On Faith and Trust Alone


Paris. May the 21st 1980.

Straightening the collar of his coat, MacLeod gave the heavens what had become his customary glare, not believing the late spring weather. It was raining, drizzling again, making the old stone pavements under his feet gray and slippery and giving Paris a dull, damp look. A grieving appearance.... He would be very glad when the uncharacteristic wet spell passed, because Paris in spring and summer was one of the few pleasures he still savored, somehow it seemed to reaffirm life injecting his spirit with hope.

The last decade had been hard. He had drifted from one casual relationship to another with waning enthusiasm, touching life rather than living it. He was tired of existing, of surviving, wishing for something that could fill him with the joy of life again. But nothing had infused him so brilliantly since Little Deer had been murdered on March 13th 1872. A date burned into his brain by its viciousness. Not only because of her death but because it had destroyed all he'd held precious, all he had protected and believed in. He had endured the pain but felt like he was only observing life now. Occasionally he had glimpsed happiness with friends, lovers, and events but.... he wanted something more. He wanted a consuming relationship that took up every ounce of his being. He wanted to be loved and be able to love completely.

Was that too much to wish for? Too much for an Immortal to desire peace and happiness?

Disillusioned, MacLeod shoved his hands further in to his coat pocket, cursing the dampness of the fabric as he stood in the drizzling rain. What was wrong with him? He had even kept away from the Game, encountering the occasional Immortal, visiting those few Immortal friends he cherished and fighting only when forced. He was not a hunter, never wanted to be a hunter but.... but otherwise he was simply trying to find a direction for his life. Existing instead of living. What he wanted, needed, he could never have. Permanency.

That illusive feeling of utter peace. To have one person whom he could rely on to be there, who knew what it was like to be immortal, who understood the dangers, the pain, the thrill, like Robert had Gina, he thought wistfully. To just belong. He craved to be able to come home and find his life filled with the soul deep knowledge of acceptance and love. He had hoped Amanda.... but he shook his head, water flying in all directions as he muttered a curse. Amanda he adored but they would kill each other. Amanda needed to be free, noh - theirs was a relationship based on friendship, on affection and companionship. A casual affair, though that was no longer enough for him either, so he had returned to Paris. Hoping, desiring to find his heart as well as a new direction. Paris the city of love and romance, only it was raining, washing his dreams away.

Shoving his hands harder into his damp pockets, MacLeod ambled down the old stone steps to the Seine River level. Recently he had purchased a barge and had great plans to do it up, to enjoy the best of both worlds by living so close to the heart of Paris and living on the water. The decision had felt right, had felt very good as he changed his lifestyle and used his money. Maybe he should continue with the antiques trade - make a serious attempt of turning it into a profitable business? After all, he had gone to all the trouble of getting that new license.... or he could go into the art business. So many possibilities. Already he was aware of friends, good friends, Immortal friends, who had given into despair and had lost a challenge to some eager headhunter, and he vowed never to be like that. He would keep his head and keep his perspective. If Connor could do it and Fitzcain could do it, then so could he.

Strengthening that silent resolve, MacLeod stopped under Tournelle's arched magnificence and looked towards his silent home. The barge, his barge, sat on the calm water, motionless and dark. Behind it loomed Notre Dame, filling the evening skyline with its impressive bulk and majesty. Involuntarily he shuddered.

Damn! He had to shake of this depression. Had to or....

Trailing that thought off, MacLeod tensed when the hairs on the back of his neck prickled up, washing him in a strong buzz of unwanted presence. Scanning the waterfront he turned slowly, rolling his shoulders back and picking out a dark shadow that detached itself from under the bridge behind him. This was just what he needed now. A challenge. Maybe Paris no longer possessed the luster and beauty he yearned for, and maybe there would be no relief from this blackness of spirit he sensed? Maybe he was doomed to loneliness.... Hardening his resolve and shoving his surge of useless anger aside, MacLeod drew his sword and held it before him in warning. "I am Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod! I have noh quarrel with you." He got a snicker in return, the figure moving closer being lit briefly by the reflection of light off the sword's polished edge.

"A MacLeod. How poetic."

Deciphering the Scottish accent, MacLeod squinted into the dimness and stepped back, forcing his opponent to follow so he could get a better look at his challenger. "I have no dispute with you." He declared, doubting he could halt the inevitable.

"But I do with you!"

"You know me?" MacLeod asked disconcerted. He had never seen the Immortal before, getting his first decent look at the man's face. A hard stern face, with long wavy hair, tied back, much like his own. Only the Immortal sported a full beard and held a Scottish Claymore.

"You are a MacLeod!" The Immortal shot back. "What else is there to know except it is my duty to give you a painful death."

Raising a brow at the overly dramatic statement, MacLeod carefully stepped back, eyeing his opponent, noting his stance and confidence. "Do I at least get a name?"

"McKellen." The Immortal spat. "And I curse you and all your kin!"

Circa 17th century. Highlands, Scotland

"Connor?" Exhaling harshly Duncan grimaced as he lifted the thick, blood-sodden blankets, half expecting to find his beheaded kinsman or worse a mortal - dreading to see another child so brutally hacked to death. "Who has done this?" He asked out loud, but only silence answered him. He had seen many battles, had fought on many bloody fields, but this.... this willful, unnecessary murder of the innocent turned his stomach.

Dropping the blanket back over the body of the elderly man he had found on the straw bed, Duncan carefully walked through the demolished cottage desperately searching for his cousin or any sign of life. But not much was left of the large family that had lived up here in the high country, and he absently wiped his hand over his chin, aching with the grief of so many deaths for so little reason.

"Connor?" Duncan called a second time, pushing back the partially destroyed door and going outside. It was snowing now, a light fall of soft flakes that magically started to obscure the blood and devastation of this small community, masking the ugliness with pure whiteness and Duncan lifted his face to the snow and breathed in deeply. The freshness was welcome after the stench of the last cottage he had walked through, his anger receding into a numbness of grief as he viewed the blatant slaughter. Why?

He glanced around, knowing this place, knowing these people. They were simple farmers, decent, honest folk who offered food and shelter to travelers. They had opened their homes to him a few years ago, and Connor had returned to visit. Distant relatives of the MacLeod's, or so Connor believed, and Duncan smiled sadly remembering how his clansman had become infatuated with one of the fiery-haired women of this small community. Grace.... But she was now dead. He had found her lifeless body in the first thatched roof cottage. Grace and her five younger siblings....

Tensing as the surge of Immortal presence swept over him, Duncan was reaching for his sword, drawing it as he turned and snarled, finding his anger was quick to rise as he stood in the middle of this atrocity. It fired his blood, making him want to fight, to release the useless rage. But his anger soon died as he saw his kinsman, bloodied but alive, an inner fury discoloring the normally light blue eyes. "Connor?"

"I-I.... I thought you were someone else."

Hearing the suppressed rage, Duncan swallowed, the implications very clear. "One of us did this?" He gestured around in disbelief. "Why?" But his kinsman didn't answer and Duncan was forced to follow his cousin to the end of the village as perfunctory, Connor started to bury the dead. Shelving his questions, Duncan took off his coat, re-sheathing his sword and offering silent help and support.

It took them most of the afternoon to bury the dead, each small body adding to the helpless feeling of desolation. It left a gaping wound in the earth, in them both and Duncan could see how Connor bled grief, bled vengeance - how his kinsman tried to hold it all in until after everything was done. Then and only then did he cry in sorrow, in despair for the pointlessness of this massacre.

"Why?" Duncan asked again as he tended a fire, both of them choosing to stay outside, away from the death and carnage in the dark empty cottages behind them. Gone was the laughter, music, and life.

"Because they are MacLeod's." Connor whispered tiredly.

"What?" Duncan blinked at his cousin. "But they are only distantly related. You said so yourself. So far removed they don't even carry the name."

"They carry enough." Connor said tiredly, lifting his eyes to find Duncan's. "Did Ian MacLeod never tell you of the dispute between the MacLeod's and the McKellen's?"

"Noh," Duncan started, frowning. He thought back, knowing the name sounded familiar but not remembering why.

"Four centuries ago there was a dispute," Connor stated, his tone reflecting his distaste. "..over a fertile piece of land."

"A clan dispute?"

Shaking his head, Connor held his hands out to the small fire, staring into it and remembering the trivial details. "No. It was between two families. One a MacLeod the other a McKellen. But rather than settle the dispute before the elders, the McKellen's decided one night to take matters into their own hands. They killed all the sheep in one pasture belonging to the MacLeods'."

"And I take it the MacLeod's retaliated."

Again Connor nodded. "Little by little more and more of the surrounding family members were dragged into the dispute. From what I was told it went on for years, until someone died."

Expecting this, Duncan still sighed, knowing how that would escalate to war.

"I think it was an accident, and the life that was lost was a McKellen's - but by then there was too much bad blood, nothing but distrust and anger on both sides for anyone to see reason."

"So the McKellen's avenged their dead by killing a MacLeod?"

Connor nodded. "Only they killed all within the farmstead."

"All?" Duncan asked in disbelief.

"Even the little ones." Connor confirmed as he looked up at the night sky. "Then the MacLeod's who lived in that province sought revenge and took the lives of those responsible. Only that didn't end the dispute, rather it turned the tragedy into a clan war and a war that neither side could win. In the end I think most of the McKellen males were killed, leaving only women and children to manage the farms." Connor sighed, collapsing back to lie on the damp ground and study his hands. "The few that survived were offered shelter in the MacLeod holdings. Those that refused, died the following winter."

"When was this?"

"1472." Connor said.

"That was over 270 years ago. Surely this cannot be related. Connor?"

"Ahhh," Connor gave a twisted, humorless smile. "From the way I remember the tale told, it seems a close cousin to the McKellen's returned near the end of the war, and he sought revenge. He was killed, but refused to die." Connor said his eyes meeting Duncan's and holding them for a long moment, before he glanced away and spat on the ground in disgust. "Everyone believed it was an ill omen and the land that was once fertile was declared cursed and the few McKellen's that survived and refused to leave the land were also cursed. They died."

"An Immortal," and Duncan closed his eyes, now getting a good idea of who and what they were facing.

"Bruce McKellen." Connor stated. "I have heard it whispered among the older ones that his tormented spirit still lives and that he arose from death to seek revenge for all the blood spilt by his kin." Connor shook his head in fury. "I have never completely believed those legends. Until now."

"So what do we do?" Duncan asked, feeling his blood heat up at the injustice surrounding him. "These people were innocent." He hissed. "He has to be stopped-"

"And I will stop him." Connor vowed, his eyes pinning Duncan. "If he is Immortal, then he can be hunted. You must go and warn the other clans."


"This is now my fight, Duncan. I do not want you involved."


Letting his mouth curve up into a wicked grin, MacLeod recognized the name instantly and found his enthusiasm peaking in anticipation. Even after two hundred and thirty one years he could still see the mutilated dead bodies, could still smell the stench of death at the back of his throat and his warrior instincts took over. Bruce McKellen of the Clan McKellen - a butcher, murderer and sworn enemy of the MacLeod clan since the 13th century. It was a dark piece of Scottish history, only MacLeod had never believed he would ever meet the infamous Immortal who had been the cause of so much hardship and tragedy for his people. "You are the one cursed, McKellen." MacLeod pronounced harshly. "You are the one who kills your own clan!"

Roaring in anger, McKellen didn't give a coherent reply, lunging at MacLeod with a savagery that was inspirational. Side-stepping, MacLeod didn't even get time to raise his blade, swiveling around to defend himself when the sudden flashing of police lights blinded him.

"Curse you Highland dog!" McKellen hissed, stepping in close and pinning MacLeod against the cold damp wall with his sword. "I would like to stay and sever yewr despicable head, but I have a previous appointment in London. Maybe another time, MacLeod!" He finished in Gaelic, laughing insanely before gut-punching the Highlander. "Give my regards to Connor." Laughing again when he saw pain sweep across MacLeod's face, McKellen raised the hilt of his blade and brought it down hard on the other Immortal's skull, then hastily moved back. He snarled at the approaching police officers, taunting them and judging his options before cursing in Gaelic a second time. Saluting MacLeod with his blade he determinedly stepped towards the river's edge.

Hiding his sword, MacLeod placed a hand over his forehead noting the stickiness of blood on his fingers before he watched in disbelief as McKellen dived into the Seine. There were other ways to avoid the Police and MacLeod blinked after him, stilling when he saw half a dozen police officers level their guns at him. Slowly he raised his hands and turned to give the officers' an innocent smile.


Meeting the Police offer's gaze, MacLeod sighed. He had the strange feeling this was going to be a very long night. But hadn't he just wished for some spice in his dull existence?

Four hours later, tired and mildly frustrated, MacLeod glanced towards the door, eyeing the Inspector who returned to the police interview room. Idly he wondered if they were going to charge him or let him go. But the Inspector only sent him a strained smile, closing the door softly and pacing towards the table in the center of the room.

"Monsieur MacLeod," the French offer started politely. "Are you sure you have told us all that you know?"

Rubbing his eyes in a mixture of annoyance and exhaustion MacLeod waited until the man was level with the desk and gave him a forced smile. "To tell you something I would have to know something." he countered blandly.

Not fooled in the least, the Inspector sat on the edge of the desk and briefly eyed the duty officer behind their suspect. "So you are staying with the story, stating that you did not know your attacker? That you had never seen the man before?"

"I have never seen the man before in my life." MacLeod stated with conviction. It was the truth after all. He might know of McKellen by reputation but had never met him. Besides, Connor had long since wangled a promise out of him not to hunt the mad, deranged Scottish bastard because his ex-teacher had a personal score to settle - for Grace and her clan. He respected Connor's request, understood Connor feelings, and knew his clansman periodically hunted McKellen, but that still didn't mean he couldn't challenge the bastard if their paths 'accidentally' crossed again, did it? Noh.... "He gave me no reason for the attack, but I assume he intended to rob me."

"And your sword?" The inspector pushed, knowing full well that MacLeod was not telling him the whole truth. Only problem was he had no proof.

"I told you." MacLeod said on an exasperated breath. "I am an antique dealer."

"It is an old sword, I will agree." The Inspector broke in. "But why carry it around monsieur MacLeod? Why was it not locked away with other valuable items?"

"I was moving it." MacLeod said with all sincerity. "I had been to the auctions earlier that afternoon and-"

"Yes." The policeman stopped him, giving MacLeod a suspicious glare. "Your alibi checks out."

"So?" MacLeod pushed, praying they would let him go. He really didn't want to drag legal representation into this dispute. It would take too long and he felt he didn't have the time to waste.

"If you remember anything else, I pray you will inform me, otherwise this man may attack another innocent citizen. And they may not be so lucky, monsieur." The Inspector went on, watching MacLeod's face intently. "For McKellen is a known murderer, wanted by Interpol."

"I really wish I could help." MacLeod put sympathy into his tone. How he wished he could tell the Inspector that no amount of police intervention would stop a mongrel like McKellen. Only an Immortal could do that.

"If I were you, I would find new accommodation for a few days."

"I will." MacLeod assured him. "Thank you."

"You are free to go for the present." The Inspector informed him unhappily. "But I warn you, do not leave Paris, Mister MacLeod."

Frowning MacLeod slowly stood up, being escorted from the room. His mind was already working over how to trace McKellen, then shoving the useless desire aside. He couldn't actively hunt, but.... Then he remembered something else. McKellen had said he was going to London and MacLeod knew Amanda was currently in London playing house with a wealthy Lord. Dammit! Amanda loved to be the social butterfly and he could just imagine her getting into trouble if McKellen found her. It was a slim possibility, but all the excuse he needed to chase the Scottish Immortal to London.

Stopping at the duty officer's desk, MacLeod signed for his sword and found the Inspector still watching him distrustfully. "How long before I can travel?" He asked casually.

"Why?" The Inspector countered.

"I have a.... ummm," MacLeod covered his hesitation by wrapping his sword in a cloth the duty police officer had given him. "There is a auction in London I was planning to attend next week." He said abruptly remembering seeing it advertised in one of his brochures.

"How convenient." The Inspector stated. "When?"

Trying to remember the illusive detail, MacLeod covered his hesitation with a smile to the pretty female officer close by. "The 24th, or 25th of May. At Oxford." He did remember that part. "I'll only be gone a week." MacLeod assured, deciding to ignore the suspicion. "Besides like you said, I should change accommodation until you find this dangerous murderer."

Studying MacLeod, the Inspector nodded once, laying a hand on his arm when MacLeod turned away. "Make sure you inform this office of your itinerary, in case we need to contact you urgently." He ended with a pleasant smile. In the back of his mind he had already decided to alert the relevant authorities in the UK, just as a precaution.

Nodding, MacLeod pulled away, glad to get out of the stuffy police station. Having the police follow his every move was not advisable, but he was sure once he hit London he could lose whoever was tailing him and finish his business with McKellen swiftly. For the French police, even Interpol did not hold power in England. After that, all he would have to do is find Connor and pacify him before telling his cousin that the bastard, McKellen, was dead.

Stepping out onto the damp streets of Paris, MacLeod no longer noticed the gloominess of the place, his mind filled with plans and strategies. First he would get back to the barge. Book a flight and then ring Amanda. Make sure she kept her head down and then arrange some hotel accommodation. Something expensive and classy. It was time he lived again, seized life with both hands and embraced his fate. It was the only way to survive the Game. To survive the lingering depression of losing all you loved and cherished.

And along the way he was positive he would find an anchor. Someone who would fill his mind, body and soul again with the thrill and excitement of life. With passion and danger. Love and happiness. He just had to be patient.

May 23rd 1980. London.

"And I suppose it was your bright idea, Bodie, to go charging in at the drop of a hat?" Cowley growled, noting the guilty look that the target of his outburst threw at his partner. Both operatives were standing before his desk looking for all the world like schoolboys dragged in front of the Head Master, which is effectively what was happening. "Do you know what sort of explanations I have had to give the Home Office about this whole sorry debacle?" Cowley carried on, taking off his glasses and studying his two most experienced agents. "I've a good mind to send you both for a refresher course. I'm sure Macklin could do something with you." He took great satisfaction in the winces of dread that were displayed by both men at the mere thought of spending time with the notorious Instructor. Cowley smiled benevolently. "However, this morning I was informed of a particular assignment that at this point in time seems right up your alley." A low mutter from Bodie caught his attention. "I'm sorry Bodie, did you have something to say?" Cowley demanded, pinning his errant agent with an icy stare.

"No Sir." Bodie snapped out, straightening into the classic 'Attention' stance.

"I'm glad to hear it. And you Doyle, did I say something funny?" Cowley questioned, noticing the other man grinning at his partner's discomfit.

"You Sir? Say something funny, Sir? Never Sir." Doyle replied in his slow relaxed style.

Cowley hid a smile, Doyle always was the one less intimidated by his temper, and it was one of the things he respected about the other man. "That's quite enough Doyle," he admonished making his tone stern. It would not do to let either man know how he really felt. In his opinion, Bodie could have been right, the actual disaster may not have been foreseeable. However, this little dressing down just might make them both think a few seconds more before rushing in next time. Picking up a folder from his desk, Cowley held it out to Doyle. The curly-haired agent took it and flipped it open while Bodie moved closer to peer over his shoulder.

"This is your assignment." Cowley stated, letting a sly grin form. "This is a covert surveillance operation I've agreed to handle for Interpol. We are doing them a favor." He tapped the photograph with a hard finger. "A one Duncan MacLeod, Antique Dealer. They think he is a target for a suspected serial killer named Bruce McKellen." Cowley tapped a second photograph of a mean looking man who was glaring at the camera. "Interpol want us to look after MacLeod." Cowley paused to allow the customary response to a babysitting job to occur, he was not disappointed as both men groaned with feeling. "Your job is to make sure MacLeod returns to Paris alive and in one piece. The operative word is 'alive' Bodie. Do I make myself clear?"

"Sir," Bodie said as Doyle muttered a similar response, his eyes still on the dossier.

"Good." Cowley ended. "Now stop cluttering up my office and get out to the airport. He arrives in two hours." He finished with a vague dismissing motion of his hand.

"Great! Just flamin', bloody marvelous!" Bodie complained once the door was closed. "That's all I need, another bloody Scot to baby-sit!"

"And a good looking one at that." Doyle pointed out.

It was an entirely unnecessary observation in Bodie's opinion and he glared at his partner.

Doyle caught the scowl on Bodie's face and his grin widened. "Not worried about competition are we?" He teased.

"Not bloody likely." Bodie answered hotly, before realizing that he was being setup. He decided to ignore Doyle and strode on ahead, his partner's laughter chasing him down the narrow corridor of CI5 Head Quarters.

Reaching the car, Bodie swore remembering Doyle had the keys. Putting on his best scowl he slumped against the car, arms crossed, to wait for his irritating partner to catch him up. Damn but he hated babysitting jobs, and to add insult to grievous injury it was a Goddamned Scotsman and a rich one to boot, and Bodie wanted nothing to do with him. He snorted at Doyle's jibe. Competition? Ha! His musings were interrupted by the arrival of his partner.

Doyle took one look at the scowl on Bodie's face and his grin widened of its own accord. This case might prove to be a far from boring, he mused. The instant dislike that his volatile partner had taken to their new assignment was going to be fun to watch if the case turned from covert to active and Bodie had to actually talk to this Duncan MacLeod. Not to mention the excellent fodder for Bodie baiting that the whole thing was bound to supply. Doyle would have been worried if he wasn't sure that Bodie could keep his feelings from interfering with his work, as it was he would just have to sit back and enjoy the few relaxing days.... Sliding into the driver's seat, Doyle started the engine and didn't wait for Bodie to finish getting in before accelerating out of the gates behind CI5's parking lot.

"Hey! The plane doesn't arrive for another two hours. What's your hurry?" Came Bodie's disgruntled rebuke.

"Didn't want the old man to stick his head out the window and see the car still sitting there." Doyle replied by way of an excuse, grinning at the glare tossed at him from the passenger seat.

The journey to the airport was very tedious, especially as Bodie complained and bitched all the way about the 'new' assignment. Doyle was about ready to strangle his exasperating partner when the turnoff for Heathrow appeared and he could gratefully maneuver the car through the traffic to the car park. "Bodie, would you just shut up!" He demanded. "Bitching about it is not going to make it go away." Doyle finished as he eased the Capri into a parking space. Switching off the engine he glanced at the man sitting beside him, but Bodie had fallen into a dark sulk, and Doyle sighed. "Just for being a pain in the arse, you can stay here and I'll go and pick up the mark." Doyle took the continued silence for assent, however unwilling, and got out of the car. Leaning back down, he eyed Bodie's tense frame and tapped the keys, leaving them in the ignition. Then he was gone, making for Terminal 4 to meet the British Airways flight that would be arriving from Paris in less than half an hour.

The flood of people from the arrival gate alerted him that MacLeod would be making an appearance soon and Doyle easily spotted the uniformed driver standing in the waiting crowd with a name board for the Mayfair Hotel. Blending in with the crowd he waited as the stream of arrivals thinned, they would be the British citizens, foreigners would be going through a more rigorous customs check and the people waiting thinned. All except the Mayfair chauffeur and Doyle logged the information away, impressed even though he had briefly scanned MacLeod's folder in Cowley's office. The man had money and obviously liked to spend it.

Leaning casually back on the railing, Doyle picked up a discarded newspaper, skimming the headlines as he kept an eye on the arrival gate and surrounding terminal. Now if he was really lucky, this McKellen would show up as well and he could capture the serial killer, save MacLeod, earn Cowley's favor and piss Bodie off. Grinning to himself at the image of him as conquering hero, Doyle absently noted the small dramas of welcome being played out repeatedly around him. He was however very much alert, and when the tall Scot came through the gate he spotted him immediately. Hard to miss actually.... MacLeod was carrying just one cabin bag, and an unusual long metal case, which Doyle suspected contained a sword - the man had been listed as specializing in antique weapons. In passing Doyle noticed that his quarry moved with the unmistakable grace and confidence of one who knew how to handle himself and he suspected that the sparse notes in his dossier did not do the man's martial talents justice. Bodie would not be pleased and he grinned even harder. He also could not help but notice the effect the handsome Scot was having on his surroundings. MacLeod was causing quite a stir as women stopped to admire, men turned to glare and to make matters even more interesting, MacLeod appeared to be totally oblivious to his effect, although Doyle was quite sure this could not be the case. No one was that naively blind.... oh yes, Bodie was really going to love this.

When he spotted MacLeod talking to the Limousine Driver from the Mayfair Hotel, Doyle tailed along discreetly behind them until his target was safely ensconced in the waiting vehicle. He loitered around the newsstand until the immaculate Limousine pulled away, then he hastily returned to the Capri.

Grinning, Doyle saw Bodie sitting in the driver's seat, and conceded the minor point as he slid into the passenger's seat. When Bodie was out of sorts he liked to drive, that way he could take his frustration's out on the road. "He's staying at the Mayfair." Doyle told his irritable partner, slamming the passenger door.

"Don't tell me," Bodie stated as he gunned the engine. "..he was picked up by the Hotel limo?"

"Got it in one, Sunshine." Doyle replied, trying to keep the amusement out of his voice.

"Figures," Bodie murmured sourly.

Doyle decided it would be wise to leave out his assessment of MacLeod's fighting abilities, general size and devastating effect on the female of the species, for provoking Bodie in this mood was not something he usually did for fun. Well not in the confines of a car anyway.

Thanks to Bodie's intimate knowledge of London's streets, not to mention his driving skills, they reached the Hotel in time to find the perfect spot across the street from which to observe the front entrance. It also gave them ample time to see the Limousine pull up and the tall Scot emerge from the opened door and pass the driver what must have been a generous tip as the chauffeur touched his cap and smiled with genuine warmth. While Bodie kept an eye on the entrance, Doyle checked in with Base, giving them a rundown on the movements of their assignment so far.

"So, I wonder if Kilt Boy is one of those stay at home types, or if he's going to have us chasing him all over the bloody city." Bodie mused to his partner.

Doyle chuckled. He had wondered how long it would take for Bodie to come up with a nickname and a not very flattering one at that. "Him?" Doyle let a speculative smile grace his lips. "I'd say you're in for some serious driving mate. He doesn't strike me as the stay at home type at all. Not at all."

"Bloody marvelous," Bodie began, but stopped moving back in his seat as a taxi pulled up in front of the hotel. A stunning woman got out with platinum blonde hair, wearing the shortest dress possible and the highest shoes imaginable. Whistling through his teeth, Bodie gestured to the female with his head as his eyes drank her in. Everyone at he Hotel entrance had stopped to stare at her and the female seemed to lap up the attention as she swayed her hips just a little more.

Doyle gave a wicked chuckle, seeing the doorman nearly fall in his rush to offer aid, despite the fact the female had no luggage. In fact the woman only laughed, the sound carrying even across the traffic and Doyle breathed out deeply in appreciation.

"Now that, is what I call a woman!" Bodie enthused, his eyes tracking his target like a heat-seeking missile. "I wonder how much that costs?" He mused.

"More than you can afford on a humble civil servants wages, sunshine." Doyle replied with a snort of amusement. "And keep your mind on the job. I don't want your brains slipping into your trousers for the rest of the assignment."

"My brains are in their usual place, thank you very much." Bodie replied, slightly offended.

"My point exactly." Doyle retorted in a low mutter.

"I heard that." Bodie growled, as his partner fended off a scowl with a raised arm.

"Speaking of being able to afford things, what if she's for MacLeod?" Doyle mused, momentarily forgetting his own rule about not provoking Bodie in an enclosed space. A very unamused grunt was the only reply he got before the other fell into one of his famous silences. Sighing, Doyle glanced at his watch, wondering how long they would have to sit here. At this rate it was going to be a very long and boring day.

Sitting up straighter in his seat two hours later, Doyle raised a brow, seeing the main doors of the Mayfair open and the stunning blonde from earlier emerged, to casually slip on her sunglasses. Then as if on cue MacLeod stepped out of the foyer of the Mayfair and glanced around before donning his own pair of sunglasses. The blonde turned to MacLeod and laughed at something he said before she reached up on tiptoes to plant a quick kiss on his lips. Still smiling she linked her arm through MacLeod's and smiled at the puce doorman. Grinning in delight, Doyle shook Bodie awake as the hotel limousine pulled up and the happy couple climbed in. "Wakey, wakey, Bodie. MacLeod's on the move."

Bodie grunted, jumping slightly. "I wasn't asleep," he protested reproachfully reaching for the keys and starting the Capri's powerful engine. Waiting to see which direction the limousine went, Bodie checked his mirrors then easily slipped into the early evening traffic.

"Yeah, yeah, you were just resting your eyes, I know." Doyle shot back with a grin. "Not going soft on me are you Bodie?"

"You'll keep. I'll show you soft next time I see you on the practice mat." Bodie returned.

Doyle snorted. "Well I'll give the guy one thing," he went on ignoring Bodie's teasing glare. "MacLeod's got stamina. That blonde bird's been in there two hours, and it doesn't look as if he's even broken a sweat."

"Really?" Came the acid reply. "Well Einstein, maybe he just hasn't got what it takes to satisfy a real bird." Bodie shot back.

Doyle decided that he had better not dignify that one with an answer- Bodie was driving after all.

Bodie stared morosely out the car window at the handsome couple having dinner across the street in the Italian restaurant. It had started raining, which meant keeping the windows shut and the heaters on. It made the car uncomfortable, muggy and stuffy. This was the worst part about covert assignments, the sitting and waiting. The inactivity and boredom, especially when you had a subject that was having just a little too much fun with a drop-dead gorgeous woman. Bodie noted how familiar the woman was with MacLeod, and vice versa until he had to begrudgingly conclude that she was probably a friend of MacLeod's rather than a Call Girl. Pity.... Then again he wasn't sure if that made him feel better or worse. "We're in the wrong business, Doyle. You realize that?" Bodie observed breaking the companionable silence that had settled in the car over the last few hours.

Doyle grunted agreement. "Especially if it gets you into a restaurant like that. With friends like that." He added as an after thought. You could learn a lot from somebody by watching them when they believed they were unobserved, and Doyle had watched the couple very closely.

Bodie noted that Doyle had come to the same conclusion about the woman, which probably meant he was right. He trusted Doyle's judgement on such things more than his own sometimes for his partner had always been a better judge of human nature than himself. Had to be Doyle's Copper background, he silently pondered. You didn't exactly need to be a great judge of character, in the army, to know that anyone on the other side was probably out to kill you.

They sat there for another hour, as MacLeod and his partner enjoyed a five-course meal followed by coffee.

"Well, now we know where he gets all his energy." Doyle quipped, not surprised when Bodie could manage no more than a snort of disgust. It seemed to sum up the evening perfectly.

MacLeod signaled the waiter for the bill and threw another glance out the window at the Capri parked a little way down the street. He had noticed it after the limousine had dropped them off - something had woken his sixth sense and he just knew they were watching him. Dammit, it was probably an Interpol tail. He hated being watched as it always put him on edge and made him feel exposed.


His name followed by a light caress on his hand brought MacLeod's attention back to the matter at hand and he found Amanda peering at him. There was an expression of concern on her pretty face as a waiter stood patiently at his side with the bill on a small silver platter. Without looking at the total, MacLeod handed over his credit card and acknowledged the man's 'thank you' with a nod.

"What's the matter Duncan?" Amanda questioned, taking his hand and bringing it to her lips to place a caressing kiss on the tips of his fingers. "Is it that car outside? It is, isn't it." She answered herself when he didn't reply.

"Aye. It's starting to annoy me." MacLeod returned, not surprised that Amanda had picked up on the tail.

"I noticed it when we pulled up. Do you think we should do something about it? It's not something I should worry about, is it?"

"No. I think I know who it is. I'll leave it, see what else they do." MacLeod broke off as the waiter returned with the credit card slip for him to sign. He did so and they left the restaurant when the Mayfair limousine arrived out front. Casting a discrete glare at the shadowed silver car, MacLeod hastily helped Amanda into the spacious car and climbed in also. As they pulled out onto the road, MacLeod kept a careful watch in the driver's rear view mirror, both riled and vindicated when the Capri pulled out to follow several cars behind.

From the look on his face, Amanda figured that the car was still following them, and she nibbled her lower lip in genuine worry. In fact she had begun to worry about Duncan a lot lately. It was nothing Duncan had done or said directly, but there were subtle things that troubled her. For she knew the signs well. Duncan was getting broody again, he did it every five or six decades when he would start to search for a mortal companion to settle down with and have a normal life. And no matter how many times it ended in disaster Duncan just kept on doing it. Amanda sighed, judging that it was probably time she rang Connor to warn him for she knew he was in London and he would want to know how best to snap Duncan out of such a mood. Why Duncan didn't take her advice and play the field like she did, Amanda had no idea. But she supposed that was what made Duncan MacLeod the man she adored and she sighed contentedly, snuggling into his solid warmth. It just pained her to see him so out of sorts.

When the limousine stopped outside the hotel MacLeod escorted Amanda out of the car and tipped the driver generously, glancing at the shadowed Capri parked across the road. Thanking the driver, he followed Amanda into the Mayfair's foyer.

"Who are they Duncan?" Amanda asked quietly as they entered the lift. Duncan's suite was on the 17th floor.

"Interpol I think." MacLeod answered. "I'll explain later." He continued, raising an eyebrow and inclining his head at the young man in uniform who was operating the lift. He saw the young valet blush at the smile Amanda directed the child's way.

Waiting until they were alone, Amanda pounced on Duncan, helping him shut the room door. "Come on Duncan, give! What is this whole Interpol thing?" She demanded. "You're not in any trouble are you?"

"No Amanda, I'm not in any trouble." MacLeod assured with a wry smile.

"It's not about me, is it? I mean, they're not here because I-I...."

"No Amanda, they're not here because of you." MacLeod replied in amusement, wondering what she had been up to recently to be this paranoid. It wouldn't be the first time that he'd had unwanted involvement with the police because of the beautiful thief.

"Then tell me what this is all about Duncan. I can't leave if you're in trouble, I won't leave!"

"Amanda, I told you, I'm not in trouble and this is nothing for you to worry your pretty head over." Mac insisted, cupping Amanda's face with his hands and leaning in to place a kiss on her parted lips. "Now lets forget about who ever it is that is unlucky enough to be stuck out there on a night like this, and get on to more interesting pursuits." He finished with a flourish, sweeping her up into his arms and whisking her into the bedroom.

Doyle sighed, if he had to put up with Bodie's grousing much longer he would not be responsible for his actions, and he was certain that no jury in the country would convict him. "Goddamit Bodie - will you shut up! We're stuck here until the night guys arrive - if Control can spare a relief team - and I can tell you, sunshine, I don't want to hear anymore about how much you can't stand this guy. Okay!?!" Doyle exploded, ignoring the slightly stunned look his partner was throwing at him. "Now, I'm going to find somewhere that sells edible food under ten quid, so that leaves you with Kilt Boy!" Not waiting for a reply he excited the car, slammed the door, and went in search of dinner.

Bodie watched his partner's back as the other strode away. He supposed he had been laying it on a bit thick, but he was still smarting from the almost botched job they'd been on before they got landed with this plum of an assignment. A fucking babysitting Job! He hated babysitting. He supposed he shouldn't be taking it out on Doyle though, for it was hardly Ray's fault. Bloody Cowley.

Ten minutes later Doyle returned with coffee and sandwiches from a late night dinner he'd found down the road. Settling into the passenger seat he handed Bodie one of the paper coffee cups and one of the film wrapped sandwiches.

Steadying the cup on the dash, Bodie sniffed at the sandwich, suspicious of the sly grin on his partner's face. "Jesus Doyle. You know I can't stand liverwurst!" He exclaimed, barely resisting the urge to throw the offending sandwich out the window.

"Oh, sorry mate. I forgot." Doyle returned, his best contrite look gracing his face.

"Yeah, right. And I'm a sodding monkey's uncle," Bodie muttered under his breath, knowing full well this was Doyle's way of paying him back. "Just for that, you can take the first walk around the Hotel." He finished, glaring up at the dark expanse of building before them. At night, the jungle of civilization differed little from the jungles of Angola. He couldn't wait until their relief arrived, if they got relieved, Doyle had been right about that point. The mood Cowley had been in earlier didn't suggest they would get much rest this night. Flipping marvelous....

May 24th 1980. London.

A light tap on the glass near his ear brought Bodie to full alert with a start and he cursed as the sudden movement caused him to bang his knee on the dash. Turning the full force of his glare out the driver's window he found his view obscured by a thin film of condensation. Growling to himself in displeasure and ignoring the chuckle from Doyle he wound down the window to find a young man standing beside the car, dressed in the royal purple and gold piped uniform of the Mayfair Hotel. The young man, obviously a waiter, smiled down charmingly before gesturing to the large tray he held.

"Good morning, Sirs." The waiter began. "I've been asked to bring you breakfast. Compliments of Mr. MacLeod in room 701."

Bodie simply stared at the man, wondering when some idiot with a microphone was going to step out from behind a telegraph pole and yell 'smile, you're on candid camera'. "Excuse me, what did you say?" He asked, because he couldn't have heard the waiter right.

"Breakfast Sir." The young waiter repeated. "Compliments of Mr. MacLeod. He rang room service this morning and said that there might be two very hungry and cold gentlemen outside in a silver Capri that might just like a hot breakfast. So, here you are Sirs." He finished by propping the tray on the bonnet of the car and holding out one of the covered dishes to Bodie.

"Well come on mate, don't just sit there with your jaw dragging on the ground, give me one of those. I'm starving." Doyle chimed in, prodding Bodie in the side. "Never look a gift horse in the mouth." He was having a hard time suppressing the laughter that threatened to spill out at the stunned look on Bodie's face. So, MacLeod had spotted them last night, very interesting, perhaps there would be more to this assignment than he'd first imagined. He wondered when exactly they had blown their cover, and Doyle smiled at MacLeod's obvious sense of humor. Then he groaned, realizing they'd have to tell the Cow that their covert status had been blown wide open. Christ but the old man was not going to like that. Maybe he could blame it on Bodie.... Dismissing that mischievous idea, Doyle blinked up as something hot and smelling of bacon was shoved into his hands.

"You get to tell the Cow about this." Bodie growled, glaring at the plate of bacon, eggs and sausages that was now sitting in his lap and trying very hard not to be grateful for it, as his saliva glands and stomach made it known that he had been neglecting them for far too long.

"Alright." Doyle agreed far too easily. "But I'm eating this first. Don't want to face the firing squad on an empty stomach." Doyle returned, tucking into his food.

"I'll just be off back to the restaurant now Sirs." The young waiter inturruped them a second time. "The breakfast crowd is big this morning. I'll leave word with John, the Concierge, that when you're done I'll pick up the dishes from reception."

"Thanks." Bodie muttered around a mouthful of bacon and eggs, watching the young Mayfair waiter return to the Hotel.

"Didn't your mother ever teach you not to speak with your mouth full?" Doyle teased, looking down his nose at his disgruntled partner.

Bodie chose to ignore the bait, concentrating on his breakfast.

Both men finished their meal in silence before Doyle broke the companionable atmosphere. "Well, I guess I'd better tell the Cow the good news." He mumbled picking up his R/T from the dash with a heavy sigh. "Mind you I haven't eaten like that in years.

"Think we can claim it on expenses?" Bodie asked absently, his eyes now trained on all the people entering and leaving the posh interior of the Mayfair. He hated to be upstaged, especially by a bloody Scot.

"In your dreams, mate." Doyle muttered and raised the R/T to his lips. "4.5 to base. Come in base."

"Go ahead, 4.5."

"Patch me through to Alpha One." Doyle asked, checking his watch and seeing it was close to 7am. This time in the morning, the Cow would be up and on his way to the Ministry.

"Patching you through now 4.5."

"Thanks." Doyle acknowledged, waiting for the connection to be made.

"I trust this is urgent Doyle as I have a meeting with the Minister."

Cowley's tone was gruff and Doyle pulled a face, hearing Bodies' snort of amusement before lifting his R/T back up to his mouth. "I believe it is, Sir." He started, choosing his words carefully. The shit was going to hit the fan regardless. Looks like a refresher course was coming up. "Contact has been made. Sir." He added the 'Sir' hastily on the end.

"Contact?!" Cowley grouched bad-temperedly over the line. "I never authorized you to make...."

Cowley's voice trailed off and Doyle could almost picture his bosses displeased scowl. He winced, glancing at Bodie.

"I see, 4.5." Cowley ended tartly. "How did that occur?"

"Don't know Sir." Doyle asked honestly, deciding not to beat around the bush, offering no excuses and knowing that none would be accepted. "But I suspect he was either tipped off, or he expected to be followed. Maybe Interpol warned him before he left Paris. Sir."

"Very well," Came the measured reply. "Make formal contact with MacLeod and explain the situation to him." Cowley returned. "Keep me informed. Alpha One out."

Doyle released a breath he had not been aware of holding and glanced over at his partner. "Well, I guess we go up to room 701 and get the introductions over with."

"Oh joy." Bodie replied with heavy sarcasm, handing his breakfast plate over to Doyle and exiting the car without a backward glance.

Doyle glared at his partner's broad back then down at the dishes in his hands, placing them both on the recently vacated seat before getting out of the car himself. Gathering up the plates, he placed them on the tray still sitting on the bonnet of the car, then locked the Capri. The posh neighborhoods were the worst for thieves.

Catching up with Bodie, Doyle heard his partner give the Concierge instructions regarding the dishes, receiving a polite nod in return. He entered the Mayfair foyer, feeling Bodie beside him, glancing back once at the Concierge and seeing the man's displeased glare. "Oie," he nudged Bodie in the ribs. "I think you forgot to tip the man."

"He'd be bloody lucky," Bodie muttered, his dark blue eyes scanning the immaculate interior expertly.

Dismissing Bodie's curt words, Doyle went to the lifts and pressed the up button, bouncing on his toes and getting his mind into proper order, knowing this first meeting with MacLeod was vital. He just prayed his unpredictable partner didn't immediately put the Scot into an uncooperative mood.

Reaching the 17th floor they found the door marked 701 in bold brass gothic lettering and Doyle made an 'after you gesture' to his partner. He figured that after the past twenty-four hours of hell Bodie had put him through, he would stand back and let his partner handle the pleasantries. It was going to be fun to watch Bodie try and mind his manners within MacLeod's presence.

Bodie just glared at Doyle, knowing what his perverse partner was doing and taking up the challenge. Stepping up to the door, he knocked loudly, a perfect imitation of the clichéd policeman's knock. He was about to try again when there was the sound of a chain being removed and a stunning semi-naked blonde woman confronted him.

Amanda had a fair idea who it was banging on the door, she'd heard that particular knock too many times to mistake it, besides Duncan had told her a little of what was going on - but only after she'd worn him out. Although much to her annoyance he wasn't telling her everything. Like the name of the Immortal who had challenged him. He'd also insisted that she leave town immediately, extracting a promise from her, and growling that she would do as she was damn well told for once. It would have been cute, if she wasn't so worried about him. Then Duncan had added insult to cuteness by having the gall to make her repeat her promise with her hands in plain sight. She would have been miffed if she hadn't actually had her fingers crossed. Well, if Duncan thought she was going to leave this alone, he had another thing coming. Oh, she planned to keep part of her promise, no fingers crossed, but she also planned to contact Connor and fill him in on the situation. All Duncan's talk of responsibility and honor was insignificant, making her teeth ache - she was more concerned with something happening to him in this brooding state. And now he had to involve the police. As a rule, she disliked the police, but maybe she could have some fun with these two plain clothed men. After all, it wasn't often she got the chance to play with the law with relative impunity.

It was with that thought firmly in mind that she opened the door at the brisk, businesslike knock. Peeking out with an innocent, girly smile full of charm, Amanda found herself facing a tall, well-built and very handsome man. The only distraction to his masculine beauty was the scowl presently decorating his face. "Oh my," she gushed in her best vacant voice. She hadn't realized that the plain clothed police were so dashingly handsome. Would almost be fun to get caught.... "You must be room service," she said impishly, turning back into the room before the stunning man could answer. Calling out to Duncan in an exaggerated sexy tone, Amanda sent her sometimes lover a mischievous wink. "Duncan honey, you shouldn't have. Really. This one is soooo cute."

"Amanda." MacLeod warned under his breath.

"He didn't." Bodie interrupted, his face and tone completely neutral as he pushed the suite door open and ran assessing eyes over the room.

Doyle hid a grin. Yes, this was definitely going to be an interesting assignment.

"Bodie. CI5." Bodie stated, thrusting his ID under the semi-naked female's nose. He'd seen women in less clothing, had busted birds with equally appealing breasts, long legs, pale, touchable softness.... Clearing his throat, Bodie lifted an eyebrow, banking down on his appreciation of her feminine form. "This is Doyle."

Doyle flashed the woman a quick smile, his eyes not missing a single curve, taking out his own ID and centering his attention on MacLeod. The Scot looked amused and he wondered how many times this attractive female had pulled this trick on the male of the species.

"We're here to see Mr. MacLeod." Bodie informed the pouting female, reaching over to pick up what looked like a hastily discarded bra that was hanging off the side lampshade. A 32D-cup if he wasn't mistaken. He handed it to the woman and gave her a charming grin.

"Oh, you mean you're not room service?" Amanda exclaimed with a disappointed little frown and a seductive batting of her lashes. Taking the offered bra she sighed sensually.

Growing impatient with the female's persistent teasing, Bodie tore his eyes away from her artful stance to glare at MacLeod. If this were his bird he wouldn't parade her in front of unannounced visitors.

"Amanda, give it a rest." MacLeod advised, stepping forward and taking the towel from over his shoulders and wrapping it around Amanda's skimpily clad figure. She would be the death of him at this rate and MacLeod sent the two police officers a tight smile. He was only dressed in a pair of sweat pants, his long hair damp and loose from their playful shower and he noted with interest how swiftly both men at his door assessed him with professional interest. So maybe they were not police and he peered at the ID badge the curly-haired man held up a second time. CI5? Now where had he heard about that law enforcement agency? From Fitzcairn? Probably. "Amanda, why don't you go and get dressed." He told her, giving her a pat on he behind for good measure.

"But Duncan sweetie," she started, bending gracefully forward, displaying a nice length of taunt thigh muscle and inviting cleavage. "I haven't had any breakfast yet."

"You'll survive." He informed her with a slight growl. Covering his smile, Duncan shook his head. She could be so naughty when bored. Or when she wanted something. Right now he couldn't decide which it was. Going up to her he physically shoved her in the direction of the bedroom, allowing his two guests into the room before closing the door. "Make yourself at home." He gestured to the comfortable lounge in the center of the suite. "Get dressed Amanda, or you'll be late for your flight." He stated pointedly, throwing a behave-yourself look over his shoulder at her.

Amanda stuck her tongue out at him in retaliation, then sauntered with an exaggerated sway of her hips in the direction of the suites massive bedroom. She stopped by the dinning table and gingerly picked up the silk stockings she'd discarded there the previous night, running them over her fingers in a blatant manner. Duncan could be such a stick-in-the-mud sometimes, she decided, sighing dramatically and imagining Duncan's wince at her over the top display. Serves him right for wanting to shove her out of the way into a safe place. When will he learn that sometimes you have to trust your friends? Sighing a second time, she purposely let her eyes caress the tall, dark-haired CI5 agent, liking his dangerous, smoldering appraisal. What she couldn't do with such a man, and she wrinkled her nose up in delight. Then just as quickly turned and provocatively walked into the bedroom, shutting the door with a definite snap.

Doyle caught the interesting by-play and the resigned look on MacLeod's face and stifled his grin. Bodie was easy bait - governed by his overactive hormones, and Doyle turned away to look around the room. Clothing decorated various pieces of furniture, some feminine and some of a more masculine nature and he had to summarize that MacLeod and this 'Amanda' had enjoyed a prolonged sexual romp the previous evening. That would do wonders for Bodie's fantasies and overall opinions about MacLeod, and Doyle shook his head. Didn't Bodie tire of the numerous birds he chased and bedded? Apparently not, and abruptly Doyle found his mood was souring. Pulling his mind back to the assignment he settled his eyes on MacLeod again and wondered what the Scot saw in the mischievous 'Amanda' - besides great sex. What about a meaningful relationship? He didn't figure MacLeod for the type to go for airheads, so there must be more to the bottle blonde than met the eye. But what had been seen was definitely top class. Poor Bodie....

"So how can I help you gentlemen?" MacLeod asked breaking the strained silence after Amanda's departure. She could really make a mood or shatter it. In this case he wasn't sure her feminine charms had been very well received. The curly-haired agent - Doyle - didn't seem bothered, but the smooth dark-haired agent looked like he wanted to kill something. MacLeod could sympathize, for he'd sometimes had a similar feeling after spending a prolonged amount of time in Amanda's exasperating company.

"We have reason to believe that you are aware that Interpol are investigating a man by the name of Bruce McKellen. And that you are a prime target for this man." Serial killer, but Doyle left that unsaid, seeing MacLeod's raise brow in interest.

"I'm aware of that." MacLeod stated evenly.

"We are here for your protection." Bodie continued the word 'protection' coming out a little weaker than the rest of the sentence. He saw MacLeod's eyes twinkle in amusement and gave the man a tight humorless smile.

"I don't need protection. But thank you." MacLeod stated, just as politely.

"It wasn't an offer." Doyle cut in before Bodie could stuff up the assignment more. "How long do you intend to stay in London, Mr. MacLeod?"

"A few days. A week at the most." MacLeod shrugged, not liking the sound of this. Where they planing to chaperone him? He hoped not.

"We'll need details of your proposed itinerary." Doyle stated, walking away from the lounge and idly studying the contents in the suite. Very little missed his expert eye and he walked behind MacLeod before going to stand next to his silent partner. He caught a glimpse at Bodie's pinched expression and hid his smile. At this rate MacLeod could be forgiven for thinking they were playing 'good cop, bad cop'.

"This is unnecessary." MacLeod started to protest.

Doyle shrugged, unconcerned. "You either tell us, or we shadow your every move." We'll do it anyway, he added silently, watching MacLeod's brows draw down in annoyance. So he wasn't so unflappable. Good. Bodie would like that reaction.

"I want to speak to your superior." MacLeod grated out. How was he supposed to find McKellen like this?

"We'll see what can be arranged." Bodie grated out in a deadpan tone.

Staring from one CI5 agent to the other, MacLeod debated his options. He really didn't want to draw attention to himself, so maybe he should play along. Besides he was only planning on going to a charity auction that evening in Oxford and it was unlikely McKellen would be there. If worst came to worst he could lose the agents. Coming to a decision he plastered on a cooperative smile and nodded. "Very well." He went over and picked up his diary, seeing that it was open at Connor's London address. Amanda! And he cursed under his breath. Not that his cousin was there at present for he had tried ringing Connor earlier. Still the sooner he got Amanda out of town the better. Walking back to the CI5 men and putting on a studious look. "I have a charity auction to attend this evening. Dinner tomorrow night and maybe another auction the following day."

"Fine." Doyle nodded, taking out his note pad. "We'll need details."

Modifying his glare, MacLeod begrudgingly complied. This was going to prove very annoying.

Easing up behind the Hotel's Limousine when they arrived at Oxford that evening, Bodie eyed the immaculate gardens, and high-class visitors to this 'minor' function and charity auction MacLeod had told them about. There was nothing 'minor' about this slice of high society, Bodie judged, his scowl increasing. Waiting impatiently for the Limousine to pull away, he purposely guided the Capri in front of the valet and awaited service. But the young man in the smart red uniform took one look at the car and promptly lost his ingratiating smile, ignoring Bodie's glare completely as he refused to open the door for Doyle. Both agents got out of the car, Doyle waving his ID under the nose of the valet to cut off the impending protest, whilst Bodie threw the keys at the startled man. "And don't scratch the paint." Bodie tossed over his shoulder grinning at his partner. Stopping abruptly, Bodie looked down when he heard a pitiful meow from somewhere in the vicinity of his left foot and found a small feline looking up at him pleadingly. Startled to find such a creature amidst such splendor, he scooped up the cat, getting it off the road. "Bloody nuisance," he muttered, dropping the cat just as quickly when it bit him.

Looking at his partner, Doyle grinned seeing the black cat disappear down behind the main hall. Bodie had a way with blonde birds, small children and dogs. But cats - were just not on his partner's list of likeable converts.

With the first obstacle successfully overcome, the pair entered the foyer of the Great Hall and stopped finding themselves surrounded by patrons wearing tuxedos and satin, pointedly reminding them of the class difference and their state of being severely underdressed. Large flower arrangements provided splashes of color amongst the dark clothing. The murmur of low cultured voices a counterpoint to the string quartet that was positioned at the back of the entryway. Young women in maid's uniforms navigated expertly through the crowd carrying trays of appetizers and both agents managed a good imitation of casual nonchalance. Both spotted MacLeod, their assignment's tall broad frame and long ponytail instantly recognizable in the crowd as MacLeod stood chatting easily to an older couple. White uniformed waiters stood to the side of the entrance with silver trays of Champagne Flutes and Bodie swept one up, eyeing the man and daring him to protest. Wisely the man chose to keep his opinions to himself.

"Bloody wonderful," Bodie muttered in an aside to his partner, his eyes expertly sweeping the room and missing nothing.

Doyle rolled his eyes heavenward and for the hundredth time that day prayed for strength. He hoped like hell that Bodie could refrain from making a scene, no matter how small, for he didn't feel like experiencing Cowley's boot all the way into Macklin's refresher course. Then on top of that, he also hoped that some petty official didn't come along and give Bodie an excuse for starting a scene, because then he would have to bail out his stupid, erasable partner again, it was a full time job. Bloody hell, why me?!? It was just the sort of thing that his sometimes- contrary partner would derive enjoyment from and Doyle could just imagine the debriefing in Cowley's office afterwards. In fact the image was starting to make him wince in advance, almost smelling the arrival of trouble. Determinedly he stepped over to his partner's side, noting how Bodie was already trying to charm one of the maid's with his killer smile and Doyle scowled at his perverse partner. Only 3.7 - problem was - the daft female had already probably given his irresistible partner her phone number, house key and bra size. Doyle sighed, oh well.... at least it kept Bodie happy and out of immediate trouble, and he placed a cautionary hand on Bodie's arm. "Come on sunshine, you wouldn't want the poor girl to lose her job for chatting to the guests. Now would you?" Doyle interrupted. It only earned him a dirty glare.

Bodie turned back to the pretty brunette and smiled his patented smile. "See you around then love. This elderly gentleman here needs my help."

The brunette smiled, blushed and murmured something along the lines of - 'see you later.' Before giving Bodie one last come-hither smile.

Doyle snorted. "I'll show you elderly next time we hit the mat!"

Bodie just grinned.

Then right on the dot of 8pm by some unseen signal the crowd started moving and Bodie and Doyle trailed along behind. They passed what looked like Greek or Roman statues set at intervals down the long hall until they reached a set of blue velvet draped partitions that effectively cut the rest of the hall off from view. One glance behind the curtains and they rightly assumed this was where the Auction would be held.

"Lives of the rich and shameless," Bodie quipped to Doyle as he smiled politely to one old lady who frowned at him. "I keep expecting to see Cowley pop up at any moment."

"Nah, "Doyle intoned. "Not enough blood and guts."

"I keep forgetting. He likes establishments where men are men and boys are-"

"Kept for better purposes." Doyle finished for his partner, having heard the joke numerous times.

At the front of the hall rested a podium and a long beautifully kept antique oak table. Running his eyes over it Doyle knew one Scotsman who would be showing appreciation for the magnificent items and table even as he heard Bodie sigh impatiently beside him. But then his partner of three years had long since compounded his ignorance when it came to the fineries of life. Especially if said items got in the way of the job. Doyle would never forget the time they had gone to pick up a particularly nice desk for the Cow.... and he grinned in memory now. Then he had winced at the destruction of such craftsmanship, but looking back, he now had to admit that Bodie was right. He should have cut that desk loose sooner.... Around him the items displayed were beautiful and Doyle assumed these were part of the auction. They ranged from ornate vases to jewelry and a couple of swords, which he assumed, were the reason why MacLeod was here. Plus there were books, art pieces, statues and some old manuscripts.

"Oie," Bodie interrupted Doyle's appraisal of the table by nudging his partner in the ribs. "The food, and-"

"Brunette," Doyle supplied in an aside voice.

"Kilt Boy," Bodie corrected with a patient look. "..are back here, mate." He scanned the filling area and nodded his head minutely towards the figure of MacLeod. Three absolutely gorgeous women surrounded the man and Bodie let his scowl deepen. "Unless you want to collect more antique junk, I say we move."

Hearing the slightly clipped tone, Doyle had a fair idea of its cause and smothered his grin. This assignment was definitely going to supply him with ample material to goad his partner with for years to come.

The Auctioneer had just called an intermission when Duncan MacLeod felt the wash of a powerful presence assault his senses. He scanned the crowd with difficulty, noting how everyone was now making their way back out past the partitions to where the light buffet had been arranged. The other Immortal, whoever it was, seemed not be in the immediate room, but he, or she, was close before the presence faded almost as quickly as it had arrived. Glancing back, MacLeod noted that his two watchdogs were momentarily obscured by the retreating crowd and now would be a perfect time to give them the slip. So was it McKellen? Walking calmly through the crowd, MacLeod made his way to the fire escape doors at the far end of the room, checking cautiously to make sure he was still unobserved. Then he slipped out the door, leaving it slightly ajar so he could use it to re-enter the hall if necessary. Drawing his sword, he slipped passed the next outer doors and side-stepped slowly along the wall of the building, keeping his back to it.

MacLeod glanced around, annoyingly seeing no sign of anyone and he extending his senses, moving hurriedly away from the side of the building. The sense of presence had vanished, and he doubted now that it was McKellen, for the Scottish bastard would have stuck around for another challenge, or at least for a few taunts at his expense. Despite that fact, MacLeod never felt comfortable unless he knew who the potential enemies were, so he scanned the area, curious what other Immortal would attend a charity auction and why walk away without identifying themselves. Odd....

Bodie checked the crowd again, but he could not spot MacLeod's distinctive form. Swearing he glanced over to the other side of the room catching Doyle's eye. But his partner shook his head negatively. No luck either. Turning, Bodie scanned the perimeter of the room again, but nothing looked out of place, except for the staff setting up for the second half of the Auction. Seeing Doyle had started another sweep of the room, Bodie conferred with his partner by silent finger signals and moved to the opposite end of the room to begin the search.

Finding a fire door slightly ajar, Bodie caught Doyle's attention with a whistle ignoring the looks from the disapproving staff and guests. He didn't care. When Doyle reached his side, they both drew their weapons and slipped out, immediately finding the outside door and being greeted with an empty walkway between the buildings. "Christ!" Bodie spat under his breath, following Doyle's nimble figure into the evening darkness. Squinting slightly in the gloom after the brightness of the auction hall, both agents turned when they heard the fire door whisper shut behind.

Swearing Doyle took out his R/T and radioed base before following his partner and keeping a cautious eye behind them. The alleyway took them into a small courtyard and more dark walkways between old stone structures.

Releasing a frustrated breath when the abrupt resurgence of Immortal presence returned, Methos - alias Adam Taylor - stood waiting in the shadows for his visitor to find him. He wasn't sure he should be doing this, but he was intensely curious about the man whom he'd briefly glimpsed in the auction hall. He had read so much about Duncan MacLeod the last time he had been in the Watchers, that he was interested to know how far the Scottish barbarian had come in the last two hundred years. Darius was very optimistic of MacLeod's potential to take the Prize, which was saying a lot. And out of curiosity - boredom possibly - he had kept tabs on the younger Immortal ever since Darius had told him how intelligent the Highlander was he had given his word reluctantly to the old priest that he would watch out for Duncan MacLeod. One of his weaker moments.... or simply the fact Darius had dragged a promise out of him while drunk. It didn't seem to matter now for all his questions were about to be answered.

Cautiously approaching the end of the second walkway, MacLeod stilled and let the timber of the buzz assaulting him sink in. Taking a deep calming breath he raised his sword to a defensive position and stepped out into the pool of light provided by the security light on the building's corner. "I'm Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod." He stated, and found himself facing someone he had never met before. Someone who looked impossibly young and who wasn't holding a sword. The youthful man before him stood in a seeming relaxed stance, but MacLeod noted that his right hand was inside the long dark trench coat. Frowning MacLeod tightened his grip on his katana, seeing that this Immortal was lean, his face all planes and shadows broken by the prominent nose, while he stood at the very edge of the light. A cautious ploy.

"Soooo," a soft baritone drew the word out mischievously. "You are Duncan MacLeod. I've.... heard of you."

The silky tones were low and colored with amusement, sending a jolt through MacLeod. The gentle words washed over him, lulling him by the other's English accent along with something that he had never felt before. Almost but not quite it was like a shock of recognition, of pieces of a puzzle falling into place answering questions deep within his soul. Only he had not known that there were any puzzles or questions to answer.... Ignoring the disturbing feeling MacLeod took a breath. "Is that so," he replied clearly and concisely. "And your name would be?" He continued, relaxing slightly when the other showed no immediate threat.

"I'm here for the auction." Methos stated, giving MacLeod's tuxedo a deliberate once over before a cynical grin tugged at the corners of his mouth. "Thought I might see if any of it was mine." He finished, purposely ignoring the question. "Did you manage to pick up anything of interest?"

Duncan MacLeod was having trouble keeping his jaw from hanging open. Here he was having a conversation with a complete stranger - an unknown Immortal - about what he managed to 'pick up' at the auction, with his sword drawn. He found the whole situation veering towards the twilight zone at an alarming rate and was just about to deliver an irritated reply when the buzz of a second presence washed over him. He fell again into a defensive stance, scanning the area around him, noticing that the other man did the same.

"What is this, Immortal Grand Central!"

It was an irritated mutter from the young man in front of him and MacLeod glanced across and glimpsed curiously that the English Immortal had still not drawn a sword. He obviously carried one, seeing the pale hand move further inside his coat.... so why hadn't he drawn it? Strangely all this Immortal had done so far was to take a long measured step backwards, placing his face in complete shadow. Very clever.... MacLeod mused. It was obvious this young Immortal had decided to show his face to him only.

Methos cursed silently to himself, fuck this was all he needed! Another bloody Immortal on the scene! He dare not draw his sword, not with the likelihood of a bloody Watcher lurking somewhere in the darkness. If he was spotted and his description recorded it would ruin all his future plans. So all he could do was step further back into the shadows and hope that any Watcher either had bad eyesight, or they were too busy watching MacLeod and the new idiot about to descend on them. Fuck!

"Well, well, well.... two pigeons for the price of one." A deep voice interrupted from its own shadows. The Scottish burr more pronounced than MacLeod's. "I should attend these type of auctions more often, for you never know what you can pick up on sale."

"Your quarrel is with me, McKellen!" MacLeod growled, not wanting to drag the unknown Immortal into the fight. This was clan business, and with a shock he realized that his protective instincts were in full force towards this unknown English Immortal. Ridiculous! And he didn't even know the young man's name, let alone history! But he sensed innately that there was no threat and never would be. Not like McKellen.

"My quarrel is with whoever I like, Highlander!" McKellen snapped back peeved. "Including the skinny kid over there!" McKellen growled back, waving his blade in the stranger's direction.

A muffled, strangling sound emanated from the direction of the young Immortal and MacLeod couldn't tell if it was laughter or outrage. But the last thing he needed was for this young fool to now draw attention to himself.

McKellen advanced further into the light, his Claymore drawn but held in a seemingly negligent grip. "I'll kill you first Highland dog, then I'll take your friend!"

"My, my.... aren't we all being so civilized." Methos cut in with heavy sarcasm. "Don't let me interrupt the reunion, just think of me as an interested bystander."

McKellen's head swiveled to glare in the direction of the stranger, his expression altering from annoyance to outrage in a second. "You!! I know that voice-" he gasped then spat in disgust. "It is a voice I have vowed never to forget!" He snarled, side-stepping to put distance between himself and MacLeod, before advancing on the other Immortal.

"Stop right there, McKellen!" MacLeod ordered, moving forward in an attempt to keep himself between the other two fighters. Damn the younger man's mouth! What was it with young Immortals and the need to be brash in the face of danger!?!

"Stay out of this, Highlander," McKellen snarled, slapping the katana aside as he turned back to his tormentor with a vicious grin lighting his lips. "Your sorry wolfshead is mine, Loxley! Or what ever you call yourself now! And it will be a pleasure taking it."

"Some other time perhaps, de Renault." Methos returned, emphasizing the name and twisting it into an insult expertly. Bowing slightly to Duncan MacLeod Methos backed away further, intending to make his escape. He trusted that MacLeod would delay the Scottish lunatic and that any Watcher's would stick around to watch the fight. It was a risky chance.

McKellen cursed, reaching into his pocket and taking out a gun to shoot the retreating man before the other made it to the corner of the building. The bullet slug slammed into the slender man's chest causing him to grunt in pain and fall backward to land in an inelegant sprawl on the cold cobbled ground.


MacLeod blinked, hearing the groaned profanity and not believing what had just happened. He turned to snarl his rage at McKellen's dishonorable actions, instinctively stepping between McKellen and the injured Immortal on the ground with the intention of forcing the Scottish blaggart to deal with him. "I challenge you! Or do you have no courage for a fair fight!?!"

It was at exactly that moment that two figures came skidding around the corner, guns drawn and shouting for everyone to freeze. Both MacLeod and McKellen froze, both hastily glancing in the direction of the CI5 agents. Exhaling in frustration MacLeod backed up a step, already trying to think of a way to explain the unexplainable as McKellen roared in anger at the intrusion.

"You're bringing mortals into your fights now MacLeod?!" McKellen demanded incredulously. "It's nice to learn that you are not so honorable as many believe." He ended with a sneer.

MacLeod winced at the use of the word 'mortal' and hoped that neither of his two hindrances understood the language. He also dismissed the insult on his character, knowing McKellen's past history and despising him for it. "Yewr mine," he hissed back in deadly promise, switching to Gaelic.

Lowering his sword, McKellen made a show of complying with the two CI5 agents request, before he spun around and lifted his gun a second time. He fired two shots in quick succession, seeing both mortals dive for cover as MacLeod stepped back instinctively. Then he swore again and took off at a run down one narrow walkway.

Bodie dropped flat as the bullets whisked past him, unable to return fire for MacLeod stood in his line of sight. He heard several shots from his left, seeing Doyle roll to one side as the new assailant disappeared down another dark alleyway. "Christ!" Bodie swore, hurriedly climbing to his feet. If they weren't careful they would lose this madman in the labyrinth of the University's grounds. And he had the sneaking suspicion this was McKellen - the serial killer who wasn't even supposed to be in London.... bloody Cowley!

MacLeod cursed savagely, throwing a brief glance at the unmoving form of the injured Immortal on the ground, torn between going to him and covering his injuries, or chasing McKellen. But then before he knew it he was heading toward the same buildings as his rival, wanting McKellen with a passion that bordered on insanity. This bastard had killed, murdered for pleasure. Had slaughtered innocent children, was systematically destroying his heritage. He wanted Bruce McKellen and centered his mind on finding the depraved bastard before more died.

Climbing to his feet, Doyle swore viciously checking his clip automatically. He was sure he had clipped the man in the shoulder. Yet.... "Well this is going straight to hell real fast!" He growled, glancing at Bodie. "That was McKellen-"

"No joke!" Bodie hissed, hurrying to the alleyway entrance and cursing when MacLeod blocked his line of fire again. He swore.

"You go after them," Doyle ordered, stopping at his partner's side and assessing the situation. "I'll call in and check this one over." He snapped, gesturing to the barely moving man on the ground. Cowley was not going to like that fact a bystander was injured.

