cupped Methos' balls in his palm, fingers stroking the still-soft penis. Methos fought not to tighten against the thrumming pain, drew a deep breath and braced himself.

His penis was hardening as Grey's fingers stroked it. His entry squeezed at the hard/soft object just inside it. It was a moment before he realized that Grey was not moving. He tried to shove himself back and new pain flared through his scrotum as his lover pulled the other way. Grey had shifted, and the angle made it impossible for Methos to force him deeper.

"Still, Methos," came the gruff, throaty words.

Irrationally, he felt betrayed. Terror flared and demanded he finish this. "Fuck me!" he sobbed.

"Friday."

Grey did not withdraw. He held Methos still, just his cockhead inside, and stroked his fingers along the other man's firming rod. He shifted his right arm and stroked at Methos' nipples. If Methos had not been shaking so badly, if his skin had not been clammy, Grey might have given in. Just being this close was setting him on fire. No thoughts of Jo's death rose to disrupt the desire, but he would not take Methos in this condition, regardless that the old man had convinced himself he wanted to. Grey kissed and nipped at the flesh he could reach and felt Methos' skin begin to warm. The shakes decreased to tremors and then swung toward shaking again. At least this time it was not in fear but in impending pleasure. Little gasps were escaping his lover's throat and the body under his arm began to rock in a natural rhythm.

Grey kept his grip on Methos' scrotum to prevent the old man from successfully impaling himself. Methos' body was enjoying the sensation of entry, it was clear. Still, he had no intention of being forced ahead of his timetable. His lover needed to learn not to fear this, as Grey seemed to be managing to teach himself not to fear his memories. Reinforce his sense of self, Grey reminded himself. "Methos," he murmured in his lover's ear. Methos arched into his touch and Grey called him again.

For Methos the sensation was at first terrible. Cold chills raced through his body around Grey's cock. He could not get it deeper, where the feeling of anticipation would finally be laid to rest and let him pretend it did not matter. Slowly it changed. He felt euphoric as waves of electrifying pleasure swept across his body from both his cock and anus. Hazily he became aware that it was not enough. He needed something or this feeling would continue forever until it dissolved him. He rocked as the touch on his cock became more intent, as other fingers pricked his nipples and as something warm and soft (and sometimes wet) brought his back to life. A terrifying abyss yawned in his mind and he felt helpless to keep from falling into it. Then he heard a voice, soft on the winds. "Methos," it called gently. His world steadied and the terror began to recede. As the voice repeated his name, he was lifted on waves, his body spreading wide.

The waves ballooned toward orgasm. Still, there was an incomplete feeling, a ghastly emptiness. His head swirled with both need and pleasure. He gave in, toppling into orgasm and moaning as something separated from him.

He was dazed, aware that a blanket was being tucked around him. His awareness began to focus as an arm slid under his shoulders and another across his chest. His body was being shifted onto its side. Warm flesh, the soft spring of hair along his back. Around his buttocks and against his legs, the reassuring pressure supported him. His attention shifted to a silken length of hard flesh that rested between his thighs. He thought he remembered a time when such a touch made him vaguely uneasy. When somewhere in him was a terror of the loss of his identity if he did not have control. He felt... safe. Shored up and enhanced. Secure.

Some part of him teased laughingly. Most of the people you know are mortal, or so much younger than you are. He's three thousand! You can't force him to rape you....

He did not even notice when he fell asleep.

Thursday

The day passed quickly for both men. They toured the waterfront, paused in a few fresh-fish stalls and chattered about how small the fish were, just to annoy the vendors. Sometimes they made a game of seeing what languages one man knew that the other did not. They spent half an hour on a park bench talking in Esperanto before reverting to Old English. It would have been difficult for either man to say which language drew the most stares from strangers passing by. Grey expressed his opinion that an artificial language lacked depth and poetry, whereas a naturally developed language was more interesting, being always full of exceptions to rules. Methos countered that perhaps American English was a particularly naturally developed tongue.

When they returned to the hotel late that afternoon, the two men had to decide what to do that evening. Methos suggested calling the boy, Stace, and asking him about a good nightclub. "I know you like to dance," he answered Grey's doubtful look.

