Methos, Duncan, and LaCroix belong to their respective PTBs. Triona, Hakeem and anyone else, belong to a few others and me.

Rated R for violence, adult content & vampire goings on.

Notes circa August 2006: this one, being one of the earlier stories in the series had some continuity problems, so I’ve gone back to try and fix some of the more glaring inaccuracies. It’s not a full rewrite, more of a medium tweak. If I tried to rewrite all my old fic, I’d make myself loopy!


Sands of Eternity

by Ithildin
c. 1998/2006



~ Paris, France ~


Triona and Duncan walked hand in hand down the riverbank towards the barge, laughing uncontrollably.

"If I didn't know better, I'd say I was going to die from laughing!" she gasped. "What was it that started this?"

"Hell if I know!" Duncan looked down at Triona, trying to contain himself. But it was hopeless. They both started laughing all over again.

"Stop Stop Stop!" She threw her arms around him, feigning collapse. "I canna take nae mare!

He lifted her off her feet. "Are yee mocking me, woman?" He glared at her as evilly as he could manage.

All that did was set off another gale of uncontrolled mirth. This time, she wasn't faking imminent collapse as she giggled helplessly into Duncan's chest.

He hugged his former student tight. "It's good to hear you laugh you know," he said more seriously. "I've missed the sound."

She tilted her head up to look at him. "I haven't been that bad!" she protested.

"No? Really?" He tipped her head back, a finger under her chin. "You've been as dour as an old monk since you've been in Paris." He brushed her cheek in an affectionate kiss. "He'll come back. You know he will."

Triona shrugged. "Maybe I don't want him back," she said softly, her eyes full of hurt.

Duncan had no answer for that. Sighing, he pulled her into a comforting embrace.

From the bridge behind, unnoticed by the two friends, a figure watched.

                



It was almost dawn when Triona left the barge. She and Duncan had talked long into the night about everything and nothing.  

It had been three months since Dominique and Methos had left. In that time guilt had become anger, then hurt. After everything they had been through together, all they had suffered, his leaving had left her raw and bleeding. It was a betrayal that she didn't think she could forget -- or forgive. How could she ever trust him again?

Her thoughts troubled, she passed under the bridge not paying attention to where she was going. The sensation of another Immortal brought her back to reality in a snap as she drew her sword in what was now an instinctive action. She whirled; her sword blocking the blow descending towards her in the same instant she realized it was Methos.

But his sword didn't pull back; it kept coming, cutting under her guard as she realized he wasn't stopping. Her heart broke in that instant -- had it come to this? His anger bringing him to the point that he wanted her dead? Half sobbing, she desperately blocked his blow. This can't be happening, she screamed to herself.

If he wanted her dead, there was nothing she could do to stop it. Weeping, she threw her sword down, dropping to her knees. Closing her eyes, she sent every bit of love that was in her through the bond she shared with LaCroix. She only hoped he would sense some of it from so far away. Then she felt his blade at her throat; the edge caressing her skin as his lips had done so many times before.  

The silence was numbing. Only Triona's in-drawn hiss of breath was to be heard as his blade opened a razor thin line across her throat. She could smell her own blood -- felt its coolness as it trickled down her neck.  Still, she kept her eyes tightly shut. She would not look at him, would not have her last sight of him be one of hate as she waited for the blow that would take her life.

The blow never came. Instead, rough hands grasped her, slamming her into the wall, knocking the breath from her.

"How stupid can you be?" his voice grated in her ear.

Like a snake striking his mouth came down on hers brutally, his body grinding into her. Triona was in shock, what was happening was a nightmare made real -- a nightmare she couldn't deal with. This was the side of Methos she thought he had exorcised. The part that enjoyed hurting, that found pleasure in pain; that demanded submission.

Without conscious thought, the prey became the hunter. Her hand found the hilt of the dagger LaCroix had given her after she had become Immortal. Methos had insisted she learn how to use it if worst came to worse, telling her there was no honour in death; only in living to fight another day.

There was no honour in what was happening now, and she would not let it continue. Whatever they had was over. If it hadn't died the day he walked out on her, it was dead now. Triona relaxed in his grip, throwing him off balance -- and into the blade she had maneuvered under his ribcage.

She felt him stiffen in shock and pain as the blade slid in. Finally opening her eyes, watching his expression of stunned disbelief, she pulled the knife from him.

"I always did listen to you, you know," she said, as he slowly fell to the ground, dying.

Triona collapsed against the wall, shaking so much she could barely stand. All she could do was look at him, lying there dead. She cast her mind back, to the day he’d walked out of her life. Was this the inevitable outcome of that moment?





~ Three Months Earlier -- Ontario, Canada ~

"I'm leaving."

Triona took a deep breath, slowly turning towards Methos, her feet crunching on the broken glass that still littered the sitting room floor.

"Just like that?" Despite her best efforts, her voice shook. She didn't look at him, instead fixed her gaze just past him, studying the scorch marks on the wainscoting.

"Not 'just like that'," he said, irritated. "I've thought about nothing else these past few days." He paused. "I've informed the others, now I'm telling you."

"I suppose I should be flattered you had the courtesy to tell me in person," she said bitterly. "That you didn't just disappear as you're so in the habit of doing." Still, she didn't look at him.

"That was uncalled for," he told her angrily.

She ignored him. "So this is your vengeance -- your punishment. It wasn't enough for you that I begged for your forgiveness, poured my heart and soul out to you." Her voice rose. "No, you want to see me bleed!"

"This isn't about punishment! I have reasons for leaving here." He stuffed his hands into his pockets. "Reasons I'm not prepared to discuss," he told her flatly.

"No, I don't suppose you would be. It shouldn't really come as much of a surprise after all," she said coolly. "Don't you find it ironic that after all those years of condemning LaCroix -- telling me he would destroy me -- that in the end it's you that I can't rely on?"

She turned away from him, near to tears. She wouldn't let him see her cry. She had to stay angry, before she humiliated herself and begged him not to go. Triona knew it wouldn't make any difference in the end. He would still leave.

"There's nothing more to say. Dominique and I will leave after sunset."

"Dominique!" Triona whirled, her face white with anger and shock. "You're leaving with Dominique? All of this happened *because* of her. Because she can't commit to her family!" She glared at him. "Any more than you it would seem!"

