Methos dug out another dandelion from the herb garden, tossing it into an accumulated pile of nutgrass and other weeds that threatened the more desirable plants. He could, no doubt, have had the gardener do it, and had probably earned a new round of grumbles from the staff that normally attended the large house, but it was a pleasant chore on a relatively balmy day for London. His friend, co-author and sometime lover, Lord Jonathan Andrew Stewart Montesque, was off in Malaysia somewhere, looking at temple ruins. The man was a gifted photographer who loved to spend time in inconvenient and uncivilized places.
Methos, however, had spent too many centuries both inconvenienced and uncivilized to want to deliberately recreate the experience. When Andy got back, they would pour over the hundreds of pictures he had taken, discuss his adventures at great length, and ultimately write a book about the history, culture and people of wherever he had visited. It would be large and beautiful, decorating many an antique coffee table. Given Andrew's status and connections, Methos hoped they might even make some money from it.
Andy's long sojourns into the wild left Methos alone in the large London townhouse, where he found his life pleasantly quiet and peaceful and serene, even in the heart of the busy old city. He hadn't had a single deadly adventure since that awful business with the Sanctuary bloodbath, when he had made a mad dash to the States. His mouth tensed at the remembrance of Connor MacLeod's death. It was a damned shame. There were too few Immortals left who cared about more than where their next million, or their next Quickening, came from.
In the aftermath of Jacob Kell's slaughter of all the Immortals who had voluntarily retreated from the world, it seemed unlikely that anyone would re-establish a new Sanctuary any time soon. If the Watchers tried to use involuntary Immortals, Duncan MacLeod would eventually hear about it and, no doubt, tear the place down brick by brick. If they were voluntary, the stubborn, but decidedly charismatic man would probably take the despairing Immortal in hand and wheedle and cajole and generally take over the poor asshole's existence until they gave up their quest just to get MacLeod to leave them alone.
Methos smiled to himself. At least he was hoping that was the case. Mac had had more than his own share of grief and despair, but always seemed eventually to bounce back, a little battered, a little more sadness around his eyes, but always with hope for the future. Sometimes it took a good swift kick in the bum to get him there, but the man was like these weeds. No matter the power brought to bear to root them out, they would always return.
Methos scooped up the pile of dandelions he had gathered and dumped them into the plastic dustbin he had brought along for the purpose. He pushed himself to his feet, stretching legs and back cramped from stooping so long, and gathered the borrowed gardening tools to put back into the shed. It wouldn't do not to have everything just so, or Albert, the gardener, would give him no end of grief.
Along with the twinge of discomfort from strained muscles came a familiar jolt of unease whenever he thought about MacLeod. The man had found him after Alexa had died and been a steady and consoling presence afterwards, not offering sympathy, exactly. Methos hadn't wanted sympathy. He had gathered Alexa into his heart knowing it was temporary, knowing she was dying, knowing it would hurt when she did. But Duncan was there, giving him palpable reassurance that life continues, that there would be other, better times, other loves to provide that sharp, sweet exhilaration of living totally, happily in the moment.
But MacLeod was less willing, or less able, to accept similar consolation, and had disappeared after his beloved teacher and kinsman, Connor, had committed suicide on Duncan's blade, and the subsequent battle with Jacob Kell. Methos was glad he had been too far away to watch that one. MacLeod had survived - again, but had spurned any of Methos' admittedly tentative offerings of companionship or comfort, opting to retreat to the wilds of Northern Scotland for the past year and a half. Their mutual friend, Joe Dawson, had let him know Mac was making tentative forays into the wider world in the last few months, but Methos had not heard from Mac, and probably wouldn't, perhaps for years or decades. Methos' presence might very well be a reminder of too many painful moments in the man's tumultuous life.
He mounted the stairs into the back solarium, and heard the phone ringing. It was Sunday, his favorite day since the staff had the day off and he had the house to himself. The answering machine clicked on as he attempted to clean the grime from his hands by wiping them onto his jeans before he picked up the receiver.
"Adam!" a deep, cultured bass voice sounded from the machine's speaker. "Out picking up a hot date, eh? I plan to break you of that habit soon, dear boy. Anyway, I'm headed home unexpectedly. I'm arriving at Heathrow at 3 a.m. Monday morning. Don't bother to meet me, I'll catch a cab, but I didn't want..."
