In Penitence and Faith

by Margaret

12th March 2000

Disclaimer: Methos and Kronos don't belong to me :-( The concept of Immortality doesn't belong to me either, they all belong to R:P/D. I make no profit with this nor do I mean any harm by it.

Rated: NC-17 for m/m sex

Warnings: Violence and dubious consent issues

Pairing: Methos/Kronos, Kronos/OMC

Notes: This is a sequel of sorts to Best Served Cold, because I hadn't finished venting and Methos insisted. It managed to turn out way longer than intended, but I don't think that's a problem :-) Thanks to Karen who wanted an addendum to the snippet which sort of turned into this.

Summary: Someone has a lot of making up to do.

It had been over two years since Cassandra had escaped; two years that had dragged by seemingly far longer than the previous two centuries; two years since Kronos had lost an intimacy he had valued so highly that he had hidden its truth even from himself. To an outsider little appeared to have changed since that singular miscalculation; Methos continued to fulfil his role as strategist every bit as well as he ever had, but Kronos no longer knew what went on behind those ever-changing eyes or the meaning of that quicksilver laugh in all its toxic beauty. He had watched and forced himself to remain impassive as Methos took slaves to his tent, unable to decide if Methos was punishing him still for that one mistake or if he simply no longer cared.

Kronos himself had been forced to find what release he could with the slaves, though the pitiful creatures were often much the worse for wear after he had done with them and so too was he, though in a less tangible form. In more than a few cases his anger and frustration had been beyond their ability to tolerate and the slave he had chosen for his comfort had had to be carried from his tent for disposal by the others. The Horsemen remained a force to be feared, united and invulnerable, but for two years now, the heart had been hollow. If Silas noticed the change he gave no sign, if Caspian cared he did no more than occasionally appropriate the slave's remains. And always Methos watched it all with a cool regard.

Tonight Kronos had watched Methos select a young, dark-skinned boy for his entertainment - it had been mildly amusing to watch the slave try to decide if this were a good thing or not. When he was of a mind, Methos had been known to give his toys a consideration they would be lucky to receive were they the wealthiest of leaders... when he was of a mind. When he was not... more than one slave had gone readily to his tent never to see another sunrise.

Kronos cast a jaundiced eye over the remaining mortal herd, but found it straying again and again to the darkened doorway of Methos' tent. It would have been easy to accept the lie that Methos had taken the best of the mortals for himself, that had Kronos chosen sooner he would have made the same choice. After all, he never settled for second best, but that was no longer true, he had been settling for second best for too long now, and even the best of mortals was far below that, when he had once had the best of Immortals. Kronos suddenly no longer had any interest in the slaves presented for his pleasure.

The Horseman glared at the mortals cowering before him; it was tempting to kill one or two, if only to vent some of his frustration, but even that thought failed to arouse any enthusiasm. Scowling darkly, he spun on his heel and stalked back to his tent, but his feet betrayed him, steering him closer to his brother's tent than he would have wished. He had no desire to listen, but found he could hear all too clearly the sounds of his brother's voice instructing the slave. It seemed that Methos was in one of his more generous moods tonight and no sooner had the thought arrived than Kronos' feet refused to move any further, halting him just beyond the open flap of the tent.

The words had no meaning, but that they fell from his brother's lips, and the thought that they should be lavished on some mortal incensed him. The urge to simply take his sword, walk in and behead the worthless creature that, for the night at least, had taken his place, was strong. The thought that followed close on the heels of it, that if Methos were taken enough with the child to waste words on him, perhaps it would be for more than one night... Before he could think better of it he was moving forward, brushing aside the cloth of the inner tent with a violence more often seen on their raids.

The golden glow of the lamps gave the tent a warmth that Kronos felt none of. The rich furs and fabrics likewise held no interest for him, losing out to the simple tableau in the centre of all that splendour. The dark-skinned slave lay on his back, skin gleaming with a surprisingly healthy glow, a faint sheen of sweat making him seem a figure of polished ebony - rich and beautiful. His expression was one of dazed pleasure, his legs spread almost eagerly to accommodate the pale figure that knelt between them.

Methos was as graceful in stillness as he was in motion, his pale skin made more so by the contrast with the slave. His dark hair spilled down the broad expanse of his back, shifting slightly in the breeze that had accompanied Kronos' entrance, and the Horseman's fingers itched to tangle in that silken length. Slender hands lay at rest on the slave's dark thighs, having just completed the journey that had taken the boy from apprehension to anticipation. Light against dark, arranged with the eye of an artist.