"Right." Bodie replied tersely. Taking a steadying breath Bodie took one more look at his partner kneeling next to the fallen bystander and set out in pursuit of MacLeod. If he was lucky he could cut the man off behind the next building.... Letting his senses expand, he sought out the telltale signs of a chase from the myriad noises that made up the night, catching the faint sound of a curse in an unknown language off to his left. Smiling, Bodie follow the noise.

MacLeod came to a halt feeling McKellen's presence faded and he lost the echo of the big Scot's retreating footsteps. Cursing loudly and graphically in Gaelic he searched the area for signs of his quarry, knowing it was futile but unable to just stand and do nothing. Then behind him the sound of running footfalls on cobblestones had him swiveling, automatically taking a defensive stance with his sword raised when Bodie came into view. Breathing out loudly, MacLeod dropped his sword down, peeved and frustrated, knowing his watchdog was going to have questions and not caring to answer them. "Shit," he muttered not missing how Bodie refused to lower his gun as the other man drew level with him.

Sliding to a halt, Bodie stared incredulously at MacLeod, anger warring with respect at the expert way the Scot handled the weapon. It took skill to use such a weapon.... but this crap he didn't need and he started to wonder why MacLeod would bring a weapon like this to a charity auction. Antique dealer or not! Bodie dismissed the oddities, for he liked clear, easy fact. Doyle was the one who enjoyed a mystery. Yet still.... a goddamn sword? And a live edge by the looks. "Okay sunshine, put the sharp object down before you hurt yourself." Bodie ordered, ignoring the scowl directed at him by MacLeod. He was not going to get into an argument with this Scot for he was a firm believer in letting Cowley do the interrogations. Besides he figured any explanation MacLeod now offered would probably be a lie. "Pick that up at the auction did we?" Bodie asked with false pleasantness, already knowing the answer. "I don't remember seeing it on display, and I would have remembered something like that."

MacLeod eyed the tense operative, his scowl deepening with every second. This was not going to be as easy as it had been in Paris. Lowering the katana even more, MacLeod chose not to answer the agent, going instead for a belligerent silence. At this point he was probably a lot safer with silence than explanations. Bodie would never believe the truth anyway....

Noting the closed stance and tight-lipped scowl directed at him, Bodie figured that MacLeod was not feeling inclined towards being co-operative, and that just pissed him off more. He had an innocent bystander shot, possibly dead and this damned Scot had developed a case of lockjaw? This jackass had just placed him and Doyle in danger, an unnecessary danger and if there was one thing he was not going to allow it withholding vital information. Not when it could mean his partner's life. Lowering his gun but not returning it to its holster Bodie decided he was going to get some answers. "Listen up MacLeod, I don't care who you are and I don't care what sort of friends you have in high places! When you are under our protection you will damn well do as you're told! And that means you don't sneak out the back door and get innocent people killed!!" Bodie hissed, gesturing to the alleyway behind him. If the bystander died Cowley would eat them for breakfast.... the Home Office would suspend them and the media would crucify them.

MacLeod took exception to the other's tone almost immediately. It looked like this Bodie was going to be one of those men who just rubbed him the wrong way from the very start and he painstakingly dismissed his own anger. Bodie was an arrogant child who thought he knew it all and didn't have the brains to know when he was wrong. But the agent's words did give MacLeod a guilty start when he mentioned the other Immortal as an 'innocent bystander'. MacLeod was almost positive that the wound was a fatal one, and dreaded to think what would happen now if the other Immortal came back to life before his body hit the morgue. Dammit all to hell.... he swore to himself again. This was a complication he didn't want to face. For it would mean the other Immortal would have to leave England, change names and set up a new identity. All because this English Immortal had wanted to attend an auction. "It is my fault," MacLeod whispered to himself, not realizing he had spoken the words out loud. Lifting his eyes he saw Bodie frown at him and MacLeod sighed. He would have to make it up to the other Immortal. Find out his name and offer assistance. Offer him a life out of England.... perhaps even get Amanda's help. It was the least he could do.

Bodie took in the cold hard expression on MacLeod's face and decided that returning to the auction was probably the best course of action. They had after all lost the suspect and running around unfamiliar territory at night with a sword-wielding-gun-toting-nutcase on the loose was not a good idea. Besides he had a 'sword-wielding-nutcase' currently in his custody which was enough to think about at present, and Bodie promised himself that sometime soon MacLeod would explain. "Okay Sir Lancelot, let's pack it up and get back to the auction hall."

MacLeod hesitated, hearing the jibe at his character and ignoring it also. He was reluctant to give up the chase, even though he knew it was hopeless and one look at the determined expression on Bodie's face confirmed his worst nightmare. With a silent curse in the direction McKellen had taken, MacLeod re-sheathed his katana and then gestured for Bodie to lead the way back towards the auction building.

Turning his thoughts away from the chase with difficulty and banishing the concern he felt for his partner being alone with no one at his back, Doyle approached the young man on the ground and knelt down. His fingers automatically searched for the carotid checking for a pulse and he let his gaze assess the amount of bleeding with an expert eye. Under his fingers Doyle found the pulse beat, weak and fluttery, his eyes returning to peer down at the victim's blood stained hands that were clutching the long coat determinedly closed. It was an odd gesture, and Doyle gently tried to pry the fingers away only to be met with firm resistance. It baffled him and he glanced back up at the man's pale face, seeing very white teeth bite into a bloodied lip with grim determination. The young man looked to be a student, not one of the well-dressed patrons from the auction in progress and Doyle cursed again. He just hated it when innocent bystanders got dragged into the middle of such needless disputes. It was so unjust! Pulling out his R/T, Doyle let his gaze travel the length of the student's body, seeing the shivers and knowing the man was going into shock. Shit! "4.5 to Base." He said in a no nonsense voice. "I have a man down and require an Ambulance at-" checking around the area, Doyle wondered if this causeway had a name. "I'm at the back of the main faculty hall. Oxford campus. 3.7 is on foot in pursuit of suspect. Require backup. Repeat, requiring back up. Patch me through to the medics when they're rolling." He finished.

"Base to 4.5. Acknowledged. Complying." Came the efficient voice of the female dispatcher on the other end.

Placing the R/T on the ground next to him Doyle set about assessing the man's condition, already knowing he was not going to like what he found. Problem was this student was also a witness.... Reaching down Doyle went to open the bloodied long coat a second time and found surprisingly strong fingers still barring his way. He frowned letting his worried gaze lift to see vivid green eyes now trying to glare at him. Doyle had seen his fair share of glares in his day and this one was amazingly direct, yet a little haunted. Fear? Well he could well understand that and sympathize. "Come on mate," Doyle whispered in a reasonable tone, hoping to relax his patient. "The medics are on their way-"


It was grated out and Doyle raised a curious brow. He didn't have time for this bullshit, for his partner was alone with two maniacs. And unless he was reading the signs wrong this young fool was going to die very quickly if he didn't receive help. "Listen sunshine-"

"No." Methos repeated as he tried to warn the other off with his eyes. But this stubborn man ignored his protests and he groaned in a mixture of disbelief and pain. Fuck! But he hated dying. Hated it even more when it was witnessed. His chest felt like it was on fire, a heaviness settling insidiously over his entire body. The weight of death was pulling him down and he knew there was nothing he could do. So where the fuck was MacLeod! Surely the self-righteous do-gooder he'd read about would not leave him in the hands of this child, unless the big beautiful Scot was dead. Or fighting. But surely.... Cutting off his thoughts, Methos coughed, struggling to draw breath and catching one final look of the man leaning over him so protectively. It made him want to laugh. The man's eyes were filled with a useless anger, but also with a kindness and fear. The round face was surrounded by abundant curls, one cheekbone looking oddly disfigured. Broken? Yet there was definitely compassion in the darkening green eyes that drew him back for a brief moment before he succumbed to the inevitable. He no longer had any strength to fight the persistent hands and fingers that tugged at his coat, his fingers turning numb as death claimed all his limbs. Dropping his head back Methos breathed out a painful breath. Shit! "No...."

Hearing the sigh, Doyle acknowledged that this time the word was getting weaker, and he watched in growing concern, hearing the other cough wetly. Disregarding niceties, he pried the fingers loose and opened the ruined coat, encouraged when the student continued to fight him, if only weakly. It meant he had a chance.... and Doyle let his eyes scan the damage, feeling his small surge of hope fade. Damn! What a waste of a young life! Blood covered everything, and Doyle took in everything from the blood sodden sweater, hairless chest to the blood splattered white skin of this man's throat, seeing where the sweater had ridden up. It was a mess, and he doubted there was much he could do. The bullet had hit the student in the center of his chest, and Ray Doyle cursed the murdering bastard a second time shaking his head over the waste of such a young life. Gently, but hastily he probed the wound, seeing how the younger man winced in agony. "Sorry mate," he whispered, feeling his charge start to shake in delayed reaction. He no longer got any fight from his patient and Doyle watched the long lashes come down before a faint groan reached his ears. I'm going to lose him, he thought desperately, swiftly applying pressure to the wound, knowing it was useless. "Bloody hell, where is that medic!" Doyle snapped in frustration as he gingerly turned this slender man over and reached under his back to feel for the exit wound. It was there and huge. "Shit!"

Sitting back on his haunches, Doyle glanced around helplessly before he raised blood stained fingers to feel for a pulse again. It was hardly there and he was not surprised to hear the slight exhale of breath as the body under his hands went limp. "No-" he whispered, haunted by the image of having seen too many lives lost for no reason.

Standing up, Doyle angrily kicked out at the cobbled ground, before wiping his hands on his jeans leaving smears of blood. It was such a damn waste.... So pointless! Sucking in a deep breath to calm his anger, knowing Cowley would berate him for his reactions, but he was not Bodie. He was not capable of turning off his feelings so easily. Shoving his frustration aside, Doyle went back to the body and gently turned the young man again, searching for identification. Some poor bastard would have the task of telling the family and he didn't envy them. Not one bit. Behind him he heard a sound and prayed it was Bodie, only to see a number of student's rush over and stare down wide eyes. "Get back!" Doyle barked, not wanting to deal with ghoulish spectators and inane questions.

The babble of voices behind him grew and Doyle pulled out his badge and shoved it under a couple of noses. "Now I want you all to get back! By that wall over there. Move!" He ended the last word with a firmness that had the half dozen or so students obeying instantly. Shaking his head, he opened the dead student's wallet and checked the contents.

One Adam Taylor. Born 1956, which made him around 24 years old, Doyle calculated. Letting that information sink in, Doyle wondered if he was doing a Masters in English, or just a postgraduate course. Looking at other items in the younger man's wallet, Doyle noted that Taylor's current address was the University dormitory. The few other items comprised only of three student cards, some concession cards and about thirty pounds. No pictures, no other information to suggest who they would have to contact about his death. No phone numbers at all. Not even a driver's license.

Squatting down again, Doyle kept a careful eye on the growing number of onlooker's, as he silently prayed for back up to arrive. He had not heard any other gun shots echo around the grounds so had to assume his partner was all right. Imagining anything else was pointless and dangerous. Start down that road and.... Bodie just had to be all right, just had to be.

Glancing at the wallet again, Doyle jumped when the man next to him abruptly gasped. Frowning he stared at Taylor's pale face, then tensed seeing and hearing the body gasped a second time. Stunned, Doyle watched fascinated as not only did Taylor gasp again but the young man also lifted long lashes to reveal dazed eyes, his slender body arching up in pain. Then the body lay still for a long, tense moment.

"Bloody hell," Doyle muttered stunned, falling back slightly in shock when the dead body twitched a third time. Post death tremors? He speculated, not missing how the body took a deeper, shuddering breath. It wasn't possible.... in fact totally beyond the realms of possibility. Yet, and Doyle swallowed as not only did he hear another gasp of pain, but saw the long lashes flutter open and stay open this time showing over bright eyes that locked on him in anger and amusement. Amusement? What the....

Jumping as his R/T beeped, Doyle stared at it a moment before his eyes went back to the breathing corpse at his side. Was he imagining thing? Hallucinating? Snatching up the annoying R/T Doyle depressed the call button. "4.5."

"Patching you through to the medic as requested, 4.5." Came the crisp response before Doyle heard more static and then a deeper voice.

"We should be with you in ten minutes. Can you give us an update on the emergency?"

Biting his bottom lip Doyle heard the urgency in the medic's voice and he shook his head bemused before reaching forward and feeling for the corpse's carotid again. Yep, there was definitely a pulse where there had been none.... and he trailed his fingers down the blood soaked sweater to expose bloodied flesh that now lacked the bullet hole he had seen earlier. Meeting the green eyes watching him, Doyle shivered, his mind trying to find justifiable solutions, only seeing Taylor start to grin at him in mischief didn't help matters. It was insane.... Lifting his R/T again, Doyle cleared his throat nervously. "Ummm, can I get back to you on that?"

"But we were informed there was a shooting-"

"There appears to be some...." He took his finger off the send button of the R/T and just looked at Taylor with apprehension and growing distrust when the student sat up and stretched. "Shit." He muttered before depressing the R/T button again. "Take your time fellas, there's been a mistake."

"Now where have I heard that before-"

Not bothering to acknowledge the comment, Doyle's eyes were riveted on the man sitting up in front of him. It was a miracle.... It was impossible.

"Police, or...?" Methos opened the conversation not sure what to do. In a different time, different place it would be simple. He would just kill the witness. But times had changed and so had he. It had been over five hundred years since anyone had witnessed his demise like this and he pushed down his immediate panic.

"CI5." Doyle said automatically.

Coughing slightly, Methos peered down at his damp blood stained outfit and pulled a face. He hated wallowing in blood, hated its smell and stickiness. Hated the pain....

"What the hell is going on?!?" Doyle demanded, getting past his initial shock and realizing Taylor was not surprised to be sitting up uninjured. In fact he looked mildly put out that his clothing was ruined. "Who.... what are you?!"

"I take it that's not a rhetorical question?" Methos asked with a grin, absently fingering his wet sweater.

"You got that right!" Doyle snorted. "I saw you die. And then.... then.... well, in my book you should be going to the morgue. In a bag."

Regarding the CI5 agent, Methos saw the slight wildness around the other's eyes and stifled a curse. "Trust me, you wouldn't believe me if I told you."

"Try me."

"I'm not having this conversation," Methos muttered glancing around to see that a small crowd had gathered. Fuck! But he hoped there were no Watchers among them or his cover would be ruined.

"Think again." Doyle growled.

Hearing the steel behind the tone, Methos turned back and considered the agent. There was intelligence and honesty reflected back at him. A depth of conviction that spoke of a strong moral and ethical mind, plus fierce determination. A rarity, and he let his smile grow. How long had it been since he'd felt this reckless? This intrigued? First MacLeod and now this man. But the feeling was hard to squash and he let a smile enter his eyes as he met this CI5 agent's frank stare. "I take it you are going to insist?"

"Too bloody right," Doyle confirmed.

"A name?"

Burying his own emerging smile as he saw how quickly the student's large eyes became petitioning and innocent, Doyle warned himself not to trust this man's mildness. It was obviously a front. "Doyle." He said taking out his ID and flashing it under Taylor's nose very briefly.

"Raymond Doyle." Methos mused just catching the full name on the badge.

"So, you were going to explain, or do I need to haul your arse down to Head Quarters and get my boss to extract the information?"


Narrowing his gaze, Doyle nodded.

"Yes, I've read the paper." Methos muttered. In fact he'd first heard of George Cowley forty odd years ago when a mutual friend had talked about this young hot-headed Scot who possessed all the tact of a rampaging German tank. It was an old memory now. "So what do you want to know, officer?" Methos asked with just a touch of mockery.

"How...." Doyle floundered slightly, gesturing to the vanished bullet wound. If it wasn't for all the blood and the fact he had seen the man die with his own eyes, he would say it had all been part of some weird drug induced fantasy.

"Ah," Methos grinned. "Let's just say I have strong recuperative abilities."

"And let's just say you give me the goddamn truth before I shoot you myself."

"I'm immortal, Raymond Doyle." Methos whispered in all honesty, knowing that the truth was rarely believed. It was his best defense until he could get away.

"Immortal?" Doyle questioned, his eyebrows rising in disbelief. Was this another weird University cult thing? Taylor looked normal, yet from experience he knew it took all sorts of people to form cults. Yet the man had died....

"Precisely." Methos quipped. "Now can I get up? Or-"

Placing a hand on a narrow shoulder to stop Taylor from rising, Doyle glared at him hearing his R/T sounded. Bloody hell, how was he supposed to explain this to Bodie? And where was his irritating partner? "4.5."

"6.2." Murphy's unmistakable voice replied. "We're at the front of the hall-"

"Stay there." Doyle cut Murphy off as he stood abruptly. Reaching down he dragged Taylor up also. "I'm coming to meet you." He added before shutting the R/T off. Then he took a firm hold on his charge and started them moving toward the front of the complex. He barely gave the few persistent onlookers a glance, shoving Taylor in front of him.

"Doyle," Methos started in annoyance.

"Just shut up and walk." Doyle informed him. "You can explain it when we get to an interrogation room."

"Oh brilliant!" Methos scoffed unimpressed.

Not trusting this man Doyle swiftly took out a set of handcuffs and locked one around a slender wrist before Taylor could protest.


"Insurance." Doyle told him with a grin.

"You're arresting me?" Methos asked stunned.

"No." Doyle told him reasonably. "You are now a material witness and I am insuring your safety."

"And do you treat all witnesses this way Mr. Doyle?"

"Just the uncooperative ones."

"I'm sure there is a law against this-"

Dragging his reluctant prisoner forward, Doyle navigated the old buildings expertly, meeting Murphy and Anderson at the front of the immaculate hall. Anderson was on the R/T and Doyle nodded in greeting to both men. "Bodie is-"

"Don't worry," Murphy assured him with a grin as his eyes traveled over the bloodied figure beside Doyle. "Been wrestling in a slaughter house again, 4.5?"

"You wouldn't believe me if I told you." Doyle quipped, pulling Taylor towards the car and handcuffing him securely to the door. "Stay." He said condescendingly, reaching over to pat Taylor's pale cheek. He would deal with Taylor later. When he could think and when he knew Bodie was safe.

"Ray?" Murphy asked as the older agent came back towards him.

"Material witness." Doyle explained. "Adam Taylor."

"Only he's not so helpful?" Murphy guessed.

"Got it in one." Doyle said as he glanced back once at the man behind him. Taylor was currently looking as peeved as he felt. "Bodie?"

"Over near the library I think." Murphy said, gesturing to a building behind him. "Anderson and I were just going to relieve him of his burden before he kills MacLeod."

Suppressing a smile, Doyle could just imagine that. At least his partner was okay. It was a relief. "Well, let's go."

"Ray," Murphy stopped him with a hand. "What happened," he left the rest unsaid as he absently gestured to the man handcuffed to the car.

"Taylor got caught in the cross fire," Doyle started. Hell, but what could he say? What could he write in his report?

"And all the blood?"

"He got winged-"

"Christ, Ray." Murphy admonished. "I'll call the medics-"

"No." Doyle stopped him. "He's fine. Trust me."

"Ray!" Murphy whispered furiously, seeing Anderson, his temporary partner, walk towards them. "If he's not a suspect and he's injured then we-"

"Material witness, Murph." Doyle sighed. "And I checked him over myself. It's all show. He's just got a bit of an attitude and I'd rather we didn't lose him until Cowley's questioned him."

Still not completely satisfied, Murphy refrained from commenting as Anderson lit up a cigar.

"Bodie's requesting our presence." Anderson drawled in his deep voice. "Is it okay to leave Egyptian boy cuffed to the motor?"

"Egyptian boy?" Murphy and Doyle both said in unison.

"Either that or Arabic. I could never get those languages straight regardless of Cowley's orders." Anderson shrugged. "But he's cursing like a trooper."

Glancing back at the muttering man locked to the car, Doyle felt awe eat through him as he remembered what he had just witnessed. It was going to take a lot to wrap his brain around it and come up with a coherent report. But first he wanted to get to his partner and make sure Bodie was okay. Make sure his idiot other half didn't shoot the assignment. Then he would talk to Taylor again.

"So," Murphy started leaving the rest unsaid, but implied.

"I doubt he's going anywhere." Doyle said as he saw a couple of uniforms turn up.

"Then after you my son," Murphy bowed, before following Doyle and Anderson to where Bodie waited impatiently.

Keeping up a running monologue, Methos scanned the area surreptitiously, making sure that no one was paying close attention to him before fishing out a lock pick from his coat pocket. The copper - Doyle - hadn't even bothered to check for anything like that, must be his innocent face he smirked to himself. Shielding the process with his body, he picked the lock on the cuffs before getting the attention of the nearest uniform. "Ummm, excuse me, but I thought I saw those men over there trying to get your attention." He said in his best 'I'm-just-a-poor-innocent- student-caught-in-the-cross-fire' voice, pointing to where the others had gathered around the Highlander.

"Oh, thanks." the man replied, tapping his partner on the shoulder they made their way over to the indicated group.

"My pleasure," Methos murmured to himself as he placed the cuffs neatly on the passenger seat, open. "I always like to help the boys in blue." He finished with a tight grin, before assuming his best 'I'm-so-innocent-butter-wouldn't- melt-in-my-mouth' face and wandering off into the crowd that had gathered to ogle the excitement.

Doyle approached the two men, his eyes automatically scanning his partner needing to reassure himself personally that Bodie had taken no injuries while out of his sight. Both Bodie and MacLeod looked angry, studiously ignoring each other and Doyle could well imagine that Anderson had only been half joking about Bodie's desire to kill MacLeod. "So, where's the suspect?" He asked casually.

"We lost him." MacLeod informed him.

"MacLeod lost him." Bodie emphasized pointedly before he cast the Scot a deadly glare.

Doyle sighed with long suffering exasperation. For supposedly grown men they acted a lot like children sometimes, he mused to himself while stifling a grin. Neither man would appreciate the comparison.

"How's the shot student?" Bodie inquired, throwing another glare at MacLeod. "Please don't tell me he died." He hated paper work.

Doyle swore to himself, how the hell was he going to explain this to his partner, he wasn't sure he believed it himself yet, despite all the evidence to the contrary.

Bodie noticed the troubled look and the hesitation and drew the obvious conclusion. "Fuck! He's dead isn't he?" He snarled, turning to MacLeod. "Okay Mr. High-and - Mighty you had better think of some convincing arguments or that will be the last time you taste fresh air for a very long time!" Bodie snapped, jabbing an accusing finger into MacLeod's chest for emphasis.

Doyle winced, then saw the pained look that flashed across MacLeod's face before the expression was swiftly hidden. Then only anger colored MacLeod's eyes and Doyle groaned, knowing his partner's temper was going to land them in more trouble with Cowley. "Bodie! That's enough. Taylor is.... alive." He managed, pushing between his partner and MacLeod and dragging Bodie away from the Scot with a restraining hand. "Calm down, mate. Taylor was just winged," he added firmly, wondering if he was trying to convince himself of that fact of Bodie.

MacLeod shot a searching look at Doyle, instantly knowing that the CI5 agent was lying. He knew damn well that the shot had been fatal.... which meant that Doyle now knew about Immortals. Noh!

"Taylor?" Bodie asked, noting the strange look directed at his partner by MacLeod and trying to fathom the reason behind it. "That was the kid's name?"

"That's his name." Doyle confirmed, narrowing he gaze as he saw MacLeod's worried glance. MacLeod knew Taylor? Not possible. Yet.... "Taylor is currently handcuffed to the car and only a little worse for the wear." Doyle assured as another even scarier thought entered his head. MacLeod knew Taylor would revive? He knew about this immortal thing? Doyle suddenly had a sinking feeling that he and Bodie were getting into something way over their heads. But who the hell would believe him?

"Handcuffed?" Bodie asked again, getting annoyed at having to ask so many stupid questions and feeling like he was definitely missing the plot somehow. "Ray?" He shook Doyle's arm to recapture his attention. "You alright, mate?"

"Yeah," Doyle breathed, feeling far from all right.

"You went a horrible dusky color for a moment," Bodie covered, forcing himself to step away from Doyle before he did something stupid like hug him. He hated it when Ray was hurting.

"Taylor is a little reluctant to tell his story," Doyle covered. "You know how I dislike those uncooperative types." He saw Bodie give him a warm smile. "So I made sure he wasn't going anywhere. Not only is he involved somehow in this mess, but he's also the only other witness apart from MacLeod here. He could identify McKellen." Doyle finished, gesturing to the silent Scot.

Bodie snorted. "McKellen is another bloody Scot. Isn't he?" Bodie asked, settling a pointed look on their charge. "They're worse than the Irish, if you ask me."

Choosing not to dignify that comment with a reply, MacLeod searched the immediate area for Taylor. He could not feel his immortal signature, nor see him by the cars near the front entrance and wondered if Doyle hadn't already sent the young Immortal to CI5 headquarters. If so, then he hopped that was where they were taking him, for he would like to have a word with this Taylor. For some strange reason he found himself growing anxious to see the other man, to find out who he was and if Taylor was his real name. "If you 'gentlemen' will excuse me I'll be leaving now-"

"Not so fast." Bodie cut in. "We still have some questions. Remember the sword?"

Glaring at the infuriating agent, MacLeod sighed, before looking at Doyle. The curly-haired agent seemed to possess more brains and courtesy. "Do you mind if I return to the hotel? I will come to your headquarters later, if necessary." He asked politely.

Doyle grinned at Murphy and Anderson. "Not at all Mr. MacLeod. We were all just about to leave, so we will escort you back to the hotel." Doyle replied, ignoring Bodie's dark look with the ease born of long practice. It really made him laugh how similar in temperament both Bodie and MacLeod were. Yet also so different. But if he dared voice that observation Bodie would kill him, and Doyle smothered his grin. Two dominant alpha males....

MacLeod turned back to the man in front of him and muttered a curse in Gaelic about how a little power just went to some people's heads. At an obvious signal from Doyle, Bodie stepped aside, and MacLeod glanced between the two agents again, knowing now that he had worked out who controlled the partnership. Doyle.... and he let his eyes assess the man again. He obviously was the brains of the outfit and MacLeod gave up arguing as he walked toward the waiting cars. He felt both men flank him automatically. Bodyguard? If they ever had to face McKellen, MacLeod knew he didn't want to be responsible for their lives.

As they approached the cars, MacLeod searched again for any sense of Immortal presence, but there was none, his eyes traitorously looking for a certain tall, lean figure in a long coat. Then his mind flashed him an image of another enticing, tall, slender figure in a short coat and he stopped abruptly. Since when had he forgotten Amanda? And more troubling, why was he now associating Taylor with Amanda??


Hearing Doyle's questioning tone, MacLeod shrugged and continued walking. It was a shock, but he could not deny the urge to see Taylor again, and he stopped a second time when Doyle reached out and pointed to one of the unmarked cars before swearing. Going over to the driver's door, MacLeod saw an open set of handcuffs sitting on the padded seat and bit back his laugh. Oh aye, this Taylor was one intriguing character....

Doyle crowded up next to MacLeod, cursing fluently. "Where the bloody hell is Taylor?" He demanded out loud, glaring at the few plain clothed police officers controlling the crowd. Then he heard MacLeod's laugh and directed his glare at the Scot. Picking up the handcuffs he flung them onto the back seat, fuming. That arrogant little prick had left them like a taunt, and Doyle had a sudden overwhelming urge to find the skinny little bastard and kill him again. Maybe twice, just for good measure. "Shit!" Doyle exclaimed, what the hell was he going to tell Cowley?!? I'm sorry Sir, but he picked the lock - just wasn't going to cut it and Doyle glared at the still grinning MacLeod. "Not a word, MacLeod. Not a bloody word or I swear...." he was interrupted by the sound of his R/T beeping. "4.5!" Doyle answered trying to keep his temper down.

"I want MacLeod in my office. Now 4.5!" Came the distinctive voice of CI5 controller George Cowley.

Both Bodie and Doyle winced at the tone in the older Scotsman's voice. "On our way." Doyle acknowledged. "4.5 out."

"Running all the way," Bodie intoned and he opened the passenger door and pulled his seat forward before indicating for MacLeod to climb in. "It's not a limousine, but it will have to do." He informed the over-dressed Scot in a flat tone.

MacLeod ignored the snide comment, curiously wondering if George Cowley was anything like his agents.

"Well Mr. MacLeod, I have to commend you on spotting my agents. Bodie and Doyle happen to be two of my best men. I think perhaps a refresher course will be in order for them when this is over." Cowley kept his gaze fixed on the man before him, interested in his reaction.

MacLeod studied Cowley, knowing that he would have to tread carefully with this man. "Lucky break I guess," he answered, leaning back in the chair and adopting a casual air.

"Luck, Mr. MacLeod. No, I don't think so. I think you were expecting to be followed. I think that you are here for some purpose other than that you gave the French Police and Interpol. But that is beside the point. While you are on English soil, Mr. MacLeod, you are under my care, and that means you do as my agents say. And that does not mean you can slip away and take matters into your own hands. Regardless of what challenge McKellen may pose to you. In this instance I believe a student was injured because of your fool-hardly actions." Cowley finished, capturing the other man's gaze.

MacLeod winced at Cowley's astute words, they were a little too close to the truth for comfort, and for a worrying few seconds he wondered if Cowley knew about his kind. Dismissing the thought as a silly one, MacLeod simply chose not to answer the unspoken question.

Cowley smiled inwardly, he had not expected any reply from MacLeod, picking up a plain brown manila folder he flipped through the surprisingly sparse pages, glancing sideways at the man sitting opposite his desk. "You have an interesting history, Mr. MacLeod, but there are also some interesting gaps. Would you care to fill in some details?"

Again MacLeod chose to remain silent.

"It says here you are an antique dealer who specializes in weaponry. Ancient weaponry." Cowley corrected, looking over his bifocals at the silent man seated across from him. "It also says you are an expert in a number of different martial arts disciplines."

"It's good exercise." MacLeod remarked.

"So is walking a dog." Cowley countered his tone implying he didn't believe MacLeod's spotless record.

"Owning a dog and traveling don't go together." MacLeod returned just as blandly, letting a smile come into his tone when he saw Cowley relent and offer a genuine grin.

"Point taken." Cowley told him, understanding a lot more than what was being verbalized. "Thank you for coming in. I hope we get the opportunity to speak again."

"I look forward to it," MacLeod replied politely, standing in one fluid motion.

Pressing his intercom, Cowley gave an order to his secretary. "Betty, send in 4.5 and 3.7."

"Yes sir."

Lifting his eyes Cowley didn't bother to stand. "Oh and Mr. MacLeod, one last thing. Don't try and lose my agents a second time or I may be forced to use other means at my disposal to safeguard your welfare while in England."

Not misunderstanding the silent threat behind the plumy accent MacLeod said nothing, turning to the door when it opened and his two watchdogs stood there with unsmiling faces.

"You sent for us, sir?" Doyle asked.

"Return Mr. MacLeod to the Mayfair and make sure nothing untoward happens to him in future."

"Sir." Doyle inclined his head and lifted a hand gesturing for MacLeod to precede him out. Bodie was standing at his back and he could feel his partner's irritation all the way down his spine. Closing the door of Cowley's office they shepherded MacLeod back to the Capri. It had been a hell of a night so far and Doyle was not looking forward to the morning. The case no longer seemed like a walk in the park and he still could not decide what to do about Adam Taylor. He'd said nothing to Bodie and the hesitation was now making it harder and harder to broach the subject. But what could he say? 'Hey Bodie, Taylor died in my arms then was magically resurrected and nope I saw no long- legged blonde angel give him the kiss of life'. Yeah, right. As if Bodie wouldn't have him frog-marched to the closest loony bin for that kind of comment. Best he probably kept his mouth shut and did some investigating of his own on Taylor. After all he knew where the man lived.

May 25th 1980. London.

Entering the University grounds for the second time in two days, Doyle checked the time hoping he wasn't too early. Casting a long look around at the immaculate gardens and cobbled paving, Doyle liked what he saw. In another time, another life he would have liked to have been a permanent student. Study of any type always fascinated him. Ancient civilizations, the mysteries of the human body, English Literature.... Art.

Rubbing his nose in thought, he slowly did a full circle as he advanced further into the large campus, wondering if his hunch would pay off. Adam Taylor. Or as Anderson had dubbed the student, Egyptian Boy. How old was Taylor? What was Taylor? And could he be trusted?

Baffled by what he had witnessed, Doyle still had not told Bodie, and in all honesty was reluctant to tell anyone. For all he knew it could be a hoax.... yet the man had died. He was positive of that fact, had seen it with his own eyes. Immortal? What in the blazes did that mean? There was no such thing as immortality - outside the Catholic Church - he corrected silently. It was a concept his old gran had believed in whole-heartedly. Immortality of the soul. But Taylor was alive, not dead. And Adam Taylor looked far too alive and real for a walking, animated corpse.

Seeing a group of students, Doyle stopped them with a smile. He could be just as persuasive as his silver- tongued partner, especially when he wanted something. "I'm looking for a student named Adam Taylor. I was hoping you could tell me where I might go to find him?" He asked turning on the charm. He knew if he asked informally first, he just might be in luck and find the mysterious man. If he went through official channels he had the strange suspicion Taylor would vanish. Like he had vanished out of those handcuffs.

"Adam?" One of the girls piped up helpfully. She shifted her books and sighed. "He's usually in the library-"

"Oh that cute recluse?" Another of the females said flashing Doyle an interested grin.

"Why not try his room if he's not in the library. I think it's the second level of the Connolly Wing."

"You think?!" The first girl said in disbelief before laughing. "I thought you had all the seniors staked out, Michelle."

"Especially at night." A third female chimed in helpfully.

"Thanks." Doyle cut in. It seemed Taylor had a bit of a reputation. That always helped. "The Connolly Wing is...." Doyle left the rest unsaid as he raised an inquisitive brow, not wanting to invite a bickering match. All three girls pointed to the building off to the left. Thanking them again, Doyle took the pathway and eyed the old brick structure. How many delinquents did this place put out a year? Potential bombers, drug chemists and desperate gunmen?

Going up the steps two at a time he reached the second level and checked the names on the doors, only seeing numbers. Just his rotten bloody luck.... Stopping as he spotted a tall, graying man exit one room, Doyle smiled again. "Excuse me, but I'm looking for Adam Taylor's room?"

"82." The man said in a clipped tone before he carried on.

Blinking after him, Doyle shook his head. "Thanks," he called, wondering what security was like in a place like this. So far it seemed non existent. He could be anyone, thief, murderer, rapist, bomber.... and he chastised himself. He had to stop imagining the worst. Inspecting the door numbers again, he soon found room 82 and checked his gun before knocking. He didn't have to wait long as the old heavy door was opened and he found himself half glared at by the man in front of him. If anything Taylor's expression showed no surprise, and a little amusement.

"Officer Doyle," Methos sighed in mild sarcasm. "Don't tell me you've come to handcuff me to your car again?"

"Very funny," Doyle said, not waiting for an invite and pushing his way into the room. He swiftly scanned the neat enclosure.

"Oh do come in Officer. Make yourself at home." Methos muttered sarcastically to himself.

Ignoring the snide comment Doyle continued his inspection. Apart from the work desk covered with numerous open books, the only other notable object in the small room was the cat stretched out on the comfortable looking bed. A black cat. In fact it looked suspiciously like the one Bodie had tangled with yesterday evening. "Nice," Doyle said before he turned back to the room's owner. "You ready to talk, or do I march you down to my Head Quarters?"

Closing the door slowly, Methos leaned against it and folded his arms. "Are you always this obnoxious in the morning?"

"Only when I don't get a straight answer."

"I.... see." Ambling over to the bed, Methos collapsed down on it and regarded Doyle with open interest. "So where's your shadow?"

Recognizing the evasion, Doyle decided to play along and he prowled the room, fingering a couple of items. They looked old and expensive. Taylor had good taste, if no manners. But then maybe he was one of these rich kids rebelling against his parents? The possibilities were endless.... "Babysitting." Doyle replied after a prolonged moment, watching Taylor out of the corner of his eye.

"MacLeod?" Methos asked in feigned interest, glancing down when the cat decided to use him as a cushion. He stroked her head absently.

"Yeah, Kilt Boy." Doyle muttered.

Hearing that, Methos couldn't contain his amusement, blinking at Doyle before bursting into laughter. He doubted MacLeod would see the funny side of it, but it was hilarious, and damn fitting. "Kilt Boy?"

"Bodie has a way with words."

"No doubt." Methos acknowledged.

"What's going on Taylor? And I mean it. You better give me a damn good answer or I'll haul your skinny arse out of here."

"I seriously doubt you could haul my 'skinny arse' anywhere, Doyle." Methos cut back offended. "But for the sake of decorum, let me just say it is probably for the best if you and your partner didn't interfere."

"Too late. We are already involved."

"Then uninvolve yourself."

"What the hell is going on?" Doyle repeated as he saw how serious Taylor was. He walked over to him and pulled out a chair to sit down facing the man, assessing the artful way Taylor sprawled on the bed. It was a cover, and Doyle met the narrowed hazel eyes letting the other man know that he understood the evasion. "You know MacLeod." He stated flatly challenging the other to deny the charge. "You are part of this entire mess. You even know McKellen. Don't you?"

"No." Methos said clearly. "At least not in the way you assume."

"Then how?"

"Trust me, you don't want, or need to know." Methos answered just stopping the words turning sarcastic. He had a feeling they wouldn't work against this determined man.

"Who the hell are you?" Doyle asked exasperated. "What are you?!?"

"Have you got a few years?" Methos quipped.

"Just give me the condensed version."

"No such thing." Methos stated as he sat up and pulled a sword out from under his bed.

Doyle just blinked at him stunned never having expected to see a blade produced so swiftly and with such grace. It was frighteningly disconcerting and he automatically reached into his jacket to grip the butt of his Browning.

"Relax," Methos admonished as he caught the reflex action. "You want answers, I can only give you this." Then using the fine edge of the sword he sliced open his hand, wincing in pain as blood welled up and ran down his wrist.

"Christ!" Doyle was out of his seat and reaching over to take Taylor's hand, eyeing the man as if he was deranged. "Are you out of your mind??"

"Watch," Methos breathed, biting his lower lip and willing the pain away.

Doyle just stared at him wide eyed, assessing his mental state before dropping his gaze back down to the bleeding hand. Taylor had not only cut the skin, but he had opened the hand to the bone.... but to his amazement the skin was knitting neatly back together, tiny blue sparks dancing at the edges of the fast closing wound. Feeling his jaw sag, Doyle swallowed nervously, taking a step back as he watched Taylor wipe the blood away to reveal unblemished skin. It was unbelievable. Totally off the planet. Right out there with Kirk and Spock.... Taylor then flexed his fingers and Doyle fell back onto his chair as if he had been sucker-punched.

"Satisfied?" Methos asked mildly, shrewdly watching the way Doyle reacted. It was a dangerous ploy, but if he had read this man correctly, Doyle could also be a very useful ally. Risk - Chance - Fate or Death? Which of the Ancient Gods was he now tempting?

"I think I need a drink-"

"There's a pub down on the corner." Methos offered. "I'll buy the first round."

Still feeling numb, Doyle couldn't tear his eyes off Taylor as the man savored his beer with obvious delight. The sparkle in the changeable eyes, the smile on his lips and the ease of his movements, all spoke of experience and Doyle in that instant felt very young and extremely out of his depth as this 'creature' played with him like a cat toyed with a mouse. Or as Bodie played with terrorists.... Yet to look at Taylor you would be forgiven for assuming he was impossibly young and innocent. What a farce!

"Now this is a good drop." Methos said in appreciation. "Beats the canned stuff any day."

"How old are you?" Doyle asked, his mind slowly trying to accept the impossible.

"Old enough to appreciate the head on this beer," Methos said with a smirk.

"And you can never die?" Doyle carried on as if he hadn't heard the attempt at humor.

"Never is a strong term." Methos pulled a face and glanced around. But they were far enough away from the other patrons not to be over heard. "Let's just say, it is extremely difficult."

"But you look so.... so," Doyle shook his head. He felt like he had definitely entered an episode of Star trek. There's Klingon's on the starboard bow, starboard bow, starboard bow....

"I don't age." Methos told him.


"Not physically."

"Bloody hell," Doyle lifted his beer and took a large sip. He let his eyes flicker from the glass Taylor held to his assessing eyes. There was a sparkle of mischief in them, and Doyle narrowed his own gaze in distrust. Logically he should be hauling Taylor's arse down to Cowley, or Ross, but for some reason he felt it would be a bad move. "Immortal."

Nodding once, Methos took another drink of this beer.

Pulling all the facts together, Doyle just stared at him in growing realization. "MacLeod's the same as you, isn't he?"

Not saying anything, Methos just let his smug grin grow as he looked around in amused disinterest.

"But what's with all the swords?"

"Listen, Ray.... can I call you Ray?" Methos asked as he tried to distract the other man.

Doyle just gave a curt nod, his mind continuing to play back all he had seen and read in the last 48 hours about MacLeod and McKellen. It was all starting to make a sick kind of sense. And now Taylor.... Bloody hell! How many Immortals were there?

"For your own sake, it is best you don't get involved."

"How many of you are there?"

Groaning slightly, Methos slid down further in his chair and drained his beer.

"Answer the question!"

"I don't know." Methos hissed back, then covered his annoyance as he watched Doyle scowl. "It's not important. The important thing is that we only fight each other, and I advise that you don't interfere in a challenge. Ever."

"Or what?"

"Or you'll die."

Hearing the cold tone, Doyle took in the words and saw how serious Taylor was. Deadly so. "And MacLeod?"

"What about him?" Methos asked in exasperation, fiddling with the rim of his glass.

"Is he one of the good guys or the bad guys?"

"Oh," Methos gave a secretive smile. "He's definitely one of the good guys."

"And you?"

Covering his smile, Methos relaxed even more into his casual sprawl, his eyes dancing with suppressed mirth again as he watched Doyle. "I'm neither."

"What?" Doyle asked, and was interrupted as his R/T sounded. Swearing, he reached for it and depressed the call button. "4.5."

"Where the hell are you!"

Deciphering Bodie's peeved annoyance through the static, Doyle couldn't help but grin. "I'm busy," he said, eyeing Taylor. "..interrogating a suspect."

"Without me!?"

Hearing the outrage, Doyle bit his lip to cover his smile. "I have my Bodie handbook if I get lost-"

"Funny Doyle."

Licking his lips, Doyle caught Taylor's snort as the other shook his head. "Report 3.7." He said instead of baiting his partner more.

"Listen sunshine, you either get back here, or I'll-"

"You'll what 3.7?" Doyle prompted as he heard his partner curse. "Has the situation changed with MacLeod?" He asked abruptly, concern for his partner cutting across the banter. Lifting his gaze he saw Taylor observing him speculatively. It was unnerving.

"Kilt boy has just sent me out breakfast again, and if you don't get back here, I swear I'll go up and strangle the bastard!"

Not bothering to cover his amusement this time, Doyle looked at Taylor and laughed, taking his finger off the call button. "Tell me," he asked directing his question at the man across from him. "Out of curiosity, if Bodie shot MacLeod.... MacLeod will just get up again. Right?"

Considering Doyle's direct stare, Methos gave in and nodded.

"Just as I thought." Doyle muttered before he depressed the call button again and heard Bodie curse. "Sit tight 3.7 and if you're good I'll bring you back a beer."

"A beer?! Ray.... Doyle where the hell-"

"Later 3.7. 4.5 out." Doyle cut him off and ended the call before slipping the R/T back in his coat pocket. "Bodie would be royally pissed off if he knew that killing MacLeod wouldn't accomplish a thing."

"Are you going to tell him?"

"Tell him what?" Doyle asked, then screwed up his nose. "Nah. I'm not even sure I believe it. I can just see me trying to explain it to Cowley as they drag me off to the funny farm."

"It would be best if you kept out of it."

"As I told you, we can't." Doyle replied. "MacLeod is our assignment. Until McKellen is caught, I'm afraid you are stuck with me. And I strongly advise you don't try and leave the country." Letting his eyes sweep over Taylor's sprawled figure, Doyle thought of something else. "I suppose asking you to give up your passport would prove as ineffective as handcuffing you to a car was?"

"Indubitably." Methos confirmed.

"Just as I thought." Doyle sighed, getting up and taking out his wallet to pull a card free. "If you think of anything relevant, you can contact me on this number."

"So I take it, I'm no longer a prisoner?" Methos asked as he took the card and committed the number to memory.

"No. But you are a witness." Doyle said, leaning down to pin Taylor with his gaze. "And next time I'll use more than bloody handcuffs."

"Promises, promises," Methos muttered, grinning up as he caught Doyle's wary look.

"You better believe it sunshine." Doyle hissed back before striding away.

Laughing softly Methos just nodded as he watched Doyle navigate the steps of the pub. He could really learn to like Raymond Doyle, he decided. The man had class and courage, plus a sense of humor. Pity they had to meet under these circumstances. Stretching, he wondered if sticking around was wise.

Leaning back against his work desk, Methos shook his head over the day's events. From the sublime to the ridiculous.... Next to him, he heard a plaintive meow, and glanced down at his feline roommate. Nefertiri, as he had named her six months ago when her small-bedraggled wet body had sat shivering outside his door. He was a sucker for lost causes and she knew it. Bending down he picked up her tiny frame and stroked her ears back, being rewarded with a loud purr as she settled a paw on his chest and flexed her claws. The perfect hunter. So seductive and adaptive. "You want food again?" He asked in mock horror, getting a patient blink from the golden eyes as she opened her mouth and yawned.

Sighing Methos gave in to her charms, adoring her heat and the way she had taken over his life in such a short period of time. Finding her bowl he filled it up with fresh food. "You do know that I'm a poor grad student, don't you?" He asked conversationally while she butted against his legs. "Feeding you is keeping me broke." Yeah, right.... Standing up, he watched her for a moment, then turned back to his current problem.

At Oxford he was trying to get a distinction in his second year of English Literature without making it seem too simple and now he has to run across not only that jackass from Nottingham, but a nosey detective. Doyle. And the worst part was, he actually liked Doyle. Had acknowledged that fact at he pub earlier when the man shared his company. He could well imagine them having a good relationship if they had met under less questionable circumstances. Doyle was intelligent for a street cop. Ex-street cop, now CI5 agent. And the man had balls to do the job he did with no resurrection in sight.

No, that wasn't the real issue disturbing his thoughts, though Doyle knowing about him was a problem. Having a loose cannon out there knowing about Immortals was never a comfortable feeling. But killing the man not only felt wrong - it was impractical in this day and age. Bluff was a far better tool and if that failed he could always postpone his scheduled entry into the Watcher Organization as their new bright-eyed young grad student by a decade or so. What was time?

No, it was MacLeod that troubled him. And troubled him in a way that was frightening. Kilt Boy? Hearing Doyle's voice in his head brought a smile to his lips. So fitting. Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod.... Seeing McKellen had barely registered, but he could remember every detail of MacLeod's face as the powerful Immortal had stood in front of him, proud and commanding.

He shivered in recollection, wondering if his over-reaction was due to the fact he was cloistered in the University with children, or because it had been a while since he'd played with real meat? Then again maybe it was because meeting the man only enhanced what he had read about him. What Darius had told him.

So what he was feeling now was old-fashioned lust. Nothing new, just damn inconvenient. The spice of life - because he knew bedding MacLeod was one fantasy that would never be realized.

Yet, MacLeod had stared at him so hungrily. Was it simply curiosity? Or sexual desire? Or did the man want his Quickening? Debating that, he pushed away from the desk and ambled over to his cabinet and took out a warm can of beer. He much preferred it chilled but had yet to educate the dim minded within this facility of that. Beer was beer and right now he needed a large drop of the amber nectar. It was either that or sex.

Sex - a pastime he indulged in sporadically. He currently wasn't attached and speculated on what it would be like to wrestle MacLeod down and taste his warmth. A hot lust driven imagining that would never eventuate, and he groaned in dismay as he felt his body traitorously respond to the idea.

Yet was he feeling more than simple lust? Those large brown Scottish eyes had seemed to soften.... Gods, he felt suddenly confused and claustrophobic.

But in his extensive experience with sex, and male sex in particular, Methos had found each encounter usually fell into one of five categories. The first category was often the most difficult and the one he seemed to blunder into with monotonous regularity. It was sex with a good friend. Or comfort sex. Where from grief, shock or vulnerability sex was initiated between two friends in an effort to forget the past and initiate a sense of well-being. Solace. Usually, in most cases, the aftermath of this would forever destroy the friendship making the encounter a bitter memory. Didn't he know it!

The second category was pure, mindless pleasure. A sexual affair that was found non-restraining and extremely exciting. While it lasted. Usually it burned hot for a short period and then dissolved. Or he moved on. It was wild, liberated, unconditional and guiltless. Passion of danger. Sex with strangers. The spontaneous lust brought on by stress, physical tension, or a recent fight. It was usually associated with mutual consent and was totally physical, feeding the body and disengaging the mind. It usually left him replete and unaffected in a mindless sort of way. Like a good meal....

The third category was the least desired. Sex under duress. Or rape. The attacker not only fucked the body, but also fucked the mind, utterly stripping the victim of control and leaving emotional scars. It also destroyed the spirit and confidence and he found that afterwards no matter how tough he pretended to be, the memory lingered. The vulnerability existed no matter how many years he put between him and the experience. Even now just the thought of past experiences, of Feldon, or Kronos finding him made him break out in a cold sweat. He shuddered taking a large gulp of his beer as he reminded himself why he hid so well. Idiot Old Man! That's why playing with the Highland brat is dangerous....

The fourth category was pure, brutal dominance. A state he was not proud of, but a state he had lived in many centuries ago. This was where he was the controller, where he took what he wanted, where he fed off fear, pain and blood. A power rush of rage and destruction, that didn't ease the ache or fill the heart with satisfaction, but subdued frustrations and hunger. It was a state he never wanted to fall into again.

Which brought him to the final category involving sex. Category five - the one brought on by instant desire. A craving that touched and tantalized every sense. It was a total body experience. Not only satisfying the body and mind, but screwing the heart as well. Fortunately this type of emotional plundering was rare. Coveted, but devastating to both parties involved. It destroyed all rational thought and left the recipient exposed to outside influences and ultimately death. Immortal suicide.

A scary prospect, especially now as he could feel his heart constrict at the simple memory of MacLeod's searching eyes. Fuck! Danger, danger.... a small voice squeaked in the far reaches of his mind. Heartache approaching.... This new desire he would have to keep firmly to himself, and under control. Besides, he doubted he would see the big Scot again. Even Doyle had said that McKellen was hunting the Highlander.... stopping the thought, Methos frowned. McKellen was an unimaginative bastard, but he doubted the blundering Scottish idiot could best MacLeod in a fair fight. Fair fight. That was the point, and he snorted, remembering McKellen's blunderings in Sherwood. The narrow-minded idiot was incapable of doing anything but cheating and if he shot MacLeod like he had shot him earlier then the Highland boy scout would die.

It was a prospect that did not appeal to him at all. Bloody hell! But he'd seen the magnificent barbarian for all of.... what? Two minutes?!? And already he was smitten and hooked like a desperate groupie? Pleeeeease!! But even as he berated himself, he knew his heart had already made a decision, and he groaned silently. For his own peace of mind he would have to see what he could find out about McKellen. To protect MacLeod. For Darius' sake. Yeah, right....

Besides, wasn't living in Oxford just a tad boring? Hadn't he complained about that in his diary just last week? Shit, careful what you wish for Old Man - and he raised his eyes to the ceiling imagining what he'd like to do to that bitch, Fate.

Taking the card out of his pocket, he eyed Doyle's phone number, knowing just how he was going to milk the information out of the curly-haired operative. He could do charm. Could do it very well. Had seen the curiosity and interest in Doyle's cat-like eyes. Oh yes, but he was a wicked, perverted bastard. And if it meant seeing MacLeod again, then.... Swallowing he felt his gut constrict in irrational anticipation. He was sick.

Definitely ill, depraved, and he should have learned by now that when he felt this drawn to a person to run like hell. But somehow his feet never seemed to obey his brain. And that little voice of survival that was screeching in the back of his mind was also ignored as he started to plan his strategy for involving himself in the Highlander's life.

Parking his gold Capri, Doyle released a slow breath and re-gathered his thoughts. He knew Bodie was bound to moan about the fact that he had taken off alone to interview Taylor. Bodie would be infuriated if he even guessed he was now willfully with-holding information about Taylor. But what could he say? How could he explain it to Bodie - except to maybe drag his opinionated partner back to Oxford and force Taylor to demonstrate his incredible healing abilities a second time?! An ability he was sure Taylor would pretend didn't exist. That much he had picked up from the deceptively young man. He had been shown a glimpse under the cynical mask and behind the amused hazel eyes and Doyle knew enough to understand that what he'd been told was dangerous information. He'd also noticed how gleefully Taylor had watched him realize that very fact. Bastard! Then again, was Taylor even human?!? Doyle scoffed at the term. Adam Taylor was a master of manipulation, and Doyle could not think of a logical way to expose him without getting himself, Taylor or Bodie killed. And that was the problem.

For he did believe Taylor about the fact that this was a personal dispute between MacLeod and McKellen. He also believed that this dispute had nothing to do with an Interpol investigation or with CI5 or even Taylor himself. Yet how to tell Cowley that? Gut intuition?? "Bloody hell," Doyle sighed as he released his grip on the steering wheel. He really hated being dragged into personal disputes, especially when it put him and his partner in the firing line. Bodie. Shaking his head Doyle let the image of his partner fill his thoughts. From sheer bloody-mindedness to uncanny tenderness.... that was Bodie. His friend - a man closer to him than any other person on this planet. And if he couldn't tell Bodie what Taylor had just told him, then how could he tell Cowley? Immortals? And Doyle closed his eyes, dropping his head back against the headrest. What exactly did that term mean beside the obvious? Was it a curse? An illness.... his police trained mind dismissing such oddities as mythical. If only Taylor would explain more, but he had the impression that the other man would bolt if he forced more details. So it was a very fine line he now walked. How old could Taylor be if the man couldn't die? And for that matter, how old was MacLeod? Christ! Bodie would be pissed off if he learned that MacLeod had never been in any real danger during the shooting.

Somehow he had to work out a way to find McKellen first and get the bastard deported to France for his crimes so that neither he nor Bodie were caught up in something that was beyond their understanding. Or killed in the crossfire, as Taylor had so bluntly suggested. Because out of everything that was one warning he truly believed Taylor had not lied about - all else was open for interpretation.

"Damn him!" Doyle muttered, scanning the area and picking out his partner's car. Seeing it was empty gave him a momentary pang of worry until he forced himself to calm down. Christ, but Bodie was going to be the death of him with the ex-SAS' nonchalant disregard for personal safety and CI5 procedure. The way Bodie acted you would think he was Immortal....

Dismissing that disturbing thought, Doyle quickly got out of the car locked it and pocketed the keys. Since Cowley's little discussion with MacLeod yesterday, they were no longer undercover, so he assumed MacLeod had indeed invited his exasperating partner in for a late breakfast. That was guaranteed to get up his partner's nose faster than a speeding bullet. Thinking about an irritable Bodie and how it enriched the partnership, Doyle nodded to the doorman outside the Mayfair and ambling into the plush foyer. Not often did they get to breakfast in such an expensive joint, and be able to claim it on expenses, Doyle added silently. But the Mayfair made him feel definitely under-dressed, especially when he was given a number of disapproving glances by the staff.

Ignoring the pointed looks, Doyle strolled forward, catching sight of his partner with MacLeod towards the back of the terrace restaurant. He gestured to the two men and flashed his ID at the stuffy Maitre'd, before slowly making his way over to the table. Mentally he was preparing himself to act normally around MacLeod while fielding his partner's inevitable comments and looks. But MacLeod was Immortal.... yet why did that bother him more than the knowledge that Taylor was Immortal? Maybe it was because MacLeod 'felt' dangerous while Taylor 'felt' harmless? Speculating on that disconcerting realization, Doyle's eyes automatically picked out MacLeod's confidence, his obvious allure, power and strength, comparing them to what he had seen of Adam Taylor. Frowning, Doyle was immediately shocked to comprehend that the only definite image he had of Taylor was his seductive vulnerability and he felt his mouth drop open in shock. "That manipulating little bugger," Doyle muttered as he saw MacLeod stand and gesture him over. The Scot flaunted his strengths, where Taylor hid behind a mist of deception. But which one was deadlier? It was a question he didn't need answered as he saw MacLeod's genuine smile directed his way and Doyle started to re-evaluate all that Taylor had said and not said. Bastard!

"Ah, Mr. Doyle," MacLeod said with a smile, his dark eyes twinkling in genuine pleasure. "Care to join us? I can recommend the lobster."

"For breakfast?" Doyle questioned, sitting down and eyeing the two men. "No thanks."

"It's a bit too exotic for Doyle, Mr. MacLeod." Bodie said just covering his annoyance by keeping his face perfectly straight and his tone polite. "The only seafood he recognizes is cod covered in batter from the local chippy."

Choosing to ignore that, Doyle just sent his partner a look promising revenge as he indicated to the waiter hovering at his left shoulder to just bring him some tea.

Watching the two agents, MacLeod didn't miss the silent communication, or the easiness between them before Doyle targeted him with shrewd eyes. "Mr. Bodie tells me-"

"Please, can we drop the Misters?" Bodie asked on a tight breath. "They're giving me indigestion."

Hiding his smile, Doyle knew how his partner hated titles of any sort, and offered MacLeod an apologetic smile. "Since we are stuck with each other until Mr. Cowley says otherwise, I'm Raymond Doyle and this one only answers to Bodie."

"Duncan MacLeod." MacLeod said simply, singling Doyle out and noting that he was the more temperate of the two men. The teaming made for an interesting combination, and he admired Cowley's strategy. But then opposites not only attracted but also complimented each other perfectly, he acknowledged. "Bodie here tells me that you were visiting the student that was shot yesterday by McKellen." He gave an innocent smile with that comment as he watched the way Doyle's eyes darkened and narrowed. "I hope the young man is recovering?"

Considering his answer while the tea was delivered, Doyle waited until they were alone again, watching how Bodie eyed his lobster with disgust. His partner would definitely have indigestion. "I was just doing a follow up." Doyle replied, pouring milk into his tea before giving MacLeod a slight nod of acknowledgement.

"And the young man," MacLeod hesitated, not sure how to proceed as Doyle gave nothing away. "..I take it he's all right?"

"Fine." Doyle said, taking a sip of tea and pulling a face. He felt Bodie's eyes on him and schooled his features, knowing his partner would want information as well. Only a more detailed explanation could wait until later. "One Adam Taylor." Doyle turned back to MacLeod and gave him a thoughtful look as he studied the man. This man is Immortal. "He's currently residing in the Connolly Wing, room 82. A student of English Lit and History from what I can gather. He was only grazed and claims to know nothing. Just one of those cases of being in the wrong place at the wrong time."

"I.... see." MacLeod said slowly, his eyes telling Doyle that he didn't believe a word spoken. His answer was a small smile in return before Doyle sipped his tea again in unvoiced challenge. Not liking this, MacLeod glanced away. What the hell had the Immortal told this agent?!? It was disturbing, but looking back at Doyle he had the strong feeling that Doyle knew a little too much for comfort and was now baiting him. That was a dangerous attitude, especially with McKellen in the area.

"Oie," Bodie said as he glanced between his partner and the Scot. He had the distinct impression he was missing something vital here. "I think you've drunk enough tea sunshine otherwise your brain will get water logged." Bode quipped, standing and dragging his partner up with him. "If you will excuse us," he said politely to MacLeod.

"Mr. MacLeod," Doyle said as he easily slipped free of Bodie's grasp and turned back to the Scot. "What are your plans for the rest of the day?"

"I have a parcel being delivered later this afternoon, but apart from that I intend to stay in."

"Then we will accompany you upstairs for your own protection."

"Unnecessary." MacLeod said hastily covering his frown. "But as I promised George I would co-operate."

Bodie gave a forced smile, not liking the way MacLeod said 'George' before he gripped Doyle's shoulder hard and nodded to MacLeod. "We'll just be out here."

Watching them go, MacLeod speculated on what Doyle had said. It had been a deliberate statement of fact. Adam Taylor. The Connolly Wing, room 82. What was Doyle playing at? It was almost a set up, yet.... MacLeod frowned. He remembered McKellen shooting Taylor in the chest. It should have been fatal, and McKellen had called Taylor - Loxley, so.... Baffled, MacLeod picked up his wineglass and savored the flavor, wondering if it was possible to lose his watchdogs and seek out Taylor himself. For there were a few answers he craved.

Spinning Doyle around once they were back in the foyer, Bodie totally ignored the gesture the receptionist gave him to be quiet when he hissed at his partner. No one shushed him! "Doyle what the hell are you pulling now?!?"

"Will you keep it down-"

Opening his mouth Bodie closed it and glared at the doorman who was approaching them. The man stopped dead in his tracks under Bodie's glare, coloring slightly before hastily backing away. Turning his demanding scowl on his unfazed partner, Bodie tried to reign in his temper. "If you ever leave me alone with that moron again, I swear, Ray, I'll not be responsible for my actions!"

"And here I thought you had more self-control," Doyle quipped with amusement, seeing MacLeod call for the cheque.

"He's playing us for fools!"


"Maybe!" Bodie exploded and then released a loud sigh as he counted to ten slowly. "He knows what the hell is going on and he knows that we know that he knows!!"

Blinking at Bodie, Doyle didn't try to hide his amusement. "I think Anderson is right, you've lost it mate."


"Listen," Doyle admonished, understanding how volatile Bodie's temper could be. Only he knew it was from frustration at being stuck on a case that was going nowhere fast. "I'm sure MacLeod will make a mistake-"

"What about Egyptian Boy?"

Raising a brow, Doyle sighed. So Bodie had been talking to Murphy again. Figured. "He didn't know anything."

"Bloody typical!" Bodie growled as he leveled his gaze on his partner. "I don't like the feel of this, one bit. More is going on here than Cowley is telling us. And I want to know what Kilt Boy told the old man in the office earlier."

"And pigs will fly," Doyle answered. "Listen mate, this is not the first time Cowley has kept us in the dark-"

"Do you think he's struck a deal?"

"What?" Doyle questioned. "Diplomatic immunity for information?"

"Or bait?" Bodie hissed as he leaned closer to his partner, invading his personal space without pausing. "With the emphasis on us being the 'bait'."

Blinking at Bodie in startlement, Doyle didn't have time to comment as his partner squeezed his arm indicating MacLeod's approach.

"I'll just go upstairs," MacLeod offered on his way past, giving them both a tight smile.

"We'll accompany you." Bodie said, not giving MacLeod a chance to object as he went to the lift and stabbed the up button viciously before turning to giving the Scot a charming smile. "If that's all right with you." He added in false politeness.

"Fine," MacLeod grated out, but silently cursed first McKellen for involving the police in an Immortal matter and secondly Cowley for being so bloody stubborn minded.

Half an hour later MacLeod was still sitting staring at the papers on the desk. What he was seeing however was not the morning news but rather a young looking face, superimposed over the image of a long lean figure sprawled on the ground. Try as he might he could not budge the images from his head and with the images, came the soft baritone that had captured his attention so excitingly. It just added to the list of contradictions in the man's behavior towards both himself and McKellen and MacLeod had a very compelling reason to be intrigued, if not downright curious about this Adam Taylor. He simply had to find him again, he had so many questions that required answers. Who are you? Being the most persistent, the most compelling, followed swiftly by - Loxley? The comments had not escaped him and the implications of that name were something he just had to discover.

Then there was the little matter of how much the other Immortal had told agent Doyle. MacLeod knew damn well that Doyle was suspicious of his motives. Just the lack of practical evidence and British etiquette was keeping Doyle from asking the blunt questions he saw in the other man's frank stare. This was not a complication he liked. Mortals knowing about Immortals.... but what could he do?

Sighing, MacLeod stared at the newspaper before him, wordlessly admitting that he was getting tired of the Game and he was sick of being alone. This whole mess with McKellen was bringing it home to him sharply, and the little visit from Amanda hadn't helped either. Not that he hadn't enjoy the experience, he told himself with a grin. The memory of the wild sex they had enjoyed still very fresh in his mind, it was just that she most of all seemed to remind him of what he was missing in a stable relationship. One could only lie to oneself for so long before the truth became too obvious to hide from any longer. Making a face, MacLeod tried to shelve his gloomy mood, wondering why thoughts of Adam Taylor merged with his memories of Amanda. That's what comes from brooding, a snide voice spoke up from his subconscious which for reasons Duncan refused to even think about sounded suspiciously like the silky baritone of a certain English male Immortal....

Noh!! That did it! MacLeod decided angrily. Allowing his warped subconscious to continue to play games with him was getting him nowhere. He would find this damn Adam Taylor - if that was his real name - and satisfy his curiosity and be done with it! Although MacLeod disliked breaking his promise to Cowley he had to know. This was an Immortal problem and had little to do with CI5, or even McKellen for that matter. But he had to know if McKellen was at the University yesterday by accident, or if the bastard had followed him, or if McKellen was hunting Taylor. However, he was not going to learn anything relevant by sitting in this small study with his two guard- dogs prowling around in his hotel suite!

He'd lose them. No easy task when they were sitting practically outside his door. Nor when they were so well trained and suspicious of his movements. His own fault he supposed for disappearing on them at the auction.

Cursing softly to himself, MacLeod concentrated on coming up with a plan, his gaze wandering unseeing out the window, when his eyes finally focused on the fire escape. Yes, that was it. So simple. He'd go down the fire escape. But first to deal with Bodie and Doyle. It had been a while since they had checked up on his continued presence in his private suite so he would have to give them the impression that he intended to be there for the rest of the morning and afternoon. Happy now that he had a plan of action, he stood and left his large bedroom. Two heads swiveled in his direction from where the agents were seated on the couch absently watching the television.

"Afternoon gentlemen," MacLeod greeted them politely, receiving a nod from Doyle and a suspicious scowl from Bodie. He felt Bodie's hard, blue-eyed glare follow his every move and tried not to react as he went into the small kitchen area and raided the fridge. He poured himself a whisky, idly glancing over the complimentary fruit basket, selecting a couple of pieces before turning back to his two silent companions. Both were watching him with varying degrees of interest. "Help yourselves." MacLeod offered as he gestured to the food and drink before making his way back into his private retreat. "I have a ton of work to complete."

"Thanks," Doyle muttered, fiddling with the remote control.

Closing the door behind him, MacLeod tried not to grin, listening to the noises in the room outside before putting his few items down untouched. He knew he wouldn't have long before they came looking for him, and prayed his actions didn't get either man in too much strife with Cowley. He guessed Bodie didn't like him much and grinned, knowing that the curly-haired agent's professional attitude would keep Bodie silent. Still, it was a curious partnership. Fascinating how two men with such vastly differing backgrounds could work together so efficiently. He almost envied them their closeness.

Dismissing that thought, MacLeod pulled on his coat and felt the comforting weight of his hidden sword within the layers. Walking over to the window he winced at the squeak it made as he forced it slowly open. Pausing he listened carefully, but could hear no increased activity outside his bedroom door, and carefully stepped out onto the fire escape. Pushing the window closed, he hurriedly made his way to the narrow roadway below.

