by Maxine Mayer 5/3/98
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[ "Heart's Desire" was inspired by Atilla the Hunee's "Moonlight & Roses" Saga, and is intended to be part of that series. It follows "Certifiable." Thank you, Hunee, for believing in my Boys! My original characters - the Immortals Quentin of York and Lamartin of Bordeaux - have a long and interesting history. If you like them and want to know more about their past and their present relationship with Methos, MacLeod, Amanda, Richie, Joe, etc., stories about them are up on my website. Now - good reading! ]
"I beg your pardon," Quentin of York said to Methos, taking the offered martini, and an initial sip. "I must have misheard."
"No, Quen, you did not mishear," Methos replied wearily, patiently. "Mac and I are getting married. Soon." He glanced across the barge at his lover, Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod, who was staring at the two older Immortals intently, and signaled a thumbs-up with a smile to indicate that he'd dropped his bomb and successfully hit his target.
"Very well. You're getting married. Might I inquire, to whom?"
Methos' shoulders sagged. He turned again, looked at Duncan once more, and shook his head. Not quite a thumbs-up, not yet. "I told you, Quentin. Duncan and I are getting married - to each other. At the weekend. We hope you'll grace us with your presence at the ceremony."
Lamartin of Bordeaux, his lovely brow creasing in a frown, said, "But - you are men!"
"Yes, I know. But kind of you to reaffirm," Methos replied.
"Who will marry you?" Lamartin inquired in bewilderment.
"Good question, Marty," Quentin said. "Darius is dead. Is there another priest in Paris willing to acquiesce to this idiocy? Or are we flying to San Francisco for the occasion?"
"There's no point being sarcastic, Quen," Methos told his friend. "We're exchanging vows in a private ceremony with friends present as witnesses. It's legal and binding in the eyes of the Church, for two Catholics. We don't need a priest."
"For a male and female Catholic, you mean!" Quen asserted. "I doubt if the Church will recognize your union, in light of your gender."
"Quentin, don't be obtuse. That doesn't matter. Mac and I recognize our union. We'd like our friends to witness our joy - though how joyous I'll be if you continue to pick nits, remains to be seen!"
Quentin didn't reply. He stood next to his old friend and stared at him for a moment, then shook his head and spoke to his lover, Lamartin. "Come up on deck, Marty. Now."
"Let me get another drink -"
"Very well, beloved," Lamartin of Bordeaux agreed meekly, squeezing Methos' shoulder and whispering, "Bon chance, mon frere," as he passed him on the way out of the barge.
He found Quentin standing by the rail, looking out at the river, shielding his eyes from the sun with one long-fingered elegant hand.
"Ah, Lamartin, thank you for joining me."
The dark Immortal smiled ruefully. "I live to please."
Turning abruptly Quentin retorted, "Quips don't become you, Marty! Don't pick up Methos' bad habits!"
"I won't. Forgive me, Quentin."
"Well, what do you think? Are they certifiable? Should we do something? Consult an alienist? Incarcerate them? What?" Quentin asked.
"I think they love each other and wish to tell the world of their love."
"So let them! Let them tell the world! But why call it marriage? Why take vows? It's absurd!" Quentin nearly shook with indignation.
"What does it matter to you, what MacLeod and Methos do? Why do you care? Are you jealous?"
Quentin glared at his lover and changed the subject. "The man's five thousand years old and he's behaving like a teenager! Married, indeed! He's never even lived with an Immortal for any length of time -"
"He lived with me for two hundred years, Quentin," Lamartin contradicted quietly.
"You! You're an angel! MacLeod's a demon! He'll get Methos killed, I tell you! Embroil him in his unending round of Challenges and Battles, until Methos slips up, loses his footing, his nerve, or his luck, and his head!"
Patiently Lamartin replied, "It is Methos' choice, is it not, Quen? His choice and his risk - to be with MacLeod. It must be worth it, to Methos."
"He's got no choice! The man's bewitched him!"
