You Get What You Need by Killa
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Author's Notes:
In somewhat incidental fashion, a crossover with Supernatural.

"People die, MacLeod. Immortals die."
"Yeah. But not because of me. Not any more."

–Methos and Duncan, "To Be"

~ * ~

Cambridge, Massachusetts
March 2008

Methos stepped out to grab his newspaper and cast a glance at the pale gray sky. Beyond the chill drizzle, thin clouds drifted toward the east, promising better weather that afternoon. With idle thoughts of a leisurely stroll to the library, he bent down to retrieve the paper–and nearly sprained something as a powerful wave of Immortal presence raised the hair on the back of his neck.

He stood, nostrils flaring, narrowed gaze sweeping the street. More than a decade since his reunion with Kronos, his gut still tightened with the anticipation of a blade to the heart. It'd be years yet before that reaction faded.

A tall figure stepped into view from behind a tree, and Methos's alarm subsided into a wash of conflicted emotion. He took in the broad shoulders, the longer hair, the soft gray of cashmere and denim. Under his inspection, MacLeod grinned and raised a brow in greeting. His posture was relaxed, his gaze clear, no sign of dire tidings or imminent disaster in his bearing.

Methos realized too late that his face had given him away; irritated, he got hold of himself and turned it into a neutral expression. That didn't stop his heart beating faster, nor the lift of sudden relief and gladness that spread through his insides. He stood taller without meaning to.

"Didn't anyone ever teach you it's not nice to sneak up on people?"

"Don't think so," MacLeod answered without missing a beat. "But if you're not feeling up to visitors..."

"I think I can manage," Methos replied. He waited as MacLeod approached, aware of his own well-worn robe and ratty T-shirt, his rumpled hair and pale legs. Underneath the robe he wore the same boxers he'd slept in. None of that seemed to matter to MacLeod, whose hungry gaze said he liked what he saw. Mac always had been easy, Methos thought with a twist of satisfaction. It was one of his more attractive qualities.

Methos didn't stand aside until MacLeod was two feet from him, and then only far enough that MacLeod had to brush past him to enter. It was an old game between them, but one Methos never tired of. He breathed in as the other man stepped through the door, getting a faint whiff of damp wool and MacLeod's aftershave. As always, the familiar scent did things to him he'd never admit aloud.

"What brings you to my neck of the woods?" he asked as he shut the door. "Trouble in the Big Easy?" He hadn't seen MacLeod in the better part of a year, though they'd kept in touch in their haphazard fashion–which mostly involved the occasional postcard and asking Joe every couple of months whether there was anything they should know about. To outward appearances, they were hardly more than acquaintances. It was a compromise Mac could live with, and after Ryan, and O'Rourke, Methos couldn't fault him. Smart, he'd said ten years ago when Mac insisted it was for the best. You're learning. Since then, he'd tried his best to mean it.

"Does it always have to be trouble?" Mac countered, combing his fingers through his hair, which had curled from the rain. The corners of his eyes turned up. "Maybe I just wanted to see you." His voice deepened when he said that, and Methos was no more proof against it than he'd ever been. "It's been a while."

"Has it?" Methos quipped. "I hadn't noticed." But MacLeod stepped in close, and he couldn't help swallowing. "So, this is a social call, then?" he got out.

MacLeod's hands found Methos's waist, and he looked thoughtful. "That depends."

"On?"

MacLeod toyed with the tie of his robe, a smile playing about his lips. "On whether you have plans today."

"Well, now that you mention it, I can't think of anything."

"Mm, I was hoping you'd say that." MacLeod took hold of the tie's end and pulled. Methos's robe fell open. Methos closed his eyes at the warm touch of his hands, remembering in his bones just how long it had been. There'd been one or two others in recent months, but no one who knew him the way MacLeod did.

"Nice to see you, too," Methos said. He slipped his own hands inside MacLeod's coat and fisted them in his sweater, pulling them backward against the door. Their bodies aligned and pressed together, and the rough friction of Mac's jeans through thin boxers roused Methos between them. MacLeod gave a soft grunt and leaned in, lips hot against Methos's neck for long seconds, then hotter still on Methos's mouth; Methos opened for him willingly, abandoning words in favor of welcoming him home.

