Rated R for sexual situations.

Thanks to the usual suspects for advice and help: Tammy, April, Shirl, & Margie. It's their universe too, and I couldn't write these without their input.

Triona, and T’rayla, belong to me, the others to their respective PTBs

Notes 2007: now I’ve found an official Star Trek timeline, I’ve gone back and tweaked some of the dates. And fixed a few other things along the way.


The Long Road From Home

by Ithildin
c. 1998/2007



Part One

Vulcan, Earth Year 2235

"And Humans and Vulcans were friends ever after."

The little boy looked up with large dark eyes, entranced by the story. "What happened after?" he asked softly.

Triona laughed. "Lots and lots of things, but those are stories for later. That's enough for tonight."

"Definitely enough for tonight,” a soft, sweet voice said. "You know, you don't have to entertain my son every time he asks for a story." The young woman moved farther into the room, looking down on her son fondly. "But, I have to admit, I find myself as enrapt as he is. The way you tell them, you might almost believe you were there."

Eyes dancing at some secret joke, she grinned, replying, "I don't mind. I like having such a devoted audience actually." She smiled, smoothing the black hair of the little boy who sat at her feet. "He's so intelligent and very sweet." She looked up at his mother. "You're very lucky."

"I know," she said simply. "But you will be one day too. You'll make a wonderful mother."

Triona dropped her eyes. "That's kind of you to say." She was saved from having to make any further response by another arrival.

"It is long past your son's bedtime," the man stated.

"Indeed it is," she agreed, stifling a grin. With a conspiratorial wink to Triona, she beckoned to the boy. "Come along, my son. Time for bed." She shepherded the child out of the room.

"I regret any discomfort my wife's comments may have caused you."

"She has no way to know."

"Still, such personal observations are not something you should be subjected to as a guest in my home," he said firmly. "My wife is young," he said as if by way of explanation.

"I was never very good at casting aside my mortal dreams and desires. Despite my Master's constant direction," she admitted ruefully. "So, the fault is mine -- not that of your hospitality."

He nodded, as if giving her the victory in this particular matter, then changed the subject. "You indulge the boy."

Triona jumped from the settee where she had been sitting. "Nonsense!"

He arched a brow at her outburst.

She tugged at and smoothed her skirts in irritation. "You want his education to be well rounded, do you not?" Not waiting for a reply, she continued, "And who better to tell him the tale of First Contact, or any of early Federation history than me, after all?"

"Your logic, is as always, unexpected and correct," he acceded.

"Vulcan humor," she grumbled in mock offense.

"Vulcans do not indulge in humor."

"Hah! You may have the rest of the Federation believing that, along with that nonsense about not lying, but I for one, know much, much better, Sarek."

"Indeed? Then it is well you are as adept at keeping our secrets as you are your own," he commented dryly.

"I am merely returning the favor. The keeping of my secrets is the greater of the two."

"And when will you return to your family?" He changed the subject abruptly, throwing her off.

"I'm not ready yet." She shook her head.

"Eventually, he will find you. Would it not be better to be the one to initiate a reconciliation?" he asked reasonably.

Sighing, she replied, "Yes. And I will. But not yet."

"It is not logical to hold on to so many destructive emotions."

"It isn't logical -- but it is very human." She walked over to the terrace door, looking out at the garden. "At this point, I don't know how to go back...."


Imladris, two years earlier

"But I've found a cure!" Nick paced around her office like a caged animal. "It worked, I'm human again!"

"And so you came here to what? Gloat? Rub his nose in your victory?" she snapped. She was in turmoil, dreading what was to come, grieving for the affect this would have on LaCroix.

"No. No, of course not. I intend to go quietly," he assured her. "I came to offer what I now have to you."

"Me?" Stunned, she sank into her chair.

"Yes, you. I owe you that much; for our past."

Gripping the edge of her desk like a drowning woman to a life raft, she shook her head. "No," she choked out. Then more firmly, "No."

"No?" he repeated, an expression of disbelief plastered over his face. "I'm offering you an escape from the hell LaCroix has put you in, the chance to be whole again. How can you refuse?"