"Yeah, of course I do. But that boy is interested in me, and I am quite happy with the man I have now." Methos smiled back at him and pulled him into a hug. They leaned together happily for a few minutes. Grey relented with a pleased huff. "Dancing it is, then." He stopped and eyed Methos. "You CAN dance, can you not? I've never seen you."

The eldest blushed and lowered his eyes. "I'll do my best tonight." He grinned broadly, his eyes alight with mischief. "Besides, then that boy will see why he doesn't stand a chance with you."

Grey began snickering. "Why Methos! Possessive AND egotistical! What will our friends say?"

"They'll say if only I had one just like him. Meaning me, of course."

Still laughing, Grey shoved his lover towards the telephone. Methos dialed. He flashed Grey a delighted grin when his call was answered quickly. Grey listened through the introduction, then had to hold his self-control tightly to keep from doubling over laughing as his lover got to the point.

His tone a low, self-effacing hum, Methos said, "We would love to go dancing this evening. But we are not in the mood for flashing strobes or music loud enough to send us to the hospital. Music with melody, music to move and make love to. Like Queen." After a moment, he cupped his palm over the end of the receiver. "I'm on hold." He pouted.

Grey scooped his arms around Methos and proceeded to distract him as they waited. The eldest practically dropped the phone before the other man came back on. It took a great struggle to speak steadily and acknowledge the words he heard. He hmmed, wrote down an address and politely said goodbye before putting the receiver down. "I suspect we'll be seeing him," he said good-naturedly.

"Then we must be at our best!"

Before leaving for the evening, they checked the yellow pages to make certain that the address they had been given was legitimate, and called the club to reserve a table. To their surprise, one had already been reserved in their names. Methos laughed. "That kid sure wants to see you."

The nightclub was active though, it being Thursday night, was not completely packed. There was a live band playing rock music with a wonderful, driving beat when the two Immortals arrived. The pair moved out onto the dance floor as soon as they had checked their coats.

This was something Methos really had not done in a long time. To let the music take him and make him free. Let himself move and press for brief, titillating moments against the body of his lover. To feel the brief brush of fingers and lips when the music drove them together.

They danced through three songs without sitting down until their stomachs began to protest the absence of food. Leaning on each other and laughing, they made their way back to their table. Several of their fellow dancers complimented them as they passed. They staggered into their booth, laughing.

Methos brushed Grey's hair off of his forehead. "You're all wet!"

"So are you," Grey replied. He caught Methos' right hand with his left and bent him back, sliding his knee between the muscular thighs. He swept his right hand to the small of his lover's back, arching Methos' body against his. They kissed, lips parted. Already sweaty and high from the dancing, hunger burned between them. Grey broke the kiss and attacked Methos' neck with teeth and tongue. "I don't think I'll ever get enough of you."

"S'good," Methos managed to reply. Without thinking he wrapped his arms around Grey's shoulders and pressed his erection against the knee between his legs. The world shrank to the two of them, their heartbeats and breathing dominating their senses to the thrum of the music.

Something intruded through the background noise of the band. A finger tapped Grey's shoulder firmly. They pulled apart and looked around to find the boy, Stace, there. He was their waiter. "I work a lot of places," he answered to their inquiring gazes. "Can I get you anything to drink? Something cold?" he asked, his eyes twinkling. He was blushing, and his gaze kept sweeping between Methos and Grey.

Methos descended into giggles. Grey cocked his head at his lover, then smiled innocently up at Stace. "Two beers, please!"

"Any favorite brand?"

"Nope. Whatever you know is good."

Methos cut in, "And a menu, we're starving!"

"Okay." Before leaving to get their beers, Stace gazed down at them in frank admiration. "You guys were great! Where'd you learn to dance like that?"

"Persia," Grey replied, grinning.

"Greece," Methos said, and started giggling again. As Stace moved off toward the bar, the eldest Immortal slid under the table.

Grey joined him, pulling Methos against him with firm affection. "I don't know, lover. We haven't even had a drink yet and we're already under the table!"

"I love a natural high!"

