Notes and stuff: This is a direct sequel to my story, 'Sands of Eternity', which can also be found on this archive, and a story written by Dal Traven, titled 'What Triona Really Wants', also on this archive. While all the stories in our 'Bloodties' universe are related, this set is the only one that runs one into the other (so far <g>). It isn't really necessary to read the others, but it might help sort some things out!

LaCroix and Methos belong to their respective PTB's, and Triona belongs to me and a few others -- who know who they are.

Thanks to my fellow BT creators for support and common sense.
 


To Capture a Memory

by Ithildin

c. 1998


"It isn't the same, Lucien!"

LaCroix watched Methos circle the study like a lion, looking this way and that, as if something might leap out at him at any moment.

"Of course it isn't the same. You're a fool if you thought it would be." LaCroix steepled his fingers, piercing Methos with cold eyes. "Did you honestly think that sex, no matter how good it was, would solve all the problems you and she have?" he asked in exasperation.

"Damn it, of course I didn't think that!" He glared. "That isn't what I mean."

"Then why don't you explain it to me?"

He stopped pacing, looking at LaCroix as if trying to decide if he really wanted to share his feelings with the ancient vampire. Sighing, he dropped into a chair and stared into space.

LaCroix waited patiently, knowing that eventually he would tell him. He still wondered in disbelief sometimes at how he worked so hard to patch up things between Methos and his Immortal child. If someone had told him that fateful day that Methos had reappeared in his life that he would go to such lengths, let alone accept him as a part of his family, he would have laughed -- or drained them.

"It's her eyes," Methos stated suddenly into  the silence. LaCroix waited for him to go on as the silence once again descended. Finally, he continued, "I never truly realized that what I saw in her eyes was complete and absolute trust. Not until it was gone that is," he finished sadly.

LaCroix sighed, not able to dispute what he said. Triona had trusted Methos totally, without reserve. But not anymore. Oh, she still loved him -- more than he deserved as far as LaCroix was concerned, especially after what had transpired that day under the bridge, before she had been taken -- but the unquestioning trust was gone. The bright mirror that she saw him in had tarnished and dimmed. What was left only a pale reflection of what had been.

"It will take time, Methos. You know that she still loves you, it should be enough," he remonstrated.

"Yes, I know. And more than you think I deserve. And I probably agree with you," he said bitterly. "You know as well as I that time can never bring back that look in her eyes, no matter how many ages pass. It's only gifted to a very few, and I destroyed that gift." His eyes were dark with a wordless grief for what could never be again.

                                            *******************

Methos found her in the garden, looking pensive. A look that was wiped away as Triona felt his approach. He sighed to himself, noticing the almost imperceptible stiffening  as he placed a gentle hand on her shoulder, before she relaxed. \\Making herself, no doubt,// he thought sadly. She had never done anything but melt into his touch before. *Before*; was that going to be how he saw their relationship now? The 'before' and the 'now'. The *now* that had her not quite trusting him, not feeling totally safe in his presence.

He had noticed the stiffening, the slightly wary looks, the way she leaned closer to LaCroix when he entered the room suddenly. Damn it, he wanted her back! All of her, not just her body. But he had no idea how to make that happen, he realized with a grim heart.

"Hey you," he said lightly. "Penny for your thoughts?"

She smiled a little. "Oh, thinking about going home. LaCroix said we could this week."

"That makes you happy," he stated.

"Yes," she said, sounding a little doubtful.

"You don't sound very sure."

"Oh, I am. I miss everyone. It's just…." she trailed off, looking away.

"Just what?" he asked softly. "Tell me. Please. How can I know how to help if you won't share what you feel anymore?"

The obvious pain in his voice made her want to wrap him in her arms, but she didn't -- couldn't -- and the impulse passed. \\Would it always be like this,// she wondered? She wanted to trust him, wanted him to tell her it would all be okay again. But it wasn't a possibility, not anymore. Too much had happened. She pushed back the memory of him attacking her under the bridge, of her
plunging the knife into his flesh, shivering.

When she looked at him again, the guarded look that he hated was back in her eyes. "I'm sorry. I'm not trying to shut you out."

He pulled her to him, embracing her. After a moment, she returned it. "I know you aren't, love, I know." He stroked her long, loose hair gently. "You don't have to tell me anything that you don't want to. I can wait"

She looked up at him, suddenly asking, "Are you coming home too?" Her voice was full of tension. She wanted him to come back with them, but she wouldn't ask; never again. And yet, she was afraid that if he chose to return that it would become unbearable being home; being in a place so full of joy…and deep sorrow. So many memories.