~ * ~

Nearly two hours later, the two of them lay damp and entwined in Methos's sheets. Methos ached inside from being fucked good and proper up against the shower tile, and the rest of him tingled with two of the best orgasms he'd had in recent memory. God, he'd missed this. As much as he appreciated the wisdom of keeping a healthy distance between them, there were times when he'd just as soon pitch caution to the wind and throw himself wholeheartedly into the fire.

Which was exactly why he knew better than to say any of that out loud, or let himself think too much about might-have-beens. He'd take what he could get and be happy about it, and with luck, both of them would live long enough to enjoy it.

"What time is it?" MacLeod asked, stirring from his own sated torpor.

"Lunch time, if you're nice to me."

MacLeod drew one hand lazily up and down Methos's side, raising goose bumps. "Don't know how much nicer I can be."

Methos tilted his head to catch his eye. "I'm sure you'll think of something."

"Is that a challenge?"

"If you insist."

MacLeod considered him for a moment, then pushed himself up as if finding new reserves of strength. Before Methos could react, he'd swung himself astride Methos's thighs. "Challenge accepted," he said with mock seriousness, his expression stern and a hint of brogue on his tongue. "I am Duncan MacLeod, of the Clan MacLeod." He bent his head and nuzzled Methos's flaccid sex with intent. "Draw your sword."

The line was as ridiculous as the rest of him, but Methos's body was still twenty-something, even if he wasn't. It didn't take him long to comply.

~ * ~

They came up for air around suppertime, famished and in need of sustenance. On the short walk to Harvard Square, MacLeod asked about Methos's course load and his current batch of students. Methos gave a sharp glance when MacLeod said, "Think you'll stay on in the fall?" but if it was more than casual interest, Mac hid it well.

"Could be," Methos replied. "No reason not to." He slipped his hands into his pockets. "What about you? Ready for a change of scenery?"

Mac sighed and shook his head. "Still a lot of work to be done. A lot of people who still need homes to come back to." He looked at Methos sidelong. "You'd be amazed, though, how far the city's come in the last year. You should come visit." He smiled then, the smile that worked on Methos far too often, damn him. "Joe misses you."

Methos frowned. His spidey senses were tingling. As much as he liked this agreeable version of MacLeod, he couldn't help sensing there was more going on. Ten years since the first time they'd slept together, and Mac had never asked him for more than a night or two, once or twice a year. He'd never been willing to risk more. Now he was bringing Joe into it? To hear Dawson tell it, MacLeod had kept his distance even from him–as much as he could, anyway. Ditto Amanda, and anyone else Mac cared about.

Methos stopped. "Mac, what's this about?"

"What's what about?" MacLeod's expression was guileless. If Methos hadn't known him so well, he might have bought it.

"Don't play innocent with me. Something's up. Who is it?"

"Methos–"

Methos gave him a warning look, on guard against warm brown eyes and the beseeching expression that went with them. "You might as well tell me, because I'm not gonna let it go."

MacLeod let out a sigh, caught. At least he had the grace to look embarrassed. "All right. But you're not gonna like it."

"Tell me something I don't know."

MacLeod's look turned pitiful. "Can we at least eat first? I'm starving."

Eyes narrowed, Methos considered. "And whose fault is that?" he muttered.

"Didn't hear you complaining," Mac shot back.

"Yeah, well–I'm not that easy."

Mac scoffed. "Since when?"

Valid point, Methos conceded. "Food first," he said at last. "Then, we talk."

They fell into silence, matching strides without conscious intent.

~ * ~

Back at Methos's place, MacLeod made Methos pour them both a drink before he'd spill the beans, which told Methos all he needed to know about exactly how much he didn't want to hear this. And since when had they switched roles, anyway? He used to be the one turning up at Mac's door every time trouble rode into town.

They retired to the living room, drinks in hand, and sat across the low coffee table from one another. MacLeod, to his credit, didn't beat around the bush. "Someone's looking for the Methuselah Stone," he said straight out.

With the skill of millennia, Methos closed up tight around his response. "And?"

"And, we have reason to believe the trail might lead them to you."

"Me? Why?"

"It's a long story. But apparently, there's digital footage of you and Amanda stealing the crystals from the Watcher archives, and those records have been compromised."

"Compromised. Terrific. Gotta love technology." Methos took a healthy swig of whiskey. "I don't suppose we know who."

"Afraid not." Apologetic, MacLeod added, "Joe's working on it."

"Oh, well, that makes me feel so much better."

MacLeod, wisely, said nothing. Methos studied his hands, wishing he could take back the sarcasm. He wasn't proud of the way he'd acted back then, and he had no one to blame for this mess but himself. The fact that MacLeod didn't rub it in only proved that he was the better man between them.