"Please leave, Nicholas," she told him faintly.

"I won't leave, not until you tell me why." She didn't look at him, just stared at the glass paperweight on her desk as if it were her entire universe. "Triona, how can you refuse this?"

When she finally looked up at him, her face was wet from silent tears. "If you have to ask, Nicholas, then you could never understand. And if you could understand, you would never have come here...."


Vulcan, Present Day

"And every day you delay it will become all the more difficult." Sarek's cool, calm voice brought her back from the sadness that threatened to engulf her.

Instead of answering, she said, "I think I'm going to take a walk outside the walls." She looked at Sarek. "We'll talk more later," she promised.

   



She walked into the Vulcan night, the creatures that lurked in the darkness of the desert holding no real fear for her. In fact, she didn't even know where she was walking, only that she was trying to escape memories she didn't want to deal with.

Triona attempted to utilize the Vulcan mental exercises that she had learned in the nearly two years she had been on the planet. Striving for calm. Attempting to block out all emotion, all thought.

She had been climbing for the last hour; finally reaching the crest of the mesa that marched across this section of the desert planet. The night wind roared past her, raising little funnel clouds of sand around her legs as she stood on the edge, the vast void only a step in front of her.

A sharp tremor lanced through her, and slowly, as if being pulled by strings, she turned. The name she whispered was swallowed by the wind. But he heard it nonetheless as she obeyed his wordless command to come to him.

His hand came to rest on her neck, his long fingers curling against her throat where her pulse raced. "And so I find you at last."

She trembled violently at the sound of his voice, the touch of his hand, the feel of his thoughts once more with hers, fighting not to let the tempest of emotion overwhelm her. Fighting to remember why she had left....

Imladris, two years earlier

She huddled in her chair. She hadn't moved since Nick had finally left, angry, and not understanding her refusal. That had been hours ago. Triona had felt LaCroix's shock, his rage, and a sadness that broke her heart. How could Nicholas have asked her to double his grief? To rip another child from him?

The torment he had engendered by offering her such a choice was tearing her apart. For one moment, she had actually considered it -- to be whole again. But her love for LaCroix had overcome the temptation that Nicholas had placed before her. But would that love be enough for him now that he had lost his son? Would it ever be?

She knew she should go to him, but dreaded the prospect, not wanting to be the one he took his fury out on. Not wanting to feel even more of the storm of emotion that railed at him. There were times she wished that she didn't have the strong mental ties with her Master that she did. Her pain and his were almost too much to bear.

Raised voices were coming down the hall, and she winced as the door to her office was thrown open, the heat of LaCroix's anger preceding him like a furnace, intertwined with Methos' familiar presence.

"It's over. Lucien, let it go," Methos attempted to reason with the ancient vampire. "He may be mortal now, but you lost him years ago. You know that!"

"I know nothing of the kind!" LaCroix snarled.

"Well you'd better! Because your problem child is no longer your problem." Methos dropped into a chair in front of Triona's desk. "And the sooner you get a grip and remember you do have other family, the better." He reached over and squeezed her hand, giving her a reassuring smile. "Don't worry," he said softly, "it's going to be okay."

LaCroix finally seemed to notice her sitting silent in the near dark. She forced herself to face him. "I'm so sorry," she whispered.

He looked at her sharply, putting the pieces, he thought, together in his mind. "You knew," he stated, in a voice that was a cold sliver of steel in her heart.

Guilt at her moment of near capitulation overwhelmed her and she dropped her eyes, unable to meet his icy gaze. "Yes," she choked.

LaCroix, however, in his anger and grief, misinterpreted the guilt and fear that he felt from his fledgling. Striding around the desk, he grabbed her arm, pulling her to her feet. "You knew, and yet said nothing! Did nothing!" He punctuated each word with a shake.

"LaCroix…." Methos warned, getting to his feet to intervene.

He glared at the Immortal, eyes tinged gold. "Don't even think of interfering," he hissed.