"That's how you see it! You've never been able to see anything but LaCroix's view of the world -- ever," Methos ground out. "Just because she doesn't fall in line with what LaCroix wants, she becomes the villain!"

"She knew what she was signing up for when she decided to come across! *Dominique* changed the rules -- not LaCroix!"

"There! You see? You always defend him. Always!" Methos shouted. "It doesn't matter what he does to you, or to the others. In the end, you're his creatures." He pointed an accusing finger at her. "Dominique is a refreshing change from the hive mind of the rest of your family!"

"*My* family? When did it become *my* family? Or is the bond we share that distasteful to you that you now refuse to acknowledge it?" Triona laughed, and it was a cold, harsh sound. "It's nice to know now, at the end, your true feelings."

"It will be a pleasant change to spend my time with a woman who won't be thinking about her other lovers when she's with me," his now quiet voice said scathingly into the sudden stillness of the room.

Triona twisted her hands into fists, her nails cutting through the flesh of her palms. "Think carefully before you do this, Methos," she told him in a voice that was deadly calm, "I've been faithful to you and to LaCroix all these years. There has never been anyone else I've loved."

She took a deep breath, knowing she was drawing a line in the sand, but she had no choice. Her pride, her self-respect, demanded it. "If you leave with her, take her to your bed, don't think you can ever walk back into my life."

"I never asked you to be faithful," was all he said as he left the room.

~ Present Day -- Paris, France ~

She was brought back to the present by his gasp for breath. She looked down at him in disgust. "Don't ever come near me again, Methos. Next time I won't throw my sword away."

She turned and fled into the dawning day.

                               



Methos sagged against the gangplank to the barge, still recovering from his recent death. Taking a shuddering breath, he pushed himself up the plank and into the barge entryway. Duncan was standing by the sofa, sword at the ready, before seeing who it was and relaxing his guard.

"Well, look at what the cat dragged in." Duncan surveyed his friend as he drew closer, seeing the blood that soaked his shirt. "What happened to you?"

Methos looked at him ruefully. "Triona happened to me." He shrugged. "I guess she did pay attention to her lessons after all."

Duncan looked at him in shock. "Triona! She did this to you? Why?"

"Because I deserved it."  He sank into a chair.

The other man started to speak, but was forestalled by Methos' raised hand.

"Now a question for you." He looked at Duncan squarely. "Are the two of you lovers?" The other Immortal sputtered a bit. "I know it's none of my business. Not anymore." He sighed. "But I need to know."

"No it isn't," he agreed, considering his friend carefully for a moment. Something had happened to shake his world, not the least which was Triona stabbing him.  What had pushed her to such an action?

Methos closed his eyes tiredly. "Please."

Duncan took pity on the spent man sitting there. "No, we aren't. And we never have been, if you need to hear that too."

He shook his head. "I'm a damn fool."

"You didn't accuse her did you?" he asked worriedly, knowing how fragile her feelings were where Methos were concerned.

"I didn't even bother," Methos said, mostly to himself.

The knife hadn't been what snapped him back from whatever mad place he had been. It had been the wild and terrified look in her eyes as she pulled the blade from his body. It had been the cold dead voice when she told him to never come near her again.

What had he wrought? How could he have let fear of his family's love -- yes, his family, he now realized, maybe too late -- of his love for them, destroy what had been the best his life had been in many a long year? And at what cost?

He had come to Paris to see MacLeod. The unexpected presence of Triona had sent him into a tailspin. What he had witnessed on the riverbank, then her not emerging till dawn, had thrown him into a mindless rage, that now, looking back, stunned him.

Methos had thought himself long past such primal feelings. Finding out that he was still capable of such behavior had rocked the foundations of his world as nothing had in centuries. His sins were multiplied by making her the victim of that behavior.

No matter how they had parted -- he winced, remembering that brutal day, words that could never be taken back -- she didn't deserve to be treated that way.  And now what did he do? He had to try and make it right, somehow. But he was at a loss on how to even begin.

"You need to go check on her, Mac. She's going to need a friend."

"I will, I promise."

"No. I need you to go now."

"What's going on?" Duncan asked, perplexed.

"There's no time for explanations. Please, you must go to her now!" Methos felt an urgency he couldn't quite explain to himself, and certainly not to his friend. "Please, before it's to late!" He gripped Duncan's arm, trying to communicate the sudden fear he felt.

"Okay, I'll go. But I want an explanation when I get back," he warned Methos.

"No, I’ll go with you. I won't get close. I just want to be nearby." He knew he wasn't making any sense.

"Let's go then." Duncan pulled on his coat and headed out, Methos close behind.





Duncan and Methos warily entered the house that LaCroix and his family used when they were in Paris. The door had been ajar, and all Duncan's instincts were screaming 'trouble'.  Both men took in the wreck of the hall, their hearts falling. There had been a struggle. Furniture was toppled, shattered glass from broken ornaments crunched under their feet.

As the men entered the sitting room, Methos made a choking sound at the sight that greeted them.

Duncan tried to stop him. "Methos, no!"

Methos pushed violently away from Duncan, towards the shape of a body just showing from behind the sofa.  

He almost sobbed with relief, realizing that the body wasn't Triona. "It's not her!" He looked up at Duncan, his face awash with relief.

He squeezed Methos' shoulder, closing his eyes briefly in thanks. He looked a little closer at the body. "No, but it looks like she was the one who killed him." He looked around the room. "There's blood all over. She must have been taken by surprise, but there was a hell of a fight," he said with just a hint of pride.

Methos stood up, taking a look around. "There must have been several, or they never would have taken her," he said with certainty. He looked at Duncan gravely.  "The question is…who? And why?"

                             



Triona woke slowly. They had to kill her to get her out of the house. She had some satisfaction knowing that the one she killed, and the one that would probably die, would not wake at all.

She looked around, recognizing a dungeon all too easily. No windows, only an iron bound wood door on the far wall. Her hands were bound behind her back. Pushing down the fear, she tried to calm her mind. It was unlikely that LaCroix could feel her from so far away, but she had to try. Maybe if he even got an inkling that she was in trouble….

The sound of metal scraping against metal in the lock snapped her calm and her tentative reach for her Master. The door swung open, revealing three large men. All for me? she thought sarcastically. I must have put the fear of god in them, noticing the wary expressions on the muscle's faces.

One moved into the cell, the others flanking the door. "Get up," he ordered.

