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Chapter One: Musings And Considerations – by pat

"You ready, Mac?" Methos swung open the door and peered into the loft. Duncan MacLeod picked up the picnic basket from the kitchen counter and grabbed his coat and sword on the way out the door. "Yeah, I'm ready." He studied his friend with amusement as he locked the door behind them. "You could have taken the lift, you know."

Methos grinned and looked over at Mac mischievously. "Where's the fun in that? Much more exciting to feel your body in motion, to feel your feet hitting the stairs, to feel the accomplishment of finally reaching the top."

Mac shook his head and smirked in reply, then said, "Methos, you're so full of shit."

"Maybe." Methos tilted his head in thought and snickered. "But the last one to the car has to pay for the drinks at Joe's later." With that announcement, Methos jumped down three stairs at once and took off at a run.

Mac shook his head in disbelief and chuckled to himself. Five thousand years old or five years old? He sped up his trek down the stairs, however, knowing he would never beat the other man to the car. Methos was bent over, rearranging supplies in the back seat of his SUV, when Mac finally exited the building. 'Nice ass', he thought, as his eyes connected with the vision of the jeans-clad rear end in front of him.

Methos felt Mac approaching from behind and pretended to move some things around in the back seat of his SUV. 'Come on, come on,' he chided his dick as the damn thing hardened and throbbed in his pants. 'Don't betray me now.' Who would have thought that just the sight of the Highlander in his tight blue jeans and white tee shirt would cause such a quick visceral response? The sight of the muscular pecs and abs outlined through the light material as Mac moved? The way the light blue colored jeans hugged both Mac's ass and his equipment, leaving very damn little to the imagination? Fuck. If Methos hadn't run ahead, he just knew he would have embarrassed himself beyond repair.

Methos, himself, had thrown on a pair of old faded jeans and a black tee shirt with a plain white shirt thrown over it. Why would a man like Mac notice you? he asked himself miserably. A man who could have almost any woman he wanted at any time? Then, he amended, could have his pick of almost any woman or man at any time?

Mac waited until Methos straightened and moved out of the way. "Here you go," he stated cheerfully while tossing the picnic basket onto the back seat. He waited until Methos walked to the other side of the SUV and slid in. With a yank to relieve the pressure from his too tight groin, he followed suite and slid into the passenger side seat. "Where to, old great one?"


Mac put the last of the food away and laid back into the cool grass. He had already taken his shoes off and rolled up the legs to his jeans, enjoying the feel of the slick blades under his feet and the natural feel of earth that he missed with the modern age housing and air conditioning. He placed his hands behind his head and sighed. His time with Methos was becoming more and more difficult.

Oh, he loved being with the old man. Loved his dry wit, his sense of humor, his intelligence. But, truthfully, he had been lusting after the man almost since the day they had met. And if he really, really wanted to be honest with himself, he would admit that he had been falling in love with the contrary creature. But he didn't dare tell Methos his feelings. Their relationship had been so strained over the course of the years, he couldn't bear to do anything that might tear them apart again. Besides, why would someone as beautiful and intelligent as Methos ever be interested in him?

Methos propped his elbows on his knees and looked away. This was becoming harder and harder. He shifted uncomfortably against the throbbing organ straining against his jeans. 'That too,' he thought to himself. Truth be known, he had been lusting over Mac almost since the day they met. And if he really, really wanted to be honest with himself, he would admit that he had been falling in love with the too honorable Boy Scout. But he didn't dare tell Duncan his feelings. Their relationship had been so strained over the course of the years, he couldn't bear to do anything that might tear them apart again. Besides, why would someone as beautiful and intelligent as Duncan MacLeod ever be interested in him?

"Have you ever thought about falling in love again, Methos?" Duncan asked him plaintively.

Methos looked down at the Scot's face and sighed. Where did that come from? "Um, yeah. Sure, I guess. Sometimes I miss having someone in my life. That feeling of connection, of belonging. What about you?"

Mac frowned and thought hard. Okay, here is your opening, Duncan. "Yeah, I miss it. Of course, love is so hard to find. And then you have to be careful. Especially if you're not sure the other person shares your feelings."

Methos' heart sped up in alarm. "Yeah. I could see that," he stated carefully. "Not worth the risk sometimes. I mean, if you really aren't sure…."

"Yeah. If you're not sure," Mac agreed carefully. "Well, you ready to go to Joe's?"

"Yeah. Let's go." Methos jumped up and started gathering supplies. 'Damn, damn and double damn. Here was your chance to tell him.'

Duncan put on his shoes and admonished himself silently. 'Damn, damn and double damn. Here was your chance to tell him.'

They packed their supplies away in the back seat of Methos' SUV and slid back into the front seat of the car.

"So, a game of chess later?" Duncan asked tentatively.

"Yeah, chess would be nice. No date later?"

"Nah. No one I really want to be with right now. You?"

"Nope. No one special."


Chapter Two: Gambit of the Black Knight by elistaire

Duncan set-up the chess board while Methos roamed the loft. Fastidiously, for each side, he set down the cloned pawns, and sets of two of everything else, except the nobility--for which only one mighty Queen and one doomed or victorious King existed. He rubbed his thumb over the castle-ledges of the last black rook and--satisfied that the board was correctly arranged--looked up to see where Methos had wandered.

Methos was standing in front of a window, easily rolling his head from side to side in a familiar neck stretch. He held his beer loosely by his hip, his long fingers covering the brown glass so lightly Duncan almost feared the bottle would fall, break and shatter.

"Kink?" he asked.

"What?" Methos asked, voice cracking slightly and turning to stare at Duncan with over-large eyes and a wary expression.

Duncan pointed and imitated the neck-roll. "Do you have a kink in your neck?"

"Oh--no, no. No. Just stretching." Methos took a quick gulp of his drink and sauntered over to sit in front of his half of the chessboard.

"Oh, okay," Duncan said, and tried to stuff his disappointment somewhere down deep inside. He would have loved to offer a neck and back rub. He shifted forward to study the board, although no pieces had yet been moved. As usual, he was playing White because White moved first, and Methos insisted on graciously giving him the slight advantage in consideration of his lesser experience. Or so he said. Duncan didn't need a professional psychologist to point out the obvious color symbolisms. He hid a grin--one could learn the game in minutes, but it took centuries to really become adept--or so argued a very, very old chess player.

Methos sunk into his chair, watching the board through half-lidded eyes. He took another swig of his beer and started fiddling with the corner of the label.

Duncan hovered his fingers over the pieces, not touching any until he had absolutely decided on his opening move. He sat back as Methos bent forward to study the board, his expression intent on the sixty-four squares as if the pieces might jump about at any moment. Idly, Duncan wondered what thoughts and strategies were zooming through Methos' head--how many games had he played with this specific opening, and was he remembering each game won and lost?

Methos made his own move, and Duncan found it was his turn to study the board. He'd learned to play chess a long time ago, but it hadn't been until he'd met Darius that he'd begun to truly understand the tactics, the sacrifices necessary, the ingenuity of working within the rules. Each time Methos accepted his invitations over to play chess, Duncan thanked the millions of stars in the sky that Darius had helped him develop into an accomplished player. Of course, he'd have learned double dutch on a grand scheme if that would have gotten Methos over for the evening, but it had always seemed that chess was the one sure invitation that would be accepted.

They'd spent a pleasant evening at Joe's, drinking and talking, listening to the band play their first set. Then, before the hour had grown too late, Duncan had reminded Methos that he'd promised him a chess game, and they'd retired to the loft. The earlier picnic had been nice--he shied away from thinking about the almost too revealing conversation--and the downtime at Joe's had been fun, but it was this part of the day that Duncan enjoyed the most. For just this short time during the chess game, he had Methos all to himself. Even if he couldn't reach out and touch his hand, or brush against his skin, or….

He realized that Methos was waiting for him to make a move. Quickly, he reached out and pushed a piece almost at random.

Methos frowned at the board, then frowned at him.

Duncan took a swallow from his own beer, and realized he'd finished it off. "Want another?" he asked, standing and striding to the kitchen area.

"I'm good," Methos said absently, his attention more on the board than Duncan.

Duncan set his empty bottle in the sink and opened the door to the fridge and stared at the beer inside. Two bottles left. Paired up, like the pieces on the board. He shut the door. He'd had too much to drink. He glanced to Methos. He needed to sober up and concentrate on this chess game or Methos would sweep across the board like an imperial tyrant and the evening would be over.

"How about some coffee?" he asked, gaze falling on his little espresso maker.

"What?" Methos looked up from the board, half twisted in his chair to stare at Duncan. "Coffee? Mac, it's a little late for a large amount of caffeine, don't you think?"

"I'm going to have some coffee," Duncan declared stubbornly. He turned and busied himself with his espresso machine.


Methos turned away from the idiot--the delectable idiot, but idiot nevertheless--and refocused on the board in front of him. Coffee. At this time of night! Methos harrumphed to himself. MacLeod would drink a double espresso and get a caffeine buzz and be up and jolly-annoying for hours now, instead of half sleepy from beer and a long day. Methos liked it when he was sleepy, because sometimes if the game went on long enough--if Methos could cajole the pieces into benign temperament --MacLeod would drift off to sleep on his couch. Then he could curl up himself in his own chair and watch MacLeod doze, eyelids fluttering, dreams ghosting across his face and dream himself of belonging right there, as something more than just a friend and convenient chess opponent.

Chess. Chess, chess, chess. For all the damned chess games that the two of them played, one might think they were chess fanatics. Absolute chess maniacs! That every waking moment was spent in deep thought on gambits and steps to victory, and deducing weakness in thine enemy. Chess insomniacs. Chess addicts!

Methos scowled and listened to MacLeod grinding coffee. He never invited him over for just a glass of wine. Or a movie. Always it was to play chess, as if Methos hadn't had enough of chess all the years before other fun pastimes were concocted. He'd played chess with the original rules; he'd played it in tents; he'd played it against great men and common; he'd played it with wooden pieces and plastic. He'd played a hell of a lot of chess, and although he enjoyed the occasional game, he damned well wished MacLeod found enjoyment in some other activities. He cursed the very day that Darius had shown MacLeod the nuances of play, and the specificity of endgames, and the best moves for mating….


Methos looked to the board and then to MacLeod, who seemed altogether preoccupied with his coffee machine. It took only a moment, then, and the deed was done. He relaxed into his chair and took a long drag on his beer. He grabbed an errant book from the table and skimmed through it for distraction, one ear tuned to MacLeod's show of domesticity in the kitchen.

A few minutes later, MacLeod returned and set down two demitasse cups of almost black liquid, a thin skein of cream colored foam on the top.

"I thought you might like one anyway."

Methos sighed and took a sip of the bitter drink. Then he waited for MacLeod to study the pieces.

MacLeod puzzled over the board for a long moment. "Hey," he said, "where's my Queen?"

"Indeed?" Methos perked up and bent forward to look at the board in mock surprise. "Your White Queen is gone? Perhaps she's been kidnapped," he suggested.

"Kidnapped?" MacLeod frowned. "That's ridiculous. We're playing chess."

Methos arched an eyebrow and covered his mouth with his hand for a polite, fake cough.

MacLeod rolled his eyes. "Fine. Who would have kidnapped my Queen?" He looked to the board again. "One of your knights is missing too. You'll tell me where you've put my pieces, right? I mean, this set is an antique, and it isn't much use without all the pieces."

Methos ignored the last part. "Seems the lovely White Queen has been taken by the vile Black Knight! Oh, heavens!" He stood up. "Well, you'd better look for her, Highlander. She needs to be rescued."

"Methos, what game are you playing now?" MacLeod stood and began to pace the room, tipping over picture frames, and looking in drawers. "Where the devil did you hide them? We need to finish our game!"

"Hide and seek, MacLeod. A king is nothing without his queen." Methos grinned at him from the plushness of the chair, then transferred himself to the couch where he settled in comfortably to await MacLeod's great discovery.


Duncan was pretty sure he'd just about ground down his molars to nubs. Methos was taunting him from the couch, he couldn't find his Queen, the chess game was in ruins, and the entire night was in shambles. Instead of a quiet evening of staring into Methos' face, trying to judge that quick mind, and gentle laughter as they talked over a game of chess--the closest they ever got to real intimacy--Duncan was tearing apart his bathroom, looking for little pieces. Blast and tarnation! The cursed little things could have been tucked away anywhere! His small, comfortable loft was expanding exponentially in his mind--every hide-away spot suddenly turned cavernous.

"Some Bold Knight you are, MacLeod," Methos teased. "Haven't you found the Maiden Fair, yet?"

"She's not a maiden!" Duncan flung towels off the shelves. "She's a wily, old Queen. The most powerful piece on the board! And the sneaky, double-crossing, rodent of a Knight is lost along with her!" He was about a tenth of a second from grabbing his annoying guest and strangling him dead. Maybe twice. Duncan headed for the closet. Probably Methos stuffed them into a shoe box.

When he came away from the closet, fuming and ready for satisfaction, he stopped short of the couch. Espresso and fury had combined to wake Duncan to a bright, morning-like edge, but Methos' cup was practically untouched, and the man was asleep on the couch, curled up on his side. Duncan almost put out a hand to touch, to soothe, and then reconsidered.

It would be too much.

Instead, he draped a nearby quilt over the sleeping form. "If you didn't want to play, you could have just said," he whispered, but there was no reply.

Suddenly, he was tired. Caffeine and hot-blooded emotion crashed, and Duncan turned towards his bed, yawning. On the very definite plus side, Methos was sleeping on his couch tonight, not even a stone's throw away.

He pulled at the covers on his bed, yawning again and imagining for a moment that Methos was in the bed and not on the couch, and stopped.

Just below the pillow, tied together with his red silk necktie into a lover's bow, were the White Queen and Black Knight.

Methos shifted, and his sleepy, faint voice came over the back of the couch. "Absconded. 'Twas not a kidnapping at all, but that Lady Fair desired of a liaison with the dashing knight, tho' he was the enemy."

"Her heart didn't belong to the White King?" Duncan asked softly.

"A political marriage only." Methos peeked over the edge of the couch, eyes heavy with sleep. "G'Night."

"Good night." Duncan returned the pieces to the board, setting the White Queen and the Black Knight down together in the middle of the field. The other Black Knight caught his attention. No longer paired, but alone, and independent. Duncan snatched him up and brought him back to bed.


In the morning, Methos made sure to return the figurine piece of the White Knight to the board before MacLeod noticed it was missing.


Chapter Three: Desires and Fancies by pat

Duncan stepped on the gas and eased out onto the street. A quick glance at his watch reassured him that he had plenty of time before his date with Methos. His date! Fuck. He wished. What was it about the world's oldest immortal that kept him so off center? After all, he was Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod, dammit. Warrior, friend and lover for over four hundred years.

So why was he finding it so difficult to tell one snarly, contrary, beautiful man how he felt?

And how could one man keep him so constantly off balance? He had hoped to spend a few companionable hours with Methos the night before--a nice dinner, a game of chess, interesting conversation. But, what had the irritating man done? Stolen his Queen! The game had ended up in shambles while he tore apart the loft looking for his missing chess pieces. Meanwhile, Methos had crawled onto the couch and fallen asleep leaving Duncan to sleep alone in his bed once again.

'Well.' He grinned to himself. Not quite alone. Not if you counted the Black Knight Duncan had snatched up and placed under his pillow to sleep with. And how pathetic was that?

'Not as pathetic as what you did later,' he reminded himself. He groaned out loud with the memory, then smiled to himself as his mind provided an instant replay of the previous night's events.

~~~~The Previous Night at the Loft~~~~

Duncan woke to the urges of an insistent bladder. He reached for his robe and padded to the bathroom. He was on his way back to the bed when he heard the sound--a soft exclamation, barely a sigh--as it drifted from the couch.

Against his better judgment, he glided across the smooth hardwood floor to where the other man slept. He gazed down at the long figure spread across his couch, lying on his side, with one well shaped leg peeking out from under the covers. When had Methos undressed?

Duncan studied the other man's face, so blissfully serene in sleep, as another soft sigh escaped his slightly parted lips. Probably dreaming, Duncan surmised with a grin. He stood, mesmerized, as he watched his friend sleep, noting the flutter of long lashes against high cheekbones, the soft lips parted in invitation.

Duncan licked his own lips, his tongue darting out in sympathy as he imagined their mouths mating, joined hot and wet in a passionate kiss. He moaned out loud, then froze, when the slumbering figure shifted under the covers. God, the man was beautiful.

'And, what the hell are you doing?' he admonished himself as his hand hovered over Methos' jaw, a mere breath away from a caress. Mentally shaking himself, he turned away to once again slide into his suddenly very cold, very empty bed. He covered up and rolled onto his side, his arm swung outwards across the cool sheets. Letting his mind wander, he imagined a long figure laid out beside him. He breathed in deeply and imagined Methos' scent, the spicy tang of his aftershave, the lingering aura of his soap and his manliness.

He moaned when the illusions became stronger in his mind, fueling his passion as his heart raced and filled his cock with blood. Closing his eyes, he gave in to the fantasy, reaching for his swollen flesh and biting his lip when he threatened to give voice to his need into the quiet air.

He pumped his throbbing cock swiftly, too far gone for a slow build of pleasure. He was excruciatingly aware of every sound and movement as his hips slid against the sheets with every pump and thrust into his fist. His orgasm came with a sudden and blinding force that left him breathless and heaving into his pillow.

Rolling over, he peeked out from under the covers, shivering when his skin goose pimpled in the cooling air. The night was still heavy with sleepy silence and he breathed in a deep sigh of relief that the other man had not waken. He closed his eyes and let slumber take him, his body languid from his release, the picture of Methos' face firmly embedded in his mind.


Methos flipped on his turn signal and drove towards Joe's Blues Bar. He had left early for his date with MacLeod, giving himself plenty of time to navigate through the evening traffic. Date!

'You fucking wish,' he admonished himself. What was it about MacLeod that kept him so off center all the time? After all, he was Methos, the world's oldest immortal, for God's sake! Warrior, friend and lover for over five thousand years. Why was he finding it so difficult to tell Duncan how he felt? Just because the man was beautiful as well as courageous and kind and....

He shook himself mentally and checked his rearview mirror as he shifted into the next lane. He had hoped to tell Duncan how he felt last night. The evening had started out well enough. A nice dinner followed by a game of chess. He had intended to tell him, but somewhere along the way the icy fingers of dread had stolen his nerve as well as his voice. So, instead, he had resorted to taking the Highlander's White Queen, thereby disrupting the game and any chance he had of turning the evening into something more.

'Of course,' Methos thought. 'If the stubborn man wasn't always so dense, he would have seen through your actions and known what you were trying to say.' He shook his head and laughed out loud. Who was he trying to kid?

But even that didn't compare to what he did later in the night. He was fucking pathetic.

~~~~The Previous Night at the Loft~~~~

He shifted to full wakefulness. Something had jerked him out of his sleep and he held very still, listening through the quiet of the loft to find its source. Nothing. He flopped over to his other side, then sighed unhappily when he realized his bladder was beginning to complain about the large amount of beer he had consumed the night before. Easing off the couch, he padded towards the bathroom, shivering as the night air caressed his naked skin.

He came out of the bathroom with the single minded intent to retreat back under his covers as quickly as possible, but quickly changed his mind when Duncan's slumbering form appeared in his peripheral vision. He turned towards Duncan's bed, slowing his steps as he approached. Duncan was asleep, his face partially buried in his pillow. Methos resisted an overwhelming impulse to reach out and touch, to smooth the long, tousled hair away from his face, to stroke a finger across the full lips. God, the man was beautiful.

Duncan shifted under his gaze and Methos froze. He held his breath and waited until he was sure of the other man's continuing slumber, then turned quickly and retreated to the safety of the couch. He twisted and turned on the hard leather as visions of Duncan filled his mind. After immeasurable torturous minutes he finally gave in to the inevitable and turned towards the back of the couch. He reached into his boxers with a sure hand and began to stroke. It wasn't long before he was thrusting wildly into his fist as his pleasure built towards completion. The couch creaked against the rocking of his hips, the noise a steady companion to his labored breaths into the still air.

When his orgasm came it was with a sudden and blinding force that left him panting and breathless into his pillow. He rolled over and peeked out from under the covers, shivering when his skin goose pimpled in the cooling air. The night was still heavy with sleepy silence and he breathed in a deep sigh of relief that Duncan had not waken. He closed his eyes and let slumber take him, his body languid from his release, the picture of Duncan's face firmly embedded in his mind.

~~~~Joe's Blues Bar ~~~~

Duncan took a bite of his steak and chewed automatically. He barely tasted the food, his focus intent on Methos instead. He knew their dinner was excellent. Joe always made sure they were served the best. And Methos had been at his most charming, telling one witty story after another as the meal progressed.

But Duncan was finding it difficult to care about the food, and harder yet to keep up with his friend's banter. Instead, he found his mind dancing with a litany of lustful thoughts as his eyes raked over the man sitting across from him.

Methos had worn a pair of tight black jeans topped with a dark green silk shirt. And he looked damn fine. Better than fine, actually, since he had let his hair grow back out to the length it had been when they first met. The shirt brought out the green in his hazel eyes and his cheeks were colored with excitement as he waved his hands in the air exuberantly while he talked.

They were great hands too, Duncan mused. Sexy as hell hands. He glanced at the long fingers wrapped around a beer bottle and gulped when the bottle was tilted towards Methos' mouth. He watched Methos' lips caress the bottle opening when he drank, his Adam's apple bobbing as the liquid slid down his throat.

Duncan felt his mind swim, and visions clouded his sight, as Methos continued to talk, seemingly unaware of Duncan's tormented emotions.

Methos lowered his beer bottle back to the table. His tongue darted out and caressed his lower lip before disappearing inside the warm cavern of his mouth. Methos looked into his eyes and smiled, seemingly aware of the tightness of Duncan's jeans as his groin became heavy with arousal.

Methos traced his lips with his index finger, his eyes fixed on Duncan's face as he slid the digit into his mouth and sucked, his cheeks hollowed as he slid it in and out. Duncan focused his attention on that long finger and the mouth that held it captive, mesmerized as it withdrew and moved towards him.

He opened his mouth and let Methos' finger in, tasting the tangy salt from Methos' skin, the bitter aftertaste from the beer that clung heavily to the inside of Methos' mouth. He closed his eyes and began to suck, relishing the taste of the man he craved as he mimicked a more lustful, less innocent act. Methos began to move the finger in and out of Duncan's mouth and he groaned around it. His hips began moving of their own volition and he reached down to cup his erection tightly in his palm, squeezing it gently.


"Mac? Mac?" Methos was snapping his fingers in front of Duncan's face impatiently.

Duncan blinked, and reddened, as he snatched his hand away from his erection, thankful that the table covered his actions. "I'm sorry. What did you say?" he asked sheepishly.

"Nothing, Mac. Forget it. You know, if I'm boring you...." Methos shrugged.

"No, of course you're not. I said I was sorry. So, what were we talking about?"

Methos looked into Duncan's eyes and felt himself melt. The man was just so damn sexy. He had left his hair down tonight and it flowed gently around his shoulders, perfectly off-setting his white silk shirt which he had worn along with the tightest pair of blue jeans Methos had ever seen.

Duncan's eyes looked almost black in the scant light of the bar, his lips full and moist as he sipped on his wine. Methos let his attention wander down Duncan's sleek throat to his full chest. Duncan's muscles were clearly defined through the thin material, his nipples outlined perfectly as they peaked.

Methos' mind began to swim, and visions clouded his sight, as Duncan continued to talk, seemingly unaware of Methos' tormented emotions.

Duncan put down his fork and smiled. Methos looked into dark brown eyes and gulped as Duncan's hand slid to his own chest and began to stroke. He watched Duncan's hand slide over the silky material--lightly furred knuckles and perfectly formed fingers framing each muscle with tender care.

Duncan slid his hand down further until he reached a nipple. He outlined the nipple with one finger, swirling it around the areola until he reached the nub, then took it between two fingers, pinching gently until it hardened.

Methos scooted his chair closer and reached out his hand towards the exposed skin at Duncan's chest. He slid his hand underneath the silky material, closed his eyes and stroked, sucking in a deep breath as he encountered hard muscle and satiny skin. He unbuttoned Duncan's shirt and slid his fingers over the sculpted muscles and fine hair until he reached the other nipple. He stroked and pinched, shivering when Duncan pressed into his touch.

Methos felt his groin grow hard and tight, and he reached down to cup his erection in the palm of his hand as his hips began to rock of their own volition. He squeezed gently and moaned as the pressure began to build.


"Adam? Adam?" Duncan was leaning forward, practically yelling in his face. He looked up sharply as his vision shattered in the stark reality of Duncan's gaze, and snatched his hand away from his throbbing erection.

Duncan's smile was kind as he regarded him from across the table. "I think I lost you."

Methos felt himself color with embarrassment and grabbed his beer. A few swallows helped him recover his composure, if only minutely. "Yeah, I'm sorry."

"It's okay. I understand. I was just telling you about the art auction next week. Would you like to go with me?"

"Yeah, sure. Have I told you about...."


Joe Dawson watched his two friends from across the bar. There was very little the Watcher did not see. But even a less trained eye than his own would have caught the drama playing out at their table tonight.

He smiled and shook his head in disbelief. Those two had almost six thousand years of experience between them, but yet they couldn't see what was right in front of their own noses. Damn immortals, he chuckled to himself. He reached for his cane and stepped towards his office. Once he reached the door, he stopped and looked down at the tattoo decorating the inside of his wrist. Balancing his cane against the door, he traced a finger over the design gently.

'Watch and do not interfere,' he thought, the words a reminder of his oath; where his loyalties should lie. His honor. He turned back and looked at his friends once again. Everyone else would see two men sitting together, sharing a meal and conversation. But, Joe knew both Mac and Methos too well: the tilt of Methos' head as he regarded the other man.; the tenseness in Mac's muscles as he held himself in tight control.

No. Watcher oath be damned, and he picked up his cane and stepped inside his office. He booted up his computer and signed on. Once he found the website he wanted, he reached inside his desk and pulled out a notebook. He sifted through the pages until he found what he was looking for, then grinned wickedly as he turned back to his computer.

He found a bouquet of red roses and clicked on the image. Perfect. Looking at his notebook, he read off the numbers to Mac's Visa card. A few strokes of his computer's keyboard and the information was saved.

A return to the website's front page brought him back to the same bouquet of roses. He thumbed through his notebook until he found the number to Adam Pierson's Gold MasterCard. He hummed to himself as he finished the order and hit 'confirm'.

Sitting back in his seat in satisfaction, he grinned evilly as he thought about his deed.

One dozen red roses to Duncan MacLeod.

~~~ To Duncan

It's time we stopped dancing around our attraction to one another.

Call me.

Adam ~~~

One dozen red roses to Adam Pierson.

~~~ To Adam

It's time we stopped dancing around our attraction to one another.

Call me.

Duncan ~~~~


Chapter Four: Plans Best Laid by Becky

If you want it, here it is come and get it, ummm ... make your mind up fast.

If you want it, anytime I can give it, But you better hurry cause it may not last…

Duncan opened one eye and glared at the clock radio. Punching the off button before he had to listen to any more of that ridiculously idiotic song, he noticed the time. 8:00 am. Damn. He was usually up before this, but last night had been draining. Trying to keep his mind on the conversation instead of the smooth curve of Methos' neck where it disappeared under his shirt collar was mentally exhausting. He didn't think Methos had noticed. Luckily, the old man had seemed a little preoccupied at times himself.

Rolling over onto his back, Duncan tucked one arm under his head and stared up at the ceiling. What the hell was he going to do? Telling a prospective lover how he felt had never been a problem in the past. Usually he'd let his actions speak for him first: a touch, a caress, a kiss. But, this was Methos. The sudden knowledge that Duncan was attracted to him sexually would very likely cause Methos to recoil in horror and hop on the first plane to anywhere. Duncan might never see him again, and that was something he couldn't chance. Best to try to let it go. Be content to just stay friends with the old pain in the ass. Of course, any thought combining 'ass' with Methos caused his brain to leapfrog into fantasyland and imagine that ass in all sorts of positions. Disgusted with himself, Duncan flung back the covers, grabbed his robe and headed for the shower.


Methos was dreaming. He was standing at the bottom of a long, winding staircase. Not a gleaming, golden staircase like one might find in fairy tales. This one appeared to have been chiseled from stone. Some of the steps were broken and crumbling. Others gleamed like marble. Methos looked up, all the way up to the very top…and there stood Duncan, smiling down at him. He started up the stairs, careful to step around the cracks and over the broken places. He kept his eyes on Duncan. And just as he was about to reach the top he heard a loud banging. At first he thought it was his heart hammering, but no, the noise was coming from somewhere else. Looking around, he saw a man with a hammer and chisel, pounding away at the staircase, attempting to break up the very steps he was trying to climb. Methos launched himself at the man, yelling at him to stop…and launched himself right out of bed and onto the floor. Sitting up in a tangle of sheets, he realized that the banging was in reality coming from someone beating on his front door. Glancing at the clock, he saw that it was 10:00 am. Swearing, he stumbled out of the sheets, and went to see who the bloody hell wanted what.

He opened the door just in time to see a delivery van pulling away from the curb. On his doorstep lay a long, white box tied with a large, red bow. Methos raised an eyebrow. He picked up the box and brought it inside. "What the hell is this?" Even though he knew it to be a florist box, he was still surprised when he opened it and found a dozen, long-stemmed, red roses. He fished out the card that was tucked among the stems and stared at it.

~~~~ To Adam

It's time we stopped dancing around our attraction to one another.

Call me.

Duncan ~~~~

Methos was stunned. Actually, stunned was putting it mildly. Duncan sent him roses? Duncan was attracted to him? Duncan wanted him to call? He kept rereading the card over and over again in an attempt to convince himself that it was real. Could it really be this simple? How had he not seen it? Gradually, the shock and surprise gave way to euphoria. A slow flush of warmth began in his toes, and crept all the way up his body until it lit his face in a wide smile. Reaching for the phone, he dialed Duncan's number. The answering machine picked up. Methos replaced the receiver. This was a call he would make in person.


Duncan was juggling two bags of groceries and the mail when he let himself into the dojo. He noticed the box on the doorstep just in time to keep from stepping on it. "Flowers? Huh." He shoved the box with his foot, pushing and kicking it all the way into the elevator. Reaching the loft, he unloaded the groceries first, and then went back to the elevator for the box. Sliding off the red bow, he opened it, and immediately his senses were filled with the sweet fragrance coming off the red roses inside. He put his nose into the bouquet and inhaled deeply. "Mmmmm." He took out the card, read it, and almost dropped the box.

~~~~ To Duncan

It's time we stopped dancing around our attraction to one another.

Call me.

Adam ~~~~

Duncan stared at the card, a dozen thoughts bumping into each other in his mind. Methos sent him roses? Methos was attracted to him? Methos wanted him to call? He kept rereading the card over again in an attempt to convince himself that it was real. Could it really be this simple? How had he not seen it? His sense of confusion gave way to happiness so intense it made him light-headed. He moved toward the phone, but stopped in his tracks as immortal presence prickled down his spine. Hearing a knock on the stairwell door, Duncan grinned, thinking that it must be Methos. He was still grinning, as he flung open the door.

Methos stood on the landing, a grin on his face to match Duncan's, twirling one long-stemmed, red rose in his fingers. Duncan noticed the rose Methos held. Looking up, he saw Methos staring pointedly at the box of roses in Duncan's hand. Duncan's emotions went through a series of rapid changes, from elation to surprise, to confusion. Looking into Methos' eyes, he saw the same confusion mirrored there.

"You got flowers too?" Methos asked.

"The card," Duncan croaked, and he had to stop to clear his voice, "said they're from you!"

"I see. And the card I received said mine were from you." Metho's eyes narrowed and all expression seemed to drain right out of his face. "It would seem someone is playing an odd joke on us." He brushed past Duncan, poking the rose he carried into the box still held in Duncan's grip.

"But why would anyone do that?" Duncan couldn't keep the disappointment out of his voice. He closed the door and turned to look at Methos. Methos was watching him closely. Shit. Too closely, Duncan decided, and he quickly turned towards the kitchen, busying himself with finding a vase for the roses. Damn those ancient eyes; they didn't miss much. It wouldn't do for Methos to realize that he was disappointed, that he'd actually been happy to think that the flowers were from him. That might bring about that very discussion that he'd vowed to himself that he wasn't going to have.


Methos had apparently missed a great deal. Only now he finally saw something. Duncan was flustered. And that set Methos to thinking.

"Mac…you really thought I'd sent you roses, didn't you?"

Duncan paled. "What? No! I really hadn't had time to think much of anything, I'd only just opened them when you got here." He made a good show of opening and closing cabinets in the kitchen. Finally pulling a vase out of one, he set about putting the roses in it.

Methos sauntered into the kitchen and moved in close behind where Duncan was standing at the counter. Slowly, he reached around and placed one hand on the counter to Duncan's left, and the other hand on the counter to Duncan's right. Duncan went perfectly still. Leaning in towards the gorgeous neck just in front of his nose, Methos breathed in the spicy, soapy clean scent that he had only ever caught before as Duncan walked past him. Now it mixed with the scent of the roses, and he drank the heady mixture in.

"Mac…I thought you'd sent me roses too." His lips brushed Duncan's ear. "I wanted to think it." He kissed Duncan's neck. "I came over here so that we really could put an end to this infernal dance." He kissed around the nape of Duncan's neck.

Duncan turned inside the enclosure of Metho's arms, took Metho's face in his hands, and kissed him. All the tension that had been slowly building throughout the last weeks, months, years, gave way, and Duncan kissed him with a passion that thrilled Methos. His arms closed around Duncan, bringing him closer, as Duncan's tongue seemed to be exploring every inch of Methos' mouth. He wanted to kiss like this for hours, days even. But apparently Duncan wanted other things, as his hands had begun working to strip Methos of his clothing, and his lips had begun a descent down his neck.

They worked their way across the loft, kicking off shoes, stumbling on jeans, laughing, finally falling as one onto the bed. Low moans filled the loft as hands and mouths mapped smooth skin over hard muscle, and they reveled in the sensation of skin against skin. Two hands joined together around their cocks and their lips locked together once again. They moved in synch, finding a rhythm and letting it build to a crescendo. When orgasm overtook them, they clung to each other, letting the white-hot wave of sensation flow through them, holding on until their bodies stilled, and they lay panting in each other's arms.

Neither of them spoke for several long minutes. With some effort, Methos pushed himself up and looked down at Duncan. "It might be a good idea if we cleaned up. If we fall asleep like this, we'll wake up glued together."

Duncan grinned, slid out from under Methos and disappeared into the bathroom. A minute later, he returned with a warm, wet washcloth, with which he proceeded to wash them both clean. Methos lay back, obviously enjoying the sponge bath.

"You know," he said as he watched Duncan through half-closed eyes. "This doesn't answer the question of who sent the roses."

Duncan tossed the washcloth back into the bathroom. "Whoever it was," he said as he climbed back under the covers, "deserves roses of their own."

Methos grinned as Duncan descended for another kiss.


Chapter Five: Hoist By Two Petards by Chris Quinton

If not handled correctly, the IRS could make life uncomfortable for immortals, so receipts, bank balances and tax returns were something that Mac was very particular about. Not to say meticulous. So with Methos heading for his own place to gather together a survival kit of spare clothes, more alcohol and the book he was half-way through reading and might have a chance to read more of, Mac decided on some basic financial house-keeping to pass the time.

But while he was doing the routine online check on his bank account, he spotted a cuckoo's egg entry among the groceries and antiques purchases. Okay, it wasn't a large amount of money, but it was a payment he had not made nor authorized and therefore had no business being there.

It was the work of moments to track it back to the source: an online florist. A phone call supplied the information that, yes, he had ordered a dozen red roses to be sent to Mr. Adam Pierson. Everything was satisfactory, wasn't it, sir?

He assured them that it was, and stared thoughtfully at the flowers that glowed crimson in the sunlight. The usual suspects were very few: one vaguely possible, and one very probable. Since he hadn't seen Amanda for weeks--months--now, it was unlikely she was the culprit. Joe Dawson, on the other hand, as his Watcher, almost certainly knew everything about him, up to and including his inside leg measurement, not to mention his credit card details. Mac picked up his phone.

"Check your bank account," he said when it was answered. "I think I know who set us up."

There were a few moments of silence, then, "Got it," Methos said crisply. "And for what it's worth, I'd say you're right. Y'know, this calls for reprisals. Council of war?" "Council of war," Mac agreed.

Methos began to chuckle, a quiet throaty sound that sent electric tingles down Mac's spine. "How fiendish are you feeling?" drawled the man who had given Machiavelli lessons.

"I'm game for whatever you have in mind," answered the man who had not only kept pace with one Hugh Fitzcairn across the length and breadth of Europe, but had also been known to out-flank him on a fairly regular basis.

Still chuckling, Methos told him exactly what he had in mind.


Monday nights in the bar were usually quiet, compared to the rest of the week, and Joe sometimes indulged himself if there weren't many patrons around. Tonight was one of those times, so he was on his own up on the small stage, perched on a stool with his guitar and just jamming. Eyes closed, he drifted with his music, letting it flow out of him and through the strings and body of the instrument to curl in the air, forming a random pattern that was a quiet celebration complete in itself. Right then, life felt pretty good.

The melody wound to a natural close and the last note was a pure crystal sound that faded into the rapt silence. The applause, when it came, took him by surprise, and he blinked himself back to the here-and-now. His audience wasn't large; the place was more than half-empty, but every face there was a familiar one. Including the two immortals propping up the bar.

They stood close together, shoulders almost touching, and Joe grinned to himself. He could have a whole new career as a Catholic yenta....

Mac and Methos moved apart as he approached, and there was a glass of whisky waiting for him on the bar between them. "Thanks, guys," he said, leaning on the polished wood.

"My privilege," Mac said quietly. The deep, velvety voice was warm, almost intimate, and utterly sincere. "That music of yours was something special tonight."

"I second that," Methos smiled, hazel eyes rich as sunlight on a clear stream. "You must have been a bard in a previous life."

"And bards were powerful people," Mac continued.

"Magical, some would say," Methos went on, voice dropping an octave to become something close to--well, sultry was the only word that sprang to mind.

Amazing the effect they had on each other. Joe took a sip of his whisky to hide his smile, and his eyes widened. This wasn't from his stock. He had another taste and rolled it over his tongue, letting the fumes soak into him.

"What is this?" he demanded. "Apart from nectar from the gods?"

"Talisker," Mac said solemnly. "Possibly the finest single malt out of the Isle of Skye. I wanted something special for you. To say thank you. The roses were beautiful."

"Beautiful," Methos agreed huskily.

Suddenly wary, Joe put down the glass. "Roses." he said.

"Red ones." Mac nodded, his smile one of almost shy appreciation.

"Very red," Methos breathed, moving closer.

Joe snatched up the glass and took a healthy swallow, which was sacrilege, but right then he didn't care. Because Mac's hand lay over his, and Methos' hand was resting lightly on his hip.

"What--" he began, voice suddenly falsetto. He coughed and got control of his vocal chords. "What are you talking about?"

"Roses," Mac said helpfully. "I just wish you'd told me sooner." And he sighed wistfully.

"Such a criminal waste of time," Methos purred. "But I should have guessed. All those years of Watching--had to mean something...."

"Roses," he bleated, gazing round desperately. But the bar was almost empty and no one was taking any notice of them.

"'To Adam,'" Methos leaned in and whispered it, lips almost touching his cheek. "'It's time we stopped dancing around our attraction to one another. Call me'. And it's signed 'Joe'." Not removing his hand from Joe's hip, he placed a small card face up on the bar. Mac placed its almost-twin beside it. Disbelieving, horrified, Joe stared at the two final words: a J followed by an O and then an E. Clear as day and as impossible as air-borne pigs flying in formation.

"Mine's 'To Duncan'." Mac smiled, gaze luminous, mouth lush. "Same words, same signature. So here we are."

"My God...." Joe moaned and knocked back the remainder of the whiskey in one swallow. "Guys, I--uh--listen, I can explain--"

"It's okay," Methos interrupted, voice gently earnest. "We understand. Take your time."

"All the time you need." Mac's voice was silk-velvet sin, vibrant with all kinds of possibilities that didn't include patience, and his eyes were smouldering.

"The impetuosity of youth." Methos chuckled and traced the outline of Joe's mouth with a gentle fingertip. "Care to share that fine malt?" And he placed a kiss on Joe's astounded lips. "Mmm, good," he murmured. "You're a lot like that whisky, Joe."

"To be tasted at leisure." Mac's fingers stroked his beard, their gentle pressure turning his head, then the man's mouth touched where Methos' had rested and Joe felt the hot moist flick of his tongue-tip. "We'll be ready when you are."

"Just send us roses again," Methos finished, his smile promising five thousand years of erotic practises.

Then the two immortals walked away, and Joe was very glad his legs were plastic and metal because he had the feeling that flesh-and-blood knees would have given out on him a while ago.

"Oh, shit...."


Chapter Six: Jokes and Fried Eggs by pat

Joe stroked at his beard and swallowed hard. He could feel his skin prickle with cooling beads of sweat, dampening his cotton shirt against his skin as he shifted uncomfortably on his prosthetic legs and leaned against the slick polished wood of his bar. He slid a finger across the cool wood until he was touching the long slender box laid open in front of him. Giving the contents one more superfluous glance, he made a deep choking sound back in his throat as he swallowed hard against the rising panic.

There were a dozen long stem roses, their petals a deep bloody red against the white filmy paper lining the box. Their stems were held together with a red silk ribbon, and he reached out to touch it, cursing when a sharp thorn pricked his fingertip instead. Grumbling under his breath, he drew the offended digit up to his mouth and sucked away the drop of blood. Satisfied that the bleeding had subsided, he picked up the card and read it again.


I need to see you


Dinner tonight at the loft at 8pm



He had been trying to avoid the two immortals until he could figure out how to clean up this mess. He couldn't call the flower shop and demand they fix it. After all, what could he tell them?

'Ah, yes. I ripped off these two guy's credit card numbers and made a couple of purchases and you put the wrong name on the cards.'

And how in the hell had they gotten his name anyway? He was sure he gave them Duncan's and Adam's names when he put in the online order. Hadn't he? Of course, he had been in a hurry when he placed the orders. And he was used to typing his own name. What if he had subconsciously typed in 'Joe'? Shit!

So far he had managed to successfully avoid the two men. Well, except the couple of times when one or the other had caught him at the bar.

Mac had come by first, smelling of expensive aftershave and wearing that blue mesh shirt-- the one that showed off his chest and had most of his female clientele ( and Methos ) panting after him. Joe had stubbornly stayed behind the bar while Mac was there. But, that hadn't shielded him from the batting eyelashes or the little boy pout. Not to mention the slide of fingers across his when Mac reached for his drink, holding Joe's fingers against the cool glass while Mac's thumb rubbed across the knuckles sensuously, his touch in burning contrast.

When Joe had less than tactfully told Mac that he was busy, Mac had simply winked at him and smiled, his eyes promising much more at a later date.

Methos had come by a couple of days later. At first Methos had seemed to behave normally, and Joe had been thankfully relieved. He had almost completely dropped his guard when the old man pulled out a chair at one of the small tables and invited him to sit down and join him for a drink.

He was vaguely aware when Methos scooted back his chair and sprawled down into his seat, his legs splaying open almost indecently. But, Joe didn't have time to react before the deep woodsy smell of Methos' aftershave tingled his nostrils and the heat from the immortal's body seared his nerves.

Methos was right there, and a touch, as soft and gentle as rain was being ghosted across Joe's lips as Methos brushed a solitary fingertip across Joe's mouth. Joe opened his mouth in surprise, then startled and jumped up, banging his elbow on the table, when Methos slipped the tip of his finger inside.