"I'm surprised you came to me," he said when he'd worked his way through the initial surge of reaction.

"What do you mean?"

"Amanda's still got the crystal Rebecca gave her. Shouldn't you be camped out on her doorstep?"

MacLeod's expression darkened. "The three of us are the only ones who know that. As far as the Watchers are concerned, the pieces were all lost in that river. And I'd like to keep it that way."

Methos eyed him, wondering if he was reading this right. "You know, they do have these things called telephones."

Dark brows arched. "You'd rather I'd phoned it in?" He dropped his gaze. "Maybe I was afraid if I told you over the phone, you'd disappear on me."

"Can't imagine what would have given you that idea." Methos studied him. "Still, that doesn't explain why you're here, and not on a plane to Paris."

MacLeod shrugged. "Amanda's got Wolfe and Myers looking out for her. Figured you could use someone to watch your back." After a moment he added, "Besides, you're one to talk."

"What d'you mean?"

"You know exactly what I mean. How many times have you turned up at my door when trouble came to town?"

The echo of his earlier thought was inescapable. Touched despite himself, Methos inclined his head. "Touché."

"I have to admit, I thought you'd be more upset," MacLeod said then.

"What, that Joe can't keep his house in order? Believe me, I'm not happy about it. But to be fair, it's not like this is anyone's fault but my own. I dug my own grave on this one."

"Yeah, well, let's hope not."

"Figure of speech." He looked more closely at MacLeod, amusement dawning. "You were worried about me," he accused.

"Maybe." Mac leaned in, eyes darkening. "Maybe I had ulterior motives."

"Hmm, I wonder what those might be." Methos gave him a close look. "So, what? You planning to move in for the duration?" He kept his tone neutral, unwilling to admit that he could think of worse things.

"The thought had occurred to me." Mac set his drink down and rose, coming around to sit on the arm of Methos's chair. "How would you feel about that?"

Methos pretended to consider. "Well, you do snore and take up most of the bed, but I suppose I could get used to it."

"I do not."

"Like you'd know."

"Mm, good point." Mac leaned in and kissed him, a smoky, whiskey-flavored kiss. "Guess you'll have to find some way to keep me awake, then."

Methos wound his hand in MacLeod's hair, holding on as he slipped his tongue into Duncan's mouth, tasting and exploring. The man had a mouth made for kissing, and kissing was one of Methos's favorite things. It'd been too long. "Maybe one of us should keep watch," he said when they broke apart at last. "Me being in danger, and all." Part of him–the part that had grown hard and wanting between his legs–thought that was a terrible idea.

"Good idea," Duncan agreed. He bent his head and nuzzled at Methos's throat, lips warm, teeth nibbling. "You do that." With one hand, he unbuckled his belt, and Methos was torn between watching him and closing his eyes to enjoy the sensations of his mouth. The latter won out, but he opened them again at the sound of the belt sliding free of its loops.

"That's not gonna help. Don't you care about my safety?"

"Yeah, I do. That's why I've got to keep you close–keep an eye on you."

"Oh?"

A dangerous glint had come into Duncan's eye. He reached for Methos's wrist and looped his belt around it, sliding the leather through the clasp, his gaze locked on Methos's as he did so. "Oh," Methos said again in an entirely different tone. Duncan reached for Methos's other wrist and made a figure eight, pulling the leather tight.

When Duncan pulled on his bound wrists to tug him to his feet, he went without protest.

~ * ~

If this was some sort of twisted strategy to keep them awake all night, Methos could only approve of MacLeod's evil genius. He pulled hard against his restraints, cursing when Duncan refused to give him an inch. At some point Duncan had loosed one of his wrists only to bind them behind his back instead; now Methos knelt naked over Duncan's thighs, alternately thrusting against him and being hauled back by Duncan's grasp on the belt, out of reach, whenever one of them got close. It was up for debate which of them felt the torture more keenly. Methos longed to stroke himself between Duncan's thighs and against his hot sex, while Duncan was steely hard and leaking copiously, his face flushed and his breath coming short whenever he forced them apart.

"Never knew you were such a masochist," Methos panted, moving his hips so that his own rigid cock thrust into the air. Duncan managed to hold him just far enough that he could feel the other man's heat, and the torturous brush of coarse black hairs against his foreskin.