Reaching the bottom MacLeod hesitated, scanning the area for the other agents that he was sure were on watch outside the hotel, if not for his benefit then to spot the potential arrival of McKellen. It took him a few minutes to spot them, and he grinned to himself. Cowley's men were good, but not as experienced as he was, and he studied the two men in the parked Cortina at the end of the road. Crouching down low MacLeod slipped around the back of the hotel, finding the goods entrance, then cursed when he spotted another car parked near the outside gates. Another two men and he cast around for a new plan. Nothing for it but simple bluff.... Taking his hair out of its customary ponytail MacLeod messed the long lengths up, taking care to let it fall over his face. Hunching his shoulders he picked up a discarded box and pretended to carry it out of the loading bay. It obscured his face and he just hoped neither man pulled him up. To their credit he noted that they did not dismiss him out of hand, eyeballing him until he was almost out of sight before looking away. Still he was leaving, not entering.... and that was the main factor.

Walking around the corner and out of sight, he straightened up and retied his hair, discarded the box before looking for a taxi to take him to Oxford University.

The taxi pulled up to the gates of the main campus, where the auction had been held the previous day. Doyle had told him in his round about way what he had guessed. Adam Taylor was posing as a student, the Oxford sweatshirt, jeans and sneakers were hardly proper attire for a member of the Faculty, but Doyle's comments had cemented that fact. The Connolly Wing. Room 82. How helpful. Finding the old wing, MacLeod eyed the narrow corridors of the dormitories and pondered again why Taylor was at Oxford. Very few Immortals that he knew actually bothered to study so diligently at a University, relying on age and experience to get them through life. Or money. It was a curious trait and added another level of intrigue to this tantalizing Immortal.

Checking the door numbers, MacLeod slowly made his way down the corridors, noting possible exits and weaknesses in the old structure while he searched for a feel of presence. There it was, just on the edge of his perception and he let it wash over him, advancing slowly on his prey, growing in confidence as the surge of Immortal presence gained in strength. What would Taylor do? MacLeod wondered. Would he come out and challenge, or flee out a window?

Measuring his steps, MacLeod let his feelings guide him until he found room 82 and then he stopped in front of the old wooden door, shrugging his shoulders and absently feeling for his sword hilt. It was a comfort and he raised his hand to knock firmly. The sound echoed down the wide corridor and MacLeod absently took in the carved paneling and threadbare carpets. What he was expecting he didn't know, but the last thing he would have guessed was for the door to swing open under his hand and he braced himself for a trap, staring into the interior of the room. First thing he noted was that it looked homely. Well lived in and warm to the senses. Resting his fingers on the hilt of his sword, he determinedly took a step inside, letting his eyes sweep around the room until they rested on its single occupant. Adam Taylor.

Again it was like a physical blow to his mind and body. Taylor's lack of resistance, lack of concern and lack of surprise troubled him deeply and MacLeod met the wide hazel eyes not missing the sparkle of amusement in their enticing depths. Dammit! Taylor had been expecting him! Had Doyle set him up? Noh, and he shook his head minutely. At least not intentionally and MacLeod let his eyes narrow as he considered this new aspect. Perhaps Taylor had manipulated Doyle to set him up...? Interesting, and MacLeod stepped further into the room with a little more confidence. Shutting the door, his gaze drank in the slender male noting how Taylor got up off the floor in a fluid, graceful motion to stretch, revealing just a glimpse of pale flesh above his jeans before the other Immortal grinned at him teasingly. It was a blatant challenge but not of the normal variety and MacLeod felt his jaw drop.


"Taylor." MacLeod found himself saying while he hastily revised all his opinions. The man was a tease, and he found his breathing had accelerated while he unsuccessfully tried to glare at this seductive being. Mystified even more when Taylor then presented him with his back, MacLeod sucked in a breath finding his eyes darting down the full length of the presented body before he found those wicked eyes watching him, laughing at him knowingly. MacLeod blushed and tried to look annoyed.

"Me casa es sue casa." Methos muttered, offering the other man a beer, holding it out to him as he let a small grin play over his mouth. My, but MacLeod looked good, he thought hotly, feeling his heartbeat sped up. Fuck.... category five and heartache approaching, fast if he didn't slam the breaks on immediately.

Translating the words in his mind, MacLeod blinked, a little dazed as he accepted the beer. French? This was not what he had expected and he found that he was breathing erratically, reassessing this Immortal a third time. Currently he was faced with vulnerability, innocence with just a touch of imp. Yet he had a strong feeling these traits were a clever deception. A veil of mystery designed to lull him. Goddammit, but how he wanted to go with this first impression, and suddenly his time spent with Amanda and his other casual affairs vanished from his mind. Taylor seemed to answer the deep yearning inside his soul with a single look from those changeable eyes. Like the other man had set off a liquid fire raging in his blood that touched him in a way he needed, filling the void that had been beckoning him. He felt immensely strong both physically and mentally when bathed in that gold-green stare - and the scary part was that they hadn't even touched yet. But they would, MacLeod was positive of that certainty. Abruptly he could imagine himself being allowed to fulfill his heritage, being allowed to protect.... to be allowed to be himself and totally relax with another of his kind. To learn, to teach, to practice weaponry with an equal. No secrets, schemes, or hiding from the police as Amanda did continuously. Just honest desire....

"MacLeod?" Methos asked watching how the other just stared at him in a consuming intensity, and he frowned disconcerted.

"Doyle told me were to find you." MacLeod said the first thing that came into his mind. Strangely he felt no restrictions around Taylor. No pretense. Was that an illusion too? Or was it real? Please, let it be real.

"I thought he might."

"I could have been McKellen." MacLeod started, just now realizing how stupidly Taylor had left himself open to attack. Was he as young as he looked or was that an illusion also? "He could have come in and shot yew again then taken yewr head!" For some reason Taylor's openness angered him, for now all he could picture was the other's senseless death.

"Wow!" Methos held up a hand and speculated were that sudden anger had sprung from. It was like dealing with Jekell and Hyde.

"Yew should not have assumed-"

"MacLeod!" Methos broke in, swiveling around and bringing his sword up to the Scot's throat in one swift move.

Startled by the almost magical appearance of the broadsword, MacLeod contemplated vaguely where Taylor had pulled it from. His denims were too obscenely tight to hide....

"I am not unarmed. It was a calculated risk." Methos said, meeting the searching brown eyes and feeling their irresistible pull. His loins tightened and he let a hard edge enter his tone. "I have no quarrel with you."

"Aye." MacLeod breathed as he raised a hand and gently pushed the Ivanhoe away. A beautifully crafted weapon, 13th or 14th century by design, but he found his eyes were traitorously drawn back to the Immortal behind the blade. He felt like he had known Taylor for years, but in reality he knew nothing about him. "Adam Taylor," MacLeod let the name roll off his tongue, tasting it in an intimate way.

Methos shivered and took a step back lowering his sword. Was it just the sexy Scottish accent or the way MacLeod emphasized each syllable that rendered him so defenseless? And what would it sound like if MacLeod uttered his real name?

"Is that your real name?"

"It will do for now." Methos muttered startled, not believing that he had not given MacLeod a sarcastic retort. "Listen-"

"You are in danger."

Drawing in a breath, Methos forgot what he was going to say as his heart did another little leap in his chest at the idea that MacLeod had come all this way just to warn him. A genuine boy scout. Hell, he used to eat boy scouts for breakfast.

"McKellen knows you are here."

"Why was he chasing you?" Methos countered, hoping to divert the topic. He glanced around to see if his window was open. It was. So why did it feel so hot and stuffy in the room suddenly?

"Old family dispute." MacLeod said and shrugged. "Which reminds me, what did you tell that CI5 agent?"

Taking another step back, Methos put his sword down and collapsed on the bed again as he tried to frown at his visitor. But it was so hard to stay detached especially when MacLeod's aura swamped everything. The Scot was a powerhouse of vibrant energy and it bombarded his senses in such an erotic way.


"What?" Methos asked, sucking in a breath and watching the Highlander step closer. Such beauty and strength. Magnificent. In a different time - a different world - he would take such a man and....

"What did you tell Doyle?"

"Nothing that he hadn't already guessed."

"What!" MacLeod said aghast as he drank in the open, artful sprawl before him. Shoving his hands in his pockets, MacLeod concentrated on meeting the wide eyes seeing how they darkened to a dangerous brightness. "You told him about Immortals?"

"Fuck," Methos muttered under his breath as he felt Nefertiri jump up on the bed and settle possessively in his lap. It was a welcome distraction.


"What did you want me to do, since I died in his arms while you ran off playing hero!" Methos cut back. "If you were so worried, you could have stayed to make sure he never found out!" There, chew on that a while! Methos decided, watching fascinated how MacLeod's expression went from shock to guilt in a few swift seconds. It was enlightening.

"You are right." MacLeod whispered as he moved closer and sat on a chair. Slowly he let his eyes move down to take in the cat stretched across Taylor's lap. Her silky black fur doing nothing to hide the appeal of the body she lounged over. What was it about Taylor that made him feel so giddy and hot suddenly?

"Look, what is done is done, and I doubt Doyle will do anything for he has no proof." Methos offered, surprised that the Highlander had taken his accusations so hard. The man was a seductive mix of passionate conflicting emotions, and he wondered what the Scot would taste like. If only he could force this into category two, but he doubted the vibrant Scot inspired anything but category five in all his lovers. Dangerous.... too dangerous for him to get involved with. It would be best to pack up and leave. Vanish until this entire mess settled down.

"And McKellen?" MacLeod asked, more worried now that the evil Immortal would come after this seemingly defenseless man.

"What about him?" Methos asked mystified.

"What if he comes back for you?" MacLeod asked, remembering what else had been intriguing him. "He called you Loxley. What did he mean by that?"

"Long story-"

"Indulge me."

Circa 12th century. Sherwood Forest, England.

Stopping again, Methos closed his eyes and counted to four very slowly, wishing fervently that he had lost his persistent shadow. All around him the forest was still, the few birds quiet as he let the lushness of the trees and grass fill him in an attempt to soothe his nerves. Then behind him ever so softly he heard the unmistakable sound of a twig snapping. Damn, bugger, bother! Curse the Gods!

Turning, he peered into the undergrowth and could just make out the leaf green jerkin of this follower. It was the nosey brat.... again! The one with the incurable inquisitiveness that was going to get the child killed. Cursing his lot, Methos wondered for the umpteenth time why he had stayed in Sherwood. He should have returned to London. Or better still taken off across the ocean to find a nice uninhabited landmass. Anything just to get away from the madness of the Crusades that was affecting everyone's thinking. Last thing he wanted was to be on the wrong end of a Sarisain's blade.

Shivering at the thought, he muttered under his breath at the stupidity of mortals. Wars never accomplished anything. At least that was something he had learned in all his centuries of life. The enlightened truth of passionate causes eventually died and the land and its eternal designs just kept on unhindered by time.

Dragging his mind away from those depressing thoughts Methos let his eyes narrow and glared at the bush the skinny whelp was hiding behind. "You might as well show yourself." He called, sick of always being followed by this impressionable child.

"It was the twig, wasn't it?"

Hearing the unhappy tone, Methos sighed and begged patience from the numerous Gods he was well aquatinted with. Looking skyward he rolled his eyes. At least the child had boldness. It would stand him in good stead later in life. Or get him a quick death.

"But I am getting better, aren't I?" The young boy asked seriously. "I was really trying-"

"Yes," Methos sighed agreeing whole-heartedly with that sentiment. Trying was a very good description.

"Everyone says you are the best tracker-"


The child nodded enthusiastically as he scrambled closer and grinned up at the man waiting poised. "Can you teach me? Please?"

Groaning as he meet those over-large brown eyes, Methos wanted to say no, but found it was almost impossible to deny this precocious child anything, especially when those large eyes begged him silently for help. With the child's long dark hair and obvious enthusiasm, Methos could well picture that this lad would one day be a force to reckon with. Only he doubted he would be a very good role model for the child.


"What's your name?" Methos asked instead. Although he'd seen the child often over the last few months, he'd not really focused on his name as he'd been too preoccupied with avoiding the sheriff's patrols and keeping the deer population under manageable control. And on the tables of the poor. It was a phase he was going through.... a self-purification program. Or a relief from utter boredom, more like.... a little voice insisted in the back of his mind. At least that was what he kept telling himself as he prolonged his departure and stayed another week. Besides Gweneth of Loxley was a fantastic cook, and her family, though poor, was extremely hospitable. And he needed to feel the warmth of human companionship. Craved it desperately. So he had lodgings and well cooked food, ale and all for the meat he supplied the few scattered villages. A very workable arrangement, for if he was caught the villagers wouldn't suffer because he was not a native of the area.

"Robin, Sir." The young lad answered promptly and proudly.

"Robin?" Methos repeated.


"And your father is-"

"He's dead." Robin said with only a touch of emotion as he wiped a grubby hand over his eyes. "I live with Much and his family."

"I see."

"They own the Mill, and-"

Getting the picture, Methos nodded, knowing the Miller. Raising a hand to silence the flow of words he watched Robin hiccup on an excited breath. He smiled, glad the child was at least good at taking instructions. Lifting a brow he reassessed this young one. Intelligence and obedience. Definitely workable.

"You're gonna trap another deer, aren't you sir?"

Trap? Methos frowned in annoyance. "Shoot," he corrected as he turned away and gestured for the boy to follow.

"You know it's against the sheriff's law-"

Scoffing at that, Methos scanned the area, reminding himself not to dull his senses. Though if the sheriff were around he would get fair warning by the amount of noise his guards made. Rather it was the sheriff's so called cousin he wanted to watch out for, for the man was a bumbling idiot and Immortal to boot. A second rate swordsman whom the Sheriff had allowed for some misguided reason to train his guards, if their incompetence was anything to go by.

"I hear they cut off your hand for poaching-"

"And I think you talk too much."

"Oh," Robin closed his mouth and blinked up at his teacher. "Will you teach me to hunt like you?"

"If you are silent."

Nodding Robin fell into step next to him and carefully watched how the tracker walked through the thin layer of leaves and twigs. Studying the movements conscientiously, Robin tried to imitate this amazing man. "What can I call you, sir?"

Not having really decided on his new identity yet, Methos had just taken the term given him by Gweneth. The 'tracker of Loxley'. Or as she had joked last night, just Loxley. Besides, he hadn't planned to stay around long enough to be memorable, so a name was unnecessary. Most villagers kept to themselves and respected his privacy. But Gweneth had given him the eye last night and he was now considering his options. She wanted more than the occasional bounty he brought the villagers. She was offering him an identity, a place he could hide. Oh he was definitely going soft in the head. Maybe he should go off and join the Crusades, just to sharpen his perspective.


Dragged back to the present by the persistent child, Methos calmed his immediate response. "Loxley. Just call me Loxley."


"Robin??" MacLeod asked in disbelief, not trusting the look of utter innocence he saw immediately come into Adam's eyes. "As in 'The Robin of Sherwood?'" MacLeod continued, enthralled despite the nagging suspicion that he was being conned, and by an expert.

"Didn't I just say that was his name. You're obviously not listening, MacLeod."

"You expect me to believe, that you taught 'The' Robin of Sherwood how to hunt?" MacLeod pushed, not sure if he wanted to laugh in delight or thump the man in exasperation. Both options were terribly tempting especially when Adam proceeded to lounge back nonchalantly on the bed.

"I was only in Sherwood six, seven months. A year at the most. I really can't remember now. And at the time the child was adventurous and yes I showed him a little about tracking and how to shoot-"

"Poach." MacLeod corrected.

"You want to quibble over definitions?" Methos asked, raising a brow in challenge.

Deciding not to invite an argument just yet, MacLeod let the topic go as he concentrated on something else. "So how did you meet McKellen?"

"He," Methos said with heavy emphasis as he stoked Nefertiri's head. "..he was one of the Sheriffs cousins."

"A cousin?" MacLeod frowned baffled. "But how?"

"I don't know! I didn't stop to trade life stories with him." Methos said in heavy sarcasm, really starting to enjoy himself now. "But I assume he just killed the real cousin and took his place. The Sheriff, Robert De Renoult, was not known for being a good judge of character. Or for his intelligence."


Seeing the Highlander's righteous streak surge to the fore, Methos buried his smile and tried to look attentive. "In those days taking a new identity was as simple as sticking a knife in someone's chest and disposing of the body."

"What!" MacLeod said shocked.

"Not that I ever did that." Methos added hastily, attempting to look suitably horrified at the idea and battling to kill his grin. God, but MacLeod was too easy. And refreshingly naive. This was going to be fun. "I was just trying to make an honest living-"

"By poaching the King's deer?!" MacLeod reminded him not sure if he wanted to encourage the man across from him or not. There were layers under that mischievous smile that frightened and aroused him.

"Everyone had to eat." Methos shot back. "It was a respectable living outside of Nottingham. Besides, I was thinking of settling in Loxley. Gweneth's father was making noises about inviting me into the family, so to speak. And I needed a place to regroup for a while."

"You were planning to marry?"

"It has its advantages, Highlander." Methos told him, smiling wickedly as he remembered how he had taught Robin the advantage of strategy and preparation. Everyone was at the crusades, and he didn't much care for war as the Saracens had a tendency to behead opponents. Shaking himself he looked back at the Highlander. "But any peace I had hoped to gain was destroyed by McKellen."

"So what happened?" MacLeod persisted, moving a little closer and watching how Adam sighed in mild exasperation. "What did McKellen do?"

"Back then he was using the name David De Renoult, and he was part of the Sheriff's inner court. A cousin-" Methos waved the term aside as he thought back, finding that he could remember the time easily and that it was not accompanied with the pain most memories accumulated. "The Sheriff was a young man, but ambitious from what I can recall and he was always open to new ideas of gaining more wealth. His brother was a Priest and between the two of them they kept all the villagers in Sherwood poor."

"And McKellen was helping that bastard." MacLeod grumbled, picturing the deranged Scot in such a setting.

"Your McKellen was doing very well out of it," Methos quipped. Then seeing MacLeod's murderous expression, hastily added, "..but not for long."

"So you exposed him to the Sheriff?"

"No." Methos sighed, settling his gaze on the passionate Highlander in front of him. To have so many firm, unshakable convictions was refreshing and he deliberately let his smile grow, noting how MacLeod blinked a little dazed. "I'd heard the decree about the Sheriff's plan to raise new taxes, but hadn't given it much thought. Until the day McKellen came into the village I was living in with the Sheriff's Guards to collect the tax. I was working outside the Mill when they rode in and he completely took me by surprise. It had been years since I'd felt another Immortal - my senses were dull and De Renoult had a sword at my throat before I could retrieve my own blade. He then arrested me for poaching." Watching MacLeod's expression change from interest into anger, Methos shrugged. "He was right, but he had no proof and when the Miller stood up in my defense McKellen clubbed him to the ground with the hilt of his sword and then ordered his Guards to search the village for weapons and valuables. I was chained and dragged back to Nottingham and thrown into one of the lower dungeons." Absently petting Nefertiri, Methos shivered, remembering the rats, the dampness and coldness, the insane peasants inhabiting the darkness of the cell and the panic of being weaponless. "After the first night of being locked in the dungeon the Sheriff himself came down to view me and he told me that his cousin recommended that I be beheaded for my crimes. Those crimes by now had escalated from poaching to murder of the Sheriff's Guards." Methos pulled a pained expression. "It seems the Guards escorting David De Renoult to Nottingham had been murdered by an outlaw and I was now the logical choice to blame."

"Neat." MacLeod grunted, recognizing McKellen's deviousness all over the ploy. "So they were going to behead you?"

"My sentence was to be carried out the following afternoon in the square as a deterrent for other would be outlaws."

"How could they convict you without a trial or even witnesses?"

"Don't sound so surprised, Highlander, those times were different."

"I know, but still.... the Sheriff was supposed to uphold the law!"

Chucking slightly Methos shook his head in delight. The more he learned about Duncan MacLeod the more he wanted to know. Darius was right. "The point is moot." Methos informed the outraged Highlander. "As it was, McKellen came and released me later that night when the castle was quiet and he covertly led me out into the forest. He said our dispute was not for mortal eyes - a point with which I agreed. He then threw me a small dagger and told be to defend myself."

"A dagger?"

"I was wearing rags, or what the guards had left me, he was dressed in leathers with a sword and that was his idea of a fair challenge." Methos scoffed, then grinned, his senses suddenly filling with the woodland smells of the forest. The foliage and dampness of the leaves under his feet, the freshness of pine and night blossom....

Circa 12th century. Sherwood Forest, England.

"I challenge you, dog. Stand up and fight like an honorable man!" McKellen - alias David De Renoult - snarled at his opponent.

Picking himself up off the damp ground, Methos absently brushed the leaves and dirt from his thin, threadbare clothing and glared at the insolent man before him. "Oh that's good coming from a coward like you, De Renoult. Or whatever your real name is." Methos snapped back. "First you have me wrongly imprisoned, then sentenced to a beheading and now you challenge a weaponless man! And you name me dishonorable?"

Growling under his breath, De Renoult loosened his own short dagger and tossed it at his opponent's feet. "Pick it up, peasant, and defend yourself before you die."

Keeping his eyes on De Renoult, Methos crouched down and picked up the dagger, weighing it in his hand. "So you kill me out here and take my head. What will you tell the Sheriff in the morning?"

"That you escaped and that I tracked you and was forced to kill you before you brought more outlaws against Nottingham." De Renoult informed him flatly, stepping around his opponent's figure as he leveled his sword on the patiently waiting man. "No doubt I will be rewarded for my valiant bravery."

"No doubt." Methos muttered in disgust. "There's only one small problem."

"What?!?" De Renoult hissed.

Not bothering to answer that, Methos swiveled around, using his borrowed dagger to protect his wrist as he spun into De Renoult's sword arm, using the momentum to stun the other man in the gut with a vicious jab of his elbow before capturing the man's sword. Then he was driving the blade into De Renoult's gut. "I don't think I'm going to be the one the Sheriff will behead." Methos whispered harshly into De Renoult's ear. Stepping back, he released De Renoult's trapped arm and let the man slide down onto the ground before he pulled the sword free. Crouching down over De Renoult's gasping figure, Methos gave a nasty smile. "Tell me how does the Sheriff reward betrayal and desertion?"

Opening his mouth to protest, De Renoult could get no sound out as the pain in his abdomen crippled all responses.

Pretending to think, Methos laughed, bending down to grip De Renoult's arm and drag the man back to sit him up against a tree. Then using his borrowed dagger he plunged it into De Renoult's shoulder, pinning the man to the tree effectively. "You know, I think I'll go and pay the Sheriff's treasury a visit. I could use some travelling funds. In return for the Sheriff's kind nature, I'll leave him your sword - in the treasury - as a thank you for all his hospitality."

"No-" De Renoult gasped, reaching up to grip his opponents ripped tunic. "Please...."

Shoving the hand aside, Methos wiped the sword on De Renoult's leathers and studied the hilt, noting the De Renoult crest and family stone set deep into the metal. "I doubt the Sheriff will be amused when he finds your sword. I imagine he will send out guards."

"I-I beg...."

"Begging is good, but I don't think you have the temperament to make a good slave." Methos said sarcastically, patting De Renoult's cheek condescendingly before standing. "If I were you, I'd leave Sherwood. Fast."


"You just walked away?" MacLeod stated aghast, shaking himself for Taylor's voice had been mesmerizing. Connor had taught him never to walk away from an opponent, especially if the Immortal was capable of seeking revenge.

"His Quickening didn't interest me, and a body was useless to my plans. It was better if the Sheriff was hunting De Renoult than me."

"So you stole the taxes and left his sword."

"Yes." Methos nodded.

"And you used the money to travel?"

Pinning the Highlander with his gaze, Methos could easily read the disbelief behind that question and almost nodded. In the end he pushed aside his perverse sense of humor and sighed. "No," he admitted begrudgingly. "I gave most of the gold to the old Miller for I knew he would distribute it to those who most needed it."

"You also owed him." MacLeod countered, so glad Adam had answered the way he did.

"Yes, I owed him." Methos growled, miffed. He hated the way MacLeod had to justify everything. That sort of trait could be very limiting and dangerous. "I owed Gweneth."

"And Robin?"

"He had my bow and hunting knife - I didn't stay." Methos dismissed, not wanting to discuss it any further. "I left."

"So now McKellen has a vendetta." MacLeod finished. "McKellen doesn't take rejection or losing well."

"Do any of us?" Methos asked very quietly before he shook himself out of the introspective mood. Why he had told the Highlander a piece of his past was beyond him. He must be totally deranged.

"How old are you?"

"What?" Methos blinked over at his guest a little surprised. This was not a question you normally asked another Immortal. But then MacLeod was no ordinary Immortal.

"How old are you?" MacLeod asked again very softly as he watched the way the afternoon light highlighted this man's pale features. It was entrancing, especially as the long fingers absently raked through Adam's long fringe before his hair fell back again to shadow his eyes.

"Old enough not to answer that, but young enough to still enjoy life."

It was no answer, as oblique as the man in front of him and MacLeod found that he was returning Adam's mischievous smile with interest. It had been a long time since anyone had captured his attention like Adam Taylor did. A very very long time, and MacLeod wondered at the man's sexual orientation. Yet from the heated glances he was receiving he doubted this man was a stranger to pleasure, or blind to the building attraction he felt growing between them. Just as well.

"So where are your shadows?" Methos asked teasingly, starting to relax more while he slowly laced his fingers through Nefertiri's fur. She was purring contentedly, warming his lap and he saw how MacLeod's eyes kept darting down to his hands. To his legs.... and he deliberately stretched them out a bit more.

"I left them at the Mayfair." Saying that, MacLeod glanced at his watch and groaned. He'd been gone over an hour and unless he wanted Bodie and Doyle to come barging in here he'd best get back, for he wanted to keep his association with Adam completely private. The last thing he wanted was for the man to get spooked by the double act he'd been lumbered with. Sugar and Spice. "I should be getting back before they start to worry."

"Oh, I see, you sneaked out." Methos grinned delighted. MacLeod had slipped out to visit him? Now this was special!

Seeing the changeable eyes widen, MacLeod leaned forward and tapped Adam on the nose. "Promise me you'll be careful."

"Yes MacLeod." Methos intoned, shivering at the brief contact and the deepening sexy tone. It was the first time they had touched and it sent his anticipation sky rocketing.

Pleased, MacLeod stood and took out a hotel card, scribbling his room number on the back. "This is were I am staying. If you need anything, call me."

Removing the warmth from his lap, Methos found himself accepting the card as he followed MacLeod to the door. It seemed it was his day for revelations. First to have Doyle on his doorstep with a card and now MacLeod. "I doubt I'll need anything, and before you say it, I am more than capable of fighting my own battles." He added, forestalling the protest he saw hovering in the Scot's eyes. Shit, but he was lost already and they barely knew each other.

"Maybe not." MacLeod growled, opening the door and pausing to regard the slender man with warmth. "You might just want to visit. I plan to be in London for a while yet." He left the invitation hanging between them, gratified when he saw Taylor blink at him before a very faint flush stained the pale skin. It was extremely enticing. Taking one final look at the alluring male, MacLeod let his smile grow before he left the room and closed the door behind him. Striding down the corridor, he let a laugh escape feeling light footed and happy for the first time in many many years. A sense of freedom, that not even the knowledge of McKellen's threatening presence could dampen. For now he finally had a goal, a promise to look forward to and savor.

Climbing back in the window of his Mayfair room, MacLeod was not surprised to find two very disgruntled CI5 agents waiting to greet him. Bodie was glaring at him with gun in hand, while Doyle was on the R/T, probably calling off the search.

"Where the hell have you been!?" Bodie demanded as he debated the advantages of shooting his assignment, yet again. With a bullet wound MacLeod would be in protective custody or tied to a hospital bed. Either way it would end all the hassles and dramas. On the other hand Cowley would be livid.

"I went for a walk," MacLeod said with complete guilelessness.

"Out the bloody window!"

"I wanted some privacy."

"Shit!" Bodie snarled as he lowered his gun. "I ought to shoot you."

"Bodie." Doyle intervened, gesturing his partner away from MacLeod. He spoke quietly to him. "8.1 just picked him up on return. He doesn't seem to have a tail."

"So did you find what you were looking for?" Bodie snarled impatiently, turning back to MacLeod and ignoring his partner's silent warning.

"I just went for a walk," MacLeod repeated.

"And McKellen?"

"Didn't see him." MacLeod said honestly. "I'm going to have a scotch, do you both want one?"

About to reply, both agents stilled as a knock sounded on the front door. Moving towards it, Bodie had his gun out again while Doyle cast a curious glance at their annoying charge. He saw MacLeod's hand go instantly inside his coat, like a reflex action and he frowned. Then Bodie took his attention as his partner turned back to MacLeod.

"Are you expecting anyone?"

"Noh." MacLeod said, a serious edge coloring his tone. The buzz in his head warned of another Immortal and if he had to face McKellen he didn't want to involve these two men, it was too dangerous.

"No room service or blond piece?"

"Noh." MacLeod repeated as he eyes darkened in displeasure. He was fleetingly tempted to hand Bodie over to McKellen.

Dropping the banter, Bodie hastily checked the spyhole and saw a sandy-haired man glaring back at him. A real personality plus case, Bodie noted wryly before opening the door and keeping his gun ready incase trouble erupted. Bracing himself, Bodie sized up the visitor standing in the corridor as ice blue eyes studied him in return. "Can I help you?" Bodie asked in a very unhelpful tone.

"You are not Duncan."

"Great." Bodie groaned hearing the faint Scottish accent when the hard eyes challenged him to hide the truth. Another bloody Scotsman. "It's for you." Bodie said in an aside to MacLeod. "Old home week or something?"

Stepping past the dark-haired agent, MacLeod grabbed his visitor in a bear hug, delighted to see him. "Connor!"

"Hello boyo," Connor said in his dry drawl, before he laughed softly and eyed his cousin up and down.

"What are you doing here?" MacLeod demanded as he pulled Connor into the room and ignored his two watchdogs with ease.

"Was in London and ran into Amanda."

"Ran into Amanda?" MacLeod repeated in disbelief. That was unlikely.

"She told me you were here." Connor said before his eyes swept over the two Englishmen. Switching to Gaelic he muttered to Duncan. "What is going on?"

Speaking in Gaelic also, MacLeod shook his head, thinking it was more likely Amanda had contacted Connor and asked him to visit. It was so like her to interfere. "They work for the London Criminal Intelligence Unit, they're my bodyguards would you believe."

"Why?" Connor asked still in their native tongue.

"An old family friend is in town, he's got a record and they think he's stalking me. They hope to arrest him-"



"And you've involved mortals?" Connor asked incredulously as his eyes told Duncan exactly what he thought of that. "Are you crazy!?!"

"Noh!" MacLeod defended, still in Gaelic. "They staked me out, and getting rid of them now is extremely hard."

"Who's the Immortal?"


"Hey!" Bodie interrupted picking up on that name and eyeing the two Scots with annoyance. He hated it when people withheld information, spoke behind his back or mumbled in unintelligible languages. It was damn rude. Besides that had been no Welsh or Gaelic he'd ever heard before. Or any other Scottish dialect he was familiar with. He wasn't quiet sure what it was. "Do you want to introduce us, or do we need to haul your friend down town for Cowley's pleasure?"

Sighing in exasperation, MacLeod gritted his teeth. "See what I mean?" He said in an aside to Connor, then switched back to English. "Mr. Bodie and Mr. Doyle of CI5." Giving them a forced smile he gestured to Connor. "A distant relative."


"Nash." Connor said as he bestowed a humorless smile on both agents. "John Nash."

Filing that away, Doyle's eyes became suspicious, for he'd seen the way Nash had stood when Bodie had opened the door. Like MacLeod he'd had one hand inside his coat. On a sword perhaps? Another Goddamn Immortal? Was the bloody world full of these devious creatures? Or was he just imagining things?

"Duncan?" Connor turned back to his cousin and gave him a strained smile.

"Excuse us." MacLeod offered politely as he walked into the kitchen area, reverting to Gaelic out of habit as he heard Connor mutter something uncomplimentary under his breath. Eyeing the two agents MacLeod noted that Doyle had pulled out his R/T and he dreaded to think what the smart man was doing now. Or what George Cowley would make of this.

"What's going on Duncan?" Connor asked in their native tongue.

"I ran into McKellen in Paris and followed him here. Only I didn't know Interpol was tracking him. That led to the involvement of CI5-" he gestured helplessly to the two men standing a discreet distance away. Doyle was still talking into his radio while Bodie just glared at them both. "Then yesterday while I was at an auction I ran into McKellen again, only there was a third Immortal there."


"Adam Taylor." MacLeod said, both hoping Connor did and did not know the name. Adam was his little bubble of security and he didn't want any nasty surprises. Not now.

"Never heard of him." Connor said in his usual deadpan way. "Describe him."

"A little shorter than me, lean, dark hair. Sounds English."

"No," Connor shook his head. "Did this Taylor challenge McKellen?"

Shaking his head, MacLeod sighed as he vividly recalled the events. Could see it in his mind when McKellen had pulled a gun and shot Adam. Remembered how Adam had crumpled and grunted in pain. "McKellen recognized Taylor and called him Loxley. Then McKellen shot Taylor and I challenged McKellen. Taylor never even pulled a sword."

Frowning Connor turned away rubbing his lower lip. "Loxley?"

"Apparently they have a history-"

"The name Loxley goes back to the 12th century," Connor said as he considered this. "Unless I am mistaken."

"Noh, you are not mistaken." MacLeod admitted remembering what Adam had told him that afternoon.

"This Loxley said nothing else?"

"I got the impression he wasn't interested in a challenge." MacLeod added, wondering how many of his judgments were clouded by his personal interest in Adam Taylor. With a start, MacLeod realized Taylor had to be at least as old as Amanda.... It was not something he had consciously connected before and it made him both nervous and excited. Old and seductive, and MacLeod shivered, seeing how Connor eyed him worriedly. "Adam Taylor is currently studying at the Oxford University."

"And that is where you last saw McKellen?" Connor asked shrewdly.


"Then that is where McKellen will go," Connor judged.

"But," getting concerned, all MacLeod could think about was that Adam would be in danger again. Shit, if he had led McKellen to the university.... he would not forgive himself if McKellen went after Adam because of him. "Why?"

"Why?" Connor asked as he looked at his cousin thinking Duncan was really not thinking. He had this dazed look in his eyes, and Connor contemplated what else had happened that his cousin was not telling him about. Amanda's message to him had not been very informative except to tell him Duncan was being hunted and that he was brooding and searching for stability again. Always a worry in an Immortal. How many friends had he lost because of loneliness? "Duncan?"

"I have to warn Adam-"

"He's Immortal." Connor reminded him pointedly. "His battle."

"But I led McKellen to him," MacLeod explained. "Connor, I got the impression Adam hasn't participated in the Game for years."

"His problem, cousin." Connor repeated flatly not liking this reckless thinking in his old student. "Watch your own head-"

"Aye." MacLeod breathed. "But I still have to warn him."

"Just remember, that mongrel McKellen is mine." Connor told him in a savage whisper. "I do not want you involved."

"And Adam?"

"Not interested unless he challenges me."

Knowing Connor was right MacLeod still felt shocked. "He won't-"

"Get rid of the mortals, before they get killed, Duncan, this is not for their eyes."

Glancing again at the two agents who looked less than thrilled, MacLeod just nodded his agreement.

Reaching out Connor dragged his cousin and old student into a hug, patting his back before turning away. He ignored the two agents as he went to the door and left silently.

Knowing his cousin was going to hunt McKellen, MacLeod lifted his eyes and met two sets of suspicious stares. He did not have time for explanations, right now his gut was telling him to warn Adam. To get back to the University and find his new friend and warn him before McKellen tracked him down. Reaching for the phone, his fingers paused over the numbers wondering who to ring at Oxford and what to say. Noh, it would be better if he went to Adam personally, forced him to see the danger. Removed him personally before Connor turned up there. Bring him back here to the Mayfair, and MacLeod stopped that thought wondering at his own hidden agendas behind that appealing notion. Still, he had to try, for Adam's sake and for his own sanity. Even though the other had produced a sword, MacLeod would feel better if the other man was away from Oxford until McKellen was found. Replacing the handset, he ignored Bodie's disproving scowl as he followed in Connor's wake and went to the door.

"Where do you think you're going?" Bodie asked as he shoved the door shut and glared at MacLeod. "You know since we were put on the case Doyle, we've had nothing but interference and stall tactics." He said to his partner as he kept his eyes trained on the frowning Scot. "I'm starting to think that we are protecting the wrong person."

"Frustrating I agree." Doyle said mildly as he went to stand with his partner and give MacLeod an uncompromising look. "Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"

"I think we should haul his arse back to Cowley." Bodie threatened. "Make him tell us the whole bloody truth!"

Raising his hands MacLeod sighed. "Look, I just want to-"

"Go for another walk?" Bodie finished for him sarcastically.

"This does not concern yew." MacLeod hissed getting exasperated by their interference. They had no idea.... "This is outside yewr jurisdiction!" Swinging his eyes around he saw how Doyle frowned, and prayed the curly- haired agent believed him as he'd given up on making the sharp tongued Bodie understand anything.

Hearing those words, Doyle was sharply reminded of Taylor and his quiet words, which had hinted at the same thing. Only Taylor had gone further and stated that it would cost them their lives if they interfered. His and Bodie's lives.

"Wrong sunshine!" Bodie snapped. "Until Cowley tells me otherwise your carcass is mine. Now what did your 'relative' have to say?"


"It was a pretty intense exchange for nothing. Don't you agree Doyle?"

"John Nash." Doyle quoted. "Millionaire, much like yourself. Must be a family trait." He added with bored interest. "Nash came into London a week ago according to the dispatchers."

"Do you track everyone?" MacLeod asked appalled.

"Why, got something to hide?" Bodie asked pointedly.


"Then answer the bloody question!"

"Look," MacLeod forestalled other comments, hearing the sarcasm and admitting it was not their fault. "This really does not concern CI5. Now I am not your prisoner and I am going out whether you like it or not."

"We'll drive you."

"I'd prefer to take the hotel limousine." MacLeod cut back. "You can follow." With that he pushed Bodie's hand away and yanked the door open, seething. He didn't have time for this, Connor was right in that assumption. This had nothing to do with mortals. He had to get rid of them for their own safety. Had to find Adam before McKellen did and he definitely did not want an audience when he talked to Adam again. Only he was stopped short as he came face to face with a young courier who was in the process of raising a hand to knock on his door. MacLeod wasn't sure who was more startled. Him, the courier or Bodie.

"Mr. MacLeod?"

"Aye?" MacLeod growled, before his eyes fell on the package. Damn, but this would be the auction piece he'd bought yesterday.

"I have a delivery-"

"Let me." Bodie intervened and MacLeod rolled his eyes.

"It's just the book I bought yesterday Mr. Bodie." MacLeod informed him as he reached over to sign for the parcel.

"Can never be too careful." Bodie advised as he carefully felt the parcel over, looking for wires.

Taking out his wallet MacLeod paid the courier and swiped the parcel off the CI5 agent. "You can stay and inspect it all you like just don't get food on the pages. It is worth a small fortune." He ended with a twisted smile before exiting the room.

Grumbling under his breath, Bodie turned to Doyle. "This is not working! I swear Doyle, Cowley or no Cowley I'm gonna shoot that arrogant son of a bitch!"


"How can you put up with his shit!? By the way he treats us you would think we're the enemy."

"Come on," Doyle just said as he preceded his angry partner out of the room. "I don't want to be the one to explain to the Cow how we lost his precious countryman."

Swearing again, Bodie slammed the door behind him and he followed Doyle's trim figure down the stairs. Could the day get any worse?

Not giving Taylor time to answer the door, MacLeod tried the handle and found it was still unlocked and he re- entered the room he had been in a few short hours ago.

"MacLeod!?" Methos released the grip he had on his sword and eyed the man who'd entered his room without knocking. It was definitely time he moved.

"You have to get out of here." MacLeod started as he checked the corridor one final time before shutting the door.

"What?" Methos approached his visitor, mildly glad to see the Scotsman again, but in all honesty he had not planned on seeing MacLeod for a few days. He needed the distance to get his desires under control. Vaguely he wondered who MacLeod's Watcher was. Damn, but it had been over a hundred years since he'd been in the Watchers and he had to assume their methods had improved in this technological age.

"McKellen." MacLeod said the single word as if it should explain everything. Noticing how the expressive eyes narrowed as Adam moved closer, MacLeod sucked in a breath really liking what he was seeing.

"What about McKellen?" Methos asked mystified. Had the Scottish flob found the big Scot, and had MacLeod taken his head? Putting his sword away, Methos kept his eyes on MacLeod seeing how the other looked torn between worry and desire. Oh goody....

"He's coming here. For you." MacLeod said simply.

"What?" Methos stopped and just looked at MacLeod like the man had sprouted three heads.

"Connor believes-"

"Connor?" Methos interrupted him as he started to get a sinking sensation in his gut. Fuck! He knew there was a damn good reason why he avoided Immortals. Especially one's as dynamic as Duncan MacLeod.

"Connor MacLeod-"

Oh bloody hell....

"..my cousin-"

"I know him, MacLeod." Methos informed him tiredly. Didn't he just! Had images of Connor from five, six hundred years ago and he doubted the man's temperament had changed any.

"You do?" MacLeod stopped what he was going to say as he latched onto that. He watched Adam raise a hand and rub his eyes. "How?"

"What did the venerable Connor MacLeod say?"

Noting the evasion again, MacLeod was prevented from answering as someone knocked on the door behind him.

"Shit," Methos muttered, this was all he needed now. Some student asking to borrow a book, or the floor coordinator complaining again about his number of off-campus visitors.... Pushing past MacLeod, he opened the door and just closed his eyes, groaning. Fuck!

"Hello," Doyle said politely, hiding his grin and seeing Taylor's eyes darken in annoyance. "This is my partner Bodie, and we were hoping you could help us with our inquiries. We are looking for a Duncan MacLeod." Doyle said needlessly, pulling out a photograph and knowing Taylor wouldn't even glance at it, noting how the green eyes just narrowed and sent him a silent warning. "Have you seen him?"

Shifting his eyes to Doyle's partner, Methos wasn't sure if he wanted to hit Doyle or give him what he wanted. But he was saved the choice as MacLeod swore behind him and moved to stand at his shoulder. The heat of MacLeod's body pressing deliciously along his back, sent a shiver through him and Methos glared even harder at Doyle. What an infuriating little Greek comedy this was turning into....

"Surprise, surprise," Bodie muttered as he went to push the door wider open.

"Now listen here," Methos started to protest as both agents skillfully forced their way into his room. He saw Nefertiri jump out of the way and make a hasty exit and wished he could do the same.

"This is Adam Taylor." Doyle said needlessly to Bodie as he gestured absently at the dark-haired student who was glaring at him. Bodie hadn't formally met Taylor and he saw how his partner expertly swept his eyes over the youngish looking man. If only Bodie knew. But his partner was more interested in MacLeod.

"I wasn't aware that you were acquainted with the victim of yesterdays shooting?" Bodie stated, homing in on MacLeod. "I'm sure Mr. Cowley will find that fact extremely interesting."

"Will you cut the bullshit!" MacLeod snapped. "I'm trying to save lives here!"

"Oh that's rich!"

"What lives?" Doyle asked as he concentrated on that, remembering that Taylor had identified MacLeod as one of the 'good guys'.

"You wouldn't understand," MacLeod muttered, seeing how Taylor glared firstly at him then at Doyle.

"Try us." Bodie snarled, getting to the point of really having enough of this Scot.

Watching the scene unfold around him, Doyle had the strong suspicion MacLeod was telling the truth. He got the impression that regardless of the man's attitude, MacLeod honestly wanted to avoid trouble.

Cursing in Gaelic, MacLeod noted how Adam had folded his arms in displeasure and he bemoaned the fact that he had probably lost the man's trust. That knowledge only increased his anger at Bodie. So about to tell him to get lost, MacLeod froze as he felt the strong wash of presence surge up his spine a second time and he darted a quick look at Taylor and saw that the other Immortal had backed up towards his hidden sword. But who was he feeling? Connor or McKellen?

Noting the way both men tensed, Doyle shifted his shrewd eyes between Taylor and MacLeod, seeing MacLeod's hand go inside his coat again. Getting a sick feeling about this, Doyle acted on pure instinct and shoved his partner away from the door. "Down!"

"Ray!?!" Bodie protested as he fell against the desk, grunting in pain even as three gun shots rang out and peppered the door. "Christ!"

"Shit!" Doyle cursed, rolling to one side and pulling out his Browning, prepared to fire when the door was kicked open. He got a quick glimpse of McKellen before MacLeod was stupidly stepping in his line of fire. "Get down!" He shouted, feeling Bodie scrambling to his feet behind him.

"MacLeod!" McKellen roared as he leveled his sword on the other man and stepped back into the corridor. "I should have guessed." He snarled. "You've come for Loxley's head as well?"

"Noh. Yewrs!!" MacLeod growled, pacing after the demented Scotsman. This was the last thing he had wanted, because witnesses always complicated matters. But now that he had McKellen in his sights again he was determined not to lose the bastard.

"Bloody hell," Bodie hissed, scrambling to the door and leaning out to check the corridor. He saw MacLeod and McKellen fighting, both with swords as they danced away down the wide hallway. "I feel like I've entered the twilight zone."

"Me too, mate." Doyle agreed, automatically checking all vantage points. Swiftly he searched for Taylor and saw him pulling on a long coat, just catching the flash of polished silver before the other turned away.

"Cover me." Bodie hissed.

"Wait!" Doyle cautioned his partner remembering Taylor's words. Could they interfere? Would it accomplish anything except getting his partner killed? And that was definitely the last thing he wanted. He would not willingly risk Bodie's life on something preventable.

"What?" Bodie turned to Doyle incredulously. "I don't much like Kilt Boy either, but Cowley will have our guts if we don't get McKellen."

Knowing Bodie was right, yet still hesitating, Doyle found the events of earlier paling when faced with reality again. "On three."

"One, two-" Bodie mouthed immediately preparing to launch out of the cramped room.


Stopping mid word, both agents rolled out into the corridor to see John Nash not only stride past them unconcerned by their presence, but walk up to the two fighters and hiss something in a strange tongue at McKellen. Then McKellen was turning and running with Nash giving chase before MacLeod followed in hot pursuit. All three rapidly disappeared down the far end fire escape stairs.

"Shit!" Getting up, Bodie swore again as he pulled out his R/T, yelling for backup. Quickly he met Doyle's eyes indicating with a gesture what he was going to do and saw Doyle nod. Then he was racing off down the corridor after the three fleeing men.

Going in the opposite way, Doyle went down the steps, working to cut off all exits while he circled around from behind. It was a ploy he and Bodie had used many times to their advantage. Only this time he just prayed he found them before Bodie did, because he had a very bad feeling about this.

Glancing out into the now deserted corridor, Methos swore in four different languages before he leaned back against the door jam and breathed out slowly. There went his life - plus his normal existence and his identity. If the Watchers didn't have him after this, CI5 would, and he liked that idea even less. Running a dismissive glance over his room, he mourned the loss of what he had set up as he hastily grabbed up a bag and shoved essential items into it. His journals, papers, some clothing, passports, books and money. He just could not believe how quickly events had gotten out of control. Twenty-four hours ago his life was set. His plans made, his studies almost complete. And now he was thrust back into the Game by one very attractive, yet over-powering Scot. Was losing his head worth the attraction? No.... he told himself harshly, looking down as he felt a warmth against his shin. Nefertiri blinked up at him with wide-eyed innocence and he smiled. What was he to do with her? Then as if reading his thoughts, she jumped into his partially open bag and did a full circle before settling on a rolled up sweater. "Nef, sweetheart, you can't...." he trailed off feeling the unmistakable surge of presence engulf him again. "Oh shit!" Spinning around he gripped the hilt of his sword inside his coat and faced the door in apprehension. Duncan MacLeod, McKellen or the irascible Connor MacLeod?

"You're packed. Good." Duncan MacLeod said as he entered the open door with no preliminaries. Apart from being a little breathless MacLeod looked to be in one piece.

"Fuck off, MacLeod." Methos snapped, relieved yet exasperated at the same time. Removing his hand from his coat he leaned back against the table. For one awful minute he thought it might have been McKellen.

"We haven't got much time-"

"MacLeod, didn't you hear me?"

"Aye." MacLeod nodded. "But you'll be safer with me."

"Safer?!?" Methos asked incredulously as he gave a harsh laugh.

"Aye," MacLeod said again letting his eyes speak for him, seeing how Taylor frowned now.

"I was safe until you turned up here yesterday." Methos pointed out bluntly.

"McKellen will be back-"

"I don't doubt!" He snarled back. "Look," Methos stopped, seeing Doyle appear with gun still in hand as the agent breathed out heavily. It looked like he'd been running hard, his sharp green eyes missed nothing.

"Thought you might come back here." Doyle said to MacLeod as he pulled out his R/T and spoke into it.

"Oh Great!" Methos cursed and glared at MacLeod in open accusation, gesturing wildly towards Doyle. This was all he needed and wanted. He was going to get dragged into the Highlander's circus-like existence if he didn't escape now.

Ignoring that, MacLeod just reached for Adam's packed bag, wanting to go before either Connor or McKellen returned. He had all the confidence in his cousin, but knew how crafty McKellen was and knew Connor had lost the bastard before in the past. So he figured both Immortals would return here if they got separated and he wanted Adam gone.

"Do you mind!" Methos snapped, taking his bag off MacLeod. He was being railroaded and he hated it.

"Cowley's sending two more teams."

Turning at the new voice, MacLeod groaned inwardly, seeing Bodie slide up to his partner and look just as pissed off.

"Found MacLeod." Doyle said conversationally while he gestured to the men inside the room. "And Taylor."

"What about McKellen?" Bodie asked as he eyed the occupants of the room with a quick appraisal.

"Nope." Doyle admitted.

"Nash?" Bodie asked hopefully.

Doyle just shook his head.

"Tell me you have a lead?"

"Sorry mate."

"Brilliant." Bodie grumbled as he eyed his partner in disbelief.

"You?" Doyle asked, putting his gun away.

"Ran into band practice or something just as daft." Bodie muttered in disgust. "Got a sprained tambourine."

"So," Doyle left the rest hanging as his R/T sounded.

"Cowley." Bodie mouthed the name and pulled a face as he also returned his gun to its holster under his jacket.

"Do you want to tell him, or me?"

"Oh definitely you, mate." Bodie assured.

"But I'm not his blue eyed boy-"

Rolling his eyes at that, Bodie walked back into Taylor's room and left Doyle to deal with Cowley as he cast MacLeod a disapproving glare. "Are you ready to tell us what is really going on yet?"

"Nothing to tell-"

"Pull the other one." Bodie cut him off. "But you can start by explaining why you came back here."

"To warn Taylor." MacLeod said easily, ignoring the warning glance Adam gave him. This could work to his advantage he decided suddenly and gave Bodie a helpful smile. "I remembered that McKellen hates to leave witnesses, so guessed he would return here to find Taylor. So I wanted to warn him."

Not believing a word of it, Bodie swung his gaze from MacLeod's open expression to Taylor's disgruntled one. He didn't know Taylor from any mug shots, but had the strange feeling he couldn't trust him any more than he could trust MacLeod. "You expect me to believe that?"

"It's the truth." MacLeod said in feigned shocked.

Shaking his head, Bodie turned back to his partner as Doyle ambled over.

"'He' says we are to get Mr. MacLeod back to the Mayfair then go in to make our report." Doyle informed his partner in a tense tone. "Personally."

"What about Taylor?" Bodie asked, seeing Doyle shrug. About to say something more he just caught the glance between the two men and wondered at it. Ray still hadn't filled him in on all that Taylor had told him earlier.

"He's coming with me." MacLeod injected as he braced himself for a fight. He was just relieved that no one had been shot or killed this time and prayed he could keep it that way.

"Now listen here-"

"I agree," Doyle broke in and sent a look of 'trust me' to his partner.

Not believing Doyle would agree with MacLeod, Bodie seethed, promising himself to get some answers out of his other half as soon as he got him alone. Having MacLeod withhold information was one thing, but he would not tolerate it from his partner. Honesty was too important. It meant their lives.

"Now hold on," Methos protested, making another swipe for his bag and missing as MacLeod picked it up again. But it was the pleased little grin that graced the Scot's mouth that startled him the most for it promised all sorts of unimaginable things.

"I'm sorry," MacLeod said quietly to Adam before he motioned towards the two CI5 men. "But you will be safer with me."

"Mac," Methos sucked in a breath, hesitating and catching the small affectionate smile that lit MacLeod's handsome face. Was it because he had given in or said something amusing? Of all the rotten luck and timings....

"I'll explain later, mate," Doyle said in aside to Bodie, though just how he was going to explain the labyrinth of confusion circling in his mind was beyond him. Only thing he did understand was that whatever John Nash had said to MacLeod earlier in the hotel room, that information had led then all back to Taylor, which had led them to McKellen. So if Taylor was a target, then he wanted the smug bastard were he could watch him.

"Well you can explain it to the Cow!" Bodie said peeved before marching away.

"Thanks mate," Doyle mumbled as he indicated for both MacLeod and Taylor to precede him out of the room. Last thing he wanted was to argue with Bodie, or to get his partner in a right Irish temper.

Swearing under his breath, Methos was left little choice as he was forced to follow the Scotsman. Leveling his eyes on the broad back he cursed the gods of Fate and Desire as he refused to look at Doyle and meet those questioning eyes.

Prowling around the penthouse suite, Methos wasn't sure if he wanted to be angry, intrigued or amused. It had been a while since he had indulged in such luxury, and that tilted his mood towards the peeved end again as he remembered what he was jeopardizing. For the last twenty years he had played it safe, had set up a number of identities he could move into with ease and had concentrated on getting back into the Watchers. It was the safest place at present especially as they were moving into the new millenium in the next few decades. With the way technology was advancing he wanted all the information possible to safeguard his own head. Only now all his plans had gone to hell, for he was letting some barbarian lout influence his carefully setup strategies. Not that Duncan MacLeod was just any dumb Scottish mongrel. He was magnificent. All brute force and stubborn righteousness that made him shiver in wicked anticipation.

Sniffing slightly, Methos turned casually and eyed the man in question. MacLeod was just hanging up the phone having ordered them room service. Oh yes, he could definitely soak up the luxury, pretend to be offended and see how far MacLeod was willing to go to appease him. But this was so dangerous, because deep down he wanted to be here. Scary as that was, it was also true and he centered his gaze back on the Highlander. Currently the Scot was shrugging out of his coat while he argued with the tall dark-haired agent, Bodie. Methos wasn't sure about Bodie yet. Doyle he had pegged as an incurable romantic, a man shaped by society with an inbred drive for justice and truth, but Bodie was a challenge to his senses. The man was brash, loud and dogmatic. But Methos had also seen how he deferred to his partner, how he incorporated Raymond Doyle into everything he did, so Methos suspected the abrasive personality was a front. Or just a mood that the Highlander had inspired in the well-built agent. A feeling he could well understand.

Personally, Methos could admit that MacLeod drove him to distraction, while the Scot obviously drove Bodie into a rage and Doyle into a pensive mood. It was the last action that fascinated Methos and he studied the slender curly- haired agent with interest. He liked Ray Doyle. Really liked him and could sympathize with him, seeing Doyle wince at the argument Bodie and MacLeod were having yet again. Keeping his eyes pinned on Doyle, Methos held his breath watching the curly head lift as if Doyle sensed his gaze and he met those wary green eyes squarely. Cat eyes. It was like an electric shock as unspoken acknowledgement sped between them. In that instant he knew that Doyle understood the seriousness of this situation and knew that Doyle would never betray his trust. It warmed him and he gave the other man a small smile, glad when it was returned. But Methos also realized in that shared moment that Doyle would protect his partner. Bodie was the center of Doyle's world, the only person he had complete confidence and trust in amidst their dangerous lifestyle. It was startling, and Methos tried to school his expression wondering what the other man was picking up from his gaze.... and he slowly became aware of the deadly silence around him. Bodie and MacLeod had stopped baiting each other and were now glaring at Doyle and himself. Feeling uncharacteristically self-conscious, Methos broke the eye contact with the CI5 agent and narrowed his gaze to return MacLeod's stare. "Did I miss something?" He asked sarcastically.

The silence stretched for another prolonged second before Doyle's R/T sounded and the tension in the room broke.

"4.5." Doyle said promptly not looking at anyone while he concentrated on the mindless action of answering his call. He felt stripped by Adam Taylor's penetrating appraisal and re-evaluated the wisdom of not telling Cowley the unvarnished truth of what he had learned. Only problem was he had no evidence. No hard fact.... And Bodie was going to be royally pissed off with him - again!

"6.2." Came the slightly distorted reply. "All clear. We're on our way up."

"Understood. 4.5 out." Doyle ended as he forced a small smile. "Murph and Anderson."

"Good." Bodie said, sending his partner a hard, displeased look. Something was going on between Ray and Taylor and he wanted to know what it was. He hated being the last to learn the truth.

Shifting his gaze from Adam to Bodie again, MacLeod frowned. As much as agent Bodie riled him, the uncertainty that Adam fired through him was worse. What was going on? What did Raymond Doyle know that he didn't know? Hating the insecurity, MacLeod tensed slightly as a knock sounded on the door. His new watchdogs?

Lifting a hand, Bodie checked the door and then opened it, letting his expert eyes sweep the waiter dismissively. "Dinner." Bodie said in a clipped tone even as he heard the elevator sound. With luck it was their replacement for the night and he would be very glad to get away.

Just pointing to the table, MacLeod signed the docket as he saw two new agents enter his room. He was getting sick of this and turned away, not surprised to see the amusement on Adam's face. "I'm glad you are finding this so funny!"

"I'm just constantly amazed at the world you exist in," Methos returned with a sarcastic twist before he turned and ambled over to the table. If MacLeod insisted on feeding him he was going to make the most of the situation.

Watching the four men by the door, MacLeod went over to them. "Look, I'm sorry about this afternoon, but I would really appreciate some privacy."

Nodding their understanding, Murphy just did a complete round of the large apartment before nodding to MacLeod. "We will be outside if you need anything."

I doubt it. "Thank you." MacLeod said sincerely as he finally closed the door, refusing to listen to anymore of Bodie's muttered curses. Leaning against the door he settled his eyes on his guest and hypothesized how he was going to get information out of Adam Taylor.

Staring at the closed door, Bodie jerked an angry thumb at it. "Don't trust him, Murph."

"Relax," Murphy said in a gentle tone. "I've read the reports and he won't get out a window a second time." He raised a devise and grinned smugly.

"You bugged them?" Bodie asked in growing admiration.

"Sensor tapped them. If either one of them cowboys opens a window, we'll know." He assured as he heard Doyle chuckle. "You two had an interesting afternoon. The Cow wants you both before you knock off."

"What? Now?" Bodie asked incredulously.

"No, yesterday I think were his exact words."

"Strewth!" Doyle sighed. "Come on mate."

Grabbing hold of Doyle's arm to stop him retreating, Bodie looked at Murphy again. "Any leads on McKellen?"

"None." Murphy offered. "I don't know who this geezer is, but he'd give Houdini a run for his money."

"Nash?" Doyle asked as he felt Bodie's fingers relax their grip.

"Same. Cow's not amused."

"I bet." Bodie muttered as he turned and shoved Doyle away with mild affection. "Come on, goldilocks. I am so glad you told him that 'you' lost McKellen and Nash."

"Why you-"

Hearing Doyle's mock outrage as the two agents jostled each other before going through the fire escape door to the stairwell, Murphy shook his head and walked over to his temporary partner. He was so grateful he didn't have a permanent pairing, for it would drive him insane. Didn't know how Ray put up with Bodie in the first place.

Only picking at the food, Methos firstly glared at the fridge and then turned the glare on MacLeod, finding that its owner was watching him openly. It sent a shiver of expectation through him in a way that had little to do with cold. It was a sensation he had not felt for centuries. To be the center of an Immortals attention. To be the center of MacLeod's world....

"What?" MacLeod asked when he saw Adam open his mouth to complain and then stop dead as the hazel-green eyes glazed over. Suddenly the room was muggy and hot - the atmosphere charged with promise.

"You have no beer." Methos said lamely, kicking himself as he heard his own voice come out in an almost pathetic whine. Fuck, but he was losing it!

"Beer?" MacLeod repeated softly, slowly walking closer to watch how Adam licked his lower lip. It was damn inviting. "You want beer?"

No, he wanted his head read, but failing that, beer would have to do. An endless supply sounded real good at present. Pushing away from the small fridge so he didn't get trapped in a corner, Methos went back to the table and searched for something to consume that was not Scottish. He had to control this raging desire or he'd ruin the relationship he wanted with MacLeod. He could just imagine MacLeod's face if he told him he wanted a meaningful exchange, rather than just a hot tumble into bed. Sick! He was demented! Deranged! Insane....


Turning at the questioning tone that sounded far too close, Methos tried to remember if he had answered. Instead his eyes caught the cover of a book resting on the bench behind MacLeod. It immediately pulled his mind away from the dangerous direction he was going in and locked him in reality. "Where'd you get that from?" Methos demanded as he went over to the book and picked it up. It was a book by John Milton - 'Paradise Lost' the second edition - completed not long before the man had died in 1608.

"I bought it at the auction yesterday." MacLeod stated as he went over to stand next to the unpredictable man. One minute he had believed he was going to be given a glimpse of the changeable Adam Taylor and the next they were discussing literature. Taylor was worse than the bloody English weather. It was damn frustrating!

"Ah," Methos sighed in regret. He really wished he'd had time to check out the auction items. Had meant to until he'd felt the unmistakable sweep of Immortal presence. Bloody annoying.

"Which reminds me, why were you at the auction yesterday?" MacLeod asked, remembering how he had first found this man. Serendipity.

"Just looking," Methos mumbled, opening the book and absently caressing the old pages. He remembered when....

Catching the action, MacLeod reached over and covered Adam's hand, holding it to the page before locking eyes with this tantalizing being. "You knew Milton?"

"You could say that." Methos found himself admitting. What spell had this mystical Scottish creature cast over him?

"And this book-"

"Leave it MacLeod." Methos decided as he controlled his breathing and pulled his hand free. "Just another item lost to garage sale status."

Blinking at that, MacLeod laughed, never having associated auctions like a common garage sale before. But to Immortals.... Who was this man?!? "Adam-"

"Congratulations on your purchase." Methos ended as he snapped the book shut and held it out the Highlander. "Have you read Milton?"

"A little."

"He can get a bit wordy, but it was an affliction during the fifteen century that most writers suffered from."


"Still some of his ideals are timeless."


Stopping Methos raised a curious brow, refusing to be drawn in even as he felt his heart speed up traitorously.

"You can have the book."


Ending the indecision, MacLeod closed the distance between them again, so drawn to this man, to his fragility, his sharp tongued temper, his elusiveness that he found he subconsciously raised a hand to skim Adam's jaw and cheek. MacLeod let his gaze study the widening eyes, seeing desires acknowledged and honest fear. But of what? Compelled to ease the fleeting panic, MacLeod tasted the hot breath as Adam gasped slightly before his lips touched cool dry skin, then he was moving to find Adam's mouth, surprised by the softness, meeting no resistance. It was forbidden and cherished, the kiss deepening of its own volition. None of the urgency MacLeod had expected, instead he was washed in a timeless longing, a completeness that answered a call deep inside his own soul as he savored the delicate balance this sharing had created. The heat, the need and the wetness addictive and he invaded Adam's mouth before he invited the other man's tongue to capture his own. It was erotic, so powerfully arousing and sacred. An act of love all on its own as the kiss became even deeper. In his arms he could feel Adam's body, the warmth of his skin, the silkiness of his hair and MacLeod took control back, plundering the moist mouth pressed to his own so possessively. It sent a fire rolling through him that had nothing to do with sex and he gave in to the hands tugging on his hair by opening his mouth even wider. Never before had he been sucked so intimately into another's soul by a single kiss, but Adam saturated him in welcome desire. Permeated his whole being in a hungry need that seemed to stop time.

Then they were stepping apart as the phone rang, both breathing erratically, both shocked by the intensity they had just evoked.

"I'd answer that." Methos muttered, anything to get MacLeod moving away so he could re-gather his defenses. It had been like falling into a vortex of unimaginable beauty and pleasure. Spiraling off into madness or into a passion he'd never imagined possible. And suddenly he wondered if there wasn't a sixth category that was designed especially for Duncan MacLeod. Something that transcended even the boundaries of physical love.... No, he just had to calm down and think. Put some distance between them and make it clear that.... that.... that what? He wanted to be fucked senseless? Oh yeah.

"Connor?" MacLeod instantly brought his mind back to the present as he heard his cousin's distinctive voice. "Aye, but...." he trailed off when Connor didn't give him a chance to reply. "I know, but-" again he was interrupted and he lifted his gaze to find Adam's dazed eyes. His friend was prowling the room, and he cursed as he saw the scowl gracing the pale face. Damn! "Noh, Connor, but-" catching the final few words, MacLeod just glared at the phone before putting it down. "That was Connor." He said needlessly to his guest. But why did he suddenly get the impression that Adam was erecting barriers between them?

"I gathered that much." Methos muttered in poor grace. He was just figuring out what MacLeod had done to him and was pissed off. "Did he get McKellen?"

"Noh." MacLeod said as he took a steadying breath. "He wanted to know if I found him."

"I see."


"I think I'll go down to the bar for a while," Methos decided as he made a grab for his coat. He lifted his eyes and gave MacLeod a tight smile.


"I'll be back later. Promise." He intoned not waiting for MacLeod's answer. He really had to get out of there and work on his own tactics. Strengthen his shields and resolves, or he'd just fall hopelessly under the dynamic Scot's spell. He wanted to get laid, not killed.

Opening his mouth to protest, MacLeod just stared at the door when it slammed shut. Swearing under his breath, he cursed himself for not moving faster to intercept the other man. Obviously Adam was interested, but he was not desperate. Plus, they knew nothing about each other - yet. Stupid, stupid, stupid.... MacLeod chastised himself. Just take it slower. The last thing he wanted to do was frighten the jumpy man away after all....

May 26th 1980. London.

Eyeing his companion across the breakfast bench the following morning, MacLeod speculated on a way to return to the atmosphere of last night. Adam had taken off to the bar downstairs and although he had wanted to follow, he had respected the other's privacy and stayed away. He'd eventually gone to bed and had awoken hours later to the feel of a new buzz - struggling out of his bed to see Adam curl up on the lounge with a beer and blanket while he switched on the television. The only comment he'd received had been along the lines of, 'Bar closed - think I'll watch the late movie. 'Nite MacLeod.'

He had no choice but to go back to bed and now this morning MacLeod was determined to recapture the easy friendship. He just had to take things slowly. The blankets were all packed away and Adam Taylor was dressed in his worn jeans with a different sweater, but with the same unreadable expression on his face.

"You finished with the paper?"

"Sure." MacLeod chewed on his last piece of toast and pushed the Mayfair's complimentary paper over to his uncommunicative houseguest. "Adam-" Stopping as a knock sounded on the door, MacLeod groaned, but got up noticing that Taylor completely ignored him. He went to the hotel door, guessing it was his new watchdogs and absently glanced through the spyglass. Bodie and Doyle's humorless faces met him and MacLeod closed his eyes briefly, before plastering on a strained smile and opened the door. "Good morning, gentlemen."

Doyle returned the greeting while Bodie nodded, then did a security check of the rooms and windows before acknowledging MacLeod properly.

"I take it that CI5 had no luck in hunting McKellen last evening." MacLeod stated, knowing they wouldn't find the skilled Scottish bastard. He never expected them to, and found it hard to be concerned about the fact since Connor was now on the demented Immortal's trail. It was probably for the best if he found a way to distract these men and distance from the truth and his cousin's whereabouts.