But the frozen instant of silent appreciation was broken too soon by the twist of a well-defined torso as Kronos was presented with his brother's profile. Sharp features and glittering gold/green eyes pinning him with an intensity of regard he had not felt in years. That was all it took.

Kronos met that considering gaze with as much composure as he could muster, aware that his body was already betraying him. He saw the slight quirk of a smile that told him Methos had missed neither his arousal nor his discomfort.

"You want something, Kronos?" The familiar voice was rich with amusement and Kronos snarled in silent hatred at the power it still held over him and of the witness to his weakness.

"Leave now, boy!" he ordered and the slave, eyes wide with fear, scrambled to his feet only to find his other master's hand on his arm, holding him in place.

"No," Methos never took his eyes from Kronos' as he spoke. "He stays. I may have a use for him yet."

Kronos raged against the chance that had given him such incentive to repeat his past mistakes. It was a bitter thing to realise that as committed as he was to this course now, he had no choice but to continue - even with a mortal witness to his shame. His throat was tight, but he forced the words out, "As you wish, brother."

The delight in Methos' smile had nothing childlike or innocent about it. The knowledge that his past transgression had neither been forgiven nor forgotten made Kronos cringe inwardly at the thought of what that smile might demand in return for either.

Methos stood then with an easy grace that made Kronos' throat close entirely and his cock harden almost to the point of pain; it had truly been too long. Methos bounced a small vial of oil on his palm as he appraised his brother, as he would any slave in the marketplace, but Kronos knew better than to suppose anything he did or said now would change whatever he was sure Methos already had in mind for him. Still, he met Methos' eyes unflinching.

"Strip," the command was strangely lacking either anger or amusement and Kronos began to obey, seething inwardly as his peripheral vision caught the look of surprise on the slave's face. Dark tunic and trousers dropped to the floor in a dusty heap, the effect his brother had on him plain for all the world to see, or just a single slave, as his brother chose.

Methos' expression remained unchanged during his disrobing, but Kronos was all too aware of the slave's surprise and... interest. He knew he was not particularly pleasing to the eye, especially with his scars, not like Methos, so that expression had to be for reasons other than simple appreciation. When this was over, whichever way the blade fell, that slave would not live out the hour in which Kronos was freed from his brother's thrall.

Methos missed nothing of the slave's reaction either and he wrapped one long arm about the boy's shoulders with an air of long-time camaraderie. Leaning in with a pleasant smile, Methos spoke directly to the slave, "Pretty isn't he? The scars add character don't you think? Perfection can be such a bore."

Unsure or perhaps unable to speak, the slave nodded his agreement since it seemed some answer was required of him and Methos smiled encouragingly. "Of course, being pretty isn't everything, there's so much more to appreciate." As he spoke, Methos' hands were busy, still slick with oil from his earlier preparation of the boy, they traced patterns of desire over the ebony skin, leaving glistening trails and shivering skin in their wake.

Kronos watched silent and seething as Methos deliberately brought the slave back to full arousal with his talented touches, whispering soft words in his ear and casting the occasional knowing glance at Kronos. The boy was obviously captivated by the spell Methos wrought with words and touch, watching Kronos with something rapidly approaching lust, not something even the bravest slave would dare risk normally. But for now, for now, the boy was immune to Kronos' anger, sheltered under the aegis of Methos' apparent friendship.

Kronos had to stifle a moan as Methos' slender fingers wrapped around the dark cock, pumping smoothly. Kronos remembered that touch well, the way it could draw out his arousal almost unbearably, never quite giving him the rhythm or the pressure he needed to come, but building his need higher and higher with every stroke. Methos was virtually wrapped around the slave now, like some silver-skinned snake, the hiss of softly whispered words was barely audible to Kronos, but their intent was all too clear. The sly looks Methos favoured him with did nothing to ease his sudden apprehension, nor did he think they were supposed to.

A slender hand rose and pointed offhandedly to a clear area of floor, Methos' eyes suddenly hardening to emerald as they focused on his brother. "On your hands and knees," the command acknowledged no compassion, there was no concession made for the sick tightening of his gut as Kronos moved to the space indicated and sank to his knees. He knew what was to happen as well as he knew Methos; knew it and hated it and still it did not weaken his arousal. There was only the odd certainty that a penance so harsh as this was only meted out once and if he could just accept it, forgiveness would not be so far behind. But he hated this.