\\So that was it,// he thought, stroking her face with his fingertips. "If you'll allow it -- it would be my great honor and pleasure," he said formally, as if he were proposing marriage in some age long past. And in a way he was. He was asking to be allowed back, formally, into her family. To finally and truly accept them as his family as well.

Not answering, she said instead,  "Dominique won't be there. She left when LaCroix told her we were coming home." She looked past him.

"I know," he said simply.

Triona looked startled. "You knew?"

Methos shook his head. "You thought that would change my mind? That I'd leave to be with her? What happened with Dominique was a mistake. I was so angry with you.… If I could undo the past…." He took her face in his hands, forcing her to look at him. "I've made my choice. I know now where my family -- my heart -- is.  One day, maybe, she will too." He leaned down and kissed her gently.

She didn't say anything for several minutes, just looking into his eyes, as if trying to read his soul. He tried to open himself to the remnants of their bloodlink, wanting so desperately for her to feel his regret, his love, his hope for a life together.

"It won't be easy," she said softly, as if to herself. "There's so much pain."

"It won't be easy," he agreed. "But we have time. And we have love. And hope. Don't we?" he asked.

She finally answered his earlier question. "I would very much like you to return to us. In hope -- and love." Triona kissed him of her own volition. "It's a beginning, one to build on, for our future."

She kissed him once more. Then with a wistful, sad look, walked away, leaving him alone in the dark garden with nothing but his memories.

                                                   ********************

Methos bolted awake, knowing something was wrong and knowing what it was.

He met LaCroix in the hall on his way to Triona's room. As she had almost every night since her rescue, she was having a nightmare. LaCroix was always the one to go to her, and Methos had never disputed his right to do so, especially when he was sure he was the cause of at least some of her terror. But this time, he wanted to be the one to comfort her, and needed to convince LaCroix of that.

He put a restraining hand on the other man's arm. "Let me go to her, Lucien. Please," he asked, his voice full of quiet urgency.

LaCroix looked at him, unsure if this was the right thing. Methos could see the internal debate racing across his ice blue eyes. One the one hand -- his desire to see the two heal their wounds; and on the other -- concern that Triona, seeing Methos on awaking from a nightmare, would be damaged further should he frighten her. "I don't know if that would be wise," LaCroix finally said, looking past him to her door, wanting to waste no more time.

"I know why you think this is wrong. But please, let me go to her this once," he said, his voice raw with emotion. "I promise you, if it goes badly, I'll never interfere again. I give you my word."

"Very…." LaCroix's acquiescence was cut off by a scream of terror coming from Triona's room.

Both men rushed into the bedroom, finding her sobbing on the bed, curled into a tight ball. He let Methos go to her, hanging back, but close enough to step in if needed. She didn't even react as the ancient Immortal sat on the edge of the bed, running his hands down her shaking body.

He made little soothing sounds as he continued to stroke her, as if she were a child. "It's okay, you're safe. I'm here, Lucien's here. No one can hurt you." He kept murmuring that it was okay in an almost singsong voice till she stopped shaking.

Finally, her sobs became quiet tears. He lay down next to her, drawing her into his arms. His heart soared when she reciprocated his embrace. "Don't leave," she whispered.

He heard the door quietly click shut as LaCroix left. "I won't, sweet. Never again." Gently rubbing her back, he asked softly, "Do you want to tell me about it?".

Shuddering, she whispered, "I was burning in the sun again. It's always the same." Her hands tightened on his shoulders as she remembered. "LaCroix tells me it will fade in time, and he has helped to blur the edges of my memories, but I still have the same nightmare."

His arms tightened around her in sympathy and fury. If he could kill Hakeem a thousand times over, it wouldn't be enough. "It will fade in time, all memories do; that I can promise you." \\Fade, but not disappear,// he thought, his own mind a vast collection of memories both horrifying and beautiful. "Try and sleep now, I'll stay till you wake up."

Triona nodded, already near sleep. Soon, she was fully asleep, cradled against his chest. Methos however, didn't sleep, but watched her and thought far into the night.

                                    *********************

To Capture a Memory - Part Two

By the time she woke, Methos had reached a decision. He knew what he had to do -- what they had to do.

"Good morning, love." He gave her a long, lingering kiss as she opened her eyes.

Triona giggled a little. "It is if that's the greeting I get," she told him, a little shyly, as if unsure of these new-old feelings.