Paying no heed, he advanced. Triona, finding her voice, entreated, "No, Methos, please."

He stopped, but didn't back away.

"Answer me!" LaCroix demanded, gold eyes now bearing on her.

She just shook her head, heartsick that he would think the worst after all they had shared.

He took her silence as an admission of guilt. "How long have you been conspiring with Nicholas? And how long till you were going to partake of his cure?" he spat out.

Shocked at his accusation, she let anger take over. "You bastard!" she shouted. "I hate you!" And in that moment, she did. Hated him with every shred of her being, the power of her emotion transmitted full force through their bond.

He stiffened, his hand tightening on her arm. Methos held his breath, having no idea on how to break the tableau before him. LaCroix shoved her back and losing her balance, she tumbled into the chair he had pulled her out of. Without a backward glance, he flew from the room.

All the anger fled with his departure, being replaced by a certainty that she had long denied -- it was time for her to leave.

"I know I don't need to tell you that he'll come around." Methos sat on the edge of the desk, taking her hand. "Just give him some time to seethe." He sighed. "I was there when Nick made his announcement. Even knowing that one day this was probably going to happen didn't prepare me for how it would affect Lucien. I remember seeing that look in his eyes when I told him his mother...." his voice trailed into silence, shaking off the memories of so long ago.

"I know," she answered simply. She looked up at him, eyes full of understanding. "He needs you, you know."

"He needs you too."

"Methos...."

"I know," he stopped her words, "you're going away." He laughed at the look of shock on her face. "A blood bond works two ways, remember? And I've been expecting it for a while now," he explained.

"Expecting?" She shook her head, still amazed that he could know her so well, could see so deep into her heart, where she had only so recently seen herself.

"You're nearing your third century. Call it an Immortal mid-life crisis." He pulled her to her feet, drawing her between his legs, hands resting on her hips. "It happens to all of us at some point, even to you, I'm afraid." His eyes were dark with worry.

'I'll be okay." She brushed his cheek with her fingertips. "I promise."

"Just remember what you've learned and be careful, please." He pulled her closer, kissing her hard. He drew away enough to whisper against her mouth, "And come home soon."

Triona buried her face in his chest. "I'm going to miss you," she told him, suddenly realizing she was going to actually leave everyone that she loved for the first time in almost three centuries. She also realized she was afraid.

He seemed able to see right through her once more. "You're going to be fine. Don't be afraid. Don't doubt yourself; I don't," he told her warmly, wiping away one tear that fell down her face.

Reluctantly, she pulled away. "I guess we'd better get this show on the road."

She turned, only to be stopped by a final question. "Did you ever even consider Nick's cure?" he asked softly.

Shoulders stiff, she turned to face him. "For a moment. But…" her voice broke, "I couldn't." She was crying now. "I'm sorry, Methos. So sorry...."

He covered the distance between them in a few steps, once more drawing her into the secure haven of his arms. "You don't need to explain. I understand. I honestly do...."


Vulcan, 2235

"I had no idea that you would come here, to Vulcan. I should have known you would do the unexpected. After all, you have been unexpected from the first night I set eyes on you." LaCroix took her hand, drawing it to his lips, kissing her palm. "I do not suppose that such a integral part of your personality would have changed -- foolish of me not to realize that sooner."

Triona just stared at him, nonplused. This was not the reaction she had expected. Anger, rage, displeasure, but not… amusement?

He smiled slightly at her confusion, but continued on, "I do understand why you left, child. The entire situation was… unfortunate," he admitted.

She breathed a sigh of relief. "I thought... I thought you'd be angry."

"I was. Angry you had run away, even more that Methos had aided and abetted your escape. And most of all, angry at myself." He looked like he might say more, but reconsidered. "Now it is time for you to return home. You have responsibilities that have been sorely neglected in your absence."

"Just like that? You're not going to lecture me, or shout, or...." she swallowed her next sentence.

He seemed to know what she had been about to say however. "Or punish you?" She dropped her eyes, nodding. "I am not pleased that you failed to contact us in the two years you have been gone, to at least let us know that you were well." He tipped her chin up to look at him. "But we will discuss that at another time," he promised.

