Notes:

Huge spoilers for the HL movie, ENDGAME. Also the movie is highly mocked, so if you thought it was wonderful, you might want to take a pass on this story. And if you're watching your sugar intake, please be advised that this is an intensely sappy story.

HIGHLANDER: CHECKMATE

by

Dayspring

Duncan MacLeod gasped and sat straight up in bed, his heart pounding, and his flesh damp with perspiration.

"Easy, Duncan." A hand fell on his shoulder and rubbed comfortingly. "It's all right. You're all right." The light beside the bed popped on. "You're as pale as a ghost."

"A bad dream," Duncan murmured.

"Yes, that I figured out for myself," Methos said, his smile taking the sting out of his words. "Want to talk about it? Something from your past?"

"No. Yes. No."

"How conclusive."

Duncan punched him lightly in the arm and Methos dramatically flopped back down on the mattress. Duncan flopped on top of him. "It was just so real. As if it did happen. But I know it didn't."

Methos wrapped his arms around his lover. "Tell me."

"There was this place called Sanctuary where Immortals would go when they got tired of the Game."

"Why?"

"The monks there would strap them in and put them in masks and feed them intravenously. But they weren't monks; they were Watchers."

"Figures. So you were strapped down and put in a mask?"

"No, not me, Connor."

Methos laughed. "Your kinsman? Not bloody likely."

"He was heartsick, Methos. Rachel had been brutally murdered and he was just ready to give up." He raised his head to look at Methos. "You know how much he loves her."

"I know. I've raised a child or two myself. But I've also buried them--and so has Connor. I can't see him giving up just because of a single mortal's death. I'm sorry, MacLeod, but that just seems...wrong."

"It's a dream, remember?"

"Yes, of course. But where's the logic? Perhaps Rachel's death was the last straw for Connor, but can you actually see him, or any other Immortal for that matter, consenting to being strapped down and fed through a tube? If Connor grows sick of the Game, he'll do just what every other Immortal who's grown tired has done. He'll find an Immortal who's worthy of his quickening and Challenge him or her."

Duncan swallowed hard. "That's what he does...in the end."

"Really? Who does he choose?"

"Me."

"And I allowed him to use you like that? I think not!"

"You and I--well, you were there, but...but we weren't lovers. We were barely friends."

"Not a bad dream, then, but a nightmare."

Duncan dropped a kiss on the nearly hairless, muscular chest. Wielding a sword was great for the upper body. "Aye."

"But I've missed something. When did Connor get out of the restraints and needles to find you?"

"Kell showed up and destroyed Sanctuary to get to Connor."

"Kell? Hmm. I knew a Kell once. Fancied himself a priest. Couldn't be him, though. The damn fool guillotined himself back in whatever century that was popular. I tried to talk him out of it. Told him the best centuries were yet to come. But he was determined. So I said fine, just make sure you do it on the day Darius was due at the execution grounds. I told him Darius was probably the only one who could put up with his sanctimonious and pretentious pit of a soul. Besides, I figured Darius could use a little boost after all those years on holy ground."

"Methos!"

"Don't worry. The bloody bastard waited until I was visiting. Like I needed another blasted quickening. Damn near blew my cover."

"Which was?"

"A widow with nine children."

"A widow!"

"It's a long story. You had to be there. Anyway, so this Kell breaks Connor out and...?"

"Long story, my ass," Duncan complained.

"And such a pretty ass too. Now tell me the rest of your dream."

"Kell recruited this gang of Immortal killers. One of them--" Duncan took a deep breath. "One of them was a woman I knew."

Methos snorted. "Tall, beautiful?"

"Yes."

"Why am I not surprised?"

"She was ma' wife." He felt Methos stiffen. "We were married and I killed her on our wedding night so that she would be Immortal and stay with me forever."

"Guess you lucked out with me, huh?"

"In all ways, my love. But talk about illogical. I can't believe I was ever that naive and stupid. I knew what becoming immortal did to my life. Why in hell would I do that to someone I love?"

"What happened?"

"She killed me and left. I never saw her again until she was there with Kell."

"And?"

"And we started where we left off."

"I take it you mean the wedding night and not the mutual murders?" Duncan nodded. "Do you--do you miss bedding a woman, Duncan?"