He kissed her again, a little more intensely this time, feeling encouraged by her acceptance of his first kiss. Pressing her back into the bed, his kiss turned hungry, her response matching as she tangled her hands in his hair to pull him closer.

He hadn't intended on this, wanting to tell her about the realization he had made while she had slept. But, other than the night he had shared with her and LaCroix a few days before, she had done nothing to invite his touch. Her wanting him now was too much for him to resist. And as her familiar touch slid under his robe to caress the flesh beneath, Methos was lost.

                               *******************

Methos ran his hand lightly down Triona's back as she dozed after their lovemaking. He just watched her in silence as he continued to stroke her vampire pale skin. For a moment, he could let himself believe that it was like it used to be; that nothing had changed. He smiled a little, remembering the first time he had set eyes on her, the first time he smelled her perfume, seen her smile. What was the exact instant he had realized he couldn't leave her? Not leave LaCroix's mortal repayment for a debt long past.

He sighed. She had accepted him as Methos, then accepted his brutal past, accepted everything he was and had been. And he had thrown it all away over one mistake, one moment of weakness on her part. He had seen it as her choosing LaCroix over him, not wanting to acknowledge how it tore her apart having to be in the position to *have* to choose. A place Methos had put her in on more than one occasion.

Leaning down, he kissed the nape of her neck and heard her sigh of pleasure. She rolled over to look up at him. "Are we ever getting out of bed today?"

Propping himself up on one elbow, he rested his head in his hand. "I can't think of any good reason to," he told her as he ran his other hand across her hip and up her stomach.

"I wouldn't suppose you would at that, " she told him, grinning. "But some of us have to arrange to close up the house, and our trip home."

This was the opening Methos had needed to broach his plan. He only hoped she would be receptive to it -- and him.

"I wanted to talk to you about that. About going home I mean," Methos began. "No!" he exclaimed, seeing the look of fear on her face that was quickly replaced by the mask he had grown so used to seeing. "No, I haven't changed my mind. It's okay," he told her hurriedly.

She relaxed a little, but was still wary. "Then what?"

"I've thought a lot about this, and I think we need to spend some time together -- alone." He placed a forestalling finger to her lips. "Please, hear me out." She nodded. Relieved, he continued, "We have so much to work through and I don't think having to deal with the entire family, no matter how well meaning they are, would be best. Add to that, you would be distracted by work and all that you feel responsible for. I just think we need to go somewhere, just the two of us." He paused for breath, then went on, "I know I have no right to ask anything of you, but this is very important to me. And I believe it could make all the difference to us."

He finally finished, waiting tensely for her reaction. She sat up, against the headboard, clutching a pillow to her. Methos couldn't tell from her expression what she was thinking or feeling. She had gotten far too good at hiding any emotion from him -- and he hated it.

After what seemed an interminable wait, she finally answered, almost whispering, "I… I don't know. I would have to trust you; wouldn't I?" She looked up at him with eyes that were torn, confused, incredibly sad.

He clenched his hands, trying to keep the hurt he felt at her question from his face. "Yes. You would," he said carefully. "Is that so hard for you to ever imagine doing again?"

He watched her, sitting there, holding the pillow like a shield. Her hair tousled, face still soft from sleep, reminded him all to vividly of the lovemaking that they had just shared; of the life they had shared. It was almost too much. He would get her just within reach, only to have all hope snatched from him by heartless fate, as she shied away yet again.

Triona reached a tentative hand towards him, hovering just a breath from his cheek. Close enough that he could feel the warmth from her fingers. She bit her lip, the indecision on her face more than obvious. Pulling her hand away, she dropped her eyes, not looking at him. His hopes crashed, only to soar again at her barely audible words.

"All right. I'll do as you want. I'll try."
 

                                      ***********************

"Camping?" Triona looked at Methos in disbelief, "you're taking me CAMPING?" She leaned against the 4WD, speechless. "Camping," she said to herself, shaking her head.

"You don't like the idea?" Methos asked, with that little boy look, all hurt innocence.

"Methos," she began slowly, as if explaining a very difficult concept to someone just a wee bit slow. "It's the beginning of November. It's the Rocky Mountains, and you want to hike into the middle of nowhere. We could be snowed in till spring!"

"I checked the weather forecast. They say clear for the next week. You don't think I'd plan this without checking, do you?" He looked smugly satisfied, sure his reassurance would answer her objections.

"Weather forecast? What do they know? It's going to be an early winter, anyone can see that!" she said, exasperated.