She bit her lip, shivering a little, unable to find the breath to answer, snared in the depth of his gaze. His lips descended, brushing hers like the merest whisper of silk. As she felt the graze of his fangs, her heart began to race like a rain-swollen river. Suddenly desperate to feel them in her flesh, she tore at the high collar of her tunic, baring her throat.

All gentleness gone, LaCroix whirled her around, pulling her back against his chest, sharply pulling her head to the side. Her scream melded into the wind as he drank from her. Only the arm he had wrapped under her breasts kept her from collapsing. It had been so long. Nothing could ever match the way she felt when he took her blood; held her soul in the grip of his will.

She gasped for breath as he pulled his fangs from her throat, not resisting as he drew her down to slake the remainder of their hunger....

         



 Part Two

"Why here? Why Vulcan?" LaCroix asked, settling Triona more comfortably against his chest.

She spread her hand across his chest, resting her lips against the cool skin, breathing in his scent. This was home -- where she belonged. Mid-life crisis or no, she wanted to be home, and now she was, even here on this barren, yet beautiful planet. Home would always be wherever her family was, wherever LaCroix was.

They had come back to the guest quarters, against the far side of the walls that surrounded the home of Sarek and his family, that had been her haven for over a year.  She and LaCroix were now ensconced in her bed, more of a nest after her attempts to make what passed for a bed on this planet actually comfortable. Piled high with pillows and surrounded by sheer draperies, it was a refuge from the daytime furnace that was Vulcan's sun.

Sated, for now, the two dozed, hands lazily stroking and caressing as interludes of wakefulness stole upon them, interspersed with snatches of conversation.

"Why here?" he asked once more, attempting to focus her attention on his question, rather than his chest.  His hand tightened in her hair as she nipped at him, her tongue swirling around a nipple. He felt her smile at his reaction.

She tipped her head back to look at him with dark eyes. "Do you really want to talk?" Not waiting for an answer, she levered herself up, kissing him languorously on the mouth. His strong grip stopped her hands as they slid under the covers seeking other ways to distract him.

"We are insatiable today, aren't we?" He arched an eyebrow, amused at her moue of annoyance.

Licking her lips, she looked at him from under lowered lashes, a look he usually found quite alluring. "Almost two years of abstinence, Lucien. You'd be insatiable too." She nuzzled the hollow of his throat, running her lips up to his jaw.

He pushed her back on the bed, her wrists pinioned above her head. "And whose fault is that? Certainly I am not suffering the results of abstinence."

Pouting, she had the urge to stick her tongue out at him, but refrained. Acting like a child would only result in him treating her like one -- which would probably prove painful. "I don't ever remember you complaining about my appetite for you," she countered instead.

"Oh, I'm not complaining, my dear, merely pointing out that there is always a price to pay for your actions." He smiled down on her, enjoying their confrontation. It always gave her blood an extra splash of effervescence, he thought, letting go of her wrists.

Thoroughly annoyed and not a little frustrated, she sat up. "Well, fine then. I won't trouble you further," she said haughtily, sliding off the bed. His hand on her arm abruptly halted her departure and she found herself unceremoniously dumped face down on the bed.

"No trouble at all, my pet. But first," he leaned down, kissing the crease of her throat and shoulder, "the price must be paid, must it not?" he asked, smacking her bottom.

She screeched as he smacked her again. "You said you weren't going to punish me!" she accused, trying to wriggle away but held in place by his hand on her back.

"I said no such thing. I told you we would deal with your failing to contact us at a later time. I believe now will suffice."

"But... that... isn't... fair!" she got out between stinging slaps, inwardly berating herself for falling so easily into his trap. She just had to bring up being gone for two years, didn't she?

"On the contrary, my dear. It is eminently fair, one might even say -- logical." He chuckled at the sound of outrage she made. "And you are quite the student of logic these days, are you not?"

"Damn you!" she snarled. All that gained her were several much harder smacks.

