"Do I get a hint?" Triona asked some time later, fiddling absently with his hair. "Why you were looking so intently out into the night," she added.
"I was thinking about another Christmas, another time," he told her, his hand coming around her wrist, stilling the hand that was still intent on mussing with his hair, pulling it gently down against his chest.
"Ah… something exciting, no doubt; wife, lover, concubine? Followed by some sort of adventure or amusing escapade." Dropping a kiss on the tip of his nose, she grinned. "Never a dull moment where you're concerned, my love."
Methos shook his head slightly, pausing momentarily before saying, "Wife, actually. But no amusing escapade. Well, not amusing to her, though I found it pretty funny at the time. However, my self-preservation instincts being excellent, I made sure she never knew it. Kitchen knives can be a menace!"
After shuddering dramatically, he continued over her giggles, "It was our first Christmas after we married, and she had a an emergency at work. I promised I'd get the turkey out of the oven, which I did, quite expertly, I might add." He sounded quite pleased with his accomplishment.
Recognition dawned in her eyes. "I think I've heard this story before," she said softly, laying her head against his shoulder.
"But I got a little distracted by a book I was translating, and forgot to make sure the kitchen door was secure. Our dogs had a lovely Christmas dinner."
Peering up at him, she said a little uncertainly, "That's what you were thinking about? I guess I just assumed…"
"Yes, obviously," he interrupted. "I should probably scold you." His voice was stern, but the arms he wrapped her in as he pulled her close belied his tone. Now the tone softened. "Do you always assume that my thoughts are elsewhere? That our past, our present, isn't as important to me as any of hundreds of other pasts behind me?"
"Honestly? I don't know. Maybe I do, assume that is."
"I guess." She sounded doubtful, which didn't go unnoticed.
"You guess?" Sitting up, he looked down at her. "This keeps up, and someone's not going to get their present from Santa," he warned.
"Sorry?" Biting at her lower lip, she looked at him sidelong, gauging how her sort of apology had gone over. Rushing on, she asked, "Santa got me a present?"
"He did, but I'm not entirely sure you deserve it now." He got out of bed, this time pulling on his robe. "In fact, I'm sure of it." Walking over to the fireplace, he put some more wood on the fire.
"Oh come on, Methos! Don't tease." Pouting, she crossed her arms over her chest. "You're just being mean!"
"Yes, I am, and enjoying it quite thoroughly at that," he told her with a huge grin.
"Brat!" he returned.
Triona stuck her tongue out at him, then started to giggle uncontrollably.
Methos joined her laughter, then pointed at the floor next to the stacked firewood. "Look, there's a present here under the tree."
Looking down at where he was pointing, she saw there was indeed a small gift-wrapped box sitting there. Then she looked back at Methos. "Tree? It's a pile of chopped wood."
"Well yes, but what do you get if you put all the chopped wood together?"
"Wait, I know this one!" Triumphantly, she declared, "A boat!" It was all she could do not to laugh at the expression on his face.
"A boat? No, you silly woman, you get a tree." Methos looked disgusted.
"No, I'm sure it's a boat. And since boats float, and so do ducks, then my present must actually be a witch!"
He picked up the brightly wrapped box, waving it at her. "If you think you're getting this now…"
"It's too small to be a witch, or even a duck," Triona pointed out helpfully, ignoring his threat.
"No, what it's going to be is a lump of coal, and that's only if you're lucky!"
Triona tsked. "Now you're just being silly - you can't make a boat out of coal!" That was when she finally lost it, falling onto the bed in helpless laughter, tears streaming down her face.
Methos sat next her on the bed. "You are impossible!" Shaking his head in resignation, he laid back on the pillows, her present still in one hand.
She tried to get a hold of herself, but every time she looked over at him, she started laughing again. Finally, she was able to get out between gasps of laughter, 'It's your fault! You should know better by now than to give me an opening." She wiped her eyes, trying to catch her breath.
"Are you quite done?" Methos asked more than a little peevishly. "Or should I get you a shrubbery? Or perhaps a herring?"
Stuffing a fist between her teeth, she fought back another wave of mirth. "Please stop!" she begged. "My ribs hurt!"
"Consider yourself fortunate that's all that hurts!" Now he was laughing as well.
"God, I love you!" After kissing him thoroughly, she returned once more to toying with his hair. "My father was right. He always told me to never marry a man who didn't appreciate the finer points of Monty Python."
"Wise man, your father." Once again, he snagged her wrist. "You have a hair fetish."
"But I like your hair," she told him. "It's soft and pretty, and I like touching it."
"My hairdresser will be so pleased," he said dryly.
Smiling gently, she brushed her lips across his, lying across his chest and wrapping her arms around him. "That Christmas, when the dogs ate the turkey, we were just beginning and the future seemed so full of possibilities." Sighing, she fell silent.
"It will seem that way again, one day, love" he reassured her, gently stroking her back.
"For making me forget for these few hours that this is the end of the world. Or, at least, the end of the world I was born into. And for keeping us safe when so much has been lost forever."
Gently, he rolled her over, so he could look down at her. "I think it's time you opened your present." Handing her the small box, he brushed a hand through her long hair.
This time, all she did was nod silently, carefully opening the small box. "Oh, god, it's beautiful," she whispered, lifting the pendant out of the box by its chain. The light of the fire reflected off an abstract platinum star set with diamonds. "Where did you find such a thing?"
"It was a group effort. Amanda contributed the diamonds from her super secret World War III stash." Triona giggled. "And Ted Hopkins, down in the armory, used to be a jeweler before the war. He helped with the actual creation of what I wanted."
Taking the necklace from her, he undid the clasp, placing it around her neck as she held her hair back. "When the war came, you lost the stars. I know what it meant to you; working on the Mars project, what hope you had for the future. I can't give you the stars back, but I can give you something to remind you, that in time, you'll have them again. It might not be for another few centuries, but it will happen, one day."
Holding the glinting star between her fingers, she whispered, "Above thy deep and dreamless sleep, the silent stars go by; yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting Light; the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight."