An alternate universe story set post-Revelation 6:8. This is an NC-17 slash story, a dark AU which includes rape, torture, and blood sports (as much as I can write about such things, which is admittedly very limited). If you don't want to read about any of the above, please go elsewhere.

by Laura Mason

Cassandra's footsteps rang on the ladder once again, then faded. MacLeod was staring at me; he'd stumbled to his feet and was leaning on the rail across the inlet. My wild sobs went on and on until I couldn't catch my breath. I rolled onto my side and lay in the oily puddle, panting as I finally managed to control myself, sucking in the rank, ozone-scented air.

Then I heard footsteps again, and finally raised my head. Despite my apparent passivity with Cassandra, if I was going to die I wanted to be on my feet. It was MacLeod, with so many emotions on his face I couldn't honestly tell what he'd come over here to do. I tried to hold up a hand, to ward him off. He came forward anyway and grabbed my hand, hauling me to my feet.

"Are you all right?" Concern was there, although his voice was harsh. He, too, was still breathing as if he'd just run ten miles. The quickenings we'd somehow shared were still right at the surface, making me twitch and moan as he held me.

"Fine, I'll be fine. Let go."

But he didn't. He kept one arm around me as he pulled out his cell phone -- which, of course, was now useless. I was too tired to laugh at the look of disgust on his face. Besides, it was too close to the looks he'd been giving me. I closed my eyes for a second, but then popped them open. Silas was there, waiting for me to relax, ready to break me open again. I couldn't relax yet. I couldn't relax until I was some place far from here, far from any other immortals, with lots of time to snivel and mourn in peace.

"I wanted to get the Watchers to find the bomb on the bridge." He looked at me, shook me a little to get my attention, then spoke again. "I'll find someone and be right back. Wait for me?"

"Don't you need to find Cassandra and get her home safely?" I asked. "Doesn't she deserve babysitting more than I do?"

"Methos..." There was threat in his voice, anger in his eyes -- but he pulled himself together. "Gather your things. We're going to destroy this place, unless you have a better idea."

But before I could answer, I heard it. Cassandra's Voice. She was on the far walkway, where Kronos' body still lay, calling across to us.

"Hear me, Duncan. Why destroy what you still need? You want to punish him. Methos lied to you. You can punish him. Kronos is part of you now, and he knows how to punish Death. Listen to me, Duncan. Listen to Kronos. Use what Kronos left for you to punish Methos."

MacLeod had frozen, one arm still wrapped around my back, trapping my right arm. He looked stunned. I was worried, and somewhat relieved she hadn't been talking to me. I had no doubt she could persuade me to do everything but take my own head with that power of hers. I shook Mac, then slapped him with my free hand, trying to break him free of her spell. It wasn't working, and when I raised my hand to slap him again he grabbed it and looked at me, his expression a combination of inspiration and threat.

"I want to punish you, Methos," he repeated, grasping me tighter and forcing my hand behind my back to join the other. Holding them together behind me with one of his hands, he used the other to pull my sweater up and over my head, then drag it down and use the material to tie my arms.

"MacLeod, you don't want to do this."

"But I do." He hit me then, just once, negligently. I was back in the puddle with a broken nose and blood in my mouth. Maybe he really was channeling Kronos, thanks to Cassandra's influence. It certainly felt familiar when he started kicking me.

When I came back to myself I was nude and tied to one of the more useless pieces of Kronos' furniture. At least, they'd all seemed useless until now. I wondered if he'd ordered it with this particular function in mind. Then I wondered if I could get a drink of water. My body was stiff, though everything felt healed.

Two people entered the room, their footsteps echoing long before I could see them in my limited field of vision.

"Comfy, Methos?" Cassandra purred. "I know I am. This prison has all the amenities, doesn't it?"

"We destroyed the virus," Duncan said quietly. "We found the bomb at the reservoir as well. Your plan failed, Methos. And now you will pay."

And I did pay, despite my protests that it wasn't my plan or my virus. Cassandra sat and watched while Duncan beat me, flayed me, raped me, and tortured me. She would give him commands whenever his invention failed, and she kept praising his obedience and his techniques whenever I cried out. They knew just how much I could take without dying, and managed to keep me alive a painfully long time for each session. Duncan even brought me food and water at intervals, letting me recover so I'd feel the next tortures more fully. I didn't know if this was something Cassandra had learned or if Kronos really was running the show from beyond the grave.