He couldn't see what Methos was doing now and he didn't dare turn to see, but he could hear movement and more soft whispers. Then he sensed them near, knew someone was kneeling behind him, the urge to turn and see who, was almost irresistible. Hands stroked his back, his thighs, his ass; unfamiliar, but appreciative. Other hands, impersonal, but achingly familiar, guiding, teaching. It was too easy to differentiate, even without the benefit of sight, his brother's touch from that of the nameless slave as Methos guided the boy to the entrance to Kronos' body.

Slick oil, too much he knew, and a quiet voice correcting, explaining, no indication that Kronos was anything other than just another slave, a convenient body for demonstration. And he could deal with that if only it were just Methos who patiently stretched the tight muscle and not the alien sensation of another's fingers as they replaced his brother's to continue the work. Kronos moaned quietly, involuntarily, as searching fingers brushed across his prostate sending sparks of pleasure along his nerves, and he heard Methos murmur something too low to make out, but the tone was... off. Methos still instructed patiently, but there was the barest hint of something else beneath it, indefinable.

Kronos bit his lip as fingers found the tiny gland again, his flesh was crawling now, a reaction he had managed to suppress until this moment when the threat became oh so immediate. He had never been able to find any pleasure in this, regardless of his body's reactions; it brought back too much and he clenched his teeth to stop himself from retching.

He felt the pressure of a hard cock against him, pressing in with an excruciating lack of speed, he just wanted it over with. Resurgent memories fired a panicky adrenaline rush and suddenly he wanted to run, to fight, to throw away his only chance at reconciliation. Kronos swallowed rapidly, fighting down the nausea, but it was a losing battle, he couldn't do this, no matter what it cost.

The warmth of a strong, steady and above all, familiar touch at his hip brought some focus to the broken jumble of thoughts and memories and feelings. He had never been able to find pleasure in this - except with one man. And Methos was here, it might not be his brother who thrust into him with increasing strength and speed, but Methos was here and he was Kronos' brother, the one man he could - did - trust with everything he was and would be, including this terrible vulnerability.

Faith was a funny thing, or so he'd been told, and he had never understood it until now when he focused desperately on the hand at his hip to the exclusion of all else. Kronos ignored the memories, ignored the breathless grunts as the slave drove into him, his rhythm finally faltering, ignored the trickle of warm, sticky liquid down his thighs as the slave came with a groan. The almost imperceptible tightening of Methos' hand on his hip he did not miss and however it was meant, he took it for reassurance.

When the boy pulled out, time seemed to regain its usual pace and Kronos responded to the light pressure of the hand that slid from his hip to the base of his spine and he slowly lowered himself to lie on the rug. So little time had passed. He was still hard; the slave had been too unused to power to show restraint when faced with the novelty of master turned slave, the coupling too brief to bring about even a purely physical response from him.

He lay still on his side, eyes closed, too exhausted to move, to think; terror had a way of doing that, even to Immortals, and it had been a long time since he had felt its like. Methos' voice slowly penetrated the numbing fog with which Kronos' mind had shrouded itself.

"Felt good didn't it? The power to bring a strong man to his knees."

He could picture the slave nodding, "It was..." the unfamiliar voice was surprisingly deep. "It was incredible. I didn't know..."

Kronos hated the words the slave uttered, hated what he had allowed to be done to himself in the hope of regaining Methos' affections and most of all he hated that he would do it again if there was even a chance of success. He felt terrible; filthy and worthless in a way he had not felt in so very, very long, in a life that was best forgotten. His foolishness suddenly struck him; if Methos had not wanted him before, he would never want the worthless creature that had allowed himself to be so used. Kronos' only consolation was that when he left this tent, to the rest of the world all would be as it had been, leader and loyal lieutenant. And at the first opportunity he would kill the dark-skinned boy as permanently as he knew how.

"There are better things, you know," Methos' voice was oddly quiet and Kronos could hear darkly familiar undertones to it that caught at him. Daring, he opened his eyes to find himself staring up at his brother's back, the dark-skinned slave only partially visible beyond him. "Much better."

The ripple of muscle beneath pale skin and the golden flash of a bronze blade in the lamplight came without warning. A movement of the shoulder and the knife was given a vicious twist that left the slave with no voice to scream as he toppled to the ground, dead, the liquid spill of colour soaking into expensive rugs more valuable than the slave himself.