"Don't sound so cheerful, Mr. MacLeod." Bodie quipped, the mildness of his voice belying the hardness of his glare.

Raising a hand, Doyle stepped between the two men and eyed the Highlander. "What are your plans today, Mr. MacLeod."

Releasing a breath, MacLeod glanced over at Adam and briefly met his eyes, glad suddenly that he had an ally in this crazy mess. Letting his smile widen, he saw Adam roll his eyes in mock horror at CI5's intrusion before the other man turned back to the paper he was reading. "I have no plans." MacLeod declared turning his grin on the two agents. "I was thinking about going and trying out the gym on the upper level of the hotel, and later going out for dinner in the city. There's this restaurant that was recommended and I'd like to try it." Walking back over to the breakfast counter, he picked up his discarded coffee and took a sip. "The restaurant has an old 'Robin of Sherwood' type theme," he went on mischievously, hearing Adam sigh in response, "..and I'd like to treat Adam to dinner - in apology for involving him in this trouble."

Lifting his gaze from the paper, Methos sent the presumptuous child a murderous glance, before he masked his expression and looked over at the CI5 agents. His eyes met Doyle's and he read a wary respect and distrust in the frank green stare. Interesting.

"Your dinner plans are inconsequential." Bodie judged, his mind centered on finding McKellen so they could wrap up this frustrating case and ship MacLeod back to France pronto. "If Mr. Taylor were to return to the Oxford campus, is it possible McKellen would go back there?"

"Oh, now hold on an damn minute." Methos interjected in disgust. "I'm not a part of this and I will not play decoy. Regardless of what your fine print says!"

"He's right." MacLeod stated frowning at Bodie, not believing Cowley would order such a thing. "It's too dangerous."

"This is useless Doyle," Bodie muttered to his partner. "I'd rather face Macklin and Towser for a month than put up with this shit!" He ended in a hiss. "See if you can sweet talk them around, I'll go check with the boys downstairs."

Nodding, Doyle waited until the door had closed behind his partner before he released a tense breath. The door didn't slam, but it was close and he rubbed at his neck not sure any longer what to do. He could sympathize with his partner, but on the other hand he knew they were facing something that neither them nor CI5 fully understood. "Bodie is just frustrated," he opened by way of explanation. "If there is anything you can tell us that would help in locating McKellen before more lives are lost I'd appreciate it."

"If that were possible, Doyle, then I'd tell you." MacLeod told him sincerely.

Hearing that, Doyle interpreted it to mean that MacLeod knew how to find McKellen but he would not involve CI5. Glancing over at Taylor, that impression was confirmed by Taylor's direct, warning gaze. So they were at an impasse - but what was he to do? How could he stop Bodie from charging in where even angels feared to tread?

"I'm going for a shower." MacLeod decided, walking to his bedroom door. "Dinner tonight was not a idle comment, Doyle. You and Bodie are invited, if that helps."

"Yeah, thanks," Doyle muttered after MacLeod had left the room. Unfortunately he doubted it would help. Walking over to one of the main windows, he took out his R/T and checked in with Bodie, watching the street below and seeing nothing out of the ordinary. Behind him Taylor had moved and was now collapsed on the spacious lounge while he fiddled with the TV controls. Studying the man's sprawl, Doyle decided to see if he could get some more answers out of the shrewd man while both Bodie and MacLeod were absent. Ambling over to the seated man, Doyle perched himself on the coffee table in front of Taylor and muted the television's sound. Leaning forward he considered his words carefully, not missing how Taylor regarded him in patient amusement. Taylor was like a feral cat.... "You're not worried about McKellen. Why?" Doyle started, deciding to be direct.

"He's not my problem."

"He's gone after you twice now. I'd call that a problem." Doyle countered.

"Correction, Doyle. He went after MacLeod."

"You're saying you were just in the wrong place at the wrong time? Both times?" Doyle asked, no longer believing that excuse. "I don't buy that."

"I can't influence what you want to believe."

Snorting, Doyle glared at Taylor, then let his mouth curve up in a knowing smile. "You already have." He reminded the other man, seeing Taylor lower his lashes in silent acknowledgment. Stalemate. "So don't tell me about McKellen. Tell me about Nash."

"Nash?" Methos lifted his gaze again and frowned.

"John Nash. Scottish. MacLeod said he was a relative."

Releasing a breath, Methos relaxed further back into the soft cushions of the lounge, remembering briefly feeling a third presence yesterday. The only clan relative that Duncan had was his bad-tempered cousin, Connor. He didn't know what alias the senior Scot was currently using, but he couldn't admit that to Doyle.

"You know Nash." Doyle stated, seeing Taylor's expression. "Bloody hell, how many of your kind are there?"

"Too many," Methos muttered absently before he sat up and glanced around. He really should leave. This was getting a little too complicated now and if Connor turned up then no doubt his Watcher would be here also. Fuck!

Reaching forward to stop Taylor from getting up, Doyle roughly pushed the other man back into the cushions. "I need your help!" Doyle hissed.

"And I've already told you what to do." Methos cut back. "If you care for your life and your partner's life, then walk away now."

"And I told you, I can't do that!" Doyle returned just as strongly. He locked glares with the stubborn man on the lounge seeing, compassion, understanding and respect reflected in those amazing eyes. The depth of emotion kaleidoscoping in Taylor's eyes locked him in place and Doyle froze, until nothing moved around him. No sound, no light and no time. Nothing mattered - until a hand gripped his shoulder painfully hard. Jumping, Doyle glanced up, blinking startled only to see Bodie's worried and suspicious expression. Shit! He hadn't heard the door open.... hadn't heard his partner's approach and he could just imagine what it must have looked like between him and Taylor when Bodie walked in. Then Doyle noticed that MacLeod was also standing in his bedroom doorway staring at them in suspicion. Only the Scot's eyes held a possessive anger. Hastily standing up, Doyle wiped his sweaty palms on his jeans and backed away, needing to get some air to clear his thinking. But what the hell had Taylor done to him this time?? And how was he going to explain his less than professional reaction to Bodie??

Exiting the hotel room, it took Doyle a long moment to realize he still had a persistent shadow and he went into the stairwell, hoping that would afford them some privacy. When Bodie was pissed off, usually the whole world suffered.

"Ray, what the hell is going on!" Bodie growled in barely suppressed fury. "I leave you alone for all of five minutes and come back to see you and Egyptian Boy making out on the lounge!!"

"Shut the fuck up!" Doyle shot back, pushing Bodie's bulk back and moving away to lean against the cold brick wall. He hated being crowded. Closing his eyes he tried to work out what had happened, or even how much time had passed between him telling Taylor he couldn't back away and Bodie's entrance. He couldn't remember.

"Ray - talk to me." Bodie demanded. "This case is screwing with your head. Half the time I'm not sure we're even on the same planet any longer and I want to know what those pansies have done to you."

Feeling a bubble of hysterical laughter rise in his throat at Bodie's typical response, Doyle opened his eyes and shook his head. "Nothing-"

"Bullshit!" Bodie spat. "MacLeod has done nothing but hinder us from the moment he arrived in London. And Taylor.... Taylor - shit! Where the hell does he fit into this case?!? And before you say anything, I've seen the way they look at each other and I can tell you mate, that only one bed was slept in last night!"

Swallowing his smile, Doyle pushed away from the wall loving how Bodie always made everything so bloody personal between them. Yet in a way he really envied MacLeod and Adam, envied them the closeness.... and he blinked, feeling Bodie's hand still pressing against his chest. Up until then he had not consciously considered the fact that Taylor and MacLeod were an item. But thinking back he knew it was obvious just from the magnetism the two men threw off - and he settled his eyes on Bodie's outraged face, acknowledging how good Bodie looked in that instant. All angry and possessive. Then another thought hit him - Bodie was jealous - and he almost disgraced himself a second time by laughing. Was it possible? After eighteen months of working together this was the first time his blatantly heterosexual partner had ever called him on another's sexual orientation. Did Bodie feel threatened by his attraction to Taylor? "Their private life is not our concern. And before you say what I know you are thinking," Doyle cut his partner off, seeing Bodie open his mouth. "..there is nothing between Taylor and me. I asked him if he knew anything about McKellen and he doesn't."

"Then he's lying." Bodie stated belligerently, challenging Doyle to deny it.

"We have no proof." Doyle reminded his partner pointedly. "Either way."

"At present we have bloody nothing!"

"We have MacLeod." Doyle said softly, willing Bodie to calm down. If Bodie was giving him hell for the little incident in the hotel room, then he wondered what MacLeod was saying to Adam. Burying his smile a second time, he tried to look serious. "McKellen knows we have MacLeod - so the next move is in McKellen's corner."

Considering that, Bodie let his frown soften. "He will have to come to us."

"Exactly, mate."

"So we-"

"We stick to Kilt Boy like glue." Doyle ended for his partner, glad when Bodie reluctantly nodded.

Entering the gym later that morning, Methos grinned evilly to himself when he realized that the gym was unoccupied. Good, he was in the mood for a little seduction, especially since he had beaten his heart into submission the previous night in the bar. From now on they would do things on his terms. So since he was currently trapped in this impossible situation, he might as well make the most of all the benefits. One of which was allowing himself to enjoy Duncan MacLeod's company. Feeling MacLeod's strong Immortal presence, he looked around, spotting the Highlander quickly and noting that the area MacLeod was working-out in was deserted of other hotel guests. Better and better.... He watched openly as MacLeod, who had changed into a white T-shirt and sweat pants, moved to the center of the room for some warm up exercises. Admiring the view Methos sauntered over to the bench-press and sat down, straddling the narrow bench facing towards the MacLeod so he had a perfect view of the Highlander muscled physique.

Out of the corner of his eye MacLeod saw Adam observing him and he smiled inwardly. He began one of his kata's, letting his body flow through the familiar routine, freeing his mind to think about matters close to home. Something indefinable drew him to this paradoxical Immortal and it was something that he felt he could spend the rest off his long immortal life trying to fathom. It wasn't just the physical side of things, although that was mind-blowing enough, and they hadn't actually done anything beyond kissing yet, rather it was the fact that Adam was such a mass of contradictions. A puzzle wrapped up in a mystery enigma. And if there was one thing he enjoyed, it was solving puzzles.

Methos watched, captivated, by the Highlander, liking the seeming ease with which MacLeod shifted through the complex moves, and he just wished that the man would take off the damned shirt! The bronzed skin was slicked with sweat, beneath which lay well-defined, rippling muscles - like strong, corded steel. And like the Scot himself, those muscles radiated constrained power that could be turned from gentle lovemaking to fierce battle in the blink of an eye. Images of MacLeod as a generous lover and fierce warrior started to parade through Methos' mind and he closed his eyes to kill the fantasy. Fuck! Obviously his brain was going soft, because he had believed he had solved this lust problem in the bar last night! He would not do category five - he only wanted category two.... Shit! But he was like one of those weak-willed, doe-eyed, love-struck idiots in a romance novel, mooning over their hearts desire. Cursing to himself in Greek, he was forced to surreptitiously adjust himself inside his jeans when the results of his latest flight of fantasy caused them to become uncomfortably tight. This was definitely turning into a bloody catastrophe, a potential disaster for them all, unless he applied some self-control. But even knowing that, he also knew that he was hopelessly lost. He couldn't walk away now, not with McKellen hunting this beautiful Scot's head. Abruptly he was brought back to reality by the clank of metal on metal and Methos blinked, noticing that MacLeod was now working on one of the AB machines, lifting weights. Oh.... screw the idea of self- control.... He also noted with a deep pang of something between delight and dread, that MacLeod had removed the T- shirt. Fan-fucking-tastic.... there went his concentration, his mind squeaked as the rippling muscles drew his rapt attention. Always be careful what you wish for, Old Man, he chastised himself severely, for you may just get it.

Over on the AB machine, MacLeod saw the far away look that entered Adam's eyes and noted with a sly grin the somewhat soppy expression that lit up Adam's face. Aye.... things were going along nicely. He had seen how Adam had stared at him while doing his kata and liked the way that his soon-to-be lover had obviously enjoyed the view. Well, lets just up the anti a little shall we, he thought to himself, finishing the last round of shoulder crunches, and relaxing with a deep cleansing breath. Picking up his discarded shirt he mopped his face and chest dry, then pretended to concentrate on adjusting his next set of weights. He shifted on the bench and found that from this new angle his gaze could slide down Adam's lean body without being obvious. And his eyes easily homed in on the obvious bulge in the tight denim jeans, and he grinned at the apparent direction in which the other man's thoughts must have gone.

Methos picked up on MacLeod's gaze, frowning at the fleetingly sly look on the Scot's face. So, the young pup was trying to be devious was he? Well we'll see about that. No four hundred-year-old manchild was going to outsmart him. Stretching languidly, Methos stripped off his own T-shirt and sprawled artfully back onto the bench, making sure to spread his legs wider, all the better to brace himself, of course.

MacLeod noticed the well-choreographed sprawl and felt a jolt of raw desire shoot straight to his groin at the sight of the long lean expanse of muscled chest that was briefly exposed to his hungry view. If Adam wanted to play games.... Getting up from the AB machine, MacLeod approached the sprawled figure stopping when he stood between the long muscled thighs, his shins against the end of the bench. "Are you actually going to do anything, or are you just playing?"

Methos looked up, startled at the proximity of the velveteen voice and a strangled gasp escaped him at the sight of MacLeod standing there so tall, towering over him like Adonis.... his bronzed skin gleaming with the results of his exertions. Breathe, Methos.... breathe. You do remember how to do that? Don't you?? "Why Mac, watching you has quite exhausted me. I fail to see the point of all this anyway." Methos replied, waving a dismissive hand at the rows of exercise equipment, amazed that his voice worked at all, let alone that he could produce such an even tone.

"That's not all it's done," came the growled reply, the hot brown gaze making its searing way down to the straining material at Methos' groin.

Shit! Methos cursed, slightly dazed and wondering when he had managed to lose command of the situation. Impertinent brat!

MacLeod grinned down at the disconcerted man before him, relishing the wide-eyed expression. Extending his hand he asked, "So.... do you want to spar a little?"

Methos eyed the grinning idiot suspiciously. The last thing he wanted to do in this state was get physically closer to the bronzed prince of Scotland. He knew damn well that any pretence of self-control would quickly become a joke if they actually touched. A move like that would take fantasy and turn it into reality. But to refuse would be to confirm what MacLeod was thinking, and Methos frowned as those laughing brown eyes challenged him to refuse the extended hand. Bloody hell! Of all the times for his pride to kick in and accept a challenge!! For he had never refused a challenge like this.... Well, that wasn't entirely true, but for some strange and probably suicidal reason he didn't want to refuse this challenge. He was most definitely deranged, but what a way to go.... Mentally girding his loins, yeah right, Methos reached up and allowed himself to be hauled to his feet.

Keeping his hold on the pale long fingered hand, even when Adam tried to pull away, MacLeod led him to the center of the room. Giving the captive hand a small squeeze before letting go, MacLeod dropped into a waiting defensive stance.

Bloody hell fire.... what is the matter with you Old Man!?! You're acting like a randy teenager. Since when can just the touch of a warm, strong hand make you go weak at the knees?? Get a grip.... Methos berated himself. This is definitely one of the worst ideas you've ever had, and that's coming from a very long list of very bad ideas.... He just had to get direction back and getting into a prolonged sparring match was not the answer. For once, he almost wished that Doyle and his annoying partner would walk in and save his stupid carcass.

Getting sick of waiting for Adam to make up his mind, MacLeod attacked, catching the other man completely by surprise and knocking him to the floor. He heard Adam grunt in shock.

"Great! Are we finished now? You win-" Methos growled, rubbing his sore rear as he got up.

"Noh, we are not finished yet."

"You know, Greco Roman is more my style. You do know they used to do it nude don't you?" Methos taunted, the fall putting him in a better frame of mind to resist the Highlanders charms. That had bloody well hurt! He countered the dirty look MacLeod threw at him with an evil grin. Good, the brat even looks good angry.

Alright Adam, you've asked for it, MacLeod fumed. It pissed him off when Adam teased him, especially when the other man had no intention of following up on the tease. With a low growl he attacked again, admitting to himself that any excuse to touch Adam was a good one.

Methos found himself on the floor again, but this time he was expecting it and he managed to lock his grasp onto MacLeod's arms, pulling him down on top of his own body. The completely startled look in the large brown eyes was compensation enough for almost having the wind knocked out of him. Taking advantage of the Scot's surprise he pulled MacLeod's head forward and planted a short but through kiss on the open mouth, before pushing the stunned Scot away. Now that's more like it!

At that precise moment the glass doors to the gym swung open and Doyle and Bodie walked in. Doyle immediately took in the half clothed men on the floor, seeing MacLeod doing an award winning imitation of a goldfish and Adam sitting a few feet away grinning in triumph. "What's going on here?" Doyle asked out of courtesy.

"I'm winning." Methos declared in a smug tone. Getting smoothly off the floor, and ignoring the deadly look and low mutter from the still stunned Highlander. He used the interruption to put some much-needed distance between himself and the Highlander's arousing presence. He most definitely needed a cold shower now.

MacLeod noticed the curly-haired agent's gaze resting on Adam while he stood up and a brief flare of jealousy shot through him, before it was quickly squashed as unworthy. Just like that morning when he had walked into the main area of the hotel room to find Doyle and Adam locked in a silent communication....

Doyle had to complement MacLeod on his taste in partners, Adam was definitely something else. Catching MacLeod's warning glare, he moved his eyes away from Taylor, hiding a smile. He's all yours sunshine. Besides, he could see quite clearly that Adam was only interested in MacLeod.

Bringing his attention back to the other occupants of the gym, Bodie noticed Ray's speculative gaze resting on Adam when the student sauntered off towards the men's changing rooms and for some reason he had the sudden urge to thump somebody, preferably Taylor. But figuring he might get into Cowley's bad books he restrained himself and settled for a deadly glare leveled at the departing student's back instead.

Doyle noticed Bodie's black look and had to bite back a laugh. So, Bodie wasn't over his irrational jealousy yet. There was a God after all....

MacLeod ignored the by-play between the two agents, instead concentrating on Adam's retreating figure, admiring the way the other man moved and wondering what the hell Taylor needed a shower for?! Then he grinned, feeling his own diminishing arousal brush against his damp cottons. Perhaps Adam was not the only one who needed a cold shower? For once he wished he had worn his Karate GI, for he could do with their concealing bagginess right about now. Taking a deep breath MacLeod fought to bring his misbehaving body back under some semblance of control, amazed at the effect that even so brief an encounter with Adam's hot demanding mouth could have on his usual tight control. The man was devious and so sensuous, that MacLeod wasn't sure if Adam was aware of the power and magnetism that he exuded. The way that Adam's manner did nothing but draw him closer - even if it scared the hell out of him to think what irrational behavior Adam might produce in him next. "Perhaps we should continue this in the shower!" MacLeod impulsively called out in Gaelic, seeing Adam hesitate in his trek towards the showers.

"If you feel you're up to it." Came the reply in the same language, accompanied by a come hither smile.

Frowning, MacLeod wasn't sure who was wining this contest of wills and flirts and he turned away, deciding to ignore the challenge. Damn but this was the weirdest courtship he'd ever had the misfortune - or fortune - to be involved in. Never in his four hundred years had he met anyone who threw him so completely, and he began to have some suspicions about one Adam Taylor's real identity and just exactly how old he was. Maybe he should follow the contrary bastard into the shower, he wasn't quite sure if the other man was bluffing or not. If he followed him he might get some straight answers. Ah shit, who was he kidding, besides he was in the mood for some fun tonight and an evil thought popped into his head. Dinner, and he knew the place he had picked was no ordinary restaurant either. He was sure he'd manage to get some entertainment out of it, seduce Adam with alcohol and perhaps piss Bodie off into the bargain. Now that was a mission worth undertaking, and he planned his strategy. The most important factor was to seduce Adam and he was determined to get the flighty man into his bed tonight even if he had to hit him over the head and carry him there. There was only so much frustration he could take....

Bodie noticed how the expression on MacLeod's face changed and speculated what perverse idea the bloody Scot was thinking up now. It just better not include him or Doyle.

In the shower area, Methos smiled when he got no answer to his challenge, then he breathed a small sigh of relief. He'd been half-afraid that the brat would call his bluff - fuck! All of a sudden he seemed to have this insane urge to live dangerously. Old Man, you should pack your bags and get the hell out of Dodge before.... before what? Before you lose your fool head? Or before you get yourself tangled up in perhaps the worst category five relationship since Kronos! Not that Kronos had even technically been a category five.... his sarcastic little survival demon whispered in the back of his mind. Shut up! He tried to silence the persistent voice. Duncan MacLeod is not Kronos, Methos argued determinedly, and he was not going to run out on MacLeod. Not to mention Raymond Doyle. Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck! He swore with feeling. How the hell had he managed to resurrect his troublesome conscience again? He thought he'd done a bang up job of losing it millennia ago. It had to be all that fucking barbarian's fault! Detouring over to the bag MacLeod had brought up from the hotel room, Methos satisfied his sudden urge to strangle something by stealing the Highlander's towel before finally heading into the showers.

The sound of Bodie's R/T beeping made everyone jump and with a scowl that usually made strong men cringe, Bodie took the interruption as an excuse to leave the gym.

Doyle watched the big Scot while he gracefully got to his feet, wishing he'd had a chance to see the man in action. "I think you've picked a tough assignment with that one." He observed, noting the quick glance MacLeod sent toward the changing room.

MacLeod looked back at Doyle, startled by the comment. He found himself looking at a pair of green eyes that held no judgment, just understanding and slight sympathy, and instead of telling the agent to mind his own business he smiled wryly. "Aye, I guess you could say that." MacLeod replied.

Nodding, Doyle glanced around the spacious gym area, noting the windows and exits. So Bodie was right about these two. Trust his partner to pick up on the sexual vibs. "You planning on staying down here?"

MacLeod snorted, following Doyle's gaze around the room. He liked Doyle and he had the feeling that if they had met under different circumstances, that they could have been friends. Might still be if they all lived through the current circus. "I think I'll just head back to the room and change." MacLeod stated, suddenly unwilling to face Adam again so soon. Doyle raised a questioning eyebrow at that and MacLeod added - "Trust me."

"Alright. But if you're not there when we get back, I'll sic Bodie on you."

MacLeod let out a bark of laughter at the image of Doyle letting Bodie off a leash and saying - 'Kill'. "You win. I promise to behave," he finished, going over to retrieve his bag before exciting the gym.

Doyle gave a heavy sigh, glancing at the showers one final time, deciding Taylor would be safe enough alone and followed MacLeod to see how his partner was faring. It had probably been Cowley on the R/T wanting an update.

Bodie shot a last, black look back through the glass doors of the gym before he depressed the call button. "3.7-" he acknowledged tersely.

"Report 3.7." Came the equally terse reply.

"Assignment is secure. Nothing new. Sir."

"Special Branch lost the tails on McKellen and Nash. Both it seems, have gone to ground. There is no evidence either have left the country. I want you and 4.5 to remain close to MacLeod and Taylor."

We're having dinner with them for Christsakes, can we get much closer?! Bodie snarled to himself. "Yes Sir."

"See what you can find out about Taylor. He may be a material witness but the University has little on his background. Just try not to get him shot a second time. Do I make myself clear 3.7?"

I'll shoot the bastard personally. Taylor was getting entirely too much attention as it was in Bodie's not so humble opinion. "Yes Sir."

"Remember, render all assistance possible to MacLeod. He could be useful at a later date."

Oh, now that was just going too far by half, you didn't 'render assistance' to someone you were baby sitting - you told them what to do and they bloody well did it! No questions asked! No arguments! The only assistance Bodie wanted to give the annoying Scottish bastard was assistance into the next life. Preferably with a bullet between those smug brown eyes. "Yes Sir."

"Alpha One out."

Yes Sir, no Sir, three bags full Sir! "3.7 out." Bodie snarled after the click on the other end told him that the old man hadn't waited for his reply. Resisting the urge to throw the inoffensive R/T against the wall, Bodie took a large breath and tried to squash the urge to kill somebody. Hearing footsteps, he turned and saw Doyle.

Approaching his partner warily, Doyle didn't miss the scowl that was currently gracing Bodie's handsome face. He winced at the language Bodie was muttering and guessed that Cowley had said something that had gotten up his partner's nose. Again. Bracing himself for a snide answer, he voiced the question. "So, what did the Cow have to say?"

Bodie's scowl softened somewhat when he saw Doyle tense and he looked beyond his partner to the deserted gym area. If MacLeod had still been around he just might have been tempted to give into his baser urges and deck the bastard. "Oh nothing much. We're to 'stick close' to Kilt Boy and Taylor. Shit Ray, do you think Cowley would notice if I shot MacLeod and said it was terrible accident?" Letting out an explosive breath, he calmed, reassured by Ray's amused smile. "The Cow said we had to 'render assistance' to that bloody arrogant Scottish bastard. Render assistance!!! I'll render him dead - that's what I'll do." Bodie ranted.

Doyle looked about at the stares they were drawing from the few hotel patrons and staff alike, then noticed a security man looking in their direction. Sending the guard a strained smile, Doyle made an effort to calm his angry partner. "Bodie, for Christsakes - will you leave off. Or at least keep it down. The last thing we need is trouble with the Hotel Management."

Bodie muttered something under his breath that sounded vaguely threatening, before managing with an effort to get his temper under control. "Fine." He growled, lifting a hand and showing Doyle the tiny gap between his thumb and forefinger. "But I swear Doyle, I'm this far away from doing something I won't regret."

Keeping his expression serious, Doyle nodded, remembering how he had felt when Taylor had told him about Immortals and then confirmed that MacLeod was one of them. Man, was Bodie ever going to be pissed when he found that fact out. If he found out, he amended silently. "Look sunshine, we're stuck with them. So let's just make the best of it. Besides dinner is on Kilt Boy tonight, so let's enjoy it. The food should be good, for I can't see him going down to the local for a meal. Then if we're real lucky, McKellen will be waiting for us after dinner. So promise me you'll behave tonight."

Giving Ray a dubious look, thinking that it would be just like the arrogant Scottish prick to take them to the local, Bodie grunted his assent to behaving himself - whilst keeping his fingers crossed behind his back.

Taking the grunt for a sign of partial willingness to cooperate, Doyle clapped Bodie on the shoulder. "Come on mate, we can leave the kiddies with Turner and Anderson for a while."

"Where are we going?" Bodie asked suspiciously, even though he brightened at the prospect of getting away from MacLeod.

"Back to Oxford. It seems one of the students saw McKellen get into a car and I volunteered us to check it out."

"Bloody, marvelous." Bodie returned. "You know on days like this, I love the way your mind works."

Grinning, Doyle led Bodie away knowing this was only a reprieve. They would still have to return and they would still have to endure dinner. Privately he was looking forward to dinner, but he would never admit that to his high-strung partner. Never in a million years.

MacLeod turned the not so hot shower off and stepped out to dry himself. It was now evening and this was his second shower for the day and he smiled in recollection of how easy and relaxed the day had been with the absence of Bodie and Doyle.

Hearing a faint noise coming from the other room he figured Adam must be watching the television. Adam Taylor - such an innocuous name, attached to a man who on the surface seemed just as innocuous. Only MacLeod knew that was just a front to cover something far deeper. Ambling out of the ensuite to get dressed, he knew that it was the hidden depths he sensed in Adam that drew him to the other man. Those millisecond flashes of something other than Adam's mild-mannered-grad-student persona. He also couldn't deny that there was a strong physical attraction between them - like ice on inflamed flesh - and he was not going to finish this evening without at least satisfying his curiosity on that account. He had a very strong belief that beneath that lazy, cynical front Adam wore, there lurked a very sensual being. In his head he kept repeating the sight he had glimpsed of - pale smooth flesh, long inviting legs and that artful sprawl - not to mention the tantalizing taste of Adam's mouth.... Damn! If he wasn't careful he was going to need another cold shower. Sternly telling his errant body to behave, he finished tying his hair back and went out into the main room to confront the cause of his current troubled thoughts. Only he was greeted by the appealing sight of Adam stretched out on the couch in a comfortable sprawl. Typical.... but the picture was marred by a small furry body draped over Adam's chest in perfect imitation of its owner's sprawl, a loud contented purr issuing from the vicinity.... That cursed black cat! About to protest, MacLeod closed his mouth realizing Adam was wearing his same faded denims and T- shirt. He checked his watch and saw it was getting late and there was no way he was taking Adam to dinner dressed like that.

Feeling the atmosphere around him change, Methos opened one eye to see Duncan MacLeod standing over him. The man was dressed immaculately in a pale linen shirt and dark trousers with his hair neatly pulled back. The only problem with an otherwise perfect picture was MacLeod's expression that read 'you-are-not-wearing-that' look. "What?" Methos mumbled in feigned shock.

MacLeod found himself being glared at reproachfully by two sets of green eyes, Adam and the damn cat, but taking his courage in both hands MacLeod made his stand. "I am not taking you to dinner dressed like that."

Nefertiri lifted her head, stretched and sent the brooding Scot a final glare before executing an exaggerated yawn and going back to sleep. Methos didn't dare crack a smile when MacLeod's scowl darkened. Instead he tried to look unconcerned. "Fine. Then I won't go."

"Oh yes you will. Go and get changed."

"Who died and made you God, MacLeod?" Methos growled. "I'm perfectly comfortable here. I'll just order room service. Haven't you heard - that's what living in the modern age is all about? Besides, I don't want to disturb Nef."


"Look MacLeod, I wasn't aware when I packed that we would be doing formal dinners. Okay! This is all I have. End of subject."

"Really. Well, we'll just have a little looksee. Shall we? Hmmm?" MacLeod replied, turning and heading for where Adam had dropped his bag the night before.

Methos moved hastily when he realized the Scot was deadly serious. Scooping up a very annoyed Nefertiri, he received a couple of painful claw marks and a hiss of displeasure for his impertinence, but ignored her as he dumped her hot weight on the lounge. The last thing he wanted was the brat finding his journal.... "Now look here MacLeod.... this is a gross invasion of privacy." Methos complained, chasing MacLeod into his room only to see the big Scot standing next to his bed holding a familiar bag in the air with a look of smug triumph on his face.

MacLeod saw the gold-green eyes narrow dangerously and wondered how far he could push this unpredictable man. Slowly he unzipped the bag, his eyes never leaving Adam's face. When the bag was halfway open he slipped his hand in and pulled out the first thing his fingers found. It was a black T-shirt and he dangled it from his thumb, taking his eyes off Adam long enough to read the bold writing on the material. The word 'QUEEN' blazoned across the front in flame colors and MacLeod raised an eyebrow at Adam in question.

"What?!" Methos snapped in peeved defense. "They do great music. You have a problem with that?" He finished, slowly realizing that MacLeod was only teasing him.

"Uh huh," MacLeod shook his head. "Not your style - Adam." He said pointedly, emphasizing the name. "But I suppose this sort of clothing goes with the 'grad student' thing you've got going. Right?"

"A good disguise is all in the details, MacLeod. And I do like their music." Methos replied, moving further into his room to sit on the bed. Glaring at MacLeod he leaned back casually, placing his hands behind his head before sending his tormentor a sly grin.

Enjoying the sight of the lean body draped over the bed, MacLeod reached in for the next item. Ah, now this felt more like it, he thought when his fingers encountered something that felt suspiciously like silk. "Hmmm? Silk? I like the feel of silk." He purred, leering at Adam. "Don't you?" Slowly MacLeod drew the slippery fabric from the bag, delighted when he saw it was a deep emerald green in color and he knew instantly that it would be a perfect complement for a certain pair of eyes that were at this very moment blinking at him in assumed innocence. "Well, well, well.... what do we have here?" He asked rhetorically. "And I suppose you're going to tell me you've never seen this before? Hmmm?" He finished, throwing the shirt at Adam.

"Mac!" Methos caught his breath at the low sensual sound of MacLeod's voice. It was like heavy velveteen and the sound made him shiver, his body reacting instinctively. Shit! Get a grip old man.... he chastised himself.

"Shall we see what else you don't have to wear?" MacLeod continued, grinning when he noticed the slight dilation in the glazed eyes. Reaching back into the bag, his fingers touched something hard and when he drew it out he discovered it was a leather bound book, and a very old one at that. Glancing over at Adam, he thought he saw a fleeting look of panic cross the angular features before it was covered by Adam's usual mask of indifference. "And what's this? Your Little Black Book, perhaps? Adam?" He teased.

Seeing his diary in MacLeod's hand gave Methos a moment of pure panic and he stood, snatching the volume from the Highlander's grasp. "None of your God damn business!" He snapped, knowing he was over-reacting but unable to help himself. If the damned inquisitive brat found out what was in his journal he'd lose any chance of even having a friendship with the too-honorable boy scout. "Wouldn't want you thinking you had too much competition," he finished, the excuse sounding lame even to his own ears.

MacLeod backtracked, shaken by the abrupt change in mood. So the guy had secrets. Hell.... didn't everyone? Didn't he? And it was obvious that this was a very sensitive subject with Adam. So back off and give the guy some room. MacLeod cursed himself for killing the playful mood he'd worked so hard to create and he just hoped he could get it back. Taking a step forward so that he was well within the other man's personal space, he reached up and brushed gentle fingers across a pale cheek. He waited for Adam to acknowledge him then reached out very slowly and took the book out of Adam's hand again. Letting his fingers that were caressing Adam's cheek slide over to press against moist lips, he petitioned the other man with his eyes for trust. For a long moment he did nothing else, praying that his eyes conveyed his sincerity and MacLeod relaxed, seeing Adam's gaze narrow. Gaining possession of the old book a second time, MacLeod then purposely walked around the bed, pulled back the bed sheets and placing the book under the pillows. Then he smoothed the sheets down and clasped his hands behind his back, sending his nervous friend a small smile.

Methos stood stunned at the simple gesture, having to swallow several times before he could find his voice. "Thank you, Duncan." He managed, his voice husky with pent-up emotion.

MacLeod felt a thrill of pleasure at the sound of his name spoken by that sexy baritone and he walked back to Adam's patiently waiting figure. Taking the initiative, he slid a hand behind the slender neck and took the soft mouth in a sensual kiss that left them both breathless. "I'm sorry," he whispered against the parted lips.

A shiver slithered down Methos' spine, almost causing his knees to buckle. Oh Gods! The generosity, the compassion in this Highland Barbarian was going to be his undoing. It had been so very long since anyone had treated him with such tender care, understanding and respect that he was utterly unprepared for the feelings invoked in him and how they rendered him almost totally defenseless.

Satisfied with the effect that his actions had produced in his unpredictable friend, MacLeod stepped back and picked up the discarded bag again, brandishing it in front of Adam. "So - do I see what other little surprises are in here? Or will you admit that you do in fact own some decent clothes? I'll leave the decision up to you."

Seeing the mischief come back into the soft brown eyes, Methos read the intention behind the words and decided to go along with it. "Alright, MacLeod - you win. Happy now?!"

"Uhuh. Not until you say it."

"Say what?"

"You know. Exactly. What. I. Mean." MacLeod pressed, crowding Adam towards the bed and emphasizing each word with a gentle finger on the other man's chest.

"I have no idea what you're raving about, MacLeod-"

"Say it. Or I'll have to punish you." MacLeod growled, backing Adam up until he fell backward onto the bed.

"Are you threatening me?" Methos growled back, finding he could get to like this playful side.

"Oh, I never make threats." MacLeod returned, leaning over the prone form and lowering his head to nip at the parted lips.

"Promises, promises," Methos breathed, hooking a leg around the Highlander's lower body and deliberately causing the bigger man to loose his balance so he could roll them both over. His ploy worked and he ended up on top of a very startled Duncan MacLeod. "Age and experience will always overcome youth and enthusiasm, MacLeod. Always. So remember that." He intoned, before claiming the Scot's mouth in a demanding kiss.

"So.... how old are you then?" MacLeod gasped when he was allowed up for breath.

"You know I'm not going to answer that question, so why keep asking it? Besides it's impolite to ask another Immortal their age." Methos answered, stealing one last kiss before getting reluctantly off the warm body beneath him.

"And who made that rule up?" MacLeod asked, making an unsuccessful grab for Adam when the other retreated.

"I did." Methos returned. "Now get out so I can get changed."

"Make me." MacLeod taunted with a naughty grin.


"Alright," MacLeod surrendered, hands in the air when suddenly a sword wielding Immortal advanced him upon. "Jeez, some people have a real attitude problem." He complained, startled at the speed with which Adam had produced the weapon.

"Ha ha, very funny MacLeod. Now kindly leave." Methos emphasized the point by stepping forward, forcing the Scot to retreat or be impaled. Firmly closing the door on a slightly disgruntled Scot, Methos grounded the Ivanhoe and leaned against it, his legs feeling suddenly weak again. Fuck! This was insane. If Duncan MacLeod had been anyone else but 'Duncan MacLeod' he would have been long gone by now. How many times would it take him playing with fire before he learned that he'd get burnt?!? Evidently quite a few, he berated himself. But far from feeling like he would get burnt, the Highland Warrior's fire warmed his cold, dark soul, bringing light to places that hadn't seen it in centuries. He felt at home in MacLeod's presence, like he belonged and the siren song of that desire was becoming harder and harder to resist.

MacLeod stood staring at the closed door, a small, pleased smile playing on his lips. He had managed to smooth over the awkwardness, yet Adam's reactions really intrigued him. He would not, however, push for answers to the questions now forming in his mind for that was not the way to keep this flighty man at his side. He would have to learn to wait, and barring that he would have to find a way to live with the secrets. And that he knew would be the hardest part. Could he have a relationship with a person whose life was shrouded in secrets? He had always been open about his own past to those he cared about and found it hard to deal with the secretiveness of others. And he could now admit that Adam had come to mean something more to him than just a casual acquaintance. He could not pinpoint the exact moment it had happened, but he now realized how much he wanted Adam when so thoughtless a joke had almost destroyed the budding friendship.

Sighing MacLeod turned away from the door and went to wait for Adam in the lounge. He was greeted by the sight of Nefertiri curled up in what had become his chair. One green eye opened and glared balefully up at him, daring him to disturb her rest. Obviously she held him responsible for the earlier disturbance of her nap and he was now in her bad graces. Damn cat. Admitting defeat, MacLeod turned and sat down in Adam's usual perch on the couch. Settling his eyes on the cat again, MacLeod saw her close her eyes and stretch slightly, obviously very pleased with herself that he had succumbed so easily to her will. Watching the sleeping feline, MacLeod decided that she clearly shared some unfortunate personality traits with Adam, and he briefly wondered if he could survive living with both of them together.

The bedroom door opening behind him disturbed MacLeod's speculations and he glanced over, before quickly standing in surprise and turning fully to face Adam. Gone were the scruffy jeans-clad-grad-student-persona and in its place stood an incredibly handsome man. The emerald shirt tucked into a pair of black pants, the black leather belt serving to emphasize the trim waist and the narrow hips. MacLeod advanced on Adam and slipped his arms around the tempting waist. "You look good enough to eat," MacLeod growled before claiming the inviting lips in a devouring kiss. The sensual feel of body warmed-silk under his hands matching the silken heat of Adam's mouth. Oh aye, tonight was definitely the night, MacLeod promised himself.

"Don't ruin the silk, MacLeod." Methos complained, fighting to keep his voice steady while he tried to disentangle himself from the Highlander's constricting embrace. Fuck, but this was turning into a habit. What was it about the bloody, annoying brat that caused him to lose all semblance of control so easily? He was five thousand years old for fucks sake, and a mere child should not be able to reduce him to acting like a crazed sex addict!! The problem was that he wasn't used to being pursued with such single-mindedness and it was bloody disconcerting. He constantly felt like a mouse in the presence of a cat - a cat that was sure it had its prey exactly where it wanted it.

MacLeod let Adam go, delighted by the flush on the pale skin and the slightly erratic pattern of the other's breathing pattern. Hearing a knock on the door, he allowed Adam to pull away, glancing at his watch and guessing it was his CI5 watchdogs. Doyle and Bodie. Sugar and Spice. Had the pair accepted his offer of dinner, or would they insist on staying in the car? Either way, he found he didn't really care. Not now that he was slowly breaking down Adam's barriers.

Methos found his mouth thoroughly plundered one final time before Duncan went to answer the door. The phrase 'saved by the bell' sprang immediately to mind and he battled to get his body back under control. For the second time in one day he was extremely grateful for the interruption.

Opening the door, MacLeod stood aside, gesturing the two CI5 agents into the room. He noticed that Bodie was dressed impeccably in a black jacket and pants with a white shirt, but Doyle was dressed in jeans with a casual shirt and a leather jacket. So they were coming for dinner. Doyle's doing? He assumed so. Covering his grin, he blinked at Doyle's jeans. Although MacLeod had to admit that the jeans were at least presentable and without holes, they were not standard dress. Catching Doyle's eye he asked. "What is it with you and Adam and jeans?"

"Yes, MacLeod, do tell me why he gets to wear what he wants while I'm forced to dress up like some window mannequin?" Methos asked pointedly.

"Ignore him," MacLeod advised to his guests. "He's just feeling put upon because I refused to take him out looking like a tramp." Ignoring the outraged sputtering noise that was coming from behind, MacLeod shut the door and went over to the phone to call the front desk and order the house limousine.

Much to Bodie's annoyance, he noticed his partner eyeing Taylor up and down and only just resisted the urge to kick Doyle in the shins. Glaring at the opinionated student, he begrudgingly had to admit that Taylor looked different - older - when dressed decently. And there was a certain, strange appeal surrounding the man. He just didn't like Doyle taking too much notice of that appeal.

When Methos realized that his outraged act was being ignored by its intended audience of one, he gave up and turned his attention to the two agents instead. He spotted Doyle giving him a once over and nearly laughed out loud when he saw the disgruntled expression on Bodie's face. Maybe the night wouldn't be a total waste of time after all, he decided. A little Mac baiting with the added bonus of some possible Bodie baiting. Could be hilarious. And just maybe he could persuade Doyle to get in on the act.

Hanging up the phone, MacLeod saw immediately what Adam was doing and threw him a warning look, mouthing the word 'behave' behind the other men's backs.

Choosing to ignore the warning Methos sauntered up to Doyle and draping a friendly arm around his shoulders before asking in an expansive tone - "So, is everyone ready for a good time? MacLeod's paying."

MacLeod sighed and looked to the heavens for strength, wondering if Adam had any suicidal tendencies he should be worried about. Glancing at Bodie, he noted the growing storm clouds that seemed to be gathering around the agent's shoulders. This was a dangerous mortal when his own clan was threatened. A trait MacLeod could well identify with. "Okay, the limousine is waiting downstairs. Shall we go? Gentlemen?" MacLeod announced to the room in general, glaring at Adam and determined to postpone any confrontations until they were alone.

The limousine pulled up in front of a non-descript brick building on the waterfront, not far from the Tower Bridge. The drive over had been interesting to say the least. MacLeod had had to resist the urge to kick Adam several times when the other Immortal had persisted in what could only be called flirting with Doyle. The fact that Doyle seemed to be playing along with the so-called gag hadn't helped matters either and Bodie had taken the position of ignoring them both. But MacLeod could tell that the strain was beginning to take its toll.

As they stood waiting for MacLeod to finish giving the driver his instructions, Methos looked around wondering where the entrance was for this restaurant they were supposed to be going to. Restlessly his gaze settled on a large wooden sign hanging above one of the wooden doors in the large brick building to his left. It had 'Medieval Knights' painted on it in large black Gothic lettering, next to a picture of an armored knight on a black charger. Laying a hand on Doyle's shoulder, he pointed to the sign. "You're not going to believe this," he murmured quietly into his ear.

Doyle took one look at the sign, glanced over at Bodie and back to Adam before breaking into hastily stifled laughter. Strewth, but was this ever going to be an interesting night.

Bodie turned at the sound of laughter, ignoring Taylor's hand on Doyle's shoulder with an effort. Picking up on the direction of interest, he saw what they were looking at and got a sinking feeling in his stomach. Christ, please let this be some sort of sick nightmare that he was going to wake up from any second. Bodie realized then that this must have been what MacLeod was so smug about back at the gym. Turning to scowl at the Scot, he found his hand reaching for his gun almost of its own volition.

Spotting the movement almost immediately Doyle stepped in front of Bodie and his target, laying a restraining hand on his angry partners arm. "Easy mate. Don't be daft. If you shoot him now the paperwork's going to be so bad you'll be chained to your desk till next Christmas. Plus the Cow will probably shoot you himself." Doyle admonished, keeping his voice conversational while he tried not to attract the attention of the gathering crowd waiting to enter the same restaurant.

"It would almost be worth it." Bodie growled. "Just keep that pillock away from me." He finished, his deadly gaze hitting on MacLeod briefly as he flexed his fingers. "And 4.5-"

"What?" Doyle asked, reading Bodie's unhappy expression before it was locked behind those steel blue eyes a second time.

"I don't think getting all chummy with Taylor is part of the assignment. I don't want more trouble from Kilt Boy." He ended in a hiss.

Doyle shook his head, debating the wisdom of continuing to bait his partner. Apparently, for some reason known only to himself, Bodie had decided that the cause of all his problems was MacLeod, not Adam Taylor. He probably blamed the Scot for bringing Taylor onto the scene to complicate matters and torture them, Doyle mused. But he was not so sure. Even though the meeting between the two Immortals appeared to all intents and purposes coincidental, Doyle had seen enough to know that if 'Adam' really wanted to disappear he could. The man seemed to be a master of blending into his surroundings, in fact if he kept his smart mouth shut, you hardly noticed he was there. It was almost as if Adam were having fun by participating in events like a game, and the implications of that were mind boggling. How old would someone have to be to find these sort of dangerous situations fun? With a sigh, Doyle gave up speculating on that, not sure if he really wanted to know the answer.

Methos had seen Bodie's move and was almost sorry that Doyle had stopped him. If MacLeod got shot it would serve the Highland brat right for inviting the humorless agent on this outing. But having Bodie here also kept MacLeod in check and gave him a chance to play.... a bit of harmless payback for that little fiasco outside the auction at the University. Not that it had been entirely Mac's fault, but that was beside the point.

Unaware of what had happened behind him, MacLeod turned away from the driver to find three sets of eyes looking at him and got the distinct impression that he had missed something important. Choosing to ignore the uneasy feeling that skittered down his spine, MacLeod plastered a smile on his face and approached the waiting group. "Well gentlemen, shall we go in?" He asked, gesturing to the door that had been the topic of the hastily diverted altercation. His suggestion was greeted with varying degrees of enthusiasm, which MacLeod decided to overlook, because he wanted to have a good time.

Inside the main entrance of the restaurant a pretty blonde woman stood behind a desk dressed in a serving wench's costume. "Good evening Sir, what name is your booking under?"

"MacLeod. Party of four." MacLeod replied, giving her his best smile. He leaned on the mahogany counter and took in the artifacts lining the back wall. Chain mail, period costumes and swords.... this could be a fun night.

Seeing the petite blond blush, Methos narrowed his gaze targeting MacLeod, then shook his head. He was over- reacting again. But he did find it obscene and amusing that MacLeod had this constant effect on the female of the species and he leaned over to Ray to hide his own discomfort. "It's sickening really, don't you think?" He murmured.

Doyle nodded. "I know exactly what you mean." He replied, glancing over at Bodie. "I have to put up with exactly the same thing. daily." He finished with a grin. "But you know what the worst thing is, he doesn't even have to try. He pulls birds like a magnet."

"Ah yes," Methos replied sagely. "But I wonder how long they stick?"

This caused Doyle to snicker and garnered another deadly look from the object of his mirth.

MacLeod decided he would ignore the latest outburst, positive he could feel his ears burning. Receiving confirmation of his booking from the receptionist, he turned to direct the others down the staircase to the dinning room. He was greeted by the sight of Adam and Doyle grinning like a pair of idiots, while Bodie looked about two straws away from breaking.

Along with the other patrons they descended the spiraling staircase to enter a dimly lit cellar. When they reached the bottom they noted the low ceiling, dark drapes, lit candles and long wooden trestle tables set out in rows. It looked like a reproduction of a medieval dungeon gone terribly wrong.

"This brings back pleasant memories." Methos muttered to himself, earning a puzzled glance from Bodie and a warning scowl from MacLeod.

Doyle caught the comment and instantly wondered again how old this Adam Taylor really was and what he had possibly seen, and endured. The banging of a stick three times on the stone floor to capture everyone's attention interrupted further speculation and Doyle snorted in wry amusement when he saw the entertainer's attire. This was a theatre restaurant - Bodie would positively hate this....

"My Lord's and Ladies. If you would all make yourselves comfortable, the entertainment will begin as soon as His Royal Highness, King Henry arrives to begin the festivities." Announced the Master of Ceremonies in a loud voice. To reinforce his words, the actor surveyed the gathering audience and dinners with a haughty expression.

Bodie marched ahead of Doyle, muttering to himself about insufferable Scot's and pain-in-the-arse-grad-students. Finding a table at the far end of the room, he made his way to the end and sat in the last chair, with his back to the wall and put on his best 'do-not-disturb' scowl. "Why did you let me get talked into this?" Bodie growled at his partner once Doyle was seated opposite, his scowl deepening when he saw Taylor take the seat next to Ray.

Doyle sighed, of course this was entirely his fault. Well he guessed he could put up with the blame, if it kept Bodie happy. Although happy was probably not the best word to describe his partner at present. Bodie was busy intimidating the tourists with a new scowl. At this rate they'd be sitting at a table all by themselves and Doyle considered warning MacLeod, then decided against it when he saw the Scot help a young lady to her seat. It was perfectly gentlemanly, but then he also caught Adam's hesitation and groaned. "Idiot. I don't believe this," Doyle muttered, realizing that Bodie was watching him with a brow raised in question. At that moment, Doyle wasn't entirely sure if he meant MacLeod, Adam or his difficult partner, so he chose to stare back wordlessly at his other half. "Bodie, would you please lighten up."

Bodie grunted, knowing it wasn't Doyle's fault, but he was brassed off with the whole situation and Doyle was the safest target he had at the moment. He was also more accessible than Cowley.

"And would you quit scaring away all the guests! Or we'll look very funny sitting at the table by ourselves. Might as well paint a target on MacLeod and have done with it!" Doyle finished, with practiced ease he ignored the glare that came his way from Bodie.

Methos grinned to himself, watching the two agents conversing. Aww what a cute couple, he mused mockingly to himself, maybe he could put his expertise as a matchmaker to work here? He'd seen the reactions at the gym earlier and from the look of things, there was a chronic lack of communication of the right sort going on in this partnership. So, he'd just have to get things going in the right direction. Besides it seemed MacLeod was finding new interests, so much for his charms.

MacLeod caught the speculative gaze that his exasperating dinner companion was directing at the two CI5 agents and groaned silently. It didn't take a rocket scientist to see the wheels turning in Adam's devious, perverted little mind and he could easily figure out what the other man was up to. Only problem was, it spelled trouble. Stretching back in his hard chair he casually leaned over the table and captured Adam's wondering attention by touching his arm. "What ever it is you're thinking, I suggest you stop." MacLeod growled the warning, noting with interest how Adam's smile grew even more mischievous. Damn!

"Whatever do you mean?" Methos replied, leveling a look of pure blinding wide-eyed innocence on the Scot. If Mac wanted to play games, so could he.

"Don't give me that more innocent than a newborn routine Adam, I'm not that stupid." Ignoring the skeptical snort from the other man MacLeod continued. "I can see what you're trying to do. Leave them alone."

"I'm just trying to give Cupid a hand, Mac. Think of it as a public service."

"Well if you want to play Cupid's little helper, you can look a little closer to home." MacLeod retorted, suddenly and irrationally annoyed that he couldn't pin the exasperating man down on their own frustrating friendship. Why did Adam have to meddle in Doyle's life! Damn him! Was Adam only interested in torturing him with the permanently withheld promise of a more intimate relationship? It never usually took him this long to tumble a potential lover into bed....

Startled by the intensity of MacLeod's voice and stare, Methos looked up into the other man's eyes and was shocked by the depth of frustration and need that was reflected back at him. Oh shit! This was not what he wanted to cause. Maybe his conclusions of a moment ago were wrong? However, he was spared from giving an answer when the ridiculously dressed Master of Ceremonies struck the stone floor again with his staff and announced that the King was arriving and would they all please stand.

Seeing the look of relief on Adam's face, MacLeod resolved that after dinner he was definitely going to have a chat with young Adam Taylor and he wasn't going to be doing a lot of talking. Panting yes.... talking no.

Standing, they all turned to look at the opposite end of the low-ceilinged room where an archway curtained with blue velvet material was spotlighted. A muted trumpet fanfare played over the sound system and the curtains where thrown back by a couple of men dressed in chain mail and helmets. The imitation guards walked out followed by a small man in a fool's costume with the traditional rattle on a long stick. He jumped and tumbled down the isle between the rows of tables to the delight of the children and Japanese tourists. Next came a bearded man with a lady on his arm. They were dressed in rich satin and were obviously supposed to be King Henry VIII and his Queen. MacLeod raised a curious brow, just catching Adam's yawn of disdain before looking at the CI5 agents. Both Bodie and Doyle were checking out the crowd rather than the actors. Curious. Did they honestly expect trouble? Did Cowley know something that he wasn't sharing? MacLeod doubted McKellen would show in a place like this. Wasn't the other Immortal's style.

The burly Master of Ceremonies rapped his staff three more times on the stone floor and in a booming voice declared: "My Lords, Ladies and gentlemen. His Royal Highness King Henry the VIII and Queen Anne."

Mildly interested, MacLeod watched, noting that the actors did nothing more than retire to their throne and wave at the diners around the room. Then waitresses dressed in serving maids costumes made their way around the tables carrying pottery jugs of mulled wine and ale. The wench's poured wine into the goblets before they were all encouraged to raise their glasses and toast the King before being seated for the feast.

Methos leaned over to Ray after he was seated and grinned. "You know, Anne Boleyn looked nothing like that. Neither did Henry."

Caught off guard with a mouthful of ale, Doyle couldn't decide whether to laugh or swallow, and ended up doing both, which resulted in a coughing fit.

Methos placed a hand on Ray's arm whilst giving him a gentle thump on the back with the other. "Sorry Ray, bad timing." He apologized before handing him a napkin.

Bad timing my foot, MacLeod thought, glancing beside him at Bodie, noting the scowl directed at Adam. What was that idiot thinking? In fact how had they ended up seated like this? He should be sitting next to the demented Immortal and Doyle should be seated beside the humorless one-man crusader, named Bodie.

Bodie glared at Taylor, wondering what the younger man could have said to get such a reaction out of his normally unflappable partner. He wished that beating the crap out of an assignment wasn't so frowned upon, because that was exactly what he wanted to do to Taylor. Hidden tendencies from his old mercenary days were suddenly starting to seem temptingly appealing.

Recovering from his coughing fit, Doyle looked over at his partner. Christ, things were not looking good. What the hell was Taylor playing at? You did not provoke Bodie and expect to get away with it unscathed. You just didn't go around pushing Bodie's buttons like that. He remembered the last time Bodie had looked that murderous and then not even Cowley had been able to stop the stubborn man going on a rampage. It had been after Bodie's girlfriend had been injured in a restaurant bombing.... Doyle stopped the thought, momentarily stunned at the sudden revelation. During that frightful incident Bodie had believed he was in love and had wanted to revenge her attempted murder. Bodie had been a man possessed. A dangerous man.... and now Doyle could see those same deadly desires in his partner's blue eyes a second time. Blinking, Doyle hardly registered the fact he was sitting in a room full of people as that realization sank into his mind. Bodie was jealous. Jealous of Taylor.... and Adam bloody well knew it! The exasperating moron beside him was deliberately provoking Bodie! But why? Did he have a death wish!?! Doyle swallowed and turned to look at Adam. The other just smiled back and Doyle raised an eyebrow in silent question, knowing Adam would understand completely.

Methos caught the look Doyle threw at him and let his grin widen. So Ray had figured it out. Smart lad. But then he had suspected that Raymond Doyle would catch on, he just wasn't sure if the Englishman would play along. "It's really up to you." Methos answered, letting the other decide.

Doyle looked back at Bodie. Adam bloody well knew! Knew that Bodie was jealous and that.... that.... But was this the way he wanted to force Bodie to admit all the unvoiced little intimacies between them? That was really the question here. No.... But then he also had nothing to lose and everything to gain by playing along. If it didn't work Bodie would blame Taylor and things would be as they always were. If it worked.... well.... if it worked then he would have everything he wanted and more. "Fine." Doyle answered in a clipped tone, narrowing his gaze to drink in Adam's pleased smile. He'd known the man less than three days yet somehow he trusted Taylor more than his closest friends. It was frightening and illogical. "Just don't blame me if you end up dead." He added in a hissed aside for Taylor's ears only. Unfortunately he knew it was a useless threat.

Bodie was about to interrupt the little chat that was going on between Doyle and Egyptian Boy when the soup course arrived. It forced him to turn his irritated scowl on the serving maid standing next to him only to meet complete disinterest as she dumped a stack of bowls under his nose. He raised a displeased brow and gave her his killer smile. That didn't work either and he sucked in a peeved breath when he was instructed to pass the pottery soup dishes and spoons down the table. This earned him a smirk from Taylor who leaned in close and made some barely audible remark about 'good help being hard to find' to Doyle. Manfully resisting the urge to stand up and smash some crockery over the perverse man's head, Bodie finished his task without a word. Cursing Cowley, MacLeod and Taylor under his breath, Bodie suspected this was going to be one of the worst nights of his life, and probably the longest. He was absolutely positive that he would rather be back in the jungles of Angola surrounded by enemy soldiers right now, than sitting at this table playing nursemaid. Irritably he noticed that MacLeod was keeping out of the whole thing, probably just as well, Bodie lamented silently. Though it was the Scottish bastard's fault for dragging the skinny little prick into this mess in the first place!

The noise level in the room had remained low for sometime while everyone concentrated on their meal. Methos had done his best to keep up a stream of observations on the authenticity, or lack thereof, of various items and details. He could tell that he was getting on Bodie's nerves because the looks the other man was directing at him would probably peel paint. Methos was also getting equally dirty looks from MacLeod who persistently kicked him in the shins whenever he touched Doyle in any way. It wasn't really a problem, more hilarious than annoying, but Methos vowed to make the infuriating Highland barbarian pay when they got back to the hotel. Speculating on that, Methos glanced around for more inspiration, catching sight of the man in the fool's costume. He grinned wickedly, finishing his soup while he watched the Fool do some slight of hand magic tricks at the table across. A new idea formed in his mind and Methos barely suppressed his brilliant smile, glancing over at the object of his campaign. Bodie. Poor bastard.... His grin turned into as frown when he felt MacLeod kick him in the shins under the table. But even that didn't stop his sick sense of humor and he eyed Bodie a second time. Slowly a new wicked smile ghosted across his lips and he wondered if Bodie liked magic tricks.

MacLeod, who was keeping an eye glued on his aggravating would-be-lover spotted the change in expression almost immediately and cursed silently to himself. Why did he do this to himself? He wasn't aware of any previous masochistic tendencies so they must have developed when Adam turned up. This time he trod on Adam's toes, hard. "Don't!" MacLeod hissed, pitching his voice low.

"Ouch! What was that for?" Methos hissed back.

"Whatever you're planning in that sick little mind of yours - stop it!"

"You're insane." Methos snorted. "I'm sitting here minding my own business. Which, by the way, is something you should learn how to do."

"Very unlikely." MacLeod said in mock belief. "Don't give me that bullshit. Leave it alone." MacLeod finished. When it was obvious he was going to be ignored, MacLeod closed his eyes briefly and pondered a way to remove Adam from the immediate vicinity. Drag him out, or march him out at sword point?? Only when MacLeod lifted his lashes to glare dangerously at the other man, he found himself traitorously smiling instead. If anything Adam was adorable, especially with that impish expression lighting up his changeable eyes, and MacLeod wondered if he was the insane one for allowing the older Immortal to proceed with his teasing. Probably.... and he shook his head. Bodie was an arrogant bastard, but he didn't deserve Adam's wicked sense of humor.... did he? Opening his mouth, MacLeod was just about to say something when the serving maid reappeared and asked if everyone could pass their plates back to the end of the table. It distracted them all and MacLeod breathed a sigh of relief when Adam seemed to not only cooperate, but behave.

After the dishes were cleared away the unexcitable Master of Ceremonies announced a round of entertainment. It seemed they were to be entertained by a strong man, an acrobat and a juggler.

"Oh this should be fun." Bodie muttered caustically, and for the first time in a long while found himself wishing that his R/T would sound and give him a good excuse to walk out of this whole farcical excuse for a meal. He was going to kill Ray when this was over. What the hell was Doyle playing at anyway, flirting with that smug, arrogant, obnoxious and cynical little son-of-a-bitch! Bodie was surprised that MacLeod had done nothing and said nothing because he was damn sure he hadn't read those two wrong earlier in the gym. At least he was positive there was something on the Scot's side. He'd seen that 'keep-away- he's-mine' look enough times during tours with the Merc's in the jungle to know when he ran across it in civilian life. Obviously the Scottish bastard swung both ways, which was something Bodie could understand. He'd done the same when there was a lack of female company, especially when stationed overseas. It was the unspoken rule, the ignored topic in the service. Which brought him back to his dilemma with Ray. What was he to do about his fiery- tempered little partner? For it wasn't as if either of them lacked female company. Employment in CI5 was in a lot of ways similar to being in the army. You were married to the job. You lived it, breathed it and took it home every night. In turn it was hell on a relationship, on a social life and on anything resembling normal living. Some of the operatives in CI5 had wives or long term girlfriends, but the death toll on those relationships was very high. In reality, as Cowley always reminded them, your only certainty was your partner and your wits. Which brought Bodie's thinking back to Ray Doyle. Was that why he was drawn to Ray? Because they each understood the risks and accepted them as part of their life and their relationship? Or was there another reason? Flicking his eyes over to Taylor again, Bodie felt the responding flare of resentment and cursed himself inwardly. Ray had fascinated him from the start. In fact Cowley had lured him into the Squad by dangling Doyle under his nose. Oh yes George Cowley was one ruthless, calculating son-of-a-bitch. Typically Scottish by showing him something he found desirous and then letting him slowly learn he would never have it. Not his Raymond.... Tensing when he was tapped on the shoulder, Bodie's speculation on his partner was broken by the sound of a voice beside him.

"Excuse me Sir, but your friend has volunteered you for a small magical illusion."

One quick glance at the men across from him and Bodie knew exactly which so-called 'friend' had set him up. Fucking Taylor.... McKellen should have killed the little prick! "I don't do tricks." Bodie growled barely tearing his deadly gaze away from Egyptian Boy.

"Oh come on Sir, be a sport. Have some fun," continued the obviously suicidal jester.

"Yeah William, get into the spirit of things. Have some fun." Methos piped up helpfully.

Doyle froze mid sip of his ale. Oh Shit.... he thought seeing the grimace on his partner's face freeze and turn deadly. Nobody called Bodie William, not even Cowley did that. At least not within his hearing, Doyle relented. Hell, he didn't even dare call Bodie by his first name....

Bodie gritted his teeth, but refused to give Taylor the satisfaction of provoking him. Later.... he promised himself. Later he would find some reason to drag the insulting, cantankerous little bastard up before Cowley and have him charged as a menace to society....

"See sir," the jester carried on in an even tone, oblivious to the impending disaster looming. "Pennies." By slight of hand the talented actor happily entertained all at the table by demonstrating how he could make coins appear from his volunteer's ears and shirt collar. "I'm going to be rich," he proclaimed in a comical fashion that had the patrons laughing as an endless supply of money fell into his hands from around his subject's person.

Biting his lower lip, Doyle didn't know if he wanted to laugh or cry. Next to him Adam was in hysterics, sliding down in his seat to sprawl gracefully, those green eyes challenged Doyle to deny the fun. And it was funny especially when the jester spun them a story while continually finding more coins hiding on Bodie's person. Only his partner's lack of movement alerted Doyle to the real danger of Bodie losing his legendary temper and Doyle swallowed again, very glad when the jester stopped. Bloodshed in a restaurant was the last sort of publicity Cowley needed.... only his reprieve was short lived for the foolish jester returned and politely asked Bodie to stand.

"William, can I ask you to stand for just a moment."

Trying not to flinch under the light hand resting on his shoulder or to the sound of his name, Bodie slowly stood, placing his hands firmly on the table. He would Kill Doyle. Kill Cowley. Kill MacLeod. Dismember Taylor.... His litany was interrupted by the sound of coins falling into a container and Bodie glared around to find the hapless jester standing behind him with a bucket while old coins seemed to be falling out of his backside. Exhaling hard through his nose, Bodie gripped the table hard while the jester laughed and pretended an innocent look of dismay to all the other customers until the last coin fell. Not waiting for permission, Bodie sat down and picked up his drink. It was either that or take out his gun....

Holding his breath, Doyle wished the jester would leave, debating leaning across and saying something to his irate partner. Only he was not sure what to say. Relax mate, as it's only a bit of fun.... seemed lame and Doyle winced when the jester returned. But the actor said nothing more, still appearing heedless of his subject's temper as he stopped beside Bodie's chair and twisted a balloon into the shape of a poodle. The jester then placed the balloon animal in front of Bodie and Doyle cringed inwardly at the look his partner directed towards the small pink poodle. It was meant as a present for being such a 'good sport' and Doyle snorted. Bodie had endured the tricks and the clapping with a blank expression, but Doyle could tell poodles were the last thing on Bodie's mind. Only now his unpredictable partner was sitting with an expression that was getting stonier by the minute and Doyle was positive he needed to put a stop to things before his partner reached breaking point and lost it completely.

Methos glanced over at the scowling Bodie, and bit his inside lip thoughtfully. If the man had been a dog his hackles would be up and his ears laid back, with a vicious snarl on his face. Oh yes, Methos judged, this was just the response he was looking for. Now was the time to back off and leave the rest to nature, he mused to himself with a satisfied grin. Turning his attention back to the peeved Scot sitting opposite, Methos speculated on how MacLeod might want to pay him back for the good deed he'd just done. It was a prospect he relished.

MacLeod caught the self-satisfied smirk on Adam's face, like a cat with cream on its whiskers, and just hoped that the contrary man had decided to back off before he had to defend him against an angry CI5 operative. MacLeod was definitely going to make the exasperating man pay for his meddling, and the possibilities were interesting to contemplate. They were also endless.

Hearing laughter around him, Bodie slowly placed his napkin down knowing he had to get out of there before he lost all connection with reality. His head pounded and he really wanted to strangle Taylor. So he shoved away from the bench like table and marched out. Fresh air beckoned and he needed to regain his composure.

Swearing under his breath, Doyle threw down his serviette and muttered an apology to both MacLeod and Adam before he hastily stood. Shit! He was going to have to do some fast-talking to smooth this one over, and he followed his wayward partner out of the dimly lit establishment. He avoided the entertainers and returning waitresses, his only concern was catching Bodie before his partner did something terminally stupid.

Doyle caught up with Bodie at the top of the stairs, but his partner shrugged out of his grasp and carried on out of the restaurant. "Bodie?" Doyle hissed, following the other man out into the night, starting to shiver as the cold winter air curled its chilly fingers around his body.

"Leave it Doyle! Just leave it!" Bodie retorted.

Doyle lay a hand on the broad shoulder, feeling the coiled tension in the bigger mans frame. "What is with you mate? Why do you let him get to you? You've handled worse than him before."

Bodie flinched at the touch of his partner's hand feeling it send a familiar sensation of frustrated and prohibited pleasure along his nerves. Because, Goddammit, he's to close to the painful truth and you can't bloody well see it! Bodie wanted to shout at the man standing beside him. But it was no use, Doyle was somebody he could never have. Friends, partners, brothers, and that was as far as it would ever go. It would have to do, but shit it hurt sometimes, to be so close, but in reality the distance may as well be cosmic. Bodie snorted - Doyle would say it was his Karma, he was paying for past sins now - and paying dearly, Bodie acknowledged feeling the smaller man's warmth press closer while Doyle squeezed his shoulder in a comradely fashion.

Doyle felt the flinch and fought the urge to pull away, wincing inside as the apparent rejection cut deeply at the hopes he nursed of being closer than just partners and friends. Doyle knew what Adam was doing, trying to play matchmaker, and Bodie was having none of it. Well, if that were the way of things then he would accept them, because to be separated from his partner would be like losing a part of himself. So in reality Adam's little games had showed him one painful thing, had made the decisions he had been toying with easier. He would stay in the partnership on any terms - on Bodie's terms. "Come on 3.7." Doyle snapped, getting angry now when all his hopes were dashed. "We have a job to do, and you acting like a bloody prima donna is not helping!"

Shocked by the changed tone of voice, Bodie curled his lip, his own angry glare meeting Doyle's uncompromising look. "I don't get paid enough for this shit!"

"Save it for Cowley." Doyle hissed back, then swiveled on his toes and went back into the restaurant.

Watching the trim, tempting figure walk away, Bodie shoved his hands in his pockets and cursed Cowley, then himself. He had over reacted, but Taylor was driving him insane! Couldn't Doyle see what the skinny bastard was doing? Obviously not. Kicking out at the cobbled pavement, Bodie begrudgingly followed his partner back inside. In the morning he would present Cowley with a written report and suggest he and Doyle be reassigned due to irreconcilable differences. Cowley wouldn't buy it, but it might spare them the morning shift while the wily old man chewed them out for wasting his valuable time. It was one plan.

MacLeod sighed loudly and glared at the man sitting opposite him, "Why the hell did you do that?" He demanded in a harsh whisper.

"All part of the plan, MacLeod, all part of the plan." Methos replied with a self-satisfied grin.

MacLeod snorted. "This plan, I hope it doesn't backfire on you. Because if he kills you, this time you will have to disappear."

"Oh ye of little faith. I guarantee you by this time tomorrow they'll have sorted it all out." Methos replied flippantly, gazing off in the direction of the two agents. Around them the serving wenches were bringing the main course, placing a huge pot in the center of the table with dishes of vegetables and potatoes.

Ignoring the food, MacLeod looked at Adam's profile and grimaced, concerned more with their own personal problem and the tantalizing prospect of when they were going to get 'it' sorted out. Reaching under the table he placed a gentle hand on the slender thigh across from him and squeezed, grinning when the other man jumped and turned wide startled eyes on him. "I do hope that they are not the only thing on your mind tonight?" He growled, pitching his voice low so only Adam could hear.

Startled by the sensations that shot strait to his groin at the gentle touch, Methos' breath caught at the sensual sound of the velvet voice that promised so much. All he could do was stare at the man opposite, because for some reason his brain seemed to have taken a momentary leave of absence and for all his efforts he couldn't seem to make any sound come out of his mouth. Category five....

MacLeod grinned openly at the man he was determined would become his lover. He drank in the bewildered expression, the green eyes just seeming to get wider and wider as he glided his hand up the smooth fabric. Reassured, MacLeod started to believe the evening would improve. Delicately using his fingers MacLeod pressed into the firm flesh beneath the warm cotton and felt the faint shudder that ran through the taunt muscles. It was enough to make him grin knowingly.

Methos' breath caught, and he bit back on a groan of protest when the warm hand was removed from his leg. Oh Jesus fuckin' Christ.... It was insane the effect that this man's touch had on him and he cursed, feeling himself harden uncomfortably. There was no way he would be able to stand up now and not announce his state of arousal to the entire restaurant. What made things worse, was that the bloody barbarian brat was sitting there as calm and collected as a saint with a sly grin on his face. Bastard! It had been centuries since anybody had held this kind of sexual power over him, or had this strong an effect on his senses. No, he corrected wordlessly, it had been a long time since he had allowed anybody to have this much power, he amended truthfully and then cursed himself for being seven kinds of fool for sticking around. "What the fuck was that for?" Methos growled peeved and frustrated, wanting to cover his own reactions.

"Oh, just my way of reminding you to behave. I do hope they are not the only one's who are going to get lucky tonight." MacLeod said easily reaching for the food placed before them.

Methos groaned inwardly at the mixture of threat and promise that colored the Scottish brogue. "Why, whatever do you mean MacLeod?" Methos prevaricated. He should leave, get up from the table and just walk out the door and never look back, because feelings like this led to nothing but heartache and torment. Besides it could never last, once the proud Highland boy scout found out about his past, there was no way that those beautiful eyes would look at him with anything but horror and disgust and he could not bear that eventuality. But like a moth to a flame - against all his so-called better judgment - he found he could not leave without first sampling the heat of the forbidden fire that MacLeod stirred. "If you insist," Methos replied, allowing a smile to curve his lips.

It was now MacLeod's turn to catch his breath. The slow seductive smile that teased at the sensual lips tugged at his heart, not to mention his groin, and MacLeod responded helplessly to the display. Craving the promise mirrored in the desire darkened green eyes as Adam licked his lips ever so slowly, MacLeod moaned low in his throat so glad for the covering music. "Oh, I definitely insist." MacLeod whispered, replacing his hand on the slender thigh again and giving it one final squeeze before he spotted the two CI5 agents returning to the table. "Now behave." He growled, leaving the implied threat hanging. He couldn't wait for dinner to end so he could get Adam home....

Slamming the door of the silver Capri, Bodie shoved the key into the ignition and gunned the engine to life. The last few hours had been murder and he didn't bother to glance at his unnaturally silent partner guessing easily what Doyle was thinking. Instead he switched his glare to the highly polished limousine parked outside the foyer of the Mayfair across the road from them. MacLeod had been anxious to get out of the restaurant and get back to the hotel and he didn't need a degree in psychology to guess why. Bastard! So contrary to his wishes they had returned MacLeod, and guest, safely to the designated destination and had thankfully handed over the troublesome pair for the night to Murphy and Anderson. Still the inaction of the case was driving him crazy, not to mention the nature of the assignment. He was ready for a fight or failing that, a good decent argument with anyone - preferably Taylor. Checking his mirrors out of habit more than anything, Bodie smoothly pulled into the traffic and let his simmering rage out by going through the gears harshly. "Bloody Cowley," he muttered with feeling, flicking a swift glance at Doyle's sprawled figure in the passenger seat when all he got in return was dead silence. "I can't believe he has us babysitting that skirt-"

"Save it, Bodie."

"Aw, come on Doyle!" Bodie grouched exasperated as he dodged traffic to run the lights. At this point he didn't care if he attracted the boys in blue. Didn't care period if he ended up in Cowley's office before being reassigned to filing. "This is a crap assignment and you know it! Cowley has us chasing our tails, following that Mr. 'I'm- flippin'-marvelous' MacLeod around like nursemaids when we should be out hunting McKellen. Christ, McKellen could be out beheading some poor bastard and we wouldn't even know because Cowley has decided to play 'old home week' with Kilt Boy!"

"And just maybe MacLeod will lead us to McKellen. Or have you forgotten that minor detail." Doyle cut back sick of listening to Bodie bitch. He had enjoyed the evening, even if most of it had been at the expense of his partner. Taylor was damn good company. Pity he was an assignment, which meant they wouldn't see each other again after McKellen was nabbed.

"Fine!" Bodie growled his hands tightening in response to Doyle's unvoiced challenge. "Then I say we bug MacLeod and let the lad's in the boogie boo have them for a day or so."

"Impractical." Doyle said matter-of-factly, shaking his head and reaching up to grab the panic strap when Bodie weaved past a slow moving truck, just narrowly missing the on coming traffic.

"No, what is impractical is watching MacLeod making eyes at that little prick tease, Taylor, while Cowley debates the topic in the Ministers office!" Bodie half shouted, taking out his anger on his driving while he sped them towards Doyle's current residence in Kensington. "I'm sick to death of all the stupid games-"

"Wouldn't have guessed," Doyle quipped.

"..and what the fuck are you doing encouraging that toffee nosed bastard!"

"I wasn't encouraging anything, so get off your damn soap box and bloody well slow down before you land us both in the drink!" Doyle snapped back when Bodie just missed collecting a pedestrian. "Christ Bodie, but what is wrong with you!? From the way you've been acting these last few days I wouldn't be surprised if MacLeod asked Cowley to give you a shot for rabies."

"Oh very droll," Bodie growled sarcastically. "Don't play cute with me! I saw how you played up to Taylor and the only reason MacLeod didn't belt you one was because he knew you were coming home with me!"

"Lucky me."

"Christ Ray!" Bodie hissed more in frustration now than anything else. "What the hell is going on?!"


"Pull the other one mate, as I can smell a con job a mile off. You and that little prick have been working off each other since I left you to scrape his skinny arse off the pavement. So what gives mate?"

Hearing the rawness behind Bodie's tone, Doyle raised a hand and rubbed his eyes. He was far too tired to cope with a disgruntled, bad-tempered and insecure Bodie tonight. What his partner said was true, he did like Adam, he did trust him and did know more about what was going on than he could ever hope to explain to his hard-nosed, skeptical partner. And that was the tragedy. "Like I said, nothing." Doyle muttered moodily, bracing himself when Bodie stopped the car with a jolt across from his flat.


"Adam and I have.... similar interests. Academically speaking." Doyle amended, knowing he had to offer something to the other man, otherwise Bodie would be hell to live with after this operation was over.

"I noticed." Bodie said mockingly.

Not liking the tone or the inference, Doyle sent a glare his partner's way. "Will you bloody well stop acting like some demented primadonna! What the fuck is wrong with you? So.... I like Taylor! I think it's unfair what has happened to him and before you say anything else, yes I know the two of them are having it off, but since when do we judge the lives of others?!? Start down that road mate, and you might as well kiss the squad goodbye because Cowley doesn't tolerate prejudices."

"I'm not prejudiced!"

"Could've fooled me." Doyle retorted, opening the passenger door and climbing out.

"Okay, Einstein!" Bodie called as he leaned over to glare up at his partner and friend, just stopping Doyle from slamming the passenger door. "Since when did you turn all altra-comfortable with the idea of homosexuality?"

"Since always," Doyle whispered back, bending down to send his partner a serious look. He watched Bodie's eyes widen fractionally before the other man frowned to cover the surprise. Then he pulled back and slammed the passenger door. He'd given the other man ample to think about for one night and refused to look back as he crossed the road to his flat. Reaching into his jacket pocket he fished out his keys, playing over in his mind all that Adam had said to him and all that Bodie had said, shaking his head at the pragmatic view on life Adam Taylor held. It had to be a side effect of Taylor's immortality, a concept he was still trying to wrap his brain around. But then watching Taylor with MacLeod he had to admit Bodie also had a valid point. Both men were so besotted with the other that it was almost laughable - would be hilarious if he didn't find himself in the same position with one argumentative ex-SAS, straight-laced William Andrew Phillip Bodie. Climbing the front steps two at a time, Doyle shook his head, appreciating the fact that at least he and Bodie were friends and he fitted his key into the security door and pushed it open. Then suddenly he was turning, hearing a noise behind him and instinctively reaching for his Browning before he was crashing into the entrance foyer of his apartment building with a 200-pound CI5 agent on top of him. "Bloody hell, Bodie what the blazers are you playing at now?!?"

"You little sod!" Bodie growled, pinning his exasperating partner to the floor. "Are you telling me you'd go for Taylor if he gave you the come on?"

"No," Doyle wheezed, twisting around to shove Bodie off him. "Don't be more of a moron that you already are."

"Then what?" Bodie demanded belligerently, watching Doyle rub sore ribs and wince in both discomfort and anger.

"I said you dumb crud, that I wasn't against the idea! Not that I wanted to jump Taylor's bones." Doyle clarified, annoyed now with his thick-witted partner. Checking the safety was clicked on his Browning he re-holstered his gun.


"So nothing!" Doyle snapped, getting to his feet and glaring at Bodie's scowling face. "Do me a favor and just go home before you get us both arrested."

Giving his partner a dark look, Bodie let him walk away, slowly working out in his own mind what the evasive answer might mean. If he wanted the truth he would have to push Doyle, and he'd have to do it now before he lost the chance or before Ray threw up barriers higher than Everest. Standing, Bodie absently brushed the dust from his cords and followed his obstinate partner.

Not surprised to find Bodie behind him again when he opened his apartment's front door, Doyle let out an explosive sigh, wondering if it was all worth the aggravation. "What now?"

"I want to know what you meant." Bodie said simply refusing to look away from those searching emerald eyes.

"Why?" Doyle asked simply.

"Because it could change everything." Bodie whispered honestly, noting how Ray started to frown before he raised a hand to run fingers through his thick curls. They sprang back obediently even as Doyle turned away from him and entered the dim flat. Watching Doyle wrestle with some inner moral decision, Bodie frowned, just catching the fleeting glimpse of vulnerability and aching loss before Doyle covered the expression. Sucking in a determined breath Bodie followed him inside, well aware that he had not been asked to enter, but then neither had he been asked to leave. If he had this all wrong Doyle would physically evict him and the partnership would be difficult for a while, but if he was right.... Inside the flat, Doyle had not turned on any lights and Bodie could see him illuminated by the streetlamps outside the bay windows and he shrugged out of the jacket, throwing it over the lounge.

"What do you want from me Bodie?"

The quiet question disconcerted him for a moment and Bodie's first response was to shrug until he caught a second glimpse of his partner's pained expression. He relented and walked over to the other man, debating what to say first. "Tonight.... tonight at dinner I was bloody-"

"Jealous?" Doyle interjected.

"Infuriated." Bodie finished with a growl. "To think that.... that-"

"That I'd go for Taylor while you were present?" Doyle asked mildly, starting to enjoy himself now. This was more like their normal banter and he wasn't sure if he was relieved the tension had broken or disappointed because another opportunity was lost.

"Yes!" Bodie hissed. Hearing Doyle chuckle was the last straw, and Bodie grabbed him roughly and savaged his mouth, wanting to either shock an argument and fight out of him, or to seduce a willing participation. The impulsive strategy worked surprisingly well, for Doyle jabbed him hard in the gut, then swept him off his feet to land him on the floor with a thud. Schoolboy antics and Bodie smiled up wickedly knowing that if Ray were truly angry he'd be unconscious by now instead of flat on his back peering up into the shadowed face of his partner.

"Have you totally flipped?" Doyle asked breathlessly not sure if he wanted to allow this to happen or not. "If you keep this up mate, I'll recommend to Cowley personally that you should go back to the shrink. Ross would just love to see you."

"Nah," Bodie drawled sure now of his reception before reaching up to grab a handful of Doyle's soft cotton shirt to drag him closer. "I know exactly how to work off my paranoia, and you my son are a chief ingredient."

"Bod....ie...." Doyle yelped only protesting half-heartedly as he was knocked sideways and blanketed by a hot body that seemed to touch him everywhere. Abruptly just the idea that he was going to taste Bodie in his most elemental form had the contact igniting all sorts of interesting reactions in his body and he shivered, not finding the breath to argue when his mouth was taken in a hot erotic kiss.

MacLeod deliberately shut the door in agent Murphy's face. He'd had enough pussyfooting around with CI5 and instead stalked after Adam's retreating body. The trip home in the Limousine, the looks cast his way in the lifts and the whispered touch upon entering the hotel suite were all taking their toll on his self control. There was no way Adam would deny him further and he hastily stripped off his coat, loosened his tie and followed the other man into the spare bedroom. Adam's room....


"Shut up," MacLeod growled, scanning the room and finding the temperamental cat almost immediately. She had made herself at home next to the pillows and he refused to be distracted by her possessive antics this night. Going to the bed he expertly lifted her and propelled her out the door, ignoring her screech and Adam's gasp before slamming the bedroom door shut. Then MacLeod turned and regarded his guest, not missing the slight flush on the pale cheeks before he advanced menacingly on the other man.


"Your mouth might be saying no, but your body is saying yes, so I am going to give you five seconds to decide."

"What?" Methos asked stunned, giving a half laugh while he backed away from the gorgeous man pacing after him.


"You can't be serious!"


"If this is some sort of joke-"


"..I'm not laughing any more!"


"Did you hear me?!"


"Mac.... Leod!!" Methos protested even as he was lunged at. Problem was he was laughing to hard to make a serious escape and they both ended up rolling across the bed until he lay pinned under a grinning Highlander. "You are such a primitive!" He complained but found his mouth curved up at the Scot's affectionate appraisal. "And so dead if you don't get off me!"

"Top or bottom, I don't care," MacLeod whispered huskily, gentling his hold and trailing his fingers down to his captive's wrists. His words and tone killed the playfulness, turning the moment serious, making them stare at each other for a long drawn out minute until Adam blinked, breaking the powerful spell.

"Fuck-" Methos breathed. He could feel himself tremble under MacLeod's warmth and weight, could feel his heart contract at the emotion coursing between them and knew he was lost. Category five wasn't just threatening his survival any longer it was smothering him in its deadly embrace. "Mac-"

"Can't you feel it?" MacLeod whispered, watching the man beneath him in awe. "There is a connection between us. A bond-"

"Duncan!" Methos gasped suddenly desperately scared for them both as his desires and needs entrapped him so firmly.

"Shh," MacLeod breathed, unconsciously soothing him, releasing the imprisoned wrists to caress Adam's face. "I will keep you safe." Then he leant down and kissed him.

Startled, Methos wanted to scream his acceptance, his need for this seductive persuasion, but rather he cried inside when the Scot's soft lips coaxed a gentle response from him. This tenderness was the last thing he expected. He had wanted to be taken, to be plundered, to be forced - so that he could keep the casualness in the relationship and prevent it from turning serious. But now.... now he devoured the glimpse of love MacLeod feathered over him. He knew logically such an emotion was doomed, but for one night he craved the feelings. Opening his mouth to the tongue softly probing his lips, he relinquished all responsibility for this one treasured taste of happiness and flew with his senses, praying this was not another monumental mistake.

Having ended up somehow on the floor and pressed against the back of the couch, Ray Doyle, tried to stop the inevitable as he pushed Bodie's hot, possessive form away. "Bodie! Will you.... just.... back off!"

"Don't back out on me now, Ray." Bodie hissed, his hands tightening over his partner's upper arms. Already his body was more than ready, eager to sample his partner's lithe strength. Never in his wildest dreams would he ever believe that Ray would let him this close, let him get this familiar.

"I'm not." Doyle snorted, dropping his head back on the cool wooden floor and wincing.


"Floors bloody freezin'-"

"Oh," Bodie mumbled, glancing around in the gloom. He blinked up and saw the front door was still wide open and he didn't think it was advisable to have any neighbors walk past.

"..and me bums killing me." Doyle ended, sucking in a breath when his partner rolled off him. "Jeez mate, you weigh a bloody tone-"

"Complaining 4.5?" Bodie quipped, getting up to close the front door and bolt it. He toyed with the idea of switching on the lights but decided against it, returning to Doyle's side and staring down at Ray's sprawled figure. Ray looked great in his eveningwear. "You planing on lying there all night?"

"Thinkin' about it." Doyle mumbled before slowly sitting up. He eyed his partner with slight apprehension. "Bodie- "

"Here," Bodie offered reaching down to grab the other man and haul him upright. Keeping hold of his partner's hand he pulled him gently closer, his expression turning very serious. "I'm not going to force you to do anything you don't want to do. But Ray," he paused, "..I can't promise to forget anything that's happened between us either. Nor can I say I'm sorry."

Considering this, Doyle studied the other man's handsome face, letting his eyes drop down to Bodie's stern mouth. "I'm not asking you to." He returned, making his mind up to follow his heart whether it was right or wrong. Knowing this could ruin their partnership, could ruin their careers if Cowley found out.

"That's alright then," Bodie said on a breath, relaxing instantly, his mouth curving up into its typical smirk.

"So...?" Ray blinked at his partner, lost now as the atmosphere changed yet again.

"So," Bodie elaborated, rubbing his hands together. "I've always wanted to try out your bed."

"Christ, Bodie," Doyle sighed in exasperation.

"Come on old son."


"No regrets." Bodie replied seriously again, moving forward to drag his partner close and taste the parted lips thoroughly. He could feel Ray tremble, could taste his desire, his fear and moderated the oral caress marginally. Breaking away he captured the green eyes and stared into his partner's confused gaze. "You ever done this before mate?"

"As a kid-"

"I don't mean wanking off behind the school shed neither." Bodie broke in, keeping it intimate, but also matter of fact. Too much was at stake to risk a misunderstanding.

"Then no." Doyle admitted softly.

Slowly Bodie let his smile increase with that whispered honesty, moving his fingers behind Ray's neck to massage his tense muscles. It pleased him to know that but it also placed a very precious burden in his hands and Bodie shifted closer to his temperamental partner. "Then we take it slow-"

"I'm not a sodding female!"

The outrage was back and Bodie's grin widened. This was the Doyle he adored, and he rewarded him with another hard kiss, biting his lip in parting. "Never thought you were, mate."


"Let's try this again." Bodie suggested, running his free hand down his partner's soft cotton shirt to tease erect nipples. He heard Ray gasp.


"I want to have sex with you." Bodie whispered, shifting even nearer and pressing a thigh between the other man's slender legs. "I'll make you come so hard you'll start to think you've died."

Sucking in a painful breath, Doyle couldn't have protested even if he wanted to, his body so hypersensitive to Bodie's scent and his experienced touch. This was what he wanted, what he had dreamed about and he nodded his consent, willingly agreeing.

Laughing softly, Bodie released the swaying body and grabbed Ray by the belt tabs, yanking him towards the bedroom and the spacious queen size bed hidden there.

Discarding their clothing, Methos didn't have a clue how they ended up in bed, his mind so befuddled by what MacLeod was doing to his body. It had been so long since he'd had a lover whose physical beauty matched the sensory images circulating in his steamed brain, but MacLeod did just that. The Highlander's addictive Quickening overwhelmed him, and he gasped out in pleasure when Duncan's sensual mouth did wicked things to his throat and nipples. And the worst part was, he could hear his Scottish lover snickering while that damnable mouth assaulted his abdomen, turning his gut to water and his resolve to dust. He really should at least try to protest. "Mac-"

"You taste of the hot earth," MacLeod whispered, his eyes closed while he savored the essence of the being held captive in his hands. "You taste of the sun. Of fermented grapes on a warm spring day."

Fucking hell, Methos opened his mouth petrified - terrified - his nostrils strangely filling with the scent of heather and salt, Scotland at its most primal level. It refreshed and calmed him, making him even more receptive as he reached down to tangled his fingers in Duncan's thick, long hair absorbing the silkiness and warmth. "Mac," he mouthed.

Moving up the spread body, MacLeod lent down over his partner, drinking in the sight of him and loving the dazed look in the gold-green eyes. "Just how old are yew?" He whispered, marveling at the easiness of the desire and love that blanketed them. With a jolt MacLeod comprehend that he would have fallen in love with this creature whether Adam was male or female, the gender didn't matter for it was the uniqueness of Adam's spirit and Quickening power that called to his soul. It thoroughly entrapped him and that thought made him smile.

"Does it matter?" Methos asked, so utterly lost in this man's power. His willpower fading to nothing and he knew with certainty he would tell this man everything if MacLeod pushed, if he insisted on an answer.

"Noh," MacLeod assured, skimming fingers down to heighten the pleasure between them. Bending he lick-kissed the heated flesh of his lover, tasting the sweat and savoring it. "I want-"

"Absolutely," Methos answered without hesitation, finding a measure of sanity returned as the Scot's body moved away from him. He had to control this wild desire, so he purposely turned over, offering the other man his trust and body, but trying valiantly to safeguard what was left of his tattered heart. If he didn't look at MacLeod he might be able to shove this into category two....

Watching the slender body turn so gracefully, MacLeod almost came there and then with the realization he was finally being offered freely what he craved. He ran appreciative eyes down the long, lean back muscles then caressed the warm skin with his hands, loving the feel of this man in every way. His lips followed the path of his hands and he lent down to taste and tease the aroused flesh. Slipping a hand under the narrow hips, he cupped his lover's trapped sex, releasing a soft sigh into the moist skin and feeling Adam squirm. Fondling the hard sex in his hand, he bit Adam's rear, hearing his bedmate gasp, then he moved up the warm body to gently nip the skin over one pale shoulder in affection. "Do you have anything?"

Trapped on the edge of release, Methos panted for breath almost telling the Scot not to bother with niceties. Then he remembered what century he was in, and blinked over at the small bag he had on the bedside table. Fuck, he was an idiot. Why couldn't he simply fall into mindless lust with a creature like MacLeod?!? Why did it have to be fucking love!?! Stretching up he made a grab for the bag, stilling when MacLeod's broader hand covered his. Dark over light - so perfect - and he swallowed, traitorously liking the imagery that produced.

"Here," MacLeod growled, his own loins aching with need. He grabbed the small toilet bag and took out the lubricant, sending his sprawled lover an amused grin before hastily applying it to his engorged shaft.

Rising up on his knees, Methos was glad he could not see the Highlander and he closed his eyes tightly before cursing the God's of Fate and Love when he tried to divorce his heart from this coupling. But it didn't work and he cried out, feeling the first welcoming touch of MacLeod's fingers on him, and prayed for them both when MacLeod explored him with such heartrending tenderness. "Mac, please-"

Pulling Adam closer, MacLeod found himself impaled on the hot body without trying, feeling Adam surge back to pin him and ignite his loins. His heart hammered in his chest almost deafening him and he instinctively dragged his lover up to sit the other man in his lap. Then he wrapped strong arms around the heaving body, holding Adam still, preventing him from moving an inch, wanting this to last for as long as possible.

"Mac?" Methos gasped, his insides on fire in an erotic mixture of pleasure and pain while he lent back into MacLeod's damp chest and let the other man take his complete weight.

"Just.... try and relax," MacLeod whispered urgently, the muscles gripping his shaft threatening to devastate him and he ran possessive hands over the body he clutched so desperately. This was no longer simply sex - never had been - and MacLeod rejoiced in the feel of finally finding a lover who opened his mind to new possibilities. Someone he could love so unconditionally and openly. Someone who understood the pain of immortality and who gave so absolutely as Adam did. It was like his whole life had been rushing to this point and he kissed the body held safe in his arms, tasting the warmed flesh and conveying his feelings fully. "You are perfect," he whispered into the damp skin, thoughtfully caressing Adam's chest and nipples, enhancing the sharing. "I love your taste. Your smell. Your mind-"

"Jesus, Duncan," Methos breathed in hopeless wonder, flabbergasted by the emotions churning between them.

Hearing the other verbalize his name with such passion, MacLeod gently started to rock forward, heightening the thrill and absorbing Adam's cry of pleasure.

Jumping, startled, Doyle watched the hands that trailed down his chest and he willed himself to relax. This was what he'd asked for, but now it seemed harder than when Bodie had jumped him in the living room. They were standing beside his bed and he sucked in a breath when his expensive trousers slithered down his legs to land on the floor. Shivering in fear and anticipation he tensed, feeling Bodie's nakedness behind him. Fantasies were one thing, reality was down right scary, he decided. He wasn't sure if he wanted to go through with this, only knew that at present he felt safer facing a dozen highly armed terrorists than one naked Bodie. "Bodie-"

Reading his partner's agitation expertly, Bodie gave the slender man a shove, sending him face first down on the bed.

"What the-"

Climbing on the bed after him, Bodie deliberately slid up behind Doyle and waited for him to roll over and glare at him. It was worth the wait and he gave his partner a superior smirk before claiming the protesting mouth skillfully. It shut Doyle up, and he filed that useful piece of information away for later consideration.

Traitorously his body responded eagerly to the caresses and Doyle gasped, shocked at how easily Bodie reduced him to a sex-starved addict with so few touches. He felt those callused hands tease him to full hardness while sharp teeth marked his throat before he could object. "Hey!"

Grinning evilly, Bodie, fingered the purpling bruise. "Always fancied seeing you with a hickey."

"Sod off!" Doyle growled, losing the advantage again when Bodie's teeth latched on to a nipple. It was amazingly sensual and he had to admit that Bodie had a better mouth than any bird he could remember bedding and he arched up, lapping up the pleasure.

"Bloody little prick tease," Bodie whispered affectionately, content to work his partner's body first and wring control from Ray's hands. He trailed his mouth down the slender frame, tracing old injuries with his fingers, paying special attention to the areas he knew Ray was susceptible to and getting rewarded with gasped obscenities. If only Doyle's critics could see him now, Bodie mused in glee, bending down to swallow his partner's proud shaft and make the other man even more incoherent. He sucked on him hard, lifting his head and moistening a finger before gently circling the tight anal muscle.


It was a gasped warning and Bodie grinned wickedly up at him, dropping his head down again to give him the blowjob of his life. Slowly, he teased the tight muscle, working a finger in, stretching his partner until he was able reach deep inside the heaving man and force him over the edge of release by multiple stimulus.

"Bloody hell...."

Snickering Bodie turned his finger again, hearing Doyle groan in pleasure as the spent shaft twitched interestingly. "Is that all you can say mate?" He asked innocently.

"You're a fucking freak of nature."

Sliding up the sweat damp body of his partner, Bodie leaned down low over Doyle and searched his gaze. "It's a good thing for you that I am, or who would control you, sunshine?"

Giving an answering grin, Doyle glanced at Bodie's unrelieved erection. "I suppose you want some help with that?"

Wishing now that he'd had the courage to face MacLeod, Methos stilled, accepting the feather-like caresses over his throat and chest as the delicious sensations continued to roll up from his loins. Whoever taught Duncan MacLeod the art of lovemaking needed to be commended, he acknowledged silently, letting his head drop back onto MacLeod's shoulder. They were still joined, still riding on the brink of a release that promised the impossible and he shuddered when MacLeod enclosed his hot erection within the Scot's large hand. "You'll have to tell me who taught you this," he whispered, starting to feel safe in the dimness of the room and the cradle of the Highlander's arms.

Smiling into the hot skin under his mouth, MacLeod shook his head, lifting his face to bury his nose in Adam's soft hair. His intentions were simple - he wanted Adam to fall in love, he wanted the other man to become so besotted with him through their lovemaking that he could convince the other man to stay in the morning. Because from what he had glimpsed of this man's inner beauty and courage, he was not sure he could live without him.

Pressing down more firmly into MacLeod's lap, Methos bit his lower lip, adoring the freedom, the pleasure, before gripping the arm holding him so securely. But he was now ready for the more powerful touches, and he wiggled, pleased when MacLeod gasped behind him, instinctively surging up inside his welcoming body.

"If I tell you who taught me this, will you tell me your real name?" MacLeod asked in a soft persuasive whisper, shifting their positions so he could direct the pleasure and control his lover's movements. He ran a hand down to Adam's thigh, massaging the long muscles, teasing him gently even as he heard the other whimper in delight and need.

"My name?" Methos repeated breathlessly, puzzled for a prolonged moment until he remembered where he was. For a moment he had forgotten, the experience stripping him down to his elemental desires that opened the way for a dangerous honesty. This was a powerful gift MacLeod held over him, and he was so tempted to give in and confess everything to the magnificent Scot.

"I need to know all of you," MacLeod coaxed, increasing the tempo between them, loving the friction of skin on skin, the aroused taste of hot, damp flesh, the thrill of the Immortal buzz that filled his head and body - and he pushed deeper into the silky heat entrapping him.


"What is your name," MacLeod repeated like a litany, his voice dropping to match his thrusts while he dragged them both to the brink of release. The curling, insidious sensations in his loins filling him in hot burning desire and he held Adam back, prolonging the anticipation. "Yewr name-"

"Met...." Methos gasped his body convulsing in climax as MacLeod tore a scream from him. Every nerve ending tingled, his logic circuits fried by the intensity of the climax while he felt the Highlander thrust into him with a passion and strength that was frightening. Then he was falling forward, his body damp and shaking and he felt MacLeod landed on his back, crushing him into the cold sheets. There they lay, entwined and sedate while the madness of the moment passed.

Dragging in a breath, MacLeod tired to think clearly, playing over in his mind what he had almost learned, knowing now that his lover would eventually tell him the truth. So Adam's name stared with M - his lover's true name, and the last bit of deception that lingered between them was slowly vanishing.

"God, Mac, but you are a bastard," Methos wheezed, far from upset as he snuggled into the warming sheets, stupidly happy with himself. This was definitely the dreaded category five, he intoned, especially when he wasn't overly annoyed with the Scottish boy scout for trying to wring his identity from him with sex. Rather, he was impressed.

"You want to-" Doyle started a little nervously, studying Bodie's impressive erection. This was not a position he'd found himself willingly in before.

"No, mate." Bodie assured him.

"But," Doyle frowned, not sure if he was insulted or relieved. "You don't want me?" He cringed at his own words, wondering when he had turned into a desperate teenager again.

"When you're ready." Bodie assured him gently, settling a hand on his partner's chest. "Right now I want you to turn this skinny frame of yours over."


"Trust me Ray. Please?"

Narrowing his eyes, Doyle sent him a hard look then complied, suspiciously glancing back over his shoulder. He grunted out in surprise when Bodie's weight landed on his back. "I thought you said-"

"Irritating little sod," Bodie muttered, positioning himself between Doyle's closed thighs and thrust down into the hollow created. In all honesty just the thought of having Doyle this way was enough to bring him off, for he had fantasized about Ray from the moment Cowley had partnered them. It was only Ray's hard-nosed, tough-man act that had made him keep his distance. A distance he was now going to close with a skillful seduction. It would take time but eventually he would get what he wanted from his tight-arsed little partner. Just visualizing that arse opening to him, had Bodie groaning in pleasure and he thrust down urgently, mouthing the back of Ray's neck until climax swept over him and he ground down into the compliant heat below.

"Jeez Bodie," Ray muttered feeling both honored and shocked at what Bodie had just done, then pulling a face when his partner's cum trickled between his thighs. This was not what he had expected, and he started to doubt his earlier convictions. Feeling Bodie roll off him, he glared at his partner, getting confused as hell when the reality of what they had just done hit him. He was insane. Adam Taylor was a fucking lunatic to make him believe a romance was possible with a man like Bodie. "Christ!" He muttered louder, reaching over for some tissues to clean himself.

"Come here-"

It was murmured in a low sexy tone, and Doyle froze. Then he had little option for Bodie rolled over to him and dragged him down before covering him in an octopus type hug. Doyle pulled a face wondering if this was what all Bodie's birds felt like after sex. Bloody typical. It was obvious they both expected different things from a relationship. So why had he been so stupid to forget that fact?! One thing was for certain, he knew this 'morning after' was going to be damn interesting.

Sliding off his lover, MacLeod peered over Adam's shoulder and saw the other man had fallen asleep. Stunned, he stared around a little lost then carefully gathered up the covers and settled back down. He would have liked to talk a little more, and he glared at the ceiling. Sighing resigned he cuddled up to the other man's warmth and started to plan the morning's arguments.

May 27th 1980. London.

Struggling awake the following morning, Doyle opened his eyes and blinked up in confusion at the ceiling before turning his head to squint at the comatose form hogging all his bed sheets. No wonder he was bloody freezing his balls off.... he let his squint turn into a scowl as memory fell into place and he remembered why and how he had ended up in bed with his irritating partner. "Jesus fuckin' Christ," he muttered in self-disgust pulling an arm free of the dead weight snoring into his pillow. Shaking his head again, he rolled away.

If ever there was a time Doyle believed he needed his head read by the trick-psychiatrist Ross, it was now and he closed his eyes running fingers through his curls to gain a measure of sanity. What the bloody hell had he been thinking?!? Sneaking a look at his unconscious partner he knew nothing less than World War Three would wake the ex- SAS man. Bodie could sleep through anything when he felt safe and Doyle gave a mock smile. "Yeah," he breathed. "I'm now a bloody safe bet! A sure thing. Great!"

Disliking himself and this new weakness, he got out of bed and stamped towards the bathroom. Why the hell did he think Bodie would treat sex with him any differently than how his partner treated sex with his numerous birds?!? It was an exercise, a way to relieve stress, a release of responsibility.... he bloody well knew all that, yet still he had allowed himself to believe this would be different. Shutting the bathroom door, he glared at himself in the oblong mirror. "You my son, are an idiot." He muttered in annoyance. Problem was he had spent the last two days watching the attraction between MacLeod and Taylor reach smoldering levels and had envied them. He craved that type of honesty in a relationship. To have any relationship - and he had stupidly thought Bodie could give him what all his female lovers had lacked. In the real world that dream was impossible and he cursed his sick, romantic heart that held on to such a concept. He should know better given the job and past experiences yet.... Bloody Bodie.

Dropping his chin down to his chest Doyle replayed the previous night, his apprehension, his excitement, the fear and pleasure mixed and all through it was Bodie's smug expertise. So his partner was no saint, he'd known that.... but.... "Fuck," he whispered lifting his head to stare at his reflection. So how would this effect the partnership because that was the bottom line. "Just ignore it." He told himself seriously. "Shelve it," as he did other difficult topics when working. This was no different, just harder to bury. Nodding minutely, he sucked in a deep breath and tried to push his own inner doubts and disappointment aside. Friendship was better than sex. Had to be.

Yanking open the shower door, Doyle hardened his resolve and turned the hot tap up full, deciding to have a shower and clean up last nights evidence before making breakfast. If he presented Bodie with no tangible reminders, then he just hoped the other man would take the hint and respect his silence. That way they could both forget last night had ever occurred. Mind made up, he stepped under the hot spray and reached for the soap.

Surfacing from sleep with that odd prickling sensation of presence down his spine, Methos snapped his eyes open and blinked, relaxing slightly when he met the dark amused gaze of the man he'd spent the previous night with. Duncan MacLeod. Oh yes he was definitely either going insane, or he was regressing again into an impulsive teenager. Either prospect was daunting and he tried to cover his mild panic with a stretch and yawn while he turned away from MacLeod's waiting gaze. Too many questions were being asked blatantly in those persuasive Scottish eyes and he didn't feel up to exposing any more of his tattered soul to this good-looking man. There was no future in it. Just think sex. Hot, horny, rough sex.... But even as he tried to convince himself of that attitude, his thoughts were rudely interrupted by a hot mouth that latched onto his neck and lovingly marked him. The bruise-bite sent a delicious shiver of anticipation all the way down to his toes and Methos found himself responding instinctively. His morning erection twitched with interest and he cursed his crumbling resolve as goosebumps spread like wildfire over his body at MacLeod's caressing touch. Fuck, but he was such an easy lay.... and he frowned, intending to stop the Scot's exploring hands, only to gasp in reaction when those talented fingers feathered over his semi erect shaft then skimmed up to his sensitive nipples. "Mac-" he started, licking sudden dry lips, glancing around to see what the time was. If he was to preserve any measure of self-respect he had to distract MacLeod quickly.

"Morning," MacLeod growled, homing in on his new lover's parted lips.

The kiss that followed befuddled his senses and Methos found he was opening his mouth wider, sighing into the thorough oral exploration and admitting that an amorous Highlander was not an unpleasant prospect first thing in the morning. MacLeod was a generous lover and Methos sank back into the bedding, watching the man through silted eyes when his mouth was finally released. Duncan was a vision of power, of elegance, splendor and magnificence. A genuine prince among his people trained to lead, to take charge and to dominate and a part of Methos wanted to feel all that power directed his way. It had been a while since he had given over so much control to another and the thrill of being dominated excited him. He dragged in a hot breath speculating on how violently passionate MacLeod could be if the Scot truly let go, how primal.... and Methos sucked in an another breath as that kissable mouth descended on him a second time. MacLeod's mouth was anything but soft, rather it was hungry, hard, wet and honest in need, and Methos let himself enjoy the experience, tensing only slightly when the other man shifted position. Briefly he was washed in cold air as the bed sheets were stripped from him, then an aroused Highland warrior was covering him, sliding over his heated flesh in one well-practiced move. It made him snicker into the open mouth, laughing breathlessly when MacLeod pulled back to study him in amusement. "Mac-" Methos tried again but was given no time to object, and he allowed the possession, spreading his legs while he felt the Scot's knees push down between his thighs, his traitorous body already preparing for the tantalizing bulk of this man. Yet still the thrill of feeling MacLeod's naked skin against his own, feeling the prominent erection press hotly between his thighs surprised him. Aroused him more when the Highlander latched onto his neck and sucked hard, making him moan. He stretched automatically, extending his neck, loving the attention, arching up into MacLeod's heat, feeling the Scot's engorged shaft slid down further between his legs, then over his balls to tease his anus in maddening pleasure. The carnal promise made him push up harder, his mind and body getting so lost in the wantonness of MacLeod's arousal. He could feel the Highlander's Quickening all around him, cushioning him, holding him safe and he instinctively latched onto the heat above. He adored the feel of MacLeod's coarse pubic hair stimulating his erection and he gasped, biting his bottom lip to stop the sound, letting MacLeod's sensuous mouth moved around to his ear before allowing the Scot to kiss him hungrily. "Fuckin' hell.... Duncan...." Methos breathed, utterly dazed by the intense sensations, opening further to expose other vulnerable areas to MacLeod's clever mouth and hands as he was systematically stripped of all inhibitions by this man. It overwhelmed him, the emotions generated between them so dangerous to provoke this type of response, for it had been years since he had wanted anything this desperately. As he now wanted Duncan MacLeod. Shocked by that stark acknowledgment, he tried to stop his beckoning surrender by pushing MacLeod to one side. But it didn't work. Instead a callused hand cupped his face offering a gentleness which completed his capitulation. Lifting his gaze he forced himself to meet MacLeod's dark eyes and he realized that this was no longer a game.... if ever it had been a game. MacLeod was deadly serious in his desire and that both warmed, reassured and terrified him. Coming to a snap decision, he opened his mouth with the intention of telling the Scot exactly who he was and why they couldn't be lovers. But insistent fingers stopped his words and he blinked in confusion when MacLeod only leaned closer and smiled in silent understanding. It was a beautiful, precious, heart- warming smile and he sighed defeated. Then the Scot was whispering to him in Gaelic, the words jumbled and indistinct, yet the few endearments he caught melted all remaining resistance. The soothing accent filled him with a sense of well-being and Methos moaned softly as those caressing lips left a trail of blazing desire in their wake before MacLeod bit him teasingly on the shoulder. That sharp pain was immediately followed by more pleasure, making him shudder in delight, heightening his urgent responses to this persuasive man's touch and he pushed up to meet his lover's thrusting hips. Only now he wanted the stronger touches, the more forceful demands and he opened his eyes, drinking in the sight of MacLeod's feverish gaze while the other devoured him with ravenous eyes. In that instant he wanted everything that was offered, he wanted to receive all that power, all that sensual heat, all that hot, guiltless desire.... and he reached up to drag MacLeod down so he could take the Scot's mouth in a fierce, wet, searing kiss.


It was a hoarse, eager whisper, washing over him and Methos sucked in a ragged breath, licking his lips in silent invitation. He watched how MacLeod's pupils dilated further in instant excitement and almost came in reaction to the Scot's possessive growl, jumping when very strong hands seized him. That made him laugh in wicked delight and he couldn't have protested even if he'd wanted to when his laughter turned into giggles. It was an infectious emotion heralding his own destruction and Methos tried to stop his slide into insanity. He was lost.... doomed by a beautiful child.... Then he heard MacLeod curse in exasperation before he was being firmly capturing by determined hands and pinned to the tangled sheets. "Duncan-"

"Shut up!" MacLeod ordered, his eyes taking on a feral glint.

But the tone was in direct contrast to the mouth that plundered him so swiftly and Methos gave up trying to think. He willingly lost himself in the taste of the man kissing him and in the feel of MacLeod's fingers traveling down his torso. How he had missed this mix of spontaneity and rough sex coupled with such genuine affection. It had been years.... decades.... centuries.... since he had felt so alive, and he bit back his cry of disapproval when he was abandoned completely by his hot tantalizing lover. "Mac-" Only this time he was smothered by MacLeod's bulk and silky long hair trailing over his abdomen before MacLeod finished the manipulative seduction and simply lifted his legs. Even expecting it, Methos still cried out, gasping in shock, as MacLeod's demanding erection penetrated the last fragile barrier between them and destroyed his control. It unmade him. The burn of pleasure so intense that he felt absolutely no pain. Wanting the passion, getting pressed into the sheets and devoured anew by so talented a lover. His highlander.... Then his world narrowed to heat, incredible heat and moans punctuated with softly hissed Gaelic phrases of approval and need. He felt MacLeod increase the pace, pounding into him, filling him with the power he had craved. Such delicious pleasure couldn't last and Methos tried to prolong the instant before MacLeod swept his hands aside to lean down and fleetingly capture his mouth again in wordless apology. Then he was coming hard, stilling as he felt MacLeod slam into him, shaking the entire bed before the Highlander grunted his release. He watched fascinated when MacLeod threw his head back and hot beads of sweat dripped from his gleaming body. It was a powerful sight and Methos sagged back on the bed, reeling in utter awe and spent desire, not surprised when MacLeod moved off him before falling forward. The big Scot landed on his chest, clutching him tightly before the younger Immortal lifted his head and sent him such a sweet, loving smile. The sincerity behind the smile stunned him for it mirrored Duncan's honest gaze and honorable intentions - and Methos held his breath having forgotten how beautiful life and love could be, and he let his own grin answer the serious question lingering in MacLeod's remarkable eyes. To be desired - loved - and be able to love in return with no manipulation, no rules, no deception. It couldn't be that easy with this man.... "Duncan...." Methos whispered the name like a benediction, admitting to everything in that instant. Duncan was such an important, priceless addition to the Immortal Game.... a prize in his own right - and illogically Methos wanted to warn the other man away from him, to protect him, but was stopped by warm fingers caressing his lips.

"What have you done to me?" MacLeod asked softly, lowering his gaze to watch the trail his fingers made along the flushed skin beneath him.

"Duncan," Methos sought for something clever to say, so befuddled by what he was feeling. But he didn't have to say anything for MacLeod simply moved closer to half cover him before sighing in contentment and closing his eyes in relaxation. Methos grunted in response to the weight along his side, becoming saturated with MacLeod's damp hot essence a second time. He was completely blanketed by the Highlander in every sense, absorbing the other man's strong presence as it tingled through his senses, crushing his final ounce of stubborn fear. Closing his eyes tightly, Methos drank in the moment of peace knowing it couldn't last, wishing they never had to move, but preparing himself for the inevitable. Loving a man like Duncan MacLeod was dangerous, suicidal, especially when they were both Immortal. Feeling MacLeod's small exhale of satisfaction brush over his skin Methos hesitantly raised a hand and rested his fingertips on a broad shoulder, memorizing all he could of this precious silence, glancing over at the bedside table to see the time. He reached over and picked up MacLeod's watch, scowling when he saw it was just gone 8am. "Mac...."

Pushing up on an elbow, MacLeod let his grin spread, let his eyes feather over the man beneath him. Adam looked so damn cute when ruffled - and thoroughly fucked - MacLeod decided and let his grin widen. He was extremely happy, content with life even though McKellen was giving them a hard time. Nothing could dampen his private world and he reached down to run fingers through Adam's hair. It was surprisingly soft, touchable, inviting and MacLeod laughed when Adam' sent him a slightly exasperated look. It covered the trace of fear in the hazel eyes and MacLeod let his smile fade, knowing and understanding all the arguments about why he shouldn't fall in love with this man. But he didn't care, and he would just have to prove to Adam that the benefits outweighed the risks.

"You're deranged MacLeod."

"No more than the rest of us." MacLeod returned, unable to suppress his delight at Adam's feigned displeasure. Last night and now this morning had answered all his unspoken questions about this Immortal. It was bizarre but he found that he trusted Adam in the most profound way, like they had gone from strangers to intimate soul mates in the space of a few days. There were still questions, but in the important things he had no doubts, no fears and he celebrated his new feelings by shifting nearer to his bed partner.

Not trusting the sloppy look on MacLeod's face, Methos wanted to scream his joy and acceptance, but that small spark of common sense and hard-learned survival in the back of his mind re-emerged with a vengeance and he glared harder at MacLeod instead. "Do you have any idea what the time is?"

"Noh." MacLeod muttered, blinking when he was expertly shoved away. "But-" he was interrupted by the sound of the phone ringing. He moved to stare at it, debating whether or not to answer it while he watched Adam roll away from him. The morning had been fantastic.... and he shivered, reaching out automatically to touch the other man without thought. He wanted to talk about the last few days, learn what Adam's true name was, but was prevented from trying when Adam glared at him in irritation. Just moments ago he had listened to this man moan in pleasure, had tasted Adam's inner desires and now....

"You going to answer that, or just let it ring annoyingly?"

"It's probably just CI5." MacLeod dismissed noting how Adam was climbing out of bed then stretching before the slender form disappeared into the adjoining bathroom. "Damn," he muttered again, snatching the phone up and scowling at the bathroom door when it slammed closed. "MacLeod!"

"Duncan we need to talk."

Immediately recognizing his kinsman's voice, MacLeod sat up. "Problems?" He asked, knowing that CI5 probably had this line tapped. It was definitely time he went back to Paris and left McKellen to his cousin. Maybe he could convince Adam to accompany him....

"Are you listening to me?!"

"What?" MacLeod grumbled, bring his mind back to the phone conversation.

"I said, I think we should do breakfast. Tell your watchdogs I'm coming up."

Not bothering to reply as the connection died, MacLeod dutifully rang down to the reception desk and informed them he was expecting a visitor. He knew that would notify the appropriate CI5 agents, then lifting his gaze again he stared at the closed bathroom door deciding he was up to the challenge if Adam wanted to be difficult. For in the quiet, intimate moments when he had locked gazes deliberately with the other man, Adam's eyes hadn't lied, and he hoped Adam was just overwhelmed by the intense emotions. Considering that, MacLeod shook his head, not able to hold the image in his mind of Adam being a mild- tempered college student. There was just something so unpredictable and dangerous about the man.... yet.... Disconcerted, MacLeod got out of bed and walked over to the bathroom, opening the door. Inside the shower had been switched off and MacLeod raised a brow, letting his gaze purposely travel down the graceful wet body before it was covered by a large towel. "We're about to have a visitor."

"Who?" Methos asked, not missing the frank appraisal. Nor did he miss the way MacLeod moved closer like a sensual hunter and he bit his lower lip to stop his smile. If only....

"Connor." MacLeod breathed, close enough now to inhale the fresh hot scent of this naked man. He liked Adam wet and wondered what it would be like to pin the other man in the shower and....

"How do you think he will take this?" Methos asked very conscious of the hand that settled on his bare shoulder. He watched MacLeod's face, captivated by this man's attractiveness.

"None of his business." MacLeod whispered, sliding his hand behind Adam's neck and dragging the other man into a kiss. Adam tasted good and he moved his mouth away from the hot lips to nibble the damp jaw before biting the pale skin of Adam's throat. He marked him deliberately, hearing Adam hiss out a breath before drawing back to admire his handy work. "What about you?"

"Me?" Methos asked, pushing MacLeod back and fingering his tingling neck. The bruise/bite would heal within minutes but he still sent MacLeod a reproving glare. "What the fuck were you in a previous life, MacLeod?" He grumbled half-heartedly. "I know the Scottish moors were wild.... but bloody hell, Mac, wild animals and vampires have nothing on you. Or are you just lacking iron in your diet?!"

"I think I just added you to my diet," MacLeod muttered in provocation liking the mischievous glint that entered Adam's changeable eyes with that comment. Oh yes, he absolutely wanted to sample more of Adam Taylor. About to say more MacLeod was stopped in his musings, hearing a knock at the room's main door. Biding his time, he reached out and gently caressed Adam's lips with a thumb then went back into the bedroom and dragged on a robe. Later he would coax a willing admission of need from Adam, but right now he had to find out what his cousin wanted. Picking up his katana even as he was washed in the first waves of a new Immortal presence, MacLeod reminded himself that he couldn't be too careful. Adam's presence was like a comforting drone in the back of his mind, a sensation he could easily get used to, and let his lips curve up even as he heard the knocking repeated. Had to be Connor for his irascible cousin was always so damn impatient.

Alone in the bathroom Methos stared after the closed door. Stunned speechless by MacLeod's confident attitude, Methos knew that it would be far too easy to fall into a relationship with the dynamic Scot. As tempting as it might be.... he had other plans. Important plans. Schedules.... that where currently in disarray because he was allowing himself to get drawn into MacLeod's chaotic life. He was never going to infiltrate the Watchers unless he did the background work, and associating with the likes of the MacLeod cousins was only going to get him noticed. Fuck!

Roughly toweling himself dry he pondered the alternatives. Best thing to do was distance himself - but first he wanted to completely sample the Highland child in every facet. Then he could fade into the background and meet up with Duncan at a later date. "Priorities, priorities, priorities." He reminded himself. Besides, he had to make sure the Watchers had absolutely no record of who Methos was.... and he straightened to glance in the mirror. The lovebite on his neck was fading and he gently fingered it again, his mind playing over alternatives. And then he mentally slapped himself realizing that he was trying to find ways to keep MacLeod in his life while still accomplishing his plans. That would be so unfair on the younger Immortal and he closed his eyes to curse Fate's perverse sense of humor. Why couldn't this have happened to him five years ago? Ten - fifty or even a hundred years ago? Why now!?!

Making sure he was decently covered by one of the hotel's complimentary bathrobes, MacLeod opened the door slightly and peered out. He was immediately bathed in Connor's humorless grin, noting the two CI5 agents who were patrolling the corridor. Hastily putting his sword behind his back he opened the door wider, slightly curious that neither Bodie nor Doyle had shown up yet. Maybe last night's dinner had convinced Bodie to walk away.... and he smiled waiting for Connor to enter before re-locking the door.

"I thought I told you to lose the mortals." Connor snapped, swiftly glancing around the room before settling his irritable gaze back on his younger clansman.

Not bothering to answer that, MacLeod noted Connor's scowl and knew his cousin was sensing Adam's presence. "Adam," he said by way of explanation even as the man in question ambled into the room. He noted that Adam looked relaxed, utterly uninterested in the fact there was a new Immortal in the room and MacLeod narrowed his eyes wondering if that was another clever front. Probably. He was amazed at how easily he was starting to see behind the calm, careful façade to the real man underneath.

"Marquetos?!" Connor growled, taking a step towards the other man, before turning back to glare at Duncan. "You didn't tell me Taylor's other name was Marquetos?"

Marquetos? MacLeod blinked, that name started with M and he pondered the idea that this was his intriguing lover's real identity. Switching his gaze to Adam he saw the other man roll his eyes up in feigned amusement. Noh.... it was close but his sixth sense warned it was another deception. But was he getting closer to the heart of the truth? "You didn't ask." MacLeod shot back, gesturing for Connor to proceed him. When his cousin stubbornly refused to move, MacLeod sighed and stepped around him. "We had this discussion yesterday," he muttered in Gaelic to Connor, walking over to Adam and biting back on his leer. Adam was dressed in those wickedly tight jeans and sporting one of his own favorite turtle neck sweaters. It surprised and warmed him to think Adam would dress in his clothing. Stopping to check that Adam was okay with Connor's arrival, MacLeod indicated the sweater with a lifted brow, asking all sorts of things privately and was rewarded with a muttered reassurance while Adam fingered the turtle neck in question. MacLeod then looked back at Connor. "So you two know each other?" He ventured, hoping one of them would give him some answer.

"We've met. Briefly." Methos muttered again, not wanting to go into detail. Damn! If Duncan didn't have a Watcher then Connor would. His luck - if he had any left - would not hold at this rate.

"1588." Connor admitted staring at Marquetos, remembering the man he had meet back then. A blacksmith....

Flashback Scotland, 1588.

Lifting his head painfully, Connor wished the liquor was stronger, or that his tolerance level was lower.... he didn't care just so long as the god-awful ache in his head vanished. Heather....

His beautiful Heather had died less than four moons ago and he was still consumed with grief. Nothing seemed real. This immortality Ramirez had told him about was a curse and he wanted to die. Willed it. The only thing keeping him sane was the burning desire that was growing in his mind of seeking revenge. If Ramirez hadn't died.... if Kurgan hadn't killed him.... if Heather had been able to share his gift....

"Are you totally deranged?"

The voice was not in his head, it didn't even sound like his own voice. For one it had a strange accent. Welsh - and he automatically spat in distaste. Then he felt strong fingers in his hair and he winced, feeling his head lifted. Belligerently he glared at the person who dared interrupt his musings coming eye to eye with bright golden-green orbs. Not a gaze he remotely recognized.

"Typical inebriated, dense-witted Scottish jackass...."

Hearing the uncomplimentary tone trail off, Connor tried to reply, to direct a flowing insult back at his new tormentor and he turned. Only he found himself falling, hitting the dirt floor with a numbing force. It shocked him and he shook his head, groaning in pain when he finally identified what the persistent awful pain behind his eyes was. Another Immortal. It had been so long.... so long since he had felt that threatening buzz that his senses were rusty, his mind too tainted with images of revenge, of wanting Kurgan.... Squinting up into the dimness of the rowdy tavern, he saw the man who had disturbed his drinking and scowled at him. Immortal. But the other was busy pushing a second man backwards. Slowly Connor's brain registered the fact that the second intruder was also Immortal and he barely had time to sit up before both combatants drew swords. Only his rescuer was better than the other in sword skill and in a short confusing time the second challenger was dead. Impaled on his own blade. Then the man with the vivid gold-green eyes and Welsh lilt was dragging the dead body away and Connor opened his mouth to protest before curious bystanders kicked him in the guts. He passed out, not caring if he lived or died....

Coming to a second time, he was not surprised to find the unwelcome buzz of an Immortal assaulting him again. Opening his eyes he glared at the man sitting across from him, not surprised to see it was the same golden-eyed man who had woken him in the tavern. Only they were no longer in the tavern. Now they were in a barn. A filthy barn and he let his eyes adjust to the dim lighting, just making out a huge firepit behind his new associate. The bright glare hurt and he blinked before eyeing the man across from him with open suspicion. The man was tall, slender, with long dark hair tied back with a leather thong. He was wearing a leather apron that was blackened and burnt with fire scolds while he hammered some item on his workbench. Connor watched the rhythmic action, his eyes drawn to the Immortal's sweat dampened muscles, his grim determination and patient persistence. The ringing sound of metal on metal was annoying, increasing the ache behind his eyes and he forced himself to assess the other Immortal's obvious strengths and weaknesses. Was he about to become another defeated opponent? "I'd like to say it is a pleasure to see you again, but-"

His erstwhile savior just gave a sharp, gruff laugh.

"What happened to the body you dragged out of the tavern?" Connor persisted, forcing himself to sit up. His head still felt fuzzy but the effects of his continuous drinking were slowly wearing off. Pointedly he glanced over at the huge furnace and raised a brow. His companion only laughed again before picking up the item he was working on. It was a sword.

Refusing to be intimidated, Connor casually looked around for his treasured blade. The one left to him by Ramirez. But he was weaponless and he settled his hooded gaze back on his silent associate. Friend or enemy? "Do you intend to challenge me?"

The other scoffed again, putting his partially finished sword down. "If I wanted your head you would be dead."

It was a passionless voice. Definitely of Welsh origin, or at least this man had spent time with its people. "So what...." Connor stopped as the other reached over and lifted a beautiful katana. Connor recognized it instantly and his gut contracted.

"Beautiful weapon. If I were you, I'd take better care of it." With that the Immortal threw the sword at the startled Scot.

Catching the blade, Connor re-evaluated this Immortal, letting his eyes look over him again, not missing the deceptive power of this man. This Immortal was dangerous, of that he was positive. "So-"

"You want to drink yourself into oblivion, do it in private. Not in a public tavern. Not for a solid month and not in the plain sight of every opportunist, power seeking Immortal in the vicinity!"

Taken back by the hissed words, Connor closed his eyes briefly then nodded before gracing the other man with a tiny smile. "That Immortal was after my head." He stated, looking at the man with a sense of respect. How long had it been since he associated honor with Immortals? "Why did you intervene?"

The other shrugged. "Boredom."

Not fooled, Connor let his smile grow. "I am Connor MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod, and I am in your debt." Keeping his eyes on the other man, he started to speculate how old this man could be. Like Ramirez? Ramirez had never hidden his knowledge and he wondered if this man would be adverse to teaching him where Ramirez had left off. Suddenly he found it was refreshing to be with another again who shared his secret. "Do you have a name?"

"Marquetos." The other stated.

"Can I-"

"You are welcome to stay here for a few days, but I suggest you move on. Edinburgh is not the place you once remembered."


Blinking, Connor brought his mind back into focus and saw Marquetos send him a reminiscent smile. He had only stayed a few short days with this man. Had never learned much about his host, but had found his own inner balance. "1588," he repeated. "Edinburgh."

Casting an exasperated look between his lover and his cousin, Duncan MacLeod frowned. Obviously Adam was not going to enlighten him and it looked like Connor was going to be closed mouthed as well. "Nothing bad I hope?" He asked on a worried breath.

"No." Connor sighed then dismissed the past. He was no longer that searching, inexperienced man and he let his eyes flick away from Marquetos to Duncan noting his kinsman's protective body language. Duncan was.... then he remembered Amanda's vague warning about how Duncan was going through his 'nesting' phase again, as she termed it. Could his cousin now be fixating on Marquetos? He hoped not for he knew Marquetos was a loner. Had learned that much the hard way.

"Good," MacLeod said with more conviction than necessary. Later, in bed he'd get the whole story out of Adam, but for now it could wait. Currently he just wanted to make sure no one was going to pull a sword, though it didn't look like Adam was carrying. "What did you want to tell me Connor? Your call sounded urgent."

"McKellen." Connor exhaled, remembering why he was here. "I lost him in the docks."

"Great," Methos muttered, seeing Nef appear from an adjacent room. Mentally he calculated the last time he had fed her and glanced over at the kitchen. This place was expensive and he was sure he could find something suitable for her.

Seeing Adam or Marquetos heading to the kitchen, Connor concentrated his glare on Duncan. Oh yes, now that he looked for the telltale signs of Duncan's desperate need to connect with a normal life again, he could see the seriousness behind his clansman's large eyes. Amanda was right - not often was she right - but when it came to Duncan and his endearing personality faults she was rarely wrong. He would have to have a private word with Marquetos. "I think it would be best if you returned to Paris."

"What?" MacLeod asked, not expecting this. Though he had considered this idea only an hour or so ago.

"McKellen will implicate you, and I don't want the hassle of having to work around complications. Go back to Paris Duncan. Let me deal with this."

"And Adam?" MacLeod asked softly, checking to see where his lover had gone. Adam was peering into the fridge, frowning over items as that little minx of a cat Adam called a pet was rubbing against his jeans-clad legs. Lucky cat....

"Get him out of London, I don't care," Connor stated, reaching out to grip Duncan's forearm. "Be careful." He whispered. "He is Immortal, and we know little about him."

"But you know him," MacLeod returned just as softly, keeping his voice down.

"We've met." Connor agreed, nodding once. "He saved my life, then he vanished." He carried on. "He can take care of himself. I want you out of London."

Absorbing those words, MacLeod tried to imagine the past, coloring it with what he could perceive and speculate on. Connor had stated it was 1588 - less than 400 years ago.... Adam had saved his life.... "What happened?" He found himself asking almost on reflex.

Wincing slightly when he heard the undisguised longing in Duncan's tone, Connor groaned inwardly. "You are playing a dangerous game-"

"Tell me!" MacLeod pushed, refusing to listen.

"I met him six months after Heather's death." Connor said with a sigh. "Duncan-"

"I won't leave him here."

Swearing in Gaelic, Connor glared at his infuriating kinsman. "Then take him to Paris." He growled, releasing Duncan when the man in question walked out of the small kitchen area and eyed them both suspiciously.

"Problems?" Methos asked, feeling the tension in the room. Against his better judgement he was instantly revising all his plans again, getting worried about Duncan MacLeod's safety. There was no fool, like an old fool.

"Yes," Connor hissed.

"Noh!" MacLeod overrode, sending Adam a strained smile.

Lifting a brow, Methos wasn't sure whom to believe, and he tensed when a loud knocking at the door interrupted them all.

Sweeping his eyes from Adam back to Connor, MacLeod prayed his clansman dropped the subject, reluctantly moving away see who was at the door. He got no buzz of warning presence so yanked the door open in a mix of anger and frustration. He was sick of these continual interruptions. "Yes?!" He growled then stopped seeing Bodie and Doyle. "Fuck," he intoned softly, letting a small smile form as he realized he was already picking up some of Adam's habits.

"May we come in?" Bodie asked pointedly, glaring past MacLeod's half-dressed body. They had been informed that John Nash had shown up and he wanted some answers.

"Why not." MacLeod grumbled, letting the two CI5 agents in. They were turning into personal little demons.

Running his gaze expertly around the room, Doyle let his eyes stop on Taylor to find the man was staring back at him. There was a twinkle in the hazel depths and he found his mouth traitorously curved up in silent response to Taylor's silent questions. Shaking his head Doyle forced his eyes away from Taylor, positive the man had read his thoughts far too easily, only this time he met Bodie's disproving and slightly confused glare. His partner was still not happy, but he could not let himself be swayed by Bodie's petitioning blue eyes. Then to make matters worse Taylor started to laugh.

Frowning MacLeod glanced over at his perverse lover and wondered what the hell Adam found so damn funny. "Adam?" He asked, noting how Bodie's look only darkened.

"Don't say I haven't warned you about him." Connor muttered in Gaelic to Duncan before moving away from the two CI5 agents. Life was getting just a little too complicated for his liking.

"What?" MacLeod mouthed, stunned, trying to ignore Adam as the other collapsed down in an appealing sprawl on the padded lounge. Turning back to the two agents he saw Doyle's sly smile and groaned inwardly. What was going on now?!? He'd had enough of CI5's bloody interference.... "This had better be important." He stated, placing hands on hips and now wanting to get rid of everyone so he could interrogate his exasperating lover.

"Duncan," Connor interjected in Gaelic, disliking games of any sort. "I thought I told you to lose Bonny and Clyde."

Hearing this, Methos snorted, laughing even harder, feeling his ribs ache as he caught MacLeod's perplexed look. This had to be a bi-product of stress....

"There have been a few," MacLeod hesitated, refusing to look at Adam, "..complications."

"Understatement of the millennia!" Methos added in English. Then he too switched to Gaelic. "I'll give them one thing, they are very persistent."

"That is enough!" Bodie cut in furious. So far his morning had been disastrous and this triple act was now royally pissing him off. "I am sick of repeating myself here! This can be classified as obstruction and we are well within our rights to haul your Scottish arses down to headquarters unless I start seeing some cooperation! You can start by speaking the Queen's English."

"I think you've upset him," Methos muttered in Gaelic.

"Shut up!" Was spoken in unison by Bodie and Duncan MacLeod.

Blinking in false injury, Methos sighed and wiggled further into the soft cushions, gesturing for them to continue.

"What do you want Mr. Bodie?" MacLeod asked with exaggerated politeness.

Banking down on his anger, Bodie rolled his shoulders back, sure that Cowley had no idea how troublesome MacLeod was. "MR. Cowley wants to see you."