She just looked at him.

"Get up, or we can make this unpleasant. Do you want to die again -- much slower this time?" he asked, pulling a knife from a sheath on his belt.

She considered her options, quickly realizing she had none. At least out of the cell she might have a chance to escape. Triona stood, inclining her head regally, as if the guard was a servant beneath her notice.

"Shall we?" she asked coolly.

Surprisingly, he merely indicated the door. She had expected a show of force. She walked past him, head high. The other two guards flanked her as she exited the cell, keeping just ahead of her, leading the way, the third, falling in behind.

Several minutes later, after many twists and turns, they entered a large room with a balcony around the entire outer edge. No windows, and two doors: the one they had entered by, and one on the opposite end of the room.  Looking up at the balcony, she noticed a seating area at the middle of the balcony just to her right. On the walls there were insets of carved wood in the otherwise plain paneled room. Triona had the oddest feeling that she was in some sort of play and whoever the audience was they were already watching her.

One of the guards untied her hands, then pushed her farther into the room. She heard the door close behind her, leaving her alone in the large room. Her enhanced hearing told her that someone was on the balcony above -- but it was the slightest of noises, one she shouldn't be able to hear, so she made no reaction.

She heard the *shift* in the air. Vampire! her mind screamed as she whirled towards the sound.

He was as dark as LaCroix was pale. Midnight black hair, eyes as dark as a raven's. His skin, though paled by his nature, was obviously the product of a harsh sun. He reminded her of a Moor from some tale of the Crusades, despite his exquisitely tailored Seville Row suit.

The eyes just watched her, and with the practice of many years, Triona calmed her heart, her breathing, and waited.

Finally he spoke. "I am gratified to see that Lucius' taste in companions is as discriminating as ever." His voice was rich and deep, slightly accented with a Middle Eastern purr.

Triona's eyes widened a little at the mention of LaCroix's name, but betrayed no other reaction.

The vampire smiled in appreciation. "So contained, so controlled, and so very lethal." He mover closer, trailing one finger absently down her arm. "Worthy of him, and," he paused, considering, "perhaps worthy of me. Only time will tell. If you survive."

It was all she could do not to shy back from his touch. Only exerting every bit of control she had kept her from doing so. Her mind raced. What was going on? He knew LaCroix, knew she was an Immortal. What else did he know? And what did he mean, 'survive'?

"You appear to have me at a disadvantage," Triona commented dryly. "You seem to know all about me..." she trailed off, raising an eyebrow in question.

The vampire laughed. "A mistress of understatement! I do indeed have you at a disadvantage." He crossed his arms, watching her impatient expression with amusement. "I am forgetting my manners however. You are quite correct, my dear lady. Allow me to introduce myself.  Hakeem Markesh. Welcome to my home."

                                    



Triona waited in her cell, no longer in the dungeon, this time in an elegantly appointed room. But a cell nonetheless.  It had been two days since her capture. Two days that she had had to consider why Hakeem had brought her here. Today, the considering ended. Today, she played his game -- or died.

So far no escape had presented itself. The door had been locked since they had put her here. Her meals were put through a slit in the door. All she had done for two days had been rage mixed with bouts of despair. This was all Methos' fault. If she hadn't been so upset, she never would have walked into their trap -- ever! Her family must be frantic by now, probably already here in Paris looking for her. She tried and tried to touch LaCroix's mind. But he was still too far from her.

The guards were back, to take her to the *play*. She only hoped she would survive till the curtain dropped.




One of the wood insets opened, revealing her sword. On the other side of the room, an identical one opened to reveal the sword of her opponent.

Taking the sword in a firm grip, she sized him up. He was slight, but tall, his reach easily twice hers. She didn't know what Hakeem had promised him, but she knew instinctively that this one would fight -- no questions asked.

She sensed the vampire on the balcony above her. Her foe, in his line of sight, smiled grimly. "Is this little one an appetizer? Her quickening will hardly be worth the effort."

"I thought a female opponent would bring an interesting change of pace." Hakeem's voice floated down from above her.

She never took her eyes off the man standing in front of her. He finally turned his attention away from Hakeem to Triona.

"I promise to make your death quick," he said mockingly. With that, he attacked, raining blows down on her from the advantage of his long reach. Triona had been expecting such tactics, hoping for them in fact. Amanda had taught her a few tricks for dealing with much larger opponents, tricks she put to good effect now.

By starting his attack so vigorously, so sure of a quick victory, he tired far more quickly than she did. She then used his size against him, and to her own advantage. A quick move, a flash of her sword, and she was under his guard, her blade slicing down his arm, neatly severing his wrist.  He fell to his knees, weaponless. Her last sight was his shocked eyes as her sword ripped through his neck.

"Worthy indeed," she heard Hakeem's smug voice say as her vanquished opponent’s body thunked to the ground at her feet.

As the quickening hit she knew her last secret was about to be revealed to the vampire watching above, and she despaired.  

                                  



Methos followed the servant into a discreetly elegant study. It was filled with a king's ransom in Arab antiquities and Persian rugs, and yet still managed to be understated in its taste and refinement. Just like its owner, he thought.

"Ahh! Methos!" Hakeem greeted him warmly, coming from around the large desk at the back of the room.

"Hakeem!" Methos returned the vampire's embrace. "Well met."

"How long has it been? Two thousand?"

"More like three," Methos told him.

"Three? How the millennia fly." Hakeem dropped onto the pillows in the sunken seating area, indicating Methos do the same. "And your companions. Kronos, the others?"

Methos lounged indolently on the pillows. "All dead," he replied coolly.

"I am not surprised, my old friend. You were always the clever one. Their talents were more…visceral."

"I can't say I'm disappointed in the outcome," he commented dryly.

Hakeem laughed. "No, I do not suppose you would be. A pity though; the four of you were my best supplier of *unique* vintages."

"Time marches on. The world changes."

"But we don't, old friend. We don't." He looked at Methos with a conspiratory gleam in his eye. "In fact, I've found ways to refine old diversions."

Methos looked up in interest. "Have you now?"

He nodded. "In fact, I believe you might even be diverted by one of my little entertainments."

"Oh? Tell me more."

Hakeem drew a dagger from a chest on the floor in front of him. "Am I correct in assuming that you recognize this?" He nodded towards the blade in his hands.