"I am sure that Duncan's friends - Amanda and Joe and Richard Ryan, for example - believe that Methos has bewitched Mac, not the other way around."
"I don't understand you, Lamartin. Whose side are you on?"
Lamartin chuckled. "I am on your side, beloved, of course. Always."
"Well, you certainly don't sound as if you were!"
"Do you resent the answer to your question, Quentin? Whether Methos and MacLeod are happy, despite Duncan's nature and Methos' slavish mentality? You see, they are happy. They wish to belong to each other - own each other. Not simply alone, in private, but in public, in the eyes of the world."
"Your point?" Quentin asked curtly.
"I would be happy to do the same, if you would agree."
"No, it is not, Quentin. I would be most pleased to bind myself to you with vows and rings and champagne and even a honeymoon, if you would agree. I would rejoice to speak my love to you before the world and our closest, oldest friends."
"That is my heart's desire, Quentin. I believe it is yours, as well. If you would - think on it. Consider it. Allow yourself to acknowledge it."
"I've never flinched from the truth, Lamartin of Bordeaux! How dare you imply that I would!"
"Do not become angry, beloved." Lamartin touched Quentin's cheek lightly. "I love you. Tell me you love me."
"You know I do, miserable miscreant! You know it!"
"Not here, don't say it here, in private," Lamartin replied with a shake of his black curls. "Not here." He pointed to the steps leading into the barge proper. "There. Before our friends. This weekend."
"Hush. Tell me after you have thought about it for a while, beloved. I will be with the others, below."
"What's going on, Quen?" Methos Valerius asked his old friend, coming up on deck to speak to the man when he hadn't returned below with Lamartin, and half an hour later, still hadn't rejoined the others.
"None of your bloody business, idiot!" Quentin replied through tight lips, his back resolutely turned toward Methos.
"I'm making it my business. You're driving Lamartin to drink! You're casting a pall on my party! Tell me what's happening, or pack up your gloom, take the child, and leave Mac's barge!"
"Who'd be left, in that case, to drink champagne at your absurd little wedding?" Quentin struck back.
"Plenty! There'll be plenty of people left - and none of them anxious to prick my balloon, either. Joe Dawson, Amanda, Richie, Madame de Lancie, her daughter, all her relatives, Maurice, the members of Joe's band, at least six Watchers who know the truth about MacLeod and me - any number of people will remain to sing and dance at my wedding! Believe me, Quintus Juvan, Mac and I don't need you! Pity about Lamartin, though. He's a lovely child."
"No reason for him to leave -"
"Come on, Quen - he wouldn't stay without you. You know that. Man's certifiable, crazy in love with you. I'm sorry I ever brought the two of you together - he's been a mess ever since."
Quentin smiled. "You think I've not done right by your Antonius, Methos? Did I not keep my promise? Have I not cherished his heart as though it was yours? Tended his spirit as I tended our fire, long ago?"
"Oh, Quen, don't be such a wuss!" Methos wrinkled his nose and grinned. After a moment he added, "Nobody around anymore who can make me lose my temper the way you can, brother."
"He wants me to do the same, Methos," Quentin remarked, suddenly cold and solemn.
"Who wants you to do what?"
"Lamartin. The 'child.'"
"Yes?" Methos encouraged cautiously.
"He wants us to 'get hitched,' the way you and Duncan plan to do. In a ceremony. With vows. Rings. Flowers. A honeymoon. 'The works,' as they say."
"Do it, then, Quentin. Least you can do for the child -"
"In the name of the gods, Methos, stop calling Marty a child! He's six thousand years old - older than you - probably older than me! He's a bigger Presence than either of us, when he isn't kissing our feet! He wants me!" Quentin buried his head in his hands.
"Leave me alone!"
"Quen? What's the problem? It doesn't sound bad. Why not say yes?"
Quentin's head jerked up and he glared at Methos. "Because I'm terrified, you foolish lump!"
"Of what? You've known Lamartin, lived with him, for two thousand years. It's not as if you're going to discover anything new and disastrous about each other after you've tied the knot!"