"That was not a request." Bodie cut MacLeod off again.

Regarding Bodie for a long second, MacLeod glanced at Doyle and saw the impassive expression. He had probably pushed both men as far as it was advisable for one day already and he nodded slowly. "What about...." he left the rest unsaid, gesturing to Connor and Adam behind him.

"I have the honor of staying here." Doyle said into the silence. Truth was they had flipped a coin for the job of taking MacLeod to see Cowley at Headquarters and Bodie had lost.

"Lucky me gets to escort you to Mr. Cowley." Bodie finished with a strained humorless smile.

"Lucky." MacLeod repeated. "I'll just get dressed." He hesitated, seeing that Adam was ignoring him. Later, he promised silently. Walking to his bedroom, he stopped when Connor called to him softly. They were just out of hearing range of the two agents but still Connor spoke in Gaelic.

"What do they know?"

"Nothing," MacLeod replied in the same language. "They think McKellen is a serial killer. Nothing more. They have few clues from what I can gather. They are hoping I will lead them to him."

Digesting that, Connor nodded. It was what he had expected. "Get rid of them."

"What do you want me to do? Kill them?" MacLeod grouched as his eyes swept over the room behind Connor and automatically settled on Adam's bowed head. He could see that Doyle had walked over to Adam and was now speaking to him quietly. Slowly MacLeod unclenched a fist.

"Find out what this Cowley wants." Connor summarized. "I'll ring you later."

Releasing a tense breath, MacLeod nodded. With one last look back at Adam, he went into his bedroom seeing the immaculately tidy room and remembering he had spent the night in Adam's room. It brought a small smile to his face and he went to have a shower.

Waiting until Duncan had gone, Connor turned back to the other occupants of the room. Both CI5 agents were by the main windows now, the curly-headed agent talking into his radio and he cautiously glanced over at Marquetos. Not wanting to get caught in a Police issue, Connor went over to Marquetos - Adam - and leaned close over the back of the lounge, making sure their conversation was private. "Marquetos," he started, seeing the other turn slightly to study him. No, he was not mistaken about this man, and he worried again for Duncan's sake. "I know you are older than both of us and I'm not prying - but this is not a game for Duncan. When he gets involved, he does it totally."

Taken back a little by Connor's forwardness, Methos narrowed his gaze, not remembering this man being so interested in other's personal safety. But then again, Connor and Duncan were kinsmen. Plus Connor had been the younger Scot's teacher.

"He commits with an intensity I have never seen equaled in another of our kind." Connor advised.

"Listen MacLeod-"

"Hurt him intentionally and our next meeting will be different. Kill him and I'll come for you personally. Regardless of the blood debt between us."

Subduing his sense of unease, Methos said nothing when Connor moved away from him, the dour Scot never glancing back as he went to the door and exited the room with no further comment. Fuck.... Methos let go of his sigh, deciding that he needed to definitely reconsider his association with Duncan MacLeod. Last thing he wanted was to be on Connor MacLeod's hit list. That would just draw too much attention.

"Where the hell-" Bodie broke off, raising his R/T and alerted the agents outside the hotel. Cowley would not be pleased if they lost Nash again. Wanting to throw his hands up in the air, Bodie glared at the immaculately dressed Duncan MacLeod when the Scot exited the bedroom. His orders where to take MacLeod to Cowley while Doyle babysat Taylor. While the pair were separated they would see if they could get information - learn anything that could close this frustrating case. Failing that he intended to inform Cowley that they should deport MacLeod back to Paris and let Interpol deal with the problem. As for Taylor - apart from a very sketchy history from the University there was nothing they could detain the man on. Glancing at Doyle, Bodie hesitated, knowing they now had new issues that were clouding the partnership. Later, after he had returned with MacLeod he would get Doyle alone and make his position understood.

"How long will this take?" MacLeod asked, watching both agents. He knew that there would be agents downstairs to watch the hotel and he had to trust Adam's own skill when it came to the Immortal Game. It was just so hard to walk away.

"An hour. Maybe two." Bodie said in a clipped tone. He nodded at Doyle, receiving a nod in return and preceded MacLeod to the door. Opening it he shepherded the man out, wishing that the sinking feeling in his gut would ease. In two hours he would be back.

Glancing back once, MacLeod was gratified to see that Adam was staring at him in mild worry and he buried his smile. When he got back they would finish their early morning talk.

More pleased than he wanted to admit when MacLeod's presence faded from his mind, Methos sagged back into the cushions and eyed the man prowling around the room. Doyle. Raymond Doyle was almost as peeved and frustrated as he felt and he closed his eyes to try and regain a measure of calm. But nothing had gone right. At least not from the moment Duncan MacLeod had exploded into his life. Oh yes he was living again, not just existing. He'd experienced death, life and mind-blowing fantastic sex.... but did he want the after-effects? That was the question. Connor's words still echoed in his mind, and he had to acknowledge the Scot's perceptive assessment of the situation. So Duncan was serious.... Jesus.... All that he craved was offered on a platter, but was he brave enough, or was that stupid enough, to accept the gift? Or did he walk away and mourn the lost opportunity? Something like this only happened once in a millennia.

"So who is John Nash when he's not being John Nash?" Doyle broke into the poignant silence, ambling around to stare at Taylor's sprawled form. The man was attractive, he had to admit, but still Taylor did nothing sexually for him. Bodie on the other hand.... and Doyle paced away restless again, angry with himself and his damn conscience.

"I don't know." Methos muttered then frowned, watching Doyle. "You look - tense." Methos added after a pause, transferring all his doubts onto Doyle as he saw the other man grunt in reply. "I take it things didn't go well last night."

"That is none of your bloody business!" Doyle snapped, irritated.

"No." Methos conceded. "Just as Nash is none of your business."

Lifting his gaze, Doyle's eyes hardened. "Listen-"

"No you listen," Methos broke in seriously, levering himself up to stand before pacing over toward the confused CI5 agent. "This is no game. There are no winners here. And victims don't wake up in hospital." He took a deep breath. "If you want to survive and you want to keep that bad-tempered partner of yours alive and warm, then I suggest you back off."

"I can't," Doyle whispered back. "This is my job."

"Then you are a fool." Methos stated.

Wanting to protest and explain his position, Doyle was stopped from answering by a knock at the door. Automatically reaching for his gun, Doyle cautiously went over the door and peered out the spyglass. "Room service?" He mouthed back at Taylor.

Shrugging Methos shoved his hands in his back pockets. No doubt Mac had ordered them breakfast.

"Yes?" Doyle called, unclipping the safety on his gun. It was strange that no one had called up to notify him via the R/T, unless Curtis was getting bloody slack.

"Room service, Mr. MacLeod."

Glancing again at Taylor, Doyle looked around the room, seeing no evidence of a recent breakfast and sighed. Opening the door he looked at the hotel employee, mentally cataloging him as early thirties, average build, dressed appropriately. Swiftly Doyle glanced down the corridor and saw no sign of anyone else and muttered an obscenity under his breath. Wait until he got hold of Curtis.... the man was as useless as tits on a bull and Cowley would cream his arse for this breach in protocol. Opening the door wider he clipped his safety back on and lifted the cover, seeing and smelling fresh hot bacon, eggs and toast. His own stomach responded reminding him of his sparse breakfast and he indicated for the tray to be placed on the table. Then he glanced at Taylor and saw the other send him an amused grin. "Next time warn me." He ordered.

"How was I to know Duncan ordered breakfast," Methos asked innocently.

"What?" Doyle started, then stopped, reaching for his gun again, but finding he was too late as the unassuming young man pulled out a gun and shot him twice at close range. Two darts hit him in the chest, instantly disabling him and Doyle went down seeing that Taylor was similarly affected. Reaching for his R/T Doyle depressed the button feeling the blackness of unconsciousness crowd his mind.

MacLeod let his mind drift idly, giving up on his attempts to get the silent man in the driver's seat to talk. Bodie had been in a black mood when he and his partner had arrived, but MacLeod was not going to let the other man's problems destroy the warm happy and contented feeling that had been buzzing through his system ever since he woke up this morning. He had been immensely relieved to find a very real and thoroughly mussed Adam sprawled in the bed next to him, because deep down he had harbored a fear that the other man was just going to leave at the first opportunity and vanish from his life. A wide sloppy smile plastered itself onto MacLeod's lips as memories of the previous night's sex with his cantankerous lover floated lazily through his brain. He replayed the sound of Adam's voice while the other had writhed beneath him in the throes of passion, the usually light baritone deepened with lust.

Relaxing back in the Capri's passenger seat, MacLeod closed his eyes. The better to replay the images that were flipping through his mind's eye. He could see Adam sprawled on the bed but as he let his mind relax further, the hotel room seemed to fade into darkness to be replaced by a tent....

....His lover was now nestled in a bed of large cushions and Adam was dressed in a long flowing robe that was partially open revealing a long expanse of chest and slim hips. He could almost smell the cool desert air and glancing out the open tent flap he realized it was dark, for the last remnants of the sunset shimmered on the far horizon. Then his attention was drawn back to the man before him and he gasped. Gone was Adam Taylor - university student - in his place was a creature that MacLeod had never seen before. Golden skin now gleamed where it once had been pale, long silky black hair fanned out across the cushions and he ached to run his fingers through it. Somehow the name Adam Taylor did not fit with the exotic being that lay sprawled before him, and he wondered again what this man's real name might be. Someday he would find out. That much he promised himself.

"Come here."

His dream lover commanded, reaching out a slim graceful hand to capture his own hand and pull him down on the bed of luxurious cushions....

Bodie glanced again at his passenger, MacLeod, and his mood blackened even further. From the sloppy look on the other man's face he had obviously gotten lucky last night. Very lucky.... But what made him angry now was that although he himself had gotten what he wanted last night from Doyle, this morning had been a different story. Entirely. Working the morning's events over in his mind he tried to decipher what could possibly have gone wrong between the moment he had fallen asleep and the time when he'd woken.

Flashback to Doyle's apartment - that morning.

Waking to his usual lethargy fogged-brain-after-sex feeling, Bodie blindly reached for the warm body that should have been there beside him. However, all he encountered was a cold bed and rumpled sheets. "Shit. Doyle?" He mumbled rubbing sleep from his eyes and forcing them to focus. "Ray?" He called, louder this time. Still no reply. Hauling himself to a sitting position he searched the floor for his pants and pulled them on, heedless of the evidence of last night's pleasure, it was laundry day anyway.

Wandering into the kitchen he spotted his partner siting at the table, coffee mug in hand and head down over the morning paper. "What's with this?" Bodie demanded with a sweeping gesture taking in the whole kitchen.

"What's with what, Bodie?" Ray Doyle replied without looking up from the fascinating contents of the paper, his nose twitching at the smell of sex that still clung to his partner.

"Don't give me that bullshit Ray, I mean you - sitting out here when you should still be in bed."

Doyle snorted, glancing up briefly. "I thought you liked your lays to be gone when you got up."



Bodie silently snarled, cursing himself. Things had gone rapidly down hill from there until the argument had been interrupted by his R/T going off and they had been ordered to pick MacLeod up and bring him to Cowley's office. For a de-briefing.

For once Bodie had been glad of the intrusion, at least it had stopped the argument escalating to the point of doing irreparable damage to their partnership. At least he hoped that was the case. The ride to the hotel had been one of the most unbearable times in Bodie's life and he would much rather have been travelling with a bunch of hostile Irish Bombers than his silent and brooding partner. Lover? That was the question. Doyle had muttered something incomprehensible about not being a convenient lay when his usual bird wasn't available....

Reaching the hotel and finding the obvious signs that MacLeod and that pissy college student, Taylor, had screwed their brains out all night and were still talking - had made his mood worse. Bodie just hated smug, self-satisfied bastards. Glaring out his windscreen, he glanced over at his passenger and noted that MacLeod had that distant expression on his face again and Bodie had to suppress the overpowering urge to smack the sloppy grin off the too handsome face. Instead he decided on a less direct approach.

Sitting in his seat, unaware of Bodie's worsening mood, MacLeod let himself totally sink into his small fantasy. He could almost feel the phantom hands of his desert prince on his skin as the other reached up to pull him down into a searing kiss....

....Settling his body over his lover's, he allowed himself to revel again in the feel of heated flesh on heated flesh and the pleasure of the breathy moans that he was coaxing from the willing body beneath him as Adam's hands caressed the sensitive skin of his neck....

Suddenly he was thrown sideways against the seatbelt and MacLeod's eyes flew open, his blissful mood shattered as he instinctively gripped at the dash in front of him. "Shit!"

"Sorry 'bout that." Bodie apologized.

MacLeod felt that there was a distinct lack of sincerity in the apology from the CI5 agent and turned to glare at the man driving. "What the hell happened?" He snapped, very unhappy at having his little daydream disturbed.

"Took the corner a little too fast." Bodie replied blandly, ignoring the anger coming from the other man with ease and trying to keep a self-satisfied grin off his face.

MacLeod resisted the urge to snarl and settled back down into his seat closing his eyes and using one of his meditation techniques to calm his mind. He was going to get back to his little fantasy, and he refused to let Bodie have the satisfaction of beating him. Now where was he? Oh aye.... warm hands....

....He slid a hand down his lover's side, the warm skin silky to his touch. He smiled, absorbing his lover's breath, feeling the other shudder when his hand finally found its way to the hot rigid shaft that was trapped between their bodies. His fingers brushing away the light robe that had hidden his prize....

Bodie scowled at his passenger, more than a little disappointed at being unable to provoke the Scot. He was in the mood at the moment for a fight, mostly because he wanted to avoid thinking about Doyle. Or the fact Doyle was alone with Taylor. Convulsively his hands tightened around the steering wheel. He'd kill that little prick if he touched Ray.... Problem was he had no idea what had gotten up his partner's nose, and unfortunately knew that Ray wasn't going to make things easier for him by explaining any of it. He'd asked Ray if it was something he'd done and the reply had been - 'If you have to ask, then I don't think I want to discuss it.' That had been as enlightening as reading one of Cowley's cryptic notes. Glancing over at MacLeod, Bodie silently swore to himself. Christ, the Scot was off in fantasyland - yet again. Anyone would think the guy was still a teenager the way he was grinning.

Lost in his daydream, MacLeod settled further into the comfortable passenger's seat....

....Under him his lover arched up, a moan forced from his throat while he licked his way down the sweat slick torso. He growled at the sensations those long talented fingers were evoking as they borrowed into his hair and massaged his scalp, gently encouraging him on his southward exploration. The warmth, wetness.... hotness....

Getting thrown forward just when he was about to claim his prize, MacLeod found himself jolted by the seatbelt when Bodie braked vigorously a second time. This time he allowed the snarl that sprang to his lips to show when he turned to face Bodie and he caught the answering gleam in the CI5 man's blue eyes. So Bodie was spoiling for a fight. Sorely tempted MacLeod bit back on his response, damned if he was going to give the other man the satisfaction of provoking him. Putting all of his four- hundred-years experience into play, he simply glared back, letting his eyes say 'back off' louder than any spoken word. Watching Bodie flinch slightly, he then allowed a feral smile to spread over his lips.

Christ, what the fuck was that!?! Bodie had been intimidated by the best, but never before had he met someone who could actually inspire a reaction from him. There was suddenly a weight behind this Scot that Bodie found hard to decipher. He'd judged MacLeod purely on what he had read in the file and what he'd seen - and usually that was all he needed to make an accurate call. But in MacLeod's case he suddenly found himself sitting next to a person he had no clue about. All his previous evaluations now become invalid and that was not a feeling Bodie found comfortable, or one he was used to. Frowning, he hasty changed his preconceptions.

MacLeod smiled inwardly as he watched the various emotions flit across the usually impassive face of the CI5 man. So he'd achieved the desired impression. Good.... because he really did not want to fight with this man. They had to work together if they were going to run across McKellen before Connor found the bastard. He was reluctant to involve CI5 in his private feud with his deranged countryman, but since he had very little choice in the matter - Connor's warnings and mumbling to the contrary - he needed to work with both agents to resolve this. And being in constant conflict with Bodie wasn't helping matters. Intimidation usually wasn't his style, that was more in Connor's nature, but if it saved time he wasn't above using it occasionally as a last resort. He just hoped he'd made his point.

Bodie shot a fast covert glance across at MacLeod, to find that the other man had settled himself back down in the seat and closed his eyes. Well, at least MacLeod wasn't going to make and issue of it, not if he backed down that is. Cursing to himself Bodie conceded defeat, but he'd die before he admitted that to anyone else, Doyle included. Going with the old adage that retreat was the better part of valor, Bodie concentrated on the remainder of their journey to CI5 HQ.

Hearing the small sigh from the other man, MacLeod smiled inwardly and got back to more interesting musings. Now where had he been....

....He inhaled his lover's scent deeply, tasting arousal on Adam's skin before taking the weeping shaft into his mouth. The low moans coming from his lover sent tingles across his skin as he worked the hot rigid shaft with this lips and tongue. He held the thrusting hips with one hand while with his other he fondled Adam's balls. Squeezing gently, he felt the tremors that rippled through the body under him and the breathy sigh's that issued from the sensual mouth. That baritone a purr along his senses.

"Ahhhh, graidh, please.... now-"

Adam was begging and he reluctantly released the rigid shaft. Climbing his lover's slender body he took the open panting mouth in another soul stealing kiss, reaching out with his right hand to the small bottle of scented oil that sat by their sides. Breaking the kiss with a last gentle lick of his tongue across the bruised lips, he smiled down into the passion dilated eyes, chuckling when a look of reproach at his abandonment flitted across the glassy green-eyed gaze. "Soon love.... soon." He crooned soothingly while he worked the stopper from the phial with his thumb and forefinger, occupying his other hand with light caresses across the warm golden skin of chest and stomach. Pouring a generous amount of the oil into his hand he placed the bottle back on the carpet, before rubbing his hands together to warm the oil with his body heat. Tracing a finger up one long calf muscle to the now bent knee, he let his finger run down a lean thigh, drawing a shuddering moan from the man beneath him. He then followed the path of taunt muscles down to the heated groin and further, slipping his oil-slicked fingers between his lover's firm backside. He drank in the hiss of pleasure as first one then two fingers slipped past the tight ring of muscle into the moist inviting heat. He gently prepared his lover, leaning forward to lick kiss the damp skin of Adam's belly. A low growl told him that his lover was growing impatient and with a last glance at the hooded demanding eyes he withdrew his fingers and replaced them with his own aching shaft. Gripping the slender hips he thrust forward and in one long smooth motion he found himself buried to the hilt in the welcome haven of his lover's body. Slipping his arms beneath the bent knees, he slid forward up the sweat-slicked length of Adam's body to again claim the pouting lips in a gentle kiss. He found a sensual rhythm that pleased them both and supporting his weight off the smaller man, he rained butterfly kisses over the upturned face, absorbing the breathy murmuring in long languid kisses

Hearing his R/T beep, Bodie reached for it and depressed the call button. "3.7."

Static was his return reply, then silence - a deadly, eerie silence and Bodie frowned before depressing the call button again. "3.7 to 4.5, come in."

Nothing for a prolonged moment then a voice gasped out, the sound hallow down the bad connection, but the words were clear. "Bodie.... room service.... dru...." followed by a groan with a hissed curse in the background before the connection was killed.

"Doyle?! Ray!!" Bodie snarled into his R/T, shaking the thing subconsciously. "Ray - dammit talk to me! What's happening!" Getting no reply he threw the R/T onto the dash and then threw the car into a reckless U-turn, crossing two lanes of traffic. Amidst blaring horns and swerving traffic he sped back in the direction of the Hotel, unconcerned about the havoc he had caused behind. His mind was totally focused on Doyle hoarse voice. Something terrible had happened. He was convinced of that.

MacLeod snapped out of his relaxed and aroused state, peeved with Bodie only to hear graphic swearing from the CI5 man, and blaring horns. Then they were heading back the way they had come, only now at a much faster rate. With one quick glance at Bodie's set face he knew something was seriously wrong this time. Instantly he thought of Adam, and that happy contented feeling that had been with him all morning vanished as if it had never existed only to be replaced with a cold dark dread that whispered death, destruction and pain. Was he about to lose everything that mattered in his life again?

Expertly weaving in and out of the London traffic, Bodie snatched up the R/T again and tried calling Curtis who was downstairs at the Mayfair. All he got was static. He then tried Keel who was situated on MacLeod's floor - with no luck. Swearing, he reached for his car radio. "3/7 to base, come in."

"Base." Came the prompt reply.

"Require back up at the Mayfair. Suspect agents in trouble." He stated clinically and fast, maneuvering around a truck.

"Base to 3/7. Notifying all available units. ETA 15 minutes." Came the immediate response from the dispatcher.

"Great!" Bodie spat to on one in particular. He doubted Ray or the others had 15 minutes.

"What? What's happened?" MacLeod questioned, needing answers to settle the rising panic that threatened to overwhelm him.

"Ray tried to call. It was garbled and cut off half way through. Something's going down at the hotel." Bodie snapped shortly, sparing little of his concentration from the task of driving.

The Hotel.... that meant Adam was in trouble too. Dammit! Had to be McKellen. There was no other explanation and the panic surged again. If Adam lost his head because of him, MacLeod would never forgive himself. He had dragged the other man further into this mess by insisting that he come and stay with him at the hotel. McKellen had probably raided the hotel looking for him and instead had found Adam. Would they fight? And what of Doyle? Had he seen a Quickening? Was that what was blacking out the communicators? Questions, questions. Hanging on tightly as Bodie drove them swiftly back to the Mayfair, MacLeod only had one thought - if McKellen hurt Adam, he would hunt the bastard down and kill him. Regardless of what Connor said. Hitting the passenger door hard when Bodie swerved to miss a turning vehicle, MacLeod had to squash the urge to demand that Bodie drive faster. But from the expression on the CI5 man's face he could tell that Bodie was also thinking the worst.

Bodie slammed to a halt outside the Mayfair Hotel to be greeted by the far from reassuring sight of an ambulance and several police cars with lights flashing outside the main entrance. A kind of controlled chaos reigned, with the uniforms carrying out efficient crowd control while a couple of plainclothes detectives seemed to be asking questions of staff and hotel patrons. Muttering to himself, Bodie, shook his head in disgust. Flippin' great! Just great. Now the flatfoot coppers were going to get in on the act and muddy the water, and he wished fervently that Cowley were here to cut through all the inevitable bullshit he was now going to have to wade through. Striding up to the hotel entrance, not bothering to see if MacLeod followed Bodie snarled at the young constable who tried to block his way. "CI5. Back off." He stated before shoving his CI5 ID under the young officer's nose and pushing past the startled man.

MacLeod trailed along behind the Bodie, making an 'I'm- with-him' gesture to the officer at the door. He grinned inwardly despite the circumstances, a little stunned and impressed by Bodie's frank actions. He saw the young Constable wave them through and he slipped inside the bustling hotel lobby, catching up to Bodie just in time to see the lift doors open and a stretcher roll out. He controlled the ridiculous urge to push past the agent and see if the person on the stretcher was Adam, knowing that the man would have healed from any wounds inflicted by now. If Adam still had his head. Dismissing that last thought, MacLeod told himself that he would know if Adam were dead. He was sure of it. He'd feel it somehow.

Bodie stopped the gurney with a peremptory gesture, ignoring the protests of the attending paramedics. Beneath all the life sustaining paraphernalia he could just make out the pale features of his fellow CI5 agent. Sam Curtis. "Shit. Sam.... Sam, can you hear me?" He asked urgently, placing a gentle hand on the wounded man's face to gain his wondering attention. He was answered with a low moan, the hazel eyes barely focusing on him while the man mumbled, trying to answer through the oxygen mask. Gently removing the mask Bodie repeated his question, noting that the eyes were becoming a little more focused.

"Didn't.... know what hit us.... Bodie-" Sam Curtis gasped out wincing in pain.

Relieved that Curtis recognised him, Bodie tried to urge more information from the man, but the Paramedics overrode the frustrated agent, pushing him away as they carried on their way to the waiting ambulance outside.

"Shit!" Bodie swore under his breath, watching the gurney go out the door. If Sam was shot, then where the hell was his partner Chris Keel? Partners are supposed to watch each other's back.... but even as he thought that, he felt a pang of guilt over the fact that Doyle had been alone when this had happened. Bloody Cowley.... Swiveling he marched over to the elevator stabbing savagely at the up button while he continued to curse under his breath. Christ, he should never have left Doyle alone. Every time he turned his back on his infuriating partner something like this happened!

MacLeod stood beside Bodie, silently agreeing with the angry sentiment plastered across the CI5 man's face while he waited for the elevator to arrive. It seemed to take an eternity. When the bell chimed and the elevator door rolled slowly open MacLeod resisted the urge to push past the exiting people. Bodie it seemed had no such problem and snarling at the startled patrons pushed his way into the lift and flashed his badge belligerently at the few people that tried to also get into the lift.

MacLeod hastily stepped past the closing doors, just feeling them nick his heels as they glided closed. Bodie jabbed at the button for their floor and took up a position directly in front of the door, his body tense with impatience as another eternity passed while the lift whined into motion.

The lift slowly climbed the floors necessary, stopping two floors lower and the door soundlessly slide open. A young couple stood there and Bodie barred their entrance, barking out 'Police business. Take the stairs.' He then stabbed the close button again and took out his gun, checking it over.

Watching all this with some amazement, MacLeod was glad when they finally arrived on the fourteenth floor. Getting out of the lift, they quickly retraced the steps to the penthouse and arrived to find further scenes of chaos. Only this chaos was a slightly more controlled bedlam as various police and other official personnel went about their business.

Bodie took a deep breath and strode forward just in the mood for some officious flatfoot to challenge his right to be here, so he could take out some of his frustration on the unfortunate victim.

It appeared however that by now most of the London police officers and ancillary staff had had their run-in's with CI5's least diplomatic member and they all seemed to magically melt from Bodie's path. If circumstances had been different MacLeod might have found the situation funny, but now, however he was just relieved. Dealing with Bodie's foibles was the last thing on his mind, because he was close enough to his hotel room to see if there had been a Quickening or to feel Adam's presence. He saw and felt evidence of neither and his hope sank as his worst fears were realized. Adam was gone.

Bodie walked into the room, aware of MacLeod's presence close behind and unable to decide if he was disappointed that no one had challenged him or not. Automatically he scanned the room, registering the changes since the last time he had been there. "Who's in charge here?" He called loudly to the room in general while he took in the overturned service trolley and the fact that there were obvious signs of a struggle.

"That would be me." A tall dark-haired man stepped out from the far bedroom and made his way towards the two men standing in the doorway.

Bodie eyed the man approaching. He must be new, he decided because he'd never seen him before. Maybe he'd get his argument after all, he mused with an inward grin.

MacLeod noted the change in the man standing next to him and resisted the urge to kick Bodie in the shins. They did not have time to indulge in petty dominance games here, time could be running out for both Adam and Ray Doyle. When he had entered the room, MacLeod had also been looking for clues that would tell him what had happened and what state both Adam and Doyle had been in when taken. It looked like they were taken alive, so that would mean drugs. Was it McKellen? Had to be. But if so, Adam would have sensed him and there would have been a fight. At least there would have been blood....

"And you would be?" Bodie asked when the other police officer stopped in front of him.

"Detective Inspector Warrington." The man replied, flashing his badge. "And you would be?" He returned in the same deadly tone.

"Bodie. CI5, and I'm in charge now." Bodie shot back in a no-nonsense tone. Flashing his ID, he dared the Detective to contradict him.

DI Warrington had not met a CI5 agent in his line of work yet, for he had only been in London 12 months. But he had heard of their reputation for taking over in these situations and he would be damned if he was going to let that happen to him. "Is that so? And where would that authority be coming from?" He questioned, his voice cold.

MacLeod saw the feral grin spread across Bodie's face and groaned to himself. Damn, things were starting badly and likely to head straight down hill rapidly from there. Despite the potential danger to life and limb MacLeod felt he had to intervene. "Excuse me Detective, but could you tell me what you have found out so far?" MacLeod interrupted, placing a hand on Bodie's arm. He felt like he had come within inches of having it bitten off when the other man turned and snarled at him.

"Back off MacLeod, this is my territory. Doyle's my partner and I'm not going to leave it to some flatfoot to mess up the investigation." Turning back to Warrington, Bodie ignored MacLeod's 'What about Adam' and overrode the retort from the Detective. "If you'd like to read the fine print on this I think it will answer all your questions." He grated, flipping his ID open at the startled man and pushing past him to check out the other rooms.

With a last glance at the sputtering DI, MacLeod followed the angry agent, parting from him when he reached what had been Adam's bedroom. Standing in the doorway, MacLeod was suddenly overwhelmed by the memories of last night, and he closed his eyes briefly, before divorcing himself from the pain. He needed to find clues quickly if he were to track the kidnappers. Stepping into the room he noticed that the bed had not yet been made, so the kidnap had taken place before the maid had come in. Sitting down on what had been Adam's side of the bed, MacLeod picked up one of the pillows, bringing it to his face and inhaling the lingering scent of his lover. Ruthlessly he squashed the emotions that were doing neither him nor Adam any good, knowing he would be of no use to the other Immortal in this incapacitated state. Carefully placing the pillow back on the bed, his fingertips lingering on the soft fabric, before he took a cleansing breath and restarted his search. He needed to stay strong if he were to bring Adam home and live out the fantasy he'd dreamed up that morning. So as he had done countless times in the past, he placed the bundle of precious memories in a safe place in his mind and turned his attention to the hard fact. Adam Taylor and Raymond Doyle - both expert fighters - had been taken unawares. How? Thinking about that, MacLeod swiftly stood, then knelt beside the bed and after a quick glance around to make sure he was not being observed he felt under the base of the bed. Groaning to himself in worry when his fingers encountered cold hard steel, he knew with a certainty Adam was in serious trouble. "Shit." He swore, glancing briefly at the beautiful Ivanhoe before securely sliding it back into its hiding place.

Crossing to the wardrobe next, MacLeod yanked open the door and found Adam's coat. He searched the pockets and cursed again, this time in Gaelic when he came up with a gun and wicked looking knife. All items that Adam thought he didn't know about. Crossing back to the bed he opened the bedside draw on Adam's side of the bed and shook his head. There was Adam's wallet and leather bound diary. The man was weaponless, without any form of ID and MacLeod closed his eyes, sinking back down to sit on the bed while he tried to recall what his lover had been wearing that morning.

With a jolt he remembered that Adam had emerged from the shower wearing jeans and one of his own turtle necks sweaters. Adam's hair had been damp and doing its best to point in all directions at once. A newly scrubbed, slightly pink and disheveled Adam had been such an appealing sight that MacLeod had not resisted the urge to smooth the wayward hair down. Stalking towards his lover that morning, he had demanded to know why Adam was wearing his clothes when he'd brought plenty of his own. To which Adam had pulled aside the neck of the sweater to reveal a fading bruise on his neck and growled something about 'feeding time at the zoo.' So Adam was wearing nothing but jeans and a sweater which meant he'd be cold, and MacLeod knew that Adam hated the cold.

Wondering if things could get any worse, MacLeod heard a pitiful mewing sound coming from the ensuite and he remembered Adam's cat. Nefertiri - or something similar. Rising from the bed he made his way over to the bathroom and after a quick search found the small pathetic bundle of fur trembling in the corner of the bathtub. Taking pity on the tiny creature he reached down to pick her up, snatching his hand back and narrowly missing getting lacerated as the frightened feline hissed and swiped at him with her claws. Ignoring the behavior, knowing it came from fear rather than real malice, MacLeod crooned to the tiny cat and slowly reached out again. "It's okay, I won't hurt you. I'll take care of you until Adam gets back." He reached down again cautiously, but all the fight seemed to have gone out of the small body and with a small mew she seemed to slump into his hand. Lifting the bundle of black fur out of the tub, MacLeod cradled the still trembling body against his chest, stroking the delicate head with one of his fingers as he crooned nonsense to the creature in an effort to comfort her. Returning to the bed MacLeod tried to deposit the kitten onto Adam's pillow, hoping that his scent would help to reassure her, but the kitten had other ideas. Wincing when her needle sharp claws penetrated his shirt and dug into his flesh, MacLeod tried to dislodge her a second time, only to be greeted by an even more pitiful yowl and a further tightening of the claws. Well, he was stuck with her for now, literally and figuratively, sighing he gave up on his attempts to put the feline down and settled her in the crook of his arm. Just as MacLeod had managed to get the tiny kitten calmed down she was disturbed by a call from the main room. Swearing softly he left the bedroom and went to see what the problem was.

Bodie saw his assignment emerge from the bedroom with what appeared to be a small cat and he was puzzled for a moment until he remembered that Taylor had brought the cat with him from his dormitory room at the University. Ignoring the cat, he gestured MacLeod over then held out an object for the Scot to view. Waiting impatiently for MacLeod to dignify him with an answer while the annoying man fussed over the cat, Bodie bit back on his snarl. "This was found pinned to the wall over there - with this blade." He stated, holding up another bag containing a small pocketknife.

MacLeod took the proffered plastic bag with the piece of cloth in it and studied the pattern. "It's the MacLeod Tartan," he said, fingering the bag. He could easily remember the time when this had been all he'd worn.

"And?" Bodie demanded impatiently

"And what?"

"And what is it doing here. And before you say it, I do know it is not yours."

"Noh. I'd say McKellen left it here." MacLeod stated quietly then after a short pause added more. "It's a calling card of sorts. He thinks it's funny."

Bodie noted the tone of the other mans voice. There was a helluva lot more going on here than he or anyone else had guessed or been told, and it was this vast untold story that was going to get Ray killed. And sometime very soon he and MacLeod were going to have a little talk, and MacLeod was going to give him some answers. Willingly or not. "A calling card?" Bodie snarled. "So you've seen this before?"

"Noh," MacLeod said again, choosing his words with more care this time. "But who else but McKellen would leave a piece of my clan's tartan? He's taunting me."

Considering that, Bodie studied MacLeod's face, not believing the expression of bafflement. "Tell me, MacLeod, is there anything else missing from the rooms?"

Shaking his head, MacLeod glanced down at the cat briefly. "Nothing has been taken from what I can tell. Adam's wallet is still here."

About to ask more, DI Warrington interrupted Bodie's questioning by throwing the agents ID back at him in peeved frustration.

"I don't care who you are, or what your small print states - I'm not going to let you take over this investigation!" Warrington stormed, turning a slight shade of pink with agitation.

Bodie grinned in false charm when he spied Cowley entering the room. "Then I suggest you take it up with my boss." He replied, replacing his ID back in his pocket and gracing the fuming policeman with a nod toward the door. "I'm sure he'll be able to set the record straight." And with that parting remark he left the DI to Cowley's tender mercies. Accosting a young uniformed officer Bodie demanded to know where the witnesses were being held, scowling when the young man looked to his superior for guidance.

"Leave the boy alone Bodie." A voice behind him said, followed by a hand on his shoulder. Turning, Bodie was about to snarl at the intruder, but found himself looking into Anderson's familiar face.

"Cowley will sort that out." Anderson said, ignoring Bodie's glare expertly. "Have you heard?" He asked quietly, taking a draw on his cigarette.

"Heard what?" Bodie grated out.

"Keel's dead." Anderson replied bluntly.

"Jesus! How?"

"He took one in the chest while trying to stop this." Anderson replied.

Muttering under his breath, Bodie cast eyes around the room before looking back at Anderson. "Where'd it happen? Does Sam know?" Bodie asked his fury at the injustice of the situation intensifying.

"Down in the service bay." Anderson stated factually. "The gunmen used a van to get away. And no, Curtis doesn't. The Doc thought it would be best to tell him later, when he's stable."

"And the van? Have the-"

"Bodie," Anderson cut in a warning in his voice, well able to read his friends desire to find these murdering bastards before Doyle suffered the same fate as Keel. "Don't tell the Police how to suck lemons. Of course the Police have put an APB out on the van." He ended calmly. He was very used to Bodie's temper.

Bodie just grunted in response, everyone knew his opinion of the local constabulary. "We should speak to the witnesses." He stated, changing the subject. "And we need to have a little chat about this," he continued, turning to MacLeod and waving the single piece of evidence they had at him. "Because I will get the answers. One way or another." He finished with a meaningful glare.

MacLeod sighed. It was obvious he wasn't going to be allowed to slip out of this one, and that he was just going to have to come up with a version of the truth that didn't involve revealing anything about Immortals. Oh yeah, that'll be a cinch he muttered to himself. Where was Adam when he needed him? He thought. Adam always seemed to have a plausible story to tell. Then he remembered that Adam had told Bodie's partner, Doyle, about Immortals and that Adam wasn't here anymore. Absently he stoked the small kitten in his arms, suspecting that he was deriving as much comfort from the contact as the kitten did from his warmth at that moment. Around him he noted that Cowley had finished his talk with DI Warrington and that the police were leaving the hotel room. That would leave only the CI5 agents and he decided to lock the kitten back in Adam's room for safe keeping. When Adam returned he could comfort her.... for he refused to think of any other outcome for this situation. Adam Taylor was going to be found.


"Sir." Bodie nodded in greeting when Cowley limped over to him and scowled. He was sure Cowley would find some way to blame him for this disaster.

"Would you mind explaining this circus?" Cowley demanded when only his agents were left in the room.

"Hotel security called the police. It's their policy. I was trying to rectify the situation before you arrived." Bodie explained.

Cowley glared for a moment longer at Bodie, then sighed in acknowledgment. "I hear Doyle got a message to you."

"Garbled mostly. I'd say he and Taylor were drugged, not shot."

"Then find them before I have to tell more families of their loss!" Cowley barked, then he was walking away.

Releasing a tense sigh, Bodie closed his eyes briefly.

"Mr. Bodie?" MacLeod asked softly, well aware of the respect and results a man like Cowley commanded from his men. It was what made agents like Bodie so effective against the criminal elements.

"Do you have any idea why McKellen wants you so badly?"

"He hates the MacLeod's." MacLeod stated honestly. "Centuries ago there was a feud between the MacLeods and the McKellens. But that is ancient history."

"And do the MacLeods still kill the McKellens - say indirectly? On the side?" Bodie asked, relieved that finally he was getting a straight answer for once.

"Noh." MacLeod stated honesty. "I'm as confused by this as you are."

"So why would he take Taylor and Doyle?"

Thinking about that, MacLeod shook his head. "Blackmail?" He suggested.

"Right." Bodie agreed, having come to that conclusion himself. "You, my son, are not leaving my side then. Not until I find this bastard."

Covering his grimace, MacLeod exhaled strongly after Bodie marched away. He had his own methods of finding McKellen. But had no idea how he was going to talk Bodie into letting him leave unescorted. Then he remembered something else. Connor had promised to ring him later that day. Glancing at the hotel phone he wondered how he could talk to Connor without CI5 overhearing every word they said. Dammit!

Sound was the first thing that returned. Sound and a God- awful pain behind his eyes, and Doyle groaned involuntarily as he squeezed his eyes tightly shut. But the pain didn't ease and he slowly forced his eyes open again. Around him he could hear the rhythmic sound of water dripping. The monotonous splatter of a single drop of water hitting something hard and flat - like cement. Or stone. And it was that sound that forced him back to partial alertness. His vision was blurry, his body sore with cramp and he made himself lie very still by instinct rather than conscious thought. Drugs.... he had the acid taste of chemicals at the back of his throat and he knew it had to be from some new designer drug. Shit! He vaguely knew that he had to remember something and he doubted it was good, while more of his surroundings came into focus. Flexing his fingers he glanced up and saw that he was handcuffed to an old thick, iron bar and he groaned, seeing the blood which covered his wrists and fingers. Either he'd put up one hell of a fight, or his captor was bloody clumsy. Problem was, he couldn't remember which it was.

Drawing in a calming breath, Doyle let that bit of information filter into his brain, lifting his head to see if he could find his captor. Nothing, but he saw where the sound of water was coming from. Looking over the iron bar he was cuffed to, he saw a large concrete slab. It was slightly raised off the ground and at least twenty foot by twenty foot in size. Around it were troughs and old rusting benches, tables and racks, and Doyle didn't need to be told that this was an old abattoir. The presence of the hooks hanging from the roof over the slab was proof enough. He didn't need to see the old bloodstains marring the concrete at the base of the killing platform to know that his captor, or captors, had a warped sense of humor. Lifting his eyes to the ceiling he noted that directly above the slab were a number of old chains, wires and hooks and that was where the water was leaking. Dripping with rhythmic monotony. Complete lifelessness.... Shivering, Doyle moved a little more, the lethargy in his limbs persisting annoyingly while his vision slowly cleared. So he was in an old, disused abattoir. But which one? The place was cold, eerie - the mesh louvers to his right mostly smashed. Vandalized. Graffiti disfigured the walls to his left and the stench of death permeated the entire area. It was enough to make him gag.... and then another memory intruded and he let his eyes close. He had pins and needles in his fingers and felt as weak as a newborn, but he forced the memory to resurface. He frowned, then suddenly remembered that he and Bodie had been working a case. They were trying to find a Scotsman - Bruce McKellen. A sick, deranged psychopath who liked to behead all his victims.... then he remembered MacLeod and.... and.... oh fuck - Taylor! And that he and Bodie were in way over their heads....

Hearing a sound behind him, Doyle hastily swiveled around and stopped, feeling his jaw drop open in shock. Behind him was a similar set up with a large blood stained concrete slab - killing pad - with troughs, benches, more broken louvers, and a long, protruding wicked looking meat hook. The only difference was that Taylor was hanging from the ugly meat hook right in the middle of the killing slab and Doyle tasted bile rise in the back of his throat.


It was a forced whisper and Doyle moved around a bit more, yanking on his cuffed wrists and tearing his skin more. His mind automatically slipped into strategy mode, while his eyes tried to find a way out, or even the slightest advantage. He could see nothing and he turned his gaze back on Taylor, noting how Taylor's bare feet barely touched the ground while he hung from his bound wrists which were linked over the meat hook. He also noted that their perverse captors had stripped Taylor of everything bar his jeans and Doyle shivered again in reaction. It was bloody freezing in this old icebox. The abandoned abattoir was not a place he wanted to die in or to see Taylor die in. "How long have I been out?" Doyle asked, meeting Taylor's gaze, seeing the relief that washed over the other man's face.

"Four, five hours." Methos told him. "I'm not sure. But I do know it's getting dark outside." He nodded towards the shattered windows.

Glancing over to where Taylor indicated, Doyle used his teeth to pull his sleeve up and saw that his watch was smashed. Great! He doubted Cowley would let him claim that on expenses.... then another thought hit him - Bodie. Christ Bodie would be frantic.... Letting his lashes drop, he considered his partner and knew Bodie would be doing everything possible to find him. But how could Bodie possibly find him when he didn't even know where he was?

"You alright?"

Hearing Taylor's voice drift back to him, Doyle forced himself to concentrate, giving the other man a nod. He'd been in worse situations and survived. Concentrate, old son, he admonished himself, letting his eyes assess Adam Taylor's state. His priority was to get his assignment out - safe and alive. If that was possible, or he'd die trying. "I'll live. What about you?"

Methos gave a gruff, humorless laugh. "I always survive," he muttered, really peeved that McKellen was involving Doyle in this personal dispute. "Can you get free?"

Running his eyes over the handcuffs, Doyle suppressed an ironic smile. They were his own Goddamn handcuffs and he shook his head. Wiggling around he tried to pat down his pockets feeling that he was missing more than just the keys. His gun, wallet, knife and R/T were gone also. Turning his gaze back on the old pipe, he braced himself and tried to yank on the cuffs, but the pipe didn't even shudder let alone creak. All he achieved was making his writs bleed again. "Nah, can't budge these." He offered, turning back to look at Taylor. He saw the other man nod before Taylor looked back up at his own bound wrists. It was then that Doyle noticed the blood that stained Taylor's pale skin and the puffy appearance of his swollen hands. He winced in sympathy. "That must hurt-"

"I've had worse." Methos mumbled. He'd already tried to lever himself off the hook, but the wire binding his wrists was also wrapped around the hook, making dislodgement impossible.

"I take it you haven't seen our hosts?" Doyle asked, imagining now how painful Taylor's arms and chest must be if he had been hanging like that for over five hours. Immortal or not, the man would be in agony.

"Nothing-" Even as he started to say that Methos got the first insidious whisper of presence down his spine and he quivered in reaction. How he hated to be trapped in such a vulnerable position and he pushed his innate panic aside to find a solution. The buzz of Immortal presence grew stronger and he readied himself for more unpleasantness, seeing his opponent enter via a side door and casually walk up to him. McKellen.... Why was he not surprised? But since when had the ignorant Scot lowered his standards by using mortals to accomplish his dirty work?

"I told you, Loxley, we would meet again." McKellen hissed, stopping at the edge of the concrete killing pad to stare up at his captive.

"Do you always fight like a coward, or do you save it for special occasions?" Methos taunted, knowing Doyle was there, but admitting it was far too late for niceties. This should not be witnessed - but.... "First you attack a defenseless man in Sherwood, and now you use mortals to drug me??" He mocked sarcastically. "You have me totally restrained, but I suppose that is the only way you can achieve a victory! You are a weak and pitiful excuse for an Immortal! A disgrace-"

"Call me what you like. I don't care, because soon your Quickening will be mine." McKellen sneered.

"You'll have to come closer." Methos jeered, bracing his muscles. This was going to hurt - but death was not an alternative he was willing to entertain at present. He suddenly had too much to live for and envisioned Duncan MacLeod's dark beauty in his mind, letting the Highlander's passionate love of life feed him strength. Thank you Duncan....

"Oh I intend to make you beg for mercy." McKellen hissed in promise.

"I doubt it!"

"Then I'll kill your new friend and see if he can beg-"

"This is between you and me!" Methos spat in fury. "Our fight is not for them!"

"We fight how I chose." McKellen corrected, taking out his sword and showing it to the other Immortal in silent threat. "Now tell me where MacLeod is and I just might let the mortal live."

"MacLeod?" Methos repeated evasively. He tried to turn his body so as to keep McKellen in his line of sight when the other walked around the base of the platform. "Why do you want Connor?"

"Don't be stupid!" McKellen roared, jumping up onto the slab swiftly and lashing out with his sword. He deliberately used the flat of the blade to slap at his victim, marring the hanging man across the back and flank. Tiny lacerations appeared on the pale flesh, small wounds that bled before they healed, discoloring the unblemished skin.

Bracing himself against the sharp pain, Methos bit the inside of his cheek, knowing McKellen was only playing with him. The real games would start later. For he could read a man like McKellen, had seen countless men like him during his long life and knew the other man would first strike at him before going after Doyle. It was a small comfort.

"I want Duncan MacLeod!" McKellen shouted, not bothering to keep his voice down.

The sound echoed around them and Methos squinted at McKellen seeing how he was drawing in deep breaths, visibly trying to calm himself. He was insane. Obviously they were miles from anywhere if McKellen could rant and rave without fear of being overheard.... and Methos filed that clue away, feeling his own spirits plummet further. Mac would never find him here.... And it would just be his bad luck that all the damn homeless would be out getting a feed as well.... Fuck!

"This is how it works. You will tell me what I want to know and I let spy-boy live." McKellen stated in a flat, expressionless tone before pointing his blade at Doyle.

"Why do you want Duncan?" Methos asked, trying a new track, needing to deter this man away from Doyle.

"None of your fucking business!" McKellen returned, furious again as he stepped closer, catching his target unprepared and using the hilt of his sword to gut-punch his captive. He then clubbed him across the jaw, watching in delight when the other groaned in shock before McKellen lifted his sword and balanced the point under Loxley's chin. With pressure he forced the other's head up and grinned nastily. "I have a joke for you, Loxley."

Blinking tears away, Methos stared at the man, knowing he was in trouble.

"What do the Rolling Stones and a MacLeod have in common?"

"I don't know." Methos answered when McKellen pressed the tip of the blade into his sensitive throat. "Enlighten me."

"The Rolling Stones sing 'Hey You! Get off my cloud.' But a Scot sings 'Hey MacLeod! Get off me ewe." Delivering the punch line, McKellen stepped back and laughed, dropping his sword slightly before all traces of humor abruptly left his face and he spitefully struck his victim a second time. "You didn't laugh Loxley!" He hissed returning the tip of his blade swiftly to its original position under his captives bloodied chin. "Never mind. You English never had a good sense of humor."

Opening his eyes to slits, Methos struggled to breathe. His lower body was numb, the muscles in his chest already burning in agony and he centered his gaze with difficulty on McKellen. The Scot was beyond insane, he could read the madness lurking behind the wide eyes and could see it in the way McKellen held his sword. It was frightening to watch how McKellen's whole body trembled with suppressed rage. Just one wrong word and he'd lose his head. This was no longer the same man he had encountered in Sherwood - McKellen was now a weapon, a conduit, for his own pain and inadequacies. And he had never found a way to successfully reason, or negotiate with such an opponent. Damn you Fate!

"You should have left London when you had the chance Loxley." McKellen stated while he forced himself to calm down. "Now you will never see the outside of this old abattoir and I will use your Quickening to kill Duncan MacLeod."

"Why?" Methos ventured, watching the madness slowly retreat deep into McKellen's eyes. He hated facing irrational, deranged lunatics.

"Because to kill the student weakens the teacher." McKellen hissed, leaning in closer and angling his blade up so that it cut his captives skin very slowly. "I want Connor MacLeod to suffer as I have suffered. I want him to bleed, to die a breath at a time. To break...."

Oh shit. Fuckin' marvelous. McKellen wasn't only insane, he was now trapped in a fantasy world. Ignoring the pain, Methos held very still, extremely aware of his dangerous position. One slip and he'd lose his head. "So you want Connor," he breathed, hoping to draw McKellen out.

"I am sick of the way he dogs my every step!" McKellen ranted again, moving his blade marginally before re- focusing his gaze on the man hanging before him. "Connor is methodical. Part of his cursed Scottish nature."

"And you, McKellen? What is in your nature?" Methos whispered, feeling the sword slide further down onto his shoulder. Just a little more and he might be able to shove the Scot back and then use his legs to kill the bastard.

"I-" McKellen hesitated, blinking blankly at Loxley before realising what the other was doing. Instantly he lashed out, punching the hanging man viciously under the diaphragm before bringing his sword back up into position. "Try that again and I'll shoot your friend." He hissed. "You are not a hero - that is not in your nature. Or so I've heard. So don't act so foolishly."

Gasping for breath, Methos blinked his tears away and glared at McKellen. "Heard??" He managed to get out in a hoarse whisper. What was the idiotic man going on about now?

"I met a friend of yours last century near Lebanon." McKellen said in a more conversational tone, moving his sword down to rest its point against the heaving man's chest. He turned it slightly applying more pressure and hearing his captive hiss in a new breath. The skin under his blade cut easily, leaving a zigzag pattern over the hairless chest. "Though I wouldn't say he considered you a friend. Rather he thought of you as a traitor. A coward. A thief even." Starting to enjoy himself now, McKellen walked around his trapped victim, letting the edge of his sword mark the tender pale skin at will, amused at the way Loxley tried to avoid its sharp edge. "He cursed your existence."

"Really?" Methos said, sucking in a breath when McKellen completed his slow circuit around him to stop in front of him again. "How do you know he was talking about me?" Methos asked, mentally thinking back and knowing he had not been near Lebanon in more than a century. "I'm not the only Immortal on the planet."

"But you are the only one called Methos." McKellen whispered intimately, moving closer to his captive and seeing the way the golden-green eyes dilated fractionally before long lashes hid the other Immortal's thoughts.

"Now you are being absurd." Methos countered, feeling as if he had been gut-punched a third time by that unexpected announcement.

"Maybe." McKellen shrugged, his grin growing in speculation. "He described you perfectly, right down to your obnoxious attitude."

Giving a mock laugh, Methos shook his head. "Let me get this right?! You think I'm this mythical being called 'Methos' all because I match some physical description given to you by some pompous asshole in Lebanon?" He shook his head. "You're more insane than I first imagined."

"It wasn't the description that gave you away, it was that maneuver you pulled on me in Sherwood. I had never seen the likes of it before and since then I have tried to adopt it, using it in some of my own challenges. Until Lebanon. I met this enraged Immortal, he was beyond reason when he came at me. In defense I used that little trick and he was so stunned, that he pinned me to the ground with inhuman force and demanded to know who had taught me. He accused me of being your student and whore."

Getting a sinking feeling deep in his gut, Methos banked down on his panic when McKellen stepped closer still and made every word familiar and personal while the deranged Scot skimmed a hand down his body in emphasis. Fingers settled over his groin and squeezed his lax sex hard.

"I told him about you and he released me." McKellen mouthed the words his lips curving up wickedly before he maliciously squeezed his captives trapped sex a second time. He felt the man before him gasp, the wide eyes losing all color as the pupils dilated fully in shock and pain. "This Immortal craved your company," he whispered nastily. "He told me in graphic terms what he would like to do with your remains."

"That's doesn't prove anything-"

"He told me your true name. He hissed it with so much hate it terrified me. So I got out of Lebanon very fast and later learned that he had been arrested by the military for crimes against the people. Cannibalism and such." McKellen elaborated, pausing to make sure his words were sinking in. "I see you do know him."

"No," Methos countered. "I am just amazed you're still alive."

Laughing nastily, McKellen stepped back and looked his subject over. "His story had intrigued me, so I went to visit him in prison. I wanted information and in exchange I promised to get him out." McKellen shrugged. "The description he gave me fits you perfectly."

"And did you get him out?" Methos asked.

"Hell no." McKellen snorted. "He was insane. He was also sentenced to life imprisonment."

Methos stared at McKellen in disbelief. "Did he give you his name?"

"Casparie - I think was how the authorities pronounced it."

"You're an even bigger idiot than I first assumed." Methos hissed back, not believing his run of ill luck. Caspian? Was it possible the mentally deficient idiot had survived the Horsemen days?? Could nothing go right?!? "A century ago in Lebanon they hanged all those sentenced to life imprisonment after the first few years and then buried them in the desert. He's probably searching for you-"

"Shut up!" McKellen cut back. "Don't change the subject! You are Methos. Admit it! For I am going to take your head and use your power to kill every MacLeod that lives!!"

"Tall order for a man too incompetent to even win an argument against a weaponless opponent." Methos spat back, deliberately provoking the Scot and receiving a fist in the gut. He endured the punishment, knowing now that he had to keep McKellen off balance long enough to work out a plan of escape. Pain he could live through but letting McKellen get his perverted hands on Duncan was a different story. Jesus-fuckin'-Christ, but he was as demented at this lunatic.... It was definitely time he vanished- especially if Caspian was still alive. All he needed now was to learn that Kronos was still walking the planet and his life would be over. Gasping in agony when a new pain engulfed his body, Methos felt his world fall apart, snapping his eyes open to see McKellen plunge the sword into his chest and twist it savagely. The agony crippled him, stealing all the air from his lungs, suffocating him instantly. He sagged down heavily, the wire around his wrists cutting off the circulation and applying more pressure on his abused arms and shoulders. He gasped for breath, screaming in agony as the blade was slowly pulled free. He knew he was dying when the warm, tangy taste of blood rose in his mouth to run down his chin. Convulsing in agony, Methos wished again that he had gone with his first instincts and left London that first fateful night when he'd met Duncan MacLeod. But then what was life without love....

Stunned speechless by what he had just witnessed unfolding on the raised platform, Doyle kept his mouth firmly shut when McKellen backed away from Adam's abused, battered and bloody body. Regardless of the fact that Adam was a freak of nature, that still had to hurt and he glared at the psychopath who started to laugh insanely, seeing how McKellen threw his head back and roared his pleasure in a harsh demented laugh. This bastard was ill.... and he had to be stopped. But how? And what had that last little exchange been about? Methos? Was that Adam's real name? It sounded old - almost biblical, though Doyle couldn't recall ever hearing it mentioned in Sunday school. Brining his mind back to the present with a jolt, Doyle blinked away from Adam's limp figure to glare at McKellen when the other walked down off the raised platform and headed over to him. Bloody hell and he braced himself for the worst.

"Feeling suitably subdued, mortal?" McKellen mocked. "Life isn't as you believed. Is it? Now you know Gods really do walk the earth." With that he laughed again and walked away.

Swallowing his disgust, Doyle wished there was something he could do for his friend. For as much as Adam didn't want him involved, he just couldn't sit back and let the other get killed over and over like this. Come on Bodie.... where the fuck are you?!?

Glancing at his watch, MacLeod sighed seeing it was close to 10pm at night and closed his eyes to try and block out the sight of Bodie's pacing figure. The man's caged energy was not going to help any of them - let alone Adam and Doyle. Biting back on his comment, he tried not to think about what might be happening to Adam and Raymond Doyle. Only every time he closed his eyes he could picture Adam's face, could see the mischievous smile light up those changeable eyes and could hear the soft baritone tease him. What was taking so long! It was over twelve hours now.... Where the hell was Connor!?!


Blinking up, MacLeod looked at Bodie.

"You just said, 'Where the hell was Connor?" Bodie repeated, his tone hard and flat. He was frustrated and pissed off with the way things were progressing so slowly. Ray could be dead.... Cutting that thought off he glared harder at the Scot. He could not lose Ray like this - not when they were just starting to explore what else the partnership could offer. It was all MacLeod's fault.

He had said that out loud?? Shit, but he was starting to lose it. "Connor?" MacLeod tried to look confused. "I don't know a Connor."

"Don't piss me around, MacLeod. I know what I heard." Bodie growled. "Don't you think it's past time that you started telling the whole truth before more headless bodies appear?" He asked menacingly as he came to stand over the seated Scot.

Considering that, MacLeod glanced around the hotel room, glad that no other agents were present. He knew the only reason Cowley had let him stay at the Mayfair was because CI5 were desperate for a lead and he had told them he was expecting John Nash to ring, or for McKellen to deliver blackmail demands. Otherwise he knew Cowley would have shoved him away in protective custody by now. "Connor is John Nash's middle name." He admitted begrudgingly. "I've always called him that." It was the truth after all.

"I see." Bodie said, filing that piece of information away. "How is Nash involved in all this?" He asked. "We know that he hasn't left the country, but he has checked out of his booked accommodation and for all intents and purposes has disappeared off the map. Why?"

"I don't know-"

"He's hunting McKellen. Isn't he?" Bodie stated, yanking the coffee table closer so he could sit on its edge and stare at MacLeod. "He wants to kill him. Doesn't he."


"No you listen to me, MacLeod!" Bodie hissed in a deadly voice. "I want McKellen before he kills Doyle. I assume you want him before he kills Taylor, so I suggest we start working together. Otherwise we are both fucked and the bastard slips the country. So bloody well start talking to me!"

"I can't help-"

"Bullshit!" Bodie spat. "You won't help!!"

Banking down on his own anger, MacLeod looked directly into Bodie's fierce blue glare and saw the man for what he really was. At that moment Bodie was shit scared about losing his partner and it was a feeling he could utterly sympathize with. Maybe he could deal with Bodie the man, rather than Bodie the ruthless CI5 agent? "If I find McKellen - CI5 cannot interfere." He warned, watching how Bodie digested those words and seeing the man nod in acceptance.

"I can't promise that." Bodie stated. "But I can promise they may be delayed."

Letting a small smile grow on his face, MacLeod read behind the words and decided to accept the silent peace treaty Bodie offered him. "Alright." He whispered.

"So where do we go?" Bodie asked, losing most of his anger as he felt he was definitely starting to accomplish something.

"We wait for Connor." MacLeod said. "He said he'd ring, and he will."

Nothing seemed real anymore. If he had once possessed a reference on reality it was now gone and in this twilight world of pain, blood and torture he was losing all sense of reality. He existed in a bubble of white-hot heat, his body numb, his mind exhausted and his heart was struggling to hold onto the last cherished imprint of feelings he remembered. The touch of another's love - yet was it real, or just imagined?

Stifling a cry of despair, Methos knew he was shuddering again, could feel the bone-deep tremors as his body tried to stay alive. Why he tried.... was the confusing question. His nerve endings so over-whelmed by the continuous circuit of pain that he could no longer remember what he was so desperate to live for. Or was this just another nightmare? A self created hell....

No.... he knew that was a lie hearing his own voice cry out in agony when a sharp, burning pain lacerated the skin down his spine. Utter devastation consumed him in its hungry grasp and he desperately tried to remember where he was - when he was - and why this was happening. What was he fighting so hard to protect? But the snippets of memory faded when his control was stripped away a second time by the tearing claws of agony down his exposed spine that whispered seductively of death.

Staring wide-eyed up at the bloodied platform and its dying captive, Doyle found he was shuddering in reaction to what he had been forced to witness over the last few hours. McKellen was beyond psychotic, there were no words to describe what McKellen was - and Doyle could only shake his head in mute disbelief when the Scot had taken out a vicious looking chain whip and flayed Adam's back. And that wasn't the worst of what McKellen had done to Adam's unprotected body. Killing the Scottish bastard would be too kind, Doyle decided and he gritted his teeth defiantly, wanting a chance to get his hands on McKellen. How Adam managed to remain lucid after what McKellen did to him was also another miracle, and Doyle just prayed his friend hung on. If he had started to like Adam before this, he now had nothing but admiration and awe for the man's courage and stamina. For as McKellen attacked him, brutally assaulting him and stabbing him to lower his resistance Adam had steadfastly refused to talk about Duncan MacLeod. And the way he healed - though that phenomenon was getting slower and slower as the night progressed, Doyle guessed that even that ability would eventually fail his remarkable friend.

Seeing McKellen throw down the whip in annoyance, Doyle watched horrified when the bastard sank a small knife into Adam's back and he broke his vow of silence by shouting out to McKellen. "Don't you think that's enough!!" He bellowed, seeing how Adam arched, his mouth open a cry barely escaping his lips. Hours ago Adam had made him promise not to interfere, but he could not sit back any longer. Could not let this senseless slaughter continue and was determined to divert McKellen's attention even if only for a little while. Anything to help Adam heal....

"So it does talk." McKellen sneered, pulling his short knife free of his captive's flesh and stalking towards the handcuffed CI5 agent. "I was beginning to think you were as gutless as all other mortals infecting this planet."

"You're the fucking coward!" Doyle spat back. "To repeatedly kill a man for your own personal satisfaction without offering him the chance to fight back - shit - in my book you're worse than the filthy low-life that collects in the bottom of the sewerage system!"

Growling in anger, McKellen lashed out at the CI5 agent, back-handing him across the mouth and hearing the other grunt in pain. "I may kill your friend repeatedly, but if I kill you, you will stay dead." He hissed in warning. "Besides, he is no friend of yours!" He pointed back at the limp form, letting his senses pick out the lack of presence and knowing his opponent had died again. "He would kill you in a heart beat." He snarled, his lip curling in a wicked sneer.

"No," Doyle shot back. "He would kill you with his bare hands if he had a fighting chance. Admit it, you think you're such a big man, but you're not fit to lick his boots-" Crying out again as he was rocked backward by a solid punch, Doyle shook his head, dazed. He tried to move away from McKellen, tried to find some leverage, but his position trapped him in place. Then he saw McKellen raise a blade and Doyle desperately kicked out at the bigger man. His boot connected with McKellen's hip, rocking the other man backward and for a glorious moment he smiled in triumph. But his advantage was short lived and Doyle copped another hard blow across the head, falling over the pipe work to lie dazed as McKellen laughed humorlessly.

"Remember this, spy-boy?" McKellen sneered, taking out a gun and displaying it for the agent to see.

Spitting blood from his mouth, Doyle glared up at the Scot, feeling his eye swell and his vision blurred. But he recognized the gun. He should. It was his own.

"Want to see a dead body dance?" McKellen asked conversationally, turning and firing two shots at the hanging man's figure.

Doyle saw Adam's body jerk backwards, heard the chain rattle over Adam's head and he winced in outrage and disgust at McKellen. But the Scot ignored him, chuckling wickedly and firing two more time, dancing Adam's dead weight backward. "Poetry in motion. Don't you agree, spy- boy?"

"You're ill." Doyle cursed, struggling to lash out at McKellen, but was hampered by his trapped position.

Butt-whipping the agent with the hilt of the gun, McKellen shoved the Browning into his pocket and watched the mortal collapse to the cold concrete floor in a heap. Snarling in dislike he then started kicking the downed agent, giving the man little time to recover between each well-aimed kick. It amused him and passed the time, relieving his frustrations while he waited for his men to locate Connor MacLeod, or for Methos to revive.

Gasping in agony, Doyle lost track of all time and found he couldn't move. He didn't think anything was broken and he glanced up seeing McKellen raise his wicked looking knife a second time, only in this instant he knew the Immortal would go for the killing blow. Tensing, Doyle tried to prepare himself for pain, surprised when McKellen abruptly stopped his downward stroke to stare around in hostile anger.

"MacLeod?" McKellen stated, straightening to his full height and turning full circle to glare into the surrounding darkness of the old abattoir. "Show yourself barbarian!?" He demanded in hissed annoyance.

Stunned, Doyle battled to sit up, panting out a breath and not believing his luck. Glancing around he heard Adam draw in a hissed breath, silently pleading that the man stay dead for a while longer.... please let it be Duncan MacLeod. Please don let this bastard take out his ire on Adam....

"I knew you would come if I took the ancient." McKellen hissed into the surrounding darkness. Slowly he let his senses guide him, picking out the direction his opponent was coming from. From the rear of the abandoned abattoir.... just like he had anticipated and he gave a feral smile. "Tell me MacLeod - is it out of a sense of misguided honor that you have let the ancient live? Or where you planning on taking his head at a later date?" McKellen asked conversationally, shifting his feet and readying himself for the challenge. The buzz was stronger now and he searched for the tell-tail signs of a sword being drawn.

"I only plan on taking your head, McKellen."

Hearing the growled response, McKellen tensed, raising his sword in warning when he saw Connor MacLeod appear at the edge of his pool of light. This he had not expected. The baby barbarian yes, but not this man. Not yet anyway. "It's of no matter." He said more to himself than his opponent. "Not another step Highlander, or I'll kill this one." He started by moving towards the reviving Immortal, stepping behind Methos and daring MacLeod to follow. "And if I take his head I'll be invincible. Do you want that?"

Frowning slightly, Connor looked past Bruce McKellen's taunt figure to Adam Taylor's bloodied form. The image produced a picture in his head of the last village McKellen had massacred. Bodies tied to poles, bloodied corpses, dressed in rags, all neatly arranged in family groups.... All crucified, then left to hang, rotting in the cold wind. Snow flecked bodies swinging in the blistering winds.... Men, women, babes.... Blinking the memory away, Connor hardened his glare. "Nothing will stop me taking your head!" And he charged up onto the platform, agilely sidestepping McKellen's first predictable downward stroke.

"What if I tell you this one is the legendary Methos?" McKellen hissed, studying Connor nervously and seeing Connor's fanatical hatred in those ice blue eyes. This was not what he had planned. "To take his Quickening would give you invincible strength."

"Fairytales!" Connor snapped back, forcing the other Immortal to meet his challenge and dancing them around the cement slab. The concrete was slick with blood, making the footing treacherous and Connor slipped, just managing to hastily regain his footing only to hear McKellen laugh mockingly. He glanced down at his hand and saw it was stained with blood. Taylor's blood.

"Not fairytales, my dimwitted cousin."

"I am not your cousin!" Connor roared.

