All I Have to Do Is Dream


(Moonlight and Roses series #2, preceded by Bye, Bye Love)

"An honest man, Father? Him?" Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod tossed and turned in his bed, his big cold lonely bed, on his barge on the Seine. "An honest man, Father? Him?" He rolled to one side and buried his head under his pillow, muffling the moans and stifling the sobs that were trying to force their way past the lump in his throat. How could he have been such an ass? He really had no excuse for what he'd said--no excuse at all except the strain he'd been under for the last several days plotting with Amanda and Madame deLancey and Father Bertrand's bloody badgering. That sweet gentle old man could've given the inquisitors in the Middle Ages lessons. It was a wonder he hadn't said worse than he had by the time the good Father was through with him.

Still, he didn't think he'd be able to forget the look on Methos' face when the old man came out of the bathroom. He'd known then it was over; Methos would never forgive or forget and Duncan couldn't blame him. Hell, he was thankful he still had his head but it was more than probable it was the priest's presence that had saved him--not any charitable leanings on Methos' part. Methos didn't do charitable, not then, not now, not ever. The Old Man had probably served as the model for Scrooge or Fagin--maybe for both. He'd have to remember to ask Methos, if he ever saw him again, if he'd known Dickens personally or if old acquaintances had pointed out certain interesting 'quirks' of personality the author had managed to exaggerate--just a little.

He sighed and bit back another moan, then got up and put on a pot of coffee. He wasn't going to be able to sleep anyway so he might as well do something constructive with his time--like sharpen his wits in case Methos wanted a fight, or sharpen his sword and make out his will in case Methos was serious about it. He could try talking to Madame deLancey again. Or maybe he'd just trot down to Joe's. Methos wouldn't kill him in front of witnesses, he hoped.

"Monsieur MacLeod," Madame said stiffly.

"Madame," the Highlander rejoined, every bit as stiff as the woman barring the door. "I have to speak to Adam."

"He is not here, monsieur," she replied. "Perhaps you should try his current residence?" The tone of voice more than suggested that had things gone according to plan--and had Mac not managed once again to ruin things--Adam's current residence and that of the Scot would be one and the same.

"I don't know where he's living, Madame. I've tried everywhere I can imagine he'd be--our friends, his co-workers. He's nowhere; he even took his fish and the plants!" It was all he could do not to weep out loud but he was Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod and Highland Chieftains' sons did not cry. At least, not in front of women like Madame deLancey.

She sighed. "Then it is undoubtedly wise to assume he is gone as well, monsieur," she said refusing to budge even for a moment. "Quite possibly never to return."

The Highlander groaned. He couldn't imagine Methos 'not returning'. The old man was always there when he needed him. Hell, Methos had flown clear across the Atlantic when a phone call would've done as well to warn him and Richie about Kristin. He'd left Alexa in Greece to save him from the Dark Quickening. He'd faced the Tribunal to help rescue Joe, just because Duncan had asked him to. Okay, so maybe Methos hadn't been exactly eager. He'd done it just the same and Duncan had only had to threaten a little. He'd helped him sort out Gina and Robert's marriage and Warren's amnesia. True, he'd had to be bribed or blackmailed into those last two, but he had helped.

It wouldn't be the same without Methos around--even if they hadn't been sharing a bed for the last few months. He wondered if they'd ever share a bed, or anything else, again.

"If you hear anything..." he began and the old woman nodded.

"But of course, monsieur. If any word comes from him for you, I shall inform you at once."

Not very encouraging but it would have to do. It didn't appear he'd get any more than that. He nodded and turned toward the door. Wait a minute! "Ah, Madame," he began. "I was hoping to hear if you received any word at all."

Madame frowned, folding her arms over her formidable bosom. "And why should you expect that, Monsieur MacLeod?" she asked, cocking her head to one side like one of Methos' parakeets. "If Adam wishes you to learn of his whereabouts, he will find a way to inform you." She smiled slightly and opened the door. "And if not, why should you expect that I would break faith with mon petit?"

Mac snuggled deeper under the covers. "I love you, you know," a soft voice whispered in his ear. He nodded, fingers kneading smooth skin and hard muscle.

"Aye, and I you." His tongue sought the hollow of his companion's throat, lapping at the sweat pooled there. "I know I've not told you often enough, but I love you more than anything in the world, more than my life."

There was a throaty chuckle from the slim figure beneath him. "You've never told me at all, MacLeod. At least," the voice went on as strong fingers gripped his buttocks, "not in so many words."

"I know and I'll make it up to you, I swear it."

"How, Mac? How will you make it up to me?"

He nibbled an earlobe, spitting out a strand of dark hair. "Actions speak louder than words, Amanda."

"Amanda??!!" Methos pushed him aside and leaped out of bed, all traces of arousal vanished in an instant. "Amanda? That does it, MacLeod. I'm out of here."

"Methos!" The Scot sat up. "Methos?"

The barge was dark. Outside, rain poured down and clouds hid whatever moonlight might have served to light the interior. He was going mad, he knew it. For the last three nights, he'd had nightmares of Methos leaving--each of them just slightly different but all of them a result of something he'd said or done. Oh, the guilt!

He got up and made himself a pot of coffee. No way was he going back to sleep now. He'd wait until he figured it was time for Joe to show up at the club and then....

"Hey, Mac," Joe said looking up as the Highlander entered the bar. The two men with him looked up too. "How's it going?"

Duncan sighed. "Not good." He swiped a chair from a nearby table and sat down, elbows propped on the smooth surface. "Where is he, Joe?"

Joe Dawson looked at the man in front of him and sighed heavily. "I told you, Mac. Adam didn't tell me where he was going. Hell, this time he didn't even tell me he was going." Duncan looked disbelieving. "Maybe he figured you and I were too close, that it didn't matter what he told me not to tell you, I'd do it anyway. I've done it before, after all; no reason for him to suppose it wouldn't happen again." The Highlander stuck out his lower lip and batted his eyelashes. "Hell, Mac, maybe he just knew from personal experience that no one can resist you when you pout like that."

The tousle-headed sprite sitting across from Duncan sprayed a mouthful of lager across the table while his muscular companion coughed delicately into his napkin. Joe smiled. "Duncan MacLeod, meet Ray Doyle and Will...."

"Bodie," said the taller of the two men, standing and holding out his hand. "Just Bodie." Doyle was still choking and his friend thumped him on the back a time or two with his free hand while vigorously pumping Duncan's with his other. "I'm ambidextrous," Bodie explained with a grin as Raymond whooped again. "Comes in handy now and again," he continued when his companion quieted.

"Nice to meet you both, I'm sure," Duncan replied mechanically, shooting a quizzical glance Joe's way.

"The guys are in security, Mac," Joe explained. "They're setting up alarm systems for the club. After that break-in, Maurice and I decided it was better to be safe than sorry and these two come highly recommended."

The Highlander turned his head to study the other two men. "Very highly recommended," Doyle said, green eyes twinkling as he shot a crooked grin toward Joe.

"Come on, Ray," Bodie said laying a hand on his partner's shoulder. "I think these two have matters they want to discuss without us eavesdropping. What say you and I grab ourselves a beer and get out of their way, hey sunshine?"

Joe nodded and waved a hand toward the bar. "Help yourselves, guys. You're not on the clock now." The two men bowed, then turned and swaggered over to the bar arm-in-arm. "You can get us a bottle of whiskey while you're at it," the Watcher added before either of them could get too comfortable and Ray tossed back another grin, leaning over the bar and fumbling for glasses under the counter. Bodie stood well back, eyeing the other man's assets appreciatively.

Duncan swallowed hard. He could hardly help noticing those same assets and the realization made him slightly uncomfortable. Sure, he'd watched Methos the same way every chance he got for nearly two years. He'd be watching him now, if the son-of-a-bitch hadn't scampered. His eyes narrowed. There was nothing wrong with just looking at another man; not if you didn't intend doing anything about it. And he didn't. Did he? "Joe?"

The bartender looked at him blankly. "What, Mac? You know, I was thinkin' when the guys get done with the club maybe you'd like 'em to take a look at the barge. Can't be too careful these days." He reached out with one hand for the bottle Bodie held, then turned his attention back to the Scot who'd stood as the other two men slipped into a corner booth, heads close together. "Oh, you mean about Adam."

Duncan frowned. "Yeah, I mean about Adam. What the hell else would I be asking about?" He glared at the other man. "You're serious, aren't you? He just cleared out? No word to anyone?" He couldn't believe that of Methos. Well, actually, he could believe that of Methos. It seemed to be a trademark of the ancient Immortal. When the going got tough, the tough got going. Must be how the old man had stayed alive so long.

Dawson nodded. "Apparently. The guys at HQ did say Adam bought a ticket to London." Duncan brightened momentarily. "And Rod Tillotson and Dominic Caruso said he'd mentioned going home for a bit to finish up some research for his dissertation. Seemed to think he'd put it off too long and was worried they might make him start over."

Duncan glowered. "I thought he'd finished his degree, Joe. I distinctly remember getting drunk and...."

No, it was Methos who'd gotten drunk and Mac who had had to drive him home and put him to bed and that had started the Highlander thinking impure thoughts about his friend--thoughts which had led no doubt to their current situation. He should've left well-enough alone months ago. "What do the Watchers have to do with it, Joe?" Anything to change the subject. "He gave that bunch up after they killed Jakob, didn't he? He told Amanda he was done with them."

"Technically, yeah, Mac. But we kinda keep an eye on him anyway and I did tell 'em he hadn't turned in all the Chronicles when he quit. Of course," the Watcher continued wearily, "that business in Bordeaux didn't help matters any."

Duncan growled and began to pace. "Do they know he's Immortal?"

Dawson nodded. "They'd have to be blind not to at least suspect, Mac. And all the time he's spent with you in the past year hasn't done anything but provide 'grist for the mill' as it were."

The Highlander gulped. "Do they know he's Methos?" he asked almost without thinking. He glanced quickly around the bar but the pair in the booth seemed intent on their own conversation and Duncan breathed a sigh of relief.

Joe shook his head. "Nope." He looked up at the Scot. He'd like to put Mac's mind at ease, but after what Madame deLancey had said her brother had said the Highlander had said, hell, MacLeod deserved to squirm for a while. "At least, they haven't given any indication to me that they know or even suspect that part of it. Rod half-hinted the higher-ups thought Adam might've gotten caught up in the thing with Cassandra and Koren by accident from following you around and Dominic said they thought you'd taken him on as a student since you probably felt responsible. Did you feel responsible, Mac?"

The Highlander blinked. "What? Why in God's name would I feel responsible for him?"

"Oh, I don't know," Joe said quietly, standing and pushing the Scot toward a seat. "Perhaps because Koren found him while the son-of-a-bitch was hunting you."

The Highlander snorted. "It's just as likely he found me while he was looking for Methos, if you think about it." He stared at his hands for a long moment. "Think, Joe. Why would Kronos or any Immortal want a nobody like Adam Pierson? It wouldn't make sense, not even to the Watchers."

Joe leaned forward on his cane. "There's any number of reasons for kidnapping, Mac. Look at Kalas; he didn't need much reason to kill mortals did he? His feud with you was reason enough. And you and I both know what a sick perverted son-of-a-bitch Melvin Koren was. The Chronicles are full of Koren's and Caspari's little quirks. Anyway, that's not important. What is important is that so far they believe Koren kidnapped Adam Pierson, not Methos, and most important for Methos, they believe he was pre-Immortal and not an Immortal already."

"That still doesn't explain why I'd feel responsible, Joe," the Scot insisted and the Watcher sighed heavily.

"It would if the reason he was taken was to draw you and Cassandra out. If 'Koren' knew he was your student, he might take him to get to you. And if he'd found out Adam was with the Watchers, he might have forced him to lead him to Caspari and Silas, knowing you and Cassandra would follow. Or maybe he took him because Adam stuck his nose in and saved Cassandra's life by dumping her off the bridge at the power plant and interfered in that fight you and Kronos had. You tell me. And if Adam was killed either deliberately or by accident before you could get to Bordeaux, you'd feel responsible then, wouldn't you? Of course, Mac, this is all conjecture; Dominic and Rod swear they've got no proof of anything yet but the bets are flying fast and furious."

Duncan sighed, but sat down. "They know about all that?" The Watcher nodded. "How?"

"Cassandra's Watcher, Mac. How else?"

"And what did he tell 'em, Joe?" Dawson looked puzzled. "Methos, I mean. How did he explain it? Not the truth, certainly, 'cause I doubt he'd know the truth if it bit him on the ass."

"Then you should be glad he's gone, shouldn't you?" the mortal snapped and the Highlander's eyes widened in surprise. "And he didn't bother to explain. He just left."

"And they just let him go? Chronicles and all?"

Dawson nodded. "Pretty much. What else were they going to do? Kill him?"

The Highlander leaned forward, fingers gripping the edge of the table. "Do you think they would?" He cleared his throat. "Is that why he's running, Joe? Because he's afraid?" Not that Mac could blame him at all. After what had nearly happened to Joe just for associating with an Immortal, Methos would have to be a fool not to be scared. And if there was one thing the old man wasn't, it was a fool. Methos had set up their entire network and he probably had a hundred little backdoors into the system, too. It was a foregone conclusion they'd want him dead--or at least out-of-the-way--until they could get someone in to close all the loopholes.

Joe shrugged. "I don't know, Mac. Methos isn't stupid. Could be he thinks so or maybe he just got sick of being judged and found wanting. Why don't you wait and see if he contacts either of us?"

The Highlander sighed. "If you hear from him, Joe, will you let me know? I can't expect him to call me after what I said, but he might keep in touch with you." He glanced toward Bodie and Doyle. "Security, you said?" Joe nodded. "Any particular brand?"

"You name, they do it," the mortal said proudly. "Alarms, surveillance, computers, the works. Their partner, Murphy, does the initial analysis and those two do an estimate and the physical installation. Murphy does the computer work, though. You got something particular in mind, Mac?"

He shook his head. "No, just a thought," he muttered as he walked out the door.

He stared around at the airport. He hadn't been to London in quite some time--not since Claudia's last concert, in fact--but if that's where the Watchers said Adam Pierson had gone, then that's where he'd start looking for Methos. He hailed a cab and caught a ride into London proper where he spent the first hour arguing with the desk clerk about whether or not the hotel had a room available.

"I've got a reservation," he thundered as the man punched commands into the computer behind the counter. "I called yesterday and the clerk on duty then said they'd reserve the room. I even gave them my credit card number." He leaned forward, fists bunched on the defenseless marble and the clerk shrank back. "Now, you'll either find my reservation or..." he let the threat trail off indefinitely as a tall, slender dark-haired man in uniform entered the hotel and strode briskly up to the counter.


The other man looked at him only briefly before turning his attention to the clerk. "Excuse me," he said politely. "I'm supposed to meet someone here this evening. Do you by any chance have my room ready? Nick Pasco? I've just returned from Belfast on leave and...."

"I'm sorry, Mr. Pasco," the clerk said frantically. "The computer's down at the moment and this gentleman insists he's reserved the last room we might have had available."

The intruder looked stunned. "But we reserve this room every year, my wife and I, for our anniversary." He sighed and glared at Duncan. "It's the only chance we have to get away from my family. Short of trekking back to Ireland and the shooting, that is."

The Scot folded his arms over his chest. "Wife? Isn't that going a little far?"

"I beg your pardon?"

"You heard me," Duncan growled. "I can understand you being angry but to get married? What's she going to think when she finds out?" He met the other man's blank stare with one of his own.

"Finds out about what, Mr...ah, I don't believe we've been properly introduced."

"Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod, and well you know it," the Highlander hissed angrily. "What game are you playing at, anyway?"

The sargeant stared down his prominent nose, raking Duncan from head to foot. "Very well. Mr. MacLeod it is then." He straightened his shoulders, clicked his heels sharply togehter and tossed back his head. "Nicholas Anthony Pasco, at your service, sir. And I'm not playing any game at all, as yet, sir. I'm waiting for my wife, sir. Games may start when she arrives, sir." He came to a parade rest and glared at the Scot. "Your turn. What the bloody hell did you mean when you said 'when she finds out'? Finds out about what?"

"Us!" the Scot roared and half the heads in the lobby turned to look at them.

Pasco's mouth dropped. "Us?" he said weakly as Duncan gripped his arm. "What about us?"

"You know very well," Duncan snorted. "Stop pretending."

Pasco gave him another glare. "Get your bloody hands off of me and stop saying that. I can assure you, Mr. MacLeod, that I've never seen you before in my life."

"Nicky, darling!" A statuesque blond dashed up to the counter and threw her arms around the Scot's captive. "Who's your cute friend?"

"Amanda?" Duncan shook his head and backed away.

"My wife, Julia," the other man said in tones that might have frosted Vesuvius. "Julia, Mr. MacLeod. He seems to have taken our room, dearest. So we must go elsewhere."

"Elsewhere, Nicky? But we always spend our anniversary here." Moisture glistened in the lovely eyes and the pouting lips trembled.

"Oh, Christ!" MacLeod snarled. "Take it then! And I wish you both very happy in it." He stormed toward the lobby doors, turning back only once. "And don't you come crawling back to Paris, Nick Pasco, for I'll not be taking you back this time."

"As though I'd want you to, you hairy Scots barbarian," the soldier shouted after him. "He's quite mad, you know," he said to the room at large. Duncan flushed as a dozen pairs of eyes fastened on him and whispers ricocheted around the lobby as he made his escape half-expecting to find himself held overnight for observation in the psychiatric ward of the nearest hospital.

"Nicky, precious," the blond was saying as Duncan pushed through the doors suitcase in hand. "Who is that strange man?"

There was a squeal of brakes and Duncan looked up, unable to move as the cab barreled toward him. He saw the cabbie swerve too late, felt the car strike him a glancing blow that tossed him....

He screamed as he fell out of bed and onto the floor. Christ! A dream? He shivered and rested his head on his hands. He should've let the Watchers follow up on that lead, but he'd been so certain that Methos was in London. He'd been certain even when Nick Pasco walked into the hotel and he didn't even look that much like Methos. Sure, the man's hair was dark and the bone structure was similar, but if Pasco ever slouched a day in his, no way. He was just glad his real-life meeting with that young man hadn't gone quite the way it had in his dream.

Duncan laid down his sword and rose to answer the knock at the door. "Yes," he said politely, frowning slightly at his visitors. Bodie leaned against the doorframe to his right; Doyle assumed a similar position to the left.

"Joseph said you wanted us to take a look 'round. See if we could spot anything that might present a problem," Bodie said seriously. "Shall we come in or do a quick spot check outside first?"

The Highlander stared and shifted nervously. "Ah, outside first," he stammered finally. Maybe that would give him time to put away the sword and the polishing stone.

Ray looked up at him bright-eyed. "Mr. Dawson said you're something of a collector," he said. "Antique weapons and all? Said you used to own a shop, too." Duncan nodded. "Think we might have a look?" Doyle queried wedging his shoulders between the door frame and the door. "Bodie has a nice little arsenal himself, he does. Guns, knives, even a couple of antique swords."

"Might give us a better idea what sort of security we're looking at, too," Bodie suggested helpfully sticking one foot over the threshhold.

Duncan frowned. "Well," he said at last, opening the door a bit wider. "I suppose it can't hurt. Come on in."

The two men grinned, Bodie making a slight bow as his partner scooted through the door. "Thanks," the dark-haired Englishman said grinning. "Don't mind if we do."

"I'll bet," the Highlander muttered closing the door behind them. "Make yourselves at home," he growled, noticing with a groan that the two men needed no encouragement along those lines.

Nosy buggers, he sniffed, dancing out of the way as his guests prowled throughout the barge, peeking into this and poking into that. He wondered if they'd been this eager over at the club. "'Scuse me," he yelped as he rescued the Ming vase Methos had given him for Christmas the year before. "Do you think you might watch a little closer where exactly you're putting your feet?"

Bodie looked affronted. "Oh, surely you're not telling us that's real, are you?" The Scot glared and the dark-haired security man grinned and winked at his partner. "Well, we'll have to be extra careful then, won't we sunshine?"

Duncan growled and Doyle chuckled wickedly. "Don't think he fancies being called 'sunshine', Bodie," the curly-topped gamin said with a leer picking up a pair of blue silk shorts Methos had left behind. Duncan blushed scarlet.

"Wasn't him I was callin' 'sunshine', now was it?" Bodie said waggling his brows and peering into the closet.

"Now, Mr. MacLeod," Doyle said flinging the shorts into the hamper. "Correct me if I'm wrong, but you don't strike me as the sort of chap who leaves personal items like this laying about any which way." He paused and eyed the Scot speculatively as his partner leaned against the breakfast bar arms crossed over his chest. "And those would seem to be a mite small for a gentleman of your...." He looked helplessly toward Bodie.

"Girth?" Bodie suggested. He eyed the Scot. "Endowments? Bulk? Proportions?" Duncan frowned and Bodie grinned hugely. "That being the case, Mr. MacLeod, it behooves us to ask where the other party is at present." The Scot stared. "Well, it'd hardly do for us to set up the cameras, alarms and all and have your co-habitant come home and set it all off now would it? Be most embarrassing for everyone concerned, I think."

"He's not coming home," the Highlander said gloomily, sinking into a nearby chair. "He's never coming home again."

Bodie moved closer to his partner, both of them standing just to one side of the despondent Scot. "Doesn't look like he planned to stay gone," Bodie said slowly. "A chap doesn't leave undergarments like that laying about if he's not coming back." He cast a glance at the stack of lurid paperbacks on a table by the bed. "And unless this is the sort of reading material you fancy...."

"Doesn't seem quite your style, Mr. MacLeod," Doyle put in leafing through one of the colorfully illustrated books. "Bodie's maybe." He grinned. "Bodie just loves trash like this."

Bodie sniffed as he picked up another. "Oh, and your taste is ever so much more refined isn't it? Go on, Ray. Tell Mr. MacLeod the latest classic you checked out of the library why don't you? 'Course," he added as an aside to MacLeod, "he probably can't even remember when he last read one."

"I can so," Ray snarled hands on hips. "It was that bloody long thing by Tolstoy you foisted on me last Christmas. Most boring piece of rubbish I ever struggled through, if you ask me--but of course you won't or you'd never have bought the thing would you?" He glared at his partner then turned back to MacLeod. "Now, about your friend...."

Duncan shook his head. "You don't know Adam. He came back once and packed up the plants, the birds and the fish...."

"Oh, that's serious, that is," Doyle chimed in. "If he's gone and taken the plants, the fish and the birds, there's no hope at all...."

"Shush, Ray," Bodie growled. "Doesn't mean a thing, sir," the Englishman cajoled. "Maybe he just wanted 'em out of your way. If you two had a bit of a row, stands to reason he'd want them someplace they'd be taken care of and yet not be near enough at hand to be used as weapons." He tossed the book onto the bed and wrapped his arms around his friend's waist. "I know when Ray gets pissy, I hide everything that might even remotely serve to cause damage to either of us."

His hands clutched the bedding as a skillful tongue teased at his nipples. "God," he breathed. "Don't...stop, please..." he gasped. "Don't...stop."

"No danger of that, is there, MacLeod?" the husky voice breathed against his skin and the mouth moved lower sending chills racing along his spine. His head tossed back and forth on the pillows, damp tendrils of hair lashing across his face. "Really had you going, didn't I? How long, MacLeod?"

"How long?" he asked breathlessly, glancing at the clock. "Two hours and forty-five minutes, so far." He pulled against the bonds fastening his ankles to the bedposts. "Come on, finish it!"

"Oh, MacLeod," the voice chuckled dirtily as slim hands spread him wider. "I'm just getting started."

"Amanda!" he groaned struggling to sit up. "Please."

"Amanda?" He hit the headboard with a resounding crack, both ears ringing from the force of the blow. "Amanda? No problem, MacLeod. You want Amanda, I'll just run fetch her for you. I think she's in Monaco, though, so it might take a while. Don't wait up."

"Methos, wait!" He threw himself forward, clutching vainly at the other man's arm. "Don't leave, please!"

The phone rang again as it skittered off the nightstand, then stopped. "Mac? MacLeod are you there?"

"Don't leave me," the Highlander groaned as he fell off the bed and fumbled on the floor for the receiver. "Please, don't leave me."

"Nobody's leaving you, Mac," Joe said on the other end. "What the hell is the matter with you?" Duncan groaned. "Are you okay, Mac? You sound kind of funny."

"I'm fine, Joe," the Highlander lied. "Just...well, I was sleeping and...."

"Oh, sorry, Mac," his friend said. "Just called to let you know the guys are going to be a little late this morning and you might want to jog on your own."

Duncan gave the phone a puzzled look. "Jog on my own?" he repeated, only then remembering Doyle had offered to go jogging with him that morning. "Why couldn't they call, Joe?"

"Bodie had kind of a bad night and Doyle wants him to see a doctor." Joe said simply. "Probably just a bit of indigestion," he added with a snort. "Although, it might be flu or something. He seems a little feverish."

Bodie poked his head into the head. "We'll need cameras and a microphone in here, Ray," he called as he gave the tiny cubicle a quick scan and jotted numbers down on the pad in his hand.

Duncan blushed, hoping they'd point the cameras toward the window and nowhere else, and hid his face in the refrigerator. "Ahhh, anybody take milk with their tea?"

"Bodie does," the wiry half of the duo explained perching precariously on a stool beside the counter. "Low-fat with just a bit of sweetener, if you have it." The Scot nodded, pulled out a bottle of half-and-half, handing it in the direction of the other man's voice since he didn't dare look around just then. "I take it black, myself," Ray continued smugly.

"Cameras and a microphone over here," Bodie called from the direction of the platform where stood the big four-poster. "Motion detectors here by the window wouldn't be amiss either. And another couple spoons of sweet, if you don't mind, thank you."

Doyle shook his head. "Low fat and one-and-a-half sugars is plenty," he hissed, handing back the milk. "Doctor's orders."

"I don't have low-fat," Duncan muttered apologetically. "Adam hates it."

Ray frowned. "He'll take it black, then," the other man sniffed. "Better for 'im that way anyway."

"Ray," Bodie grunted as he struggled out from under the bed. "You'll never guess what I found under here...."

Duncan moaned and hauled out a package of cheese, some jam and a platter of cold meats. "I don't know about you, but...."

God, if they were going to put microphones everywhere, he and Methos wouldn't dare ever again....

"Oh, no, Mr. MacLeod," Doyle said politely, resting his chin on one hand. "We never eat on the job."

The Highlander bit back a sob. He and Methos might never again anyway, if he didn't do something pretty damned quick. He glanced at Doyle then at Bodie. They might be in security now, but Doyle, at least, had been on the police force in England. He'd been a detective, so Joe had said, or something like it anyway. Perhaps, he could get them to do a little detecting for him?

"Ta very much," Bodie said helping himself to a large bite of cheese and biscuits. "Speak for yourself, Raymond, my lad. I'm a growing boy who needs to eat to keep up his strength. Can't starve myself days on end you know."

"You don't half starve yourself now, Bodie," Ray groused. "And doctor said...."

"Doctor said I could stand to lose ten to fifteen pounds," Bodie growled. "He didn't say I had to starve myself to do it." He eyed his companion with the same appreciation he'd showed Duncan's katana. "How do you and Murph do it, anyway? Eat all bloody day and never put on an ounce and you don't exercise anymore than I do."

"Clean livin' and all that, you daft bugger," Doyle snapped grabbing at the cheese. "Put that down. Doctor said you were to take it easy on the cholesterol, too." He glared at MacLeod as though holding him personally responsible for his friend's lack of control. "Lots of fresh fruit and veggies and a job with less stress is what he was told after that spell he had five years ago. Murph and I have been on 'im day and night and the minute our backs are turned what does he do?"

"Your back's not turned now, Raymond," Bodie said with a chuckle, popping a bite of salami in his mouth and chewing vigorously. "If it was, I might be able to actually get something in my stomach once in a while instead of havin' to make do with just a whiff of anything more'n rabbit food now and again."

"A whiff," his friend exclaimed grabbing the platter and shoving it into MacLeod's hands. "A whiff? A three-course meal right before Murph went to Australia and all you've had is a whiff?"

"What the two of you call a three-course meal hardly constitutes a decent appetizer for the rest of us, mate," Bodie argued eyeing the platter's contents and MacLeod pleadingly. "Salad, Mr. MacLeod, with rice-wine vinegar for a dressing, how's that for a first course?" Duncan shrugged. He'd made do with less on several occasions--mostly when Amanda or Richie was doing the cooking. "And a great bloody baked fish and wild rice for entrée?" He glared at Doyle. "And to top it off, some ghastly fruity thing for dessert. Did you ever hear of anything so perverted?"

"Murphy made that torte with his own hands, Bodie, with fresh berries and cream for toppers as you'd have known if you'd bothered to taste it before you dumped it down the front of him." Doyle's lip trembled and his eyelids fluttered as he sank into a chair. "Poor Murphy," he sobbed, blowing his nose in the handkerchief Bodie handed him. "He worked so hard getting dinner just right and" He rubbed at his eyes as Mac stared. "You don't half appreciate what he goes through for us, Bodie. You just don't half appreciate the worry you give us both."

