by arachne

DISCLAIMERS: You know the drill: no ownership claimed, no money made.

Warning: This is an NC-17 slash story. If you are underage or offended by descriptions of same sex relationships, please bail out now. Consider yourself warned.

NOTES: Mandragora is indirectly responsible for this story since I thought of the idea over lunch with her. As well as inspiration, I owe her beta thanks. Thanks also to the kick-ass writers of SaB – John Blonde (and Conan!), Olivia, Maz, Smara and Super Cat – who pointed out the more glaring Britishisms. Finally, kisses to whitecrow for being whitecrow.

Feedback is welcomed. Write to


Methos was watching television when the buzzer rang. It was ten to three in the morning and the signature was immortal; not a good combination. He answered the door, sword first, but dropped the blade downwards when he saw who his caller was. Richie, looking tired in the dim light and attempting nonchalance as if it was the most natural thing in the world for him to turn up unannounced in the dawn hours.

"And you want?" he asked, not moving to let his visitor in.

Richie shrugged, the assumed assurance fading, leaving him uneasy and as young as his nineteen mortal years would suggest. "Nothing. I couldn’t sleep so I went for a ride. I saw your light and guessed you weren’t asleep either."

It came out with the stiltedness of a rehearsed speech, which it probably was. "And now you know you guessed right. It’s a pity I don’t have a prize to give for such a momentous feat of observation." His dryest tone, the one the child never seemed to know how to respond to. It worked now; Richie greeted his words with silence and an awkward shuffle of feet. He relented a little, offered an opening. "I suppose you want to come in?"

Richie shrugged again, hopped from foot to foot, then gave up the pretence with a conciliatory grin. "I brought beer."

Methos quirked his lips in an almost echo that the child might, if he chose, take for welcome and stepped aside from the doorway. Waifs and strays. When had he become so sentimental? Best not to think about that now. Not when he was still angry with MacLeod and his blithe assumption that everybody worked to the same moral code that framed the Highlander’s view of life. A dangerous assumption that had nearly got Richie killed today in his little tangle with William Culbraith. Mac had handled Richie all wrong there, lecturing when he should have been listening and then listening when he should have been lecturing. Tension haloed Richie like static although he was making heroic attempts to appear casual.

"Nice place you have here," Richie commented, gazing around curiously at the various pictures and sculptures. He stopped at a glass statue of a cat, running a finger along its frozen curves and glancing sidelong at Methos as if trying the square the two. His expression reminded Methos of his earlier dismay and disbelief at the revelation that the love-and-peace-preaching Methos was an impostor. Sorry if I disappointed you, kid.

"I like it," he said, ushering Richie onwards. He waved an arm towards the couch. The TV still played, an old 1950s movie, and he moved to switch it off.

"Don’t you want to keep on watching?" asked Richie. Methos did, but hope sparked Richie’s voice and perversity kept him from giving them both the easy option.

"Nah," he grinned. "I saw it when it came out."

Richie snickered and relaxed a fraction, leaning back into the cushions. "Yeah, I’ll bet. I can just see you lining up to see Charlie Chaplin."

"I preferred Buster Keaton," replied Methos. "He had more style." Richie cast him a covert glance. Go for it, thought Methos, with no conviction that he would. "Not that you would know about style."

"Oh, I don’t know, I used to watch a lot of Laurel and Hardy."

"Somehow that doesn’t surprise me," said Methos.

Okay, talk then. He wondered how much celluloid history they’d have to rehash before the child worked himself up to mentioning his real reason for coming. The heart-to-heart stuff. Mac, Mac, what have you done now? Or was this simply a result of the combined quickening power of his namesake and Culbraith submerging unwillingly in a younger, less driven, psyche? He threw Richie another beer and settled deeper into his chair for the long haul.

Which proved to be a short haul, barely taking them to Jacques Tati.

"Ad-," began Richie and stumbled, trying to swallow the second syllable. He licked his lips. "Methos, I mean."

Damn. So soon. Richie had more balls then he’d given him credit for. Wrong-footed, Methos answered without his customary bile. "Adam will do."

"Yeah, but it’s not your name. Not really you." Richie stared at him, openly this time, as if he expected him to metamorphosise on the spot into Methos the Incredible 5000 Year Old Man.

Methos hissed his breath out in audible impatience. Was this it then? Not Mac at all. But him. This was a conversation he really didn’t want to have. "Look kid," he said. "What you see is what you get. A rose is a rose is a rose. Shit is shit is shit. No matter what you call them."

"Mac wouldn’t agree." Richie was hesitent.

It was the first time Methos had heard him criticise his mentor. No Mac wouldn’t agree. He simply could not understand why Methos wasn’t upset about someone using his name. He would be Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod until the day he died. And what good will your principles do you then, Mac? Richie was watching him, waiting for a response. He made his voice offhand, "Mac isn’t always right. Adam or Methos. It makes no difference what you call me. Want to hear about Monroe?"