"We are all kin." McKellen taunted. Sliding up behind Methos' slowly healing form, he peered at Connor over the older Immortal's shoulder, twisting Methos around and using him like a shield. "Meet Methos." He introduced snidely, grabbing the healing Immortal's hair and forcing his head up. "Think MacLeod. A five thousand year old Quickening. Can't you taste the delicious feel of his reviving spirit?" He hissed, using the edge of his sword to cut the reviving Immortal's exposed throat. A small flicker of blue lightening teased across the cut flesh, healing the wound and McKellen pretended to breathe in the seductive quality of the power invoked by such an act. "Imagine how sweet his essence could be. How powerful."

"No!" Connor stated, watching Taylor lift his lashes and stare at him dazed and bewildered. Then he saw the slight flaring of panic color Taylor's gaze when McKellen purposely cut his skin open a second time to demonstrate his ownership and control of the situation. Was McKellen's claim true? Was this Methos? The Methos?? He didn't know, didn't want to think about the possibility, needing to concentrate on McKellen's devious manipulations and cunning ploys. He tried to step around Taylor's dead weight, hindered when McKellen moved Taylor to block his move. It was obvious McKellen wanted to use Taylor as a distraction, believing it would gain him an advantage. Not for long.... Connor decided. Muttering an old Gaelic blessing, Connor locked gazes with Taylor briefly then drove his sword through Taylor's body, impaling McKellen at the same time. He winced in apology when Adam Taylor cried out, focusing his attention on McKellen's shock and startled cry from behind the hanging man. Yanking his katana free of both bodies, Connor swiftly went around Taylor's gasping form and followed McKellen's hasty retreat as the other Immortal staggered off the slippery platform. "There is no escape from justice, McKellen!" Connor pronounced and swung his blade down on the injured Scottish murderer. He avoided the kick aimed at him, deliberately knocking McKellen's sword flying before pacing after the whimpering Scot. "How does it feel McKellen to be helpless, at the mercy of a stronger force?!" He spat, envisioning again in his mind all those that this man had killed in cold blood. In the name of hate. In the name of a senseless war that had ended centuries ago. In the name of all those who had never stood a chance against McKellen's viciousness and brutality.

"This is unfair!" McKellen cried outraged, sliding along the floor towards the CI5 agent's position. If he could not use the older Immortal as a shield then he would use an innocent mortal. Connor would not kill an innocent.

"Think again!" Connor growled, cutting off McKellen's path to the curly-headed agent and giving his opponent a twisted grin of sheer disgust. "Here you die. On your knees begging for your life!"

"So you do want power." McKellen accused, raising his head and glaring at Connor MacLeod. "I knew you were not that noble!"

"Believe what you like." Connor stated, raising his sword for the final stroke.

"Tell me, MacLeod. When you have taken my head, will you take his?" He asked, trying one last diversion, pointing up towards Methos' hanging figure.

Hesitating slightly, Connor snarled at McKellen.

"He is five thousand years old!" McKellen hissed, desperate now. "Think of it?! With his head you could be invincible!"

"I do not believe in myths!" Connor ended the discussion, swinging his blade down and silencing McKellen's annoying voice. The Scot's head tumbled from McKellen's body, rolling away to lie in a puddle of dirty water and Connor turned away from the wide staring eyes, briefly seeing the CI5 agent stare up at him in disbelief and horror. Then the Quickening storm surrounded him.

"Bloody hell-" Doyle gasped out, trying to protect himself when a ferocious wind and electrical storm broke out in the old abattoir. Anything that was not tied down was uplifted and thrown across the open space. The louver's shattered under the force of the miniature cyclone and sparks exploded in every direction. Awestruck, Doyle glanced around wildly at the total havoc surrounding him, not believing how all the charged energy in the room seemed to target John Nash. A man that McKellen had addressed as Connor MacLeod. MacLeod?? Did all Immortals have duel identities? It was all too confusing and he let his eyes train on Connor MacLeod, intrigued despite the danger he was in. Nothing in his training, in his reading or in his life had ever prepared him for this type of unstoppable power and he blinked up in awe when the storm ended and Connor MacLeod stood up and cried his fury to the ceiling above. In that instant he looked magnificent and powerful.

Releasing a shocked breath, Doyle knew what he had just witnessed was impossible - yet he had seen it. Lived it and it was no drug-induced nightmare. This was utterly real. Re-gathering his composure, he saw Connor MacLeod roll his shoulder back before bending to pick up his curved sword. Then the blonde Scot casually walked over to McKellen's decapitated body and wiped the sword on McKellen's trousers. It was so normal an act, but also so staggering. This was accepted as normal in the Immortal world? And what in God's name was that electrical display all about?!? Forcing himself to breathe out calmly, Doyle then watched how Connor MacLeod glanced up at Taylor's body hanging so lifelessly from the large meat hook. What would Connor MacLeod do? Would he now kill Taylor as he had killed McKellen? Worried suddenly, Doyle pondered what he could do. Tensing, he saw Connor MacLeod step up onto the platform and approach Taylor. Christ, he still had his sword out.... Doyle noted nervously. But what could he say or do to stop so powerful a creature as Connor MacLeod?

Eyeing Taylor, Connor frowned. He walked around the man to stand in front of him and found baleful green eyes watching him in deadly apprehension. "I am not interested in your head." He stated, feeling McKellen's Quickening swirl around inside his own mind while he slowly pushed the man's insane desires away.

"I didn't think you would be." Methos muttered, his voice coming out in barely a whisper.

Sliding his sword away inside his coat, Connor reached up and gently unwound the wire holding the injured man captive and then caught Taylor's body when the other collapsed. He slowly lowered him to the ground, clinically assessing the Immortal's injuries. He ignored the sharply in-drawn breath of pain and the trembling muscles, finding that he was cradling the man without thought. Looking at Taylor he wondered if what McKellen had claimed was true or just a ruse to throw him off balance. "Was he right?"

Debating whether he should pretend to misunderstand or not, Methos pulled away from Connor's supportive embrace and forced himself to sit alone. It hurt, but the pain of renewed circulation and healing would soon ease and he could then think straight. But at present he felt he owed this man at least some explanation - even though Connor had impaled him along with McKellen. It was a novel approach.... "Does it matter?"

Connor nodded to himself, acknowledging the soft words reading behind Taylor's irritated tone. Moving back he crouched in front of the healing Immortal, noting how stubborn and peeved Taylor now looked. Then he remembered back to when he had been a young and immature Immortal in 1588 and he recalled how this man had not only saved his life, but had also forced him to remember what he was. "Then it is true." Connor stated, finding that looking at Taylor he could imagine what McKellen had suggested. The mannerisms, the masks, sarcastic comments and obnoxious nature, and he found the idea no longer seemed so far fetched. Methos. Five thousand years of history. Of knowledge? What he must know.... remember. What a teacher he would make. "Does Duncan know?"

"No." Methos lifted his head and let his eyes speak for him, warning Connor way from that subject. "He must never- "

"I understand." Connor assured him, reaching out to lay a hand on the man's shoulder. Under his fingers he could feel the healing energy of Methos' own strong Quickening and he gave the other man a small, rueful smile. "Knowing a secret like that could get a man killed."

"It could." Methos said through gritted teeth. He really didn't feel up to sparing words with Connor. "If the one knowing the secret lacked honor."

Giving a gruff laugh, Connor nodded in perfect understanding. "You have my word and honor."

"Thank you." Methos mumbled with poor grace. In another time, another place such a secret would force him to silence a warrior like Connor MacLeod, regardless of his promise. But at that moment he found himself strangely trusting the honest Scot. What was it with him and Highland brats' at present? Maybe he was learning, or maybe he was simply allowing Fate to guide him rather than fighting against the inevitable so insistently. He smiled warily at his own ideas.

"What about him?" Connor asked indicating the battered looking CI5 agent.

"Let me deal with him." Methos stated, glad when Connor silently deferred to his wishes. He really didn't want to argue - or fight.... "Trust me. I have a solution." He murmured, finding that his own mouth curved up deviously.

Laughing out loud, Connor stood up and went over to the CI5 man. He studied his dishevelled state before picking up McKellen's discarded blade and testing its weight in his hand. "Hold still." Connor directed the agent then lifted the blade.

"Shit!" Doyle muttered, holding his wrists wide apart, realizing what Connor MacLeod was on about at the last instant. What a way to ruin a fine edge and Doyle winced when the sharp blade came down hard on his cuffs, severing the chain. Strewth - he never wanted to get on Connor MacLeod's bad side. Or whatever the man's true name was. Rubbing his sore wrists to help his circulation, Doyle saw Connor MacLeod study the edge of McKellen's sword, before dropping the ruined weapon heedlessly on the floor. Glancing at the headless body, Doyle determinedly made his way over to Adam. Get a grip old son, he told himself wordlessly. Check the hostages then call backup.... he repeated, almost hearing Cowley's commanding tones in his head. But how the hell was he supposed to write this up?

"Do you want me to get rid of this?" Connor asked pointing to McKellen's body.

"Umm, no." Doyle decided. He winced, thinking of the different ways he could explain this to Cowley. Oh Christ.... Bodie! His partner would never believe any of this. "CI5 will clean up."

"Good." Connor muttered. Looking at Methos he nodded slightly. "Give my regards to Duncan." He said in Gaelic, then turned and walked away into the enveloping darkness.

"Hey!" Doyle called after the Scot. "Just wait a bloody minute.... Shit!" He turned to Taylor and saw the other man smile. It still blew him away to think that half an hour ago there had been a sword in this man's gut and now he was sitting up looking smug if not exhausted. "Okay!" Doyle exclaimed to the disused abattoir in general. "I have no idea how to call this one. Or even if I should report it!"

"Relax." Methos said, slowly getting up and testing his balance. He ached from head to foot, but knew after a wash, something to eat - beer - and a good night's sleep he would be fine. "You don't have to explain anything." He went on persuasively. "We were drugged. Chained off to one side when McKellen had a disagreement with one of his associates. They fought, McKellen lost and the other man - whom we did not see so cannot describe," Methos added pointedly. "..fled. On foot. End of story."


"Tell me agent Doyle, do you really want to try and explain what you saw to Cowley?" Methos asked in a reasonable tone. "Or to your cantankerous partner?"

"Oh Christ," Doyle muttered dropping to sit on the side of the concrete slab and look at Taylor's innocent expression. "I wouldn't know where to start, and will you stop laughing!" He ended in annoyance.

"Relax. In time Ray," Methos said soothingly. "When you've had enough of CI5, I know just the job for you."

"What?" Doyle asked suspiciously. "As an inmate at the funny farm?"

Laughing even more, Methos shook his head. "You like study - right?"


"And history?"

"You know I do." Doyle stated, not sure he wanted to trust that look on Taylor's face. Taylor looked perfectly healthy except for all the blood that stained his skin. It was disturbingly weird.

"Then you'd make an excellent Watcher."

"A what?" Doyle asked confused.

"Ask me when you're no longer a CI5 agent." Nodding to himself, Methos studied his bloodied form and pulled a disgusted face. "We'd better wash up a bit before you call the boys in blue."

"Taylor!?" Doyle demanded exasperated, then remembered both McKellen and Connor MacLeod had called this man by a different name. By a name that was five thousand years old. "Methos-"

Turning abruptly at that, Methos stalked towards Doyle, letting his manner change to intimidate the other man. He watched how Doyle hastily climbed to his feet and scowled at him in confusion. "Never repeat that name." Methos whispered in a dangerous tone.

"But that is your name." Doyle persisted, refusing to back down. "Your true name. Isn't it?"

"It is a dangerous name. Something I left behind a very long time ago."

"Something that could get you killed if others of your kind learned of it." Doyle finished seeing Adam/Methos nod minutely. "I deal in secrets. No one will learn this from me. Hell - who would believe me?" Doyle asked softly, wanting to lighten the mood between them. "But, listen," he called reaching out to touch this intriguing man before him. "It is nice to finally know who you are. Now I can trust you."

Accepting that, Methos covered the hand holding his arm and squeezed Doyle's cold fingers. Surprisingly he found that he didn't mind Raymond Doyle knowing either, instinctively sensing that he could trust this sincere man. "You're too good for Bodie." Methos announced out loud, pleased when he saw Doyle splutter in stunned outrage. "Now let's see if we can find a phone so we can get back to civilization. I could really use a beer."

May 28th 1980, 2am. London.

Hearing his R/T beep, Bodie jumped awake and hastily glanced around for the annoying device. He spotted his it on the coffee table and reached for it, checking his watch in the process. It was just after 2am in the morning and he figured it had to be either Turner or Brown reporting in from outside the Mayfair hotel.

"3.7," Bodie answered, covering a yawn and seeing MacLeod sit up and rub his eyes. They were both sitting in the dimly lit main room of the penthouse suite, with cold coffee on the table between them and a black and white movie playing on the television. No sound was coming from the TV so he assumed MacLeod must have hit the mute button sometime between the last lot of phone-sex ads and the time his R/T woke him.

"Bodie. Christ mate - you won't believe how glad I am to hear your-"

"Ray!?" Bodie interrupted the other man, instantly alert and swiftly standing while he grabbed his coat. "Where the hell are you!?" He saw MacLeod mirror his actions while the Scot made urgent hand gestures and mouthed Adam Taylor's name at him. He waved the Scot back and concentrated on what his partner had to say. Never had he been so relieved to hear Ray's voice.

"I'm not too sure."

Even via the static, Bodie could tell that his partner was not seriously hurt and he closed his eyes and breathed out a sigh of relief. A million questions flew into his mind and he started to wonder if this was a set up of for real. A trick? Was McKellen setting them up? "Listen mate-"

"We're at an old disused abattoir. I'm not sure but I'd say we're near the Surrey Docks."

"Trouble?" Bodie asked, needing to know and mentally calculating the quickest way to get across the City. He could get CI5 mobilized within ten minutes....


He could hear Doyle sigh into the bad connection, and from his partner's tone he knew there was no set up or real danger. Relaxing even more, he let his mind start to dwell on other issues. Like who took them, what had happened, if he was hurt in any way.... He felt all out of sync, like he was missing part of his soul and knew that this feeling was getting worse each time one of them got into trouble. Lifting his eyes to MacLeod, he saw the Scot's pinched expression. "Ray?"

"We're fine. Taylor's just a little knocked around. But McKellen's dead."


"Look just get down here and then I'll explain. Oh and I suppose you had better call the Cow."

Hearing the connection go dead he stared at his R/T then back at MacLeod. "Can this get any weirder?" Changing the frequency button he was about to call CI5 HQ.

"Wait." MacLeod admonished.

"Cowley needs to know." Bodie informed him, softening his tone. Over the last few hours of enforced association he had gained a new insight into MacLeod's complex personality and could grudgingly admit to liking the guy. "I'm sorry, mate. It will take ten minutes for the forensic boys to swing into gear, that gives us a small window."

Knowing Bodie was technically correct in his assessment, MacLeod pulled on his coat and headed for the door. McKellen was dead? How? By Adam's hand or Connor's? And what had Doyle seen?

Half an hour later Bodie killed the ignition outside the old disused factory and abattoir area, scanning the darkness for any sign of trouble, snipers or Doyle. He had maybe 5 to 10 minutes at the most before other CI5 agents arrived and he wanted to find his partner and make sure Doyle was okay. Next to him he sensed the fact that MacLeod had tensed and he spared him a brief glance. Seeing a figure appear at the edge of his car's headlights, he flipped the high beam on. Automatically he took out his gun and exited the car, crouching down behind the driver's door to wait and see who it was. "Get down!" He growled at MacLeod. Shaking his head when the other man took a moment too long to react. Staring off in the direction of the approaching figure Bodie saw Doyle materialize in his headlight beam and beside his partner was Taylor. "Ray?" Bodie called, wanting to rush to his partner, but holding back out of instinct and training. MacLeod wasn't so particular and Bodie swore when the Scot stood up and jogged over to meet the two men. "Shit!" Bodie cursed.


Slowly standing, Bodie kept his gun ready and hurried over to his partner, running his eyes over his mate's figure and noting the bloodied wrists, swollen eye and wet clothing. "Christ, mate, what the hell is going on?"

"There's no one here. Taylor and I swept the building before I called you." Doyle explained tiredly. "McKellen is inside. Dead as a doornail." He turned and gestured back towards the building, seeing MacLeod drag Adam away.

Noticing the move also, Bodie was about to protest, but stopped when Doyle reached over and gripped his arm to get his attention. "Leave it mate." He advised.

Glaring after MacLeod, Bodie, centered his gaze on Doyle and gave his partner a small lopsided smile. "Shit, Ray, we'd better get these wrists treated." He said to cover his true emotions, taking hold of Doyle's injured hands and carefully studying the damaged skin. "You had me so Goddamn worried." Bodie carried on, not looking up from his inspection of the bruised and bloodied wrists. "Next time you step aside and let the bastards take what they want. You don't play hero - do you hear me, Ray!" Bodie hissed, lifting his head and glaring angrily at his partner. "Not when the bastards cut us out of the loop, we look after each other. Christ-"

"Hey," Doyle cut his partner's words off, turning his hands over to grip Bodie's ice cold fingers. It hurt, but at that moment he was more worried about his friend's mental state. It was always hard when one of them was at risk, but it wasn't like they hadn't been through this before. "You know the risks of this job as well as I do. We've been here before. Hell, we've even been in worse situations. Remember that time you got knifed and I-"

"That was then, Ray." Bodie whispered. "This is now. Things have changed."

Swallowing suddenly in a very dry throat, Doyle wasn't sure it was wise for them to continue this conversation. Too much could be said under stress and Bodie's eyes were always direct and telling. "Things don't need to change." He offered softly.

"Too late, sunshine." Bodie admitted. "I don't think I could go back even if I wanted to. This job is dangerous enough as it is without ignoring the few benefits that we have."

"Oh hell, " Doyle sighed, closing his eyes. This was the last thing he wanted to discuss at 3am in the Surrey Docks. "Can we discuss this later?"

"Sure." Bodie nodded, letting his mouth curve up in a smug smile. "Right after you get those wrists checked and I take you home to my place."

"You're presuming a lot, aren't you?"

"No." Bode stated simply. "Just making sure we discuss all angles before this becomes a problem within the partnership." He studied Doyle's scowling face. "I take it you still want the partnership?"

"Goes, without saying." Doyle mumbled, shocked that maybe there was still a chance for them to salvage the tatters of their relationship.

"Good." Bodie nodded. "Then my place it is." He checked his watch knowing that forensics would be here soon. "Now tell me what happened in there."

Releasing Bodie's warming hands reluctantly, Doyle winced and ordered his chaotic thinking. He just had to remember what Taylor had told him....

Dragging Adam off to one side, MacLeod hastily glanced back at the two CI5 agents and then turned his full attention to the man standing semi-naked before him. Adam looked drowned, even his jeans were wet, the dark stains of blood covering the thick denim. "What happened?" He hissed urgently. "Are you alright? Is McKellen 'dead' or permanently deceased?"

Exhaling sharply, Methos blinked at MacLeod drinking in his concern and traitorously trying to squash his rising hope at the fact that the Highlander genuinely cared. "Connor took McKellen's head." He stated simply.


"And before you ask me where he is, I don't know." Methos interjected. "He said to say goodbye to you incidentally. Oh and by the way, Doyle knows about Immortals and all that crap."

Thrown by all the information he was given, MacLeod wasn't sure what to ask first. Doyle knew?!? Connor was gone.... but Adam lived and appeared healed. "I.... I-"

"I need a beer," Methos informed him, loving the way MacLeod's eyebrows climbed in confusion and how his eyes became impossibly big and beseeching. He could really sink deeply into a man like Duncan MacLeod. But the problem was he doubted he would ever surface again sane and be able to function independently. It would be best if he left....

"Then I'll take you home." MacLeod whispered. "But what will Doyle tell CI5?" He just had to ask.

"Nothing." Methos shrugged. "Besides who would believe him?"


"Neither Raymond Doyle nor myself saw anything. We were drugged." Methos told him. "That is the official story."

Nodding, MacLeod instinctively took off his coat and placed it around Adam's shoulders, using the opportunity to touch the other man and assure himself that he was alive and safe.

Feeling the extra weight of the coat on one side, Methos lifted a brow and looked at the Highlander questioningly. "You have just handed me your sword, MacLeod." He stated stunned. "You should never give another Immortal that kind of power."

"I don't." MacLeod admitted. "I only do that for those I care about. And there are precious few of them. Three that I can think of, including yourself."

Scared now by the implications of that frank, honest statement, Methos blinked at the Highlander in utter awe. His mind was totally blank and he hardly protested when MacLeod slid a hand under the lapel of his borrowed coat and caressed his throat. "Duncan-"

"Come on, let me get you into the warmth of Bodie's car. We might even be able to harass the man to turn his heater on." MacLeod covered, a little shocked at his own forward announcement. He'd frighten Adam off for sure this way. Dammit!

"Don't count on it." Methos muttered.

Hearing his radio sound, Bodie went back to the Capri, seeing Taylor slide into the back seat and shiver in cold. "3.7." He answered.

"Putting you through to Alpha One. Go ahead 3.7."

Taking a deep breath, Bodie prepared himself, hearing the frequency change and Cowley's gruff voice sound out over the small speaker.

"What the hell is going on, Bodie!?"

"We've found McKellen, Sir. 4.5 called it in. He and Taylor were taken to the vacant abattoir near the Surrey docks earlier today. Both are safe, but it seems McKellen wasn't so lucky. He was beheaded at the hands of one of his associates. We're searching the area now for clues. Sir." He took his finger off the send button and held his breath waiting for the shit to hit the fan. He'd known that Cowley had wanted McKellen alive.

"Very good, Bodie. When you are finished up there, hand over to the night team and go home. I'll want your full reports on my desk by 10 in the morning."

Staring at the handset in his hand, it took Bodie a delayed second before he replied. "Yes Sir." Then he threw the radio back in the car and glared at Doyle who was standing at his shoulder. "That old bastard! It's after 3am in the fucking morning, how the hell are we supposed to get reports to him by 10am!"

"Not by complaining we won't." Doyle mumbled. He glanced into the Capri and saw Adam rugged up in MacLeod's coat. Standing up again he eyed his furious partner. "Who's on tonight?"

"Turner and Brown." Bodie said with poor grace, turning around when the CI5 forensic boys arrived and parked beside them.

"Then get them down here to take over so we can go and get some shut eye." Doyle suggested, walking around Bodie to direct the forensics team to the murder site.

Grumbling under his breath, Bodie picked up the radio again. What the hell would he do without Raymond Doyle infecting his life?

Duncan paused just inside the door admiring Adam's body as he moved towards the couch.... no doubt to fall into it in that inviting sprawl he seemed to have perfected. Checking the time he saw it was just after 4am now and he came to a decision on the dilemma that had been bugging him for most of the night and early morning. Shutting the door firmly, MacLeod slid the security chain home with a click. Last thing he wanted was to be disturbed by any more CI5 agents, or would be kidnappers. He and Taylor had a lot to discuss.

Hearing the bolt drop in the lock, Methos stopped halfway to the lounge and turned to raise an inquiring eyebrow at the other man. He wondered what this little development was leading to, fearing he already knew the answer. The damned Scot had been unusually silent on the way home in the back of the Capri, but his actions of an hour ago and his expression spoke louder than any words could.

Seeing the questioning look Duncan grinned back. "I've learnt from long experience never to trust the 'Do Not Disturb' sign." He answered. "And I definitely don't want to be disturbed," he growled, his voice deepening with suppressed desire as an evil grin curled itself around his lips. Slowly he advanced on his unsuspecting partner, wanting to hold him and reassure himself that the ordeal was truly over.

Oh Shit.... was the first thing that hit Methos' brain as he realized that the bigger man was bearing down on him with obviously dishonorable intent. Connor's words came back to haunt him and he backpedaled quickly to avoid the bigger man. He was exhausted and really didn't want to have an argument now with this beautiful Highlander. "Mac!" He squeaked when he was caught in the vice like grip of a pair of strong arms, the other man not fooled by his move. Hot demanding lips sought his in a bruising clinch whilst broad hands urgently caressed his back, seeking the flesh beneath his borrowed coat. He suppressed a moan, his half-hearted attempts to push MacLeod away became feebler with each passing second while the other man deepened the kiss demanding entrance. Large warm hands slid around to run feather light fingers across his abdomen and Adam moaned deeply in his throat. Gods.... but he wanted this, wanted it more than the breath in his lungs, and that was the best reason for giving it up. For two hundred years he had survived without this kind of madness, without the Game and he knew he would not survive now if he surrendered. He cursed wordlessly while he felt his traitorous body shiver in response to the blatant demands MacLeod asked of him.

MacLeod heard the low moan, felt the fight leave the body in his arms when his tongue forced entry into the moist warm cavern that was Adam's mouth. For over eighteen hours he had lived in fear of learning that McKellen had taken this man's head that now he had to release all that caged emotion and show this man how serious their relationship already was. Even though he knew Adam was scared of commitment. He'd seen the fear and knew with a dreadful certainty that this would be their last night together. And he felt helpless to stop the inevitable. This time. But he would never forget.... and next time he met this fascinating man he would not let Adam leave so easily, for he could feel Fate whispering in his ear that they would meet again.

When the Highland brat finally let him up for air, Methos hung almost limp in MacLeod's arms, but with a steadying breath he straightened and renewed his struggle, fighting the almost overwhelming impulse to throw the manipulating bastard down on the floor and fuck his brains out. "Mac, we can't do this," he gasped, pushing at the Scot's chest, needing distance from the other's over-powering presence and the responses it evoked in him so effortlessly. Gods, he could almost feel rational thought slipping from his grasp at the mere smell of this aroused warrior.

"Why?" Came the inevitable question.

Methos looked at the man in front of him helplessly. A million reasons flew to mind - starting with the obvious excuse about the Immortal Game and digressing to the final reason concerning his harrowing night with McKellen. But he said none of that. Instead he simply said - "Because." He stopped, licking his lips nervously and then gasping in a breath when his thoughts scattered like feathers in the wind. "Because we can't." He finished lamely, feeling a bubble of hysterical laughter threaten to engulf him. Oh yeah, full marks for eloquence on that one! He was furious with the exasperating Scot. Furious for what this child was able to do his rational thinking ability.

"Why?" MacLeod knew why, he had seen the trapped expression, had seen the look of an animal ready to flee that had flitted like an elusive silver fish in the green depths of Adam's eyes. With a sinking certainty he knew that if he did not let the other go voluntarily, then Adam would walkout the door and never return and he could not live with that. Could not live with the fear of not knowing if the other had left, or had been challenged and killed.

"Because I can't give you what you want, MacLeod. I don't do happy families. Okay!?" Methos finished harshly, closing his eyes and turning his face away, not wanting to face the hurt that was bound to be reflected in those big brown puppy dog eyes.

"I know." Came the soft reply as MacLeod gently claimed the angry mouth with his own, persisting until the stubborn resistance slackened. "I know you won't be here in the morning, but does that have to mean we deny each other tonight?" He asked quietly.

Methos' jaw dropped, this was the last response he had expected from the stubborn Highlander, and he was immediately suspicious of the man's motives. Placing his hands on MacLeod's chest he pushed him away to arms length, leaving them there as if to hold him at bay. Capturing the dark gaze with his, Methos found only acceptance tempered with regret and he relaxed. "What's the catch?" He demanded suspiciously.

"No catch." MacLeod replied, taking note of the disbelieving look that Adam shot him. He released his hold stepping back from the other man, opening his arms in a gesture of release, offering Adam control. "If you want to leave now, I won't stop you." MacLeod stated quietly, his voice flat, without inflection.

Methos almost overbalanced at the sudden loss of support, not having realized how much he had leaned into the other man's strength. The irony of it was not lost on him and he cursed himself for being fifty kinds of fool, for not comprehending what was happening to his own heart. He had been so wrapped up in the Highlander's supposed feelings, and the avoidance of those feelings, that he had been unaware of what his own were doing. He had not even recognized that the overbearing, overprotective, brat of a boy scout had wormed his way into the empty place in his soul where he kept his loneliness under lock and key. Serves you right you idiot! That's what you get for isolating yourself for so long! He glanced back to MacLeod who was standing patiently before him, his face impassive, the once obvious desire banked down now behind opaque eyes. When he left, Methos knew he would hurt this magnificent warrior and he admitted silently that he would also hurt himself. But he also knew he couldn't stay. Not now. Not after what had happened with McKellen. Staring at the Scot he was stunned to realize that MacLeod seemed to understand this too and Methos acknowledged that maybe Duncan MacLeod was not such a child after all. Maybe he could be proved wrong. So now he had to hurriedly revise his preconceptions and he came to a decision. Honestly he did not want to deny either of them the pleasure of this last night together. He would need the memory of it, to hold close, to keep out the cold chill of the loneliness that would wrap its familiar icy claws around him when he left the burning heat that was Duncan MacLeod. So, making his decision, Methos closed his eyes and sighed, knowing he would regret this in the morning, but for one more night he would not care. He would live to the full and make sure Duncan lived the few hours they had left to the full as well. He wanted this beautiful man - however brief their time together. Placing a hand on either side of MacLeod's face he pulled the slightly taller man down to him and took the passive mouth in a gentle undemanding caress. It was an invitation and for the briefest of seconds he agonized that the other would not accept. Then to his eternal joy he felt two strong arms enfold him in a crushing embrace as the mouth against his own became aggressive and demanding.

MacLeod skimmed his hands over the slender back, smiling inwardly at the shudder of pleasure that rippled through his lover's body and the moan that escaped into his mouth. Gently he pushed the coat from the bare shoulders, glad that the damp flesh was now warm and dry. Placing the coat down carefully he smiled at Adam, remembering the trust he had placed in Adam's hands by giving him his precious katana. Skimming hands over the white skin, he looked for blemishes, but found only a few flakes of dried blood and wondered again what McKellen had done to this man. If he asked Adam might tell him, but at present he didn't want to break this spell of desire. Taking a deep breath he shelved all his worries and he glided his hands down to the tab on Adam's jeans, his own breath catching as Adam attacked his shirt with equal vigor. When they were both naked, MacLeod took Adam in a fierce hug, storing up the feel of this incredible man against him for the famine that was to come. When his lover returned the hug with equal strength MacLeod knew with a bittersweet surge of joy that Adam felt the same way. Unwilling to let this last night turn maudlin, Duncan tilted his head up and proceeded to lick kiss his lover's exposed neck, knowing that this was a sensitive area for Immortals, and in particular for this sensual being.

Methos tilted his head back to allow better access, moaning as darts of pleasure spiked through his nerves and his body shuddered. Fuck.... but Duncan knew how to reduce him to near incoherence faster than almost anyone else he had known in his long life. And that, my foolish friend, is why you have to leave, a small annoying voice in the back of his mind shot back pointedly. Oh shut up! He snapped peevishly. Just this once you can go to hell.... he snarled to himself, slamming the door on the demon voice of survival. Taking deep uneven breaths and trying to keep his quickly weakening legs beneath him, Methos broke the heavy silence. "Mac - Duncan, this room has a perfectly good bed in it. Can we use it before my legs give way, or do you want to use the floor? I hate carpet burns," he complained.

Sniggered into Adam's neck MacLeod nodded. "Your wish is my command." He teased breaking the embrace, and dragging Adam by the hand to the bedroom, where he took the slender frame in his arms and sought out the tantalizing mouth again. He was convinced that this strange man, whom he knew almost nothing about, had him under some sort of spell and when he allowed Adam to leave the separation was going to be one of the hardest, most soul destroying things he had ever endured in his life.

Methos shuddered as he was drawn close into another embrace by his lover, the other's powerful presence washing over him like a hot wave, engulfing his mind just as the hot full lips engulfed his mouth. He could not stop a moan from escaping, feeling the Highlander's straining erection brush his own burning shaft, before large hands slid down his back to cup his buttocks and pull him closer. Desperate to gain some distance from the feelings that were swamping him Methos broke away from the fierce mouth gasping for much needed oxygen, but found his eyes caught in an intense brown gaze. Oh Gods but this Highland barbarian was the most beautiful creature he had ever known, his eyes deep pools of undisguised emotions and if he wasn't careful he'd be pulled into those bottomless depths and drown.

Sensing the hesitancy, MacLeod moved away, pulling his lover onto the bed with him, he pushed the other man gently down onto his stomach, ignoring the questioning glance. Straddling the slender hips he lent down and placed his lips on the exposed neck. "Relax Adam, you're too tense." He breathed, letting his warm breath feather across the pale skin, eliciting a shiver and a moan from the man trapped beneath him. MacLeod reached over to the side table and picked up the small bottle of oil that he had taken from the bathroom that morning, pouring a small amount of the contents into his hand and putting the bottle back. He rubbed his hands together, warming the oil before placing his hands on the tense shoulders and beginning to massage them slowly.

Methos sighed, amazed at how easily MacLeod's hands found the knots of tension in his muscles, mercilessly kneading them into submission. What ever else he might think about the exasperating Scot, he had to admit that Duncan had the most wonderfully talented hands.

Duncan felt the change in the body under him and his caress became more sensual as he reveled in the feel of the warm silky skin, and the muscles beneath, under his fingertips. Looking down at the long slender back, he was again surprised at the lean muscles that were hidden so well under the baggy clothes that Adam insisted on wearing. He marveled at the way those muscles moved beneath the pale skin as his lover squirmed under his touch. Adam seemed to have perfected the look of innocent helplessness, but there was a hidden strength now that belied that image. And it was this contrast and the occasional glimpses of something much deeper in Adam's personality that made for a puzzle that MacLeod knew he would one day have to solve. A murmured protest bought him out of his revere and without warning MacLeod found himself tumbled from his perch as Adam caught him off guard with a twist of his hips. He found himself pinned beneath the slighter man, the other holding his hands to either side of his head, the grip on his wrists shockingly strong.

"Day dreaming can be dangerous," Methos whispered into MacLeod's ear, his voice a low growl.

"Then it's a good thing you're not armed, isn't it?" Came the nonchalant reply.

"Who said I wasn't armed?" Methos growled, a feral grin on his lips as he suggestively rocked his hips causing his aching erection to rub against MacLeod's own hardened shaft. His grin widened at the answering gasp from the prone Highlander, feeling the other man arch upwards. Bending, he found the strong dark column of MacLeod's neck and proceeded to nip along its length, soothing the small red marks he'd made with his tongue. Reluctantly leaving the Highlander's neck he slid his hands down the muscled arms, admiring the darkly tanned skin - such a stark contrast to his own - the rising moans from MacLeod causing his own breath to quicken. Placing his hands to either side of the broad chest for support he lowered his mouth to a dark nipple and enclosed it in his mouth, nipping gently with his teeth. He felt the body under him tense and gasp and repeated the move on its twin, before he slid further down the beautiful form leaving hot wet trails with his tongue. Stopping briefly to toy with the Scot's navel he resumed his southward journey, encouraged vocally by MacLeod's hoarse groans of pleasure. Reaching the Highlander's proud erection Methos grasped the base and proceeded to tease the swollen head with his tongue, lapping at the leaking fluid before taking the entire length into his mouth and sucking hard.

MacLeod cried out in ecstasy as he was engulfed in the hot, wet heat of his lover's mouth. A man who seemed to have turned into a demon, a demon determined to draw his very soul from his body. He moaned, reaching down and running shaky fingers through Adam's short silky hair, holding the other man's head as he thrust into the inviting heat.

Methos found a rhythm that seemed to please the Highlander, and he gently fondled and squeezed the precious sacs with his other hand, causing the other to moan and shudder. Noting how close his Highlander was, Methos released the hard shaft from his mouth ignoring MacLeod's cry of protest. Instead he slid up the now sweat soaked body to capture the open lips with his own, whilst he reached for the small oil bottle. When he had it safely in his hand he captured MacLeod's petulant gaze with his own. "I want you, Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod." He whispered huskily, slipping a probing tongue into his lover's ear suggestively.

"Oh Gods yes.... Please-" MacLeod moaned, arching his body closer to the sensuous, inviting heat above him.

Grinning at the plaintive tone of MacLeod's voice Methos moved back down and positioned himself between the Scot's spread thighs. Pouring out the remaining oil into his hand he tossed the empty bottle negligently aside, keeping his eyes centered in his prize. Warming the oil between his hands, he glanced up at his lover's face, to find the other man regarding him with a desperate pleading expression. Gliding his finger tips down the muscled thighs with feather light caresses, he worked his hands down to the Highlander's firm buttocks slipping a finger between his cheeks until it reached the small tight opening, causing his lover to gasp and buck.

"Adam?!" MacLeod protested, the teasing becoming unbearable.

With a wicked grin Methos used the remaining oil to lubricate himself, before easing into the inviting heat, stilling momentarily to allow them both to savor the feelings. Then he placed his hands on the Highlander's hips and began a long, slow rhythm.

MacLeod groaned as he felt Adam slide into his body, fire coursing along his nerves, the slow sensual rhythm enough to set him alight but maddeningly below what he needed for release. He felt engulfed in his lover's presence, the faint buzz of his immortality an ever-present sensation in the back of is mind. It was something he had never felt before, not even with Amanda, and it was another reason why letting this incredible man slip away was going to be so hard. Having Adam next to him, with him, in him was a feeling he was fast becoming addicted to.

As he slowly increased the rhythm of his thrusts, Methos felt his control slipping and knew he could not last much longer. The gasping cries of his lover's building climax spurring him on. Slipping his arms beneath MacLeod's bent knees, he lent forward in order to deepen the penetration. "Duncan?" He called softly, willing the other man to move with him, to become in tune with him. Duncan look at me, I want to see you - to remember this always. But he could not bring himself to say the words out loud. For that would confirm his need for this feeling - this intimacy - to fill the void in his life. And that was something he could never admit out loud. Because that would then give this wonderful, exasperating man the excuse he needed to try and make him stay. And Methos knew that if Duncan MacLeod used his considerable powers of persuasion on him now, he would cave in and stay.

Through the clouding fog of pleasure that Adam was creating in him, MacLeod somehow heard his name called and opened his eyes to find himself falling into a pair of vivid green pools. Reaching out a hand he brushed the flushed face before him, tracing the open lips with his fingertips, smiling as a warm wet tongue flicked out to lick them before the tip of his finger was caught between very white teeth. "Adam.... Oh Gods-" MacLeod moaned feeling the last of his control fly away in tatters, as he panted out his release.

Methos shuddered at the sound of the name on MacLeod's lips, closing his eyes he imagined that deep silky voice crying out another name. And for the first time in centuries he wished fervently that it could be his true name spoken with such feeling and passion. What would it sound like for MacLeod to say 'Methos'? Opening his mouth to ask - he found his voice gone, like it had been stolen by his own personal survival demon and he gave a silent sob of frustrated regret. It was not fair, and he closed his eyes feeling the Scot's shuddering contractions drag him over the edge into completion and he spilled his essence into his lover's warm depths. Collapsing onto MacLeod's abdomen in a boneless sprawl, the sticky evidence of his lover's pleasure warm against his skin, Methos fought desperately to control the pain that threatened to overwhelm him. But he could not hold back as another sob forced its way past the knot in his throat. Oh fuck the Gods - fuck Fate, if he did not leave now he never would! But his body once again betrayed him as it shivered in the aftermath of its pleasure and his strength deserted him. In the end all he could do was listen to the beating of the Highlander's powerful heart as its frantic pace slowed gradually and they both came down from their high.

MacLeod heard the strangled sob that came from his lover and reached down to run gentle fingers through Adam's silky hair. "Adam? Are you alright?" When he got no reply he became concerned. And he forced himself to move. He sat up and reached for Adam, wanting to give comfort, needing to know what had caused his lover pain.

Methos felt the bed move as the big Scot sat up and slipped a hand under each arm, before he was dragged up MacLeod's cooling body to lie within two strong arms. A hot mouth claimed his in a demanding kiss whilst he felt MacLeod's legs entangle with his own in a full body hug. Instinctively he felt trapped and his body tensed as an uncharitable thought wormed its way into his brain. The damned stubborn Highlander wasn't going to let him go.... and he started to panic and struggle for freedom.

MacLeod felt the body he held tense and struggle, but this time, instead of letting go as before, he tightened his hold, guessing what the other must be thinking. "Shh Adam. Easy," he soothed stroking his lover's head, as if calming a frightened animal. Damn, but he hadn't expected a reaction like this to a simple embrace. "It's okay, you're not trapped." He whispered gently, appalled at the tremors running through the spare frame in his arms. When the tremors did not lessen he loosened his hold on the other man allowing him to move if he wished, unsurprised when Adam rolled off onto his side and curled into a tight ball. His first instinct was to move closer and give comfort, but he crushed that urge, instead he reached out a tentative hand and laid it on the pale skin of his lover's arm, stroking lightly. "I'm sorry, Adam. I didn't mean make you feel trapped. Hell, I already said you could go when you wanted."

"Not your fault, Highlander." Methos replied, his voice harsh with suppressed emotions. "Just my over active survival instincts." He finished bitterly.

"Are you saying that I am a threat to your survival?" MacLeod asked withdrawing his hand, shocked at such an accusation even a vaguely implied one.

"Yes, MacLeod, that is precisely what I'm saying." Methos retorted bluntly, uncurling from his protective posture and moving to sit on the edge of the bed with his back to the stunned Scot.

MacLeod stared at the slim naked back, the tense shoulders still shacking. He was torn between anger at being accused of such a thing and compassion for his lover's obvious distress. He reached out a hand, but seeing the other tense as if reading his intention, he withdrew it letting it drop. At that moment he felt utterly helpless. "Why?" He hated to ask, but needed the answer.

A choked sob forced its way between clenched teeth. Gods - but that question was one he was beginning to hate with a passion. Especially coming from the mouth of this Highland child. Taking a deep mental breath, Methos decided charitably that it was not really MacLeod's fault. Maybe he could blame McKellen for this entire mess, or Connor. Now that was more workable.... But then he sighed. In fact it was his own fault, for not leaving at the first opportunity. He was a fucking idiot. Sensing the other was still waiting for an answer he took a deep steadying breath. "I've learned through long painful experience MacLeod, that to become involved with our own kind is a short road to tragedy and loss. And it's a road I won't willingly walk down again." He finished shortly. It wasn't the real answer, not all of it anyway, but it was what the other would expect to hear. So it should suffice. The truth was so ugly that he did not even want to look at it himself, let alone show it to this moral and upright Scot so he could be judged unworthy yet again of a love that was being offered so freely.

Although MacLeod could hear the bitterness of the words spoken, he also suspected that there was much more not being said out loud. He suspected that Adam was hiding something very dark and very painful in his past that he did not want him to know about. So be it. This time he did reach out with his hand, laying it gently on the cool pale skin and feeling the muscles twitch under his touch. But he refused to pull away, gliding his hand up to Adam's shoulder and tugging firmly. "Come here," he coaxed, putting all the reassurance and need he felt into his voice.

"Back off, MacLeod." Methos growled, shrugging his shoulder to try and dislodge the caressing hand that was making a mockery out of his efforts at control. It didn't work as the other tightened his grip. Oh Gods how he wanted to relent, to sink back down into the hot sensual embrace that would envelope him like a blanket. The heat of MacLeod's spirit would thaw that part of himself that he had long ago placed in the deepest darkest coldest recesses of his mind and locked the door on in order to survive. "I said, BACK OFF!"


Methos whipped around to glare at the man behind him, the implacable tone in the refusal like a slap in the face. Was MacLeod now denying his feelings and rights?

MacLeod grinned inwardly at the deadly gaze leveled at him. My, my - if looks could kill he'd be reduced to ashes on the spot, but at least he now had Adam's complete attention. "Adam," he started, injecting seriousness into his tone. "I know nothing about you and although I would be lying if I said that I don't want you to stay, I am also not going to go back on my word and force you to remain." The 'this time' he left unsaid, hoping that the other could not hear the unspoken promise and threat. "Now stop acting like a child and come here." He finished, grinning openly at the outraged expression on the others face.

"Child!" Methos sputtered, torn between laughter and outrage at the well-calculated dig. "Oh Mac, what am I going to do without you?" He laughed, then seeing the brown eyes once again turn serious he reached out a hand and placed gentle fingertips over the full lips. "Have you not heard of rhetorical questions, MacLeod?" He interrupted with mock exasperation, forestalling the reply he could see forming.

MacLeod took the slender hand in his, turning it he placed his thumb in the palm and with gentle pressure he rubbed small circles, smiling when Adam closed his intense green eyes and sighed in pleasure. Then with a slow forward pull he tried to coax his skittish lover back into his embrace.

Methos felt the gentle pull and this time he relented, ruthlessly squashing his instincts to run. He knew he could trust the Highlander, he just wasn't sure he could trust himself. The longer he spent in this man's presence, the harder it was to contemplate leaving. But leave he must. With a small sigh he slid back onto the bed, stretching out beside the beckoning heat to be once more embraced by his lover's strong arms.

Not believing he had allowed Bodie to talk him into returning to his partner's spacious flat, Doyle paced away from his shadow and went into the kitchen to turn the kettle on. He checked his watch, remembering too late that it was smashed, and pulled a face, not bothering to look up when Bodie walked over to lean on the kitchen counter next to him. In a strange way the action was very reminiscent of their entire eighteen month partnership so far, Bodie the antagonist of the team, him the pacifier. Bodie the pursuer, while he preferred to wait.... So did he now want the dynamics of the teaming to change? "What time is it?" Doyle asked to cover his apprehension and worry.

"Quarter past four - in the morning."

"Christ," Doyle muttered. "We have to get a report on the Cow's desk in less than six hours."

"Ray, forget Cowley." Bodie said softly, crossing his arms and staring at the polished tiles under his feet. "Forget MacLeod, Taylor and this whole damn case for a moment and just talk to me. Please?"

Lifting his head, Doyle glanced at Bodie from under his damp curls, noting his partner's serious expression and direct gaze. Suddenly the simple fact that they were about to have the most important conversation of their lives and careers seemed unbelievable and so dangerous, that his breath caught and he felt a fit of unstoppable giggles rise up from his chest. Then he was laughing, stepping away from Bodie and cracking up. He knew it was stupid, but his mirth was uncontrollable, a reaction to the stress over the last few days, to the drugs, to the half truths he was forced to tell, to the secrets he was cursed to hide from his partner, lover and friend. Doyle didn't know any longer what was up or down, he only understood that he needed a release outlet. Unfortunately that was Bodie. Always would be Bodie.... and that thought sobered him, driving home a point he had been too blind to see. "God, aren't we a sick pair of idiots," Doyle wheezed, wiping his eyes and grinning at his partner.

Studying the other man with a dubious expression, Bodie hadn't moved an inch during his partner's fit of giggles, well used the odd way the other man dealt with issues and pressure. He'd just never seen Doyle crack up at the mention of their relationship before and that was a worry. "You feel better now?"

"I dunno." Doyle sighed, spooning tea into a pot and pouring in the hot water. "Ask me after I've slept."


"Listen Bodie, this thing between us is never gonna work."

"Why?" Bodie asked belligerently.

"Because I refuse to be the convenient lay you can throw a leg over when you can't find a bird." Doyle stated bluntly, letting his eyes watch Bodie's expression change from stunned disbelief to insulted outrage in the space of a second. There - he'd finally said it. Admitted what had been eating at him since he woken next to his exasperating partner. Was it only the previous morning? Less than twenty-four hours ago? Shit....

"Is that what you think I want?" Bodie demanded hurt.

"Isn't it?"

"No. Aw hell mate! What do you take me for?" Bodie growled angrily. "We're partners for Christsakes, Ray! We're a team. What you do affects me and visa versa! What I want from you I can't get from a bird and what I want to give to you I guarantee you won't get from any of the females you chase!"

Hearing the heavily emotion laden tone, Doyle blinked at his partner, startled. "It sounds like you've given this some thought-"

"Too bloody right mate!" Bodie spat back, sticking his chin out and challenging Doyle to back away. "I know you want meaning in your life, Ray. I watch the way you search for it with each female you bed and fuss over. I hate to see you hurt when every bloody time they leave, and you turn all subdued on me. It scares me that one day I'll lose you to some toffee-nosed bitch who won't understand you like I do. So I'm offering you an alternative. I'm offering you a chance - only you have to tell me if this is what you want."

Absolutely speechless, Doyle could only stare at his partner and friend. Everything Bodie was feeling was strikingly clear in the vivid blue eyes and Doyle had to look away. For the second time in less than twelve hours he was shocked and he covered his mild panic by reaching up and taking down two mugs. He poured the tea automatically, stirring in the sugar and milk before handing one to his partner. His actions were pure habit and he stopped, staring at Bodie's hand when his partner took the mug off him. Those sure, capable hands.... and Doyle closed his eyes. In all honesty he couldn't turn away now. The door of possibilities Adam Taylor had opened refused to close and he accepted the fact that he wanted to see where this madness would lead. Coming to an instant decision, he took the mug back off Bodie and reached up instead to cup his partner's pale face. "Treat me like one of your easy lays, and I'll kill you myself!"


Not waiting for a response he moved and claimed Bodie's open mouth, taking the initiative and tasting the other man's relief. Regardless of what happened in the future, they needed to live in the present and that was one lesson he intended to adopt from Adam Taylor's cynical philosophy on life. Besides, surely a five thousand-year-old man had gained some insight into human nature....

Awaking with a start Methos welcomed the awareness seeping back into his satiated mind and body with a languid slowness that drew a contented sigh from him. He was surrounded by the warmth of a solid body and the now familiar buzz of his lover's presence. He felt the weight of a strong arm draped across his waist and the feathery exhalation's of his lover's warm breath caressing his neck. All was right with the world. McKellen was gone. The threat to this beautiful Highland child was gone and he grinned at the memory of last night. Then another memory surfaced and his smile faded as if it had never existed. Last Night - the irony of those words like a knife in his heart, for it had been their 'last' night. Suddenly he felt like a condemned man savoring the memory of his last meal while he was sentenced to return to the safe but dull and cold existence of Adam Taylor - forever exiled from the warmth and light that was Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod.

Lifting a hand, Methos caressed the smooth warm skin of MacLeod's arm, marveling at the solid muscle beneath. So strong and yet so gentle when they held him. A small sob escaped before he could suppress it and the pit of dark loneliness that had disappeared briefly in the Highlander's presence cracked open. Despair threatened to engulf him and he battled to exercise his familiar controls to banish the darkness into the background.

He had to leave now, before the barbarian child woke and pleaded with those soulful brown eyes for him to stay. He knew MacLeod would not say a word to make him stay, but oh those eyes, the brat could melt glaciers and break even a saint's resolve with those pleading eyes, and Methos knew he was no saint.

Lifting the arm that banded his waist so possessively, Methos slipped out of bed replacing his body with his pillow. He watched how MacLeod curled about the still warm pillow with a contented sigh and was almost undone by that simple act of trust.

Quickly and quietly, Methos set about getting dressed and gathering his things. He dreaded what would happen if the Highlander should wake, while a small traitorous part of him wished that he would. In his haste to be gone, Methos failed to notice the small furry face that peeked out from under the bed, a puzzled expression in the clear green eyes. Instead he stood in the doorway of their shared bedroom, unable to drag his gaze from the sleeping form that was just visible in the not quite darkness of the early hours. It was just gone 6am.... His traitorous mind kept replaying images of their passion from the few hours before and unbidden he felt something warm and wet slide down his face. Shocked Methos reached up an unbelieving hand and touched the wetness, bringing it to his lips as if he needed the salty proof that they were real tears. Tears? He hadn't cried in longer than he could remember, and if that wasn't proof enough that he was too involved for his own good, he didn't know what was. Alright! You've won! He cursed the snide little voice deep in the back of his mind. Now leave me alone!

Taking a shuddering breath Methos stole one last look at his Highland prince and called softly - "Is fhea'r teicheadh math na droch fhuireach. I'm sorry Duncan-" He whispered a second time, his voice breaking on the last word. Abruptly he turned and let the tears flow, slipping out the door soundlessly while the icy fingers of despair and loneliness wrapped around his heart in cold familiarity. He felt dead inside before the Highlander's presence even faded from his sensing range.

MacLeod felt the sting of hot tears, but he struggled to remain still. To keep his breathing to the slow even rhythm of sleep, when all he wanted to do was leap up and drag his contrary lover back to bed where Adam belonged and never let him go. But he had given his word to Adam, and he never broke his word, no matter the cost. Even if the pain would cripple him. And he had felt his lover's eyes on him, had heard the whispered words - 'Better a good retreat than a bad stand'.... He had heard the pain behind those huskily whispered words and knew that Adam was suffering also. A small nasty part of him was glad that Adam suffered, for why should he suffer alone? He was a little ashamed of those thoughts, but they were there and there was nothing he could do about them. Then he heard the door close and held his breath as the precious buzz of Adam Taylor's presence faded for the last time.

Closing his eyes, MacLeod lay for what seemed an eternity, his face buried in the pillows, feeling the last of the heat left by Adam's body subside also. He inhaled the unique scent, imprinting it on his memory along with the images of the last few hours they had spent together, desperately trying to remember the sound of that soft smooth baritone before it too faded from his mind.

Later that same morning MacLeod woke with a start, groping blindly for the warm body that should be beside him. When he encountered nothing but cold empty sheets, memory returned and he groaned with feeling, the loss cutting through him afresh. He flopped onto his back, staring blankly up at the ceiling and began to curse Adam, Connor, McKellen and CI5 loudly and graphically.

MacLeod nearly jumped out of his skin when his verbal tirade was rudely interrupted by a small black and white body that landed on his pillow with no warning. Turning his head he was confronted by a pair of forlorn emerald eyes. Instantly his heart went out to the tiny creature and he reached up a finger to gently stroke the delicate head, rewarded for his efforts by the beginnings of a purr. "So.... he left you too did he?" He was answered by a subdued meow before a small, pink tongue flicked out to lick his finger. Then the tiny feline proceeded to make herself comfortable on his chest. She curled up into a tight ball, tail neatly draped over her small perfect nose while a half-hearted purr vibrated down through his chest bones. "I know exactly how you feel," MacLeod murmured placing his hands behind his head. A small smile tugging at the corners of his mouth despite the pain that still echoed through him. At least he still held a part of Adam....

Unwilling to disturb his new friend, MacLeod resigned himself to an extended stay in bed. In truth he figured it was the perfect excuse to give in to the urge to do nothing but mourn the loss of his lover. Because no matter how much he thought he had prepared himself for this morning - knowing that he would wake up alone - Adam's absence still cut like a sharp knife. The thing he missed the most already was that constant buzz in the back of his mind that had become a comforting presence. It was almost like the physical sensation, similar to the cat's purring. Never again.... would he let Adam walk way when he found him a second time. And he would find him!

Glancing at the time MacLeod saw it was almost 11.45am and he wondered when Bodie and Doyle would show up. Sooner rather than later he imagined. Settling his eyes on the cat he watched her sleep, seriously considering what to do with her. As much as he wanted to keep her for Adam's sake, at present he had no real address. He'd just bought a barge in Paris but it needed work and he really needed to travel the auction circuits if he wanted to seriously get back into the antique business. So what was he to do with the cat? Frowning, he wondered if Bodie liked animals?

Three hours later, MacLeod opened the door to his hotel room and invited the two CI5 agents in. All morning he had been silently praying that Adam would return, but deep in his heart he knew that was a false dream. "Come in gentlemen. I trust this is only a social visit?"

"Tying up loose ends." Doyle said pleasantly, glancing around. He saw no sign of Taylor and raised a brow. "Mr. Cowley would like to have a word with Nash."

MacLeod sighed, not surprised. "I don't know where he is. Last time I saw him was yesterday morning." He offered honestly, assuming an open and innocent expression. He slid his gaze to Doyle, wondering what was going on in the agent's mind, remembering that Adam had warned him about Doyle witnessing the Quickening between Connor and McKellen. Could he be trusted? Adam seemed to think so. Yet it was a risk.... "Surely you don't think Nash is a suspect?"

"We would just like a word with him." Bodie restated his manner and tone vastly different to what it had been over the last few days. Now he appeared more relaxed. At ease with the world and his surroundings.

Looking at the taller agent, MacLeod regarded Bodie with interest. "I wish I could help, but-" he shrugged.

"And your plans, Mr. MacLeod?" Doyle asked, returning from his brief survey of the room to pin the other man with shrewd eyes. He and Bodie had endured a grueling de- briefing in Cowley's office and he would be bloody glad when this operation was finished. Forensics was already having a field day with McKellen's sword and the decapitated body. And he prayed that Adam was as experienced in covering evidence as the man was in fabricating lies.

"I intend to return to Paris in a day or so." MacLeod stated.

"All finished with the auctions?" Bodie asked, softening his tone with a small smile. "You never did tell us how much you paid for that book."

Remembering the book, MacLeod felt a pain start under his heart, glancing around and seeing that the old book was still sitting on the table by the phone where he'd left it two days ago. He'd offered it to Adam and suddenly he could hear Adam's voice in his mind. Could almost smell him and see him - hear his sarcastic reply about the merits of that book. 'Paradise Lost' - too damn right....

"Mr. MacLeod?"

Blinking himself back to the present, MacLeod sucked in a deep breath, shelving his regrets and pain and noticed that both Bodie and Doyle were regarding him with worry. Oh hell.... "I paid too much," he stated, dragging his mind back to the question Bodie had asked. "Adam though it was a piece of junk."

"Which reminds me, where is Taylor?" Doyle asked.

"Gone." MacLeod stated, finding it was very hard to verbalize the truth. "You may catch him at the University." In a century or two.

"We'll do that." Bodie nodded, turning away and going to the door. "Stay out of trouble, Mr. MacLeod."

Lifting his lashes, MacLeod was not surprised to find Doyle still watching him, half expecting the other agent to have already known that Adam would leave. What connection was it that these two vastly different men shared? He was no longer jealous of the friendship, rather he was now curious. Not breaking eye contact with Doyle, MacLeod forced a smile, losing it a moment later when Doyle walked closer. He had the sudden impression that Doyle could read his thoughts.

"He'll be back." Doyle offered in a softer tone, turning slightly so that he kept their conversation private from Bodie.

"How can you be so sure?" MacLeod asked, knowing he should keep quiet, but he wanted to know what Doyle knew. Any comfort.

Considering his words carefully, Doyle glanced over at his partner and saw Bodie lift a brow in question. He shook his head and turned back to MacLeod, trusting his partner to respect his privacy. So much had changed in the last twenty-four hours that he owed MacLeod an explanation. Maybe even his thanks. "I'm sure, because no one would put up with what McKellen did to them if they didn't love the person they were protecting. Do you understand what I'm saying?"

"I'm starting to." MacLeod breathed. What had McKellen done? And why had Adam not told him? Why?!? "Doyle-"

"Give him time."

Biting back on more questions, MacLeod reluctantly nodded. He would have to track down Connor and get the information out of his clansman, though Connor very rarely discussed challenges. Especially if they involved old friends still alive. Then another thought hit him and he briefly glanced over at his partially opened bedroom door. "Doyle, do you like cats?"

A little perplexed by the change in subject, Doyle frowned. "Depends on its size."

"Wait here." MacLeod said, coming to an instant decision and walking over to his room. He went inside and swiftly found the small bundle of fur curled on Adam's pillow. The sight of Nefertiri cuddled into the softness of the pillow produced another pang of regret and loss, and MacLeod exhaled strongly forcing himself to suppress the useless emotions. Adam was gone. There was nothing he could do about that fact and later he would grieve. But now he needed to make some decisions and he went over to the bed and gingerly picked up the cat. She was warm and soft and he smoothed down her fur when she protested the movement before carrying her out to the waiting CI5 agents. "This is Nef, or I think Adam called her Nefertiri."

"After one of the Egyptian Queens." Doyle said with a laugh.

"Probably. He liked his history." MacLeod agreed. He stroked her ears back one last time then thrust her at the other man. "She needs a home and I know Adam would trust you to find her one."

"Now hang on a minute." Bodie interjected ambling over. "What the hell are we supposed to do with a sodding cat?"

Hearing the tiny animal start to purr, Doyle sent his partner a sly smile. "I think I know the perfect home."

"Don't even think about it." Bodie growled. "Cowley won't sanction it, so forget it."

Grinning wickedly, Doyle said his good-byes to MacLeod and preceded his partner to the door.

Throwing his hands in the air, Bodie stopped at the door and glanced back at the forlorn looking Scotsman and softened his scowl. "Have a safe trip back to Paris."

"Thanks," MacLeod called, closing his eyes when the door whispered shut. Now he was truly all alone. Again.

"Ray!" Bodie hissed, catching up to his partner and modifying his glare when an elderly couple took a step back away from the lifts. Yanking on Doyle's arm he dragged his partner into the stairwell. "What the hell do you think you are doing?"

"Lay off," Doyle muttered, starting down the steps ahead of his partner. "I didn't say I was going to keep her indefinitely, just until I found her a decent home."

"Oh." Bodie stopped, all the ire draining away. He watched Doyle disappear down the step, then hurried to catch up. "Just remember I'm allergic to the bloody thing."

"Then you'll just have to sleep on the couch."

"Doyle!!" Bodie spluttered in outrage, his scowl turning to a mischievous grin when he heard Ray Doyle's husky, wicked chuckle echo up to him. Things were certainly on the improve.

June 4th 1980. Paris.

Returning to Paris a week later, MacLeod tried to sink himself into the early summer warmth by remembering what he loved most about Paris in the summertime. The warmth, romance, elegance of the city that attracted young love.... But he was now almost as depressed with life as he had been before McKellen had turned up. He had stayed in London an extra four days, hoping against hope that Adam would return, praying that Adam would realize how stupid this unnecessary separation was. But the infuriating older Immortal seemed to have vanished.

He had even gone back to Oxford only to be told that Adam Taylor had pulled out of all his classes and returned home. 'A family crisis' - and MacLeod had rolled his eyes. How often had he used that excuse, or heard it used by another Immortal to escape a painful situation? Too often. But then maybe Connor was right? Maybe Adam had not returned his feelings and he was deluding himself? Yet what had Raymond Doyle told him?

'-no one would put up with what McKellen did to them if they didn't love the person they were protecting-'

Another lost opportunity. How many more lovers would he lose before he managed to find his soul-mate? Either way, MacLeod was now back in Paris, oblivious to the sunny weather, mourning over a lover he had barely learned how to touch. Yet a lover that was burned into his memory so strongly that if felt like they had been together for centuries, not mere days.

Shelving his brooding thoughts abruptly, MacLeod scanned the immediate area when the sweeping sense of an Immortal presence feathered over him. In that instant everything around him stopped, his complete concentration focused on the Immortal presence - the drone of the traffic dimmed, the laughter of the tourists faded, even the warmth of the sun diminished while his entire being located the direction of the buzz. In the back of his mind a desperate little voice was begging for it to be Adam, but he knew that dream was impossible and his heart sank when his eyes fell on a tall menacing figure on the other side of the busy street. A glory seeker? Not feeling up to the aggravation of an unnecessary challenge, or the exposure in front of so many witnesses, MacLeod swiveled on his heels and hastily crossed the busy road, mingling with the tourists along the riverside stalls. Glancing back he saw he still had his unwelcome visitor and he grinned, detouring across the Rotal Bridge towards the Louvre. Glancing down at the Seine, he saw a tourist barge drift slowly under the bridge and on impulse swiftly vaulted over the edge of the old stone railing to land on the open decking of the barge. His landing was met with numerous stares as tourists turned to gawk and MacLeod mumbled an apology, before finding the first vacant chair and sliding into it. Lifting his head he found a petite, pretty blonde Tour-guide glaring at him and he sent her a charming smile. She started to demand what he was doing and if he were mad, and MacLeod let his smile increase, admiring her passion and spirit. His smile only seemed to upset her more, so he tried to look suitably chastised, pointing out that she was neglecting to tell them all about the Louvre which was passing on their left.... His boldness seemed to impress her and she spluttered, her cheeks turning a very becoming shade of pink and MacLeod smiled. Around him other tourists were laughing.

Then he felt the resurgence of Immortal presence and MacLeod glanced up at the bridge they were approaching, not seeing his persistent opponent anywhere. He frowned in annoyance. The buzz of presence didn't ease until they were moving away from the Carrousel Bridge and MacLeod glanced back, puzzled by the fact the Immortal remained hidden. A different Immortal? A new challenger? Two Immortals? Paris obviously was not as it used to be.... He was positive it was not the same Immortal whom he had originally seen, for that brash challenger would have made a point of showing himself. So who was it?

Dismissing the problem when the feisty little French Tour- guide asked his name, MacLeod turned his complete attention and charisma on the pretty female. She was gorgeous and he saw her blush a second time under his obvious appraisal. Maybe summertime in Paris wasn't so bad after all?

Sucking in a breath from shock and admiration when MacLeod had jumped from a Rotal Bridge to the open aired tour boat, Methos pressed back against the cold wall of the Carrousel Bridge and swallowed nervously. MacLeod was going to kill him at this rate, and he let his eyes close, not believing the younger Immortal's luck. He had seen the other Immortal stalking MacLeod and for an instant had been so tempted to interfere and warn the precious Highlander, but Fate had now removed his chance.

So he would back away again and pick the Scot up outside his newly renovated barge. It was the least he could do until he was in a position to safeguard the Highlander's head properly. Once his new identity was secure he intended to make himself known to one of the well-respected historians' at the Paris University - a Donald Salzer - and from there make sure he was sponsored into the Watcher Organization. For once he was back in the secretive halls of the Watchers' vaults he could not only check up on his own chronicles, but he could make sure MacLeod stayed alive.

As plans went it wasn't perfect or what he craved, but for the moment he had no other options. Besides, he was a patient man.

Very patient.


August 16th 1995. London.

Methos stood at the edge of the road gazing somberly at the loan figure crouching before a granite headstone with a hand outstretched as if to caress the cold stone. His heart went out to the man who had so recently buried a friend and lover. Taking a deep breath, he stepped forward when he saw the other man stand and take a step back.

Hearing the approaching footsteps, Doyle turned and was a little stunned to see who it was that approached him, but glad all the same. "Adam." He greeted his old friend, holding out his hand.

Methos paused, appraising Doyle's emotional state, cataloguing the changes that five years had made to the other man since their last meeting. The face was a little more lined the hair now salt and pepper, but the eyes were the same clear direct green, although they were undeniably sad. Taking the outstretched hand in his, Methos pulled the younger man into an embrace, offering the comfort of one who knows what it is like to lose a loved one. "I'm so sorry Ray," he whispered. "I would have been here sooner, but I only just heard." He finished, feeling the tightening of Doyle's arms around his back before the other pulled away, unshed tears bright in those green eyes.

"I know. Thanks for coming." Doyle replied, turning back to the headstone for one last look before resolutely turning his back and gesturing for Adam to accompany him.

The two friends walked in silence, absorbing the quiet peace of the cemetery while Methos waited for Doyle to begin talking in his own time.

"It was so pointless," Doyle eventually began, before falling silent again.

"It always is." Methos interjected quietly, more to himself than to his companion.

A small smile tugged at Doyle's lips when he heard the words, knowing the man beside him was 'Methos' rather than the softly spoken Adam Pierson. It still amazed him at how different Pierson was even to Taylor and again how different both were to the real man now offering him unconditional comfort. Yet he liked Pierson, had known Pierson for over thirteen years, but cherished the moments when they were alone and he was given a glimpse of Methos' true personality. For over sixteen years he had known this ancient Immortal's secret and he had come to respect him greatly, but also to be wary of Methos' warped sense of humor and cynical attitude. He remembered the many times that they had enjoyed baiting Bodie, and abruptly a new sense of loss swept over him as he remembered whom he had just buried. Bodie.... and the reality of it crippled him anew, the pain just as devastating now as it had been three days ago.

Methos heard the in-drawn breath and out of the corner of his eyes saw Doyle stop then tense. Turning to Doyle he placed a hand on his shoulder, feeling the tremors that ran through the too slim body.