"Thought that was obvious." MacLeod twisted the leather strap by way of emphasis. "Why else would I put up with you?"

"Walked into that one, didn't I?"

"Little bit."

"I blame the fact that my brain is currently oxygen-deprived." He tried again for more contact, and this time Duncan let him get in half a dozen thrusts before hauling back on the belt. Methos bit back a groan of frustration. "You bastard."

"Now, now, Methos. You want me to fuck you, don't you? Want me inside you?" He slaked his own hungry cock once against Methos's thighs–a promise. "I can't do that unless you cooperate."

Methos had been thinking more along the lines of getting himself off between Duncan's legs, or maybe sucking him until he saw stars and then fucking him stupid, but now that he said it, Christ, yes, he wanted Duncan inside him. He couldn't help flashing back to earlier that morning, Duncan's slow, deep thrusts as he kept his fingers in Methos's mouth, letting him suck on them while the hot water beat down on them.

He managed to get out, "Promises, promises."

"I'm a man of my word. If anyone should know that, it's you."

Methos eyed him. He wasn't above bribery. "If you'd let me loose, I know right where the lube is."

Duncan's free hand caressed Methos's flank and his belly, his thumb teasing at the join of hip and thigh. "Of course you do." It sounded fond. He ran his fingertips over the underside of Methos's cock, gathering the slick fluid at the tip and bringing it to his lips to taste. His eyes met Methos's as he did so. Before Methos could embarrass himself and stoop to outright begging, Duncan wrapped the belt around his fist and pulled Methos down against him, kissing him open-mouthed and licking deep.

He let it go on for maybe five seconds–not nearly long enough–then used his leverage to roll them so that he was on top, between Methos's spread legs. He let go of the belt as he did so, allowing Methos to free his hands. "You've convinced me," Duncan conceded.

"In the bureau. Second drawer down, right corner." Methos pushed himself up on his elbows and watched as Duncan followed his instructions and returned with the jar in question.

He took his time, as he had all night. By the time he was satisfied, Methos was open and slick and aching, one hand gripping the bed frame, his nerves humming from the pressure and teasing of Duncan's blunt, careful fingers. The look on Duncan's face was uncomfortably close to reverence. Even for Methos, the experience was rare; not many times in his life had he been so cared for, and by someone he cared for in return. If they didn't get to fucking soon, he was going to go out of his mind, and not only from frustration.

"Can't wait to get inside you," Duncan admitted.

"Could have fooled me." Methos heard the desperate note in his voice, but was past caring. "Mac–"

"Yeah, I got you," Duncan said. "Just one more thing." He met Methos's eyes for a moment, then reached for the belt, which lay forgotten in a loop around Methos's left wrist. With deliberate purpose, he bound Methos's wrists again, this time over his head.

Any number of pithy comments might have risen to Methos's lips, but as Duncan spread his legs and positioned himself between them, they all seemed to elude him. "Ready?" Duncan asked, his voice rough.

"Understatement," Methos told him.

And then Duncan was pushing sweetly into him, an effortless glide that caught him, despite everything, by surprise. He curled up, breath caught in his throat. Duncan kissed him before he could recover, and Methos was lost in a haze of sensation as Duncan penetrated him and mouthed at his throat, moaning softly in his own pleasure. Duncan thrust, and thrust again; his hands cradled Methos's hips and held him steady. Methos hooked his bound wrists behind Duncan's neck and held on as best he could.

"You feel so good," Duncan confessed. And then, quieter, "I missed you. Ah, God, Methos." He thrust deeper, tempo slowing as he began to lose himself and fought to make it last.

Methos opened his eyes. He was so close to orgasm he rode the edge of it, weightless and soaring. They'd never said that to one another. Duncan would regret those words later, he was sure. But for now they were bittersweet, and he held them in his heart, feeling their sore weight as his pleasure finally crested, his breath coming hard and escaping him in helpless gasps.

As if Methos's climax had given him permission, Duncan shuddered and groaned as he came, his organ pulsing inside Methos and sweat slicking his shoulders.

~ * ~

They dozed for a long time, then woke again. Methos roused to find a naked Duncan cleaning his body with a hot, wet cloth. He'd turned on the fireplace, as well, and it was pleasantly warm in the room. "Keep that up, and I might offer you a job," Methos murmured, appreciative.

"Wouldn't be the first time," Duncan quipped. Methos shifted to get a better view of his face in the moonlight, and Duncan quirked an eyebrow. "I warn you, though, I'm not cheap."