Bodie sighed. "All right, Ray." He glanced at MacLeod. "I'm sorry, sir. I'll just take Ray on home and we'll drop by tomorrow, if that's all right with you?"

The Highlander nodded, stunned. "Of course," he murmured taking Bodie's elbow and steering him over to the stove. "Do you think he's going to be all right?"

"Oh, he'll be fine, Mr. MacLeod," the other man said grimly. "He just gets this way when he's worried and he seems to be worryin' all the time lately. It's worse with Murph away 'cause Ray seems to feel he has to watch me all by himself." He sighed heavily. "Nobody to share the duty with, as it were. Tenses him up so he can hardly sleep or eat or anything." He cast a glance toward his partner. "It's not like there was any real danger of me keelin' over, you understand," he insisted. "Had a bit of a spell a while back," he explained. "Doctor said it might have been a mild heart attack, but as long as I keep within range of my proper weight, drink moderately and exercise regularly I should be okay." He grinned. "Nothing for you to worry about, anyway." He joined his partner again and slipped one hand under Ray's elbow. "Oh, Mr. Dawson said some doctor named Ben Adams purchased a ticket for Vancouver by way of Toronto, the same day your Adam skipped town. Does that mean anything?"

He stared at the menu for a full five minutes before finally deciding he might as well try the blackened swordfish and garlic mashed potatoes. If Methos really was trying to hide from him, why would he have come here of all places--only a few hundred miles up the coast from Seacouver and the loft they'd never really had a chance to share? Only a few thousand miles from where Amanda was shacked up with her new boyfriend, too.

He sighed, drew a deep breath. Perhaps he should've insisted on Bodie and Ray coming with him? He wasn't sure how comfortable he felt leaving them on the barge to paw through his and Methos' things with no supervision just in case this didn't pan out and it would've given them all an excuse to stay at the loft for a few days once they'd found Methos and headed home if it did.

He eyed the couple at the next table, a slim attractive woman with chestnut curls looked vaguely familiar and he was almost certain her slender dark-haired companion was....

"Adam," the Highlander gasped leaping to his feet and knocking over his table and two others in the process. "What are ye doin' here? Hello, Amanda. Ye've no notion how lonely it's been without ye, Adam."

The man looked blank. "You know each other?" he asked suddenly and the woman rested her chin on one be-ringed hand, eyelashes fluttering lazily, while Duncan made a concerted effort to still his flapping tongue. Christ, what was the matter with him? He hardly ever slipped into dialect like that anymore--even under the worst of circumstances. It must be the stress.

The woman smiled ferally. "How nice to meet you," she murmured and her companion frowned. "Perhaps you'd like to join us?"

"I really don't think..." the man protested, glaring up at the Scot.

Duncan grinned. "Thanks." He took a seat, scooting the chair closer to his quarry. "I've been looking all over for ye, ye know," he said, smiling cheerfully and throwing his arm around the other man's shoulders. "Ever since ye left Paris, we've been hunting high and low for ye. Ye niver should've run off like that, Adam. Ye gave poor Joe an awful fright." He clamped his jaw shut tight and bit down on his lip.

The woman chuckled throatily, tapping her companion lightly on the arm. "Perhaps, darling, you'd like to introduce me to your friend?"

Duncan frowned. "Amanda! For God's sake we've known each other for years. Why're you pretending now?" He leaned forward conspiratorally. "It's something to do with this, isn't it?" he asked waving one hand around at the scenery surrounding them. "It's this place."

The man glared balefully at the Scot. "I'm afraid you have me at a bit of a disadvantage, Mr...."

"Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod," the Highlander croaked.

"Mr. MacLeod, this is Amanda Montrose. Amanda, Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod." He pushed back his chair. "Now, I really have to get back to the station. Good day, Mr. MacLeod. Enjoy your luncheon, Amanda; I'll see you this evening and we can go over those notes again."

Duncan stared after him as he sauntered down the street. "I don't understand," he muttered shaking his head. "What's wrong with him? And where the hell is your Mr. Wolfe?"

The woman smiled. "Nicky's in Toronto, working on a similar case. And there's nothing wrong with Simon, really. The Inspector's just a very busy man and this latest case his people are involved with is terribly upsetting, even for him." She shuddered. "All those headless bodies floating around are enough to give anyone nightmares." She sighed and lay one hand on the Scot's broad shoulder. "Poor dear Simon. He's very close to losing his job over this."

"Simon?" He sprang to his feet. Methos wasn't going to get away from him again. No matter what had gone wrong between them, no matter what stupid televsion show Methos was cribbing his latest alias from, Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod was not going to let the sneaky bastard drop life as Methos, Oldest Immortal or as Adam Pierson, mild-mannered Ex-Watcher and newly-minted Immortal. "I'm sorry," he sputtered, pushing back his chair and taking off down the street at a gallop. "I'm late."

Dodging the holiday crowds, he lost sight of the old man more than once, spotting him again only after several minutes of frantic searching. "Adam," he bellowed pushing past a sidewalk Santa and dashing down the street. "Adam!"

His quarry stopped, head raised like a startled buck, and stared back at him for a moment before breaking into a run.

"Adam!" He put on another burst of speed, narrowly missing a bus as he raced across the street. "Simon, wait!" He could hardly breathe. Who would've guessed the old man would be in such good shape after all those months sitting behind a desk in that damn library? "Adam, please!" He cut through an alley and dodged out in front of his prey. "Adam," he gasped, screeching to a halt in front of Macy's department store and throwing his arms tightly around his friend.

"Take your hands off of me," the man said coldly, fishing about in his pockets. "And it's Chief Inspector Ross, if you don't mind. I hardly think we're on a first-name basis."

Duncan shook his head, ignoring the stares of the people around them. "No," he said firmly, pulling the other man closer and kissing him hard. "I will na' until you promise to come back." Damn, damn and double-damn! There was that blasted accent again! It was no wonder Methos was looking as though he couldn't understand a bloody word; he probably couldn't.

Ross pulled back, glaring, and snapped a pair of cuffs on the Scot's wrist. "You're under arrest," he hissed. "Assault on an officer of the law, sexual harrassment and...."

"And?" Duncan growled, kissing him again. "And what? I love you, Adam...Simon, whatever name you're using now. How many times do I have to say it? You want me to shout it from the rooftops? Let me loose and I'll do it. I love you!"

There was the sound of breaking glass as a bus full of tourists plowed over the curb and into the shop window, scattering Whoville, all the little Whos and the Grinch in all directions.

"Good God," the Highlander howled as....

There was a thud and the sound of scuffling from the direction of the couch. "What the bloody hell?"

"Bodie, you're squishing me."

"Oh. Sorry, mate. Didn't see you down there, did I?" There was another thud as something/someone bumped into the coffee table. "Stop it, Ray," Bodie gasped. "Stop or I'll have to...." There was a sudden burst of cackling laughter interspursed with hiccups and gasps. "Ray, stop! Please! Oh, God! Come on, Doyle, you're killing me!"

"Then move, damn you! You weigh a bloody ton!"

Mac sat up in bed rubbing at his wrists. He could've sworn things had been just about to get really interesting what with the handcuffs and all and he'd so been looking forward to that. Oh, well. Maybe things were going to get interesting anyway.

"Oh, very nice," the one called Bodie murmured pacing the perimeter of the barge. "Shouldn't be too difficult to setup. 'Course, it'll cost you a fortune, but what's money amongst friends? Ray, come look at this and tell me what you think." He pointed toward the wheelhouse. "Infra-red cameras? Microphones? Here, here and there?"

Ray nodded. "Possibly motion detectors, too, Bodie." He glanced toward the Scot standing nervously to one side. "In case anyone tries to board her in the middle of the night, sir. Burglars are hardly likely to knock, you know."

"You really think all this is necessary?" Mac stuttered. "I've lived here for years with very little trouble and...."

"That's not what Mr. Dawson said," Doyle interjected. "He said you'd been nearly killed several times and robbed more than once." Duncan winced. "Now, I don't pretend to know why such a pleasant chap as yourself would have people wanting to kill him and it's none of our business anyway."

"Sure it is, Ray," Bodie put in as he stopped his pacing and leaned over the rail. "It's our business if someone tries something on while we're staying here 'cause it could be us gets blown away in his place. Besides, knowing the reasons helps determine not only the types of protection needed but how much to charge." He grinned as Ray groaned.

"Don't mind him, Mr. MacLeod," Doyle muttered. "He just likes to get up people's noses--mine in particular." He turned toward his mate. "Come on, you dumb crud. Let's go draw up some plans and see what Mr. MacLeod thinks of 'em."

"But that's Murphy's job," Bodie protested and Doyle frowned.

"Two years at art school and you don't think I'm capable of drawing a diagram?"

"Never said that, did I, Ray?" Bodie asked grinning. "I've seen what you can draw." He sighed dramatically. "Just, Murph's already pissed that we did that club job in New Orleans last year without tellin' him. There'll be hell to pay if we don't let him at least do the estimates on this one."

Ray snorted indelicately. "You leave Murph to me, Bodie. I can handle him."

Bodie chuckled. "Oh, I've no doubt of that at all, Raymond, my lad, no doubt at all."

Raymond picked at a hangnail and leaned toward the Scot. "Oh, Mr. Dawson asked us to tell you they've spotted your friend back in England." He chuckled. "You didn't tell us he was a vet."

"A vet?" Sure, if you believed Methos, he'd practically invented medicine. Somehow, though, Duncan didn't think studying in Heidleberg in the 15th Century exactly qualified the old man to practice in the 20th--even on animals.

He shook his head as he left the rental car at the top of the lane and started down the hill pushing through bushes and splashing through the stream that cut through the meadow. Damn, but he really should have gotten a four-wheel drive instead of the Jag.

