The man opened the door to the establishment and stepped inside. Obviously liking what he saw, he nodded and headed to the bar. "A pint of domestic," he called to the bartender.
Joe Dawson rolled his eyes and pulled the beer. The things he did for his friends. "Here you go, sir."
"Is it possible to run a tab?" the man asked smoothly.
He glanced around the room. "A blues bar in Paris? An interesting choice."
"My roots," Joe said simply. "You know anything about the blues?"
"A little. A friend of mine in the States has a bar, and a band. I've spent some time there. Those Yanks," he added, with a smile, "so boorish yet friendly at the same time. I don't know how they do it. No wonder they seem to be taking over the world."
"I think you might get a few dissenters to that theory here," Joe replied knowingly.
"Perhaps. But man's dissent has never had much of an impact on what actually occurs. Did not the world revolve around the sun even after man himself declared it to be the other way around?"
"You sound like a student or something," Joe said, swiping at the bar with a towel.
"A professor actually. Adam Pierson at your service, monsieur."
Joe bit back a snort. "Just call me Joe, Adam."
"Thanks, Joe. I think I'll take the table over there. If you'll excuse me?"
"Knock yourself out, Adam. You need anything, just let me know."
As Adam swaggered--yes, Joe thought, swaggered was a good word--the door opened and another man entered. Joe grabbed a bottle of his best scotch. "Duncan MacLeod," he called as he poured. "How's it going?"
"I'm doing okay, Joseph. Just thought I needed to get off the barge for a while."
"You look like a man on the prowl to me." He sat the glass in front of the Scot.
"Well, there's no finer market than Le Blues Club, or so I've heard."
Joe glared at Duncan before falling back into his role. "So? See anything you like?"
Duncan's eyes roamed the room and settled onto a pale hand wrapped around a mug. "Hmm. Who's that?"
"A professor from the University."
"What is he drinking?"
"Send him a refill--and make it an import."
Joe obediently delivered the beer. "From the guy at the bar," he said gruffly.
Adam sipped the offering. Then he smiled and raised the glass. Duncan casually strolled over to the table.
"Adam Pierson, Duncan MacLeod," Joe introduced, glad his part in this was about over. Just as soon as he could, he was going to go into the back room and have a good laugh. Oh, the things people did to celebrate anniversaries. "If you gentlemen need anything, Jackie comes on in five minutes and she'll be glad to assist you. Enjoy your evening."
"Thanks, Joe," the men said in unison.
Joe grinned as he ambled back to his duties. Five years ago to the night, Duncan MacLeod and Adam Pierson had left the bar with mutual carnal intent. They'd been living together ever since. Two immortals. Inarguably the oldest, and arguably the best. Who'd a thunk it?
Guess romance wasn't just for the young after all.
"You have good taste, Monsieur MacLeod," Adam said as he lifted his beer.
"In all things," Duncan said with a leer. "Please, call me Duncan."
Adam nodded. "Do you come here for the music, the food, the spirits, or the company, Duncan?"
"Generally, all of the above. But tonight, I think the emphasis would be on the latter."
Adam raised an eyebrow. "If I were a vain person, I would think you were trying to flatter me."
"Does one flatter the rose when he speaks of its beauty? No, he merely speaks the truth."
"And what truth are you speaking tonight, Duncan MacLeod?"
"That I want you."
"Forward and presumptuous," Adam remarked. He took a drink and a second later, the tip of his tongue appeared to remove any trace of a "moustache." He refused to smirk as Duncan shifted uncomfortably.
"I know what I like." Duncan turned the shift into a forward lean toward Adam.
"Spoken by someone enormously powerful or incredibly rich."
"I'm enormously powerful in some circles, and incredibly rich in all."
"Congratulations," Adam said dryly.
"And what about you?"
"I'm told I have phenomenal staying power--and that I'm outrageously expensive."
"But well worth the price?"
"I assure you, Monsieur MacLeod, I give as good as I get--or better."
"That sounds rather cocky."
"Oh, it is. But then, I think the same could be said of you, no?" Adam's eyes raked over the handsome form in front of him.
"I thought Joe said you were a professor?"
"But I didn't say of what. Would you like to be my student?"
"Only if you believe in the hands-on approach."
"I believe education is an entire body affair. One must experience with one's hands, taste with one's mouth, and feel with one's naked soul to truly learn."
"So, you want to expose me to your knowledge?"
"My techniques come highly recommended. Many have successfully completed my coursework. The insight they gained, I'm told, has been very valuable to them throughout their lives."
"It's impossible for my students to fail. No matter how reluctant, they always rise to the occasion."
Duncan chuckled to cover up his squirm. "I think you may be full of it, Adam."
"I could be full of you."
"What a mouth," Duncan whispered.
"Complaining because I made a tongue-in-cheek remark? Or is that where you'd like my tongue to be?"
"Would that be the anterior or posterior cheek?" Duncan asked, rallying in the game.
Duncan coughed. "I live on a barge," he said inconsequently.
"Tell me, Duncan, do you like the swell of the waves that much? It must be a rhythmic experience as the tide flows in and out. Does the water caress your barge, Duncan, holding it in her tight, slick embrace? Do the boat and water slide against each other, the lapping friction generating a gentle, yet penetrating heat? Or is it more of a demanding surge of one primal surface against another, hard against soft, rough against smooth, rubbing languidly, sensually, in a dance older than time itself? Tell me, Duncan, what do you do for a living?"