"Why am I not surprised?"

Duncan finished and set the cloth aside. He stretched out beside Methos, propping himself up on one elbow. "What about you?"

Methos folded an arm behind his head. "What about me?"

"I remember that story you told me, about the Roman body slave. That was you, wasn't it?"

"Mm, could be. I forget."

Duncan gave him a look, but let it go. "Tell me the truth," he said instead.

"About?"

"About why you're still here, and not busy getting the hell out of Dodge." He studied Methos. "I thought for sure you'd be packed and long gone by the time I woke up."

Methos schooled his face to impassivity, suddenly wishing they had donned more clothing for this conversation. "Did you, now."

"Well, you have to admit, it wouldn't be out of character."

"Can't deny that, can I?" He'd admitted as much earlier. Then his eyes narrowed. "Wait a minute. You were hoping I'd be gone when you woke up. That's what you meant, isn't it?"

"No! Well, I mean, yeah, but not the way you make it sound."

Realization dawned. "Ah, I see. I disappear, and you stay behind to deal with whoever's looking for me. Is that it?" MacLeod at last had the grace to look sheepish. "Of course. I should have guessed." Methos swung his feet to the floor and grabbed his robe from the hook on the back of the door. He belted it on, yanking the sash, and paced across the room to the window, peering between the blinds to the street below. All was quiet. A thin layer of frost lay on the grass. "So, what was this? Your way of saying goodbye?" He didn't look at MacLeod.

"Not exactly." But there was an admission in his tone.

Methos nodded. "Before I ran away and left you holding the bag, you mean. In case you hadn't noticed, that's Amanda's schtick, not mine."

"Look, Methos–" Duncan protested. He got up and came toward Methos. "That's not how I thought of it, I swear. I just thought, if you had to disappear, that I could see you one last time, that's all. Is that so terrible?"

"And if that meant a chance to stay behind and stop whoever's coming for me, so much the better." Methos smiled to himself and shook his head. "Gotta hand it to you, MacLeod. Glaciers melt, rivers shift their course, the whole world changes, and yet you never do. It's impressive."

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Duncan's posture stiffen. "You make it sound like it's a crime that I'd want to help you out. After all the times you've gone to the mat for me, you think I wouldn't take the chance to return the favor?"

Methos looked at him at last. "It's not the same," he said. But maybe that was how he saw it, Methos thought. Some of his frustration faded. "Did you really think I'd run?"

"Maybe."

"And if I did that, and you weren't around, then what?"

MacLeod grimaced. "Then whoever it is goes after Amanda."

Methos nodded. "Or Dawson–or you. Believe it or not, that does matter to me."

MacLeod said nothing, his face a study in conflict.

"What?" Methos prodded.

"Nothing. It's just, every time I think I know you."

"All part of my charm. I thought you'd have–" He broke off.

"Thought I'd have what?"

Methos silenced him with a gesture and cocked his head, listening.

~ * ~

Still in his robe but considerably better armed, Methos slipped down the hallway toward the stairs. He descended with his sword in one hand and his pistol in the other, hoping that whoever it was, they hadn't counted on MacLeod being there.

He made it as far as the kitchen doorway. When the figure materialized out of the darkness, it moved so fast it caught even Methos by surprise. He got the impression of height and reach and lethal force, then the cold press of a gun's muzzle under his right ear. If there was an Immortal nearby, Methos still hadn't sensed them; he revised his contingency plans accordingly. He raised his hands, and the other man knocked the sword aside first, sending it crashing to the tile floor, then took the gun from him.

Methos kept his hands spread, offering no threat. "Okay, hey, take it easy. Let's not do anything rash, now, shall we?" He didn't relish having to clean his own brains off the granite countertops–not to mention, head wounds could be messy, in more ways than one.

"Just answer my questions, and I won't hurt you, I promise."

"Okay, yeah. Lay it on me."

"I'm looking for the Methuselah Stone."

"The what?"

"Cute. Listen, I have good reason to think you know where it is. Just tell me what you know, and nobody has to get hurt."

Methos swallowed and nodded. "I don't suppose you'd believe me if I told you I don't have it?"

The muzzle of the gun dug in against his skull. "Then tell me who does." When Methos didn't answer right away, he dug in harder. "Look, I know what you are, and I know how to kill you. Give me the crystal, and you can walk away. Otherwise, this ends messy."