"Hello!" he called as he came in sight of a neat little house. A paddock and stable stood to one side and a chicken yard sat on the other. A vegetable garden occupied much of the space in front of what Duncan took to be the kitchen. "Hello," he called again as he tromped up the path to the front door.

"Excuse me," he said to the middle-aged woman who answered the door. "I need to see the vet."

"Oh? Well, he's in the clinic. Neighbor's dog had a bit of a run-in with a stoat and doctor's treating the poor thing. He should be finished just about now, if you'd like to trot on out and wait?"

Duncan nodded vigorously and smiled. "I'd like that very much. Where...."

She smiled. "Just out by the stable. I'll ring Noah and let him know to expect you."

Duncan frowned. 'Noah'? Of course, leave it to Methos to pick a name like Noah when he decided to play vet. Although, he could've sworn Ray had said Methos was going by the name 'Tom' Kirby. He smiled at the woman, hoping she wasn't another of Methos' wives. She looked old enough to be his mother, or Adam's mother at any rate. "Thank you. Right past the stable, you said."

"Dr. Kirby?" he called as he entered the clinic. "Anybody here?"

"Bring him back here," someone who did not sound at all like Methos called out. "I'll be finished with Peterson's dog in another minute and I'll take a look at your animal then."

"I don't have an animal," Duncan said as he stepped into the tiny operating room. "I just came to see you and tell you...." He stopped dead in his tracks. "You're not Me...."

The old man chuckled. "No, lad. Of course I'm not you." He came forward and held out his hand. "Noah Kirby, lad. You can stop staring as if you'd been hit in the head with a cabbage. Who'd you think I was?"

The Highlander blushed. "I was looking for, ahhh, Tom Kirby," he stammered. "He's a friend of mine and I...."

"You what?" queried a much younger voice and the Scot spun around. "Tom Kirby," said the man holding out his hand.

"My assistant," the older man said a moment later. "Though I doubt he plans to stay on."

"I told you, there's not enough work to keep the three of us busy," the newcomer snapped. "And Jilly gets on with you much better than I ever have." He turned back to the Scot. "I'm afraid I don't remember you, though. Where did we meet?"

"Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod," the Highlander said loftily, flushing when the other man chuckled.

"I'm sorry," wheezed the younger Kirby. "It's's just...I don't believe I've ever heard anyone introduce themselves quite like that before." He frowned suddenly. "If I remember my history correctly, though, weren't the Clans abolished after the Rebellion?"

Duncan glared. "They will niver abolish the clans," he growled. "The Scots will niver surrender."

The other man sighed. "Nor, I suppose, will the Irish." He sat down on the bench along the wall then stood up again as a young woman came into the clinic. "Ahh, Jilly," he said suavely as the young woman busied herself preparing a tray of instruments. "Perhaps Mr. MacLeod will explain his trouble now you're here." He smiled at the girl and the Scot's stomach lurched. He'd never seen Methos so smooth and smarmy in all the years he'd known him. He'd never seen Amanda so efficient before, either. At anything other than breaking-and-entering anyway. "Now, Mr. MacLeod, what can we do for you?"

"You can come home with me," Duncan snarled.

"Right," the other man said nodding absently. "But why ever in the world should I go home with you?"

"Because I love you, damn it," the Highlander shouted.

There was a sudden gasp and clatter behind him and he spun, his feet sliding out from under him, as Kirby surged to his feet fists bunched and murder in his eyes. "You what??!!"

"Love you," Duncan sputtered crawling to his knees and....

He glared at the wreckage scattered over the floor of the barge.

"Sorry," hissed a voice somewhere above his head. "I was gettin' a sandwich. Heard a shout and must've knocked into the bookcase there." A warm hand reached down and helped him to his feet. "Good thing your friend took the fish and the plants isn't it? Be a right mess if he hadn't."

Duncan sighed. "My Ming."

"Where'd you find these guys, Joe," Duncan asked sipping at his whiskey and motioning the Watcher to have a seat. The afternoon sun slanted through the barge's windows and dust motes danced in the air.

"I told you, Mac," Joe answered, pouring a generous amount into his own glass. "They came very highly recommended."

"By who, Joe," Duncan grumbled glaring at the mess of papers scattered on his coffee table. "That's what I want to know. Who recommended them and where did you meet them?"

"Bodie served under an acquaintance of mine, Mac--SAS, Colonel Reginald Masterson. We met, Sir Reg and I that is, in '72 when I was in the hospital."

"What was an SAS Colonel doing in Vietnam?" Duncan growled.

"He wasn't in Vietnam," Dawson said, pouring himself a shot from the Scot's bottle. "I told you, we met when I was in the hospital. He was visiting a friend who was in the same ward as me and we got to talkin' about this and that." He took a sip of his drink. "Last month, when he heard the club had been broken into, he said he knew some top-notch professionals in the security business. I said 'send 'em over'." He stared dolefully into his glass and made a face. "How're things goin' with them staying on the barge, Mac? Isn't it a little crowded?"

Mac shook his head. "Actually," he said leaning toward Dawson and lowering his voice. "We're getting along pretty well. Ray enjoys opera and Bodie seems to appreciate some of it--more than Methos did at any rate. Plus, his tastes in poetry are pretty similar to my own. All in all, we've had some very interesting discussions."

"Discussions," Joe said doubtfully. "Is that what they're calling it now?"

Duncan ignored the remark. "We've even discussed the possibility of them coming to Seacouver when I go back next month."

"You're going back next month?" Dawson asked. "What if he comes back looking for you? What'll he think?"

Duncan sighed. "It doesn't look like he's coming back, Joe. And if he does, he knows the schedule. I can't stay here, Joe, and just wait."

"So why do the guys have to go with you, Mac? You planning on having them move in with you there, too?"

"If I'm getting the barge secured, Joe," the Scot explained. "Why not do the same for the loft? And the warehouses. Seacouver's not that much safer than Paris these days."

Joe nodded. "Right. Oh, this came in the mail today. Thought you might want a look at it." He handed the Highlander a picture of a tall slender dark-haired man wearing a tight striped t-shirt and painted-on jeans.

"Methos?" the Scot breathed. "Where'd they find him?" He was not going after Methos this time. Bodie or Doyle could follow this rumor to its source.

"Barcelona," Joe answered. "Going by the name of Max Something-or-Other." The Scot blinked. "Well, they haven't really gotten close enough to catch a last name, Mac. It's usually just someone shouting 'Hey, Max, baby, over here!' or 'Max, darling, would you get me a drink?' or 'Max, be a love and zip me up before you go.' That sort of thing."

He spotted him almost immediately strolling along the boulevard in Barcelona. Methos, bare-chested, barefoot and wearing nothing but tight blue shorts took his breath away. Spain must agree with the old bastard, Duncan thought, as he hastily adjusted his own garments.

"Me...Max," he called waving frantically at the vision before him. "Over here! It's Duncan."

The young man glanced toward the Highlander and waved back. "Duncan, is it?" he said as he crossed the street and extended his hand. MacLeod nodded and the other man smiled as his fingers caressed the Scot's hand. "How very nice to see you...again?"

Duncan twitched. "You don't remember?"

The other man smiled again. "Oh, I'm sure I will in a moment. I'm hardly likely to forget someone like you, now am I?" Hazel eyes stared deeply into the Scot's. "Before I was married, I'll bet, right?" Duncan's jaw dropped. "Had to be, though why the hell I ever let you get away I'll never know unless it was the lure of her father's money." The man chuckled and pressed closer. "I know a hotel near here," he whispered. "We can go for drinks and see where the spirit leads us, right?" The Scot blanched. "I can't wait to see you again," Max chuckled sliding his hands under the Highlander's shirt and tweaking a nipple. "All of you." He slipped one arm around the Scot's waist and steered him toward the hotel. "Hell," he growled leading MacLeod into the lobby and up the stairs, pausing just long enough to collect a room key from the clerk. "Let's skip drinks."

"Lola won't come looking for us here," his companion breathed pushing Mac onto the bed and tugging at the zipper of his jeans. "And people here know better than to ask questions." He chuckled as he stood and slipped out of his shorts. "Like what you see, Duncan?" he asked, grinning as the Scot's eyes widened. "Thought so," he purred pressing his long hard length against MacLeod's tense body. "Haven't lost it, have I?"

Duncan shook his head. "No," he croaked as strong hands wrenched at his shirt scattering buttons across the floor and a warm wet tongue circled each nipple in turn. His own hands slipped down to grasp tight rounded buttocks and he groaned as the long slim legs parted.

"How do you want me?" a husky voice breathed in his ear. "On my knees while you do it or on my back so I can kiss you while you fuck me?"

"I hadn't really thought about it," Duncan murmured as warm skin rubbed over him and warmer hands gripped his shaft.

He heard a throaty chuckle as sharp teeth nipped at his ear. "Think about it."

He groaned and gasped, arching against the hard body pinning him down.

"Mr. MacLeod?"

Duncan jerked awake, staring into the dark and breathing hard. "What?"

"'Sall right," a soft voice said in his ear and warm hands brushed damp strands of hair out of his face. "You've been having a nightmare from the sounds of it."

"Nightmare? M...Adam?" He clutched at the other man's hand.

"Doyle, Mr. MacLeod." The man paused in his stroking. "Who's Madam?"

Duncan slumped back onto the pillows. "Nobody. A friend's dog," he stammered, trying vainly to calm his thudding pulse.

Ray chuckled, wiping a cool cloth across the Scot's forehead. "Didn't sound like 'nobody' to me," he said quietly casting a glance toward the sofa where Bodie tossed and muttered in his sleep. "Come on. You can tell me. Got a girl on the side, don't you?"

Duncan shook his head. "No," he muttered weakly, pushing the hand away. "I'd never...." He should've stayed in Paris. Meeting Max had nearly undone him completely. He covered his face with his hands. Dear God, if Methos ever found out how nearly he'd betrayed everything they had together....