Methos grabbed the phone. "Andy! What the hell are you coming home for? I thought you'd be gone another six weeks or so. Is something wrong?"
"Ah, there you are. Well, Sharon managed to reach me. It seems Caroline has gotten herself into a spot of trouble and Sharon thinks I need to be on hand." In the background Methos could hear the echo of a large, noisy room and the distinctive babble of loudspeakers common to airports around the world.
"What happened?" Methos asked grimly. Caroline, Andy's daughter, had rebelled against her upper class roots and the last time Methos had seen her, she had been preparing for a demonstration at a World Trade Organization meeting by having herself tattooed with whales and dolphins.
Andy's deep sigh spoke of his complex feelings about his ex-wife, his love for his child, and his frustration that Caroline might as well have been an alien from outer space for all his understanding of her. "Caro got herself arrested night before last. It seems she was with a crowd demonstrating outside some nightclub. A fight started and she cracked a bottle over someone's head. She's been charged with assault, and refused to let Sharon bail her out. The hearing isn't until after the wedding and Sharon considers the whole episode a deliberate effort to spoil the ceremony."
"You should have called me before. I can go see her and try to get her to listen to reason. She and I always managed to be civil to one another. You don't need to abandon your work right in the middle of an expedition."
"Yes, I do, Adam. I neglected Caroline enough while she was growing up. I need to be there now." Andy's morose tone lightened a little. "And the only reason you and she ever got along was because you knew more about rock music than she did, and are closer in age to her than you are to me. Besides, I can better deal with the solicitors and arranging bail and the rest."
Methos closed his eyes. It was a source of ongoing tension between them, this perceived difference in their ages and experience that was part and parcel of his Adam Pierson persona. If Andy only knew. "Andrew," he began.
"It's all right, Adam," Andy reassured him. "I can pick up my trip again in the fall. In the meantime, I have lots of material we can work with. Look, they're calling my flight, I must be off. See you soon, love," Andy added softly.
Methos hung up the phone, looking at it with distaste. The miracle of modern communication was sometimes more of a curse than a benefit. A hundred years ago, young Lady Caroline would have had to extricate herself from her own mess without pulling her father away from business on the other side of the world. Methos snorted to himself. Who was he kidding? A hundred years ago, it was unlikely that the child would have been given the opportunity for such open rebellion, and if she had, the heavy, suffocating hand of the nobility would have protected her, just to maintain the façade of impeccable and unimpeachable social correctness. Progress? Who knew?
It was well after dark, and Methos had settled into his favorite chair with a brandy and a book, when the phone rang again.
"Adam, it's Sharon. Do you know when Andy will be getting in?"
"He's due to arrive in the small hours tonight. I'm sure he'll contact you first thing in the morning."
"Well, I'm not so certain. Tell him I need to talk to him before he goes to see Caroline. He's always taking her side on these things, and there are more important things than his always being the hero to his darling little girl."
Methos took a long breath before he responded. He and Andy's ex were marginally on speaking terms, but only because Sharon was far too 'refined' to state her true feelings about her ex-husband's gold-digging, young male lover to his face. He was sure she saved that for Andy in their private moments. "I'll tell him you called," he said evenly, and started to hang up.
"Adam?" she interrupted his action.
"I do hope you understand about not being invited to the wedding," she said in a rush. "I had invited Andrew for Caroline’s sake, and now that he’ll be back in town, it might be an issue. It's just that it will be a major social event and there will be a lot of people who knew us when we were married, a lot of the peerage, and, well, it would be awkward."
"I don't mind, Sharon," was all he said. There would be no point in any other response, even if he had actually wanted to go. Ever since the elaborately engraved invitation had arrived a few weeks before, inviting Lord Montesque, but with the "and guest" carefully crossed out on the RSVP card, he had been glad Andy was going to be out of town for the event. His lover would be incensed, but, in truth, he didn't mind since he would rather lie on a bed of acid-tipped nails than be subjected to that particular 'major social event.'
"Well," she responded awkwardly. "I'm...I'm glad for that. You probably would hate it anyway," she added with a harsh, false laugh. "All those socialites bowing and scraping to each other, talking about their investments and their horses and their estates."