"Oh yes," Methos breathed. "You might say I had rather intimate acquaintance with it recently."

"Yes, I know." Hakeem handed Triona's dagger to him. "I thought you might like to return the favor." His dark eyes watched Methos intently.

He froze almost imperceptibly before taking the weapon from Hakeem.  Looking at the blade for a moment, he ran his fingers over it like a caress. When he looked up, his eyes were as cold as the vampire's. "Oh yes. I would indeed."

                                                   



Triona found herself being led into a different room this time, and by different guards. She had drained one dead after her fight and she had a feeling that Hakeem had taken care of the other two after what they had witnessed.

She still hadn't resolved how she felt about killing the mortal. On the rare occasions she had taken the head of another Immortal, LaCroix or Methos had always been there to slake her hunger, to take care of her. This was the first time she had ever been alone. Triona couldn't quite decide if the sadness she felt was from killing the guard, or from being alone.

She knew what LaCroix's reaction would be. Not only was he a disposable mortal, he also deserved his fate -- not the least for his role in her imprisonment. And he was most likely correct. Maybe it was just the aftereffects of taking a human life as a vampire. She had felt him die, felt his fear, his terror at what was happening. All new feelings for her; she had only ever felt love, care, desire, when she fed.

Despite being twice her mass, the guard had never stood a chance. Triona had locked his mind in an unbreakable embrace before he had the chance to ever know what fate awaited him. As she fed, Hakeem looked on in utter fascination -- and hunger.  When she collapsed from the inevitable exhaustion that took her each time, he had dropped to his knees next to her. Even at her best, she was no match for the vampire that held her prisoner. As it was, she couldn't even make a token protest as he brought her wrist to his lips.

As he began to drink from her, she drew back in her mind, hiding as much of herself as she could. She tried to keep the thoughts and feelings of the man she had killed uppermost in her mind. Only once before had another vampire fed from her against her will. It was a violation then, and it was even worse now. Finally, he released her, ordering the remaining guards to carry her to her room. She remembered no more as Hakeem contemplated this newest wrinkle in his entertainment….

Once again, she found herself alone in a strange room. This time however, her hands remained bound behind her back. She had no time to take in her surroundings before feeling the buzz of another Immortal stunned her. Not just an Immortal -- it was Methos.

                                  



"You can imagine my shock when she transformed into one of my kind," Hakeem explained to Methos as they walked down the long corridor. "It was quite unexpected!"

"I can imagine. I remember my reaction the first time it happened."

Hakeem looked sidelong at Methos. "You were together a long time?"

"Too long," he said shortly. "It ended…badly," he added, his tone not inviting further questions.

"I would think her stabbing you under a Paris bridge would constitute a little more then 'ending badly', my friend."

"Yes. Let's just say I let my guard down -- allowing baser instincts to rule." Methos sounded slightly embarrassed at his lapse.

"There's nothing wrong with that, my old friend. You just must remember to make sure your baser instincts are dealing with an unarmed and preferably immobilized quarry." Hakeem laughed jovially at his own wit. He turned to Methos as they reached their destination. "I assure you, she is quite weaponless on this occasion."

"I appreciate that," he replied, grinning, as Hakeem opened the door. Then her buzz hit him full force, and he wasn't smiling anymore.  

                                        



First she felt him, then he was there. From the look on his face, the coldness pouring off their blood bond, she knew he wasn't here as a friend. Triona had never felt more alone. Her family was gone and there was no escape from Hakeem's snare. And now, the final betrayal of Methos conspiring with the enemy. Had he been behind this the whole time?

"I bring you an old companion, lovely lady. I believe the two of you have some unfinished business." Hakeem dropped into a chair, watching them. "All I ask is that you leave her pretty neck intact. I have plans for her and her master that I would be loath to have ruined," he said to Methos, as if discussing the weather. "You understand, I'm sure."

"That won't be a problem, Hakeem, not at all," he said as he eyed her speculatively.

She shivered involuntarily at the way his eyes looked right through her, as if she weren't even there. Then his hands moved and her stomach twisted into sick knots as he held up her knife.

He moved closer, running the flat of the blade down her cheek. "Nothing to say, love?" he asked derisively. "You usually have *so* much to say."

"I have nothing to say to you," she spat out, her voice shaking with fury and fear. "Traitorous bastard!"

The sound of his hand hitting her face cracked through the dead silence of the room. Hands tied, she couldn't even break her fall as she hit the floor.

Methos grabbed her roughly, pulling her to her feet. "Now you will listen to me." His face was almost touching hers. "You are alone! Your family thinks you are dead. They - aren't - looking - for - you." He shook her. "Do you understand?" he asked in a low, fierce voice.

She shook her head in shock. "No. I don't believe you," she whispered.

"Believe this; Hakeem has graciously given you to me as a diversion, until you prove tiresome." He tangled his hand in her hair, pulling her head back painfully. "There is no escape, except in death. Something you will never receive from me."

She felt the tip of the blade just under her ribs.

"Not permanently at least," Methos said quietly as he plunged the blade in, letting her body drop to the floor without a backward glance.

                          



Methos threw up in the sink of the suite Hakeem had given him, until there was nothing left in his stomach. He shoved his head under the cold water tap, trying to get a hold of himself. Nothing could wash away the horror of what he had just done.

It didn't matter that he knew there was no other way. LaCroix had warned him that it might come to this. Hakeem needed to believe utterly that Methos was the same man he had known three thousand years ago. She could have no inkling of his true reason for being here. She had to believe in her soul that he had betrayed her utterly.

Remembering the look in her eyes as he drove the blade in, he had no doubt that she did. At the memory, he drove his fist into the marble wall until it bled, but even the pain couldn't drive away the vision of her eyes. Choking back a sob, he made himself remember why all this was necessary. Hakeem was an Ancient, and would read even the slightest hope in her blood -- if indeed he was feeding from her, which Methos had no doubt he was.

He felt a wave of hate at the thought, of what Hakeem must have done to her in the time he had held her here. It wasn't hard to imagine. All he had to do was remember his past to bring it all to mind quite vividly. Wearily he slid down the bathroom wall, till he slumped on the floor, leaning his head against the cool marble.

Had it only been a week since she had been taken? It seemed like years since he had made the call to LaCroix, to tell him that his child was missing....