"Dammit, Adam!" He sputtered angrily.

"Joe?" The damn immortal was looking at him with that wide eyed innocence that both Joe and Mac knew for the crock of bull it was.

"Adam...." He had searched for the words, both not wanting to hurt his friend or encourage him at the same time. As it was, he was given a small reprieve when Methos merely shrugged and slipped on his coat to leave.

"It's all right, Joe. We have all the time in the world." Methos winked at him, before turning to walk out the door, and Joe had been left with his mouth wide open and his elbow throbbing with pain.

He looked at the invitation again and sighed. He knew he could just call Mac. Make up an excuse to decline. But then what? This was his opportunity to set his friend straight. Then maybe together they could sit Methos down and talk to him.


Joe stood in the dojo and stared at the gate to the lift. All he had to do was lift the gate and push the button and he would be on his way up to the loft. Hell, he had done it hundreds of times. Mac was his friend. What was he afraid of?

He felt the moisture gathering in his armpits and shifted his shoulders in his tweed jacket. How had things gotten so fucked up? All he was trying to do was help the other two men see what they meant to each other. How was he supposed to know they both had a secret desire to be with him?

Nah, he chided himself. They couldn't have. Not really. They were just confused because they thought he wanted them. Surely that was it. He just had to set them straight. Besides, he didn't do men. Not that he saw anything wrong with it. He thought Mac and Methos were perfect for one another.

'So, why are you standing here sweating bullets if it's so damn easy', he chided himself. He reached out and touched the iron grill to pull it up, then hesitated and jerked his hand back to his side. Fuck, he'd better think of something to tell Mac before he reached the loft.

He just didn't understand this. Mac was an intelligent man. So he had been a little dense where the old man was concerned. And, yeah, Joe admitted grudgingly, that wasn't like Mac. Maybe Mac had taken too many quickenings and all that excess power had fried his brains. Suddenly the memory of an old advertisement came to mind and he chuckled to himself. The picture of two over easy eggs followed by a plate with two fried overdone eggs appeared along with the words: "This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs."

Still chuckling, he substituted the words in his mind. "This is your brain. This is your brain after a quickening." That was it, he mumbled to himself. Mac and Methos had both taken too many quickenings and their brains were overcooked -- fried like that burnt shriveled up mess of eggs.

He'd have to tell both men to refrain from fighting for awhile until their brains could rejuvenate and get back to normal. With solid determination, he lifted the gate and punched the button to carry him to the loft.

Mac lifted the gate once the lift came to a complete stop. Joe acknowledged his friend's courtesy with a nod of his head and stepped out, gulping nervously. Mac was dressed in dark slacks and a white silk shirt. He had left his hair down and it slid across his shoulders seductively when he moved. In an instant, all his well rehearsed words were gone. Joe suddenly found his mouth dry, and readily reached for the glass of wine Mac was offering. He gulped it down in two long swallows, barely registering the smooth Merlot that slid across his tongue.

"Going to take your coat off, Joe?" The silky baritone came from across the room, and Joe choked as the last drop of wine reached his throat.

"Methos?" He looked at the smirking immortal standing across the room, then back at Mac who was watching him with undisguised amusement.

"Something wrong, Joe?" Mac asked while reaching to take Joe's coat from his arms.

"Wrong? No...." Joe took a deep breath and glared at the two men who were staring at him in expectation. Methos was dressed in dark dress slacks as well, with a dark green silk shirt that he had left free from his pants. Joe glanced at the table already set with crystal and china, smelled the prime rib emitting from the oven, and shivered involuntarily. Scowling, he closed his eyes while his thoughts ran rampant in his head. Dammit. He had only been trying to help. He felt his anger seep through his nervousness and suddenly, without conscious thought, he had opened his eyes and was speaking his mind.

"Yeah. There is something wrong, dammit. Those cards were a mistake. Yeah, I bought the roses and used your credit cards. I'm sorry about that, okay? But you two belong together. It's not me you want. If your brains hadn't been fried by too many quickenings, you would see that. It's like that commercial. You remember the one with the eggs. Well your eggs have been fried too hard with all that electrical energy."

He took a deep breath to regroup and finally allowed himself to look at their faces. Mac was smiling openly and Methos had already fallen onto the couch in a relaxed sprawl while laughing out loud.

"What the fuck is so funny?" he demanded as the oldest immortal gave in to a fit of giggles.

"Nothing, Joe." Mac allowed while guiding him into the room with a hand to his shoulder. "We had already figured out that part."

Joe looked around the room. Methos' laptop and journal were on Mac's desk. There were several new CDs piled on the stereo as well as books lined up on the coffee table. Everything clicked into place. He narrowed his eyes dangerously and turned to his friends. "This was a joke? To get back at me for the roses? You knew all along?"

"Yeah," Mac allowed with a smile before turning towards his laughing lover and punching him on the arm. "Behave."

Methos looked up at Joe's face and closed his mouth in an obvious attempt to stop the giggles from escaping.

Joe felt his anger subside as he watched Methos try to regain control, and he found himself chuckling along.

"All right, you two. You got me. Fair enough. So what is going on with the two of you? Did the roses work?"

He sat down on the other end of the couch, followed by Mac who slid down beside Methos. Mac picked up Methos' hand and squeezed it, and they both turned towards Joe.

"Yeah, it worked. We're living together and we'll keep you informed. But, no pictures and keep Methos' true identity a secret."

"I got it, Mac. Trust me. I don't want any of the details. But, since you both had me sweating bullets all week, I guess I deserve to know. Is this the real thing? Is it love?"

Mac shrugged and turned towards Methos before answering. "Maybe. The only thing we know for sure is that we both want to explore the possibility."

Joe started to respond, then stilled, his words forgotten, when Mac leaned towards Methos and kissed his lips. He felt his mouth drop open, and he stared, as Methos reached around and clung to Mac's neck when their kiss deepened. He heard a deep groan before the kiss ended and they separated.

Mac turned to him with an apologetic smile. "Yeah. It could be the real thing. You okay with that?"

"Hell yeah! But the next time you want to play a trick on me, please keep in mind that I'm mortal and my heart can't take it." He stood up and reached for his coat.

"Where are you going?" Mac stood up with a look of concern on his face.

"Home? This was all a setup, wasn't it?" Joe looked from Mac to Methos in confusion.

Methos stood and relieved Joe of his coat. "Only the reason, Joseph. We just wanted to thank you for caring enough to give us a push in the right direction."

He looked from one man to the next and felt himself grow warm inside.

"And warn you to never--" Methos began sternly.

"Ever do anything like that again." Mac crossed his arms over his chest and finished Methos' sentence.

"Agreed," he allowed and walked towards the kitchen. Mac reached for the bottle of wine when they reached the table.

"I just have one question, Joe." Methos held out his glass to be filled. "Our eggs have been fried too hard?!" he sputtered incredulously.

For the second time that night, Joe choked on his wine.