It felt longer, but after about a week of this Joe Dawson and a group of Watchers showed up in one of my rest periods. They found MacLeod sleeping in another room, and Joe told me Mac was confused about where he was -- and, when Joe asked, Mac said he didn't know where I was either. I was grateful Joe had insisted they search the entire facility, or I might have been there for years.

By the time they got to me, Cassandra was long gone. Joe wasn't optimistic that they'd get a Watcher back on her now that she knew of the organization.

Thankfully I was fully healed while they unchained me and found me some clothing and water. I didn't want Joe to know all that had happened, though he looked grim enough. I suppose when you find a man naked, filthy and chained over a table with a gun being used as a butt plug, it's pretty obvious what has been going on. To make it worse, it was my own gun, dug out of my coat by MacLeod during one of his less inventive sessions. They'd shot me repeatedly, though not up the arse as threatened.

We finally got the hell out of that damn sub base, and of course then I had to face MacLeod. He behaved exactly how I'd expected, now that he started to remember what he'd done. In other words, he was apologetic and guilty and brooding, with many offers of making time to talk, discuss what had happened, etc. I just wanted to forget about it, and said so.

Joe was angry at my easy dismissal of what so appalled him, but I couldn't really hold a grudge against Duncan. Cassandra's Voice is powerful, and taking an old quickening like Caspian's would have been hard enough without Kronos on top of it. Frankly, I couldn't even muster up true anger at Cassandra for her part in this, except that she'd hurt Duncan by using him that way. Her cleverness in getting revenge without taking my head was pretty impressive, really. She truly had come a very long way since being my "sorry slave."

I went back to Paris, Duncan returned to Seacouver with Joe, and it seemed that our friendship could someday be mended, with time and luck. If no more spectres from my past showed up to horrify MacLeod, if we both managed to keep our heads long enough, perhaps a time would come when we could be easy together again. I was ready to stay far from Mac until his anger and his remorse had both faded. But Amanda didn't let me do that.

MacLeod had been back in Paris before the Keane incident, but I'd made sure our paths hadn't crossed. After that debacle ended and Amanda took off again, Mac started ringing me at my apartment regularly. He took me to Maurice's for dinner, invited me for home-cooked food at the barge, and we socialized with Joe, too. At first I worried that Mac was in some kind of penitent state, trying to make up for things that were already forgotten. But he seemed very normal, almost his old self.

Then one night we had dinner at the barge with Joe. Duncan had cooked up a feast, wonderful food and great wines that had Joe dozing on the sofa and me in a very full, sated heap right next to him. But I came wide awake when Duncan came in from the galley, crouched in front of me, grabbed my thighs, and looked me straight in the eyes.

"I can't pretend any longer, Methos. I want you; I think I've always wanted you. If you can't forgive what I've done to you, just tell me."

But my body had already told him. My mouth was open, my eyes were wide, and I suddenly was so erect it hurt. His hands were still there on my legs and I was sure he could feel the heat that had sprung out of my every pore with his words. When he rotated one wrist to rub my cock with the back of that hand, I almost screamed.

"I'll put Joe in a cab. Wait right there." There was such heat in his beautiful eyes that I moaned in reply. Then I sat as directed, closing my eyes and meditating to control myself while he called a cab, woke Joe and hauled him out the door to send him along. I heard the cab pull away and MacLeod step back inside, and all my efforts were for nothing. I was sweating and hard as a board again instantly. The thought of Duncan touching me, kissing me with that mouth, taking me with his powerful body -- willingly this time, with affection and friendship. Not as punishment. No, more as a reward, though for what I don't know.

He did all that, and more. I thought that I was simply getting a tumble, that we'd remain friends, possibly fuck-buddies, but nothing would change. I was terribly wrong. It only took Duncan MacLeod fucking me one time for me to realize that I would give my head for him. His tenderness broke through barriers that had been in place for thousands of years and wrecked me. And then he whispered words of love to me, and suddenly it was wonderful that I was crazy enough to risk loving him.

The remainder of that night rivaled orgies I'd attended thousands of years before with dozens of willing partners. MacLeod was insatiable, and I wasn't far behind. As quickly as our immortal bodies healed we were at it again. He fucked me on every surface in the barge, sometimes rough against the wall, sometimes so slowly and sweetly I almost cried. His beautiful body, his wonderful cock, his clever hands and sweetly sinful mouth all took me outside myself. I trusted him as I've never trusted a partner before.