"And I see your temper hasn't improved either. Something else to work on," he sighed in mock distress.

LaCroix continued on for several more minutes till he was satisfied he had done a thorough job. Finally stopping, he flipped her over. She was practically spitting at him. Like a wet cat, he thought with some mirth. "Now, lets move on to the price of abstinence...."

            


Some time later, LaCroix helped Triona out of the natural hot spring that welled up into the bathing room of the cottage, wrapping her in a bath sheet. "Now," he brushed his lips across her forehead, "are you prepared to hold a civilized conversation?" he asked sternly, his slight smile betraying his actual mood.

"I suppose," she sighed, wrapping her arms around him. "If you insist, Master." Her cheeky tone earned her another swat. Grinning impishly at him, she kissed him once before asking, "Now, what was that question again?"

He was amused and exasperated by turns. It had been too long since she had seemed so… carefree. Long before she had left, he realized. Sometimes, it was hard to remember that it had been almost three hundred years since the first time he had seen her, at the Raven. There were times, like this, that it seemed only moments ago.

It had been the night after his meeting with Dr. Lambert on Valentine's Day....


Toronto, 1993

He flew to the Raven, deciding to visit his daughter, Janette -- a child that was much more grateful for his gifts. Landing on the roof, he heard a mortal heartbeat. Drawing into the shadows, he investigated. He couldn't imagine Janette allowing a mortal to wander the private areas of her home.

Then he saw her there, a slight woman, her gold hair outlined in starlight, looking through a telescope. "Janette," she called. "You promised you would come look tonight -- there are only a few more days!"  He heard her grumble under her breath when she got no response.

LaCroix felt a wave of rage -- memories that were too fresh being ripped at again. Memories of another woman who looked at the stars. His fangs dropped, blood lust rising. Why not, he asked himself. It had been too long since he had killed. This woman would do nicely.

She turned towards where he was hidden in the shadows, seeming to sense his malevolent regard. "Janette?" she called out uncertainly. Her voice steadied, "Whoever you are, you know Janette will not allow trespass on what is hers without consequence." She was backing towards the door as she spoke. "If you know what's good for you, leave now."

He halted his predatory advance, intrigued despite himself. Trespass on what is hers? Somehow, he didn't think she was referring to real estate. And if she did know of his kind, she was showing remarkable self-control, marshaling her fear, not giving it free reign.

Drawing back, farther into the darkness, he considered. He always admired spirit -- in its place. He decided to let her live…for now, at least. This little mortal of Janette's would bear further, much closer, study....


Vulcan, 2235

"Earth to Lucien," Triona called out. "Now, there is an anachronistic saying," she giggled. Finally having his attention, she asked, "Where were you?"

"You were looking through a telescope on the roof of the Raven," he admitted, tracing her lips with one finger. "I could never have known what change you would bring into my life. And that we would be standing on one of those stars you were gazing at."

"Regrets?"

"Many -- but you have never been amongst them."

"I've never regretted my choice," she whispered. "Doubted perhaps, sorrowed, but never regretted."

He scooped her into his arms, covering her face with gentle kisses, carrying her back to the bed, questions once more forgotten.



Amanda watched as Triona gazed at LaCroix with fond eyes. "He reminds me a great deal of Sarek," she commented.

"Yes, I suppose he does a little," she agreed.

They were in the garden, the sun long down. She had introduced the two men somewhat hesitatingly, not sure what LaCroix's reaction to the Vulcan would be. He rarely had a good opinion of mortals no matter what species.

Her fears were unfounded, the two men had taken an instant liking -- if that was the right word -- to each other and had immediately fallen into deep conversation.

She and Amanda had left them to their talk, while they chatted quietly about inconsequentials. They fell into a companionable silence, sipping Trelan tea.

"You love him very much." Amanda laughed at the startled look on the other woman’s face. "There may be no physical signs, but you'd have to be blind not to notice the way you two look at each other."

Laughing, she said, "Lucien wouldn't approve of public displays of affection." She looked at Amanda, eyes sparkling. "But we more than make up for it in private."

