"Father! Father! No! Father!!"
Connor MacLeod sighed. Not again. He rolled over on to his side. The dying embers of the fire produced just enough light in the tiny hut for him to see Duncan sitting bolt upright, his dark curls wild and filled with straw from his pallet. He was struggling to get his breath after his shout.
"Just calm yourself, lad. 'Twas only a dream." Connor moved over to wrap Duncan's plaid over his shoulders.
"Aye, but it felt so real. I was there again, with my father...the man I thought was my father if what you say is true...hitting me, forcing me away from the clan. And it was his words that hurt more than his fists." Duncan leaned into Connor's arms. Connor stiffened and shifted position so Duncan would not realize what his beauty and warmth did to him.
"They would at that. He broke your heart and that takes time to heal. It's not been a fortnight yet."
"I know. And I will have that time, will I not?"
"That I cannot say. You could live for centuries or more, or you could be struck down by the first one of us who challenges you. I told you of this."
Duncan sighed. "I cannot fathom this new life of mine. I do not want it - I want to be who I was...Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod, betrothed to marry, son of the chief with the normal allotment of years."
Connor turned him so he could see into his eyes. "That *is* who you are, man. Do not let anyone take that away from you. It is where you learned to be a man, where you learned honor and strength that will serve you well how ever long you live. Being Immortal does not change who you are, inside."
"My father called me a demon, a devil."
"That we are not. None of us know what we are, but we are not devils, nor angels either." Duncan looked at him. His eyes were filled with pain and unshed tears. "And this is to be my life. Just the Game and what waiting at the end?"
"I do not know that, either, lad. I am sorry. I know you did not ask for this- but think on the alternative." That brought a shaky chuckle. Connor smiled. "Tis too late an hour to talk thus. Lay yourself down again. We have more training to do in the morning." He began to ease Duncan down on his pallet.
"Will...will you think it unmanly of me if I ask you to stay here? I do not care to be alone now."
"Ah, Duncan." Connor shook his head and then lied down beside him, dragging Duncan's blanket over both of them. "What you ask of me...no, 'tis not unmanly. You would be a fool if you did not fear what your future holds, or if you did not take what comfort you could. Also, the fire will not last the night and 'tis warmer to share a blanket."
Despite his words, Connor took care to lie as far from Duncan as he could while remaining covered. Duncan soon dropped off, his soft snores in counterpoint to the various sounds of the night around them. Connor lay still, watching the embers of the fire cool and die and the last of the smoke rise towards the hole in the roof. It was warm enough next to his student - his body produced enough heat to warm an entire clan, or was it that Connor was too aware of how bonny he was? Whatever it was, he finally began to drowse beside the man.
Maybe he'd become colder in the night, or maybe it had been instinct, but at some point, he'd moved closer to Duncan and had wrapped his arms around his sleeping body. Connor knew he should let go, move away - even get up and start the day. He could see morning light streaming in through the cracks in the shutters over the single small window. Days were short enough come autumn; he shouldn't waste this one.
But Duncan felt good in his arms. It had been too long since he'd held a man thus, and Duncan fit well - not as well as his poor Heather, but well enough. At that thought, Duncan began to stir and twist around until he faced Connor. Ah, the man was bonny indeed, even with his morning beard and his hair tangled about his head. Surely, he wouldn't notice one small kiss before he woke. Connor leaned closer.
Duncan's eye's opened wide. He stopped breathing for a moment, and then, in one graceful motion, he pulled free of Connor's arms and leaped to his feet, his sword out and at the ready.
"What the hell are you doing, man? You think I'm a God-cursed sodomite?"
Connor propped himself up on one elbow. He smiled. "Put the sword away, lad. I'm not about to rape you, nor will I fight you yet."
Duncan narrowed his eyes, but sheathed his blade. "Then what were you doing? I'm not accustomed to waking with a man's arms about me, nor to seeing one near to kissing me."
"Nor am I, but 'tis a pleasure when it occurs - especially with a man who looks like you."
"It is not possible. You're a man...you're the finest swordsman I have ever seen. Such a man could not...enjoy being with another." He backed away, but couldn't go further than the wall of the hut.
"Ah, lad. If you think that way, you'll get yourself killed for sure. There are fine swordsmen...aye, and women...out there who don't care how Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod thinks on them so long as they can get your head. If there is pleasure to be shared and none to be harmed, what does it matter?"