"But we will. He will."
"You're thinking again, Quen. I thought I warned you about that. What can Lamartin possibly discover about you that he doesn't already know?"
"Who I am."
"Lamartin already knows who you are, Quen. Believe me."
"No," Quentin contradicted with a small shake of his head. "Lamartin knows who I am for him. His Quentin. He doesn't know me. Really, not."
Throwing up his hands in exasperation Methos exclaimed, "Well, I know you, the 'real you,' and there's not a thing about you that Lamartin would object to! Trust me on this!"
"You don't know me either, Methos."
"All right. Fine. Why don't we simply agree that nobody knows anybody, shake hands, and go down below and have a beer?"
"I'm seventeen, Methos -"
"You are six thousand and seventeen, Quintus Juvan, and don't you forget it!"
Quentin shook his head. "I am seventeen, and I cannot forget it, but I try very hard to hide it. Nobody knows. Not you, not Lamartin. If I give myself to him - in this way - he will know - everything."
"I'm sure you'll make a lovely teenager, Quen - Marty will take good care of you. Might even let you borrow the family car for a spin -"
"Please, Methos, try not to joke, for a moment. Lamartin knows my strengths. He knows nothing about my weaknesses. Nothing."
"Can you honestly tell me you think Lamartin would love me if I were not able to take care of him, lead him around by the nose, prop him up? You love him. You lived with him for years, Methos. He's a mass of contradictions, darknesses, fears, wild passions and incredible angers. He's weak when I least expect it, strong when I'd never imagine he could be. He bleeds for every suffering soul - took me centuries to ween him from that flaw alone - if it was a flaw -"
"If it was a flaw," Methos echoed.
"You gave Lamartin to me, Methos. To protect. To be his strength, his refuge. What use am I going to be to him, at seventeen?"
"I think you know the answer to that, old sod. If you believe this is wrong, that it's a mistake, don't do it. Do nothing. This - dream - Lamartin's got - to own you as you own him - will pass. Do nothing. It will pass."
Nodding, Quentin was silent for a moment. Then he said, "I'm afraid I neglected to mention one small detail, Methos."
"And that is?"
"It's not Lamartin's dream. It's mine."
It was past midnight the same night. The few friends who'd dropped by for a drink and to meet the Old Immortals, Quentin and Lamartin, had left early. Methos was busy arranging sleeping digs for the houseguests, having refused categorically to permit them to go to a hotel. Lamartin had gone up on deck alone, 'to look at the stars,' he'd declared.
Quentin was sprawled on the sofa in his linen suit, which was now wrinkled beyond anything he'd ever permitted to happen to his clothes, short of what might become of them in the course of a literal roll in the hay. He was quietly getting drunk on Mac's most expensive scotch.
Duncan plopped down in an easy chair opposite the older man, grabbed the bottle Quentin was clutching tightly to his breast, poured himself a drink, and sipped it slowly. He stared at the frail-appearing beautiful blonde Immortal with undisguised interest.
"What is it, MacLeod? Have I got food on my chin?" Quentin asked irritably. "Has no one ever told you that it's rude to stare at people?"
"You're not people, Quentin."
"What am I, then, Highlander?"
"You're a phenomenon."
"You're not drunk so I imagine you can still speak coherently. Be good enough to explain."
"Only a phenomenon - something distinctly unnatural - would believe he was a better man than Methos."
"I don't believe that!" Quentin exclaimed.
"Sure you do, Quen. You believe Methos has revealed himself in all his glory, all his 'weakness,' to me. But you think you're too good to do that for Lamartin."
"I have no idea what you're talking about, Duncan. Do you?"
"It's worse. You believe you're better than Marty. Like I say, a phenomenon."
"Perhaps you are drunk, after all."
"A bundle of contradictions. I hope I never have to Face you, Quentin of York. I don't want to live with your Quickening."
"If you're trying to needle me into losing my temper, MacLeod, you're too late. I'm drunk. I'm a very amiable drunk."