"But if Caroline is still in jail, it will be an awful scandal!" she added distractedly. "Andrew simply must do something about it."
"Yes, well, I'm sure he'll do what he thinks is best for Caroline."
"Goodbye, Sharon." He hung up the phone, unwilling to continue the conversation, even for Andy's sake.
Methos was dozing in the library, a book lying neglected on his chest, when he heard the front door close, and was instantly on his feet. "Andy?" he called, heading towards the marble foyer, where his voice echoed off the hard surfaces.
"You were expecting Prince Phillip, perhaps?" tired voice answered. Andy set down two large, well-worn bags and turned to him, and Methos gathered him into his arms.
They stood like that for a minute, just holding each other. "You must be exhausted," Methos said softly.
The head of thick, curly salt-and-pepper gray hair tucked into the crook of his neck nodded. "Long trip," Andy observed, finally pulling away and looking at Methos, his gray eyes warm with affection and dark with fatigue. Methos kissed him gently, then reached for the bags, but Andy got to them first, insisting on taking them. Andy was tall and fairly burly, had played rugby at university, and he had always prided himself on physical strength and vigor.
"Why don't you pour us a brandy while I put these up in the bedroom?" Andy asked.
Methos ruefully watched him struggle up the grand staircase with the two heavy bags and shook his head. Stubborn, prideful man. He seemed to be attracted to the type.
Andy was too tired to make love that night, despite their long separation, so they just slept. Methos lay awake awhile, listening to the reassuring sound of gentle snores. As much as he valued his solitude, he truly preferred sleeping with another body in the same bed, preferably one of someone he liked, or, if he was very lucky, even loved. He fell asleep just before dawn with that comforting thought in mind.
The phone rang sometime after the sun was up, but Andy slept through the noise and Methos ignored it when it stopped after only one ring, figuring the housekeeper had picked it up. He turned, instead, and moved close up against Andy's broad, furry back, smiling when it tickled his chest a little. The human form was so varied, and yet so similar. Male or female, old or young, hairy or smooth. He enjoyed physical beauty as much as the next person, maybe more since he had a wider basis for comparison, but still and all, it was the soul inhabiting the body that defined grace and courage and compassion, and Andy had plenty of all of those.
He also had a few less attractive qualities, but so did they all. And Methos counted his own among them, more than most. After all, he had had several millennia to refine them. But he had learned to disguise his own failings, and he did it well. Andy thought him an intellectual whiz kid, a wit, a bookish, shy man, reclusive, uncomfortable dealing with life's practical problems. Those carefully cultivated weaknesses - a befuddled ineptitude in problem solving, and a certain charming lack of sophistication in navigating the intricacies of Lord Montesque's upper-class social connections - relieved him from dealing with some of life's unpleasantness, and simultaneously made Andy feel needed and protective of his young, vulnerable co-writer and lover. If it was a total fabrication, then it was a benign one. Certainly, Andrew would never have fallen for a lean, hungry killer and schemer, the multi-billionaire ages-old cynic who had seen everything and done everything more times than Lord Montesque could even imagine.
A gentle tap on the door brought his head up off the pillow.
"What is it?" he called softly. Mrs. Harrison, a rotund grandmotherly woman who had helped raise Andy, called gently through the door. "It's Lady Montesque, Mr. Adam. She insists on talking to his Lordship. I told her he was out of the country, but she insists he came home last night, and when I saw the used brandy glasses in the library, I thought..."
"What time is it?" Methos asked, scrubbing his face to force himself awake as Andy stirred slightly at the disturbance.
"It's just past nine o'clock."
"Tell her Andy will call her back shortly, please, Mrs. Harrison."
"That I will, sir." And Methos could hear her heavy footsteps as she went back down the hall.
Andy rolled over with a groan. "Christ, but I am not built to sit in an airplane seat for twenty hours at a stretch."
"Perhaps you just need a little exercise to work out the kinks," Methos smiled down at him. He ran his hand under the covers, over the broad expanse of Andy's barrel chest, and down into the rough, curly hair of his groin where a morning erection was stirring the covers.
Andy smiled. "How ever did you get along without me?"
"I bar-hopped every night, cruising for dates," Methos confessed with a smile. "I brought home a dozen different dark-eyed body-builders who made mad, passionate love to me, but I still prefer you as my bedwarmer."