…. "Lucius -- he always reverted to LaCroix's mortal name in times of great stress or irritation -- I know you're angry with me right now, and believe me, you have every right to be. But this isn't helping Triona!" he shouted into the phone.

He paced back and forth, listening while LaCroix raged at him. "Look, this isn't getting us anywhere! Get on the jet and get to Paris. NOW!"  He slammed the receiver down.

A knock at the door distracted him from dark thoughts. Sighing, he walked across the room and pulled the door open. "Yes?"

"Monsieur Pierson, a message for you." The bellman handed him a heavy linen envelope.

Methos didn't even look at the bellman, shutting the door and looking at the envelope, stunned. For though the envelope was addressed to "Adam Pierson", the symbols along the bottom, an ancient form of Persian said "Methos".

He opened the envelope, being careful not to damage it in case it proved important. Sliding out the card that was enclosed, he noticed that it was covered in the same script that was on the envelope. Sinking into a chair he began to read.

'My dear old friend, greetings! It was with great pleasure to discover, quite by accident, that you are here in Paris. How odd it is to meet again after all these years. I remember with great fondness the times that we shared together -- especially our more exotic diversions.  They were always stimulating.

Now I find myself in possession of an unusual female that I believe you may, after your last unpleasant encounter, wish to enlighten on the consequences of incurring your wrath.

Consider the opportunity my gift to you for the provision of many past pleasures.

Contact me at your leisure, and I will make arrangements.

Yours in friendship, Hakeem Markesh.'

Attached was a business card with a phone number.

Methos simply stared at the note in his hand, shaken to the core. The thought of Triona in Hakeem's hands…. He shuddered, remembering the 'diversions' that Hakeem recalled so fondly.

He reached for the phone, hitting the redial. "LaCroix, don't come to my hotel. I'm being watched. I know who has her -- Hakeem Markesh."

There was only dead silence on the other end of the line....

… Methos buried his face in his hands; he had to pull himself together. Both her survival and his depended on him pulling this off. The slightest waver and they may as well be dead.  

He pulled himself up with a groan, turning on the shower. Hakeem was expecting him to dine in one hour. It was time to get ready -- and for more than dinner.

                            



Methos took another sip of wine. "I'm curious. Why exactly did you kidnap her?" He set his glass down. "You mentioned something about your plans for her and her master. Some personal matter?" he asked, watching Hakeem intently.

"It was all quite fortuitous, my friend. I have, for the last few years, been bringing those of your kind here for battles to the death. Some for princely rewards if they won, some quite against their will." He smiled, a chill, cruel expression. "There is nothing quite like the taste of blood fresh from a quickening." He licked his lips. "I've grown to appreciate the nuances."

"You haven't changed, Hakeem. Not at all." Methos shook his head, amused.

He tipped his wineglass in salute. "I've only refined my tastes, as you have. The modern world offers much to compliment men like us. One only has to have the wit to manage it."

"And Triona...?" Methos reminded him.

"Ah, yes; the lovely Immortal vampire. I happened to hear from my contacts in the Community about a mortal under LaCroix's protection, doing business in his name. I saw an opportunity to finally have the vengeance I had waited eight hundred years for. You see, it had to be a mortal paramour, as I had planned it. And she practically walked into my arms!"

A servant arrived, refilling glasses and clearing the table. When he had gone, Hakeem continued. "Of course, I was having her watched. First, she spent a great deal of time with an Immortal named MacLeod. Then there was the incident under the bridge, which my people reported to me, along with the information that she called the man she killed "Methos". It was then I realized she was an Immortal, which added a whole new dimension to my revenge."

"So that's why you took her. But you said you discovered her vampire nature after she took a quickening. If she were instrumental in some plan against her master, why would you risk her? What if she had lost?"

"I was willing to risk it, to take her measure. In addition, her being an Immortal changed my plan for breaking her. It would take much more to accomplish." Hakeem leaned back in his chair, legs outstretched. "If her opponent had been ready to take her head, I was confident I would be able to stop the death blow before it ever fell. As it was, she proved an exquisite and lethal opponent for my champion. I could taste his shock in her blood. I have never experienced anything like it. Three essences: hers, the guard she drained, and the opponent whose quickening she took." He closed his eyes, savoring the memory.

Methos twisted his hands into fists under the table and fought to control the rage he felt welling up inside. "I didn't know that was possible," he managed to comment calmly.

"Nor did I! And it's something I fully intend to taste again."

Over my dead body, Methos thought grimly.





Triona lay on her bed, staring into the dark, stroking the now healed place where the knife had plunged through her flesh. The physical pain was gone, but not the anguish she felt in her heart and soul. How could she keep Hakeem from using her to destroy LaCroix? There had to be some way, but short of attempting to behead herself, she couldn't think of one.

She knew though that her death wasn't the answer. It would only leave Hakeem free to wreak his vengeance on another member of her family. She had to stop him -- or at least buy enough time for LaCroix to do so.

Hakeem had paid her a visit soon after she had rejoined the living, finally deigning to explain why she was here. She should have known that somehow it would be *his* fault....

…. Triona refused to even acknowledge Hakeem's presence.

"So stubborn, " he commented. "Not something you will be much longer." He leaned closer, his voice rasping in her ear. "Tell me, what do you think would happen if you were unable to feed after your transformation? Would you stay a vampire, dying a slow, agonizing death from starvation, only to have your Immortality bring you back again and again? How long till you would beg me for release from your suffering?"

She paled; knowing it wasn't an idle threat.

"I think we shall find out together; you and I." The eyes that looked down on her were dead, hard.

Finally, she spoke, only one word, "Why?"

He gripped her arm painfully, his face suddenly becoming a mask of hate. "Because she demands me to avenge her death! Her death at the hands of Infidels! LaCroix denied me the instrument of her death," he snarled. "So now I will take what his son took from me. A woman who I would have spent all eternity with, as he would with you. I will make him wish he had given me Nicholas De Brabant eight hundred years ago!".....

…. Triona screamed into the silence in rage and frustration, "Damn you Nicholas!"
 
                                     



"She was a pearl beyond price, and the men of Brabant took her from me.'" Hakeem was staring off into space, speaking as if he had forgotten Methos was even there. "I had found her amongst prisoners taken from the Infidels. I was only looking for blood, but when I laid eyes on her I found my soul." His face softened as he remembered. "Her hair was like fire, her eyes the texture of the finest jade. I would swear her skin was alabaster given human form. But her heart…her heart… It never judged me. She loved me with all her being and was willing to walk with me the paths of the night." A single blood tear ran down his cheek. "My Rebekah."