"Then he is exactly like Sarek!" Amanda blushed a little, realizing how it sounded. Even though it was the truth. "Are you sure he isn't part Vulcan?"

"Very sure!"

"Have you been together long?" Amanda was terribly curious about the woman who had lived here nearly the last two years. At first, she had been a little jealous when Sarek had brought her home; telling her that Triona would be staying in the guesthouse indefinitely. But, it hadn't lasted long. It had only taken her speaking so kindly to her precious Spock, telling him stories, playing with him, being another human influence -- one her husband approved of -- to cure her.  

Triona got one of those secret looks in her eyes, smiling softly. "Since I was very young. Forever."

"But you haven't seen him...?"

"In almost two years."

"Why?"

"Because it was my only choice."

"And now?" Amanda leaned in.

"And now... my only choice is to go back." She stood, looking down at Amanda. "I can't imagine being anywhere else."

"We'll miss you. Spock will miss you." She got up, hugging Triona warmly. "You will still stay for the ceremony?" A look of worry passed over her smooth features.

"Of course I will," she assured her, returning the hug. "I am the Pry'lyn, after all.

LaCroix glanced over to where the women were standing, holding out a hand to Triona, desiring her presence at his side.

"My master's voice," she told Amanda wryly as she complied with his wish, strolling over to where the men stood.

Amanda giggled like a schoolgirl. "I guess it doesn't hurt to humor them."

Triona just nodded, laughing. Reaching LaCroix, he took her hand, raising it to his lips, brushing her knuckles with a touch like cool mist.

"Would you care to share the source of your amusement with us, my dear?" he asked, arching a brow.

Triona could hear Amanda stifling a giggle. She swallowed her own laughter, looking up at him with wide eyes. "No, Lucien." His eyes promised her he would seek an answer later. Holding his gaze, she brushed her fingers along the inside of his wrist, down to his palm, drawing him deeper into their bond with a promise of her own.

Finally breaking her gaze, LaCroix looked at the others. "I was just telling the Ambassador that I was grateful for the care he has taken with you during your sojourn here."

"Sarek has been a very gracious host -- and friend," she told LaCroix.

"You have returned any hospitality I have offered tenfold," Sarek said with a regal nod of his head.

"I wish to extend the hospitality of my household on Imladris." He looked down at Triona. "I repay my debts."

"I would be honored, Governor. I am well aware that an invitation to your planet is rare and not to be taken lightly. However," he nodded to Triona, "no debt is owed. The presence of the Minister in my household has been an honor."

"Thank you, Sarek," she said. "But you will come one day, won't you? It would please me to be able to reciprocate in some small way."

"Of course we will," Amanda answered for her husband. "Spock especially would benefit form the experience."

"Indeed, my wife. Spock would benefit form such a unique experience. It would be especially beneficial in laying the foundation for his career in the diplomatic service."

Amanda looked like she was ready to say something, eyes snapping in annoyance, but she remained silent.

Triona sighed to herself, somehow knowing that Spock and his future would be a subject of much heartache for his mother in the years to come.

            


Part Three

"Now, tell me what this ceremony is, and why you must stay for it." LaCroix was anxious to leave Vulcan and its over bright sun -- and a planet with no natural blood source other than Triona and a few Terran bureaucrats.

"Spock is being hand-fasted tomorrow evening. Sarek and Amanda arranged the ceremony to be after sundown for my benefit," she explained. "And I am the Pry'lyn -- I have to be there."

"And that would be...?" He leaned back in his chair, awaiting a compelling reason for extending their stay.

"Sort of a guardian and spiritual advisor all wrapped in one. It is a great honor and unheard of for a non-Vulcan to take on the role." She dropped gracefully to the floor, leaning against his legs. "So, you must see I have to stay. I'm honor bound." Her voice held a note of pleading. He had been almost indulgent since finding her, but she didn't know how far that would take her.

He ran his hand through her hair, mulling over his decision.  He decided to delay it with another question. "And just how have you explained away your aversion to the sun for so long a period?"