"Are you a coward, then, Quentin? Is that it?"
"Perhaps. But since you don't depend on my heroism for your survival, it's no concern of yours."
"Methos told me about your talk this afternoon. And Lamartin asked me if I was happy. I told him that I'd trade awe for love any time, any day."
"Take it slower, MacLeod. I'm too drunk to leap. Awe?" Quentin asked.
"The awe I felt for Methos for the love he's given me, and the trust."
"Ah, trust! That must be a four-letter word in some language - I must ask Methos."
"Lamartin won't collapse if you let him see a chink in your armor, Quentin. Why not trust him? He's stronger than you think."
"Really? I'm afraid you're mistaken. We were apart for two years. At the end of that time Lamartin of Bordeaux was a drunk, a drug addict - a total wreck. Suicidal, to boot. Were he not Immortal, he'd be dead. I think trusting in his 'strength' would be misplaced."
"I disagree. Those were special circumstances - you were separated, he thought you'd taken another lover, that you didn't care about him. This is not the same. If you trusted him enough to let go, Quentin, he wouldn't disappoint you. I'm sure of it."
"Duncan, you're a good boy, I'm sure. Quite grown up, for your years. So I ask you in all humility, don't teach your grandmother to suck eggs. Please."
"I'm just trying to help you and Lamartin, Quentin. He loves you. You love him. Do as he asks, let down your guard. Trust him."
"Methos permits this? This - arrogant persistence, when he's asked you politely to shut up? He's in worse shape than I thought."
"You should be in such good shape!" Duncan retorted, losing his temper. "If you don't bend, you break, like a twig! I know, I've been there!"
"You've been there!" Quentin started to laugh, the high hysterical laugh of a drunk. "He's been there - four hundred years old, and he's been there!"
"I told you once, we shouldn't be prejudiced about age, we Immortals. I've been there. I know where you are, your fears, Quentin! You want to be in charge, run the world, make everything right, take care of everyone! Clan Leader, par excellence! I was raised the same way - everything black and white - and for God's sake, don't let anyone know you're frightened or worried or hurting or confused! Yes, I'm only four hundred years old, Quentin, but I've been there! Take it from the master - bend or break!"
Lamartin found his lover passed out on the couch, a limp, fragile boyish figure, unimaginably young in appearance, all the starch out of his spine. Methos nodded agreement when Lamartin asked if he could carry Quentin to the large bed, rather than leave him to sleep on the couch.
Lovingly undressing his friend, Lamartin placed him on the sheets carefully, pushing a lock of blonde hair off Quentin's brow and covering him with the comforter. Without undressing, Lamartin lay on top of the blankets and rested his head on his lover's breast. He listened to the sleeping man's breathing until he too fell asleep.
On deck, Methos and Mac stood with their backs against the railing, looking toward shore, their eyes scanning the streets of Paris, their arms thrown around each other's waists.
"I shouted at him, Methos. Like he was a child. Like he was Richie."
"I heard, Mac. All Paris heard." Methos grinned. "Including Lamartin. An eye-opener for the child, I think."
"They're not children - either of them."
"We're all children, Mac. All Boys. That's what Joe says. He told me the women believe that."
"What women?" MacLeod asked.
"All women. Oh, most women. That men are simply boys in big bodies."
"What do you believe, Methos?"
"I think they've got the right idea, but limited. They skip out the worrisome bit."
"The worrisome bit? What's that?"
"That they're children too. Simply girls in women's bodies." Methos shrugged. "It's not so cute when the joke's on them, you see. Not so funny."
"You're saying they look down on us? We're boys but they think they're women?"
"It's a safe assumption. By the way, I don't think you ought to mention it to Amanda, next time you meet. Nobody likes the truth."
"So - what should we do about it? If it's true?"
"Like they say, boys and girls together, play nice!"
MacLeod chuckled. "I love your philosophy of life. Play nice. Do nothing. Disappear. I've got my own live-in coward!"
