The whole is more than the sum of its parts.

Highlander characters and concepts belong to Panzer/Davis. I am borrowing them without permission, but without malice or the intention of financial profit. Rated PG-13

This is a response to a title challenge issued by Tiffany awhile back - and boy was it a challenge. Thanks go to her and Rachael for giving me the go ahead for posting...("no, no, it doesn't suck...").

Synecdoche: a figure of speech by which a part is put for the whole (as fifty sail for fifty ships), the whole for a part (as society for high society), the species for the genus (as cutthroat for assassin), the genus for the species (as a creature for a man), or the name of the material for the thing made (as boards for stage)

Mac's words were hasty, thoughtless, but it didn't make them any less true - from Mac's perspective. Nor did it make them sting any less from Methos'.  It wasn't Mac's fault they showed how poorly he understood Methos.

"Why can't you give more of yourself? Why do you hold back so much?" Mac ran his hands through his hair, stalking to the kitchen island to lean with his back to the man sitting on the couch, arms braced on his knees, beer bottle held carelessly in his hands. "I feel sometimes as if I hardly know you."

When Methos spoke, his voice was colorless and controlled. He knew Mac would interpret it as anger, but he couldn't help it. "I suppose from your perspective it does seem like I hold back from you. I suppose in contrast to your own openness, I seem...reticent."

Mac growled in frustration. "Oh, you talk a lot sometimes, but then I listen, and it seems like you aren't saying much of anything. I'm dazzled by stories of people you saw, places you've been...then afterwards, I realize you never said anything about yourself!" Mac whirled around to face him across the open space. "I don't know who you were in these stories, what those people meant to you, if anything, what you did, how you survived--"

"That's how I survive, Mac." Methos sighed, bending his head to rub the back of his neck. How had they gotten here? What had pushed Mac into consciously realizing how little of Methos was on the surface? Old man glacier, that's me.  Methos played his part too well, even when he didn't want to.

It had taken awhile after the Horsemen, but Mac had seemed to find a comfortable place, deciding that what was important was that Methos had changed, he wasn't Death anymore. Mac hadn't really tried to pigeonhole Methos, but like most people, he was more comfortable when he felt he had a firm grasp on someone. That grip had been shaken where Methos was concerned, but Mac managed to find a middle ground; while Methos wasn't who Mac had thought he was, he was no longer the man Cassandra had known, either. Only now he seemed to be realizing he still didn't know much about the man he'd taken into his heart and bed.

"What do you mean?"

Methos rubbed the cold bottle across his forehead, feeling a headache starting. He hated having to explain himself, so usually he didn't.  People either accepted what they got of him, or he moved on. Only, he didn't want to move on this time. He wanted Mac to see more of him, to know him, it wasn't that easy. "I've survived by being what people want to see, Mac. They pay less attention to someone who's just what they expect. I keep most of myself tucked away; I've done it so long it's first nature. I don't even think about it."

Silence filled the room, pouring into Methos' ears and squeezing until the headache blossomed. When Mac finally spoke, the gentleness was unexpected.

"You're saying it's not personal. You're not hiding from me; it's just...who you are. That nobody ever knows you." His tone indicated awareness of the irony. "Hiding who you are is part of who you are."

"Yeah, something like that." Methos took a swallow of beer.

"Who is it you think I want you to be, then? Who are you with me?"

Methos could hear the hurt and anger in the question, but it was also laced with a breathless vulnerability that made him wince. "It's not like that, Duncan. I don't plan things out, decipher who you're looking for, and become that person. I...adapt. Protective coloration." He pushed to his feet and moved to look out the window. "I'm not like you, Duncan, I'm not straightforward and honest and open. I'm everything
deceptive and contorted and hidden--" He started at the feel of broad palms on his shoulders, comforting and warm. He arched his neck as Mac pressed his lips lightly to his throat, as if in remorse. Methos rubbed his cheek against Mac's as the other man rested his chin on Methos' shoulder. Methos could see Mac's broody countenance out of the corner of his eye and waited for him to speak.

"I'm sorry, Methos. I know staying with me isn't easy for you. I suspect you haven't stayed this close to anyone, for this long, in a very long time. Too risky. They might recognize the mask you use to protect yourself and try and take it off. Like me." He swallowed. "I don't want you to be anyone but yourself, Methos. I just..." Mac's voice trailed away.

Methos swallowed hard before answering; when he spoke, his voice was low and intent. "Why would you think I'd want to hide from you like that? Why would you think it's intentional?" He burst away from the window, from Mac's embrace, suddenly unable to contain himself. "You've never spent even a mortal lifetime getting to know someone. Do you realize you can spend fifty years exploring another person, only to realize after they're gone how little of them you really knew?" He stalked to the refrigerator to grab another beer, dropping his empty in the sink. He opened the bottle and drank half of it down before continuing, gesturing at Mac where he stood by the window.

