Author's Note: This bit takes place before the events in "Ask Me Again." In fact, this particular bit is what started that particular universe we let the boys play in.
Walking into the room, Duncan sees Methos sitting before the fire, apparently deep in thought. He walks over to stand behind the older man, resting one hand lightly on a tense shoulder. "Want to talk about it?"
Methos jumps a little at the hand on his shoulder, then leans back into the hand, "I don't...know if I can...too hard to define what's going on. But if you want to listen, I can try."
Duncan moves to crouch in front of the other man, never losing contact with him. "Methos, I will always be willing to listen if you want or need to talk." He smiles gently, sending comfort across the bond they share. You can trust me, you can always trust me. Quirking an eyebrow at Methos' mental Even if it hurts you? in curiosity, Duncan nods. "Even if it hurts me. I'd rather take the hurt, than see you hurting in any way, Methos."
Methos sighs, running a hand through his hair, causing it to stand up. He doesn't notice, his arms wrapping around his knees. "You know there's 'something' developing between Michael and myself...Except neither of us can tell what it is, or can admit what it is."
Duncan nods slowly; having guessed Mayhem might be involved. "Go on, Methos, I can tell there's more. You can be honest with me, you know that. I'm a big boy, I don't hurt that easily."
Methos closes his eyes, his expression pained, "I honestly love both of you. Michael's been hurt badly by his previous...lovers." Methos' tone is cold and deadly at the same time, promising retribution to said lovers by tone alone. "I don't want to add to his pain...but am, just by being here. Yet...I can't give you up, and I won't. You're far too much a part of me."
Moving to sit next to Methos, Duncan lets that wander through his brain for a bit before speaking. "Methos, I don't think this is any different from what I feel for you...and for Amanda. But I wouldn't want you, or him to be honest, hurt in any way by this...whatever this is between you." He pauses to take a measured breath. "Tell me something, Methos. If he and I were to stand right here before you and tell you that he'd give himself and his heart to you for eternity, but only on the condition that you never see me again, what would you do?"
Methos puts his head down on his knees, and is quiet for a long time, the only sound in the room their breathing, and small shifts in position. "I can't."
Duncan stares at him for a long moment, taking in what was said so softly. "Have you told him this? Can you tell him this?" he asks softly, surrounding the older man with comfort and acceptance.
Methos turns his head so he's looking at Duncan, the corners of his eyes damp, as if he's been crying. "I can't tell him...I should, before we get any more involved." He snorts in self-depreciation, "He threatened to mark me the last time we were together...and I almost let him. Except I didn't want to be like his other lovers. I told him there were other ways to make a mark...You think I can tell him, 'Oh by the way, my heart really belongs to Duncan MacLeod, see the tattoo on my ass?'"
Despite the gravity of the moment, Duncan can't help the small, amused snort that escapes him at those last words. Unwilling to seem too flip about things, Duncan quickly tries to rectify the situation. "I'm sorry, Methos, I don't mean to sound flippant about this. I know this is terribly difficult for you, and I wish there was a way I could make things easier for you. You are my brother, mo anam, and you deserve all the happiness you can have. But you have to decide what -- and perhaps more importantly who is what you need most."
Methos looks down again, "I don't know what to do anymore, Donnachaid. I really don't know. And that's why I'm sitting here."
Duncan quickly, carefully takes Methos into his arms, holding him close. "I know," he murmurs softly, hands smoothing and caressing the other man's back. "But you have to see that the indecision is making you miserable, mo anam, and that's not helping anyone." He leans back slightly to look into Methos's eyes. "You know that I will stand by you and support you, no matter what your choice."
Methos snuggles close to Duncan, taking the comfort and familiarity offered. He's quiet again for a long time, then he says softly, "What if I make the wrong choice?" He surges to his feet, swearing in French, "You'd think after 5,000 years I'd know what to do!" He paces, his hand running through his hair again, rubbing the back of his neck.
