Title: Uncluttered Beauty (Mirror, Mirror Remix)
Beta thanks to: decarnin
Summary: Methos confronts his essential self
Pairing: Duncan/Methos; Amanda
Disclaimer: None of the characters belong to me
Original story: A Kind of Reunion by amand_r
"Mirror masturbation is a confrontation with your essential self, your uncluttered beauty and your most real sexuality." --Eric Francis
"Never stand between two mirrors." --Granny Weatherwax
"See something interesting?"
"The mirror. Something catch your eye?"
Methos wrenched his gaze from the mirror on the back wall of the restaurant. Duncan was looking at him quizzically over a forkful of linguini. Methos was momentarily distracted by a bit of sauce on his chin, especially when Duncan smiled.
But then his eyes snapped back to the mirror. It was large, burnished gold, and reflected in warm tones a restaurant full of people laughing and eating, talking and drinking the same excellent wine his mirror-self held halfway to his lips. As Methos stared, the busy room seemed to fade from the glass until his face was the only thing looking out. He narrowed his eyes and his face in the mirror seemed to smile. He shivered.
"Methos." Patient, curious.
Duncan half-turned in his chair; their eyes met in the mirror.
Methos shrugged, sheepish, and dug into his linguini. Duncan sighed and dabbed at his chin.
Later, as they walked home, he watched his fun-house image waver and caper alongside him in shop windows and doorways, until an exasperated Duncan made him walk next to the curb.
He didn't remember when it started, but he'd become obsessed with mirrors, or rather, with his reflection. It started out with the usual quick glances, checking his hair or making sure his fly was zipped, the way everyone did. The little glances became longer, more lingering; soon he couldn't pass his reflected image reflected without scrutinizing it -- for what, he didn't know. His obsession grew until he sought out any reflection, no matter how small, or warped, or fleeting; he fell into pools of mirror-glassed walls. He stood at the window display of the local bookshop, staring into his own eyes.
He'd never been all that self-aware, but now he was painfully so. He couldn't stop watching himself -- it was almost as if he had become his own stalker. Duncan noticed it. Joe must have noticed it as well. Not that he'd said anything, yet. Methos wondered whether it was due to politeness or amusement on Joe's part. Probably the latter.
Methos didn't care if other people thought he was vain. But he did care about his own hide, and this sort of thing could become a problem. The more self-obsessed he became, the more others around him noticed him too. He had to break himself of this habit before, like Narcissus, he fell into his own reflection. Or was pushed.
"So, who died?" Amanda joked, fingering the black material over the hallway mirror. Methos ignored her.
She followed him into the living area, flopping down on the couch with a soft foomp. Her coat flared out and covered the rest of the cushions. Methos opted for the windowsill, facing away from the glass.
"Is it the mirror thing?" He glared, but she just smiled and shrugged. "Duncan told me."
Methos glanced around the room, searching for any reflective surface he might have missed. "It's the mirror thing," he admitted finally. "It's disturbing. Weird. You know, I've never been self conscious. Ever." Amanda nodded, but didn't speak, so he continued. "It's dangerous, being distracted by physical things."
"How distracted?" Amanda folded her hands and regarded him seriously, looking like an overdressed television therapist.
"Almost in another world." Methos frowned. "I don't know how it started, or why, but I -- I can't stop. It's as if I've never seen myself before, and I keep looking to see if it's really me."
"Or an imposter?" Amanda left the sofa to wander around the apartment, her fingers resting lightly on one valuable object or another, sensual pleasure and shrewd appraisal lighting her face.
"I suppose." He paused. "Or a stranger."
"Well, I'm sure it'll pass," she said doubtfully, looking at the covered mirror. "You can't stay a stranger to yourself forever. Anyway," she continued brightly, "I came by to borrow your car. And since you're holed up in here for now, you don't need it."
"Brilliant logic. Thank you for your sympathy."
"Come on, Methos, this is just a -- phase or something." She looked him up and down as if he were something rare and valuable to be appraised. "When was the last time you thought you were sexy?"
"Sexy?" He shrugged. "I'm always sexy," he said sullenly, then stared out the window at the snowfall. "You should see my little black book."
"Your little black book is so old it's gone gray, Methos," Amanda laughed.