Even that very first night I let him tie me, blindfold me -- and I loved it all, reveled in it. His laugh -- his husky voice -- showed me he was beyond any regrets over Bordeaux, and that was wonderful, too. To look in his eyes and see only lust, not remorse, had me flying.

"You like this. You like me to hurt you. Does it hurt good, Methos?" he asked, driving into my exhausted body yet again, listening to my moans.

I know a lot about sex, and I've studied ways to make bodies respond to pleasure and pain. And of course Kronos had taught me about pain and endurance -- he was a genius at torture, and just sick enough to prefer all his eroticism to include pain. But MacLeod was a virtuoso of the other extreme. Duncan taught me more about my own body's pleasure than I thought possible. How could I have lived so many years and never experienced anyone like him? We were truly complete together, and I think he felt it, too, even that first time.

If he'd used his tenderness against me when Cassandra forced him to torture me, I would have been broken past mending. Thank the gods she didn't realize what his love could have done, despite having sex with him herself. But there I go -- Cassandra, and thousands of others, had SEX with Mac. Mac made LOVE to me. Is this simply my own conceit? I don't know.

That night changed my life, and a month later I realized I had truly become part of the Highlander's orbit. I was so besotted I didn't care. Survival instincts, those instincts that told me it was dangerous for us to be together, very dangerous to fall in love with an immortal -- those were gone, ignored away.

We hadn't moved in together, but I lived at the barge anyway. Our lives were going along smoothly. Our sex life was like one long fantasy for me. Mac's "toys," including the cuffs that permanently and discreetly were attached to the bed frame, were in constant use. I love being held down, and Mac seemed to love giving that to me. We were constantly fucking, experimenting with new pleasures, and then walking about in a post-orgasmic haze that had to be obvious to everyone.

In fact, it was plain that Dawson knew exactly what was going on, but never said a word about it to me. Ryan, Amanda, other friends of Mac's came along, but none of them changed anything between us. The only real glitch in our relationship was Byron, and I should be ashamed to admit how fast I was sucking Mac's cock that night, helping him work off Gordon's quickening, once we left Joe at the bar.

Two days later while Mac was off bonding with Richie, Joe came to the barge.

"Methos, I have something to show you."

"Come in, Joe. Want some coffee?" He merely shook his head in the negative, then -- still standing, bracing himself -- he spoke.

"The Watchers left a team in Bordeaux to make sure everything dangerous at the sub base was found, and to make sure there weren't any clues that could lead someone to immortals or back to the organization. But none of them know anything about Mac, or you, so they didn't really realize what this shows." He fumbled in his pocket and removed a video tape. "It just sat with all the other things they'd gathered, and no one bothered to look at it a second time or transcribe any of it. But when I heard they'd concluded the operation, I asked to see what they'd found." He finally stopped for a breath and I interrupted him impatiently.

"Joe, I'm totally confused. What is this bloody thing, and why are you so upset about it?"

"I suppose the best thing is just to show you. Kronos had security cameras all over the place, on motion detectors. There were piles of tapes -- hours of stuff. And this was still in one of the cameras." Joe moved to Mac's television and carefully put the casssette in. "Just this last bit--"

I braced myself, ready to reenact scenes of my torture. To my great relief, the camera wasn't from that room. Instead it showed one of the laboratories, and Duncan with Cassandra. There was no sound, but you could see they were speaking together. Then she began to look angry, though it almost looked as if Duncan was smiling. Finally Cassandra drew her sword, his katana flashed out, and they fought. Mac quickly had her down and took her head. The quickening must have destroyed the camera, for the tape ended there.

Joe was on the sofa now, staring at me, and I'll admit to being too confused to speak for a few minutes. But I knew there was an explanation.

"Well? He's ready to kill you over this woman, and then he takes her head? And never mentions it?" Dawson stared at me a moment in silence. "He didn't tell you, did he? I thought maybe you already knew..."

"Joe, it's obvious that Mac doesn't remember killing Cassandra. He's probably blocked it; he'd be appalled that he had to kill another friend."

"Had to kill her? Methos, buddy, were you watching the same fight I just saw? He had her down, he didn't have to follow through..."