"Oh? And when did you become a weather expert?" Methos arched an eyebrow, annoyed.

"I've always known the basics. Extra furry caterpillars, thick wool on sheep. And Duncan taught me a lot more," she told him loftily, trying to stamp out his disbelieving expression.

This was incredibly annoying. He obviously thought she was loony, and would refuse to acknowledge she might be right. \\Man!// she thought, irritated. \\Won't notice what should be as clear as the nose on his face!//

She had agreed to his request, had convinced LaCroix -- with some difficulty -- that it would be okay. Had even agreed to let him plan all the details. When they had boarded a plane for Montana, she figured secluded mountain cabin. Not camping. Not hiking into the mountains where they would probably freeze to death and not thaw out till spring! This was the most ridiculous idea she had ever heard! Not to mention that she would be confined to a tent when the sun was at full height.

"I want to share something new with you. I've never been to Montana. I can't say that about many places. I want us both to do something new -- together," he told her quietly, earnestly.

She sighed. It meant so much to him. He may not have been thinking, but his heart had been in the right place. "What about the sun?" she asked weakly. "I…I can't…." Her voice trembled. "You don't know what it's like," she finished, shaking, pushing back the thought of being tied up out in the sun, her nightmare trying to overpower her waking mind.

"Trust me to take care of you. Please." He placed his hands on her shoulders, squeezing gently. "I will, I promise you."

She relented. "All right. But if it snows…." She let the statement hang there in the crisp fall air.

"I know. You'll kill me," Methos said cheerily.

                                            ******************

"I'm going to KILL you!!" Triona shouted into the near blizzard.

They had only been out two days before a violent snow storm had slammed into them. They had been in the tent for almost twelve hours, the first six of which Methos had tried to convince her that it was just a little storm and that it would stop soon. Finally he gave up, realizing she really would kill him if he didn't shut up.

"Fine!" he snapped. "Just say it, 'I told you so, Methos.' Just get it over with and stop glaring at me like that!" He pulled his sleeping bag tighter around himself, grumbling under his breath, "Furry caterpillars. Sheep. Nonsense."

She looked daggers at him, hearing his mutterings. "Nonsense?! NONSENSE!? What's nonsense is the fact that we are trapped in a blizzard when we could be in a nice cabin somewhere in front of a fire. But NO! You had to go bloody CAMPING!" she shouted. As suddenly as she had started shouting, she started crying, "I don't want to freeze to death, permanent or no. And LaCroix and the others will be frantic when we don't come back. It isn't fair to them, they've worried about me enough the last few weeks." She scrubbed her face with her hands, mad at herself for letting Methos see her cry.

He pulled her to him, "It's okay, we aren't going to freeze to death out here. I remember seeing some sort of structure on the survey map. Probably some sort of fire station or something. It should only be a few hours from here. As soon as there is any break, we'll make for it." He held her close. "Until then, why don't we try and keep warm. We should be sharing a sleeping bag. Combined body heat and all that," he whispered suggestively.

"Combined body heat? Sure, right." She shook her head in mock disgust. "You're incorrigible!"

"It's a scientific fact," he said against her lips, before beginning to kiss her hungrily.

Suddenly -- the tent seemed much warmer….

                                      ******************

The storm had quieted during the night and the two had set out just before daybreak. It had continued to snow lightly all morning, but one look at the sky made it clear it was only a lull and the brunt was yet to come. This time, Methos didn't question Triona's weather sense.

It was so overcast, with the shield of snow filled clouds above them, that they walked well into the afternoon, Triona keeping her skin totally covered.

"Methos," she panted, "where is that structure? The blizzard is going to hit anytime!"

"I know." He looked up at the darkening sky, noticing, as she did, the flakes falling heavier. "We should be coming up to it soon."

She nodded and kept walking.

Another hour had passed, the snow now falling so thick, they could barely see. She stumbled, almost falling, exhausted. He looked at her worriedly, knowing she wouldn't make it much farther. Being out in the sun, no matter how shielded, had weakened her.

"I won't make it much farther," she said, echoing his thought. "You go on ahead. There is absolutely no point in both of us freezing to death out here. You can come back for me when it clears."

"No. That isn't an option. I will not leave you out here alone and exposed to the sun."

"But…."

He cut her off angrily. "Be quiet! I said 'No', and that's the last I want to hear on the subject. Is that clear?"

 She just nodded, too spent to argue.

They crested the hill, stopping short at the sight before them -- a huge smudge against the darkening sky. She peered, trying to make it out in the storm. "That doesn't look like a ranger station."