Doyle grinned. "It's all right, mate. We've seen her. Lovely lady--all long legs and dark hair. Very chic. I told Bodie just the other day 'there's a man appreciates class' and she's got plenty of that, if I do say."

Bodie glanced toward Doyle, a question in the dark blue eyes. "Murph," the slighter man said quickly. "He's a bit peeved with us for sitting on those jobs he faxed over for us to have a look at." Bodie cocked one brow and settled deeper into the chair. "Well, I couldn't go into it, exactly," Ray snorted. "We have company." He pursed his lips. "Though he didn't seem exactly unwilling to discuss our business in front of his guest so I suppose I could've done the same."

Bodie grinned. "We're the company, Ray." His friend flushed. "And I thought you said you could handle him."

"I could," Doyle insisted dragging his fingers through untidy curls. "If only we hadn't forgotten about those estimates. He was bloody raving, Bodie. I don't think I've ever heard him so mad."

"Murph raving?" Bodie asked frowning in disbelief. "What the hell have we done now?"

Raymond shrugged. "Five jobs lined up Down Under and I made the mistake of telling him about Mr. MacLeod's latest offer. He was a bit miffed, to put it mildly."

Bodie groaned. "God. Was his company personal then?" Ray blinked. "Come on, Ray. Was his company personal or business?"

Ray looked at him in surprise. "Personal, I'm guessing," Doyle replied uneasily. "I could hear 'im whisperin' in the background. Why?"

Bodie breathed a sigh of relief. "That's all right then. Business we might have had to worry 'bout him quitting the partnership...."

"He'd never," Doyle squawked then flinched at Bodie's stare. "Would he? Bloody hell, Bodie, Murph'd never do somethin' like that no matter how much you provoked 'im." His eyes narrowed. "Soooo, why's it a good thing if his company's personal? Who d'you think it might have been?"

The Highlander shifted uneasily.

"The historian," Bodie said with a smirk that reminded the Highlander altogether too much of Methos. "Laurie, 'is name was, wasn't it?" Doyle nodded. "Well, that might explain something. Maybe he was trying to impress the boy with his forcefullness. Wonder if Murph's planning on making a bit of history of his own with the lad."

"Bo-die!" Doyle's tone was shocked but the green eyes sparkled.

The other man shrugged. "Murph certainly seemed to think the world of him when he called that evening didn't he? 'Bright, witty, charming and a very attractive package, too.' Isn't that about how he put it?" Doyle nodded and Duncan sank further into the sofa. Bodie sighed. "It's 'bout time, don't you think, Ray? Not been half wondering when he'd get around to finding someone...."

"Timothy's only been gone ten months, Bodie," Ray remonstrated.

"But he'd been fading for over a year," Bodie exclaimed. "And they both knew he wasn't going to make it for more'n a year before that. Hell, the doctors had been all over him with the tests and the treatments for ages so it's not like it was a surprise, Ray. Murph should've been prepared." He glanced around sharply at a sound from the Scot. "Oh, sorry mate. Not likely anything's happened to your friend now is it? After all, what trouble can a librarian get into for God's sake? Cooped up with the books and all, the only harm he'd come to would be forgetting dinner for a day or two or getting locked in overnight." He thought for a moment.

"Unless he has been kidnapped," Ray interrupted. "Is there anyone, saving yourself of course, who might be expected to pay ransom for him?"

Duncan shook his head. "Most people'd be glad to pay somebody to keep him."

Bodie frowned. "Pardon me for askin', mate, but why so gloomy then? He must be a right snarky son-of-a-bitch if that's the general attitude and you're well rid of 'im."

"Madame deLancey," Duncan gasped in surprise. "What are you doing here?"

The woman looked up at him. "You wished me to inform you, yes? If cher Adam sent word?" She frowned slightly. "I am mistaken?" He shook his head, glancing back over his shoulder to where Bodie and Doyle sat scribbling figures on the plans their friend, Murphy, had sent over.

"No, Madame," he said at last. "You aren't mistaken."

She smiled and nodded. "Bon. I am glad to find it so." One hand tapped gently upon his arm. "It is most fortunate, Msr. MacLeod, that I have grown somewhat fond of you."

"You have?" he squeaked, flushing slightly as his guests burst into smothered chuckles. "I mean, it is?"

"But of course!" She smiled again, reminding Duncan a little of the shark he and Methos had seen at the aquarium, then peered past him at the men sitting on the couch. "You have guests," she said, a note of disapproval in her tone. "They are living here? With you, monsieur?"

"They're doing some work on the barge, Madame," the Highlander explained quickly, kicking Doyle's t-shirt and briefs out of sight. "It's purely platonic, Madame, honestly. We're not even friends."

"'ere now," Bodie grumbled rising from the sofa and sauntering over with a plate of fresh-baked cookies in one hand and a glass of milk in the other. "Ray doesn't bake like this for just anyone, you know." He held out the plate. "Try these, ma'am. See if they aren't just about the tastiest morsals you've ever sunk your teeth into."

Madame smiled frostily. "Merci," she murmured, eyeing the confection and Bodie dubiously. "But I am not permitted such things." She took the plate and handed it to MacLeod. "And," she added with a glance at the man glaring in their direction. "I think, perhaps, you are not permitted such things either?"

Bodie blushed. "Just bein' a proper host," he muttered before grabbing the plate from the Highlander and stalking back to his partner.

Madame frowned. "He has shifty eyes, Monsieur MacLeod. Are you sure he is to be trusted?" Duncan nodded and she shrugged. "Bien. But it is not for you I bring word, monsieur. It is for Adam's peace of mind."

Duncan frowned. "I beg your pardon? Did Adam ask you to give me a message?"

She nodded. "He sent a letter, from London, some days ago." She drew the paper from her purse. "Je regret, monsieur. I set it aside and forgot until this very day." She frowned slightly and peered at the paper. "My memory, Msr. MacLeod. You understand, yes? And will forgive an old woman?" She sighed and glanced plaintively toward the sofa. "It is a very long message, Monsieur."

"Oh, of course, Madame," Duncan urged leading her into the barge's living area and gesturing to the other two to vacate the couch. "Please sit down and rest yourself." She smiled up at him while Ray and Bodie scrambled to clear the paperwork from the table.

"We'll just take this back to Dawson's, then," Bodie grumbled. "Unless you need a chaperone?"

Duncan shook his head, then glanced at his guest. He didn't think Madame would hurt him but perhaps witnesses wouldn't be amiss. "Perhaps you ought to stay," he said finally, braving the old woman's glare. "I mean, if you're going to help me find him...."

"But monsieur," Madame cried clasping her hands and the paper to her bosom. "Adam is not missing precisely."


"He is not missing, Monsieur," the old woman repeated. "He is merely, how do you say, in absentia, yes? He has removed himself to 'consider his options' as he says here."

"Consider his options?" Duncan asked frostily. "He doesn't have options. The wedding's already planned. If he calls it off, I'll kill him."

"Wedding?" Doyle piped up. "Y'hear that Bodie? They're getting married!" He clasped his hands together and began to bounce. "Oi, Mr. MacLeod?" Duncan raised one eyebrow. "Think we could make it a double? Murph's been after Bodie and me to make it legal and he'd kill to be the best man at something."

Bodie snarled. "What about that time he was the best man?"

Doyle stilled then grinned. "But this time it's not his boyfriend getting married, is it? Come on, it'll be fun!"

"We've got to find Adam, first," Duncan reminded them. "And if this place he's hiding in is as remote as it seems from the postmark...."

"Leave it to us, Mr. MacLeod," Doyle promised. "I think we can track his whereabouts, never you fear."

Duncan peered through the windshield at the velvet darkness as the rain poured down in sheets. "Are you sure that was the right turn-off, Amanda?" he asked as they passed yet another churchyard. "I don't remember there being so many of those on the map."

Amanda sighed. "Yes, darling," she said sweetly. "I'm sure." She pointed at the map with one brightly polished fingernail. "The castle should be right up ahead, about another five miles or so." She paused and turned toward him. "Be polite, MacLeod," she pleaded. "You want him back, you're going to have to go gently with him. After all," she continued laying one hand gently on his arm. "He's had an awful shock and if you barge in throwing a tantrum, it's only going to frighten him more."

"I do not 'throw tantrums', Amanda," Mac snarled through gritted teeth. "I've never thrown a tantrum in my life and I'm hardly about to start now." He unclenched his fists from the steering wheel and took a deep breath. Amanda was only trying to help, after all. "What the devil happened to him? Does anybody know?"

She shrugged gracefully and crossed her legs, the brightly patterned shawl sliding down to bare one slim shoulder and the skirt riding up to bare a good portion of creamy thigh. "Five miles, you said?" Duncan croaked dragging his eyes painfully back to the road.

"Just about, darling," Amanda said with a sly smile. "Oh, look! Isn't that a light up ahead?"

It did seem to be, Duncan thought stomping on the brakes at the bottom of the hill and staring up at the granite walls above them. Castle didn't half begin to describe it. Fortress, maybe.

"Amanda," he began, swallowing hard and wiping his palms on his pants leg. "Are you sure...."

Amanda sighed. "Of course I'm sure, MacLeod. Would I have dragged you all the way out here if I thought there was the slightest chance he wouldn't see you? He needs you, sweetie. He's just too proud to admit it, so you're going to have to be the one who bends for a change."

"I'll not crawl, Amanda," he said firmly. "Not even for him. I've got my pride, too, you know."

Amanda leaned close. He could feel her warm breath on his neck. "I'm not asking you to crawl, MacLeod," she whispered trailing one hand along his thigh. "I'm asking you to bend." She chuckled, nibbling at his earlobe. "You haven't forgotten how to bend, have you?" She pulled away and leaned back against the door. "I'd suggest you start the car, darling, before this rain washes away what little road we've got."