"Yeah, I don't think so," MacLeod growled out of the dark. The grip on Methos's arm fell away, and in less than a heartbeat, the press of metal against his skull did likewise. A brief scuffle ensued, but it was short-lived. "Uh uh. Don't even think about it."

"There you are," Methos said, twisting out of harm's way and taking a step back, rubbing at the sore place with his thumb. "Thought maybe you weren't coming."

MacLeod had hold of the interloper and had pressed the guy's own gun to his temple. He kicked Methos's pistol away and adjusted his grip. "Wanted to make sure we didn't have any more surprises. Far as I can tell, he's alone."

Methos hit the light switch, making them all blink for a second, then studied their intruder with a keen eye. He was young, taller than MacLeod by a fair span, with a rough look about him that spoke of living on the road. He needed a haircut and looked as though he'd missed a few meals lately, and maybe more than a little sleep, as well. His boots were rough and well worn; likewise, his clothes, which looked like they'd come from a feed store, or a camping outlet. He was young–maybe twenty-five. He didn't look much like a killer.

Methos grasped the guy's right wrist and twisted, then the other. No tattoo. He met Mac's eyes and shook his head.

"Check his backpack," MacLeod said. Methos did so, spilling its contents across the kitchen island. Folded papers, a Watcher chronicle, a burner cell phone. Spare ammo for the kid's 9mm. A crucifix, a box of table salt, and an arcane charm Methos hadn't seen in nearly seven hundred years. Two sheathed knives–one curved, one silver–and a flask marked with a cross. Methos reached for one of the folded papers and spread it out, revealing a detailed drawing of the Methuselah Stone complete with handwritten notes about its properties, straight out of the Watcher archives.

He exchanged a glance with MacLeod, then reached for the chronicle. It was written in classical Greek. Methos rifled through it until he found a page with a far older drawing, this one intimately familiar.

"Well?"

Methos made an effort to get a hold of himself, hoping he hadn't betrayed too much. He held up the chronicle to show MacLeod the drawing. "It's Rebecca's. Circa six hundred B.C."

MacLeod frowned, surveying the backpack's contents. "What about the rest of this stuff?"

Methos shifted his gaze to their captive, more confident now that the kid really was working on his own.

"He's a hunter."

Mac's grip on the gun tightened, his expression turning dangerous. "Like Horton?" His lip curled.

"No. Not like Horton. He's no Watcher. And this isn't about us." Methos gave the guy a keen look, and saw his guess was right.

MacLeod growled, "But he knows about us." He looked as though he really hoped for an excuse to throttle the kid, but his better nature held him back.

Methos prompted, "What's your name, kid?"

The young man's face twitched, but after a moment, he said grudgingly, "Sam."

"What about it, Sam? And I suggest you tell the truth."

Methos read desperation in his eyes, but he kept it under control with an impressive effort of will. "You're not the kind of thing we hunt. I didn't even bring a sword. I just want the crystal."

"Who's we?"

Sam said nothing.

"What is all this stuff?" Duncan asked with a jerk of his chin. Even to his untutored eyes, some of the stuff must look odd–but that was a discussion for another day.

"Long story," Methos said. "I'll explain later." To the kid, he said "What do you want it for? The crystal." When the kid didn't answer, he pressed, "You think it'll make you Immortal, is that it?"

He shook his head. "Not me." Methos waited, staring him down, though it wasn't easy. At last, as if it tore something out of him, the guy confessed, "My brother."

Methos nodded. He should have guessed. Should have recognized the signs–he, of all people. "Well, you're wasting your time. I don't have it. The pieces were lost years ago. And even if I did have it, the crystal's useless. You're chasing a myth."

"Sure," Sam said. "I'm supposed to take your word for it." And it wasn't as if Methos could blame him–he'd argued with MacLeod when it was Alexa's life at stake, too. "Please," Sam said in a last ditch effort. "If it's so useless to you, then just tell me where it is."

"Listen, kid. I don't know if you'll believe me, but if I could help you, I would. Take it from me–you keep on the way you're going, you're gonna get yourself killed. A lot of people have died trying to find this thing, and if anyone knows that, it's me. So listen to me when I tell you, this crystal's not the answer."

Sam's jaw set in a stubborn line cast by desperation Methos recognized too well. "You don't know that. Plenty of myths are based on fact."

"True enough," said MacLeod. "But what we are, it's both a gift and a curse. You can't take it, or steal it, and we can't give it away. No matter how much we might wish otherwise."