"No, it doesn't, does it?"

They headed towards the huge structure, Methos half carrying Triona up the twisting, steep path that led to it. Finally, they were at what appeared to be stone wall, with a huge iron grating covering the entrance.

She collapsed in exhaustion against the stones, while Methos searched for a way in to the building beyond. Finally, he found a gap where the stonework had fallen away. Not waiting, he scooped Triona into his arms and carried her through the hole in the wall.

He carried her across a long courtyard, towards what seemed to be -- as incongruous as it seemed, out here in the middle of the Montana wilds -- a castle. Or at the very least, some sort of feudal keep. They reached the entrance and he set her on her feet while he tried the latch. Thankfully, the lock was broken and the door opened to much squealing of stressed, rusted metal.

They looked at each other. "Well, I don't suppose we have to worry this might be Castle Dracula now, do we?" She grinned impishly at him.

He snorted. "You have the oddest sense of humor." He put his arm around her, helping her walk as they entered the main hall. "Though, with the company I keep, I wouldn't be at all surprised if it were."

"Humph. The only vampire getting anywhere near you is me," she said huskily. "Don't you forget it."

He dropped a kiss on the top of her head. "Never, love. Never."

They reached the huge staircase that dominated the hall, it was near sunset, only the barest hint of light coming through the windows. Methos could barely see. "What do you see?" he asked, relying on her enhanced vision to fill him in.

"Not much. A lot of doors, dust, bits and pieces of furniture and stuff that must have blown in through broken windows."

"You sit here. " He rummaged through his pack, finally finding the lantern and lighting it. "I'm going to see if I can find a more sheltered room and maybe a fireplace."

"Don't be too long."

"I won't. I'll be as fast as I can. Promise." Kissing her quickly, he smiled and headed down the hall.

                           *******************

To Capture a Memory - Part Three

Triona waited, shivering, on the bottom stair. She was now sheltered from the wind, but she was freezing. She hoped Methos would be able to find a working fireplace. Permanent damage or no, she did not relish shivering in the cold till they got out of here. "Whenever that may be," she grumbled to herself.

Tiredly, she leaned against the banister, closing her eyes and trying to think warm thoughts. \\There had been that one summer,// she thought, remembering. It had been the first year she had been at the estate and there had been a heat wave. The only energy she'd been able to muster was to sit in the pool or the wine cellar. Anywhere it was a few degrees cooler.

Unable to sleep, she had made her way to the lake. She had lain on the beach, letting the cool water lap over her, actually falling asleep.  LaCroix had found her there, waking her up and chastising her quite thoroughly, telling her she could have drowned. 

\\And how different would my life have been if I had drowned? Immortal, with no bond to LaCroix, no mutation. Maybe no Methos.// She pondered that last for a moment. \\No Methos.// How did that make her feel? After all that had happened, would she have preferred the alternative? To have not ever known him? Did their past make up for the present or the future?

Her mind drifted back over all the memories, mostly good, that they had shared together; and as a family. How long had it been? Ten years?  She twisted the carved, white gold band that was on her left ring finger. Methos had given it to her in Seacouver during that disastrous time that she had been cast away from her family. He had placed it there, telling her it was a symbol of his love for her and his hope that they would be happy together. Of course, it hadn't quite turned out the way he had planned, but she had worn it ever since. Even through their estrangement. And now…. \\And now.…// The words echoed in her mind forlornly.

She drifted into a fitful doze, starting awake at the feel of Methos' buzz brushing her awareness.

"Up you get." He grabbed her hand, helping her to her feet. "I found what must have been a kitchen. It has a wood stove that is in working order, wood too. I think hikers must use this place, because the stove looks like it's been cleaned and used in the last few months."

He led her towards the  back of the house and down a short flight of stairs. There was another hall, with more doors. He headed for the one at the end of the hall, pushing it open to reveal a long room that was lit with the glow of a fire.

"Thank god!" she exhaled in relief, as Methos drew her to the stove. "Warm!"

She sat on the edge of the slightly raised brick platform the woodstove sat on, soaking in the warmth from the already roaring fire. A bang jerked her back to awareness. She looked over to see Methos dragging a rectangular wooden table over to the stove, and then tipping it on it's side so it was like a wall. Then he did the same with the benches, making a sort of box with the stove as one end.

"There," he said in satisfaction. "That should keep more of the heat on us!"

"I'm impressed," she said dryly.

He looked up at her. "That didn't sound very sincere."