"My, you have been a busy boy." It was an old joke between them. Methos maintained a relatively reclusive façade, which kept him generally out of the way of any wandering Immortals who might otherwise stumble across him and want a taste of his ancient Quickening. Andy, on the other hand, loved to socialize, and was on a first name basis with the proprietor of every nightclub and pub in a three-mile radius.
While their living relationship was convenient and comfortable, Methos knew Andrew was not entirely faithful, that his long sojourns into out-of-the-way parts of the world were not exercises in celibacy. He had his own occasional fling, and studiously ignored his bi-sexual lover's wandering eye, although sometimes he felt a surprising amount of sympathy for Sharon, who clearly had less patience for his Lordship's varying sexual appetites, which only seemed to get sharper as he got older.
Andy rolled over, his weight sinking Methos down into the soft bed. "I can only hope you have a little stamina left over for your poor, old, broken-down lover."
"Hmm. You don't seem particularly broken down at the moment," Methos smiled.
Andy kissed him, his rough stubble abrading Methos' skin. The stimulation felt good. He let Andy pin his wrists as he was nipped and sucked and bitten down his neck to his shoulder.
"God, you are the most beautiful man," Andy moaned into his neck. "I don't know how you do it. Such perfect skin, such a flawless body, so young and firm." Andy let Methos' hands go so he could move further down Methos' torso, lipping his nipples until Methos couldn't contain a small groan. He was hard, the heat and tension in his groin a pleasure bordering on the edge of pain. When Andy took Methos' cock into his mouth, he hissed, arching up off the bed as he was sucked with wonderful, greedy slurping noises while Andy simultaneously played with Methos' balls, finally resting a thick finger against his anus, teasing it gently at first, but the closer Methos got to orgasm, the more he pushed in.
Methos could feel himself tighten up, his breath coming in short pants of need. So close. Then Andy turned his finger and found the sweet spot, and Methos jerked and came with a cry, endorphins flooding his system with wonderful heat as he convulsively pressed his hips towards the warm, wet haven of Andy's mouth.
He was still gasping for breath when his legs were pushed up and apart. Andy spit come into his hand, spreading some on his cock, and sliding some of the slick liquid further into Methos' anus, now relaxed and opening easily at the invasion of first one finger, then another. At last, Andy pulled Methos' hips onto his thighs and slid his impressively large cock inside, moving slowly, watching Methos' face for any signs of more discomfort than he wanted to bear.
But Methos just smiled, biting his lip at the invasion of his most private places. Methos enjoyed the pain. The contrast of intense feeling enhanced the pleasure, and Methos grabbed Andy's forearms and pulled himself further onto his lover's cock.
"Oh, you like this, don't you?" Andy murmured, his eyes half closed, his sweat-covered chest rising and falling quickly as he gasped for air. "You like it rough. Shy little Adam. My own private slut-boy."
"You have no idea," Methos murmured, unsure whether his words were loud enough to be heard, but not really caring. Over the eons, he had been the dominator, he had been the dominated, and had learned the joy of both roles, but Andrew would never know or understand that what he considered "rough sex" was child's play compared to...well, those memories were dismissed as he let himself be ridden hard, his cock rising and filling again as Andy pounded into his body, stroking over his prostate again and again.
Andy pummeled into him faster and faster, his face red with strain, his neck veins distended with the pressure, then with a yell, he came, his eyes closed tight, his neck thrown back. Methos didn't come again, but enjoyed the ride, nonetheless, cradling his Lordship when he collapsed, gasping on top of him, slick with sweat and radiating heat.
The years had brought only small bits of true wisdom to the world's oldest man. Solitude had its own joys, but simple companionship and good sex were necessary to life.
Getting Caroline out of jail had taken them most of the day. Andy had emerged from his interview with her, fuming with frustration. He had already been irritated by a long, argumentative telephone conversation with his ex-wife, and dealing with his equally stubborn daughter had left him so angry that Methos was beginning to worry about Andy's blood pressure. At last, father and daughter emerged from the grim police building, neither talking to the other, stomping towards the limousine. Carl, the chauffeur, kept his face carefully neutral as he opened the door, tipped his hat, and gave a "Good day, Miss Caroline," to the young woman as she flounced past him and into the back seat.