Duncan blinked. "I do not understand what you are saying, Connor. Are you telling me a Sodomite...a *woman* could beat me? "Tis against the laws of nature, just like...what you were trying with me earlier."
"And what we are isn't against the laws of nature?" Connor sat up and crossed his legs. "Seems to me that a man who dies and comes back again and again, whose wounds heal within moments, who does not age but lives until someone takes his head - that is also against nature. But we are here, and so are those others I told you about - and so are those desires you fear."
"But this is worse. This is a sin. It is...a travesty, unfruitful..." He rubbed his eyes. "'Tis too early to be talking like this." He sighed. "Nothing we do is fruitful. I told you this - Immortals such as we will not have children. You can lie with a woman all you want, and never will she give you a bairn of your own. 'Tis one of our great sorrows, and that of the mortal women we love, or the mortal men who wed women like us. Do you remember me telling you this?"
"Aye. That you did." Duncan slid down the wall until he sat on the floor facing Connor, his own legs crossed. "Are you certain? Could it have just been...you or your wife?"
He shook his head. "Of this, I am certain. If ought Immortal had a child, none know about it."
Duncan was silent for a long time. He sat staring at the great swatch of plaid wrapped around his waist, twisting a lock of his hair. Connor knew he was a man grown, but for that time Duncan seemed a small boy. Finally, he looked up. "Connor?"
"You have those desires for me?"
Careful now. "Aye, lad."
"And if I felt the like for you? If being in your arms this morning scared me because for a moment I wanted to stay there? If I was going to kill you because I was aroused by you? What then?" His voice was scared but defiant, and he looked me straight in the eyes.
"I'd tell you to come over here." Connor smiled and patted the pallet next to him.
Duncan moved there without getting to his feet. "I do not love you, man." Despite his words, he leaned against him.
"I do not ask for your love. Just your pleasure. You're shaking, lad."
"I cannot help it. A fortnight ago, I would have been cast out for even admitting to such a thing. How can I want this so badly?"
"Oh, Duncan. If it frightens you so much, we can stop right here." He'd be disappointed, but a good session with the swords would take care of that.
"Everything frightens me right now, Connor! I have no clan, I have no family except for you and you tell me that I could have centuries ahead, or that someone...some *woman*...could slice off my head tomorrow. I do not know what to think."
"I will not force you." Connor began to get up.
"I know." He grabbed Connor's arm to keep him where he was. "And you will not be forcing me. Please...I may be scared, but I need to touch someone now, and...you're willing."
Connor settled back down. "More than willing, lad." He gathered Duncan back into his arms.
Duncan stiffened and then, to Connor's surprised, relaxed fully, laying his head on Connor's chest. "You do not mind this?"
Duncan sighed. "I do not want to move."
"Sweet man." Connor bent to kiss him on the forehead. He shivered once and lifted his head.
"You can do better than that, man." Duncan smiled brightly, and for a moment his face was more than bonny. It was beautiful. Now wordless, Connor nodded and took what had been offered. Duncan's mouth was warm and responsive, if unpracticed. Their whiskers caught and pulled - there was no way either could pretend they were with a woman. Connor did not want to pretend; he could only hope that Duncan felt the same.
"Ah, Connor...touch me, please..." Connor had no more fears. He continued to suck on Duncan's lip as he reached beneath the plaid to find his heavy, hot erection waiting for him. Duncan moaned in his mouth and began exploring beneath Connor's garment. "It's...oh, Connor, man, it feels so good. You feel good in my hands. I never thought...what do I do?" He began to stroke. Connor could only gasp. "You're...you're doing fine..." He responded in kind, feeling Duncan respond to his touch with mutual pleasure.
Then, Duncan let go of his penis and pushed Connor to the ground, allowing their erections to rub against each other as they kissed passionately. Connor tangled his hand in Duncan's hair as Duncan moved one of his beneath Connor's blouse and found a nipple to tease. They began rolling over the dirt floor, hitting the wall, their pallets, the still warm ashes of last night's fire as they rubbed together, seeking more and more of that friction until, with great shouts, both exploded in messy white bursts and collapsed in each other's arms.
"Is...it is always like that, Connor?" Duncan's eyes were wide.
"Ah, my bonny lad. 'Tis only the beginning. I have much to show you. After we wash our clothes and take a bath."
"A *bath*! Now you're going too far, Connor MacLeod. I'll not take a bath so close to winter!"
Connor rolled his eyes. He'd learn.
Copyright 2000 Debra Fran Baker and NightRoads Associates