The sound of sleet once again could be heard on the stable roof, and Triona shivered. Not from the cold so much as the onslaught of emotion that Methos' revelations had brought. Added to the newly reopened psychic wounds that her memories of what Divia had done to her had left, she found she couldn't stop shaking.
"You're cold." Methos pulled off his own coat, putting it around her shoulders and drawing her closer. She didn't correct him, just leaned tiredly into the soothing warmth of his body.
"And now I know where your aversion to vampires comes from," she said quietly.
He didn't deny it. It had been a frequent bone of contention between him and Lucien over Triona's eventual fate. Methos had tried in the beginning to free her from what he saw as an existence of darkness. When that had failed, he'd had to choose whether or not he walked away or accepted her as she was. "As far as I knew, you had no memories of Divia, and therefore, I couldn't explain it to you, not really."
It all made so much sense now, in retrospect. Methos had come to an acceptance of her choice to be brought across, and what had happened afterwards. But it was that night two years later, when she had manifested as a true vampire after taking her first Quickening, that had irrevocably changed their relationship, and had led to the implosion that had almost destroyed that relationship permanently. "And after everything, I made you the victim of my first feeding. No wonder you ended up hating me!"
"No," he said firmly, taking her face between his hands and forcing her to look at him. "I was not a victim, and I never hated you."
"How can you say that?" she demanded.
"I had a choice, Triona. I did," he insisted, seeing the look of disbelief in here eyes. "I loved you. How could I let you suffer when I had the means to help you? I know you don't remember, but I had no fear in my heart when you fed from me -- only love. And it left us with a bond, a link, which bound us even closer together. Now, all these years later, it's a bond I cherish, though I know that, at the time, it was one that neither of us expected, or was really ready to deal with."
That was true enough. After they had been left with a psychic link, a blood bond, very much like what she and LaCroix had had when she was mortal, before LaCroix's ill-fated attempt to bring her across resulted in she and her Master sharing a full fledgling's bond. It was how she and Methos recognized each other's Immortal 'buzz'. But that bond had been too much to deal with in the beginning -- especially for Methos. The day he'd walked out on her, their link had caused more pain than either of them had thought possible.
"I love you, Methos," she said, not only with her voice, but also mentally, wanting him to 'feel' that love. Then Triona began to cry, and once she started, she couldn't stop. So much grief, so much loss, the pain they'd inflicted on each other -- most of it unintentional, but far too much intentional. Yet the grief was mingled with amazement, that after everything they'd done and said to each other, that they were here, together. And that he loved her. That was the true miracle, and one she thanked God for every day.
He didn't tell her not to cry, just drew her into his embrace and held her till she stopped. She tilted her head to look up at him. "Will you take me back to the house? To our bed?" she asked, her voice faltering. "I can't deal with anything more. I promise, I'll tell you whatever you want to know in the morning. But not tonight, not in the dark."
Methos kissed her gently. "Of course, love. The morning is soon enough."
Morning came too soon as far as Triona was concerned as she forced herself to eat the oatmeal that Methos had made for her. She had no appetite, but she didn't want to hurt his feelings. He'd been so pleased with himself, especially when she'd told him it was as good as Duncan's. And it was, surprisingly enough. "I suppose I can expect a lot of oatmeal for dinner from now on, huh?" she asked, trying to keep her tone light.
"Well, it is something edible to add to my somewhat limited repertoire," Methos admitted. "But you don't need to eat anymore. I think you've proven your point."
She looked up at him guiltily. "It really is wonderful," she protested. "I'm just not very hungry."
Smiling, he took the tray from her. "I know, but at least you ate something." He handed Triona her teacup. "Just don't get used to breakfast in bed. I wouldn't want to spoil you," Methos said, gently teasing.
"Hah!" She waggled a finger at him. "You should have thought of that the first morning we spent together, if that's what you're worried about! The precedent has been set, and by you," she reminded him.
Methos took her finger, turning her hand so he could kiss the palm. "How could I forget?" They both smiled, sharing the memory of their first morning together. 'Adam' had insisted on breakfast in bed, and during that breakfast, he'd sliced his hand open with a knife while cutting an orange. "Bewitching little minx that you were, you soon had all my secrets."
"And you had my heart," Triona replied softly. She squared her shoulders and took a deep breath. She knew it would just be harder the longer she put it off, but talking about what had happened that night filled her with dread. She looked into Methos' eyes and drew courage from what she saw there: love, faith, and acceptance. "I guess it's time, isn't it?"
He nodded silently, smiling encouragingly.
She returned his smile, then taking one more deep breath she began. "My life had just started to seem more normal. I'd been at the estate for several months, and I didn't feel as lost and desperate as I had before; after Janette left." Triona closed her eyes and Methos took her hand, squeezing it reassuringly. She leaned against him, remembering. "After she left, I'd finally realized what the cost of the choices I'd made were going to be. There was no escape - except in death, and I didn't want to die."