Methos and Carl shared a long look, and Methos got in the front passenger seat while Andy went around to the other side. Carl started the car, and looked questioningly into the rearview mirror. "Where to, sir?" he asked.
"Take us home, Carl," Andy responded, grimly staring out the window.
Carl uncomfortably cleared his throat. "Uh, which home, sir, yours or Miss Caroline's?"
Andy looked up, his mouth set in a grim line. "Mine."
Methos looked back over his shoulder, quirking an eyebrow at his lover.
"Don't worry, Adam," Caroline snapped. "I'll try not to interfere with any embarrassingly intimate moments." She crossed her arms, staring out of her side of the car into the gray, damp day. She was tall, like her father, but had her mother's light auburn hair and creamy, classically English complexion.
"Caroline, don't be rude," Andy warned, then sighed, closing his eyes. "She only agreed to be bailed out of jail if she didn't have to go back and live with her mother," he explained to Methos.
"How generous of her," Methos murmured.
"And Caroline has agreed I am to know where she is at all times, and - assuming my solicitors can keep her out of jail - to either go back to university or get herself a real job. Right, Caroline?"
There was a tense silence as Caroline stared out the window, but Methos could see that her eyes were dark with exhaustion, and her lip trembled slightly. Her experience in the confines of London's jails had no doubt been an unpleasant one that might have given her a slightly different view of the consequences of her actions.
"Right?" Andy insisted.
"Right!" Caroline snapped, at last. "Happy now, are we?"
No one bothered to reply, and Methos was left wondering how much of his rather idyllic, isolated life was going to be disrupted by the presence of the rebellious, angry young woman.
Caroline stomped up the steps into the house, with her father and Methos trailing behind. "I hope it won't be for too long, Adam," Andrew said quietly over his shoulder. "I just didn't know what else to do."
Adam put his hand on Andy's back in reassurance. "It's okay. I understand. I've dealt with rebellious children before."
"Really?" Andy asked, turning to look at him. "When was that?"
Oops. "I, uh, was a warden at an Oxford college for a couple of terms. Had lots of homesick, spoiled children to deal with."
Andy laughed. "Children? You can't have been any older than they were. What tidbits of great wisdom did you have for them?"
"Oh, just that parents are human, that they can get angry and make mistakes, but that whatever they do, it is done with love and the best intentions," Methos replied, moving into the kitchen to snag a bite of homemade shortbread Mrs. Harrison always put out in the afternoon.
Andy smiled sadly, taking a biscuit for himself. "Not bad for a kid," he said gently, reaching with his other hand to cradle Methos' chin in his hand, so he could brush his lips with a kiss.
"Oh, please," Caroline commented dryly from the doorway. "Can you two refrain from the lovey dovey crap while I'm around, at least? Being around Mother and her intended was bad enough. You wouldn’t believe…."
"Caro, watch your language," her father growled in warning, his face reddening with embarrassment, but Methos just laughed.
"Live with it," he said to Caroline with a grin, bussed Andy noisily on the mouth, and offered Caroline a biscuit. He suspected her hostility was mostly an affectation designed to deliberately piss off any authority figure, especially a parental one.
She took the offering, and their eyes met. A moment of understanding passed between them, and a small peace was made. She bit into the biscuit, and a look of bliss passed over her face as she closed her eyes. "Mmm. Mrs. Harrison's shortbread. You know," Caroline said as she invaded the refrigerator to pour herself a glass of milk, "she could probably market these, make a huge fortune and not have to be a slave to the ruling classes anymore."
"Mrs. Harrison is not a slave, for God's sake!" Andy huffed. "She's worked for this family for over forty years, and I dare say if she didn't like it she wouldn't stay."
Caroline turned, leaning up against the fridge, a smile dancing in her eyes. "Oh, Daddy, you're so easy," she laughed, tossed her head and left, her steps noisily pounding up the stairs.
"She's right, you know," Methos agreed, barely controlling his laughter.
Andy made a strangled noise in the back of his throat. "My God, that's all I need. Two mouthy adolescents in the house."