"Nothing wrong with being a coward. It's certainly paid off for me."
"Correction. My own live-in five thousand year old coward. Whatever works, sweetheart."
"Cripes! Sweetheart! That's the last straw, Duncan MacLeod! Call me 'sweetheart' again, and the wedding's off!"
"Sure, sure. I won't - I promise!"
It was a signal for a kiss, so they kissed, relaxed and comfortable with each other. Then they sighed. Nothing more, tonight. Their bed was occupied.
"Unless we go to my flat!" Methos exclaimed, suddenly springing to life.
"You still have your flat?" Duncan asked, astounded.
"Of course! What - you thought I gave it up?"
"I did think so. What with Madame de Lancie spying on her 'petit homme' -"
"Not that flat, idiot! My other flat! Correction, one of my other flats!"
"You've got more than one!"
"Why not? You've got the barge and the loft above the dojo -"
"In two different cities -"
"Details, details -" Methos smiled, then asked innocently, "So, you wanna go over there? To my place? Catch a couple winks?"
"We'll get more sleep if we lay down here on deck."
"Who's sleepy?" Methos retorted.
Quentin woke with a foggy mind, a tongue that tasted as if he'd swallowed road tar, and a crick in his neck that took five whole minutes to heal. But no hangover. His tolerance for liquor was enormous. He looked around for Lamartin and finally spied him at the stove in Mac's kitchen area.
"I hope you're preparing breakfast, Marty," he remarked by way of a good morning.
"I am. And coffee. MacLeod seems to have bought every kind that is sold, but I could not find regular."
"It doesn't matter, I'll drink anything. So long as it's coffee."
"Hazelnut blended with mocha?"
"Fine. Thank you."
Quentin went to the bathroom, showed and shaved, and joined Lamartin at the small table Mac had set up for the gathering the previous evening and hadn't bothered to put away. He sipped the coffee and murmured, "Hmm. Nice. Thanks."
"So much gratitude, so early in the morning, Quen!" Lamartin remarked with a smile. "MacLeod's liquor must have agreed with you."
"Better than I agreed with his impertinent advice!"
"So, you still disagree. If you like, we can leave. We do not need to attend the wedding. There will be many friends without us."
"We'll be here," Quentin replied grimly.
"It is kind of you to make the concession, Quentin. I know Methos will be happy to learn of it."
"It's not a concession. It's a plan."
"Yes. I plan to take advantage of MacLeod's largesse, cash in on his flower arrangements and liquor, and his friends - for us."
"Yes. What do you say to a double wedding, Lamartin of Bordeaux?"
"A double wedding?"
"I've known you for two thousand years, Lamartin. I know you follow. Please don't repeat every word I say as if you didn't."
"You have changed your mind. Why, Quentin?"
"Call it a whim."
"Then we will call it off. I will not do anything of such import on a whim. And I will not permit you to do so, either."
"You! You will not permit!" Quentin put down his coffee cup and stared at his lover. "We're not even 'hitched' yet, and you're already playing 'boss!' - really, Lamartin!"
"That is how it will be, my beloved. I will be the boss and you will do as I say."
"If you see, then you know this is not a path you should take on a whim, Quentin."
"To please you, then," Quentin conceded.
Lamartin shook his head. "No. Not to please me. That is not a good reason."
"I've never known you to push, Marty -"
"And I have never known you at all - or so you told Methos."
"Don't look a gift horse in the mouth, old friend. Take the money and run."
"No. Tell me the truth. Why did you change your mind? Why do you wish to do this - to marry?"
"I don't. I don't wish to marry."
"I don't wish to marry. I wish to marry you. That is my heart's desire. I can live with the trimmings - if you can live with me."
"I can. I do. I will."
"There you have it! Ditto! Feel free to lead me around by the nose at will, Sweet Prince."
"I do. I will."
"Ah, but can you?" Quentin asked with a mischievous - nay, boyish - grin.
"We shall see!" Lamartin replied, with a lovely smile. "As you always say, beloved, we shall see!"
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