Grey kissed Methos again, then deliberately tickled him. Sitting back to stare at the shadowed, grinning face of his lover, he shook his head. "I love the look on your face. It's nice to see there are times when the melancholy leaves you. You're like a warm, dancing light." He stroked Methos' neck, hungrily watching his face. "Your whole body is involved in your smile. It's wonderful!"

"You make me smile," Methos said happily. "When did you learn those dances?"

"I first learned them when Tran and I lived in Persia during the time of Cyrus the Great. And you?"

"That would be the mid-500's. I learned them about a century later when I was in Greece."

"Cool."

"Indeed. Now you'll have to pardon me," Methos climbed into Grey's lap and dragged his lover's arms around his waist. "I want to dance, and make love to you, and eat breakfast in the morning."

"What about dinner tonight?"

"All things in their own time!" He tilted Grey's chin up and gazed brightly into his eyes. "Mine," he uttered happily.

"As you wish," Grey answered, delighted. Methos had become increasingly willing to claim him, and he loved it. "Does that mean you are mine?" he returned, quizzically.

Methos tossed his head. "You may ravish me on the dance floor so that Stace will know he stands no chance with you."

Grey laughed and ran his hands firmly along Methos' torso. "I would, but I refuse to get arrested tonight. Tomorrow is too important to me to spend it in jail."

In the end they did not make love that night. They danced themselves into exhaustion and collapsed into bed straight upon returning to their hotel room. When Grey settled himself against the eldest's back, Methos snuggled in tight, glad of the secure strength of his lover. He fell swiftly into a deep, dreamless sleep.

Friday

Exercising naked in the bedroom, Methos had closed his eyes. He stretched, standing on his toes and reaching up until his balance became precarious. It took no effort to shift his weight and roll back to the balls of his feet. He swung his arms around and reached as far as he could behind him, fingertips together. Five points of heat touched his right breast and he opened his eyes. He felt inexplicably shy meeting his lover's eyes.

"Stay like that," Grey murmured.

Methos obeyed. Slowly, Grey closed his fingertips together on the nipple. He stroked over and around the budded flesh until every bit seemed to reach for him. At last he leaned down and tongued it, letting his left hand rest on the other nipple. He slid his right down to run his fingers along Methos' inner thighs, then stood up and cupped his lover's jaw in strong hands, stroking behind the ear. Grey's entire demeanor was calm and reassuring, yet his eyes blazed. Methos closed his eyes, feeling the touches like trails of light on his skin.

Five days of erotic imagery suddenly slammed into his thoughts, and his body caught fire. The sliding sensation of the oysters going down his throat, Grey gone beyond rationality in desire for Methos inside him, himself being forced to hold still with just the tip of Grey's cock inside. That was almost the worst, for he had struggled frantically at one point to force Grey all the way into him, to get it over with and let him feel it. Lying half on the couch and needing Grey, so close, inside his body.

He heard Grey utter a strangled groan and then whisper, "Please don't." He opened his eyes to find that he had pressed himself against his lover, pushed Grey's boxers out of the way, closed his right hand on his beloved's erection and was, with instinctive pressure, forcing it harder and harder. He shuddered and ceased his actions. Grey sank down, rubbing his face along Methos' body until he came to the cock. He slid his lips slowly along it. He stopped, pressed his forehead into Methos' thigh and drew a deep breath. After a moment, he relaxed and continued stroking Methos' body. With light touches and gentle urgings he turned Methos around and encouraged him to spread his legs.

Methos' heart hammered in his chest as Grey's fingers trailed smoothly along the cleft of his buttocks. An instant later something warm and wet followed them. He closed his eyes as he felt Grey's tongue slowly brush over his sphincter, then repeat the action. He was startled when it finally pushed inside him, it was so innocent in its actions. His thoughts churned. This is it, this is it. He's going to take me tonight! A thrill of sensation coursed through him at the thought. His knees trembled and began to buckle, but sure hands were there to ease his descent. Grey's arms went around him.

An aromatic scent filled the air, thick and sweet like blackberries. Oh yes, they had bought that lubricant at the Erotic Novelty Shop. Grey moved to kneel on his left. Lips on his, tasting faintly of liquor. He shivered and stared into his lover's eyes as the man drew back. Luminescent, iridescent, gods the man's eyes were marvellous. Who would ever have thought light eyes could be so captivating?