"You could tell?" She arched an eyebrow, fighting back a giggle.

"Now, don't get cheeky," he warned. "Or I'll…."

"Or you'll what?"

"Or… I'll think of something!"

"Ooooh, scary!" She laughed. "You know, you really should take some lessons from LaCroix on making meaningful threats." She waved an admonishing finger at him.

"Maybe I will at that," he grumped, his lips twitching.

She got up and put her arms around him. "If you do, I'll let you practice on me," she said throatily, kissing him slowly and thoroughly.

A little stunned, he didn't respond at first. As she deepened the kiss he finally got the idea, tangling his hands in her hair and pulling her closer. Then, he felt her giggle and she pulled away, dancing out of reach.

"That was nice, but I'm hungry. After all the trouble you've caused the least you can do is make me dinner." She grinned impishly, daring him to object.

He was torn between laughing and wanting to put her across his knee. "One of these days, miss, one of these days," he warned, not very convincingly.

"One of these days the sun may rise in the west, but it isn't getting dinner cooked!" She laughed delightedly at the look of consternation on his face. \\I may forgive him but that doesn't mean he shouldn't suffer a bit,// she thought smugly.

Considering this was as happy as he had seen her in weeks, he decided to play along for now. "Fine. Dinner it is. Please, do sit and make yourself comfortable." He waved an arm expansively towards the pile of packs against the wall of his *box*.

"Thank you. I shall," she said grandly, flouncing down to sit gracefully on the floor. "If you do a good job, I might consider picking up where we left off. As a reward," she added, her eyes dancing with merriment.

"And if you behave yourself from now on, I may reconsider my decision to paddle your very pretty bottom!" Methos said, exasperated and amused by turns.

Triona giggled, totally unrepentant. "Is that a threat -- or a promise?"

"You figure it out," he told her,  before turning away to root through their packs to do as she asked and make dinner.
 

                                               ****************

A few hours later, she lay snuggled in his arms, fast asleep in front of the banked fire. She had barely been able to keep her eyes open through dinner, falling asleep almost before Methos took the plate from her hands. He bit at his bottom lip, watching her sleep. Tonight had been almost…normal. It was easy for him to imagine that the past few months had been one long nightmare. But of course, they hadn't been. He wondered what it would take to keep this almost normal feeling for more than a few hours? Or maybe that was the trick: a few hours, than a few hours longer, then a day, a week, a month. \\Patience. It's going to take time. You knew that going in, you fool,// he berated himself.

A wave of exhaustion swept over him. Too tired to think anymore, he drew her nearer, pulling the sleeping bag more snugly around the both of them before falling asleep himself.

                                               **********************

Triona woke up late the next morning. She looked around, not remembering right away where she was. The place where Methos had slept was cold, so he had been gone for awhile. But the fire in the stove was crackling merrily and there was a pot of water on top, steaming away.

She stretched, wiping the sleep from her eyes, wondering where Methos was. \\He must have gone exploring.//  Shuffling sleepily, she made her way over to the small work table next to the stove, seeing mugs sitting there, complete with teabags. Smiling happily at his thoughtfulness, she took a rag, wrapping it around the pot handle and poured some of the steaming water into a mug. Closing her eyes, she inhaled the scent of steeping tea with an almost lustful expression on her face. This was going to taste so good.

Once the tea had steeped to her satisfaction, she made her way to a window, pulling aside the heavy wooden shutter. Sighing, she saw that it was still snowing. \\Are we going to be stuck here till spring?// she wondered worriedly. Closing the shutter to save as much heat as possible, she headed back to her nest in front of the fire, slowly sipping at the steaming brew in her cup. Sitting down, she stared at the flames flickering through the grate. She supposed she could go look for him, but she was feeling far too lazy.

She felt him before she saw him. She watched his approach through half lidded eyes.

"Finally awake, sleepyhead?"

"Barely." She reached up to pull him closer as he bent over to kiss her. "But feeling more awake by the minute."

"Glad to hear it," he murmured against her lips. Regretfully, he broke the kiss, running his hand through her hair and resting it against her neck. "This is an incredible place," he told her.

"Oh?"

He dropped down to sit next to her. "Mm-hmm. For one thing it's huge. There are rooms and passages everywhere. It looks like the last time this place was inhabited was the fifties. I found a cellar system, there is a well down there that seems to be the water supply, and I found an almost full coal hopper. So we'll be warm at least."

"Yep, it'll be nice to be warm while we starve to death," she said acerbically.