Abruptly Kronos found himself staring into the slave's dark, glazed eyes, wide with surprise and already filmed with death, and found that for that one moment he could empathise with the mortal. His heart lurched within him; that he had been cheated of the boy's death was of no matter, not when the fact of it revealed the possibility of such hope.

Methos turned his head then, looking at Kronos over his shoulder; his long hair shadowed the planes of his face and his eyes were oddly dark with... amusement? Happiness? Satisfaction? Kronos did not know what name to put to that expression and felt an uneasy mix of anxiety and hope under its regard.

Then Methos was turning to face him fully, ignoring the slave's body and casually tossing aside the bloody knife. As he moved closer, Kronos watched the ripple of muscle beneath the smooth skin and realised with some bemusement that not a drop of blood had marred its pale perfection. Then Methos was sinking to his knees by Kronos' shoulder and it put Kronos in the perfect position to admire his brother's proud cock, as unsatisfied as his own by the evening's entertainment. He could change that for both of them if Methos would only give him the chance.

"And still you want me," Methos' tones were soft with a strange sort of wonder and Kronos knew his heart had been read as easily as those scrolls his brother studied. A long-fingered hand reached out almost hesitantly and he forced himself to remain still as a gentle touch traced the scar on his face, strange after the callous impersonality of before. Then the hand moved to his shoulder, prompting him to roll to his back, and he did so without hesitation.

The light touch slid from his shoulder down across his chest and belly, tracing the criss-crossed scars he had earned before his Immortality had claimed him. Kronos could feel Methos watching him with that rare intensity and his cock became fully hard under its intangible caress, he couldn't help the faint whimper that escaped his throat.

"No, not want," Methos corrected himself with a faint smile and Kronos wanted to scream that he did, he had no other way to prove it except as he had done - entrusting his very soul to his brother's safe-keeping. "*Need*." Kronos found it suddenly difficult to breathe as Methos casually shifted position so that he straddled Kronos' hips, their cocks not quite touching. Then the pale body lowered itself down until Methos' face was not so many inches above Kronos' own, the dark eyes searching.

Then Methos chuckled, a not entirely unpleasant sound, and the puff of breath teased Kronos' already strained nerves. "How does it feel, brother?"

Kronos couldn't reply; it was the first time Methos had called him by that term since that woman had come between them.

"Hurts, doesn't it?" Methos' voice was oddly cheerful, full of his own peculiar brand of humour. But he was right, it did hurt - to need someone and have them within reach, but remain untouchable. To realise that you were prepared to do anything to regain that touch. To put yourself entirely in another's hands, have your worst fears realised, and still find that in their hands was exactly where you wanted to be. And worst of all, it hurt to finally admit all of that to yourself and realise that they had known it all along. Yes, it hurt, but it couldn't make him regret his decision; the shame he had suffered had brought him to this point with Methos' weight pressing him to the ground and that made it worth it.

But Methos appeared to expect some answer from him, the humour in his eyes fading with each silent moment passed. Kronos spoke and his voice was as rusty as if he had not used it since the day they parted, "Yes."

The flash of a sun-bright grin momentarily blinded him with its unexpected brilliance and he felt it ease some terrible constriction in his chest.

"Yes," Methos murmured, "it does." Kronos forgot to breathe as his brother's lips ghosted over his own. "Don't let it happen again." The voice was quiet and the humour was still present, but Kronos had not been separated from his brother so long that he failed to recognise the implicit warning beneath the words.

"I won't," he assured his lover breathlessly as Methos' lips found his throat and began a lazy re-mapping of its pleasure points. A sharp bite sent a jolt of lust straight to his neglected cock and he pressed up against Methos' lean body as his self-imposed submission fell away.

Rough, callused hands stroked up his brother's supporting arms, relishing the strength beneath that smooth skin, as Kronos reached at last for the long, dark hair, tangling in a fist. He tugged firmly, drawing Methos' head up to where he could take that clever mouth in a deep, hungry kiss, owning as he was owned and that was just the way it should be.

It had taken him too long to admit, even to himself, his need for the older Immortal and as Kronos tasted again the unique flavour he had feared lost to him, he swore he would never make that mistake again. They belonged to each other and he would never let anyone, be it himself or anyone else, come between them again.



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