"Oh God Adam, I can't believe he's gone. Everyday I expect to see him walk through the door, and I want to tell him what a stupid bastard he's been for leaving me!"

Methos registered the strain in Doyle's hoarse voice, listening to the familiar words - words that he had heard from so many others, words that transcended time itself in the agony they caused. Words that he had uttered so many times. The denial, however woefully inadequate still sheltered the soul from the full brunt of the loss, but also somewhat cruelly, forced the mind to relive the loss over and over again. Perhaps, he thought cynically, repetition numbed one's mind and spirit eventually.

"It was better this way," Doyle said cryptically after regaining his composure. "He would have hated being.... It was a car accident." He whispered abruptly, closing his eyes briefly to shut out the images. "Some stupid punk, drunk driver.... It broke his neck," he sucked in a breath. "If he had survived he would have been a paraplegic. Could you picture Bodie in a wheelchair?"

Methos winced at the rage behind the quiet words, feeling some of it himself for whoever had caused his friend so much pain and anguish.

"We were supposed to go out together this weekend and.... and-"

Wincing in sympathy at that Methos shook his head, letting himself experience the emotions, identifying with the sentiment. Bodie had complimented Doyle perfectly. They had been a team, a partnership in everything possible and Methos cursed Fate on his friend's behalf.

"So, how's life in the Watchers?" Doyle asked taking a deep breath, needing to change the subject. He glanced sidelong at the other man and noticed the transformation from Methos the Immortal to Methos the avid historian and researcher. It wasn't anything obvious, but he had been watching this ageless man for years and saw the small changes- the way Methos stood up straighter when he wasn't being Pierson and the way his eyes lit up when he had an innocent to corrupt or tease. Seeing the affectionate twinkle enter Methos' eyes now, Doyle was bloody grateful for the change as it numbed his grief. He needed his friend desperately now, needed to be reminded that there was a reason behind everything, needed Methos to carry him for a while and inspire him. It wouldn't be hard, for he had liked this man for years and was as equally awed by him. Offering a slight smile, Doyle noted how Methos' gold-green gaze lit up with enthusiasm, and how Methos' broad grin increased.

"Guess what project I'm working on?"

Doyle shrugged, amused at the open ingenuous manner, guessing this must be the 'Adam-Pierson-Grad-Student' persona he was seeing now. Christ, but when Methos sunk himself into a roll he really transformed. Doyle had never ceased being fascinated by the complex enigma that was Methos. "Don't tell me, the Methos Chronicles?" Doyle replied laughing. "How did you swing that? I seem to remember you saying they all thought you were far to young to be looking after such an important project." He finished with a smile, remembering how outraged Methos had been at the time.

Methos just grinned evilly. "I came up with some research I found in some old texts that I just happened to find in a private collection. It seemed that this anonymous collector was in possession of some lost diaries of a supposed Watcher, proving that Methos was present at the first Crusade in the Holy Land. They patted me on the head and assigned me to Don Salzer. I was mildly offended by that." Methos finished after a pause.

Doyle snorted. "But it is what you wanted. I couldn't think of a better way to make sure you're never found. And I suppose those diaries were yours?"

"Of course," Methos smirked. "I always write in the third person. It's safer that way."

"Must make for one hell of an identity crisis." Doyle quipped.

"You have no idea." Methos returned with a role of his eyes.

They walked in silence again for a short time, before Methos stopped and turned to face Doyle his face serious. "Ray, I didn't just come for a social call, I also came to make you an offer."

"Go on," Doyle prompted, when Methos hesitated, guessing what the offer might be.

"Remember what I said to you years ago, one cold morning in a disused abattoir? Well now I've come to offer you a place in the Watchers, as a field agent - if you're interested. Of course you'd have to start in the academy, but with your skills they would soon move you into the field." Methos finished, meeting the other's gaze squarely. "You don't have to give me an answer right away," he continued while he tried to find a reaction in his friend's guarded expression.

"Why?" Doyle asked.

"Why?" Methos hesitated a second, wanting to tell his friend, because you need something to do to keep you busy. Because I don't want to lose another friend to grief.... but knowing that was the answer Doyle expected and would probably dislike the most, he said instead - "Because we need more men like you in the field. Look, we've been losing agents since the Watchers began. It's a dangerous job. There are some fairly nasty Immortals out there-"

Doyle snorted at the vast understatement of that remark.

"..and I think you have what it takes to do the job." Methos finished ignoring the interruption.

Doyle stood lost in thought for several minutes, silently grateful to Methos for not stating the obvious reason for the offer, but also intrigued by the idea of the Watchers. He had nothing to lose by taking up the offer and it was almost like a second chance to become a student again. A student of history, to enter this man's intriguing world, and if he had his way he would not be doing fieldwork only, there would be some research in there as well. "Alright. So what do I have to do to get into this Organization?" He asked softly.

Methos let out the breath, unaware he had been holding it and clapped Doyle on the back. "You had me worried there for a minute." He joked.

"What? Don't tell me I worried you? That I might actually have surprised you? The great student of human nature? I'm flattered." Doyle quipped in return.

"Very funny, Ray. I'll put you in touch with a friend of mine. He's a field agent, historian and general good-guy. His name is Joe Dawson. I'm...." he hesitated, wrinkling his nose up in disgust. "I'm too young to have known you all these years, so it will have to be Joe that brings you into the Watchers." Methos finished with a grin.

"Uh huh," Doyle laughed. "Joe Dawson, isn't he MacLeod's Watcher?"

"The very same."

Doyle noticed the tension behind the words and caught the other man's gaze with his own, but as usual he could read nothing from the poker expression. "So.... how is MacLeod?" He asked, not really expecting an answer, but interested in seeing if he could catch any reactions.

Methos opened his mouth, then closed it, catching Doyle's shrewd expression and knowing Ray would read behind his hesitation. But his heart was still so undecided about the beautiful Highland child. "He lost Tessa just over a year ago." He answered heavily.


"And what?"

"Have you seen him?" Doyle pushed, glad to have the chance at thinking about something else. He knew Methos had purposely distanced himself from MacLeod after the London incident and he also knew that Methos kept tabs on the Scottish Immortal and tore himself apart with worry on occasions. Many a night he had listened to Methos cry in his sleep when his friend had imposed on his and Bodie's hospitality during the long years when MacLeod had moved to America with the talented French artist. Methos might like to fool himself, but Ray had seen under his masks too many times to miss the way Methos now hedged around the subject of Duncan MacLeod.

"I'm not that desperate." Methos muttered.

"I never said your were."

Eyeing the ex-agent, Methos considered Doyle's neutral expression and nodded to himself. Doyle would make and excellent Watcher. "I'm not good at visiting-"

"Tell me about it." Doyle said under his breath realizing that they had almost reached the parked cars. Would this changeable man vanish now they were back at the vehicles, or could he con Methos into returning with him to his and Bodie's.... his.... flat? It would be nice just to escape the loneliness of the four empty walls. To just stop thinking for a few hours and relax with a friend who truly understood his feelings.

"What do you want me to do? Turn up on MacLeod's doorstep and say 'I heard about Tessa so I'm here to take your mind off things?!?'" Methos asked with twisted amusement. "Or, I could just add, 'by the way MacLeod, I'm a Watcher into the bargain.... so we can't see each other apart from this once. Besides, remember I'm this cruel tease you once screwed.... wanna do it again?'"

"Okay, you've made your point, professor." Doyle said with a smile, remembering how Bodie used to always call Adam that. It was an affectionate term. A cherished memory.

"MacLeod's big enough to look after himself."

"So that's it?" Doyle asked genuinely interested. It had always baffled him as to why Methos had taken off sixteen odd years ago especially when it had been so obvious MacLeod was smitten with him. That time in London when he was in CI5 was a filled with fond memories and he could easily recall the day he'd first met Taylor and MacLeod. Watching the pair fall in love had forced him and Bodie into taking the final step in their own stressed out relationship. Sixteen years of contentment - to now be ended by a stupid drunk driver who got off on a good behavior bond and a thousand-pound fine!


Coming back to the present, Doyle blinked at Methos hating to imagine the lost possibilities Methos ignored by always walking away. How quickly hope could die, how easily an Immortal could die just as Bodie had died. At least he had memories, what did Methos have except a desperate hope? "You'll never see him again if you don't-"

"Never is a relatively short period of time for me, Ray."


Trying to look hurt, Methos turned to Doyle and let his grin widen. "No, I'll probably meet MacLeod again the same way I met him the first time. While he's chasing some deranged, lunatic psychopathic Immortal. He'll probably lead the bastard right to my doorstep and demand to protect my 'innocent honor'."

"You know this or you hope?"

"Know." Methos said with a straight face. "It fits his profile."

"You're a dead set lazy bastard, do you know that, mate?" Doyle stated with mock disgust. "You always take the easy road. Well one day you are going to be forced to actually participate in life again."

Scoffing at that, Methos laughed, taking out his keys and studying them. "I am participating you young, hot-blooded- "

"Watch it," Doyle warned as he leaned closer. Letting his gaze travel over the impossibly young looking man next to him, he was hit with a strong feel of deja vu. A man too young for this world, but too old to live. Methos needed a balance and Doyle let his eyes become speculative. Methos needed MacLeod's balance. Needed his fire, his passion for life, just as he had needed Bodie's ire and cynical abrasive personality to force him to live and survive in the world Cowley had thrown them into. "So tell me, besides brooding, what else is MacLeod currently doing?" Doyle asked shrewdly.

Glad they were off the less personal topic, Methos relaxed and saw how Doyle had read him. This man was the only mortal in a long time that he actually trusted with more than just his name. "He's on a Scottish hunt."

"A what?"

"A good friend of his was killed by this bad head-case Immortal a few weeks ago. So MacLeod is playing judge, jury and executioner." Methos wiggled his eyebrows as Doyle just blinked at him shocked. "See why I don't want to get involved? Look what happened last time-"

"Yeah, you ended up in his bed."

"Shut up Doyle," Methos laughed good-naturally. "Besides it's all part of the high intrigue driven world of Watchers, better than any movie I guarantee."

"Be serious-"

"I am."

"So does this 'bad head-case' Immortal have a name?"

"Why?" Methos asked puzzled.

"Just in case I end up in the Watchers I want to know who to avoid." Doyle gave a wolfish grin.

"Kalas." Methos muttered and shrugged. "It's an old dispute between MacLeod and Kalas, goes back to the 1650's. It involves, honor, a female and stubborn Scottish pride." Methos listed in mild humor. "Not necessarily in that order."

"You're a fraud."

"Now you injure me."

"You're more involved than you want to admit." Doyle carried on, pinning Methos with his eyes and reading him expertly. "I bet if I asked, you could tell me exactly where MacLeod is at this very moment."

Lifting a brow, Methos checked his watch and shrugged. "He should be arriving in Paris in two hours. His flight was delayed in New York."

Letting his eyes linger on Methos' face, Doyle waited until all the humor faded from his friend's expression and gave the other man a knowing smile. "I think you're right."

"About what?" Methos asked, not sure he wanted to hear the answer. Somehow Ray had managed to show him how pitiful he was for hanging on to the past. And how much he still wanted MacLeod.

"I do want to meet this Joe Dawson." Doyle declared.

"I can arrange that."

"If only to keep an eye on you."

"Ray?" Methos asked perceptively. "Remember you can only ever watch, never interfere. No matter what you see. Neither of us can."

Taking a deep breath, Doyle let himself meet the clear hazel eyes and read the truth of Methos' quiet words. "Maybe I can't but you can."

"No." Methos shook his head. "Don't do this for me. Do it for yourself."

"I will." Doyle whispered, thinking suddenly about Bodie again and about how his lover, partner and friend had never balked at any challenge. "I think it's becoming a necessity. I have to understand this thing, your world-"

"Ray, it can be dangerous," Methos warned. "And no one must ever know what you do for a living. Nor can you tell anyone inside the Watcher's what you already know about MacLeod or me. Not even Dawson."

Considering it all, Ray let his eyes touch the silent gravestones, thinking suddenly how Bodie would have been appalled by these types of restrictions - how his lover would have been appalled by the world of Immortals if he'd ever learned the truth. "I kept your secret from Bodie-"

"I know." Methos acknowledged. "That was why I didn't visit often. I didn't want to make it harder for you."

"He was a pussycat really. A marshmallow," Doyle broke off, his eyes suddenly filling with tears as it hit him that he would never be able to tease his lover again. Never see him again or hear Bodie complain about the weather, the price of petrol or the new Soccer team. Lifting his eyes he saw the genuine compassion in Methos' face and nodded, not backing away when Methos reached out and drew him into a fierce supportive hug. At that moment he wanted nothing more than to fall into the promise Methos' warm body and firm hands offered. Wanted the oblivion of peace, to feel loved, to be cherished and to give up control for a single night. Turning his face into Methos' neck he accepted the comfort, letting long, slender fingers travel up his spine and tangle in his curls to massage the back of his head soothingly.


"I'm sorry-" Doyle started, pulling away and finding he was prevented from going far as warm, hazel eyes held his own.

"Nothing to apologize for. I was just thinking we should go back to your place. Get out of the cold." Methos murmured.

Floundering for a second, Doyle stopped and stared at Methos, reading the silent invitation easily in the unblinking gaze. He could accept or reject the offer of companionship, and he remembered Bodie, remembered what he had learnt from his partner. There were many different types of love and what Methos was now offering was the sharing of memories, the gentleness of comfort and the warmth of a friend who cared and wanted to help him remember the good times. Nodding slowly he gripped the hand sliding down his arm and pulled Methos a little closer. "I...."

"Shh," Methos breathed, closing the distance between them and lightly kissing Ray's lips. "You need this, and I think so do I. If I have learnt anything in five thousand years it is to never turn away from the pearls of friendship."

"I'm not," Doyle whispered, closing his eyes when Methos' lips brushed his own, opening his mouth to sink into the feel of being alive and being desired. Nothing would ever replace the fire he felt inside for Bodie, but this would warm his heart and remind him why living was so important.

"Then let me help you celebrate Bodie's life.... his love for you."

Feeling his eyes fill with new tears, Doyle totally surrendered himself into Methos' strong embrace.

September 26th 1995. Seacouver.

Checking the address on the slip of paper Methos had given him, Doyle looked at his watch and released a tense breath. Everything Methos had said had sounded logical when the other man had explained about this meeting with Joe Dawson. But then he had been receptive to almost anything at that point while he had lain in Methos' arms and soaked up the other man's calming presence and warmth. There was just something so addictive about the man, even Methos' annoying smug superiority was likable and Doyle shook his head wondering at his own sanity. Methos had manipulated him into meeting Dawson and it was only his training and good manners that now kept him standing in the main foyer of the library in Seacouver awaiting an interview with a man whom he knew little about. Christ, but Methos had even convinced him to travel to Seacouver.... He felt strangely exposed and Doyle shivered wondering if it was because he no longer had a trusted partner at his back, or because his life was now taking an unexpected turn. Bodie would turn in his grave.

Glancing around he took another breath and checked his watch again. Maybe Methos was right. Maybe this would be just what he needed, a job that kept him active, his mind alive so he could live in tribute to Bodie's memory. But then on the other hand, it would also be a way for him to keep tabs on the infuriating Adam Pierson and make sure the annoying son of a bitch kept his head and eventually faced his own fears. He really wanted to see Methos and MacLeod meet again in his lifetime and he wanted to be around long enough to tell the old bastard 'I told you so.' It was a goal and one he intended to realize, especially after the few days he had spent with Methos in London after Bodie's funeral. The man was an experienced lover and he now understood why MacLeod had looked so dazed after that first night he'd spent alone with the irascible Adam Taylor.

Smiling fondly, Doyle turned, hearing the approach of another person and eyeing the man who stopped three feet away. Old habits died hard.... Steel grey eyes met his own and Doyle was swept with a sense of intelligence and strength while he assessed the man watching him. Dawson? He wasn't sure, but the man was taller than himself, older by at least ten years and the man was leaning on a cane and he appeared to have either one or two artificial legs. From the war, or from the dangerous work inside the Watchers?

"Raymond Doyle?"

"Joe Dawson." Doyle returned, holding out his hand and smiling when Dawson's handshake inspired confidence. "Adam told me you would be here."

"This isn't exactly correct protocol," Dawson muttered, as he looked around then gestured to a secluded bench and table in the far corner of the library.

Foregoing to comment, Doyle saw Dawson limp forward and re- assessed the man again, wishing Methos had told him more about this Dawson.

"I take it you know about the Watchers." Joe stated in a resigned tone, sitting down before glaring up at Doyle.


"Pierson has a big mouth." Dawson interrupted, then gave a small smile. "Aw, hell, forgive me, it's just been a hell of a week."

Accepting that, Doyle frowned. Debating his choices, he decided to see what Dawson had to offer and slid into the seat opposite the older man.

"So what has Pierson told you?" Joe Dawson asked, studying the man across from him and seeing how Doyle frowned, those green eyes giving nothing away. Adam had told him little about Doyle except the fact that the man was ex-CI5 and that Adam had met the English agent in Oxford a few years ago when he had attended an Ancient History seminar. Since then Joe had tried to pull some information on Doyle. He'd learned that Raymond Doyle had an impeccable record in the Police Service and the Intelligence community before he had retired eight years ago with his partner. A male partner who had been tragically killed in a fluke accident only a month ago. Doyle's profile looked good, but Joe wasn't sure this man was ready to face a new job so soon after burying a loved one - but the Directors in Geneva had different ideas. Grimacing slightly he watched how Doyle's frown increased and Joe remembered that one of the Directors had telephoned him personally to stress their interest in this ex-CI5 agent. But how the Watcher Board had found out that he was going to meet Doyle, Joe never learned, but the Director had told him that Doyle probably knew about Immortals.

From the brief file Joe had acquired on Doyle, Joe learned that sixteen years ago Raymond Doyle had been photographed in Duncan MacLeod's presence while MacLeod had been hunting an Immortal named Bruce McKellen in London. The case was unfamiliar to Joe, for at the time - sixteen years ago - he had been in Washington completing a refresher course on the new Watcher Policies. He'd only been watching his assignment for a few years and Duncan MacLeod had traveled to London under the care of a relieving Watcher. Then because MacLeod had not been responsible for beheading McKellen, Joe had not followed up the facts. It was assumed Connor MacLeod had taken the Quickening, but there was no proof. Except maybe Doyle knew....


Giving a small smile, Joe nodded slightly to himself, deciding to give this ex-English agent the benefit of the doubt. If Raymond Doyle knew about Immortals - then he was already a risk, which was probably why the Directors wanted this man either brought into the Organization or tracked. "Sorry, you were saying?"

"I have an interest in history and Adam suggested I talk to you. He indicated the possibility of a job." Doyle stated, remembering all that Methos had told him.

"Let me ask you Mr. Doyle-"

"Ray," Doyle interjected.

"Ray," Joe repeated, giving a slight smile. "Let me ask - where were you in the spring of 1980?"

Taking a deep breath, Doyle didn't answer immediately, letting his eyes remain on Dawson's face, noting how the American's eyes slowly crinkled up in amusement. "I think you probably already know the answer to that one." He answered seriously.

"You met this man." Joe continued, not willing to give anything away yet. Instead he placed a photograph of Duncan MacLeod on the table between them. "Do you remember him?"

Debating his answer, Doyle rejected the idea of denying all knowledge, then reminded himself that it was no longer necessary. Rather he was worried that Adam's cover might have been compromised. "Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod." Doyle said deliberately, sending Dawson a tight smile when he saw the grey eyes widen in surprise. "Or I think that was how he used to announce himself before pulling out a bloody great big sword."

"Son of a bitch-"

"Yes Mr. Dawson, I do know who he is and what he is."

"Joe," Dawson said absently as he reassessed Doyle again. "You have known this for what, sixteen years?"

"And I have never told another living soul."

"Not even your partner?" Joe asked incredulously.

"No. Not even my lover and partner." Doyle clarified, remembering how hard that decision had been. But Bodie had never asked.... never pushed him to talk about what had happened in that old disused abattoir so long ago. And now he wished he had told his partner.

"Except Pierson."

Doyle shrugged. "You didn't hear that from me."

"That manipulative little bastard."

"I don't want Adam to get into trouble." Doyle said instantly, reaching over to grab Dawson's arm and stop the man from moving away. He let his expression convey his seriousness. "It was not his fault I found out."

"Don't worry, I'm not in the habit of divulging secrets either." Joe assured him. "But Adam has one hell of a lot of explaining to do!" Joe groused. "I'll wring his scrawny neck."

"He does provoke that type of response, doesn't he?" Doyle quipped, relaxing when Dawson grinned then laughed softly.

"But he's a damn good researcher." Joe added.

"He's had a lot of practice." Doyle said cryptically.

"So I take it you know about Immortals and about Watchers?"

"Only that Immortals exist and that you record their histories." Doyle explained. "Adam thought I would make a good Watcher with my background experience."

"Well you have the skills," Joe admitted. "..but it's not as easy as it sounds."

"Neither was working for CI5."

"Point taken." Joe said, coming to a decision. "Why don't we go somewhere else to discuss this further."

Agreeing, Doyle waited for Dawson to get up, knowing that the next part of the process was probably going to be even more difficult. He just had to remember that he knew nothing. Thinking about that he waited for Dawson to catch up and eyed the older man up and down again. "By the way, do you know where Adam is at present?"

"Why?" Joe asked instinctively.

"I have a few research books he was looking for." Doyle said off-handedly.

"He's in Paris." Joe growled not wanting to be reminded of the problems befalling the Watchers in Paris. He wanted to be there himself, but the Directors wanted him in Seacouver to assess Doyle and bring him into the Organization. Damn awful timing and if he lost Mac.... "He's working on a confidential research project."

"Is there a problem?" Doyle asked concerned and seeing how Dawson's expression darkened with worry.

"Nothing that needs concern you," Joe started, then stopped when his cell phone rang. "Excuse me." He muttered, taking his phone out and listening. He closed his eyes and thanked the caller then swore furiously under his breath. This was the last thing he needed now! Glancing around he saw they were standing by the main lifts and Joe limped towards the far window before dialing a new number. He waited impatiently for his call to be connected. "Come on, come on...."

Not missing Dawson's agitation, Doyle followed the other man to the far window, hearing his muttered curses and guessing the previous call he had received had not been good news. From Dawson's reaction he guessed it was Watcher business and he unashamedly eavesdropped, hearing Dawson's gruff tones as he mentioned the name 'Mac' more than once. Duncan MacLeod? Doyle didn't believe in coincidences like that and inched closer just catching Dawson's tense tones, he seemed to want this 'Mac' to be careful. Someone had gone missing.... and Doyle missed the rest of the discussion when a group of young college students noisily exited one of the lifts. He didn't catch anymore of the hissed conversation and tried to look bored when Dawson turned back to him and glared around in impotent fury.

"Aw hell...."

"I take it that wasn't good news."

"No." Dawson snapped, then relented. He looked at Doyle again and came to another decision, one that he hoped would not get him into more trouble. "I need to chase up something immediately, so you are about to get a hard introduction into the Watchers. I hope you can handle it."

"You'd be surprised."

September 26th 1995 - morning. Paris.

Methos struggled with his five thousand-year-old conscience, battling the effects of MacLeod's powerful quickening while he stupidly waited for the Highlander to 'discover' him. Fuck, after sixteen years he had been a hopeless fool to think that he had gotten over the remarkable Scot! "Well," Methos intoned, striving for a measure of nonchalance when he saw the tall Highlander step into view. "Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod. Have a beer." Finding himself stunned beyond measure when he actually managed to sound both calm and only slightly interested, Methos forced himself to smile. If the Highlander could only see the turmoil that seethed below his calm exterior, then the other man would know him for the fraud he was.

MacLeod stood transfixed, gaping at the figure sprawled on the floor in front of him. The splayed posture a blatant provocation and challenge to every one of his shocked senses. He remembered to close his mouth while his stunned brain caught up with what his ears were registering and he blinked, hearing the achingly familiar baritone wash over him like a verbal caress. That voice sent spikes of heat straight to his groin. Adam Taylor.... now Adam Pierson.... was - was.... "Methos?" The word forced its way past his numb brain to his lips.

Methos felt a shudder pass through his body at the sound of his true name being spoken by the man who had stolen his heart without his even realizing it. He was suddenly flooded with memories of a night sixteen years ago when he had wished futilely to be able to hear his name spoken by MacLeod in the heat of passion. Maybe Fate would be kinder this time around? And maybe he'd finally met his match and now would lose his head? Battling again for calm, Methos reached down to the six pack that sat beside him and picked up a can. "Mi casa es su casa." He said, tossing the beer at the still gaping Highlander, before favoring him with his best innocent look. He allowed a slight hit of mischief to play around the corners of his mouth.

MacLeod caught the tossed can by reflex, his mind still disengaged from reality as the softly spoken words threw him back to a similar moment in London - sixteen years ago. Then to the man before him had greeted him with those very same words and a beer. Releasing a tense breath, MacLeod drank in the face before him, noting the smile and the teasing look that was evident in the changeable green eyes that gazed up at him from beneath the long dark lashes. God, but that smile had the power to melt his bones and he had to lock his knees in place before he ended up on the floor. But suddenly it didn't seem important anymore that he was chasing Kalas and he took several steps closer to his former lover. Suddenly sixteen years of ruthlessly suppressed feelings and memories almost overwhelmed him and he sank to his knees in front of the startled man. He instinctively reached out a hand with a desperate need to touch, to know that the body in front of him was real and not some twisted trick of his imagination. Since losing Tessa he had found it was becoming harder and harder to suppress the memories of past loves. Past regrets.... The longing for what he had found with this man, however briefly, had become a pain like an old wound. A wound that had never healed. Covered - but not forgotten.

Methos drew in a sharp breath when MacLeod approached him, a sliver of fear slicing through him as he took in the expression of longing on the tall Scot's face. Oh Christ, this was not good. Methos cursed himself, abruptly finding himself face to face and at eye level with the Highlander, seeing a pair of chocolate brown eyes boring into his own. And Mac's scent.... it assaulted him. Smothered him. The heat in the hand that lifted to touch his face almost burnt and Methos sucked in a breath, seeing MacLeod stop the action and just stare at him.


The soft exhalation of breath feathered over his skin and Methos read the frantic need for confirmation in the depths of Macleod's brown gaze. Helpless to deny the man before him he reached up and cupped the raised hand, pressing the palm to his lips and placing a kiss at its center.

MacLeod shuddered at the first tentative touch of the velvet soft lips, feeling a similar shiver pass through the slim form under his hand. He felt a smile tug at his lips as a wave of pure joy rolled through him and he fought the uncharacteristic urge to laugh out loud at the sheer happiness that engulfed him. This was the chance he had wished for all those years ago, the chance he somehow instinctively knew he would get, and this time he was not going to let Adam - Methos - walk away. He caught the instant shuttering of the green eyes and with an inward sigh knew without a doubt that nothing had changed, Adam Taylor, Adam Pierson, or Methos.... whatever this man chose to call himself - he was still a mystery that would never be easily solved. Finding him again had been a chance, keeping him would be a battle, but it was a battle that MacLeod would never walk away from. Not again and he certainly would not he let Adam walk away from it either.

Methos fought the urge to bolt when the Highlander's warm hand slid behind his neck and with gentle but irresistible force drew him close for a kiss, and what a kiss.... Methos was unable to stifle the moan that gave voice to the white hot need that flared in his blood, drowning out the tiny voice in his head that shouted at him to beware of what MacLeod would do to him emotionally, mentally and physically. Category number bloody five.... and he shivered when the sensual mouth that was playing havoc with his vaunted self-control demanded entry. A soft tongue brushing his lips and he found himself pushed back against the bed end behind him.

MacLeod was thrilled by the needy moan that issued from Adam's - Methos' - mouth and gently demanded entry into the remembered haven of this man's warmth. Pushing forward, he deliberately trapped the slender male against the bed, feeling one of Methos' hands come up to weakly try and push him away. Reluctantly remembering why he was here - who he was chasing - MacLeod broke the kiss and moved back. Slowly a smile played around his lips when he heard the other man curse under his breath and gasp for breath. Under his hand he could feel the erratic pulse beat and let his fingers curl possessively around the slender neck.

"Fuck! MacLeod!" Methos growled, sweeping away the hand that rested on his shoulder, desperately needing some air and room to gather the tattered shreds of his composure before he could face the Scot.

"That's it!?"

"That's it.... what?" Methos snapped back, looking down at the floor and therefore failing to notice the sly smile that spread itself across MacLeod's lips.

"Five thousand years and all you can come up with is - 'Fuck MacLeod'?"

"Screw you, MacLeod. Is that better? What did you bloody well expect? Shakespeare?!" Methos snarled, before he caught the look that the other man was throwing at him. "Damn you to hell, Highlander."

"Already been there." MacLeod answered somberly.

Methos cursed his sharp tongue and reached out a hand cupping the other man's face, remembering the many friends MacLeod had lost in the last few months. "I'm sorry Mac. Truly sorry about Tessa." He murmured, putting as much sincerity into his voice as he could.

MacLeod shut his eyes on the wave of pain that swept through him at the sound of her name, finding no anger inside him for the man in front of him. Then what Methos had just said hit him and his eyes flew open, fixing the older Immortal with a suspicious glare. "How did you know about Tessa?"

Methos snorted. "Adam Pierson. Remember? Researcher extraordinaire for the 'Methos' Project. I've read your chronicles." He stated in a perfectly matter of fact tone that implied there was nothing wrong with doing so. "Besides, I was there when you met her. Tell me, do you always pick up women in such a dramatic fashion? I thought you only did that with men." He finished with a sly grin, ignoring the outraged sputtering coming from the Highlander.

MacLeod forgot his outrage and he took in the sly smile, sorting through the rest of what the exasperating man had said. "You were there when I.... that was you?!"

"What do you mean - what was me?" Methos snapped, cursing his big mouth.

"I felt an Immortal that day. I thought it was Kuyler." He caught the hooded gaze before Methos glanced away. "But it was you, wasn't it? You were the one watching me from the bridge. Why?"

Methos looked down, refusing to meet the questioning gaze. Fuck, this was not how things were meant to be going. All he'd originally wanted to do that day was see the Highland barbarian - throw him on the nearest flat surface and fuck his brains out to get that crazy insane craving out of his system before he disappeared for good. But another Immortal had ruined his plans. Yeah right Old Man, keep telling yourself that and you might start to believe it. He was a thrice-damned fool for thinking he could get away with such an obviously idiotic plan. Would he never learn! Apparently not, and now he was stuck again with the overprotective brat, because Joe had told him that MacLeod was coming to see him about Kalas, to protect him from the psychotic Immortal. Now where had he heard that before? And why had he chosen to stay?


The sound of his name and the gentle hand on his cheek made him jump, and Methos found his chin raised and his gaze captured by a pair of knowing brown eyes. Fighting a losing battle with his unruly body, Methos flinched when MacLeod leaned forward, the grip on his face tightening as a pair of soft possessive lips engulfed his in a brief but thorough kiss.

"It's okay. It doesn't matter." MacLeod soothed before he reluctantly released the soft, warm mouth beneath his. He had seen the trapped expression on the other man's face and remembered from their brief time together that this man did not like to be pressed for lengthy emotional explanations.

"Unfortunately MacLeod, it does matter." Methos replied softly, reaching up to push an errant strand of silky hair aside. Taking a deep, bracing breath he let his gaze fall again to the floor, fixing it on a neutral spot between them as he recalled that fateful day in Paris. It had been the beginning of summer.... when he had resigned himself to watching the Highlander from a distance. "Well, before you left London, it seems you'd given Nefertiri to agent Doyle and he used his damned contacts in a most inappropriate manner and tracked me down." Methos started, the outrage in his voice conflicting with the laughter in his eyes. "He told me I had been a fool to walk out on you. He took a leaf out of your book and used blatant sentimentality and emotional blackmail to persuade me to make contact with you and 'give things another go' as he termed it."

"Blatant sentimentality and emotional blackmail?" MacLeod repeated with a laugh. "You mean he bullied you." He stated ignoring the sour glare from the other man.

"Whatever. Do you want me to continue or do you want to carry on with the hilarity?" Methos groused testily. Taking MacLeod's silence as a hint to proceed Methos started again. "Anyway, not wanting to hurt his feelings-" he ignored the snort from his audience, "...I decided I would at least check up on you. Make sure you hadn't gotten yourself in trouble with any more insane Immortals. By the way, is attracting every power-hungry psychopath a regular thing for you? Or do you just do it on special occasions?"

"What do you mean?"

"This penchant for crossing paths with deranged Immortals."

"You've read my Chronicles, you tell me." MacLeod replied blandly. "Now get back to the story." He demanded, not willing to let the other man get away with so obvious a change of subject.

Methos muttered something about 'pushy barbarians' which was ignored by its intended target and sighed. "Well, as it turned out you were running true to form when I caught up with you. Kuyler could be persistent. Then I saw you jump off the bridge and land on the tour-barge. Do you swing from the chandeliers as well, MacLeod?"

MacLeod chose to ignore the dig.

Failing to get a rise out of the Scot, Methos continued. "I made my way to the next bridge and that's when I saw you with Tessa Noel." His voice trailed off to silence as the emotions he had experienced that warm summer day rolled back over him. He was back on that bridge watching Duncan charm a young, beautiful Tessa, and he knew he was too late. He could not intrude on Duncan now and the loss hit him in the most unexpected place - his heart. He had lost his last chance to be with the powerful Highland child, at least in this lifetime. So he had bidden his lover a silent farewell, feeling for the last time the wash of MacLeod's tantalizing Quickening when the barge passed under his bridge.

"Why Methos? Why did you leave again? Tessa and I had barely spoken to each other."

The urgency in MacLeod's voice startled Methos out of his revere and he looked up. "I'm five thousand years old MacLeod, I can recognize love at first sight when I see it. Even at that distance." He snapped, afraid that he might have revealed too much to the deceptively perceptive Scott.

"Really? Then it's a great pity that you didn't learn to recognize it at closer range." MacLeod replied quietly, leaning in and claiming the open mouth before the other could reply or protest.

An anguished moan escaped around the skilful mouth invading his, while a warm hand sought to worm its way beneath the sweater he was wearing. It sent his senses spinning. Methos shuddered at the heated sensations that the exploring fingertips were causing in his overcharged nerves. Abandoning the last of his excuses he gave himself over to the waves of pleasure that were crashing through his body, his legs spreading to slide either side of his kneeling Highlander. Letting himself sink into the support of the bed behind, he tilted his head back in an open invitation to MacLeod, hoping the other would explore further. He was disappointed when MacLeod pulled away.

MacLeod shivered at the open need that was embodied in the eyes that pinned him, delighting in the surrender he could feel in the slender body relaxed beneath his touch. This was what he had wanted, and with a last longing sweep of his fingers across the taunt belly he broke the kiss, sitting back on his heels. Seeing Adam - Methos - was a shock, but now he was starting to remember his original purpose for coming here.

Methos groaned in protest at the sudden abandonment, his body shivering with thwarted arousal. "Fuck MacLeod, you are a bloody tease!" He rasped between breaths, shifting uncomfortably and trying to ignore the painful tightness in his jeans. He threw a disgusted glare at the seemingly calm and collected Scott. "You're a bastard. You planned this, didn't you?" He snarled.

"Don't be stupid. I didn't even know you were here, so how could I plan this?"

"Whatever," was the snappish reply. "So why are you here?" Methos asked a moment later.

MacLeod knew damn well that Methos hadn't forgotten the reason he was here, but found himself explaining anyway. "Does the name Kalas ring any bells?" He asked, turning a blind eye when the scowl directed at him got colder. "Look, we need to get out of here. Kalas will know where you live by now, and I don't want you involved in this." MacLeod continued his voice losing all playfulness.

"MacLeod, I'm not a child. I can take care of myself." Methos growled. He needed to distance himself from the effects of the Highland child's overwhelming presence and resurrect his protective shields.

"That, my dear Methos, is a fact of which I am very well aware." MacLeod teased wanting to sooth the anger from his companion's face. Reaching up he slid a hand along the nape of Methos' neck and attempted to draw the other closer.

Fighting the urge to give in, Methos forced himself to break the clinch and half glare at the pouting Scot. "Will you stop doing that!"

MacLeod didn't bother to answer the accusation for he knew what he was doing. "Look, you were the one who decided to stay here. You could have pulled another disappearing act and left before I arrived. I know Joe rang you - Adam Pierson - to say I was coming." MacLeod finished, placing a pointed emphasis on the name.

Methos chose to ignore the pointed statement.

"So, let's just call a truce." MacLeod continued. "We need to talk. But that can wait until we get out of here."

"And where would we be going?" Methos queried, casting a suspicious glare at MacLeod. He wouldn't put it past the barbarian to kidnap him and spirit him away somewhere. Oh Gods.... don't go there. Methos groaned to himself, dismayed to find himself not entirely disliking the idea.

MacLeod smiled inwardly not fooled by the show of ire. Standing he held his hand out to the still seated Immortal. "Truce for now?" He offered, much preferring those changeable eyes when they were smiling slyly at him.

Methos sighed his most resigned sigh and looked up into the sparkling brown eyes of his erstwhile lover. Damn it all and to hell with category five warnings! If he was honest with himself, this was what he wanted, at least at this moment. Reaching up he grasped the offered hand, shivering when his own hand was enveloped by the Scot's firm grip.

"It's just a walk Methos. You're not going to your execution." MacLeod said, hauling the slender Immortal off the floor.

"That's a matter of opinion." Came the muttered retort as the older Immortal followed him from the apartment.

September 26th 1995 - evening. Paris.

"Methos? You found Kalas?" MacLeod studied the ancient Immortal seeing the wet clothing even in the dim lighting under the Tournelle Bridge. Methos looked like a drowned rat, exhausted and breathing heavy, his sword shining dully in the muted light and MacLeod shook his head enchanted by the sight. He could still not believe that this man - Adam Taylor/Pierson - was Methos. The Methos. The man he had fallen in love with so many years ago in London. Nor could he believe that he had run into this man in Paris of all places - and that Methos had been keeping tabs on him for sixteen years! It was enough to make him hope for the future. Squinting as the evening mist thickened, MacLeod studied the other man noting how Methos approached, easily seeing the way Methos' shoulders slumped in defeat and how his eyes reflected a strange resignation and MacLeod found his awe turned instantly into worry. What had happened in the few hours since they had talked and walked along the Seine? Had Kalas found the other man? "Is Kalas dead?"

"What do you think!" Methos returned, lifting his sword and swinging at MacLeod's undefended figure. The Highlander was far too trusting and sentimentally big- hearted. It was a trait that would get the brat killed, Methos decided silently. Allowing that destructive thought to grow in his mind he swung a second time at the unprotected Scot, noting how MacLeod jumped back before grabbing his arm with lightening fast reflexes and thrusting him back against the cold wall of the bridge. The maneuver winded him, and if anything it only increased his determination to safeguard this precious child of Scotland. Especially after their intimate 'chat' in his apartment.

"Why?!" MacLeod demanded in a hurt tone. He couldn't believe this man would ever seriously attack him with no reason. His instincts could not be that wrong surely and he took out his sword, turning it into the light and making sure Methos saw its edge before raising a hand to calm the situation.

"Why?!?" Methos spat back in disbelief and exhaustion. "Because there can be only One!" He snarled before attacking again, lunging forward and forcing the Scot to defend himself.

"Adam - Methos," MacLeod gasped, easily deflecting the blow. "Don't do this."

"I have no choice."

Hearing the words, MacLeod stared harder at the other man wishing there was more light to see Methos' but hearing the defeat coloring the soft baritone.

"I can't kill Kalas - I tried. And he's not the type to give up!"

"So this is your solution?" MacLeod asked incredulously as he blocked a series of well-angled strokes. "Kalas wants me! He is only after you because he thinks by taking your head he can defeat me."

"He's good." Methos admitted. "Possibly better than you."

"A risk I am willing to take."

"No." Methos decided, taking a deep breath then going after MacLeod again with grim determined. He wanted to force the other Immortal to fight him properly. MacLeod was fast and strong, and Methos let himself admire the economy of the Highlander's movements. He watched the gracefulness, enjoying the dance and getting lost in the thrill of facing such an expert fighter. Suddenly his mind filled with the images of sixteen years ago when he had watched this man perform his kata in the gym at the Mayfair. MacLeod was sheer poetry in motion.... Mentally shaking himself, Methos blinked up at MacLeod and saw his confused expression and silently said his apologies for what he was about to do to this man's life. Then he deliberately let one of his own strokes cut down a little further than necessary. He covered the deception with a gasp of surprise, playacting the moment well as he faltered and allowed his body's momentum to carry him into the line of MacLeod's next stroke. The maneuver worked surprisingly well and suddenly he had the sharp edge of the katana against his damp, clammy throat. He closed his eyes tightly, holding his breath and feeling his long life abruptly flash before him - images of his joy and regrets filled his mind and disturbingly he was shocked to picture Duncan MacLeod's face so imprinted on his memory. Utterly dismayed at how blind he had been, Methos sank into the moment, surrendering completely to the surge of emotion that rushed up to engulf him while he waited for the finality of death. To co-exist within this magnificent warrior suddenly became a very exciting prospect.

"Noh!" MacLeod hissed, stepping back as anger and fear vibrated through him. Without thinking he cut down on Methos' sword and disarmed the other man, seeing Methos stagger under the blow while that long neck was extended further towards him. Methos' eyes were tightly closed and MacLeod breathed out his rage in a forceful growl, shaking his head and glaring at the man whom he had come to cherish. "Why!!" He spat. An intense hurt now swept up into him his chest and he watched how Methos dropped his head forward to sag even more in defeat.

"Because I can't take Kalas alone and I don't think you can either. But together-"


"Mac - Duncan," Methos licked his lips and let his eyes lift to look at the angry man scowling at him with such vibrancy and with so much life and passion. "You think I want to die after all this time? After five thousand years?"

"Then don't do this."

"If not Kalas then it will be someone else like him." Methos told him, his voice resigned. "I don't have the fire, the passion anymore. The desire to win. You do. You want Kalas," he stressed softly in a persuasive whisper. "And with my Quickening you can take him."

"Aye, I do want him, but noh like this."

"There is no other way, Highlander." Methos petitioned, letting his gaze hold MacLeod's for a long moment to convey his sincerity and convictions. "Trust me." He whispered, slowly reaching down and taking MacLeod's sword arm to raise it and place the cold katana blade against his throat once more. He felt the polished steal kiss his icy skin where MacLeod's lips had once caressed him and he shivered, allowing his fingers to brush over MacLeod's warm hand before meeting the Scot's confused gaze and giving him a small affectionate smile. "Listen to me Duncan - you have so much in front of you, so much goodness, power and love for life that I need you to do this. For both of us. Live Highlander. Grow stronger and fight another day."

Staring at Methos, MacLeod felt almost hypnotized, his eyes focused on the changeable gold-green eyes while his body was focused on the fingers embracing his own hand. Then Methos released his hand and closed those over-bright eyes a second time, breaking the hypnotic spell. Between them a powerful emotion churned, locking them soul to soul for a terrifying instant and MacLeod was so tempted to do as the other asked, but then he remembered how final such an action was. How devastatingly brutal.... and he winced, knowing it could not end like this. Shaking his head slightly MacLeod found himself automatically stepping closer and reaching out to cup Methos' nape with his free hand before he lowered the katana. He felt Methos exhale sharply releasing a tense breath and MacLeod leaned forward to rest his forehead against Methos' damp forehead, mingling their breaths and shaking his head in answer to the silent question. "Noh, Methos. I canna.... not like this."

"Mac," Methos protested slightly, his pulse traitorously speeding up at the unlooked for intimacy and he lifted his lashes to stare at the man so close. He could taste MacLeod's breath, could feel his warmth and smell his distinctive scent all around him and Methos laughed weakly at his own erratic thoughts and responses. "I would have killed you-"

"Noh." MacLeod informed him knowingly. "You would have made another mistake and let me take your head." He slid his fingers further up into Methos' damp hair and smiled, then leaned forward and lightly kissed the open mouth when Methos gaped at him bemused. "Or are you forgetting that I do know you."

"You know nothing about me," Methos started, totally disconcerted by the Highlander's boldness, then his surprise turned into confusion when MacLeod started to frisk him expertly. "MacLeod!" He spluttered as the Highlander found firstly his concealed gun and then his pocketknife. He saw the Scot send him a look of mock reprimand and narrowed his own gaze, daring the man to comment. In another time or place he would have at least carried a second blade or even a third but at this point in his life he had not expected trouble. Had not expected to find Kalas waiting for him so soon. Slack, he was definitely out of practice.

"I know more about you than you give me credit for." MacLeod returned, dropping the confiscated items into his coat pocket. Then he reached over and patted down the front of Methos' damp coat.

"Do you mind!"

"Noh." MacLeod said simply before dragging Methos closer by his coat collars and smiling smugly when the other gave him a harassed glare. "I think its time we took this discussion inside." Saying that he gave Methos a shove towards the barge which was docked only a short distance away.

"MacLeod, I'm warning you-"

"Shut up and walk." Glancing around in the fog MacLeod hurriedly got them into the barge, ignoring the muttered curses while he switched on the interior light and closed the door. It was going to be a cold night and he wanted to light the fire and get his unexpected guest out of those wet clothes. "By the way, how'd you get so wet?" He asked off handedly, noting that Methos had not moved from his position at the bottom of the entry steps. Last time he had seen this man, he been bone dry and safely on his way home - away from the Seine River.

"I went for a swim. Courtesy of Kalas."

"I see," MacLeod said, reaching over to tug on Methos' coat, dragging it off the other man and not missing how Methos shivered in reaction to the drop in temperature.

"I see your manners haven't improved." Methos grumbled half-heartedly.

"And I see you still haven't learnt to trust me." MacLeod shot back, turning to hang their coats by the door.

"What?" Methos asked in mock confusion. He glanced around at the interior of the tastefully decorated barge. Somehow the elegance and earthy feel of the place fitted all his fantasies and impressions about this man perfectly. "So what now Highlander? Do we wait here for Kalas to show up or do we-"

"You," MacLeod said breaking into the cynical tones. "..you are going to sit down and tell me why you didn't tell me the truth in London."

"Truth?" Methos repeated sarcastically while he watched MacLeod amble down the steps and brush past him to go and kneel down in front of the open fireplace and light the tinder. He could tell this was going to turn into a long night and he wasn't sure he had the energy left to fight Duncan MacLeod's stubborn personality, so he glanced tiredly away. He felt a little disconcerted by how quickly his plans had been changed, at how swiftly his world had been turned upside down and at how desperately his treacherous heart wanted to accept the wordless offer of friendship from Duncan MacLeod. Seeing MacLeod again had been exciting - too exciting - for he had forgotten how beautiful the Highlander was in person as compared to the glossy photographs he had seen of this man in Watcher headquarters. He'd forgotten how devastating MacLeod's Quickening was, how it impacted on his senses, how erotically powerful Duncan was, how exhilaratingly sexy and dynamic the Highland child looked and how he wanted him. Burying that need deep, Methos shivered in unconscious acknowledgment of his weak resolve. The thrill, the passion, the wildness of having this man focus his entire attention on him for a single second was....

"You're wet."

Blinking when that sultry accent brought him back to the present with a jolt, Methos found that MacLeod was standing closer than he remembered. Involuntarily he could not suppress a second shiver and cursed his hungry responses. Trying to cover the lapse Methos lifted his lashes and tried to frown at the gorgeous man studying him, wanting to tell MacLeod to back off. But the words died on his lips when MacLeod reached forward and started to undo his belt buckle. "Duncan," Methos started, his protest coming out like a strangled cry of pleasure instead of a reproach.

"I won't allow you to die!" MacLeod hissed back suddenly, feeling the despondency surrounding Methos and seeing clearly the exhaustion and defeat permeating this tantalizing man's aura. If anything that attitude angered him even more and he savagely yanked the belt loose and pulled it out of Methos' jeans tabs. Why hadn't he seen this when he'd found Methos in his apartment earlier? Because the damn older man was an expert at wearing masks....

"Allow-" Methos gasped, stunned when MacLeod stripped him of his belt. He wanted to find some semblance of anger, some valid protest, but again he lost the upper hand when MacLeod glared at him determinedly. It was a beautiful, seductive sight designed to melt his resistance and he groaned in fear and anticipation.

"I won't let you commit suicide!" MacLeod hissed a second time, clutching the belt in his hand painfully hard before throwing it across the room in frustration. After living for five thousand years it scared him to think that this incredible man would now give up life in order to protect him from Kalas. It was an irrational rage, but MacLeod let it flow through him, seeing Methos shiver again when he growled out his displeasure a third time. He tried to banish the image of Methos lying dead at his feet or at Kalas' feet. Noh! He would not allow that to happen and he freely acknowledged that yes he did love this man, had loved him from the first moment he'd met him in London - and noh - he would not let one egotistical Immortal bastard separate them again! He had lost so much, too much, already that he could not lose.... "Noh!" MacLeod breathed, sucking in a ragged breath. "I will noh let yew kill yewrself. Not over Kalas!!"

"Wow," Methos mouthed stunned. He held perfectly still, putting up little resistance as MacLeod stood before him and literally shook with rage. The image was a powerful turn-on and he lifted his eyes to study Duncan's face, frowning slightly when he read the underlying emotions behind the fiercely whispered words and dangerous expression. Desire and love? Methos felt his own eyes widen in shock at how easily he recognized the driving emotions, finding that his own mind, body and heart mirrored the dangerous emotions. It was like a potent drug and he blinked dazed, lost utterly and he swayed closer to this alluring Highland barbarian.

"You will noh die. Not because of me."

Sighing Methos closed his eyes, breaking the spell between them with effort and re-gathering his chaotic thoughts. Think friendship.... Then suddenly he felt large, warm hands start to pull his damp shirt free of his jeans and he snapped his eyes open wanting to glare at the presumptuous Scot. "Mac - Duncan - you cannot fight my battles for me. You cannot protect me. Or any of us for that matter. We each must decide our own path-"

"Aye," MacLeod breathed, his hands stilling on the damp shirt, feeling Methos steady strong heart beat through the layers of damp clothing. "I let you chose your own path last time and look where it got us. I can't live like this." He whispered, begging Methos to understand. He could read the fears in the slender Immortal, and prayed he would be given a new chance and he let his eyes, body language and smile convey his honest emotions. "Don't answer yet," he added, watching Methos stare at him bemused and lost. "Let's get you out of these wet clothes and warmed up before we both say any more."

Sighing heavily Methos wasn't sure if he was relieved or disappointed that he was saved from admitting the awful truth, but instead he lowered his eyes and nodded minutely. For sixteen years he had purposely stood back and observed Duncan MacLeod's life from a discreet distance, watching him silently and envying him the loves he had found, then grieving over the losses. But never once did he permit himself to think or believe that Duncan would remember him, telling himself that it had only been a few days of temporary insanity, a brief interlude brought on by stress and pressure. But now.... now he was both gratified and terrified to see the longing reflected in MacLeod's warm brown eyes and to find his own desires were so easily rekindled.

"Move," MacLeod ordered gently, not missing the confusion in the hazel eyes when he tried to lighten the atmosphere between them with affectionate humor. Last thing he wanted was to scare Methos off. Shepherding the complaint man into his small bathroom, MacLeod caught the stark paleness of Methos skin in the harsh bathroom light and was again reminded of the deep exhaustion permeating Methos' system. "Are you going to help here, or do I have to do all the work?" He asked lightly while starting to unbutton Methos' damp shirt.

"Alright," Methos muttered. "Enough with the caveman routine." He stopped the Scot's hands, pushing them aside and tried to send the other man a disproving glare. "Do you have something I can change into, or am I to parade around here naked?"

"Now there's a thought." MacLeod muttered, sending Methos a mock leer before leaving the bathroom.

Feeling his jaw drop, Methos glared at the closed bathroom door, feeling bereft at being suddenly alone in the small room. Closing his eyes he battled to regain his lost equilibrium, exhaling strongly and dragging his mind back to the main objective. He didn't want to die, but if he had to face Kalas again he would. Unless.... and he shook his head to dismiss the idea. Vanishing now should be his main goal, but leaving Duncan would be harder than what it had been sixteen years ago. Surrendering his head was no longer an option, and he cursed under his breath, feeling stupid and disorientated by the last few torrid hours of fighting and drowning. Was he losing his mind? Roughly he ran a hand up into his drying hair and groaned, then yanked the shirt free of his jeans and started to strip. Regardless of what his body and heart wanted, his mind screamed caution and he knew that staying in MacLeod's presence would just expose him to other Immortals like Kalas and that in the end it could kill them both. That was the reason why he had left the first time.... he reminded himself pointedly. Unzipping his jeans he heeled off his soggy runners and pulled the T-shirt off over his head and threw it on the floor. Seeing MacLeod had been a calculated risk, but facing Kalas had been a mistake. And the consequent encounter with Kalas had done little to aid his irrational thinking, except push him over the edge into a dangerous exhaustion where impulses took over. One such impulse had been to give his head to the Highlander.... "Shit," he whispered, wondering why his life always got so complicated. Yet hadn't Ray Doyle told him to face his fears and to go and see MacLeod? But he doubted Ray had envisioned this scenario and he let a small smile form just imagining how Ray would roll his eyes up in exasperation. Thinking about the ex-CI5 man he turned on the shower and gratefully stepped under the hot spray hoping that with the heat his rational thinking would also return. Only his mind traitorously returned to the image of Duncan when the man had scowled at him with such open longing and desire. Turning his face up into the hot spray, Methos groaned, letting the Highlander's presence surround him and giving in to the sweep of pleasure while he let the hot spray drown his numb senses.

"Are you trying to drown a second time?"

Snapping his eyes open, Methos blinked the water from his vision, not having sensed MacLeod's approach and he stared at the Scot stunned. He was positive he was going to lose more than his mind now.... then a towel was thrust at him when MacLeod turned the water off and Methos knew he was gaping in disbelief at the man watching him so patiently. "I was trying to relax," he tried to say with confidence, confusion assaulting him again when MacLeod only held out a glass. How long had he stood under the hot spray? Five minutes?? Ten??

"Then try this." MacLeod suggested, waiting for Methos to accept the balloon glass of brandy before he backed away. Being this close to Methos hurt for he wanted to shake some sense into him, but then he also wanted to grab him and hold him until the other man agreed never to leave.

Totally bewildered, Methos glanced down at the glass in his hand then back up at the closed bathroom door and wondered what he had missed now.

Pacing angrily into the kitchen area, MacLeod cursed under his breath, his eyes darting around the dim interior of the barge and seeing nothing but hopelessness beckoning. Restlessly he went back to the fire and added a few more pieces of wood, stirring the embers and praying for patience while he waited for Methos to re-emerge from the bathroom. Methos - Adam - Methos - when he thought about it logically he was not surprised, in fact thinking back he remembered how he had almost gotten this tantalizing being to admit his name in a vulnerable moment. His eyes suddenly lost focus and he remembered the first night they had spent together.... Yet the name made little difference for he had fallen in love with the man and MacLeod closed his eyes, opening them a moment later when he heard the bathroom door whisper open and steam herald his guests reappearance. Methos exited and MacLeod stared shamelessly noting how the dark towel was dropped on the floor and how Methos picked up the few items of clothing he had left on the bed. He watched how economically Methos dressed, each movement flowing and graceful as the pale limbs were systematically covered and MacLeod had to look away, dropping his head down to stare into the bright fire before him. It would be so easy to rekindle the love, and he sighed, waiting poised to see whether Methos would allow him the chance to try.


Sucking in a steadying breath, MacLeod plastered on a friendly smile to cover his nervousness and apprehension then lifted his head to look at the man standing only a few feet away. Briefly he caught a glimpse of regret, fear and nervousness in the wide hazel eyes before Methos narrowed his gaze and MacLeod suppressed a tiny flare of hope. He'd seen that same expression sixteen years ago and remembered that even back then it had hidden a precious, bruised soul that was scared to reach out. "I don't want you going near Kalas." MacLeod stated, deciding the best place to start would be on the non-personal issues.

"Going near Kalas wasn't my first choice, trust me." Methos returned while he folded his arms and looked away from the kneeling Scot. It was too tempting a sight. "But he now knows I exist and that is a dangerous piece of knowledge."

"I take it he also knows where you live?" MacLeod asked as he slowly stood and walked towards his guest.

"Bright boy."

"So you'll have to stay here tonight."

Pinning the Highlander with a distrusted look, Methos tried to read behind the warm smile directed at him, and gave up when MacLeod walked past him to go into the spacious kitchen area. "I don't think that's wise."


Turning to stare at the Scot in exasperation, Methos let his expression answer him. "Oh, let me think if I can recall what happened the last time you talked me into staying with you."

"I regret none of it."

"Of course you wouldn't!" Methos quipped sarcastically. He felt better talking about the past like it was a dead topic. Safer. "But then you weren't the one tortured and killed-"

"I wasn't talking about that." MacLeod informed him as he moved back towards his stubborn friend.

"Then you have a very selective memory."

"Adam - Methos," MacLeod started again before he reached out and curled his fingers into a fist when Methos predictably stepped back out of reach. "If I could have stopped McKellen then I would have. You know that!" He snapped.

"That's comforting," Methos found himself saying automatically and wishing he could bite his tongue when MacLeod's expression darkened.

"I won't let the same happen with Kalas!"

"Shit," Methos breathed, not wanting this discussion. He held up his hands to forestall the arguments. "Listen-"

"Is that why you left me?" MacLeod demanded, his voice dropping down and becoming suddenly gruff. "Because I failed to protect you from McKellen?"

"No," Methos started to protest giving up at maintaining a distance between them as he felt himself hit the back of the lounge. Instead he captured MacLeod's searching hands and imprisoned them in his own, shaking his head gently. "Wrong choice of words." He whispered. "I never blamed you for McKellen, just like I would never blame you for Kalas. If he comes after me again then it will be my fight, not yours. Understand this MacLeod. You cannot protect everyone. You could not protect Fitzcairn from Kalas - he made the choice to fight. Just as I will."

"Not if I find Kalas first!" MacLeod whispered back fiercely. "You know about Fitz?"

"I'm a Watcher. Well a researcher," Methos amended, giving the Scot a small, soft smile. It gentled the tension between them and he felt MacLeod relax under his hands. Slowly he released his hold on the large warm hands and was only mildly surprised to feel MacLeod entwine their fingers.

"You are also exhausted."

"Dying a couple of times from drowning has that effect." Methos admitted, dropping his gaze to focus on the possessive fingers embracing his own. Light and dark, velvet and steel and he closed his eyes remembering too easily the cherished past.

"Stay," MacLeod breathed, inching closer and lightly brushing his lips over Methos' hair covered forehead. He smelt the soap and brandy, and MacLeod inhaled deeply, remembering how Adam - Methos - smelt of the sun warmed earth after rain and so glad that he could now absorb that heady scent again. Instantly he was aroused and MacLeod released his breath with difficulty seeing how Methos' eyes had darkened to a vivid green.


"Can't you feel it?"

Holding MacLeod's gaze Methos studied the other man's sincere expression and felt his own heart constrict with the same desires. "I have always felt it," he admitted in a moment of pure honesty.

Relieved and scared, MacLeod reached forward and kissed the parted lips, delighted when he was met with no hesitation and he found his mind instantly transported back to the morning. Just like sixteen years ago, the kisses he had taken were devastating from this extraordinary man. The desire heartfelt and genuine and he again savored the thrill of tasting that elusive quality that filled his senses and mind with such longing. How long they stayed like that MacLeod didn't know, but he eventually pulled back from the intense sharing to find they were no longer standing apart - his fingers were now threaded in Methos' soft hair while his other hand pressed them closer.

"This is insane," Methos muttered lifting a hand to separate them, sweeping his fingers along MacLeod's cheek before fingering a strand of long, dark curling hair.

"Not as insane as you walking out again would be."


"At least stay the night." MacLeod asked, petitioning with his eyes. "No obligations, no promises...."

Stepping back, Methos moved away from the lounge and regarded the other man. How he wanted to accept the offer, to experience the fire and he found he was nodding without realizing it. Then he was instantly swept up into another fierce embrace and he laughed, hearing MacLeod echo the emotion and allowing himself to give in to the irrational desires. His hands immediately caressed up MacLeod's broad back, his fingers buried in the long thick hair, where all the warmth, strength and vitality of this magnificent warrior seemed to be mirrored. Yet oddly he felt utterly safe, a rare condition and he remembered how MacLeod had made him feel this safe in the past, and he gave up protesting completely. "You are unbelievable. Totally irrational, and undoubtedly insane-"

"But you love me none the less." MacLeod finished for him, seeing how Methos' eyes widened and how the startling truth of that was clear to see before the lashes fell masking the emotion.

"You are a brat," Methos spluttered, feeling his cheeks warm and frowning harder at the presumptuous Scot.

"I'll take that as a yes." MacLeod grinned, very pleased with himself now. After all the years of fear and uncertainty in losing this man by a cruel twist of Fate he was now starting to appreciate that the separation had changed nothing. If anything it had strengthened his feelings and he idly wondered what the last sixteen years had been like for Methos. He had been blessed with finding Tessa, then Anne and Amanda and he suddenly frowned, remembering what Joe had told him about Adam Pierson. Adam had worked in the Watchers for ten years.... so had Methos avoided him because he had found Tessa? Was that why the other man had stayed away from him for so long? Abruptly it all started to make a weird type of 'Adam' sense and he tightened his hold on the slender Immortal captured in his arms. "Please promise me that you won't disappear again as soon as I take Kalas."

Breaking MacLeod's firm hold, Methos backed up a step and searched the Highlander's dark, troubled gaze. Reaching up and cupping MacLeod's face in his hands, his thumbs caressed the full lips even while he shook his head. "This type of relationship is too dangerous."

"I'm sick of being safe." MacLeod whispered hoarsely. "Life is too short, even for us, to simply ignore how we feel. Don't walk away again, Methos. Please...."

"Mac I can't promise the impossible-"

"I'm not asking you to." MacLeod told him earnestly. "Just don't leave without telling me why. Without saying goodbye. Without giving me the option to follow or a way to at least contact you."

Closing his eyes firmly, Methos tried to deny how those words tugged at his heart and his resolve, but he couldn't banish his own needs and desires where Duncan MacLeod was concerned. "Duncan-"

"Surely I am not asking the unacceptable?" MacLeod asked, his tone breaking slightly.

"No. But-"

"Then what is the problem?"

"The Watchers will know." Methos offered. "They'll relocate me after this attack. After what Kalas has already done."

Nodding, MacLeod remembered all that Joe Dawson had told him and not told him about the secretive Watcher Organization and he let his eyes fall shut.

Seeing the expression of despair, Methos came to an impulsive decision, reaching out to touch MacLeod's chest very softly with his fingers. "But, I could ring you. Keep in contact-"

"Anything." Mac responded, lifting his lashes suddenly and feeling the first stirrings of hope in his heart. "Just don't walk away again without a word."

"Alright." Methos agreed feeling buoyant by his decision. This was dangerous, but he didn't care. "In that case I should probably go and-"

"No." MacLeod said instantly. "Stay the night. Please?" He interjected. "No pressure, just sleep. Then in the morning we can decide what to do about Kalas."

"If you're sure...." Methos trailed off.


Letting his hand drop Methos nodded, suddenly very tired, feeling both defeat and exhaustion rise up to swamp him and knowing that MacLeod could read him expertly. Again he felt both honored and cherished that this man would put his concerns before anything else and he almost capitulated to his baser desires that whispered to hell with the Watcher Organization. But that would place them both in unwarranted danger.

"Get into bed," MacLeod urged, watching Methos absently amble up to the sleeping area and stare down at the bed. He didn't want to know what convoluted ideas and objections were now forming in that ancient mind and MacLeod wondered how many sacrifices Methos had made over his long life in order to survive. How lonely such an isolated existence could be and he silently vowed to correct that situation. He trusted his own skill well enough to protect them both and prayed Methos would eventually come to trust him like he already trusted the older Immortal. Locking up the barge for the night he switched off all the lights, leaving the barge illuminated only by the fire burning in the hearth and one bedside lamp. Quietly he went to the bed and stopped behind Methos, seeing the other jump as if Methos had just woken from a dream to become aware of another's presence. "You need sleep," MacLeod encouraged, reaching over to fleetingly caress a finger down Methos' neck to shoulder. Then just as quickly he stripped off his own clothes, placing them over a chair before getting into bed and holding the bed covers up in open invitation.

Watching the display before him, Methos slowly sat down on the mattress, positive this was not wise but pushing all regrets aside while he gave in to his wants and his bone- deep exhaustion. To just relinquish control for a short while would be wonderful and he stripped off his borrowed clothing and slid into the coolness of Duncan MacLeod's bed. For one night he could pretend that they were safe, that nothing else mattered. That the Watchers didn't exist and that Kalas was only a figment of his over worked imagination.

Turning on his side MacLeod pulled Methos closer, snuggling up to his side, sharing body warmth, inhaling sharply when the glide of skin against skin ignited so much pleasure. He was entwining their limbs without knowing it, reaching down to capture the open mouth of his lover without thought and finding that nothing but acceptance welcomed him. Strong fingers threaded into his loose hair, a muscled thigh slid over his hip, sending a shiver of delight along every nerve ending. The kiss deepened, the urgency replaced by a gentle reaffirmation of the intimacy that already existed between them while their bodies molded together so easily. Both comforting and exciting.

"You said sleep," Methos murmured, his breath shuddering in his chest as he watched the Highlander lean over him and devour him with passion darkened eyes. Such beauty, rendering him so helpless that he arched up in unconscious response to the wordless questions asked in the velveteen brown gaze. Oh yes, he would give this man everything eventually. So why fight the inevitable?

"Aye." MacLeod acknowledged, pleased with the instinctive response he received to his silent questions. "You need sleep." Gently he reached down and kissed Methos temple, lingering over the contact, muttering a Gaelic vow while his lips feathered over dry skin. "In the morning we will talk more."

Barely catching the muttered words, Methos closed his eyes, replaying the sound of the Gaelic phrases and the emotion behind the tone over in his mind a few more times. It sounded suspiciously like an old Scottish betrothal vow and he felt stunned by that, defenseless in this man's consuming presence, instinctively curling in on himself and never realizing when his waking thoughts turned into dream images.

Feeling Methos' limbs grow heavy in his embrace, MacLeod carefully turned the other man on to his side so he was resting more comfortably. He heard Methos sigh, then mutter in his sleep and he watched fascinated how Methos' face relaxed and MacLeod was again swept with the impression of how young this man looked with no masks. An ancient mind forever caught in a young man's body. Impulsive, vulnerable.... yet so jaded and cynical. It was one of the reasons why the man brought out every one of his protective instincts, even though he knew it was probably unnecessary. Still, he wanted to shelter him and MacLeod leaned up on an elbow and carefully turned off the bedside light. Dimness enshrouded the barge and he looked down at the man sleeping in his arms, his heart melting all over again as the warmth of the firelight highlighted Methos' high cheek bones, lashes and longish hair. In the quiet moments like this he could embrace the concepts of forever and he settled a hand over a pale shoulder, sliding his fingers down until he could cradle one of Methos' curled hands. Rarely had he been happier and MacLeod shifted closer to his charge, watching Methos sleep and preparing himself to stay awake all night if necessary to safeguard this man's slumber. He wanted to burn this memory into his brain, to drink in the perfection of the moment while he held this strangely defenseless yet powerful Immortal in his arms.

Before him now stretched a future of endless possibilities and MacLeod smiled. He could live with that

-- THE END --

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