"It won't come to that. If we do get stuck here, I can set rabbit snares and see if there is a lake anywhere nearby. We can fish," he said in anticipation, not noticing her rapidly darkening expression.

She rolled her eyes. "Oh great. So now you're  Grizzly Adams! This is *not* a good thing, Methos! I do not want to be here till the spring thaw!" she snapped, glowering at him.

His eyes sparked in annoyance. "I know you don't. I don't either! I just thought it would make you feel better to know we won't starve!" he snapped back, quickly becoming as angry as she was.

"What would make me feel better would be to know that we will be home for Christmas -- not Easter!" she shouted, jumping to her feet and pacing in irritation.

"I didn't make this happen you know! I didn't do it on purpose!"

"No, but you didn't listen to me either! Did you? You laughed when I warned you about the weather! So, now here we are. Trapped!"

Triona knew in her heart she wasn't fighting about being stuck here. She had never confronted him about how she had felt when he left. It was taking its outlet here and now in the guise of coal and fishing. She couldn't help it, she wanted to lash out at him, to hurt him like he'd hurt her. And now she had him all to herself -- no one around to make well meaning interferences. It was just the two of them, out here in the middle of nowhere. They would either have it out here and now; or not at all.

He took a deep breath, realizing that this was escalating out of control. Trying to diffuse the situation, he said calmly, "There's no helping that now. We need to deal with the situation rationally."

She whirled. "Don't patronize me, Methos. Don't you dare!"

"I'm not!" He fought a losing battle to keep his temper in check.

"Yes, you are! And you know it! This is your fault, all of it. The very fact we even *had* to spend time alone together in the first place is your doing, not mine!" She was on a roll, everything she'd felt over the last months roaring in her mind, wanting outlet. "You're the one who couldn't forgive me, who left us -- betrayed us! You were the one who attacked me under that bridge! If I hadn't been so upset, do you think I ever would have allowed Hakeem's goons to grab me? You never said you were sorry for that. You act as if rescuing me from that monster makes it all even!" She took a deep, shuddering breath, her face as white as the snow that fell outside, eyes dark with sorrow, grief, and remembered pain. She looked at him, her face set like stone. "It doesn't," she told him, her voice brittle and hard.

He didn't respond. Instead, he turned away, walking to the window. He pulled the shutter open and stared out, hands shoved in his pockets, shoulders slumped.

She waited, but the silence stretched. The hot rage of earlier coalesced into something so cold it burned. "So be it. You've made how you feel more than clear. Your silence, as usual, speaks volumes. I won't trouble you with my feelings again."

Grabbing the lantern, she fled the room, slamming the door behind her. Methos winced at the sound, laying his cheek against the cold glass of the window. How could he ever make her understand? Lost and bereft, he slid down to sit on the floor and watched the wind blow -- the intensity of the storm outside no match for the one that raged in his soul.

                                                 **********************

To Capture a Memory - Part Four

 

Triona had no idea where she was going, only that she needed to be as far from Methos as possible. How could he just ignore her?  He said he wanted to fix things, to try and make a new start. How could he possibly mean that when he wouldn't even acknowledge what he'd done to her? If he thought good deeds alone were enough to bring him salvation he was dead wrong.

She took the steps two at a time as she made her way up the stairs she had sat on yesterday. On reaching the landing she looked around and decided to go left, down the corridor. At the end was a huge stained glass window, surprisingly enough, all in one piece. To her right was a door, to her left, more stairs. She stuck her head in the entryway to the stairs, looking up to see a spiral staircase with a small window set all the way at the top.

Curious, she mounted the stair, making her way carefully up the narrow way. Halfway up, she realized, pleased, that whoever had built this had been left-handed. The spiral going in the opposite direction of most such constructs, to benefit a left-handed swordsman -- or woman. Finally, she reached the top, and a large iron bound oak door.

Taking the heavy iron ring in hand, she pushed it open to reveal a round turret room. Methos forgotten for the moment, she moved farther into the room, looking around. "This is so cool!" She grinned as her voice echoed around the room.

The outside half circle was dominated by three large inset windows, the middle being largest and paned in leaded diamond pieces of glass. The two outer windows were stained glass, depicting warriors battling mythical creatures. All the windows had deep window seats, that at one time had been covered in thick pillows. Now all that remained were a few faded scraps of cloth. On the opposite wall was a massive, curved fireplace, framed by an equally massive mantel, carved in the same motif as the windows.

