Sweet from the Flowers and Stars and Hearts of Men

Debra Fran Baker


Notes: The title comes from Immortality, by Susan Mitchell, which is a perfect HL poem. Thanks, love and smooches to Laura Jacquez Valentine and Basingstoke for betas.

"Methos! You are late, my brother!" Kronos, his heart pounding, ran to Methos' horse. He handed him the bundle in his left hand and then, while Methos was distracted, swung him off the saddle. "You said a week after equinox. It is more than that."

"I am two days late after twenty years apart." He wrapped his arms around Kronos and kissed him deeply. "And I counted every heartbeat." He stepped back just far enough to rest his hands on Kronos' shoulders. "And what did you just hand me? A bouquet of flowers?" The confusion on his face was delicious.

"Just for you, my brother." Kronos smiled. "I picked them for you."

Methos examined the dark purple blooms. "They're beautiful, but..."

"Make an infusion of those blossoms and you have a deadly poison. Dilute it, and you but send your foe to sleep for a time."

"Ahhh. Thank you." He kissed Kronos on his scar and tucked one flower behind his ear. They walked arm and arm back to the encampment, Methos leading his horse and the string of pack animals behind it. "Ingenious and useful. What else did you do in our time apart?"

Kronos did his best to keep from prattling about the cities he'd visited and the plagues he'd witnessed, but he knew Methos' ears were overflowing. It didn't matter. He had his brother back and in his arms, and soon, they would ride.

"Brother!" Silas ran out of his tent, cradling the fox kits he'd been nursing along since Caspian killed their mother. "I told Kronos you would be soon. And that you'd have much with you."

Kronos let go of Methos' arm so that he could slap Silas on his shoulders. "And you were right. I have something special for you." He gave Kronos a squeeze as he walked to one of the pack animals, and removed a large, covered cage - one making many strange noises. "She's not happy in here, so it's best I give her to you now." He pulled the cover off, and revealed a hairy imp. It resembled a small, skinny child - even to the clout, around its middle. Unlike a small child, though, the creature held on to the cage with all four limbs and chittered loudly. It also bore a long, furry tail.

Silas was captivated. "What is it, Methos? What does it eat?"

"She's from the land across the Middle Sea, where I spent much of the past two decades. And she eats any plant you'll give her, or that she finds, so be careful. Also, do keep her warm and change her clout. They call her a monkey, or a vervet."

"May I take her out?" He reached for the vervet's forepaws, which were very like hands. She took hold of his finger. Silas smiled broadly.

"She is yours, my brother." Methos smiled, too. Kronos wanted to bask in its glow. They both watched as Silas opened the cage and the creature jumped into his arms and hugged him tightly. That same animal, he knew, would shy from his touch, and run far from Caspian's. Animals knew.

"She's wonderful! Come, Lovey, and I will find you something nice to eat." Silas bore the vervet away, crooning to her.

"I brought him a mere hedgehog for his menagerie." Kronos shook his head. "Poor thing will now be forgotten."

"I think not. Look." And, indeed, Silas was introducing the two animals to each other.

"Why do we not just take his head?" Caspian, a greasy, burnt bone in his hand, sauntered up. "We do not need to keep such a fool with us."

Kronos slapped his face. "He is our brother! He rides with us and none fight more fiercely than he does. I want your oath, Caspian, to never take his head or use him to indulge any of your appetites."

"Why do you not ask that of *him*?" He gnawed a scrap of meat.

"Because he knows I will never take Silas' head." Kronos could hear the conviction in Methos' voice. "You just eat your...dinner." Kronos let him take his arm and drag him away.

Caspian never made his oath, but Kronos didn't care - now that Methos was here, they were complete. He was their very lifeblood, and with Death among them again, their horses' hooves would beat like hearts across the steppes.

Methos gestured at a pair of slave boys. "Take care of my horses, and put the goods in a safe place. I will take anything missing out of your hides." The boys looked at Kronos for confirmation.

"This is Lord Methos. Do as he says. His word is mine. Go!" The boys ran off." Kronos put his arm around Methos' waist, and sniffed at the flower. "We have much to discuss in private."

"Oh, yes." Methos nuzzled behind Kronos' ear. "Two decades worth. I did miss you." Even his whisper was sweet.

The children he'd purchased a few years ago played in front of his tent, the boy singing and the girl silent as always. He touched their cheeks and directed them to find Lord Silas for the night. Unlike Caspian, Silas had no taste for young flesh.

Methos smiled. "I see you have not been lonely, my brother."

"They are quite beautiful." He watched them run off.

"You'll get a high price for them." Methos nodded in approval. "But I have no need of other entertainment tonight." He flashed Kronos a smile, and then Kronos let himself be dragged into his tent, warm in the springtime sun, the flaps closed against light and insects. It didn't matter - both knew their way around the tent and each other's body by touch, knowledge that even Methos' twenty-year absence clearly did not dim.

Methos' hands were rough on his skin, covered in the calluses of reins and sword and stylus, as they tore away his garments. Methos' skin was smooth beneath his own hands, scarless and perfect and sweet. Twenty years fell away as the moment in time they were as he explored Methos' long body, tasting it, bruising it, making it his again, letting Methos do the same to him, feeling his heart beat fast with passion.

His mouth was sweet, too, and familiar, and Kronos let himself drown in it.

"I've missed you, my brother, more than I could have believed." Methos' whisper was harsh, rasping over his ears as his hands did over his body. "I have dreamed of this. Let me..." Methos began to slide down his body, trailing kisses.

Kronos stopped him. "No. I am host here, and I will welcome you." He pulled Methos up and kissed him on the mouth again, before licking and biting his own way down, until he reached his goal, and took it in his mouth, savoring Methos' gasps of pleasure, and, when he applied his teeth, pain. His moans and movements were delicious, so delicious that Kronos reached down and pleasured himself at the same time.

"Enough!" Methos pushed Kronos away. "I love your mouth, but there are other parts of your body I have missed even more. Are you still tight, my brother? Are you still open for me?" His voice was still harsh, still beautiful. Kronos shivered.

"And only you. Always you." And he allowed Methos to place him on his back, to bend his knees for him and spread them wide, letting himself be helpless and vulnerable. Only for this man would he allow this - even with his children, he kept his sword by his side.

And there were Methos' clever, clever fingers, long and powerful and knowing. He bucked against them, not able to control his body's motions. Not willing to control his body's motions. He grasped and ungrasped his bedding as Methos worked and drove him near to death with just those fingers, so that when Methos, thick and heavy, finally entered him, all he could was gasp. There was pain, there was always pain, and but pain was part of loving and so he enjoyed it as well. Methos always ravished him, always took him hard. If Kronos could have been marked, he would have been.

Methos' only marks were invisible.

And with those words and Methos' bite, Kronos let himself dissolve into pleasure, and felt his own empty seed spurt over his chest and stomach. Methos followed with a cry and fell on him, sliding out and wrapping his arms and legs around Kronos. They slept that way.

And that night, they rode, Kronos dipping his sword in purple poison that matched the flower behind Methos' ear, clashing with his paint. And Silas used his great axe to break the village to pieces, not letting man nor beast to stay in his way, and Caspian ate his victims' hearts as they died screaming, and it was all as it should be. His own heart, after twenty years, was at peace.

Copyright 2002 Debra Fran Baker and NightRoads Associates

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