Duncan pulled away. "Do you truly believe I'm that shallow?"

"No. I apologize for asking."

"Why did you? Does it bother you to lie with me every night?" Duncan asked softly.

"No!"

"Then why the question?"

Methos sighed and turned his head. "You're not the one who's shallow," he mumbled.

Every so often Duncan would wonder about the people in Methos' past that made such a brilliant man so insecure in close relationships. Whoever they were, he was glad they were dead. "Look at me," he demanded, grateful that they hadn't turned off the lamp, because he wanted to make sure Methos saw all the love that he felt for him. "I miss nothing, Methos. You are everything I could ever want, could ever need. No other could fill the space in me that you occupy, my love. Never doubt that."

"I'll try. But it's not you, Duncan. You have to know that," Methos pleaded, his eyes changing colors in the soft glow of the single light.

Duncan nodded, understanding some pain ran so deep that it was impossible to ever track it to its source and stop the hurting. He gave a wry smile. "Besides, she ends up dead."

The wiry shoulders shrugged. "Oh, well, then. Nothing to worry about."

Duncan bit him.

"Ow! Continue on with the story, you savage."

"I couldn't beat Kell and neither could Connor."

"Yeah, right."

"We're not unbeatable, Methos."

"Of course not. That's why you have me."

"No, I have you because you stole my heart. And I thought Amanda was the master thief."

"She steals for fun; I steal for keeps."

"Forever, Old Man." He kissed him, sinking into the warm, familiar body that was his home, his temple to keep and worship.

"Forever," Methos agreed with swollen lips several minutes later. Duncan lay his head upon Methos' breast. "What happened, love? What made you awaken so abruptly?"

"Connor said we couldn't beat him separately, but together. I offered him my head. But he made me fight and...and, God, Methos, he set it up so that I couldn't stop my swing."

Arms tightened around him. "All of Connor poured into me."

"Damn."

"And then Kell came. It was still a hard fight. I think he had an edge...like Cassandra."

"Magic, you mean?"

"Yes. Tell me something, Methos. It seems like every old Immortal I run into has some kind of magical power. What's yours?"

"I told you, MacLeod: I'm just a guy."

Duncan chuckled. "Pull the other one, O Master of Qualified Truths." He gasped when a hand tugged at his cock. "You forgot the word 'horny.' You're just a horny guy."

"Just following your orders, Duncan. So let me guess the rest of the story. You beat Kell."

"Yes, and walked away alone."

"Bullshit. You just didn't look behind you far enough."

"You trying to say that you were there?"

"Always, Duncan."

"I love you, Methos, but..."

"But what?"

"I gotta piss." He levered himself off the bed.

"Didn't I warn you, MacLeod? Didn't I say, 'Honey, don't drink so much of that iced tea. It's loaded with caffeine and you're going to be up all night pissing.' Isn't that what I said?"

"I don't remember the 'honey' part," Duncan said as he made his way toward the bathroom. Moments later he returned and found Methos talking softly on the phone. He looked at him curiously.

Methos put his hand over the mouthpiece. "It's Connor. I thought you'd rest easier if you spoke with him."

"I love you." Duncan took the cordless and chatted animatedly with his kinsman for the better part of an hour, going out to the sofa when Methos pulled a pillow over his head. After the call finally ended, he went over and looked down at the lightly snoring Methos, the man who had mocked his nightmare to the point that Duncan couldn't take it seriously, then called Connor just to make sure his lover slept peacefully. He cut off the lamp and snuggled in beside the only spouse he'd ever taken vows with.

"To have and to hold, Methos," he whispered as he gathered the sleeping man into his arms. "Forever."

Knowing that any other nightmare would fall to Methos' lashing tongue and imperturbable logic, Duncan fell asleep.

*****

Duncan was still asleep as Methos climbed out of bed and went out on the deck of the barge just as morning broke. With a determined grin, he looked up at the paling heavens and pointed his fingers in the shape of a gun.

"Endgame," he said softly, pulling the imaginary trigger. "Checkmate."

Chuckling at the lightning that teased the rosy-edged clouds low on the horizon, he blew away the "smoke" of his shot, and scampered back into the warmth of the barge and its owner.

THE END