Adam repeated the question slowly, watching as Duncan returned from where his carefully chosen words had sent him.
"I deal in antiques," Duncan finally answered.
"Vases and paintings?"
"Mainly swords and other weapons."
"I like swords. Long, hard, sheathed--"
"Stop." Duncan took a deep breath. Then another. "Come home with me, please?"
Adam grinned. "But we haven't even heard the band yet."
"I'll buy you their CD. I'll buy you all their bloody CDs."
Adam sucked on his lower lip. "Well, I suppose--" He was jerked to his feet and propelled toward the door. From the corner of his eye, he saw Joe wave and grin. He barely had time to wave back before he was pulled out the door.
"Did I enter a marathon without my knowing?" Adam asked as Duncan led him in a fair trot through the streets of Paris. "I know I'm built for endurance--long-limbed with powerful thighs and lungs that allow me to suck in--"
Duncan grabbed his shoulders, slammed him against a storefront and personally tested Adam's lung power. Damn, the professor was right--he did have amazing lungs. And the thighs butting against his were impressive. He could imagine them wrapped around his neck, the muscles flexing...
"I'm not spending the night in jail for lewd and lascivious behavior," Adam said when their lips separated.
Duncan tugged him back down the street. "Who's idea was it to walk to the bar?" he muttered.
Adam just laughed.
Duncan wanted to drop to his knees in praise when he saw the barge, then thought there would soon be a better reason for him to be on his knees. He unlocked the barge, grateful that the extra block to the river had given him a small portion of control. He carefully lit several candles and started a CD going in the player, not wanting to spend the next decade listening to a certain old immortal bitch about his lack of romance. He'd already botched his role as the suave, sophisticated rich man. But then, Adam had been no shy professor either. Speaking of...
His companion was examining the chessboard still set up from their last game. "This is a big place. Do you live here alone?" Adam asked softly.
Duncan frowned, not recognizing this part of the script. Leave it Methos to do a rewrite in the middle of a scene. "No, I live here with my lover."
"I don't do threesomes on a first date."
Ah, he was to be the cad. "Not a problem. The old guy's out of town."
"When the cat's away--"
"The dog has his day," Duncan finished, pulling Adam into his arms. The man stiffened, and Duncan immediately released him. What the hell was going on?
"Do you do this often? Crave someone else other than your lover?"
Duncan reached out and tipped Adam's head up to see him clearly in the candlelight. The sadness in Methos's eyes nearly broke Duncan's heart. Methos had casually mentioned once, early in the relationship, that due to circumstances in the past, he sometimes doubted his worth. He never gave any particulars, and later shrugged it off, but Duncan had his own theories. Still, seeing the doubt in actuality, pierced him to the core.
"My lover has his faults," Duncan began softly. "He is old. He is not handsome. His tongue sharp, his head hard, his heart cold, and his feet fleeting when faced with his own emotions."
"Then why do you stay with him?" Adam asked sadly.
Duncan stroked a finger down the long hollow jaw of the man he loved. "Because he is old--and wise. Because he is not handsome, but beautiful. Because his tongue is sharp--and skilled, often turning mere prose into great poetry. His head is hard--he stubbornly does things for my own good. His heart is cold--to my enemies. And his feet are too fleeting--but they run to me. I stay not because I want to, but because I have to. I need him like I need air and food and water. He is essential to my survival."
"Oh." Methos flung himself onto the sofa and dropped his head into his hands. "I'm sorry for breaking script, Duncan."
He shrugged. "It's not like we haven't done improv before."
Methos raised his head. "You mean like the floor instead of the bed?"
"And the dining table."
"And Joe's storeroom."
"Hey, wait a minute," Duncan protested. "That was a post-quickening emergency."
"And the washing machine in our Seacouver flat?"
Duncan smiled at the memory. "Sheer inspiration. Got to love that extra-long spin cycle."
Methos's eyes lit up. "Isn't it about time we head back to the States?"
"Got an itch to do laundry?"
"Got an itch for you."
Duncan laughed and held out his hand. "Dance with me, Methos."
They melted together beneath the candlelight. "I don't need to trade innuendo with you, Methos. I don't need you to talk dirty to me or set up sexy scenarios to get turned on by you. I just need you. I just need to watch you grading papers or hear you spin outrageous lies to Joe. I just need to brush my hand across the pillow you just got up from or smell the steam from your shower. Or remember the taste of your mouth against mine. That's all I need, Methos, to crave you. That's all I need to fall in love with you all over again."
Methos dropped his head against Duncan's shoulder. "I love you," he whispered against Duncan's neck. "I love you."
"I love you, Methos."
"Even when I take a perfect night and ruin it?"
"How can a night with you in my arms be anything but perfect?"
Methos chuckled and tightened his hold. "You're a sappy romantic, Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod."
"I am whatever you need me to be, Methos." Centuries of relationships had taught him that being in love was all about improvisation; a decade of knowing and loving Methos had taught him that when you couldn't fake it or second guess it or twist your way out of it, the best thing was just to hold on and wait it out--whatever it was.
He felt Methos nod his head and ignoring the salty warmth he felt splatter against his neck, Duncan led his love around the room, dancing not to the soft strains of music but merely holding on to the strong, sure beats of their hearts.