"If it pains you to speak of it...." Methos offered.

He shook himself. "No. No, Methos, I welcome the opportunity to speak of her to someone after all these years. I know it must be hard for you to imagine me so enamored of a mortal woman -- yet, it is the truth. I said she was willing to walk my path, and she was. But I wanted to savor her mortality for just a short space of time before bringing her across. It is a peculiar longing of only the eldest of us." His eyes hardened. "One I see LaCroix has nurtured."

Hakeem abruptly stood, pacing over to the window, looking out into the night and remembering. "I left home for merely a few days, thinking her safe. The battles were far away, our home fast. I was wrong."

"They came in the night, laying all waste before them. She was one of their own, but still they murdered her, calling her witch and whore. They burned her alive in the home that should have kept her safe. *I* should have kept her safe!" he raged.

Hakeem whirled to face Methos, his eyes tinged gold. "I tracked the officers, those responsible. They died screaming. I finally found the last, Nicholas. By that time, he was LaCroix's and I had been weakened in my journey. I was unable to wrest him from his master."

"Why LaCroix? Why not Nicholas? I don't understand."

"LaCroix mocked my loss. We had been comrades once upon a time, but so enamored was he of his newest fledgling, he refused to honor our past. He said she was just a mortal, not worth the life of one of our kind," Hakeem spat. "Lucius had strong ties in the Community and I found no support amongst them for a stranger grieving for a worthless mortal. I vowed that day that I would avenge myself on my old comrade. I would wait, patiently, till the fates brought me the opportunity. And they repaid my patience handsomely in the person of his little Immortal," Hakeem finished, his voice holding the promise of suffering and regret.

                                    



Triona was dreaming. There was a room, her family was there and she could see LaCroix pacing the length of the floor. He was worried for her -- and fearful.

LaCroix, afraid? It truly is a dream, a part of her thought. She reached out to touch him, to reassure him, and her. All she wanted to do was to hold him tight in her arms and let him know it would all be fine. But he wasn't really there. The sobs of loss, fear, and regret took her in her dream. And as she lay asleep on the bed, tears trickled down her face.

With no hope left, she began to turn away, but LaCroix's outstretched hand stopped her. "I am here, child.

He gathered her in his arms, comforting her in her hopelessness. Sighing, she let him draw her closer. Methos was wrong, she wasn't alone. He was always with her.

                                      



Methos tossed and turned on the bed, trying to think of how he was going to pull this off. The only idea he had was one he didn't want to contemplate. But so far, he could see no other way. Growling in frustration, he slammed his fists into the mattress. There was no other way. And the longer he waited to get her out of here, the more chance of her being permanently damaged by Hakeem in his quest for revenge. No, there was no other path open. It was the only way.

He closed his eyes and forced himself to rest. He would need all his strength and wits in the coming day.

                                       



Methos sat on the corner of Hakeem's desk, toying with an ornate letter opener. "So, when do I get to see one of these little entertainments of yours?"

"Sooner than you might think. I am eager to put the next phase of my plan into action." Hakeem smiled in anticipation.

"Is it a secret? Or can anyone play?" He grinned ferally.

"Oh, I sincerely hope you will play, my friend. Your being here is a godsend. I could not have planned a better way to corrode and finally break her spirit. Coupled with what I intend this time, she should be clay in my hands by the end of the week! Then," he paused, relishing the thought, "then, I avenge myself on her Master."

"In that case I should pay her a visit. I'm sure I can find a way to enhance the final outcome of your plan." Methos slammed the point of the letter opener into the leather blotter, staring at it in seeming fascination.

Hakeem laughed at Methos' sudden, violent outburst. "Still a man of intense appetites, I am pleased to see."

"You aren't the only one who needs to feed their appetites, you know."

"Then, feel free to gorge yourself. I did, after all, give her to you till I have need of her once again. And, I warn you now, she will be in no condition for your attentions *after* today's festivities. So enjoy her now, while you can."

"Oh, I will, Hakeem. I will."

                                                  



Methos waited while the guard opened the door to her room, steeling himself to once again play the part fate had cast him in. He already hated himself, and it would only get worse.

He saw her, backed against the wall, silent but defiant, her eyes radiating loathing at the sight of him. Methos knew that even when this was over, she would never truly forgive him. Not that she should. He had brought her to this place as surly as if he had handed her to Hakeem himself.

"I hope you are in fighting form today. Our host as planned a duel for you this afternoon."

She turned her face away from him.

"He tells me that you will be in no condition to appreciate my attentions after the fact." Methos grabbed her chin in a cruel grasp, forcing her to face him. "You will look at me when I speak to you!" he hissed, pushing her against the wall, his body pressing into hers.

She brought her foot down hard on his instep, twisting to bring her elbow hard into his sternum as he drew back in pain. Triona slammed the flat of her hand up against his nose, dropping him to the ground. Then she was on him, knowing there was no escape, but determined to do has much damage as she could before the end.

Methos let her attack him for a few moments, wanting nothing more than to let her pummel him into unconsciousness. But that wasn't to be. He knew it would only be a matter of time before Hakeem appeared, if he kept true to form.

He grabbed her wrists and rolled, pressing her to the floor. "That was a mistake you'll pay dearly for," he panted, pinning her underneath him, her hands still in his grip above her head.   

She didn't even react; all the fight was gone. The only sounds were the dry sobs that wracked her body.

Some sixth sense told Methos they were being watched.  "I'm going to enjoy this," he said grimly, ripping her blouse open before brutally kissing her.

He could taste her tears as she went totally limp in his grasp. Damn you, Hakeem, show yourself so I can end this! Methos raged inwardly. He didn't know just how far he could take this act; didn't know if he could go as far as rape.

"How it cheers me to see you as you were, my oldest friend," Hakeem's smooth voice said. "But I can see that you didn't take my advice about an immobile quarry."

Thank god. Methos breathed a silent prayer of relief.

"There's no challenge in that," Methos told him as he levered himself up off the floor. "And she won't be causing me any more trouble now." He nodded to where she lay, eyes closed, not even stirring.

"But now, if you don't mind, I'd like to finish what I started. You understand I'm sure." Methos smiled lasciviously. "And you know how I feel about an audience."