It was at that moment that Sam's phone rang. MacLeod met Methos's eyes and dug the buzzing device out of Sam's pocket. He tossed it to Methos, who checked the caller ID.

"'Dean.' Let me guess. Your brother?" At Sam's guilty expression, Methos nodded. "And I bet he doesn't know you're here, does he?"

"You don't understand. I'm almost out of time. Please. I have to save him–I promised." Tears stood in the kid's eyes.

"Those kinds of promises can get you in trouble," MacLeod said at last. "But I'm guessing you know that."

They fell into silence, heavy with Sam's despair and the weight of remembered grief.

"Hey," Methos said at last. "Take it from someone who knows. When someone you love is dying, you'll try anything. I get that. But I have been alive a very long time, and if there is an answer, I've never found it. Believe me, I've tried. I wouldn't lie to you about this."

"Screw that," the kid shot back. "I'll find a way."

"I hope you do," MacLeod said, sincere. "But at what cost?"

Judging by the stubborn set of the kid's jaw, that wasn't a question that carried much weight with him. Methos recognized a kindred spirit, and hoped that Sam's brother had what it took to keep him from crossing over into dark territory–the kind from which a man needed lifetimes to return.

He caught MacLeod's eye, and saw that in this, they were in accord. Mac let the kid go, and put the safety back on his gun. "I think you can show yourself out," he said.

Sam cast a confused glance between them. "You're letting me go?"

"I'll keep this if you don't mind," MacLeod said, holding up the gun. "And the book doesn't belong to you." Methos tossed Rebecca's chronicle onto the counter opposite, out of reach. "But as long as we never see your face again," MacLeod went on, "then, yeah, you're free to go."

~ * ~

"Gotta admit, I thought you might pull the trigger there for a minute," Methos said when Sam was gone and they were alone.

"Can't say I didn't consider it." MacLeod poured them both a drink and handed one to Methos.

"He's desperate," Methos said. He swirled the whiskey in his glass, pensive. "Willing to try anything."

"Yeah." Mac took a stiff draught and leaned up against the kitchen island, scrubbing a hand over his face. "Want to tell me what that was about? The stuff he had with him?"

Methos swallowed against the burn of whiskey, choking it down. "I wasn't kidding–it really is a long story, and probably one for another day. Suffice it to say that there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than can be killed with a bullet, or a sword."

They fell into silence for a moment, each lost in his own thoughts. Methos felt the pressure of the other man's regard, but MacLeod kept his own council, for once.

"Hey," he said after a moment. "You okay?"

Methos met his eyes. "Yeah." It was the truth. "Been worse."

MacLeod nodded. He pushed himself away from the counter and reached for Methos's waist, drawing him in. After a moment, Methos leaned against him and let him wrap an arm around his shoulders, let Duncan hold him close and offer the simple comfort of his embrace.

"We should call Joe," Duncan said at last. He squeezed, and Methos didn't protest.

~ * ~

Much later, they lay tangled up in Methos's bed, not sleeping. Methos watched the flicker of the fire as Mac drew his hand up and down Methos's back in slow, rhythmic strokes.

After a while, Methos said, "You know, just because you say "never again," that doesn't make it real. There are plenty of people out there, mortal and Immortal, who know the truth about what makes you tick. Who you care about. If you think otherwise, you're fooling yourself."

"I know that," Duncan answered.

"Do you?"

"Yeah. I do." He fell quiet for long moments. "But given enough time, that can change."

Methos supposed that was true. Sooner or later, much as it might hurt, Dawson would be out of the picture. Amanda had her own life now, with her own hostages to fortune. And there was something to be said for discretion, even if it couldn't protect them from every threat.

"I'm just saying," Methos added, suppressing a yawn. "This time it wasn't even about you. And besides, you gotta admit, we make a good team."

Mac kissed his temple. "That we do." He stroked Methos's hair, and Methos felt sleep come a little closer. For long moments, he drifted.

"You ever think about it?" Duncan asked at last.

Methos didn't have to ask what he meant. "Nope."

"The pieces are still out there somewhere. Someone might find them."

Methos pretended to think about it. "Nah, I don't think so. Besides, it probably is just a myth."

"Mmm. Like Methos, the oldest Immortal?"

Methos nestled deeper into the warmth of MacLeod's body, stretching his toes under the sheets. He smiled.

"Exactly."

~ end ~