"Joe, I saw it. But he was still dealing with two very old, strong quickenings, Joe. And Cassandra, she'd deliberately roused Kronos and Caspian within him, because she wanted to use their techniques to torture me. But they had no love for Cassandra." I stood and walked around the barge, thinking it through. "He realized what she'd done to him, how she'd used him -- and then he confronted her. She drew first, after all..."

"It's not like Mac to kill a woman. A woman he admired and loved, too."

"No. I'm sure that's why he doesn't remember." I looked over at Joe, grateful to have a friend who worried for both of us. "Duncan must have plugged his ears so she couldn't control him anymore. And then, when they fought, she must have forced him to kill her." Of course, that wasn't how it looked on the tape. But I wasn't there, and our viewpoint was limited by the camera's fixed angle. "Her quickening must have been what had him so confused when you found us. Three old quickenings in only a week -- that's difficult to handle even without guilt and remorse thrown into it."

"We never found her body," Joe said, nodding to himself. "He must have been aware enough to dispose of it."

"You know Mac -- he's habitually tidy. Even out of his mind and exhausted, he'd clean up automatically." I smiled then, and Joe returned it briefly before grimacing.

"Only you, Methos, can make me laugh over the gruesome lives you lead." Joe stood then, and moved back to the VCR. "Should I take this? Or do you want to talk to Mac about it?"

"You mean, tell him what happened?"

"I don't know. Can't you just show him this, and see what he has to say?"

I didn't know how to answer him. I remembered when Mac's friend Cochrane had lost his memories, remembered Mac forcing him to recall what he'd done to his student. And Mac's own dark quickening; we'd only discussed it briefly as I drove him home, but he wanted to know what he'd done, wanted to confirm his own spotty memories with what I'd witnessed. Though he'd had a painfully clear recollection of killing Sean Burns...

"Leave the tape, Joe, if you don't mind. Give me a chance to think about it."

"Sure. Methos..."

"I don't want to hurt him, Joe. He shouldn't feel remorse for anything that happened in Bordeaux. It was really my fault, mine and Cassandra's."

"Yeah. But... " Joe looked like he wanted to say something more, but then he shook his head and moved to the door. I followed him up on deck, not surprised when he continued speaking. "Just be careful, huh? When I first saw that tape, I didn't know what to think. When I remembered what he'd done to you, then saw him killing her..."

Standing there in the broad daylight, thinking about it, we both smiled sheepishly. MacLeod deliberately hurting me? Or anyone? Too foolish to consider.

"Don't worry, Joe."

"But those quickenings he took -- after Coltec and the dark quickening, I thought maybe..."

"He's still Mac. Bordeaux was a trying time, that's all. It's over now." I watched him drive off and enjoyed the weak sun for a few minutes. And then, to my dismay, I went back inside and watched the last five minutes of the tape again.

It was really impossible to know anything from this. It looked like Mac had her down, disarmed, at a point where he could have stopped without killing her. But it was too easy to misinterpret a video. I stopped it, pulled the tape and stashed it behind some other tapes, then went to fix dinner. I think I wanted to forget what I'd seen.

Besides, it wasn't as if MacLeod didn't have a darker side. He wasn't that man who'd terrorized everyone during the dark quickening, but even in his own right mind, Mac was a powerful, dangerous killer. We all are. Joe could forget that, but I couldn't.

Over the next few weeks, while it seemed Mac was losing his mind, I thought about what Joe had said again and again. Had the dark quickening somehow come back? Perhaps adding Kronos to all the other old, powerful ones MacLeod had taken in the last five years had overloaded him.

Then MacLeod killed Ryan, and I was sure the evil within him was once again out of control.

After I dropped Joe back at his apartment, still sobbing, I was sick with worry -- MacLeod had actually walked off without his sword, leaving us to deal with his student's body. I couldn't sit still, and instead started to pack what we'd need to visit the holy spring again.

But Mac came home a few hours later, close to sunrise. He was radiant, smiling as he told me he'd finally defeated the Demon who'd been tormenting him -- and who had caused him to mistakenly kill Richie. He cried when he talked about Ryan, but he was so -- MacLeod -- again, so much himself, that I hugged him and cried, too, as I listened to his babble of a millennial demon who merely needed to be faced down to be defeated for a thousand years.