"So I can call you old timer?" Richie’s eyes gleamed above the rim of his beer can. "The president?"

He took a swig of his own beer. "No, the film star. They’re spelt differently. Go right ahead, as long as you don’t mind the broken jaw to go with it."

"You wouldn’t dare." Richie taunted, humour not quite masking the derision. That is 5,000 years of wisdom?

"Try me."

"Alright," Richie grinned in anticipation. "Old timer--" The rest was lost in a yelp as Methos punched him, sending him skidding across the plush of the sofa to rest in a huddle against the wooden arm.

The jaw wasn’t quite broken although the split lip produced a lot of blood. The healing took care of it almost immediately. Richie had looked very surprised for a moment before leaning over the side of his sofa and throwing up. It was a fair exchange, Methos supposed. At least the carpet was dark.

"I didn’t think you’d do it," admitted Richie, reaching for the cloth and towel Methos passed him. He looked at him with respect.

"Well now you know differently." His sofa was ruined. Blood was such a pain to get out of furniture. Occupational hazard of being an immortal. Perhaps he should open a cleaning company and make a fortune. He’d known a woman in the Watchers who’d done just that, going in after murders. She was extremely rich.

"Mac won’t be happy," Richie’s voice interrupted his trail of thought.

"I can live with that," he snapped.

Richie swung his head sharply. "With me."

"Oh." He busied himself rearranging the throw cushions.

The child was now regarding him with measuring eyes. "Hey, you really care about what he thinks, don’t you."

He shrugged it off. Too casual for truth. "Like I said, I can live with his displeasure."

Richie nodded, serious for once. "So can I. But I prefer not to."

"Do you want another drink? Hear about Marilyn?"

"Yeah. She was hot."

"And sweet. She had rotten taste in men."

Empty beer cans lay disregarded in the centre of the coffee table, a post-modernist sculpture of round metallic flowers. They drank and talked about films they had seen while the slow dawn lightened the windows. From time to time Richie fingered his jaw and looked at him speculatively. He watched as Richie started fishing around in his jacket, emptying his pockets in search of goodness knows what. Alcohol made the strangest of actions seem reasonable. Keys, wallet and a few old slips of paper crinkling at the corners landed on the table. Then Richie found what he was looking for A bar of Hershey’s. He drew it out and smiled ingenuously before offering it to his host. "Want some?"

Methos accepted the bar, his long thin fingers passing briefly over Richie’s shorter ones as the exchange was made. Skin, warm and alive. Nothing more. Nothing less. He broke off a square and chewed, as Richie went through the contents of his wallet. A few plastic cards, some paper money. Condom.

He swallowed the chocolate and allowed his lips to form into a smile.

Richie blushed. "I know it’s not really, but you know…"

Methos let it lie. Of course MacLeod would have talked to him about that. Earnestly. Sympathetically. Explained that not being able to have children didn’t mean he would never have the joy of being a father. And it had probably made no difference. Living it made the difference, watching a scrap of humanity be born, love, play, work and grow old and die. It didn’t matter whether it was your own particular fragment of genetic material or someone else’s. Life was life. Richie was young. He would learn.


Methos raised his eyes and took a long look at this child of Mac’s. "Listen kid."

Richie frowned. "Don’t call me that."

"You call me old timer, I think I can call you kid."

"You broke my jaw." Richie was belligerent.

"You can break mine then."

After that invitation, he could hardly complain when Richie tried to do just that. It wasn’t a bad punch, high and clean against his cheek, splitting the skin neatly against the bone. The child had obviously learned to fight..

"Feel better?" he asked when the healing was over. At least he hadn’t puked his guts out. Something to be said for age after all.

"Yup." Richie nodded.

"Good. Makes it all worthwhile."

Richie padded around the room, beer can in one hand, touching the smooth lines of a marble bust of Caesar with another. "Does it? I mean, shit Ad-Methos, I chopped a guy’s head off today. He wanted to be you, you know. It’s like he’s here, watching you through my eyes, wanting to know what it feels like to be you. And all can see is a guy drinking beer. I thought there’d be more. Is this all there’s ever going to be? I want--"

"I know."

"No you don’t."

"Trust me. I do. But it passes. And it gets easier with time"

"Mac says—"

He knew where this was going and broke in. "Mac says, "Go out and fuck it off’ and he’s right, that does work. It may not provide any answers but it makes you forget, grounds you to the moment."

"I don’t want," Richie started. "I want…Shit. All I can think of are five thousand frigging years. That’s not me. I don’t want you. But."

I want…

Drink and candy. He must be getting old. He hadn’t seen this at all. Oh Mac. "But he does," he finished.