His breath catching in his throat, Methos whispered, "Jewish mystics..."

Grey nuzzled his ear. "Mmmm?"

"They s--say that on the Sabbath--which begins tonight--you have an extra soul. So making love on Friday night is a double mitzvah."

His lover's tongue entered his mouth, slowly exploring the inside before pulling out. Grey said softly, "A double good deed, eh? I'm all for that. I like being good to you."

Grey's hand, slick with oil, closed on Methos' erection. He gasped and Grey leaned in, running his tongue along Methos' lips and encouraging them to open wider. A finger similarly stroked Methos' entry, making him dizzy. A sudden plunge, tongue and finger entering so simultaneously that his head swam. He caught Grey's shoulders convulsively, digging into the hard muscle.

His entry was stretched wider, spasming and yet not truly feeling pain. Methos realized there were two fingers inside him. The tongue reaching into his mouth was thick and strong and tasted sweet. The hand slowly stroking his cock was firm, sure and confident. Nonetheless, deep inside him, a tiny thread of fear began to shiver. He trembled and then felt steadier as Grey pressed their torsos together.

Grey pulled back again and nuzzled his lover's neck. "Methos," he breathed. "Beautiful, strong Methos." He lightly stroked the prostate as he tongued Methos' ear.

A low cry escaped Methos. Fear was receding only to be replaced by a faint but growing frustration. Grey's touches were still too gentle, too slow. The hand touching his cock moved to rest on his stomach, Grey shifting around behind him, lips leaving a trail of sensation along his neck and shoulders. Fingers trailed up, away from his throbbing erection to dance across his chest. They closed quickly on one nipple.

They squeezed. There was a brief flash of pain before they changed tactics, toying with the hard nub until Methos was panting. The two fingers slipped out of his body, and one came back in. The light touch mirrored the more determined stroking on Methos' nipple. He spread his legs wide, desperate to encourage a stronger touch from the finger inside his body. The finger obliged him for a time, before slipping out. He almost cried out in frustration until two pushed back in and began another tantalizing dance on his prostate. The hand on his chest skipped downward until it hovered on his stomach just low enough to brush his erection. The fingers inside him slipped out again; the other hand closed firmly along the length of his shaft to begin stroking. Methos folded over it, gasping for breath, aware in a vague way that he was perspiring. The firm touch on his penis was enough to distract him from the stretch as heavily oiled fingers, now three, pushed inside him.

Grey released Methos' penis and began to stroke his lover's nipples tenderly. The touch inside Methos' body was firm and determined, the pleasure growing and Methos sobbed with relief. It was only then that he realized Grey's hands were both on his chest. Grey's body was wedged hot and tight against his own and the pressure filling him was smooth, deep and thick. "Oh my god," he whispered, stunned. Grey slipped his right hand down to again milk Methos' cock as the other hand taunted both nipples alternately, and began rocking his body.

Methos heard his name spoken softly, like a prayer. The brittle, scattering feeling that had begun to edge into his consciousness receded. Everywhere Grey's fingers touched became pools of thrumming sensation. He felt as though his entire body throbbed with his heartbeat. As Grey continued rocking the throbbing concentrated in Methos' groin. Shaking, he cupped his hands over Grey's, feeling the fingers moving in teasing patterns. Pleasure was building in intensity as before, but it reached a peak and stayed there.

Methos felt like he was burning. The feeling was not unfamiliar, but it had never gone on so long without either being dampened or turning into a conflagration. Grey's hands touched his skin lightly and the flesh screamed for more. Grey's body filled his and slid against his prostate. Methos was vaguely aware that he was begging his lover to take him harder. Grey was not obliging him. And then, something broke.

Methos wrenched himself from Grey's arms, separating them, and whirled. He was not thinking, just acting from a desperate need. He slammed Grey's back down on the carpet. He straddled him, clinging for a moment to his shoulders. Half-formed thoughts, largely emotions, knifed through his mind. What do I do? I need.... He stared into his lover's eyes and found them as glazed and blazing as he felt. For an instant he was distracted from his burning need by an erratic worry, and he stroked the man's sweat-dampened face. Grey's hands cupped his buttocks and guided him down. Everything focused as he slid onto Grey's erection. The thick, silken length of it seemed to stroke into his entire body. He gasped and let his head fall back, hearing a cry from Grey. Pre-orgasm spasms, sharper, longer, more intense than he could remember ever feeling before, coursed through his body.