We ate some fruit and cheese, and then Mac took me to bed. It had been nearly a week since he'd made love to me, and he set about making up for the lost time. Hungry kisses and tender touches, turning wilder as our passion rose, had me writhing and begging before long. When we finally wound up in the bed, naked, Mac quickly had the shackles out and my wrists chained. Then he stood and smiled down at me.

"I have something for us to watch, Methos," he purred, and he moved to the VCR. We'd watched videos before during lovemaking, and I was too busy staring lustfully at Mac's arse to watch what he was doing. Then the tape started, but there was no sound -- it was the security tape of him and Cassandra that he was playing. "Did Joe bring you this? Or did you know about the security at the base?"

"Mac, you don't have to explain--" I began as he walked back to the bed.

"But I want to explain, Methos. I have a lovely explanation..." He reached over and kissed me, then reached under the bed for the toys we sometimes used. "How long have you known about Cassandra, Methos?" he asked casually as he rummaged through the box.

"A few weeks, Mac. The Watchers found the tapes, but no one looked at them until Joe-- Oh!" I cried out as the cold metal clip was attached to one straining nipple. "God, Mac--"

"You love it and you know it. Poor Cassandra thought you were suffering, but even in Bordeaux you loved me hurting you, and taking you..." An unlubricated plug was at my mouth when I tried to deny what he said. Of course I didn't love him torturing me! But I obediently wet the plug, wanting Mac inside me. Then he turned on the vibrating nipple clamps, full power, and laughed as I gasped and shook.

But then his fingers were there, inside me, moving to open and stretch me. Because I loved him, and he loved me. He wasn't hurting me, he was giving me pleasure -- completely different from what they'd done to me in Bordeaux. He quickly moved the plug from my mouth to my arse, and all I could do was grunt as he forced it in me, then wail as he cut the electricity.

"Such a slut you are. Kronos and Caspian knew it. Silas probably knew it. Only poor Cassandra was in the dark about you, Methos. She never knew you, did she?"

"I know you didn't want to hurt her, Mac. Neither did I, I mean not now..." A swift twist of the plug had me gasping for breath instead of finishing my sentence.

"I'd rather not gag you, Methos. But you should shut up and listen to my explanation now." Mac climbed astride me and I kept quiet, as directed, trying instead to look my love and understanding at him. "She was trying to use me again. I don't like being manipulated. And when I told her that, she actually drew her sword on me! Of course, you saw that. She started the fight. And I was so angry..." He climbed up my body, until his engorged cock was in my face. I reached out to lick him, and he moaned. "My five thousand year old whore."

He stopped talking then, concentrating all his energies on fucking my mouth. If I hadn't been so experienced, he might have choked me to death. I'm wasn't sure that would have stopped him. And I found that horribly exciting. I came before he did, just from the rough way he was using me. When he realized what was happening, he laughed, pulling out of my mouth and instead shooting all over my face before collapsing atop me.

"Mac, you don't have to explain anything," I gasped out. "Joe and I knew you'd somehow broken her hold, plugged your ears against her Voice..."

"Her Voice?" MacLeod sat up and looked at me. "Oh, I see. You and Joe worked it all out." He rose and gracefully left the bed and my line of sight. When he came back, one hand was behind his back. "And you believed that. Despite everything I've shown you of myself since then, you really think that poor little Duncan was forced to hurt you, against his will, by the nasty Witch's Voice." Then he brought his hand up where I could see the knife. "Methos, I've been immune to her Voice since Kronos' quickening."

He stood there, waiting for the horrified reaction. Instead, I smiled up at him. "I'm glad you killed her, Mac." I deliberately writhed in my bonds. "Let them all die, Duncan. You're all I want."

"I tortured you."

"Yes. Bordeaux is part of what brought us here, together. That's all that matters." Even as I said it to him, I knew it was true. I'd spent a thousand years with Kronos and pain. I could spend eternity with Duncan. I wanted all of him, dark and light. Pleasure and pain. "Torture me again, forever."

"I will." He smiled and brought the blade down on my chest, carefully cutting just deep enough. I heard him hum, felt my blood trickle down.

I gasped, "Do whatever you want. I want it, too."

"Do you really?" And then he saw that the pain, added to the sensations from the clamps and the plug, was bringing back my erection. Duncan laughed aloud.

"A match made in heaven, wouldn't you say, Methos?"

"In hell, MacLeod, in hell. But that's good enough for me." And then my voice was lost in moans and cries of ecstacy yet again.



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