Duncan instantly gets to his feet, roughly pulling Methos back into his embrace, holding tightly when the older man half-heartedly struggles to get free. "Just because you've lived 5,000 years doesn't mean you've become Mr. Know-It-All-Perfection." He pauses, grinning at Methos' slight smile in response. "You're still human, mo anam, and you can still make mistakes." Once again, he pauses for a deep, cleansing breath, and when he speaks again, his voice is husky with emotion. "Let me tell you something, Methos. Right now, for as much as I love Amanda, if you asked me to leave her, to be with you...." His eyes close as he struggles with his emotions. "I would. But if you said you wanted to be with Michael, I would do everything I could to make the two of you happy." Methos bites his lip at Duncan's confession and closes his eyes, burying his face in Duncan's chest as his shoulders shake. Duncan holds Methos closer, wondering if perhaps he said too much, or made things worse. "Methos, I..." Unsure of what else to say, he simply holds the older man closer, murmuring comfort in softly spoken Gaelic.
You called him 'Michael'... Methos' mental voice comes across at the same time as he speaks, the two voices blending as slowly, Methos pulls himself together, wiping at his face. "I still don't know what to do." He turns silent for a moment, then mentally continues, admitting what he can't yet voice to Duncan. Part of me wants you to give me a ring...but part of me wants Mike to do his thing too.
"Yes, Methos, I did call him Michael," comes the soft reply, "because you did, and he means something to you. And, as I've said before, whatever I may personally feel about him, if he means that much to you, then I will set my own feelings aside for your happiness. That hasn't changed, not one bit." Duncan nuzzles lightly into Methos' temple. "That's what I want, Methos, for you to be happy."
Methos sighs, "Haven't we been through this before? When he went away for several weeks? What changed?" He rests his head on Duncan's shoulder, hanging on loosely.
"I don't know," Duncan replies softly. "Why don't you tell me what changed?" He doesn't loosen his grip on the other man, instead he holds him closer, trying to be far more comforting than it appears.
"I think I need time to figure out what is going on...and to get my head screwed on straight." He looks Duncan in the eye, "You already know I'd trade my life for yours, in a heartbeat...but I cannot choose between the two of you. And then there's Manda." He grimaces, "You know, if Manda ain't happy, ain't nobody happy." He pulls Duncan down to the hearth, "I know the both of you turn me on beyond belief, in your own fashion."
Duncan moves closer to Methos, holding him, comforting him. "We will both do what we need to do to be happy. There was a time when I would have told you to go to hell for making so many lives miserable by your indecision. But right now? I'm probably just as indecisive as you are. Yes, I proposed to Amanda, and yes I love her very much. But I also love you very much, mo anam, and I want nothing more than for you to be as happy as you deserve to be. And if that means you are tattooed and marked as the property of Michael -- Mayhem -- whatever he wants to be called, then so be it. And if that means that I break off my engagement to Amanda and pledge my life to you, then so be it. But the indecision really is killing you, and you need to resolve it, mo anam."
Methos gazes into the fire for a long while, and when he speaks, it's as if he's thinking aloud, "When Michael and I got to the point of talking...instead of killing each other, he was worried about getting close. I told him, and I know I did this, 'Let's just enjoy what we have, for as long as we have it.' And I told him who said anything about love. Then he went away, and it hurt a great deal. Now, with you and Manda, I know you are serious now, but who says what 10 or 50 years will bring with her."
"At the risk of sounding callous, for as much as I love Amanda, I know I'm not the first person in her heart. I know damned well that she'd drop me like so much dead weight if Nick ever showed her the slightest of attentions. Yes, I've loved her for a very long time, but I also have loved you for a number of years..." Duncan pauses a moment, his own eyes drawn to the fire. "Is it selfish of me to say that part of me wants both of you, and part of me wants neither of you?"
Methos looks at Duncan with a questioning glance, "Now there's a new one...'neither of you?'"