With Caroline's movements constrained, and Andy feeling the need to stay close to the house, the tension between the three of them did not ease, and by only the third day, Methos was already thinking of places he might have a need to be. Maybe a translation job in the Middle East? Perhaps he should make sure MacLeod was doing okay in Scotland. That seemed cowardly, but his mind refused to relinquish the notion entirely. At least the day was relatively clear, and maybe if he could get outside for a while, he wouldn't feel so hemmed in. He put on some old shorts and a t-shirt. There was a really nice park just across the road from the house, and a jog would settle his mind a little. Caroline looked up from flipping through a magazine as he came down the steps.
"Going out?" she asked.
"Just for a run, to clear the cobwebs," he explained.
"Didn't know you were a jogger."
"Yes, well, there's probably a lot you don't know about me."
She rose, dropping the magazine. "Can I come along? It will get me out of this damned house, and Daddy can't object if you're..."
"Daddy can't object about what?" Andy asked from the second floor landing above.
Caroline rolled her eyes. "For Heaven's sake, Dad. I just wanted to go for a jog in the park with Adam."
"Well, I need a good run, and I promised your mother I wouldn't let you out of my sight, so why don't we all go?"
So much for a little relaxing solitude, Methos thought as Caroline rolled her eyes again.
Actually, the run was a pretty good idea. Andy was too breathless to talk, and Adam and Caroline had a chance to chat a little as they ran slowly around the perimeter of the park. Once Adam got her started, Caroline seemed eager to discuss the misadventure that led to her arrest. It seemed she and some friends had been protesting against the wearing of fur outside a nightclub frequented by the fur-clad, when she had gotten in a shouting and shoving match with some woman in a mink coat, and ended up bopping her adversary's escort with a plastic soda bottle in self-defense - or so she claimed - when the man took a swing at one of her fellow protestors. The case would probably have been dismissed had the man not been a Member of Parliament.
"He was a jerk!" Caroline insisted, swiping a tendril of hair away from her damp forehead.
"Possibly, but you were the ones who accosted him and his date," Methos reminded her. She was obviously passionate about her beliefs, and gave Methos a lecture on the conditions under which fur bearing animals were raised and slaughtered, accompanied by more information than he cared to know about the economic benefits of supporting non-fur-based weaving industries of the third world. At least she had her facts in order, he thought, admiring her lean, hard body as she ran easily at his side. Andy had fallen slightly behind though, so he slowed his pace to check on his lover.
Just then, he almost stopped in his tracks as an Immortal presence washed over him, strong and caustic, triggering a rush of adrenaline that set his heart to pounding. Damn. This was one reason why he had avoided getting out in public these last few years. Here he was, with only the dagger tucked next to his back, and with two vulnerable mortals. His mind worked furiously, and he let himself stumble, looking carefully for the right spot, then deliberately fell with a cry, tumbling into relatively soft grass at the side of the trail.
"Adam!" Andrew cried breathlessly. "Are you all right? Did you hurt yourself?"
With a grimace of pain, and a low groan, Methos lay still for a moment, hoping the nearby Immortal would be discouraged by all the attention, but the presence didn't recede. Oh, well, this ploy would at least get them back to the house in short order.
"I just slipped," he said breathlessly, "but I think I pulled something when I fell." He groaned in pain and reached around and grabbed at his lower back, a region that could be injured without any visible evidence.
"Is everything all right?" a new voice asked. A familiar voice. Low, slightly accented, and...slightly amused.
Methos turned his head to see Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod kneeling beside him. His expression was full of solicitous concern, with only the slightest hint of an upward curl at the corner of his mouth.
"I've had medical training, let me take a look," Duncan insisted, reaching to feel Methos' back, his hands pausing slightly as they encountered the stiletto hidden there, then moving on.
"Oh, I think I'll live," Methos growled, glaring at MacLeod's ill-concealed amusement.
"Let him look," Andy insisted. "I've never known you to fall like that before. You must have pulled a muscle, or even broken something. Are you sure your ankles and knees weren't hurt?"
"Let me check," Duncan ordered, his hands probing gently at Methos' grass-stained knees and bare ankles. Methos suspected MacLeod was deliberately trying to tickle him as somehow fingers managed to delve repeatedly into nerve centers, making him jerk, which his audience mistakenly interpreted, of course, as a reaction to pain.
"Should we get him to hospital?" Caroline asked anxiously, pulling out her cell phone from her jacket pocket.