To the right of the fireplace was another door. She walked over to it, pulling hard to get it to open. \\Big surprise,// she thought. \\More stairs!//  Heading up the stairwell, she thought that whoever had lived here must have been in great shape. Reaching the top, she found another smaller room, with several doors leading off at various points. Where the room below was like some medieval audience chamber, this was more like a living area, cozier, more intimate. Smiling, she could imagine LaCroix inhabiting rooms like these. Imposing and larger than life, as he was.

Thinking of LaCroix made her sad all over again. The worry he and the family would feel when she didn't return. Why, oh why did this have to happen now? Hadn't they all suffered enough because of her?

She made her way over to a window, risking the almost non-existent sun, to look out on the storm. Triona sat in the window embrasure, drawing her knees up and wrapping her arms around them for warmth. Her breath hung like fog in the still, freezing air. Suddenly, sitting there in the silence, she felt her whole world crash around her. The grief she felt hung around her like a cloak; as real and tangible as the clothes she wore or the stone she lay against.

She let it cover her, take her totally, not fighting anymore. What was the point? Consumed by her anguish, time lost all meaning -- and the hours passed in cold and silence.

                                                 *********************

That was how Methos found her. She didn't even stir at his approach. Moving closer, he realized all her exposed skin was a furious red. "Stop it!" he cried out, pulling her forcefully from the window. "Have you lost your mind?" he asked, shocked at her total disregard of the damage she had done to herself.

He pulled her to the stairwell, totally out of any light that might further harm her. She didn't resist, didn't react at all, just stared at some spot in the air just past Methos. Being careful not to touch her burned skin, he placed a hand on either side of her head, forcing her to look at him.

"Is this what I've driven you to?" He shook his head, despair lacing his voice. "This isn't what I wanted. It's all gone so terribly wrong," he said, his voice breaking, closing his eyes in pain.

When he opened them again, she was bewildered to see his hazel-green eyes bright with unshed tears. Overwhelmed by uncertainty, she pulled away from him, huddling in the corner. "I don't know what to do anymore," she admitted in a whisper. "I'm so angry. I feel a rage I've never felt before, ever. I don't know how to deal with it." She looked at him. "I don't know how to deal with you."

Methos shook his head, trying to find the words. "I wish you could see into my heart -- my soul. See how much I regret what happened. You have no idea how much I loath what I did to you." One tear dropped. "I couldn't ask you to forgive me because I can't forgive myself. There is no excuse for what happened that Paris morning. None." He reached out and took her hand in his. "I carry the regrets of  a hundred-thousand lifetimes, none of which I sorrow for as I do the day I judged you, and everything that followed."

     **********

Triona woke slowly, hanging on to the last fragment of a dream. Sighing contentedly, she nuzzled closer to Methos, loving the feeling of heat between their naked bodies. For the first time in months she felt a lightness of spirit in greeting a new day -- one she had doubted she would ever feel again.

After his confession on the stairs the day before, they had talked well into the night. All their hurts and sadness had been laid out to the bright light of day. No more lies or half truths to each other or to themselves. Finally, mentally exhausted, they had made love with a tenderness that had made her want to weep. It had been so long since their lovemaking had held such a purity -- untouched by expectations and hidden sorrows.

Since there was no reason to get out of bed, she decided to savor this quiet moment. Placing her hand against his chest, she could feel his heart beat a steady rhythm against her palm. The pulse of it thrummed through her body, giving her a sense of peace and belonging. The memory of another morning drifted through her mind -- their first together, and what she had thought at the time would be their last. That morning, almost ten years ago, she'd found out about Immortals; and discovered that 'Adam Pierson' had another name. The woman she was then could have never imagined what the future held.

And the woman she was now? What about her? Could she move past the mutation that made her life so complicated? Vampire and Immortal, but not really either one -- a condition that worried and perplexed the two men that had become so integral to her very being. LaCroix and Methos; the two rocks in her life. LaCroix, like cool marble, Methos; weathered granite. They were the anchors in an increasingly complex life. A life that she knew now she wouldn't change, even if she could. To not have them, her sisters, Janette, in her life would be incomprehensible. She had to believe that the love they shared as a family would be enough to sustain her -- and them -- in the years and trials to come. Because somehow, here in this place, there was a dark future ahead; for all of them.

Her dream on waking, something about it made her believe it was a foretelling. If her world view had expanded to include vampires and Immortals -- why not dreams of portent? They had been brought here for a reason. Only time would tell why. A vision of fire and war tickled at the edge of her mind's eye as she once more fell into sleep; she and Methos twined together like a Celtic knot.
 

End


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