He arched, his fingers clawing at the chest beneath him as Grey's fingers dug into his thighs. He moved, riding up and down, feeling the body under his meeting each descent with a thrust of its own. When it came the explosion, the paroxysm, stunned him with overwhelming pleasure. He felt heat fill him as his lover's body convulsed. "Grey," he whispered in amazement. Pleasure was still trembling through him, screaming across his skin, stopping his heart. Methos collapsed into unconsciousness.

Grey caught his lover's shoulders, his arms still trembling from his orgasm as he eased the warm, muscled form down. He felt a double sense of victory. "Did you think I didn't know?" he whispered softly. Did you think I didn't know that you asked this because you wanted to help me? In truth he had not known at first. It was the month they had spent together at the farm, when the subject never came up, that had made him suspect his lover was thinking less of his own needs than of Grey's. Thus the test Sunday afternoon.

Grey had opened himself up to sense Methos' emotions, then acted swiftly, reaching for a real reaction rather than Methos' normal self-control. The explosion of paralyzing terror and black hate, gone so swiftly, had shown him the truth. Methos really did have a deep wound that needed to be healed. The more he was aware of it, the harder he fought to bypass it for Grey's sake. Could the dream have been true? Was Methos in love with him? The thought joined the euphoric post-orgasm sensations and intensified them. I love him. It would be amazing and wonderful if he loves me, too.

He pushed himself to his feet and pulled the covers open on the bed. He gathered Methos' senseless, beautiful frame carefully up and put him in the bed. Then he turned off the lights and got in bed with him.

Methos woke to darkness, once again tucked into bed with his lover's body pressed against his back. His stirring triggered Grey's, and fingers tenderly brushed across his cheek. He shifted his head into the touch, content to be silent.

After a minute Grey asked in his softest voice, "How do you feel?"

Methos smiled slightly. "Good. I did not expect it to be like that."

The silence was expectant and curious. "No?" Grey whispered.

"Why did you hold back?" Methos asked. He had wanted it so much at last and still had been forced to fight to get it.

Grey shifted against him, breath tickling his neck and lips leaving an enticing trail down from his ear. He could feel mischievous amusement from the smile against his skin. He caught his breath as a hot hand closed over his penis to give it long, easy strokes. Grey answered him. "You haven't been a passive lover since the first night we kissed. Being taken doesn't mean you have to be submissive. You've made love to many women, you must know that."

"I--yes. But..." he stopped, feeling suddenly ridiculous. Was he truly going to say something as inane as "It's different for a woman"? Instead he said truthfully, "It must be something from my birth-culture. And my experiences in life have certainly supported it."

"Even with, " Grey's voice dropped to reflect the time he had heard the next words, "Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez?"

Methos laughed outright. "Yes. But it was also different with him. He... he was like you. He drew me out of myself. He just did not have the experience to see...."

Grey pulled Methos closer, wrapping both arms around the eldest's torso. "I saw. And I heard. And I love you."

Methos turned over in his arms and stared at him in surprise. Grey grinned at the expression and brushed Methos' lips with his own. When Methos continued to stare at him as though in shock, he asked, "Are you that surprised?"

"I--I just didn't expect you to say it." Methos continued to stare at him, but the shock faded out to an expression of almost embarrassed shyness. Finally, his lover ducked his head and met his eyes with five-thousand years of strength and merriness. "I love you, too."

Commitment

Methos held the shining, delicate golden chain between his fingers and watched it swing. He seemed mesmerized by the movement of it, occasionally playing with it. Grey watched him and wondered what was going through his mind.

At last Grey's curiosity got the better of him. He came over and knelt in front of Methos, watching the movement of the chain with bright, curious eyes. When his lover's eyes flicked to him he asked, "Why are you doing that?"