She sighed. "Maybe you just need to get laid." She put down a small Svarowski horse and clenched her fingers, as if resisting a movement. Methos left the windowsill and snagged the horse on his way to the kitchen.
"Are you volunteering?" he called over his shoulder.
Amanda followed him into the little kitchenette, running her fingertips along the counter. "I would, Methos, but you're not my type." When he snorted, she backed up a little, her eyes wide. Methos had to admit the gesture was fetching. "Isn't it an old proverb that friends shouldn't be lovers?" she said, a bit breathlessly, her eyes following his hand as he set the horse on top of the refrigerator "I just think that--"
"Amanda, it was a joke." When she blinked at him, he smiled and rummaged in the fridge for the coffee. "In part."
Amanda watched him fill the coffeepot before continuing. "Well, about the car--"
"Something wrong with your Ferrari?" Methos switched on the coffeepot and leaned against the counter.
"The Ferrari is too -- you know." She waved a hand noncommittally.
"Small. Not a lot of hauling space."
"You need help moving a body? You're right; the Ferrari is about big enough to haul a head, but not much more."
"Very funny," she wrinkled her nose. "Come on, just be a dear and let me borrow it, okay? I'll bring it back in one piece, I promise." She made a big cross over her heart.
Methos decided that he didn't care and he didn't want to know. "The keys are on the table in the foyer. Good luck."
On her way out, she stopped short of the doorjamb and turned.
"When was the last time you masturbated into a mirror?"
"Is this a trick question?"
"It's healthy. Hell, women do it all the time. I thought guys did too." She paused, thinking, unconsciously slipping into a come-hither pose that was probably second nature to her. "Someone even came up with a philosophy about it, in the sixties. Something about loving yourself being the ultimate form of expression."
He waited for more. Apparently there wasn't any. "Well, I'll take it under advisement."
She kissed his cheek. "You do that."
When she was gone, car keys in her hands and mayhem assuredly in her heart, Methos stood with his hand on the doorknob and contemplated calling Duncan to give him the heads up. He smiled to himself. Let Duncan find out in his own sweet time -- it would be infinitely more amusing.
The black cloth over the foyer mirror sagged in the corner, and he reached up to straighten it. The other end fell off the mirror, and he saw the diagonal cut of his forehead and left eye. He covered it, his hand trembling. He leaned against the opposite wall and thought a minute. Then he headed for his study.
Five extremely stiff Bailey's coffees later, Methos stumbled into the bedroom. He pulled a curtain of black cloth away from a wall-mounted Venetian mirror Byron had given him.
He'd looked up Amanda's philosopher of wank, and it was flower-powered bullshit. He didn't have any "self esteem issues." He'd esteemed himself before self-esteem was cool. If she thought he needed to jack off in front of a mirror to feel essentially himself, she was sorely mistaken.
He knew his essential self. He had always known it. Essential things didn't change with time, they were the things that stayed the same while everything else changed, like primary colors and constellations, and the tides. He paused. Well, like primary colors.
But his back brain was trying to tell him something; there was no doubt about that. Maybe he was due for a little "me time", quality time with himself sort of thing. He grimaced.
How to start? It wasn't as simple as looking into a mirror and watching his own hand grab his own cock. He knew that much. What was he supposed to do, kiss his arms like Little Richard? "I love myself! I'm sooooo beautiful!" Methos stretched his arms out in front of him dubiously. There had to be more to it.
He looked himself up and down in the mirror. He looked tiresomely familiar. He pulled his sweater over his head. He only looked more tiresomely familiar naked. What he needed was… he opened a closet. A disguise.
The closet was a jumble of odds and ends of clothing he used for those occasions when he wanted to look like someone other than who he happened to be at the time. There were a lot of hats. Hats were an amazingly simple way to disguise yourself. Clap a cowboy hat on your head and people you talked to every day sailed right past you.
Methos clapped a cowboy hat on his head.
"Howdy, howdy, howdy," he said with alcoholic heartiness to the half-naked cowboy in the mirror. Wouldn't you like to see more of that? Sure! Bending over (wobbling only a little bit) he turned to the mirror so he could watch his butt when he pulled his jeans down. He was just a little disappointed when it turned out to be his own butt after all. He looked at the cowboy hat instead and felt his cock get hard, so he wriggled out of his jeans, and let his boxers fall, and closed a hand around his cock, which was now hard, and gave it a good squeeze-- all the while keeping his eyes trained on the hat.