"No, I think he'll be fine, but he probably needs to get some ice on that back right away," Duncan opined, ignoring Methos' dagger-filled stare.
"Thanks, but I'm fine," Methos snapped pushing himself to a sitting position, but Duncan firmly pressed him back.
"Oh, I don't think so. I could feel a definite distortion in your lower back," Duncan replied, his face serious but his dark eyes dancing with secret humor. "Moving too quickly would probably only aggravate it. Here, let me help you up."
"Careful!" Andy cautioned as Methos clambered awkwardly to his feet, with too many hands trying to help him.
Fuck. Methos allowed himself to be assisted. Then both Duncan and Andy supported him on either side as they slowly made their way back to the house, with Caroline darting ahead to alert Mrs. Harrison that they had an injured patient to care for.
Great. Just great.
"Christ on a crutch!" Methos yelped as intense cold was suddenly plastered to his lower back.
"Oh, is that cold?" Duncan asked solicitously. "Well, it will feel better in a minute, and will help keep the swelling down."
"I can't thank you enough," Andy effused, much to Methos' ever-increasing irritation with the whole ridiculous situation.
"Oh, you are most welcome," Duncan replied smoothly in his most urbane, sophisticated manner. "I was glad to help." He pressed a little on the cold pack now freezing Methos' lower back and a significant portion of his bum. "Just keep ice on there for a few hours, then he should have complete bed rest for a few days. Certainly no strenuous activity. As a matter of fact, it might be good to see if you could get a bedpan for him to use. I really wouldn't want to strain those muscles any more than necessary." He carefully urged Methos to sit back against the pillows, making sure the pack was situated at the most sensitive part of his spine.
Methos could feel his teeth grind, and a few deliciously appropriate curses occurred to him.
"Excuse me, did you say something? Is there anything we can get you?" Duncan asked sweetly.
"Oh, no thanks," Methos snarled with a tight smile. "You've already done more than enough. I was just thinking of how I could possibly repay you for all this kindness."
"Perhaps he could stay to dinner," Andy suggested.
"Oh, yes," Caroline's voice piped up enthusiastically from the doorway, where she had watched the whole pathetic proceeding. "Please do stay. By the way, my name is Caroline. Caroline Montesque."
Duncan stood, and Methos watched, unobserved and ignored as Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod turned the full force of his charm on Lord Montesque and his lovely daughter. He had to admit it was an impressive display. Mac looked as stunning as ever, his dark hair slightly mussed from their exertions, with an errant curl dangling onto his forehead. He was in an elegant camelhair coat, hanging open over a soft, clinging white cashmere sweater and black pants. Methos could have sworn he could hear Caroline panting from across the room and smell pheromones dancing in the air.
"I'm sorry, I should have introduced myself before. My name is Duncan. Duncan MacLeod." He took Caroline's hand and bowed over it, gently brushing his lips over her knuckles while Caroline watched, flushing in pleasure and embarrassment at the elegant gesture.
"Andrew's the name. I'm Caroline's dad, and your reluctant patient here is Adam Pierson," Andy offered. Andy and Mac shook hands and Methos could sense the tension in the room, both from his lover and his fellow Immortal. The clasp of hands was slightly aggressive, as though each was measuring the other, and when they parted, there was a relaxation as the two men recognized a kinship of some subliminal kind. Two alpha males sizing each other up. This was getting worse and worse, Methos decided.
"So," Caroline probed. "Duncan...can you stay for dinner? It would be so lovely to have someone new at the table." Her voice sounded high and excited, like a schoolgirl.
"I'm sure Mr. MacLeod has other important, pressing engagements," Methos inserted.
"Well, I wouldn't want to impose..."
"Nonsense!" Andy responded. "Caroline, go tell Mrs. Harrison there will be a fourth for dinner, although I suppose you'll need to take your meal in here, won't you Adam?" Andy's hand stroked through his hair, and Methos' couldn't contain a snarl, which Andrew unfortunately misinterpreted as a groan of pain. "Poor chap, can I get you something?"
"How about a drink?" Methos snarled through gritted teeth, feeling the ice bag at his back leak cold water into the sheets.
"Well, how about we start with some aspirin, or maybe I have something stronger in the medicine cabinet," Andy offered.