"Amanda knows that Imladris was settled by survivors of the last wars on Earth. She thinks, with a little "persuasion", that I suffer from an inherited genetic defect. The same story we've used so often." She shrugged. "It covers a great many sins." She mentally crossed her fingers, hoping that her mention of Amanda would cover Sarek in his mind as well.

"And Sarek? I don't suppose he is as susceptible to your methods of persuasion as his human wife is." He felt her stiffen, almost imperceptibly, but it was there. When she didn't answer immediately, he tightened his grip in her hair. "Triona...." he warned.

She swallowed nervously, twisting her wedding ring. "It wasn't necessary."

"Why?" That one word was filled with peril.

She briefly considered lying, but knew it was pointless. He always got the truth, no matter how unpleasant it was for his hapless quarry. "Because he knows what I am -- what we are."

LaCroix propelled himself out of the chair, stalking to the window. "And how did this come to pass?" he demanded, back turned.

She sighed. There was no help for it but the truth. "Remember about ten years ago when I was on Earth for that security meeting? Sarek and I met over the course of the meetings. He invited me to a reception at the Vulcan Embassy. As luck would have it, one of the humans there was an Immortal -- he challenged me. Sarek followed me when I left, trying to ditch the other Immortal." She paused for breath, but LaCroix made no indication of how he was taking this.

"Go on," he commanded.

Obeying, she continued, "My challenger caught me out on the grounds, I didn't want to fight in such a public place -- talk about a diplomatic incident if we’d been discovered! But he forced the issue, I had no choice. His blade got me across the chest during the fight. That was when Sarek appeared, from out of nowhere, disabling my attacker. The guy dropped like a ton of bricks. And of course, Sarek wanted to rush me to a doctor." She sighed. "I was trying to think of a way out of the whole mess. I couldn't whammy him, couldn't incapacitate him with his strength and reflexes. So, I was trying to think of a likely story..."

"A talent which you have in abundance," he commented acerbically.

Triona scowled at his back. "But, explaining away a wound like I had to a Vulcan was pretty much not going to happen. He helped me to his apartment on the grounds, and just waited… like a damn sphinx!" she remembered in irritation. "He then proceeded to tell me a story about his father as a young man, being a part of the First Contact party to Earth, and of the photograph he had...." Triona trailed off, wincing at the impending explosion.

"PHOTOGRAPH?" LaCroix erupted, whirling around to glare at her.  "He has a photograph? Of you?"

She nodded weakly. "He didn't know for sure, I could have just been a double of my great great grandmother. But the aversion to the sun, and then the sword fight, me healing almost instantly, put all the pieces together for him. All the stories his father had told him as a child, the picture in the family archives. It all clicked."

"Why didn't you take care of it? You should have killed him." He glowered at her, furious. "And if you couldn't then you should have let the Enforcers deal with him. Do you realize how much danger you have put yourself in -- put us in?"

She realized he was as scared for her as he was angry. "He won't betray us! Don't you see? That's why he has made me Spock's guardian. It is an exchange of lives. Please, LaCroix, you must see that," she pleaded, an edge of desperation in her voice. She knew he would kill the entire family without a moment’s hesitation to protect his own family -- and without a single regret.

He made no response, just stared through her. If he made the wrong decision it could destroy all that they had built. Finally, he spoke, "An exchange of lives. He must understand that. I will allow no one to threaten what is mine. Do you understand? Will he?"

She nodded, her voice gone.

"Say it, Triona. I want to know you understand the consequences."

She shivered under his icy regard, forcing a reply, "Yes. It is understood."

He nodded. "Then it is done."

            


Imladris, 2368

Triona sat in her sitting room, remembering that night so long ago on Vulcan as Spock finished telling her of his intentions. "Please, don't do this, Spock. It's a death sentence."

"I disagree. And was it not you that suggested the time was ripe for just this sort of venture to Starfleet Command?"

"You know damn well it was! But I never in my wildest dreams had you in mind!"

"I am the logical choice."

"No! You are not the logical choice! You aren't trained in intelligence work! Or do you now believe your legend as a hero of the Enterprise? This is something Jim Kirk would do, not you, Spock."