Duncan snorts softly. "I live with the same indecision that you do, Methos. Yours is between Mayhem and I. Mine? Between you and Amanda." He pauses a moment, letting the thoughts coalesce into something he can use. "I guess, if I can't have both of you somehow, I'd rather not have either of you. And I'm sure that sounds like classic avoidance tactics, but it's the truth. There is a very strong voice in my head that says I should do the right thing and stay with Amanda. And there's another part of me that says to hell with that and stay with you. But I don't know how to necessarily reconcile the two, so perhaps it would be best to have neither..." He attempts a nonchalant shrug. "But this is about your indecision and your sour mood, not mine."
Methos sighs heavily, "I guess I'm going to have to talk to Michael, if I can get him to open up." He smiles wryly at Duncan, "At least talking with you is a bit easier. Now...I'm parched, how about a drink?"
Duncan grins absently. "A drink would be good, I think," he replies. His gaze returns to the fire for a moment. "Methos," he finally asks, curious hesitance washing over the telepathic bond they share. "What would you do if I said I had a ring in my pocket for you? Hypothetically speaking, of course."
Methos blinks, and tries to calm the sudden attack of butterflies in his stomach. He swallows, "Hypothetically speaking..." His voice fades away, and the fire draws his attention, and he stirs it with a poker, "Do you?" his voice is low, although it cracks slightly.
Duncan tries that nonchalant shrug again. "I might," he replies, his tone just as low. "But if I did, what would you say?" He purposely keeps his tone and demeanor as noncommittal as he can manage.
The heady sensation of butterflies filling his stomach cascades over Duncan through their bond, his heart leaping with excitement, love, desire, and a surprisingly fierce loyalty. The sensations almost obliterate the single word spoken, so soft it might not have been uttered, or it might have been a mental whisper, "Yes.” Methos clears his throat, "Yes, Donnachaid, yes."
Fighting the sudden wave of giddy butterflies, Duncan does his best to remain calm and looks at Methos. He knows he can't necessarily hide the glimmer in his eyes, but he forges ahead in a soft voice. "And what does that tell you about your indecision, Methos?"
Methos moves closer, tightening his hold on Duncan, "That both of us are doing things out of a sense of 'should' or 'ought to'...not listening to our hearts, to our souls. But sometimes, that's the way it has to be. I need to tell Mike that he should just enjoy the time, and let it be that. As for Manda," He smirks, "You handle that."
Duncan shudders dramatically. "You weren't kidding earlier when you joked that if Amanda isn't happy, no one can be. She really is looking forward to this wedding, but..." He shrugs, turning introspective again. "Am I wrong to think that she'd leave me for Nick? Am I being stupid to continue this wedding?"
Methos pulls a arm free and pokes Duncan's ribs, "Now who is being indecisive? It doesn't look like Nick is going to show anytime soon, if he keeps his head. Maybe someday he'll show...and you'll be free of your vows at that point. In the meantime, give Manda a measure of happiness. I've waited 5,000 years, I can wait a few more centuries."
Grabbing for Methos' hand, Duncan grins sheepishly. "I told you I was wrestling with my own indecisions," he says, then turns serious. "And as much as right now, I want nothing more than to run away somewhere with you, I know I have to do right by Amanda. But it doesn't mean that you aren't also a part of my heart, my soul, Methos." He pauses again for a deep breath before whispering; "I do have a ring for you, Methos. I just.... It's put away for safekeeping. Unless you want it..." His words trail off as he's overwhelmed by the sensation of someone's heart so full of feeling, so stunned, it's almost breaking.
Methos can only stare at Duncan, blinking owlishly while he tries to get his pounding heart under control, not to mention the butterflies in his stomach. His eyes well up and he blinks rapidly, obviously not thinking about what is causing it. Suddenly he shakes himself, "Yes! I do." He smiles at the echoes of the words he chose.
Duncan grins broadly at his answer, and leans in for a very quick, impulsive kiss. "I'll have to get it out of its safe place. But I can have it for you this weekend, if you'd like..."
Methos grins as well, "Can you say I wouldn't miss it for the world?" He pulls Duncan close for a deeper kiss.