"Where there's life, there's hope?" he asked quietly.
Laughing softly, she looked up at him. "A sentiment we both share." Once more serious, she continued, "After Janette left, Lucien was so angry. Not at her, but at how she felt she had no choice - because of Nicholas."
"And you were a convenient target of that anger," he said neutrally, but Triona knew he was trying hard to remain calm. They did a delicate balancing act, the three of them. It was a sometimes-strained triangle. Both Methos and LaCroix were very old and powerful personalities, with Triona often the eye of the storm between them.
"It's okay," she said softly, rubbing his arm soothingly. "I forgave him long ago. He was different then, and so was I. We both changed to be where and what we are now. And a great deal of that was due to you. You saved both of us." It was true; Triona knew that now. When Methos had entered her life, her relationship with the ancient vampire had changed her both mentally and physically, to the point where she'd been incapable of saving herself. Only Methos' intervention had done that. "You're right, I was a convenient target. It was months before Nicholas even noticed Janette was gone, and that night he finally showed up at the Raven, he and LaCroix fought. Nothing new, of course, but that night something was different. Everything was somehow more intense, more emotionally wrought. And that night, LaCroix almost killed me. I was very surprised when I woke up at the estate, that I woke up at all." She said it matter-of-factly - it was nothing more than the truth. "After, he told me that the Raven was an unhealthy place for me, for us, that there were too many undercurrents and memories."
Methos drew her closer. "There are times when I wonder at fate. I visited Lucien only been a few months before the two of you met. You were with Janette already, but you weren't at the Raven when we went to see her," he said, the melancholy tone matching her mood.
"It was Christmas and I'd gone to visit Stephanie at college."
"If only I'd met you then. Sometimes I wonder..." he broke off, shaking his head in irritation. "I should know better. The past is done and finished and no amount of wishing can change that."
"If wishes were horses, huh?"
He smiled down at her. "Something like that."
"So, I was now at the estate, and life wasn't exactly normal, but I was content after a fashion. I was even working. I'd always taken care of Janette's financial interests, and had kept managing the club, but after that night, LaCroix put all of his own varied business interests into my care. It was his way of apologizing," she said with fond exasperation. "You know what he's like."
Methos just smiled.
"And it was an acknowledgement that he trusted me." Triona had been a very successful investment banker before she'd accepted Janette's offer to manage the Raven and to take care of her business interests. Over the years, she'd taken on several Immortal clients, mostly friends of Methos and Duncan's. Teaching wasn't something she needed to do for the money, but something she did because she enjoyed it. There would be no drifting through the ages for Triona. She intended to experience everything she could, to take advantage of the life fate had given her. That outlook was something else she and her husband, the oldest Immortal, shared.
Triona looked down at the teacup she still held in one hand, realizing it was empty. Levering herself up off the bed, she went over to the teapot that Methos had left on the dresser, removing the cozy from the pot. As she poured a small amount of milk into her cup, she said, "The months passed. I worked, I walked the grounds, went riding, worked my way through the books in the library."
"Lady of the Manor," Methos said, smiling, coming to stand next to her. Picking up the pot, he poured the tea, filling her cup.
Nodding, she said, "And then, one night, I got a phone call." She turned away, tea forgotten. "It was from one of the staff at the Raven, and they told me that Lucien had been taken away by the police in relation to a murdered man discovered at the club...."
Triona slammed the car door shut, pulling her heavy dark green wool coat closer around her body. It was freezing, and her breath hung around her like mist. Feeling a presence, she looked around, realizing it was Nick as he strode towards her in the Toronto PD parking lot.
"Why are you here, Triona?" Nick demanded.
Shaking her head in disbelief, she replied angrily, "Why am I here? Why do you think? You are holding our Master in police custody on some ridiculous pretext, and without benefit of legal representation, I'm sure!"
"There was a decapitated body found in the Raven. Hardly what I'd call a ridiculous pretext!" he said heatedly.
"I know all this, Detective. It doesn't change anything!"
"And how exactly do you know?" the blonde vampire demanded.
"Urs called me."
"She shouldn't have."
"No, you're right - you should have!" she spat out, attempting to walk past him.
He grabbed her upper arm, stopping her. "You don't belong here, Triona. Go home, leave it alone. It doesn't concern you!"
She pulled away violently "The hell I'm going home! I want to see him," she demanded, more furious at Nick than she'd ever been,
"Out of the question," Nick snapped.
"You think so? Since you're incapable of influencing me mentally," she said, her voice dripping with condescension, "how exactly were you planning on stopping me?" Before Nick could form a reply, she continued in a low voice laced with fury, "It's time you faced facts, Nicholas. I'm his, and nothing you do or try to do is ever going to change that. I won't allow it, and neither will LaCroix." With that she pushed past him, and this time, he didn't try to stop her.