Methos grinned briefly at him. "I made this as a present for you. I've been trying to decide if now is a good time to give it to you." He tilted his hand and poured the chain onto Grey's open palm.

Grey stretched it out and studied it. It was pure gold, as far as he could tell. It was a delicate, beautiful piece of art, the fine links sweeping from one end to the other, except for the small plaque in the middle. He read the inscription on the plaque. "Methos and Grey," and saw the small, perfect eternity symbol. "Oh," he found himself whispering. The only kind of commitment Immortals could make. Forever, or at least as long as possible. He knew Methos still had his life and Grey himself still had his. The chain was not quite long enough for his neck and certainly too long for his ankle or wrist. He was non-plussed. Surely Methos did not intend to broadcast his identity by having Grey wear this in the open?

Methos' fingers traced along Grey's neck, sending a shiver of sensation through his body. He looked up into his lover's eyes. They were crinkled at the edges, filled with a tender mischief and daring. Suddenly Grey knew exactly what Methos intended with the chain. In the sudden shock he almost dropped it but gripped it tightly. He closed his eyes for a moment and drew in a long, deep breath. Opening his eyes again, he nodded once.

As Tran once claimed you, so now I claim you. They were naked. Grey bent over the edge of the bathtub, his fingers splayed and taut on its edge. Only the whiteness around his knuckles betrayed his nervousness. Methos set the lubricant in the seat. He had practiced what he was going to do for days. The old-fashioned razor blade in his hand was honed to an appalling sharpness. He set it down. He knelt behind Grey and with a hand nudged the man's legs farther apart. He gave into temptation and brushed his fingers along his lover's inner thighs before reaching upwards to fondle Grey's cock and balls. A tremor ran across Grey's shoulders. Methos scooped the razorblade up and slid both hands up the long back until he dropped them over the shoulders. He shifted the razorblade so it lay against Grey's neck.

"Five. Four. Three." He slit quickly, opening up the skin in a ring around Grey's neck. Before the healing could begin he had the chain under the flesh and fastened. Grey collapsed, slumping against the side of the tub. Methos quickly took the damp towel he had prepared and began wiping away the blood. As he wiped, he licked behind the path of the cloth, and reached a hand down to touch the hardness that had not had time to go limp.

Grey's body tingled. Around his neck, the fiery pain subsided to be replaced by a thrilling thrum of healing. The cloth on his neck was not soothing but exciting him. He gasped as he felt his lover's hand close on his erection. Need flared. He dropped his head down, unable to draw a breath but he could beg with his body as he thrust into the hand holding him and spread his legs wider in invitation. A soft laugh and the cloth was gone from his neck. Methos' other hand slid over Grey's nipples and away. Then a slicked cock entered Grey's body and he lost all sense of their surroundings.

All he knew was that he was spread out and a deep void within him was being filled. Methos' Quickening pulsed around him, and for once he had a sense of the immense age of his lover. Even Tran did not have this depth. Five-thousand was much older than three, or three and a half. Methos drew him closer and he in turn drew the other man in and gave of himself. Light and fire flared within them and physical awareness returned.

Grey could not have moved if he wanted to. All the strength had gone from his body. Methos was slumped over him, breathing heavily. With great effort, Grey turned his head. He felt his skin shift over the chain. He shuddered. The sensation was incredibly erotic. Must be the associations, he thought weakly as his cock stirred. He breathed in slowly and felt the sensation subside somewhat.

Methos stirred, too. He kissed Grey's shoulders and withdrew slowly. They stood unsteadily. Methos ran his fingers along the rapidly fading redness on Grey's neck. As the other man leaned into the touch, Methos smiled. "This will not be a problem for you?"

Grey shook his head, practically purring. "The only problem I can think of is getting a hard on every time I turn my head. This is certainly a novel way of carrying a love token."

Methos tilted his head, acknowledging the compliment.

They had dipped far beneath the surface of their relationship and found they liked what lay underneath. They could admit that this bond between them was not the simple bond of casual lovers. Exchanging mail and stealing away for the occasional romantic holiday would no longer be enough. They both wanted to share their everyday lives, too. They could not do so as long as Tran would come after Methos' head if he knew who Adam Pierson truly was.