"I do remember. And, of course, I will leave you alone. I give you my word." Hakeem bowed his head slightly. "But you know how *I* feel about tasting all I can. So first..." Hakeem reached down, pulling Triona to her feet. He bent her head to the side, moving her hair out of the way, revealing her throat to his hungry gaze. "But first," he growled, sinking his fangs into her throat.

Methos forced himself to look on as if fascinated by Hakeem's feeding. Soon, I'll take my revenge on you -- old friend.

Withdrawing his fangs, he muttered to himself, "Exquisite. Truly exquisite." Hakeem pulled away, looking up at Methos. "Just a taste. She needs to be strong enough to fight in a few hours, after all."

"Of course."

"Do you realize how much she hates you?" he asked as he breathed a scent only he could smell. "The depth of her feeling is a heady wine."

"I can only imagine, Hakeem. Only imagine," Methos replied sardonically.

"Of course, that is all you can do, is it not?" Hakeem shoved her into Methos' arms. "I will leave you now." He bowed slightly. "May she bring you much pleasure." He grinned knowingly, and was gone.

Methos sagged in relief, holding Triona in a tight embrace.

                                 


She was hiding, somewhere deep in her mind; somewhere where Methos hadn't betrayed her, where she wasn't alone, where her family was. She heard his voice, but ignored it. He was only trying to hurt her again. And she wouldn't let him do that, not anymore. Triona turned her back on his pleading. What kind of a fool did he take her for? Then she heard LaCroix's voice, comforting and steady, 'Listen to him one more time, child.'  Tears were wet on her face, but they weren't hers.

Triona opened her eyes. Methos was weeping, his face buried in her hair. "Methos." It wasn't a question, just a statement, as if he had suddenly just appeared.

At the sound of her voice, he drew away slightly to look at her. "Thank god." His voice was full of unspoken emotion, his eyes a mirror of pain and grief.

She was reminded sharply of their past by his voice, his eyes -- they were the same as the time he had told her about his past. The day 'Adam' died. It was the only thing that brought her back from where she hid. The only thing that allowed her to even listen to him now.

"We don't have much time. Please, just listen to me," he asked her, an edge of  - fear? - in his voice. "Lucien said to tell you, should you doubt me, that he has decided to fund the Quantum Physics Chair at the University, but for you not to think this means you will get your way in everything." Methos smiled a little through the pain.

"I understand," Triona said, fighting to maintain her already tenuous control.

"We're getting you out of here. There will be only one chance and you need to be strong just a little while longer. Here's what we are going to do...."

                              



Methos and Hakeem watched the fight with rapt attention. Methos wincing as the blade of her opponent caught Triona across the ribs, cutting a thin line through her flesh. She was mentally exhausted and it showed in her swordwork.

Even though he knew Hakeem had no intention of letting her die, her obvious exhaustion scared Methos to death. One slip and it was all over.

Triona's opponent sensed her weakness like a shark smelling blood in the water and took full advantage, battering her with heavy blows. She slipped, falling to her knees. Hakeem tensed, ready to interfere if need be. Her opponent came up behind her, sword raised. As he made the downward swing, Triona drove her sword under her arm and up into his stomach, rolling and yanking the blade from the now prone man.

She leapt to her feet with one last surge of energy, bringing the sword up as she went in a smooth arc that took him under the chin and back through his throat. Then she fell to her knees once more, not even having the strength to stand.

Methos watched Hakeem intently as he reacted to the scene below. Soon, soon.  

Hakeem was at Triona's side the moment the quickening ended, Methos following. Slowly she opened her eyes, red with hunger. "There will be no blood for you just yet, little Immortal." He ran the tips of his fingers over her body, inhaling the aftermath of a battle to the death. "What do you taste like this time, I wonder?"

Methos watched as Hakeem became more and more enraptured with Triona. Soon, their chance would come.

Hakeem sank his fangs into Triona's throat, her struggles only adding to his pleasure. Totally lost in his bloodlust, he never saw the stake that Methos pulled from underneath his bulky sweater, never saw it as it plunged it into his back and through his heart.

Hakeem arched back in agony, a scream tearing from his throat. Released from the vampire's grasp, Triona launched herself at him, desperate for blood -- any blood. Her desperate feeding weakened him even more, practically immobilizing him. Finally sated, she fell away from him, the red in her eyes being replaced by hate.

Methos knew a stake wasn't enough to kill him, and raised his sword to sever his head from his body.

"No!" Triona commanded. "His death is mine."

Methos started at how much she sounded like LaCroix in that moment. He picked up her sword, handing it to her. "Yes, it is," he agreed.

"Methos," he heard Hakeem's voice rasp. "Why?"

"Why? Because she's my Rebekah." Triona's sword came up and around. "I'm sure you understand," he said derisively, as her blade sliced through his neck. "I was just too blind to realize it," he whispered to himself.

                                  



Methos got the body out to the garden and into the sun. Triona insisted on going out to make sure he burned to ash. Even covered with his sweater, he could see her skin begin to burn.

"Get inside. Now." Methos took her arm, pulling her towards shelter. "I know you want to see him truly dead, but you can't stay out here much longer."

Triona shrugged him away; her eyes like cold green marble. "He left me in the sun for what seemed like days, to see what would happen," she said in a faraway voice. She looked him in the eye, voice hardening. "I think I can stand a few minutes, don't you?"

Methos had no answer for that, he could only let her watch Hakeem's body turn to dust.





Finally they were away from the house. Methos looked for whoever the watcher was this shift. There had been a friend or family member watching the house since Methos had entered three days before. As he rushed Triona towards the familiar car, Duncan leapt out, opening the back door.

Triona looked up at the buzz, seeing Duncan waiting for her. Even through the pain of her burned skin, she was able to mange a smile. She threw herself into his arms, hugging him tight.

Methos watched the happy reunion, a look of loss briefly flickering over his face. Then it was gone, replaced by his usual look of unruffled nonchalance.

"We have to get you out of the sun, " Duncan told her, pushing her into the car and pulling a tarp over her. "We'll have you home and safe soon."
                                    
A few minutes later, they were home, Duncan carrying her into the house, instantly surrounded by family.  He placed her gently on her feet, being careful not to touch her burned skin. Out of the sun, it was already beginning to heal. A little longer and she would be as good as new. At least physically, Duncan thought, looking to where Methos stood in the back of the room, away from the rejoicing going on around Triona.