"Well, I certainly think he'll need the strongest you've got, but he shouldn't have any alcohol with it," MacLeod opined.
"Oh, right, I understand. Well, let me see what I have," and Andy bustled off to the bathroom. Finally, for a moment at least, they were alone.
Methos fixed his fellow Immortal with the most dangerous stare he could conjure, but MacLeod was annoyingly unimpressed. "I'm going to kill you for this, MacLeod!"
"Moi?" Mac asked innocently, his palm pressed to his chest. "I am just a helpful bystander, trying to make sure you are treated with the greatest of care."
"What the hell were you doing in the park, anyway?"
"On my way to see you, of course, but before I could call out, you had taken that ridiculous nosedive into the turf and were writhing in pain on the ground. How was I to know you lived with these people? Last time I was here, I assumed you were living alone."
Then Andy was back in the room, reading off various labels of prescription drugs he had accumulated over the years. Mac inspected them carefully and advised him to administer the codeine-laced Tylenol, over Methos' strenuous protest.
"Now, Duncan knows best, and you may not feel it now, but pretty soon you'll hardly be able to move, and you'll be grateful for this. Now take the pill!" Andy insisted, dropping one in Methos' hand and handing him a glass of water.
Methos put his hand to his mouth and took a sip of water, palming the unswallowed medication. "There! Happy?"
"Adam! I never expected you to be such a terrible patient," Andy frowned at him, grabbing his hand and peeling the fingers back, exposing Methos' deceit. He took the pill and held it in front of Methos' mouth. "Now open."
"I do not want to take that. It will make me groggy and stupid and I don't need it. It was just a silly fall and I already feel fine. All this fuss is just..."
"It was not just a fall. You took quite a tumble, and I heard you cry out. Now don't argue with me about this, young man. Take the bloody pill!"
Methos looked to MacLeod, sending him a glare that insisted that he intervene, but Mac just maintained a benign smile on his face. A smile Methos could cheerfully have removed with his fist - or a very sharp blade. Methos opened his mouth, to say as much, but Andy popped the pill inside, and handed him the water. Methos considered spitting it out, but it wasn't something Adam Pierson would do, and it might make this whole situation into more of a fiasco than it already was, and the longer he thought about it, the more the damn thing melted into a bitter-tasting, gritty puddle in his mouth. He snatched the water and drank, setting the glass down hard enough that the remaining water sloshed over the edges.
"Now, Adam, stop being so childish. It's all for your own good, you know." Andy leaned over and brushed Methos' forehead with his lips. Methos expected some kind of look of reproach from MacLeod at that, but the benign smile only twitched a little broader. "Now rest, and I'll check in on you later." He lovingly tucked an afghan around Methos' body and the two men finally left him in peace.
As the door closed he could hear Andrew telling MacLeod, "The poor boy must be in pain, you know. I've never seen him act like this....."
Mrs. Harrison solicitously brought him a tray of soup and a new ice bag, which she insisted on slipping behind his back again, scolding him all the while for removing the one MacLeod had oh-so-thoughtfully applied to his nether regions. Methos could hardly lift the spoon as the powerful pain medication made him feel like he was moving through thick, warm molasses. He gave into the inevitable, and turned over to sleep, dumping the offending cold pack onto the floor again as soon as Mrs. Harrison had left the room.
Of course, then he woke in the middle of the night, feeling vaguely hung over, and finding Andy had snuck into the bed in the meantime. He smelled of brandy and cigars, and he could well imagine that he and MacLeod had sat up late, talking politics and indulging themselves in various male vices. A small stab of jealousy surprised him, and he stared at the shadowed ceiling, inspecting his reaction carefully.
Was he jealous of MacLeod spending time with Andrew, doing that male bonding thing the Scot did so well? It was not a role he had ever played with his lover, as it was not in Adam Pierson's character to do so. Or...his thoughts slowed, was he jealous of Andrew getting an entire evening with MacLeod, an evening of good conversation and gentle affection? Hmm. Life was always so complicated whenever MacLeod was around. Methos turned over, maneuvering around the damp spot left in the mattress where the ice bag had leaked. That reminded him of the debacle MacLeod had so gleefully orchestrated, and he fell asleep imagining all kinds of tortures he might one day inflict on his friend and nemesis, Duncan MacLeod.