"Why on earth, in the short time we've had, do you expect to be able to understand me, Duncan? I am 5000 years old!  I don't even know all my dark places and hidden crannies. You think because you've met--and resolved--a few of my mysteries, I should be an open book? Easy to figure out?"

"That's not--"

Methos didn't let him continue, afraid that if he did, he'd never say what needed to be said. "Being with you is very hard for me; I don't know if you realize that. There are things that seem so simple for you that I have to fight to do. I forget myself when I'm with you, and that frightens me. And when I remember myself, I have to force myself not to close off, not to protect myself." His voice lowered until Mac could barely understand the words. "You make me vulnerable, and worse, you make me glad of it."

He walked over and looked deeply into Mac's eyes. "I don't hold myself back, Mac. Every honest bit of myself I've given has either slipped past when I forget myself or been forcibly handed to you when I remember. I give you as much as I can; you're just going to have to come to terms with that."

Methos reached out and traced his fingers over Mac's face, closing his eyes, drifting across his lips. "You give yourself to me so easily. Your openness is a delight, something I treasure -- and try to learn from." He kissed him lightly, drew back, and waited for Mac to open his eyes. "The longer I'm with you, the more your openness pulls me. It's as if you and your vulnerability bring more of me to the surface, echoes of all I've been. Because I know you trust me, and I try to return that trust." His fingers traced down Mac's throat. "Think of it as layers, rather than masks." He laughed. "A living archaeology dig, if you will. You wear on me, different bits and pieces surface through the layers."  He curled his hand around Mac's throat, stroking lightly with his thumb.  "I have been alive so long; I've had to change and adapt and accept so much...." He paused as if searching for the right words. "It's not as if I take off and discard who I have been and put on somebody new, you know. Who I've been made me who I am now; living through all those lives....But I always know who I am. I am always who I am right now, no matter how I let others see me."

He grinned at Mac's confused look. "I may not be making any sense. I wear masks, yes, now and then, just like anybody; I'm different with different people. But I try not to wear masks with you. You just have to remember: I'm a very complicated person." Mac snorted but stayed silent, listening.

Methos moved his hand over Mac's heart, looking down to where his long fingers lay. "I know you love me, that you'd give your heart's blood for me if I asked." He stood there for a moment, feeling the beat of that strong heart. "You make that clear every time you look at me, every time you touch me." He looked back up into Mac's eyes. "Do you realize how hard it is for me to accept it as gracefully? How you shame me with how fully you're willing to give yourself to me? And just how much it hurts to have you think I'm willfully holding back from you when I'm fighting not to do that very thing?"

"Methos, I--"

"Shhh." Methos placed his fingers lightly on Mac's mouth. "Let me finish, because this is hard, too." He stood there quietly, staring deeply into Mac's eyes, until everything around them seemed to fade. "I do not regret any of this. I do not regret letting you into my life, or becoming part of yours. I do not regret making myself vulnerable to you. I do not regret loving you. You have become such an intrinsic part of me at this point, I cannot imagine who I would be without you." He took a deep, shuddering breath. "I don't want to. And that, Duncan, is absolutely the most terrifying thing I've ever heard." He paused. "Well, okay, maybe hearing disco was making a comeback was scarier, but-" He grinned when Mac rolled his eyes. "You might have noticed, humor is one of the ways I hide." He closed his eyes briefly when Mac kissed his fingertips.

When he spoke again, his voice had dropped to an intimate whisper. "When we make love, you give me everything, moving with me, against me, around me, inside me, holding nothing of yourself back, until I feel we are one body. You give me the courage to do that. To bare myself to you, heart, mind, and body, time and time again, in trust, knowing you won't take advantage of my vulnerability, that you could not take advantage of it, being who you are. That is the only time I feel as if there are no barriers of my own making between us. I feel totally, utterly exposed -- and I don't care." His mouth quirked in self-mockery. "If I were a poet, I would say it's your soul, a shining, luminous thing that illuminates the dark places in my own, making me able to bear them." He grinned. "But I'm not; haven't been in several lifetimes."

He leaned forward until their bodies touched, but not so close he lost the intimacy of their mutual gaze. "You want all the parts of me, Duncan, but I'm so much more than the sum of my parts...and you have the whole of me. I just don't know how to make you feel that."

Mac didn't speak, but the intensity of his gaze let Methos know he had been heard, as did the intensity of his kiss. He felt Mac's total attention, an attention that didn't waver as they moved to the couch, as they removed their clothes, as they made love. Methos had tried to explain in words; Mac tried to accept the gift with his body, trying to achieve that sense of being one, to reach a place that words could never describe.

Lying together after, Methos spoke once more: "Think it's enough?"

Mac stroked the hair from Methos' forehead and looked at him with that same intensity again. "All of you? It's a start."

the end
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