"I disagree. I can be instrumental in reunification with Romulas. I am uniquely suited for this mission."

"Are you trying to make me believe that you are doing this out of logic?" she attempted to reason with the stubborn Vulcan. "I know you and Sarek had another falling out, I know how you feel about his new wife, and I even agree; you know how I feel about Perrin. But this is no way to deal with it!"

"My reasons are my own," he responded stiffly.

"No, Spock, they aren't," she touched his cheek briefly. "I've known you since you were three years old. I swore to your parents -- to your mother -- that I would care for you when they couldn't. And I will, no matter how you fight me."
 
"If you know my reasons, then you know why I must do this."

She looked him straight in the eye. "I could stop you -- one transmission is all it would take."

"I would find a way, regardless." He met her gaze squarely. "You know that I would."

"Very well. Then, if not for yourself, what about T'rayla? Will you just desert your daughter? It isn't like you to abandon your responsibilities. Her mother is dead, she has only you."

T'rayla was her trump card, her “granddaughter” whom she adored. She couldn't believe Spock would leave her.

He looked determined. "You will raise her. It is logical for you to do so. You have been her mother since T'nor was killed."

She closed her eyes, suddenly tired. He seemed to have an answer for everything. So much like his father. Spock had been married, briefly, to satisfy tradition. T'rayla had resulted. Her mother, a fast rising Star Fleet officer, had been killed in the Borg attack on Wolf 359, leaving her infant daughter motherless.

The child had spent most of her young life on Imladris, despite objections from her grandfather and his new wife that she should be raised on Vulcan. Spock's decision had put a wedge in Triona's friendship with Sarek; one she regretted, but could see no way around.

"An exchange of lives," she heard LaCroix's voice in her head from all those years ago. Was this the result of that night? She knew intellectually that Spock was an accomplished Starfleet officer, a hero, almost an icon. But in her heart he was still the little boy she had told stories to. Nothing he had done in his adult life worried her as much as what he now proposed to do.

She opened her eyes, feeling his fingers briefly touching her wrist. "You have fulfilled your oath to my mother -- she could not have asked for more than you have done. And more importantly, you love her granddaughter as she would have. She would have wanted her raised to embrace her humanity."

"Spock…." She didn't finish, unable to find the words.

He shook his head slightly, his black eyes holding her gaze. "Live long, and prosper."

"Peace and long life," she replied as he left the room. "Peace and long life, Spock…."

         



"He's gone then?" Methos asked softly, coming into T'rayla's room.

Triona looked over her shoulder, her eyes answer enough. She held a finger to her lips. "Shhh, she just fell asleep," she said, turning back to the bed and tucking the little girl in more securely.

He put a hand on Triona's shoulder, reaching down to brush a stray strand of ink black hair from T'rayla's small face. "She said goodbye to her father?"

She nodded. "Yes, she did. Though she doesn't really understand. She's too young." Pulling at the cover one more time, she turned away, taking his hand in hers. "I'm not sure I understand," she admitted.

He shook his head, hugging her tightly. "You have to let them go. I know how difficult it is to watch them grow up and take risks with lives that are already too short. But you have to."

"You sound like Lucien."

"Because he's right." He tilted her head up to look at him. "Spock has come through worse situations -- remember when he died? What's a few Romulans compared to that?"

"And what if he doesn't come through it?" she asked, her throat tight.

"Then we will raise his child as if she were our own. And then… we'll let her go. As we did her father," he told her, his voice firm but sympathetic. "It is the way of the universe, my love. The way of our universe."

She nodded; knowing there was no way to deny the truth of his words. "Does it ever get easier?

"No. It never does," he admitted. "I wish it did."

"I do to." She reached up, brushing his jaw with her fingertips. "Walk with me?"

"Till the end of time -- that's the way of our universe as well." He kissed her gently. "Always remember that."

"I always do, Methos. I always do."

Holding hands, the two walked out into the light of the four moons. Some things, at least, were timeless.


End


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