"And you want to give him something?"

"Yeah. I figure then he might be at peace."

Methos shook his head. "Misguided altruism. What are you going do then, settle down marry and have kids so that Culbraith can rest easy about the family he lost?" He stopped at the stricken look on Richie’s face. The child’s eyes had flown involuntarily to the condoms on the table.

I want…

Peace offering then? A meaningless sentimental gesture. What did it matter? It wasn’t as if he hadn’t done it hundreds of times before. He wondered how often Richie had been round the block. Mac was too loyal to gossip about the child’s past but he’d dropped hints enough for Methos to know what kind of future Richie had been heading for before MacLeod took him in hand. He met Richie’s eyes. "Yes. Alright."

"What?" The blue eyes were disbelieving.

"Just don’t expect me to respect you in the morning."

"I was hoping for flowers." Richie’s voice cracked a little on the last word. They were close enough to touch, to kiss, but neither made a move. "That’s what they used to call it, deflowerment. Mac told me."

Wrong thing to say.

"Lose one flower gain a bouquet," he grinned. "Not a bad bargain."

"Yeah he said-"

Methos interupted. "I don’t want to hear what Mac says."


"I can go with that," grinned Richie, shedding clothes as he spoke. Definitely round the block.

He grinned back. "But can you come with it?" In this at least they were two of a kind. Was it so wrong after all? Not if it let Richie find some kind of peace. "Kiss me then. I’m not a whore."

Not now anyway, although he was probably selling friendship down the line for the press of lips and the touch of a warm tongue against his. What am I supposed to do, Mac? Turn the child away? Damned if I do, damned if I don’t. At least this was the pleasure option. And there was much to be said for that. For the exuberance of youth with its smooth muscles and taut buttocks.

"Fuck me," demanded Richie, breaking away from the kiss.

"You’re fucked, kid." They probably both were. He turned and headed for the bedroom.

Richie followed him laughing. He was still laughing when Methos tumbled him on the bed, the uncontrolled sound of someone who doesn’t quite believe where they are or what they’re doing. Believe it, child, because this is going to cost. Still gasping, Richie turned on his stomach and spread his legs, parting his buttocks suggestively.

Methos pushed his cock in slowly and Richie sighed. "Oh man, that feels good."

It did. No recriminations. No second thoughts. No damnable feelings to have to take into account. Bad timing. Concentrate on the tight, hot feelings and the ache of balls tightening before release. Richie gazed up at him, blue eyes glazed, his expression unfocused and alien. This was all wrong. He shut his eyes.

"D’you feel better?" Methos lay on his back with his arms crossed behind his head, staring at the ceiling.

"Yeah, the earth moved." Richie chuckled. "Yeah, I feel more like me again, if you know what I mean."

"I know." He got up, no longer wanting to be in the tangled sheets. Post-coital comfort was more likely to be found in a beer bottle then an embrace. Richie seemed to sense his withdrawal. He watched but said nothing as Methos dressed and left the bedroom.

He was drinking his second beer when Richie eventually came out. Showered, dressed, hair neatly combed back. A baby going back to a boyscout.

Richie hopped around as he’d done earlier in the evening a return to self bringing a return to self-consciousness. "Are you gonna tell Mac?"

Methos summoned a scowl. It came easily. "I think I can restrain myself from running to MacLeod and telling him I fucked his student." Could he though? One part of him wanted to fling on his coat and run straight to Mac demanding that he listen and accept the act, not balling Richie but what it would represent, a total non-judgement of his actions. He wanted to put Mac to that test, to hear him say that this didn’t matter, that nothing would ever matter. The rest of him hoped cravenly that Mac would never hear about it. "Are you?"

Richie shook his head. "No. It’s not like it has anything to do with him, right?"


They were at the doorway now, Methos seeing him out like some bizarre end of date parting ritual. Would goodbye do or would Richie expect to be kissed again. Richie hovered indecisively and eventually held out his hand. He put his own hand out and they shook gravely, sealing a bargain.

"See you round, kid."

"You betcha, Old Timer."

Bed, with its sheets pulled down and scented with come, was not an inviting prospect. Methos switched on the TV and felt the couch carefully before settling down with his legs across one arm. The carpet was still damp but at least the smell of vomit was gone. Small mercies. The movie had long finished, to be replaced by a re-run of Happy Days. The remote had disappeared and he couldn’t summon the energy to get up to change the channel. Oh fuck, think of it as penance.

He closed his eyes and followed the dialogue for a while before eventually falling asleep.

It was late morning when he woke. A dull grey day. The phone was ringing. Let them ring back. He raised himself up, sitting with his elbows on his knees surveying the room with its blood-stained sofa and damp patch on the carpet. Money, condom and beer cans littered the table. He threw away the beer cans but let the money and the condom lie.