Triona greeted all of her family eagerly, having been so certain that she was never see any of them again. She looked around. "Where's Dominique?"

"LaCroix thought it might be best if she stayed in Toronto." Terese cleared her throat. "After everything that happened." She looked nervously at Methos.

Triona nodded.  "I understand." Suddenly she was so tired. She didn't want to deal with any of it anymore.

"There is no need for you to," a voice -- his voice -- whispered into her ear, as always, seeing into her soul. She turned around, throwing herself into LaCroix's waiting arms. "There will be no more worries or cares today," he told her, his strong arms holding her to him.

"I dreamt about you, all of you, last night. Did you see me?" she asked, looking into his calm blue eyes.

He brushed the hair from her face with one long finger. "We were always with you. But enough questions. Now you must rest. Come along." He took her hand to lead her away.

Triona paused as she passed Methos on the way out of the room. She didn't quite look at him. "Thank you for coming after me. I honestly never expected you to." She finally looked straight at him.

"You'll never know how it saddens me to know that you didn't." His voice sounded ancient as the poignant words fell into the suddenly quiet room. He briefly raised his hand, as if to touch her, dropping it as she pressed closer to LaCroix's side. "Let Lucien take care of you. He's always been better at it then I ever have." He looked at LaCroix. "We'll talk later."

LaCroix nodded once, the expression on his face one of understanding for a man who was literally his oldest friend. Pulling Triona into the crook of his arm, he led her away, leaving Methos alone with his sorrow.

                            



LaCroix gently removed her torn and bloodied clothing, tossing it in the corner of the bathroom. There was nothing sexual about his touch, only care and concern as his hands quickly stripped her.

Triona leaned against him, feeling safe for the first time in what seemed like years. She sighed as his lips brushed the top of her head. "Into the tub with you," he told her softly.

She obeyed, letting him help her in. She could have done all this herself, but it meant as much to him to let him take care of her as it did to her to let him. So she let herself drift as his strong but gentle hands bathed her.

Triona had actually almost fallen asleep when she realized he was helping her out of the tub and encircling her with a large warm towel. He quickly had her dry. Scooping her in his arms, he carried her back to the bedroom. Gently, he placed her on the bed, brushing the hair from her face, and pulling the quilt over her.

"Sleep now."

Triona grabbed his hand. "Don't leave me, please."

"Shhhhh, I have no intention of leaving," he told her reassuringly. LaCroix pulled a chair closer to the bed, taking her hand again. "There, now you can see, I will be here till you wake."

"Do you have to be so far away?" She managed a small smile. "I won't break, you know." She tugged at his hand, trying to pull him over to the bed.

He complied with her request, pulling her up to lay against his chest.

She sighed in contentment. "That's better."

"Now, will you go to sleep?" He stroked her hair soothingly. "You are safe here with me. Rest."

"I'll try."

And she did. But every time she closed her eyes she remembered Hakeem feeding from her. LaCroix could feel her distress, wanting to help, but knowing that she was probably not ready for what he could do to blur the memories.

Triona grasped his hand with her small one. "Lucien?" she asked in a soft voice.

"I'm here, child."

"You are always here for me. I don't know if I tell you often enough what you mean to me." She stroked his hand with her fingertips.

"You do," he assured her, wondering where this was going.

Triona was silent, as if unsure of what she was about to say. Finally, she asked, "Were you ever angry with me for loving Methos? Did I hurt you by finding the room to hold both of you in my heart?" Her voice broke a little as she continued, "I never wanted you to feel that you meant any less to me."

"And I never have. I admit, at first I was annoyed. Not at you, but at myself and with Methos for the whole ridiculous situation." LaCroix held her tighter. "It is different for us, for our family. You have always understood that. Drawing Methos back into my family added yet another facet to what we are. I have always known that I hold a place in your heart that Methos can never touch, and that there is the place he holds that makes the two of you what you are."

Triona shook her head. "That place is dead to me. We will never be what we were," she said sadly. "Too much has happened to ever go back."

"Perhaps you can't be what you were. But you can be something different, something new." Triona started to reply, LaCroix silencing her with a finger to her lips. "No more tonight," he admonished. "You know you are in no state for more emotional upset." She began to protest. "I will *put* you to sleep if you do not calm yourself," LaCroix warned sternly.

Relenting, she nodded. "I wish you would regardless. I... I can't stop seeing *him*. Would you please...?" she left the question unasked.

LaCroix considered. It would be for the best, but he didn't want to add to her trauma. "Are you sure? I'm not convinced you are ready...."

"I'm sure," she interrupted. "I know why you're worried. But I could never equate your drinking from me with the violation that Hakeem forced on me." There she had said his name out loud. Shivering, she twisted around so she faced him, continuing in a quiet voice, "I trust you with all that I am. I trust you to know what is best." Triona leaned in, pressing her lips to his.

He cupped her face in his hands, looking deep into her eyes, reassuring himself that she was strong enough.

She reached up, pulling her hair to one side and tilting her head to expose her throat. "Please," she almost sighed, closing her eyes.

LaCroix kissed her gently as he reached for her mentally. He held her to him more firmly, placing an arm around her back. He felt her almost instant surrender. No fear, no hesitation evident. But there was fear aplenty lurking there. Fear, grief, pain -- all clamored at him has he wrapped his thoughts, his being, around hers.

He moved to her throat, feeling the vampire in him surge to the fore, but he controlled it with a strong reign. This was not the time for the usual meeting of their blood. No great crashing waves of emotion. This time it would be merely the gentle trickle of meadow brook. There must be nothing to remind her in the slightest of her torment.

Triona's blood flowed over his senses, heavy with the last week’s trauma. LaCroix took as much of it as he could into himself, wanting to bear as much of her burden as was possible. He couldn't make her forget, but he could soften the terror she felt.

He pulled away from her, gathering her in his arms and placing her once more in the bed. This time, she would sleep -- and sleep for hours. The clock around if he judged it correctly. More than enough time to speak with Methos to attempt to convince the ancient Immortal to try to salvage his relationship with Triona. He knew that neither would be truly whole until they settled this -- one way or the other.

But for now, LaCroix was content to watch his child sleep, safe in his arms once more.


End 



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