He put the car into gear and started up the hill, glancing just once toward the side of the road. He cringed. Perhaps they should've hired donkeys instead of relying on British Motor Works? God knew the road was narrow enough and steep enough and the ravine on his side was certainly deep enough. If the car went over the side....

He stopped the vehicle practically on the steps leading to the castle's front door and leaned over to open Amanda's door. She glared. "I suppose," she said coolly, "you want me to run up there and ring the doorbell?"

He shrugged. "If you don't mind."

"MacLeod!" Amanda snapped, eyes flashing. "What are you afraid of? This is Methos we're talking about, remember? He loves you!"

"Does he?" Duncan huffed back as they ran up the steps and leaned on the bell. "Loves me so much he had to jump ship before we even got the invitations printed, didn't he? Loves me so much he went into hiding at the very mention of making an honest man of him. Loves me so much...."

"Hon," Amanda purred pressing up tight against the front door. "I don't really think it was the idea of marriage, he was running from. Do you? Didn't you say something just the teeniest bit rude, Dunkie-poo? I mean, what man wants to be reminded of past mistakes? Especially when they're such big ones?"

"Mistakes?" Duncan repeated dully. "Big ones? What are you talking about, Amanda? Unless you consider Methos and me, the two of us, living together a big mistake." He fumbled a handkerchief from his coat pocket and blew his nose.

She shook her head and gripped his hand as the door swung open and they stepped inside. "You just don't get it, do you? I'm talking about ancient history, here, Duncan, darling. Pre-Methos-and-Highlander history, you know?" He shook his head. "Cassandra history, sweetie. If he'd just killed her, all those years ago, she'd never have been able to spill the beans later, now would she?" She frowned. "Of course, if he'd killed Kronos all those years ago, he might have been able to explain things better when you did find out, too."

He smiled. "You mean there wouldn't have been that 'Why? Because I liked it' speech?" She nodded. "He really had me going with that one, Amanda. Christ, for a moment, I almost wanted to kill him."

They looked around at the empty hall, shivering as the door slammed shut behind them. "Anybody home?" they chorused. There was no answer save a rumbling and a grinding of gears emanating from the great wrought-iron doors at the end of the hall. "Methos?"

They began to run, footsteps echoing hollowly in the cavernous hallway, and tumbled to a halt as the elevator ground to a stop and the cage doors slid open. "Methos?"

"Amanda," the man said with a smile and a long slow glance toward the Highlander. "Oh, my! He's absolutely...."

"Perfect, darling," Amanda said grinning and laying one hand on his wrist. "Didn't I tell you?"

The other man nodded, pulling his white lab coat tighter around him. "Yes, you did." His eyes raked the Scot from head to toe, lingering momentarily at the broad shoulders and trim waist. "But I had no idea how perfect he'd be."

"Methos?" Duncan stammered. "It is you, isn't it?" He hardly dared hope so fraught with disappointment as the last several weeks had been.

The man smiled again and took his arm. "Just call me Victor, won't you?" He led the Scot into the elevator. "Your rooms are right at the top of the stairs, Amanda," he called as they started down. "Ygor has everything ready for you, just like always."

"Ygor?" Duncan muttered glancing nervously at his host. "Like always?" The other man nodded. "Does she come here often?"

"Not as often as I'd like," he answered gaily. "But when she does, she more than makes up for the infrequency of her appearances." One long-fingered hand trailed up Duncan's arm and along his shoulders. "With visitors like you."

"Like me?" Duncan swallowed hard as both hands slid down his back to grasp his buttocks. "Why like me?"

"Why not like you," his host whispered as the doors slid open once more and they stepped out into a huge and elegant chamber. Pale green marble polished to a reflexive shine covered the floor; pale green velvet drapes covered a dozen high arched windows all opening onto iron-railed balconies looking out over tiered and manicured lawns and gardens. "Didn't we say you were perfect?"

Duncan frowned. Balconies? Underground? A door opened into another room. "My laboratory," the doctor said leading the way into a room all in sterile white. Two cots stood in the center of the room and on one a body lay at rest. The Highlander gasped. "Methos?" he gasped staring at the naked form of his friend. He turned toward the white-coated man at his side. "Then who are you?"

"I told you," Methos chuckled. "Victor. I'm Victor and that little beauty is my construct. I call him Frank."

"Frank," Duncan mumbled hollowly. "Frank. Not Methos. Frank," he repeated as the darkness rushed up to meet him. He woke, cold and disoriented, struggling to make sense of what he'd seen. When that failed, he struggled to sit up. No luck there, either. He lifted his head. Who had taken his clothes? He stared, unbelieving, at the heavy leather straps that circled his chest and hips holding him down on the stainless steel surface. Steel bands encased his wrists and ankles binding them to the corners of the table.

"Don't fight it." There was something very familiar about that voice and Duncan turned his head. "Don't fight it," the voice repeated.

Duncan watched, mesmerized, as the owner of that voice stepped into view, his eyes travelling up from a pair of outrageously sequined platform-shoes to a knee-length black feathered cape swaddling a long, lean, faintly androgynous torso; long, elegant fingers clasped the neck of the cape, holding it closed. The face above the hands was heavily made-up, and Duncan was shocked to find his body responding to the lascivious sneer on the carmine-painted lips and gleaming in the kohl-rimmed eyes.

He'd never been attracted to a man in make-up before, but something about the pure, unadulterated sensuality of that face, and the heat generated by those eyes....

Those beautiful, long lashed, green-gold...Methos? "Methos?"

Whatever Methos answered was lost in the thunder pounding in his head, as the Highlander struggled to come to grips with his reaction to the apparition in front of him. He shook his head, trying to clear it. Before he could gather his scattered wits, Methos dropped the cape, revealing a body clad only in fishnet stockings and a loosely laced leather bustier. "Methos," the Highlander croaked just before the room faded once more.

He woke up, disoriented, trying to make sense of what he'd seen earlier. Something about Methos....Methos in make-up?....Methos in make-up and fish-net stockings? where had that come from? God, this was so something out of performance theatre. The mattress tilted as Amanda leaned over him. "He's flipped, Amanda," he groaned as she kneaded his shoulders and chest. "Gone completely over the bend, hasn't he?"

"You have, too," he grunted as she pounced. "Amanda!" Something dark and furry leapt off her head and toward his face. He stared. "You're not Amanda?"

"No," he heard that wonderfully accented baritone purring. "Disappointed?"

Disappointed? How could he be disappointed? This was Methos, wasn't it? Methos, back in Duncan's bed, exactly where he belonged? Methos, with his tongue halfway down Duncan's throat, his calloused hands clutching Duncan's buttocks, his bony frame pressed full-length against Duncan's more cushioned one?

Duncan looked around at the heavy cherrywood furnishings and velvet drapes. Well, maybe they weren't in Duncan's bed after all. It certainly didn't look like the barge. It didn't really feel like the barge either, if you discounted the rocking and rolling of the mattress as Methos straddled him.

"Mmmmm," he moaned, hands gripping the other man's shoulders as their bodies pressed together. "Mmmmm." His tongue reached out to taste Methos' skin but hair got in the way and....

"Bloody hell, Ray," a voice snarled in his ear. "He's slobberin' all over me!"

Duncan sat up and spat, glancing around the barge as somebody gripped his shoulder and a fist connected solidly with his jaw. "You can let 'im up now, Mr. MacLeod," Doyle said quietly as he flicked on the light. "I don't think he'll try stealin' any more of that cheesecake anytime soon."

"What do you mean, Joe?" Duncan hissed as Bodie moped at the other end of the bar.

Dawson frowned and slid another bottle toward the dark-haired Englishman. "Just what I said. Ray's been arrested, Mac. Breaking and entering, apparently."

Duncan groaned. "Where?"

"Watcher Headquarters," Joe whispered. "I don't understand it, though, Mac. What reason could he possibly have for breaking in there?"

The Highlander flinched. "Maybe he was looking for something?" he mumbled, stealing another glance at Bodie. "You know, trying to help find Methos. Maybe."

Dawson snorted. "Yeah, right. The guys know better than to get involved, Mac. And he wouldn't have had to break in, if that's what he was after." Duncan raised one brow in question. "Hell, I've got a key. I could've let him in anytime, day or night. All he had to do was ask."

Duncan sighed. "So, when does he get out?"

Joe shrugged. "Not sure. Depends on whether or not we decide to press charges."

"Press charges?" Duncan gasped, coming to his feet. "Oh, my God. Joe, you can't! We've got to get him out of there or I'll never get...." He lowered his voice and sat back down. "You know. I'll never get him back."

"Nor will I," Bodie snarled, staggering toward him. "We'll have to break 'im out, you and me, Duncan, mate," he growled, throwing one arm over the Highlander's shoulder. "Haven't had to do anything remotely like in quite a few years, but I'm damned I'm going to let the Frenchies keep 'im locked up. We're neither of us as young as we were and who knows how long we've got left."

Duncan groaned. "Joe? We can handle this quietly, can't we? Go down to the police station and explain?"

"And tell 'em what, Mac?" the other man queried reasonably.

Duncan sighed. "The truth?"

"Mac," Richie groaned looking up from his plate. "What are you? Nuts? Since when do you sic the cops on Methos?"

The Highlander pushed another bit of coagulated egg and burnt toast around on his own plate. "I didn't sic the cops on Methos," he mumbled. "I asked a couple of friends to keep their eyes and ears open in case anything turned up."

Richie snorted, spraying milk halfway across the table. "Excuse me?" he asked tapping the paper beside his plate. "You plastered his face all over a bunch of milk cartons, Mac."

"The milk carton fiasco was over a month ago, Rich," the Highlander growled. "And that was Joe's idea, not mine."