Methos angled closer to the mirror, rubbing on his cock, letting his gaze slide from the hat to his butt, to his fistful of cock, to his bare chest, to his toes flexing in the carpet, to his earlobes -- always avoiding his eyes. He stroked and squeezed himself, grooving on his cowboy self-esteem. It was -- well, it was working.
Mirror Methos smiled. He tipped his hat and smiled back, meeting his own bright, glittering gaze for only an instant before letting his lashes fall slowly, tilting his head forward to watch his hips thrust his cock into mirrored hands. The hat obscured his eyes, and he could pretend, for whole minutes at a time, that he was watching a sort of peep show, his own lone cowboy displayed just for him, one hand staying busy, the other lazily running across his chest, brushing nipples and muscles, fluffing the curling hair at his crotch, drawing sweat in lazy circles on his belly. Methos let himself go, falling for himself, his other one, falling into the reflected lust and light and heat between himself and the mirror.
He leaned harder into the mirror, panting and making soft noises deep in his throat, watching his chest rise and fall, watching his hand on his cock, until he felt the pressure building at the base of his cock, then -- release, god yes, and he banged his forehead on the mirror, sending the hat sailing to the floor. Come spilled over his hand onto/into the mirror, over the both of them, Methos and mirror Methos, grunting and panting and sticky, and what the fuck.
Methos staggered backwards onto the edge of the bed, tired, drunk, a little messy and a little thrown.
He got his breath back. He washed his hands and groin. He dabbed the glass clean. He stood in front of the mirror and thought for a while. He went back to the closet.
Again. And again. And again.
The parade of costumes he donned only to throw off -- except for the hats -- amused him as much as they excited him. He wondered if he should be taping it all for Amanda.
But as he continued playing and play-acting, his mirror self changed into something different. It became a strange visage that he labeled "himself," but more -- well not innocent; but lighter, without the constricting weight of long age and old sin.
Hard to do, that, but every time he watched himself come it became easier and easier. Soon, the image wasn't him anymore, but a man, reflected from inside himself, projected onto the mirror. Muscles and skin he'd known intimately for thousands of years, a cock and back and stomach, two long thighs, arms, a neck that arched just so, a pair of eyes that glinted in ways he tried not to interpret. Real, but made of refracted light and air. Was this his essential self?
Methos retreated to the kitchen to think, drinking his coffee black now. What was it about mirrors? Could you lose your soul in your reflection, or find it? A little self-loving didn't seem dangerous, until you considered what happened to Narcissus. Would he drown in his own ego, or be overwhelmed by his essential being? Whatever Methos had been doing all afternoon, it was more than the sort of harmless fun suggested by mirror-tiles over a waterbed. His eye fell on a warped reflection of his face in a bit of metal stripping and he sighed. He wasn't done with it, either. He pushed off the counter and headed back to the bedroom.
He glanced at the hallway mirror as he passed. Then he stopped. He stared into the mirror for a long time, trying to see past, behind, around himself. He went back to the kitchen for a screwdriver.
A little while later he surveyed his handiwork; the mirror from the hallway was securely propped up against a straight-backed chair, facing the Venetian mirror on the wall. His costumes and props and hats were piled in profusion around a clear space on the floor. He took a breath and stepped, naked, between the two mirrors.
And there he was, reflected and reflected again, an array of Methoses stretching into the mirrors as far as he could see. He breathed unsteadily as a hundred -- a thousand -- versions of himself spun a sword loosely between their fingers like a tap-dancer's cane. He turned -- and they turned, in regimented perfection. He pirouetted and bowed, and the Methoses in the Mirror danced like some demented Busby Berkeley line that reeled out to infinity.
If one mirror contained pleasures and dangers, then two multiplied both pleasure and danger immeasurably. Methos knew the old stories about how a man could be trapped forever between two mirrors -- held fast by the illusion of distance between himself and his reflections, or lost among them, unable to tell which one was real, or if any of them were.
Which Methos is real? His lips thinned wryly as he rummaged among his props. He chose a black leather vest (they chose black leather vests) and a black leather hat, set at a rakish angle. He dragged a chair (they dragged a chair) between the mirrors and pulled on heavy black boots (they pulled on heavy black boots). He found a pair of mirror-shades and grinned (they grinned and grinned); but when he put them on, he choked and flung them from his face (they flung them from their faces). The sunglasses skittered across the floor as Methos rubbed his eyes, and, unseen by him, were caught in a corner of the mirror and reflected and reflected again in a tiny, terrible slice of infinity.