Richie stared at the carton in his hand, then at the bowl of oatmeal in front of him. "Really?" he asked weakly and the Highlander nodded. "Oh, yuck!" He rose quickly and dumped the carton in the garbage. "What about telling the fuzz he'd been kidnapped?"

Duncan shrugged. "What about it? Ray was trying to help me when they arrested him. I couldn't just leave him to rot in prison, now could I? Bodie would've killed me." He turned his attention back to his breakfast. "Besides, Joe told the Watchers he'd stolen the Chronicles last time he disappeared. We could hardly use that again."

The young redhead blinked. "It's not like he's never been accused of being a thief before, Mac. If it's true what he said about riding with Butch and Sundance, it must happen all the time."

"Not by me, he hasn't," the Highlander growled. Although, he admitted to himself, he had--with a fair bit of help--accused Methos of being something much worse than a mere thief. Rapist, pillager, arsonist, murderer just for a start.

Richie shook his head. "Friends, you said, right?"

The Scot nodded wondering where exactly this was going. "Yes. Why, Rich?"

The young man scrutinized the sheets laying beside his plate. "Is this or is this not a bill from BDM Security & Investigations?"

Duncan nodded glumly. "I can't ask them to do all the work for nothing, Rich, even if they are friends of Joe's."

"Some friends, Mac." The younger man eyed the paper suspiciously. "Jeez, do private dicks really make this much?"

"Barely covers expenses, lad," a voice said lightly as blunt fingers reached across the young man's shoulder and helped themselves to bacon and toast. "You didn't invite us to breakfast this morning, Duncan," the same voice said plaintively.

"You showed up anyway, didn't you?" Richie snapped turning in his seat to glare at the dark-haired man behind him. "Boy, what rock did you crawl out from under this morning?"

"Late night," the other man said with a yawn. He glared at Richie. "And we're not 'private dicks' although ours aren't exactly out for public...."

"Don't go there, Bodie," Ray muttered from the doorway. "There're children present. We do have what may be a lead on that friend of yours, though, Mr. MacLeod."

Duncan's eyes brightened. "Where? When? How did...."

"Whoa, mate," Ray laughed, trotting to the table. Snatching a piece of bacon away from his friend, he wrapped his arms around the broad shoulders and nibbled Bodie's toast. "One question at a time. You know that picture you gave us of your friend, Adam?" Duncan nodded. "Well, we got a picture night before last of the young man Murphy's seeing and...." Doyle's voice trailed off suggestively.

"Just take a look at this, will you?" Bodie interrupted laying the print down beside Duncan's plate. "And try not to get anything on it. If that is your friend we may need it for identification purposes."

"But your Murphy's in Australia," Duncan squawked. "Isn't he? I remember you said he was in Australia. What would M...Adam be doing in Australia? There's nothing in Australia except kangaroos, ostriches and crocodiles and Adam hates wild animals!"



"It's emus in Australia, Mac," Richie snickered.

"I knew that." The Highlander frowned and cast dark glances at his student and the two security men. "And why is your Murphy seeing my Adam?"

"Not our Murphy, is he, Ray?" Bodie asked filching another slice of bacon from Richie's plate. "And we don't know for sure it's your Adam he's seeing. Not yet, anyway. His lad's name is Laurie. Laurence Talbot, actually," he went on, "which in itself may be a mite suspicious but it's not enough to hang him on."

Ray's eyes narrowed. "Murphy doesn't poach, Mr. MacLeod," he snapped and the Scot flushed. "If he had any inkling at all that the young man belonged to you, he'd have left him strictly alone and then where would you be? We've only got this much information 'cause we mentioned to Murph that you were...." He stopped.

"Pining, Ray," Bodie put in making an abortive rescue attempt on another slice of bacon. Richie slapped at his hand and Bodie pulled back sucking on his fingers. "I remember, you told Murph our client was pining."

Duncan glared and Ray blushed slightly. "Pining?" the Highlander queried ominously. "You told a perfect stranger I was pining? I've never pined a day in my life."

"Murph's not a stranger," Bodie exclaimed. "Damn good friend, Murphy, best we've got, but I'll deny every word if you tell 'im I said so."

"Seemed like you were at the time," Doyle muttered at almost the same instant, eyeing his partner askance. "Pining, I mean. Though Bodie's usually the one for puttin' 'is foot in it." Bodie growled and swatted his partner's rear. "Now Murph, he's the diplomatic one; all those years with the Corps, I guess dealing with Ambassadors and princes and all. Never puts a foot wrong our Murph."

"He's 'put a foot wrong' this time." Duncan pushed back his chair. "You sure they're the same? Adam would never...." He paused. Adam would never what, exactly?

The two security men shrugged. "P'raps not, but like enough's to be twins. 'Course, this lad's hair's a bit lighter than your lad's and nearly as curly as Goldilocks here; and he wears these absolutely horrible horn-rimmed glasses which Murph says he's pretty sure he doesn't need anymore than he needs those wire rims of his but just does it so's to seem older and more 'respectable'." Richie choked and Doyle patted him absently on the back.

"There you go, Mac," Richie sputtered. "No way the two of them could be the same. Can you imagine Meth.... Ouch!" The boy bent down rubbing at his shin. "What'd you do that for?"

"Do what?" the Highlander asked innocently and turned back to his guests. "What was it exactly your friend said about his friend that made you think he might be my friend?"

Ray's green eyes widened. "Beg pardon? Bodie, hope you caught all that, 'cause I sure didn't."

Bodie held up one finger. "One: Young mister Ryan here said something about meeth, which I'm guessing is some sort of slang for meth and which Mr. MacLeod obviously disapproves of." He glared at Richie. "As do we, young man. Stay away from drugs, 'specially of that type. Not only illegal but bloody dangerous." He turned back to his partner. "Two: Mr. MacLeod was asking you, I believe, what Murphy might have said regarding his Laurie that led us to believe Murph's 'Laurie' was Mr. MacLeod's 'Adam'. Three: Ahhh." He held up a third finger. "There wasn't any 'three', was there?" he asked glancing at Richie.

The young man shook his head choking off another giggle. "Nope, no 'three'."

Bodie breathed a sigh of relief. "Didn't think so."

Ray frowned. "And you'll remember what Bodie said about drugs, right? None of that hard stuff, lad. It'll kill you."

"Like that's never happened before," Richie muttered under his breath receiving another thump to the shins for his trouble.

Bodie nodded. "Little booze may be all right for a boy like you as long as you don't over-do it. And maybe a puff of marijuana now and again, if you really have to do something stupid."

"As long as you don't inhale," Ray put in. "Apparently the effects aren't quite so noticeable if you don't actually breathe the stuff."

"But stuff like meth and coke and heroin, you want to leave strictly alone, take my word for it." Richie nodded, lips pressed tight together, and escaped to the deck. "Odd chap, isn't he?" Bodie muttered staring after the young man. "Now, will you just look at the picture? Please? I'd like to be able to tell Murph he's got a free hand with that one."

"So, what are you going to do, Mac?"

The Highlander stared at his friend and gulped at his Scotch. "Do?" he asked holding out his glass for another. "What do you mean, Joe?"

The other man sighed and cast a quick glance at the two men in the corner booth. "Just what I said. What are you going to do about...." He looked around again. "Methos, you know."

Duncan shrugged. "Go get him, I suppose. What else can I do? I can't just leave him out there, can I?" It was Joe's turn to shrug as he looked almost desperately over toward the corner where Bodie and Doyle were snuggled together giggling over their beers. "Look at them, Joe," Duncan snarled. "That should be Methos and me over there." He hiccuped and rubbed his eyes.

"Mac," Joe said gently handing him a handkerchief. "Those two have been together nearly twenty years. You and Methos would have killed each other in half that time."

Duncan nodded. "Yeah, but it wouldn't have been permanent, Joe. Just until we both cooled off." He sniffed and blew his nose. "Christ, I'm surprised he didn't kill me right in front of Father Bertrand after what I said."

Joe sighed and waved the handkerchief away. "You keep it, Mac. Please."

"Mr. MacLeod?"

Duncan looked up. "It's Duncan, Ray. Remember?" He forced a tired smile and motioned the other man to sit down. "We all ought to be on a first name basis, as much time as we've been spending together. Don't you think?"

Doyle nodded. "There is that, I suppose. However, Murph phoned last night." He took a deep breath and lay a map of southern Australia down. "He and the young man are spending the weekend at a hotel near here." He pointed to a spot on the map. "Bodie and I thought you might like to go and have a look, make certain the young man's the one you're looking for?" He didn't seem particularly happy at the thought.

"Spy on 'em, you mean," Joe said, glancing sideways at the Scot.

Ray shook his head. "No, not at all. I told Murph I was going to tell you, Mr. MacLeod, and even told him you might decide to fly over because there was the chance...." He stopped and shrugged his shoulders.

"Because there's always the chance his young man hasn't been exactly on the up-and-up with him," Bodie said grimly. "And, Mr. MacLeod, if Murph gets hurt because of this disagreement you and your 'friend' have had, I personally will...."

Duncan arched one brow. "You'll what, Mr. Bodie?"

Bodie frowned. "Not sure just yet, MacLeod. Depends on how badly damaged Murph is, doesn't it?"

-- THE END --

NOTE: Standard disclaimers apply. The boys still aren't mine and hope is fading fast. They belong to the folks at Rysher and Mr. Panzer and Mr. Davis, for a while at least. We'll see what happens when the next movie comes out. For now, I'm merely borrowing them and will return them unharmed when I'm through. Sorry, guys, there is still no explicit sex to be found--just some very mild m/m implications and a little more angst.

Many thanks are offered up on the altar of proper English grammar and coherency to my betas, Emyrys, Olympia and Robin. And to Penny (aka Bodiebabe) and Poss for making sure the Lads sound at least marginally like themselves. Without them this story would make even less sense than it does.

Thanks, ladies! I couldn't do it without you.

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