He thought it wasn’t going to work this time, because there wasn't anywhere to look away, nowhere in the mirror to look where he didn't confront himself. There were too many selves to face or avoid. But there was still hope for the healing powers of sex because look! -- his own cock, in a repeating pattern forever. Methos smiled and reached for the one closest to him. He leaned back in the chair and spread his legs.
Methos sat cross-legged on the floor with a bottle of scotch in front of him. He felt as if he could drink down every bottle he could see in the mirror. He was exhausted, but still … not finished with whatever it was he was doing.
Methos contemplated his multiples. Each reflection was a perfect copy of the one in front of it and the one behind, but he knew at some point they started to diverge. He'd read somewhere that the reflections of reflections did lose something with each copy, so that if you could see the ones deepest in the mirror, they would fade a little bit, and a little bit more, the further back they went, until, he supposed, they turned into ghostly shadows, then into nothing at all.
He squinted to see the smallest images, and imagined that he could see one that was different from the others, a Methos deep in the distance doing something else, flipping him off, maybe. He frowned at the scotch.
He'd heard other stories about how the magical resonance set up by two facing mirrors allowed demons and beings from other dimensions to cross over into our world. He took a swig of scotch and tapped his chin with the bottle. He had failed, it seemed, to conjure his essential self; could he conjure something else? Or was his essential self still trapped in there? He cocked his head to one side and then the other; but could see neither demon nor essence. Maybe if … He leaned forward and placed both palms on the glass, joining Methos to Methos, Methos to Methos as far as the naked eye could see, and beyond.
That was how Duncan found him.
Methos sighed and let his hands fall. "Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod," he said. "Have a scotch." He raised the -- nearly empty -- bottle in salute.
"Very funny." Duncan surveyed the wreck of Methos's bedroom with disbelief. "What are you doing?" His glance lingered on Methos, who suddenly remembered he was naked. His cock stirred. He held the bottle in front of it.
"I'm getting to know my essential self," Methos said, rather stiffly. "Not that it's any of your business. What are you doing here?"
Duncan looked sheepish. "Amanda stopped by on her way to the island. She said she was worried about you."
"And she didn't say why?" Methos said dryly. I've been hoodwinked, conned, played like a fiddle and flim-flammed. Oh, Amanda.
"No, she just said... I should come."
Methos groaned. He stood up. Duncan was frankly looking him over. His cock grew harder.
"You're not in trouble, are you?" Duncan asked, taking in the scene; the mirrors, the discarded clothes, his naked friend with a half empty bottle of scotch for a figleaf.
"Not until a few minutes ago, no." He wanted a drink from the bottle.
"Don't need any… help with anything?" Duncan was closer to him now, his brow furrowed, his full lips slightly parted. "Didn't you offer me some of that?" His eyes flickered crotchward.
"Some of this?" Methos grinned and shoved the bottle towards Duncan, who took it without looking at it, because something much more interesting had all his attention.
As for Methos -- he looked in the mirror and knew he was cured. He knew his essential self, he'd known it all along. He'd just lost sight of his friends, that was all. A man as old as he was could be forgiven for becoming a bit self-absorbed once in a while. A con artist and flim-flamming dame could be forgiven for tricking a friend out of his blue funk. Duncan could be forgiven in advance for whatever he was about to do that made his eyes gleam with a strange and happy light that filled the mirrors and the space between them with anticipation. My, my, Methos thought, as he turned away from the mirrors and into Duncan's arms, look what I have conjured.
"The thief managed to open all of the Cartier safes, and took virtually all of their contents. Officials are still confused as to how the perpetrator managed to short-circuit the security systems."
"I hope she dumps the goods before she gets to the island." Duncan, stretched companionably next to Methos on the couch, shook his head at the TV screen.
"The only thing police do know, is that the tire tracks from the snowy scene down here at the Champ Elysees reveal that the thief or thieves used a sport utility vehicle to haul the stolen goods away..."
"Looks like I'll have to get a new car," Methos grumbled.
Duncan grinned. "I know where to pick up a mint-condition Ferrari."